*Vairrun Strickland may be recognized by TV viewers as the chiseled eye candy on TBS’ hit reality show “Lost Resort,” however, the increasingly popular cast member is much more than a pair of biceps. The Chicago native from West Englewood is on a mission to increase awareness of the mental health challenges often faced by black males.
In Lost Resort, nine cast members come together in the jungle of Costa Rica as they try to overcome personal challenges with the help of mental and spiritual healers. Strickland, a longtime firefighter, shared how extremely long hours, fighting fires and encountering traumatic life or death situations had hindered his ability to process his emotions and communicate effectively during romantic relationships. He often bottled everything up.
“In my line of work, you can’t show emotion. You have to be able to do chest compressions on a young boy with a straight face, while his family is crying next to you asking if he is going to make it, and you know he probably won’t,” he said. “Then, one day you just lose it and you’re emotional and you feel depressed, but you don’t really understand what is going on.”
“Fortunately, I took the step to seek therapy and luckily I got a therapist who was an ex-firefighter. That started me on the road to wellness and self-care.”
Strickland stated that in the fire service, very little attention is given to mental health and wellness for employees. Very rarely are men encouraged to seek counseling, although suicide is more frequent among firefighters than people realize. In fact, a 2018 study by the Firefighter Behavioral Alliance found that first responders die from suicide much more frequently than on duty police officers, and they are five times more likely than the general population to face depression and post-traumatic stress disorders.
“It took me 11 years before I ever sought therapy,” he said. “Thankfully, I had friends in the mental health field who encouraged me to do it, and helped me to get over the embarrassment of feeling something was wrong with me.”
Working as a firefighter has given Strickland a unique vantage point into another troubling, yet related issue in the black community – the tumultuous relationship with law enforcement that has resulted in widespread killings of unarmed black civilians by officers across the country.
One afternoon in April of 2017, Strickland was doing community work with an organization called New Era, which involves neighborhood cleanup and formulating positive relationships with residents. On this day, like every other time the group was busy at work, they were followed by police officers who claimed to be looking out for their safety. However, this time was different.
After Strickland and the group finished cleaning up, the officers got out of their vehicles and a physical altercation ensued that resulted in injuries and the arrests of Strickland and other members. Strickland was charged with obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest, and other members of New Era were charged with felonies and trumped up charges like aggravated assault on an officer.
Eight months later, the case was dismissed, with the help of video evidence that showed the officers executing a wrongful arrest. Still, the damage had been done. Strickland ended up suing the city of Chicago and the four officers involved in the altercation. Reflecting on the situation, he felt the weight of being a black man who, despite being a public safety officer, educated and doing positive things for his community, he was not immune to police brutality, discrimination and racism.
Strickland, in an unusually calm manner, described the rage he felt from the encounter during a segment on the show’s second episode where cast members participated in an exercise to free them from anger. He believes that moment was a very important step in his mental health journey.
“Ensuring your mental health is so important. I think a lot of credit needs to be given to black women for leading the charge in mental health. They are more open to therapy and seeing doctors than black men,” he said. “That needs to change. For me, it was getting over the hump of vulnerability and embarassment and the feeling of needing a doctor or needing help. Once you get over that, it is easy. As black men, we have to exercise our mental the same way we exercise our bodies. It is just like going to the gym.”
Keep up with Vairrun Strickland on Instagram at @vairrun and catch Lost Resort on TBS every Tuesday at 10pm ET/PT.
Vanessa Bryant Kicked Her Mother OUT After Kobe’s Death and Now Sofia Lane is Talking / VIDEO
*As you can imagine, Vanessa Bryant has been going through a lot since her husband, Kobe, and daughter, Gianna, were killed in that now infamous helicopter crash this past January. It is a time like this that you would think that widow Bryant would want her dear mother, Sofia Laine, by her side. Well, apparently NOT. At least not anymore.
That’s because Sofia revealed during a recent interview that her daughter kicked her to the curb after the tragic death of the NBA super star.
In the interview (in Spanish) that’s set to air on Univision on Monday (09-21-20), Sofia Laine claims that her relationship with her daughter is on the rocks. However, in the sneak peek shared to Instagram, Sofia was seen saying that Kobe Bryant has been laid to rest in a private cemetery. Then she started crying, saying that Vanessa not only told her to leave get out of the house, but she also demanded that she return her car, as well.
The mom of four allegedly told Sofia, “You need to leave my house and give me my car.”
Something tells us a lot of people – even those that don’t speak Spanish – will be tuned in to that Univision broadcast on Monday.
In the meantime, check out the clip below.
This revelation is no doubt shocking to some, considering that Vanessa and her mom have always seemed close. Even after the helicopter crash that claimed Kobe and Gianna’s lives, it was reported that Sofia and Vanessa grew even closer. Well, obviously something changed.
As we reported, Kobe died on January 26, when the helicopter that he and Gianna rode crashed in Calabasas, California while en route from John Wayne Airport to Camarillo Airport. Including Kobe and his daughter, everyone else was killed in the accident. His death sparked multiple remembrances and tributes, including a memorial outside of the Kobe Bryant Gymnasium at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, which Kobe attended from 1992 to 1996.
Kobe and Gianna were buried in a private funeral in Pacific View Memorial Park in the Corona del Mar neighborhood of Newport Beach, California on February 7. A public memorial service was held on February 24 at the Staples Center, where’s Kobe’s team, the LA Lakers, play.
Charlamagne Tha God and iHeartMedia Launch ‘The Black Effect Podcast Network’
*New York – iHeartMedia, the No. 1 commercial podcast publisher globally according to Podtrac, and Charlamagne Tha God, one of the most influential and authoritative voices in media, announced today a historic joint venture partnership to launch “The Black Effect Podcast Network.”
The Black Effect Podcast Network is positioned to become the world’s largest podcast publisher dedicated to Black listeners, bringing together the most influential and trusted voices in black culture for stimulating conversations around social justice, pop culture, sports, mental health, news, comedy and more.
The multi-genre venture will feature a luminous roster of marquee talent and culture-shifting voices committed to enlightening, educating and entertaining audiences curated by Charlamagne himself. The programming will provide a bridge to understanding information and interaction rooted in diverse perspectives.
“Blackness has an immediate, culture shifting effect on everything,” said Charlamagne. “Blackness controls the cool. Blackness is the culture, but Black Voices are not monolithic. The only way to appreciate the diversity of thought and experiences in Black culture is to build a platform for those voices to be heard. Unapologetically Black experiences, unapologetically Black thought, unapologetically Black ideas. Black, Black, Blackity Black, Black, Black, Black. Everything Black. Black Everything. The vision for The Black Effect is to amplify, elevate, and empower emerging and established talent. Our goal is to shift the narrative from Black creators signing transactional deals, to instead forming legacy partnerships that build generational wealth while allowing each creative to have an equitable stake in their future. As a long-time partner of iHeart, it’s an honor to make history with them.”
The Black Effect Podcast Network creatives will include comedian/actress Jess Hilarious, Social Justice Activist Tamika Mallory, American attorney and TV Host Eboni K. Williams and many more. The Black Effect Podcast Network has also partnered with other widely successful podcasts like “All The Smoke,” “Drink Champs” and “The 85 South Show,” and will debut with 18 podcasts this fall on iHeartRadio and everywhere podcasts are available.
Additionally, Charlamagne’s wildly popular, co-anchored, nationally syndicated radio show, “The Breakfast Club,” will bring its replay podcast to The Black Effect Podcast Network as its flagship show, effective immediately. With over 4.5 million weekly listeners, “The Breakfast Club” has become the most sought after media destination for A-list talent and influential thought leaders.
“As our country’s number one audio company and podcaster, we have both the responsibility and the opportunity to give new voices a massive audience platform for creativity and innovation—and for important ideas that need to be heard,” said Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia. “Charlamagne Tha God is an unparalleled multi-platform creator whose impact extends across radio, digital, social, TV, events and podcasts. He is uniquely qualified to bring The Black Effect Podcast Network to life, and we are lucky and honored to be his chosen partner and to continue our successful partnership of over a decade in this exciting and fast-growing arena.”
The Black Effect Podcast Network will also produce exciting limited series podcasts in conjunction with various high wattage creators and talent, musical artists, actors, actresses, sports and literary superstars to support their upcoming films, music releases and related projects.
All shows on The Black Effect Podcast Network will be distributed through the iHeartPodcast Network which is home to more than 750 original podcasts. With over 225 million downloads each month, iHeartRadio is the leading podcast publisher according to Podtrac, with a substantial lead over the next largest commercial podcaster. iHeartPodcasts span every category from business, sports, spirituality and technology to entertainment, family, comedy and true crime – and everything in between – making iHeartRadio the largest publisher of podcast content in the world. iHeartPodcasts are distributed on all major podcast platforms, including the iHeartRadio app.
PepsiCo Beverages, in collaboration with its agency partner OMD, has signed on as an inaugural partner of The Black Effect Podcast Network with others to be announced. “We knew we wanted to support this groundbreaking partnership as soon as Charlamagne and iHeart shared their vision for the network. This opportunity connects our brands to consumers through the newer trusted medium of podcasting, and more importantly, supports the overall PepsiCo strategic initiative to invest in Black communities and support diverse voices,” said Katie Haniffy, PepsiCo Beverages Head of Media. “We’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with Charlamagne in the past and look forward to our continued partnership with him and iHeartMedia on this incredibly exciting venture.”
The Black Effect Podcast Network launch lineup will include:
“Drink Champs” with N.O.R.E and DJ EFN
“All The Smoke” with Matt Barnes
“The 85 South Show” with Karlous Miller, DC Young Fly and Chico Bean
“Whoreible Decisions” with Mandii B and Weezy
“Dropping Gems” with Devi Brown
“Holding Court” with Eboni K. Williams
“Carefully Reckless” with Jess Hilarious
“Street Politicians” with Tamika Mallory and Mysonne
“Hot Happy Mess” with Zuri Hall
“Untitled” with Bonang Matheba
“Hello Somebody” with Senator Nina Turner
“P.O.D.” with Ashley and Tammy
“Straight Shot No Chaser” with Tezlyn Figaro
“Laugh and Learn” with Flame Monroe (executive produced by Tiffany Haddish)
“Checking In” with Michelle Williams
“Cut To It” with Steve Smith Sr.
“No Ceilings” with Glasses Malone
“Gangster Chronicles” with MC Eiht, James McDonald and Norman Steele
Fans can go to iHeart.com/apps to download and listen on all their favorite devices — including smart speakers, digital auto dashes, tablets, wearables, smartphones, virtual assistants, televisions, gaming consoles and more.
iHeartMedia (NASDAQ: IHRT) is the number one audio company in the United States, reaching nine out of 10 Americans every month – and with its quarter of a billion monthly listeners, has a greater reach than any other media company in the U.S. The company’s leadership position in audio extends across multiple platforms, including more than 850 live broadcast stations in over 160 markets nationwide; through its iHeartRadio digital service available across more than 250 platforms and 2,000 devices; through its influencers; social; branded iconic live music events; other digital products and newsletters; and podcasts as the #1 commercial podcast publisher. iHeartMedia also leads the audio industry in analytics, targeting and attribution for its marketing partners with its SmartAudio product, using data from its massive consumer base. Visit iHeartMedia.com for more company information.
About Charlamagne Tha God
Charlamagne Tha God is one of the most potent, influential, and authoritative voices in media today. He is the widely coveted, outspoken, thought-provoking co-host of the hottest nationally-syndicated radio show in the U.S., ‘The Breakfast Club,’ heard by over 4.5 million listeners each week. Charlamagne’s production company, CTHAGOD World Productions, discovers and advocates for original content and emerging talent who resonate with popular culture long before they are recognized mainstream. A cultural architect and executive producer, Charlamagne is the co-host of the popular podcast, ‘Brilliant Idiots,’. He is a New York Times bestselling author of the book, ‘Black Privilege’ and global bestseller ‘Shook One,’ which propelled him to become one of the world’s leading voices in the mental health discussion. Charlamagne will be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in October.
About The Black Effect Podcast Network
The Black Effect Podcast Network is a transformative network founded by renowned cultural architect, executive producer, bestselling author, and media mogul Charlamagne Tha God. In an historic joint venture with the world’s number one commercial podcast publisher, iHeartMedia, Charlamagne and iHeartMedia created the groundbreaking first-ever Black Effect Podcast Network, celebrating the most important Black culture-shapers on the planet—in education, politics, entertainment, sports and pop culture. The Black Effect Podcast Network gives rise to emerging and established content creators and storytellers whose perspective and creative vision have been marginalized and overlooked while serving an audience that has been underserved. The Black Effect Podcast Network helps its partners define their place in culture through influence, ideas, and experiences that engage, inspire, inform and empower.
Global Brand Strategist
The Britto Agency
EVP of Communications
Cardi B and Offset to Divorce After Nearly 3 Years of Marriage
*Cardi B is finally calling it quits from husband Offset after nearly three years of marriage.
Their relationship woes have played out on social media over the years, with endless rumors about his infidelity. Word on the street is that Offset got one too many Instagram groupies and strippers knocked up (allegedly), and Cardi has had enough of looking foolish trying to defend him and their marriage.
Cardi and Offset tied the knot in September 2017. They are parents to 2-year-old daughter, Kulture.
“Offset and Cardi both continue to put Kulture first through this troubling time,” a source close to the estranged couple tells Us.
Hollywood Unlocked was the first to report that Cardi, 27, filed for divorce from the Migos member, 28, on September 15. The divorce petition was filed with the Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta.
A court hearing is set for November 4.
View this post on Instagram
HU Staff: Alyssa Brook @alyssabrookhu Hollywood Unlocked can exclusively report that Cardi B is filing for divorce from her husband, Migos rapper Offset. __________________________________________________ We contacted the Fulton County superior court who confirmed that a divorce petition has been filed in Superior Court, Fulton County, Georgia by Cardi B. __________________________________________________ Cardi B and Offset’s relationship has undoubtedly been tumultuous. They secretly got married in 2018, but then dealt with numerous cheating rumors. In April of that year, Cardi confirmed they were expecting a baby girl and that they were married. They later welcome daughter Kulture. ___________________________________________________ Read more at hollywoodunlocked.com 📸: Getty Images __________________________________________________ If you have a tip or suggestion, or want to talk to us about this story, Text the word “TIP” to 1-310-388-6463
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