World Changer

Iddris Sandu’s programming and design skills are nothing to play with. Sandu—who was born in Ghana and raised in South Bay, California—is, simply put, a visionary. The 22-year-old has already conceptualized and collaborated with Instagram, Snapchat and Uber and been recognized as a scholar for his initiatives in STEM by former President Barack Obama.

He also joined forces with the late Nipsey Hussle to create the rapper’s Marathon Clothing store, noted as one of the world’s first smart retail experiences. Outside of collaborating with big names, Sandu, who considers himself a cultural architect, is passionate about bringing more Blacks into the tech field.

He recently announced via social media that he had purchased land in Accra, Ghana, to build a resource center for youth. “I’ve wanted to do this since I was a kid,” he wrote on his Instagram page. “I’ve been in Ghana for the last couple of weeks working for the people and making sure I was on the ground to ensure we make change.”

02: Something is Amiss

In the nation’s capital, 70 percent of the people stopped by law enforcement are Blacks, yet they make up less than half of the population. This finding was revealed in a 14-page report detailing 11,000 stops over a nearly one-month period. The data, released by the Metropolitan Police Department, comes in response to a 2016 law that requires stats to be collected on all temporary investigative detentions regardless of whether there is an arrest.

03: No Denying Our Dollars

A new report from Nielsen, aptly titled It’s in the Bag: Black Consumers’ Path to Purchase, proves that Black culture is a high driver of consumer sales. In 2018, 50 out of the 75 top streaming songs were in the hip-hop genre, and 17 of the top 25 artists with songs streaming were rappers. The Recording Industry Association of America notes that streaming accounted for 75 percent of industry revenue last year.

04: A Low Stakes Start-Up

American Tax Geeks wants to create more Black entrepreneurs. That’s why the business known for paying all the establishment costs for its franchise owners has allotted $112 million for African-Americans to start their own American Tax Geeks office. In addition to waiving a $40,000 network fee, the rapidly growing company also provides free training.

05: Pushing for a Fix

A volunteer effort is leading the charge for getting new, lead-free water pipes for the people of Newark, New Jersey. This summer the clean water crisis plaguing the state’s largest city reached a fever pitch, prompting volunteers to go door-to-door to sign up residents for lead service line replacements. An estimated 18,000 homes in the area have been exposed to lead-contaminated water because of old supply lines.

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Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET

Now is not the time to be silent. Find your purpose; pursue it relentlessly, passionately and loudly. Be persistent and win.”

—ANGELA BASSETT, accepting the Icon Award at the 2019 Black Girls Rock! event

07: Making Amends

The Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) is ready to confront the past and redress the role the school played in slavery and segregation. In September the academic institution—which is located in Alexandria, Virginia—announced that it has set aside $1.7 million to pay restitution to the descendants of enslaved persons who labored there. VTS plans to set up a task force to find family members who are entitled to the money.

08: The Fight for Reproductive Rights

Planned Parenthood is cutting ties with the federal Title X family planning program. Under the Trump administration, the government service that provides funding for low-income and uninsured individuals no longer allows grantees to arrange abortion counseling. Planned Parenthood has decided not to comply with the new rules, which it says are unethical and interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.

09: A Neighborhood Haven

A trailblazing community center has made its way to the Bay Area. Restore Oakland, a 20,000-square-foot building, is home to a host of tenants focused on restorative justice. Residents can have access to legal help, free job training, meeting and workspaces, and healthy food options. The center was constructed by the Black-owned nonprofit architecture firm Designing Justice + Designing Spaces.

10: An Applaudable Appointment

Jacqueline Stewart, professor of cinema and media studies at the University of Chicago, is bringing a little color to classic flicks. Stewart is the first African-American to host Turner Classic Movie’s Silent Sunday Nights, which shows films from the silent era, in the network’s 25-year history.

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