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January 28, 2015

What Tahj Blow's Police Encounter Reveals About Student Activism in the #Blacklivesmatter Movement

Yale Campus Racism
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J. Cole Lays Out His Generous Plan For Single Mothers

J Cole
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Black Americans Are Four Times More Likely to Be Victims of Homicide

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Shutterstock

Black Travelers Bust Myth And Explore The World

Black Travel Movement
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Marissa Alexander Released

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Former UNC Athlete Says He's Suing School To Protect Athletes' Education

Devon Ramsay
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Grandma Busts A Move To 'DLow Shuffle,' Teaches The Kids A Thing Or Two

Grandma
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Nzingha Stewart Talks Latest Film 'With This Ring'

Nzingha Stewart
Kasema Caines

Navigating Between a Parallel and a Real Universe

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A Closer Look At Survivors Of Boko Haram Attacks Across Northern Nigeria

Boko Haram Attack
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All Women Of Color Interviewed In STEM Study Experienced Gender Bias

Black Woman Scientist
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Neil deGrasse Tyson Was Wrong, And He's Not Afraid To Admit It

Neil Degrasse
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A Clear Timeline Of The Tamir Rice Shooting

Tamir Rice
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One View From the Black Middle Class

Black Male
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Steve Scalise To Meet With Civil Rights Leader

Steve Scalise
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Badass Woman Celebrates Her 40th By Marrying Herself

Yasmin Eleby
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A Blizzard Couldn't Stop These People From Helping Those In Need

Blizzard New York Homeless
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This Man Could Die Tonight Despite Being Labelled Intellectually Disabled

Warren Hill
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DC Plans to Invest $20M in Minority Male Students

Kaya Henderson
The Washington Post via Getty Images

These States Are Actually Considering Ways To Make Voting More Convenient

Husted
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mom Goes On Strike To Protest 'Out Of Control' Teen Daughters

Mom Strike
WFMY

Here's How Much Less Women Make In Each State

Expert Money
Expert Money

'Django Unchained' Actress Pleads Not Guilty To Lewd Conduct

Daniele Watts
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Yale Responds To Officer Holding Student At Gunpoint, Says It's Not Ferguson

Yale University
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Marshawn Lynch's Finally Talks To The Media In Hilarious Skittles Ad

Skittles
YouTube

This Is What New York Looks Like Without All The People Thanks To Snowstorm Juno

New York City Snow
Alex Trautwig via Getty Images

All Jokes Aside, 'The Bachelor' Has A Diversity Issue

Saturday Night Live
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The Powerful Message That Helped Condoleezza Rice Thrive Amid Racism In The '60s

Condoleezza Rice
OWN

90-Year-Old Kenyan Woman Goes To School, Learns To Read And Write Alongside Great-Great-Grandkids

Priscilla Sitienei
BBC

Black Lives Matter, So Do Our Voices

Voting
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3 Black Adoptees Speak Out About Life With White Parents

Biracial Family
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#UseMeInstead: Debate Over White Clergy's Hashtag Activism

Twitter Hashtag
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Most Southern Baptists Don't Go To A Racially Integrated Church

Church Pew
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NYT Columnist 'Fuming' After Son Held At Gunpoint By Yale Police

Charles Blow
Getty

Grateful Man Who Handed Out His Resume At Train Station Now Hiring At Very Same Stop

Hiring
Alfred Ajani/Twitter

When Street Harassers Realize The Women They're Catcalling Are Their Moms Undercover

Stupid Men
YouTube.com

A Detroit Collage

Black Kids Art School
Hero Images via Getty Images

'Selma' Team Reunites For Hurricane Katrina Movie

Ava Duvernay
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

When You Say You 'Don't See Race', You're Ignoring Racism, Not Helping To Solve It

Black And White Babies
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Muhammad Ali, Paralympian Amy Purdy Make Toyota's Super Bowl Ad One To Remember

Toyota
Toyota/YouTube

NFL Pulls $150 Poster After Getting Called Out For ‘Hypocrisy'

Old Poster
Twitter

Cindra Ladd, Wife Of Prominent Hollywood Producer, Says Bill Cosby Assaulted Her In 1969

Cindra Ladd
Alex Berliner

Dedicated 'Humans Of New York' Fans Raise Money To Send Underserved Kids On Harvard Visit

School
Let's Send Kids to Harvard/Indiegogo

Should Black Athletes Attend the University of Michigan?

University Of Michigan Basketball
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MLK Today: Taking the Blinders Off White Privilege

I Have A Dream Copyright
Getty

Fox News Raises Alarm Over College Course About Race

Whiteness
Fox News

MLK Would Be 'Mortified' By The Gay Marriage Movement, Right Wing Activist Claims

Martin Luther King Gay
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Baltimore Ravens Release Terrence Cody Amid Animal Cruelty Allegations

Terrence Cody
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Ben Carson Wouldn't Support Obamacare 'Even If It Worked'

Ben Carson
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New Classics Every Child Should Own

476804473
Inti St Clair via Getty Images

North Carolina Man Exonerated Of 1976 Conviction

Joseph Sledge
Raleigh News & Observer via Getty Images

Proof More Women And Minorities Should Take On STEM

Camille Eddy
KTVB

Police Launch Investigation After Video Appears To Show Cop Shoving Man In Wheelchair Into Street

Bofrierson
cop logic via Youtube

One Suit Dropped, One Still Pending Between MLK's Children

Bernice King Martin Luther King Iii
Getty

New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward Targeted For Gentrification

New Orleans Ninth Ward
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Diversity in the Classroom: How to Solve the Black Male Teacher Shortage

Black Teacher
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McDonald's Has Another Fight On Its Hands

Mcdonalds
Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

The Harrowing Story Of One Man's Escape From The Genocide In Burundi

Burundi
Escape From Burundi

Campaigners Call For State Investigation Into Fatal New Jersey Police Shooting

Jerame Reid
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Violence Against Black Transgender Women Goes Largely Ignored

Black Woman Violence
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Bill O'Reilly Says Ferguson Protesters 'Should Be Ashamed'

Oreilly Protesters
Fox News

University Of Chicago President: 'Chicago's A Better Place' For The Obama Library Than Columbia

Zimmer
HuffPost Live

A Tale Of Two Movements

Abortion Rally
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The 9 Best Things That Happened When YouTube Stars Interviewed Obama

Seflie
YouTube

Showcasing Her Natural Hair Got This Meteorologist Fired

Rhonda Lee
HuffPost Live

'Light Girls' Producer Stephanie Frederic On Healing From Colorism

Stephanie Frederic
Stephanie Frederic

This Protest Song Captures The Power Of #BlackLivesMatter Demonstrations

Sidewalk 2
Sidewalk Chalk/YouTube

'Defy Hollywood, See Selma'

Ava Duvernay
Paras Griffin via Getty Images

College Student Likely Died From Chewing Gum In Her Sleep

Shanice Clark
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Al Sharpton Pokes Fun At Infamous Teleprompter Flub

Sharptom Teleprompter
MSNBC

Video Shows Man Raising His Hands As He's Gunned Down By Police

Jerame Reid
NJ.com

New ‘Hands Up' Shooting Is Anything But Black And White

Jerame Reid
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Bill Gates Makes Bold Bet About Poverty, And Tech Plays A Big Role

Bill Gates Smiling
NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

'Black Lives Matter' Protesters Interrupt Capitol Hill Lunch

Capitol Protest
Christine Conetta/Huffington Post

Barry Levinson Blames Hollywood's Diversity Problem On Our Education System

Berry Levinson
HuffPost Live

Oregon Was Founded As A Racist Utopia

Oregon 1930
MPI via Getty Images

How The State Of The Union Missed The Mark On Ferguson And Racial Politics

State Of The Union
ap

With a Book You Are Never Alone

Zimbabwe Library
Bisila Bokoko

Jay Leno On Bill Cosby Allegations: 'I Don't Know Why It's So Hard To Believe Women'

Jay Leno
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Arkansas Bill Would Remove Robert E. Lee From MLK Day

Mlk
Getty

New Looting Footage From Ferguson Grand Jury Aftermath

Dellwood Looting
St. Louis County Police

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How Wearing The Wrong Jewelry Can Get You Locked Up

Fashion Racism
Gawker

Gabrielle Union Says 'The World Isn't Going To End' If We See More Diversity In Women On TV

Gabrielle Union
Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

The Most Showstopping Super Bowl Halftime Outfits Of All-Time

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Getty

Sly Stone Wins Lawsuit

Sly Stone Music
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Jill Scott On Why She Only Dates For Six Months

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Derick Hingle/Invision/AP

Mickey Guyton And The Trailblazing Black Women Of Country Music

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Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

WATCH: 'This Is How We Do It'...At Buffalo Wild Wings?

Montell Jordan
YouTube

Benedict Cumberbatch Apologizes For Race Comments

Bendict Cumberbatch
Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

This Could Be The Next Shonda Rhimes Show

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Diana Ross Returns To Las Vegas With Mini-Residency

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Watch A Sneak Peek Of The New 'How To Get Away With Murder'

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11 Habits Of Insanely Fashionable People

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Big Sean Reveals New Album Title

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NBC via Getty Images

Kid Cudi Dishes On Making Out With A Dude

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Chrissy Teigen & John Legend Get Super Steamy For GQ

Chrissy Teigen John Legend
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Tracey Edmonds Opens Up On Staying Ahead As A Black Producer

Tracey Edmonds
Todd Williamson/Invision/AP

Former Backup Singer Declared As James Brown's Wife

James Brown
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Ava DuVernay's Passion Project

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Jon Stewart Was NOT Expecting This

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Comedy Central

Kim And Kanye Get Matchy-Matchy In All-Black Balmain

Kim Kardashian Kanye West
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Viola Davis' Natural Hair Is Her Crowning Glory

Viola Davis Natural Hair
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Muppets-Biz Markie Mashup Is Just What You Need

Muppets
YouTube

Rihanna Just Dropped A New Song With Kanye & Paul McCartney

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Kanye Finally Explains Why He Doesn't Smile

186118297
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How Sherri Shepherd Responds To Critics Who Said 'You Can't'

Own Ownshow Sherri Shepherd
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#CurlPower Encourages Women To Put Down The Flat Iron

Dove Love Your Curls
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Tia Mowry Is Our New Favorite Style Star

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Here Are More Reasons To Love Tracee Ellis Ross

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Stevie Wonder Set To Produce An Underground Railroad Miniseries

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An NBA Player Paid A Touching Tribute To Stuart Scott Last Night

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Let Jennifer Aniston & David Oyelowo Show You How To Handle A Snub With Grace

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Starz Debuts 'Power' Season Two Trailer

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Flavor Flav Pleads Not Guilty

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Kevin Costner Hopes His New Movie Redefines How People Think About Race

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Listen To This NKOTB/TLC/Nelly Mashup Ahead Of Joint Tour

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Black Films Are Buzzing At This Year's Sundance Festival

Chiwetel Ejiofor
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How The Beyoncé Backlash Could Help The GOP

Beyonce On The Run Tour
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Nas Explains How Police Misconduct Exposes America's Weakness

Nas
Andy Kropa /Invision/AP

Vince Camuto Dies At Age 78

Vince
WireImage

Michelle Obama's State Of The Union Look Is Grey And Gorgeous

Michelle Obama State Of The Union 2015
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Two Married Moms Ditched Glitzy Gigs In the Music & Fashion Industries To Launch The Crabby Shack

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Anthony Mackie On 'Selma' Oscar Snub: People Are Tired Of Being Bombarded With Race

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Michael Franti's Proposal Video Reminds Us That Love Happens In The Little Moments

Michael Franti Engagement Video
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Lil Wayne Drops New Mix Tape

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Barack Obama Gets #YesWeTan Trending With Tan Suit Prank

Barack Obama
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This NBA Star's Post-Game Interview Is Pure Gold

Tupac
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'Single Ladies' Adds New Cast Member

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Lee Daniels Is Using 'Empire' To 'Blow The Lid Off' Homophobia In The Black Community

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20 Questions: Hip-Hop Impresario Russell Simmons

Comments (19)


In the music business, so many people have titles, but there's only one godfather of hip-hop, and that man is Russell Simmons.

Since building the Def Jam empire, the New York native, who's affectionately known as Uncle Russ, has gone on to launch successful clothing labels -- Phat Farm and Baby Phat -- produce HBO shows 'Def Comedy Jam' and 'Def Poetry Jam' -- and its Tony Award-winning Broadway spin-off. He's also helped tomorrow's leaders through philanthropic efforts, including his Hip Hop Summit Action Network and as his role as a Goodwill Ambassador.

In the midst of keeping up his vegan and yogi lifestyle, the 53-year-old rap mogul found time to debut a new Oxygen reality series, 'Running Russell Simmons' which follows the female assistants who keep Simmons sane and organized.

As someone who's energized about politics and making the world a more peaceful place, the father of two doesn't shy away from weighing in on politics. BlackVoices.com recently caught up with him to chat about last week's election results and what's really going on in his world.

BlackVoices.com: So, you're really into politics. What are your thoughts on the election?
Russell Simmons:
Well, we expected that. We held on to the Senate and maybe there will be negotiations between the Senate and the Congress and we'll be able to make some deals because before we got nothing done. I shouldn't say we got nothing done, but maybe a Congress/Senate relationship might actually be more functional. I'm just telling you the upside because I would much prefer to have all Democrats in office at this moment, because the president's agenda is pretty much my agenda.

BV: Why do you think people are so apathetic about voting?
RS:
It's A.D.D. that we have from television and everything else. People wanted a miracle over night, but they shouldn't. We should be enthusiastic[about voting].

BV: Do you think President Obama will be elected to a second term?
RS:
I wouldn't want to speculate that he wouldn't. I accept that he would. If I'm lucky, Sarah Palin will run. In two years, he has a lot of time to turn things around, but people are fickle. They like to kick a man [when he's down].

BV: What do you think about your friend Donald Trump running for president?
RS:
Donald's my friend, but I think he's a little too conservative for me. That's hilarious. He's not a Republican; he's a Democrat. I am very progressive thinking regarding politics and promotion of freedom for everybody and the promotion of peace instead of war. I look at the investment in education over war. They look like they aren't connected, but they are. I prefer him over any Republican that might run right now, though.

BV: Will you run for political office?
RS:
No. I don't think that's possible. Did you read my first book? My reality is a little scary for a politician. I know it takes skill to be political and you have to stomach a lot of s**t. I have a lot of issues that I believe in that would prohibit [me from holding a political office]. I don't believe in the 10 billion suffering farm animals, and I'd be fighting to pass all kinds of laws to protect animals. I'm pro-gay rights, and I'm a socialist because I think we should lift the poor. People would be mad as hell. I'd be taxing myself all day long and everybody like me with money – taxing them much more.

BV: How's it been doing a reality show?
RS:
[On the show], I've talked about all these issue that I think are important and there is lots of business and fun stuff, but I like watching the girls that worked all these years [for me]. Christina has been there...she makes me say 10-plus years. They don't really like to talk about how long they've been working with me.

BV: In terms of the timing, you're such an innovator with the different business ventures you launch ahead of the curve. Why did it take you so long to do TV?
RS:
I produced my brother [Rev Run]'s show and was on there, and I've done Kimora's show quite a bit. And I've done my nieces' show. There were so many ideas I wanted to promote and so many brands that could use exposure. It's part of my marketing and branding, and there's nothing I'm afraid of or embarrassed by.

BV: You weren't uncomfortable on the first episode when the interns were cleaning your bathroom and you were in the office making out with the model?
RS:
I'm a grown man. I'm still single. I'm human. Maybe the next time, I'll be sitting around with this girl who's a yogi, Buddhist, a sweet person. I date her a lot, but she travels the world...maybe I'll be settled next season, or maybe not.

BV: Are you obsessed with models?
RS:
I live on Seventh Avenue, and like most men, I'm very visual. This girl I was just talking about is an actress, and they get a little crazy. She's on episode three or four. We gravitate toward certain physical types. I wish I could date this chubby yogi who looks enlightened. She always has this glow on her face, but I'm not dating her yet.

BV: Are you really going to date a chubby Yogi?
RS:
I said I wish I could! I wish I had it in me, but maybe this African French actress girl has beauty and heart. You'll see her on the show. She's a sweet girl and has a good heart.

BV: At this point, is that something that's important to you in a significant other? Do you have to be into yoga?
RS:
You don't have to be a yogi. You have people that are opposite of you that you like, but I don't think I want anyone blowing smoke in my face and wearing fur. That would probably bother me.

BV: Do you watch any other reality shows?
RS:
I watched Lala's show because she's another friend. I watched a little bit of Rev's show since I produced it for three years. I watch my kids on Kimora's show sometimes, but I don't watch a lot of television.

BV: How do you and Kimora continue to work so well together?
RS:
We have businesses together and a new cosmetic and skin-care company we are about to announce. We have Simmons Jewelry. But, our biggest business is raising our kids, and we have to keep it good no matter what.

BV: There are some celebrity couples whose relationships end badly. How did you all divorce and not go that route?
RS:
There are some things that shouldn't be acceptable. You have more people hating each other than they did before. I think if you have kids together it shouldn't be socially acceptable [or] normal that people don't get along. If they have kids, that's what you have to do for the kids.

BV: What's up with Baby Phat? There was some fall-out and you two are totally unaffiliated with that anymore, right?
RS:
We sold it seven years ago, and Kimora kept running it and running it, and I said, 'Start something new, I'll start something new.' And, now she's starting something new. I think she's grown, and I certainly grew out of Phat Farm. There's an urban graduate to design for. It's more fun for me to design for people a little closer to my age.

BV: Talk a little about your nephew and budding rap star Diggy. Were you surprised he decided to pursue music like your brother?
RS:
I was surprised about Diggy. I thought it would've been JoJo. JoJo is a great rapper, too.

BV: Have you given him any advice?
RS:
Diggy don't wanna hear nothing from me. He doesn't want any advice from Uncle Russ, that's for sure. He doesn't want to hear any of my advice. That's how young people are.

BV: You're always so busy. What's next for you?
RS:
I'm going to England for the Diamond Empowerment Fund, and we've already raised $700,000 that's in the bank to give to a school in Africa, an African leadership academy. That's what's coming up, but we have five different philanthropic ventures.

BV: Is there any philanthropic effort that you want to do more work with? Is there anything you haven't done yet?
RS:
I want to do more work with the Peacekeepers. We want to figure out the right infrastructure and put more Peacekeepers in the 'hood. We have seven chapters of men all over the country who walk the streets in orange and promote peace and harmony. That's something I want to do. Too much violence even in my own neighborhood. It's a tragedy that kids murder each other and it's not really news.

BV: Final question, Where do you see yourself in five years?
RS:
In an old folks' home (laughs). I don't know. Where am I going to be in five years? Probably right here doing what I'm doing now. As long as I can keep doing my meditation and my breathing exercises, I can still walk and do this yoga, I'll still think I'm young.

Russell Simmons's new Oxygen show 'Running Russell Simmons' airs on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST.



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