LeVar Burton Trump Didn't Make America Racist ... He Just Enabled Them!!!

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DISAPPOINTIN' TIMES
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LeVar Burton is shooting down the theory that America's more racist now than ever before ... saying the difference now is President Trump's emboldened racists to come out of the woodwork.

We got the iconic "Reading Rainbow" host out Thursday at LAX and just had to know if he thinks America's more racist now than ever ... what with Trump's administration establishing divisive policies since being ushered into the White House in 2016.

You'll remember Trump once described African nations as "shithole countries." His anti-immigrant rhetoric also inspired a Texas man to kill Hispanics at an El Paso Walmart.

LeVar dropped some serious knowledge ... saying what we're experiencing now was ALWAYS lying under the surface champing at the bit to be out in the open. And, now they are.

He adds being black in America is not for the weak of the heart ... he tells us why and it's sad.

Common I'll Meet with Suspended Teacher ... To Drop Blackface Knowledge on Him!!!

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I'LL EDUCATE HIM
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Common says it's despicable a white teacher dressed up as him -- in blackface, mind you -- and adds he just might tell him so ... in person!!!

We got the rapper and actor Thursday at LAX and he had A LOT to say about the teacher who's since been suspended by the Milpitas Unified School District, just north of San Jose. If you haven't seen it ... the video is shocking for, if nothing else, the lack of judgment the teacher showed.

As luck would have it, Common says he's heading to the Bay Area, and seems dead serious about possibly going to the school to attempt to link up with the teacher.

Common would love a face-to-face with him, but says it would have to be a very REAL convo ... not a photo op. He's got some tough questions for the guy, some of which he shared with our photog.

A student posted the video of her teacher, shot on Halloween, as he imitated Common's Microsoft artificial intelligence commercial. He's now on administrative leave pending an investigation.

Common says it's up to the district to decide the teacher's fate. But, get this ... Common says he's actually glad this whole incident happened ... and tells us why.

Eddie Griffin Hello, Nation of Islam? I Need Black People Lighting, Stat!!!

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LET THERE BE LIGHT
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11:33 AM PT -- Stress Factory owner Vinnie Brand tells us the club's main circuit breaker went down during Eddie's 7:00 PM show, which cut the lights and audio -- but they reset it and Eddie finished the gig. 

But, when Eddie came on for his second show the breaker tripped again. Brand says Griffin went on his rant while they were trying to reset it again, and bolted from the club without finishing his set. 

Brand adds, Eddie's "unfortunate statements about them [being racist] are not true. This was just an act of God ... a freak accident that happened."

Eddie Griffin's got beef with a famous NJ comedy club, because for him ... rule number one when booking black comedians in your club is make sure you can LIGHT said black comedians!!!

Eddie was onstage Friday night at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick when he said enough is enough ... and ripped into management for what he considered inferior lighting and sound.

This clip is from his 9:45 PM headlining show, but witnesses tell us he'd stormed out earlier ... immediately after his 7:00 PM gig. We're told he was angry about some technical malfunctions during the set -- so when he came back for the second show he couldn't hold back.

The good news for the crowd is he turned it into big laughs ... even if they couldn't see him.

Now, we don't know the club's side of the story yet ... we've reached out to management. Eddie definitely put 'em on notice during his act -- which included him pretending to call in the Nation of Islam to help the club find skin-appropriate lighting.

You've heard about the Stress Factory -- even if you're not in Jersey -- because this is where Pete Davidson blasted a customer for heckling him about Ariana Grande and Kate Beckinsale.

It's also where Margaret Cho pissed off the crowd by going off about white people ... and rape.

Come for the laughs ... stay for the anger???

Originally published -- 8:19 AM PT

Daymond John NFL Teaming with Jay-Z ... Not a Publicity Stunt

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WIN-WIN SITUATION
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Daymond John is adamant the NFL partnering with Jay-Z helps its brand, but says make no mistake ... Hova's not going to be the league's puppet just to help them save face.

We got the "Shark Tank" star out Wednesday in NYC and got his take on the NFL teaming up with Jay-Z's Roc Nation for a music and social justice campaign. Daymond's all for it, despite some critics feeling Jay abandoned Colin Kaepernick.

Daymond firmly believes Jay did NOT undercut Kap's cause. Daymond says, if anything, there's no one better who can champion Kap ... now that he's working on the inside.

When our guy straight-up asks if this is all an NFL publicity stunt, Daymond scoffs ... saying Jay-Z's too smart, and would walk from the deal if that were the case.

In fact ... Daymond says he saw right through the NFL when he turned down The Shield to perform at the Super Bowl. Now, things are different.

We also ask Daymond if he thinks Jay-Z's taken his first step in one day owning an NFL team. Gotta hand it to Daymond ... 'cause he answers in true business fashion.

Rick Ross Rips Dolphins Owner I Never Cared About Stephen Ross!!!

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NOT SERVING THE COMMUNITY
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Rick Ross is siding with Kenny Stills in his beef with the Miami Dolphins owner ... telling TMZ Sports he feels Stephen Ross doesn't do enough for the black community.

The NFL receiver publicly criticized his boss earlier this week ... calling Ross a hypocrite for running a charity championing "equality" while being one of President Trump's biggest financial supporters.

We spoke with the Miami legend and Dolphins superfan and asked what he thought about the beef  ... and Rozay didn't hold back.

"I never cared about Stephen Ross," the "Port of Miami 2" rapper says. "It's been rough for me and the Dolphins for years."

Rick says he sees through any talks of equality ... claiming the billionaire doesn't try to build a relationship with the local African-American youth.

"Stephen Ross, he ain't surprising nobody. No black young kids in the community ever got invited to their football games."

Of course, there's also a huge public boycott against the fancy gym chain, Equinox -- which Stephen owns -- after people found out he was hosting a big fundraiser for Trump's 2020 campaign.

The Bawse -- who once told us he wanted to buy the Fins -- says he's still gonna support his hometown team ... but makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the people running it.

"I'm a Dolphin fan because my loyalty to the city. But, to the front office? Nah."

Lil Yachty Trump's Trying to Score 'Black Points' ... With A$AP Rocky

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HE'S ALL TALK
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President Trump does not care about black people and he's just using A$AP Rocky to score points in the African-American community ... so says Lil Yachty.

Yachty was at LAX Friday and had harsh words for the Prez, saying if Trump were really serious he'd get on Air Force One, travel to Sweden and take care of business. He has disdain for Trump using the Internet to make it appear like he really cares.

As we reported, Trump's efforts so far have produced no results. The Swedish Prime Minister essentially told him to mind his own business, and that the Swedish justice system is independent from the PM.

Yachty echos what Congressman Andre Carson told us ... Trump's trying to score black votes in 2020 ... period, end of story.

A$AP Rocky Won't Make Race an Issue ... In Swedish Assault Case

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TMZ

A$AP Rocky says race is not an issue in his detention, TMZ has learned ... but the reality is, he has to say that.

There's certainly plenty of smoke ... as we reported, G-Eazy -- a white rapper -- was arrested in Sweden for assault and cocaine possession, yet he only spent a day-and-a-half in jail, pled guilty, coughed up $9k and he was on his merry way.

A$AP's been in jail going on 3 weeks and he hasn't even been charged, and when that happens it will only be for aggravated assault ... an assault that was provoked by the alleged victim.

That said, our A$AP sources say he has made it clear to all in contact with him ... he doesn't think he's being held because he's black. That's consistently been his story.

Here's the reality ... if A$AP or his team DARED suggest he's being held because he's a black rapper, there would be hell to pay with the prosecutor and probably the judge as well. We've spoken with Swedish Embassy and other officials, and they're all adamant ... they do not discriminate. If foreigners suggested otherwise in court, our sources say it would be a disaster.

We're told A$AP will be charged and will then face 6 years in prison. The best defense they got is provocation by the alleged victim.

One thing's clear by now ... all the work the State Dept. and President have done trying to lobby Swedish officials hasn't worked ... in fact, it may have been counterproductive because prosecutors may not like what they consider intermeddling, and the Prime Minister is siding with them.

Sweden ... who knew?

Colin Kaepernick 'Spokesperson for the Black Culture' ... Says Trinidad James

MAN OF OUR PEOPLE
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Colin Kaepernick isn't just an athlete with a platform -- "he's the spokesperson for the black culture" ... so says rapper Trinidad James

After Kaepernick reached out to Nike with concerns about their Betsy Ross Flag shoe, Trinidad says the culture immediately got behind Colin because they trust him as a leader. 

Trinidad -- the guy behind the hit "All Gold Everything" -- essentially explains why he believes Kaepernick's activism comes from a good place ... and that's why so many people are on board with his movement. 

As we previously reported, Nike felt Kap had a point with his objection to the Betsy Ross shoe (he claimed the 13-star flag has been co-opted by white nationalist groups) and pulled the kicks from stores. 

Several politicians have now gotten involved -- with people like Ted Cruz calling for a Nike boycott.

Others ... like California's Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom have praised Nike for representing "the best of our American values."

Slavery Reparations Hearing Huge Crowd Floods Capitol to Attend ... Danny Glover, Cory Booker Testify

PACKING CAPITOL HILL
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Capitol Hill is buzzing -- almost literally -- for the first Congressional hearing on slavery reparations in a decade ... because a huge crowd is waiting to see Danny Glover and Sen. Cory Booker testify.

The loud scene unfolded Wednesday morning in the halls of Congress, where a seemingly endless throng assembled to show support for an issue that's gained a huge amount of traction this year.

Ya gotta see the video ... wannabe spectators packed into a tiny hallway outside the hearing -- an obvious illustration of just how monumental the hearing is for millions of Americans.

Booker, one of several Democratic presidential hopefuls expressing support for some form of reparations, testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties ... and Glover was among the other speakers.

H.R. 40 calls for a commission to study and develop reparation proposals for African-Americans, plus a formal apology from the U.S. government for human rights violations and "crimes against humanity on African slaves and their descendants."

The commission is supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- while Sen. Mitch McConnell said earlier this week he does not support reparations.

Common Praises NBA Teams for Dropping 'Owner' Title ... 'Nobody Owns Us'

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"NOBODY OWNS US"
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Common says NBA teams are RIGHT for moving away from the term "owner" -- telling TMZ Sports the title "never sat right with me."

We broke the story ... multiple NBA teams -- and even the NBA league office -- have replaced the title with words like "Managing Partner" and "Chairman" over feelings that "owner" is racially insensitive in a league where the majority of the players are black.

So, when we saw Common at Matsuhisa in L.A. on Thursday, we asked if he felt the change is a good thing ... or an unnecessary overreaction?

"I'm so pleased," Common told us ... "The term owner -- it didn't sit right with me."

"The history of what we have and we are as black people in this country ... it's just not really being considerate of the history."

Common says he was impressed with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver -- who referred to one team's majority investor as "Governor" instead of "owner."

He's also giving credit to Draymond Green for speaking out about the issue on LeBron's show "The Shop" in late 2018 ... when he explained why the term "owner" should go the way of the Dodo.

"Nobody owns us," Common added ... "These men are professionals."

Al Sharpton 'Owner' Title Is Disrespectful ... Glad NBA Team's Scrapping It

EXCLUSIVE
LOSE THE OWNER MENTALITY
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Al Sharpton says NBA teams are 100% right to scrap the "owner" title ... saying the term is historically insensitive and disrespectful to a large number of players and should be gone.

TMZ Sports reported that multiple NBA teams have gone away from calling their majority stakeholders "owners" because some believe the term has a negative connotation.

We got Sharpton in ATL, and he not only tells us he agrees with the move but gives us a history lesson on why the rest of the league should follow suit.

"Many of the NBA players are descendants of people that were enslaved. When we hear the term owner, it's a much different connotation than other people."

There are a lot of people who think the league is being too "woke," saying the word is used solely to describe the person in charge, and the NBA is nitpicking.

Sharpton says those people are wrong, and any league that's 75% black should do it's best to care about what its employees think.

"I think that if you want to respect people that are making you a lot of money, you ought to be sensitive and how they are relating to you and how they want a title that doesn't make them uncomfortable"

Michael Blackson Eddie Murphy Thinks I'm Funny!!! Call Me About 'Coming To America 2'

EXCLUSIVE
A DREAM COME TRUE
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Michael Blackson is chilling on cloud nine -- in a real comfy robe too -- because Eddie Murphy, one of his childhood icons, is interested in putting him in the "Coming to America" sequel.

Michael joined us Wednesday on "TMZ Live" to talk about the big news Eddie broke to us ... that he's considering casting Blackson because he's African -- straight outta Ghana -- and because he's funny.

MB says just having Eddie mention him as a potential actor in the movie is a dream come true. Having a legendary comedian publicly voice his approval is another huge feather in Michael's cap, and you can see the excitement he's feeling

However, there's one more important thing Blackson's waiting to see happen.

HE'S THE REAL DEAL!
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As you know ... Eddie dropped Michael's name unsolicited when we asked him if he was open to casting real African actors for the movie, an idea Akon first mentioned to us.

Michael's seen the clip of Eddie, and tells us it would be an incredible coincidence if he lands the role ... especially after his childhood experiences with the OG "Coming to America."

It's kinda funny ... Michael tells us why Eddie's character caused problems for him when he was growing up in New Jersey, and he's got an idea for how they can even the score.

Michael even says he would turn around from the gates of heaven to do this movie ... so c'mon Eddie, what are you waiting for?!?

Eddie Murphy I Know Who 'Coming 2 America' Needs ... Listen Up, Michael Blackson!!!

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HE'S THE REAL DEAL!
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Eddie Murphy is totally down for casting real Africans in his "Coming to America" sequel ... and it sounds like he's got one very funny one in mind.

We got Eddie as he was leaving E Baldi Tuesday in Bev Hills, and asked him about the highly anticipated movie ... which started pre-production last month. Outside of Eddie, Arsenio Hall and Shari Headley (Lisa McDowell) ... little is known about who's co-starring in the film.

Akon, who grew up in Senegal, recently told us Eddie should be hiring real deal African actors for the flick, and we brought that suggestion right to the man himself. Good news for Africans, and GREAT news for Michael Blackson -- Eddie's interested!!!

AFRICAN ONLY
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Unsolicited, Ed dropped the comedian's name, telling us ... "There's one funny African. That Michael Blackson." Pretty sure there are more than one, but we get the point.

Eddie didn't let on whether Michael -- who's from Ghana -- is a done deal for the cast, but it definitely sounds like he's interested.

We called Blackson, and he had no idea. As he put it, "That would be life changing!!! Everyone in the world is gonna watch that movie."

True. And, also true. Good luck, Mike!!!

Mark Henry on Kofi Kingston Inspiring Young Black Kids ... To Wrestle & Kick Ass

NEW CHAMP REPRESENTS
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Kofi Kingston becoming the 1st African-born WWE champ has inspired a generation of young black wrestlers to kick ass ... WWE legend Mark Henry tells TMZ Sports.

We talked to the WWE Hall of Famer -- who was promoting his "Busted Open" show where he's ranking the greatest black wrestlers EVER (hint: The Rock ain't #1) -- about Kingston's impact on wrestling, and what the belt actually means ... aside from looking really cool.

Remember, Kingston beat Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 35 ... becoming only the 2nd black WWE champion (and the 1st African-born champ.)

"15 years from now there might be another 2 or 3 black wrestlers that come into the industry, and they were inspired by Kofi Kingston," Henry says.

"It's a powerful thing to have representation, and it's also a powerful thing to be able to see somebody that looks like you, and have them tell you first hand the struggle and what it took for them to get there."

We also asked Mark about diversity in the WWE ... and whether black wrestlers are fairly represented across the roster of Superstars.

Mark says there's NO problem ... in fact, he's seen a massive improvement over his decades in the WWE.

"When I came into wrestling there were 3 people, 3 black people in the company. There is growth. There is a future for the African-American in pro wrestling, and ya know, I want to be a part of that as much as I can."

RECOGNIZE THE LEGENDS
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'Coming to America' Star John Amos No Call Yet for Sequel... Cleo McDowell's No More?!?

EXCLUSIVE

John Amos might not work with Eddie Murphy again ... but he's still holding out hope he can reprise his role as Prince Akeem's boss in the upcoming film, "Coming 2 America."

Sources close to John, who played Cleo McDowell in the original film, tell TMZ ... the veteran actor still hasn't been asked to bring the character back, but as he told us a few months ago, he'll jump at the opportunity if it comes his way.

Paramount reached out to his team back in February, but the movie studio has since gone radio silent. Wardrobe fittings for the film are already underway, which signals the storyline and the script could be nearing completion.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Translation ... the tea leaves don't look good.

GOTTA BRING ME BACK
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When we talked with John earlier this year, he told us he was craving the chance to play Mr. McDowell again ... and he had tons of ideas for the new movie.

Akon just told us he hopes Eddie casts real Africans in the sequel -- but John's holding out hope at least one more African-American actor makes the cut.

We are too!!!