Magic Johnson is offering $100 million in loans to minority and women-owned small businesses

Most minority owned small businesses were not able to take advantage of the short-term loans being offered by the federal government during the onset of the coronavirus. Thankfully, basketball legend Magic Johnson is here to help.

Many people may not know this, but Johnson has become an incredibly successful businessman since retiring from the NBA. In an era when professional athletes are increasingly focused on building their "personal brands," Johnson was a true pioneer. Rather than simply squeezing every last dollar out of traditional corporate endorsements, he has integrated personal principles into his business ventures. For example, in the early 1990's the Johnson Development Group launched Magic Johnson Theaters, a chain of cutting-edge movie theaters in urban centers that were often ignored by the national theater chains. Johnson eventually sold his stake in the chain to AMC but they've left a lasting imprint in black and other minority communities.

Now, Johnson is using his sizable clout as a celebrity investor to help out minority owned businesses that have struggled to acquire small business loans during the coronavirus.

According to CNBC, Johnson has partnered with MBE Capital Partners to source $100 million in loans to minority and women-owned small businesses. The loans will be distributed through the same federal government program that is currently issuing small business loans but will be earmarked to target businesses in need.

"This will allow them to keep their employees and keep their doors open," Johnson said in an interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box."



"We have to remember that these businesses have been in urban communities for a long time," Johnson told CNBC. "They've been doing great things, and they probably didn't have a relationship with the banks when the stimulus package went out. So now, we're able to say, 'Hey, you can have a relationship with us.'"

A representative for MBE said the loans could help as many as 100,000 small businesses over the coming months, with an application process that is meant to simplify and expedite a process that has often been criticized as overly complicated and slow.

Even better, MBE CEO Rafael Martinez said the program could be expanded to upwards of $1 billion.

"There is a ton of money left," he said.

As Johnson himself noted, getting money to minority and women owned small businesses isn't just important for the economy. As numerous reports have shown, minority communities are the hardest hit by the coronavirus. That's likely due to a number of reasons including lack of access to health care, lack of health nutrition and equal educational opportunities that facilitate healthier lifestyles. Simply put, financial resources are directly tethered to a community's health. Keeping people employed and building economic resources aren't just the right thing to do, they are imperative to offset the incredible damage done to these communities by the coronavirus and to help build a foundation to buffer them against the next crisis.

Several years ago, you wouldn't have known what QAnon was unless you spent a lot of time reading through comments on Twitter or frequented internet chat rooms. Now, with prominent Q adherents making headlines for storming the U.S. Capitol and elements of the QAnon worldview spilling into mainstream politics, the conspiracy theory/doomsday cult has become a household topic of conversation.

Many of us have watched helplessly as friends and family members fall down the rabbit hole, spewing strange ideas about Democrats and celebrities being pedophiles who torture children while Donald Trump leads a behind-the-scenes roundup of these evil Deep State actors. Perfectly intelligent people can be susceptible to conspiracy theories, no matter how insane, which makes it all the more frustrating.

A person who was a true believer in QAnon mythology (which you can read more about here) recently participated in an "Ask Me Anything" thread on Reddit, and what they shared about their experiences was eye-opening. The writer's Reddit handle is "diceblue," but for simplicity's sake we'll call them "DB."

DB explained that they weren't new to conspiracy theories when QAnon came on the scene. "I had been DEEP into conspiracy for about 8 years," they wrote. "Had very recently been down the ufo paranormal rabbit hole so when Q really took off midterm for trump I 'did my research' and fell right into it."

DB says they were a true believer until a couple of years ago when they had an experience that snapped them out of it:

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True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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Two weeks ago, we watched a pro-Trump mob storm the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overthrow the results of a U.S. election and keep Donald Trump in power. And among those insurrectionists were well-known adherents of QAnon, nearly every image of the crowd shows people wearing Q gear or carrying Q flags, and some of the more frightening elements we saw tie directly into QAnon beliefs.

Since hints of it first started showing up in social media comments several years ago, I've been intrigued—and endlessly frustrated—by the phenomenon of QAnon. At first, it was just a few fringey whacko conspiracy theorists I could easily roll my eyes at and ignore, but as I started seeing elements of it show up more and more frequently from more and more people, alarm bells started ringing.

Holy crap, there are a lot of people who actually believe this stuff.

Eventually, it got personal. A QAnon adherent on Twitter kept commenting on my tweets, pushing bizarro Q ideas on many of my posts. The account didn't use a real name, but the profile was classic QAnon, complete with the #WWG1WGA. ("Where we go one, we go all"—a QAnon rallying cry.) I thought it might be a bot, so I blocked them. Later, I discovered that it was actually one of my own extended family members.

Holy crap, I actually know people who actually believe this stuff.

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Images via Canva and Unsplash

If there's one thing that everyone can agree on, it's that being in a pandemic sucks.

However, we seem to be on different pages as to what sucks most about it. Many of us are struggling with being separated from our friends and loved ones for so long. Some of us have lost friends and family to the virus, while others are dealing with ongoing health effects of their own illness. Millions are struggling with job loss and financial stress due to businesses being closed. Parents are drowning, dealing with their kids' online schooling and lack of in-person social interactions on top of their own work logistics. Most of us hate wearing masks (even if we do so diligently), and the vast majority of us are just tired of having to think about and deal with everything the pandemic entails.

Much has been made of the mental health impact of the pandemic, which is a good thing. We need to have more open conversations about mental health in general, and with everything so upside down, it's more important now than ever. However, it feels like pandemic mental health conversations have been dominated by people who want to justify anti-lockdown arguments. "We can't let the cure be worse than the disease," people say. Kids' mental health is cited as a reason to open schools, the mental health challenges of financial despair as a reason to keep businesses open, and the mental health impact of social isolation as a reason to ditch social distancing measures.

It's not that those mental health challenges aren't real. They most definitely are. But when we focus exclusively on the mental health impact of lockdowns, we miss the fact that there are also significant mental health struggles on the other side of those arguments.

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