DETROIT (Posted Jan. 16, 2008) – A few Black celebs at the upcoming North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) are pushing a new agenda: green plus “bling.”
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The American urban slang lexicon might suggest that the words are interchangeable – “bling” being a term associated with pricey, materialistic wealth and green, symbolic of money.
But stars like hip-hop entrepreneur Damon Dash and film actress/producer Rosie Perez apply their usage to the idea of flashy vehicles that can also be environmentally friendly.
Perez and Dash are in Detroit, where, annually, an average of more than 700,000 people from around the world visit the Auto Show, which runs from Jan. 19 to 27. Perez hosted Tuesday’s 12th annual Urban Wheel Awards, which recognizes automotive suppliers of color and their commitment to a multi-cultural presence in the industry. Dash, rap legend MC Lyte, singer Musiq Soulchild, boxer Evander Holyfield, and actress Drew Sidora were among those recruited to present awards.
Perez says she attended her second NAIAS and hosted the Urban Wheel ceremony, so she could help increase advocacy of environmentally safe cars among urban consumers.
“I wanted to promote car options in the area of green-friendly vehicles,” Perez says.
A 2008 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid on display at NAIAS particularly caught the eye of the actress, best known for her roles in “White Men Can’t Jump” and “Do the Right Thing.” Hybrid vehicles are promoted by auto makers as requiring less gasoline, or often using alternative fuel sources that help reduce air pollution through exhaust and other ozone-related hazards.
“If you have to be a materialistic, ‘blinged-out’ person, you have that option” without adding to problems in the environment, she adds. “We have to be more aware of this in the minority community and how we can do our part. We have to catch up with the rest of the world.”
What are Dash's plans for eco-friendly cars? Go to the next page to find out.
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Damon Dash, who announced a forthcoming collaboration with Visionary Vehicles, agrees. The Roc-a-Fella Records founder says his new venture into the auto industry will be green-friendly cars that are plug-in, electricity-powered and provide the same size and comfort of a Mercedes LS.
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“We’re working on a series of cars that get 100 miles a gallon and will be ultra-luxury for under $40,000,” says Dash. “It’s a way for me to help the industry and, hopefully, the world.”
Dash gave no date when development of the cars will be complete, but he says it will be “sooner than later.”
Former Subaru executive and CEO of Visionary Vehicles Malcolm Bricklin hopes Dash can help make environmentally friendly cars appealing to both present and future generations of drivers.
“We’re very excited to have Damon on board with us,” Bricklin says. “He’ll be an extra set of eyes and ears.”
Perez further champions the efforts of Urban Wheels in bringing celebrities and company insiders together to create a more multicultural presence among consumers and industry advocates.
“That’s my reason for being here,” she says.