Mary In the Mixx: A Beloved Publicist Dies At 62, Kanye vs. Rhymefest

I’m baaaaaaaaaack! After taking a couple of weeks off from writing this column, I realized how much of a workaholic I’ve become over the last three decades. The news never stops, and people go on with their lives, but we have one body, mind and spirit that we must take care of while we’re on this physical earth.

A Major Loss for the PR Community

Pictured l-r: Dr. Mahalia Hines and Desiree Tate at a special fundraiser. PHOTO: Mary L. Datcher

Like so many others, I received the sad news of Chicago publicist and community advocate, Desiree L. Tate passing Monday night from a heart attack. In the short time, I’ve gotten to know Desiree through her outreach in making sure Black media was well represented at key events and projects she was involved with—she was admired, loved and respected. If it weren’t for Desiree’s relationships within the Black community—many key public figures would be left hanging in the wind. Her tenacity for organizing and rounding up the right people to collectively come together takes a unique gift and years of learning from the best in the business.

From her work with Harold Washington, President Barack Obama, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to be an integral part of advocating for the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago—people rarely said ‘no’ to Desiree. If she extended an invitation, you knew you were in the right room with the right people. Unfortunately, there aren’t many in the business that has built a front line of friends, supporters, and colleagues as Desiree and our prayers are with her family in this time of loss. She will be sorely missed. 

She is survived by her daughter Ashley Tate-Gilmore, CEO of Fortis Global.

On Tuesday, the family released an official statement on Facebook:

The family of Desiree Tate would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love, prayers, and support during this incredibly difficult time.
The Celebration of Desiree Tate’s life will be Monday, June 4, at 11:30 a.m. at Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W. 95th Street. A repast will be held immediately after at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr. All flowers should be sent to Trinity.
Everyone who knew Desiree knows the two things that defined her: She loved being Ashley’s mother and she found joy in serving others. She was a proud CPS parent and even after Ashley graduated Whitney Young she actively supported students and parents in schools across Chicago. Desiree also honorably served on the Board of Directors at Breakthrough Urban Ministries, an organization that enabled her to touch countless lives on the West side of Chicago. In true Desiree fashion, she hosted her recent birthday party at Breakthrough by treating all the homeless guests to dinner and spa services. 

Instead of gifts, please consider donating in Desiree’s honor to Breakthrough Urban Ministries:

No Brotherly Love

Over the weekend, social media was on fire amid the twitter feud between Chicago rapper and community activist, Che “Rhymefest” Smith and Kanye West’s wife, Kim Kardashian-West. Having dealt with both men over the years in a more positive light, it saddens me to witness a friendship dissolve over several things that ‘we’ as the public will never quite know. There have been allegations of West not supporting the nonprofit organization, Donda’s House who both Smith and his wife, Donnie Smith has operated for the past seven years with limited involvement by West. 

Che “Rhymefest” Smith

The organization, named after West’s mother and educator, Dr. Donda West who died in 2007 from heart complications was formed in 2012. Both Smith and West have worked on several songs together including the Grammy-winning song, “Jesus Walks” co-written by Smith. Since then, the two have collaborated on other West albums, but in the last couple of years, Smith has made public comments regarding West’s mental stability. 

In the midst of West’s recent comments in support of President Donald Trump, the nonprofit has felt the pressure of distancing themselves from the Chicago native. Seeking help from fellow rap artist, Drake, last week Smith tweeted out “I’m asking @Drake to help the part of Chicago Kanye has abandoned! Please contact @DondasHouse.” He also added when he spoke with West about helping; he said the rapper responded, “F**k the youth of Chicago!” 

Do we know what West said in this conversation with Smith without the rest of the discussion revealed? No, we do not and to jump to conclusions only add more fuel to the fire. To add more salt to the wound, a barrage of tweets from Kim Kardashian-West’s account put Smith on blast with threats of taking back the charity and canceling his airline ticket to Wyoming where Ye has been recording. 

Was this a good tactic from the Kardashian-West clan? Uh…nope. I can’t recall seeing her at a youth event, a panel discussion addressing gun violence or even developing a mentoring program for young people in her husband’s hometown with her many sponsors. Yes, we as women do we feel compelled to run to our partner’s defense, but this fight was between two Black adult men with history.

There has become a prominent concern for West’s support of Trump, but the problem is not with Ye’s political viewpoints, this is about a friendship and business arrangement gone bad. Another ugly and public exchange at the hands of social media when hotheads should step away from the keyboard to cool off at the expense of many young Chicago students who benefited from Donda’s House. Despite the charity releasing an official statement announcing their break from Mr. West and changing the name of the nonprofit, it is sad to see all of this play out. 

Birthday Shout-outs

Chicago publicist Deborah Farmer.

We’re in full bloom for the Gemini season, and this sign never fails to please. Half the time we don’t know which personality we’ll get, but we love them with all of our hearts. Happy belated birthday wishes to ABC 7 News journalist, Evelyn Holmes and Cafe Mocha Radio executive producer, Sheila Eldridge on May 29. Beautiful House music head and friend, Michele Allen-Marsh celebrates on May 30. Journalist and digital consultant guru, Kyra Kyles, and the legendary DJ Larry Heard turn up the volume on May 31. Crazy shout out to powerful women, Judge Fredrenna Lyle and Senator Mattie Hunter along with DJs, Tim ‘Spinnin’ Schommer and Mark Grant on June 1. Big hugs to one of the hardest working publicists, Deborah Farmer and HYPE Magazine Publisher, Jameelah ‘Jam’ Wilkerson who will blow out the candles on June 2. 

Got a scoop? Send us your special announcements, events, press releases to We will post them and spread the love!

Follow Mary L. Datcher on Twitter.



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