Prentice Powell Explains the System Controlling You

By Natasha Foreman Bryant

Below you will find a beyond amazing performance by spoken word artist Prentice Powell. It speaks to my Call to Action posts that I have shared for men and women asking that they stand up and help our youth, families, communities, and world be better, stronger, and more dignified (note: a Call to Action part two is coming ladies).

Prentice Powell is speaking the truth and we need more Powell’s sharing the reality that we all have helped create, want to ignore, point fingers at, or are still playing a role within. If you take offense to what Powell says, then you are quite possibly one of the offenders he speaks of throughout his performance.

Yes, his message is very much directed to and about Black people, but honestly, you can insert any group of people into this configuration and see some or most of what he is addressing. What is most visible, embarrassing, and heart wrenching for him (and for me) is the breakdown within the Black community, and the accepted role within “the system” that Black men and women alike play. So this is what he speaks of, but I have friends of other nationalities, races, and cultures who could easily plug and play their “people” in this example, and say, “that’s us too”.

So I ask that you come from a place that is familiar to you, or try to see through Prentice’s lens, and then ask yourself, what you can do to help bring about a positive change to this epidemic that affects all of us—because believe it or not, we’re truly in this boat together.

Please view the video below and then share it with others. We must change our thinking and habits, and be the change that we want to see in the world. We must disengage our role within “the system” and engage in a more healthy environment for ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world. Please share this with your circle of influence and re-post for the world to see, hear, and to begin a healthy (and productive) dialogue.

Thank you.

~Natasha

Video Source: http://youtu.be/R04kzrpuDY4

Video posted on YouTube by: Arsenio Hall Show

Prentice Powell: https://twitter.com/FollowPrentice

Copyright 2014. Natasha Foreman Bryant. Some Rights Reserved.

 

A Call to Action for All Men: Part One

By Natasha Foreman Bryant, MBA
 
 I’m fed up so I’m speaking out and I’m calling people forward to join me, and to do their part to change our situation. Every week I will post a Call to Action. Today I share part one of this series.
 
 Today and every day I call for men to stand up and be men in your families and households, communities, and in the communities that are in need of positive male images. I don’t care your color, racial makeup, nationality, religion, or how much money you earn. I just want to start seeing men lead and work to take back our neighborhoods.
 
 I want to see more men investing time in classrooms, in before and after school programs, in local community centers, in churches and religious centers, and in outreach programs. I want to see more men tutoring our youth, and telling them about the struggles of adulthood while encouraging them to accept the challenge with dignity.
 
 I want to see more men teaching young boys what it really takes to be a man, and that it has nothing to do with his age, the money in his pocket, the number of females he can impress and have sex with, the size (or capability) of his sexual organ, how far he can throw a ball, how well he can dribble or shoot one, or how fast he can run. These boys need to learn that making babies doesn’t make them a man, taking care of them and treating their mothers with respect is what separates the men from the deadbeats.
 
 Come on fellas, step up and tell these young brothas about the dope game and how they are setting themselves up to be locked up or stone cold in a grave, and how they are risking their families lives every single day. Tell them about the marijuana and crack possession laws that are slanted to incarcerate and keep them mentally enslaved for years. There is no credible and long-term retirement plan for drug dealers or gang members, and their families.
 
 Tell them why being in a gang doesn’t bring them power or respect, because they don’t own the streets they terrorize, and no one respects a person they fear—they merely tolerate them and hope that God or the government will remove them from their life. The disdain that they feel by the so-called “power structure” is the same disdain their community has for them. Oh and those big, bad guns that they (and others) want to tote around, their usage proves nothing to the rest of us—anyone can pull a trigger. I don’t condone violence, but two pairs of fists make a point better than a bullet, bat, knife, or other weapon. If you can’t put up those fists and take a “chin check”, then you need to stay out of drama and don’t let your mouth write a check your butt can’t cash.
 
 Pulling a trigger, stabbing, kicking or beating a person, stealing from or robbing someone doesn’t make you hard or brave. It makes you weak. It sets you up for a life of failure, incarceration, or a shortened lifespan. Tell them this. Explain this to our boys and young men.
 
 A weapon used for revenge or punishment is a cowards way out. You can’t claim self defense when you go out looking for the person to harm. People are outraged about George Zimmerman, so am I, but I’m also outraged by the countless young Black, Brown, Yellow, and White boys who are killing each other like it’s a video game. The players don’t reset themselves in real life like they do in a video game. In real life once the person dies the game is over.
 
 Even a person being bullied doesn’t really get an “eye for an eye” sort of revenge when they pull out a gun and begin firing. Now one or more people are dead or injured, and the person bullied is heading to jail (if they didn’t turn the gun on themselves or get killed by a third party). I need the men to stand up and explain this to our youth and young adults.
 
 Men I need you to stand up, stand up, stand up, and get to work. Don’t close your eyes or turn your head, get to work. We have a world to save!
 
 ~Natasha Foreman Bryant
 
 
 
 Copyright 2013. Natasha Foreman Bryant. All Rights Reserved.
 
 
 

Reflecting on the Orlando Shaw’s, Shawty Lo’s, Video Vixens, and Reality Stars of this Country: We Need a Wakeup Call.

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

I am blown away by our society, especially here in the United States. I feel like someone sucker-punched me and I’m left gasping for air in desperation every time I read, see, or hear news about a person acting a complete fool one way or another—-especially when it’s a person of color. I say this because there is a stigma associated with so-called minorities. Think of the various stereotypes you have bought into about Asians, Latinos, Blacks, those from the Middle East, and others with darker skin pigmentation. Now multiply that exposure by millions, and we then are left with millions of people thinking the same thing about these racial groups.

So imagine how it feels to turn on the news, open the newspaper, or read an online article about so-called men who also happen to be Black who walk around thinking it’s okay to impregnate dozens of women (who already have low self-esteem and dignity) but they don’t take care of the children that they help to bring into the world. Can you say Shawty Lo and Orlando Shaw?

Imagine how a person’s stomach turns to see children walking around with little to no exposure or interaction with the “men” who helped to bring them into this world. Imagine the disgust of knowing that the money that comes into each of those households is being provided by our tax dollars through the state, and not by these so-called “men” who want to be called “daddy”.

Take it all in as you visualize how these children with poor role models will eventually grow up, and how they will impact our neighborhoods, country, and the world.

Now let me just zoom in and focus on Black people, since the article that I’m about to reference is addressing a deadbeat dad who also happens to be Black.

Our world has a stereotypical image of the Black man. He is loud, angry, violent, ignorant, lazy, has low IQ, good at sports, physically strong, extremely high sex drive, and has a well-endowed sexual organ.

Our world has a stereotypical image of the Black woman. She is loud, angry, violent, ignorant, lazy, has a low IQ, good at sports, good at gyrating her hips while dancing proactively, extremely high sex drive, and has a big rear end that she likes to parade around for the world to see.

And some Black men and women are, “attractive for a Black person”. I will let that marinate in your mind and gut for a bit.

Depictions of Black people are always conflicting as in the same breath a Black person could be called both lazy and a hard worker, violent and nurturing, one who can’t be trusted yet also dependable and loyal, great at sports but not smart enough or talented enough to be in the celebrated role of quarterback, pitcher, coach, general manager, or owner. With all of these conflicting terms and depictions floating around, the likelihood is extremely high that these negative portrayals are deeply embedded in the minds of those being stereotyped. If you hear something long enough and hear no counter-argument refuting the claim, you may begin believing what is said about you. If enough people tell you that you are dumb or ugly, then you may begin seeing yourself that way, and eventually acting that way.

This isn’t the case just for Black people, it’s all of us. What about the Asian who makes average or below average grades but has been historically stereotyped as brilliant, what happens to their psyche when they experience this conflict? What about Latinos who are devalued and seen as only laborers and always perceived to not know how to speak English, so how could they possibly compete with the masses? Our once-beloved Middle Easterners now have a “terrorist” label attached to them. What does all of this do to the minds of the people who are subjected to this negative talk and portrayal of them?

Why are we not surprised that people go to the extremes, either trying to be accepted through assimilation or trying to separate themselves completely using terror as their weapon. Think about it, a gang is an organization that takes in those who don’t feel loved, valued, appreciated, understood, powerful, or protected. They need counseling and better role models. Just as anyone willing to change their name, get plastic surgery, and bleach their skin to appear more white and accepted, needs counseling and better role models.

Let’s look at something shall we?

Circa 1989 the music and film industries began cranking out songs and movies about gangs, marijuana and other drugs, including alcohol. Now everyone seems to be a thug, gangsta, getting high, drunk, selling drugs, or getting busted with them. From 1970 to 2007 we had the highest incarceration of Black males, yet no one has rang the bell of enlightenment for the masses to hear and identify with this reality that the more Black males who get busted for possession leaves more women and children alone to fend for themselves, and live off of state assistance provided by our tax dollars. Nope, folks keep gang banging, drinking in excess and getting high on their own supply or someone else’s, and then wondering what happened to their lives after getting locked up or serving a life sentence due to HIV/AIDS, etc.

Then around 2003 I started hearing more and more songs about strippers and models, and I had the nerve to be shocked to see thousands of young ladies desiring to be strippers and models. Shouldn’t I have expected to see young girls and women smacking their butt cheeks and dropping it like it’s hot, while posing for pictures that would be used for club flyers, magazines, and the like? Shouldn’t I have expected to see females rushing to casting calls for music videos so they could work those hips and cute faces for $50 on average per day? Shouldn’t I have expected to see oiled up females sliding down stripper poles twisting their bodies like pretzels hoping, wishing, and praying that they can leave that night with more than $50 and sore feet?

Don’t get me wrong I used to want to be a model, and even took some shots for a portfolio when I was 18, but it was short-lived because I took the time to learn the business and realized that my looks would only last so long and then what would I do? Lord knows I wasn’t willing to go to the extremes to be discovered and represented, and I wasn’t going to have an eating disorder or sample drugs to stay thin and pubescent looking for designers. But the vast majority of females don’t put that much thought into it. No, instead they see themselves as beautiful and gorgeous, one of a kind, and far prettier than the rest, and then convince themselves that they are deserving of a Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell salary and lifestyle right now.

Instead of being ticked off by the songs that encouraged men to go to strip clubs, and celebrated the gyrating strippers, females felt empowered by the songs, music videos, and magazine articles to showcase their bodies for the world to see, with hopes of being labeled the next video vixen, top model, or baddest b****. I’m not sure how they thought the top agencies would look past their “hood” portraits and showcases at the Big Booty Tavern (gosh, I hope that’s not a real strip club name). Why would a top agency want to contract with the girl bent over the hood of a deuce and a quarter wearing a thong and six inch heels? How could that agency conceivably market this girl to their biggest clients? How could they cross platforms? It’s hard enough breaking into modeling and acting as a Black woman, a resume filled with stripping and booty shots won’t make it any easier. But this logic isn’t running through the minds of the girls and young women who have ambitious dreams of being rich and famous.

Now let me broaden this discussion beyond Black people, although they are still part of this conversation (but definitely not alone).

We have seen people dying like flies behind cases of HIV, AIDS, and other sexually-transmitted diseases, yet people are still less inclined to invest a couple of bucks in a condom, and get free screening two times per year. We know that birth control works 90-99.9% of the time when used correctly, and we also know that there are a lot of free and low cost clinics around this country that will provide birth control to males and females who know they are in no position to bring a child into this world. Yet, we keep seeing the babies popping out left and right. We keep seeing folks who are bound for the Jerry Springer and Maury Povich type shows. We keep seeing more and more reality TV shows that were supposed to help slow down teen pregnancy rates, somehow get hoodwinked in a reverse psychology where more teens find it cute to walk around playing house after barely hitting puberty.

These aren’t just Black people doing these things, nope this ignorance covers the rainbow spectrum across these good ole’ United States. The talk shows have representatives from every racial group in the U.S. and the reality shows focused on teen pregnancy have roughly a 90% makeup of white teens starring on the show and as viewers.

I’m saddened, disgusted, enraged, and embarrassed!

Awhile ago I remember hearing about Orlando Shaw, the Black male (not a man by any decent human being’s standards) who thought it was cool that he impregnated 14 women and had 22 children by them. I almost swerved off the road in utter disbelief as I heard the ignorant ramblings coming from his mouth through my car radio. He had little regard or concern about those 36 lives he has now negatively impacted. Yes, 36 lives.

The 14 young women who obviously think their value rests between their legs and not in their heads. These women who obviously also don’t have strong, positive female (and mother) role models in their lives, for if they did they would never subject their children or themselves to the madness that they are currently facing and the darkness that is around the corner. For those women who have more than one child with Orlando Shaw aka the “sperm donor” (my name for him) they will feel less inclined to pull themselves out of this dark pit he has helped place them in, and instead they will settle with trying to survive in what they depressingly consider “comfortable”, living off of the Tennessee taxpayers, and letting Orlando come over whenever he wants to get some “lovin'”.

Then there’s the 22 precious and innocent children who will most likely grow up with the image of Orlando as their example of a man, daddy, and father. If he has daughters, they will spend most or all of their lives looking for “daddy” in every male they encounter, and settling for “baby daddies” over husbands, and any sons that he helped produce will spend most or all of their lives following their sperm donor’s footsteps, broke, jobless, and treating women like human receptacles. That is unless there is a major intervention that can thwart this outcome, and I mean a major intervention!

Well Orlando Shaw has popped back on my radar again this morning as I surfed through my online news sources. Dr. Boyce Watkins has written a piece updating us on the latest pimp network supporting Orlando’s baby making spree. Ole’ Orlando is slated to get his own reality show supposedly to help pay off his child support debt. Now Orlando has chosen not to work, not to help his children financially, and the TV network and Shaw want you and I to believe that he has every intention of taking this money and taking care of his 22 kids!

Really?

Here’s the deal, his ignorance will be watched like a hawk because the world loves to gawk over the buffoonery, bloops, blunders, and misery of others. We absolutely get a thrill out of watching people fall, get hit, make a fool of themselves, and scream out in pain. Our society loves to see someone worse off than we are. Someone else’s pain is our pleasure. So people will tune in to the world of Orlando Shaw and the TV network will make millions of dollars exploiting Orlando, the women, and the innocent children. Even if the contract between Orlando and the network states that a portion of the money will be withheld and allocated for child support administration, where’s the allocation to go towards counseling and other support needs that these women and children will need? And what about the counseling Orlando needs?

There is no doubt about it that this image he wants to portray as a self-proclaimed “Romeo” (his word not mine) is all a shell for the insecure child that hides inside of him scared to stand up and be a man. For this child known as Orlando Shaw, impregnating females is merely a game, and the easiest way for him to claim manhood besides the age listed on his state identification card. Orlando and the women who have been forced to be caretakers need psychological help, job and career training, financial dignity training, parenting courses, and a laundry list of other sources—-that Orlando’s network deal should pay for. Orlando needs to learn the family structure and his role in it, and that his children are not his “siblings”, yes you read that correctly, Orlando continues to refer to his children as his “siblings”. You shouldn’t laugh at that, it should disturb the mess out of you!

Those 22 children need counseling, access to support groups and mentors, tutors and after school resources. Those children need access to men and women who can show them that their current state of living does not have to be their long-term reality. Yes, the TV network that wants to exploit and pimp them should pay for that also. But here’s the thing, what about our responsibility and culpability in all of this?

When will we get tired of celebrating ignorance and buffoonery? When will we say, “no more” to these reality shows that are laughably unreal, scripted, and geared towards dumbing down people and highlighting the ignorance of others? Every time you tune in to one of these shows you are making the executives behind the cameras richer and wealthier. Every time you tune in you are helping to pay someone’s mortgage, sending their children to expensive colleges and universities, paying for lavish vacations, and helping to improve their lifestyle. But how’s your life?

How’s the lives of these so-called “reality stars” who are being rationed out small morsels of money compared to the network executives? Have you noticed that a vast majority of reality stars end up strung out on drugs and alcohol, or arrested for something crazy? Then they are geared up and propped up for a star appearance on a celebrity intervention or rehab show. Our society enjoys dragging people through the mud and watching them self-destruct on TV, the Internet, and in tabloids.

Do we not care about these individuals? Do we not care about how this negative influence will impact their families and generations to come? Do we not see how this negative impact then affects each and every one of us? Whether we get hit with taxes to pay for their children, pay for their time in jail or prison, or for some other situation, we too are negatively impacted by the decisions these folks are making. The drunk driver, the mugger, car jacker, robber, rapist, suicide victim, or even the person living out on that sidewalk—-they could be one of these people (or their children) one day. Do we turn a blind eye? Do we ignore it until we are a direct victim? How can their problem, their illness, not be an issue of concern for you?

As long as there are stereotypes, discrimination, racism, and a slanted justice system we all are impacted by the images and actions of others. As long as there are stereotypes, discrimination, racism, and a slanted justice system we all are susceptible to buying in, exploiting, and being exploited by others. As long as we are comfortable being ignorant we will continue to be treated and regarded as ignorant. Other countries laugh at us and I can see why. The most powerful and wealthiest nation in the world, looks down upon others, but has a glass house with holes and cracks so big that planes can fly through, and we keep hoping that no intense storms shatters our glass house. We are quick to judge other nations, but let’s look inward at our own. Yes, our country is great and far better than others, but we could be better—-and if we are to lead the world then we must lead by example—and not with a “do as I say not as I do” mantra.

It should not be a first or second thought of “I can just get state assistance” when contemplating pregnancy, not when our country has so many options and resources to prevent pregnancy and to give every citizen and resident a chance at living a dignified life as a hard-working contributor through employment, business ownership, etc. We need to help our children and young adults to see the positive role models in the country, around the world, and most importantly in their neighborhoods. Let’s not just clothe them and feed their stomachs, let’s feed their minds with relevant topics and subjects, and show them the possibilities for today and tomorrow. No more pipe dreams, just dreams and goals with trackable benchmarks.

Let’s show them how to be bonafide (and legal) entrepreneurs at the age of 8-20. Let’s show them how to apply for grants and scholarships, how to save and invest money, how to walk with dignity, and how to rebuild and protect their neighborhoods while also being concerned about other neighborhoods. Let’s show them how to respect and care for our elders and our parents. Let’s show them how a weapon isn’t necessary to settle a disagreement, and how fighting doesn’t solve anything (and usually causes a domino effect called revenge). Let’s show them that bullies are bullied, and how to help squash bullying and how to get help for both sets of victims. Let’s teach them that their bodies and sexual organs are not to be exploited and broadcasted for others enjoyment. Let’s teach them the beauty of marriage and that it is to be entered by two people in love, who vow to work through thick and thin for the rest of their lives as a team—not entered into like a dance competition that when one misses a step you instantly break up the team and go separate ways.

Just as they need to stop relying on the government to take care of them, we need to stop relying on and waiting for the government (or self-designated “leaders”) to clean up our mess. We created it or watched it happen so we need to clean it up, one home at a time, one street at a time, one neighborhood and city at a time, until we reclaim our beautiful country and restore it to where we all wished it to be when we were small children—-safe, loving, caring, considerate, dignified, respected and respectful, forgiving, embracing, honorable, open-minded, receptive, compassionate, accepting, and tolerant.

If you would like to read Dr. Boyce Watkins post about Orlando Shaw and the state of America, and Black America, read more here:

http://naturallymoi.com/2013/07/news/man-with-22-kids-by-14-women-may-get-his-own-reality-show/

Share with me your thoughts on my article and Dr. Watkin’s article. What do you think that you could do to help reverse the negativity in our neighborhoods and throughout our country? What are you willing to do today to help right these wrongs? What are you already doing to bring about positive change in your community, state, and for the broader good of our nation? I would love to hear from you. We have to be the change that we want to see.

~Natasha

Copyright 2013. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

My Response to John Hope Bryant’s Article “If Bill Gates Were Black”

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

 

I wanted to share my thoughts regarding John Hope Bryant’s brilliant article that was posted on and by Bloomberg BusinessWeek today. I also wanted to have a healthy dialogue with those individuals who showed their lack of critical thinking skills before they reacted, and quickly responded in the negative, to the article.

It is my opinion that the moment many of us don’t understand something or it rubs us the wrong the way, the remaining of what we read or hear turns more into an episode of Charlie Brown, just a bunch of whah whah whah blah blah blah…and we don’t hear or interpret anything else. We are then too focused on a counter argument, but never on seeking clarification. Here is the link to John Hope Bryant’s article: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-04-04/if-bill-gates-were-black-dot-dot-dot

Below is my comment that I submitted to Bloomberg, that they will hopefully post in their comments section below the article. After you read John’s article and the comments made by other readers, please share your thoughts about the article and comments (inclusive of mine). Let’s have some healthy dialogue and if possible, some positive solutions to issues facing the Black community specifically, and all underserved communities in general. Here you go:

Economic empowerment and the eradication of poverty first begins with understanding the history of how this country was built, how we rebuild during economic downfalls, and how the least of God’s children are impacted. It requires us to look at the missing piece between the have’s and have not’s. 

So yes, possessing a bank account versus being robbed blind at check cashing centers is a bonus. Yes, having a credit score around or higher than 700, instead of 550 and lower, is a huge predictor of a community’s growth and prosperity—as well as an individual’s ability to thrive not just merely survive. Yes, being financially literate is imperative, because if you aren’t then you run the risk of falling prey to predatory lenders who can smell your desperation miles away.

If you don’t have a bank account then how are you depositing or cashing checks? Are you going to check cashing centers and giving them a portion of YOUR money to gain access to YOUR money? That doesn’t sound like the wisest of choices when you have a choice. Show me one millionaire or billionaire who doesn’t have a bank account. Show me one entrepreneur without a bank account. Show me. I’m sure you can’t.

The banking system isn’t corrupt, there are corrupt INDIVIDUALS in the banking system; just like there are corrupt individuals in countless other systems including government, religious organizations, educational institutions, charities, etc. You can’t blame a crisis caused by unethical behavior on an entire system, because just as there were predatory lenders who knew customers were potentially high risk for loan defaults, there are some ‘victims’ of this economic downfall who knew they bought more house than they could afford, who knew that they didn’t have true job ‘security’ but gambled with the odds anyway, who claimed to earn more than they actually had (and eventually they had more month than money). So unethical decisions from individuals caused our country to suffer these past few years.

This is a brilliant post by John Hope Bryant, that clearly expresses the sentiment that if African Americans had a Bill Gates-type-entrepreneurial role model then the vision for the Black community would not be limited to a mindset of ‘only the lucky get out’, and the ‘victory’ would not be narrowed to simply having a ‘Black President”.  

Think about it, if Bill Gates was a Black man, the money he donates and invests would be injected within his community first and then worldwide. Don’t most of us consider taking care of ‘home’ before we take care of the rest of the world? Don’t we start local and then go global? Well if this were the case, then Black communities would be resuscitated through Gates community giving, and the country (and world) would see a different ‘picture’ of these communities. 

John Hope Bryant is NOT saying that Black people don’t have entrepreneurial role models; he is saying that we need MORE business owners who are employing thousands, not merely hundreds (or less). He’s saying we need more innovators, more businesses in technology, etc. that provide a competitive advantage within the U.S. in general, and within Black communities specifically. He’s saying we need MORE Black entrepreneurs going into the community, going into the schools and teaching and sharing the ‘magic’ in their success. 

He is saying that in order to eradicate poverty and gain economic empowerment in the Black community it is going to take the Black community, not government, not charity, not handouts, but hard work and each person reaching back to an open hand and providing a hand up out of the pit. It’s going to require Black people with 700+ credit scores teaching those with 550 and lower credit scores how they did it. It’s going to require Black entrepreneurs to hire within their community, to bring on interns to learn the ropes at their company, and to mentor young Black children.

The majority of our role models that our children regularly see come from entertainment and sports backgrounds, which there is nothing wrong with that, except if you lack talent in either area, then what? 

Additionally, and no disrespect, but Oprah Winfrey, Magic Johnson, Bob Johnson, and others have built BRANDS that employ–but none to the extent of a Bill Gates level; and all three brands represent entertainment or sports. In 2007, Microsoft employed a reported 79,000 people. That was in 2007. Name one Black-owned company that employs 79,000 people?  

So John Hope Bryant’s article says, “what if Bill Gates were Black?” What changes would you see in the Black community? What would Black children aspire to become if they saw a Black employer hiring thousands of people within their community? How many Black people could be employed (since unemployment is HIGHEST in the Black community)? How many of our children would be encouraged to excel in STEM courses and pursue careers in those fields so that they too could grow up to ‘be like Bill’?

We need to take the emotion out; we need to stop wanting to attack everything we don’t understand, and start acting like we are intelligent enough to ASK for clarification if needed, and to ASK how we can individually and collectively help solve the problem.

How many of you volunteer in the Black community? How many of you work with the underserved and underrepresented? How many of you are helping to work towards a solution? Or are you merely only focusing on picking at and tearing down the things you don’t understand, and the things you are against? If you aren’t doing anything to help the Black community, and other underserved and underrepresented communities, then what does your opinion really mean, and what are you truly adding to this conversation? 

John Hope Bryant you did an awesome job with this piece. We need our children to aspire to be entrepreneurs as much as (or more than) they aspire to be athletes and entertainers. Great, they want to be a football star, but let’s teach them to also start and build a business (now) as an additional revenue stream—so when their football career ends, they still have a career…and wealth, not just temporary riches! 

A broke mindset only gets the same results…an unfinished puzzle!

 

 

Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

A Focus on Dignity and Non-Violence at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

On April 15th I was honored to lead a Dignity Day session as a HOPE Corp Volunteer through Operation HOPE (HOPE) at the Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (CSKYWLA) in Atlanta.

What is amazing is how the majority of this class of ninth graders were initially completely turned off to the idea of having to listen to yet another speaker that day as they were just returning to their classroom from an assembly that focused on the theme of 100 days of Non-Violence…so they were shifty and closed off. But about 15 minutes into our conversation some of the girls who had crossed arms were soon raising their hands and answering questions.

I started off by talking about the concept of legacy and that that day we were laying the foundation and road map for them to create and eventually leave behind a strong, dignified legacy. I had them define the term legacy in their own words and then share some of their dreams, goals and aspirations. Then as our conversation deepened I shared with them the history of how HOPE was founded, the services and programs that HOPE offers, and I started to weave a story where life included them and their legacy.


I think helping them share the names of empowered and dignified women they see in their family, community, and elsewhere who had similar or worse lives growing up helped them to see that they too could be those same type of women- that they are these women but in-training and with the potential to do more and help more in the long run because they are being equipped with the tools at a young age; and our adversity isn’t an excuse to let life pass us by or a crutch to coast through life doing and expecting the bare minimum, but a reason and motivation to excel and succeed.

These young ladies were shocked to hear that the civil rights movement as it pertained to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Ambassador Andrew Young was sparked, motivated, and pushed along due to their wives Coretta Scott King and Jean Childs Young- two women who endured and overcame adversity and strife. Hearing this information made many of these girls sit up straight in their chairs and listen intently.

                        

When I spoke about not holding grudges, and that forgiving people is not to benefit the person they were forgiving but to help themselves heal, grow, and overcome- some girls shifted in their seats their seats, a few others rolled their eyes in disbelief; but then when I mentioned Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Iyanla Vandzant and their ability to forgive their abusers and using strife as a launching pad towards success- some of the girls started naming other people like Fantasia and Tyler Perry who was sexually and physically abused and how he also overcame and pushed himself to success.

We discussed the concept of family and that it isn’t just our immediate family we need to be concerned about but our neighborhoods, cities, state, our country, and our global family. Because I know that girls can be equally as cutthroat as boys, I made sure that we had a heart-to-heart chat about trash-talking and “clowning” people and how although initially it can be lighthearted and funny, it can also be crippling and tear apart our “extended” family.

We discussed being relevant not only in this country but globally, and that true wealth (spiritual, financial, etc) can only be maintained long term by leading a dignified life, not by living up to the negative stereotypes that are projected globally about Black females. We discussed self-empowerment and not waiting on the government or specific programs to help us, that we have to help ourselves. That we shouldn’t be waiting for someone else to pick up trash on our sidewalks- we should pick it up ourselves.

We shouldn’t be waiting for someone else to cover the graffiti on our walls and buildings- we should paint over it ourselves; we shouldn’t wait for someone else to beautify our streets and parks with trees and flowers- we should plant them ourselves. I explained that they should be volunteering in their community through church or some other organization taking pride in restoring, building, maintaining, and beautifying their neighborhoods.

We had a pretty good time. We laughed and talked about boys and expectations of being respected by males and all people when you carry yourself with respect and dignity. We discussed the language of money and being financially literate, and how this literacy will empower them. It was refreshing to see that many of them have savings accounts and that two of the students had traveled abroad- one to London and the other to the Bahamas. Two young passport carriers living in an underserved and underrepresented area of Atlanta- doesn’t that give you hope? It gives me hope and encourages me to continue my work in the community, and my work through Operation HOPE.

I hope more men and women find it in their hearts to invest one hour of their time at least once per month to volunteer in a church, in a class room, or in a youth center through Operation HOPE. One person can make a difference!

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.
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Trump the Chumps: Part Two

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

Are you ready to pick up where we left off ? Let’s go!

First let me say…OUR President announced late last night that the U.S. has confirmed that they killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan after OUR President gave the okay to engage in combative measures to eliminate Bin Laden and his associates as a threat. So…uh Donald Trump and all of you small-minded morons out there so concerned with OUR President’s birth certificate, maybe now you can see what pressing issues that he found more important to follow up on instead of tracking down his birth certificate from the 60s. Now this is a perfect segue into part two of my post on Trump the Chumps…

I want to see Trump’s transcripts from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Matter of fact I want to see his transcripts from Fordham before he transferred to Wharton. I want to see his academic honors he claims to have earned while attending the New York Military Academy (when he was acting up as a teenager as his parents sent him there to get his attitude problem adjusted). I want to know what gives a person who comes directly from Scottish (mother) and German (father and paternal grandparents) roots the right to question someone’s heritage and citizenship.

I want to know what a person who claims to have an interest in the U.S. economy, jobs, business development, and competing in the global marketplace- and says that OUR President is doing an awful job (the worst of all presidents he claimed) can do anything to turn our country around when in 1991 he filed for corporate bankruptcy (and almost filed for personal bankruptcy); watched banks and bondholders lose hundreds of millions of dollars while he restructured his debt to avoid losing more money in court. What can this man say when in 1992 his Trump Plaza Hotel was forced to file a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy?

Two years later Trump lost the Trump Shuttle, was forced to sell a parcel of his West Side yards to Asian developers without retaining ownership- only allowed to keep his name on the buildings that were built on those yards so a premium could be charged for them. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the breaking point when he became fixated on Asians, more specifically the Chinese as being enemy number one.

I want to know why Trump feels he’s qualified to run this country when in 1998 his Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts were profitless and could barely pay the interest on nearly $3 billion in debt; which kept them from making necessary improvements on the properties. I want to know how he feels he is capable of running our country and reducing our deficit when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) brought a financial-reporting case against Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc in 2002 alleging that the company had misleading third-quarter 1999 earnings release statements. Then two years later the company announced they were restructuring their debt reducing Donald’s individual ownership from 56 percent to 27 percent, and giving bondholders stock in exchange for surrendering part of the debt.

So who’s company had to file for bankruptcy November 2004? Trump’s. So who relinquished his CEO position but retained his role as Chairman of the Board? The Donald. So after re-emerging as Trump Entertainment Resorts Holdings in 2005 and appearing to be on the upswing even with legal issues who then had to file for Chapter 11 again on February 17, 2009 after the “Chairman of the Board” said he would resign from the board four days earlier? Trump Entertainment Resorts.

How is Donald John Trump, Sr. qualified to be the President of the United States? Does he think it’s because he knows how to say, “you’re fired” and he thinks that shows signs of a strong leader? Maybe it’s because while he was a student at the New York Military Academy he was the captain of the baseball team in 1964 and received the Coach’s Award that same year. Or maybe it was because his senior year there he was promoted to the Cadet Captain-S4 (Cadet Battalion Logistics Officer). For those of you who don’t know what this title means- The Donald was “responsible for the maintenance, security, record keeping, issue, and turn-in of all U.S. government property (except ordinance).” That is definitely grounds to claim a stake at the presidency isn’t it?

His attack on OPEC and belief that as President he could force them to do what we say and “stop robbing us blind” is supported by what experience exactly? Does he think his real estate career has laid the foundation for dealing with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries?

Maybe Donald thinks he’s better suited for the Presidency since he knows the viewpoints from all sides since he’s been a supporter of the Reform Party, Republican Party, and the Democratic Party. Donald needs to choose a party first, commit to it, and I would suggest having had experience voting in primary elections- since according to an April 23rd report by New York-based TV station NY1 (and confirmed by a city board spokeswoman) Donald hasn’t voted in a primary election in New York City for 21 years.

I want to see Donald’s tax returns for the past four years. I want to see his academic achievements highlighted for verification. I want to see the report his “people” gave him when their intel said that OUR President’s birth certificate did not exist and then eluded that it was because he was Kenyan born.

I mean seriously, Donald’s foreign policy concept is imperialistic and pimpish. I thought our country is pushing an anti-bullying movement with our children- but we’re still saying, “do as I say not as I do”. He told CNN last week that we should have told the Arab League that we would go into Libya and take Gaddafi out of office for $5 billion and then we could go in there and get their oil. He then also found a way to attack China and place some blame their way because they haven’t sent their military troops to Libya.

Yes, China’s cleaning our clock economically and academically- how is that their fault that we got caught slipping on innovation and education? Donald why don’t you invest in our schools, bring in more textbooks and supplies, fund before-and-after school programs (in underserved and underrepresented cities) that offer tutoring as early as 6am and as late as 7pm during the week, and weekend programs open from 8am to 6pm?

I would also say this- the man who is so concerned about our economy, jobs, and competing with China whom he calls our country’s “enemy” should take the $100 million he offered to donate to the White House for a stinking ballroom and instead inject that into our economy for a booster shot and job creation. If he’s so concerned about jobs and says OUR President is incompetent at creating jobs, then The Donald should start hiring U.S. citizens in all of his companies, and since he has the money supposedly, why doesn’t he open more businesses to answer the supply and demand needs which will help to trigger positive consumerism trends in those states?

Let’s be real shall we…Donald Trump is the epitome of the capitalist that people detest- he is all about money and how he can acquire more only for himself, and not concerned with job creation except to help him achieve and maintain his financial wealth. I want to know as he’s attacking OUR President about our country not having enough U.S. based companies and U.S. made products, how many of his employees in Dubai, Turkey, South Korea, Canada, Scotland, and Canouan Island are U.S. citizens? How much of the generated revenues from these locations are being re-distributed back into the U.S. economy? I want to know what U.S. products he is helping to produce that are being exported to other nations to help boost our economy and help to pay down our staggering debt?

Let me say in closing that I see that Donald’s son Eric has a foundation- The Eric Trump Foundation for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital- but where’s Donald’s foundation? I researched and discovered on Trump’s website that “The Trump Family is proud to participate in and provide support for…” The Eric Trump Foundation, Girl Up United Nations Foundation, New York City Police Foundation, Operation Smile, and The Police Athletic League (PAL)…I will let you reflect on that for a moment and not to diminish the contributions made by and to these great organizations but just ask yourself where the support of education and job creation is present by the Trump conglomerate!

Then I want you to think about this…OUR so-called “incompetent” President has done something no other President before him has been able to do and that was whoop up on, defeat, and bring back the body of Osama Bin Laden snatching that magnet of fear out of the world. You may be able to huff and puff, and fire a bunch of people Donald, and Sarah Palin may be able to hunt deer and elk in Alaska but NONE of you fools have what it takes to deal with ordering the elimination of Bin Laden while being under attack from hate mongers who question your patriotism, nationality, citizenship, loyalty, and religion every single day; while also trying to bring up the spirits of the country, rebuild our schools, produce jobs for the unemployed and underemployed, and deal with back-to-back crisis situations affecting our country domestically and abroad- while raising a family and trying to be a loving and attentive spouse. Let’s not discuss your family lives and careers!

To my readers let me say…you know that I await your feedback!

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

paradigmlife.blogspot.com

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>Black Power at it Again:Picking Up Where I Left Off…Let the Heads Roll!

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Yesterday I shared with everyone about the tiff between Tavis Smiley and the Reverend Al Sharpton that took place over the airwaves. Since I’m long-winded I decided to make my post a two-part discussion so not to overwhelm my readers. I look forward to hearing back from each of you. So far I’ve been told I hit it on the nail. Let’s see what folks have to say today….
What This Means to Me
One of my passions is teaching young Black students about their culture while empowering them to become great leaders at school, home, within and outside of their communities. Let me tell you what I won’t do…. I will not teach them to expect our President to ride in and overnight move mountains; nor will I teach them to ask for (and expect) any hand outs, especially not our 40 acres and a mule reparations cry. Let’s be real shall we?!? 
I also won’t discuss the suggestion that our economy be bombed by another multi-million dollar stimulus injection.  Can we take a break from looking like a country of idiots for just a second? I’m not going to teach children that just because we have a Black President that now our problems should soon go away, and that he alone can write our future. 
Yes, we all have concerns we want addressed. Yes, we have every right to do a double-take at the President and his advisors and ask, “Uh…what’s going on with us getting some jobs in the marketplace and healthcare for those of us struggling with being uninsured or underinsured?” Yes, we need help in our schools as we see our high school drop-out rates skyrocket. Yes, I’d like to ask why we have 20 and 21-year-old students in high school because states like Georgia want to have ridiculously high graduation requirements (although they rank embarrassing low nationwide in testing and graduation rates). 
These young adults are at an age when most people are graduating from college…not 12th grade. But I’m not solely looking to our President for the answers to my problems or the problems of the Black community. I need those other leaders who line that ladder to the top to be on board of the plan for change that uplifts my people…not provides handouts…that brings about long-term positive change where there is visible growth, wealth, prosperity, and equality in education and health measures, not simply while he’s in office but until the end of time. That way our President’s plan can be welcomed (even with friction) and not shut down.
What’s the “Black Agenda” Exactly?
How effective is it to have an agenda when at the grassroots level we can’t even reach those that are within an arm-length distance? How do we go to the President with our “Black Agenda” when we obviously haven’t come together on the ground level to collectively determine what the agenda is exactly? It’s obvious that there are some folks that are out of the loop so to speak….maybe because there are too many segmented agendas floating around. Have we determined who will oversee the process once everything has been put into action on our behalf? Who is assuming what role? We need every Black leader to get off their high horse and have a seat in a chair in one room and respectfully hash everything out now!
Our Measure of Time and Action
If you were the President who could you trust when it appears that a great deal of people have their finger on the trigger? Yes, he is very difficult to read…his pulse is not clear. Should it be? I’m not sure. Should he keep a solid poker face as he strategically finds a way to address our needs at the same time he’s addressing our country’s needs? Or should he just come straight out and say, “Black people have been mistreated for hundreds of years, disenfranchised and overlooked, so I’m issuing an order of blah blah blah to take place effective immediately to re-birth a nation that built this one”? Which Black leaders can he trust to be frank with, listen to, and take advice from? Maybe that is an issue…some Black leaders are upset that they aren’t part of his “circle of influence”.
So let me throw something out there….Is President Obama not moving fast enough for us? What should have already been in place by now that directly impacts Black America? I know what I would have liked to have seen implemented. Should he be moving faster because he’s Black? Some folks felt he was not Black “enough”…what must he do to be Black “enough” so that we are satisfied that he is representing us to his fullest capabilities? What must he do to prove that our needs and concerns are important to him, and that all the work he’s done within our communities over the years was not simply the layered motives of a politician wanting to gain ground and leverage? How long are we giving him to prove himself before we turn our backs on him and throw him under the bus? 
What time frame did we create for our last 18 Presidents that held office during the 20th and 21st centuries to speak up and produce proof on how they would serve the needs and interests of Black America? How well did they fair? I mean heck the situation that I see in the Black community did not just pop up once Obama was elected. 
So I’m trying to figure out what exactly the last 18 Presidents did for us that was so overwhelmingly impressive that proves that Obama is slacking? I’m not saying his slow action or inaction is acceptable, nor am I attacking him. One thing I can say is that with the exception of the long-time jokes about Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton being “Black” presidents- Barack Obama is our first (only God knows if he is to be our last). In this role he is doing something no other Black person has achieved. I understand that he has a limited window of time to get the job done (or as much as possible). I understand that unlike other countries he can’t “reign” for another 50 years. What I also understand is that although we are part of an instant gratification society, we can’t ask or demand of this president what we didn’t ask or demand of the past 18, 19, 20…or 25 presidents. If we did then why don’t we just say, “hey just refer to the last 10-18 requests we’ve submitted to your predecessors and then add this, this, and that…“?
So ask yourself, how can he best serve us while also serving the millions that also voted for him (and those that did not), while trying to secure a second term- so that we can see the fruits of all of our labor? Maybe he won’t get a second term…what are we doing to help prevent this from happening? Can we help? In what ways can we hurt his second term election?
What Are My Leaders Doing?
I know that we need help desperately. I know that I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I know that it rips me up to see my people on the streets homeless and feeling helpless and hopeless. I’m tired of seeing my people being pimped out with payday loans, rent-to-own furniture, and too-high-to-sleep-at-night interest rates. I’m tired of seeing young Black girls dropping it to the floor, shaking and showing what God and their mama gave them. I’m tired of seeing these Black girls thinking it’s cute to be dumb as a rock in the woods that no one sees. 
I’m hurt every time I see a teen mother…when will birth control and adequate sex education be an option at all of our schools? 
We say that abortion is causing genocide in our community…birth control and sex education would help prevent this. We have too many young girls between the ages of 10 and 17… pregnant…some on their second and third child…birth control and sex education would help prevent this. I’m tired of hearing and reading stories about a mother leaving her baby in the trash can, park, alley, etc….birth control and sex education would help prevent this.
I’m tired of seeing our young Black men with their pants so big, hanging off their hips (struggling to walk, trot or run) barely able to hold a decent conversation above that of a third grade level because it’s not cool to be intelligent. 
I’m tired of seeing kids in my community going to and coming back from school with no books in hand. I’m tired of seeing half-empty public libraries. I’m tired of seeing school libraries being used for in-school suspension…are the kids in there reading, studying, doing class work? Not likely. I’m tired of seeing visits to the museum limited to school trips (if it’s in the budget). I’m tired of seeing Black parents working just to put their kids in designer clothes, shoes, and bags but can’t pay their rent and utilities. I’m tired of hearing my people say, “I don’t read” when I ask them, “so what book are you currently reading?” or “so what kind of books do you like to read?”
I’m tired of seeing kids “slanging” drugs and can break down how much an ounce, pound, or kilo costs but go dead dumb in the classroom. Yes, I said dead dumb. I’m tired of these so-called “reality” TV shows that depict Black people as loud, ignorant, uneducated (even when it’s a show with college students), sex feigns, hoes and players, dead-beats, alcoholics, and drugged out. I don’t need to mention these cable TV shows, besides there are so many I would need to write a separate piece just on that subject…and don’t let me start on those flippin’ grills! I don’t want to see another child or worse, adult with a grill in their mouth…please stop!
I’m tired of seeing my people more concerned about how they’re going to “front” with a fake 5-7 carat stone in their ear or on the hand; or twirling around a huge cross or some other emblem made out of crystals pretending they are diamonds (each stone roughly 1-3 carats in size). 
If my people understood the true cost of those items had they been real…maybe (but I doubt it) they would elect to wear something smaller (like 0.25 carats) or something else more appropriate. Oh and by the way the image you just saw…here’s the eye-catching description at the website that sells it for $89.99:
EXCLUSIVE All Ice 36 inches White 8mm Stones Bling Chain
– All iced out 150 karats of ice!
– You’ve seen these worn by all the rappers!
– This chain will attract crazy attention by all the ladies!
Wow 150 carats huh? Oh excuse me…karats…for only $89.99
I understand this madness clearly…they imitate what they see day in and day out. So what are leaders in my community doing about it? Speak up those of you who daily go into the classrooms, walk these streets speaking with your people, interviewing them, recording them, documenting their progress…tell me what you are doing right now to change this…besides saying, “we need the President to do….
I want education reform, I want true financial literacy being presented and taught in our communities and in our classrooms. I want Black studies, multi-cultural studies, and religious studies being taught in the classroom and not just as an option on college campuses. I want affordable health coverage where I can pick my doctor, dentist, and specialist, and not because I’m getting “aid”. If I lose my job and get independent, private insurance I don’t want to be denied service, face a laundry list of exclusions, or be put on the traditional “one year” clause because of “pre-existing conditions” or other nonsense. I want to see unemployment rates plummet while watching my people get those jobs they have been desperately applying for…and so Black men can resume being the true head of their household, with dignity and self-respect. I want to see more state regulations (especially in southern states like Georgia) in place so employees feel valued and companies can feel the sting when they mistreat their employees.
So what are leaders in my community doing about this? What do we tell our President that we need him to do to resolve these issues? What is our collective message in this Black Agenda? Where do I go to have my say, listen to the masses, and see this outlined proposal for change?
The Standard for All
Accountability should be addressed to every politician and leader who has been put into office by our vote, our say, our power, our support. Not just one or some, but all leaders should be held accountable for what they claimed they would do before they got into office, what they said they would do the first 100 days, and what they have done those first 365 days and every year thereafter. You don’t hold them accountable once the diaper hits the fan…it is to begin from day one. Just like when Jerry McGuire yelled, “show me the money”, you must tell your leaders, “show me what you can do and what you have done”.
You make it difficult for this dialogue to take place when you’re having a monologue!
Copyright © 2010 by Natasha L. Foreman. All rights reserved

Tavis Smiley “Tavis Smiley Talks” Transcript Source: http://www.tavistalks.com/we-count-black-agenda-american-agenda

Tavis, Sharpton and Ogletree Conversation Source: http://blip.tv/file/3259184

New York Times Article Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/us/politics/09race.html

Black girl in shorts Image Source: http://img.youtube.com/vi/x6UWGzx2YVI/0.jpg