JR JR’s Josh Epstein’s Mental Health Awareness Month Playlist

I enjoyed the Billboard article written by Patrick Crowley where Detroit duo, JR JR are highlighted, and Josh Epstein discusses why the band chose to take part of their earnings from their tour and donate them to the Jed Foundation to help with mental health and suicide prevention for young adults and youth. 

Epstein created a Mental Health Awareness playlist on Billboard’s Spotify account, and then shares why he selected some of the songs. It’s an eclectic list and in my opinion does show the spectrum of the highs, lows, struggles and victories faced by those who knowingly and unknowingly battle mental health issues. 

Check out the article and the playlist here: 

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/lifestyle/7777031/takeover-tuesday-jr-jr-mental-health-awareness-month-exclusive-interview-playlist-spotify

Bad Girls, More Like Hurt Girls: Woman Up!

By Natasha Foreman Bryant
 
 
 I admit that around 2006-2007 I watched the earlier seasons of the Bad Girls Club. I wanted to know what Oxygen was bringing to the table, so-to-speak, and what made these young females so “Bad”. I soon discovered that droves of females claiming to be real women, were lining up to join this show to prove how devious, violent, ruthless, and spiteful they were. They wanted to prove to themselves that they were the hottest, sexiest female on the show, and the one who could curse the most and the loudest, while pretending that they really wanted to fight one or more of the other cast members.
 
 Yeah I got bored of it quickly because I know that the women who aren’t to be messed with don’t go around advertising it for the world, or tooting their own horn. They just confidently sit back and relax.
 
 Little girls throw temper tantrums, play childish games, and do petty things. This is what I saw on the Bad Girls Club, and this is what I saw when I decided to check on the show the other day (now in it’s 11th season). It’s disappointing to see these girls, obviously in pain, obviously battling some childhood or early adulthood trauma, taking out their pain and frustration on others.
 
 Someone let them down early on in their life. Someone didn’t give them a healthy dose of love, attention, affection, and structure growing up. Someone didn’t teach them how to be ladies and mature women. Maybe there are daddy issues, mommy issues, or both. Whatever the problem it runs deep, and when not properly redirected, hurt people will ultimately hurt people.
 
 I always wonder if the cast members from all eleven seasons look back at the episodes they starred in and really reflect upon how they were portrayed, how they acted, and the image that they have left in the minds of their viewers—and the young girls that I’m sure tune in regularly.
 
 The episode that I have shared at the end of this post is a small reflection of what Bad Girls Club has recycled and evolved into after 11 seasons. I tell those so-called “bad girls” and those who walk around thinking they are “bad” to woman up! Your attitude and false image won’t get you far in life. The high you feel tearing others down will still leave you feeling lonely when the cameras aren’t on you, or when your entourage isn’t hanging around egging you on.
 
 [ http://www.hulu.com/watch/539096%5D
 
 
 Copyright 2013. Natasha Foreman Bryant. All 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.
 
 
 

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.

What Brought Her to Jump?

It brings me such pain to think of this young woman, any woman, any person taking their life. It hurts to think of all of the possibilities that laid before her. It saddens me to think of how far she traveled, how much she endured to reach the young age of 25, thousands of miles away from her birthplace, her home where some of her family still resides. I wonder why? I wonder where her family, friends, and mentors were while she contemplated how she would see her last day. To think of their last conversation with her is chilling. I wonder why there wasn’t ‘enough’ in life to be enough for her to want to live.

The young woman I am speaking of, the “her”, is Dr. Tosin Oyelowo, a graduate of the University of Charleston West Virginia School of Pharmacy, and a first-year pharmacology student at the Medical University of South Carolina. Tosin traveled all the way from Lagos, Nigeria with her family to attend school in the U.S. with dreams, goals, and ambitions of becoming an honorable and successful doctor.

Tosin Oyelowo--A Bright Star Gone Too Soon

Her focus was on doing good and helping others, so what shifted in her life and thinking to make her want to hijack and sabotage her legacy?

What made this young, bright light decide to jump from the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in to South Carolina’s Cooper River?

The blog her family created when she first was reported missing has now been removed: http://drtosinoyelowofamily.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/hello-world/ and her pharmacy school profile is also no longer available for review: http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/pharmacy_services/residency/residents/2011_12/oyelowo.html a sign that although her body has not been found, they believe that she has already passed and transitioned on to her next level of existence.

Do we not recognize a troubled soul that needs help? Do we not stop and ask how we can help, how we can minimize the pain and the struggle that they are trying to endure? What about us? Are we letting our support system know that we are worn out, losing hope, low on faith, and struggling to get up each day? Are we effectively communicating that we need help, that we need guidance, and that we need more support?

Is our desire for success, for achieving greatness, and for doing it before old age, also a potential detonator for an emotional bomb that sets us off to harm ourselves or others? Are we trying to numb and distract ourselves with drugs, alcohol, sex, technology, and other vices? Is suicide one of the possible outcomes when numbing no longer works?

I wonder what Tosin attempted to do to help alleviate her troubles, solve her problems, and bring her joy. I wonder if the same thought she had when driving to the bridge and standing on that ledge is the same once she let go and jumped. Did it bring her peace? I pray that she is at peace. I pray that her family and friends heal from the pain they are feeling right now. I pray that any guilt they may feel dries up and washes away. I pray that their hearts remain warm with memories of Tosin. I hope that her shortened life has a legacy beyond these days, to help those who are in need the most…to help those Tosin dreamed of serving.

To read the article about Tosin Oyelowo visit:
http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/bridge-jumper-identified-as-tosin-oyelowo/Content?oid=3662179

For a listing of suicide hotlines throughout the U.S. visit: http://suicidehotlines.com

To learn more about suicide prevention and depression awareness visit: http://www.save.org

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