LIFESTYLE ARTICLES

Rah Ali Talks New Stationhead Radio Show and African-American Childbirth Mortality Crisis

Why are “suicidal thoughts” amongst Black youth on the rise?

Suicidal thoughts in a person under the age of 18-years-old may seem unfathomable to most people. However, suicide has become a rising epidemic, and one of the leading causes of death in adolescents worldwide. Several studies have also shown that there has been a shockingly reported increase in suicide rates among African-American youth nationwide. Recent findings have confirmed that Black boys and girls, between five and twelve-years-old, are taking their lives at approximately twice the rate of white kids the same age.

Inherited cultural stigmas within communities of color have ultimately led to a lack of mental health conversations or concerns. People of color often associate mental illnesses with feelings of embarrassment or inadequacy. Mental health issues and misconceptions have inevitably persisted in Black communities as a result of educational shortcomings, in addition to healthcare coverage scarcity.

“There are not enough minorities working at mental health care facilities. I think people don’t always feel comfortable seeking mental health services. We know that African-Americans are much less likely to use mental health services. One reason for this is the lack of access to care. Even with the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the states that chose not to expand Medicaid, are heavily African-American in the South,” Jeanne Miranda, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the University of California Los Angeles, stated.Former President Barack Obama implemented the ACA in 2010, as a solution for the health insurance market reform. However, the Trump administration has made several changes to the ACA since then. Recent ACA changes have prevented many people of color from obtaining healthcare coverage or hindered the likelihood of such people to sign up. Kaiser Family Foundation reported in 2017 that 14% of African-American adults between 19 to 64-years-old were uninsured, including 5% of African-American children ages 0 to 18-year-old.

Changes made by the Trump administration to the ACA have consisted of: decreasing funds for advertising and assistance with enrollment; eliminating cost-sharing subsidies; repealing the requirement to have health insurance; encouraging states to impose new eligibility requirements on Medicaid recipients; proposing new small business health insurance regulations; imposing short-term health plans to compete with ACA marketplace plans; weakening the contraceptive mandate; and stricter requirements to sign-up.

Jeff Bridge, an epidemiologist from the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, declared, “We really need to understand what are the risk and protective factors for not only suicide but suicidal behavior in young people of color.”

Past and present incidents of adverse treatments inflicted on African-Americans have undoubtedly led to the mistrust of authorities within the Black community. According to Mental Health America, risk factors for suicidal behavior experienced by people of color can stem from historical adversity, such as slavery, sharecropping, and institutional oppression. Moreover, socioeconomic status can become linked to a person’s mental health status. Socioeconomic disparities like race-based exclusions from health, educational, social, and economic resources, can also contribute to altered health behaviors in African-Americans. People who are impoverished, homeless, or incarcerated are more likely to suffer in terms of mental health as well.

Dr. Joy Degruy, internationally renowned researcher, educator, and author, developed the Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (P.T.S.S.) theory, after 12 years of quantitative and qualitative research. She went on to publish her findings in her book “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing.” P.T.S.S. is the explanation of behaviors, beliefs, and actions associated with multi-generational oppression experienced by enslaved Africans and their descendants. The book addresses and evaluates the residual impacts of the Atlantic slave trade. Dr. Degruy introduces the discussion of how the Black community can transform both positive and negative generational adaptive behaviors to ensure the advancement of African-American culture.

During one of her seminars, Dr. Degruy professed, “Let’s do the math. Hundreds of years of trauma. No treatment. Freed. More trauma. Still, no treatment. Do the math. Do you think there may be residual impacts of that trauma? Of course, there is. It didn’t end friends, and it hasn’t ended yet. So I think on one point, African people and people of African descent are extremely resilient. Matter of fact, I think we’re a miracle.”

“We’ve done everything we’ve done thus far with no help. As though it were possible, we escaped injury in all those hundreds of years, and the years that followed. So what happens is, you learn from the significant others in your environment. If they’re broken, guess what, you’re going to be? You’re learning from broken people, and you’re normalizing that behavior. Then it becomes, years later in 2008, ‘that’s their culture.’”

Systemic oppression is one of the most detrimental underlying causes of mental health illnesses within the African-American community. Negative stereotypes and attitudes of rejection continue to occur with measurable adverse consequences. A new study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology revealed that rates of depression among kids 14 to 17 years old, increased by more than 60% between 2009 and 2017. The study also found that in 2017, more than one in eight Americans ages 12 to 25 experienced a major depressive episode. Experts have examined the school-to-prison pipeline, which is the process of criminalizing African-American youth through the education system, as one of the causes linked to the rise of suicidal thoughts amongst Black youth.

“There’s also quite compelling evidence of this school to juvenile justice to prison pipeline, which shows that African-American kids are punished more severely in schools. When we started seeing these zero-tolerance policies, it primarily ended up falling on the heads of African-American children. They are disproportionately or more severely punished for the same violations of school rules. That is setting them up for failure in a system,” UCLA professor Jeanne Miranda proclaimed.

Potential warning signs of suicidal ideation include mental mood disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, family history of suicide, previous suicide attempts, social isolation, chronic disease and disability, and lack of access to behavioral health care. However, symptoms can vary depending on age, culture, sex, and other characteristics. Additional risk factors are bullying and imitation of suicide behavior by other youngsters. By nature, adolescents are a vulnerable group, thus making them more likely to be prone to mental health problems.

September is recognized as National Suicide Prevention Month, to build awareness further, and continue the fight against the suicide epidemic. Several programs and resources are currently accessible for preventive measures. American music industry executive, marketing consultant, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and author Shanti Das, launched her Silence the Shame mental health movement in 2016. Silence the Shame is a non-profit awareness, education, and advocacy organization. Das founded the initiative as a result of her ongoing battle with depression. The organization serves as a foundation to eradicate stigmas, and normalize conversation relating to mental health and wellness.

(Courtesy/Silence the Shame)

Key suicide prevention strategies for adolescents are ensuring that individuals with suicide risk have timely access to evidence-based treatments or appropriate clinical interventions. Another prevention method for adolescent suicides is maintaining healthy connections through supportive relationships, community involvement, and participating in social programs. The stronger the connections kids have to their families, friends, and people in the community, the less likely they are to harm themselves. It is essential that youth of color feel loved and supported, as well as have people to turn to when they are struggling or feel challenged.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, and visit suicide prevention websites like silencetheshame.com for additional resources.

Dove Brings Beauty Experience for African-American Women to Atlanta

By Alysha Conner | National Black Guide

(Courtesy/iOneDigital)

For over a decade, Dove has established itself as a well-known and frequently used personal care brand amongst men, women, and children worldwide. Dove’s inspiration has been catered towards the belief that beauty is not one-dimensional. Moreover, Dove has targeted its focus on creating products for consumers to feel authentic, unique, real, and like the best version of themselves. Dove has also managed to uphold the prestigious ranking as #1 Dermatologist Recommended brand in the United States of America, Canada, and France.

In the company’s efforts to further develop its mission of making the idea of beauty a source of confidence, rather than anxiety, Dove developed a multicultural marketing team. The multicultural division was created in order to bridge communications, and best provide products for consumers of various racial demographics. Francheska Taveras and Sabrina Paez, public relations executives from Edelman in New York, recently traveled to Atlanta, GA as representatives for Dove’s multicultural marketing campaign, to network with consumers.

Explaining the reasoning behind Dove’s recent multicultural marketing campaign in Atlanta, Taveras stated, “This year we decided to do things a little differently. We usually focus on getting coverage for the brand and its products through media and influencer networks. When we do media events and experiences, we tend to have our launches in New York and LA. But, we realized that women of color are everywhere and not just in these big markets.”

“There was a window of opportunity for us to dive deeper into other markets this year. Knowing Atlanta has a huge market for Black women, women of color, and strong beauty industry, it just made sense for micro-engagement in Atlanta.”

Taveras and Paez partnered with iOne Digital to work directly with their women’s online divisions, so they could host a Dove beauty experience for African-American women influencers in Atlanta. The partnership included a collaboration with HelloBeautiful.com, a premier online platform dedicated to educate and uplift African-American women, and MadameNoire.com, the leading lifestyle website for Black women.

HelloBeautiful and MadameNoire assisted with event coordination and creating the guest list for the Atlanta Dove experience. They were able to contact and invite Atlanta influencers from their personal networks to attend the event. The experience was held on June 8thfrom 9 AM to about 4 PM at The St. Regis Atlanta hotel. Local influencers were essentially invited to the five-star luxury Atlanta hotel and resort for a day of beauty pampering and new Dove product sampling.

“It was great to have HelloBeautiful and MadameNoire as our partners. They helped us get the top influential women of Atlanta to come to the experience in a strictly earned capacity, where we didn’t have to pay them to attend, and they were able to experience the brand in a really organic way,” expressed Taveras.

Facilitators for the experience consisted of Taveras and Paez as Dove public relations representatives, including HelloBeautiful and MadameNoire staff members. The event kicked off with an introductory group conversation about what to expect throughout the day. Breakfast and drinks catered by the hotel were also served as the guests arrived.

Steve Harvey’s daughters, speaker, author, and wellness coach Brandi Harvey, along with public speaker and entrepreneur Karli Harvey-Raymond, were among the many influencers in attendance. All of the ladies came dressed in various comfortable yet stylish summer ensembles such as a yellow lace jumpsuit, coral bardot midi dress, cream embroidered lace crop top paired with light green high waist ankle jeans, fedora hats, head wraps, open-toe heels, and sandals.

Dove Experience Attendees (Courtesy/iOneDigital)

After the meet and greet, the guests made their way to The St. Regis Atlanta Remède Spa, to indulge in pampering activities. The entire Remède Spa was redecorated for the special event and strictly reserved for Dove experience guests only. Dove brand signage, HelloBeautiful and MadameNoire embellished lettering, buckets stocked with chilled Moët and Chandon champagne bottles, trays full of assorted pastries, and shelves decked with Dove’s Dry Serum Antiperspirant Deodorant, replaced the normal Remède Spa decorations.

Participants changed into complimentary Remède Spa robes, savored glasses of champagne and sweets, and then received complimentary massages. Once they were finished with their massages, the guests utilized the spa’s showers. They changed back into their clothes in the changing rooms, while also testing Dove’s Dry Serum Antiperspirant Deodorant that launched this past February. After being able to test the deodorant, all of the ladies then shared their thoughts and opinions of the product. The influencers were encouraged to use their social media platforms, to share their experience, and promote the Dove Dry Serum Antiperspirant Deodorant.

International public relations expert and brand manager Jasmine Gray, better known as Ms. JGray, described her encounter with using Dove’s new antiperspirant deodorant at the event by stating, “It feels so soft on my skin – definitely excited to try this at home!”

Atlanta fashion, beauty, and lifestyle influencer Nikki Frenney, also known as Nikki Free, also shared, “I’m a Dove girl through and through. It’s amazing that you keep innovating with new products. Definitely look forward to trying this one out!”

Dove Dry Serum Antiperspirant Deodorant is available for purchase in Target stores for $10.99. It can also be purchased online through other retail stores like Wal-Mart and Walgreens. The ultra-lightweight formula comes in a 1.7-ounce bottle and provides women with 48-hour antiperspirant protection. So far, Dove has released the deodorant in three different fragrances, Rose Silk, Jasmine Touch, and Powder Finish.

“Dove really wants to position this product as a premium offering for women who are looking for something different with their deodorant options. So what’s special about this product is that the format of it feels like a serum. The product comes out in a creamy soft texture, and when it’s applied it absorbs instantly on the skin like a regular serum would. It’s a twist cap so you twist it out,” explained Taveras.

Following the activities in the spa, the experience concluded with an afternoon teatime and light refreshments in a private dining space within The St. Regis Atlanta. It gave the influencers the opportunity to unwind and network amongst each other. While they enjoyed their tea and hors d’oeuvres, the ladies chatted about their experience and posed for several group pictures.

Style and beauty Atlanta based expert Arkeedah McCormick acknowledged her enjoyment at the event by conveying, “I love my woman focused events and truly being pampered. So I’m having an amazing time with Dove today!”

Speaking on behalf of the Dove brand’s perception of the Atlanta experience and ideas for future marketing endeavors, Taveras proclaimed, “Personally I think we surpassed our expectations. We were going in a little blind because it was the first time we were doing something so dedicated in the area. I think the brand is pleased with all of the social media posts shared and positive relationships we were able to achieve on site.”

“I think for 2020 we’re looking at ways we can come back to Atlanta again, and see what we can do with another dedicated experience. Nothing is confirmed for next year, but we are definitely pushing to continue doing these organic experiences just because they were received so well.”

Former Navy SEAL Writes a Tell-all Autobiography of Defying the Odds

From Nigerian royalty to a Bronx, NY troubled teenager, United States Navy SEAL, actor, writer, and philanthropist; Remi Adeleke has definitely made a name for himself over the years. Adeleke’s most recent accomplishment is the publishing of his first-ever novel on May 14th titled, “Transformed: A Navy SEAL’s Unlikely Journey from the Throne of Africa, to the Streets of the Bronx, to Defying All Odds.”

In his autobiographical novel, Adeleke unveils his unique success story as a young African-American male who has defied the odds against him. Losing his father at an early age resulted in young Adeleke falling victim to the street life, in order to fill the void of a broken home. He eventually hit rock bottom and was inadvertently compelled to strengthen his prayer and faith life, to ultimately turn his life around.

“For most African-American kids growing up in the inner cities who don’t fathers, we look for fathers. I was looking for a father and I found one in the street life and hip-hop culture. I was able to look at these guys who looked just like me, came from where I came, and grew up in single-parent homes like I did. I was able to say, ‘okay these are men, this what they’re saying, therefore that’s the pattern I must follow,'” expressed Adeleke.

Explaining his novel creation process, Adeleke said,“It’s been really therapeutic. It has also taught me a lot about people and myself. When we live life, we live in a fast pace. But, when you’re writing a book, you really get to experience life in slow motion. So as I was writing my book I was able to really reflect on people, and one of the things I realized was how many people came into my life that helped give me that boost or opened a door for me. Especially women. There are about 10 to 20 women who came into my life at pivotal moments, and did things for me that got me to the next step.”

Adeleke, which in Nigerian means “the crown is above,” was born and raised into Nigerian royalty through his father’s reign as chief of the Yoruba tribe. Unfortunately, when Adeleke was just five-years-old, the Nigerian government stripped Adeleke’s father of his status and finances. Adeleke’s father sadly passed away a few days after.

Reminiscing about his upbringing in Nigeria as the son of a successful chief, engineer, and businessman, Adeleke recalled, “It was kind of that life that you dream of. We had nannies, servants, we lived on a compound, traveled the world, we had the finest food and clothes, hosted parties for patriots and politicians. That was the first five years of my life.”

The death of Adeleke’s father led to his family’s permanent relocation to the Bronx. Adeleke’s mother was originally from New York and decided to move back to the place she knew best. After losing all of their income, the Adeleke family was forced to succumb to a hard knock lifestyle.

As Adeleke, his mother, and older brother transitioned from their lavish Nigerian lifestyle to their new life of struggle in the Bronx, Adeleke depicted, “My mom did a really great job of masking the reality of what was going on. Not to keep us from the truth, but to protect us. So because she kept it together, we kept it together, and we didn’t think anything bad was happening. She created this movie set and around the movie set things looked perfect, but if you walked off set that’s where reality set in and where the chaos was.”

“It wasn’t until I was about eight-years-old that I finally realized what had happened. I would see my mom go to the rent office and have to ask for extra time to pay the rent so we could keep a roof over our head. There were times when my mom didn’t have enough food to feed herself. She had just enough food to feed my brother and I.”

Adeleke resorted to selling drugs and theft so he could help his mother and help provide for his family. After a life-threatening encounter with a local drug dealer, Adeleke experienced a wake-up call that inspired him to begin his life transformation. It was just six months later that he ultimately decided to join the United States Navy. Though Adeleke was not a fan of the law enforcement growing up, he made the decision to join the Navy as a last resort survival mechanism. He had no aspirations of attending college at the time but was in desperate need of an alternative environment that would keep him off the streets.

When Adeleke went to the recruitment office, he met a Petty Officer named Tiana Reyes who was a Bronx native. Reyes not only assisted Adeleke with joining the Navy, but she also helped him get his criminal record expunged. Adeleke was able to excel in becoming Navy SEAL of the year during his first year on the SEAL team. He also gained a sense of pride as one of the few Blacks to join the Navy SEAL. According to yourblackworld.net, less than 2 percent of African-Americans are represented in the Navy SEALs.

Transitioning from the streets to the armed forces, Adeleke expressed, “I hated the military. I hated the government. I hated the police. I associated anybody in a uniform as the police. I grew up in New York City so I saw a lot of injustices carried out against African-Americans and minorities in the Bronx. When I realized I had nothing else left and nothing else going for me, the transition became a survival decision.”

“When I was in the Navy and I wanted to act out and rebel because I didn’t like authority and the public system, I would always go back to Tiana. That is what helped me pretty much stay on track. I would remember the sacrifice that Tiana made for me, and there was a reason that she made that sacrifice for me. She knew that no other recruiter would give a Black kid from the Bronx the chance that she gave me. So if I rebelled, acted up, or got kicked out of the Navy then she would have been proven wrong. I would have proven the government right that I was indeed not eligible to join the Navy, and this recruiter made a bad decision. So that became my motivation to stay on the right track.”

In terms of his acting career, Adeleke has primarily been cast for appearances due to his SEAL experience. While working towards his master’s degree in strategic leadership at the University of Charleston, Adeleke received a phone call asking him to appear in an acting role for the 2017 Michael Bay film Transformers: The Last Knight. Bay was so impressed with Adeleke inTransformersthat he recently cast him in his upcoming Netflix film, 6 Underground. Adeleke has also been writing his own films, with the hopes of committing to a production company soon. His first self-produced film will be about a fatherless African-American boy from the Bronx, with a crack addict mother, yet becomes a successful C.I.A. agent. Several production companies are also pursuing Adeleke to turn “Transformed: A Navy SEAL’s Unlikely Journey from the Throne of Africa, to the Streets of the Bronx, to Defying All Odds” into a movie.

Despite his busy schedule, Adeleke always finds the time to pay it forward through his non-profit organization called City Hope. City Hope is a 501(c)(3) located in San Diego, California, that assists with providing the tools and resources in the areas of domestic violence, human trafficking, homeless resource connection, financial literacy, and more. Aside from his many business endeavors, Adeleke also serves as a loving husband to his wife of eight years and proud father of two boys, who reside in San Diego as well.

As a part of his current tour to promote his new book, Adeleke partipcated as a panelist on the His Story Panel this past weekend in Atlanta for Black Writers Weekend. A hardcover edition of “Transformed: A Navy SEAL’s Unlikely Journey from the Throne of Africa, to the Streets of the Bronx, to Defying All Odds” can be purchased via Amazon or Barnes and Nobles website for $26.99.

that people have ofwho can have these professions as professors, and who’s expected to come back to do work,” Dr. Parker added.

Considering majority of the students being predominantly Latino and Latina in the Wedbush Cares program, Dr. Parker declared, “There is tension between the Black andLatino communities. Like there are assumptions in the Latino communities about who Black folks are. It’s really powerful that us as Black professors being is this space, areable to have the students listen to us. We’ve created a space for them to really express their feelings and concerns. We provide a space for them to talk about things that aredifficult for them to talk about because of cultural norms.”

“There’s a strong narrative, especially in minority communities, that if you justwork hard then you will succeed. That’s very different in more privileged communities where people’s connections matter. So we use this program as a way to reveal the powerof how your social capital can lead to financial capital, and how you leverage networks,”

As Wedbush Cares wraps up its pilot program in June, Dr. Parker and Dr. Armstrong hope to continue the program in the summer. They also have intentions onexpanding Wedbush Cares College Prep to multiple locations throughout California, andother states such as Illinois and Colorado. Furthermore, in the hopes of expansion, Dr.Parker and Dr. Armstrong are actively seeking additional sponsorships and partnerships.

Meet Wedbush’s Youngest Financial Wizards

 

Assistant professor at California State University Los Angeles (Cal State LA), Dr. Marla Parker, and lecturer at Cal State LA, Dr. Melvin Armstrong Jr., teamed up together to establish an after school program called Wedbush Cares College Prep.

The program began operating as an after school program during the fall semester of 2018. It currently services high school students at PUC CALS Early College HighSchool, for two hours after school on Fridays.

Dr. Armstrong initially approached Dr. Parker with the idea of the after school program. Dr. Parker agreed to assist with the initiative, essentially believing that theprogram aligned with her values. Wedbush Cares College Prep ultimately received its name as a form of tribute to its primary financial sponsor, Wedbush Securities Inc. As anincentive last semester, students from the program were invited by Wedbush Securities to receive firsthand experience inside a corporate financial firm.

Explaining their motive behind creating Wedbush Cares College Prep, Dr. Parkerprofessed, “Being an educators in a higher up space, we really wanted to catch thembefore they got to college. We’ve seen the outcomes of not really having strong andconsistent interventions before college. So by the time they get to our space, there is so much that they don’t know. It’s the things that they wouldn’t even think about knowing,that hidden curriculum. For us, it was a golden opportunity to reveal that hidden Curriculum.”

“There’s a lot of hidden curriculum when it comes to using social capital. It’s also used when it comes to connecting, working, studying, consuming information, and expectations that we have of college students. The idea here is they become these self guided super insightful learners, where they can look at a situation and not just see it on the surface, but they can really understand the dynamics behind it.”

Curriculum currently taught within Wedbush Cares College Prep consists of:college preparatory, professional development, financial literacy, networking, stress management, entrepreneurship, time management, money management, and public speaking.

Depicting some of the lessons taught through the program’s curriculum, Dr.Parker informed, “One of the assignments we give them is a case study analysis wherethey have to analyze the history, moods, successes, and failures of their financial role model. Last semester we had them pick someone who they admire financially, personal or famous, to do this massive deep dive into understanding what they did. We signaled tothem that we don’t want them to only understand how they made their money, butunderstand their values and thought process. Also their social capital, like who gave them opportunities, and who did they connect with.”

“Another assignment was a letter to their future self where they are in this processof doing visioning. Visioning is a very powerful tool. We introduce this concept andpractice of mindful visioning to talk about their purpose. We also have them working on the notion of a side hustle, where they are able to flux their entrepreneurial muscles to earn revenue. We’re starting with this notion of the golden triangle of purpose, passion,and problem. A side hustle is that nugget that connects all those things. So thinking about your passion, thinking about your purpose, and connecting it to a problem, is really an opportunity for you not to just create change and exercise your purpose, but it’s an opportunity for you to get up your income. Which I think is really appealing to these students.”

Aside from knowledge based training, Wedbush Cares teaches students severalimpactful social mannerisms. For example on the first day of class, students wereinstructed to greet their instructors with a firm handshake, while also looking them intheir eyes. Dr. Parker and Dr. Armstrong presently reside as the primary instructors for Wedbush Cares College Prep. With the two professors being both African-American and having earned PhDs, they strive to expose their students to people of color who are educated and impactful.

“In LA, most of our students rarely have encounters where they have to be deferential to Black people. What makes our program so unique is that two Black folkswith PhDs are running this thing. It causes our students to think differently about whomight provide value, or who might be doing things,” affirmed Dr. Armstrong.

“I remember when he and I walked in for the first time. We were standing in thelobby, and people were asking when the professors were coming. Even though we were standing right there. Even just that in itsself, signals this conception that people have ofwho can have these professions as professors, and who’s expected to come back to do work,” Dr. Parker added.

Considering majority of the students being predominantly Latino and Latina in the Wedbush Cares program, Dr. Parker declared, “There is tension between the Black andLatino communities. Like there are assumptions in the Latino communities about who Black folks are. It’s really powerful that us as Black professors being is this space, areable to have the students listen to us. We’ve created a space for them to really express their feelings and concerns. We provide a space for them to talk about things that aredifficult for them to talk about because of cultural norms.”

“There’s a strong narrative, especially in minority communities, that if you justwork hard then you will succeed. That’s very different in more privileged communities where people’s connections matter. So we use this program as a way to reveal the powerof how your social capital can lead to financial capital, and how you leverage networks,”

As Wedbush Cares wraps up its pilot program in June, Dr. Parker and Dr. Armstrong hope to continue the program in the summer. They also have intentions onexpanding Wedbush Cares College Prep to multiple locations throughout California, andother states such as Illinois and Colorado. Furthermore, in the hopes of expansion, Dr.Parker and Dr. Armstrong are actively seeking additional sponsorships and partnerships.

TheBlackManCan, Inc. brings first-ever Daddy Does Hair Too event to Atlanta hair show

Brandon Frame, founder and chief visionary officer of TheBlackManCan, Inc. (TBMC), will be hosting the organization’s first Daddy Does Hair Too event at the 22nd annual Taliah Waajid World Natural Hair Show on April 27th, at The Georgia International Convention Center. TBMC currently functions as an award-winning non-profit organization dedicated to educating, inspiring, and celebrating men and boys of color.

We’re going to have about 10 fathers on stage, and they’re going to be receiving instructions from a hairstylist on how to dohairstyles for their daughters. All of the daddy-daughter duos are going to receive $200 worth of hair care products to take home with them. After, we’re going to hear from the dads and the girls about what their experience was like, and if they enjoyed it. We’re also going to film it and be able to go live,” declared Frame.    

Daddy Does Hair Too was coined from TBMC organization’s longing to provide opportunities that promote and showcase Black men thriving as fathers. Further clarifying the creation of the hair show event, Frame said, Over the years we’ve been focused on connecting boys to mentors in order to build brotherhood. So we thought if we’re thinking about impacting Black men and Black families, we need to also focus on the tough point of fatherhood. There’s this movie and book coming out about this dad doing his daughter’s hair. It’s one of those things that happen frequently, but the narrative is never told.”

TBMC went on to post on their media sites about the lack of portrayal of Black fathers styling their daughter’s hair. Several people supported their post by submitting videos of Black fathers doing so.

“People started posting in the comments that they wished they had a space to learn to do hair. So I made the observation that dads were looking for an opportunity to have that bonding experience to do their daughter’s hair. We’re really grateful to have established an event to do that, explained Frame.

Taliah Waajid, owner of the renowned brand of natural hair products, as well as Uncle Jimmy Products, a well-known natural hair care brand for men, reside as the sponsors for the Daddy Does Hair Too Atlanta hair show.

Frame found it necessary to bring Daddy Does Hair Too to the city where he ultimately birthed TBMC idea. Though he was born and raised in Hartford, CT by a supportive and influential family, Frame associates much of his success to his time spent as a student at Morehouse College. While a student at Morehouse, Frame was able to hone in on his calling to fulfill a purpose in business, youthmentoringand philanthropy. He graduated from Morehouse in 2009 then proceeded to create TBMC a year later.  

While I was in college, I would hear my fellow Morehouse brothers talk about their dreams and their goals to start a mentoring program on the Eastside of Atlanta, at Charles R. Drew Charter School. It made me realize that I had a passion and purpose for the intersection of business and education. Through Morehouse, my brothers, and the mentor program, I realized that in order for men of color to see positive images of themselves they need to have their stories told. So I followed through on that obligation, and created TheBlackManCan in April of 2010,” revealed Frame.  

TheBlackManCan essentially was born out of Atlanta. The first time we did TheBlackManCan Awards Live we did it in Atlanta. The first summit we had, before what it is now, we did in Atlanta. Almost everything that we ever first did that has become apart of TheBlackManCan we have launched in Atlanta. So we wanted to continue with that trend. Atlanta is kind of the birthplace of TheBlackManCan. Atlanta is also the home to Black excellence and Black opulence, so we wanted to continue to be a part of what that looks like in Atlanta,” further expressed Frame.

TBMC was initially launched as a blog in 2010. The blog’s mission was to change and control the negative stereotypes of Black men and boys by providing positive narratives. In 2017, the platform was established as a 501(c)(3organization.

In the good book, it says, ‘The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord.’ When I started TheBlackManCan, I started it as a blog. So when you start a blog the obvious domain would be .com, but .com wasn’t available. Only .org was available. That’s because we’re now a non-profit organization and a digital media platform. God knew that it was going to grow into something that would be an.org, where we would impact communities by telling stories online, and we would have curated events and programs that would impact Black boys and men,” expressed Frame.  

Other programs and events presented by TBMC include TBMC Institute, Building A Better Brother Summit, My First Tie Experience, Power Couple Brunch, TBMC Annual Awards Show, as well as a continuation of their digital media campaigns to unveil positive and relatable Black narratives. Of the many events offered by TBMC organization, their prime initiative thus far has been to grow theBuilding A Better Brother Summit, which they have now successfully conducted over 16 summits across the country.

Recently, Frame has been on a book tour to promote his latest children’s book called “My First Tie,” that he co-authored with Tanae Denean Eskridge, a Los Angeles, CA-based author educator. “My First Tie” was published this past February as the second book to Denean’s children’s book series, “The Adventures Of Coach & Little Dell.” Frame and Denean partnered together to illustrate the importance of diversity, honesty, maturity, and self respect through a child’s point of view. The story details a young boy’s experience of picture day at school and wanting to dress up just like his dad.

On April 26, Frame will be teaming up with Streetz 94.5’s Ferrari Simmons to host a “My First Tie” book reading in Atlanta. FathersIncorporated will also be sponsoring a book signing at the Andrew and Walter Young Family YMCA later in the day.

“Part of the book tour is that all of the cities we go to we also visit schools read to students, and provide them with ties. We designed a scavenger hunt around the book that kids get to do at the schools. We also play pin the tie on Dell, using a cut-out picture of Dell, for a prize,” detailed Frame.

TBMC Institute predominantly operates out of New York City, NY, where Frame presently resides. Currently, the organization is comprised of over 200 mentors who have strived to impact over 3,500 young men nationwide, with also possessing a strong following internationally. The mentors avidly work to assist mentees in several communities such as Atlanta, GA, New York City, NY, St. Louis, MO, Memphis, TN, Charlotte, NC, Hartford, CT, etc. Celebrities and media platforms like Tichina Arnold, Sister Circle, and BET Her have endorsed Frame and all his work involved with TBMC.

Explaining what ultimately led to the transformation of TMBC from just a business into a non-profit, Frame stated, “In 2013 I interviewed 200 men who were doing really amazing things in the community. I thought, ‘How can I bring these men to boys?’ So then I built this network of all the guys I interviewed. With that came creating TheBlackManCan Institute, which is now called Building A Better Brother Summit. Having all these men that I’ve networked with to come to the summit, has allowed us to become a social enterprise. Then people started to say that they wanted to support our work, and so that was the catalyst to creating a non-profit.”

Future goals for TBMC include obtaining a standalone location, launching its newest #BlackMenWinningWednesdays initiative, releasing a second children’s book, expanding Daddy Does Hair Too nationwide, increase the number of volunteers for TBMC, and acquiring additional funding to carry out their work.

Tickets to attend the Daddy Does Hair Too event at the Taliah Waajid World Natural Hair Show range from approximately $10 to $30. Information about upcoming TBMC events can be found on their social media platforms and website, www.theblackmancan.org.

Atlanta mother releases children’s book on how to cope with cancer

Photo provided by Ashley Banks

Ashley Banks recently published her first children’s book, I Love You Forever, On March 31st in hopes of providing insight on how to cope with cancer through a child’s perspective.

“The book is about the grieving process, and understanding that it looks different in every single person. Once that is acknowledged and accepted, I explain how to learn and cope from there. It’s all based on mental health, and learning how to cope with your emotions,” explained Banks.

Banks is a 28-year-old from New York and possesses a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Banks struggled throughout her youth as she witnessed her mother battle breast cancer. It was ultimately through her experience of losing her mother to breast cancer at six years old that inspired Banks to create a book for children to cope with and understand cancer. She began writing the 25-page children’s book in November of 2018. Johnson Publishing Company, a Black-owned publishing company located in Chicago, IL, resides as Banks’s publisher.

“I always knew that I had a story to share. When I was growing up I felt like nobody understood what I was going through, because everyone around me had their parents still. The book that I wrote is a book that I wish I would have had when I was growing up. If I felt that way, I’m sure there is another little boy or girl out there right now that feels like nobody understands what they’re going through. So this book is something for them,” expressed Banks.  

A paperback edition of I Love You Forever can be purchased via Amazon for $19.95. For those who purchased the book as a presale, Banks included a signed copy of her book, and thank you note in the packages of the book deliveries. By the end of May, I Love You Forever will be available on Barnes and Noble.

Further explaining her motives for pursuing her goal as a book author, Banks said, “I wanted to shed some light on the emotions, and what goes on emotionally in the minds of people that young, when they have to lose a family member to cancer. It’s about getting them to understand what cancer is, and if they’re sad, mad, or don’t feel anything in that moment, that is absolutely okay. I really wanted to give an account of my own memoir.”

“I feel like with this book if I start lightly teaching kids about cancer, they’ll grow up understanding or being more inquisitive, Banks explained. “Along with it being an emotional tale, there are also certain scientific facts that I dropped in there, like what cancer is. You know at that age, it’s important to understand that cancer is not contagious. Being around someone with cancer doesn’t mean you’re going to get cancer. You know talking to children about with chemo treatments in the first few months your hair may get a little shorter, start losing weight, or be more sleepy. It explains the symptoms and side effects more so in layman’s terms so that they can understand. That way so when things are happening they’re not in full shock,” added Banks.     

Banks is collaborating with a few Metro Atlanta bookstores to have her book for purchase. She has also partnered with several Atlanta Public Elementary Schools so I Love You Forever can be accessible for faculty members to better assist children in need. Her ultimate goal is to have her book for sale in Barnes and Noble stores and to host a book signing in one of the locations.

Positive feedback since the releasing of her book has consisted of, as conveyed by Banks, “People say it’s touching, inspiring, and that I am brave for telling my story. With my experience being as emotionally traumatic as it was, people are thankful that I’m an advocate for others who were going through the same thing or someone who is now older but went through the same things I did.”

Along with her children’s book, Banks decided to establish a holistic health company called Naturally Mary in September 2018. Banks named her company Naturally Mary in remembrance of her mother passing from breast cancer. She was inspired to create natural remedies to cure common ailments. Banks uses plants, fruits, and vegetables to make her collection of natural homeopathic medicines. The Naturally Mary product collection consists of an assortment of aromatherapy oil blends, chemical, and steroid free creams, health supplements, and more.    

Acknowledging the hardships she has endured throughout her journey, Banks said, “In my day there are so many things that need to be done. Trying to find the time to do everything has been hard for me during my journey. Many times I’m working off of three or four hours of sleep, but if I don’t do all of this who will? I don’t ever want to sleep on my dreams or goals. Someone else who has the same idea in mind could make a business out of what I said I was going to do, all because I was hesitant.”

Banks is currently pursuing a career in oncology data analytics. In addition to her oncology research and entrepreneurial endeavors, Banks serves as a single mother to her eight-year-old son. She has managed to raise her son throughout her undergraduate studies, and as she presently fulfills her life goals. 

“It’s really difficult. I’ll never lie to somebody and tell them that I have it all figured out. I definitely don’t. You know some days we go to bed at midnight. Then some days I feel like super mom when everything’s done, and lunch is packed for tomorrow already set to go. I take it day by day. It’s about finding that balance of, working on developing my career so that I can succeed in life for him. Then I’m also making sure that I’m always making time to spend with him, because he only gets one childhood, and I want to make sure it’s special. I don’t want to spend so much time planning for his future that I’m missing his present,” shared Banks.    

Banks intends to publish her second children’s book this December. Similar to I Love You Forever, her second book will about childhood cancer, but in the form of an “adventure.” As for her holistic health company, she plans to expand Naturally Mary into a storefront in the near future. 

Love Beyond Walls founder Terence Lester launches new interactive ‘Dignity’ museum

March 23, 2019


Love Beyond Walls, an Atlanta based nonprofit organization focused on community and social uplift, will launch its latest project today in the form of an interactive museum called The Dignity Museum at 10 AM.

The Dignity Museum will establish itself as the first exhibit combating the stigmas of homelessness and poverty.  Located in College Park, Georgia, The Dignity Museum sits adjacent to the headquarters of Love Beyond Walls, as it occupies the organization’s parking lot.

Terence Lester, an Atlanta native and founder of Love Beyond Walls, said he created The Dignity Museum in order to address the systemic challenges and bias of homelessness and poverty in America, as well as inform those who do not understand its reality.

Lester possesses a personal connection to his museum’s homelessness and poverty theme.

“I had several troubles myself during my teenage years,” Lester shared. “I was in gangs, put out of school, and at one point I ran away from home. I lived in parks, out of my car, and with friends. So I had this period of experiencing homelessness myself as a teen.”

“Right when I made the decision to drop out of high school, this alternative high school in College Park called Frank Mclaren, this guy told me that if I went back to school that I would one day be a leader,” Lester confessed. “So I went back to school and finished school as a fifth-year senior. It was embarrassing, but I did it. I got plugged into a church, and my life started to change.

“That was the first time I saw myself as having something to contribute, based upon all the trauma and pain that I experienced,” he continued. “I wanted to give back in a way that was aligned with my personal story, so this was it.”

Love Beyond Walls was established as a 501(c)(3) organization in 2013. Lester’s continuous community service, alongside his wife Cecilia, fundamentally led him to create his nonprofit.

Lester said he coined the idea of The Dignity Museum during the first quarter of 2018. It took him eight months to bring this idea to fruition. Housed inside a transformed shipping container, the interactive museum offers a social learning experience by means of technology.

The museum is divided into three different sections: red, which is the “Challenge Stereotypes” section; blue, which is the “Create Empathy” section; and orange, which is the “Call To Action” section. Each section has an iPad with a QR code on the screen.

“I was standing in the parking lot talking to a group of volunteers. I blurted out, ‘I want to create a museum out of a shipping container,’” Lester said. “Then I started explaining all the ideas I had in my mind. One generous couple in the group asked, ‘Well how much does a shipping container cost?’ So I told them. They went home and sent me the donation to buy the shipping container two hours later.”

Visitors will be distributed an iPhone equipped with the Dignity Museum app plus one set of earphones. Museum participants are able to choose one of the sections, scan the QR code from the iPad station using the Dignity Museum iPhone app, to

“We really wanted to include technology because that creates the immersive experience that people can have when they come through. We really want people to feel the stories of individuals they may judge, and just pass by,” Lester said. “It’s easy for you to make judgments about people that you’ve never even given the opportunity to speak for themselves. We want to demolish that, by creating a space where people can speak for themselves. Like one lady said, ‘I lost jobs then I fell into prostitution to care for myself.’ Like you don’t hear that part of the story. All you hear is the false narrative that you may have in your head, and we want to come back against,” conveyed Lester.

Lester initiated a campaign called “Map 16” in 2016, where he walked from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., which prompted his “Voiceless” documentary. In 2018, he also walked from Atlanta to Memphis to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. As a result of his journeys, Lester said he was able to gather the diverse stories and use them for The Dignity Museum.

“I would like to see containers all the around the country and cities that have this problem,” Lester said regarding possible expansion for The Dignity Museum. “I think this can become a platform to spread empathy out. There are several cities that are well known, that wrestle with this issue.”

“I hope people, one, pause long enough to step out of their shoes, and into the shoes of another person. The reason why we intentionally put it into a shipping container is because shipping containers are transient. It carries things of worth and value, and we see the parallel in people living on the streets. They’re transient but they still have worth on the inside, so that’s the metaphor. Secondly, to possibly change perceptions, open people’s hearts, and minds to literally care for their neighbor. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s real. Thirdly, to inspire people to take account for what they may posses or own in their own lives. Do you have a gift, can you teach a class, can you go volunteer, can you give resources, can you contribute in a way that is benefiting the world and your community?”

Love Beyond Walls currently services locals within the surrounding communities of the city of Atlanta, through several means of community service acts. Numerous of volunteers from around Georgia assist the organization with their events. Volunteers not only pay it forward with their time given, but also providing services using their skills and talents.

Some of the community service events offered by Love Beyond Walls consist of: Mobile Makeovers, a program designed to provide grooming services to people in under-served communities; Mobile Stay, a program that provides temporary shelter for Atlanta locals experiencing homelessness; Love Feeds, a program that provides groceries to families in need; Closet of Hope, a program that provides adequate clothing for the local community members; and more.

“I’m driven to give my entire life to this cause, as appose to making this a hobby. That’s what pushes me through. I’ve seen it grow up and continue to make an impact. I’m excited to see how this museum will impact our generation. There are generations that have come before us that have done tremendous work. I’m really interested in seeing leaders among our generation stand up and take charge over issues,” confessed Lester.

Along with expanding Dignity Museum shipping containers worldwide, Lester intends to produce a physical building as well. With the walls of the museum also being interchangeable, Lester plans to alternate the themes of the museum. The Dignity Museum will also explore youth homelessness, hunger epidemic, and more.

“Hopefully we can travel to at least two locations by the end of the year. We’re looking for partners that will say, ‘hey this would be good if we dropped it on the campus of a school, college, or business.’ We’re also looking for political collaborations too, to look deeper into what policies need to change. Like how can we write and advocate for policies that would be beneficial to people who are suffering?” said Lester.

STEM advocate, women’s author Erica Miller to host ‘Women in Power’ panel

STEM advocate and women’s author Erica Miller has organized a “Women in Power” panel discussion scheduled March 9 at the Gwinnett County Library in Suwanee, GA.  


Attendees are expected to learn how to make a brand profitable, what it takes to move forward despite hardships, tips for successful mentorship, and ways to become valuable in the office. Interested attendees can RSVP for the free event using Eventbrite to obtain tickets.

“I wanted to provide resources and platforms, that normally wouldn’t be available to the public for free. I simply just wanted to help the community,” Miller explained. “Along with praising our panelists for their commendable work in their roles, each woman will also share their stories and give insight on how they rose into succession.”

Miller’s panel is comprised of women who represent six different life paths, including a woman in S.T.E.M., in law enforcement, in government, in diversity and inclusion, as well as a cancer survivor and an entrepreneur.

 

 

Panelists include:

  • Erica Miller, engineer and panel creator;
    • Lila Thompson, United States Department of Justice law enforcement officer;
    • Andrea Godette, cancer survivor and legal analyst for United States Department of Labor;
    • Kiana Morris, associate director of policies for Center for Disease Control and Prevention;
    • Niki Hester, diversity and inclusion human resource executive; and,
    • Jenior Freebree, owner of Minks Beauty Institute.

Miller has recruited Alysha Conner, assignment editor for The Atlanta Voice, to serve as the moderator for the panel discussion.

Atlanta-based author Erica Miller pens ‘Gumbo’ to inspire women

Erica Miller, author of “Gumbo.” (Photo: Reginald Duncan / The Atlanta Voice)

Traditional New Orleans norms often depict mothers, grandmothers and aunts cooking alongside one another in the kitchen, while expressing and sharing a range of emotions and conversations.

Atlanta transplant Erica Miller, a public relations-turned-engineering executive, has now added writer and published author to her list of endeavors. Earlier this year, Miller released her first book, titled “Gumbo: Ingredients of Being a Woman.”

A lover of New Orleans food, culture and people, Miller said she chose Louisiana’s official state cuisine, “gumbo,” as the title of her first literary offering as an extended metaphor for the experiences of women.

A collection of short stories and poetry, “Gumbo: Ingredients of Being a Woman,” Miller said the book represents a unique mixture of good, bad, hurtful, exciting and terrifying experiences women encounter.

“Gumbo” explores a number of vignettes that range from being a single mother, insecurities of women, domestic violence, sexual abuse, life-threatening diseases, suicide, love, trust, dishonesty, friendships and women looking for love in all the wrong places.

In fact, “Gumbo” is Miller’s inspirational message for women, so they will understand that they are not alone in their life journeys.

“Each experience is an ingredient,” Miller explained. “Every woman makes up her own ‘gumbo.’”

Born on the southside of Chicago, and despite having twins at the age of 15, Miller went on to pursue her dreams of attending Tennessee State University.

After obtaining her Bachelors of Arts, she received a job offer in Atlanta to work in entertainment.

Leaning on her advertising and marketing skills, Miller worked as a booking agent with Block Entertainment for artists such as Jacquees and Gorilla Zoe.

Miller also assisted Sharon M. Tomlinson, CEO and founder of Blueprint 4 Hollywood, as an executive assistant.

Miller has since transitioned from working in entertainment to working in corporate America as an engineer.

After writing and taking notes for about six years, Miller said it took her a little over a year to collectively write and publish “Gumbo.”

“It’s a blessing to me, knowing people are connecting well with ‘Gumbo,’” Miller said. “I’m always here to help. I feel like it’s my calling and purpose for being here.”

“I just wanted to put out my art, even if it was only five people who read it,” she continued. “If it meant something to them, that is what’s important to me.”

Miller pointed to the short story, “I Stayed,” as one that is the most important to her among others she shared in “Gumbo.” The story speaks to the current phenomenon of women surgically altering their bodies, she said.

“In society today, everyone is going through that,” she said. “If you look on social media, women are completely changing their image for ‘likes’ and love. We’re making the outside look better, but not the inside. The inside is broken.”

In “I Stayed,” the story’s protagonist has not only become aware of the infidelities and dishonesty of her boyfriend, but she is also subjected to physical abuse by him.

The protagonist concludes that in order for her boyfriend to value and respect her, she must change certain aspects of herself, such as the frequency in which she has sex with him, her weight and her hairstyles. She must also finalize a decision to have her breasts surgically enhanced or not.

Miller also highlighted the lack of self-love amongst women today. “Women continuously tend to fall victim to abusive and toxic relationships,” she said.

Without utilizing promotional techniques to market her book, Miller was presented with the opportunity to have “Gumbo” distributed by Barnes & Noble, Inc. worldwide.

In addition to Barnes & Noble, “Gumbo: Ingredients of Being a Woman” can be purchased on Amazon and Kindle as well.

Miller also plans to follow this book up with “Gumbo: Ingredients of Being a Woman 2.0,” which will include additional poetry and short stories.

Associating much of her success to walking in her life’s purpose, Miller said, “I think it’s about knowing where you want to go, and doing what you have to so you can get there.”

Because she is passionate about mentoring, Miller has also created an organization, Grit, Grace and Glow, in order to uplift women and teenage girls in the greater Atlanta area.

Level Up Atlanta celebrates one-year anniversary with conversation series, reception

Level Up Founder Adonis Thrax (foreground) with Elijah Walker. (Photo: Nijon Crew/Level Up)

Level Up Atlanta celebrated its one-year anniversary with a special edition of its conversational series, “Connecting the Dots” on Sept. 20 at the Azjio Gallery.

Connecting the Dots is an educational, moderated dialogue that highlights the platforms of community leaders and entertainment industry innovators.

Some of the event’s guests included DJ Marc B (DJ for Atlanta-based rapper 21 Savage), The Gathering Spot co-founder T.K. Peterson, brand manager Eunice Wanjogu and many more. 

Elijah Walker, the creative producer for Adult Swim and founder of Finesse Worldwide, presided as the event’s moderator.

An alumnus of Georgia State University and classmate of Thrax, Walker discussed how he witnessed the growth of Thrax as an entrepreneur, dating back to event planning he coordinated while still a college student.

“(Thrax) was doing a lot of amazing things that were not on a set path,” Walker said. “He defined his own path. I think that’s what connects all of us here. We’re not here to follow someone else’s path; we’re here to define our own.”

Level Up participants (left to right) Adrienne Reeves, Courtney Miller, Thrax and Necie Love. (Photo: Nijon Crew/Level Up)

During the event, Thrax discussed his fervent belief in surrounding oneself with those who show support consistently.

“I undoubtedly owe my success to God, my team, my family, and my friends, as well as well as everyone that I have encountered along the journey,” he said. “We meet people along the way and each of them plays a part in who we turn out to become.”

Thrax said his desire to uplift the Atlanta community inspired him to create Level Up Atlanta.

“For me, I did not really want to work for anyone,” he explained. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but I didn’t feel like that was what I was supposed to be doing.

“I know so many dope people, (and) we never hear their stories. I probably talk to about 30 to 40 people a day. Then I was like ‘Yo, people need to hear what we’re talking about.’ Once we get everyone in the same room, we will realize how the degree of separation is very, very small.”

Regarding the next phase for his company, Thrax said, “We will be featuring a wider variety of guests. The music space is a huge part of what we do, but the bigger picture extends beyond just one industry. We look forward to working with more local businesses as well.”

As Thrax continuously expands Level Up Atlanta, he said he consistently readjusts his goals, in an attempt to have a positive impact on as many Atlantans as possible.

“I see myself continuing to lead my team and growing Level Up Atlanta to impact and reach more people,” he said. “We have many objectives that center around uplifting our local and surrounding communities. With hard work, patience and teamwork, it will happen in God’s time.”

Level Up Atlanta’s next Connecting the Dots event is scheduled for later in October.