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Black Entertainment, Money, Style and Beauty Blogs - Black Voices

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    The 68 teams that played in the top six NCAA conferences earned over $1 billion in profits this year, according to a CNNMoney analysis of the nation's largest conferences. This profit is 11% higher than the profit from last year.

    The most profitable team in the country was the University of Texas, which posted a profit of over $68 million. If the players on the team and their families were compensated for the athletes' work on the field, the average player would earn nearly half a million dollars per year. Their coach, Mack Brown, earns over $5 million per year at a time when the rest of the university is facing significant budget cuts.

    The profit margin for the leading six conferences is an astonishing 49%, more than nearly any professional sports franchise in the world. Much of this is due to the fact that the NCAA doesn't compensate it's players, which would be a labor rights violation in nearly any other industry.

    There isn't much else to say about the NCAA and it's extraction of wealth from the African American community. While coaches buy mansions, expensive cars and yachts, many of the athletes have families who live in dire poverty. Congress should investigate the matter and also consider the fact that not forcing a professional sports league to pay taxes leads to a significant financial burden on the American taxpayer. The NCAA should be disbanded in favor of a business model that is more consistent with American values; a Chinese sweatshop couldn't be any worse.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.


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    No, my list is not official, but I had to lay it out there. Also, it's not in any kind of numerical order, except for the guy who stands at number one. For my friends who are not on the list, I apologize, and I admit that the list is biased. Finally, I am sure most of us can agree that, even if we don't admire some of the people on this list, there's no denying that all of them had a significant effect on black America during 2010. So, as we move into the "one one," let's pay a quick tribute to those who kept our heads turning.

    1) Barack Obama: Hail to the chief. President Obama, whether you love him or hate him, has positioned himself as one of the most significant Americans in the history of our nation. This is going to be an interesting year for Obama, as the economy will likely rebound, improving his chances at reelection. At the same time, the growth in Republican power can be a thorn in his side. Obama must be given credit for the fact that he has remained cool under pressure and has become as much of a social icon as a leading political figure.

    2) Stephen Stafford: The 13-year-old straight-A Morehouse student (he may be 14 years old by now) reminds us of what we can all become if we put our minds to it. So many of us are accustomed to seeing black males become maestros on the basketball court and simpletons in the classroom. Stephen should be celebrated as much as he would be if he averaged 35 points per game. All of our kids should be like Stephen, for excelling in college is only about hard work and not much else.

    3) Michael Vick: Everyone loves a comeback story, and Vick's is second to none. Big Mike spent 21 months in prison and has seen the depths of bankruptcy only to emerge as arguably the leading quarterback in the NFL. Vick reminds us that millions of men and women who've been incarcerated can be successful if given another chance. Instead, we work as hard as we can to make sure that those who've been convicted have no other choice but to continue engaging in illegal behavior. Tucker Carlson on Fox News seemed to believe that Vick deserved the death penalty for his dogfighting conviction, but dogfighting or not, Vick's life is worth more than that of an animal. Let's hope that he stays out of trouble and serves as a role model for other young knuckleheads who mess up on the weekend.

    4) Oprah Winfrey: Oprah would normally be a candidate for a list like this just because she's Oprah. In fact, I consider her to be more effective than President Obama, in large part because her career has more longevity. At any rate, this is a special year for Oprah because she is taking off to start her own network. Her massive move should be applauded because she reminds all of us about the value of having your OWN stuff. She is the Madam CJ Walker of the new millennium and should be applauded for her achievements.

    5) Steve Harvey: I don't like Steve Harvey's book about women thinking like men to get a man to date them. I've never wanted to date another man, so a woman who thinks like a man is not appealing to me. Also, the dysfunctional nature of African American relationships dictates that a more productive approach to sustainable love and family might involve getting advice from an actual professional and not a comedian. But putting all that aside, Harvey can call my cell phone and tell me to shut up right now. Why? Because both of the books he released this year were best sellers. For that, I must give him major props. Also, I've never seen a man on the cover of Essence magazine more times than Harvey. Did he buy the company or something?

    6) The men and women who participated in the Georgia prison strike: In case you thought slavery was abolished in 1865, you're dead wrong. The 13th Amendment leaves a clause that allows for slavery as long as you've been convicted of a crime. The men and women in Georgia who coordinated the largest and most significant prison strike in US history made a very good point: When you leave an industry relatively unregulated for a long period of time, corruption and abuse will become rampant. The use of slave labor in prisons has become a multibillion-dollar cash cow for many major corporations, and it's no coincidence that a disproportionate number of those affected are black and brown. Given that one out of every three black boys is expected to go to prison during his lifetime, all of us have a stake in providing avenues for rehabilitation. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's decision to free the Scott Sisters this week should be applauded, but freeing two people is nothing compared to the hundreds of thousands of other African Americans who've been given life sentences.

    7) LeBron James: LeBron's well-publicized jump to the Miami Heat, for some reason, led to him becoming one of the most hated athletes in America. He did nothing wrong, but the world treated him as if he were a criminal. But LeBron is getting the last laugh, as his Miami Heat is now one of the top teams in the NBA.

    8) Lil Wayne: I can't stand Lil Wayne as a human being, but I love the depth of his talent. Whether we like it or not, Weezy has stepped to the top of the hip-hop universe as a force to be reckoned with. He has also hogged up the headlines with prison stints, missing concerts after passing out drunk, getting arrested for drug possession, and having underage girls on stage while rapping about how he wants to have sex with every girl on earth. One of the most destructive things that the powers that be could do to the African American male is to give such a powerful platform to an individual who is as disturbed, misguided and self-destructive as Lil Wayne. We must also realize, at the same time, that our commitment to black male marginalization is what created Weezy in the first place, so we only have ourselves to blame.

    9) Tyler Perry: Tyler Perry's films have become required viewing for nearly every black woman in America. When his movies are released, women gather with their girlfriends and show up to the flick as if it is a class being taught at the community college. Tyler's power and prowess must be respected, and his penchant for resurrecting the careers of many forgotten black actors and actresses must also be acknowledged. Tyler is a beast (I've defended him in the past against critics, even though I don't care for most of his films) and represents the future of filmmaking, even if he is a black man in a dress.

    10) Shirley Sherrod: Shirley Sherrod was forced to resign from her post within the United States Department of Agriculture after the right decided to splice together some videos to make her look like a racist. The NAACP and President Barack Obama made themselves look even sillier by throwing poor Shirley under the bus before she'd even had a chance to plead her case. Fortunately, truth and honesty prevailed, and the Fox News shenanigans were exposed to the world. President Obama apologized to Shirley directly, but I am not sure what happened with the NAACP. At the very least, this incident showed us the potentially destructive power of online media.

    Honorable mention:

    1) Michael Steele - Head of the Republican National Committee. I have nothing more to say about the man that many black Americans want to slap on a daily basis. But Steele has certainly made his mark on the world.

    2) Nicki Minaj - The woman who broke down barriers for women in hip-hop. Hopefully, we'll see more women rocking the mic without having to wear a G-string.

    3) First lady Michelle Obama - Michelle Obama is the most intelligent, capable and elegant first lady in American history. In fact, she's the only first lady who might be a better president than her husband and who could also take a second job as a swimsuit model. She's simply amazing.


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    Jazmine Sullivan: Announces
    R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan started the New Year off by announcing to fans she is "taking a break from music."

    On Sunday, Jan. 2, the eight-time Grammy nominee posted a series of Twitter messages revealing to her more than 90,000 followers that she intends to take an indefinite hiatus from music industry.

    Her unedited Twitter posts read: "i'm making an official announcement that i am taking a break from music. i'm trying to figure out who i am... w/out a mike, paper or pen. i promised myself when it wasn't fun anymore i wouldn't do it. and here i am."

    The Philadelphia-bred vocalist confessed the "break" wasn't a permanent one and thanked her fans for supporting her.

    "i love u all and appreciate u soooooo much. u have no idea how much u've inspired me and fed my ego. but the truth is that i hJazmine Sullivanave to believe in me whether you all do or not. and thats what i'm lookin for. that belief in myself. me. I. i love us. thanks for being here for me and riding with me on this journey. let us continue," she posted, via @jsullivanmusic.

    Though the 23-year-old's messages originally surfaced around 8 p.m. EST, several hours later the posts were removed without explanation.

    An unreleased track, titled 'I'm Not a Robot,' which is produced by Salaam Remi (Amy Winehouse/Toni Braxton), then surfaced online around midnight.

    The tune features lyrics similar to Sullivan's Twitter emotions as she sings: "I gotta get out of this program and find out who I really am/I'm not a robot...Somebody turn it off/please make it stop/I'm not a robot."

    At press time, there was no statement from her label, J Records, which was still closed for holiday.

    Sullivan, who was honored by Billboard magazine as the "Rising Star for 2010" in Dec., released her critically acclaimed sophomore CD, 'Love Me Back,' on Nov. 30.

    The singer also has a role in the upcoming George Lucas' film 'Red Tails,' co-starring Terrence Howard, Tristan Wilds, Cuba Gooding Jr., Ne-Yo and Michael B. Jordan.

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    She's been romantically involved with pop star Usher and super-producer Dallas Austin, but TLC singer Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas still hasn't found "the one." She entrusted relationship expert Tionna Smalls to help her find the perfect man on the VH1 reality show 'What Chilli Wants,' but things didn't pan out as planned.

    Now, at 39, the Grammy Award winner is letting VH1 cameras back in on her quest to find her dream guy, and this time she tells that she believes that the real thing is in her future.

    Here's 20 Question With Chilli. You didn't find love last season on 'What Chilli Wants.' Why did you decide to give it another shot?
    I like that people will get a chance to see a lot more of me. With the first season, everybody was so hung up with [telling me] I don't need to have a list. It's shocking to me that people really have this perception of me that is not correct. The list is not going anywhere, but you get to see a lot more depth of who I am as a woman.

    BV: What are some of the misconceptions that you think people have about you after the first season?
    Well, I think even Tionna did, too. She didn't know me. You have a visual of someone you see as a musician and you don't know them personally. You can see some of who I am through songs, but when people would hear my list, they were so focused on the outside things that I had on there versus looking at the whole list. Unfortunately, a lot of women are just insecure, and their insecurities force them to settle in relationships. We take on that mentality of letting the man be the man and think it's okay for a guy to cheat on you. When I was in my twenties, I was a dummy, but you have to get smart and be proud of that and share it. I want all women to demand a guy to do right by you. If not then drop his ass and go to the next one.

    BV: Have you let anything on your list go?
    No, I could add some more stuff on my list (laughs). If you know your self-worth, why wouldn't you want the same things if not more? If you are a good person and know you're going to try your best to be great in a relationship, why wouldn't you want someone like that?

    BV: Well, the bigger question is have you been able to find a man who meets most or all of your requirements?
    On the show, I've met some guys who have some of the things on the list. Again, the list is just what I like, and most of the things on there are things that I need. I need to be with a man who loves God. I need to be with a man who speaks my love language. I know the areas to compromise in. If I were to be with a guy and he had a glass of wine every blue moon, that's not a deal breaker for me. If I met a guy who ate pork bacon at his house every now and then, that wouldn't be a deal breaker?

    BV: At his house? Not in your house? What if he becomes your husband?
    Oh no. You're not bringing that hog in my crib. Eventually, I can try to educate him on being healthy and he will stop eating that. That's not a deal breaker. I feel like we can change that.

    BV: How are things going with Tionna this season? Are you getting along better?
    I can read people well, and I have discernment. I knew what type of personality Tionna has after being around her for five seconds. She talks a lot. She can't help herself. This time around, I told her, "If you want to be in a position to help people, you have to be a good listener, because you aren't going to be able to give them sound advice if you aren't listening." I'm older than Tionna and have more experience than she has. She's pretty mature for her age, but at the same time, it's all about the role that she plays. She did better this time.

    BV: Do you think having the cameras around hinders the process of getting to know someone?
    It's definitely not a normal thing, that's for sure. I'm so used to cameras anyway. That didn't bother me, but there's a different kind of pressure trying to get to know someone and you have the cameras there.

    BV: Do you think there's a real shot this season for you to find someone?
    There's always a real shot. You can go to the grocery store and there's a possibility that you'll see Mr. Right in aisle six. You always have to be hopeful if there's something that you want. This time I was a lot more comfortable going out with the guys because I picked these guys with Tionna. The first go 'round I didn't pick any of these guys. Every date was a blind date. It's very difficult to play matchmaker.

    BV: Why is Floyd Mayweather still on the show and distracting you from finding a man?
    Floyd is not a distraction to me finding a guy. That's Tionna's perception. Floyd and I have been friends for four years and the reason we are able to be friends is because I know the real man behind the gloves. You all see him as the guy stacking dollar bills on Ustream, but the guy that I know and love and like is the one who will feed the homeless because it's from his heart. He is really a good dude.We've never slept together, and I can honestly say that we are just friends and not friends with benefits.

    BV: Do you think you two could be together? That's not going to happen, huh?
    Are you asking me or telling me?

    BV: Telling you. That's probably just not a good fit.
    He's just a good friend.

    BV: Was it tough for you pick men who aren't black?
    Girl, no. Growing up, I've always dated whomever as long as it was a man. I've always dated white guys and Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Asians. I've seen Indian boys. I don't look at the color. I like beautiful men. I fell off at one part of my life with dating beautiful men, but I'm back.

    BV: How do you let a guy know you're interested?
    I don't have to wait for a guy to approach me. I would approach a guy. I would look him up and down like a dude would look at girls. I'm just like that.

    BV: You've dated Usher and Dallas Austin in the past. Do you think you could date another celebrity or are you against that?
    I'm not against that at all. I honestly would prefer to date somebody in the same industry as me, not necessarily a singer but someone who understands this life and this world. Sports is a little different. I'm not speaking on the infidelity part, but with football players you don't know who they are and you may not recognize them. It's different when it's someone who is not in this world.

    BV: Have you dealt with insecurities from men who aren't in the industry?
    I've dated industry guys who are extremely insecure and guys who are popular. They see chicks lose their minds because of who they are, so they become accustomed to that. Then they meet me, someone who is in the industry, too, and I don't trip like that because I'm not a groupie or fan. I'm going to tell you when you're sh*t stinks and when you aren't being nice. I"ve noticed guys in the industry say they want a certain type of woman, but they'd rather date a chick who only wants them for their money because she's not going to call them out on anything. She just wants to go shopping and won't make him accountable for anything.

    BV: How long do you wait before you introduce your son Tron to the guys you're dating?
    Tron hasn't met anybody from the show. You can't meet my son unless I know there's something solid here. I know a lot guys who have kids and every girl they date, they bring the girl around their kid, which is so crazy to me. They interact with the chick like, "This is daddy's girlfriend." How you make the presentation is everything.

    BV: Do you think you will have any more kids?
    Chilli: I want and I believe God will give me one more baby. I want a girl -- a female mini-me.

    BV: What's going on with your solo album?
    I was working on a solo album a long time ago and didn't continue that because I didn't want to sign a 360 deal, and those are the only deals out right now. I came over to the TV world, but the good thing is T-Boz and I are blessed enough to be able to perform. Our fans still want to see us. I want us to do some new material, but it has to be the right thing. I don't want to go in the studio with the latest hot producer. But next year will be 20 years that we've been a group. We definitely want to do some stuff next year around that.

    BV: How's performing been with the loss of Left Eye?
    I think the performing part is fine as long as we don't look up at the screen and see her. Every year around Christmas when they play our 'Sleigh Ride' video at the end when the three of us are hugging, I just cry. It's been years, and it hits me like that. I break down. I miss her. I miss the three of us being together. We have so much chemistry that we don't even understand. People replace group members all the time, but TLC is not like that. God intended for it to be just the three of us, and we would never replace her. You can't replace Left Eye.

    BV: What do you want TLC's legacy to be?
    Our songs really touched many lives. The doors were opened up for us by Salt 'N' Pepa and En Vogue, two of my favorite groups, and we were allowed to open up the doors for other groups after us. I think that we really did try our very best, and we succeeded with breaking some barriers. We weren't going to come out wearing dresses because we didn't want to. That wasn't us. We were adamant about being the voices for women. Our version of 'I'm Every Woman' was 'Crazy, Sexy Cool,' and I always want people to remember those thing. That will be the TLC legacy. I want people to say, "Those girls were something else and really changed up some things for the best."

    The second season of 'What Chilli Wants' airs on VH1 Sundays at 9 p.m. EST.


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    Lil Wayne

    I recently saw an article on the Atlanta Post titled '5 Blockbuster Hip Hop Deals.' When I saw the title of the article, I thought about the million conversations I've had with scores of young artists who don't understand that talent isn't enough in the hip-hop industry. Not understanding business has led to the demise of quite a few artists, most of whom don't have nearly as much money as they pretend to have in their excessively materialistic videos.

    But then I also thought about the fact that the black business experience can be incredibly one dimensional when it comes to conversations about wealth building. Most of the discussions about wealth in the black community start and stop with the basketball court, the football field or the studio where the rapper busts his latest rhymes. While one must certainly be proud of the achievements being made in each of these arenas, we should realize that by relegating ourselves to being athletes and entertainers, we are missing the bulk of the opportunity that exists in our great country.

    First, when it comes to sports, athletes are getting the short end of the stick. NBA collective-bargaining agreements are structured to ensure that the bulk of the wealth generated by the league goes into the pockets of team owners. LeBron James is a pauper compared to the owner of the Miami Heat. It's even worse in the NFL, where the average career span is less than four years. Most NFL stars could make more money in their lifetimes by putting the energy they used to play football into going to law school, medical school or business school. Instead, too many athletes trade in their educational future and end up as 25-year-old retirees with a fifth-grade reading level. This is hardly the life of a man expected to provide for a family.

    Second, entertainers are consistently misled into signing contracts that are skewed in favor of the manager, agent or record label. When entertainers don't have an education, they become the prey of those seeking to exploit them. The group New Edition, for example, after doing a world tour and having several number-one hits on their first album, came home to a royalty check of just $1.87. If entertainers and athletes are not educated about business, they are typically going to be used up and thrown out like yesterday's trash.

    Generally speaking, African Americans must steer our kids away from the idea of believing that sports and entertainment are the way out of poverty. There are quite a few other professions in which you can make a great deal of money without having to be chosen as one out of a million to get there. At the top of the pile, Wall Street executives can easily earn tens of millions of dollars over a 30- or 40-year period, which would dwarf any NBA or NFL contract. In fact, a few hedge fund managers have earned over $1 billion per year, more than Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods or any other entertainer on earth. More realistically, there are surgeons who earn several hundred thousand dollars per year, entrepreneurs who earn millions with their own businesses, and attorneys who earn quite a bit of money as well. But what is the average income of the kid who throws away his education in exchange for a hoop dream? It ends up being close to zero for nearly every child in America who is NOT named LeBron James.

    We must learn to be smarter than the systems that are designed to exploit us. We are destined to do more than simply dance, sing, run and jump for everyone else. Our brains are more valuable than our bodies, and we cannot allow them to be wasted.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce's commentary delivered to your e-mail, please click here.


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    Rihanna has been making headlines for months with her bright-red hair, but her risk-taking approach to fashion has also been known to turn some heads. Back in August, the pop princess looked mature and sexy when attending her concert after party in a sheer black-lace dress by Stella McCartney. She added simple black, pointy Christian Louboutin heels, a chain-link necklace and a short fire-engine-red bowl cut to complete her look.

    Actress Jennifer Garner also looked like a star in Stella McCartney when she wore it to the premiere of her husband Ben Affleck's movie 'The Town' in September. Jennifer opted for a slightly longer and less fitted version of the dress, pairing it with round-toe pumps, a simple gold bracelet and a small gold clutch. We think both ladies look lovely in lace, but we want to know what you think. Who rocked this Stella McCartney dress best?


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    In the last year, Kanye West has gone through a lot of changes. He's publicly apologized for his MTV meltdown, broken up with girlfriend Amber Rose and redeemed himself with a hit new record. But perhaps the most interesting development of the past year is the rapper's choice of stylist. West, who makes his love of fashion loud and clear, made waves in the industry when he chose a 19-year-old Yale student to be his "creative consultant."

    Cassius Clay
    (yes, that's his real name) was just a regular college sophomore when he was tapped on the shoulder by West, who complimented him on his style while shopping in Barneys New York. Soon after, he became the rapper's right-hand man.

    The new stylist -- who took a leave of absence to become Kanye's creative consultant -- recently spoke to the blog for the hip store Opening Ceremony about his once-in-a-lifetime experience. "My father is in his eighties and my mother in her sixties so they're not exactly Kanye's typical listening demographic. Still, they could appreciate opportunity and were very supportive. My mother made a Twitter account to follow Kanye (not me), and I've found both 'Graduation' and 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' in my father's car." We can't wait to see what he puts together for Kanye in 2011.


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    Father Stabs 6-Year-Old Son Over 20 Times, Boy Survives

    Why did a 23-year-old Tampa, Fla., man stab his 6-year-old son more than 20 times during what was supposed to be a celebratory New Year's Eve event?

    Investigators are still trying to find out.

    Xavier Thomas Sr. (pictured) allegedly left his grandmother Yvonne Mickles' New Year's party and reportedly took his son, Xavier Jr., to the apartment complex playground and stabbed him repeatedly in the back, neck, arm and chest then left him for dead.

    When Xavier Sr. returned to the party without the boy, relatives started questioning him about his son's whereabouts. According to police reports, Xavier Sr., who relatives say didn't seem concerned about his son, ran from the scene.

    Relatives called police and began combing the area looking for the missing child.

    Miraculously, the child managed to drag his body away from the area where he was left and was able to reach a nearby relative's home.

    Xavier Jr. was bleeding profusely from head to toe, when police arrived on the scene. The child was taken to the hospital immediately and is expected to survive but might need a blood transfusion.

    According to Mickles, her grandson has battled mental issues for quite a few years:

    "I know he's a nut because anyone in his right mind would not have did that," Mickles said. "He's been in and out of the mental hospital. I cannot see how those people could think that Xavier was well enough to come out. The baby don't deserve this here."

    Neighbor Michael Harris, who lives across from Xavier Sr.'s grandmother, told My Fox News Tampa that Mickles and her family are quiet, decent folks.

    Meanwhile, Mickles is ecstatic that her great-grandson will survive his father's senseless attack and that "something good should come out of this here," she said. "If it's nothing but the Daddy getting the help he needs and mental health."

    Charged with attempted murder, Xavier Sr., who gave police no motive for the stabbing, appeared in court Sunday and was denied bond. He has a lengthy rap sheet dating back to 2003, with charges ranging from possession of cocaine to burglary.

    Watch the sad case here:


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    Miriam Harris
    The role of Super Woman in black America can be readily applied to a woman who can balance the relentless pursuit of academic achievement, professional success, and outstanding motherhood, all at the same time. Miriam Harris (a.k.a. Duchess) is a textbook example of what we all want our daughters to become. She is a mother of three, and has both a PhD and a law degree. The Ivy League-educated supermom is not only "about her business," she is deeply committed to the business of using her vast intellect to make the world a better place for both women and people of color. In other words, she's not just a Black PhD, she is actually a "Ph-Do." AOL Black Voices was able to catch up with Professor Harris for the Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight:

    What is your name and what do you do for a living?
    My name is Duchess Harris and I am an Associate Professor of American Studies at Macalester College.

    What is your area of expertise and what made you pursue this particular area of study?
    When I was fourteen, I won an academic scholarship to become a boarding student at the Canterbury School in New Milford, CT. At Canterbury, I was quite a stranger to the wealth of my classmates. The first year that I was there a student asked me, "Where do you summer?" I didn't understand the question until I realized that "summer" was being used as a verb -- my classmates had summer homes.

    Unable to relate to their class privilege, I also felt isolated from the other five black students at the school -- I was the only one not from the inner city. Instead, I grew up in a Connecticut suburb, where my father worked as an air traffic controller and my mother took care of the home. Socially marooned at boarding school, I focused on academics.

    My commitment to academic excellence eventually paid off, and I gained admission to the University of Pennsylvania. While at Penn, I won a Fellowship from the Mellon Foundation, was inducted into the Mortar Board National Senior Honor Society and the Onyx Senior Honor Society. On graduation I won the Alice Paul Award, Raymond Pace Alexander Award, and the Althea K. Hottel Award, which is the highest senior honor award given in a class of 2,500.

    Much of my recognition came because I was elected student body president. As the first black woman to lead an Ivy League student government, I spearheaded an initiative to remove from university housing a fraternity with members who had been convicted of a sexual assault; this made a prime location available to a community service organization. My activism in college has been written about in Wayne Glasker's, 'Black Students in the Ivory Tower: African American Student Activism at the University of Pennsylvania, 1967-1990' (p 168).

    My experience of being the first black woman to lead a student government in the Ivy League, while simultaneously being mentored by Mary Frances Berry, inspired me to wonder how the stories of black women's activism are told.

    After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, I enrolled at the University of Minnesota, where I earned my PhD in American Studies, writing my dissertation on black women's organizing in response to Black Power and the Second Wave of Feminism. At the completion of my PhD, I was one of two graduates in a class of sixteen to be nominated for the American Studies Association National Dissertation Prize. I graduated in May 1997, and in December was named one of Thirty Young Leaders of the Future under the age of thirty by Ebony Magazine. I spent the next years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota Law School, which was directed by john a. powell at the time.

    I joined the faculty at Macalester College in 1998. During the Spring 2003 semester at Macalester, several colleagues and I developed a proposal to create a new "Department of American Studies," which would house the formerly independent but closely connected African American Studies and Comparative North American Studies programs. Collectively, we viewed American Studies as a rubric that should inspire collaboration and healthy debate about the borders and boundaries of citizenship, responsibility, and intellectual work. After finalizing the new program, I was proud to serve as the department's first chairperson for the next two years. Under my leadership, we attracted twenty majors to the department, which placed us in the top third.

    I was awarded tenure in 2004. In 2007 I decided that attending law school would allow me to expand my teaching possibilities further. I was admitted to William Mitchell College as a "William Mitchell Fellow" (1 of 21 in an entering class of 336). I started taking courses in the part-time evening program, so that I could continue teaching at Macalester.

    You have both a law degree and a PhD, in addition to raising three children. How do you manage it all and what pushed you to achieve so much?
    On January 15th, I will graduate from William Mitchell College of Law. When I started law school all three of my kids were in diapers, and I worked full time the first two years. Despite numerous obstacles, I have walked this long and winding road and reached my goal. I have very few regrets because I know that I did the best that I could with what I had. Law school wasn't what I expected, but I surprised myself with how many times I got up after being knocked down. I only missed one day of class after my pulmonary embolism, and I returned to law school more determined than ever.

    The rigor of law school enhanced my discipline; and in turn I contributed with an online race and the law journal. In Contracts [class at law school] they call that a bargain for exchange. I am humble enough to realize that I took more than I gave in the course of my education; but I am proud to have launched the first online, interactive scholarly publication dedicated to the complex issues surrounding race and the law in return. As Ruthie Wilson Gilmore said in her presidential address to the American Studies Association, "Infiltrate what exists, innovate what doesn't." I hope my small innovation with this journal will contribute to a re-examination of where our legal system doesn't provide equal protection under the laws.

    Tell us about your experience with the school to prison pipeline. What are some of the major problems and what are some suggested solutions?
    Working with William Mitchell's ReEntry Clinic has taught me in the most immediate way that the law and legal proceedings can be a powerful, effective form of intervention and assistance in the lives of people who have been disenfranchised, abused, and dispossessed. On April 3, 2010 The Huffington Post published my reflections on this experience.

    When I launched my blog a year ago today I wrote: "My goal is to provide legal assistance to disenfranchised women and their families. This will benefit women who are leaving prison, and their children; it will also benefit me, the law student, who is learning how to advocate for them." Women who have been incarcerated need advocates and I know what it's like to advocate for someone who doesn't have a voice. My experience as a parent, an academic, and as a law student will help me to bring these women's stories to a wider audience. The stories of these mothers have the potential to inspire law schools across the nation to open clinics similar to the one that I will participate in. Just as you have listened to my story, I can listen to their stories, and let you hear their voices. God gave Noah the rainbow sign -- my name is Duch, I'm ready this time.

    I thought I was ready, but I don't know if anyone is ready for the work I've done this year. Films like 'Precious' present the stories of the poor and there is almost always transformation, realization, redemption, accompanied by moving theme music. Lives are changed in the span of two hours, usually through the intervention of a teacher, a social worker, one person who believes they can make a difference. I wanted to be that person. But reality is a much grimmer affair. There's no easy solution for the crushing blows that come with poverty; drug abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, ignorance and mental illness. Not even Oprah, with all her billions, can wave a magic wand and fix it. Here are just a few of the daunting statistics about women in prison:

    -57% have a history of physical or sexual abuse.
    -63% are non-white or minorities.
    -64% have not finished high school.
    -74% used drugs regularly before their incarceration.
    -Most women in prison are incarcerated for non-violent crimes.
    -Women frequently engage in criminal activities with their romantic partners.

    In the fall I met "Star," a 44-year-old Black woman incarcerated at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Shakopee who could check all of the above. Her older sister's husband molested "Star" when she was 13. She had a baby when she was 19, another child at 21, married that child's father, and then had her third child at 28.

    Her husband used to beat her and she had a restraining order against him. He eventually crossed state lines and committed several bank robberies, and is incarcerated in a penitentiary in Virginia. She shared that this was a huge relief, because he was violent and HIV positive. Her incarceration was for aiding and abetting her husband.

    She arrived at Shakopee in December 2006. At the time, her youngest child was 12. She sent her daughter to live with the same brother-in-law who molested her. Her daughter was molested and eventually removed from their home. He was not prosecuted. Star was set to be released four days before Christmas, and at that point she'd regain custody of her 9th grader daughter who hadn't seen her in three years. There would be much work to do, to break the cycle of violence and poverty.

    But that's where I came in. As a certified student attorney from William Mitchell College of Law, Star asked me to help her obtain a dissolution of marriage from her husband, who would not be eligible for parole until 2033. That was my legal assignment. When she was released, I was also responsible for helping her re-unite with her daughter, obtain housing, and find employment. She had a history of drug abuse and claimed to have been clean for four years. But that didn't add up, because she also admitted that she missed her mother's 2006 funeral because she was strung out. I was to help Star with rehab as well.

    She was the poor drug addict and sexual abuse survivor. I was the privileged professor/law student who was there to make the difference, to help her turn her life around. There was no theme music. There was no happy ending.

    I worked on Star's divorce from September to December. I went to visit her a week before her release and assured her that I'd do everything in my power to help her re-enter society. When I called after the holiday to tell her that the divorce papers were drafted, I discovered that she and her daughter had left the state to return to her sister's home, to live with her and the brother in law that had molested Star and Star's daughter.

    In real life, it isn't precious.

    As I alluded to earlier, there is a significant divide between the ivory tower and "real life" problems. Sometimes theories that seem rational and reasonable in an institutional setting don't work in the practical applications of day-to-day living. A multitude of social theories have failed to result in the development of interventions to solve the problems of poverty and crime, and as the number of women who are incarcerated increases exponentially, the effect on their families, children, and communities, puts the fabric of our society at risk. My experiences with the legal clinic have provided a template for bridging the divide between theory and practice, providing an example of the way that I can use existing institutions and their services and resources to the benefit of my clients.

    Because the clinic was not for me, I returned to scholarship.

    Tell us about your book. Why should people read it?
    My first book, 'Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Clinton,' was released in July 2009. It was a journey that started with questions.

    Why was Dr. Joycelyn Elders forced to leave her post? Why didn't any of the women in the Congressional Black Caucus who voted against Clarence Thomas dare to speak on behalf of Anita Hill? Why was Congresswoman Barbara Lee alone in her opposition to the Iraq war resolution?

    Since the sixties, black women have tried to gain centrality by their participation in presidential commissions, black feminist organizations, theatrical productions, film adaptations of literature, beauty pageants, electoral politics, and presidential appointments. But looking at the years between 1961 and 200, were black women able to gain real political power?

    'Black Feminist Politics' was released the same month that former U.S. representative Cynthia McKinney was taken into custody by Israeli military officials, while she was on a humanitarian mission to provide aid to the ravaged Palestinian citizens in Gaza.

    It was released the same month that President Barack Obama nominated my husband's colleague, Dr. Regina Benjamin, to be Surgeon General, 15 years after President Bill Clinton fired Dr. Joycelyn Elders.

    July 2009 was a time that we got to witness a woman of color participating in a Senate confirmation hearing for an actual seat on the Supreme Court, as opposed to being judged by 98 male senators during someone else's confirmation.

    The second edition of the book, 'Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Obama,' will be released in May 2011. In a new final chapter I discuss President Obama's report card as it relates to black women. You can view a snap shot of this at The Scholar and Feminist Online.

    Is there anything else you'd like to share with our AOL Black Voices audience?
    In July 2009 my family was featured in Essence Magazine as a two career couple raising three children, including one who thrives with autism. I enjoy corresponding with parents of special needs children.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the author of the bookBlack American Money To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. To suggest a subject for a Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight, please click here.


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    Singer Michelle Williams and actor Brian White will headline playwright David E. Talbert's new play, 'What My Husband Doesn't Know.'

    Also appearing in the stage production are Ann Nesby and Clifton Davis.

    Lena Summer is the envy of all her friends. Big house. Successful husband. It's the perfect life... or so it seems. But with her husband's demanding career, the other side of her bed is too cold too often. When a handsome young foreman is hired to work on their home, the spark she's been missing quickly rages into a wildfire that could cost her everything.

    Williams, known around the world as one-third of the Grammy-winning musical group, Destiny's Child, just finished a run on BBC's 'Strictly Come Dancing,' the show that ABC's 'Dancing With the Stars' is modeled after. In 2009 and 2010, the Illinois native starred as Roxie Hart in the smash hit musical 'Chicago' on London's West End and on Broadway.

    White will be starring with Wood Harris and Zoe Saldana in the romantic comedy 'The Heart Specialist,' which opens on Jan. 14. Later this year, the Boston native stars in another romantic comedy film, 'Politics of Love' opposite Mallika Sherawat, Loretta Devine, Gerry Bednob and Ruby Dee. He'll also return for the second season of TNT's 'Men of a Certain Age' alongside Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula.

    David E. Talbert is an award-winning playwright, film director, and best-selling author. His film, 'First Sunday,' which starred Tracy Morgan and Katt Williams, opened up as the No. 1 comedy. His blockbuster plays include: 'The Fabric Of A Man,' 'Love in the Nick of Tyme,' 'He Say She Say... But What Does God Say,' 'Love on Layaway,' 'His Woman His Wife,' and 'Mr. Right Now.'

    'What My Husband Doesn't Know' begins its national tour in February 2011 with stops in Philadelphia, Orlando and Jacksonville, Fla., Washington D.C., and Detroit.


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    John Harmon
    John Harmon, a diabetic who owns a marketing company, was pulled over after low blood sugar levels made him swerve into another lane. The sheriff's deputies smashed his window, Tasered him and charged him with resisting arrest. Now he's suing.

    Harmon, "a tall and burly black man," in the words of the Cincinnati Enquirer, was commuting from his downtown Cincinnati office to the mostly white Anderson Township, where he'd recently moved. His blood sugar levels were low, and after swerving into the next lane, he was pulled over by two sheriff's deputies.

    According to the lawsuit Harmon filed with his wife, Deputies Ryan Wolf and Matthew Wissel approached Harmon's 1998 Ford Expedition, Wolf with his gun drawn. In an interview with the Enquirer, Harmon described the experience:

    "The deputy's face was extremely contorted. He was screaming," Harmon said. "I remember being taken aback, recoiled and thought, 'What's going on?' I was being presented with pure evil, it was a chilling experience."

    Read the rest on


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    Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Chuck Berry is currently recovering from exhaustion at his home in St. Louis after falling ill at his concert at the Congress Theater in Chicago over the weekend.

    Concertgoers at his Jan.1 show told The Chicago Tribune that the 84 year-old guitarist and singer/songwriter had difficulty keeping his guitar in tune and at times sat down to play at a keyboard before leaving the stage an hour into his performance."All I know is he felt faint, he felt weak, and I was told to call 911," Michael Petryshyn, the concert's promoter, told the newspaper.

    An ambulance crew checked Berry's vitals and he returned to the stage to thank his loyal fans for staying. The 'Johnny B. Goode' crooner did not continue his performance, but left the concert venue in a limousine. Chicago Fire Department Fire Media Affairs spokesman Chief Joe Roccasalva revealed that Berry signed a release refusing treatment and was not taken to a hospital.

    He previously performed two shows in New York the day before his Chicago gig, the Chicago Tribune noted.

    Berry, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient, got his start in 1955 with Chess Records. Actor/rapper Mos Def portrayed Berry in the critically-acclaimed film 'Cadillac Records,' which also starred Beyonce Knowles.


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    Pauletta Washington
    , wife of two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington, is set to appear in the Off-Broadway production of 'Love, Loss and What I Wore' at New York's Westside Theatre, reports Jet Magazine .

    The talented actress/singer and mother of four will co-star with Nikki Blonsky ('Hairspray'), Alexis Bledel ('Gilmore Girls'), Anita Gillette and Judy Gold in the play's Jan. 12-Feb. 13 run. The play is based on Ilene Beckeman's 1995 book about clothes and the memories they bring back. The production features a five-woman cast that will rotate every four weeks.

    Former Cosby kid Sabrina LaBeauf will join the cast next month.

    Prior to their 1983 marriage, Pauletta Pearson met a 23 year-old Denzel Washington on the set of the 1977 CBS television movie 'Wilma.' It was their screen debut. She then appeared in 'Purlie' (1981) playing an unknown character. She also performed in 'Beloved' (1988) as one of 'the Thirty Women,' 'Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child' as a Teacher and was a recurring character named Terri Angelou in 'The Parkers.'

    Here's a scene from 'The Parkers.


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    Oprah Gets Backlash Over OWN
    With the launching of any new product, there are bound to be problems. Well, Oprah is no exception, as her new cable channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has been hit with controversy. Fans of the media queen have written scores of comments on her website, stating that they are angry that the network is being offered as part of the premium cable package and not basic cable.

    "Cannot believe Oprah would launch a new show on a cable channel that is not part of the basic service," one fan wrote.

    Another fan notes:

    "She will be losing some of her most loyal fans because they either do not have cable or they have basic cable. I have basic cable and do not plan on changing my cable service."

    While a few of the fans commented about the cost problems, there were many more who thought the network was a great idea. This was balanced with quite a few old Oprah fans who've claimed that they may no longer watch her network. In all, some think the reviews of the new OWN network were very mixed.

    One of the problems that Oprah must confront is that by owning her own network, she can't make her money by being all Oprah, all the time. By having to fill up 24 hours of programming, Winfrey is being faced with a new challenge that goes beyond using her face and voice to boost the network to profitability. If she is not careful, she may have the same problem as Michael Jordan, who took to the court at the embarrassing age of 41 in order to boost ticket sales for the Washington Wizards. Unfortunately for Jordan, improved ticket sales came at the expense of ruining his legacy as an athlete. Sirius/XM radio, to a smaller extent, has gone the way of using individual brands to build 24-hour channels: The rapper Eminem has a station, "Shade 45," which relies heavily on the rapper's name and voice to get listeners. The jury is still out on whether this business model can be profitable. There is just no solid business model for the celebrity-branded channel yet.

    The evolution of Oprah from television host to full-time corporate captain will be an education for all of us. By stepping out and creating her OWN, Oprah is a living, breathing case study for every black media student across the country. We can watch her go through the ups and downs of generating corporate independence and remind ourselves of what it truly means to obtain real economic freedom. There will be bumps in the road, but is no doubt that Oprah will be enormously successful, despite these complaints. Plus there is a business lesson in it for all of us.

    You can take that straight to the bank.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.


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    Katie Couric Says Muslims Need Their Own 'Cosby Show'

    Since stepping down from her role as America's sweetheart on NBC's "Today Show" to make history as the first female anchor of "CBS Evening News," media mainstay Katie Couric has had a tumultuous time.

    From charges of plagiarism and incompetence to being named Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" to being the catalyst behind the "Evening News" worst ratings in history, Couric's image as a media darling has more than frayed at the edges.

    This past weekend, Couric commented about the "seething hatred" many Americans have toward Muslim Americans:

    "Maybe we need a Muslim version of 'The Cosby Show'... I know that sounds crazy, I know that sounds crazy," said Couric. "But 'The Cosby Show' did so much to change attitudes about African Americans in this country, and I think sometimes people are afraid of things they don't understand."Islamophobia in this country most recently stems from the 9/11 attacks and has manifested into atrocious hate crimes (up 70 percent in the years following the bombing of the World Trade Center) against Muslims, discriminatory legislation such as the Patriot Act and the fervent opposition to the mosque near Ground Zero.

    Katie Couric's statement reeks of well-intentioned ignorance and arrogance.

    In essence, Couric is saying that to diminish discrimination against and hatred of Muslims, we must show them in a light that is non-threatening to Americans. A safe, feel good, family dramedy-similar to Canada's "Little Mosque on the Prairie," which only skims the surface of real life issues such as drinking and overeating.

    At the time the "Cosby Show" was running, it was the 1980s. The decade of AIDS, the crack-cocaine epidemic, the Cold War and hip-hop as an emerging voice to convey the societal issues that were rampant in our communities ... and the "Cosby Show" avoided these issues like the plague.

    I would be the first to say that there are ample negative depictions of African Americans, and Dr. Bill Cosby filled a need in mainstream culture absent for too long: a glimpse at a successful black family.

    The focus on education and cultural awareness was a much-needed breath of fresh air in the midst of the usual stereotypical images prevalent on television, and the show's necessity and positive influence should not be denied.

    However, I will also be the first to say that he missed an optimal opportunity to address the issues in our communities he claims to champion so passionately.

    And therein lies the crux of the matter, Katie.

    Muslim Americans are not a threat. Radical Muslims are the threat. Catholic organizations, such as Opus Dei and their protection of pedophiles within the church are the threat. Political zealots, such as Timothy McVeigh, are threats.

    A Muslim "Cosby Show" would perhaps serve the purpose of entertainment and self-identification for those followers of Islam who only see themselves portrayed negatively in the media, and that goal is not without merit. However, Muslims do not need a white-washed sitcom to sooth the bigoted fears of those who choose to paint them all with the same terrorist brush, and to say they do, or to suggest such a show would promote religious tolerance in this country is either extremely naïve or extremely offensive.

    I would like to see a show that depicts a Muslim family in Iraq suffering through this country's invasion, watching soldiers rape their women and children, blow up civilians and stamp out their governmental system - all on the whim of one president.

    Or maybe a show that follows a Muslim family in America as they get disproportionately searched in airports and profiled at public events - all while trying to succeed in a country where they are labeled terrorists.

    I'm sure it would be a hit.

    You say people fear what they don't understand, Katie. Well, understand this:

    Until you have a better grasp of the complexities of religion and living as a minority in this country, whether due to religion or ethnicity, maybe you should avoid conversations of depth all together.

    After all, that's what the "Cosby Show" did.


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    LeBron James was the NBA's Most Valuable Player in both 2009 and 2010. Some thought he might have a chance to win it again this year, since he's as good or better than he was last year. But LeBron doesn't think he'll win the award, mainly because of his decision to join the Miami Heat.

    "When we decided to come together our Most Valuable Player chances kind of went out the window."

    Both James and teammate Dwayne Wade have been consistent front-runners for the MVP trophy, but since they started playing together, their stats have taken a dip. Wade is averaging just 24.5 points per game, his lowest total in more than five years. James is averaging 24.4 points per game, significantly less than the 29.7 he averaged last year.

    "I don't know how you classify the MVP thing," James said. "Do you classify it as most valuable to his team, if you take that person off his team how do they play? Or is it how is he playing numbers-wise? I don't know."

    It appears that with his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, LeBron James traded in his MVP chances for an opportunity to win an NBA title. While the tradeoff might be questionable to some, the reality for James is that he's already won enough MVP awards to secure his legacy as one of the greatest players in NBA history. What he needs now is to avoid the tarnished legacies of players like Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and Charles Barkley, none of who can claim an NBA title.

    At this point, the Miami Heat are one of the top teams in the NBA with a 26 - 9 record. Some would even say they are the hottest team in the league right now, given that they had an abysmal start earlier in the year. LeBron took a big risk to leave the comfort of Cleveland for his Miami adventure, but I predict that it will pay off for him. Staying in Cleveland likely would have led to one frustrating season after another, relegating him to the "Patrick Ewing Files" of basketball disappointment. Ewing spent year after year starring for some very talented New York Knicks teams, but was never able to win a title. That experience likely haunts him to this very day.

    LeBron's comments, in their honesty, tell us something about James and also about the game. With regard to LeBron, his honesty is refreshing, as he consistently makes comments that rise above the meaningless sound bite. For example, when he went back to Cleveland to play the Cavs, LeBron didn't try to pretend that it was just another game. Instead, he honestly reflected on the vast emotion he would feel coming back to his home court. LeBron's remark about his MVP chances tells us that the MVP Award is primarily built around a game that focuses on the stats of the individual and not his value to the team or his overall ability as a player. If one were to base the MVP trophy on which player the other teams would choose for their team first, the winner would clearly be either LeBron James or Kobe Bryant. The math of the MVP is actually quite simple. But since LeBron has won that trophy more than once, it's time for him to win the one that counts. So far, he's making all the right moves to get there.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.


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    Health care reform

    They may have lost control in one chamber of Congress, after absorbing a shellacking at the polls in November's mid-term elections, but Democrats are telling their Republican counterparts don't even think of messing with health care reform.

    In a letter to House Speaker-elect John Boehner, who has vowed to roll back major portions of President Barack Obama's chief legislative victory thus far, Senate Democrats said that they will block any Republican effort to repeal the overhaul of health care laws.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada (pictured), along with Sens. Richard Durbin of Illinois, Charles Schumer of New York and Patty Murray of Washington, wrote that health care reform is too important and too beneficial to too many Americans to be used as a political football between the political parties.

    Democrats are right that health care reform is an important piece of legislation; however, can anyone really expect Republicans not to try and whittle it down piecemeal with the help of their new majority in the House of Representatives.

    In fact, Republicans can truthfully argue that the promise of repealing health care reform was what helped them rally their troops for their impressive victories in November's elections. Simply put, Democrats didn't turn out in numbers nor vote with the enthusiasm needed to protect Democratic gains won in the first two years of President Obama's administration.

    So Reid and friends can try to bully Boehner all they want, but it's unlikely to stop Republicans from at least trying to weaken and eventually kill the health reform package.


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    Ring in the new year and prep for Bowl Season in style! Win an exclusive tailgating kit and a his and hers apron, all autographed by the Neelys!

    The new year is here and your resolutions to be better, kinder and more generous have been made. Let Black Voices, Kraft Foods and The Food Network's cooking sensations, The Neelys help you keep your resolution and reward you for your good doing in the process.

    Kraft Foods has teamed up with Black Voices for their Huddle for Hunger campaign. With your help, we can get Kraft Foods to donate more meals to local food banks than ever before! Here's the deal: Just retweet our contest announcement and follow Black Voices on Twitter. By doing so, you'll automatically be entered to win an autographed Neelys' Tailgating Kit on January 7th.

    Here's the cool part: Every time our full message with the hashtag #KraftFightsHunger is retweeted, Kraft donates a meal to a local food bank. It's just that easy! Doesn't it feel good to do good?

    With Bowl Season underway what better time than now to be a part of this great giveaway!

    Now for the fine print:
    -Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.

    -To enter, simply follow @BlackVoices on Twitter and Retweet our contest announcement. Eligible contestants must be following theBVX by 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on Friday, January 7th.

    -One winner will announced via Twitter on Friday, January 7th at 4:30 p.m. EST.

    -Contestants can only enter once; winners will be selected in a random drawing.

    -The winner will receive one tailgating kit valued at $200 (USD).

    -Winners will be selected in a random drawing. Black Voices will contact you for detailed contact information.


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    Gabe Okoye and his girlfriend, Brittany Mayti were set up for the opportunity of a lifetime. Appearing on the television show, "Million Dollar Money Drop," they had a chance to walk home with several hundred thousand dollars by correctly answering a few questions.

    The airwaves were buzzing after the couple was allegedly cheated out of the right answer on the Fox Show. The question was "Which of these was sold in stores first: the Macintosh Computer, the Sony Walkman or Post-it Notes?" The couple argued for quite a while over which answer was correct. Brittany wanted to put her money on the Walkman, but Gabe was adamant that the Post-it note was the correct answer. So, out of the $880,000 the couple had left, $800,000 was put on the Post-It, while the remaining $80,000 was put on the Walkman. In other words, they were saying that they believed the Post-It Note came out first.

    Gabe was convincing. He not only knew that the Post-It Note was the right answer, he knew the history of how it was invented. He mentioned that the product was invented by accident, and that it was the reason for the existence of the 3M Corporation. Brittany fought him tooth and nail, and you could feel the couple's stress coming through the TV set.

    Eventually, after Gabe's pleading, Brittany put most of the money into the bin supporting Gabe's response. You can imagine the couple's dismay as they watched $800,000 disappear right before their very eyes. To most casual observers, it appeared that they were wrong.

    It turns out that Gabe is a pretty smart guy. He went home and googled the answer, finding significant evidence claiming that he was actually correct. It turns out that Post-It Notes were market tested in four cities in 1977, beating out the Walkman by two years. The official Facebook page for Post-It Notes also says that the product was released in 1977. Also, inventor Art Fry mentions 1977 as the launch date of Post-It Notes during an interview with the Financial Times.

    Jeff Apploff, executive producer for the show, released a statement saying, "The integrity of the questions and answers on our show are our No. 1 priority. In this case, our research team spoke directly with 3M, and they confirmed that although they had given out free samples in test markets in 1977 and 1978, it wasn't until 1980 that Post-Its were officially sold in stores."

    It is still not clear if the couple will be invited back onto the show, and while 3M may have given the show's producers one answer, the jury is still out on whether or not the couple got cheated. If you want my opinion, the question is incredibly misleading and unfair. If the product was test marketed in four cities in 1977, that means that it was sold in stores. If there was one customer in one store who bought one Post-It Note in 1977, then this couple has grounds for a lawsuit.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the author of the bookBlack American Money To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.


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    Oprah Winfrey's new OWN channel averaged 1 million viewers with its first night of prime-time programming Saturday, according to preliminary Nielsen figures released Monday.

    That's up a whopping 389% from what Discovery Health, the network OWN replaced, averaged a year ago.

    As part of the initial outing, the premiere of "Season 25: Oprah Behind The Scenes," which follows Winfrey as she records the final season of her daytime talk show, averaged 1.160 million viewers Saturday night.

    The second episode of "Behind The Scenes" averaged 1.196 million, according to Nielsen.

    OWN launched Jan. 1 and replaced Discovery Health on cable systems around the country.

    The network is available in roughly 67% of the nation's more than 114 million TV homes.

    The network is a partnership between Winfrey and the Discovery Channel.

    Source: NY Daily News

    Kevin Eason is a freelance editorial cartoonist and Illustrator from New Jersey. His brand of satire covers news events in politics, entertainment, sports and much more. Follow him on Facebook.


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