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

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    Debt


    As a Money Coach for nearly a decade, and as someone who once owed $100,000 in credit card debt, I know that becoming debt-free isn't just about using proper money-management techniques and effective debt-elimination strategies. It's also about having the right mind-set to get out of debt.

    Here are four insights to help you create the right mindset to get out of debt.
    1. It's Not About the Money

    Most of us erroneously think that the biggest drawback of being in debt is the amount of money we have to pay to banks and creditors. We bemoan all the cash that goes down the drain in the form of interest. Or we rail about high fees, late payments and other charges tied to having debt.

    The real price tag of debt, though, isn't the financial cost associated with owing others. It's the toll that debt takes on every area of your life.

    Debt wreaks havoc on you emotionally, causing physical and mental stress. Debt taxes relationships, leading couples to argue more or divorce. Debt limits your personal and career options, keeping you in a dead-end job or unable to move because you owe too much money on your credit cards or your mortgage. Shockingly, if you're deep in debt, you could even get locked up.

    So stop thinking that becoming debt-free in simply a way to improve your wallet. Think instead about how becoming debt-free will improve your entire life, including your health, your relationships and your overall emotional well-being.

    2. You Have More Power/Leverage Than You Think

    Debt can often feel like bondage -- and for good reason. When you're deep in debt, you're essentially a slave to your creditors. But despite the fact that you may owe thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars to banks or other financial institutions, you have more leverage than you may think.

    For instance, if you are facing high-interest rate credit cards, you have the power to call up your credit card company and negotiate. Unfortunately, too few consumers do this. They think: "I'm just one small customer" or "The bank is going to say 'No' anyway."

    But banks send out billions of credit card solicitations annually, and if you've been paying your bills on time, the bank doesn't want to lose your business. So simply calling up the issuer or your Visa or MasterCard and asking: "Is this the best rate you can offer?" could get you better terms.

    Even bankruptcy - which I only recommend as a last resort - is a form of leverage with your creditors. Banks know that if you file for bankruptcy protection, they may get nothing. So in such cases, they may be more flexible and willing to negotiate.

    My point is: Once you shift your mind-set to being proactive about your debt, instead of passive or reactive about it, you'll be better equipped to chip away at those bills and come up with strategies that best suit your individual circumstances.

    3. It's NOT Someone Else's Fault

    We'd all like to blame someone else for our debt woes and our financial problems. The "irresponsible" ex-spouse who ran up the bills. The "stingy" boss who wouldn't give us a raise. Or maybe even the "greedy" bankers who gave us credit and loans in the first place!

    But to get out of debt, you have to accept responsibility for your predicament. You have to think about the choices YOU made, the things YOU did - or did not do - that led to your current state of financial affairs.

    It's only by seeing your own level of personal responsibility that you become empowered. You have to start to think: "If I got myself in to this mess, I have the power to get myself out of it."

    Even if you got in to debt through seemingly no fault of your own (perhaps because you were downsized, went through a divorce, or had big medical bills in the family), you should review what happened and think about how you could have financially protected yourself and safeguarded your household against such unforeseen events.

    Could you have had a bigger savings nest egg? Could you have had more insurance? Instead of blaming others, focus on what you could have done to help avoid the situation or what's within your power that you can do to fix the problem now.

    4. Paying Off High-Interest-Rate Debt First Isn't Always the Best Strategy

    Here's a bit of financial advice that you've likely heard over and over: Pay off your high-interest-rate-credit-card debt first. Unfortunately, it's also bad advice that doesn't fit everyone's circumstances.

    Some people shouldn't worry about high-rate debt because, frankly, the interest rates on their debts aren't really that high at all. They should focus on paying off cards with the highest dollar balances. Others should go after cards with the lowest dollar balances. How do you know which is best? Think about what bothers you most -- and then attack your area of pain.

    If you're stressed out because your cards are all maxed out, then you need to pay off cards with the highest dollar balances first. If you're finding it hard to keep up with so many credit cards because you've got a wallet full of plastic, then you should pay off the cards with the lowest dollar balances first. As you pay off cards, then use the money you had been paying to double up on the next card.

    The main reason you shouldn't always pay off your high-interest-rate debt first is because that strategy can takes many months - if not years - before you see your balances start to budge. For most people, that's way too long and depressing.

    Who wants to fight against debt month after month only to see that the $170 they paid on a Visa card only covered $17 worth of the principal balance and the other $153 went toward interest? Little wonder that people don't stay motivated or stick to a payoff plan when the only advice they get is: pay off high-rate debt first.

    So instead, use a payoff strategy that lets you get an immediate emotional boost from seeing that your plan is working. That will keep you motivated and on track to becoming debt-free.

    Getting out of debt takes persistence and some savvy financial moves. But it also requires that right mindset - especially if you want to be debt-free as quickly as possible.

     

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    America's child population grew more far diverse over the past decade as a decline in the ranks of white children was offset by surging growth of Asians and Hispanics.

    The number of non-Hispanic whites fell in 46 states and 86 of the 100 largest metropolitan areas. In 10 states, white children are now a minority among their peers, including six that tipped between 2000 and 2010. Others will follow soon: In 23 states, minorities make up more than 40% of the child population.

    The number of black and Native American children declined as well, but by a far smaller degree than whites, according to an analysis of 2010 Census data to be released Wednesday by the Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank in Washington. The Census Bureau released the first results of its once-a-decade head count of U.S. residents, regardless of citizenship, late last year; over subsequent months, Census released state and local data.

    Read more about at the Wall Street Journal

     

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    Tinisha Hall Smith comes from a family of addicts. But unlike her relatives, Hall Smith doesn't abuse drugs and alcohol. Instead, she's overindulges in a substance many of us can appreciation: food.

    The 32-year-old is one of the stars of 'Addicted to Food,' a docuseries which premiered last night on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. Viewers who tuned in were introduced to eight eating disorder patients, including anorexia and bulimia sufferers, at treatment facility Shades of Hope Treatment Center in Buffalo Gap, Texas. There they receive therapy that helps them to uncover the sources of their addictions and offers steps for them to conquer their weight issues and maintain a healthier lifestyle.

    DeJuaii Pace, member of the gospel group The Anointed Pace Sisters and sister to gospel singer Lashun Pace, also stars on the show, where she discovers that her overeating was due to her hiding her sexual attraction to women. (Yep, she comes out to family members on the show, according to a recent interview she did with 'The Root.')

    Hall Smith, who is married with two adult step-children, has struggled with her weight for most of her life. At 5'1 and weighing close to 300 pounds, Hall Smith thought she was going to die. She weighed 286 pounds at her heaviest and by the time she arrived at Shades last August, she got down to 265.

    Hall Smith, who spent six weeks at Shades, shares her story with AOL Black Voices.

    (As told to Aisha I. Jefferson)


    I am pretty much a compulsive overeater. I eat when I'm bored. I eat when I'm tired. I eat when I'm angry. I come from a family of addicts. My mother, my father, and one of my aunts - a lot of the people around me growing up were all doing drugs and drinking a lot of alcohol. My grandmother was a gambler and my grandfather was an alcoholic. Seeing all of that growing up, I said I was never going to be a drug addict or an alcoholic.

    Even though I've stayed true to this pledge, I have the same addictive behavior that my family members have. I even gamble like my grandmother. It wasn't until I sought treatment at Shades of Hope that I was able to identify that I had a food addiction and get an idea on how to properly treat it.

    When I first got to Shades, the first four days were pretty tough. I experienced a withdrawal similar to someone who's addicted to drugs. I really and truly was like a drug addict going through recovery, because food is ultimately the same thing. I would wake up in the middle of the night, very weak, sick and craving sugar. I had been used to drinking a lot of Coca-Cola so my body was just full of sugar.

    You're supposed to wean yourself off of things before you arrive but I didn't. I ended up getting sick, experiencing cramps, vomiting and was a very a cranky person. Even if there was nothing left to throw up, I still felt like I wanted to throw up. My body was just used to having that sugar and caffeine every day. And going from consuming so much to consuming nothing at all was a very big adjustment.

    Like many people who are overweight or obese, I've tried a lot of diets in the past. Ninety-day diets, Atkins diet, South Beach Diet - you name it, I've probably tried it. My problem is that I start out fine but can't stick with them. I discovered at Shades that the diets didn't work because I am addicted to food. Diets say eat this and not that but do not address the issues underneath the addiction.

    It was through treatment that I first learned why I wanted to eat the food I was eating. It also helped to be at a facility where people controlled what you ate and offered assistance as you become more disciplined in a regular daily routine with exercise and a healthy meal plan.



    Treatment also allowed me to discuss my childhood and participate in spiritual classes. If a person is a compulsive overeater and finds it hard to control their eating, I would say, don't try to give up everything at once. I learned that it's not really about will power. If you have problems with food, you can only be on a diet for so long before you just give in or go back to your old ways. Even if you're on a diet and you lose the weight, you may say, "I can eat what I want because I lost the weight," then gain it all back. If you can leave it all alone and just eat the healthy stuff, great. But it's not something that most people can do on their own, especially if they don't figure out what their triggers are.

    For me, it's not like I sat around and ate just because I wanted to. I was eating because I was trying to fill up a hole in my heart, like I was missing something. I felt like I didn't have a spiritual connection with God, with my family and friends, or even with myself. I really felt empty and my food consumption and gambling were outlets I used to fill that empty space up. I would keep eating until I couldn't eat anymore.

    Instead of eating all day now, I try to eat three moderate meals a day. I haven't been going to gym regularly like I did at Shades, but the goal is to go to the gym five times a week and just move more! You don't want to just be a couch potato. I do exercise while walking my dog and I will walk around the mall. I no longer have the strong fear of dying like I did just a few months ago.

    I still am pre-diabetic and have high blood pressure. Even though I lost weight, I still have arthritis in my knee, so I will need to lose more weight to get rid of that. I did gain a little weight when I returned from Shades and currently weigh 250 pounds. But I'm very hopeful and would like to slim down to 160 or 150. The smallest size I remember wearing as a young adult was a 12. So, if I can lose the fat and feel healthy and feel good about myself and feel good about my body then I'm good. I think a size 8 is reasonable.

    I really do feel like a new person. I'm not cured, but I know I can have a better life. I think that therapy is important because you need to be able to express your feelings and your innermost thoughts; things that other people may not want to hear or know how to help you with. You really need to be able to get all of that stuff out. It helps to have professionals help you find out what's the best route for you to lose weight. It definitely had a big impact on my weight loss journey.

    Talking to people who understand and can empathize and knowing you're not alone helps more than you can know. I am grateful for the opportunity to go to Shades of Hope, and even though I didn't plan to have it all shown to the world, if it helps others to see that there is hope and help, then that makes me feel good. And I am ready to feel good.

     

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    From The Chronicle of Philanthropy: The phones haven't stopped ringing at Mama Foundation for the Arts since an emotionally gripping two-part "60 Minutes" segment on Sunday. The group's Gospel for Teens program showed how a charity in New York's Harlem neighborhood isn't just preserving American gospel music but saving the young singers as well.

    The CBS newsmagazine story showed how the program participants-African-American kids from throughout New York's boroughs-sometimes find escape from difficult home lives by immersing themselves in gospel performances.

    Read more about this charity and it's growth at The Chronicle of Philanthropy

     

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  • 04/06/11--05:22: Dear Life Always, Step Off

  • Think New York was the end of the road for the racist anti-abortion campaign run by right-to-lifers Life Always? Think again. Just days ago, the group unveiled its latest campaign in Chicago - and now they're using the face of our President to demonize and defame Black motherhood.

    "Every 21 minutes," this new billboard reads, "our next possible leader is aborted." Next to that text runs the very recognizable profile of our Commander-in-Chief. Get their message? It's not subtle: Black women, they have no shame in saying, are destroying Black communities. By choosing abortion, they're decimating our future (never mind that Obama's mother was white). Black women cannot be trusted, these ads clearly imply -- not with their children and families, and certainly not with decisions about their own bodies. Do not trust Black women, Life Always implores you. Do not trust them.

    It's a message anti-abortion advocates are getting very good at spreading -- and I for one have had enough of it. As a Black mother, I take these ads personally -- and you know what, Life Always? I am offended. I am enraged. I am disgusted that it seems to you, and to all these folks who are willing to sell you ad space, just fine to call Black women dangerous, incompetent and downright dumb, out in the open air.

    To expose these children that you claim to care so much about to messages that come a hair's breath away from criminalizing their mothers. To assume we don't have the good common sense to make reasonable decisions about the limits of our bodies, and our families. To treat us so definitively like what we want and need and believe to be best just doesn't matter.

    Do I imagine that the folks behind this ad much care about how angry and depressed these ads make me feel? Do I think they mind that seeing a billboard declaring "the most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb" - in my own hometown -- made me want to tear my hair out with shame and grief? Not really.

    Because despite their use of the first person possessive to describe their relationship to the Black community, what's agonizingly clear is that groups like Life Always don't really give a fig about Black people - not about how they make us feel with their racist rhetoric, nor about what happens to Black babies after they are born.

    If they did care, they would support policies and programs that prevent pregnancies before they happen (and by that I mean policies and programs that are actually proven to work, as opposed to abstinence-only education). They'd stop cutting the guts out of programs that provide subsidized child care and early education to low-income families, and stop trying to roll back provisions of health care reform that provide a greater pool of families and children with the medical resources they need.

    They'd be leading investigations into why Black women die so much more often in childbirth than women of other ethnicities do, and why Black babies are also more likely to suffer the same fate, within the first year of their lives.

    But they do none of that. Instead, their goal is to undermine the credibility of humanity of people of color, with an eye to the election season that will quickly be upon us. Don't be fooled: as much as it is about anything else, this campaign is about convincing white Americans (who drive past these billboards, too) of the purported continued "pathology" of the Black community - and now, in Chicago, they're tying the President directly to that insidious message, as a means of delegitimizing him, too.

    That should be enough to make anyone who believes in equality and justice furious - regardless of how you feel about the very complex issue of abortion.

    As for me, I'm tired of being insulted. I'm tired of waking up every morning to a new affront to my existence and intelligence. But I know that this only ends when we make it end. The moral arc of the universe may be long, and it may bend towards justice, but it does not bend without our help. So sign a petition to put an end to these menacing campaigns. Stand with an organization working to stop the insanity. Do something now -- before they come to take more than just our wombs.

     

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    From MyCentralJersey.com: The National Merit Scholarship Corporation today announced the names of some 800 outstanding Black American high school seniors who have won Achievement Scholarship awards through the National Achievement Scholarship Program.These awards totaling more than $2 million are being financed by grants from approximately 30 corporate organizations and professional associations, and by National Merit Scholarship Corp.

    Read more about at MyCentralJersey.com

     

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    Heels are sexy. They make every woman's legs look better and they're always in style. But more often than not, they hurt.

    What's a girl to do?

    When the thought of wearing heels makes you want to cry and sandals just don't feel fancy enough, flats are a great alternative. They can make any outfit look a bit more polished and gosh darnit, they're comfy!

    To expand your search (and your comfort level), we've categorized our love for flats into four categories: prints and stripes, neutrals, bold colors, and cut-out designs. To start, here are some printed and striped flats we think are perfect for spring.

    This spring, anything goes when it comes to mixing and matching prints. Any of these flats will add some fun to even the most basic outfit.

     

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  • 04/06/11--07:57: Flats for Spring: Neutrals
  • Heels are sexy. They make every woman's legs look better and they're always in style. But more often than not, they hurt.

    What's a girl to do?

    When the thought of wearing heels makes you want to cry and sandals just don't feel fancy enough, flats are a great alternative. They can make any outfit look a bit more polished and gosh darnit, they're comfy!

    To expand your search (and your comfort level), we've categorized our love for flats into four categories: prints and stripes, neutrals, bold colors, and cut-out designs. To start, here are some neutral-colored flats we think are perfect for spring.

    A little more grown-up than pastels, flats in neutral hues are pretty and perfect whether you're heading to brunch with your pals or taking a stroll on a nice day (something you'll be able to do comfortably for hours at a time).

     

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    Heels are sexy. They make every woman's legs look better and they're always in style. But more often than not, they hurt.

    What's a girl to do?

    When the thought of wearing heels makes you want to cry and sandals just don't feel fancy enough, flats are a great alternative. They can make any outfit look a bit more polished and gosh darnit, they're comfy!

    To expand your search (and your comfort level), we've categorized our love for flats into four categories: prints and stripes, neutrals, bold colors, and cut-out designs. To start, here are some flats with cut-out details we think are perfect for spring.

    Flats with cut-out designs aren't only cute and fun, they're incredibly comfy in hotter weather. They're also a great alternative to flip flops - not all of us want that much toe exposure, and we can't all wear flip flops in the office!

     

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    Heels are sexy. They make every woman's legs look better and they're always in style. But more often than not, they hurt.

    What's a girl to do?

    When the thought of wearing heels makes you want to cry and sandals just don't feel fancy enough, flats are a great alternative. They can make any outfit look a bit more polished and gosh darnit, they're comfy!

    To expand your search (and your comfort level), we've categorized our love for flats into four categories: prints and stripes, neutrals, bold colors, and cut-out designs. To start, here are some bold-colored flats we think are perfect for spring.

    This spring, it's all about bold, loud, intense megacolors. Make any outfit pop with flats in bright yellows, electric blues and, of course, orange.

     

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    Nice guys don't always finish last, but pushovers do. There's a big difference in what defines a nice man from one who lets a woman walk all over them. However, thanks to the amazing women who would rather date jerks and be caught up in relationship "excitement," aka drama, men are becoming desensitized to the notion that being a nice guy is even worth it.

    Public service announcement: Nice guys are still "winning," and being a considerate kind man is still very much appreciated. However, the line between being a pushover and a nice guy is so thin that it's hard to even notice when it's crossed. So let us help you. For starters, a good rule of thumb to determine your status is by asking yourself: as much as I like/love this woman, am I putting her life before mine?

    If the answer is yes - you're a pushover and you need to fall back quickly. Women will never be attracted to a spineless, passive man who lets a woman walk over all them, wavers on their decisions and opinions, and never takes charge. Pushovers are easy to spot, because usually outside the relationship they operate without a backbone and find it difficult to say "no." Despite a pushover's best intentions to be "nice," in order to get women to respect them they must learn to hone and keep the nice gestures and discard all the boring and predictable gestures that allow a woman to get her way - every time.


    Contrary to what most women think, some men are interested in successful relationships. Those men have a tendency to be "nice," but not suckers. They understand the importance of balance, considering relationships are give and take, and know that making sure their woman is happy is of ultimate importance but not at the cost of their own happiness.

    Here are eight ways to help differentiate the pushover from the all-around nice guy.


    1. NICE GUYS: Aren't afraid to say, "no" when needed.
    PUSHOVERS: Are afraid to make a woman upset in any way, even if means not standing up for themselves.

    2. NICE GUYS: Compliment a woman. "Your hair looks great."
    PUSHOVERS: Obsess over a woman. "What type of shampoo do you use, so I can buy it smell you when you aren't around?"

    3. NICE GUYS: Will respectfully let a woman know when she is wrong.
    PUSHOVERS: Will avoid even the most minor confrontations, apologize, and take all the blame even when it's the woman who is at fault.

    4. NICE GUYS: Are told by women, "I really appreciate the way you treat me."
    PUSHOVERS: Are told by women, "I really would appreciate you not being up under me all the time."

    5. NICE GUYS: Expect to be treated they way they treat a woman.
    PUSHOVERS: Accept being treated any kind of way as long as he's with the woman.

    6. NICE GUYS: Are persistent and resilient when pursuing a female.
    PUSHOVERS: Are passive and annoying and do more chasing than pursuing.

    7. NICE GUYS: Are told they are "SO nice."
    PUSHOVERS: Are told they are, "WAY TOO nice."

    8. NICE GUYS: Often get the girl and finish first.
    PUSHOVERS: Often get dumped and knocked out of the race.




    Shirea L. Carroll is a journalist who has written for Essence, VIBE, Washington Post's TheRoot.com, XXL's Juicy, and AOL. Reporting on everything from music and entertainment to celebrity and love, she has interviewed some of today's biggest celebrity names. Find the NJ native on her blog Invite Only, or follow her on Twitter @InviteOnly to find out "who is and isn't invited."

     

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    Across the country, an anti-abortion war has been waged.

    Initially headed by Texas-based pro-life organizations Heroic Media and the Radiance Foundation in the South, billboards proclaiming that "the most dangerous place for African-American children is the womb" were seen in Georgia, Florida and Texas.

    The campaign then moved west, with a sighting in Los Angeles, but got its stiffest reception when pro-life organization Life Always expanded the controversial message to the Soho region of New York City.

    The billboard caught so much heat, that it was taken down by Lamar Advertising and the Mother, Tricia Fraser, of the child featured on the billboard demanded an apology.

    Taking down the billboard couldn't stop the abortion conversation that has been unleashed across the country, though, particularly in New York. With renewed vigor, anti-abortion groups, such as EMC Frontline Pregnancy Center (pictured above), whose tagline reads, "Fighting for life in N.Y.C. - the abortion capital of America," have ramped up efforts to "persuade" mothers-to-be that they should keep their babies.

    But this (and other) pro-life group's tactics have pro-lifers and the city of New York up in arms.

    According to the AP, centers like EMC disguise themselves as anti-abortion centers or medical clinics near real abortion centers. Once a mother-to-be enters their doors trying to seek abortion services, they work to change the woman's mind by providing sonograms of her baby, counseling and paraphernalia displaying mothers with child.

    In reaction to these practices, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a law requiring all pregnancy centers to overtly disclose precisely which services they offer. New York City Planned Parenthood CEO Joan Malin sees these centers as "anti-choice organizations masquerading as legitimate reproductive health care providers."

    Still, anti-abortion activists will not be stymied.

    They say that with New York City's abortion rate being nearly double the national average at 41 percent, something has to be done to stop women from aborting their babies and see Bloomberg's abortion law as an infringement of their free speech rights:

    "In a lot of other states, there is mandatory counseling, mandatory waiting periods," he said. "We are a substitute for those laws that don't exist in New York," says EMC founder Chris Slattery.

    Obviously, tricking mothers in to changing their minds is dubious at best.

    No matter what side of the abortion argument you support, though, one thing
    is clear, the majority of women who get abortions across the country are those who are poor. According to the AP:

    "Health officials say 61 percent of the city's pregnancies were unintended in 2009, a potential indicator of poor access to birth control, health care and family planning."

    Even Malin agrees with that one:


    "Many of the women we see are leading chaotic lives. In my mind, it's related to all the factors of poverty that make it more challenging and difficult to get services."

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I think the majority of women do not want to get an abortion, but with little money and little resources, it is obvious that many will.

    There is a lot of focus on carrying a child to term, but little-to-no focus is put on providing better livelihoods for the children who are here.

    Why is that?

    In this economic and political climate, every time I turn around, education and community services are being cut. Right now there is a fiscal storm in Congress that is ever-reaching and all-consuming.

    I don't want to see babies aborted, but if the world we are bringing them in to has fewer and fewer services and resources for those who need them -- and many conservative lawmakers are effectively legislating for that -- how can we expect to encourage women at the bottom of the totem pole to choose life?

    Answer me that.

    To me, the conversation about how we properly uplift and support the poor must come before the ideological discussion about whether or not we abort.

    Which brings me to my next question, since there are no rallies advocating for poor children who happen to be alive, what is the real motivation for the people behind much of the pro-life Heroic Media, Radiance and Life Always rhetoric?

    If they really care about children, they should legislate and agitate for all children -- unborn and alive.

    At the EMC clinic, do they provide Mothers with information about how to care for the child economically, socially and academically? Are those points in their fliers or on their videotapes?

    Pressuring a woman to keep a child but then providing no educational or monetary relief or guidance for her once she's had the child is schizophrenic and misleading. In this day and age where empty rhetoric makes the biggest impact, I guess asking for genuine ways to problem solve on this issue is just asking for too much.

     

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    BlackVoices.com has exclusively learned that Derek Luke has signed on to star in Jada Pinkett Smith's critically acclaimed medical drama 'HawthoRNe,' which returns for its third season June 14 on TNT.

    According to a network spokesperson, the 'Antwone Fisher Story' actor will play the role of Dr. Miles Bourdet, a hot, young surgeon who arrives at James River Hospital to become the protégé of Dr. Tom Wakefield (played Michael Vartan). Currently in the midst of a divorce, Miles will attract the attention of Camille Hawthorne -- daughter of Pinkett Smith's Christina Hawthorne.


    Luke, who was last seen starring in NBC's short-lived medical drama 'Trauma,' has signed on for a multi-episode arc that begins with the season premiere.In addition to the title role in the Denzel Washington-directed 'Antwone Fisher,' the New Jersey native's feature film credits include 'Biker Boyz,' 'Friday Night Lights,' 'Miracle at St. Anna' and 2009's box office hit 'Notorious.' Duke will also star as Gabe Jones in the upcoming 'Captain America: The First Avenger,' scheduled for release in July.

     

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    Black women around the country are adopting a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle as a way to help battle ongoing health and weight issues.
    From Frugivore: The statistics are clear: four out of five black women are overweight or obese. Combined with the troubling rates of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, we have become our worst enemy through poor weight management, minimal exercise, and eating unhealthy.

    Temporary health solutions will not change our health circumstances; our collective battle with weight and unhealthy eating requires a lifestyle change. There are numerous black women adoptingvegetarian and vegan lifestyles as one solution and rethinking black women's ongoing relationship with meat. Can a meatless lifestyle benefit more black women? And, how do our perceptions of these eating lifestyles influence our willingness to engage with them?


    While vegetarianism and veganism are not limited to one racial, gender, class or age group, the advertised faces of these eating lifestyles primarily are white, skinny, and female. As non-skinny bodies are worshiped within black American communities, how do these stereotypes impact black women's motivation to pursue these alternative-eating lifestyles?

    Read more from Frugivore

     

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    A Look Back at Black: Star Jones A Mainstay In BV Buzz
    Star Jones is a veteran television personality who is currently among the cast of characters on Donald Trump's 'Celebrity Apprentice.'

    The 49-year-old attorney has released her first novel, 'Satan's Sisters' (Simon & Schuster), a tome that is loosely based on her time as co-host of 'The View.'

    "I've dreamed of A Look Back At Blackwriting a juicy novel for many years," Jones told BlackVoices.com about the book.

    There's already talk about adapting the novel into a feature film.

    The former host of the 'Star Jones Show' on Court TV has not only been a fixture on television for the last 20 years, but she's been a regular subject of the BV Buzz since its inception September of 2004.

    Jones has offered this column many exclusives over the years - including granting us the only interview about her controversial departure from 'The View' in 2006.

    The North Carolina-bred talent has played a significant part in the overall success of the BV Buzz franchise!

    TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF HER GREATEST HITS:





     

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    President Barack Obama's first term is winding down, but his campaign for the 2012 seat has already begun. This Wednesday he spoke at the Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network gala in New York City, reminding loyal supporters of his policy priorities, including government run health and retirement programs, energy, education, revamping the U.S. tax code, and his aim to raise funds to win the next election. But managing the government's budget is on Obama's immediate agenda.

    The President is grappling with negotiating a deal that appeases both Republicans and Democrats in time to prove himself a proficient leader before a government ordered shutdown."The strategy follows the political logic of President Obama's whole career, which is to avoid messy battles which make you appear to be a partisan," said Ross Baker, Rutgers political science professor, in Reuters.

    But Republicans, along with House of Representative Speaker John A. Boehner, are prepared to put up a fight for their priorities. For Obama, however, the budget has become "the biggest test yet of whether he can reposition himself as a pragmatic leader who can recapture the political center and keep liberals sufficiently energized to help him win re-election."

    Last night, the President invited Boehner and Senate majority Harry Reid to the Oval Office after 10pm to assure that the deal would come to a close soon before a shutdown could occur. "But it's going to require a sufficient sense of urgency from all parties involved," Obama said.

    With accusations from Republicans that the President and Vice President Joe Biden relied too much on phone conversations to finish the deal, and ongoing criticism that Obama is an ineffective leader who overspends on general health care, abortions services and the environment, the President has much to prove by hashing out a deal to avoid a full government shutdown.

    This same situation happened to President Bill Clinton in his first term in 1995 and 1996. After a shutdown was ordered, the public blamed Republicans, and Clinton was able to come out a winner while then House Speaker Newt Gingrich's reputation was damaged. Perhaps Obama will have Clinton's same luck. Either way, according to Julian Zelizer of Princeton University, "if the public gets angry with a blow-up over the budget and a shutdown, the President needs to be able to say, at a minimum, that he tried."

    No shutdown has been ordered as of yet, and the President still has an opportunity to meet and communicate with key party leaders to prove himself capable. "Usually the Democrats blame the Republicans, the Republicans blame the Democrats," Obama stated. "I've got some Democrats mad at me, but I said, 'You know what? Let's get past last year's budget, let's focus on the future."

     

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    It's the best part of who we are. At the core of our human spirit, we're all called to empower others to live better lives. For you it may look like mentoring a child from your community, or counseling a stranger during their time of need. For Grammy award-winning singer Michelle Williams, however, it looks like her godson and the many faces of TERI.

    When her godson was diagnosed with Autism last year, singer/actress Michelle Williams (formerly of Destiny's Child) knew it was her opportunity to use her golden pipes to speak for others on and off stage. Equally thrilled by the opportunity to partner with a genuine spirit, TERI's CEO and founder, Cheryl Kilmer, says they couldn't have found a better spokesperson than Michelle. "I knew she was going to stay committed to this work," said Kilmer. "She was passionate, sincere and truly demonstrated how much she cared about this cause."




    4 million children are born in the United States every year and approximately 36,500 children will eventually be diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Assuming the prevalence rate has been constant over the past two decades, we can estimate that about 730,000 individuals between the ages of 0 to 21 have an ASD.

    After years of experience with individuals with developmental disabilities, Kilmer went on to found the San Diego-based non-profit TERI in 1980. Inspired by one of her former patients, named Teri, TERI (The Training, Education & Research Institute) aims to provide a center of excellence and social change for families and those with autism and other developmental disabilities.

    At its core, TERI strongly believes that every person living with autism and other developmental disabilities deserves to do just that: live! While other non-profits focus on autism prevention and developmental disability cures, TERI focuses on those currently living with these disabilities, providing programming and innovative experiences encouraging a meaningful and high quality life.

    It was this focus that caught Williams' attention. "You can see the fulfilling lifestyles people have with TERI. Other agencies are seeking a cure, but we're working with people who have the diagnosis and this is their life. We can provide the support that they need," says Williams.

    During her recent visit to a TERI facility, Williams rode her first horse, visited their 23,000 sq. foot fitness and culinary center, and sang "Amazing Grace" with residents.


    This partnership couldn't have come at a better time, as TERI recently launched their building campaign for a 2014 opening of its Charles R. Cono Campus for Life Quality center - a central home for TERI's best in-class initiatives and programming.

    From New York to Africa, TERI continues to be a global leader in this work and hosts a web based curriculum allowing others to be trained around the world. As TERI continues its expansion, Michelle Williams is excited to be the voice for so many others, especially if that means singing "Amazing Grace" with some friendly faces along the way.

    To learn more about TERI, its model programs and initiatives, the Charles R. Cono Campus for Life Quality, or to give a gift, please visit www.teriinc.org. For more information about Michelle Williams, visit www.IAmMichelle.com.


    Jovian Zayne is a writer, photographer and occasional radio host in New York City. Jovian also works with Janelle Mon�e & The Wondaland Arts Society along with Teach for America. Read more from Jovian on Word Up Haay! and follow her on twitter @jovizi for laughs, encouragement and your daily dose of quick wit.

     

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    There is no better way to set the mood of a room than with the right window treatment. Want a soft, zen-like bedroom? Choose soft, vertical blinds. Need a little more drama in the living room? Load the windows with lush drapes instead of curtains.

    But with so many options on the market, it can be difficult to decide which window treatment works best for each room in your home. Use our quick guide for selecting the right window treatments sure to complement your home design.

    THE BASICS: Selecting window treatments for your home involves practicality, purpose and style. Window treatments can provide privacy, limit the amount of sunlight in the room, minimize the sounds from outside, conserve energy, protect your furniture from the sun's damaging rays, and last but not least, add color and personality to your space.

    HOW TO CHOOSE: First, identify if the style of the room is formal or informal. Decide if you need to block the amount of light coming into the room or you want the space to be sunny and bright. Most importantly, don't forget to accurately measure your windows.

    Often, no two windows are the same. If you're installing blinds, shades or shutters I suggest getting a professional to measure your windows for a custom fit and to avoid additional costs.

    HARDWARE: An important part to dressing your windows are decorative rods and finials. The way your curtain and drapery falls depends on the style of rod you use. Choose from wood, metal, brass or wrought iron finishes to complement traditional, contemporary, or modern home decor.

    They're made with a standard 8-foot extension but you can purchase connectors to add length or have them customized to fit any style or size window. Once you select your rod, you don't have to stick with its finials-changing your existing finials is an instant, affordable way to update the look of your window treatment.

    Below, our guide to the 10 most popular types of window treatments for your space.

    #1. CURTAINS
    Curtains are one the most versatile, cost-effective window treatments. They're made of light-weight fabrics and come in a variety colors, patterns and textures. They can be gathered onto a rod or hung from grommets and decorative rings. When selecting curtains remember to purchase two panels per window because one, unfortunately, won't do: it lacks the necessary volume required to keep your window area from looking flat.

    #2. DRAPES
    As tailored window treatments, drapes are used in more formal settings. They're constructed of heavy fabrics like velvet, tapestry, satin and chenille. Drapes are often custom made and are known for the varied styles of pleating--including pinch, fold, pencil, goblet and barrel pleats. They're typically hung using drapery hooks on traverse rods and are opened and closed with a pull cord design.

    #3. ROMAN SHADES
    Made with fabric, roman shades are either flat or have a horizontal pleat design. They're controlled by rigged cords or spring rollers that allow you to raise the shades with ease. A roman shade is a more structured fabric window covering and a great decorative alternative to curtains or drapes.

    #4. VALANCE
    A valance is a flat of puffy piece of fabric that is attached to a curtain rod and adorns the top of your window. It blocks out no light and provides no privacy. It is used only to enhance your window treatment design.

    #5. SWAG
    Create a swag by draping a beautiful piece of fabric in folds around a decorative curtain rod. You can also mount the fabric onto a board and hang it over larger windows. This is an easy, creative opportunity to add your personal touch.



    #6. CORNICE
    If you're looking to add a sleek touch to your window--or even make it appear larger--Cornices are a great choice. They come in both wood and fabric-coated options and are mounted on the top crown area of your window. For a casual or formal feel, use less or more padding under the fabric, respectively. Alternately, the cornice can also be painted or finished with wood paneling for a minimalist modern look or combined with drapes for a more grand traditional appeal.

    #7. BLINDS
    Window blinds are more than just functional window coverings that allow you to control the amount of light that comes into your space. They have become a key design element in interior design. Blinds are available in many different styles, materials and finishes-and offer solutions that range from black-out to energy-savers. The materials come in fabric or wood, and the style options include horizontal or vertical blinds.

    #8. WOODEN BLINDS
    Blinds that are made of a 100% wood are one of the best window coverings available and can be among the most expensive. They're a great choice in your kitchen when matched to your cabinets. Wood that is exposed to sunlight and moisture will fade over time but the finishes made today are very durable and will extend its lifetime. Faux wood blinds are an alternative option and come in many wood-stained finishes. They're also cost effective, easy to clean, UV resistant and waterproof.

    #9. VERTICAL BLINDS
    Available in a wide variety of styles-from metal to tissue-soft versions-vertical blinds are practical and very energy efficient. They block out light and can help insulate your home from the cold and the heat. They provide lots of privacy and with the various styles currently available, they do so with plenty of pizazz.

    #10. SHUTTERS
    Shutters are a great alternative to fabric window treatments. With its fold away design, it work well in rooms that have limited wall or floor space. Shutters are a perfect solution to keeping light out while blending in with the architectural design of your home.

    Now you're ready to dress your windows in style!


    "Experience Something Beautiful"

    Kesha Franklin
    CEO/Design Specialist
    The Beautiful Experience
    Design-Events-Lifestyle
    www.thebeautifulexperience.com

     

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    Completing a swift rise and fall from TV stardom, controversial host Glenn Beck will lose his once-popular Fox News show later this year, the network announced Wednesday.
    Beck's 5 p.m. program, which earned scorn from liberals for its attacks on President Obama as well as its devotion to sometimes-obscure right-wing thinkers, was a top cable draw in 2009 and a signpost for the populist "tea party" movement in last year's midterm elections, which dealt a ballot-box rebuke to the White House.

    But ratings plummeted and advertisers bailed as Beck - a cherubic, salt-and-pepper-haired longtime radio host who has compared himself to a rodeo clown - increasingly pursued a hard-to-follow agenda that many found too conspiracy-minded. He also chafed his bosses at Fox News, who faulted him for spending too much time on his far-flung business operations and not enough on honing his TV presentation.

    Both sides cobbled together a diplomatically worded statement Wednesday that noted Beck would "transition off" his daily program but stressed that the host and Fox News had reached a new deal for future, as-yet-unspecified projects. Joel Cheatwood, a senior Fox News executive, was hired away to help run Beck's company, Mercury Radio Arts.

    Fox News and Beck both declined to comment beyond the statement.

    "The ratings drop was significant and couldn't be ignored," McCall continued. "The advertiser boycott didn't hurt the program or FNC as much in terms of dollars as it did in terms of bad publicity. Beck was no longer just a personality with a show on FNC. He became an easy target for Fox News critics to characterize him as representative of the entire channel."


    Source: LA Times


    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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    Last week, Lily Allen announced that she and her sister were launching an 18-piece ready-to-wear collection of dresses, inspired by their favorite vintage pieces.

    The British pop singer is not the first nor will she be the last celebrity that decides to go into fashion. And we're fine with that. In fact there are quite a few celebrities we'd love to see try their hand at launching a clothing line.

    Check out our Celeb Designer Wish List and tell us: Which celeb would you love to see launch a line?



     

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