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

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    Sarah Palin vs. Mrs. Obama

    Leave it to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to get something so right, so wrong.

    First Lady Michelle Obama has been vocal in her opposition to childhood obesity.

    It's a message Americans need to hear as an entire generation of youth waddle through their childhood years toward a future of poor self-esteem and even poorer health.

    But Palin just had to find an opportunity to get her name in the headlines, so on her television show, she mocked Mrs. Obama's message by looking for ingredients to make a S'more, a calorie-packed treat that combines graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate.

    Maybe this explains why Bristol Palin (pictured below) looked a little paunchy during her performances on "Dancing with the Stars" - Mama couldn't stop sneaking Bristol the S'mores.

    It's clear that Palin's advisors have sold her on the notion that picking a fight with the First Lady will win them points with their Tea Party constituency.Sarah Palin vs. Mrs. Obama

    But anyone who checks the facts behind Palin vs. Mrs. Obama will see that the First Lady has never said people shouldn't eat desserts. She has suggested cutting out sugar and fats from our diets, which any doctor would agree with.

    On a radio program last month, Palin told an interviewer that Mrs. Obama wants the government to make decisions on what foods a family should eat.

    Again, Michelle Obama's words are being twisted by the Alaskan bore. Mrs. Obama hasn't asked for the government to tell people what to eat; she has asked parents to be more informed about the food they put on the dinner table.

    Palin's strategy to take on the First Lady is so weak, so obvious, so laughable that if the women were matched in a battle of wits in a boxing ring, Palin wouldn't have the sense to find her way from the locker room.

    Does anyone really take her seriously?


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    Keri Hilson is now marching to the beat of her own drum. Her second album, 'No Boys Allowed', which hit stores Tuesday, offers insight into a new, more outspoken Hilson. However, not all have embraced Hilson's new sound. In recent weeks the songstress has been the topic of discussion regarding her music, specifically the video for her single, 'The Way You Love Me'.

    The song and video have offended more than a few, and has been described as being everything from being way too racy to damn near pornographic. However, Hilson begs to differ. The 'Pretty Girl Rock' singer says people need to stop looking at things at surface value, and become more vocal in expressing their sexuality. Hilson recently spoke with Black Voices about her new album, sexual confidence, and tips on letting your man know what you want in the bedroom.

    What's the story behind the controversial single 'The Way You Love Me'?

    'The Way You Love Me' is about taking ownership of your sexuality. In the song, I'm talking about one guy in the context of a relationship. It's very important to get what you want from a relationship. Sometimes we want the same things men want, but it's about knowing that and feeling confident enough to say that. If there's something you want in bed, let him know. We all have a bad side, let's be real. If you're a woman and you're offended, then you're not being real.

    Do you agree with the idea that you're selling sex in this video?

    I'm not trying to sell sex, I'm just selling reality. I'm saying what a lot of women are saying behind closed doors. I don't do music about the front women put up, that would be very boring and see through. They're calling me a hoe, persecuting me and saying I changed just to sell sex. No! This is just a piece of who I am. I'm a woman about mine and I'm also a Saggitarius, so maybe I don't have the filters I should have. Maybe we as women have too many filters, especially when it comes to our sexuality.

    What advice would you give women who are having a hard time expressing what they want sexually?

    The next time you're talking about sex, lovemaking, or whatever you're calling it that night, tell him what you want. It's good to be matter of fact, but it should also come up casually in conversation.

    How exactly should a woman bring it up?

    Always start with praise, because you don't want to kill his manhood. Let him know, "This is good," or, "I love the way we kiss" -- even if it isn't a compliment on something sexual. Then you can tell him, "I kinda want to teach you what I like about this." Just always remember to praise him first.

    What are the consequences of not saying anything?

    Relationships are give and take, (laughs) it's going to have to come out eventually.


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    The holiday season is all about gathering friends and family for good food, great conversation and lots of laughs. If you've volunteered to be the party host this season, you could find planning a holiday gathering more stressful than cheerful. Black Voices has got a budget friendly decorating plan and delicious menu that will make your next dinner party fuss-free!

    Having a small budget doesn't mean your guests have to eat off of paper plates and stare at blank walls. There are many ways to decorate without spending a dime. First, think about things you can use that you already have around the house, and build your theme around those items. Winter is no excuse to forgo floral decorations. You can easily jazz up a plain white table cloth with an array of colorful rose petals. For menu cards, download this winter themed menu template for free! If your budget allows you to spend a bit more on your decor, add some white candles and for a pop of color put a few blue hydrangeas in two separate vases at either end of the table.

    For entertainment, create ambiance with a customized music play list that fits your theme. Ask your guests in advance to bring a gift that cost $10 or less, then have each person choose a number to determine which gift they'll get. Another fun way to entertain your guests is to set up a photo shoot area with props, ranging from hats, boas, costumes, etc. Have your guests dress up and then take Polaroids. Give everyone a copy of their photo to take home as a keepsake.

    Now for the most important part, the food! For the appetizer, try serving a simple lobster salad. Serving lobster as an appetizer allows you to serve a small portion, which is less expensive than serving it as an entree. Follow your appetizer with spicy salmon kebabs. The great thing about this dish is it is fun to eat, and sure to lighten the mood. If the kebabs aren't enough to make your guest comfortable, serve them a tall glass of your signature cocktail. This berry merry cider will put everyone in a very merry mood. It is also the perfect drink to wash down the second entree, a honey glazed pork tenderloin. Finally, top off a great dinner with the perfect dessert. Layer upon layer of crepe filled with chocolate mousse. Remember the holidays aren't about how much you spend, all that really matters in who you spend them with, Bon Appetit!

    Appetizer: Lobster Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette.
    - 1 Lobster
    -1 Bag Mixed Greens
    - 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
    -1/4 Cup of Butter
    -1/4 Cup Red Wine
    - 4 Tablespoons Vinegar
    - 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
    -1/4 Teaspoon of Pepper
    -1/2 Lemon (Optional)

    Directions: Remove lobster meat from shell and grill or saute with butter for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Cut lobster into bite size pieces, then sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper. Place mixed greens in a martini glass. Then begin mixing salad dressing. Simply combine red wine,vinegar and olive oil, then pour on top of greens. Finally, place two pieces of lobster on top of salad. Optional: Squeeze a bit of lemon on lobster for a fresh zesty flavor.

    First Entree: Spicy Salmon Kebabs.
    2 Salmon Fillets
    -1/2 Red Onion
    -3 Garlic Cloves
    -1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
    -1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
    -1/2 Scotch Bonnet Pepper (Optional)
    -Salt & Pepper

    Directions: Cut Salmon fillet in half horizontally. Then Cut into 1inch squares and sprinkle lemon juice on top. Put salmon on to skewers and place on the grill. Chop up red onion, garlic cloves, and scotch bonnet pepper. Sprinkle chopped ingredients, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper over salmon.

    Special Equipment: 12 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes.

    Second Entree: Honey Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Smashed Potatoes.
    -3 Cups of Water
    -1/4 Cup Salt
    -1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
    - 3 Tablespoons Sugar
    -2 Tablespoons Butter
    -3 Tablespoons of Honey
    - 2 Pounds Pork Tenderloin (Skin Removed)
    - 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
    -1/4 Cup of Water
    - 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
    Smashed Potato Ingredients Follow:
    - 9 Potatoes
    -1/2 Stick of Butter
    -1/2 Cup Milk

    Directions: Tenderloin- Take a resealable plastic bag, add water, salt, red pepper flakes and pork to the bag and seal. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes. While it sits begin making cherry glaze. Combine water, sugar and butter in a sauce pan over low heat. Stir until sugar is completely melted, then remove from heat and let it cool for 5 minutes before adding honey. Remove pork from bag and pat dry. Rub olive oil on pork then sprinkle some salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pork loin into a large roasting pan. Cook for 30 minutes, then apply glaze and leave pork loin in oven for an additional 30-45 minutes, or until internal temperature is 150 degrees. Let it cool for 30 minutes, then cut and serve.
    Potatoes- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Sprinkle a bit of salt in the pot. Place potatoes in boiling water. Cook for about 20-25 minutes. Drain water and allow potatoes to cool. Take a potato peeler and remove the skin. Place peeled potatoes, butter and milk into bowl. Take a fork and break potatoes up until chunky. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    Desert: Crepes Filled with Chocolate Mousse.

    -2 Cups All Purpose Flour
    -1 Cup of Water
    -1/4 Cup Sugar
    -1/4 Teaspoon Salt
    -2 Cups Whole Milk
    -6 Eggs
    -1 Stick of Butter
    -2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
    Chocolate Mousse Ingredients Follow:
    -1 (4 oz. Bag) Chocolate
    -4 Large Eggs
    -1 Cup Sugar
    -2 2/3 Cups Heavy Cream

    Crepe- Put dry ingredients into a blender (Flour, Sugar and Salt). Then add wet ingredients (Milk, Water, Eggs, Butter and Vanilla extract), blend until smooth. Pour batter into a bowl and set aside for about 20-30 minutes. Heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Then, pour about 4 tablespoons of batter in to the pan and swirl crepe batter until it thinly coats the pan. Let it cook for about 30-40 secs on each side until lightly golden. Repeat.

    Chocolate Mousse- Melt chocolate on top of a double boiler. Separate egg yolks and egg white. Put egg whites aside for later use. In a separate bowl beat 3 egg yolks, and 1 cup of sugar. Be sure to mix it well. Add mixture to melted chocolate and cook over heat. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let it cool. In a separate bowl beat egg whites until it begins thickening. Then combine with chocolate mixture. In another bowl, beat heavy cream with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar until it thickens. Finally combine with chocolate mixture, stir well.

    Signature Cocktail: Berry Merry Cider.

    -2 Quarts Apple Cider
    -2 Cups Red Wine
    -Berries of your choice (Frozen)
    -2 Cinnamon Sticks (Optional)

    Directions: Place apple cider, red wine and berries into a blender. Blend until completely combined. Garnish glass with sugar around the rim. Optional: Garnish with cinnamon sticks.

    Grocery List:

    1) Red Wine (1 Bottle): ($6.99,
    2) Mixed Greens (1 Bag): $2.75
    3) 1 Lobster (1 pound): ($6.95,
    4) 1 Salmon (2 pound) Fillet: $10.49
    5) Potatoes (1 Bag): $1.99
    6) White Chocolate Chips (1 Bag): $0.99
    7)1 Pork Tenderloin: ($5.99,
    8) Flour (1 Bag): $1.72,
    9) Berries (1 Bunch): $1.99
    10) Apple Cider (1 Bottle): $2.99
    11) Heavy Creme (1 Small Carton): $1.99

    Total: $44.84


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    Haiti Sex Abuser Douglas Perlitz Gets Almost 20 Years in Jail

    For about a decade, a Colorado man named Douglas Perlitz (pictured) kept a dirty little secret in the Pierre Tossaint Project school he founded in Cap Haitien Haiti.

    He was sexually abusing boys.

    And he threatened them with life on the streets if they told anyone of his crime. Thankfully, some of the boys were brave and told of their treatment.

    So it was a sober Perlitz who apologized to victims in a Connecticut courtroom as a federal judge sentenced him to almost 20 years in jail this week.

    Though he admitted his crimes were bad, Perlitz had the nerve to ask for a lighter sentence because of the good works he did on behalf of children in Haiti.


    Perlitz gave money, food and clothing to the children and threatened to take it all away if they told anyone, so Perlitz was taking advantage of the weakest people in a broken society in order to fulfill his sick sexual desires.

    The more you think about his crimes, the more inadequate his 20-year sentence sounds. Maybe life would have been a more suitable punishment.

    I hope authorities aren't done looking at this case, because I'm sure there are some other folks who should be behind bars. Could Perlitz have pulled off his abuse without some other adults knowing. Maybe there are others who helped him get away with it?


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    The thought of remaking the film that finally garnered an Academy Award for John Wayne seemed inconceivable at first, but in the hands of Oscar winners Ethan and Joel Coen, 'True Grit,' is a splendid delight and a reboot that Wayne would be proud of.

    Led by the performances of Jeff Bridges, who plays Wayne's role, Marshall Rooster Cogburn, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, this western film is actually better than the original, which most consider a classic.

    Rather than do a remake of the 1968 that Wayne starred in, the Coen Bros. have reverted to Charles Portis' 1968 novel and shot their most straightforward tale. When her father is gunned down, 14 year-old Mattie Ross (played by Steinfeld) hires Marshall Rooster Cogburn to search for his killer, a man named Chaney (played by Josh Brolin).

    Initially reluctant to take on the job, especially from a young lad, Rooster can't resist the money she's offering and takes the assignment. Coming onboard is the Texas lawman LaBoeuf (played by Matt Damon), who has own score to settle with Chaney. What the two didn't expect is Mattie tagging along for the ride.

    As the trio bicker with each other while on the manhunt, the tension only builds up when they get closer to Chaney and his protectors, including an old nemesis of Rooster, Lucky Ned (played by an unrecognizable Barry Pepper).

    Bridges, wearing his eye patch on the opposite side of how Wayne wore his and sporting a scruffy beard, is just having a ball playing Rooster. While his opening entrance was less desirable, and starts the film off slowly, his performance builds up with more wit and humor. Along with his Oscar last year for 'Crazy Heart,' and reprising his role in 'Tron: Legacy,' his career as a leading man has been reignited. Having seen Damon in his 'Bourne' mode these past few years, his role as the Texas Ranger gives his the opportunity to redeem himself after his lackluster role in Clint Eastwood's 'Hereafter.'

    Making her big screen debut, Steinfeld is a revelation. She's just as much as the lightning bolt in the film as Bridges and at times steals the scenes when the two are interacting with each other. She make Mattie the heart and soul of the film. Shot by cinematographer Roger Deakins, the western landscape never looked so beautiful.

    With 'No Country For Old Men,' and 'True Grit,' the Coen Bros. have brought the western genre back to the forefront.


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    Round-the-way homeboy Antoine Dodson, whose "Bed Intruder" song went viral over the Internet earlier this year, is back with a web spoof on Santa. On the TV talk show "Lopez Tonight," the video maestro premiered his latest crack-up, "Chimney Intruder," on Tuesday.

    The two-minute spinoff warns you that Santa "ain't ya homeboy" and that "he's climbing up your chimney, snatching your cookies up, trying to eat 'em, so yawl need to "hide ya gifts, hide ya tree, hide ya gifts, hide ya tree."

    Dodson originally shot to fame last August, when his sister Kelly was attacked while sleeping with her young child by a would-be rapist in the Lincoln Park-area projects of Alabama. Luckily, Dodson overheard the commotion and screams coming from his sister's room and jumped to her rescue. The two men scuffled and the assailant escaped.

    The 24-year-old gave the media a straight no-chaser interview, which caught the attention of the Gregory Brothers, a New York band who run a popular YouTube channel, AutoTune the News. They were so captivated by Dodson's almost lyrical angry outburst that they decided to transform the interview into a song and title it "Bed Intruder."

    The video went viral on YouTube overnight, with more than 30-million viewers watching the clip, propelling it to the No. 1 spot.

    With his newest video, instead of sporting a bandanna around his head, Dodson dons a Santa hat over a large fro. He continuously warns folks about the dangers of befriending Santa, whom he sees an an intruder and thief:

    "All I want for Christmas is for you to keep your fat ass out my house," he says about Santa. "Come through my chimney, I'll show you a nutcracker," he warns jolly ole St. Nick.

    The anti-Santa anthem is pretty funny and if you're a large, jolly person who is thinking about putting on a red suit and heading over to Dodson's house, beware (unless "You're the Kool-Aid man"), he has a few naughty things in store for you!

    Check out the video here:


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    On ABC's hit drama 'Grey's Anatomy,' Chandra Wilson plays the tough as nails Dr. Miranda Bailey, a surgeon so dedicated to her job that she ends up divorced from her stay-at-home husband who raises their son.

    In real life, Wilson is a loving wife and doting mother of three - two daughters and a son - who looks forward to the time off from shooting hospital scenes on 'Grey's Anatomy' so that she can spend the holiday season with her family.

    "My favorite things that I do during the holidays usually include family and eggnog," she told

    The two-time Screen Actors Guild Award winner said eggnog is the must-have beverage of the holiday season and preparation of it is a family affair.

    "I love eggnog that is seasoned with a good amount of nutmeg and cinnamon. Warmed eggnog with a pinch of whipped cream makes the taste even better," she shared. "My daughters and I have enjoyed in the paChandra Wilson & familyst making a big deal out of preparing our matching mugs. Then we sit together with our eggnog treat watching a family movie like 'The Preachers Wife,' 'Eight Crazy Nights' or 'The Polar Express.'"

    Wilson and her family reside in Los Angeles; though she would prefer to spend Christmas in a place where Santa Claus doesn't where shorts.

    "I really believe for it to truly feel like the holiday season, you have to be somewhere that gets cold outside," she explained. "Flannel pajamas and comfy socks are a must! I did not grow up in a house with a fireplace, but I always envisioned that one would make the sentiment just perfect."

    The 41-year-old thespian is from Houston, Texas and said holidays in her hometown were a festive affair.

    "I grew up in Texas where everybody speaks with a loud voice inside the house. So, there was always a lot of noise at our family gatherings," she said.

    Wilson, who stars alongside Halle Berry in the film 'Frankie and Alice,' acknowledged that though she adores the family gatherings and time with the kids during the holiday season, she also likes to take personal time to be still in the moment.

    "I still appreciate the stillness of sitting in front of a lit up Christmas tree, in a dark living room, in my pj's and comfy socks, drinking my mug of eggnog, of course, all by myself, listening to the 'Snowflakes' album by Toni Braxton," she closed.

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    Fantasia,Court Finds Fantasia's Married Lover Was Separated at Time of Tryst

    There are some court proceedings that, like it or not, inject themselves in to popular culture.

    In 1995, we had O.J., and in 2010, we have 'Tasia Mae.

    With cheating and abortions and tattoos, the hearing transcript surrounding Fantasia Barrino, Antwaun Cook and his soon-to-be ex-wife Paula, reads like an episode of "Maury." Frankly, I'll be glad when this whole thing is over as I know way more about Fantasia's uterus than I ever imagined.

    But moving on ... score one for the homewrecker!!!

    Fantasia got a little help from the judge currently presiding over her boo's divorce trial.

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    In a Perry Mason moment, the judge found the pair's separation date was September 14, 2009 -- not June 2010, as Paula had claimed.

    Why is that important you ask?

    Because there could be major ramifications in Paula Cook's upcoming Alienation of Affection action against Fantasia.

    Paula had claimed that Fantasia knew Antwaun was married and went ahead with their relationship anyway. Maybe so, but North Carolina's Alienation of Affection law can only be filed for conduct prior to a separation, meaning that after September 14, 2009, Antwaun and Fantasia could do what the hell they wanted.

    Pretty sneaky, sis.

    More than likely, the ruling will probably put the kebosh on Paula's bootleg lawsuit. I knew she should have taken that 100K and ran.

    Watch Fantasia's affair scandal here:


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    Jermaine Jackson Falls Victim to Foreclosure

    First the Fatboys break-up, and now this.

    TMZ is reporting that Jermaine Jackson, older brother of the late, legendary Michael Jackson, may bring in 2011 homeless.
    Jackson's 5 bedroom, 6 bathroom Calabasas home is set to be sold for a minimum bid of $2,184,233 January 21st on the steps of a Pomona, Calif., courthouse. After leasing the home for just under 18 months, pursuant to California law, he has 60 days from the time of foreclosure to vacate.

    This is bad news for the former Jackson 5 member, who has been receiving negative media attention for failing to pay nearly $100,000 in back child support. In September, Jackson asked a judge to reduce his $3,000 a month payments to $215 per month, because he was broke and unemployed.

    How a grown man can father all these children and expect his mother to support them is beyond me, but that is exactly what Jermaine and his child's mother have been doing.

    Jackson, best known post-Jackson 5 fame for his love ballad duet with Whitney Houston, "If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful," and his brother, Randy, both have children with the same woman, Alejandra Oaziaza, who along with 4 of her children were recently kicked out of the Jackson family compound in Encino, Calif.

    Allegedly, Mama Katherine refused to allow them to remain, after Jermaine's son, Jaafar, attempted to taser Michael's youngest son, Prince Michael II, commonly known as "Blanket."

    With all the drama, intrigue and mystery swirling around the Jacksons, I think a reality show may just be the answer to all their problems. I'm sure millions would tune in to watch this train wreck.

    It's sad to watch this family, who has given us years of quality entertainment and been central to our musical landscape since the '70s, disintegrate before our eyes. From the years of alleged abuse at the hands of family patriarch, Joe Jackson, to the untimely death of their beloved baby boy, Michael, it has been one tragedy after the other. The Jacksons deserve some peace.

    Then, Jermaine needs to get a job.


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    Another Obama Victory with

    Bill Clinton earned the name "The Comeback Kid" for his ability to win impressive legislative and public relations victories after suffering humiliating defeats.

    Now President Barack Obama is showing the same ability.

    After humbling losses by his party in the November elections and earning his lowest voter approval ratings of his term just months ago, Obama crafted a compromise on tax reduction legislation that earned a few groans from his party faithful but won applause from most.

    And tonight, Obama won another victory when he signed a new law that will allow gays to serve openly in America's armed forces for the first time.

    Obama made good on a campaign pledge he made to opponents of the 1993 "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," law passed under Clinton that forced gays to hide their sexual orientation.

    About 1,300 soldiers were put out of the armed services under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

    Obama successfully framed the new law's passage as a civil rights issue over objections raised primarily by Republicans. But some in the military question whether the new legislation will erode troop cohesiveness.

    Only time will tell whether Obama was a reasonable pragmatist or a naive dreamer in pushing for the new law.

    I'm sure there will be a few servicemen or servicewomen who will come forward to say they felt sexually threatened or harassed by a gay colleague. That will send the anti-gay minded into a tizzy.

    They will say it's simply not possible for a straight solider and an openly gay soldier to work together in close quarters.

    And they may ultimately be proven right, though I doubt it.

    The sense of teamwork among soldiers, especially in the life and death situations our forces find themselves in during battle, is not something to toy with. Lives lie in the balance.

    If soldiers, straight or gay, act with the professionalism we expect, everything should turn out fine.


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    Kaplan Sued by Feds for Screening Credit of Job Applicants

    It's the ultimate Catch-22. You are out of work and can't pay your bills on time. Your credit score falls as a result. You finally get a job interview and they want to hire you because of your qualifications and enthusiasm.

    And then your potential employer does a credit check, finds the blemishes on your record and rescinds their job offer. How are you supposed to pay your bills on time if you can't get a job?

    I'm sure millions of Americans are in a similar situation due to the deep recession. Now, Kaplan, which prepares applicants for various academic tests, is being sued by the federal government for discriminating against black job applicants by screening job applicants' credit.

    The AP writes:

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says the practice of rejecting job seekers based on their credit history has a discriminatory impact on some racial and ethnic groups. The lawsuit alleges that Kaplan's practice is not job-related or justified by business necessity. The lawsuit seeks lost wages, benefits and offers of employment for people who were not hired because of the company's credit history screening procedures.

    Kaplan has denied any wrongdoing and said the company does background checks on all applicants and credit checks on those whose duties involve financial matters.

    The suit reflects how credit has become a harbinger of so many things in our society.

    For example, try renting an apartment, buying car insurance or getting a cell phone without a credit check. The theory is that people with poor credit are greater risks when it comes to things like car insurance.

    Of course that makes no sense, especially given that people's credit is sometimes beyond their control. Millions of Americans learned that the hard way when they lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

    Another reason credit checks are becoming more pervasive in our lives is the effort of credit agencies to make their products more valuable. The more things that a credit score can indicate, the more credit reports that businesses, schools and landlords have to order.

    That said, it's imperative for African-Americans to learn the role credit scores play in their lives and to keep their scores up to par.


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    Senate Ratifies S.T.A.R.T. with Decisive 71-26 Victory

    Intelligence, persistence, focus, and savvy are characteristics that President Barack Obama has always possessed in abundance.

    When he announced his candidacy for Commander-in-Chief, people predicted failure was inevitable.

    When Rev. Jeremiah Wright became the "militant black man" heard round the world, pundits declared the Obama campaign dead in the water.

    As right-wing revisionists unearthed a loose association between ex-Weatherman and retired University of Illinois at Chicago professor, William Ayers, supporters sighed in defeat, and tucked their hopes of change back in the corner.

    And when Obama apparently caved into Republican demands to continue the tax bail-out for the wealthiest Americans, liberal media lambasted the loss of his principals, and some voiced their concern that he may even lose his party's nomination in 2012.

    Through all of the upheaval, and uncertainty, one thing has remained constant, and that is the cool, self-assured demeanor our President.

    In just a brief time span, he has passed, with major objection from his own party, the most significant tax legislation in a decade, the most comprehensive health care reform since President Lyndon B. Johnson's Medicare, and was the catalyst behind the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

    Now, true to his pledge to "seek a new agreement by the end of this year [with Russian President Medvedev] that is legally binding and sufficiently bold," President Obama, with days to spare and buoyed by strong bi-partisan support, pushed through the ratification of a new S.T.A.R.T. (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), with Russia by a decisive vote of 71-26.

    President Obama called the fresh S.T.A.R.T. "the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades," and at least 13 Republicans, breaking rank with the two senior Republican senators to support the legislation, agree with him.

    "We know when we've been beaten," Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah told reporters on Tuesday, hours before the Senate voted 67-23 (including 11 Republicans) to move the legislation forward.

    "This is the kind of issue that is outside of politics," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said in a televised interview Tuesday. "It's really an issue of national security."

    In a major speech in Prague last April, Obama laid out his vision and his purpose, and today, he is closer to making it a reality:

    "In many ways, nuclear weapons represent both the darkest days of the Cold War, and the most troubling threats of our time. Today, we've taken another step forward by -- in leaving behind the legacy of the 20th century while building a more secure future for our children. We've turned words into action. We've made progress that is clear and concrete. And we've demonstrated the importance of American leadership -- and American partnership -- on behalf of our own security, and the world's."

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said debate on the treaty had been "open, honest and thorough."

    "This broadly bipartisan ratification sends a clear message to the world: America's leadership on nuclear nonproliferation is strong and unwavering," he said in a statement.

    In the midst of the petty Beltway games and punditry that has dominated the political landscape since the dawning of the Obama Administration, true progress has silently been brokered. It its true that red and blue ideological battles have polarized the country, but at least we can all agree that no amount of money matters if we stand constantly in fear of a nuclear holocaust.

    While many progressives are still simmering, angered by the lack of fight in our President, he has proven once again that he is playing chess, not checkers.

    The level of strategic planning needed to pull out this victory was only accomplished through the sheer focus of President Obama, even when it seemed that he was potentially undermining his re-election efforts.

    It's been a long time since I've said this, but "Congratulations, Mr. President. Job well done."

    Check. And Mate.


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    Nicole Beharie
    , who starred in 2009's 'American Violet,' is set to co-star with Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, and James Badge Dale (AMC's 'Rubicon') in director Steve McQueen's 'Shame.'

    "I actually have a job coming up in February with an interesting director, Steve McQueen, that we're shooting in the city. I can't talk about it until it's official," stated the Florida native and Julliard grad to as she promoted her current project.

    'Shame' revolves around Fassbender's character Brandon, a 30-something man living in New York who is unable to manage his sex life. After his wayward younger sister moves into his apartment, Brandon's world spirals out of control. The film is said to be an examination of the nature of need, how we live our lives and the experiences that shape us. Mulligan will play his sister Sissy, while Badge Dale plays his boss.

    The film will be produced by 'The King's Speech' producer Iain Canning and developed through his and Emile Sherman's See-Saw Films with Film4, which will co-finance. It will shoot in New York for six weeks starting in January,

    Beharie is currently starring in the theater production of 'A Free Man of Color,' her first Broadway play alongside an enormously talented cast that includes Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def.


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    Rent Too Damn High, Jimmy McMillan

    He stole the show at the New York gubernatorial debate but lost the election by a landslide. But to Jimmy McMillan, none of that matters. His slogan, "The Rent Too Damn High," touched a nerve with people across the country.

    Now McMillan says he may come after President Barack Obama in 2012. That's right, the rent is not just too damn high in New York City.

    "The rent too damn high party is pulling everybody together," McMillan said in an interview with Aol. BlackVoices. "If you pay mortgage, it's rent. If you buy food, that's rent. Rent is too damn high is like the body of a car and Jimmy McMillan is the engine."

    Since his scene-stealing turn on the New York gubernatorial debate became an Internet sensation, McMillan has been spoofed on Saturday Night Live, recorded an album and had a doll made in his likeness. It may seem like an overnight success, but McMillan says it's not:

    "I've been doing this for 16 years. For the last four elections I've seen this coming. I knew it was going to happen because each year I prayed that I would have a chance to touch people," McMillan said.

    Now the calls are rolling in from all over.

    "I was surprised that I got calls from all over the world. People in China and Canada have embraced me. I'm an American and I never thought about the rest of the world, but in 2012, I'm coming after the president's position if he don't step up."

    McMillan said he's unhappy about the government bailout of Wall Street and the automobile industry while so many young people are being burdened by overwhelming student loan debt, which is just another form of rent in McMillan's mind:

    "I'm not that dumb to not be able to figure out the math. If I have all this student loan debt, why has nothing been sent to me. We should waive every student loan for every student in America," Mcmillan said. "Don't take it personally, Barack Obama. I'm coming after you if you don't wake up."

    Until election time rolls around, McMillan said he wants to have his own reality show. He already has the name and concept picked out: "Dinner with Jimmy McMillan."

    Various guests would come on the show and chat with McMillan over the meal. They'd discuss current events:

    "I just want to keep that going because people are laughing again and little kids were dressed like me for Halloween. I get calls from little kids wanting to hear me say, 'Rent is too damn high!' said Mcmillan. "As much as we are suffering, people are laughing again."

    And maybe that's the level McMillan should keep it on. Running for president might be a waste of McMillan's time. Since he has made high rent and the cost of living his platform, he should set himself up to speak about these important issues on a regular basis, not just at election time.

    And if McMillan can make people smile along the way, that's even better.


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  • 12/23/10--03:50: BV's Holiday Film Guide
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    It's that time of the year again where food, folks and fun are in abundance. When we're not relishing in the music, morsels and mayhem of the holiday season, we usually like to gather around to catch up on some of our favorite holiday flicks.

    Check out some of our picks.


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    I don't remember the exact first time that my hair was relaxed, but I do remember my first chemical burn. The person who had applied the relaxer had mistakenly applied a super-strength instead of mild formula onto my no more than six-year-old scalp. I do remember sitting in the chair at the beauty shop waiting for the relaxer to work its "magic," which basically entailed straightening out my hair follicles at any cost. That day the cost was my crown, which by the time I left the shop, was severely damaged.

    Nonetheless, once my hair had grown back, the process of relaxing just became a normal occurrence that included Just for Me relaxers (I can still remember those catchy commercials), roller sets, and more than an hour underneath hooded dryers. Shortly, thereafter, my two younger sisters were introduced to the process.

    But I cannot discuss my hair journey without discussing my mom's (pictured below. She was the first person I saw when I came out the womb, an 80s baby, and I watched her many hair transformations growing up, from the 'fro (the look she had when she and my father emigrated from Nigeria) to the Jheri curl to the straight relaxer. No doubt influenced by the constant pummeling of images in the West, which promoted a Euro standard of beauty. When my mother traded in her Afro to a relaxer, it was inevitable that my own hair would suffer the same fate.

    Then once you become ingrained into something, it can become automatic to the point where you don't really reflect on why you are doing that particular behavior. I had been ingrained into the relaxing process. Which meant that every four to six weeks, I expected that either my mom or someone else would relax my hair.

    Growing up, I did not spend time to think about why it was that I was encouraged to relax my hair or why I was putting something in my hair that could literally destroy it if left in for too long.

    Ironically, I never particularly enjoyed having my hair relaxed. For one, the relaxer smells terrible as it's working its "magic." Secondly, I was always paranoid that the relaxer would get in my eye and blind me. The best part of the whole process was rinsing it out.
    Over the years, I have had just about every single style you would find flipping through a hair photo album in a beauty shop. I am fairly open when it comes to experimenting with different hairstyles, because it's just another form of creativity to me. I have had styles that ranged from finger waves (cringe), to gel swoop bangs with curly pony tail weaves.
    But a year ago I finally became tired of the process and decided I would like to see my hair as it grows from my scalp in the manner in which it grew since I was born; and the manner in which it grew from my ancestors' scalps: chemically free.

    At the time, I had my hair in a short style and I would go to the salon every two weeks to maintain that style. I get restless quite easily, so that style began to bore me. My youngest sister has been natural for over five years and her hair is fierce. It's also full, and that's something I noticed I didn't have with my relaxed hair: it wasn't as full as I would have liked. So, I just decided on a whim that I would go natural.

    This was not a revolutionary stance or a method of attention-seeking, quite simply, this was me doing what I saw fit me.

    To make the transition to natural hair, I decided that I would grow out the perm that I had in my hair at the time. I had just shaved down the back of my hair, so there wasn't much to work with back there. I could have simply done a big chop, or BC, where I cut off all my processed hair, but I decided to just let the perm grow out on its own.

    I can be quite impatient at times, so everyday I would inspect my hair to see if I saw a curl forming.

    In a perfect world, I would wake up one day that I had a fierce Angela Davis or Assata Shakur 'fro. Unfortunately, reality doesn't work like that. Waiting for my hair to get back its tight curl was like watching paint dry. But I had to be patient.

    I would say that it took a few months for all the processed hair to become unprocessed. What sped up the process was one day I become tired of watching paint dry and decided to snip off the processed ends.
    I now had a teeny weeny Afro, or TWA. After going a barber to shape it for me, I was ready for it to make its debut. I'm not going to lie, there was a tinge of anxiety that came with deciding to rock my TWA, because the last time I had an Afro it was the '80s.

    Nonetheless, the response that I received was great. I got a lot of compliments. One person actually wanted to touch my 'fro, which he admitted that was why he had been staring at me from a distance. Apparently, he imagined that my 'fro was fluffy and that made him happy.

    On another occasion, I was walking down the street shortly after I debuted my TWA, and a brother stopped me in the street and shouted "You make me proud to be black!" That image of me walking down the block with my hair out inspired something in him. I replied "Thank you. You should be proud."

    Since then, I have mainly kept my hair in a braided style. This offers me the freedom to just wake up and oil my scalp and not spend time picking out my fro and shaping it each morning. Instead, I can get up and go. My latest style was inspired by the singer Goapele, whose hairstyles I find awesome and creative.

    I have had short asymmetrical styles, freestyle braids, twists, cornrows, you name it. For the young person who may be inspired by the way that I wear my hair or the way that someone else does, that's great. There is no shame in your hair game if you choose to wear your hair in a 'fro, braided up or however.

    "The exhausted are those who have
    Come to the end of their powers
    Of imagination, who have limited
    Their possibilities, who have thought
    Themselves into the dead ends
    That they call the highest
    Points of their civilisations.

    There is no exhaustion where there is much
    To be hoped for, much to work towards,
    And where the dreams and sufferings
    Of our ancestors
    Have not been realised,
    Or redeemed."

    - Ben Okri (from the book 'Mental Fight')

    The creativity with which we as a people display in our hair styles, for instance, is along that same continuum of creativity that our ancestors displayed when they figured out ways to harness the land and other resources to sustain their communities, in our architecture (with remnants left all over the world), our ways of communication whether through slang, symbols or the written word. And so forth.

    I don't believe that we are limited in our creative possibilities. It's only we that limit ourselves. When it comes to hair, no one should be able to tell you that the Creator has made a mistake in the way that your hair grows out your scalp. Frankly, the double standard around our hair disgusts me because I know that my hair tells a story that goes beyond the surface. It connects me with those who came before me and it is my prerogative how I choose to wear my hair. Everyone's hair has a story to tell. The question is are you the author of that story or is someone else?


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    Keri Blakinger, a senior at Cornell University, was arrested this week with $150,000 worth of heroin in her possession. The arrest represents the second largest drug bust in the history of the Ithaca, NY police department. Blakinger was carrying the drugs in a tupperware bowl and immediately admitted that the drugs belonged to her.

    According to her Facebook page, Blakinger was an English major. There is no word on what sentence could be, but given the magnitude of New York drug laws, she may be in prison for a very long time.

    The Blakinger case at Cornell is a telling reminder that drug abuse occurs on quite a few campuses across the country and not just in urban communities. This is not the first Ivy League drug ring to be brought to light. Others have been found at Harvard, Columbia and other well-regarded campuses. But while bad behavior knows few boundaries, there is a stark disparity in the way that drug possession and use is prosecuted, and much of that variation runs along racial lines.

    Whites and blacks have roughly proportionate drug use (10.1 percent for blacks and 8.2 percent for whites) , but there are 70 percent more black inmates than white who are incarcerated for drug-related offenses (115,000 to 72,000). Much of the disparity is driven by the fact that African Americans are more likely to be searched, arrested and incarcerated than whites, even when they commit the same crimes. While Blakinger is certainly going to be punished for her crime (as she should be), one expects that Cornell police won't be as quick to incarcerate Blakinger's clients as they were to go after the dealer herself.

    If police were to search college students the way they search black men on the street, they'd be shocked at what they find. I've been on college campuses for a long time, and have been consistently stunned by the amount of drug and alcohol abuse I've witnessed. What's also interesting is that much of this behavior is written off as young people simply being kids, and often overlooked by police who fear the backlash from parents and university administrators. One of the reasons I support the Georgia Prison Strike is not because I think that every person in prison is innocent. It's because our commitment to the disproportionate sentencing of minorities (where black men have become a commodity that supports the profitability of the prison industrial complex) undermines the state of the African American family. We can't keep pretending that one life is more or less valuable than another.

    As far as Keri Blakinger is concerned, she won't be the last Ivy League student to be found selling drugs. As long as there is drug use, there will always be someone around to sell them. But when it comes to the myth that college campuses are somehow immune to the same problems that occur in inner cities across America, we shouldn't believe the hype. The difference is that college students are typically kept out of our penitentiaries, and African Americans are not.

    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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    Terrelle Pryor, the star quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes, is set to be suspended for four games next season as a result of receiving improper benefits. He wasn't the only Buckeye kicked out for 1/3 of next season: Four other players were also suspended: Daniel Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas are among the guilty and condemned.

    Adams is being asked to repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 Big Ten Championship ring and Heron was busted for selling his jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000. Also among the list of offenses being investigated was that the players received free tattoos in exchange for autographs.

    When I read this story, I thought, "Here we go again, the NCAA participating in their typical sanctimonious and hypocritical behavior."

    Here's a news flash for the NCAA: Terrelle Pryor and the other players are worth millions to the massive financial machine called NCAA athletics. Part of the reason that Pryor was not suspended for the bowl game this year is likely because millions in corporate sponsorships would be jeopardized if the star player doesn't show up to the game. Terrelle Pryor is one of the key reasons that Ohio State is playing in the Sugar Bowl this year. The bowl game will lead to a $17 million dollar payout for the winner, and only a complete fool could argue that Pryor and his family don't deserve some of that money. The mere notion that such a valuable athlete would have to sell trinkets for a few hundred bucks in order to get by is nothing short of dastardly.

    The NCAA and Ohio State University (my alma mater - where I earned my PhD) are now doing a difficult dance. They know that Terrelle Pryor is likely going to leave for the NFL after this season, where he will have a chance to have some semblance of true labor rights. By allowing Pryor to play in the Sugar Bowl this year, the NCAA is going to be able to earn a few million from him before he can actually earn income for his family. Also, rules such as the one that requires college athletes to be three years out of high school before they can go to the NFL are designed to keep athletes like Terrelle Pryor in college long enough for the NCAA to extract wealth from them. Only in sports that are dominated by African American males (football and basketball) does Congress allow for such blatant violations of anti-trust law and labor rights (I wish the Congressional Black Caucus would speak up on this one). Besides the prison industrial complex, the NCAA strips more wealth from African American families than any other system in America. It also strips them of the chance to get a proper education, since their academic endeavors are consistently interrupted by their athletic pursuits, and coaches are given almost no incentive to make sure players are educated. Hence, dropout rates are highest for black male athletes and their graduation rates are incredibly low.

    Terrelle Pryor did nothing wrong, and neither did his teammates. The only thing wrong with this scenario is that we've somehow decided that it should be illegal for free Americans to be properly compensated for their labor. Such a value system is inherently unAmerican, unfair and downright embarrassing. NCAA officials, coaches, administrators, commentators and others earning millions off of players as they scrape to get by should be ashamed of the system they represent.

    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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    It's taken nearly a decade, but Congress has finally decided to act as it pertains to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Many workers who'd been exposed to the dust and debris of the fallen World Trade Center had become ill from the toxic fumes, and Congress did almost nothing to help them.

    Most remarkable about the situation was that Republicans have been the key opponents to helping the victims, in spite of the fact that they pride themselves on being exceedingly patriotic. Republicans were first in line to finance the trillion dollar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and also quick to support tax cuts for the wealthy, which will cost over a trillion dollars before they expire. All the while, Republicans argued that the original 9/11 responders bill of $7.4 billion was too expensive. After extensive compromise with Republicans, the cost of the bill was dropped to $4.3 billion.

    Passage of the bill took a great deal of lobbying from New York representatives over the years. It calls for $1.8 billion dollars to treat injuries from toxic dust exposure at ground zero. Currently, there are 60,000 people enrolled in 9/11 treatment programs. In addition, there will be a $2.5 billion dollar compensation fund set aside for 9/11 victims and their families.

    Republicans had worked to derail the original bill passed by Congress, eventually caving in to public criticism over their efforts to block the bill. This public relations disaster, in conjunction with their recent branding as the party of the rich, has led to some Republican backpedaling as they try to explain their position.

    "Every American recognizes the heroism of the 9/11 first responders," said Republican Senator Tom Coburn. "But it is not compassionate to help one group while robbing future generations of opportunity."

    It seems that Senator Coburn and his fellow Republicans are only concerned about robbing future Americans when the beneficiaries of the "robbery" happen to be working class people. It's one thing to argue that the bill costs too much in an absolute sense. It's another to reject the bill over cost concerns and then offer trillions of dollars in free money to people who don't need it.

    The Democratic Party has problems of its own, but the Republicans are quick to draw clear lines in the sand. The party represents the wealthy, big business, those who profit from war and those who benefit from racial inequality. Why people outside this group support the Republican Party is clearly beyond me.

    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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    If you're anything like myself, Christmas brings a set of warm fuzzies that just won't go away. The world comes together during the holidays to create a collective environment that is unlike any other. I'm sorry for being politically-incorrect, but I do say "Merry Christmas," and I don't apologize for not saying "Happy Holidays." It's not to disrespect the many holidays that occur during this particular season, but I think we're all kind of talking about the same thing.

    One of the things that I worry about when it comes to Christmas is the way many of us are caught up in the commercialized aspect of the holiday. Stress levels for millions of Americans rise to the point of causing significant health problems, all because we worry about whether or not we'll be able to buy our children's love. So, after the holidays are over, we are overweight from eating too much, and our credit cards are fat with debt accumulated from spending all of our time at the mall.

    I'm not sure who wrote the law that says Jesus was born in Wal-Mart, but the reality is that Christmas doesn't have to be a holiday that focuses primarily on money. Instead, I personally challenge myself to avoid the temptation of thinking that Christmas means I need to spend, and instead push myself to the more significant objective of sharing true and meaningful love.

    Personally, the holidays makes me think about the children in the world who don't have parents to care for them. I remember growing up and not understanding why my own father had abandoned me. I was fortunate enough to have a man who stepped into his place and never expected a thing in return. I didn't know that he was going out of his way and doing something extraordinary by allowing me to take his love for granted; he just gave me the luxury of being able to depend on him when I needed a dad.

    I encourage everyone reading this article to go back to the fundamentals this holiday season and realize what it means to truly give. Find the lonely senior citizen or the child who carries pain in his/her heart and do something as nice for them as you would your own relative. Let's train our minds on the task of meaningful empathy, so that we can truly understand the plight of those who are less fortunate, especially children. While the rest of us are spending all of our time shopping, there are real human beings who long for the possibility that one day, someone might actually care about them.

    Merry Christmas....I mean Happy Holidays......let's step away from the drug of mass consumption and start sharing true wealth. That's what our holidays are all about.

    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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