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:::: Selling Your Book to Libraries-- I'll make a guess that your dream is to see your book on the New York Times Bestseller list. To walk by a Borders or Barnes and Noble and know your book is stocked on the shelves. Those are great dreams and it is important to have a big vision for your book sales. But there is one market that you should not overlook - the public and school library market. Libraries have large budgets and some regional systems have buyers that purchase on behalf of 20 or more locations.

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Literature for teens by author Shelia Goss


 


Does the economy have you strapped? We'll work within your budget!
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The Annual Barometer of the Conditions,
Experiences and Opinions of African Americans


THE STATE OF BLACK AMERICA® 2009
Message to the President

With the 2009 Equality Index™

At the dawn of Barack Obama’s historic presidency, The State of Black America 2009 examines the critical challenges —such as unemployment, home foreclosures, education and health care reform — his new administration must address. In this volume, the National Urban League presents the voices of leading scholars, analysts and practitioners, as well as ordinary citizens asking their government to respond to their concerns – and offers its specific recommendations for effectively tackling these issues. The State of Black America 2009: Message to the President is an invaluable guide, not only for the new President, but for anyone seeking solutions that will empower every American to Thrive, Earn, Own and Prosper.

We welcome the new vision the Obama administration brings to Washington and to America. But this vision can only become a reality if we make it so. The State of Black America 2009: Message to the President, is an essential part of the National Urban League’s effort to bring about this vision by working with the new Administration to tackle the nation’s deepening domestic challenges. I hope that it encourages and inspires each of you to join us in working to help President Obama fulfill the promise he made to us last summer “to build a nation worthy of our children’s future.”
---Marc H. Morial, National Urban League President & CEO


I hope that The State of Black America 2009: Message to the President will find its way to the desks of decision makers from the White House to both Houses of Congress to every state house and to local governments throughout the nation. I also hope that it will lead to a national dialogue that spawns an agenda with support from the private sector and its civic counterpart. With this hope we can hasten the realization of my father’s dream so that the narratives of all Americans can be one.
---From the Foreword by Martin Luther King, III
 

Stephanie J. Jones, Executive Director
Stephanie J. Jones has served as Executive Director of the National Urban League’s Institute Policy Institute since 2005. Under Ms. Jones’ leadership, the National Urban League Policy Institute is a potent and respected voice on public policy issues related to the National Urban League’s Empowerment Agenda.  In addition, Ms. Jones is Editor-in-Chief of the National Urban League’s flagship publications, the State of Black America and Opportunity Journal magazine.

Ms. Jones brings more than 25 years of political, policy, legal, and journalism experience to the Policy Institute.  From 2002 until 2005, Ms. Jones served as Chief Judiciary Counsel to Senator John Edwards and worked closely with him in the development of his policies on poverty, civil rights, predatory lending and urban issues. 

Prior to working for Senator Edwards, Ms. Jones was Chief of Staff to U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones.  From 1994 until 2000, she served in the Clinton Administration as Secretary’s Regional Representative in the U.S. Department of Education, where she was the Administration’s principal education representative in a six-state region.  During this time, Ms. Jones also traveled extensively with the President and First Lady, coordinating scores of special events and domestic and foreign trips, including several of the President’s state visits to Africa, Europe and Asia.  

Before entering government service, Ms. Jones was an Associate Professor of Law at Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law and has also served on the adjunct faculty of Northwestern University School of Law.  She previously practiced law with the firm Graydon, Head & Ritchey in Cincinnati, specializing in Litigation, Entertainment Law and Corporate Law.  Prior to her legal career, Ms. Jones was a staff reporter at the Cincinnati Post and was executive assistant to Lionel Richie and the Commodores in the early 1980s.

Ms. Jones earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature and Afro-American Studies from Smith College, and her Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.  She also attended Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). 

Visit the official website to purchase the book and for more information, here.

 



What Currently Defines African American Culture?
By: Sarah H 

African American culture can be regarded as both part of, and distinct from American culture. From the days of the slave trade, Africans and African Americans have contributed by means of literature, art, agricultural skills, foods, music, and language to American culture. Even before the abolition of slavery, African Americans were known for their cultural ingenuity. Although in many cases they were literally forced to adopt and mimic the traditions of their slave masters, African American slaves would still clandestinely practice their beliefs. Today, perhaps the most definitive form of African American culture can be seen through their expression of the musical art form. 

The forms of music that best typify African American culture are those of Hip Hop, Rap, Blues, R&B and Gospel. Many people shrug off these forms of music as noisy garbage; however, they are in truth an expression of political, social or class discrimination of some form. This form of expression dates as far back as the slavery days when African Americans also used song composition as a vehicle of social relief. They would compose songs in their native languages that described their emotions regarding the situation they were subjected to, their slave masters and the evolution of their lives. 

If one has the means to study these musical genres which define African American culture today, it will become quite evident that these songs serve as a reminder that the past and the present are clearly linked when it comes to understanding the meanings of African American music. The emphasis on language clearly illustrates how African-American communities have defined themselves and their relations to the dominant white culture in America. In fact many of the lyrics in African American music seek to investigate the relationships the white community has shared with African Americans for several generations until today. 

African American music is perhaps one of the most pervasive African American cultural influences in America today and is among the most dominant in mainstream popular music. Music genres such as Hip hop, R&B, funk, soul, techno and several other contemporary American musical forms found its origins in black communities. Thus due to its popularity and perhaps even its personality, many African Americans use musical genres to define their own individuality.

About the author: 
Discover more articles on African American history at http://www.allmattersafrican.com  a website offering views and topical resources on issues such as African poverty today, African food and even popular African American hairstyles such as the cornrow.

Article Source: www.isnare.com; Permanent Link: www.isnare.com/?aid=119038&ca=Society 



African Americans: A Look in the Mirror
by: Bret Searles 

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin 

At present, African Americans stand at the crossroads of great hopes for wealth and freedom exceptional for the great-and great, great-grandchildren of former slaves and great despair caused by family disintegration, generational poverty, educational disparities and the digital divide. The threat is that we will form a permanent underclass is this new society as the demand for skilled and highly educated workers and new business owners reaches a peak. 

You might not like me too much for the data I present in this chapter that reveals the depths of our situation. Bill Cosby has been speaking out about these things and has taken some heat for his coarse rhetoric. We can’t change our situation until we know what we are changing. I believe that once you see the data, you will be compelled to make some changes. If that is the case, I am confident that you will finish the rest of this solutions-oriented guide. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 70% of black children are born out of wedlock. Many times, the father is absolutely out of the picture. Single moms have the toughest job there is in this country. No work demands as much immediate attention and delayed gratification. You cannot pay someone enough to do this job yet the single black mom is the poorest demographic in our society. An unimaginable 39% of black female heads of household and 33% of black children are living below the poverty line compared to 18.6% of white female heads of household and 9.6% of white children. The true shame is that all odds are stacked against these families compounding every challenge normally faced with raising children into healthy, confident and independent adults. They face long odds when it comes to living in poverty, being victimized by violence, lacking quality education, low self-esteem and poor role models. 

Having a loving father around is a spiritually, mentally, emotionally and financially stabilizing force needed by every child. The numbers bear this out to be true. Only 7.1% of black married couple families live below the poverty line and only 3.3% of white married couple families live below the poverty line. God created the family to consist of both a father and mother and all other arrangements are sub-optimal for children. Be that as it may, everyone must also make the best of their situation as it may be right now. 

The reality is that 300 years of slavery has devastated the African American family unit. There are many African American families that are loving and meeting the needs of their children that we don’t here about that share in the values and beliefs that stable families are good for our children. The challenge is that we were deliberately denied the benefits of family for too long. Saving the African American family needs to be the number one priority of every organization that says its purpose is to help black people. A father is the first competitive edge any young person can have in this world. A young person of any race that is raised in a fatherless home has several strikes against him or her already. 

Building and strengthening African American family is the first preliminary step we need to take to get started on the track to building wealth as a people in this society. 

The seven critical 21st century skills outlined in the book, The 7 Simple Secrets to Wealth Building: An African American’s Guide to Wealth Building in the 21st Century and Beyond, will work for anyone however, accomplishing anything will always be more difficult for those with so many odds against them that they must overcome and being fatherless is a long odd, indeed. This data presented here is not designed to discourage anyone. Hopefully, it will encourage each of you to more carefully consider the needs of Black children and to find ways to provide them with what they need to flourish in this new economy starting with a responsible, loving father figure. 


About The Author Bret Searles
This article is an excerpt from the downloadable ebook by Bret Searles titled "The 7 Simple Secrets to Wealth Building: An African American’s Guide to Wealth Building in the 21st Century and Beyond" available at www.blackwealthnow.com  Contact the author at: bret@blackwealthnow.com  


The State of African American Relationships
Dr. Niama L. Williams

Just some brief thoughts after crying while watching President Obama grace Ottawa. I love the way this man is received and loved the world over!!

You’ve asked about the historiography and spirituality and the meaning of black womanness in the Americas. Let me begin by defining that huge word: historiography: the writing of history ; especially:the writing of history based on the critical examination of sources, the selection of particulars from the authentic materials, and the synthesis of particulars into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods (m-w.com).

Selecting particulars from the "authentic materials" and synthesizing those particulars into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods is the primary work of a scholar.

My hypothesis, my belief about the rifts, gulfs and chasms that separate Black men and Black women are number one, those gulfs don't really exist. We as Black women have been accused of emasculating our men, of raising them to victimize other women, of the ills and social maladies they perpetrate falling at our doorstep: we raised them so we are responsible for what they become.

Such thought simplifies the issue, the vast machinery at work to emasculate our men and victimize our women, and denies the fact that we as Black women have often, consistently and to our detriment, stood beside and defended our men.

Let's go way, way back and look at the psychological dynamics at work when the journey of African people began in the Americas.

Point one: Many believe the history of Blacks in this country begins with enslavement. I demur: look at those Mesoamerican stone faces. African people beat the Vikings here. Those Mesoamerican stone faces have braids, wide noses and thick lips. AFRICAN!

Point two: Lying about the above and telling us that our history begins with enslavement is part of the dynamic at work to further enslave us and coddle our brains, trick us into enslaving ourselves.

We as Black women have walked a difficult minefield, mental, emotional and psychological, and we and our men have often been victims of what the enslavement system tried to do to us as proud African people. We as a people were forced into a system in which an African man defending his woman or his children or his family members from any sort of brutality stemming from a white hand RISKED HIS LIFE or the lives of those he cared about or someone else in his community. DEATH could be the result, death or maiming or being separated for life, all lay at the end of the road of resistance.

Such a situation creates an incredible minefield the mind must walk. How defend those you love when they may not want you to because they know it could mean your death? How look into the eyes of those you love knowing that day in, day out, you must live with what is happening to your woman or your daughter or your son because resistance, as the Borg say, is futile? A minefield for the male and for the female. She may say she does not want him to resist--because she knows it will mean his life or hers--but deep down, some part of her wants him to cut master's manhood off and hang it from a spindle. How live with that rage and anger and pent up fury? The both of them?

A rift between Black men and Black women? Not all of the time. Many times we stayed together, fought to be and remain together, despite the odds, the weights, the tragedies, the sacrifices. We knew what it cost and we did it anyway. The rift occurred sometimes because we hurt and were angry and we couldn't help blaming and wanting vengeance. Why didn't he act ANYWAY, we Black women sometimes asked, even if it was only to ourselves. Even if he could only see the question in our eyes, screaming from deep within our souls.

This is why there will be no real healing of the African American or White soul in this country until the PSYCHOLOGICAL WEIGHT AND LEGACY for BOTH RACES of enslavement is dealt with on a MASS level. Until we deal with it psychologically, AS A NATION, there will be only a closing over of the wound (Obama), but no deep and necessary cauterizing and cleansing.

Now let's bring this forward.

Enslavement ends, somewhat violently. Reconstruction. The rise of Black colleges. The rise of the Black female domestic. Black men are still a threat in the eyes of White America. Black women are still perceived as desirable and not as big a threat as Black men. Black women are able to be educated. Black women are able to work. Black women, in many instances, are able to provide for their families because they are seen as not as huge a threat, when their men find much more dehumanizing and much riskier work--riskier emotionally, and psychologically, especially in terms of self-esteem and behavior that might get one killed. Ever the threat of harm, ever the perception of "uppity nigga."

Women can get away with more, but women have to put up with the constant threat of sexual attack, assault, innuendo, et cetera. For every domestic with a good relationship with "her white people," there was another who had to put up with unwanted advances and/or plain old racist white behavior. Resentment on both sides? You betcha. Women could always earn. It is even more so the case now. More female Black college graduates even today. Black men needed more than ever in elementary and secondary schools, but school teaching still seen as "women's work" unless you are in administration.

Is there a rift? I look at behaviors. Black women still, in large part, prefer Black men. The numbers of available, viable Black men are shrinking and shrinking criminally, so many Black women choose outside of the race because they want marriages and families and there are simply not enough Black men to go around.

White America has also done its bit to emasculate on several fronts. My wonderful significant other tells me (he is 77 years of age) that a significant element of that emasculation was LYING ABOUT THE HISTORY OF BLACK MEN AND WOMEN. "We," he says, “were made to believe that we as Black people had contributed NOTHING to history. We were,” he says, “WRITTEN OUT OF HISTORY.” When he was growing up, they were convinced that Blacks had contributed nothing to world civilization. NOTHING.

A people with no history can be easily controlled. His generation was told nothing of what Blacks had contributed to the prosperity and greatness of THIS nation. Washington, D.C.? Designed by a Black man. The stoplight? Designed by a Black man. The first open-heart surgery, the first Blood transfusion? Black men.

The pyramids in Egypt? Egyptians were white, remember. Charlton Heston and Elizabeth Taylor remind us of that.

Black men of my significant other's day were TRAINED to tip their hats to even WHITE CHILDREN and were called boy. Whites wanted to CONTROL African Americans and they contributed by writing us out of history and further emasculating our men.

How do we begin to heal the rift, imaginary though it might be?

Read some books, people; read some books!!!! Learn about your people; follow your history; understand where you came from; discover what people did to combat these dire historical circumstances so that you can look beyond what we are facing right now. So that you can look beyond with hope, plans, an agenda based in right, not criminality or subservience.

In this day and age we are a global economy and the fight is a global one. We can no longer fight on just one front; it is a multi-layered fight and one that has room for both genders. We need to help our Latinas deal with the misogynistic elements of their cultures just as we deal with the racist-imposed elements of our own and the misogynistic elements of Asian cultures popularized by the media--anyone see that episode of Numbers about brides for the dead?

Whites have begun to recognize the browning of realms of power and their children have already largely defected. Anyone see that episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent where the rich kid kills someone just to get his demanding English teacher fired because he'd heard his father complain that in a few years their elite prep school was going to look like National Geographic? It was compelling, watching this kid confess. He was proud because he'd accomplished, he thought, what his father and his father's cronies had not--a strike toward keeping the school elitist and white, very white.

It was painful watching this kid's father deny the words he'd said in private as they came spouting out of his son. I know many saw that story and thought twice.

In my classrooms, toward the end of my 15+ years as an adjunct professor, I began to see more and more children obviously of biracial descent. The tides ARE turning, but Black babies are still being born to Black parents, Black women and men are still finding and loving each other, and discussions still fill the airways aimed at discerning how, when, and why we can heal this imagined rift between the genders in Black America.

Dr. Niama L. Williams
http://www.blowingupbarriers.com
drni@blowingupbarriers.com
 
 


 

Intimate Conversation with Karibu Bookstores 
Founder Bro. Yao Glover

Bro. Yao (Hoke S. Glover III) is a poet, author and businessman. He founded the vending operation that led to Karibu Books with his wife Karla Glover in 1992 and ran the company with Simba Sana. Karibu Books was legendary and held the title of one of the leading African-American bookstores in the country, the largest chain of African American bookstores up until February 10, 2008. Fifteen-year-old Karibu Books, headquartered in Temple Hills, Maryland, which at its height had 6 stores and 45 employees in Maryland and Virginia, will never be forgotten. Bro. Yao is  currently a professor at Bowie State University . 

Ella:  Bro. Yao welcome!  It is such a pleasure to have you with us today! It was such a rewarding experience working for Karibu Books!  The closing of Karibu sadden a entire community. Today I would like to talk about the mission behind starting Karibu Books and what Karibu really meant to you.  For those new to the literary scene, you can give them a glimpse inside the world of a business owner and community leader. 

Now that Karibu is gone, what are you doing within the community? Are you still networking in the literary world? Are you still writing poetry?

Yao: Currently, my interest are still in promoting African American Literature of the Diaspora. At Bowie State University , I get a chance to interact with young people primarily from Washington, D.C. , Baltimore and Prince George's County, Maryland. In terms of basic reading and writing the core skills are often lacking, however, in terms of communication I get the chance to learn. On the poetry side, I am constantly reading, studying and when I get the chance performing. Lastly, on the business side, I am working on a new project. The greatest obstacle to that project is the debt from Karibu which was primarily absorbed by my wife and I. In summary, I like to think of myself as a resource for Bowie State and the Community at Large in respect to writing, selling and promoting reading and books in our community.


Ella: Did Karibu Bookstores change the way consumers were previously taught to think? This is one of my favorite quotes in relation to business. Did Karibu create a new system?
"It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new one." - Nicolo Machiavelli

Yao: Karibu was a product of a series of forces. Only one of them was the actual will and force of the owners. The others were the market conditions: the change in the literary landscape of the 1990’s, the blessing of being born into the Washington Metropolitan Area and deciding to build a Black Bookstore here. 

The rise of the Black Woman Writer (Terry McMillan, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker as example), the Black Inspiration Book (Acts of Faith, Black Pearls), the relationship book, (Michael Baisden), the expansion of African American LGTB writing, Black Romance, Erotica and Urban Literature all worked to Karibu’s advantage. I think the next move after Karibu will be a new system. In fact, Karibu’s destruction was a by product of the quest to create a new system. Internally, we were not strong enough to complete the transition in that model. More than anything Karibu existed because of its ability to utilize the force of current trends and the way people thought about Black Books during its lifetime. 

Ella: What are 3 things all leaders possess?
Yao:  I’ll take this from the Tao-humility, love and frugality.


Ella: How did you get your start in the world of book selling? Karibu books and the staff encouraged black authors  to live their dreams, hosted roundtable discussions, poetry readings and visits from noted authors across the country like T.D Jakes, Tavis Smiley, Maya Angelou, Walter Mosley and Terry McMillan. Karibu was a cultural force, to say the least.
Yao:  My wife and I began vending as a way to provide for our family.  I had no formal business training. I received the basics of business through my interaction with my partner. I am trained in Literature and writing which are essential skills in running a book store and actually valuing the books. (Pic: Yao and Simba Sana back in the day at Karibu)


Ella:  What is your biggest challenge in handling business at Karibu? How did you overcome it? 

Yao: A business is a small world created by the owner. The most challenging aspect of the business was considering all of the various areas of detail. Business owners are forced to deal with both the physical reality of the business and the conceptual reality. The list is almost endless, down to the font on signs, paper towels in the bathroom, mission, vision statement, HR procedure and the like. 

For Karibu the level of detail increased dramatically because we had 6 locations. As a number this demanded infra-structure that related to the training and day to day management of employees that in the initial stages of the business were handled through day to day interaction with the owners in the business. We dealt with the challenge through relentless dedication to development and detail along with operations. In the wake of the death of Karibu, I am excited about doing more of that development before the actual business launches. The advantage of business plans and development is they allow one to visualize a business and its processes as a complete unit before the company begins. 


Ella: What did you hope to offer your clients or customers to shape their lives?  Karibu was the largest Afrocentric bookstore chain in the United States at one point. Karibu's slogan branded the store as ‘‘books by and about African people, 365 days a year.”  
Yao:  The Book business and writing are fundamentally about content. Though content is capable of changing consciousness, it is never guaranteed. There are the skills of the business person and the skills of the reader. Though we can deliver the book, there is no guarantee the message will be received or internalized as we might like. This places emphasis on other efforts outside of selling books, such as literacy and a rethinking of the role of books and education in our community. 

The distribution of resources is simply one step in the goal to transform consciousness via the written word. It is our hope that the distribution of African American Literature through Karibu was a catalyst and gate that will lead to a more serious grassroots dialogue about ideas and their importance in building and shaping new social structures for African American people in specific and Americans as a whole.

Ella:  Can your mission or vision truly keep a business growing?
Yao:  With the Internet and the technological changes that are occurring in the marketplace we are challenged with considering different delivery systems for African American content that are outside of the book. Blogs, Facebook and the like give us other areas to explore, in order to expand the vision.

Ella:  Tell us about the people you helped in the 15 years Karibu was leading the community. How was your company impacting the public? What social issues or causes did you address? It was clear at the Black Books Coalition Launch party the community still respects you.
Yao:  When people ask about the social impact of Karibu there are a few approaches. On one level there is the larger narrative of the history itself of Karibu as the cultural institution and the rich history of Malcolm, Marcus, Ella Baker, Harriet Tubman and others whose literature and stories we sold, promoted and distributed. However, beneath this narrative there is the story of the customers, employees, vendors and folks in the mall who may have never purchased books. All of these groups were a part of the Karibu phenomena. (Pic: Tribute to Yao given by Lee McDonald of the The Renaissance Group, LLC)

Yao: There is one member of our customer and support base I used to refer to as an angel or oracle. This man had been hit by a car outside of a club in MD many years ago. On some days when perhaps he wasn’t feeling that well he would pull up his pants leg and show you the scar. The scar was about a foot long beginning above his knee and then stretching down the front of his leg to his shin. Much of his flesh was gone. As a result of the accident he walked with a permanent limp. His accident had also left him with a head injury and a whole host of medical issues he was forced to carry for the rest of his life. This customer was more than a customer-he would come through Landover Mall almost everyday even when we had our cart in the middle of the mall, watching our cart for us when we went to grab some food or needed to use the bathroom. Yet, he also purchased books from us. I can still hear and employee telling me when I entered the store at P.G. or Landover that he had called me while I was out or had stopped by to see where I was at. If by chance I ran into him he would often stop me and talk for long periods of time. I can hear his voice now saying, “ Bro. Yao- you are a good man-folks don’t understand what you are doing for the community-what Karibu is doing for the community.” He would call sometimes and read me quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr’s work. 

I actually trained employees to view his interaction with the business as a test of where the business was. The most amazing thing was how his interaction with us was often a test of where we were as a business. If we were too busy to deal with him, it reflected something about our sense of grounding. Granted sometimes we were too busy and for good reason-we had numerous responsibilities, countless customers and bills to pay. Yet, some of what he was giving us back was a portion of what Karibu had already put out into the universe. On the days I felt too busy to deal with him, I would often imagine our interaction was a meditative act. I was learning about the power of our impact from him. The feeling that we were too busy to deal with him, was simply not just a sign of our current mode but a sign of our relationship with the common denominator in our community. 

Yao: In the Karibu history Landover Mall was a perfect example of that common denominator. Landover Mall was located across the street from a housing complex where in the heyday of the D.C. crack years, numerous murders had been committed and open air drug markets had been conducted. It was in the 80’s we would go to Landover Mall to see dudes with Gold Chains on their neck that were large enough to hold back Pit Bulls. The women would be there with their name spelled out in a giant hoop earrings as round as the bottom of a forty-ounce bottle. And after the murders and the reputation, Landover Mall never recovered. Folks would go there only when they had too. There were numerous vacancies. Landover was an old idea from another time. 

In many ways as a corporate concept it was a minor casualty to be added to the crack years in the Washington Metropolitan Area. What is most important is that Landover though located in the Prince George’s County Suburbs was a version of the hood. By definition, the location of a Black Book Store in this portion of the community was similar to shining a bat symbol in the sky. And even if you didn’t shop at Karibu-you knew that it was that Black Bookstore in the middle of the mall. 

Definition by mere presence-existence-perhaps as a correlative to someone who remembers walking black folks with picket signs many years ago and then being forced to read it in a history book. You remember and where a part of it, but where not really a part of it. Karibu affected countless folks who came through Landover Mall in this way.

Yao: While working at Landover Mall within the actual Mall I saw prostitutes, people who were mentally insane and permanent fixture. There was the man who mumbled through the mall everyday chanting to himself. The young brother with a butcher knife in plain view. The fights in the Baker’s shoe stores. The cluster of older men congregated outside the store talking about J.A. Roger’s and Chancellor Williams. The young ladies with their two sort skirts and too tight jeans picking up a copy of Flyy Girl. There was also an older woman in her 80’s who I wish I had a picture of who would walk through the mall hustling folks for dollars. I wish I had a picture because I can still see her in my mind with a Karibu T-Shirt on and a handful of plastic bags. As a fade away, Darren Coleman walking through door telling me he is going to write a book, and asking me would I sell it when he finished. 

Ella: Yao you are a legend in your own time!  At the Black Books Coalition launch party, as you spoke, you could feel the love and admiration from the DC literary elite as well as those new authors and community leaders coming along now. Please stay in contact with us!  EDC Creations exists because of the Karibu support and connections. I will be eternally grateful for all you, Simba Sana and Karibu Books offered me. Lee McDonald, Carolyn Reed and Sunny Sana were also instrumental in helping me to grow into the president of EDC Creations. After you hired me as a buyer's assistant for Karibu Books, my position and responsibilities continued to change and grow along with my knowledge of the literary world. Ultimately causing my life to be forever changed.  I want to do whatever possible to support you and your wife in any future endeavors. Thank you for being a thought leader and a literary legend for 15 years in business and beyond!

Ella Curry, president of EDC Creations Media Group
Founder of the Black Authors Network Radio Show
Founder of Black Pearls Magazine and community

 


 

 

Kanye West and Joe Wilson Symbolize 'Me' Culture

Being at the center of attention is a celebrity's trademark. Kanye West is viewed as a radical superstar, being prone to outrageous speeches such as "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Representative Joe Wilson, known to South Carolina pundits, is a man who breathes Republican values.

To many people, these individuals are polar opposites, Hip Hop icon versus a Southern traditionalist. Yet, they both symbolize the same thing as we attempt to break down popular culture. Their circumstances that got much airplay due to the outrageousness in proper protocol have garnered them to a huge cult following. This article explores how postmodern culture influences today's society and challenges traditional thinking as we review the outbursts of West and Wilson on a public forum.


Civility Compromised

During Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the annual MTV Music Awards, West walked on stage unexpectedly, took the microphone from Swift, and protested that Beyonce should have won this award. Swift is a 19-year old country singer and writer. Beyonce was the favorite to win this category.  West's actions weren't well received. Swift and the crowd were stunned by this behavior. The crowd soundly booed West as he returned to his seat. West responded with a finger to the crowd. He was later asked to leave the event. Some people attribute this rash act to drinking. At the MTV awards, he was photographed drinking Hennessy Cognac. Regardless of the reason, West fled under public outrage. Eventually, he used a media interview with Jay Leno to apologize to the public and Swift due to social pressures. 

While President Barack Obama was addressing Congress about key issues related to his healthcare reform, Wilson interrupted the President's speech with "You Lie!" He garnished strong stares from President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In fact, he was booed by his congressional peers during the act. His actions created a media storm. He took a beating from both Democrats and Republicans for his behavior. His website crashed as a result.  In fact, his Republican colleagues demanded that he formally apologize to President Obama for this outburst. Wilson explained, "I let my emotions get the best of me. While I disagree with the president's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility." Yet, bad press does provide good press to the opportunist.

Postmodern Culture
Individuals are shaped by their culture. West and Wilson operate in this environment which implies that it is "all about me." Being outrageous is applauded in this culture as the emphasis is to be in the limelight. In fact, it is a hallmark of the postmodern era. One of the key characteristics is that there are no absolutes. Therefore, right and wrong becomes a matter of an individual's preference rather than society's limitations. 

George Barna, author of Revolution, has been monitoring this trend in America's culture. He notes, "The postmodern philosophy also proclaims that the most important element in life is your relationships; that the processes you engage in are more significant than the product of those procedures, which is a 'means justify the ends' perspective." In that case, individuals are free to exercise their inclinations without any consequences. Given these parameters, West and Wilson are free to exercise uncivil actions. Therefore, postmodern elements of pop culture challenge traditional thinking which holds civility as a virtue. 

Conclusion
In this era of "having the last word," some people have lost civility and courtesy which have often been the traditional mark of past societies. While many denounce the bad behavior of both men, West and Wilson were gaining pop-culture fame for this behavior. In the short term, these men did not consider the impact of their emotional outburst on the public stage. Politicians and celebrities are not exempt from how postmodern influences shape modern culture. Therefore, parents need to continue the fight to win the Culture Wars for their children. Let us pray that it is not too late.


About the Columnist:

Dr. Daryl D. Green
writes on contemporary issues impacting individuals, businesses, and society across the globe. With over 18 years of management experience, Dr. Green’s expertise has been noted and quoted by USA Today, Ebony Magazine, and Associated Press. For more information, you can go to http://stores.lulu.com/darygre  or   http://www.darylgreen.org  

Contacting Dr. Green

Dr. Daryl D. Green, author, lecturer, and decision-making coach
Author Website: www.darylgreen.org 
Networking:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/decisionmaker 
"Helping People Make Good Decisions"



African Americans: Decide Your Destiny, Master Your Mind
by: Bret Searles 


“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” -Hebrews 11:1 

Gain Ultimate Leverage-Know Your Values and Beliefs: Simply stated, what we value and believe most will have ultimate leverage over how we think and feel on a daily basis. A belief in God may compel people to worship several times a week, pray to Mecca 5 times a day or even to change friendships, kill or willingly die based on how they practice their faith. Beliefs are powerful and a minor alteration to a single belief can completely change one’s life. If you believe that racism is a barrier to success, your mind has no choice but to confirm your belief. If you believe as Earl Graves, publisher and CEO of Black Enterprise Magazine and author of the book “How to Succeed in Business without Being White”, that racism is a nuisance, then you will be empowered to defeat this nuisance when it rears its ugly head. The reason is that your mind will work overtime to confirm your deeply held beliefs because the mind doesn’t accept contradictions well. Your brain will prefer to confirm what you believe by finding confirmatory evidence in your external world while blocking out evidence to the contrary. 

Your deeply held beliefs have the power to create mental blind spots to evidence that is contradictory to those beliefs. Not all beliefs fall under the category of being deeply held but the ones closely connected to your core values usually do. If you highly value your freedom, your beliefs about what freedom means to you will likely be deeply held. A belief that is not deeply held will have much less impact on our lives. For example, a cigarette smoker may understand that smoking is unhealthy and deadly however, he may continue to smoke. There is no contradiction here. In this person’s hierarchy of beliefs, this smoker believes that the benefits of smoking are more important and more desirable then the consequences. 

Your beliefs have a hierarchy. The smoker may believe that smoking is cool, social, soothing and his social circle will likely confirm these ideas. This smoker will have difficulty quitting without first changing his beliefs. If he inverted his hierarchy of beliefs about the benefits and dangers of smoking, he will be more empowered to quit. The more strongly held negative beliefs about smoking he has, the easier it will be to quit especially when coupled with the visualization of a slow, painful death from lung cancer. 

This is how we can use our beliefs and values to gain leverage over our actions. This is also why for every study that attempts to prove that alcohol or caffeine may be bad for us, there are industry-sponsored studies showing that alcohol, such as red wine, or that something about caffeine exerts beneficial effects. Each study has the potential to shape our beliefs, which is one reason why so many “research” studies may come to the exactly opposite conclusions. 

Politics is another area where there is enough data on either side to rationally justify voting for either of the two major parties. The most loyal party members easily disregard data that contradict their beliefs and readily counter with data that supports their viewpoints. 

I am asking you to be aware of what your beliefs are and to determine if they serve or limit your capability. If your beliefs are self-limiting, you have the freedom to change or alter them. Another belief you must have is that you possess the power to change your beliefs at any time you desire. Some beliefs can undermine your business efforts. Also, a positive belief will be cancelled out by an opposing negative belief. A belief that marriage is wonderful can be totally cancelled out by a belief that all men are bastards that is self-sabotaging to any potential long-term relationship you may have with men. Adopt more positive beliefs then negative ones to tip the scales in your favor. Here are some strategies to help you take control of your beliefs so you can gain maximum positive leverage out of them in your life. 

--List and rank your core values - Values are abstract ideas that get their substance and meaning from how you believe they should be expressed in your life. Freedom, honesty, integrity, loyalty, the purpose of money, the love of a family and faith in God are a few of many potential values you may have. Define what these mean to you. Freedom to one may mean being able to go where he wants to go while to another it may mean freedom to worship God. Rank your values in order of importance to you. What do you value most? Knowing can help with your goal setting. 

--Use questions to test your beliefs - Questioning your beliefs puts them to the test. Challenge their purpose and impact on your life. Sometimes our beliefs contain language like “all”, “always”, “must” and “impossible” to name a few. Do these qualifying words really apply? Will “all” people take advantage of you? Is it really ‘impossible’ to succeed and get rich in this economy? ‘Must’ everything be perfect before you can start your new business? Questioning your beliefs helps put your brain to work at finding answers instead of excuses. Asking the right questions will produce the right answers. If you don’t like the answer, ask a better question. The qualifying words you use may serve or hinder you in the attainment of your goals. 

Strengthen your most empowering beliefs with qualifying words like the ones mentioned above and weaken your most disempowering beliefs by changing your qualifying words. Change ‘must’ to ‘maybe’ and you will take some of the leverage out of your disempowering beliefs. Changing ‘should’ to ‘must’ will add leverage to your empowering beliefs. Should you improve your organization skills or must you improve them? It’s easy to put a ‘should’ off until tomorrow but your ‘musts’ must be done today. Wouldn’t you agree? Are all men dogs or do some men occasionally act like dogs? The second phrasing has less emotional impact and is less of a barrier to good relationships. 

--Reframe - Change your negative beliefs by focusing on their positive opposites. You already are aware of how to do this. Is the glass half empty or half full? How you answer this question can affect your entire outlook on everything. Instead of believing that ‘all men are dogs’, you could reframe that belief to say that your experiences have taught you what you like and dislike about men which makes you wiser now and that you will make better choices about the men you date in the future. This reframe takes the power away from external events and others and puts it back into your hands, which is right where you want it. That is the power of the reframe. 

--Create new references - This is the fun part. References are the actual experiences you have that actually support you new beliefs or values. Once you are clear on your values and beliefs, asked the questions and reframed your beliefs, you can now begin creating new reference experiences for your new beliefs. 

Act on your new beliefs. Don’t wait for an experience to happen your way by chance that confirms that your new belief is true. Create the experience by taking action on it. Start a business, go for a promotion, and give that speech to a large all the confidence you believed you would. Whatever belief you decided would empower you the most, take immediate action on it. Also, create a mental image of yourself successfully taking action on your new beliefs using the visualization techniques mentioned early. 

Remember, the brain doesn’t care if the experience is real or not, it interprets all images the same. So, create several images with as much emotional intensity as possible to give your beliefs instant emotional power. 

These are just a few of the most powerful strategies you can employ. The more of these strategies you use, the more power you will have to put yourself into your most resourceful states. As with anything that is worthwhile, these strategies require practice. Don’t give up after a few attempts. Give yourself time and these skills will become more like second nature to you so that you can implement them unconsciously. 

The next strategies may not be for everyone because of their seemingly spiritual nature however the power inherent in these next strategies is undisputed. I encourage to read the next article in this series to gain true strength and leverage to shape your destiny. 


About The Author Bret Searles
This article is an excerpt from the downloadable ebook by Bret Searles titled "The 7 Simple Secrets to Wealth Building: An African American’s Guide to Wealth Building in the 21st Century and Beyond" available at www.blackwealthnow.com. Contact Bret at: bret@blackwealthnow.com 


 

The Right Mother Model for the 21st Century

During my years in elementary school, it was important to keep your cool as a young boy in my neighborhood. Yet, it was awfully difficult when guys would start playing the dozen. Playing the dozen consisted of a barrage of jokes about one’s mother pitting two boys against each other. The battle existed in a classic gladiator’s arena where a crowd would cheer on the competitors. As the jokes got more cutting, it would more often end in a fight where you might hear, “Man, you can’t talk about my momma.” This horseplay underlined a major theme about one’s mother: “No matter how unfit or imperfect your mother may be, she was still your mother.” Your mother might have been a bad cook. She might have been a drug abuser. She might have been a terrible person. However, her imperfection was not open to public display. She was still your mother.

Clearly, some mothers are better than others. Therefore, character does count. There is an ancient story about two women who went before King Solomon to determine the true mother. These women were not perfect because they operated as prostitutes. Yet, they stood before the king’s court as mothers. In a startling act, King Solomon ordered that the child be cut in half and given to each woman. One woman said, "Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don't kill him!" The other woman argued, "Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!" King Solomon quickly decided that the woman with the most compassion for the child was the real mother. Unfortunately, many people get caught up in the Hollywood fashion of what a mother should be. This article explores the formation of a 21st century motherhood model in contemporary society.

According to the US Census in 2008, there are over 82 million mothers in America. Eighty percent of them are between the ages of 40 to 44. Many mothers go about their business with little regard for their impact on society. As a matter of fact, the value of a good mother is often forgotten, except for the customary card on Mother’s Day. Yet, I am puzzled about how some women conduct themselves in the name of womanhood. For example, Susie Smith became the poster child for a bad mother. She had appeared on national television proclaiming that her two children had been kidnapped. In reality, Smith had driven her car into a lake, drowning her children. She had done this act in pursuit of her own adulterous relationship.

What makes an unfit mother? The legal definition may vary from state to state. However, an unfit mother may be defined as a mother who fails to take care of a child’s basic needs related to the physical, mental, and spiritual state of a child. Many individuals would point to an abusive or neglecting mother. Yet, there are so many famous women who are esteemed as the modern day feminist model, but these women often do not represent the ideal mother figure.

Today, many people take a good mother model for granted. However, I think this is a critical mistake. True mothers like true fathers put their families’ needs ahead of their own. Of course, this selfless image runs counter to “ME” only culture. King Lemuel must have realized this fact when he outlined his motherhood model in Proverbs 31. The mother described in this passage is a loving wife, kindhearted mother, a champion of the oppressed, a business woman, a godly figure, and insightful advisor. The author notes about this woman, “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’” Likewise, when there is a mother of unique character in society, she should be celebrated and cherished. In the daily grind of living, many folks lose sight of the positive influence of the right kind of mother. A good mother creates a legacy for future generations. Let’s hope that the positive model will never be forgotten.

Dr. Daryl D. Green writes on contemporary issues impacting businesses, society, and the world. With over 18 years of management experience, Dr. Green’s expertise has been noted and quoted by USA Today, Ebony Magazine, and Associated Press. For more information, you can go to http://stores.lulu.com/darygre  or http://www.darylgreen.org

 



A MOTHER’S PAIN

By Andrea Blackstone

This morning I consider an oxymoron at its finest. President Obama made his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa this year, and last night, I witnessed a mother’s pain. The accomplishments that have been made by a man of color make me ponder why Kyle, a twenty-five-year-old black male, had to say goodbye. He was a new father, someone’s son, and a village helped to raise him to become a man.

My phone rang at approximately 11:30 pm. I’d already spoken to my cousin earlier. I found it strange that she called me back not even ten minutes later.

“Would you ride with me? My sorority sister’s son was killed,” she said.

She explained to whom she was referring. I remembered her from a cook out, during the 4rth of July weekend. An earthy, warm woman with an infectious smile stood out in my mind. She hugged me with a welcome, although I didn’t know any of my cousin’s friends. It made this reality feel so much uglier, and so much more unfair.

 I scurried around my room grabbing keys and incidentals. I felt anxious, sad, and confused. Floored.

 When we finally reached this young man’s mother, the door opened. My cousin called someone else to sit with her, until she arrived. He was seated on the far left with a quiet, yet strong presence.

 An incense was burning. The room was still, until my cousin’s arms opened.

Tears flowed. They poured from her eyes and Kyle’s mother’s. The male friend began praying, calling on Jesus in a calming fashion. I sat in a chair across the room feeling like I knew Kyle, although I never met him. As I heard various sounds and words of someone’s mother in pain, my eyes grew glossy. My cousin just stood in the floor and held her friend for what seemed like an eternity.

“They killed Kyle. My only child,” she kept repeating.

 My cousin consoled her with quiet words and warmth of a true friend. I dabbed my eyes wondering how things have come to this. Why are so many black mothers forced to endure unnecessary pain? A young black male, shot in the head in cold blood represents so many. Kyle’s mother ranted about how careful she’d been with him, and how she told him that he couldn’t go just any place, solely because he was a black male—a target of sorts. She guessed that he had a lot on his mind that day. After spending the weekend with his child, he took her to her mother, then stopped to clear his head in the park. He spoke of visiting her that weekend, but he ended up having visitation instead. This fact affirms that Kyle was a real father, too. It just doesn’t seem right to lose any of those. Forget stereotypes. Kyle wasn’t living a thug’s lifestyle; he was merely living his life in this world.

I was told that Kyle was known to be soft spoken and mild mannered. His mother placed  a small stack of recent pictures in my hands. Instantly, I believed what was said about his personality. As I sipped on ice water, I felt honored to review snapshots of his life. A handsome young man who was adopted had been given a chance to live a better life, by a strong, loving woman. It was obvious that she loved Kyle, and Kyle loved her.

His mother’s college classmates rallied around her and took Kyle in. He was a part of the fold, being tutored, sitting in church pews with various families in a tight network, walking through various doors with a back pack and a smile for adopted aunts and adopted uncles.  A village did raise him.  So many members of that village will surely miss him.

When I reached pictures of Kyle’s beautiful daughter, my heart sank again. She will grow up without him. She only had him for a short time—an even shorter time than his mother.

“I’m okay. It’s going to be okay, everyone.” That’s what his mother kept telling us.  “You all leave now. You have a long drive. I appreciate you coming. I appreciate you all so much. I’m not going to sleep. I’ll be up all night.”

We ignored her assuring words. No one moved. We knew and felt the truth. Her pain was layered, and it was just beginning. I sat on her couch, not in the position to say much. I was merely prepared to sit until the time to leave had come.  In between fidgeting with the vacuum cleaner cord, talking about the cat she adopted, and trying to remain optimistic, I knew that she’d break down. She even held it together through a call to find out where his body would be transferred, and her other friend asking for information that would be needed for his obituary. Finally, she relented.  Ironically, she works to help other mothers in similar standing. Now she has become one of them. What a cruel twist of fate.

When the last knock on the door came, we knew our time there had come to a close. Another mother had been through the very same pain. Her son was murdered too. We left knowing that she’d know what to say best.  Kyle’s mother was in good hands. These women now share an unsettling bond.

I’ll be thinking of this mother all day, as well as beautiful little black boys who are robbed of life. Kyle’s mother is en route to another state to see about her child. Regardless of whom perpetrators are, I wish those who inflict violence on others could see and feel the after math. It’s ugly. It’s cold. It’s purely heartless and rooted in hatred, as far as I’m concerned. Black men have a legacy of descending from Nubian strength and power. So many have forgotten that. Complacency should have no place. The call for change is growing.

“I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Not even the person’s mother who did this. I will never be the same again,” she commented.

I walked away from the experience feeling that everyone’s life has value, and everyone belongs to someone. When someone is slain, an entire village mourns that loss. Not only must we do what we can to invest in youth, but we also should remind them that a plethora of chaos is generated, because of one single violent act. Real life lessons are relevant for them and us. Peace be unto you, Kyle. Heaven gained yet one more angel, but you are gone too soon.

****The victim’s name has been changed to protect the mother’s privacy.

 



The Epidemic of Weak Men in America

Kevin thinks he is his own man. He does whatever he wants regardless of the circumstances. He does not listen. Kevin claims to understand manhood because he has fathered several children. However, Kevin lives with his mother and is jobless. He constantly evades child support payments and bill collectors. Yet, reality never sinks in his mind. He proclaims to the world that he’s a ‘real man.’ Sadly, Kevin represents a growing number of weak men in our society.

Introduction
One night I could not go to sleep. I watched a movie classic, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” which featured Paul Newman, Burl Ives, and Elizabeth Taylor. Ex-football player and alcoholic Brick (Newman) reunites with his father, Big Daddy (Ives), who is dying of cancer. The movie showcases an assortment of personal conflicts and family drama. One of the strongest conflicts is between father and son. In one scene, Brick is found arguing with his demanding father, “I didn’t want a boss. I wanted a father. All I ever wanted was you to love me.” The movie provides a clear theme for the issues associated with manhood today. In the movie, the father’s controlling behavior contributes to the weakness of his son. Likewise, many people in America share the blame for creating  weak men.  

Are we unknowingly contributing to the growth of weak men? It is a troubling observation as we look at our society. The hot story today is about the brutal treatment of Rhianna by boyfriend Chris Brown. Many pundits and women’s advocates highlight the negative nature of abusive relationships. While these stories are the tragic realities of our culture, they are often forgotten as a passing snapshot before another sensational news story. Yet, the most disturbing thing to witness is the growing trend of more weak men in our society.

The Problem
The storyline is very troubling. Weak men are negatively impacting our society. According to the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence, 25% of women had been raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or dating partner/acquaintance at some time in their lifetime in the 1995-1996 study. Women experienced 20% of all nonfatal violent crimes at the hands of an intimate partner. 

Celebrities tout their wealth as a symbol of good character. Consequently, destructive behavior is rewarded with million dollar contracts. The model is developed. Many men consider toughness a virtue and kindness a weakness. Young people follow what we do and not what we say. Therefore, a vicious cycle takes place in our culture where manhood isn’t understood. Men are depending more on women to provide for them and take the leadership role in their homes. Some men do not feel any commitment to the young lady. She is disrespected and taken for granted.

The Masculine Definition
In order to understand a weak man, an individual must understand the meaning of manhood. Being a real man is about possessing responsible character.  It involves moving beyond the trivial to the significant in life. This concept is revealed biblically in 1 Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up my childish ways.” The problem is that so many men have not grown up and are living the lives of grown-up ‘children.’

There is plenty of blame to go around: parents, media, celebrities, and society in general.  Young men are growing up confused about the meaning of manhood. Therefore, a fight exists between doing the right things and doing what’s in my own selfish interest. It is the battle of the internal man. General George Patton said, “Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. Duty is the essence of manhood.”   

Society must allow men to become more self-sufficient. In the movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Big Daddy operated in ways that enabled Brick, his son. As a consequence, Brick never really experienced the consequences of his bad decisions. Likewise, many people promote the weak man model by cuddling and shielding these men from the realities of life. However, today’s men must be accountable, responsible, and character leaders in society. Giving young boys positive male role models is important in stopping the epidemic of weakness. However, it is crucial that they interface with strong men through organizations like churches and community organizations. If adults take positive steps today, society can prevent this growing problem in communities across this country.  

Conclusion
Can we afford to continue to groom weak men in this society? The media constantly  bombards us with negative caricatures of manhood. Instead of producing positive results, they generate the negative unintended consequence of weak men. Some parents want to shift the blame to the schools or the government. It is time that we reject this weak man model today. We must be hopeful. Many men and women are attempting to correct this problem in order to raise more dependable men in our society. Real manhood is not glamorous as the movies would have you believe. Real manhood is not an easy process. It is about shouldering your responsibilities, making commitments, and making hard choices. America cannot survive with weak men.  

Dr. Daryl D. Green, a Knoxville College professor, investigates societal issues facing everyday Americans. He is a nationally recognized lecturer and author in the Knoxville community. Dr. Green is available as a keynote speaker, lecturer, panelist, or consultant on a variety of complex subjects. You can find other helpful resources at http://stores.lulu.com/darygre. For more information, please visit his website at www.darylgreen.org or email him contact at advice@darylgreen.org.
 



When Your Mountain Won’t Move

The word of God says…if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you ( Matthew 17:20b)

Life is complex at times, especially when we are in the midst of trials or facing problems and troubled situations.  Sometimes, the mountain of problems we are facing can test even the strongest of God’s children.  Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen (Hebrew 11:1 NASB).

During tough times such as those many of us are faced with today, where does our faith stand?  Where is the mustard seed faith that can say to the mountain in our lives, be thou removed and be yea cast down into the sea, and the mountain will move out of our way?  Where are those of us who stand strong against the fierce winds of adversity?

When everywhere we look, people are losing jobs, families are splitting apart, and murder and mayhem seem to bombard the news.  Giant corporations who provided good, steady jobs with great pay and benefits are becoming scarce and corrupt.  We don’t see a positive end in sight.  As a matter of fact, it looks like things are getting worse at every time.

What do you do when your mountain won’t move?  Some of us give up.  Some of us find it even more difficult to call on the sovereign God.  Still, many more of us fester in anger, disappointment, confusion and hate.  As our children go without, as our homes go in foreclosure, and our automobiles are repossessed, and our job cutbacks are at an all time high what do we expect.  When  we lose our material possessions that we’ve worked so hard for, how can we stand and take our tiny, pitiful mustard seed faith and say “mountain get out of my way,” and expect it to move?

It can be difficult. It can seem impossible. I know from experience, and I’ve been a child of God since I was eight years old.  Now I am so much older, and I’ve seen the matchless hand of God’s saving grace and mercy work over and over and over in my life.  Still, I’m here to tell you, that even now, my faith has been put through the test.

I wish I could say that I came through with flying colors like my brother in Christ Job did, but I would be lying.  Truth be told, I recently went through a trying situation that had me reeling and spiraling out of control. I didn’t think about picking up God’s words. I barely drew his words from my heart. I lay in a fetal position on my bed literally for days and sulked, cried, sulked and cried some more, wondering why me, Lord? I didn’t want to write. I didn’t want to talk to family and friends. I didn’t want to talk to God.

Yet.

Yet, I say. God Is.  God remained faithful to me, His child.  After all, He is the one who chose me, adopted me into His kingdom, made me an heir and a joint heir, placed me as part of a royal priesthood.  He is the one who made me, he formed me and he already knows all there is to know about me, including the times such as these that I have faced lately and times before, and times to come.

God remained by my side when I didn’t feel Him by my side.  He is in my spirit, the depths of my soul.  He surrounds me with his love and His angels of protection.  He looks at my fragile, carnal body and loves me--Still.  He loved me when I didn’t think I was loveable.  He loved me when I felt doubtful of Him and His love.  He loved me, and he held me when I fought against Him, when I blamed Him for my circumstances. 

You see, my friends; God is big enough to take on our problems.  He tells us to trust in Him with all of our hearts and to lean not to our own understanding.  He tells us that He will direct our paths.  He reminded me that I am not perfect.  I will falter at times, but my belief in God will never change.

You can say to the mountain in your life.  “Move mountain. Get out of my way in the name of Jesus.  If you believe that which you say, then the mountain has no choice but to move!  I came to understand this recently as I sat in a sea of depression in the middle of my bed watching Planet Earth on the Animal Precinct channel. It told the story of a beautiful group of special cranes that had to make a gruesome, life threatening journey to the other side of the Himalayas, the highest mountains in the world, if they were to eat and drink.  Though they knew they faced death, though they knew some of their young would be killed, though they knew that some of them would not make it because of the danger that faced them as they confronted the mighty Himalayas, they yet moved forward.  They stretched their wings and allowed the wind to push them gently, yet steadily, higher and higher.  They elevated gracefully up, up higher and higher into the Himalayas.  The mountains are too tall to fly over, so the cranes had to reach enough elevation that they could rise above the storms that they would surely face trying to make it to the other side by going through the vast God majestic mountains.  There was a time they even had to turn back because of the strong, turbulence coming from the ferocious storms up in the clouds.  They were exhausted, hungry and thirsty.  They faced a major setback and had to turn back.  Yet, they did not give up. They started again and they went through the same thing, but this time, even though hawks were waiting to prey on the weaker cranes, they didn’t stop.  They moved higher up the mountain until they reached an elevation high enough that they were able to fly around the massive Himalayas all the way to the other side.  Upon reaching the other side, they were able to feed on rich, fertile food and fresh water.  They would have to make the long journey back again, but they had no time to think about what lay ahead.  They had reached their destination through perseverance.

We too, can reach the destination that God has for us.  Maybe you have lost a job recently.  Maybe you don’t know how you’re going to make ends meet.  Maybe you’re in a troubled relationship or you’re just plain worried about your future.  My friends, God is able.  God will never let us down.  We must learn how to face our mountains.  We may turn back at times, and feel like we will never see a brighter day ahead.  But we must not linger and we must not give up.  We may have to start the journey of faith again, but that’s okay because God is a God of second chances and third chances and unlimited chances.  We may falter and get weary but God says He will fight our battles for us.  We do have the power within us because of the Holy Spirit to say to our mountain, Move Mountain Get out of my way.
 

----
The Word According to Shelia
is a monthly column by national multi award winning Christian fiction author, inspirational speaker and literary expert, Shelia E. Lipsey.  Contact Shelia E. Lipsey at shelialipsey@gmail.com or visit her on the web at www.shelialipsey.com; www.myspace.com/shelialipsey; http//twitter.com/shelialipsey 

Shelia is a four time author for Kensington/Urban books. Her latest soul-gripping novel, Beautiful Ugly, will be released nationwide including online August 1, 2009.  Shelia is also a regular columnist and Literary Diva for Sankofa Literary Society, as well as a contributor to Black Pearls Magazine.




Meet N. Kali Mincy Coach for Writers

N. Kali Mincy Coach for Writers is a former Senior Editor and Public Relations Manager for Long & Silverman Publishing. Today, as a coach, she has a client list that includes authors who are national bestsellers, translated around the world, featured in Forbes, and broadcast on XM Satellite Radio.



Ella:  Coach Great Writers offers a variety of writing solutions for authors who want to publish books. Why did you start this type of business?
Years ago, my mentor told me, ‘When it comes to identifying your great business idea, all you have to do is find a hole and fill it.’ So, I did. About 300,000 new book titles and editions are printed in the U.S. every year, but only a fraction become national bestsellers or even make five-figure sales. I realized that with these numbers, many authors were missing out on their dreams of generating more income and sharing their stories and messages with the world. That’s when I decided to give authors the tools and the team to write, publish and market high-quality books that sell. Business has been growing ever since.

Ella:  What were you doing before you started Coach Great Writers?

When I started, I’d been an editor for years and had found many writers felt unsure about what to do after having their work edited. They understood little about publishing. As a result, clients looked to me to take them from edited manuscript to published book.

And this created a great opportunity: I could work with writers while they wrote and improve their chances of becoming national bestsellers.

The advantages of working closely with writers as an editor then and as a coach now have been tremendous. I’ve been able to identify what writers struggle with and why; design and implement effective methods for alleviating their challenges; provide tools and tips to improve their writing quality; offer book production solutions; and give them access to proven marketing strategies to drive book sales.

Ella:  What do you find to be common problems among writers?

• Not having an effective writing process: This leads to problems with content and writer’s block.

• Not having someone to hold them accountable: This leads to unfinished or poorly written manuscripts and books that don’t move in stores.

• Not understanding the publishing process and the roles of the players in that process: This leads to badly edited and proofed manuscripts, poorly designed book covers, sloppy print jobs, a damaged reputation and thousands of wasted dollars.

The Coach Great Writers team works with writers to help them avoid writer’s block and content problems. Clients get one-on-one attention from their very own coach. This ensures writers meet the goals they set for themselves so copy isn’t rushed or left unfinished. Perhaps most important though: Clients walk away feeling that they’ve produced high-quality work they can be proud of. And they walk away knowing they did it without wasting a dime.

Ella:  A moment ago you mentioned making more money and sharing a message. I know business owners, entrepreneurs and executives often talk about ‘messaging’ and ‘increased profits.’ Does Coach Great Writers offer writing solutions for people in these categories?
Definitely. Entrepreneurs and executives at non-profits and for-profits make up a significant part of our client base. When they come to us, they’re usually looking to write books that can position them as experts in their fields, improve their product lines and, as you said, increase profits. You find that people in these roles recognize the value of working with advisors like those at Coach Great Writers. Being extremely busy people, they understand that well-written books that are published quickly and marketed effectively can get them the results they want.

And these benefits are true for everyone who has dreams of success. That’s why we provide solutions for fiction and nonfiction authors, academics pursuing master’s and doctorate degrees and professionals who want to take their careers to the next level.

At Coach Great Writers we use an integrated, turnkey approach. We want to give our clients everything they need to produce pieces that will continuously make them money and bring them recognition. And by providing motivation, tools, realistic benchmarks, and a knowledgeable, efficient team, we’re able to get clients where they want to be.

Ella:   How have writers benefited from working with you and Coach Great Writers?
Wow, we’ve worked with hundreds of writers. Some have become national bestsellers; have had books translated in Korean, Polish, Portuguese. Others have completed dissertations, achieved doctorate degrees, and have become paid conference speakers.

Ella:   Did you have any formal business training before starting out?
No. For a long time I hadn’t truly considered being an entrepreneur. So going back to school for a business degree was never even a thought. But because business wasn’t my background, when I did decide to start and develop Coach Great Writers, I made sure to leverage the relationships I’d made over the years and tap into the experiences I’d had. Whether it was finding out how to market the company, build a client list, launch a Web site, form strategic partnerships or create opportunities, I looked to my network for guidance.

Ella:   What do you like most about your profession?
[smiles] One day I was teaching a college English course. I’d spent two whole lessons covering Greek and Latin. One new student, whose first day it was because she’d started the course several days late, approached me after class. She was all smiles and said, “Your teaching…You’re so excited, it makes me excited. I can’t wait to come back.”

Getting people jazzed about their work. Showing them the possibilities. Helping people see them through. That’s what I love most about what I do. When that student walked in, the woman had no idea why her instructor was giving a lesson about Greek and Latin. She needed help with English, with Writing. So how did what I was talking about relate to that? But my passion about my work moved her. And her excitement allowed her to accept the help she was being given, in the way that it being was given. In the end, her reading comprehension improved, her vocabulary was more developed and her writing, stronger. She earned an A.

At Coach Great Writers, I’m able to do what I love every day—motivate people and help them achieve success.

Ella:  Do you have a coach?
My business wouldn’t be where it is today without him.

Contact Info. for N. Kali Mincy
N. Kali Mincy Coach for Writers
Coach Great Writers
Phone: 1.866.WRITE.99
E-mail: info@coachgreatwriters.com
Web site: www.coachgreatwriters.com
 




How do you feel about Black Love in the White House
 The Obama’s Relationship

John R Williams (The Author)

Source: http://www.bet.com/News/Photos/NewsFlipbookBringThatWeekBack0804.htm?i=12The first time I saw a depiction of a strong Black family in mainstream media was on the Cosby Show. Even in my own home, as a child, we struggled to find balance and locate an identity. To see a man that so obviously adores his wife is magical. The fact that he is also raising two daughters raises the ante for fathers all over the world.

I am thrilled about this revised portrayal of African-American love. I believe that we can all learn something from the manner in which the President Obama and the First Lady manage their household and honor one another in private and in public.
 


Discussion Questions:
1. What are some of your memorable depictions of Black Love in mainstream media?
2. What challenges do you think President Obama will face raising his family now that he has the presidency?

Join us on the EDC Creations' blog tour site and tell us how you view the relationship with the Obamas. Do you think their relationship will improve African American relationships?
 [Post here]


Raising Him Alone Campaign
http://www.raisinghimalone.com/index.htm


Raising Him Alone Campaign features thought-provoking workshops, series of community forums addressing a variety of diverse topics (legal resources, financial literacy, mental health support, health & nutrition & educational advocacy). The Kick Off also features workshops, resource fair and an intimate panel discussion featuring several celebrity mothers who have raised boys become men.

The mothers include the following: Dr. Mahalia Hines (mother of rapper Common), Dr. Brenda Greene (mother of rapper and activist Talib Kweli) and Sheron Smith (mother of Grammy nominated actor and rapper Mos Def). Other featured speakers include: Meshelle, Cassandra Mack, Richard Rowe, Adeyemi Bandale, Kenneth Braswell and Joel Austin.

The campaign focuses on four areas identified as key benchmarks in addressing positive outcomes for single mothers and their sons. The campaign's approach to provide greater advocacy and supporting parents gaining access to community based services.


Listen to the encouraging interview with authors Matthew Stevens and David Miller. Special guest Sheron Smith (mother of Grammy nominated actor and rapper Mos Def) Hosted by Ella Curry, president of EDC Creations.





The following are the four key campaign areas:


Health & Well Being (Mental Health)
Black males have the worst health status of any other race-sex group.
Black males have the second lowest life expectancy at birth second only to Native American men. Black males have the highest death rate from all causes and the highest death rates from cancer, cardiovascular disease & homicides.
Black male have the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections.

Educational Support & Advocacy
Black males account for 8.62% of total enrollment in the nation's elementary and secondary schools, but account for 21.69% of total expulsions.
Forty-two percent of all Black boys have failed an entire grade at least once.
The national average high school graduation rate for Black boys is 47%.

Financial Literacy (African American Community)
Nearly six of 10 children living with only their mother were near (or below) the poverty line.
Of the 19 million children of single parents, two thirds live in rented homes.

Reconnecting Fathers & Sons
Children From Fatherless Homes More Likely To:

Commit Suicide (5 Times)
Have behavioral disorder (20 Times)
Drop out of school (9 Times)
Abuse drugs (10 Times)
Go to prison (20 Times)

Visit the main website to purchase the book and for more information:
http://www.raisinghimalone.com/index.htm

The Renaissance Group, LLC
Marketing Consulting · Extraordinary Events
therenaissancegrouplm@gmail.com


Inspirational: Don’t get Bitter, get Better
by Paulette Harper

Ruth 1:20-22 (Amplified Bible)
And she said to them, Call me not Naomi [pleasant]; call me Mara [bitter], for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?

If you have never read this story, here we have a woman whose life was drastically changed. First, she and her husband, Elimelech, and their two sons left Bethlehem because of a severe famine. Looking for a better life, they journeyed to Moab. While in Moab, Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, dies, and ten years later, her two sons die, leaving her to care for her two daughters-in-law. Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem, but upon returning she has no husband or sons, instead a bitter heart.

I can’t recall how many times I have read this passage of scripture and each time God would speak to my heart. I believe all the scriptures are written to teach us valuable lessons that will be taught through life’s experiences. I had no idea the one day I hade to practice applying this principle to my life.

Just as Naomi did not understand why God had chosen to take her through one of the most challenging experiences in life, I pondered as well. Just like a child growing up in life you have expectation and plans that usually don’t include bruises and bumps in the road. But I found that even when the unexpected things in life do occur, God has a plan and purpose to make something good out of the worse situations.

At 42 years of age I found hope, encouragement and a renewed spirit while going through a divorce. Although my plight was not one in which I welcomed or embraced I had to accept that this part of my life God had already known about before the foundation of the world.

 For more details, read the entire article.
 




Meet Author Anita Ballard-Jones

Thank you Anita Ballard-Jones for joining us today. Black Pearls Magazine and EDC Creations readers, please give our guest author a hand for taking time to visit with us. If you would like for our guest to answer more questions about being a writer, after reading the interview please leave them in the comments section below. If you have read her books, share your reviews with us too.

Ella: Anita, when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Answer: I guess I am one of those authors who broke the mold. From my youth until my early fifties, I never though of becoming a writer, except that I wanted to write a memoir about life with my brother who was developmentally disabled. Then, I believe it was the Lord's will that I write Rehoboth Road. Suddenly I was hooked on writing.

Ella: How long does it take you to write a book?
Answer: I wrote the first 100 pages of Rehoboth Road in one night. Then, I completed the remainder of the novel over several years. I was not a serious writer and only worked on the manuscript sporadically. When I retired, I completed the manuscript in a few months. I completed the first draft of The Dancing Willow Tree in six months, but I worked on it at least eight hours a day. My third unpublished manuscript, Ring Around The Roses, was written in one year.

Ella: What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Answer: I'm retired, so I can write anytime I want. Most of the time I write in the evening, but I only write new material when I'm inspired. There are two parts to my work schedule, the creative and the corrective (editing). If I'm not inspired to be creative, I never write. I use this time to review what I have already written and do as much editing as I can.

 Read the full article, click


Meet author Ebonee Monique

Ella: Welcome to the Black Pearls Magazine, Ebonee. Tell us about you. Your passions and what matters the most in your life.
Well Ella and BPM family, my name is Ebonee Monique authoress of the soon-to-be released novel, “Suicide Diaries.” I am a bubbly, humorous dreamer. I’ve always known that I was a creative person by nature and, with the help of my grandmother, writing became second-nature to me.

I am passionate about perfecting my craft and telling stories that impact and depict real life. God, my family and my close friends are what matter most in my life.


Ella: It is great that you create stories that impact the lives of others. What books have had the greatest impact on your life?

Here are just a few of the books that had an influence on me.
 
:: The autobiography of Assata Shakur
 :: 72 Hour Hold- BeBe Moore Campbell
 :: Caught Up in The Rapture- Sheneska Jackson
 (it was the first book that made me think I could be a writer too!)


Ella: Ebonee, you mentioned that writing became second-nature for you, tell us about your passion for writing and your journey. What's new?
I hunger for writing and it, essentially, feeds all the cravings I have. I started out writing just for fun, not thinking it could ever lead to anything profitable or that anyone would buy. I started writing my first book, “One Last Try” (not released), in 2001. I took long breaks and finally finished it in 2005.

Then I started writing short stories, while also working on a full-length book, and submitted one of those short stories for an anthology contest. That anthology, “The Triumph of My Soul”, catapulted me being published. The publisher, Elissa Gabrielle, has been instrumental in my debut novel, “Suicide Diaries”, being published. It seems like yesterday that I was sitting in my dorm room writing my very first book and here I am on the verge of my debut novel being released; my how time flies!

 Read the full article, click


The Vision Board: The Secret to an Extraordinary Life
by Joyce Schwarz


Author and business owner Joyce Schwarz has successfully taken visioning to a whole new level with her pragmatic how-to approach. Any initial skepticism to vision boarding is put to rest through her examples of real people who have created real change for themselves simply by taking the first step to creating their own vision boards. Schwarz has envisioned and secured her own success as a self-help author by sharing her advice with us in this book. Now, I'm off to create my own vision board!

Find out who you are and achieve what you most want in life with The Vision Board. Through the exercises and inspirational success stories included in this book, you can clarify your true vision and create a personal vision board. Learn the five secrets to living the life of your dreams.


About the Author
Joyce Schwarz is an author, a producer, and a Hollywood and VIP coach and dealmaker. She is also a social entrepreneur and founder of the Center for Successful Recareering. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, she lives and works in Marina Del Rey, California.

Schwarz was one of the early women pioneers in multimedia and new media and has successfully launched more than 75 venture-funded start-up companies. She is an internationally recognized speaker, corporate advisor, and futurist. She combines more than 20 years in advertising for major agencies such as Foote Cone & Belding with a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio University and a master's degree in film from USC. She did MBA studies at the University of San Francisco.

To get a free copy of THE VISION BOARD newsletter go to www.visionboard.info and sign up. To see the official website go to www.IHAVEAVISION.org.  Visit Joyce's site: www.joycecom.com.

 



 


Heritage. Culture. Community Affairs

Readers please take a moment and read our new articles listed below. Leave your questions and comments too. We appreciate your interaction on the boards. If you would like to submit your articles for our Black Peals Magazine, email Ella Curry today.

 


The Diva's Diary
Original Poetic thought notes and commentary on love and life-Volume I
by  TaKasha Francis


"Every girl got a secret. Now the secret is out!"
 

 DIVA celebrates and describes strong, substantive, self-assured and beautiful women everywhere. DIVA, along with a dazzling compilation of insightful and inspiring poetry, creatively infused with her own personal journal entries, compose Francis latest book, The Diva's Diary-Original Poetic thought notes and commentary on love and life-Volume I.

 In savvy, tell-it-like-it-is fashion, Francis chronicles her range of emotional experiences in love and relationships. From the joys of finding new love through pieces such as, I think I love you, What I like and The One, to surviving the pain and bitterness of heartbreak in You Didn't Have to Lie and Mad as Hell.

Francis further delves into mastering adversity in life through her encouraging piece entitled God Ain't Sleep and motivates the reader to live up to their full potential in life in Go Get It!

This brilliant young woman's poetry helps women explore the beauty and power of their inner self, raise their self-esteem and inspires the consciousness of the reader. These captivating gems offer a path to self-empowerment and is sure to be relished by women everywhere.

Books available at: www.thevoicecommunications.com
MySpace URL: http://www.myspace.com/thevoicecommunications
 


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