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She Had Two Kids Before the Age of 14: 10 Things You May Not Know about Aretha Franklin

by Thaii XP You probably love the music of the great and amazing Aretha Franklin.  But what do you really know about this amazing woman?  She is a legend, no doubt, but her story is what makes her extraordinary.  We consider her to be a part of black history, since she is one of the greatest performers of all-time. So, buckle your seat belt, for here are 10 things you may not know about the amazing Aretha Franklin: Aretha Franklin’s middle name is Louise. She was born on March 25, 1942. The first song that Aretha Franklin ever sang was “Jesus, Be a Fence Around Me” in her father’s church New Bethel. Aretha Franklin had her first child, Clarence, when she was 12 and her second child when she was 14, Edward. Her grandmother and sister helped to raise the boys while she focused on her music career. Whitney Houston often referred to Aretha Franklin as “Auntie Ree”. Aretha Franklin was the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Aretha Franklin performed “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at the inaugural ceremony for President Barack Obama. In 1979, Aretha Franklin received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Aretha recorded “Respect” in 1967, the song was originally performed by Otis Redding. It became her signature song and was later named the anthem of the civil rights and the feminist movement. Rolling Stone listed Aretha Franklin as number one on the list of the Greatest Singers of All Time. Early in her career, Aretha dealt with addictions to chain smoking and alcoholism. She quit smoking in 1992. Now you know the rest of the story.  Sing on Aretha, we love you.   Read More »

Crystal M. Hayes, MSW: Beyonce, Feminism is for Everybody, but it Involves Work

By Crystal M. Hayes I am not here to take Beyonce’s feminist card away. Her feminist credentials are safe with me, and not debatable. In fact, the very idea of questioning a woman’s self determination, seems, well, quite anti-feminist at its core. Beyonce, like any woman, has the right to claim feminism for herself, and she gets to decide what it means to her.  The whole point of feminism, I believe, is to give women options, and choices to control their own destinies. We do not necessarily have to agree with those choices, but we do have to respect a woman’s freedom to choose how she will embrace feminist ideals and principles.  Having said that, I come to feminism through one of the most brilliant and important critical Black feminist theorists of our time:  bell hooks . bell hooks teaches me that at the core of feminism, is confronting our own internalized sexism and patriarchy—and helping others to do the same—so that we do not become the very thing that we claim to be in opposition against. This is one of the main reasons why I struggle to reconcile the pro-woman independent Beyonce, with the artist Mrs. Beyonce Knowles-Carter who performed her hit song “Drunk in Love” at the Grammy’s. I did not see this performance at first. I had to watch via Youtube after becoming aware of the buzz about it via Twitter and Facbook. During her performance of this song, I was more than a little confused and angry to watch Mrs. Knowles-Carter not just mouth the verse that references a scene of severe domestic violence from the 1993 biopic movie of Tina Turner’s (Anna Mae) life—“eat the cake Anna Mae, eat the cake Anna Mae,”—but defiantly joins Jay-Z in rapping it. If you do not know this movie, this vile verse comes from a scene in the movie when Ike Turner, Tina’s husband, and manager, becomes jealous of his wife’s success and tries to humiliate her publicly by violently forcing her to eat cake and then attacks and slaps a female band-mate who tries to protect Tina (Anna-Mae) from Ike’s abuse. I know a lot of Black women who love the idea of Beyonce as a feminist—and so do I—but I cannot, in good conscious, put Beyonce on some kind of feminist perch or pedestal when there are some deep concerns here about promoting and evoking violent imagery and even rape fantasies. If you do not believe me, watch the scene from the movie that is referenced in the song  here . In their marriage, Ike nearly killed Tina.  Ike Turner brutalized Tina for years. He raped and tormented Tina. Ike was a jealous, abusive, deeply disturbed man, and he nearly destroyed Tina Turner’s life. We will never know the true costs of all the marital abuse that Tina endured, but one thing is for sure—there is nothing empowering about watching Beyonce glamorize patriarchal violence by referencing Ike Turner in her music. Referencing a known wife batterer rapist like Ike Turner in her music, and for that matter, even Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist who was also accused of domestic violence against his wife, at the time, Robin Givens, makes me feel more than just a little ill, angry, and disappointed. As much as I appreciate the impulse of some Black women to protect Beyonce from attacks by those who question her feminist credibility, I am not at all comfortable with blind loyalty and capitulation. I get it. The criticism coming from mainstream white feminists about Beyonce’s version of feminism is disheartening, particularly when you consider the very painful history of Black women’s marginalization in white mainstream feminist circles. Nevertheless, glorifying violent imagery is deeply problematic, on multiple levels, no matter who does it, but even more so when it is coming from our beloved Beyonce—the once pageant girl turned grown woman, pleasure s*x positive, self-identified feminist. I think these things matter, so for now, I would just like to remind us, as bell hooks reminds me, that simply picking up the “feminist” banner does not alone absolve us of the responsibility of actively doing the work of feminism. We must all be willing to do the painful work of unlearning internalized sexist patriarchal values, and beliefs if being feminist is ever going to be used as a tool to ultimately create a more equitable world for women and girls. bell hooks teaches us, that “ Feminism is for Everybody ,” and for those of us who truly believe this must be willing to challenge one another to grow beyond the rhetoric to practice. It is great that Beyonce is listening to  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie TED talks on feminism , and hopefully, next time, she will also turn to a little bell hooks too, so that when she collaborates with her husband Jay-Z we won’t get lyrics that upholds and romanticizes patriarchal violence, but ones that challenges it. It really does matter. Crystal is a Clinical Assistant Professor and can be reached via Twitter @motherjustice.         Read More »

Are Nurses More Likely To Die From Cancer? This Woman Says “Yes”

By Yolanda Spivey Nurses often have the reputation as the ultimate care giver—a dependable person who is there in the time of sick people’s needs.  But unfortunately there is an unspoken sad reality, and that is nurses are dying way too soon. Leslie Silket has been a registered nurse for over 20 years. Some years ago, she noticed a trend in nurses falling ill in the very hospitals that they served.  She also noticed that no one seemed to care. “There were nurses who had different types of cancers.  One hospital had ten nurses on the same unit diagnosed with breast cancer,” she told  Your Black World .  “At the same hospital, four nurses that worked on the same unit were diagnosed with the same brain tumor.” Leslie believed that the cancer diagnoses may have been attributed to the carcinogenic agents that the nurses were exposed to on a daily basis.  Working long hours, having poor nutrition and getting little rest were also contributing factors as to why the nurses were falling ill. What’s even more disparaging about this situation is the fact that many of those nurses didn’t have health insurance.  Leslie stated, “Recently a major hospital in my area reduced the work schedules of nurses and took away their medical coverage.” In addition to stress, nurses are often times working in old hospitals that are in much needed repairs, putting their health at risk. From car accidents, domestic violence and on the job violence, nurses are dying in record numbers. Leslie even recalls the time when she almost died after her youngest son was born.  She had an adverse allergic reaction to latex from being exposed to the plastic for many years when she worked as a nurse. So Leslie did the unthinkable.  She left her six figure salaried job to open a non-for-profit organization called  Nurse’s Children Foundation Inc .  Her organization helps to raise funds to financially benefit the sons and daughters who have suffered the loss of their parent/s in the nursing profession. Leslie stated, “Being African American, and starting a nonprofit that was long over-due for our profession.” And it didn’t come easy.  Leslie was faced with a great amount of scrutiny, prejudice and negativity but she said she was reminded by Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Nurse’s Children Foundation has been instrumental in providing the families of these fallen nurses the resources to go to college. Their mission is to continue to contribute to the educational hopes and dreams of those children, and to remember and honor the lives of the registered nurses who have died. For more information, please visit their website  www.nurseschildrenfoundationinc.org Yolanda Spivey is the Social Justice Manager for Your Black World.  She blogs often on various issues and can be reached at  organize@yourblackworld.net .  You can also visit her  Facebook page Read More »

Guess Who Wrote Some Of Beyonce And Rihanna’s Greatest Hits?

By: Stephanie Allen-Gobert “Come here Rude boy, boy Can you get it up Come here Rude boy, boy is you big enough Take it take it Baby, baby Take it, take it Love me Love me” W ho didn’t run to the dance floor when the DJ played this song? Not too many of us! Any of us without rhyme or reason were waiting to hit the dance floor and “wine” on this song. Although the beautiful and talented Rhianna made the song famous; like this and several other hit songs, there was someone behind the curtains. Say “Hello and thank you” to Makeba Riddick. She was the genius behind such hits as Rihanna’s “Rude Boy and Beyoncé’s “Déjà Vu.” A Baltimore native, Makeba Riddick had been working diligently in the music industry for years penning hits for our favorite artists including Grammy nominated Tamar Braxton’s***t “Love and War.” Interning at Sony after college, Makeba moved to BK. She worked as a temp for a human resources company during the day to help pay the rent and recorded demos throughout the night, oftentimes returning to work the next day without a wink of sleep. On the edge of quitting, it was then that Riddick got the break she so needed from “Queen Bey” asking to work for her. According to HelloBeautiful.com, Makeba was intereviwed about her come up, the inspiration behind some of her number one hits and the song she wish she wrote. “Whenever you get a song that goes to number one, it’s incredible because it’s so hard for that to happen. We worked so incredibly hard on the “Rated R” album and I was just happy to see one of the songs I wrote be the single and go to number one. Rhianna actually hit me up and said “Can you believe ‘Rude Boy’ was the song that took off from the Rated R album?” and we just laughed about it because we had so much fun writing that song and working in the studio.” When asked if she keeps the artist in mind when she’s commissioned to write songs, Makeba stated she always has that specific artist in mind. “I think of their range, what their voice is, what they may be going through in their life and what maybe going on in their career at that time. I really try and tap into their head space so when they sing it, it can really be authentic and genuine to them.” Makeba has been in the studio working with such artists as J. LO and she is scheduled to go back in the studio with Will. I. Am and the new Tamar Braxton album. On working with such greats as Beyoncé, Makeba says, “This is not happening. I’m about to be in the studio with Beyoncé’ then a little bit of doubt set in. But just walking into that door, meeting her, shaking her hand for the first time was so surreal. Then I woke up from the dream three weeks later. We wrote the whole “B-Day album. I co-wrote seven songs with her. It was just a magical experience how those songs came together. Shortly thereafter “Déjà vu” shot straight to number one and I said to myself if I’m not doing this I’m not doing nothing in this life.” Read More »

Funny or offensive? A Song Written Just for “Baby Mamas”

By Barry Burch Jr. Everyone knows…or rather, everyone should know that the popular term of endearment, in some circles, “baby mama” is not race or nationality sensitive. Anybody can get it, so to speak. With that being said, a video showcasing a Black and a White woman, together, debunking the ugly connotations that so often come along with the term is refreshing. Though “baby mama” may have originally been a term used to refer to mothers of babies born out of wedlock, today it is regularly used with other meanings as well, including any single mother. In a video that has quickly garnered thousands of viewers, two moms, with the help of their children, show that even though motherhood can be challenging, it is still a lot of fun. To what begins as the tune of Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire,” the two moms hilariously tell their story. “This goes out to all of the baby mamas. And all the baby mama’s mamas” begins one of the moms. “If you’ve ever changed a diaper, kissed a boo boo, or made a sack lunch, this one’s for you.” She continues “Straight out of Walmart, I’m a mama with an attitude. Stirring up the sweet tea, with the ice cubes.” The other mother chimes in, “Whippin’ in the kitchen, so you know we be grubbin’. Got to stay fresh, whole house got the plug-ins. Dinner in the stove, cookies in the oven. Hands off the food until it’s done, I ain’t bluffin’.” The video, at less than two minutes, is jammed with great one-liners. The mothers are also, in the video, able to touch on the true responsibilities that come along with being a mother, which can range from taking care of the children when they are sick to dealing with their bad behavior. The song closes out with a nice-voiced young man on the hook. “This girl’s on fire,” he sings. “Type of girl I admire. This girl’s on fire. She’s hot.” Barry is a student of life. Other than writing, he enjoys arithmetic and politics. Reach him @ Barryburchjr@gmail.com Read More »

Carnival Cruises Hopes Jennifer Hudson Can Overcome Bad Publicity

By: Stephanie Allen-Gobert Getting back to her roots, Grammy award winning recording artist and singing sensation, Jennifer Hudson is performing at an event to launch “Carnival Live.” Carnival Live is a first of its kind on board concert series by Carnival Cruise Lines. Long before Jennifer Hudson made it to stardom on “American Idol” and “Dreamgirls,” Hudson sang on a cruise ship. “I used to work on a cruise ship, a long time ago,” said Hudson before performing at a Carnival news conference in midtown Manhattan. “That’s what I did before I did American Idol.” Hudson also stated. Hudson also added that she did a stint abroad a Disney cruise ship, “that was my test,” she said. ‘Two days later, I went in and auditioned for American Idol.” The talented Hudson is scheduled to perform June 18, 2014 on Carnival Ecstasy and June 19th on Carnival Breeze, when the ships are port in Cozumel, Mexico. Carnival is trying to restore its image, after three ships broke down last year. The new concert series is a positive attempt to restore the image of the ships. Images of passengers stranded at sea, ships towed back to port and trip cancellations created a torrent of bad publicity for the company that sent ticket prices and revenue down. Other artists, performers and bands scheduled to perform on the Carnival Line series include: Chicago, Daughtry, Foreigner, Gavin DeGraw, Jewel, Kansas, Lady Antebellum, LeAnn Rimes, Martina McBride, Olivia Newtown-John, REO Speedwagon, STYX, and Trace Adkins.  STYX will kick off the series with an April 7th show on the Fantasy in Nassau. Tickets to the concert will only be sold to individuals taking the cruise. 49 shows have been confirmed for the year. In front of about 200 people at the Cutting Room, a Manhattan performance space, Hudson sang “One Night Only” and several other songs. Mark Tamis, senior vice president of guest operations of Carnival announced the program. Tamis described it as new initiative to increase entertainment options for guests, saying “we are turning up the music,” and calling Hudson “the first lady of Carnival Live.” The concerts will be held evenings when ships are in one of three ports; Cozumel, Mexico; Nassau in the Bahamas, or Catalina Island off the coast of California.  The 75-minute shows will be held in ship lounges that seat 800 to 1,500 people, depending on the ship. Tickets will be priced from $20 to $40, with a $100-$150 VIP option for premium seats and a photo op with performers. Carnival Live ships depart from Los Angeles, Charleston, S.C., Miami, and Tampa, Jacksonville and Port Canaveral in Florida. Read More »

They got off light for DUI Killings, but She Got 36 Yrs prison for an accident

by Dr. Boyce Watkins There are two drunk driving cases that have gotten my attention over the past couple of months.  The first was that of Ethan Couch, the “Affluenza” teen who received probation after getting drunk behind the wheel and killing four people in cold blood. The second case was that of Josh Brent, the former Dallas Cowboy who killed his friend and teammate Jerry Brown after getting drunk behind the wheel and crashing. Brent’s sentence was harsher than Couch’s, but still lenient, at only six months behind bars.  This was the second time that Brent has been caught drunk behind the wheel and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did it again. Some people think I’m in the business of defending any old action just because the subject at hand happens to be black.  Sorry, but I’m not.  Brent needs more time in prison for what he did, and by letting him and other drunk drivers off so lightly, we are jeopardizing the lives of millions of innocent people who are going to die because someone slams into their car after  a night of popping bottles at the club. These cases also confuse me about the criminal justice system because they made me think of another case about three years ago. The case of Aimee Michael is one that I consider to be a real American tragedy.   Michael was a college student who didn’t crash into anyone, but did cause a collision that led to the deaths of five people on Easter Sunday of 2009.  Michael also made the terrible mistake of driving away from the scene of the crash and getting her mother to help her fix her car. As a result of her poor choices, the 24-year old student was given a whopping 36 years in prison, plus another 10 years of probation.  This means that she will be a free woman when she is sixty years old, while Josh Brent and Ethan Couch will be free to get “turnt up” at the club until they are old and gray. Oh yea.  The judge also gave Aimee’s mother, Sheila, eight years in prison for her role in the crime.  That was her sentence for two misdemeanors. So, I would like to understand how a family can be broken up for the next 36 years over an accident, while two men who deliberately engaged in actions that led to very serious felonies are going to be free by summer?  Of course, we can agree that, in all three cases, every one of the defendants deserves time in prison.  But it’s not as if Aimee got drunk and decided that she would speed down the highway and risk the lives of innocent people.  Both Brent and Couch made that decision and arrogantly boasted about their behavior as if they were immune from punishment. Anyone who thinks I will defend Josh Brent’s right to freedom just because he’s black is dead wrong.  I can only, in good integrity, defend his right to justice. Justice means getting enough time in prison to teach him a lesson, especially since this was his second DUI arrest over the last four years. Given that most drunk drivers never get caught, I dare speculate that he has done this more than two times, making him a danger to those around him. Some people say that Brent is already living with the guilt of killing his friend and that his sentence was light because the family has forgiven him, but it goes deeper than that.  We are LUCKY that Brent only killed the person who chose to ride in the car with him and didn’t also murder an innocent family of four on their way home from church.  So, making sure he pays a price for his crime is for the protection of every person out there who DOESN’T want to hear about their little baby burning to death in a car crash because some dude thinks that drinking and driving is a joke. I won’t even talk about Couch.  You can see how furious I am with him by what I said about him on CNN.    Honestly, if Couch were just a few years older, I would have no problem seeing him receive the death penalty. In these cases, the punishments don’t fit the crimes.  I dare say that being rich or white may be exactly what one needs to avoid punishment in the criminal justice system.  It also helps if you remember one simple rule:  Killing whoever you want might be OK, as long as you make sure you’re drunk and driving before you do it.   In that particular space, there appears to be little to no accountability. Dr. Boyce Watkins is the author of the lecture series, “ The 8 Principles of Black Male Empowerment .”  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. Read More »

She was a Delta and a Queen: 10 Things You May Not Know about Dorothy Height

by Thai X Most of us know that Dorothy Height is a giant, there is no question about that.  She lived a long life and achieved a great deal.  Her active and spirited nature is one that we can teach our children so that they might continue her astonishing legacy.  Here are a few things that you and your children should know about Dorothy Height. Dorothy Height was the National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority from 1946 to 1957. Dorothy earned a Bachelor of Science from New York University in 1932 and a master’s degree in educational psychology in 1933. Her postgraduate education was earned at the New York School of Social Work and Columbia University. The African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom was formed by Dorothy Height and 15 other African-American women and men in 1990. On January 20, 2009, Dorothy was seated on the stage during the inauguration of President Obama as an honored guest. For 40 years, Dorothy Height was the president of the National Council of Negro Women. “Wednesdays in Mississippi” was a dialogue of understanding between black and white women from the North and South that was organized by Dorothy in the 1960’s. In the middle of 2005, the musical stage play If This Hat Could Talk was debuted. It was based on Dorothy Height’s memoirs. Dorothy Height became the chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. This is the largest civil rights organization in the US. Height died at the age of 98 in the year 2010.  Until her last days, she was active, vocal and involved in national politics. Before she died, Dr. Height asked President Barack Obama to consider putting a black woman on the United States Supreme Court.  In the court’s 200-plus year history, there has never been a black woman on the court. Read More »

Are You Blaming Other People For Your Problems?

By Early Jackson If you were raised in a family with other siblings chances are you have played the blame game a time or two. In fact, more than we all would care to admit, when confronted by a parent with the question, “Who did this?” we quickly replied “Not me.” As I have raised ... Read More »

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