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Stephanie Humphrey: Maybe It’s Time for You to do a Technology Makeover

Techlife expert Stephanie Humphrey talks about why you should consider getting a tech makeover.  This is especially true if you’ve got a bunch of gadgets from the year 2000 hogging up space in your home.  She says that having a good smart phone is a great way to enhance your productivity on the go, downloading apps that can make your life much easier. If anyone understands technology, it’s Stephanie Humphrey. We recommend you follow her on Twitter at @TechlifeSteph.  Her interview is below:   Read More »

Dr. Boyce: Scholar Says that Hip Hop is as Bad as White Power Music

by Dr. Boyce Watkins Scholar John McWhorter wrote a piece for “The New Republic” about the recent Sikh Temple massacre and the man who caused it, Michael Wade Page.  Page was one of the few white supremacists who turned his anger toward people of color into real violence, killing six people and wounding four others. Some have pointed to White Supremacist music as part of what motivated Page to go out and kill innocent people that day.  McWhorter doesn’t agree and thinks that those who feel that music caused him to kill are grasping for straws.   According to McWhorter: “It has been fashionable in the wake of Wade Michael Page’s tragic acts in Wisconsin to speculate on whether the White Power music he listened to helped stoke him into the senseless murders he committed. Such speculations, however, are as incoherent as they are pointless—and they are marked, above all, by a cloying air of self-congratulation.” Interestingly enough, McWhorter compares White Supremacist music to hip hop music, which also has a set of nasty and violent messages of its own.  One interesting case-in-point is the song “We Be Steady Mobbin,” where Lil Wayne says that he will take your girlfriend, turn her into a hooker, have sex with her and then “murder that b*tch and send her body back to yo ass.” Oddly enough, there’s a lot more where that came from. McWhorter’s argument isn’t entirely off-base.  You can’t say that music alone causes anyone to do anything.  You could play the most violent music and movies in front of me and I wouldn’t go kill anyone, most of us wouldn’t.  But places where McWhorter and others might want to reconsider their arguments are in two areas: 1)      Hip hop itself is not the source of violent music.  It is actually the commercialized, bastardized form of hip hop we hear on the radio that serves as the source of shameful lyrical content that teaches young black children to worship material possessions, to disrespect women, to stay high on drugs and alcohol all day, to engage in massive amounts of sexual promiscuity and to celebrate killing one  another. The bastardized form of hip hop grew out of the emergence of gangsta rap on the west coast, with groups like NWA.  Much of their music was a reflection of the Post Traumatic Stress disorder and other ailments suffered by young children forced to grow up in a war zone created by the allowance of massive amounts of drugs and guns into black communities.  They were rapping about what they saw, but they also spread a toxic message that helped promote gang culture throughout the entire United States.   As Terri Williams says in her book, “Black Pain,” “Hurt people hurt people,” meaning that those who’ve been traumatize can spread this trauma to others. 2)      While violent music doesn’t make anyone violent, it can certainly accelerate and enhance emotions that already lie in the soul.  If a child has grown up with very little mentorship or parental guidance (as too many children already do), this music might impact the moral code of the young man who could choose to rob, steal or kill if it will help him find a way to eat or get whatever he wants.  Violent music has as much impact on the outlook of a teenager as a sad love song has on a woman who just lost her boyfriend.  Anyone who spends time around black teenagers will notice that their style of dress, language and all-around demeanor tends to evolve with whatever their favorite hip hop artists are doing. There is a correlation between the promotion of drug/alcohol consumption and the fact that so many young black men are being busted for marijuana possession.  A lot of young black men have dreadlocks in their hair, not because of some kind of complex spiritual awakening, but because they saw that Lil Wayne was rocking dreads in his last video.  Not that there is anything wrong with dreadlocks, but the point is that music does influence who we are, especially if we don’t already know who we are.  For young, impressionable minds, it can make all the difference. So, it seems that in his article, McWhorter, who I’ve always thought to be a conservative, is letting white folks off the hook by letting rappers off the hook.  This effectively makes him a conservative using a liberal argument to do what conservatives tend to do (defend other conservative white people).  While his argument isn’t entirely off-mark, we cannot presume that hip hop music somehow defies the logic of nearly any psychologist, who would agree that messages and mantras being consistently absorbed by our subconscious do have an impact on our thinking. Music alone can’t drive an innocent person to kill, but it might certainly cause a misguided criminal to go ahead and do what he was thinking about doing in the first place.  Music is not the alpha and omega of cause and effect; rather, it can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.   It does have an impact on our thinking. Read More »

The Truth Is….There may be times we are ashamed of our past, but we are not ashamed of The Gospel of Jesus Christ

In the book of Romans chapter six verse 21 The Apostle Paul asked a question that all Christians should consider; “ What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?” In continuation of that same verse Paul tell us the outcome of our past follies; “Those things result in death!”  In the following verses Paul tells us the hope that we have; “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life . For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In Colossians chapter three verses 5-10, Paul gives the Christian community instructions concerning what their character should not be. The Apostle tells us to, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways , in the life you once lived.   But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other , since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”   The Apostle then continues to tell us what the Christian character should be. In this same chapter of Colossians verses 12-17 we find written, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.   “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared , he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life .” (Titus 3:3-7) We must remember that flesh and blood will not enter into the Kingdom of God, but only those who do God’s will. God’s will is that we have faith in his son and love one another. If you are still struggling with sin, and I believe most of us are because no one is perfect; always ask for forgiveness and the power of the Holy Spirit to take control of our life. This is our Prayer. Read More »

Living the Life of an Olympian: Work to Overcome Hurdles

The Olympic Games capture the attention of individuals around the world. Almost every nation is represented in the Games. According to the National Olympic Committee, 3.2 billion people will watch all or a part of the televised events. Individuals and entire households, young and old, sports fans and non-sports fans are drawn to television screens Read More »

Responding to Kid’s Tough Questions

Let me date myself a bit. When I was growing up, the group 2 Live Crew was pretty big. They had a collection of raunchy lyrics and their tunes and images were being lifted up as all that is wrong with America’s “declining moral standing.” There are many equivalents of this very thing today with Read More »

Success Is Not for The Weak or Faint of Heart

“The act & art of becoming successful is not for the weak or faint of heart. You can either hate on the successful or succeed over the hateful.” — Harold S. Reed, Jr. What do I mean by that? It has often been said “success is a journey, not a destination to be reached.” I also Read More »

Next Level Living: Our Words Have Power, Use Them With Care

As children, we were taught “sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” After a few short years, we quickly realized this nursery rhyme wasn’t accurate. Even the toughest exteriors walk away with internal scars when words are used as weapons of mass destruction. What amazes humanity is that the Read More »

Love Notes from Sil Lai: 4 Ways for Men to Ruin Their Relationships

In  last week’s column,  I outlined four self-defeating behaviors that women do that hurt their chances of having a healthy relationship. Men, particularly Black men, seem to catch a lot of flack nowadays for their supposed universal aversion towards love and commitment. As much as we’re led to believe that they aren’t interested in anything more than a little bump and grind, men do want and need to be loved just as much as women. Of course, women don’t have the market cornered on fear based ways of interrelating that I like to call “Dubious Dating Behaviors.” Given the expectation that a ‘strong Black man’ is in control of his emotions at all times, it’s no wonder that there is often a disparity between what they say and how they act. Men feel fear and anxiety just as much as women.  However, due to the prevailing cultural expectation that real men “suck it up,” they are often uncomfortable expressing a full range of nuanced emotions that include vulnerability or tenderness, emotions which if acknowledged could improve their overall emotional health and that of the relationship. So in the spirit of levity, I want to offer my brothers the following four common behaviors they I’ve observed them make when dating.  Again, I know that missteps aren’t limited by gender, but I’ve seen many men actively sabotage what could be an otherwise healthy relationship by taking a largely  passive  approach towards relating. Read More on Ebony.com Read More »

Nomalanga: Lolo Jones Should Declare Her Virginity Loud and Proud

Lolo Jones has recently started to question whether it is a good idea to be so open and vocal about her decision to honor her religious beliefs and remain a virgin until she gets married. The Olympic star has decided to tone it down because of the amount of media attention she got for making a Twitter announcement that she was a virgin and would remain one until she got married. Many people criticized her for making the announcement saying that she needed to keep her private life to herself and that seems to be why she is now thinking twice about whether or not the announcement was such a good idea. Those that criticize Jones for making her announcement must have missed the great value that Jones added to what our youth are constantly bombarded with-sex, sex, sex! It is actually refreshing to hear from women like Lolo Jones and Meagan Good, with platforms and visibility to millions of impressionable young women (and men), who use their platforms to say that young women can honor and respect their bodies enough to wait for the right time and the right person to share that special bond with. What I love about Jones and Good is that both women speak about their choices and in holding themselves to a high standard, encourage others to do the same. They do not get on shows and stages and chastise, criticize and judge those that have not made the same choices as them, but instead focus on their message and relay it in a very positive and palatable way. Jones may decide to tone down her conservative message but I believe that she should not. For every young woman that stands up and says she is going to preserve herself, spiritually, and in this day and age of epidemic levels of sexually transmitted diseases, health-wise, there are ten more who are boldly talking about their “freedom” and “sexual liberation”. The problem with all this “sexual liberation” is that statistics show that most people who have it really do not use it wisely. The number of people suffering from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases has risen to alarming levels, especially among Black men and women. The number of children who are forced to grow up in unplanned single parent homes, which increase the possibility of falling into poverty,  is sad. We all have God-given free will and no one has the right to take that from us once we reach the maturity to walk away from our parents covering and start to make our own decisions but when our choices are being influenced by people who encourage violence, irresponsible child bearing and we end up in massive poverty, we can not try to stifle the voices of those that encourage us to explore a different path. Not everyone wants Lolo Jones to be quiet; some of us applaud her and wish she would speak out even more. All scales need to be balanced and unfortunately for many Black communities across the country, they are tipped on to the side of self-destruction and a lack of willingness to make the necessary changes. There aren’t enough public figures like Lolo Jones and Meagan Good tipping the scales in the direction of self love, patience and self preservation. Let’s encourage young women like Lolo Jones to speak up Loud and Proud. Nomalanga helps Black Women thrive in their lives and careers. She is a Social Commentator, an Editor at Your Black World , Assistant Professor of Professional Studies and the reigning Mrs Botswana. Visit Nomalanga’s blog at successfulblackwoman.com Read More »

Love Notes from Sil Lai: 4 Ways that Women Ruin their Relationships

Ever  wonder why some women seem to have an easier time in relationships than others?  Sometimes it’s plain as day why a woman’s love life repeatedly play out like a version of an over the top reality show.  After all, there’s no way you can have a healthy relationship with an active addict, as their primary connection is to their “drug” of choice (be it alcohol, sex, work, etc).  Or, if you can only afford to shop at Mandee or Old Navy and believe that a man should buy you Gucci or Prada, it’s safe to say that your selection process in a potential mate will be  somewhat  skewed – to put it lightly. Almost everyone I know says they  want to  love and be loved. And almost everyone has struggled at some point in their lives to achieve this seemingly basic need.  More often than not, the reason why relationships fail is based upon the individual unresolved issues that play out in the way a couple interrelates.And while some of us have very real emotional issues that prevent us from successfully partnering, from what I’ve seen, many of the problems women face in their relationships with men come from the way we position ourselves in the beginning.  It’s common knowledge that people treat you the way you let them. This may be a trite saying, but it’s a timeless truth. It’s impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone else until or unless we love ourselves first. Read more on Ebony.com Read More »

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