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Positive Black Male News: Mother, son defy odds and graduate together with PhDs

Positive Black Male News: Mother, son defy odds and graduate together with PhDs

Positive Black Male News

rsz_capella_grad_pic_11by: Hope Jensen

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) — A local mom and her son have achieved great heights in education, but it didn’t come easily. The pair recently earned their PhDs on the very same day, a goal that seemed impossible when their long journey began.

“Never in a thousand, million, trillion years [did I expect to get my PhD]. The thought of becoming a doctor anyone was far fetched,” said Dr. Maurice McBride.

He got his diploma at a ceremony in Minneapolis, MN in August, but the day wasn’t just about his accomplishment. It was about sharing the stage with his mother.

“I never thought I would get chance to see my mother walk across the stage and then she turned around and saw me walk across the stage,” he said.

It was a day that seemed nearly impossible considering where they started.

“At the age of 13 I got pregnant with Maurice,” said Dr. Vickie McBride.

She was a young mother growing up in Waynesboro. She said, “It was shunned upon and of course the older people in the community were whispering.”

But that didn’t stop her or her mother. Vickie stayed in school while her mother, a retired teacher, helped out with Maurice.

“As a teenager I continued my education. That was never an option,” explained Vickie.

She made it to college and graduate school all while raising Maurice and eventually 3 other children.

“I had to figure out how to work and how to parent and how to manage school all at the same time.” she said.

Maurice had his own struggles. At just 16 years old he dropped out of high school.

“[I] started hanging out with some of the wrong people and got into some trouble,” he explained.

After ending up in a juvenile probation facility he knew it was time to turn his life around. He said, “I picked up the bible and I started reading and I was like it all makes sense. I see how it actually comes to fruition. I see how I ended up here.”

He got his GED and then pursued a music career. He signed a record deal with Capital Records, but he never stopped his education. It was something that was instilled in him by his mother and grandmother.

“As a recording artist I also attended school online,” said Maurice.

He kept going after he left the music world. He went on to graduate school, becoming a professor at Paine College and then one day he called his mom.

“I said ‘hey I think I’m gonna get my PhD. You wanna do this with me?’ ‘No that’s okay. You bumped your head, but you can go ahead and you can do it. I’m done with school’,” he recalled.

After talking it over, they decided to do it together. Vickie graduated with her PhD in K-12 Education and Maurice in Organizational Management from Capella University.

“I didn’t let my situation define who I was. I defined my situation. I looked at my situation and I told situation this is where we are going and this is what we are doing,” said Vickie.

A proud day for both a mother and a son.

“I was so proud of him because I knew where he had come from,” said Vickie.

“This is who she really is despite what she’s been through,” said Maurice. “This is how I’ve always seen her and now I’m like ‘hey look this is her’ with the cape and the supermommy uniform.”

And they want their story to be a lesson to those struggling now.

“For those who have gone through [tough situations]. You can be successful. You can be anything. You can do anything once you make up your mind that that is what you want to do. Set a goal and go for it,” said Vickie.

Maurice says he wants his mother to write a book with him about their story. He’s also working to convince her to go to law school but she says she’ll sit that one out. She just plans to be in the audience for that graduation.

They are both working as teachers now. Vickie teaches middle school and college in Virginia and Maurice is a professor of business at Paine College.

Source: CBS Augusta 

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Exquisite Women: Melissa Griffiths

Exquisite Women: Melissa Griffiths

Exquisite Women

Take risks and remember that if you fail it’s the process of getting back up that builds character. ~Melissa Griffiths

Take risks and remember that if you fail it’s the process of getting back up that builds character. ~Melissa Griffiths

TheBlackManCan is back in Connecticut to bring you another Exquisite Woman. We bring to you a woman whose confidence and style shows in her mean shoe game. We proudly present to you Melissa Griffiths Founder and President of Snatch Shoes. Melissa sits down with TheBlackManCan to discuss Snatch Shoes, having an entrepreneurial spirit, a woman’s obsession with shoes and words of advice to young ladies of today.

TheBlackManCan: Melissa, how did you develop entrepreneurial spirit? Why is it important to have one and how does one develop one?

MG: I developed the entrepreneur in me with education and plain old trial and error.  It’s important everyone have an entrepreneurial spirit whether they want to have their own business or not.  At the very foundation of being an entrepreneur is the desire for autonomy (you like to call your own shots and be entrusted to get things done without supervision), hard work (you understand that you get out what you put in so you don’t mind working hard for it), and a lack of fear of accountability (even though everything resting on your shoulders can be stressful and intimidating it adds just the right amount of pressure to act as a catalyst to your success).  These characteristics can be developed once you have an understanding of who you are, what you like, what you don’t like, and what you’re passionate about.  Once that is out of the way I would suggest expanding your skill set through business courses and/or real world experience and then just play up to your strengths.

TheBlackManCan: If you had to name two books that everyone should read, what would they be and why?

MG: Good to Great by Jim Collins. This is a great read for anyone interested in business management.  It unveils concepts surrounding the simplicity of developing one’s self to be a great leader and building great organizations.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. This is a good book about life in general, hard work, the unreliability of success, the pit falls of feeding into our own egos, and the importance of how we treat people we come across in our lives.

TheBlackManCan: What ignited the spark to start www.shoebytch.com? What is the meaning behind the name? 

MG: My love of shoes and interest in having an outlet to share that love with others lead me to the idea of starting a blog.  However, the motivation behind actually creating the blog was so I can learn the shoe industry, understand the trends, build connections, and develop a following.

The meaning behind the term shoebytch is meant to be a positive one despite the negative connotation. The term represents a confidant woman with a strong love for edgy, sexy, eye catching footwear.

TheBlackManCan: In your own opinion why do women have such an obsession with shoes?

MG: Women are obsessed with shoes because shoes have a tendency to make us feel sexy, powerful, and showcase our personality.  Anything that can provide one or all of these features at the same time boosts our confidence. I personally believe we can draw energy from any living or inanimate thing around us, as long as, we have assigned some meaning to it.  Energy is said to flow up; so what better source to pull from than your shoes?

When you are stuck in a bad situation follow your moral compass. It may not be the easiest road to follow but it will be the most rewarding. ~ Melissa Griffiths

When you are stuck in a bad situation follow your moral compass. It may not be the easiest road to follow but it will be the most rewarding. ~ Melissa Griffiths

TheBlackManCan: Can you tell us about some obstacles you have overcome? What did you learn from them? 

MG: I’ve encountered quite a few obstacles over the years but I’ll focus on the two most important.

The first big obstacle I faced was partnerships in business.  Bucking heads is to be expected but it’s important to only go into business with people you share trust, vision, and work ethic with.  Also, beware of how these partnerships will affect your brand. The same stands true for other companies you enter into joint ventures with and the staff you hire.

I learned that it’s highly beneficial to partner with those that are bringing something to the table in an area where I am lacking, whether it’s finances, experience, or connections. The caveat with this is to make sure that they compliment me well using the aforementioned criteria and that I vet them thoroughly.

The second big obstacle I faced was myself. I’ve always known I had a strong interest in entrepreneurship but I didn’t have a clue what kind of business I wanted.  Over the years I owned or partnered in businesses in the music, film production, party planning, business consulting, and fashion industries.  What I was lacking was focus and passion for something other than business itself.  To overcome this obstacle I had to do a bare bones analysis of myself.  I drew and filled in a grid/positioning map of my likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses on a sheet of paper. Within minutes of looking at the map there was one clear choice that jumped out…. shoes.

Overcoming this major obstacle taught me who I was in my simplest form. This new self-knowledge allowed me to be who I needed to be and make the decisions I needed to make in the most complicated situations.

TheBlackManCan: You have obtained a Masters in Business. Why is it important for youth to not only strive for their bachelor’s but also their master’s degree?

MG: Personally, I don’t believe in chasing degrees or success I believe in defining what makes you happy and chasing the knowledge it will take to get you there. One has to weigh where they want to go in life and determine what is best for them.  In this day and age a major component in advancing within corporate America and/or as an entrepreneur requires knowledge; knowledge than can be obtained from a degree.  The bar has been raised and the bare minimum will no longer cut it.  To be competitive in today’s professional job market an advanced degree is no longer an option but a fact of life.

I say to the youth, it may take longer to understand or settle on who/what you want to be.  In the interim it is imperative that you acquire as much knowledge as possible to aid you in your journey.  Where there is knowledge clarity is soon to follow.

Women are obsessed with shoes because shoes have a tendency to make us feel sexy, powerful, and showcase our personality.  ~ Melissa Griffiths

Women are obsessed with shoes because shoes have a tendency to make us feel sexy, powerful, and showcase our personality. ~ Melissa Griffiths

TheBlackManCan: As you continue to strive for excellence you also lift as you climb. Can you tell us some of the charities or non/profits you are involved in and why?

MG: I currently sit on the board for the Greater Hartford Chapter of the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) as the VP of Operations.  My responsibilities include strategic guidance and support of several committees and initiatives.  I firmly believe that if you want change in your community you have to take action to influence it.  I joined the GHC NBMBAA chapter to make a difference in the local Hartford minority business community.

Until recently, I also served on the board for Hope 4 Autism, Inc. a Hartford based non-profit focused on brining autism awareness, support, and programming to low income families in the Greater Hartford area.

I also volunteer at various community events throughout the year such as the Foodshare Hunger Walk and community cleanups.

Where there is knowledge clarity is soon to follow.  ~ Melissa Griffiths

Where there is knowledge clarity is soon to follow. ~ Melissa Griffiths

TheBlackManCan: In April of 2013 you launched Snatch Shoes. What is the vision and mission behind Snatch Shoes?

MG: My vision for Snatch Shoes is to be a top source of unique fashion footwear for women aged between 18-40.  My mission is to not only bring trendy footwear but to introduce first time footwear to the market.

TheBlackManCan: Where do you see yourself and Snatch Shoes within the next five years?

MG: It’s a very competitive market so I can’t show my entire hand but high level in the next five years I see Snatch Shoes growing and expanding our carried designers and styles.

Our full website is slated to launch in September of this year at which point we hope to announce our first community initiative and brand ambassador program.

To be competitive in today’s professional job market an advanced degree is no longer an option but a fact of life. ~Melissa Griffiths

To be competitive in today’s professional job market an advanced degree is no longer an option but a fact of life. ~Melissa Griffiths

TheBlackManCan: Why is it important for Black Men and Boys to see positive images of themselves?

MG: We live in a world where the media has a tendency to manipulate us and turn instances into the norm. The ‘villainization’ and perceived depreciation of black men in America is very real and one of the most heinous crimes committed on a daily basis.

As the saying goes “You don’t know what you don’t know”.  It is important for both black men and boys to see who they are and who they have the potential to be. Emotions are projected and actions are reflected so positive images of black men are gateways to self-actualization.

We must combat the negative with the positive. Uplift where and when they tear us down.  Pick each other up when we fall.  As a community we must support, educate, pray for, love, set standards, and take ownership of our roles to each other.

TheBlackManCan: What words of advice do you have for the youth especially the young ladies?

MG: Find your truth! Understand who you are and what you want out of life (this is a process not a switch that can be flipped).  Once you find your truth no one can EVER take that from you.  Strive to walk in your truth every day and let it shine on all those you encounter in life.

- The definition of who you are will undoubtedly change over the years so don’t fear change embrace it.

- Stay true to your core but be flexible enough to adapt to survive and stay competitive.

-When you are stuck in a bad situation follow your moral compass. It may not be the easiest road to follow but it will be the most rewarding.

-Remember that God’s delays are not his denials. At times you’ll need to be patient.

-Surround yourself with people who challenge you, are smarter than you, and have your best interest at heart (this requires you to know your circle).

-Take risks and remember that if you fail it’s the process of getting back up that builds character.

- Don’t take anything for granted it can all be gone in a flash.

- Ladies you will be tested by everyone.  Some will try to convince you that you’re weak.  Some will tell you that you’re “too strong”. No matter what you get told your power can’t be taken only given.  Just remember that with great power comes great responsibility… ha ha ha (it’s true though).

Visit Snatch Shoes now–> http://shop.snatchshoes.com/

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Exquisite Women: Stephanie Folling

Exquisite Women: Stephanie Folling

Exquisite Women

Finally don’t make short-term decisions that will negatively impact your long-term being. Divorce yourself from negative things and people- no matter who they are. ~Stephanie Folling

Finally don’t make short-term decisions that will negatively impact your long-term being. Divorce yourself from negative things and people- no matter who they are. ~Stephanie Folling

TheBlackManCan has made its way back to the Washington D.C area to bring you an Exquisite Woman who is chasing excellence in all walks of life. It is our distinct honor and pleasure to introduce educator, blogger and business woman Stephanie Folling. Stephanie sits down with TheBlackManCan to discuss, starting her own business, cupcakes and her love for teaching.

TheBlackManCan: Stephanie, can tell us about your childhood and how it has played a role in developing you into the woman you are today?

SF: My parents were really good at developing my sense of self as a girl/woman and my self-esteem as a person of color. They never restricted my creativity or intelligence while being my most authentic self was always encouraged.

My parents were also really big on character and money management. From ages 8-14 my allowance of $5 a week never changed while my chores increased! This taught me early on to be an entrepreneur and have my own money. I made hair bows and sold them to classmates for $1 creating new designs each week to maintain market share. I started a very lucrative baby-sitting service and even sold snow cones in the winter–true story.

My parents had another rule: no tennis shoes over $50 and no designer digs. Their logic was: you will not be defined by what’s on your back but by what’s in your head. Growing up in a wealthy black neighborhood like Prince George’s County made me the object of much ridicule with my Payless Soda Pop tennis shoes and Sears’s sweaters. What’s worse was that my parents were ballin’! But it instilled in me character and placed my value on my mind and people- not superficial things.

Looking back I’m grateful and I realize that they were building my character. They were teaching me to define myself for myself because society DEFINITELY has roles for you as a woman, a person of color, and as a woman of color: stripper, Jezebel, welfare queen, etc.

TheBlackManCan: In 2010 you started your own independent commercial real estate firm. This is an area not frequented by women or minorities. How did you decide on commercial real estate? How did you break through this barrier?

SF: It was a combination of hard-work, brilliance, hook-ups and God’s tremendous favor on my life. After having moved up the ladder in residential real estate with skills ranging from leasing, property management and sales, I realized that the real money was in commercial real estate (CRE). The commissions were evergreen, the process was more numbers less car salesman and I wanted to increase my skillset.

At the same time, I made a bold move and moved to New York to get my broker’s license. While there I made friends, connections, and contacts for job offers. After turning down 3 lucrative offers in NYC, I decided to go back to D.C. and begin my CRE career there. One of my NYC connections gave me a massive hook-up and called the president of a firm in D.C. and said, “Hire Her!” Two weeks later, I had a job.

Being fresh out of broker’s school, I was hungry; nay famished. I worked late, was the first one in the office and brought fresh ideas to the table-I was on my Olivia Pope flow. Within a month I was commended by the company’s Vice President for having record numbers. This gave me carte blanche at the company. It also sparked jealousy amongst the men at the company (comprising roughly 87%).

In CRE women are/were often regulated to admin roles (even with the same titles) or completely infantilized with limited mobility. I refused such treatment, advocated for myself, and made alliances along the way. I made team MVP twice for my leadership skills and numbers which forced senior brokers to step their game up. Although my deals were clean there were several unsuccessful attempts to sabotage me to get me fired or look foolish and incompetent in front of clients. I couldn’t let any of that deter me. I was determined to leave my mark so that other women and minorities coming behind me would have a road map of how to make it and win. I was successful in that and I’m proud.

Looking back, I see that God needed me to learn and be comfortable in a room full of ridiculously wealthy people, speaking their language and negotiating major deals without being intimidated; and, to quote Jay-Z, “Show’em how to move in a room full of vultures”.  This would provide an excellent foundation in starting my firm because that’s the big-time. There are no safety nets and you can be mistaken for easy prey.

TheBlackManCan: What ignited the spark for you to start your blog The Cupcake Critic? What is the mission and vision behind the blog?

SF: The purpose of the blog was to give me a creative outlet discussing, what I thought to be, the most inane and uncontroversial topic of cupcakes. Little did I know that I was coming in at the crest of the cupcake-boom and have been riding it ever since.

The spark that ignited the blog was me sitting in my office with a mountain of paper work and feeling overwhelmed. The business was about six months old at the time and I needed a break. Spring was peaking so I called a friend and said, “I’m coming in to D.C. and we’re going to get cupcakes and then frolic in the park”.

I had so much fun that day that I realized I was a workaholic and had no hobbies or real outlets to enjoy myself. I decided to make cupcake-ing my hobby and made a list of all the cupcake shops in town to visit.  When I put the pictures up on Facebook, the response to my adventures was overwhelming. People would ask me: “Where are they located? How much are the cupcakes? Can I take the metro?

This prompted me to set-up a tumblr account and post pics of my cupcake adventures with a short narrative answering common questions. Overtime other people found my site, liked it and that prompted me to create an official Twitter and Facebook. In 2012, I bought the official domain name and transferred all my reviews to Blogger.

My parents were really good at developing my sense of self as a girl/woman and my self-esteem as a person of color. They never restricted my creativity or intelligence while being my most authentic self was always encouraged. ~ Stephanie Folling

My parents were really good at developing my sense of self as a girl/woman and my self-esteem as a person of color. They never restricted my creativity or intelligence while being my most authentic self was always encouraged. ~ Stephanie Folling

TheBlackManCan: Please share with our readers the shops where they can find the best three cupcakes?

SF: This is always tough and I have to note that my opinions change often but here it goes:

  1. Delectable Cakery in Landover Hills, MD
  2. Georgetown Cupcake Georgetown, DC
  3. YoCake DC in Dupont Circle

TheBlackManCan: You have won numerous accolades, which include but are not limited to Black Street Best Blog and Best Website. How does it feel to be honored for the work you do?

SF: It is so rewarding to be recognized for my work. I work really hard on my blog and for people to not only like it but to give me accolades whether with an interview or an award is humbling. Of all the things that I’ve done in my life, I find it funny that I’m most recognized for cupcakes. A good example is: I was in the CB Richard Ellis building a few months back for business and someone yelled out, “Hey Cupcake Queen”. I laughed as it seems my cupcake blog has overshadowed my other business endeavors but I’m cool with it J

TheBlackManCan: You are a very successful woman and still climbing to the top. How do you stay motivated and keep from getting discouraged?

SF: It can be tough; as black woman you get opposition from white men and women and even black men. Whether it is relationships, fighting discrimination, sexism, ageism, whatever- there’s always something new. My major issue now is going green. What we call food is not food and the water in our homes is really a chemical causing asthma, fertility issues and lead-poisoning. However every problem has a solution.

I stay centered with walks through nature, mediation and prayer allowing the peace of God to overtake me. Where necessary I advocate and allow my voice to be heard to evoke change- not to rabble-rouse. I seek wisdom from people I trust and eliminate negative energy from media, people, or even places. Further, God really is the center of what I do. I believe in Him; I listen to him and where he leads, I try, to follow. It sounds like a cliché but I take all my pain, worries and fear to him because he can make it right. I trust him.

TheBlackManCan: You also have a company called SVF Brand Media. Tell us about the mission and vision behind this company? What are some things you are working on now?

SF: SVF Brand Media is a social media marketing firm that I started as an extension to my blog. With the success of my blog and eye for creativity, other businesses and bloggers began to ask me to do for them what I did for my blog. Essentially we build eye-catching, demographically relevant marketing campaigns to drive traffic, attain online visibility and provide a succinct voice/message for a service or product. Currently I’m working with a few cupcake shops and public figures to maximize their online presence.

TheBlackManCan: You live by the motto “Anything is possible to him who believes”. What do these words mean to you and why should people embrace this motto?

SF: Belief is a powerful thing and essentially who you believe that you are is what you are. People can tell you that you won’t amount to much or throw bricks at you marked “obstacles”. If you collect enough of those bricks, you can build a bridge and charge a toll.

Although I’ve had a lot of support throughout my life, I’ve had a lot of bricks thrown my way too. Overall though they made me tougher, stronger, wiser and, ironically, very forgiving. People can only give you what they have and if they’re throwing bricks at you, it’s because someone threw bricks at them.

I also believe in the idea of alchemy; that you can turn nothing into something. I look at my blog and what started as virtually nothing is now a lot of something that yields unlimited opportunity and possibility. Power shifts every day and it can shift to your advantage based upon how you perceive things. 

TheBlackManCan: If you had to name three books that everyone should read what would they be?

SF:

  1. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson
  2. Up From Slavey: The Autobiography of Booker T. Washington by Booker T. Washington
  3. On Her Own Ground: The Biography of Madame C.J. Walker by A’lelia Bundles Walker

TheBlackManCan: You have a true entrepreneurial spirit. What advice do you have for others to develop their entrepreneurial spirit?

SF:

  • Have a solid plan for your business and finances with an exit strategy should things not work out.
  • Surround yourself with advisors and mentors who will keep you grounded.
  • Hang out with other entrepreneurs because your mind will change and you will think like an owner; sadly your friend who aren’t in business for themselves won’t understand or be able to give sound advice.
  • Be prepared to do without sleep for some time.
  • Love yourself first: eat right, exercise, pray/meditate. The business is only as good as you are.
  • Never underestimate anyone; some of most brilliant minds are hidden in unsuspecting packages.
  • Above all things know more than anyone in the room and at the same time realize that you know nothing.

TheBlackManCan: You recently have decided to join Teach for America and you will be teaching English in your hometown of Prince George’s County, MD. Why did you decided to head into teaching?

SF: I’ve always wanted to teach but the catalyst for my decision was losing my father, in early 2012 to a brain aneurism. For me, everything stopped and something deep inside of me changed. I felt like up until that point, I had been selfish and only living for myself. I needed my life’s work to mean something and to me, every move in my career was strategic but the only person benefitting was me-not my community. Also, despite not being a parent, I felt like these are my kids too and I wanted to invest in the lives of young people.

Realizing that life is short, I decided that I was going to do everything that I ever wanted to do. I made a list and at the top of my list was teaching. The opportunity of TFA presented itself; I applied and made it in. More importantly, I was stationed in my hometown and I couldn’t be more excited.

It is so rewarding to be recognized for my work. I work really hard on my blog and for people to not only like it but to give me accolades whether with an interview or an award is humbling. ~ Stephanie Folling

It is so rewarding to be recognized for my work. I work really hard on my blog and for people to not only like it but to give me accolades whether with an interview or an award is humbling. ~ Stephanie Folling

TheBlackManCan: Where do you see yourself five years from now?

SF: Hopefully married with children and living a small homestead. I’m really into urban-farming and hydroponics so it’s appealing to me. Also penning a few books and going on tour as a thought leader and inspirational leader. I’m really big on people of color learning how to navigate the systems of finance, real estate and technology. Those industries are the future with little presence from women or minorities.

TheBlackManCan: Why is it important for Black Boys and Men to see positive images of themselves?

SF: As stated previously, perception is important. Perception is often influenced by outside stimuli like media, environment, family, friends, institutions, etc. Black males, like black women, are given images, attitudes and ideals based upon what suits society’s purposes. They are told to be low achievers, prison fodder, shiftless, street pharmacists, athletes, and rappers. Further although colorism is a problem that is usually attributed to women, a lot of men are self-conscious about their hue.

When young men (and women) are fed a constant diet of healthy and affirming images of themselves they immutably conform and grow into these positive images. For example, during segregation the African-American community produced more PhD’s than they do now. Primarily because of the positive reinforcement and nurturing that they received from their community coupled with access to outstanding HBCU’s. In my opinion, it isn’t a coincidence that so many young people are conforming to the abundance of negative images that are on constant rotation. As a community we have to step up and stop this.

God really is the center of what I do. I believe in Him; I listen to him and where he leads, I try, to follow. It sounds like a cliché but I take all my pain, worries and fear to him because he can make it right. I trust him. ~ Stephanie Folling

God really is the center of what I do. I believe in Him; I listen to him and where he leads, I try, to follow. It sounds like a cliché but I take all my pain, worries and fear to him because he can make it right. I trust him. ~ Stephanie Folling

TheBlackManCan: What words of advice do you have for the youth of today?

SF: Life is short but it’s also long therefore having a plan for your future is crucial. Write your plan down and seek out mentors, advisors and friends who can help you achieve your goals. This is important because if for any reason you get off track, having a written plan (that you can see), makes it easier to pick up where you left off or amend your steps. Also, if you are surrounded by people who are headed in the same positive direction, you’ll get there faster.

Finally don’t make short-term decisions that will negatively impact your long-term being. Divorce yourself from negative things and people- no matter who they are. The moment you do that, life will replace them with people whom you can trust and will invest in your success.

HuffPost Live Appearance: Stephanie Folling discusses social media on HuffPost Live’s Tech Game Changers with host Mike Sachs, Starbucks CDO Adam Brotman and Gigya CEO Patrick Salyer.

http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/50899c3a02a76044ed000055

HuffPost Live:Top Stories with Jacob Saboroff

http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/jacob-alyona/50743e342b8c2a505100036a

Exquisite Women is where we at TheBlackManCan highlight Black Women who are making positive and remarkable contributions to society.  Nominate a Black Woman today on the contact page or e-mail team@theblackmancan.org, subject line: Exquisite Woman!

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Exquisite Women: Rehema Stephens

Exquisite Women: Rehema Stephens

Exquisite Women

TheBlackManCan: You go by the name The EDUTAINER which is Educator + Entertainer. I love this name and it is very creative. What inspired you to put the two together?

RWS: My teaching style dictated the moniker, EDUTAINER. I am an educator who possesses the ability and the wherewithal to make learning exciting. My non-traditional teaching methodology is considered entertaining and engaging. I make it a point to know my audience, make the lessons relevant and fun.

TheBlackManCan: When did you realize that you possessed an exceptional speaking gift?

RWS: I realized while sitting in a pew at church as a teenager that speaking was in my future. It was something about the way the preacher used words and phrases to convey the message that intrigued me. From that day forward, I could be found reading and meditating on God’s Word. During my time of study, I stumbled across a profound discovery. My name, Rehema, is one letter short of the word Rhema, which means: the Spoken Word of God. A Rhema Word is a specific, tailor-made word from God directly to you. And that word is typically sought after to give daily guidance to the life of the Christian. That small, yet significant coincidence led me to accept my calling into the ministry some years later and consequently preach my first sermon. And I’ve been “preaching” ever since.

TheBlackManCan: Your second gift is that of a teacher. You say it is your passion and purpose. When and how did you come to know this?

RWS: I have been around education all my life. Both my parents were educators (retired), and they made a point to stress the importance of education as it related to creating future opportunities for me. It wasn’t until after I retired from athletics that I realized I had a knack for teaching. I started as a basketball coach and I quickly found success and a client base of young girls who aspired to play college basketball. Over time, and upon recommendation of one of my client’s parents, I landed my first full-time teaching job. I always tell people that I didn’t find teaching, teaching found me.

TheBlackManCan: How did you ultimately decide on teaching in higher education?

RWS: It was a family emergency that called me out of the State of California to Phoenix, Arizona where I stumbled upon my first opportunity in higher education. There was an ad in the local newspaper seeking college admissions representatives, and one of the incentives was an all-expense paid education. It just so happened that I had been contemplating going back to school to earn a graduate degree, and here was my opportunity to get it.

After being hired, I quickly found myself at home in the admissions department. It brought me great joy “changing lives” through higher education. I felt an instant connection with the adult learners I served. After awhile I found myself following up with students after their enrollment to check on their academic progress, which was above and beyond what was required of me. It didn’t take long for me to begin researching opportunities to teach at the college level, all I needed to do was complete my graduate degree. And that opportunity presented itself exactly two years later.

 

TheBlackManCan: You have international as well as WNBA experience. Can you share what a day in the life is like as a professional athlete?

RWS: As a professional basketball player, GAME DAY, was the best day ever. Typically, I would sleep in as long as I could before shoot around. Whether we were playing at home or away, we would always have a light practice at the arena to go over the game plan one last time. After shoot around, I would have a light lunch to hold me over till after the game. My pre-game meal consisted of a garden salad, grilled chicken breast with fries or a baked potato. A pre-game nap was next on the agenda, so I could be well rested and fresh for the game.

I’d always head over to the arena a few hours early to get treatment and my ankles taped. I usually headed out onto the court early to get a few hundred shots in before everyone else, to break a sweat, and stretch real good. Thirty minutes before game time, we met as a team in the locker room to get our matchup assignments, say a prayer, and make our way out onto the court. There is no greater rush than running out onto the court, of a packed home stadium, full of screaming fans.

Practice days were definitely a lot more laid back. I would go to practice in the morning for three hours, hit the weight room for a light resistance training regimen, and maybe watch a little film in the locker room. After practice, a hearty lunch was always the first thing on my mind to replenish my body, then a nice long nap. The rest of my day would consist of any appearances I was scheduled for, handling personal business, shopping or just relaxing.

Life on the road is expected as a professional athlete. I spent a lot of time in airports, nights in hotels, and living out of a travel bag. My laptop, cell phone, and MP3 player were my best friend and kept me connected to family and close friends while gone for days/weeks at a time. I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to just about every State in the Union because of basketball. I have met people from all walks of life, and been in the presence of some of the most sought after people in the world.

 

TheBlackManCan: You represent the essence that is a Scholar-Athlete. How important is it to be a Scholar-Athlete and not just an Athlete?

RWS: It is very important. No matter how great an athlete you may be, never lose sight of why you’re attending college in the first place. No one can play sports forever. I always saw athletics as means to pay for my college education, a platform to showcase my athletic talent and an opportunity to engage in the highest level of athletic competition. But, my proudest moment was earning a college degree. Having earned my undergraduate degree holds more significance in my life than any of my athletic accolades. Those accolades come and go, records are made to be broken, but the fact that I’ve earned my college degree is FOREVER!

TheBlackManCan: You have accomplished many accolades on and off the court. Who and/or what is your inspiration?

RWS: My inspiration comes from what God has ordained me to do with the life He has given me. I’m in total awe that He called me to speak into the lives of other people; particularly young people…young adults.

I have lived a blessed life. My resume speaks for itself. It has given me a platform to share what is possible in anyone’s life, if they put God first. I know God is no respecter of persons, so what He has done in and through my life, He will do for others as well. I want as many young people as possible to discover their passion and find their purpose.

I’m also inspired to know that the words I speak, the books I write, and the Christ like lifestyle I choose to live has made/is making a difference in the lives of those I have had the privilege to come into contact with.

 

TheBlackManCan: Rags 2 Riches is a self-published book that you have written and is available for purchase. Can you give us some insight into your book?

RWS: Rags 2 Riches is a Diary of a Christian Athlete. I share my athletic exploits from the time I picked up a basketball as a young girl, to the time I retired as an accomplished professional athlete. I bare all as I share life lessons I gleaned over the course of my journey. I wrote blending together actual events, poetry and the Word of God. This book was written to INSPIRE all that read it. Below is one of many poems I wrote that exemplifies the underlying theme of the entire book…

RAGS 2 RICHES

I’m not talkin bout MONEY, POWER, RESPECT…

Cause for most, what you see is what you get.

But I’m talkin bout the treasure that lies within

deposited through the Savior’s death that freed mankind from sin…

So you don’t have to stand on the outside lookin in.

Just know that it’s JESUS whom you must confess…

He’ll take off your filthy rags and robe you in His righteousness.

Freedom from sin, sickness, pain, and strife…

whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

Right now, I pray for every man, woman, boy, and girl…

to no longer be consumed by the cares of this world.

But to pursue LOVE, JOY, and PEACE

that only the Most High God can give…

testifying to every man

that Christ died that we might live.

And like disciples, you’ll desire to catch men and not fishes…

that’s when you know you’ve gone from…RAGS 2 RICHES!

Rehema W. Stephens

 

TheBlackManCan: There are going to be young girls who read this feature, what inspirational words would you like to leave with them?

RWS: First, I would say to my young sisters to enjoy your youth. Don’t be in a hurry to grow up. You have your whole life ahead of you. Take your education seriously, dream BIG, and go after those dreams while you’re young.

Second, I would affirm them by saying, “you can do anything you put your mind to”. Develop your gifts and talents, because they are the “key” to you unleashing your Passion and finding your Purpose. Because when you operate in your Purpose, you no longer look without, for what already lies within.

And lastly, surround yourself with the BEST people. Choose your friends and acquaintances wisely. Iron sharpens iron. In other words, befriend those who make you better and stronger because of their presence in your life.

 

Exquisite Women is where we at TheBlackManCan highlight Black Women who are making positive and remarkable contributions to society.  Nominate a Black Woman today on the contact page or e-mail team@theblackmancan.org, subject line: Exquisite Woman!

 

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Exquisite Women: Aiesha Turman

Exquisite Women: Aiesha Turman

Exquisite Women

TheBlackManCan: Aiehsa, What is the The Black Girl Project and what inspired you to make this documentary?

 

AT: The Black Girl Project is both a documentary film and a non-profit organization. I have worked with young people in New York for over a decade, with the past few years being dedicated primarily to high school students. It was in this work, I began to hear the stories of young women, many of whom were outwardly accomplished, but were dealing with a lot of issues from homelessness to sexual assault and depression. I was lucky enough to be trusted enough by them that they would talk to me. Their lives reminded me of mine as a teen aged girl. I was highly accomplished academically, but when it came to dealing with issues, many of which were shared with my peers, I turned inward for fear of embarrassment or disappointing my parents. The non-profit (http://blackgirlproject.org) is an outgrowth of the film and my commitment to helping young women reach their fullest potential.

 

TheBlackManCan: How did you go about choosing the participants in The Black Girl Project?

 

AT: Just about all of the participants in the film were young women I had worked with in the past. When I conceived of the idea, I began contacting them and they showed up, ready.

 


TheBlackManCan: How did you become so passionate about being an advocate about the segment of society which is Black girls?

 

AT: I became passionate about advocating for Black girls the more I worked with them. Actually, I’d probably have to say it’s always been a passion, albeit dormant. However, as I began working with young people, it became much clearer. I began to realize that my life is a tool for transformation. Not many people know this about me, but I’ve gone from college dropout, to having an MA. I have gone from a depression so deep that it almost ended my life on several occasions, to a woman who is fully invested in making the best life for myself, my family and Black girls. There is nothing that a young woman can say to me that will shock me or make me love her any less.

TheBlackManCan: You are the owner of Super Hussy Media. What is the company about? How did you choose the name Super Hussy?

 

AT: Super Hussy Media, LLC is a Brooklyn-based, independent content creation company which focuses on the lives of women in the African Diaspora. Basically, Super Hussy uses film, traditional and emerging media to explore and an illuminate the lives of Black women. On the name Super Hussy: “hussy” was my maternal grandmother’s favorite/only swear word. Regardless of your age, if you pissed Nana off and you were a female, you were pretty much a hussy. Now, after looking up the etymology of the word, I found out “hussy” was derived from the German for housewife and began thinking about how patriarchy (particularly the white supremacist brand) twists, labels and misconstrues anything that does not fit into its neat little power structure. Hussy became to be known as a wanton, lascivious, ruthless and sexually promiscuous heathen.

Language can be used to both uplift and nourish or belittle and hurt. Any woman who goes against the grain and/or lives lives by her own rules, not the ones forced upon her, has been labeled something or other (bitch and whore come to mind) which seeks to minimize who she is in the world. As far as the “super” goes, I’ve always loved comics, so I might as well be a hero!

 

TheBlackManCan: You have various platforms that you can speak out but your flagship workshop is You Rock! Can you give us more insight into this workshop you have created for Young Girls?

 

AT: You Rock! is a workshop that uses literature, art, culture and media to help foster self-esteem and build critical thinking in girls. It helps to show them that they are the architects of their lives and that they can do or be anything they want.

TheBlackManCan: What is Okra Stew? Where did the name evolve from and what can we expect when this art project is finished?

 

AT: Okra Stew pretty much means “a little bit of everything”. Okra has to be one of my favorite vegetables and I’d love it when my maternal grandmother mixed okra, corn, tomatoes and lima beans and served her succotash with rice. But it also is a bit of a euphemism for the African Diaspora, since pretty much everywhere Africans who were affected by the slave trade has landed, now has a signature okra dish. I can’t reveal much about what’ll happen when the project is finish, but I guarantee it will make you laugh, cry, get angry and think!

 

TheBlackManCan: How did you develop you passion for multimedia and video production?

 

AT: I have always loved film, media and technology. I have friends who are filmmakers and have led young folks through creating their own film projects. I’ve always been a storyteller and I see this as an amazing way to communicate.

TheBlackManCan: Aiesha, you truly are an Exquisite Woman, what advice can you leave with the youth of today?

 

AT: My advice for youth of today would be to chart your own course. Sit down with yourself and truly figure out what you are passionate about and go for it. Don’t let anyone dissuade you — even your well-meaning family members. I’d also say, develop your own set of moral codes nad standards. Know what you will and will not accept of yourself and from others. It will take you a long way.

 

 

Exquisite Women is where we at TheBlackManCan highlight Black Women who are making positive and remarkable contributions to society.  Nominate a Black Woman today on the contact page or e-mail team@theblackmancan.org, subject line: Exquisite Woman!

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Exquisite Women: Lisa Nicole Bell

Exquisite Women: Lisa Nicole Bell

Exquisite Women

TheBlackManCan: Lisa, you are a world renown Lifestyle Expert. Could you please provide us with details of what being a Lifestyle Expert entails?

 

LNB: My job is to teach people how to live the lives of their dreams. For me, being a lifestyle expert means being versed in topics ranging from health to relationships to personal development and really knowing how to empower people to apply concepts in an easy and practical way. People come to me and my community because they want to uplevel their lives and have richer experiences. I give them the inspiration to do that, the education on how to do it, and the application to create results.

TheBlackManCan: I love the mission you have developed for yourself:  “to inspire ordinary people to live extraordinary lives”. What inspired you to develop this mission?

LNB: It was a combination of things – I’ve witnessed a lot of people hurting & suffering, and I’ve also witnessed people living amazing lives. I realized that the difference is choice and awareness. I remember the first time I helped someone with a lifestyle issue – it changed her life and changed mine too. After that, I realized that a lot of people are searching for ways to make their lives work and they’re tired of having isolated successes while other aspects of their lives fall by the wayside. I teach people how to integrate their lifestyles and create leverage and positive momentum. You don’t have to be super smart, super beautiful or super talented – you can be an ordinary person who simply wants to live well. I think abundance and Inspired Living are our birthrights so I want as many people as possible to create this incredible lifestyle.

TheBlackManCan: You are the author of Divine Inspirations: Keys To Living A Divine Life. Why did you decide to write this book and what can a reader find inside?

LNB: I wrote this book because a lot of people spit all these inspirational quotes and talk about joy, peace, and love, but few people are living these ideals every day. I realized that the problem for most people is that they simply don’t know how to distill a big idea like love down to its least common denominator and make it a way of living. The book is about applying spiritual principles to the practical aspects of life.

TheBlackManCan: You are an award winning actress/filmmaker who has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a Cable Positive Award. When did you realize you had a talent for acting and film-making?

LNB: I’ve had a passion for storytelling and media for as long as I can remember. I tried my hand at acting and it came very naturally for me, particularly comedy. I can be a total ham, and I love laughing and making people laugh so it worked. I started writing and producing after that because I’m a writer at heart and have written since I was a child. I think stories add texture to our humanity, and I love seeing and hearing how people are moved after watching something I’ve written, produced, or starred in.

TheBlackManCan: You are the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Inspired Life Media Group. Could you provide us with an overview of this organization?

LNB: Inspired Life Media Group is a conglomerate of companies that help ordinary people live extraordinary lives using publishing, film, TV, live events, lifestyle resources, and new media. Inspired Living International works with adults interested in maximizing their potential and taking every area of their lives to the next level. Inspired Life Entertainment produces socially conscious film, TV, and new media content. Inspired Girls International teaches teen girls how to become successful women. We go beyond self-esteem and fluff to teach girls the specific skills they need to be wildly successful at every stage in their lives. The group’s ultimate goal is to inspire people by any means necessary.

 

TheBlackManCan: Inspired Girls does work all over the world. What projects is the company currently developing?

LNB: Inspired Girls has a national tour coming up this fall, and we have an International Life & Leadership Camp taking place in November. We’ve developed a program called the RIO 100 where we’re raising funds to send 100 girls in the Rio de Janeiro community to school. They can’t afford the $20 school uniform, and it’s ridiculous and heartbreaking to me because we blow $20 on nothing every day. I’m spearheading this effort to complete this project and see to it that all of those girls go to school. We have Success Summits slated for next year in Toronto, Phoenix, Philadelphia, and London. We’re all about creating an impact in the US and abroad. Details about our tour and camp are at www.inspiredgirlsonline.com
TheBlackManCan: You currently host a radio show, Inspired Life radio. What is the focus of the show and when does it air?

LNB: The show is an extension of the Inspired Living philosophy. Every week, I have guests on who share insight on living well – we discuss a wide range of topics that inspire and educate listeners. It airs every Monday at 10 am PST. Details are at www.inspiredliferadio.com

TheBlackManCan: Many entrepreneurs are focused solely on personal attainment, but your endeavors are aimed at helping others. Why is it important to be a socially conscious entrepreneur?

LNB: For me, it’s about legacy. I believe that service is the rent I pay for being on this earth, and I consider my work an investment in humanity. If I died today, I’d honestly be able to tell God that I used everything He gave me, and I’d have no regrets. I want my work and my companies to outlast me – I want billions of people to benefit from my existence. I’m passionate about what I do because it’s bigger than me – yes, I’m the leader and the visionary, but I exist to make other people happier, healthier, and wiser. I think every entrepreneur would benefit from adding some socially conscious element to their business model because we are the leaders; we’re the ones many people are looking to for innovation and evolution. We have to use that spotlight responsibly.

TheBlackManCan: Lisa you are making remarkable socially conscious contributions to society, which consequently makes you an Exquisite Woman. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

LNB: I see myself continuing to write, speak, and build socially conscious enterprises. I’m an idea machine so I have dozens of projects I want to launch over the span of my career. I see myself producing more film and television and providing a platform for people who are heart-centered in their missions and visions.

TheBlackManCan: There are young girls all over the world who want to follow in your footsteps. What advice do you have for them?

LNB: Create a powerful vision, set some specific goals, and create a plan. Put blinders on and run your own race to your destiny. Get comfortable hearing no and get comfortable with people not understanding you. I remember when many of my projects were just ideas – people thought I was crazy and told me so. I ignored it and now the same people are asking how I did it. You really have to trust yourself and develop a strong intuition. Other than that, be insatiably hungry for success, and be willing to do what it takes to get what you want. Honor and respect other people no matter what, and be a lifelong learner. Surround yourself with powerful, successful, positive people, and manage your money well. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.

 

Exquisite Women is where we at TheBlackManCan highlight Black Women who are making positive and remarkable contributions to society.  Nominate a Black Woman today on the contact page or e-mail team@theblackmancan.org, subject line: Exquisite Woman!

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Exquisite Women: Shonika Proctor

Exquisite Women: Shonika Proctor

Exquisite Women

TheBlackManCan: Shonika, You are the founder of Group Interactive, Inc. What is the company all about?

 

SP:  Group Interactive, Inc. is a Washington, DC based for purpose small business that designs non-conventional entrepreneurial and vocational training curriculum for teenagers. What makes the programs ‘non-conventional’ is that teenagers who are in my private coaching program (aka Renegade CEO’s) are essentially the pilot group for inspiration and creation of the curriculum. They support in every capacity from content creation to branding and training.


TheBlackManCan: You are an award winning blogger and you have written several book including Teen Entrepreneur Success Secrets and Double Click on This Preschoolers and computers. When did you realize you had a passion for writing?

 

SP:  Hmmm, I realized I had a gift for writing in the first grade because my teacher pointed it out to me. But I never actually did much with my writing (beyond journaling) until my early 20′s. Patrick Oberman (my then employer) told me that I had an incredible gift and he also told me that history belongs who write it. So I began to write to document ideas and my vision long before I would see many of those concepts become mainstream. With his encouragement and support we co-wrote Double Click on This Preschoolers and Computers together (it took nearly 8 months). And then after that, I found my groove and I went on to write 5 more books, with each book taking me anywhere from 1 day to 12 days to write in its entirety.


TheBlackManCan: You are widely considered the Pioneer of the Teen Entrepreneur Coaching Industry. How did this come to be?

 

SP:  Completely by accident!!! I realized there were programs and books on the market geared towards entrepreneurial teens but none that worked with teens (exclusively) and in an individual capacity over a certain period of time to support them with the ideas regardless of what phase of business they were in. So after 2,500+ hours of volunteering with teens I decided to co-create a formal industry with and for them.


TheBlackManCan: Why is important that we build the mindset that Entrepreneurship knows no age?

 

SP:  I have come to un-learn that entrepreneurship is not a ‘mindset’. It is a level of consciousness. It is important because it determines your ultimate quality of life or lack thereof, regardless if you run a business or work for someone else or want to accomplish anything in your academic, family or community life.


TheBlackManCan: Who are some of your teens and what businesses have they created?

 

SP: WOW! I have so many incredibly talented teens across the globe doing all kinds of interesting things from service to manufacturing based businesses, but today I want to expose some of my teens that I seldom talk about:

 

Edward Nash, 18 (UK) – iPhone apps and mobile applications including one app that received nearly 10,000 paid downloads in a week

 

Ismael Oates, 13 (USA) – He is an industrial designer (currently working on some designs of skateboards and bicycles)

 

Whitney Washington, 19 (USA) – She is an extremely gifted videographer and ‘creative entrepreneur’ that promotes emerging collegiate dancers and artists

 

Emil Hajric, 16 (Bosnia/Sarajevo/Herzegovina) Software Programmer/Developer: His company designs high end business specialty applications for corporations

 


TheBlackManCan: You are the co-founder/strategist for the first Cisco Entrepreneur Institute in North America – Adreamz Institute. What is the goal and mission of this Institute?

 

SP:  The Adreamz Institute (in collaboration with Carmen Scott Dawson, Advanz LLC) launched in 2009 mission centers around advocating for entrepreneurial resources for all walks of life leveraging best of breed practitioners, web 2.0 and the Cisco branded curriculum (available in 8 languages). Our programs are focused on supporting individuals to accomplish their personal and professional dreams. We have developed a complete poverty reduction strategy that leverages web 2.0, mentoring, and assistive technologies.


TheBlackManCan: You and your Chile based business partner Felipe Gonzalez recently shared a vision to rebuild Chile through the youth. Can you tell us more about this vision?

 

SP:  Felipe Gonzalez and I, along with our other Santiago, Chile based business partners Matias Gonzalez and Rodrigo Bello V are awakening and inspiring the entrepreneurial culture in Latin America starting with our work in Chile. They are Chilean nationals and are excited to help their country achieve its goal of becoming a first world nation by 2018. I started working with them in November 2009 and it has been an incredible and unbelievable experience. Together, we created a culturally sensitive bilingual entrepreneurship training program for youth and adults. And we also founded the Consortium of Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Latin Americans (CEILA) so that we can better support Latin American entrepreneurs especially in the Americas.

 

Our vision is to leverage our international partners so that we can proactively support Chile, using global best practices, as it rebuilds its country and economy after a devastating 8.8 magnitude earthquake (Feb 2010). We will start with providing entrepreneurship education to youth in the affected communities. By working with youth and connecting them with the opportunities in the economic development pipeline (locally and globally), we are hoping that other Latinos will be inspired and follow suit.

 

TheBlackManCan: How and why should we have our youth thinking “Global Economy”?

 

SP:  Any youth who is registered and active on a social networking site should already be thinking global. Their ‘friends’ should not all ‘look’ and ‘think’ like them! They can easily make connections with other young people by simply looking for others who share their interest i.e. entrepreneurship, skateboarding, hip hop music etc. I think for the most part, young people are already doing this. It’s adults that need to get with the program ;-)

 

TheBlackManCan: WHY think Global Economy?

SP: Right now, we are in a very unique period in time in that we are experiencing both a global phenomenon and a global opportunity. Over the last half of the century, the majority of jobs have been reduced to a handful of major multinational companies. And with the near collapse of the global financial system, many individuals are having to create their own jobs. With access to the internet and technology almost ANYBODY can get online and start a business that provides a product or service to anyone who can find them with the click of a button. They can also manufacture things in short runs for a low cost, relatively speaking. This opens up tremendous opportunities, even for those with limited business experience or money.

 

You have to be thinking Global Economy and be culturally sensitive because depending on the product or service you offer you never know where it will be well-received. When I first launched my blog and introduced my company, I had no idea that the majority of my inquiries would come from outside of DC let alone the U.S. and now more than 50% of business is done internationally. Some of the countries where I received the most interest from I never even heard of the country before! Chile or Latin America was not even on my radar and now they could quickly become my largest market over the next year.

 

TheBlackManCan: You also go by the name Nika’Nator, what does this nickname come from and mean?

SP:  Ha ha – Daniel Uribe one of my young entrepreneurs from Southern California (originally from Colombia) gave me this nickname.  When others started calling me NikaNator he changed it to NN.  The name was basically a shortened version of my name and Nator meant ‘destroying’ , in this case it was demolishing doubt and building dreams. Daniel still calls me this but some other people now call me The Dream Walker.


TheBlackManCan: If people are interested in your services, what is the best way to contact you?

SP:  I can be found on all the major social networking sites Facebook, Linked In, Twitter. Or they can email me teensrule@renegadeceos.com


TheBlackManCan: What words of advice would you like to share with the youth?

SP:  Your passion and enthusiasm is contagious so don’t be afraid to share your dreams with everyone you meet until someone you connect with supports you on that mission. And more importantly, no matter how much resistance you meet, stay fearless and crazy – ‘Keep it Renegade’ and I’ll meet you halfway.

 

Exquisite Women is where we at TheBlackManCan highlight Black Women who are making positive and remarkable contributions to society.  Nominate a Black Woman today on the contact page or e-mail team@theblackmancan.org, subject line: Exquisite Woman!

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Exquisite Women: Brittney Greene

Exquisite Women: Brittney Greene

Exquisite Women

TheBlackManCan: Brittney, can you pinpoint the moment where you decided to create Black Positive Image?
BG: I actually cannot pinpoint the moment that I decided to create Black Positive Image, but I do remember the time frame. I was working as a legal secretary, sitting behind a desk and I wanted to more. I wanted to make an impact far greater than sitting behind a desk and working for my paycheck. I had to file papers for a client to start their business and realized that it cost less than $150 to start an organization. Once I saw that it was impossible for me to just sit around and do nothing, the name, logo idea and everything else came to me within a matter of days and I launched on twitter, with no real idea of what I was doing, but I knew I was passionate about it.
TheBlackManCan: The quote once you enter your page is “Take responsibility for the image you want to see.” How important is it for Black People to follow through with this ideology?

BG: This ideology is essential for the black community. Not only does our image stand out, but we must take responsibility for our image. Many people get the word image confused with material possessions such as clothing, shoes, cars, etc., but this is not only what I am referring to. I am referring to the image of how we project ourselves. An image defined by words such as resilient, creative, tenacious, innovative, etc. These words define generations of blacks who took responsibility. If they wanted change they sought change. This is what we seek to do, taking responsibility for what we want to see in the community. If we want to see more children reading, we provide books. If we want to see more students succeed in college, we provide support. We are taking responsibility for what we would like to see in the community.
TheBlackManCan: You recently launched The Home Library Campaign. Please provide us with more details about that. 

BG: The Home Library Campaign was started to address the question, how many people have books in their home? As I posed this question to the community, I was shocked by how many people didn’t have books in their home. I remember growing up, how essential books were. Many of my childhood memories are centered around books. I am fearful that children growing up today, don’t have access to books they way that I have, so I decided to provide them. The Home Library Campaign allows for children to receive 5 books to start their home library, books are also available for adults as well. Giving the gift of reading is a gift that is priceless and this campaign will help me give that gift to a number of people.
TheBlackManCan: I love your logo! How did you come up with the concept?

BG: Thank You. On of the slogans for Black Positive Image is “Uprooting an image, redefining a dream.” This slogan represents changing the negative image many associate with the black community and redefining the dream of prosperity that once existed in the black community. When I think of “uprooting” I thought of a tree and the branches. We are uprooting a negative image and blossoming into a beautiful tree. The tree wasn’t enough so I had to incorporate a symbol of black pride and there was nothing more fitting than the black fist. Very powerful and very strong.

TheBlackManCan: Tell us more about the “You Don’t Know My Story” campaign.

BG: The You Don’t Know My Story Campaign kind of started by accident. I always use to say the phrase to my friends as I joke. “Girl, why you ain’t just fill up the tank?” My reply, You Don’t Know My Story. A lot of people comment on the actions and daily happenings of other people without fully understanding the person’s story. I realized this a great deal on social media websites, people were always commenting and sharing opinions about things they knew nothing about. My sisterfriend Jovonna Rodriguez, actually was the one who pushed me to turn it into a movement. After partnering with her after school development program I was able to let the girls share their stories. I always believed there was power in a story and this campaign proves that.
TheBlackManCan: It’s evident that you have a thirst for knowledge and reading. How important is it for young children to read?

BG: I don’t think that I can stress enough the importance of reading period, especially developing effective reading habits as a child. Reading is not only fundamental and essential, it is critical. Not just to know “big fancy” words or be a “bookworm”, but reading helps facilitate imagination and creativity. When reading you translate words into pictures creating your own interpretation. Imagination is developed when reading and a child’s imagination is the cornerstone of all creations in society. This brain stimulation is very important to foster various developing characteristics. Allowing the brain to process this information is like exercise. Reading is a workout for your brain.
TheBlackManCan: Could you tell us more about the “College Care Program” and how can readers become involved?

BG: As a recent college graduate I wish I would have had a little more support in certain areas. Not that I wasn’t supported by my family and friends, but just a steady source of support that could keep me on track when things got out of hand. Especially as a freshman. I understand that children should go to college and learn their own mistakes, but some of those mistakes are 10,000 federal loan mistakes with interest. I wouldn’t wish those mistakes on anyone. So if I can be able to encourage students and educate them on the things that I learned, maybe they can get the most out of college and utilize it effectively. Students can send an e-mail to blackpositiveimage(at)gmail.com to inquire about the program.
TheBlackManCan: Where do you see yourself and Black Positive Image within the next five years?

BG: My personal goals and the goals that I have for my nonprofit, Black Positive Image, may seem different, but they are aligned. In the next five years I will be a practicing Marriage and Family Therapist with a specialization as a Sex Therapist and critically acclaimed author. Black Positive Image will have a community center headquartered in Atlanta, GA where all of activities will be ran. Providing the house in which the village can foster. Working in the social service field and working directly with the community go hand and hand. I will be able to provide free services to the community, helping us to build solid foundations in our family structures and the BPI Community Center will be the house in which it all stands on.
TheBlackManCan: What words of advice do you have for young girls?

BG: Fall in love with your flaws. That is the best advice I can give. Look at yourself and embrace your imperfections. For many years I was hung up on my flaws, both physically and emotionally. I would spend so much time worrying about how I would be perceived or worried about my own abilities that I hid myself from my potential. When I finally realized that my skin was perfect, my hair was enough, my talents were capable, it changed my life. I was in my twenties when I realized that, so I encourage every girl I meet to embrace their flaws now. Once you get the criticism out the way, there is nothing holding you back.

Exquisite Women is where we at TheBlackManCan highlight Black Women who are making positive and remarkable contributions to society.  Nominate a Black Woman today on the contact page or e-mail team@theblackmancan.org, subject line: Exquisite Woman!

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Exquisite Women: Ashley Michelle Williams

Exquisite Women: Ashley Michelle Williams

Exquisite Women

TheBlackManCan: Ashley, at what point in your life did you realize you wanted to become a journalist?

AMW: If you would have told me as a little girl that I would be a journalist when I grew up, I probably would have laughed in your face. I never thought that I would ever want to be a broadcast journalist…maybe an actress, a singer, and even a softball player, but never a broadcast journalist.

Originally from Michigan, I began my career in broadcast journalism through my school district’s educational access channel. At the beginning of my freshman year of high school, I literally “walked” into broadcast journalism one day after school. I can remember coming across the station’s equipment and studio, and I just thought everything was really cool. I then engaged in a funny conversation with the television production adviser…He liked to crack a lot of jokes.

After talking with the television advisor, he suggested that I interview to be a host for the station. I was cracking a lot of jokes with him, and he really liked my personally. I was really hesitant at first. I didn’t think it was something that I would be good at or that I would like. However, I decided to just give it a try it and I interviewed for a hosting position. My first on-air job was hosing a show called Meet Your Board of Education in which I would interview school board members from the district. I loved hosting so much that I asked one of the television advisors if I could create and hosted my own show, Teen Issues Overrated. I then wrote a proposal to the head of the station and he granted me the opportunity to do my own show.

I was so excited. I was naive, but I would try to learn how to host shows and asks guests questions by watching Oprah in order to learn how to host a show and ask questions. (I’m smiling to myself as I am typing this) I would invite experts and my peers to come on the show to talk about different issues that teenagers often deal with, such as bullying, suicide, and eating disorders. I wanted to use this platform to comfort her peers who were facing challenging situations.

I remember sitting in my chair after the first show and telling the station’s news director that I loved interviewing people, and putting a show together. I told him that it would be so cool to do as a career, and then he looked at me and said, “Ashley! Do you watch the news?” I said yeah, and he smiled at me, and said, “You can do this as a career.” (I’m smiling to myself at this moment). That is when I decided to be a journalist, because I wanted to use my voice and the challenges that I had overcome to help other teens and people who were also facing terrible situations. I am still so grateful for having had the opportunity to do that on the first show I created called, Teen Issues Overrated.

While working for the school district’s educational channel, I also worked behind the scenes as an audio engineer, floor director, teleprompter operator, camera operator, and more. I just fell in love with journalism and I deeply craved and was driven to immerse myself in it.

 

TheBlackManCan: How can journalism and social media be used to educate and inspire others to initiative positive changes within the world?

AMW: I passionately believe that everyone is called to do something in this world, and that we are all a part of God’s greater plan. I believe that those who are called to be journalists can be the pillars in generating positive ideas and information to the world. Through my voice and my writing, I aspire to discover and generate news stories that will initiate positive changes in the world. I believe that social media a

our news stories and social media that can be used to tell people as much information possible, so they can live their best lives possible. I realize that I can’t always give “positive” news, but I hope to shape the news that I present in a way that inspires and empowers the world.

Therefore, this is how journalists can use all of these to educate and inspire other to initiate positive changes within the world. I believe that we must be careful and strategic about the messages that we are sending out to the world, and we must realize the ripple effect that we can create. I believe that journalists must use their calling for the greater good.

I whole-heartedly believe that my calling is to generate positive messages to world, especially teens and youth, through journalism and social media. The experiences that I went through as a teen have placed a great yearning in my heart to help this group, because I know what it is like to be so unsure of your place in this world. I know what it is like to feel as if life does not matter.

When I look back at my journey in journalism and the careers of others who have made such a greater impact on the world through journalism, I am determined to remain fervent about bringing attention to untold stories, and motivating others to be the change they wish to see in the world.

 

TheBlackManCan: You thrived at media companies in South Africa. How did you land your position with South African media companies and can you share with a little about your experience?

AMW: One of my mentors who is a professor at USC Annenberg is in charge of the graduate international program in Cape Town and she was telling me about how she was trying to make a program for the undergraduate students. She said that the undergraduate students would be able to work at media entities in the country.

I thought it was a fantastic opportunity, but I was really hesitant at first. No one in my immediate family had ever gone to Africa, and I just only knew things about it from the information that was shown by different media companies. And trust me; this information was not always positive. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

However, my mentor really told me that I needed to go down there and that the experience would change my life. I was also concerned about the financial part of it, but luckily, I was able to gain some money to go through my school’s scholarship. It was almost like God was telling me that He wanted me to go on this trip, and that I had to go.

My experience down there- COMPLETELY CHANGED MY LIFE. I fell in love with South Africa, and the warmth of the people there. It was completely the opposite of all of the negative stuff that I heard about Africa. I was able to visit different cities there, go on a safari, live in a beautiful country that taught me so much about the love of God and history, and just really embrace every person who I came in contact there. I have never been that at peace.

Certainly, no country is perfect. There were definitely harsh realities and sad situations there. In fact, seeing the mix of classism, racism, and other injustices within the country deeply hurt my heart. It was just so sad to learn more and more about the history of the country and to often become sad.

For example, I was really excited to go to Robben Island, because it was one place that I have always wanted to travel to. However, after having a tour of the prison there by one of the activists of the apartheid, and just seeing the injustice and racism that still exists in the country and in the world, I was really mad and upset. I just couldn’t understand how we as human beings could hate each other so much just from the color of our skin.

I was very grateful and happy to have the opportunity to do journalism there and to have the opportunity to share my experience and the beauty of South Africa with the world. I regularly talk to my colleagues in South Africa who I worked with. They have greatly impacted my life. I am so glad that there is the Internet and Social Media now so I can continue to stay in touch with them.

I also continue to share my experiences in South Africa through journalism. After I went to South Africa, I met with a former journalist who granted me the opportunity to write two columns for Africa.com every month. The columns are based on my experiences there and how it changed life.

 

TheBlackManCan: You have traveled to many different countries and been exposed to a variety of different cultures. Why is it important to have a global perspective and how has this helped you in your career?

AMW: Paulo Coelho once stated that the two things can reveal the great secrets of life: love and suffering. This is true. I have seen the most severe cases of suffering that I have ever wanted to see and I have also seen the greatest cases of love.

I never imagined that I would love traveling abroad like I do now. I mean there’s the culture shock, sometimes language barriers, and other issues that one can only imagine. However, I feel so blessed and grateful for all the experiences that I have had and the ones that I will have while traveling abroad.

However, I do have to admit to you that at first I was really scared to travel abroad. I mean I had no idea of what to expect and my family has only traveled to different states and Canada  J My first experience was when I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, and it was there that I was bitten by the travel bug. I just wanted to learn and see every type of culture and country. My eyes just craved to see more and to really immerse myself. I just wanted to gain more compassion and understanding of different cultures and people within the world. I was even so bold to take a one-day trip to Portugal and travel there by myself lol. I just loved exploring and learning. Going to Portugal by myself is one of my most memorable trips, because I just learned to trust God and to allow Him to lead my life and the person that He wants me to become.

I think I love it so much, because I am gaining a deeper connection with God and all that He created in the world. It’s like a personal journey that I am having with Him as He protects me and allows me to see things that I never dreamed.

I truly believe that it is very important to be exposed to a variety of different cultures, because it makes you be more open-minded and to see the beauty of life and the world. It is especially important in this day in age to have a global perspective, because the Internet is allowing people from all around the world to connect and impact each other. Traveling makes you realize that no matter where you are in the world, we are all connected. Traveling around the world will help any person of any profession to be more empathetic and to realize their greater purpose in this world.

 

TheBlackManCan: You have received numerous accolades which include 2011 Student Journalist of the Year Award, Pat Tobin Scholarship from the Black Journalist Association of Southern California. How does it feel to receive such awards in the name of pursuing your passion?

AMW: I cannot tell you how humbled and thankful I am for all that God has allowed me to achieve. It is such an great blessing and indescribable feeling to be able to do something that you truly, truly love and be awarded for it. I just keep thanking God for all that He has done for me, and has allowed me to do. I just hope my career and my life will inspire others to just go after their dreams and to never, never, never let anything or anyone get in their way. I am very thankful for the opportunity to use journalism to positively impact the world, and to inspire youth to go for their passion even when the journey seems so hard and so difficult. If others appreciate it and award me for it, then that is just a HUGE, AND AMAZING BONUS. I just hope to keep placing God first and to go forward in the calling that He has placed over my life.

 

TheBlackManCan: What are your favorite types of news story to cover?

AMW: I love covering stories on youth and teen issues! Whether be on education, bullying, eating disorders, youth relationships, and more, I love covering stories on these issues.

While in college, I conducted a research study called Connecting Television Network News to the College Aspirations of Minority High School Students through my university’s prestigious program called McNair Scholars. Results from her study demonstrated that minority students often believe network news programming encourages negative stereotypes towards minorities. The study also revealed that network news programming that includes a successful minority on-air talent providing solutions to societal issues increased students’ college aspirations and self-concepts. Her research was so significant that during her senior year she was granted the opportunity to present it to professors and students from across the country at Yale University’s Bouchet Conference on Diversity in Graduate Education.

I just feel that these stories go completed underrated, but yet, youth consume so much more media than companies often want to acknowledge sometimes. They are the ones who are driving advertisers, and who are our future. It is our responsibility to shape them and mold them, and I believe that the media is the perfect avenue to do this.

My passion for investigating teen issues derives from my teenage years. After being deathly sick at the age of twelve and dealing with hardships with my friends, I battled a number of difficulties including two eating disorders, depression, cutting, and more. It was like I was taking part in everything that teenagers deal with. I kept asking God why I was suffering so much. I think I was suffering so much pain, because I was dealing with bullying, catty friendships, and the death of loved ones who were close to me. I was also going through the normal situations that teenagers go through with developing into who I was; loving myself for who I was; and more. The way I would release my pain was through meddling in all of these things. Thankfully, God allowed me to overcome these terrible situations, and so I decided to use journalism to help other youth or adults battling the same situations. I was excited to do a show that could focus on youth issues.

 

TheBlackManCan: Can you breakdown to us how you create a successful story for print and for broadcast? Is there a difference?

AMW: Sure! There definitely are big differences, but at the end of the day each are based on telling a story—whether it’s a hard news story or a feature story. I first start by finding people, a situation, or an event that is going on and then branch out from there.

I try to find what makes this particular story newsworthy, or how I can make it newsworthy to impact audiences and to connect to what is going on in present time. I then do lots of research on the topic, find experts or those impacted to interview, and then navigate how to tell the story.

Luckily, you can write a print story anywhere. You can really make a print story out of anything as long as you have at least three sources, facts, and a focus. Print stories can be training if they are investigative, because they may be really long and you have to do a lot of writing.

With broadcast it can also be the same thing, but it is even more strenuous, because of the technical factors that go into making a broadcast news package.  Broadcast is a lot more technical with editing, lighting, good angles, good shots, sound, and more. There is a lot that goes into it and a lot to remember. It is really fun, because you get to see your piece visually, but it can be draining sometimes.

Depending on the type of story you can begin each print story a different way. If it is hard news you can begin with the most recent, newsworthy item. Then, I research the background of whatever it is I am doing a story on; the people impacted; the different viewpoints involved; experts on the topic; and more. However, it is a feature, you can begin by describing what is going a person or the location that you are focusing on, and then go into more facts, and other details.

I love journalism, because you can learn so much and become an expert on many subjects just from having to investigate many stories. I also love that the stories you do can greatly inspire and inform others. Engaging in writing stories and all of the aspects of journalism makes me come alive and feel so inspired.

 

TheBlackManCan: How has building a spiritual foundation been important to your growth as a young woman?

AMW: I cannot tell you how much God means to me. I really do not know what I would do within Him… without my faith in Him. He is the one that even guided me into this career. I originally wanted to be an actress, and then He allowed me to come across the television station in high school and it all started from there.

This business is every difficult. I mean not only is it challenging to get to where you want to go, but you have to have a thick skin, because people will be so mean to you. They will literally chew you up and spit you out. My nature is not to be this way, and to be mean to others, so I initially had a hard time trying to just overcome these battles. However, God gave and continues to give me the strength to overcome them. I always keep looking to Him for guidance and drive. I never am going to change who I am and I believe that my spiritual foundation has equipped me with all I need to not only be the best journalist that I can be, but to be the best woman of God that I can be.

My relationship with God empowers me, because He helps me in all of my weaknesses, and guides me to do what HE WANTS ME TO DO. See, I had to learn that the plans that God has for me and all of us are far greater than any plans that we have for ourselves. I mean we can plan, because I do believe that God gives us dreams to fulfill, but sometimes He will allow things to happen as he is looking out for us, and is trying to help us live the best lives that we can. I have realized that without God, I am nothing. It is very humbling and great to know that I don’t have to try to map out my life, or to figure things out, because that is God’s job. He loves me, you, and everyone.  I have realized through my relationship with God that He is always going to have our backs and to give us the inner peace we need to keep going to fulfill the purpose He has for our lives even when the road gets hard.

 

TheBlackManCan: Where do you see yourself in the next seven years?

AMW: WOW! This kind of scares me like oh my goodness, time is going to fly by! J

But God willing, I hope to have had a great reporting career that has earned me acclaim and a good standing in the media industry, so that I can bring more people to God through journalism and my life. Honestly, I just pray that my reporting career is successful, so that after I can continue to successfully reach audiences in America and also internationally.

I hope to complete business school at Harvard or Stanford. After business school, I plan to have my own media production company and a platform in which I can daily inspire youth, investigate teen issues, and deliver positive messages to the world. I also want to in the midst of starting my own network that focuses on uplifting youth and allowing young people pursuing journalism to do this.

Personally, I hope to get married and start a family. I also hope to continue to be involved in many different efforts and charities like my sister’s non-profit organization, United Christian Women, the Coalition for Slavery and Trafficking, and more.

 

TheBlackManCan: Why is it important for Black Men and Black Women of all ages to see positive images of themselves?

AMW: This is something that I am so passionate about. I really hope that I can help the media industry and all industries highlight and generate positive impacts of blacks. I think it is so critical for black men and women to see positive role models and to have people to look up to.

In fact, I was so passionate about this topic that I actually did a research study on how network news impacts the college aspirations of minority high school students. From my research, I have realized that the demonstrations and situations presented by the media significantly impact the perceptions and beliefs held by society, especially minorities since we tend to engage with the media more.  As a result, these portrayals impact everyone’s—not just minorities– perceptions and beliefs due to the structure and presentation of each news story, which appears to present reality.

My research has made me realize that there is definitely a connection between how news can impact the aspirations of minorities as well as their self-esteem and self-concepts. Although news programs may not be entirely persuading adolescents to not fulfill their dreams, I have found that they do impact their own self-images and the perceptions that society has of them. I strongly believe that showing more positive images of black and all minorities through the media encourage more blacks to eel inspired to accomplish their dreams and to make something of their lives. In fact, my research found that if blacks were to constantly see more positive images of minorities, then they would be even more inspired and confident they could attend college and help solve problems within the world today.

I think that schools, parents, and the media should make more initiative to encourage adolescents—especially blacks– to be more analytical and critical of what they view on television. For example, schools with African American majorities among students can begin to teach their students more about their ancestry, culture, and philosophy of education. If students receive more encouragement to receive an education, then maybe they will change their views on engaging in mainstream society. Positive changes can happen in news, but we as journalists and individuals must persuade others to make the initiative to highlight these positive images.

 

TheBlackManCan: What words of advice do you have for young black girls?

AMW: Believe in yourself and in the great gifts that they can offer to the world. I know our journey is sometimes hard and it seems like it won’t get better, but you have to keep believing and keeping that God has a great purpose and calling on your life. Realize that you have to believe in yourself in order to allow others to also believe in you and what you can accomplish. Do not focus on all the things that you can’t control like relationships, people who hurt you, and more. Focus on the things in your life that are positive and make your life feel like it’s worth living.

I would also say to never, ever let someone tell you what you cannot do. Please never allow setbacks, the color of your skin, or anything make you feel less than what you are. You are beautiful and perfect just the way God made you, and you have a mission and purpose in this world. If fact, see rejection as Tyler Perry sees it: Every miracle in your life derives from when someone told you what you could not do.

Also, discover and choose a career that truly makes you happy and that you would even do for free J Then, when you do get paid for doing what you love, it will be like such a bonus.

And finally, really deeply take in and remember this quote by Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be   and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

 

BE DRIVEN AND BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!

 

Exquisite Women is where we at TheBlackManCan highlight Black Women who are making positive and remarkable contributions to society.  Nominate a Black Woman today on the contact page or e-mail team@theblackmancan.org, subject line: Exquisite Woman!

 

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Exquisite Women: Karyn Brianne Watkins

Exquisite Women: Karyn Brianne Watkins

Exquisite Women

TheBlackManCan heads to Chitown to interview Karyn Brianne of The Fabulous Giver and The Red Pump Project.  Check out her story as she shares her passion to raise awareness.

TheBlackManCan: Karyn, when did you become passionate about better health outcomes in the Black community?

 

KBW: Improving health outcomes has always been important to me even as a child. My mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis before I was born so I always knew about doctors appointments, medicine, and preventative treatment options. My life was a living example of how a health situation could affect social and economic standing. In my mother’s case, her multiple sclerosis couldn’t have been prevented but there are so many diseases and conditions that we as a community can prevent. The prevention space is where I found my calling.

 

TheBlackManCan: You are focused on using media to promote positive social and health behaviors. What role can technology play in how process health information and make decisions?

 

KBW: Technology has completely changed the game when it comes to how we acquire, absorb, and process information. Everything that we need to know is right at our fingertips, if we know where to find it. Technology gives us the ability to reach people where they are at. Now that the tools are available, we have to make sure that everyone can access them and that the right information is being provided.

 

TheBlackManCan: You created a blog titled “The Fabulous Giver.” Why the name “The Fabulous Giver?” What kind of content can be found on your blog?

 

KBW: I knew that I wanted to create a blog where I could talk about fun ways to support causes and volunteering. I was on a flight and started just writing words on a napkin and   that blog name just popped into my head. On the site, I may talk about fashion items that support a cause or my experience giving back. It really depends on what mood I’m in. No matter what though, the content is always either inspirational or philanthropic in nature.

 

TheBlackManCan: Can you share some of your favorite charities to give to and volunteer at?

 

KBW: The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has always (and will always) have my heart. My mother regularly volunteered and attending support groups in Chicago. I keep up that tradition by going into the office a few days a year and volunteering at special events. I also love the work that Bright Pink is doing. It’s a phenomenal breast and ovarian cancer organization led by a young woman named Lindsay Avner. She’s incredible and incredibly inspiring. Then, there’s my own nonprofit, The Red Pump Project, which focuses on raising awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls.

 

TheBlackManCan: What ignited the spark to start The Red Pump Project?

 

KBW: My co-founder, Luvvie, and I wanted to do something to recognize National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day so we tossed around an idea to do a simple social media outreach campaign. With both of us being bloggers, we were very familiar with the power of the Internet and we wanted to motivate women across the country to exercise that power for a very important cause.

 

TheBlackManCan: Tell us more about The Red Pump Project. What is the meaning behind the name along with the mission and vision? How can someone get involved?

 

KBW: Luvvie had previously mentioned that she always wanted to do an event that connected red shoes with HIV/AIDS. So, as we brainstormed names for our social media campaign, I suggested that we title it “The Red Pump Project.” At the time, that’s what it really was – a project. We didn’t know what the results would be. In 2009, we set a goal to have 100 women bloggers participate and within 8 days, we were able to get over 130 sites to join in. The rest has been history.

 

Many people often ask us, “Why red pumps?” First, red is the color associated with the fight against AIDS. Then, red pumps are what we gals like to call “power shoes.” They catch your eye. They are bold, sexy, and conversation-starters. That same power and confidence is what we wanted to bring to this epidemic. We rock the red pump to unite women and show our sisters who are infected and affected that we stand with them – in a fabulous way (of course).

 

 

TheBlackManCan: Why is it important for more initiatives to be created around HIV/AIDS that focus on education and awareness?

 

KBW: HIV/AIDS is disproportionately affecting people of color to the point Black America is in the middle of an epidemic. The CDC estimates that 1 in 16 Black men and 1 in 32 Black women will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. To me, that’s beyond absurd. It’s heard to understand why this is happening to our community until you remember that stigma is a huge barrier to disease education, care, and treatment. We have to normalize the conversation around smart sex practices and HIV/AIDS. We don’t have a choice.

 

TheBlackManCan: You are raising the awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. Why is raising the awareness so important domestically and globally?

 

KBW: It’s important because we can’t end this epidemic without a focus on women. Globally, we’re at a disadvantage when it comes to advocating for safe sex, accessing HIV preventions services, and information on how to protect ourselves. Fighting HIV/AIDS in women and girls requires that we take a look at larger issues including domestic violence, education, economic development, and self-esteem. Awareness is the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a very important start.

 

TheBlackManCan: You have successfully used social media to create change. What advice would you give to others that would like to do the same thing?

 

KBW: Be authentic. Tell a story. Create a unifying theme. And, be consistent.

 

TheBlackManCan: Where do you see yourself and The Red Pump Project in the next five years?

 

KBW: I see myself doing more of what I’m already doing – promoting positive health and social change. I’m finishing my graduate degree in Health Communication next year, and I’m looking forward into parlaying that into more opportunities to discuss health both through Red Pump and other community efforts.

 

TheBlackManCan: Why is it important for Black Women to see positive images of Black men and boys?

 

KBW: Black men and boys are the backbone of our community. You are our leaders and our hearts. Society tells us everything that our brothers are doing wrong, so it’s important to remember everything that you guys do right. We love y’all.

 

TheBlackManCan: What words of advice do you have for young black girls?

 

KBW: The same words that my mother once told me: Don’t be common. When she told me that, she wasn’t talking about money or material items. She was talking mindset. As black women, we can do anything that we put our mind to but it’s up to us to believe that we can do the incredible…that we can accomplish the impossible. To my young sisters, protect your dreams, guard your heart, and never stop learning. It’ll take you farther than you ever imagined.

 

 

Exquisite Women is where we at TheBlackManCan highlight Black Women who are making positive and remarkable contributions to society.  Nominate a Black Woman today on the contact page or e-mail team@theblackmancan.org, subject line: Exquisite Woman!

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Exquisite Women: Tamika Morrison

Exquisite Women: Tamika Morrison

Exquisite Women

I’d like to leave a legacy that speaks to my determination to see my goals and plan manifest. ~Tamika Morrison

This weeks Exquisite Women feature takes The Black Man Can to sunny Atlanta, GA. Meet Exquisite Woman Tamika Morrison of The “Unagency’. We took sometime to sit down with Tamika and learn more about her and plans for her firm.

TheBlackManCan: Tamika, you are currently the Director of PR + Communications at TWS Marketing Communications (formerly The Write Stylz PR) where you were Founder & President. What led you to found The Write Stylz PR and what led to the name change?

TM: My  passion to build a lasting legacy, boldly using my God-given gifts and talents led me to create The Write Stylz PR Firm.  As a writer, I enjoy telling the stories of others and I was able to do so in a limited way through writing for magazines and in my corporate career, but it wasn’t fulfilling.

I knew the only way to feel the fullness of my gift was to go out and create it myself!  And in 2005 we launched.   There is great power in the written word, it oftentimes outlives its author and is truly a great contribution to society if used properly.  In late 2009 The Write Stylz PR Firm merged with growthspert Marketing and became TWS Marketing Communications.

TheBlackManCan: What is TWS The ‘UnAgency’ and what is the mission of your company?

TM: TWS ‘The UnAgency’ is our intentional announcement of changing the game of traditional marketing communications in the way we work, how we are structured and how we choose our talent to add value to international brands.

Because our agency was founded by two media entrepreneurs, there are some components about being entrepreneurs we absolutely love and will keep in our agency, no matter how large we grow.  We appreciate flexibility, we appreciate freedom of expression and understand in order to be the most competitive we need to intentionally be representative of those who make up our global society.  Our mission is to build a multi-cultural media company able to influence the media at-large with different perspectives and different stories that really make up the truth of our world.  We plan to do this in every area we touch – in PR, Marketing, Branding, Radio, Print and Broadcasting.

TheBlackManCan: Can you tell us about the Unique approach that The ‘UnAgency’ takes?

TM: Our unique approach is in our core values: entrepreneurship, freedom of expression, appreciation for culture and belief that everyone has the ability to add value if given the opportunity.  Our mission is to build a multi-cultural media company able to influence the media at-large with different perspectives and different stories that really make up the truth of our world.  We plan to do this in every area we touch – in PR, Marketing, Branding, Radio, Print and Broadcasting.

TheBlackManCan: What are some upcoming events that The ‘UnAgency’ has on its agenda?

TM: Glad you asked!  We have so much going on!  On May 15th we will have FashionGLAM 2010, which is a partnership with TWS & Chocolate Pink Productions to help raise funds and awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Click here for the full invite.

On June 6th – I’ll be representing TWS in a half marathon for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in San Diego.  For details and to make a contribution of any amount, please click here.

On June 12th – We’re helping All About Me Events Launch ‘Hatitude’ a celebration of life & health to benefit the Lymphoma Research Foundation
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On June 25th – We’re helping The Ken Ford Foundation launch its groundbreaking music and arts program at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center in Decatur with a benefit concert FREE to children 0 – 18. Click here for details.

On June 25th – 26th – Pro Kids Camp will be underway led by former NFL Player, Junior Glymph of the G.L.Y.M.P.H Foundation

We’re also launching our first TweetUp in June, so stay tuned for details – as you can see, we’re QUITE busy!!!  You can stay abreast of what we’re doing and what’s on our agenda by listening to our weekly media arts & culture radio program, The Greenlight Project by visiting our blog, The UnAgency Approach.

TheBlackManCan: How did you find your passion for Public Relations?

TM: I think Public Relations found me!  I started off my career as a freelance writer and poet and through my networking as a writer, I met people who appreciated how I told their story and that’s when it hit me that I could become a publicist.

TheBlackManCan:  On the “About” page of the website it says “Nothing about me is ordinary! Where I come from and how my career came to be is a tale of determination and the audacity to dream…Big!” Can you give us more insight into this statement?

TM: Absolutely.  We all have dreams and imaginations as children – or we should.  One of my biggest dreams was to be of importance and at first I really didn’t know what that really meant.  I was thinking doctor or teacher, but then I saw the movie ‘Boomerang’ and that’s what did it for me.  From that point on, I nurtured the desire to be a leader within me and pushed myself every chance I got until it manifested and it continues to manifest in ways I never thought possible.

TheBlackManCan: What is the legacy that you want to leave?

TM: I’d like to leave a legacy that speaks to my determination to see my goals and plan manifest.  To push through the odds and allowing nothing to stop me – whether physical, emotional or mental, keep pushing and see those rewards for doing so happen before your very eyes.  I want to be a positive role model for what to do and what to become as a woman.

TheBlackManCan: What words of advice do you want to leave with youth?

TM: Never give up and don’t settle for less – not in anything.  It will be hard to go against the grain and you’ll be tempted to give in, and you still might.  But be quick to recognize when you’ve strayed off course and do whatever it takes to get your focus back.

“We as black men must carry and tell the life long story and uplift black women whenever we have opportunity to do so”,  theblackmancan.org has a firm belief that this holds true. Throughout the world there are exquisite women who are making remarkable contributions to society. We want to take the time to highlight an Exquisite Woman each week. If you know a woman that should be featured please send an email to theblackmancan@gmail.com In that email please state who you are and why you are nominating this person. Please leave your contact information and the contact information of the individual you are nominating.

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