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Electoral Politics Crucial for Blacks

Jae Alan

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In this surreal-like but painfully real era of Donald Trump, Black people must re-examine their values and demand more effective leadership. The general public has less confidence in electoral politics and government than it did 45 years ago, even with Richard Nixon’s downfall.  With good reason, Blacks have even less confidence than others in politicians and government’s effectiveness.  However, they generally do not hold elected officials accountable and continue to suffer the consequences of their silence.

How will Blacks navigate the increasingly turbulent, conservative political and economic waters?  The short answer is with great difficulty, given their crippling passivity since the civil rights era. Also, Black leadership’s internalization of their white counterparts’ individualistic and materialistic values contributes to the problem of Blacks themselves reinforcing conditions inimical to their own best interests.

One of the most misunderstood, unacknowledged, and paradoxical examples of Blacks adding to their own plight were their unrealistic expectations for Barack Obama and his presidency.  His iconic status effectively prevented many Blacks from objectively assessing the man or his performance as president.

In his book, The Price of the Ticket: Obama and the Rise of Black Politics, Fredrick Harris, Director of the Institute for Research for African American Studies at Columbia University, offers a sobering and enlightening perspective on how Obama’s “race-neutral campaign” and his subsequent decision-making marginalized the struggle of the Black community.  Harris raises the question of whether the price Blacks paid for Obama’s ticket to the White House was too high. (Erin Aubry Kaplan’s more recent book “I Heart Obama” also provides a broad and insightful examination of Obama’s presidency.)

Harris stresses the irony of Obama’s victory, contending he won by “denying he was a candidate of African Americans,” but his victory underscored the historical   movements that made it possible.  Harris says the disparities in Blacks’ “income and education, stratospheric incarceration and unemployment and rampant HIV had no prominent place in Obama’s approach to domestic problem-solving.” He also looked at the role of the forbearers of Obama’s opportunity and how race-neutral theory negatively affects the Black community.

In his groundbreaking work, The Wretched of the Earth, Franz Fanon reminds us that one of the most harmful taboos is for the oppressed to seize power from the oppressor.  “The foundation of this taboo is the mindset of the oppressed that is conditioned to accept whatever those in power require.  If they are told things are great in the midst of disaster, the oppressed tend to believe it; if they are told that things are getting better, although every piece of evidence states otherwise, they feel compelled to do nothing, and wait for the blessings to flow.”

Although Black people have experienced the brutality of slavery and Jim Crow    segregation there has never been a time when we were as politically fractured or as docile as we are now.  While the election of Barack Obama was an astounding landmark, a close examination of the local scenes illuminated Blacks’ waning political influence in Los Angeles and throughout the nation. We would do well to heed Harris’ admonitions when assessing Blacks’ current status, politically and economically.

Read full story HERE.

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Blogs & Op-eds

How Adopting Mindfulness Can Benefit You and Your Business by Dr. Toya Wilson

Jae Alan

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What is mindfulness?

A simple definition could be stated as: the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. It’s a pretty straightforward word. It suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. That might seem trivial, except for the annoying fact that we so often veer from the matter at hand. Our mind takes flight, we lose touch with our body, and pretty soon we’re engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that just happened or fretting about the future. And that makes us anxious.

Why should business owners care about mindfulness?

Top executives are starting to see by decreasing how much they stress out over today’s problems, and decreasing anxiety over tomorrow’s potential woes, they pave the way for mental clarity, creative thinking, higher-level awareness for better decision making.

But what about entrepreneurs: The startups, the one-woman show, life coaches, mentors, speakers, and authors— those out in the wilderness on their own, taking risks and trying to change the world in their own little (or big) way. How can mindfulness help these ladies?

When we give ourselves 10 minutes (or more) of space to quiet our mind we become better at noticing the opportunities that otherwise might pass us by as we go around in a state of overwhelm. As you create a regular time for yourselves you’ll notice that you can achieve more in less time, interruptions become less bothersome and life feels more effortless.

By creating time and space for you to think, to quiet your mind and focus you can grow your business without distraction and hard work. I don’t mean you don’t need to work hard, I mean it doesn’t have to feel like hard work. Here are 3 mindful practices you can incorporate into your day to help yourself and grow your business:

1. Create time for a ‘Creative Hour’ where you turn off all external distractions, gather your thoughts, settle into what you want to achieve for the day and bring your full attention to the tasks at hand. Perhaps you don’t need an hour – do what works for you.

2. Make time for regular breaks – get outside if you can and go for a walk around the block. It can transform your mindset and bring inspiration, focus, and insights.

3. Practice “active listening”. When we focus on listening fully to what the other person is saying we have to be present. Go into conversations with clients/potential clients/stakeholders with an open mind, trusting your intuition to guide you to say or do the best thing.

The benefits of all this on your business will be reduced stress, more time to think about your business and making decisions from a place of wisdom and authenticity, and strong working relationships with those you do business with and the clients you serve.

Read more HERE

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Blogs & Op-eds

#Winning by Dr. Deborah Tillman

Jae Alan

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For too many of us, perception has become reality, but perception is not always the TRUTH. The emergence of social media has afforded people the opportunity to become professionals at making their lives look like an awesome photo album of sheer perfection. We are bombarded with images of flawless faces, powerful positions, remarkable relationships and astounding abundance. All of which is wonderful and harmless if countless hours weren’t spent comparing and critiquing our lives based off of the “appearance” of someone else’s. We are not always the people we pretend to be which serves no purpose of showing the world what #Winning really means. Let me be transparent, it would seem in 2013,
I was #Winning. Founder and CEO of three schools serving over 300 children and families, the host of a Lifetime Television show America’s Supernanny, speaking and traveling all over the world and married for over two decades. However, the reality was within three years, I had to give up two schools, a show, and a 25-year marriage that left me with the broken pieces. But somebody said, broken pieces can still color. I have learned that #Winning is less about what we “get” in life and more about our ability to “give up” what we think serves our soul in order to “gain” life more abundantly.
#Winning requires us to Face Our Fears
Henry Ford said, “one of the greatest discoveries a man makes is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do. Never allow fear to stop you from being all that God has called you to be. When your knees are knocking, have the courage to do it afraid.
#Winning requires us to Fill our Hearts with Humility
It’s tough to be transparent and open–even those who consider themselves humble don’t want to look like they’ve messed up. But, as human beings we all make mistakes. It is through the lessons of life that we are able to provide value and be a blessing to others. As my Pastor would often say, we can’t heal it until we reveal it.
#Winning requires us to Focus on our Faith
We win when we believe that there is light at the end of a dark tunnel and
continue walking toward it even though we can’t see it understanding that if God brings us to it, He will bring us through it.
Finally, #Winning requires us to Finish Well
Read more HERE

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Remembering Dick Gregory: Comedian, Activist, and Entrepreneur

Jae Alan

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Iconic comedian and activist Dick Gregory passed away on Saturday at the age of 84. Beginning his career in 1953, Dick Gregory used his comedy to convey his political ideals to white and black audiences alike.

For instance, he spoke for two uninterrupted hours at “Freedom Day” in 1963, which was a rally to drive black voter registration. He also unsuccessfully ran for president of the United States in 1968 as a write-in candidate.

Gregory eventually became a successful entrepreneur. A longtime vegan and healthy eating advocate, many may remember Gregory’s Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet—a meal replacement powder to help with weight loss.

Read more @ Black Enterprise

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