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2023 MAN OF THE YEAR Chairman Bryant and Operation Hope are the driving force behind creating financial literacy for Black America.



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[ NEWS ]


26 THE SELF-CENTERED SOCIETY Americans have never been more self-centered than they are today. Social media is creating a generation of people who care about nothing but themselves.



CHAIRMAN JOHN HOPE BRYANT: 2023 MAN OF THE YEAR Chairman Bryant and Operation Hope are the driving force behind creating financial literacy for Black America.

14 MOVERS AND SHAKERS Get to know people who are making a difference in their careers and changing the world! 16 MAN CODES Holiday quotes. 18 BALANCE AND TRUTH World famous sculptor, Ed Hamilton uses bal-

ance and truth as his way to memorialize historic figures as statues around the world. 20 10 GIFT IDEAS SHE WILL LOVE Tis the season for gift shopping. If you are anything like the rest of America, you struggle to find the gift that keeps on giving. Luckily, for you, CODE M has done the work of finding gifts that make you look like a genius and thoughtful at the same time. 32 SEEK MARRIAGE HELP BEFORE DIVORCE MONTH January has long been dubbed “divorce month” by professionals in the field, reflecting the sheer increase in divorce applications and proceedings.

38 DISTRACTION POLITICS With the 2024 political season set to begin next month. Americans need to be prepared for the onslaught of distractive politics that are designed to keep them confused and uninformed. 56 ORGAN DONORS NOT Blacks are consistently the largest group of people who need organ transplants yearly. Despite this statistic, Blacks routinely reject the opportunity to become organ donors. 62 MASTERING WELLNESS SUCCESS The urge to pull away and isolate is a common reaction when it comes to difficult emotions, including sadness, depression, shame, guilt, fear, anxiety, and even anger. CODE M / DECEMBER 2023 9

[ INSIDE ] It could signal that something significant is taking place in a child's internal and/or external world. 68 SAVING BLACK BABIES There is a disturbing trend among families where infant mortality in Black babies far outpaces other races. Physician–patient racial concordance might be the answer. 71 BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO

78 UP IN SMOKE There is nothing like celebrating a successful business day like meeting some good friends out for a smoke and some good relaxing conversation to balance out life and the day.


In the world of love, dealing with a tough breakup can be difficult. Understanding how and why it went wrong helps in the process of moving on. 74 THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS This is a wonderful time of the year to be thankful for the things you cherish the most. Celebrate with me, my twelve days of Christmas. 76 A BLEND OF OLD AND NEW FOR SOMETHING SPECIAL The Shindellas offer a combination of the past, present and future to music seekers who covet music with a touch of class and respect.

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CODE M Magazine was created to be a guiding force in creating a dialogue for black men everywhere. Code M focuses on the conversations of advancement, mental health, career choices, the political landscape and relationships that define and shape the lives of black men everywhere.

Code M Magazine is published by CODE MEDIA GROUP, LLC © 2023 All Rights Reserved





Get to know people who are making a difference in their careers and changing the world!

KEESHA M. SALTERS Keesha M. Salters, a seasoned Senior Human Resources, Talent Acquisition, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Professional, is renowned for her ability to drive business success through strategic initiatives and innovative HR practices. With a wealth of experience and expertise in various HR domains, Salters has consistently excelled in key areas, including strategic vision, talent acquisition, and fostering inclusive cultures. Salters began her career in Human Resources over 20 years ago in the financial services industry in Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a Bachelor of


Arts in Human Resources Management, a Master of Arts in Psychology with a focus on Diversity Management, and is a Certified Senior Professional of Human Resources (SHRM-SCP). Salters is currently the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Dollar Tree, where she works with leaders to ensure the culture and work environment fosters a sense of belonging and inclusion. She has a passion for creating opportunities for employees to perform at their best by making sure they are seen and heard.


DEREK CLUSE Derek Cluse, Chief of Staff at Step Forward, a nonprofit community action agency in Cleveland, Ohio, transitioned from a corporate CPA to a successful entrepreneur and C-level executive. Cluse is a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, and graduated from Southern University in Baton Rouge. After ten years at Fortune 100 companies, Derek transitioned to nonprofit work, drawn to the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the community. At Step Forward, Derek uses his expertise in mentoring, system design, and leadership to help the organization achieve its goals and improve the lives of its clients.

BRITTNEY HOWARD Brittney Howard is an attorney, mediator, trainer, facilitator, and notary based in Northeast Ohio. Her mediation and training practice focuses primarily on workplace conflict and disputes, with an emphasis on leadership and individual accountability in conflict. She has extensive experience in labor contract negotiations, mediation, and arbitration. Howard has volunteered for Minds Matter Cleveland (serving as a mentor and Vice President of Student Affairs) and the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. Howard earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Ohio University and obtained her Juris Doctorate from Cleveland State University College of Law. She has also earned certificates in Negotiation Mastery and Disruptive Strategy from Harvard Business School Online, and was a participant in the Cleveland Leadership Center’s Civic Leadership Institute fall 2022 cohort.

NICK RIVERS Nick Rivers is a medical device sales professional in Pittsburgh, PA for Stryker, a Fortune 300 company. For the past 5 years, he has managed Stryker’s Sustainability Solutions portfolio, which has helped contribute to multimillion dollar cost saving initiatives for the largest health networks in the region. Additionally, over the past 3 years, his strategies have helped Stryker contribute to UPMC diverting over 100,000 lbs of waste from local landfills. Nick is also on the development team of Project 14, a Black-owned and operated private club designed to be a social hub and beacon for Black professionals in the city of Pittsburgh. The club will have a restaurant, business incubator, rooftop lounge, event space, and museum to celebrate the rich Black history in Pittsburgh. The club is set to open in 2024. CODE M / DECEMBER 2023 15


Merry Christmas


HOLIDAY QUOTES Compiled by Bilal S. Akram

“Your children need your presence more than your presents.” - Jesse Jackson

“Find the sweetness in this holiday season. Embrace the endless love that surrounds you.” - Amy Leigh Mercree

"It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving." - Mother Teresa

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man.” - Benjamin Franklin

“The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.” - George Carlin “You can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.” - Maya Angelou “The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us.” - Anonymous “Blessed is the season, which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” - Hamilton Wright Mabie


“Decorate your holiday home with people that sparkle, not things that shine.” - Toni Sorenson “Remember, if Christmas isn't found in your heart, you won't find it under a tree.” - Charlotte Carpenter “Kindness is like snow. It beautifies everything it covers.” - Kahlil Gibran “Isiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (NIV)




World famous sculptor, Ed Hamilton uses balance and truth as his way to memorialize historic figures as statues around the world.


he life of an artist is something many people cannot grasp simply because what drives an artist to create is something that comes from within themselves that no one else can see. What is seen is the final result of intense work and focus. For the artist, it’s finding the truth in each artwork that then translates into the feelings evoked in each viewer. It’s a subjective and unique process. For Ed Hamilton, a world-renowned sculptor, he seeks to suffuse truth and balance in his work so that people capture the spirit of each piece. “You have to be able to create a feeling, an emotion.


Written by DAVID CHRISTEL David has been ghostwriting books for well-known people since 1995. He is also the author of Married Men Coming Out: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming the Man You Were Born to Be.

When I create something, if it doesn’t feel good within me. I keep working on the face, eyes, etc. until it comes out correct in that piece.”

When Ed creates a sculpture of someone, he wants people to see the spark in the subject’s eye to convey to people that the person has a soul. And this is why Ed has gained international attention during his career lasting more than 45 years. As his website states, “Hamilton’s commissioned monuments, plaques, and personal works tell the story of America and show the rich diversity represented in our culture.” Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, Ed was an only child, one

[ START ] very curious child. He was fascinated by form and structures, so he made things from boxes. Houses, cars, you name it — he was always tearing things apart and making new things. So, his mother made sure he was constantly supplied with coloring books, paper, and pencils.

As Ed sat in his car debating whether to go visit the studio, Barney came outside. Seeing this as a sign, Ed immediately got out of his car and went over to introduce himself to Barney, who then invited Ed in to tour his studio. Ed was in heaven!

In junior high, one of Ed’s teachers saw something in him, that he was artistically talented. He excelled in the school’s art program. Then, his art teacher in high school also recognized his innate talent and asked him if he was planning on going to art school. Well, that’s exactly what happened. Ed enrolled at the Louisville School of Art.

The upshot is that Ed apprenticed with Barney and the sculpturing saga of Ed Hamilton began. Since that auspicious meeting, Ed has been awarded many prestigious distinctions and his work can be seen throughout the city of Louisville and the US.

While he was matriculating, he and his wife, Bernadette, had their first child in 1968. So, while attending school, he worked at the Byck’s Department Store, a women’s clothing store, dressing mannequins and windows for holiday displays. Then, in 1969, Ed graduated and was left wondering what he was going to do with his life, especially as he now had a family to support.

“I think my biggest pride and pleasure is when people see something I’ve created and they say, ‘Man you got it, I get the spirit.’ If you put your all into something, put your guts into it, you find your truth — and the truth will set you free.” ●

But, even with his art degree, he hadn’t made the decision to pursue art full-time. Instead, he worked on attaining his teacher certification while attending the University of Louisville and Spalding College. He also worked at a power plant that built bombs to be sent to Vietnam. Ed found the work mindnumbing and wondered if this was how he would spend the rest of his life. But then, the universe stepped in. While teaching, Ed had to pick up boxes of clay one day from a building on Frankfort Avenue. The owner of the ceramic shop was a real talker and Ed suddenly realized after a while that he needed to get going. So, he loaded up his car, which was parked right in front of the studio of Barney Bright, a famous Louisville sculptor.


The Amistad Memorial in New Haven, Connecticut, is a bronze sculpture created by Ed Hamilton to recognize the events of the 1839 Amistad Affair.





Tis the season for gift shopping. If you are anything like the rest of America, you struggle to find the gift that keeps on giving. Luckily, for you, CODE M has done the work of finding gifts that make you look like a genius and thoughtful at the same time. 2


[ LIFE ]


he holidays are a special time for everyone. It’s also the time for giving the ones you love presents that represent how you feel about them. The best gifts are the ones that offer functional use.

Here are a few suggestions that just might make her smile and let her know that you care about her this Christmas. 1. The 2024 Genesis GV 80 The Genesis GV80 has vaulted to the highest reaches of the hotly contested midsize luxury SUV segment with a winning combination of imposing style, plush interior, and turbocharged performance, starting at $58,645. 2. 12" Screen Magnifier Year after year, this is a top gift because it's so clever. Basically, all she has to do is put her phone in the holder and the projector will display her show, movie, video, or video game bigger for easier viewing. $22.99


3. Quencher This is the tumbler everyone is talking about on TikTok (the hashtag #StanleyQuencher has CODE M / DECEMBER 2023 21



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over 54 million views on the platform!). It's large, dishwasher-safe and the straw can be removed, depending on how she prefers to sip. It keeps drinks cold for hours, as well. $45.00


4. Heating Pad for Neck and Shoulders When she can't hit the spa, there's this heating pad that can help with her aches and pains. She can even use it while she's working if she's really on a time crunch. It has six heat settings and four timer options. $39.98 5. Premium Bamboo Bathtub Tray Caddy


For a fancy-feeling gift that's actually affordable, look to this bathtub tray caddy. It has a stand that can be propped to read a book or display a tablet, plus a wine glass holder. $29.99 6. Chunky Gold Hoop Earrings There's a reason these chunky gold hoops are a #1 best-seller on Amazon. Available in a variety of sizes, a simple pair of hoops can be dressed up or down, and are a great addition to any outfit. Plus, they're hypoallergenic and lightweight, so no heavy tugging or pain when she's wearing them. $13.95



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7. Leather Touchscreen Texting and Driving Gloves If you're bougie on a budget, check out these Italian cashmere-lined leather gloves that boast over 1.7k ratings. As one reviewer put it: "They are great, and actually fit very well. Beautifully packaged. Could be a gift but I am keeping them!" $19.99 8. Luxurious Moisturizing Foot Spa Soak Help her relax at the end of a long day with this moisturizing foot spa soak. "These bombs are a simple, fast and effective way to care for your feet," one Amazon reviewer wrote. $31.00


9. Ryze Mushroom Coffee Loaded with adaptogenic mushrooms, our coffee blend delivers calmer energy, sharper focus, and immune support for a balanced body and clear mind. Taste? Smooth, creamy, and delicious. All with less than half the caffeine of normal coffee. No jitters, no crash. $65.95 10. Satin Eye Mask



She can catch some extra ZZZs with this eye mask! It's made of smooth satin to help her relax and diminish any pulling on the delicate eye area. $22.00 All items can be found on:

Pricing my change from the date of publication of this article.

10 24 DECEMBER 2023 / CODE M


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THE SELF-CENTERED SOCIETY Americans have never been more selfcentered than they are today. Social media is creating a generation of people who care about nothing but themselves.

Written by ANTHONY KIRBY Anthony T. Kirby is the Lifestyle Editor for CODE M Magazine and has spent over 30 years in the menswear industry. He lives in Philadelphia, PA where he is the Creative Director for FINICKEY, an online men's haberdashery brand. (


[ LIFE ]


elf-centeredness is a single-minded focus on oneself and one’s own needs, desires, preferences, agendas, and problems. Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines “self-centered” as preoccupied with oneself and one’s affairs Someone who is selfcentered is often preoccupied with their own thoughts and feelings and is not very attentive to the needs, feelings, and perspectives of others.

With the advent of social media, the rise in the number of people who are self-centered has reached epidemic proportions. So why is this a problem? Americans have always enjoyed a community-first mindset. If someone was in need, they felt safe in knowing that help was on the way. Help usually came from other people in the community. That sense of community — a taught process that used to be passed down from generation to generation — is disappearing. Today, people walk and drive around blind to the need of others. What once was a natural response to engage in helping others has been reduced to pulling out a phone and recording someone in need. This watch-and-record mentality has created a society where someone’s problem is, in fact, “not my problem.” Self-centeredness is exactly what those in power want in our society. People are so worried about their own existence that they’ve become blind to the larger problems that exist in families, communities, and society at large.

The average person’s life is currently declining at a pace never before seen in America. The cost of everything is skyrocketing. Crime is at an all-time high; race relations, at least on social media, seem to have peaked; and there seems to be no bottom to how far music, television, and film will go in pushing the envelope of outrageousness. Because everyone is so focused on themselves, society is fragmented and in decline. “I said to a couple of my friends that all Americans should boycott the grocery stores for a day to make the prices come down. But I don’t know how many people would support that,” Trina, from Nashville, said. Because society is so fragmented, the common thread of community that used to keep Americans together has eroded to small pockets of like-minded people, who rarely get together for a common cause. When an entire society doesn’t have a common bond, it births a mentality of selfishness and self-centeredness where people only look out for themselves. Generation after generation is experiencing a decline in the need to connect with others. The common complaint about millennials is their lack of a need to maintain healthy relationships. Thomas, from Dayton, Ohio, said, “I notice that my kids and my cousins’ kids don’t want to come to events for the family. They have no desire to bond with their cousins like we did when I was growing up. It makes me wonder how long our family reunions will last. Who is going to take the lead to maintain our family gatherings?” Young people more than ever have a reduced need to peer bond and plug into what was once a nor-

Hispanic Christmas is a celebration of family and life with over 20 days of events,.


Maintaining community is one of the keys to building empathy in our youth.

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[ LIFE ] mal ritual of connecting with extended family. And the problem has spread across all racial lines.

and community are the backbone of creating a more connected populace.

What has caused this level of selfishness?

Getting out of your comfort zone and exploring the different things around the community leads to engaging more people, as well as learning that others are not so different as we think. It’s also a way to rekindle the joy and love for friendships, which are key to being less self-centered.

According to mental health experts, selfishness stems from genetic predispositions and behavior learned during childhood development from family members. Mental health issues such as narcissistic personality disorder, depression, and anxiety can lead to selfishness. Can generation X be blamed for the problems that are seen today in newer generations? Does the Internet, social media, and television and movies bear some responsibility in how young people interact with the world? What can be done to change this situation?

Community leaders all over the country are working to find new ways for people to get out of their homes and get back to interacting with each other. Some of the current ideas for building more community are. •

Design, maintain, and activate inclusive public spaces

Prioritize connection in transportation systems

Lack of empathy has been seen as one of the roots of selfishness, extending as far as the cold manipulations seen in psychopathy. Empathy, or lack thereof, could be the main problem for those who are self-absorbed.

Construct housing environments that build community

Invest in inclusive practices and community-led solutions

Because people communicate less, they have less empathy for others. This has led to ever-expanding disconnection, separation, and contempt. For example, mass shootings have become such a normal part of life that people no longer internalize the pain that comes from people losing their lives to senseless crimes.

Make social connectedness a community norm

What can be done to create more community? The American family has been under attack since the 1960s. With the changes in family dynamics brought about by the shift in traditional male and female roles, plus the need to generate additional income, the nuclear family is now in serious jeopardy. We need to re-capture the feeling and understanding that family

What does connection with society mean? When researchers refer to the concept of social connection, they mean the feeling that people belong to a group and generally feel close to other people. Scientific evidence strongly suggests that this is a core psychological need, essential to feeling satisfied with one’s life. More engaged relationships with family, friends, coworkers, and community members can have a major impact on people’s health and well-being. When people are socially connected and have stable and supportive relationships, they are more likely to make healthy choices for themselves. They also have better mental and physical health outcomes, as well as enjoy a more cohesive community willing to engage and participate. Everyone can sense where America is currently headed. The question is: What are Americans going to do about it? ●

Protecting the family structure is one way to be less self-centered.


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SEEK MARRIAGE HELP BEFORE DIVORCE MONTH January has long been dubbed “divorce month” by professionals in the field, reflecting the sheer increase in divorce applications and proceedings.


s the holiday season — traditionally associated with joy and togetherness — unfolds, it introduces stressors that can strain marriages and lead couples to contemplate divorce or separation. Heightened expectations, coupled with financial pressures and increased social obligations, often act as catalysts for existing issues to surface and intensify. According to research by the American Psychological Association (APA), stressors related to the holidays, particularly financial concerns and family dynamics, contribute to a surge in relationship challenges during this period. The quest for a blissful holiday experience may lead to clashes, unmet expectations, and an overwhelming sense of pressure. As the calendar flips to January, traditionally seen as a time for breaking bad habits and setting New Year’s resolutions, certain corners of the internet, including news articles from recent years and some legal groups, have painted a somber picture of the month, indicating it as a common period for couples to initiate divorces. Informally, January has been given the nickname “divorce month.” Discover the eight signs and solutions that may either strain or strengthen your marriage before the New Year’s challenges cast shadows on your relationship.


Written by CHRIS A. MATTHEWS Chris A. Matthews is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) and approved supervisor for the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. Visit to learn more about his work with couples and families.

1. The Silent Culprit: Negative Communication Negative communication, often deceptive and overlooked, has the potential to erode the very foundation of a marriage. It extends beyond mere words, encompassing the tone that can leave one partner emotionally drained, judged, or insecure. Equally dangerous is the absence of healthy communication. When dialogue dwindles to a hush, reigniting the spark becomes a challenging task. When delving deeper into the details of negative communication, it’s crucial to recognize its various manifestations. This can include subtle put-downs, dismissive body language, or a pervasive lack of empathy. Understanding these nuances becomes a focal point in the journey toward marital wellness. A skilled marriage counselor becomes a guide, providing valuable insights and tools for navigating the sophisticated terrain of communication styles.

2. The Hushed Voices: Fear of Expression Within the complex fabric of marriage, fear emerges as a stifling influence, hindering the open expression of thoughts and feelings, and casting an allencompassing cloud over the relationship. A marriage counselor assumes the role of a mediator, creating a safe space for partners to articulate their innermost thoughts and understand each other in a healthy, con-

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Cover and inside photos taken by Franklin Solomon.


[ LIFE ] structive manner. The anxiety of expressing oneself often stems from a fear of judgment or rejection. Partners may hesitate to voice their concerns or desires, fearing that it might lead to conflict or, worse, jeopardize the foundation of the relationship. A skilled counselor works to dismantle these barriers, fostering an environment where vulnerability is embraced and constructive dialogue can flourish. 3. Allies Turned Adversaries: Seeing Each Other as Enemies

Marriage is ideally a partnership where partners are allies, supporting each other’s dreams and weathering life’s storms together. However, if the relationship starts to feel like a battleground, with allies turning into adversaries, it’s a clear sign that professional help is imperative to realign the partners on the same team. The transformation from allies to adversaries often occurs gradually, influenced by a myriad of factors such as unmet expectations, unresolved conflicts, or a breakdown in communication. Recognizing this shift is the first step toward healing. Marriage counseling provides a structured platform for partners to dissect these challenges, rebuild trust, and rediscover their roles as allies in the journey of life. 4. Secrets in the Shadows: Keeping Secrets Maintaining individuality within a marriage is crucial, but the accumulation of secrets can unravel the fabric of trust. Transparency in a relationship becomes vital, and marriage counseling becomes the crucible for fostering the open dialogue necessary for sustaining a healthy bond. Secrets, whether big or small, can breed mistrust and create a rift between partners. Addressing this

issue requires delicacy and understanding, qualities that a seasoned marriage counselor brings to the table. By navigating the intricacies of broken trust and betrayal, couples can rebuild trust and strengthen the foundation of their relationship. 5. The Phantom Temptation: Infidelity and Fantasies This involves the attraction of an affair or even the mere fantasy of one partner’s desire for something different. While marriages can survive infidelity, seeking professional help before acting on these thoughts is a crucial step toward healing. A marriage counselor serves as a guide through the tumultuous aftermath of infidelity, helping rebuild trust and understanding. Infidelity, in its various forms, can be a symptom of deeper issues within the relationship. Rather than viewing it solely as a betrayal, a skilled counselor facilitates a comprehensive exploration of the factors contributing to these temptations. This nuanced approach allows couples to address the root causes and work towards a path of reconciliation. 6. Financial Turmoil: Losing Control Losing control over finances can be as damaging as a betrayal of trust. If one partner keeps the other in the dark about financial matters, or if control becomes a point of contention, marriage counseling becomes vital to finding a resolution. A skilled counselor helps navigate the delicate terrain of financial discussions, fostering understanding and compromise.

Photo by Cody York

Divorce hits families the hardest during the month of January.


[ LIFE ] Financial disagreements can manifest in various ways, from overspending to disagreements about budgeting priorities. These conflicts, if left unaddressed, can escalate and impinge on other aspects of the relationship. Marriage counseling provides a structured environment to untangle these financial knots, fostering a collaborative approach to money matters.

Waiting for a partner to change is a futile endeavor. Marriage counseling reframes the focus of personal growth, helping individuals understand themselves and their desires. This shift in perspective encourages self-reflection, paving the way for a more empathetic and constructive approach to resolving differences.

7. A Broken Record: Repetitive Arguments

The desire for change in a partner often stems from unmet expectations or a perceived misalignment of values. Rather than placing the burden of change solely on the partner, marriage counseling explores avenues for personal growth and mutual understanding. This collaborative approach fosters an environment where both individuals can evolve, contributing to the overall health of the relationship.

Couples often find themselves trapped in seemingly endless cycles of arguments over the same issues. These recurring disputes can be symptomatic of deeper problems that a marriage counselor can help unravel. By identifying the root causes, couples can break free from the patterns that keep them mired in conflict. The repetition of arguments often points to unresolved issues that continue to fester beneath the surface. A skilled counselor employs various therapeutic techniques to unearth these underlying concerns, guiding couples toward effective communication and resolution. Breaking free from the cycle of repetitive arguments opens the door to a healthier, more harmonious relationship.

Recognizing these signs before the precarious “Divorce Month” can serve as a compass, guiding couples toward necessary intervention and support. Navigating these challenging waters requires a commitment to open communication, mutual understanding, and a willingness to seek professional help when needed. By addressing these signs early on, couples can transform this challenging period into an opportunity for growth, fostering a resilient and enduring marital bond. ●

8. The Waiting Game: Desire for Change in a Partner




and inside photo taken by Sylven Lamar.



DISTRACTION POLITICS With the 2024 political season set to begin next month, Americans need to be prepared for the onslaught of distractive politics that are designed to keep them confused and uninformed.


Written by DAVID CHRISTEL David has been ghostwriting books for well-known people since 1995. He is also the author of Married Men Coming Out: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming the Man You Were Born to Be.


eception, avoidance, manipulation, denial, dismissiveness, obfuscation, and feigned ignorance — these are all tactics of what is described as “distraction politics.” It’s nothing new. People have been using these “techniques” forever in all industries and arenas in order to further their agendas, avoid responsibility, and not be held accountable. However, the use of distraction on the political front seems to have reached stratospheric heights, especially with the advent of social media platforms. Distraction is employed through the same kind of misdirection used by magicians. It’s the “look over there” trick and getting people mesmerized by a “shiny” object. That shiny object can be a topic, an individual, a group, an event — anything that will garner attention. As concerns politics, it’s getting the public focused somewhere else instead of on issues that truly need public study and input. In this case, it’s choosing a shiny object — e.g., a far less important issue or something or someone who’s a thorn in somebody’s side — and surrounding it with a lot of hoopla, otherwise known as propaganda. That then gets Americans all hot and bothered about it and, thus, distracted. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, decisions are being made about important issues that impact the public. Craftily, those decisions positively benefit those in power and who have wealth, authority, control, and privilege. It also benefits those who want a specific, often unpopular, agenda advanced that will give them control, and power, and increase the size of the bank account.

For example, let’s take a look at a shiny object example: pronouns. To date, there are well over a hundred pronouns that a person can choose to be identified by. Pronouns fall under five categories: 1.

Personal: I, we, you, he, she, it, they,


Demonstrative: this, these, that, those,


Relative: who, which, that, as,


Indefinite: each, all, everyone, either, one, both, any, such, somebody,


Interrogative: who, which, what), reflexive (myself, herself,


Possessive: mine, yours, his, hers, theirs, and


Pronominal adjectives (sometimes called possessive adjectives): my, your, his, her, our, their.

That’s just a sampling — it gets far more complicated (Google

[ POLITICS ] “articles about pronouns” and you’ll get over 6 million listings). The point is that the idea of someone choosing to use pronouns outside the binary norm society has adhered to for millennia has now been turned into a cause célèbre. Is it important for the individual to use outside-the-norm pronouns? Yes, because it’s all about feeling comfortable in their own skin, it helps others know how a person wants to be identified, and it moves into the realm of “accepting me for who I am.” Is it that important to society? No, because it’s nonthreatening — except for those who only want a binary world operating according to their own values, beliefs, scriptures, comfort level, and intellectual capacity. For those in the political arena and its supporting agencies, pronouns are a useful tool for creating a distraction from the larger picture of governing our country and the major issues we’re facing. Pronouns have now been subsumed into “wokeness” and “cancel culture,” two issues that are having a more direct impact on society and that people are even more up in arms about, literally. This combination is driving a wedge between individuals, groups, and political parties. The result is new levels of extremism and exclusivity that are affecting people’s lives and livelihoods. It’s also causing our societal fabric to come apart at the seams. Again, really important issues are being decided upon by a small group that has a vested interest in power, control, status, ownership, wealth acquisition, and the maintenance of privilege. Another important component of distraction politics is “timing.” Issues and events are initiated only when they will provide the biggest bang for their buck. Grand Master chess moves are strategically played out in order to advance agendas, ROIs, and careers. The public is pretty much unaware of how they are being maneuvered — or they don’t care because their lives are so busy, and they have so much on their plates. Politicians are counting on that. Politicians are also counting on citizens abdicating their wants, needs, and power to “authorities” who, crossing their hearts and hoping to die, have their best interests at heart. Now, couple all of that with how Attention Deficit Disordered (ADD) our society has become. We’re constantly looking for the next stimulating attraction. Our media CODE M / DECEMBER 2023 39



[ POLITICS ] outlets have become mega-systems for creating distracting output in every industry: little substance, highly stimulating, low-level consciousness engagement. This “machine” churns out distractions at a furious rate and to ever-greater degrees — and the American public greedily gobbles up their offerings. Adding to that are the television shows that drag us ever more deeply into meaningless nonsense and vacuous discourse over minutia — ad nauseam. Are they helping us to evolve as a species? No. What they’re instead doing is lowering our IQs and rendering our critical thinking skills useless. But we’re definitely entertained! So much of our world seems to be focused on the entertainment value of life in general. Life is demanding, difficult, and challenging, so we want relief. Entertainment is served up that feeds our addiction to stimulation and constant need for relief. Politicians, knowing how this whole game is played, hire phalanxes of people whose sole purpose is to strategize timed distractions. They pander to individuals with influence and groups they know they can manipulate who will unwittingly participate in the planned charade.

posed to be “news” that we now feed it into our brains like a blood transfusion — no thinking, just taking it in, letting it infuse us with garbage, and getting suckered in the process. Crazy is happening everywhere and being perpetrated by so many that we’re no longer surprised. But we do get easily offended, hurt, and feel attacked and persecuted. Why? Because our critical thinking skills are no longer engaged. And we aren’t grasping that this is negatively impacting our emotions and how we interact with each other.

All our media outlets display the worst human behavior imaginable and that’s what people young and old are modeling themselves after. If it’s okay to put on TV, in the movies, on podcasts, and the over 100 social media platforms — and our leaders are displaying the same behaviors — then it’s okay to emulate and ratchet it up to a higher level in order to garner visibility, be an influencer, and acquire “likes.” That plays perfectly into today’s zeitgeist where so many people are seeking attention, to be noticed, to be somebody.

What this all means is that “reality” is now a contrived construct on a level we’ve never seen before. Today, technology has become so sophisticated it’s being used to hoodwink people and because we’ve become so dumbed down, we fall for it — and we don’t see the inherent danger in it, we just see another shiny, titillating object. What’s happening is that we’re being sucked down a rabbit hole that we can’t extricate ourselves from. We don’t know who to trust anymore. We don’t know what’s real or manufactured. We can’t clearly distinguish between political agendas and personal agendas. We’re so saturated with distractions that the egregious acts people are committing are waved off as insignificant because our sensibilities have become numb to them. Extremism — without thought as to consequences — has taken over and that’s what catches our attention. Showdowns in Congress, displays of outrageous behavior, personality worship and cultism, celebrating ignorance, and entrenching back into onedimensional thinking are wreaking havoc on American society. We’re so inundated with the unending media circus that’s sup-

Americans need to avoid distractions so they can make good political choices in 2024.


[ POLITICS ] And our leaders blatantly use this to get us hooked, to get our dander up, to get us to “look over there” whilst they do their sleight of hand with important issues. The final component in the toolkit of distraction politics is “misinformation.” This powerful and highly effective tool is used to disseminate incorrect academic, historical, psychological, societal, and scientific facts and information. In the parlance of marketing and politics, it’s known as “spin.” Information is purposely misstated, misquoted, misinterpreted, distorted, embellished, and falsified in order to manipulate people into thinking, interpreting, and believing that what’s being presented is the “right & true” information. Marketing and PR firms, special interest groups, news outlets, and lobbyists take information and massage it by leaving out information, presenting information out of context, purposely misquoting people, and even doctoring pictures. It’s pure manipulation. Because of the widespread use of misinformation, the American populace has become extremely confused. This has led to people unconsciously or purposely spreading misinformation, advancing bogus conspiracy theories, regressing into ignorance, vilifying people unjustly, verbally and physically attacking people unfairly, and refusing to look at things rationally. It has sown the seeds of uncertainty, distrust, disconnection, divisiveness, exclusion, prejudice, fear, hate, and violence. It’s no wonder Americans are so filled with anxiety and get defensive at the drop of a misstated pronoun. What’s truly sad is that our news outlets, what were once bastions of objectivity and real journalism, feed our distractedness with a tsunami of hyped-up distractions. All of that plays perfectly into the “Playbook for Politicians.” Seriously, we need to get out of this predicament. The challenge is that there is a large contingent of Americans who are content to gripe on the sidelines but not get involved. Then there are those who like what’s happening because it dovetails with their own agenda. And then there’s the large contingent that’s unknowingly caught in the shiny object trap because they want attention, they want to be entertained, and they see nothing wrong with things the way they are. The problem of distraction is huge in American society with major players ensuring we stay addicted. Megan Garber, writing for The Atlantic, proffers “why resisting distraction is one of the foundational challenges of this moment.” It is. At this moment in time, we’re swiftly moving toward rock bottom, something that happens to many addicts. The outcome is truly awful: the loss of eve-


rything. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure-all for distraction that will work for our entire populace as a whole, especially since there is only a small contingent of people who fully grasp our current situation. Therefore, like addicts, it’s up to each individual to admit that they’re distracted and that their priorities have been forfeited in favor of distraction. Individuals need to take an inventory of their life and activities to determine just how addicted they are. •

They then need to set up a program of recovery that includes family, friends, and co-workers who agree to not be enablers.

New boundaries need to be set concerning when to allow oneself to be distracted and whether to put up with others trying to distract them.

Getting involved with new and meaningful activities helps keep individuals engaged and occupied rather than at loose ends.

Volunteering and being of service in order to get out of their own heads while re-engaging with real life.

That probably sounds unfeasible, but it’s the only way to pull ourselves out of the distraction addiction. We also need to get a grip on just how pervasive distraction is in our society, who the players are, how it’s wielded, and how our captains of industry and leaders have led us astray — all for their personal gain.

We each need to take back control of our lives, otherwise, we’re going to perish, doomed by distraction. We need to not fall victim to the “Playbook for Politicians” anymore. We need to hold our news outlets accountable for the mountain of distracting trash they serve up every day — and we have to stop requesting non-stop distraction from them in the first place. The same goes for all our entertainment outlets from video games to podcasts, television, and movies. Obviously, our biggest challenge will be the addiction to our phones, THE primary instrument of distraction available to us. We can access every tidbit and type of distraction via our phones, something politicians use quite effectively. The question arises: Do we want to stay in thrall to the maneuverings of politicians and their distraction politics or do we want to stop living vicariously via our distractions and get back into lives of meaning and substance and selfdetermination? Our future awaits us … ●




2023 MAN OF THE YEAR Chairman Bryant and Operation Hope are the driving force behind creating financial literacy for Black America.

Written by BRAD BOWLING Brad Bowling is the President of CODE Media Group, LLC. Bowling has his BA in mass media communication and an MBA in marketing. He contributes articles to the magazine continuing his love for writing.









hen CODE M Magazine set out to find our first man of the year, we wanted a person who is making a difference in the Black community. We wanted to find someone who transcends what we have come to expect from Black leaders today.

If you see Bryant on social media discussing his agenda, you quickly learn why he was chosen as Man of the Year. He has the integrity of Barack Obama, the orating skills of Muhammad Ali, and the star power of Harry Belafonte. He speaks plainly and doesn’t apologize for his brash style of communication.

Orating is no longer enough. Black people are at a crossroads and desperately need a leader who can do as well as he can talk. Empty promises are no longer acceptable to the Black race. Organizations like Black Lives Matter and The Push Coalition — where millions are given, but nothing is returned — do not qualify. Blacks today need something real.

Bryant speaks his mind. He is a free man. Free from the burden of having to dance for the proverbial Mr. Charlie. He doesn’t have to police his abrupt stylistic teachings for fear of losing funding. And lastly, he doesn’t have to invent a fake scenario to make Blacks trust him — he’s from the streets. He knows what he’s talking about.

After deep discussion and a vast search, one man continued to surface as a clear winner. CODE M Magazine is proud to announce that our 2023 Man of the Year is, Chairman John Hope Bryant.

Bryant was born on February 6, 1966, in Los Angeles, California, and raised primarily in Compton, and in the SouthCentral area of Los Angeles, by parents Juanita Smith and Johnnie Will Smith. Bryant started his first business at age

“We have to have a movement that goes from the streets and civil rights to working from the shoulders up and have the mindset that we need to have prosperity goals.” Chairman Bryant is that transcendent figure Black America needs right now. Bryant is the President and CEO of Operation Hope, a national nonprofit charged with the task of pulling Black people up from poverty. Bryant understands that if anything is going to change in the Black community, it must start with Black people developing a better relationship with money.

ten, a neighborhood candy store. At age fifteen, he enrolled in the private K-12 Hollywood Professional School and made connections that led to a career in acting on television. On May 5, 1992, Bryant founded Operation HOPE, Inc. immediately following the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. Spearheaded by Bryant, the first Bankers Bus tour occurred while parts of the city were still on fire. Bryant has organized and led over fifteen bankers bus tours since HOPE’s inception in 1992, including the cities of Los Angeles, Maywood and Oakland, California, Anacostia, D.C., and Atlanta, Georgia, with the purpose of encouraging financial investment in low-to-mod communities. On January 22, 2008, Bryant was appointed vice-chairman of the President’s Council on Financial Literacy by President George W. Bush. He continued this work under President Barack Obama as part of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability (PACFC). He was appointed chairman of

Chairman Bryant with Reverend Al Sharpton.



Chairman John Hope Bryant is the President of Operation Hope.




[ COVER ] the new Subcommittee on the Underserved and Community Empowerment for the PACFC in January 2012. Today, Operation HOPE and Chairman Bryant have a goal to change Black America’s relationship with money. “I am going to use the system that was used to oppress us against itself, to impress us. We are the only non-profit in the history of the US to operate inside of a bank branch,” Bryant said. “Right now, we have people waiting in bank branches all over the United States to help people get their financial house in order.” Operation Hope has banking relationships with at least fifteen different banking systems across the US and expects to add more. Bryant wants Black people, and anyone else in need, to be able to get the assistance they require to impact their financial health. “Black people have the worst credit in America. So, when they are denied credit, it could be racism, or it could be not. The bottom line is we intend to change that,” Bryant said.

stolen. Over the last seventy years, Blacks did enjoy some advancement financially, but it only came from hard work laboring in jobs that didn’t provide generational wealth. Today, Blacks are educated and enjoy more prosperity than ever before. However, as a race, there are still far too many who don’t understand how to make and save enough money to live well. “We all understand the history of what happened to us. But once we do the things that I am talking about, we can help move people from being Black to green,” Bryant said. “We have to have a movement that goes from the streets and civil rights to working from the shoulders up and have the mindset that we need to have prosperity goals.” Bryant wants to move Black people to a place where they can free themselves through capitalism. Bryant’s business plan for Black America is a very powerful plan. But he doesn’t stop there. Bryant has several initiatives that are bold and ambitious. Those initiatives are:

The 1865 Project

The Third Reconstruction

Freedman’s Bank

Investors Bill of Rights

Financial Literacy for All

“We’re going to wrap our arms around you and help you increase your savings by $1,500 dollars so you can begin to breathe and create the future you want,” Bryant explained.

Atlanta Child Savings

One Million Black Businesses (1MBB)

And a better future is what Blacks need. The pandemic was hard on the Black community. Blacks, on average, don’t have more than $50 dollars saved. So, if a crisis comes, they aren’t able to financially survive the problem. Bryant wants to change that.

These aggressive initiatives are why CODE M choose Bryant for Man of the Year. His platform is moving the needle for change in the Black community, and it directly impacts Black people at the

Operation Hope wants to help increase the FICO score of anyone who enters the program by fifty-four over a 6-month period, with the goal of increasing it by 120 over a 12-month period. They anticipate a reduction in debt service for anyone entering the program to be reduced by $3,800 dollars over the next year.

He has his work cut out for him. The well-known history of how Blacks have been kept out of the American dream has created generation after generation of poverty for the community. The country was built off the backs of free labor for centuries and after slavery was over, if Blacks showed any financial progress at all, their communities were burned down, and their land was

Chairman Bryant at a ribbon cutting ceremony in Los Angelos.




Wayne Dawson and the FOX8 TV morning team.


[ COVER ] grassroots. Bryant’s goal of creating one million Black businesses by 2030 would be the sea change the race needs for Blacks to leave the legacy they want for generations to come. That kind of created generational wealth could pull the race up out of poverty and make the entire country better. It would help America and make Bryant one of the most important figures Black America and the US have ever seen. “I am trying to create something everyone can feel. I cannot change how somebody feels about you. I cannot change whether somebody is racist. I cannot change discrimination. All other forms of freedom, except financial, are temporary,” Bryant said. And he’s right — 2024 is going to be an important year for Blacks in America. Black people have never been more aware of their relationship with the country and their own plight amongst themselves. No one is coming to save the race. No political party, no macro-factor, and no religion is going to help Black people. Blacks understand that police brutality is real. Blacks understand that inflation is attacking them, just like everyone else. And Blacks understand that everybody is fighting for the goods, after going to get the right degree and working endlessly to make good decisions they must still rob Peter to pay Paul. If Blacks are going to change, they need to do it for themselves. Bryant is setting the system ablaze and hopes the fires spread to every person who needs some help. “The only freedom that no one can change, the only freedom that is permanent, is financial freedom,” Bryant said. In 2024 Black America will have to help pick who is going to be president for the next four years. The options don’t leave much hope for a change in how the community is treated or presented. With Bryant and Operation Hopes’ help, Black America can choose itself. It can choose and create a better path forward by creating financial literacy as the foundation to become the class of people it always knew it could be. CODE M Magazine salutes Chairman John Hope Bryant for his efforts to be a difference maker, to use his purpose-driven life to help his community, and for being brave enough to take on the challenge of changing the culture. John Hope Bryant is our 2023 Man of the Year. ●

Chairman Bryant’s book, American Banker. Below: Bryant spends time with his lovely wife, Chaitra Bryant.




Wayne Dawson and the FOX8 TV morning team.



Salute and Congratulations to John Hope Bryant Code M 2023 Inaugural Man of the Year Award


alute and Congratulations to John Hope Bryant Code M 2023 Inaugural Man of the Year Award. John Hope Bryant is a transformative and outstanding leader among the leaders of the world today.

I am honored and privileged to know him, and to respect and to admire his commitment to help others gain financial literacy with dignity and integrity.

For me and all that I have experienced thus in my life’s journey, John Hope Bryant’s leadership and effectiveness continue to rise to unprecedented levels of helping millions of people not only to have hope, but also to receive a trusted roadmap toward selfempowerment.

I wholeheartedly endorse and support CODE M Magazine for presenting John Hope Bryant with the 2023 Inaugural Man of the Year Award.

When you help people to improve their quality of life, you help to improve the social, political, and economic conditions of society. I have seen firsthand how John Hope Bryant delivers both the challenges and the opportunities for people to fundamentally change their financial situations through the programs and strategies of Operation Hope.

This award is well-deserved and timely. We need more leaders like Bryant on the frontlines of our long continuing struggle for freedom, justice, equality, and equity.

I have also come to appreciate Bryant’s considerable influence in getting more effective public policies in place at the local, state, and federal levels.

The questions and issues concerning financial literacy thanks to Bryant’s leadership are now a major consideration for many national organizations serving the African American and other people of color communities across the nation.

In addition, Byrant has done an amazing job in getting the attention and response from some of the leading presidents and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies throughout the United States to engage in restorative economics, joint ventures, public-private partnerships, and other innovative business relationships that have contributed to positively change the financial trajectory of African American businesses, families, and communities.

We have marched together across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama for voting rights for all. We have conferenced together in Washington, DC, New York City, and in Atlanta, Georgia to encourage economic and financial empowerment to all, and especially to those who linger socioeconomically at the margins of American society. John Hope Bryant is a master teacher, mentor, and a phenomenal lecturer and author. To be in his presence at anytime is to be in a moment of Kairos with the everpresent potentialities of witnessing a God-blessed genius at work with heart, spirit, and with an abiding humility.

I, therefore, salute and congratulate my Brotherman-leader in the global freedom movement, John Hope Bryant, for being named and awarded Man of the Year. God bless. Benjamin F, Chavis, Jr., Washington, DC

Over the past 70 years, I have been blessed to have been mentored, inspired, and to have been engaged in civil rights work under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mrs. Coretta Scott King, Dr. Charles E. Cobb, Sr., Ambassador Andrew Young, Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, Dr. Joseph Lowery, Nelson Mandela, Michael Manley, Fannie Lou Hamer, Dick Gregory, James H. Cone, James Baldwin, Angela Davis, Anne Braden, Kwame Tore (Stokely Carmichael), and many other leaders. CODE M / DECEMBER 2023 53



Wayne Dawson and the FOX8 TV morning team.



Wayne Dawson releases his new book, The Seeds of Greatness are Within You in December.



ORGAN DONORS NOT Blacks are consistently the largest group of people who need organ transplants yearly. Despite this statistic, Blacks routinely reject the opportunity to become organ donors.

Written by BRAD BOWLING Brad Bowling is the President of CODE Media Group, LLC. Bowling has his BA in mass media communication and an MBA in marketing. He contributes articles to the magazine continuing his love for writing.

Ron Busby worked with President Barak Obama on increasing funding for Black businesses.






[ HEALTH ] omeone is added to the national transplant list every ten minutes in the US. With nearly 120,000 people total on the list, almost 100,000 of those are waiting for a kidney. There aren’t enough organ donors to trim that figure.

For Blacks, getting an organ match is not the problem, an organ from a white person can be accepted by a Black body. The problem deepens because Blacks have a fear of becoming organ donors.

death. One donor can donate and save up to eight lives by donating organs after death. The organs that can be donated include the heart, intestines, kidneys, liver, lungs, and the pancreas. Blacks also have a distrust of the medical system, so they refrain from involving themselves in advanced conversations of placing themselves on organ donor lists.

In 2017 Blacks accounted for over 30 percent of the overall organ donation waiting list, with 33 percent needing a kidney, but Blacks make up only 13 percent of the US population.

In the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, Black men in Alabama were promised free medical care, and then unknowingly signed up for a long-term research study into the effects of syphilis. When a cure became available, the men were denied treatment so that the study could continue.

Based on certain genetic markers and antibodies, a Black organ, matched with a Black person produces a better outcome and results in a higher rate of success. So why don’t more Blacks donate their organs?

But the vicious cycle goes both ways. The medical profession doesn’t do a good job of educating Black people on the opportunities that come with being a viable organ donation candidate at the time of death.

Researchers found many Blacks cited fear that their organs would not be usable due to high blood pressure, heart disease, and other prevalent ailments in the Black community. The researchers concluded that often, it’s a simple matter of educating people about organ donation.

Blacks also refrain from benefiting from living organ donation. Living organ donation is when a living person donates their organ or a part of their organ to be transplanted into another person. Most living donors donate one of their kidneys or a part of their liver. Other organs can be donated by living donors but are much rarer.

Blacks, on average, tend to suffer from higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and other illnesses, so they think that their organs can’t be useful to anyone else. That is simply not true. Organ donations are more than just kidneys. For patients and families awaiting transplants, organ and tissue donations can mean the difference between life and

In 2021, 18.7 percent of non-Hispanic Blacks were living donors as compared to 33.6 percent of white living donors. Blacks often do not benefit from living organ donation because of a reduced relationship with the medical profession.

Becoming a donor includes giving blood at your local food bank.


[ HEALTH ] Living in rural locations, having a lack of medical coverage, or just not understanding the options present to them are all factors in Blacks not using the living donation process to donation organs to loved ones. So, what can be done to increase the rate of Blacks making themselves available for organ donation? There have been attempts to create increased awareness about the positives of being added to the national donor registry. When getting a new driver’s license the question is asked, “Would you like to be an organ donor.” For those that would like to participate in the process of organ donation at the time of death, answering yes to the question is the first step to becoming an organ donor. Blacks can also do more than just organ donating. Donating plasma is a great way to ensure that your local community has enough plasma on hand if a loved one needs blood. Recently, there was a national shortage of blood available for transfusions in the US. As with everything over the last couple of years, COVID-19 has magnified supply chain volatility, particularly in systems with underlying vulnerabilities. The blood supply has been growing increasingly fragile for several decades. In 2019, for the first time since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Health and Human Services began reporting trends in the National Blood Collection and Utilization Survey, the national number of red blood cells distributed essentially matched the number of red blood cells transfused. Reporting

began in 1992. In the Black community, along with the entire nation, young people are less likely to donate blood. The younger the person, the less likely they are to donate. The Red Cross declared a national blood crisis on January 11, 2022, and activated an emergency appeal for blood donors on the same day. This situation is different from prior shortages in that some suppliers have been forced to put limits on how much blood each health care system or hospital can order, to ensure the largest number of hospitals have some of the limited supply. For patients, this means some surgeries may be delayed, if a large amount of blood product is likely to be needed during the procedure. It also means hospitals may face challenges if there are large demands on the blood supply, such as a mass casualty incident or a similar emergency. Unfortunately, the thought of blood and organ donation only arises when there is an immediate need for it by the family afflicted. Blacks need to become more cognizant of the community complications that are present when the entire race does not engage in life-saving behaviors. As 2024 nears, Blacks will need to consider a vast number of things to begin to save their own community. Medically, organ donations by Blacks will increase the acceptance rate of those who receive an organ. Also, if more Blacks become organ donors, it will balance the inequity between those that get a transplant vs. those waiting for a transplant. There are no easy answers to the question of whether you should become an organ donor. Life is precious and no one can outrun death, but it is worth an internal discussion on the benefits of becoming a donor. ● For more information, go to: learn/what-can-be-donated

Blacks need to consider becoming blood donors for the communities they live in.






MASTERING WELLNESS SUCCESS The urge to pull away and isolate is a common reaction when it comes to difficult emotions, including sadness, depression, shame, guilt, fear, anxiety, and even anger. It could signal that something significant is taking place in a child's internal and/or external world.

Written by GARRETT WALLER Garrett is the founder and owner of Garrett Waller, LLC, "A Fitness, Health, & Lifestyle Company." Garrett has his BS in Psychology and is a nationally certified personal trainer. He helps people find more freedom in their lives through a commitment to fitness and an active lifestyle.






very person on this planet has struggled with or had to manage one thing: change. December is a magical month that offers a change in the form of the holiday season, a seasonal change from autumn to winter, and the change of the year. This makes way for the opportunity for everyone to think deeply about any changes in habits, relationships, or themselves that they have made in the previous 12 months. Reflecting on recent changes has many benefits including deepening personal relationships, spurring personal growth, and revealing areas of success in any areas that may require more focus. This is the process of reflecting on renewing and is the path to mastering success in health and fitness. Methods of reflection can include journaling or meditating and may involve listening to music or looking through pictures or videos from the past year. Fitness coaches and personal trainers often schedule check-ins that may include a weigh-in, photos, and a short testimonial. How many times have stepping on the scale disappointed someone who had been making some changes in their workout or eating routine and completely thrown their motivation off course?

What are the three major successes of 2023?

What was a challenge that was overcome in 2023?

What techniques and personal characteristics helped overcome the challenge?

What skills were gained?

What worked well for physical and mental health?

What was energizing in 2023?

What was draining in 2023?

What is something to be thankful for this year?

No matter what the answers to these questions are, a pat on the back is in order. Growth and adaptation are to be applauded no matter the magnitude. Anyone looking at how far they’ve come is setting themselves up for success on the journey ahead. Every man who wants to make a change in their health, fitness, or any aspect of their life can examine nature and the seasons to model wisdom in how to navigate change in their

A shift in how to think about check-ins and reflection can completely unlock anyone’s health and fitness potential. Reflection is not about holding on so tightly to results that they rock a person’s world whether they are good or bad and it’s not a validation of previous efforts. Reflection is an examination of what to focus on changing from this point until the next reflection. In other words, let go of one’s hold on the past and use the moment to renew their strategy and energy for the future. As a coach, it’s important to check in and reflect with clients in order to know what went well and what needs to change going forward. For instance, checking in every two weeks gives enough time to make changes to training and nutrition plans and see the results of the changes. Success is not measured biweekly; however, the results from check-in to check-in allow the collection of information needed to go back to the drawing board. Without setting a time for reflection, it can be easy to let months go by and not know if actions are leading to the desired results and how to make small changes to redirect them if not. Think deeply about the following reflection questions:

Create the mental state you need to succeed in 2024.


[ HEALTH ] health and fitness journey. Since December has both autumn and winter seasons, this article will focus on those two examples.

What are my top 3 goals?

Why do I want to accomplish these goals or solve these problems?

Nature’s transition to autumn is a masterclass in transitioning to a new season in preparation for achievement. As the days shorten, the leaves change colors and fall from the trees. Reflecting more deeply into this autumn transformation we see that this is a sign to let go of what may not serve well in this and the next season. Take a moment to reflect on what habits, connections, and excuses must be expelled in order to create the best conditions for success in 2024.

What will life look like with these goals accomplished?

What is currently in the way of achieving these goals?

What are common situations that derail success?

What is the thought or phrase that comes to mind after a failure?

What is the thought or phrase that comes to mind after a success?

Winter is cold and the conditions can be rough and unpredictable. It’s easy to become unmotivated and stagnant in pursuing health and fitness aspirations. However, take a closer look at the trees and trust their wisdom. They are not dormant even though they may look like they don’t have much life in them. Every spring, the trees blossom and make leaves right on time. They are trusting that when the time is right, the weather will warm and the days will lengthen. This is proof that they are actively preparing during the winter, relying on nature’s perfect timing to renew and grow. Take a moment to envision how to actively work on health and fitness goals this winter no matter how it may look. For excuse-proof exercise plans that don’t require any fitness equipment, go back and read the December 2022 through March 2023 Code M Magazine issues for the Home Workouts Without Weights series. Strategies for a renewed physique in 2024 begin with a renewed mindset now. Reflect on the following questions: •

What is different about my life in 6 months?

• What are the consequences if these goals are not achieved? Take the time to think deeply about the answers to these questions. Write down the answers or have someone ask you the questions and voice record answering them interview style. Many training clients have experienced a breakthrough by identifying answers to these questions and have gone on to drop habits that no longer serve them and dedicate themselves to their goals of losing 50 pounds, dropping pant sizes, and achieving the physique of their dreams. In the grand tapestry of life, change is the constant thread for ongoing personal growth. In the transformative month of December, embrace the power of reflection and renewal. Just like nature sheds its leaves in autumn and patiently prepares for the blooming spring, it’s time to actively work toward goals, even in the cold winters of life. By asking profound questions and adopting a continuous improvement mindset, the road is paved for a renewed journey in 2024. Remember, every step taken toward self-discovery and growth, no matter how small, is a triumph. So, reflect, renew, and step into the future with determination, resilience, and a renewed spirit, ready to master success in health and fitness. Here’s to a healthier, happier, and more vibrant man in the

Physical activity must be a part of your daily routine in order to create wellness.


[ HEALTH ] American popular culture has always been driven by Black influence. But for Black women, hairstyles seemed to be dominated by white culture. For over 200 years, Black women have been straightening their hair in order to fit in, get jobs, and be accepted among dominant beauty standards. But with recent studies, Black women are dying from the chemicals used to straighten their hair, forcing them to develop alternatives. A 2007 article by researchers at the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University and the Howard University Cancer Center was one of the first to publish work regarding a threat that hair relaxers might be connected with breast cancer. Oxford Academic published research in 2012 regarding Black women being at risk of uterine leiomyomata (fibroids) due to hair relaxer use. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology published research in 2017 that detailed, “African American women experience more hair-related anxiety and are twice as likely than white women to experience social pressure at work to straighten their hair,” and exposure to these toxic chemicals during pregnancy can trigger adverse health issues. In 2023, further research about hair relaxers and breast cancer surfaced in Boston University's Black Women’s Health Study, which followed 59,000 Black women over a 25-year period and found that hair relaxers put women at a higher risk for breast cancer. Recent media uproar came when research results were released in October 2023 by the National Institutes of Health from a study conducted with 33,497 Black women participants. They found that women who reported frequent use of hair straightening products, defined as more than four times in a year, were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer compared to those who did not. These findings have companies such as L'Oréal under the knife and in the courtroom. Black people’s hair has been under attack since the beginning of chattel slavery in 1619. Black people were conditioned through physical and verbal abuse to see their bodies, facial features, and hair as othered — as animalized. According to the Harvard Library’s article entitled “Scientific Racism,” one of the most effective tactics used to rationalize the mistreatment of Black bodies was the comparison of Black bodies to animals through scientific research called polygenism, which suggested human races were of different origins and claiming the European race as the superior race. CODE M / DECEMBER 2023 47


SAVING BLACK BABIES There is a disturbing trend among families where infant mortality in Black babies far outpaces other races. Physician–patient racial concordance might be the answer. By Leslie Logan


nfant mortality refers to the death of a child under the age of one—death before a first birthday. Infant mortality is measured by the infant mortality rate (IMR), the number of deaths of children under one year of age for every 1,000 live births, referenced against agespecific mortality rates within the same period under review.

Black babies die at a higher rate than all other races. The percentage of full-term infants with a low birth weight is 2fold higher for African American infants than for white infants (5.4% vs. 2.6), and race disparities in infant mortality among term newborns persist. The leading causes of infant deaths vary from developed to developing countries.5 Globally, the causes revolve around problems of prematurity, birth complications, neonatal sepsis, pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, malnutrition, and HIV.6 In the US, the five leading causes of infant mortality include low birth weight (LBW), birth defects, maternal peripartum complications, accidental and nonaccidental injuries, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Black women, who choose to deliver their babies, could cut the death rate in half.


“We have found that the differences may be ameliorated by racial concordance between the physician and newborn patient. Findings suggest that when Black newborns are cared for by Black physicians, the mortality penalty they suffer, as compared with White infants, is halved,” CEO Jessica Roach, MPH said. Racial concordance refers to having a shared identity between a physician and a patient regarding their race whereas racial discordance refers to patients and physicians having different racial identities. Studies have shown that when the doctor and patient are of the same race or background the patient outcome increases substantially. For Black mothers, it is crucial that they seek competent Black physicians when deciding who is going to provide prenatal and postnatal care for them and their babies specifically during the first year of life. Jessica Roach, MPH, and Dorian L. Wingard, MPA are the founders of the Columbus-based organization. The mission of ROOTT perinatal support doulas is to ensure Black families are well cared for throughout the pregnancy to maximize the chances for each family to thrive the first year and beyond. Black perinatal Support Doulas are well-trained and experienced women in areas of birthing justice, parent-centering, and respectful support of family experience and decisions. Their specialized training is grounded in the history of Black

[ HEALTH ] birth work, comprehensive assessments of health and social factors, and how that relates to current issues in maternal and infant health. “Not one single Black family out of the seven hundred served by ROOTT over the last six years lost an infant after birth,” said COO Dorian L. Wingard, MPA. Dorien Wingard, from Columbus Ohio, experienced the difference between having her doctor have a similar background when delivering her baby.

“The birth of my daughter in 2016 and the birth of my son in 2021 were completely different. I know my ROOTT Perinatal Support Doula had a huge part in that,” Whitley said. Whitley felt like the caretakers for her first birth did not take her concerns seriously and administered care to her without her input or suggestions. There is a clear precedent for white doctors ignoring Black patients when they complain about discomfort or pain. Whitley saw a more connected and observant staff at ROOTT, and it helped during her second delivery.

With Black newborns dying at twice the rate of white babies, 1,090 vs. 490, per 100,000 births, Black families must begin to look at who they choose to deliver their children. The trust issues that Blacks have with their white doctors increase the miscommunication when discussing things like eclampsia and preeclampsia. The language socioeconomic inequalities create a barrier that, research has shown, impacts the death rate significantly. With newborns unable to verbally communicate with their physician concordance is paramount for the doctor-patient relationship. ROOTT doesn’t just look at the pregnant woman’s body. Our focus is on the full spectrum of needs for the Black family. We offer access to an array of services, all of which help support Black family re-empowerment and stabilization,” Wingard said. Black mothers are taking their options seriously when it comes to protecting the health of their newborns and themselves. Better choices produce better outcomes and that is what the future looks like for Black babies everywhere. ●

For more information about ROOTT, visit:

Black mothers get better care when their care providers have the same background,.






In the world of love, dealing with a tough breakup can be difficult. Understanding how and why it went wrong helps in the process of moving on.


reaking up is a part of life that most of us have experienced at one point or another. It's a messy business, filled with tears, heartache, and moments of pure awkwardness. But amidst the emotional rollercoaster, there's often a silver lining of comedic relief. So, let's embark on a lighthearted journey through the land of breakups, where even the most painful situations can be ac-

Written by CY BORG Cy Borg is an artificial intelligence writer. Using Open A.I., Cy responds to various prompts with fully-qualified answers using the internet and technology.

companied by a chuckle or two. The Wrong Text Recipient: Picture this: you've mustered up the courage to end a relationship, and you're about to send the breakup text. Your fingers hover over the keyboard, and with a deep breath, you press send. But, oops! You accidentally sent it to your mom instead of your soon-to-be-ex. Suddenly, your mom is calling you in a panic, asking if everything is alright and if she CODE M / DECEMBER 2023 71

[ OPINION ] should be worried about you. Well, at least someone cares, right? The Awkward Public Display: Breaking up in public can lead to some cringe-worthy moments. Imagine sitting in a busy café, trying to have "the talk" while the barista mishears your conversation and loudly exclaims, "Congratulations! I hope you have a happy life together!" The entire place turns to stare at you, and you wish the floor would just swallow you whole. Well, at least it's not every day you get applauded for a breakup!

The Misguided Supportive Friend: We all have that one wellmeaning friend who wants to help but ends up making things worse. They might decide to stage an intervention, inviting all your friends to gather in your living room with tissues and ice cream, prepared to comfort you during this difficult time. Except, you hadn't actually broken up yet, and now your confused partner walks into a room full of weepy-eyed people, thinking someone must have passed away. Oops! The Exotic Breakup Destination: Breaking up during a romantic getaway might seem like a good idea in theory. However, in practice, it can quickly turn into a hilarious disaster. Imagine the scene: you're in a picturesque foreign country, surrounded by beautiful landscapes. As you muster up the courage to utter those dreaded words, a street performer nearby starts playing a

heart-wrenching melody on their accordion. The timing is impeccable, and you can't help but giggle at the absurdity of it all. Maybe this is the universe's way of saying it's time to move on. The Accidental Meeting: The breakup is done, and you're finally starting to move on. You decide to venture out into the world again, and what do you know? You bump into your ex at the most inconvenient time and place imaginable. You're standing in the grocery store, holding a pint of ice cream and wearing pajamas with mismatched socks. Meanwhile, they look like they stepped out of a fashion magazine. Talk about bad timing! You quickly avoid eye contact and pretend to be fascinated by the nutrition labels on the back of the ice cream tub. While breaking up is undoubtedly a challenging and emotional experience, it's important to find humor in the midst of the chaos. These funny moments might not take away the pain entirely, but they can serve as a reminder that even in the darkest times, laughter can help lighten the load. So, the next time you find yourself navigating the treacherous waters of a breakup, remember to keep a sense of humor and embrace the absurdity that life throws your way. After all, laughter truly is the best medicine, even in matters of the heart. ●

Learning how to be alone can help heal a broken heart.


[ LIFE ]

Jolley’s podcast Turning Setbacks Into Comebacks is a best seller.



THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS This is a wonderful time of the year to be thankful for the things you cherish the most. Celebrate with me, my twelve days of Christmas.


his is Dr. Willie Jolley and Tis the Season to be ... Jolley!!! As we celebrate this wonderful time of the year, I have a special 12 Days of Christmas message to help you and your family to win more!

On The First Day of Christmas – I want you to "Share The Gift of Self Confidence!" This Christmas forgive yourself of past mistakes and past failures. Learn to speak well to yourself and of yourself, and then spread that confidence to others!! keep in mind that before you can really love others it is best to first truly love yourself! Tell yourself daily that you are a wonderfully and beautifully made and are a masterpiece, because you are created by the Master! So, This Christmas, start with the gift of self-confidence! Wear it and Share it!


Written by DR. WILLIE JOLLEY Dr. Willie Jolley, Hall of Fame speaker, Sirius XM radio host, and global best-selling author of A Setback Is a Setup For a Comeback and An Attitude of Excellence.

On The Second Day of Christmas- I want you to "Share The Gift of Love!" To effectively give gifts you should give gift that start with love. A gift given without love is paramount to giving water without it being wet! Give gifts with love and if you have no gifts to give, then just give love! Scripture teaches that " never fails!" This Christmas make a point to give the gift of love! On The Third Day of Christmas – I want you to "Share The Gift of A Positive Attitude!" This Christmas decide to look at life from a positive perspective. You cannot choose what happens to you or what happens around you, but you can choose what happens in you! Choose to have a positive attitude! Attitude is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you do about it! People with a positive attitude win more! And it is

[ OPINION ] true, attitude definitely determines altitude! So, this Christmas, share the gift of a positive attitude and get ready to fly higher! On The Fourth Day of Christmas – I want you to "Share The Gift of Hope!" The great poet, Edward Guest wrote, "The true measure of a person is not how did they die but how did they live, not what did they gain, but what did they give. These are the units to measure the worth of a person regardless of birth. These are the questions of which words should devote, these are the answers where you will find hope!" No matter what is going on in your life, you can make it as long as you have hope! This Christmas, share the gift of hope! Because hope in the future gives you power in the present! On The Fifth Day of Christmas – I want you to "Share the Gift of Joy!" The Chinese have a powerful proverb that states, "If you want joy for an hour, take a nap. If you want joy for a day, go fishing, if you want joy for a year inherit a fortune, but if you want joy for a someone else!" Joy is a gift that is internal and external. During this Christmas, share joy with everyone you will bless them, but it will bless you more! On The Sixth Day of Christmas- I want you to "Share The Gift of Happiness and Gratitude!" English Poet and writer Joseph Addison said, "The grand essentials of happiness in this life are something purposeful to do, someone to love and something good to hope for!" I encourage you to choose to be happy this Christmas. Abraham Lincoln said, "folks will be just about as happy as they choose to be! So, choose to be happy! It is a choice! " This Christmas I encourage you to share the gift of happiness and gratitude! On The Seventh Day of Christmas – I want you to "Share The Gift of Courage!" Maya Angelou said, "In order to be the best you that you can be, you must decide to have courage. It takes courage to be fair, courage to be kind, courage to be honest and courage to live your dreams! Courage does not come easily, but from it you become so much stronger!" Nelson Mandela said that Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. And I say that that Courage is having fear and moving forward anyway! This Christmas, share the gift of courage! On The Eighth Day of Christmas – I want to "Share The Gift of Perseverance! Scripture says, "The race does not go to the swift nor to the strong, but to the one that perseveres until the end!" This Christmas, I encourage you to persevere. Most people give up too soon; like the man who was digging for gold, became frustrated, gave up and walked away. He left the shovel, and another man came along, picked up the shovel and dug six more feet and hit a major vein of gold. This Christmas I encourage you to persevere and share the gift of perseverance! Keep going after your goals.

On The Ninth Day of Christmas – I want to "Share The Gift of Wisdom!" The old saying states, "Fools learn nothing from wise men, but wise men learn much from fools!" Most people think wisdom only comes from old age but that is not true. Wisdom comes from a willingness to be a lifelong learner and a student of people and life. Proverbs says wisdom is the primary things, and in all your getting get wisdom and understanding. It will bless you and keep you safe and secure. This Christmas, get wisdom and then share it with others! On The Tenth Day of Christmas – I want to "Share The Gift of Encouragement!" Novelist Edith Wharton said, "There are two ways to spread the light. You can be the candle, or you can be the mirror that reflects it!" This Christmas, spread the light of encouragement. Encourage others to pursue their dreams. Most people go to bed hungry, not for food but rather for a word of encouragement. Encouragement is like perfume, so when you give it to others you cannot help but get a little on yourself! This Christmas, give the gift of encouragement! On The Eleventh Day of Christmas – I want to "Share the Gift of Dreams!" Those who dream big dreams are those who achieve big results! This Christmas, encourage others to dream big and then to go after those dreams, no matter how crazy the dreams may seem. Remember only those who dream the impossible, achieve the incredible...only those who attempt the ridiculous achieve the spectacular! I contend that if you can dream it and believe it, then you can achieve it! This Christmas, share the gift of dreaming big and showing people how you can manifest those dreams as you move toward your incredible destiny! This is the 12th Day of Christmas . On The Twelfth Day of Christmas- I want to "Share The Gift of Faith!" Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. St. Augustine said, "Faith is to believe what you do not see, and the reward of faith is to see what you believe." This Christmas, I encourage you to have faith and be willing to step out on a sea of nothing and believe you will land on something!" As you go into this New Year, I recommend you step out on faith!!!!! Have faith in your dreams, faith in yourself and faith in a God who will never leave you or forsake you. This Christmas, do what you can to share with everybody you know the gift of faith. ● I hope you enjoyed the 12 Days of Christmas. If you want to watch the video versions of the 12 Days of Christmas, go to I hope you have a wonderful Christmas week, and to keep in mind is that this season is really a birthday celebration. Scripture reminds us that: For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This is Dr. Willie Jolley. God Bless You and Again Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your family from me and my family!





A BLEND OF OLD AND NEW FOR SOMETHING SPECIAL The Shindellas offer a combination of the past, present, and future to music seekers who covet music with a touch of class and respect.


ince hitting the scene back in 2017, The Shindellas, (Kasi Jones, Stacy Johnson, and Tamara Chauniece), who hail from the music city of Nashville, have been on a mission to impact music with their unique sound and style.

Hand-picked by Multi-Grammy-nominated production and songwriting duo Chuck Harmony & Claude Kelly (Rihanna, Miley, Jazmine Sullivan, Ledisi, Fantasia, and more), The Shindellas were fueled by the opportunity to make music that would not only matter to them but ring true to the listeners. As a result, the ladies tapped into retro sounds of R&B/Soul influences to bring forth a sound they dubbed as “New American Soul” with hints of The Clark Sisters, EnVogue, The Pointer Sisters, and LaBelle. Effortlessly displayed, they not only evoke emotion through harmony but the beauty of music is evident on their recently released debut album Hits That Stick Like Grits via Weirdo Workshop/The Orchard.

Written by JOHN O. HORTON JR. John O. Horton Jr, aka DJ Johnny O, is the President of the NerveDJs DJ Coalition, a coalition of over 9000+ DJs, Artists, Musicians, Producers and Label & Radio reps. Johnny O has been in the entertainment business for 46 years.

appeared at the ESSENCE Festival of Culture, performed at the TEDxNashville Women, The TODAY Show and more. The Shindellas, at their core, are pitch-perfect. Their tone is penetratingly beautiful. Their new album, Shindo, has the potential to bring them to larger stages: It is their first release to receive an outside push from a label partner, the Nashville indie Thirty Tigers, and first to generate a radio hit: “Last Night Was Good for My Soul,” a day-after-the-party jam with a disco groove, reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s Adult R&B Airplay chart. At a time when Black is at an all-time low, it is good to see and hear music with substance from women who pride themselves on showcasing their best. The Shindellas might feel and look old school, but we all wish we could experience more of this in the future. ●

The 14-track album showcases each voice that blends to sound like one. The album's lead single "Money" remains a fan favorite. Other releases featured on the album include "Fear Has No Place," and "When You Are Lonely." Celebrity fans include names like Beyonce, Missy Elliott, and Anita Baker. Last year, they made history as the first R&B band to perform at the 2023 CMT Awards, and performed on the 2023 "CMA Country Christmas." The Shindellas have been featured on NPR,

The Shindellas new release, Shindo, is topping the charts.




There is nothing like celebrating a successful business day like meeting some good friends out for a smoke and some good relaxing conversation to balance out life and the day. Written by LARON HARLEM


A wardrobe shopper, stylist, and accessories designer who specializes in dapper looks that truly appeal to the most discerning eye. mailto:,

Derrick Abram





Bowtie by Styled By Decarlo







James Thompson CODE M / DECEMBER 2023 83


Marcus Powell III





James Thompson


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