CODE M Magazine 2024 Women's Issue

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After nearly five decades in public service, including more than a decade in Congress, Marcia Fudge discusses her next chapter and her goals for the future.







Black women have been the anchor in their families for generations. Is that true anymore?


After nearly five decades in public service, including more than a decade in Congress, Marcia ON THE COVER Fudge discusses her next chapter and her goals for the future.


Get to know people who are making a difference in their careers and changing the world! 16 MAN





When the world’s top-rated people need a consultant, they turn to Dr. Norma Denise Mitchem – regarded as one of the top consultants and influencers in the world.


CODE M was born to showcase and highlight Black people who are making a difference for their businesses, community, and their families. We are proud to celebrate these women this month and we encourage you to do the same.


Take some of the pressure off yourself when looking for love. If you are new to the dating scene, or need the courage to get back out there, these tips might help you find your new love.


The US has complicated the relationship with women’s rights. What would abortion laws look like if men gave birth?


Get a complete understanding of the mental health space so you can pick the right provider and begin the process of healing.




Cleveland native and Shaw High School graduate, Darnell Appling, got the chance of a lifetime when he was asked to play a part in the new movie Challengers, starring Zendaya.

The Village of Healing of Cleveland is helping women change the way they experience pregnancy and health care.


The chronic disease, Lupus, is no longer a life sentence of pain with the advancements in medicine.


There is nothing like a Black woman dressed up, looking good while celebrating her glory and all that comes with it. CODE M wishes all women a happy and wonderful Mother’s Day.


Blacks influence the latest trends of popular culture, fashion, and music more than any demographic. Reach them when you advertise with CODE M Magazine. With over 1.4 million viewers monthly, we have your audience. Call 216-273-9400 to request a rate kit.



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Eva Rodriguez is the Consulting Administrator at ThirdSpace Action Lab where she directly supports TSAL's consulting team in scheduling, client coordination, and project management.

With a background in environmental science, science museum communications and education, Eva spent 10 years working in the non-profit sector at nature-based and living museum spaces designing infor-

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

mation, content, and experiences for exhibits, natural spaces, and nature-based programming. Eva is deeply interested in environmental justice and the intersection between access to nature and race.

14 MAY 2024 / CODE M


Meet Layla Fuller, an 11-year-old Floridian who's taking the financial literacy world by storm. Recognized by Rolling Out Magazine for her groundbreaking efforts, Layla's passion for educating children about money shines through her engaging public speaking events and her debut single, "Stand On Business," featured on her father's album.

Recently, Layla extended her reach to Brownsville, TN, imparting invaluable financial insights to over 700 children, emphasizing the importance of financial education. Her standout performance at the 2023 Invest Fest earned acclaim from industry icons like Don Peebles and Steve Harvey, showcasing her exceptional rap skills and unwavering dedication to her cause.


Brittany Priest is the Finance and Administration Manager at ThirdSpace Action Lab and a CLE native. Prior to joining the TSAL team, she worked in banking as an ACAMS certified Anti Money Laundering Specialist before transitioning to full-time entrepreneurship as a Business Ops Manager.

She now manages the environment where finance and administration intersect at TSAL. She enjoys listening to audiobooks, cooking, and exposing her two children to new and exciting things through travel and exploration.


India is the Chocolate City Cleveland Project Manager at ThirdSpace Action Lab. In this role, she manages the logistics and archive management for Chocolate City Cleveland. A transplant to Cleveland from the DMV, India previously worked at Cuyahoga Arts and Culture as the Grant Operations and Racial Equity Initiatives Manager.

India is a storyteller through various mediums and graduated with her Master in Fine Arts as Environmental and Social Practice. India believes that the arts should, has, and can be used for liberation and system change.

CODE M / MAY 2024 15


“When Black women stand up as they did during the Montgomery Bus Boycott as they did during the Black liberation era, earth-shaking changes occur.” - Angela Y. Davis

“No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body.” - Margaret Sanger

“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.” - Brigham Young

“I am a feminist and what that means to me is much the same as the meaning of the fact that I am Black: it means that I must undertake to love myself and to respect myself as though my very life depends upon self-love and self-respect.” - June Jordan

“Womanism is to feminism as purple is to lavender.”

- Alice Walker

“I know people are not used to seeing confident, educated, happy, chunky African American girls, and I don’t care. They’re just going to have to get used to it.” - Precious Lee

“Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it.”

- George Carlin

“I merged those two words black and feminist because I was surrounded by Black women who were very tough and who always assumed they had to work and rear children and manage homes.” - Toni Morrison

Peter 3:3-4 3: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (NIV)

16 MAY 2024 / CODE M
Toni Morrison


When the world’s top-rated people need a consultant, they turn to Dr. Norma Denise Mitchem – regarded as one of the top consultants and influencers in the world.

PPeople often wonder who the world’s leaders and professionals turn to when they need guidance. The answer is they turn to Dr. Norma Denise Mitchem the strategic business partnership and community affairs consultant who helps the business and political elite build strategic relationships, create

impactful marketing strategies to drive transformative change, and to generate long-term value.

Launched in 2022, her company, Social Currency, is a social impact think tank “driving sustainable change at the intersection of corporate relations, government affairs, entertainment, nonprofits, and philanthropy.”

Mitchem’s ability to identify opportunities for collaborations and joint ventures has her providing consulting for some of the top global leaders.

She currently a consultant for Attorney Ben Crumb, Howard University, UST Global, Ella Peters, Noitavonne, The Conrad Foundation, The Black Promoters Collective, and Horton Worldwide. She is also the president of the Harvard Women’s Alumni Association and he is on the Board of the Marcus Garvey Institute.

Her success started with learning how to write business plans. “I got my start by learning how to go after government con-

18 MAY 2024 / CODE M
Henry Skip Gates, Bill Gates with Dr. Norma Denise Mitchem.

tracts over thirty-five years ago,” Mitchem explained. She started her first company and began to compete for government contracts while living in New York City. “I learned how to do the right research to find good contracts and I started to win opportunities,” Mitchem said. One of her first contracts, providing cleaning services, was for $1 million. Mitchem hired all of her own employees and began to get noticed around the area as a smart businesswoman.

Her future plans include launching an organization to give back to the people who need it most by building affordable housing for HBCU graduates.

If you ask her why she does the work she does, her answer comes back to her family and her mentors.

Her strong Jamaican Costa Rican, and East Indian heritage came from her parents, who immigrated to America. Their strong work ethic gave Mitchem the confidence that she could do anything she attempted.

“I do it for my mentors who paved the way for me, Dr. Walter and Sonjia Young.” Mitchem continued, “I am also motivated by my seven amazing children who inspire me to do my best each and every day.”

All of her children have attended and graduated from traditional HBCUs, started their own careers, and have modeled their goals based on Mitchem’s accomplishments. ●


Top Photo: Robert Smith with Mitchem and Ben Crumb. Middle Photo: Mitchem with Oprah Winfrey. Bottom Photo: Mitchem’s 7 children have all graduated from traditional HBCUs.
CODE M / MAY 2024 19
[ START ] 20 MAY 2024 / CODE M


CODE M was born to showcase and highlight Black people who are making a difference for their businesses, community, and their families. We are proud to celebrate these women this month and we encourage you to do the same.


r. Deanna Kimbrel has established herself as a strategic and transformative leader, accumulating over seventeen years of experience across various sectors, including higher education, corporate, and government.

Her initiatives have focused on driving change in leadership, organizational culture, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Dr. Kimbrel is recognized as a visionary leader whose passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion was reignited by the social unrest of 2020, prompting her to spearhead strategic initiatives aimed at fostering sustainable, systemic change within organizations.

A graduate of the Rochester City School District, Dr. Kimbrel holds a bachelor's degree in communication and international business from the State University at Buffalo, a master's degree in communication and marketing from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and a doctoral degree in Management and Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix.

In her recent role as Chief Diversity Officer and Director of the Office of DEI for Monroe County in New York State, Dr. Kimbrel led diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

She has also played pivotal roles in shaping DEI and leadership strategies at notable organizations such as Paychex, Sears, and the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Beyond her corporate roles, Dr. Kimbrel guides a team of consultants at Kimbrel Management Consulting, assisting small to mid-sized organizations in developing robust structures and strategies concerning leadership, organizational culture, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Known for her charismatic personality and dynamic capabilities, Dr. Kimbrel excels in fostering inclusive environments wherever her work takes her.

She currently resides in Rochester, NY, with her two sons.

[ START ] CODE M / MAY 2024 21
Bilal S. Akram is the Founder, CEO and CFO of CODE MEDIA GROUP, LLC. He served as a firefighter for 30 years and is a licensed provider EAP services in the industries of policemen and firemen.

At the forefront of innovative education stands Carrie "Ms. NFTy" Lyn, leveraging her 25 years of expertise in business management and development to pioneer LearnVille, a groundbreaking Learn to Earn App that merges traditional educational techniques with cuttingedge Web3 technology.

Launched in 2023, LearnVille promises to revolutionize education, empowering countless individuals with essential skills for the digital age. Carrie's vision extends beyond the app as she spearheads initiatives to onboard inner-city high school students nationwide. Her commitment to social impact is evident in her prior endeavors, including the founding of an after-school program currently serving over 3000 inner-city youth in Los Angeles County.

Recognized as a trusted advisor to government agencies and esteemed representatives like Maxine Waters and Senator Bob Hertzberg, Carrie's journey reflects her dedication to driving positive change and leveraging technology for social good, rooted in her early upbringing in Northern California.

Cynthia Curry is a Certified Grants Specialist with expertise in all aspects of fund development, grant writing, and grants management. She is a strategist who develops infrastructure for funding feasibility and is privileged to work with organizations in the United States, Europe, and Africa. Through her work, she has helped countless organizations find their footing and their funding through a systematic structure that funders embrace.

As a federal grant reviewer, she approaches the funding process with review committees in mind to impact the bottom line for sustainability. Her nonprofit work has allowed her to mentor young women through 21st Century Programs in Houston Independent School District, girls clubs, women’s groups and in ministry.

She is the author of When I Was Sifted, her testimony of one of the darkest seasons of her life and the prevailing power of God through faith and prayer. She has completed two additional books that are in the process of being published.

Cathy Smith Shannon oversees marketing and promotions for E&G Gallery (E&S), one of the country’s oldest, largest, and most respected African American owned and operated art and custom framing galleries. A native of Louisville, KY, Shannon is a graduate of the University of Louisville and holds a bachelor of arts in Advertising, Public Relations, and Marketing Management, a certificate in Corporate Community Relations from Boston College, Boston, MA, and a master of arts from the University of Louisville.

After graduating from college in 1984, she worked for Louisville Gas & Electric Co. (LG&E). Over the course of 12 years, Shannon was promoted from Customer Interviewer, to Advertising Rep, and finally to Community Liaison. In her positions with LG&E, Shannon helped craft advertising campaigns and developed community outreach strategies and initiatives designed to improve relations with the company’s many constituents.

[ START ] 22 MAY 2024 / CODE M

Tamra is a business leader, and talent agent to some of the world’s leading actors and comedians.

She brings more than 25 years of experience in artist representation, show production, aligned branding, and deal making. Tamra is known for producing and promoting Shaquille O’Neal’s AllStar Comedy Jam before being recruited as an agent.

Currently, Tamra serves as the Head of Comedy/Partner at Innovative Artists where she manages a team of agents responsible for comprehensive artist representation. She has found her niche in developing self-made multihyphenates bridging the gap between the streets and Hollywood mainstream, as well as helping veteran comics reestablish themselves and maintaining relevance in an ever-changing industry.

She continues to create opportunities for comedic stand-ups, actors, writers, producers, and directors on a multitude of platforms. Additionally, she serves as executive leader for Innovative Artists' Advisory Committee.

Janis Burley has been an arts leader for more than two decades in Pittsburgh and beyond. She was named President/CEO of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center (AWAACC) in July 2017.

Prior to taking the helm at the AWAACC, she was Vice President of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for 15 years. Her reinvention of the Pittsburgh jazz scene elevated her to Director of Jazz Programs in addition to her other roles. Burley's curation diversified the Pittsburgh arts community with programs like the Gallery Crawl, a downtown quarterly art showcase, which she created in 2004.

Burley launched the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival (PIJF) in 2011 and is one of the few women in a curatorial and directorial role in jazz. In addition to leading as president, she is the Artistic Director of the AWAACC, curating the successful Soul Sessions music series, the Highmark Blues & Heritage Festival, TruthSayers speaker series and a host of education and community engagement programs like AW Community Days.

Tracey N. Mason serves as the Assistant Vice President of Community Development for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Tracey oversees strategic planning, outreach, operations, and communications aimed to promote economic resilience in lowto moderate-income (LMI) communities. She also spearheads the Bank’s Community Advisory Council, ensuring diverse perspectives on the economic circumstances and financial needs of LMI communities.

Tracey held leadership roles with Cuyahoga County, Greater Cleveland Food Bank, University Settlement, and the Free Clinic of Greater Cleveland. Board involvement includes The Centers and University Settlement. Tracey is a graduate of Leadership Cleveland Class of 2009 and has been recognized by Northeast Ohio Boomer Magazine – Impact Award and Cuyahoga County and City of Cleveland City Council for outstanding leadership. Tracey continues to make significant strides in advancing the well-being of underserved communities.

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Jean has over 25 years of experience in finance and public and corporate accounting. She spent three years as the inaugural Chief Financial Officer and Interim CEO at the DC Green Bank, leading the organization from inception until September of 2023. Jean directed the bank's accounting and financing functions, lending over $30 million for green energy projects in the District of Columbia. She began her career in public accounting as a financial institution specialist with Grant Thornton, LLP and served in corporate positions as director of accounting and chief financial officer at various organizations.

Jean received her BBA in Finance, graduating cum laude from the Temple University Fox School of Business, and acquired a Master of Jurisprudence in Labor and Employment from Tulane University. She also holds a certification from Columbia Business School in ESG Investing. She is passionate about the transition to clean energy and lives that in her everyday life and resides in Virginia with her husband and daughter.

Shaude’ Moore is the Chief Executive Officer for the Central District Community Preservation and Development Authority (CDCPDA) in Seattle, WA, chartered by state law to preserve the unique character and history of the Central District, long recognized as the historical center of the Seattle African American community. The CDCPDA’s mission is to drive economic empowerment for African American, other minority and under-served communities through employment, career advancement, education, training, and business development.

In 2019, she received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Committee Community Organizing Award for embodying the principles of nonviolence, peace, and harmony that guided Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's civil rights movement and in 2024 was named a Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ), 40 under 40 honoree. Shaude’ Moore is also a Global Program Manager at Amazon Web Services for their Datacenter Security Operational Excellence team.

Nina Brooks is a dynamic change agent dedicated to fostering fairness and inclusivity. As an Assistant Chief Diversity Officer, she plays a pivotal role in shaping an organization's culture and driving positive transformations that champion diversity and value everyone's opinions.

With a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources and a decade of experience in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, Nina is a beacon of expertise and empathy. Her career is a testament to her unwavering commitment to breaking down systemic barriers and forging pathways for underrepresented groups to thrive.

Currently, Nina spearheads strategic efforts to incorporate diversity and inclusion principles into all aspects of City operations. Her collaboration with senior leadership, employee resource groups, and external partners has led to the development and implementation of comprehensive DEI strategies.

[ START ] 26 MAY 2024 / CODE M

Rhonda Crowder is a journalist, entrepreneur, author, and literacy advocate. She currently serves as the president of the Greater Cleveland Association of Black Journalists and vice president of the Friendly Inn board of directors. Rhonda holds a bachelor of arts in English with a concentration in creative writing, editing, and publishing from Cleveland State University.

She’s been awarded a Rotary Group Study Exchange Fellowship and recognized by I CAN Schools, El Hasa Court #47 as Woman of the Year (2018), Cleveland Chapter of National Action Network, and the Phenomenal Foundation.

She was named a 2019 Cleveland Champion by The Plain Dealer, Guardian and Ideastream and received the 2020 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Cleveland Chapter of Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Her debut novel is titled Riddles

Valerie Norman Gammon is an accomplished entertainment executive with over 30 years of experience in television and mega event production. As CEO of Amethyst Entertainment, LLC., her company specializes in global multi-media entertainment production, special events, and consulting.

A recognized professional known for her high-level thinking and inclusive style, Valerie Norman Gammon offers a unique blend of executive acumen, global team building, and out-of-the-box thinking.

Valerie’s television career as an executive producer includes work with CBS, FOX, BET, and HBO TV networks. She is credited with producing the original award-winning televised Essence Awards and the acclaimed Essence Music Festival. She is the recipient of six Emmy nominations, one Emmy Award, and three NAACP Image Awards.

In 2018, Ohio voters elected Melody Stewart to the Supreme Court of Ohio. She is one of only 13 women to serve on the court in its 220-year history, and she is the first African American woman ever elected to serve on the state’s highest court. Prior to this election, Justice Stewart had been elected to the Eighth District Court of Appeals where she served for twelve years, including a term as the court’s Administrative Judge.

Justice Stewart has more than 35 years of combined administrative, legal, and academic experience. She was an administrator for a health care management company, a music teacher, a civil defense litigator, and a law school administrator and professor before being elected to the Court of Appeals.

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Yolanda Y. Armstrong, MSSA, LSW is the president and chief executive officer of one of the nation's oldest settlement houses, Friendly Inn Settlement, Inc., located in the center of Cleveland, Ohio's Central Avenue. She manages the day-to-day operations of the organization, which include the Friendly Inn Food Pantry, Before and After-School Youth Programs, multiple programs such as MOMSFIRST, Parents as Teachers, and Help Me Grow that aim to reduce the infant mortality rate among minority women, Community Based Wrap-Around Services, MYCOM, and most recently Geraldine Burns Behavioral Health services, to name a few.

In her 33 years in the field of Social Work, she has received numerous awards, including the Champion of Central Award, the Mt. Zion of Oakwood Village Hero of Faith Award, the Women of Color Foundation Star Award, the Omega Psi Phi Zeta Omega Chapter Community Leader Award , Non-Profit Executive of the Year Pillar Award from SMART Business Magazine and Medical Mutual, and the Centennial Alumni Award from The Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

Renee Tramble Richard is a strategic thinker executing C-Suite leadership for a regional corporate training center. As CEO, Ms. Richard leads a team that provides training in leadership and organizational development, quality and continuous improvement, and professional development. Her team interacts with corporate entities concentrated in northeast Ohio, as well as corporations across the country including California, Texas, and Michigan. Additionally, as an accomplished legal advisor with strong finance and business acumen, she has over 30 years’ experience working to provide companies with access to capital markets through the issuance of debt financings. Renee has led debt offerings for numerous organizations, in the healthcare industry, housing, real estate, financial, and banking industries. She has worked with various regulatory bodies, state and local governments, and government agencies. As a person who values integrity, Ms. Richard brings a concern for humanity, inclusivity and empathy to the Board and in all her business dealings.

Teresa is an accomplished attorney with a diverse range of expertise spanning over 30 years. Her primary focus lies within public law, public finance, commercial finance, and real estate development. She holds leadership roles within her firm's Public Law Practice Group and the Real Estate Group, indicating her depth of knowledge and experience in these areas.

Her proficiency in bond transactions, economic development incentives, and real estate financing demonstrates her ability to navigate complex financial transactions. Teresa's clientele includes a mix of private sector entities, both for-profit and non-profit, as well as various levels of governmental agencies and higher education institutions.

In addition to her legal work, Teresa is actively involved in community engagement, serving on multiple nonprofit boards in leadership capacities

30 MAY 2024 / CODE M


Black women have been the anchor in their families for generations. Is that true anymore?

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.

ne of the most enduring stories and sagas of American life has been about Black women as wives, mothers, and pillars of strength ensuring the safety and cohesion of their families. They’ve been depicted in innumerable movies and books as determined, strong-willed, and unshakable in their leading and holding together the family through impossible obstacles and soul-wrenching heartaches. Is that image still applicable in today’s America?

Let’s face it: America has a very troubled history. Since it was first discovered, indigenous cultures have been suppressed, forced off their ancestral lands, herded into undesirable territories, and ostracized from “mainline” society. They were determined to be “savages” who needed corralling and domesticating.

Blacks brought from other countries were here for one purpose: to serve as slaves to the ruling class. Families were torn apart, sold in markets, forced to serve, and trained to be subservient. They were purposely deprived of schooling, adequate living con-

32 MAY 2024 / CODE M
CODE M / MAY 2024 33 [ LIFE ]

ditions, and any kind of rights. They were completely enslaved to a horrific system of servitude.

Yet Black women have somehow managed to endure. With their emotional fortitude, they were able to withstand despicable deprivations, rape, and torture, killings of their family members and friends, being constantly discounted and demeaned, and being barred from advancing in society on any level. Their stories are titanic in scope, and they reach deep into a narrative of survival and ultimate triumph in a country that still attempts to stifle them.

Here, in the year 2024, Black women have remained the stalwart centers of their families, though the parameters have changed. For several generations, Black women have achieved milestones in every arena imaginable while still holding their families together, guiding, nurturing, and sharing their wisdom and strength. But that has been slowly eroding, especially with taking on careers and their advancement in the worlds of business, athletics, entertainment, and politics. We also have to take into account the advent of technology.

Today, our lives are filled with a tsunami of distractions from smartphone obsession to social media trends to the impact of influencers to movies and TikTok videos. In tandem with that, attitudes and behaviors have begun to reach the outer limits of acceptableness and decency. The idea of celebrating and maintaining family connectivity and cohesion is evaporating as more and more young girls and women fall down the rabbit hole of “sociality.”

Sociality is described as individuals, specifically animals, gathering in cooperative social groups for survival, procreation, and belonging. But for the purpose of this article, sociality is being applied to what we’re seeing occur with younger generations who have grown up with smartphones, social media, reality TV shows, and the Internet. Sociality here means social connectivity without real connection it’s one continually lowering the bar of humanness, compassion, kindness, meaningful communication, and heart.

This kind of sociality is pervasive, insidious, and has a negative impact as it relates to family and a more expansive life perspective and one’s place in the world.

For example, observing reality TV shows, whether with a young cast or adults, is a real eye-opener. The outrageous behaviors,

deceitful interactions, emotional dishonesty, lack of respect and consideration, self-centeredness, and low level of consciousness is astounding. Granted, it’s television, and directors and producers want drama queens acting out in order to garner higher ratings. But what these “personalities” are modeling for younger, impressionable people is bottom-ofthe-barrel conduct where anything goes, and it doesn’t matter who gets hurt in the process. What we’re so often seeing, in the news and on television shows, is behavior expressing the worst in us.

What we see so many young women doing today is no longer striving to attain degrees in order to land jobs and develop careers. The desire is still there to reach a higher economic level but the route to it has changed. The path now is about achieving visibility, celebrity, and wealth accumulation via social media, winning a televised contest, being on reality TV shows, and becoming a social influencer. The immediacy of response from “friends” and “followers” is captivating, thrilling, and hugely ego-satisfying. And, often, there’s money to be made.

What this has done is shift the dynamic in Black families where young women aren’t so interested in being the family backbone and being acculturated into the generational idea of “the strong Black woman.” They want the freedom to do and be whatever they want and not by necessarily following the long-established, family/work-life model. They want to forge their own way in life on their own terms.

One of the ways they’re doing this is by seeking what has been termed the “soft life.” It’s a life of leisure, pleasure, and

[ LIFE ]
CODE M / MAY 2024 35

focusing on the needs of self.

Okay, that doesn’t sound terrible, but let’s deconstruct this a little.

Basically, the term soft life implies a life with as little stress, hard work, and demands as possible. For some Black women, this means the life of a princess where they’re taken care of by someone with money. For the majority of women seeking a soft life, though, it’s having access to affordable self-care resources combined with their no longer having to struggle and experience stress in any part of their life.

Then there are those women who are trying to have it all while still maintaining the role of “strong Black woman.” For these women, this is causing an internal psychological struggle within themselves, within their family, and as concerns being a part of the business world and workforce. It’s a delicate balancing act that can cause additional stress and anxiety as they feel the intense pressure to succeed and not let their family and community down.

The soft life concept is also affecting women who no longer are willing to put up with Black female stereotypes, who are rejecting racism and sexism, and who want a new family and social framework from which to be who they want to be. They want to be allowed to feel their feelings without being judged or dismissed. They want their feelings, dreams, and aspirations acknowledged and supported. The soft life for them is about self-nurturance and fully realizing their self-worth and their dreams. They want their lives filled with peace, sensitivity, vulnerability, and a slower lifestyle. Their focus is on intentionality, purpose, and meaning.

So, where does this leave Black women in today’s America?

Obviously, there are some things that will seemingly never change or if they are changing, it’s happening at a glacial pace. Black women:

• still have to work doubly hard to prove themselves,

• still receive lower pay than others and are marginalized,

• still face discrimination from health officials who don’t take

their health concerns seriously or with urgency, and

• are still looked upon with suspicion when seeking to rent an apartment or buy a car, a house, open a bank account, or get a loan.

The fact is that Black women are still consistently confronted with bias, misogyny, racism, elitism, and ageism.

What all of this is pointing to is the need for equality on all fronts. For that to happen, Black women must take care of themselves first and foremost. Keeping their sanity and remaining balanced with their needs and the needs of others is key.

Inger Burnett-Zeigler is an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine. In her book, Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen: The Emotional Lives of Black Women she discusses the downside of Black women suppressing their emotions. In an interview for Northwestern Now, she states, “Many Black women including myself wear the badge of a strong Black woman with honor. It is such a deeply embedded way of life, we often don’t know any other way to be. It is our hustle, grit, and ability to get things done.”

And therein lies the challenge. Burnett-Zeigler has found that “pushing down the pain,” if unaddressed, can grow into larger issues that can adversely affect one’s physical, mental, and emotional health. That’s why it’s so important for women to join women’s groups, and support groups, volunteer with meaningful community work, encourage family members to step up, and seek professional counseling to develop healthy coping strategies.

What’s important for any Black woman to understand is that they are quite literally a force of nature. But that doesn’t mean they need to put on a suit of armor every morning. The old trope of fierceness, fearlessness, and resilience though it’s still critical to stand up to injustices of all kinds is an old socio-cultural convention. Times have changed. It’s no longer acceptable to suppress one’s feelings to the detriment of one’s self-esteem and emotional well-being.

Yes, women, be a force of nature, but ones who incorporate ALL that you are, not just the warrior and family anchor and backbone. Elevate yourself and Black women everywhere by being your full-bodied self. And remember:

Black woman are a force of nature for the Black community.

[ LIFE ] 36 MAY 2024 / CODE M


Take some of the pressure off yourself when looking for love. If you are new to the dating scene, or need the courage to get back out there, these tips might help you find your new love.


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.

Are you ready to dive headfirst into the mysterious world of dating, only to realize you have the grace of a newborn giraffe on roller skates? Fear not, my friend, for you’re not alone! Embarking on the journey of dating can be both exhilarating and terrifying, but with a little humor and a whole lot of self-awareness, you can stumble your way to dating success. So, buckle up and get ready for a hilarious ride!

The Profile Picture Fiasco

Ah, the first hurdle of modern dating: choosing the perfect profile picture. You’re determined to capture your best angle, but somehow manage to end up with a collection of photos that look like they belong in an FBI most-wanted list. Remember, it’s not about being flawless; it’s about being authentically imperfect. Embrace that double chin or awkward smile, and watch your potential matches appreciate your bravery!

The Awkward Opening Line

Congratulations, you’ve matched with someone! Now, it’s time to craft that ice-breaking opening line. Except your brain goes into full panic mode, and instead of something smooth and charming, you end up typing, “Are you a magician? Because whenever I look at your pictures, everyone else disappears.” Facepalm! But hey, at least you’ve set the bar low for any subsequent conversations. It’s all uphill from here, right?

The Unexpected Awkward Silence

So, you’ve managed to score a date. As you sit across from your potential love interest, the realization dawns upon you that you’re about to enter a minefield of awk-

38 MAY 2024 / CODE M

ward silences. You scramble to come up with topics, and suddenly, the weather seems like the most fascinating subject in the universe. Embrace the silence, my friend. It’s an opportunity for both of you to bond over the sheer ridiculousness of the situation. Plus, it builds character!

The Food Dilemma

You’re halfway through a fabulous dinner date when it happens a piece of spinach becomes lodged between your teeth, and your date stares at you with an expression of horrified fascination. Remember, this is not the time to panic! Stealthily excuse yourself to the restroom, do some impromptu flossing, and return with a triumphant smile. Nothing says “I’m comfortable with my own embarrassing mishaps” quite like a post-spinach victory!

The Goodnight Kiss Disaster

The night is coming to an end, and it’s time for the grand finale:

Disclaimer: The author of this article takes no responsibility for any catastrophic dating disasters resulting from the implementation of these hilarious tips. Date responsibly, and may the laughter be with you!

the goodnight kiss. You lean in confidently, only to misjudge the angle and end up planting a peck on your date’s earlobe. Smooth moves, Casanova! But hey, a true connection isn’t measured by lip placement. Laugh it off, apologize profusely, and you might just find yourself with a memorable story to tell at future family gatherings.

Remember, dear reader, dating is an adventure filled with missteps, hilarity, and the occasional triumph. Embrace your imperfections, laugh at your blunders, and above all, never take yourself too seriously. The right person will appreciate your quirky sense of humor and your ability to turn even the most awkward moments into laugh-out-loud memories. So go forth, stumble with pride, and let the dating journey be an amusing and worthwhile experience! ●

CODE M / MAY 2024 39 [ OPINION ]


After nearly five decades in public service, including more than a decade in Congress, Marcia Fudge discusses her next chapter and her goals for the future.

Bowling is the President of
Media Group,
Bowling has his BA in mass media communication
an MBA in marketing. He contributes articles the magazine continuing his love for writing.
COVER 40 MAY 2024 / CODE M
[ COVER ] Group, communication to CODE M / MAY 2024 41

In the book of life, each chapter that is reached is seen as reaching a new pinnacle in life. For Marsha Fudge, the book of life is no different. For Fudge, the next chapter begins at retirement. Fudge recently retired from serving for five decades a very public life in government. Her most recent position as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development was her last position. But her first chapters began long ago.

Marcia Louise Fudge was born on October 29, 1952. Fudge is a graduate of Shaker Heights High School. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business from the Ohio State University in 1975. In 1983, she earned a Juris Doctor from the Cleveland State University College of Law.

Fudge served as the 18th United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2021 to 2024. A member of the Democratic Party, she served as the U.S. representative for Ohio's 11th congressional district from 2008 to 2021. The district included most of the black-majority precincts between Cleveland and Akron.

Following the death of Stephanie Tubbs Jones in 2008, Fudge ran unopposed in the special election to replace her. She was chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in the 113th Congress. She considered running for Speaker of the United States House of Representatives at the start of the 116th Congress but eventually announced she would back Nancy Pelosi.

Then President-elect Joe Biden nominated Fudge as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development on December 10, 2020. The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs advanced her nomination by a vote of 17–7 on February 4, 2021. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 10, 2021, by a vote of 66–34. She was virtually sworn in by Vice Pres-

ident Kamala Harris on March 10, 2021. Upon taking her oath of office, she became the second African American woman to serve as secretary of housing and urban development.

After college, she worked as a law clerk and studied legal research. She also worked in the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office as Director of Budget and Finance. Fudge has also worked as an auditor for the county's estate tax department and has occasionally served as a visiting judge and as a chief referee for arbitration.

Fudge was the mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio, from 2000 to November 18, 2008. Her 1999 campaign was her first run for any elected office. She was the town's first female and first African American mayor.

Fudge served as chief of staff to U.S. Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones during Jones's first term in Congress. She has also served on the board of trustees for the Cleveland Public Library.

Her time while serving as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development was well spent. During her time as secretary, the department was able to save more than two million homes through modifications to keep them in their homes.

The department was able to impact more than one million people who were facing homelessness. And her last act changed the way people who are released from prison are flagged when trying to get public housing. It is no longer forbidden for those who have been touched by the criminal system to be denied housing. In the past those individuals would not be allowed to live with their families in public housing, thus creating a homelessness problem for them.

Her department was able to build more than 5,000 new and affordable housing. Fudge wanted to make sure that she was able to put people into decent housing so they could reflect on where they lived in their efforts to become better people.

Marcia Fudge hails from Warrensville Heights, Ohio.
CODE M / MAY 2024 43
Blacks desire real freedom in 2024 to live a life without prejudice.

Fast forward to today, Fudge’s next chapter starts with retirement.

“I have worked for 50 years and most of that time was in public life. There comes a time when you just know that it is time.” Fudge continued, “Too often people do not know when to get out, and what I have learned is you have to know when it is time.”

Fudge knew her time came when she was home for Christmas. Her public life had her travelling for most a lot for most of her career, so when she came home, she realized that she wanted to spend more time with her family.

“I have been traveling off and on for more than 20 years and felt like it was time to sit still and spend some time with my friends and family,” Fudge said. “I want to enjoy just being at home and slowing down some.”

Her time in public was well spent. Her public life chapters landed Fudge in some of the most important rooms in America. She has had incredible conversations with presidents and heads of state, and she represented the United States on several occasions.

Most recently Fudge represented the U.S. for the investiture of the President of Nigeria.

“We took a team to Nigeria, and I was impressed at what we were able to do and the confidence that the Nigerian people have in our president,” Fudge said. “It was an honor to represent our president and our nation.”

There have been many times where Fudge was in the room at some of the most critical stages in American history. Fudge did

not just serve in public life, but as a Black woman, Fudge was able to blaze a trail that Black women will be able to follow.

Her influence has helped many others to get into positions in government. Fudge believes in bringing along those who aspire to do great things as well and covets the chance to create opportunities when she can.

Fudge is a policy wonk because she tries to change what is wrong in the political landscape.

“Public life is a difficult career. I have been lucky to be able to effect change from the inside looking out.” Fudge continued, “I am proud of all the people I have been able to nurture and Shepard through the process.”

Fudge has been able to help has been able to help many judges get elected, and there are even more that Fudge has helped get elected. Fudge has even chaired the Democratic National Convention.

One chapter of Fudge's life will discuss the historical relevance of her serving at the White House. Since America began only 25 Blacks have held cabinet positions. Of those twenty-five, six were women, and Fudge was one of the six. She is a living legend in politics.

Fudge, having grown up on Cleveland’s 82nd and Quincy wants anyone attempting to do something great to know that it can be done as the first in her family to graduate from college Fudge understands humble beginnings and working hard to fulfill a dream.

“My mother and my grandmother always made me feel like I could do whatever I wanted. They were supportive and uplifting,” Fudge said. “So, when you grow up believing that you can do it, the process to get becomes easier and is not daunting.”

Fudge and HUD donating funds for a local housing opportunity.


Fudge’s teachers were determined that she was going to succeed. They believed in her, and she believed in them.

“Young people need to know that you can be a success.” Fudge continued, “Whether you live up the street or around the block if you see it, you can believe it.”

Fudge is passionate about the 2024 elections coming and wants everyone to get out to vote. She understands that every single vote counts, and more importantly, every single local vote means an opportunity to help pick local officials.

As Fudge begins to write her next chapter, she will sit back and relax where she has always had a residence. She will review her next options for service and reflect on her efforts as a professional. CODE M chose her to be on our annual women’s cover because of her amazing career and her commitment to her community. Congratulations Secretary Fudge, job well done. ●



48 MAY 2024 / CODE M


The US has complicated the relationship with women’s rights. What would abortion laws look like if men gave birth?

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.

[ HEALTH ] CODE M / MAY 2024 49

Abortion rights in America have always been a talking point for elected officials, especially when running for office. The hot topic of deciding if a woman has the right to decide what to do with her own body has been debated and ruled on for over seventy years. After the decision of the Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade, women thought that their rights were protected.

Roe v. Wade was a landmark 1973 decision that ruled abortion as a constitutional right. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that a woman’s choice to have an abortion outweighs the state’s concern for prenatal life up until the “point of fetal viability,” or the point when a fetus can survive outside the womb (in 1973, this was determined to be 24-28 weeks).

The recent overturning of the law, making it a decision that each state can decide, has raised the question of whether a woman has the right to decide what happens to her own body again. But what if it were men who had babies? What would the debate look like and how would the Supreme Court handle the case?

In America’s over 400 years of existence, men, better yet, white men have enjoyed the proverbial “land of the free” treatment more than any other class of people. To date, white men have never had any real restrictions to do anything they want.

Men can choose what to do with their bodies, they can choose how they want to work, they can choose how they’re going to make money, and they can choose how and when they want to marry.

“If men could get pregnant, walk-in abortion clinics would be in every Walmart, and they’d run $19.95 specials every Wednesday,” Mary from Indiana said.

“If men could get pregnant, you’d be able to buy abortion pills from a machine in a gas station. The brand name might be ‘Whoops!’ or ‘Not now,’” Glyn from Tennessee said.

The comments are not far off from the truth. The bottom line is, if men were the ones that got pregnant, the laws that govern what they could do with their bodies would look much different.


The political question of why a woman would vote against her interest is a good question. The women’s movement was supposed to bring awareness and changes to the political landscape to increase women’s rights.

The two most populous nations in the world are India and China, which, by extension, are home to the most men in the world. In both societies, abortion is legal and is largely accessible to women with no moral ruckus over pro-life and pro-choice.

If the assumption were true that men are the reason why societies are against abortion, then India and China, with their enormous block of the world’s men, should be societies that view abortions rather unfavorably.

China has had that since the late 1950s, and early 1960s, and India made abortions a qualified right in 1971. In fact, most Indian people don’t even relate to the abortion debate at all.

For America, the debate on abortion comes from a religious perspective, and that’s where the controversy starts. Western civilization is based on Christianity. While religion is less popular and has less of a grip on society in

[ HEALTH ] 50 MAY 2024 / CODE M

most of Europe and around the world, the underpinnings of the culture have not fundamentally changed.

So, while the left and right debate the law, it’s the religious who are mostly driving the argument in America. The debate has gotten so contested in the red states, that under no circumstances will these states want the mother to abort a baby.

“Everyone should work to make abortion as rare as possible, but safe and available when needed. There is no reason for legal interference with a necessary procedure. And there is no reason for a woman to opt for an abortion unless she is in a desperate situation,” Cindy from Ohio said.

Cindy, who is a Republican, believes that the government should stay out of the affairs of women but thinks the law should also protect the unborn child as well. This makes for a complicated situation when it comes to determining who is more important, the mother or the unborn child. Thus, many Republicans lean towards protecting the unborn child.

The religion discounts the need to protect the mother when her life is at risk. There are times when the birth of the baby could seriously injure or kill the mother. Some of the new abortion laws do not include these scenarios.

Pregnancy imposes significant physiological changes on a woman’s body. These changes can exacerbate underlying or preexisting conditions, like renal or cardiac disease, and can severely compromise health or even cause death. Determining the appropriate medical intervention depends on a patient’s specific condition. There are situations where pregnancy termination in the form of an abortion is the only medical intervention that can preserve a patient’s health or save her life.

Women are being forced to go to blue states to terminate their pregnancies to save their own lives.


The debate has also introduced the role of the man in the matter. Men help create pregnant women, why do men get to sit on the sidelines and not have to be involved if the mother has the baby or not? Men are half the problem, but women have all the blame.

Since the 1970s, doctors have been trying to find a way to create a pill that blocks sperm production in men. Dimethandrolone undecanoate is a new testosterone-like medicine. It can be taken as a pill. It is effective at stopping sperm production. Side effects are weight gain, raised hemoglobin, and blood lipid disturbances. Those side effects were too high to even consider bringing the drug to market and the trials have been stopped.

“I think it’s true that, in my experience of talking to men about this, men are worried about future fertility and about unknown side effects that may only become known years after using a product,” said John Walker, a male fertility doctor. “They’re worried about the effect on their performance, and how they feel about sex.”

There are two kinds of birth control, reversible and permanent. Permanent birth control for men is called a vasectomy. Vasectomy and tubal sterilization are safe, and effective, and provide permanent protection from pregnancy. However, these procedures come with risks and sometimes cannot be reversed.

Can pulling out work? What is known about pulling out is that withdrawal works about 78 percent of the time. But the odds of pregnancy are always higher during the five days leading up to, and during, ovulation these are called fertile days. If no semen gets on the vulva or in the vagina, pregnancy can’t happen whether or not she is ovulating.

Condoms are and have always been, the best option when it comes to reducing unwanted pregnancies for men. The sensation is lower and the pain of putting them to use is annoying, but they protect both parties from having to make difficult decisions after having sex.

In conclusion, if men got pregnant, the laws surrounding the debate of abortion would not be debated in the US. Women, whether they lean left or right, are religious or not, bare the responsibility to protect themselves and each other. ●

About 40% of women who get abortions in the US are Black, and advocates say abortion bans like Texas’ will increase their health and financial risks.

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Get a complete understanding of the mental health space so you can pick the right provider and begin the process of healing.

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.

54 MAY 2024 / CODE M
[ HEALTH ] CODE M / MAY 2024 55

In the vast landscape of mental health care, navigating the array of professionals can feel like wading through alphabet soup. From LCSWs to LMFTs, LPCs to PMHNPs, each acronym represents a unique pathway to providing support and treatment for Black men facing mental health challenges.

In this article, seven different types of mental health experts and professionals are explored describing their area of expertise, the focus of their specialty, their impact from a cultural perspective, and the pros and cons of each.

1. Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) are mental health professionals who have obtained a master’s degree in social work and are licensed to practice therapy. They are trained to address a wide range of mental health issues and often work in various settings, including hospitals, schools, and private practices. LCSWs provide therapy to individuals, families, and groups, offering support and interventions to address emotional, behavioral, and interpersonal challenges.

Specialties: LCSWs may specialize in areas such as trauma, substance abuse, child welfare, or gerontology. They are wellequipped to work with clients facing life transitions, relationship issues, and social challenges.

support systems.


•Limited scope of practice: While LCSWs can provide therapy, they may not have the same level of training in specialized therapeutic techniques as other mental health professionals.

•Insurance limitations: Some insurance plans may have restrictions on the types of services covered when provided by LCSWs.

2. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) are mental health professionals who specialize in working with couples and families to address relationship issues and interpersonal dynamics. They hold a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy and are licensed to provide therapy to individuals, couples, and families.

Specialties: LMFTs primarily focus on couples therapy, family therapy, and premarital counseling. They are skilled in addressing issues such as infidelity, communication breakdowns, and parenting challenges.

For Black men seeking help for mental healthcare, understanding the diverse array of mental health credentials is crucial. Delving into the nuances of each credential can help an individual gain valuable insight into the unique roles, specialties, and cultural perspectives of mental health professionals.

Cultural Perspective: LCSWs specialize in addressing the social and environmental factors influencing mental health. They can provide culturally sensitive therapy and connect Black men with community resources and support networks. LCSWs may utilize approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or traumainformed care to address issues such as racial trauma, discrimination, and socioeconomic stressors.


• Holistic approach: LCSWs are trained to consider the social, environmental, and systemic factors that influence mental health.

• Accessibility: LCSWs often work in community-based settings, making mental health services more accessible to diverse populations.

• Advocacy: With a background in social work, LCSWs are skilled advocates who can connect clients with resources and

Cultural Perspective: LMFTs specialize in addressing relational dynamics and family systems, offering therapy for couples and families. They can help Black men navigate issues related to intimate relationships, parenting, and family conflicts. LMFTs may facilitate conversations around cultural expectations, communication styles, and intergenerational trauma within Black families.


• Systems perspective: LMFTs view individuals within the context of their relationships and family systems, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of interpersonal dynamics.

• Conflict resolution: LMFTs are trained to help couples and families navigate conflicts, improve communication, and strengthen relationships.

• Family-centered approach: LMFTs recognize the impact

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of family dynamics on individual well-being and work to address relational patterns that contribute to mental health issues.


• Limited focus: While LMFTs excel in working with couples and families, they may have less experience in addressing individual mental health concerns.

• Scope of practice: LMFTs may encounter limitations in providing therapy to individuals who are not part of a family unit.

3. Licensed Psychologist (PhD or PsyD)

Licensed Psychologists hold doctoral degrees (PhD or PsyD) in psychology and are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat a wide range of mental health issues. They undergo extensive education and supervised clinical training, enabling them to provide therapy, psychological testing, and research-based interventions.

Specialties: Psychologists may specialize in areas such as trauma, personality disorders, child psychology, or health psychology. They are trained to provide therapy for individuals with diverse mental health concerns, ranging from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Cultural Perspective: Psychologists provide comprehensive assessment and therapy services to Black men, addressing a wide range of mental health concerns. They conduct culturally sensitive assessments and tailor treatment plans to meet the individual needs of Black men. Psychologists may utilize evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or culturally adapted interventions, to address issues such as depression, anxiety, and racial trauma.


• Depth of training: Psychologists receive comprehensive training in psychological assessment, psychotherapy techniques, and research methodologies.

• Specialized expertise: Psychologists may specialize in areas such as clinical psychology, neuropsychology, or forensic psychology, allowing them to address complex mental health issues.

• Evidence-based practice: Psychologists utilize researchsupported interventions to inform their therapeutic approaches, ensuring high-quality care for clients.


• Cost: Psychologists often charge higher fees for their ser-

vices compared to other mental health professionals, which may pose financial barriers for some clients.

Becoming a licensed psychologist demands several years of education and supervised experience, making it a lengthy and demanding process. Consequently, there is limited availability of these professionals compared to other fields.

4. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who specialize in providing mental health care. They hold master’s or doctoral degrees in psychiatric-mental health nursing and are licensed to assess, diagnose, and treat individuals with psychiatric disorders.

Specialties: PMHNPs may specialize in areas such as adult psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, or geriatric psychiatry. They provide medication management, psychotherapy, and supportive services for individuals with psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

Cultural Perspective: PMHNPs specialize in psychiatric care and can provide medication management and therapy services to Black men. They conduct thorough assessments and collaborate with clients to develop personalized treatment plans. PMHNPs may prescribe medication to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders, while also offering counseling and support.


• Prescriptive authority: PMHNPs are authorized to prescribe psychiatric medications, allowing for comprehensive treatment of mental health conditions.

• Holistic approach: PMHNPs integrate medical and psychosocial perspectives in their practice, addressing both the biological and psychological aspects of mental illness.

• Accessibility: PMHNPs can work in various settings, including outpatient clinics, hospitals, and community mental health centers thereby increasing access to psychiatric care for underserved populations.


• Scope of practice restrictions: PMHNPs may encounter limitations in certain states regarding the types of medications they can prescribe or the settings where they can practice independently.

58 MAY 2024 / CODE M [ HEALTH ]

• Integration challenges: Collaborating with other healthcare providers, such as primary care physicians or therapists, may present communication and coordination challenges in some healthcare systems.

5. Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)

Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs) are mental health professionals who hold a master’s degree in counseling or a related field and are licensed to provide therapy. They work with individuals, couples, and families to address a wide range of mental health concerns.

Specialties: LMHCs may specialize in areas such as trauma, addiction, LGBTQ+ issues, or multicultural counseling. They are skilled in providing support for individuals facing mental health challenges, including anxiety, depression, and trauma-related disorders.

Cultural Perspective: LMHCs offer supportive therapy to Black men focusing on issues related to race, identity, and emotional well-being. They create a nonjudgmental space for Black men to explore their feelings and experiences, helping them develop healthy coping mechanisms and resilience. LMHCs may incorporate culturally relevant interventions, such as mindfulness practices or cultural storytelling to promote healing and growth.


• Specialized training: LMHCs receive extensive training in counseling theories and techniques, allowing them to provide effective therapy for various mental health issues.

• Accessibility: LMHCs often work in community-based settings, making mental health services more accessible to

diverse populations.

• Focus on wellness: LMHCs often emphasize a strengthsbased approach, helping clients build resilience and develop coping skills.


• Limited insurance coverage: Some insurance plans may have restrictions on the types of services covered when provided by LMHCs, impacting affordability for clients.

• Scope of practice restrictions: LMHCs may encounter limitations in providing certain types of therapy or working with specific populations based on state regulations.

6. Clinical Psychologist

Clinical Psychologists are mental health professionals who hold doctoral degrees (PhD or PsyD) in psychology and specialize in assessing, diagnosing, and treating mental health disorders. They undergo extensive training in psychological assessment, psychotherapy, and research enabling them to provide evidence-based interventions for diverse client populations.

Specialties: Clinical Psychologists may specialize in areas such as trauma, personality disorders, child psychology, or forensic psychology. They provide assessment, diagnosis, and treatment for individuals with diverse mental health concerns, ranging from mood and anxiety disorders to psychotic disorders and developmental disabilities.

Taking care of your mental health also includes protecting the relationships around you.

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Cultural Perspective: Clinical Psychologists specialize in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health disorders, offering expertise in addressing complex psychological issues. They conduct thorough assessments to understand the unique needs of Black men and develop tailored treatment plans. Clinical Psychologists may provide evidence-based therapies, such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) or acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), to help Black men manage symptoms and improve overall well-being.


• Depth of expertise: Clinical Psychologists have advanced training in psychological assessment and intervention techniques, allowing for comprehensive treatment of mental health issues.

• Research proficiency: Clinical Psychologists are trained to critically evaluate research literature and incorporate evidence-based practices into their clinical work.

• Supervision and consultation: Clinical Psychologists often provide supervision and consultation to other mental health professionals, which contributes to the development of the field.


• Cost: Clinical Psychologists typically charge higher fees for their services compared to other mental health professionals, which may limit access to care for some clients.

• Time commitment: Becoming a licensed psychologist requires several years of education and supervised experience, making it a lengthy and demanding process.

7. Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing, treating, and preventing mental health disorders. They are uniquely qualified to prescribe medication, provide psychotherapy, and coordinate care with other medical professionals to address the complex interplay between mental and physical health. Psychiatrists play a vital role in helping individuals manage conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric disorders through a combination of pharmacological interventions and therapeutic techniques.

Specialties: Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental health disorders. They are licensed to prescribe medication, provide psychotherapy, and coordinate care with other medical providers. Psychiatrists work in various settings including hospitals, clinics, and private practices.

Cultural Perspective: Psychiatrists, particularly those with a cultural perspective, recognize the significant impact of societal factors, including systemic racism and discrimination, on the mental health of Black men. They strive to understand and address the unique challenges faced by this demographic, such as racial trauma, stigma around seeking mental health care, and disparities in access to quality services.


• Psychiatrists offer a unique combination of medical and psychiatric expertise, allowing them to provide comprehensive care to clients with complex mental health needs.

• They play a crucial role in medication management, particularly for clients with severe or treatmentresistant conditions.


• Psychiatrists may have limited availability for therapy appointments due to high demand and time constraints.

• Additionally, access to psychiatric services may be restricted by factors such as insurance coverage, geographic location, and stigma associated with mental illness.

For Black men seeking help for mental healthcare, understanding the diverse array of mental health credentials is crucial. Delving into the nuances of each credential can help an individual gain valuable insight into the unique roles, specialties, and cultural perspectives of mental health professionals.

Whether it’s a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) offering holistic therapy, a psychiatrist providing comprehensive medication management or a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) integrating medical and psychosocial perspectives, each professional brings a distinct skillset to the table.

Recognizing and embracing the strengths and limitations of different mental health credentials is helpful in making an informed decision about one’s mental healthcare journey, ensuring that one receives the support and treatment that best meets their needs as a Black man navigating mental health challenges. ●

CODE M / MAY 2024 61

In the diverse mosaic of Cleveland, Ohio’s healthcare landscape, The Village of Healing Center stands out with its unique, neighborhood approach to medical care. It’s a place where the personalized attention of a local clinic is infused with the warmth of a close-knit community.

The center was founded by Dána M. Langford and Tenisha Gaines, two healthcare professionals with extensive experience who became tired of being ignored in advocacy and meetings that didn’t reflect the larger problems of the Black community. The center operates on the principle that every patient is a treasured member of the broader family that forms the heart of Cleveland.

Harmonizing Healthcare: The Village Approach

Rather than following the more impersonal, fast-paced tempo often found in larger establishments, The Village of Healing Center channels the charm and tailored care one might find in a local family-run business. Since its inception on Valentine’s Day of 2022, the center has built a reputation for putting a premium on personal connections, offering smiles and support as part of its healthcare services.


The Village of Healing is helping women change the way they experience pregnancy and health care.

A Refuge for Holistic Well-being

Here, healthcare goes beyond the clinical. The center prides itself on understanding the unique stories of those who walk through its doors. It’s a haven where Black women, men, and children find support and comprehensive care, with services ranging from prenatal guidance to mental wellness and primary care all provided with a personal touch by Black providers.

A Tribute to History, A Nod to the Future

Within its walls, The Village of Healing Center also carries a profound respect for history, with exam rooms named to honor the strength of women like Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey. The inspirational quotes from Black authors and the Black art gallery add to the comfort and appeal of these spaces that are more than just functional areas for health services they’re designed to be constant reminders of the progress in healthcare and the individuals who have paved the way.

Extending the Family Tree: Comprehensive Care for All

The Center’s philosophy is simple: Every individual’s health is vital to the vitality of the community. Embracing this philosophy means providing a spectrum of care that encompasses

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the needs of all fostering an environment where dads, husbands, and brothers are as comfortable and cared for as mothers and children. The Village of Healing Center is dedicated to providing lifesaving healthcare services that meet the social and cultural needs of the entire Black family.

Forward Together: A Partnership for Health

With a mission to heal and enrich the lives of the community, The Village of Healing Center has become an integral part of Cleveland’s healthcare family. Collaborating with other medical institutions and organizations, the center strengthens the network of care with its personalized, attentive services that improve health outcomes and quality of care that eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities.

Growing with the Community: A Beacon of Hope and Health

As The Village of Healing Center prepares to welcome more patients with a new facility in the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood of Cleveland, it’s clear that this is more than just an expansion it’s an extension of their commitment to individualized care and the well-being of each person they serve.

Their new focus on preventative care saves Black families time and money with the first and only pediatric / post-partum model of care that offers combined convenient appointments for mother and baby to be seen together at the same time, in the

same location. It sounds simple, but no other hospital system in Cleveland offers these services to new mothers and babies. “We’re focused on the health of the mother and baby in a preventative way, particularly during that critical first year after delivery,” said Dàna M. Langford, CNM and Medical Director of The Village of Healing Center.

Celebrating the spirit of The Village of Healing Center, its dedication to the community resonates throughout the year. Each day, the center showcases the resilience, determination, and unfaltering optimism of a community united by a common goal of wellness. It’s not just the story of a medical facility, it’s the chronicle of a neighborhood coming together for a healthier, happier tomorrow one caring encounter at a time centered around the passion and love for their community. ●

For more information, please visit:

22344 Lakeshore Boulevard Euclid, OH 44123 216-815-4325

[ HEALTH ] 64 MAY 2024 / CODE M
The team at the Village of Healing, Cleveland are here to take care of your needs.


The chronic disease, Lupus, is no longer a life sentence of pain with the advancements in medicine.

Lupus is a chronic disease that can cause inflammation and pain in any part of the body. It’s an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system the body system that usually fights infections attacks healthy tissue instead.

There are many forms of Lupus.

• Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is the most common form. The general signs and symptoms of lupus are extreme fatigue, pain or swelling in the joints, swelling in the hands or feet or around your eyes, headaches, lowgrade fevers, sensitivity to sunlight or fluorescent lights, slight chest pain when breathing deeply, a butterflyshaped rash on the cheeks and nose, hair loss, sores in the mouth or nose, fingers and toes turning white or blue, and feeling numb when feeling cold or stressed.

• Cutaneous Lupus or Discoid Lupus, affects the skin by causing rashes and lesions.

• Lupus Nephritis, affects the kidneys.

• Drug-Induced Lupus, is caused by an overreaction to certain medications. Symptoms usually leave once medication is stopped.

• Neonatal Lupus occurs when an infant acquires antibodies from their mother who has SLE, however most symptoms subside after the baby is six months old.

Lupus is not a cookie cutter disease, so it affects everyone

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differently. It most commonly affects the skin, and joints. Internal organs like the kidneys and heart can also be affected. People with lupus can also experience significant symptoms such as pain, extreme fatigue, hair loss, cognitive issues, and physical impairments that affect every facet of their lives. Many suffer from cardiovascular disease, strokes, disfiguring rashes, and painful joints. For others, there may be no visible symptoms.

healthcare coverage, and lower income levels.

It isn’t known why lupus is more common in African American women. Researchers are certain that a person’s genetic makeup plays a role in how lupus affects minority women. We do know that hormones and environmental factors also play a role in who develops lupus. Studies show that African

“It’s difficult to know how many people in the US have lupus. It’s an unpredictable and often misdiagnosed disease.”

Lupus mostly affects women of childbearing age and is most common in women ages fifteen to forty-four or during their childbearing years when their estrogen levels are highest. However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too. Most people with lupus develop the disease between the ages of 15-44. It’s more prevalent among African American and Hispanic women than among white women. Studies indicate that lupus affects 1 in 250 young African American women.

African Americans with lupus tend to have more problems with seizures, internal bleeding, strokes, and dangerous swelling of the heart. Hispanic women with lupus also have more heart problems, kidney disease, and kidney failure than women of other ethnic groups. In addition, women of color are more likely to die from lupus or complications from lupus because of a lack of access to care, communication barriers such as language differences, lack of

American and Hispanics have more severe lupus overall, develop lupus earlier in life, and experience greater disease activity at the time of diagnosis.

At this time, Lupus has no known cause or cure, but there have been great advancements in researching the disease. There are several FDA-approved drugs to treat lupus: Benlysta and Saphnelo are two of the drugs used to treat patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Other medications are in the trial phases and will hopefully be approved soon.

It’s difficult to know how many people in the US have lupus. It’s an unpredictable and often misdiagnosed disease. However, with proper medical care, most people with lupus can lead a full life.

The Lupus Foundation of America is the best source for the most up-to-date and accurate information about the disease for patients and care providers. The foundation offers support groups, education, resources, and advocacy for lupus patients and their families. ●

If you would like more information, visit

Volunteers of the Walk To End Lupus Now showing their support for the cause.
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Cleveland native and Shaw High School graduate, Darnell Appling, got the chance of a lifetime when he was asked to play a part in the new movie Challengers, starring Zendaya.

When Darnell Appling was in elementary school, his love for the TV show, Family Matters, resonated with him. He told everyone that one day he was going to act just like Steve Urkel did in the show.

The former East Cleveland resident didn’t know how he was going to get from the Shaw High School marching band to Hollywood, but he knew he had to try.

Appling moved to Hollywood and after some trying and odd jobs, became the executive assistant for TV and film star Zendaya. What Appling didn’t know was that his choices would land him in the right place at the right time.

His looks have always been noticed, his flare for fashion has al-

ways kept him in the conversation. But he didn’t know it would get him noticed as he was doing his job.

He walked onto the set of Challengers, while they were doing a camera test, to offer Zendaya some coffee. That turned into an audition for Appling.

“I was just doing my job when they asked me if I would be interested in playing a role in the movie,” Appling said. He got the opportunity to be in the film and is enjoying the success that being in Challengers has brought him.

For Zendaya to allow him to be in her film says a lot about her and their relationship. “Our relationship is very important to me and I get emotional thinking about her kind gesture towards me to allow me to take this role,” Appling said.

Appling’s story comes from a place of dreams. But it also comes from a place of hard work and being patient. His efforts to be a good and kind person have opened doors for him that he always knew he could open.

When the premiere of Challengers came to Cleveland, Appling’s friend and family were there to support him. “I had my 4th grade teacher come to the premiere because she inspired me from a very young age that I could be whatever I want,” Appling said.

His teacher, along with thirty-five members of his family, got to see his dream come true. Appling is proof that a dream spoken can lead to a dream realized. ●

Darnell Appling and Zendaya at the premiere for the movie Challengers.
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Darnell Appling has acted in KC Undercover, Spiderman No Way Home, Challengers is from East Cleveland, Ohio.



There is nothing like a Black woman dressed up, looking good while celebrating her glory and all that comes with it. CODE M wishes all women a happy and wonderful Mother’s Day. A

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wardrobe shopper, stylist,
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