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ODE M Magazine was born out of a need to give a voice to the conscious Black man. Living and working in today’s society can be challenging for the African American male. From politics to career choices, Black men are constantly living and working to provide a better life for themselves and those around them. Our Magazine was created to be a guiding force in creating a dialogue for Black men everywhere. We focus on the conversations of advancement, mental health, career choices, the political landscape, and relationships that define and shape the lives of black men globally. In the divisive world we live in today, there has never been a better time to introduce a publication that works to give a voice to the voiceless, a sounding board to those who are making a difference, and to provide a place for the barber shop conversations to expand to the masses. CODE M thrives in providing stimulating articles coupled with stunning imagery about those people who are making an impact in their communities and around the world. Our magazine also celebrates the idea of living by a certain code of conduct. CODE M Magazine promotes the relentless pursuit of self-fulfillment by living ethically and spiritually by embodying the characteristics of those we cherish and celebrate the most. It is by this code that we challenge and embrace our calling to be outstanding men and live CODE M. With that standard being set, we wanted to honor the women in our lives, too, who are getting things done. We introduce you to CODE M Magazine’s Women’s Issue. Our May issue celebrates the mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, and women we love and cherish. The issue is filled with compelling stories about our Black female leaders who are fulfilling the promise to live the American dream and support their communities at the same time. We also included some hard-hitting articles about topics that might be

considered controversial but still need to be discussed. Ultimately, we hope you enjoy our May issue as much as we did creating it. Finally, we would like to wish all the mothers of color at very happy Mother’s Day. Code M Magazine was born out of a need to give a voice to the conscious black man. Living and working in today’s society can be challenging for the African-American male. From politics to career choices, black men are constantly living and working to provide a better life for themselves and those around them.

Finally, we would like to wish all the mothers of color a very happy Mother’s Day.

Brad Bowling, President, CODE MEDIA GROUP CODE M / MAY 2021 5


14 CODE M CELEBRATES 18 OUTSTANDING FEMALE ACHIEVERS CODE M Magazine’s annual Women’s Issue is dedicated to highlighting and observing women who are doing amazing things for their community, careers, and family. 23 BALANCING GRACE AND POWER WHILE BEING A CEO Dr. Jacklyn A. Chisholm talks about being tested as a Black female CEO, keeping her organization vibrant during the pandemic, and the rebranding of her company, Step Forward.




If you are tired of not finding love on your dating app, turn it off for a few, and read this book so you can reset your dating goals and find the love you desire. 26 IS BEING BBW HEALTHY? Big and beautiful seems to be the preferred choice when describing plus-size women, but what are the risks associated with gaining a few extra pounds?

It literally feels like a part-time job to use a dating app to find love today. Your success will depend on your ability to know exactly what you want.

30 WOMAN CODES Quotes by women of distinction. 38 THE STATE OF THE BLACK FEMALE



EXPLORING THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF YVETTE NICOLE BROWN Yvette Nicole Brown is living proof that dreams can come true

6 MAY 2021 / CODE M

when you work hard, stay humble, and believe in yourself. 12 MOVERS AND SHAKERS Get to know people who are making a difference in their careers and changing the world!

Never has the Black female had to deal with so much, with so little in order create to kind of environment that we all expect.

CODE M / MARCH 2021 3

[ INSIDE ] 42 A TRIBUTE TO GEORGE FLOYD’S MAMA Mothers all across America watched in shock as George Floyd called out for his mama. This Mother’s Day, women are reminded that the fear of having your own child murdered at the hands of the police is a real possiblity. 54 BIL’S BRACELETS BY DESIGN: IT’S ALL IN THE WRIST


THE WOMEN OF CLEVELAND NEWS Cleveland news has taken on a new look as women of color are changing the way we get our news with powerful storytelling and incredible charisma.

“There are many designers of bracelets, as you may know. I create designs that speak to a variety of individuals. My designs are my designs.” BIL BEVERLY 61 HOW LUPUS IMPACTS BLACK WOMEN Ninety percent of people diagnosed with lupus are women, and African American women are three times more likely to get lupus than Caucasian women.




PUBLISHER Bilal S. Akram



ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Teri Martin David Williams CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Leslie Logan Bolling Smith Anthony Kirby David Christel Brad J. Bowling D'Juan Hopewelnifer Corley Lawre nce Burnley CODE MEDIA GROUP LLC


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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 © 2020 All Rights Reserved



C O R E Y 12 MAY 2021 / CODE M

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




Pastor R.A. Vernon

The MVP of the Medina Gazette, Corey Tripp became Medina High School’s all-time leading scorer this year with 1,325 points. He was also named the Northeast D-1 co-player of the year, first team all Ohio.

R.A. Vernon, D. Min. is the founder and senior pastor of The Word Church, one of the fastest growing churches in the history of Cleveland with campuses and daughter churches throughout Northeast Ohio. In his twentieth year of pastoring and tenth year of leading and fathering pastors and churches across the nation, he has committed his life unequivocally to honoring God and helping people.

Corey has accepted a basketball scholarship to Wolford University and will begin his college career this fall.

SHARIF AKRAM Sharif Akram is involved with the planning and development of one of the first industrial scale garment factories in Kazakhstan. Manufacturing t-shirts, underwear, pajamas, baby clothing, and various athleisure wear for distribution and duty-free consumption throughout Kazakhstan, Russia, and EAEU member nations — a market size of over 200 million people. In addition to clothing, the overall project vision is to bring cosmetic, chemical, and other manufacturing to this region to lessen reliance on importation.

TERRENCE UPCHURCH Terrence Upchurch recently served as a special assistant to Cleveland City Council and previously worked alongside Cuyahoga County Councilman Anthony Hairston. From his time working in city council, Terrence has learned and developed a keen understanding of the nuances of government, which he brings to the Statehouse. Terrence understands the importance of forming relationships in Columbus, bipartisanship, and will create a platform to fight for working class families. CODE M / MAY 2021 13


CODE M Magazine’s annual Women’s Issue is dedicated to highlighting and observing women who are doing amazing things for their community, careers, and family.

- April Miller Boise -







As a member of Eaton’s executive leadership team, April is actively engaged in all aspects of the company’s business, including developing and implementing strategic initiatives through investment in digital technologies, mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, and other adjacencies. April has global responsibility for legal, compliance, and corporate governance matters and manages enterprise-wide risks. She is an accomplished C-suite executive and corporate board member with 25 years’ experience working with companies in a variety of industries including aerospace, electrical products and services, commercial transportation, automotive, mining, and oil and gas.

LaToya has been a valuable team member of Fifth Third Bank for 22 years. She has the responsibility of attracting, acquiring, and advancing top diverse talent into the bank and leads a team of Talent Acquisition Consultants for Bancorp. LaToya is actively involved in the community with organizations including EL Barrio Job Readiness Program, Dress for Success and Y.O.U. LaToya is very philanthropic; she a founding member of a Giving Circle, Our Hope, Our Future. She has received professional development accolades from Kaleidoscope Magazine’s Forty/Forty Club, Crain’s HR Leader Finalist, Women of Color Stephanie Tubbs Jones Courage Award, CSU Link Distinguished Alumni, The Girls Scout of N.E. Ohio Women of Distinction, NAACP Unsung Hero Community Award and Cleveland Bridge Builder just to name a few.

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[ PEOPLE ] Kristina Austin, MSEd, LSW, recently joined the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University as the Director of Community Engagement. In her role, she will work collaboratively with Case Comprehensive Cancer Center members, community entities, and institutional partners in efforts to address cancer disparities and promote health equity. Previously, Kristina worked for 17 years directing community outreach and marketing at The Gathering Place, a non-profit cancer support center in Northeast Ohio. Kristina spearheaded initiatives that increased the diversity of the participants utilizing The Gathering Place by developing community programs and partnerships.



Stacey Stoudemire is the owner and chef at Simply Elegant Catering. The company has grown every year it has been open and enjoys being considered one of the best places to order cakes.


Simple Elegant Catering has been recognized as one of Cleveland's most established catering companies for twenty consecutive years. Its owner and staff are committed to bringing freshness and creativity to Cleveland's catering market. Their modern, urban style is permeated with clean lines and flourishes of color with a nod to tradition. Their relentless search for the finest and freshest organic and sustainable ingredients drives their cooking and menu writing, bringing together simple ingredients with spectacular results. Their whimsical cuisine has clean, updated flavors and a refined style, featuring organic vegetables, fresh wild seafood, and natural meats.

Denise currently works as the Chief Human Resources Officer for the Greater Cleveland YMCA. She has over twenty years of Human Resources experience including: Employee and Labor Relations, Performance Management, Change Management, Organizational Effectiveness, Succession Planning, Recruitment, and Training & Development. Ms. Ali brings a unique blend of strategic vision, employment law savvy, and advocacy and compassion to her work. Before the YMCA, she spent over ten years at Medical Mutual serving in several different roles of which the most recent was the Director, Diversity & Inclusion. She is a thoughtful leader and advocate, and has made coaching and mentoring of women in life, career, and business a personal priority.




Amina McClain is an Associate at Rothenberg, Mohr & Binder, LLP. Her practice focuses on transactional matters in the music industry. Amina received her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Case Western Reserve University’s School of Law. While attending Case, Amina worked on First Amendment matters through the Spangenberg Center for Law, Technology and the Arts’ First Amendment and the Arts project and sat first chair as an intern in the Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic Center .


Prior to attending law school, Amina graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science from Loyola University of New Orleans where she majored in Music Industry Studies and minored in Business Administration. While at Loyola, Amina worked in artist relations at a New Orleans-based music management firm.


Alison Graves-Calhoun is a seasoned Biomedical Engineering professional with long-term experience in the medical device industry. Alison joined Medtronic, Inc. in 1999 as a Tachyarrhythmia Field Engineer and over the past 20+ years, has worked in multiple roles including Sales Representative, Technical Field Engineer, Principal Field Scientist, and Principal Clinical Specialist. Alison spends a great deal of time volunteering with community organizations. She is a Diamond Life Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. She has served in multiple leadership roles in the Greater Cleveland Alumnae Chapter including Founders Day Committee Co-Chair (2016-2018), LEAD Committee Chair (2019-2021), and Finance Chair (2021-2023).


Carole Anthony's career spans over three decades in the entertainment industry as live music coordinator, technical producer, tour manager, radio and television programmer, and brand campaign coordinator respectively for RCA, MCA and Universal Record labels; Stedman Graham & Partners, Toni Brown & Associates, Macy's, Nike, Black Pride NYC, National Black MBA, the IAAAM Foundation, and UNCF; WJCU, WOVU-LP FM, MTV Networks, PBS, and NBA Entertainment.


One of her current projects includes completing a book based on Sepia magazine's photo archive of which she curated a select group of images for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, National Blues Museum, and contributed to the National Museum of African American History & Culture. She currently serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for Buckeye State Credit Union and as Radio Reading volunteer for the Cleveland Sight Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

A visionary pastor and teacher representing a new generation of leaders, Rev. Courtney Clayton Jenkins serves as the Senior Pastor and Teacher of South Euclid United Church of Christ (formerly Euclid Avenue Congregational Church). At the age of 27, Rev. Jenkins made history when she became the first woman, first African American and the youngest pastor called to lead this special congregation. Since that day in 2010, Rev. Jenkins has led the multi-cultural and multi-generational congregation to become the vibrant church that it is today, but first she had to lead it out of the ashes. Just six months before Rev. Jenkins was asked to serve, the historic church was struck by lightning and the architectural gem was completely destroyed by fire. With courage, the congregation called the young and dynamic “hip-hop” preacher to become their pastor to allow God to do “a new thing.”


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Fatimah Jackson is from Cleveland, Ohio. She is a Registered Nurse with 27 years of experience. She teaches at Cuyahoga Community College. Fatimah loves all aspects of nursing but loves being a Nurse Educator the most. She feels Nurse Educators have an important role in the medical world and of those roles, one of the most important is to prepare licensed nurses and train them for future practice positions. Fatimah has been in the Nursing Education sector for the last 12 years. She loves to serve as a positive role model for her students. She also enjoys the personal gratification that comes from witnessing student growth and transformation as they go through the Nursing Program. Fatimah holds a Bachelors in the Science of Nursing from Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio.


Felicia Moore began her career in public service as President of the Riverside Neighborhood Association. Later, she served as Chair of the Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU) D. She became a strong advocate for economic community development, which led to her election as Atlanta City Councilmember for District 9, where she served 20 years before becoming President of the Atlanta City Council in January 2018.


Among her many accomplishments, Moore is credited with Atlanta’s 2011 Pension Reform Act, which she accomplished by getting labor unions, pension boards, and employee groups to sit down together. In an unprecedented move, these groups managed to agree to increase their contributions in order to save their defined benefits and avoid expensive legal action, which would have hurt the city.

The Reverend Dr. Leah C.K. Lewis, J.D., is the head of Three Butterflies Entertainment & Press LLC. Leah is a writer, documentary filmmaker, social entrepreneur, and event producer. She is the author of Little Lumpy’s Book of Blessings, which serves as the subject of a project in development for animated children’s TV. Currently, Leah is directing and producing two documentaries, Black Buckeyes: A Tale of Two Cities, an independent production examining the lived and historical realities of African Americans in Cleveland and Cincinnati, and Leo’s Legacy for MidTown Cleveland Inc, which highlights Cleveland’s famed Leo’s Casino nightclub of the late 1960s and early 1970s. She also serves as co-producer of Black Mary a co-production of POST Theatrical and DEMASKUS Theater Collective highlighting the life of Mary Fields, the first African American Star Route Mail Carrier in the United States, which will be streamed during Juneteenth 2021.


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Patriica Wilson Orr has managed and operated University Dental Associates for 38 years with partner Dr. Ronald W. Orr, focusing on preventive dentistry, children’s dental health, and continuing to provide techniques to help patients manage their dental fears.


Autism intervention is something that has shaped her as a person today. Orr’s son Josh was diagnosed at 3 years old. The need to provide multiple interventions with therapists and tutors motivated Orr and her husband to create Autismtutors.com, a website that helps parents, therapists, and tutors come together throughout the United States.

Rhonda Crowder, a graduate of Cuyahoga Community College and Cleveland State University, holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing, editing, and publishing. Rhonda is an active member of Greater Cleveland Association of Black Journalists, United Black Christians of Greater Cleveland, and The Friendly Inn Settlement, Inc. board of directors. She's been awarded a Rotary Group Study Exchange Fellowship and recognized by I CAN Schools, El Hasa Court #47 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).


Toshianna Renee Richard, affectionately known as Toshi, is a senior at Kent State University, where she is a member of the Women’s Gymnastics Team. Toshianna will graduate this May with a Bachelor of Science and a double major in Political Science and Criminology and Restorative Justice. Toshi plans to attend law school next fall and eventually practice corporate law.


20 MAY 2021 / CODE M

Toshi is the daughter of Derrick and Renee Richard and is the youngest sibling of Kelli Richard Davis and Evan Michael Richard. Toshi is a member of Lee Road Baptist Church and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.


CODE M / APRIL 2021 13


Yasmin Reccord joined Medical Mutual in 1990 holding positions in the claims and customer service departments. Through hard work and dedication, she currently serves as the Senior Client Director of Labor Sales – the first African American to hold the position in the company. She is responsible for retention, management, strategic planning, and implementation of Taft-Hartley Funds.


Amongst Yasmin’s many achievements, three of her proudest moments include being inducted into John Hay’s Hall of Fame, featured in Kaleidoscope 40-40 Club, and receiving the National Action Network Greater Cleveland Chapter Behind the Scenes Justice Award.

Olivia Howell is doing amazing things as a student-Athlete. The Solon, Ohio graduate, earned a full scholarship to the University of Illinois where she is breaking records and gaining fans on the track field. During her senior year in high school, Howell represented the US in China, as a member of a group of students who competed in track. Howell recently won the women’s 400-meter during a meet at IU and continues to excel in academics by averaging a 4.0 GPA. Howell is expected to continue to compete for the university as she completes her degree for the school.


Danielle Jones is a goal-oriented public/media relations/corporate communications professional who is a purpose-driven visionary. She is also a dynamic public speaker who inspires and encourages people to achieve their goals.


Her expertise is in developing comprehensive, strategic corporate communications plans, which includes writing press releases and media advisories, writing and delivering speeches, pitching news stories, event planning, managing client expectations, and coaching others on how to achieve successful results. She enjoys networking with a variety of people and developing professional relationships with key contacts at local, regional, and national media outlets. She has experience in healthcare and the banking industries.


BALANCING GRACE AND POWER WHILE BEING A FEMALE CEO Dr. Jacklyn A. Chisholm talks about being tested as a Black female CEO, keeping her organization vibriant during the pandemic, and the rebranding of her company, Step Forward. by Bilal S. Akram


hen the pandemic struck, it hit certain industries pretty hard. For the working poor, it drove them into poverty. For those who had less, it just about destroyed their lives. So Dr. Jacklyn A. Chisholm, the CEO of Step Forward, formerly the Council for Economic Opportunities of Greater Cleveland, knew her organization was going to become a lifeline for those in need. Step Forward offers assistance to low-income families in need of emergency assistance with heat and electric bills. Step Forward had to remain open and available to those hit hardest by COVID-19. “We knew we were going to be the only resource that people had, and if they were going to survive the pandemic, they were going to need our help,” Chisholm said. A Cleveland native, Dr. Chisholm is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University, where she earned three degrees: Bachelor of Arts in medical anthropology, Master of Arts in psychological anthropology, and a doctorate in psychological anthropology with an emphasis in educational anthropology. Chisholm understands the challenges of being a female, being Black and being a CEO, which is rare in today’s business circles. She must be firm, passionate with her employees, and stay open-minded at home.

them the unique perspectives to create award-winning environments for their employees and thriving businesses for their boards and shareholders. Chisholm is the recipient of numerous awards including Crain’s Cleveland Business Woman of Note, YWCA Woman of Professional Excellence, Women of Color Foundation ISIS Award, Council for Opportunity in Education National TRIO Achiever, Cleveland Educators Forum Alumni Achievers Hall of Fame, and Who’s Who in Black Cleveland. Dr. Chisholm is an alumna of Leadership Cleveland and a past member of the Case Western Reserve Chapter of Links, Inc. Chisholm is spearheading the rebranding of CEOGC, the largest Community Action Agency in Ohio, to it’s new name, Step Forward. “The change in name gave us the opportunity to really define what our organization is all about. We help move people from poverty to self-sufficiency,” Chisholm concluded. The future is bright for Step Forward with Chisholm at the helm providing leadership and guidance to those impacted by the pandemic. For anyone needing assistance with heat or electric bills, please contact Step Forward at 216-696-9077. ●

The balancing act that Black, female CEO’S have to manage gives CODE CODEMM//APRIL MAY 2021 15 23



MEETING YOUR HALF-ORANGE: AN UTTERLY UPBEAT GUIDE TO USING DATING OPTIMISM TO FIND YOUR PERFECT MATCH If you are tired of not finding love on your dating app, turn it off for a few, and read this book so you can reset your dating goals and find the love you desire.


Written by Monica Cimpoies Monica Cimpoies is a free-lance writer from Chicago who specializes in self-help books and articles. Cimpoies studies positive methods of performance and writes for CODE M Magazine, among other publications.


efore the pandemic hit, dating life was already hard for singles and divorcees looking for their forever love. When the pandemic hit, it made it near impossible to find the right person. For single people everywhere, the thought of going online became the only option. The problem with online dating is you never really know who you are going to meet and its exhausting to swipe right photo after photo. Because being on a dating app is like a part-time job, Amy Spencer’s book Meeting Your Half-Orange: An Utterly Upbeat Guide to Using Dating Optimism to Find Your Perfect Match, does an excellent job at helping women get out of their own way when looking for love. Half-Orange refers to the Spanish term mi media naranja, which describes one’s sweetheart, that perfect other half. The book discusses the hope that your perfect match is out there and you need to be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepared for them. There are so many times when adults bring their past relationships into their present situations. Or they never move beyond the pain they experienced from a past encounter, so they are no longer capable of seeing an

excellent opportunity in front of them.

Half-Orange helps you refocus yourself by getting out of your own way. According to the book, the real answer to finding love is to find your own happiness first. Once you have healed and understand what makes you happy, you can then begin to search for your soul mate. Only then will you have the space to discover the attributes of your partner. Meeting Your Half-Orange does an incredible job at helping women tap into their inner beauty, thus allowing them to see the value in the men they are searching to date. This more positive perspective opens women up to an incredible dating experience and helps them stick to the plan of fulfilling their goal, which is to find peace, love, and completeness with their partner. The goal of dating is to reflect what you are trying to attract. If you want a positive, confident and attractive man, then you need to become those qualities yourself. The book is a bestseller and is available right now in stores everywhere. So, get out there and begin the process of finding your inner peace, so you can find the love of your life. ● CODE M / MAY 2021 25



HEALTHY? Big and beautiful seems to be the preferred choice when describing plus-size women, but what are the risks associated with gaining a few extra pounds? by Bolling Smith 26 MAY 2021 / CODE M

[ LIFE ]


oday, we work hard to make all things positive. We pass out trophies for participation, we celebrate 5th place, we promote the promise that everyone is special. This mentality also has allowed women who are overweight the opportunity to celebrate what might turn out to be an unhealthy lifestyle. The term BBW (Big Beautiful Woman) was born by Carole Shaw in 1979, when she launched BBW Magazine, a fashion and lifestyle magazine for “plus-size” women. The magazine trademarked Big Beautiful Woman and BBW, which was later transferred to Dimensions Magazine. The idea of being a BBW is to accept yourself for what you are — to love and appreciate yourself at the size you are. BBW women are typically plus-sized women who are above average in Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of your height in meters. A high BMI can be an indicator of high body fatness. BMI can be used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems, but it is not an actual diagnostic for body fatness or the health of an individual.

Women come in all different shapes and forms and that should be celebrated. Everyone has a different metabolism and depending on activity and eating habits, every woman will have a different journey when discussing her body. Let’s not forget the hormonal differences for women. Women and hormones have always been a factor in unexplained weight

gain or simply working to control or maintain a certain size. But BBW describes a different phenomenon. Being a BBW woman today might mean that you are working to carry and hold on to a few extra pounds in the right areas to attract or please your partner. THIS VS THAT The discussion of whether being a BBW is healthy can cut both ways. There are some diet experts who suggest that struggling with a yo-yo diet can be bad for a woman who is trying to lose weight. Women who struggle with weight loss sometimes will work to maintain a healthy

diet, instead of working to lose weight. Maintaining a natural consistent weight might mean you are bigger, or it could mean that you are smaller. Body types are different for everyone. The celebration of being a BBW has even become competitive. There are BBW beauty pageants where plus-size women compete to earn prizes and stature. Golda Poretsky, a health and wellness coach, doesn't look like most women in her profession. She’s a fat activist and health coach for plus-size women — just like herself. Her mission is to empower plus-size women to live their best, most joyful lives, free of stress and shame over what they eat and what they weigh. She feels it’s better for women to love themselves for who they are and stop trying to lose CODEM M//APRIL MAY 2021 CODE 2021 27 19

[ LIFE ] the American College of Cardiology found that increases in visceral fat can increase heart disease risk factors, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, and total cholesterol levels. Researchers have also found that too much visceral fat can cause Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes and stroke, as well as inflame body tissues and organs and narrow blood vessels causing one’s blood pressure rise dangerously. THE HEAVY COST OF BEING BBW While being BBW might be considered socially acceptable, the physical burden of carrying the extra weight can produce adverse medical outcomes for women who do not maintain a healthy waistline. The number one killer of Black women in America is heart disease, which develops when a woman’s BMI is out of control. Additionally, women suffering from obesity often have reduced lifespans because the extra weight puts added stress on all the body’s organs and systems.

the extra weight. There are certain aspects of carrying extra weight that can be helpful. Overweight people over age 85 might live longer than normal-weight peers, researchers at Tel Aviv University found early this year, because obesity might protect seniors’ bones from potential fractures or breaks due to falls. Extra weight can also provide energy reserves in times of stress. Oxford University researchers found that adults with pockets of lower-body fat in

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the buttocks and thighs might have a reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease because this type of fat traps the potentially harmful fatty acids that can travel through the bloodstream. UNDERSTANDING VISCERAL BODY FAT A type of fat called visceral fat is stored in the abdominal cavity and can surround vital organs like the pancreas, liver, and intestines. Visceral fat makes up only about 10% of a person’s body fat, but a 2016 study in the Journal of

Black women must also consider their family history in the extra weight equation. If a woman comes from a family with a history of heart disease or diabetes, she will need to pay extra close attention to her weight and BMI. Gaining five pounds is not an issue, but over that could become problematic. Something else to be aware of is that, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people gained weight over the past year. So, the bottom line is, make sure you visit your doctor, find out what your ideal body weight is, take the necessary steps to create a happier and healthier life, and then celebrate!

CODE M / APRIL 2021 21

[ LIFE ]

WOMAN CODES: “I am an example of what is possible when girls from the very beginning of their lives are loved and nurtured by people around them. I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity.” —Michelle Obama “You can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and those around you. That kind of beauty inflames the heart and enchants the soul.” —Lupita Nyong’o “Each time a woman stands up for herself without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” —Maya Angelou “Let us remember: one book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can


change the world.” —Malala Yousafzai “Women sometimes go too far, it’s true. But it’s only when you go too far that others listen.” —Indira Gandhi “Men often say that women change their minds too much. I say they sometimes don’t change them enough. I mean changing their state of mind, their attitudes, their outlook, their expectations, their consciousness – most of all, about themselves and what is possible in their lives.” —Julia Alvarez

“Greatness is not measured by what a man or woman accomplishes, but by the opposition he or she has overcome to reach his goals.” — Dorothy Height “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion:

Compiled by Bilal S. Akram

The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” — Wilma Rudolph

“Your willingness to look at your darkness is what empowers you to change.” — Iyanla Vanzant “We are not born women of color. We become women of color. In order to become women of color, we would need to become fluent in each others’ histories, to resist and unlearn an impulse to claim first oppression, most-devastating oppression, one-of-a-kind oppression, defying comparison oppression. We would have to unlearn an impulse that allows mythologies about each other to replace knowing about one another. We would need to cultivate a way of knowing in which we direct our social, cultural, psychic, and spiritually marked attention on each other. We cannot afford to cease yearning for each others’ company.” – M. Jacqui Alexander 29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Proverbs 31: 29-31 Iyanla Vanzant and Maya Angelou are two national influencers for women of color.

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Yvette Nicole Brown is living proof that dreams can come true when you work hard, stay humble, and believe in yourself.

32 MAY 2021 / CODE M

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


CODE M / MAy 2021 33



hen we were little, we all dreamed of becoming something special when we grew up. Those dreams sustained us while we imagined making the last shot at a basketball game or scoring a touchdown for the big win. For little girls, the dream looked the same. For Yvette Nicole Brown the dream was to become a professional recording artist or actress and make music and movies that everyone could love. The difference between Brown and most people is she worked and worked until her dream became a reality. But how do you turn a dream into a reality? For Brown, getting from Warrensville Heights where she grew up to Hollywood is a long journey. “I never made a conscious decision to work on my craft so much as I’ve always

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just worked to be an asset and not a liability wherever I’ve found myself to be. That desire makes life better no matter what you do for a living, ya know? The goal has always been to make a decent living and to be a decent person,” Brown commented. “As a kid, I remember hearing about the quote from MLK that said (paraphrasing), ‘If you are a ditch digger, be the BEST ditch digger!’ That always stuck with me. I always want to give my all whether I am an office assistant working at Motown or on a set as an actor. Show up. Give. Share. Those are my life mottos,” Brown said. One might be confused in understanding the process for making a dream come true. What happened to being at the right place at the right time? Or how about, “A Hollywood agent just walked

up to me and thought I was LA material,” and you know the rest. Or maybe you just get lucky. Well for Brown, hard work looks a lot like luck. Is it possible to be kind to people, work hard to develop your skills and plot a course that finds you completing your goals doing exactly what you intended to do all the time? The road to success is slow and steady. It is always harder than it looks, and way more complicated than anyone said it would be. For Brown, getting from Ohio to Hollywood meant taking some chances and risks at the same time. While Brown was attending the University of Akron, she heard that Bell Biv DeVoe was performing in Columbus, Ohio. She and a friend drove two hours south and did


whatever it took to meet the group. Brown had no idea how she was going to get in front of them, but if her dream was going to become true, then this chance meeting had to take place. “When I was nineteen, the plan was to meet Michael Bivins of New Edition and BBD, who had discovered Boyz II Men, and ultimately have me sign up as a singer. The meeting ultimately happened later, not on that trip with our friend Derrick Clay. But yeah, that was the start of it all. I went from a New Edition fan to being managed by Biv to WORKING for Biv as his assistant to playing his amazing mother Shirley Bivins in the New Edition Movie! Crazy how life goes. A touring stage play, lots

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of commercials and television shows, and some movies came after. But Michael Bivins’ belief in my talent started it all,” Brown explained.

And this is how dreams start. Taking a chance on yourself. Thinking outside the box. Believing in yourself enough to create opportunities out of nothing. Brown did that and now she works as one of Hollywood’s top actresses with multiple projects and opportunities developing every day. Brown has several projects going at the same time and just directed a movie for the first time in 2021. “I have a new dramedy on Disney+ called Big Shot starring John Stamos

Brown is starring in Big Shot currently streaming on Disney +.

[ COVER ] which just debuted, a game show for kids called The Big Fib also on Disney+ and lots of animated shows. The Chicken Squad for Disney Junior and My Dad, The Bounty Hunter for Netflix are two that have been announced. Thankfully, even more are in the pipeline. I love voicing characters on cartoons,” Brown said. When Brown is not working, she stays active politically. She often will chime in on anything effecting women of color or her community. She believes that if you have a platform to speak up, you should use it to make the world a better place. Describing her pursuits, “I’m a proud Democratic voter who believes #BlackLivesMatter. I am on the Board of Emily’s List which works to elect Democratic Pro-choice women and am an Ambassador for Michelle Obama’s ‘When We All Vote’ initiative. I believe our votes matter. And I strive to be a

voice of change in our political world. We all must take part. We all have to do our part.” When young women recognize Brown and ask for advice on how they, too, can become whatever they dream, Brown never hesitates to offer support and encouragement. “When little girls ask me what they should do, I say this: NEVER GIVE UP! Never, ever. If it is a worthy goal and you are called to it, keep going no matter what.” When Brown is feeling a little boxed in and needs a break from the business of being famous, she can always count on home to get centered and recharge her batteries. “I come home a couple times a year. But I am a full-time caregiver for my Dad now, so I am lucky if I get back home once a year these days. I miss Cleveland and all my friends and family who still live there. Cleveland

centers me,” Brown concluded. Living a dream for most people is hard to imagine. For Brown, not living her dream was far worse to consider. ●

[ LIFE ]

Harriet Tubman

38 MAY 2021 / CODE M




Never has the Black female had to deal with so much, with so little in order create to kind of environment that we all expect. by Brad Bowling


very year, The President of The United States has a State of The Union address. He speaks about where the county is and where the country needs to go. This speech gives the country an opportunity to understand what needs to be done and how we all can accomplish those goals. For anyone who has a Black woman in their life — this article is her State of the Black Woman address. Read this to understand how to make a true difference in her life. The life and journey a Black woman takes cannot be deeply appreciated until it is broken down and examined. There is no other person in America who can say they have been a major part of every moment in the US except for Black women. They were a part of: •

the Suffragette movement and Blacks’ right to vote,

the Labor movement,

confronting and caring for those with HIV/AIDS and, finally,

the civil rights movement.

Black women have had to fight for everything they have ever gotten. They have endured more than any other woman on the planet. Just to be on the same page, let’s go over the

Black women are the backbone of American society.


struggles of the Black woman. She was ripped from her homeland over 400 years ago and forced into slavery where she was beaten, raped, deprived, and degraded. Her male counterpart was killed in front of her or reduced to nothing so she could not depend on him. She had been the unpaid or barely paid mother to America, raising its kids, cooking its dinners, and cleaning up after a country that never showed her any gratitude or respect. The Black woman has always been the voice of reason and the calm in the room. Her efforts have never truly been appreciated although the Black woman has put everyone before her. Her man, her kids, her goals, her dreams, her equality — they all took a back seat just to keep the peace, make things easier for everyone, and to literally survive. Fast forward to today and consider what the Black woman is dealing with now. In no other culture is a woman asked to do more. Black women today have the single most difficult job in the community. She has become the backbone of black pride, black dreams, and black progress. Gone are the Black male leaders such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jim Brown. But it doesn’t stop there. Only in Black culture is the Black woman outpacing her counterpart. The Black woman makes more than her counterpart, is more highly educated than her counterpart, and quite often, the decision maker in the house. And in some cases, the Black woman is taking care of her grandkids and/or a CODE M / MAY 2021 39

[ LIFE ] parent(s) at the same time. These attributes come at an incredible cost for the Black female. She is one of the most misunderstood people in America. This misunderstanding comes from her perceived attitude and rough exterior. Although that stereotype is justified, it is also a symptom of a much deeper problem when discussing the Black woman. No other race of females has been abandoned like the Black woman. Her man is often absent in her life. The Black woman must kill the bug, change the tire, work the job, cook the meal, change the diaper, and protect the house all by herself. That rough exterior we all see is her work clothes that she never gets to take off. The attitude we all experience is the mentality it takes to survive in a world that continually tries to take you for granted. So now that we have a better understanding of where the Black female is, where do we go from here? What kind of future can a Black woman expect? What actions need to take place to make the world of the Black female better? EASIER SAID THAN DONE There is no magic potion available that can fix the problems in the Black community and of the Black woman. But with the understanding that we can all do better, we can address some available options that can make her life easier moving forward. First, Black men need to step up and honor, respect, and protect their Black female counterparts.

Black men — if you have a mother, sister, daughter, wife or Black girlfriend, your job is to become a support system for them. Black men can help the Black female by getting their own act together. Create a better environment for her by getting your career, credit, decision-making together. She does not have time to raise an already grown man. If you are going to create a better situation for her, create that by becoming a better man yourself. Any employer who reads this and has a Black woman on your staff — your job is simple: equality is a real thing.

Black women need to be celebrated for their leadership and determination to thrive in today’s environment.

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Treat her with the respect you, yourself, expect to be given. She loves her job, support that by giving her the salary and accolades she deserves. Her loyalty to you should be returned with a better salary, the promotion she deserves, and the mutual respect she covets. To society itself — the Black woman continues to be the backbone of America. Her leadership, in the absence of none, is still the fuel for our nation. Her cultural dominance has never been stronger. The Black woman is at the center of everything with flavor and taste, and she continues to influence popular culture. To anyone else who consistently has a Black woman in their life — remember that she is the movement. Period. Honor her with unyielding support. That support will allow her to soften, to become what she was always meant to be, a queen. Her grace and beauty will shine brighter. Her softness will extend beyond her children, and her forgiving nature will have a chance to do more than just peek out. The Black woman’s future will flourish with the support and respect of American society. We all owe her our undying gratitude for what she has put up with for over 400 years. It’s time to change the narrative by giving her what is rightfully hers: honor, dignity, equality, respect, and esteem. ●

[ LIFE ]


42 MAY 2021 / CODE M

[ LIFE ]

A TRIBUTE TO GEORGE FLOYDS’ MAMA Mothers all across America watched in shock as George Floyd called out for his mama. This Mother’s Day, women are reminded that the fear of having your own child murdered at the hands of the police is a real possibility.

Written by CYNTHIA CURRY Cynthia Curry is a certified grants specialist, writer, speaker and author. Her passion is inspiring, teaching, and encouraging others through faith and prayer.


y mother had peculiar fears about drowning, so, she arranged for us to take swimming lessons at a very young age. I love water, and swimming is a very sweet spot even now. Good swimmers know how, or more importantly, when to breathe. They master breath control because surviving in the water depends on it. Water can transcend the soul to a place beyond itself. It can be associated with new beginnings or sad endings. For instance, the breaking of water prior to childbirth signifies new life and holds within it a reflection of our ancestors. From the shores of Africa, black mothers have been holding their breath while “wading in the water” for centuries. Forced from their native continent, shipped as chattel. Many could not fathom life elsewhere and decided their own fate within the depths of the sea. Drowned to maintain the dignity of souls deemed anti-human. Those who endured the journey arrived on unknown shores and died with the “hope and dream of the slave.”

we wade through muddy waters, unable to reach the shore. “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but a knee on the neck is worth a million pictures. On May 25, 2020, the world saw a dark part of this nation’s history in living color. We continue to be discounted, disregarded, disenfranchised, and dismantled. The recurring nightmare has yet to be reconciled. As mothers watched George Floyd die, Black mothers saw their greatest fear, the killing of their sons. He uttered the words of our ancestors, “I can’t breathe!” None of us were surprised. Black America understood the weight of those words that challenge every ounce of dignity we have. Unlike their

time everyone shared the horror. We cried, grieved, and mourned over a man killed by a person who represents law and order. Though most will never admit it, underneath our breath, Black mothers were saying, “Thank you, that this time it was not our son.” My son is in the US Marines, but way before he got there, he was raised with survival techniques. Whenever he walked out of our door, he was reminded of our love and the world’s fear of him. He was told that his beautiful black skin is a threat, and no matter what he does, please make it back home. No matter the age, mothers are always concerned about the well-being of their children. An ethereal bond exists, the

As mothers watched George Floyd die, Black mothers saw their greatest fear, the killing of their sons. He uttered the words of our ancestors, “I can’t breathe!” None of us were surprised. counterparts, our children do not have the luxury of routine traffic stops, routine anything! Black mothers, like Duante Wright’s, know that getting stopped could be the last thing our children ever do. I call it PTPS-Post Traumatic Police Disorder. This is what happens when Black people encounter law enforcement. It triggers anxiety that says, “Will this stop cost me my life?”

Fair treatment and justice come at a While systemic injustices scream and shout price, but Black America wonders when the debt will be paid. George Floyd’s for the right to maintain the status quo, death moved us to take a deep dive into Black folk are still in labor. A history of brokenness, horror, and pain continues as a painful but familiar topic, except this

power of the womb, a bond that surpasses logic and transcends life. Black communities understand the power of Black Mamas. She is symbolic of headquarters, a haven, and the one person who has your back. No matter where you are, or what you do, she represents unconditional love and acceptance. She is where we are fed, nurtured, comforted, sustained, and rebuilt. Black Mamas will go to the ends of the Earth for the sake of their children. Last year, mothers across the world heard a familiar cry, a son calling his Mama. We saw our babies, sons, brothers, nephews, cousins, and ancestors screaming for CODE M / MAY 2021 43

[ LIFE ] justice. George Floyd is the son of a movement that has not evolved since the Rodney King beating. That was also captured on camera, the officers were acquitted. What we have been unable to convey in centuries, was captured by Darnella Frazier, a savvy teenager, in distress, but with the presence of mind and bravery to press “Play.” The result, Derek Chauvin must now reap the consequences of his choice. Chauvin, like this nation, is deeply wounded, contorted, and conflicted. It’s time to repair a broken system designed for those with power, influence and money, who do whatever they want, with minimal consequences to be accountable. It’s time for this nation, built on the backs of our ancestors to face the consequences

of their actions and heal. Both, Floyd and Chauvin, are now unchosen faces of a movement. George Floyd for reconciliation and justice and Derrick Chauvin for racism and accountability. Hopefully, George’s death will alter the fate and history of Black people in this country. Black Mamas saw a grown man destroyed by a legal system sworn to protect and serve life. Almost a year later, a guilty verdict allowed us to finally breathe. The prophetic utterance of his own child looms in the air, “Daddy changed the world.” Together, we watched God use a common man with life issues, from harsh circumstances, who loved his family. A Mama’s boy, an athlete who never reached his own promised land, strive to get others to theirs. I believe God used a “big ole” black man, a gentle giant to demonstrate to the world that human dignity is not a color, it is a birthright. Onlookers heard him scream for his mama,

but I believe, His Mama was screaming for him. On that pavement, I envisioned George Floyd, with divine assistance from his beloved mother, surrender his own life. In those moments, there was no more suffering or sorrow, the image of the former things were done. If heaven can give a miracle beyond the grave, it would be to mothers for the sake of their children. So, I believe a gracious God in those last moments, sent his Mama, with living water in hand, to refresh the dying soul of her son. I imagine them walking together, with cups running over, hand in hand, reunited in love and adulation. As they began to chat, she said, “Son, you fulfilled the purposes of God in your generation.” Then they waded through peaceful waters, looked beyond the shores and heard, “Well done.” ● My mother had peculiar fears about

[ LIFE ]


I d w w




f you’re a single woman and at least 40 years old, you already know how hard it is to find and meet the right man to date. If you were single before the pandemic, online dating apps are the only way to continue to search for love. Using a dating app feels more like a game than the real thing. Depending on which app you use and your level of use, you can rest assured you are going to meet a qualified number of

46 MAY 2021 / CODE M

weirdos, jerks, and serial killers (joking) if you swipe enough. But if you are serious about finding love, here are a few tips to make sure your profile stands out among the crowd. PROFILE PICS ARE EVERYTHING Let’s face it, people always start with a photo. Because we are all attracted to physical looks, you must make sure that

[ LIFE ]

It literally feels like a part-time job to use a dating app to find love today. Your success will depend on your ability to know exactly what you want.

By Bolling Smith

views of you to determine his interest. If you can, try to stay away from the dreaded bathroom pic, the dirty bedroom pic, or the standing in front of an abandoned house pic. Believe it or not, guys look at the background of your photos, so make sure you create the right tone by having the right pictures on your profile. For the love of God, keep your kids out of your pics. Your prospective love is looking at you only, not your kids. YOUR STORY Your profile is the second thing guys look at before they decide to hit the “Like” button. Make sure it offers some insight into what you desire. Create a tone with your profile by writing complete sentences. If you’re looking to find an educated partner, he is considering you based on how articulate you are. Incomplete sentences are the fastest way to have someone swipe left on your profile. Your profile should include details about your interests and how you expect to be treated. The more you can provide in the profile, the closer you will get to the matches you desire. Try not to be too wordy with your profile. Remember, he wants the cliff notes into your life, not the entire book. LONG DISTANCE LOVE It seems like anyone worth dating is at least two hours away. Finding love on a local level can be extremely hard. You will see the same people on several different dating sites, so set your distance to at least 100 miles. This way you will have more options to choose from. If you put your distance filter too low, you will quickly run out of choices. If you are willing to travel for love, you just might find the person you have been searching for, though they just might be in a different city. MOVING FROM THE APP TO TEXTING

your profile pic conveys the look you desire. This should not have to be said but using a most recent picture is the best policy. Using photos from ten years ago will only have your dates running for the exit after they figure out that the twenty pounds you gained thanks to COVID are alive and well. Make sure you have at least four to six photos of yourself — one photo does not give your prospective date enough

So, you seem to have met your match. The communication between you two seems good. You now would like to move the conversation from the app to your phone. You need to be careful when moving to texting. There are scammers who use the online dating apps to steal information they can obtain by getting your cell phone number. If someone on the app asks you to text them too quickly, this should raise a red flag. If they claim to be stuck in another country, this is a major red flag. Also asking what appears to be personal questions too quickly typically means that you are being scammed. If you would like to protect yourself, you can get a google number that’s separate from your phone. CODE M / MAY 2021 47

[ LIFE ] This number protects you from theft and is untraceable, providing you with an added layer of safety. THE FIRST MEETING If you are lucky enough to want to meet a potential person to date, try to pick locations that have a decent crowd. Never allow your potential first date the opportunity to pick you up. Instead meet them at your choice of location and make sure you have checked all the exits to give yourself enough options to end the date early, if need be. Meeting for coffee is suggested for a first meeting. Dinner could be too much of a commitment and you might feel obligated to endure a meeting for over an hour if you don’t like the person. Try meeting them for a cup of coffee. Coffee offers the ability to end the meeting quickly and get out of a bad situation. It also keeps the cost of the first meeting low, thus reducing your feeling guilty over not liking someone who just spent serious bucks taking you out. SEX OPTIONS So, you have finally met someone you like. You have been on a few dates and it seems like a good fit. You are ready to take things to the next level but want to feel comfortable with your new partner, yet aren’t sure when you should. There is no real answer to when you should get naked with your lover. The typical waiting period for having sex is four dates, which gives them enough space to show you who they really are. It also allows you the space and time to make sure you are comfortable getting that intimate.

At the same time, when you are over 40, secure in your job, your kids are amazing and doing well, and it has been a minute since you’ve had sex, there is no protocol for getting busy. If you enjoy your date, you get to decide when you want to take things to the next level. These are just a few options you can consider when looking to date someone with potential. There are no real, clear guidelines for finding true love, but if you are on a dating app, make sure you know what you want, make good decisions, and have a good time in the process. ●

Dating apps are currently the number one place to meet and find love in 2021.

48 MAY 2021 ISSUE / CODE M

CODE M / APRIL 2021 33


Neeha Curtis from Channel 19.

THE WOMEN OF CLEVELAND NEWS Cleveland news has taken on a new look as women of color are changing the way we get our news with powerful storytelling and incredible charisma. by Leslie Logan


he Cleveland news market has always been a top destination for rising talent looking to showcase their skills by educating the consumer and providing the day’s top stories. That talent is beginning to be dominated by women of color. Each local network, WYCY Channel 3, WJW Fox 8, Channel 19 News, and WEWS Channel 5 all have true professionals represented.

50 MAY 2021 / CODE M

NEEHA CURTIS Neeha, from Channel 19 News, is the morning anchor for the news station. Every morning Curtis wakes Cleveland up beginning with the 4am broadcast. Curtis, who moved to America from New Zealand, started her career by accident when she won an opportunity to intern for Dateline NBC. That spark turned into a career when Curtis sent audition tapes all over the country. “I can remember when I was first starting out and needed a break. I found a little TV station in a small city,” Curtis said. Curtis got her undergrad at the College of New Jersey and went to graduate school at Syracuse. Her first job was in production as a producer. Curtis moved to Greenville, Mississippi for her first position as a reporter. That little break has turned into a wonderful career for Curtis that has allowed her to move from market to market growing

[ ENTERTAINMENT ] her skillset and finding fans at every turn. Originally born in India, Curtis loves living in Cleveland and plans on continuing to donate her time to worthy causes when not working. Curtis starts every day at midnight with a workout and then prepares for her broadcast at 2am so she can be on TV by 4am. Those hours take a huge commitment and a lot of patience from her family. Curtis loves having a connection to her viewers and she will continue to be the first person on TV in the am. DANIELLE WIGGINS “Working in Cleveland is a dream come true! I was born, raised, and educated here in Northeast Ohio (go Bedford Bearcats and Kent State Golden Flashes!), so I consider it a blessing to be able to do what I love in the region that raised me,” said Wiggins. Her start in journalism came when she was sixteen years old and was accepted into the Urban Journalism Workshop (UJW) being held at John Carroll University. During her junior and senior year of high school, she would spend Saturday mornings at the university learning from journalists and media professionals of color who lived and worked in Northeast Ohio. The stories they told captivated her. She applied the lessons she learned to the video projects they produced each year for the closing program. UJW gave her a great introduction to her future career. Professionally, she plans to continue to develop and hone her skills as a storyteller and anchor, which will allow her to connect with the audience in a deeper manner. Wiggins explained, “Being a journalist during a global pandemic and a time of social unrest has shown me that our jobs of recording history and people’s responses to the events going on around us is a sacred duty that must not be taken lightly. We have a responsibility to do our jobs well and in 2021 I want to make sure that I’m managing that responsibility to the best of my ability.” DANITA HARRIS Danita has been a major fixture in Cleveland news market since 1998. Her rise in Cleveland has come

Danielle Wiggins from Channel 3.

CODE M / MAY 2021 51

[ ENTERTAINMENT ] from hard work and patience. This dedication has made her a household name and has allowed her to enjoy the city she loves so much.


here have been very few times since the American cinema was created that a movie has been made that impacts the entire country. One could argue which movies made such an impact: Moses, JFK, The Day After, the TV movie with Jason Robards about the aftermath of a nuclear missile strike against our own country], and now American Skin. This highly relevant movie is about police brutality and holding the police accountable. The movie was made in 2019 but the pandemic and timing created a circumstance wherein the movie was just recently released. Typically, movies are made to mimic life, but in this Nate Parker -directed film, it’s more of a “what if?” It is all too familiar to have a police officer-involved shooting of an unarmed Black man or woman happen only to be forgotten or swept under the rug as time passes. We’re kind of used to the “Let the investigation happen before we discuss anything” position of the police as the process drags on so long that we lose focus on the incident or we simply move on to the next police shooting. American Skin helps us bring together all the frustrations of hearing another police officer escape prosecution for his crime because it deals with the situation head on. Omari Hardwick, who plays Omar Scott, brilliantly deals with his 14-year-old son being shot dead for simply trying to film the police. The movie quickly escalates as the military veteran dad

Danita Harris from Channel 5.

52 MAY 2021 / CODE M

Some of her most memorable stories she reported on are HIV/AIDS and its impact on stru African American Women in Northeast Ohio and ggle reporting live from New York City on the 10th s anniversary of 9/11. wh In 2004, Danita received an Emmy for Good en Morning Cleveland. the po- Danita received national recognition for her work lice in the community when she was honored by the offi organization Black Women in Sisterhood for cer Action at the “Salute to Distinguished Black wh Women 2006” gala in Washington D.C. o In 2010, Danita was honored to receive the kille prestigious “Woman of Vision” award from the d National Coalition of 100 Black Women for her his commitment to community service. She was also son recognized as one of the Outstanding Women in , Ministry in Cuyahoga County by the National pla Council of Negro Women. yed by Danita was recognized for her work by being Bea inducted into the Ohio Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2010. u Kna pp, is not hel d accou nta ble for his action s.

JENNIFER JORDAN Two-time, Emmy-award winning journalist Jennifer Jordan joined WJW-TV News in January of 2012 as the noon anchor and reporter for the evening newscasts. Over the last nine years in Cleveland, Jennifer has won three national awards. The first two, an NABJ award and RTDNA Unity Award for “Race: Our Stories,” a series detailing diversity issues with African American journalists, Omari stemming from the police killing of Tamir Rice. Hard-

The third national award was the second-place National Headliner Award for Best Newscast for the “Brelo Verdict,” the Cleveland officer charged Sco in the East Cleveland car chase. He was found not tt guilty. The award was for the second-best de- newscast in the nation, for which Jennifer cide anchored with then co-anchor Bill Shiel. Prior to joining FOX 8, Jennifer worked at New York City’s

[ ENTERTAINMENT ] WPIX-TV/CW11 as a freelance general assignment reporter and fill-in anchor. In just a few months there, Jennifer reported on some of the biggest stories in the NYC metropolitan area. Continuous breaking news coverage included the mid-air plane/tourist chopper collision over the Hudson River that made national headlines. Jennifer was also the lead reporter on the deadly shooting of a Jersey City police officer and the attempted car bombing in Times Square. Jennifer traveled to New Orleans for the unveiling of the USS New York naval ship built with steel from the World Trade Center. In an exclusive report, Jennifer also exposed security flaws at some of New York City’s most prominent tourist attractions, including the Empire State building. Jennifer was also lead reporter on the NYPD police shooting of an unarmed man, Sean Bell, killed by cops on what would have been his wedding day. Before Fox & My 9, Jennifer was a Westchester correspondent and general assignment reporter for WCBS-TV, also in New York. As part of the awardwinning team, Jennifer was nominated for two Emmy awards for the mass transit strike. Previously, Jennifer anchored the 10 pm newscasts at News 12 Westchester. While there, she earned two Emmy Awards, one for on-camera achievement. The second Emmy was for a multi-part, hard-hitting investigation titled, “Predator Next Door.” Prior to Fox & My 9, Jordan anchored the weekend newscasts at WFIE-TV in Evansville, Indiana. And before that, she was a general assignment reporter and fill-in anchor for WBKO-TV in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Jennifer is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina where she received her BS in Broadcast Journalism. She is also a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She was inducted into Peekskill High School’s alumni Hall of Fame in 2003. Jennifer has also received numerous community awards for her dedication to covering stories in her neighborhood and volunteering for several local charities. ●

There are very few times when something comes along and moves the soul, the senses and your spirit all at the same time. American Skin does that! by Leslie Logan

Jennifer Jordan from Channel 8.

CODE M / MAY 2021 53


“There are many designers of bracelets, as you may know. I create designs that speak to a variety of individuals. My designs are my designs.” BIL BEVERLY 54 MAY 2021 / CODE M

Written by ANTHONY KIRBY Anthony Kirby is the Fashion Editor for CODE M Magazine and has spent over 30 years in the fashion industry. Kirby lives in Philadelphia where he owns a clothier in the city.







Born and raised in North Philadelphpon meeting Bil Beverly of Bil’s Bracelets ia, Bil grew up an avid athlete and — a husband, father, and grandfather — you sports fan. He lettered in basketball, probably wouldn’t see a bracelet designer. But baseball, and football at Strawberry Bil’s creative mind allows you to do new and Mansion High School. exciting things with his extraordinary talent Upon graduation, Bil entered the and eye for design. workforce in the airline industry. It

was a long fulfilling 20+ year career with US Airways that allowed him one of the greatest perks in anyone’s career: free lifetime flying privileges. During Bil’s airline career he was developing his taste for fashion. Jewelry was where he started his foundation. DurCODE M / MAY 2021 55


ing the late ‘70s and ‘80s, men were wearing metal bangles mainly seen on R&B-Soul groups like EWF, The Isley Brothers, and ParliamentFunkadelic. It was during this period of fashion expression Bil developed his own personal style. It was seeing the styles of bangles and bracelets for men being great add-on accessories in a man’s attire.

Forward to 2010. At that time, Bil was overseeing two non-profit mentoring programs for high school students within the Philadelphia Public School District. A colleague admired a bracelet he was wearing. She wanted to know where she could purchase the bracelet for herself. Bil replied, “I made it myself.” This was the ah-ha moment for Bil, when she suggested to him that he make his bracelets available to women.

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Bil’s Bracelets collection was formed. The collection is an outstanding assortment of bracelets with colorful semi-precious stones. The outside attractiveness of the stones not only makes his bracelets exquisite, they all have a plethora of medicinal properties and spiritual meaning to them, which makes them very appealing to Bil’s clientele.

The medicinal/spiritual properties of the stones in Bil’s Bracelets were real-

ized at an event being held at the Philadelphia Convention Center where Bil was showcasing his collection. A woman at his table started rubbing some of the stones. She asked, “What stone is this?” Bil replied that it was Howlite (Jasper), known for being a calming stone. The woman shared with Bil that she’d been experiencing slight bouts of stress, anxiety, and sleep depri-

[ FASHION ] vation. She felt a sense of calm as she continually rubbed the stone. She was sold on having a bracelet comprised of Howlite. Bil then knew he was onto something that was more than just about beauty.

Bil enjoys working with a couple of exclusive stones in his collection. The Howlite for its beauty, energy and calming and Black Obsidian, which shields against any negativity. With so many semi-precious stones he loves to work with, it would be hard to name them all.

Bil’s Bracelets offers an array of style for men and woman, unisex, and young and old. It’s a collection madeto-order by one’s own inspiration. As Bil states: “Stay grounded, that’s what the stones are all about. Respect.” ●

Bil’s Bracelets by Design https://www.bilsbracelets.com/ info@bilsbracelets.com

IG: bilsbracelet

CODE M / MAY 2021 59







WOMEN Ninety percent of people diagnosed with lupus are women and African American women are three times more likely to get lupus than Caucasian women.


upus is a chronic disease affecting approximately 1.5 million people that can cause inflammation and pain in any part of the body. It’s an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system, which usually fights infections, attacks healthy tissues instead. The signs and symptoms tend to persist longer than six weeks and often for many years. Common signs and symptoms of lupus are extreme fatigue, pain or swelling in the joints, swelling in the hands or feet or around the eyes, headache, low-grade fever, sensitivity to sunlight or fluorescent light, light chest pain when breathing deeply, a butterfly-shaped rash on the cheeks and nose, hair loss, sores in the mouth or nose, fingers and toes turning white or blue, and numbness when feeling cold or stressed. Ninety percent of people diagnosed with lupus are women and African American women are three times more likely to get lupus than Caucasian women. As many as 1 in every 250 African American women will develop the disease. Lupus is also more common in Hispanic, Asian, Native American, and Alaskan Native women. African American and Hispanic women usually get lupus at a younger age and have more severe symptoms including kidney problems than women of

other ethnic groups. African Americans with lupus also tend to have more problems with seizures, internal bleeding, strokes, and dangerous swelling of the heart. Hispanic women with lupus 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 CODE M / MAY 2021 61


complications from lupus because of lack of access to care, communication barriers such as language differences, lack of healthcare coverage, and lower income levels. It is not known why lupus is more common in African American women. Researchers are certain that a person’s genetic makeup plays a role in how the disease affects minority women. We do know that hormones and environmental factors also play a role in who develops lupus.

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

Lupus is most common in women ages fifteen to forty-four or during their childbearing years when their estrogen levels are

highest. There is currently only one approved drug to treat systemic lupus, called Benlysta, which has proven to be very effective, but not a good fit for every lupus patient. Recently, Benlysta was approved by the FDA to treat lupus nephritis. Another treatment recently approved by the FDA is Lupkynis, the only oral medication specifically used for the treatment of lupus nephritis. Other medications are in the trial phases and will hopefully be approved soon. Although there is no cause or cure for lupus, 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 information about the disease for patients and care providers. Visit www.LupusGreaterOhio.org for more information. ●




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