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Volume 9 – Number 37 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019








contents 7 New year, happier you 9 Black History Month: 365 days of the year 10 Roots: Bishop T.D. Jakes leads a traveling exhibit on slavery 12 Mentoring: Parramore Kidz Zone 14 Health and Wellness – Putting your strengths first 16 Mentoring: Youth mentored to put food back in the community 18 Workplace: Employees may be able to help you pay off student debt 20 A way to talk about race, 6 words at a time 24 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project 27 Aging with optimism 28 Travel: What every frequent flyer should know 29 Sports: Recognizing a true Hall of Fame dad 30 Giving for good 32 How to rekindle the romance in your marriage 33 Good Read: Words of power 34 Undersung Heroes – African American Read-In 36 Real Estate: Investing in the Orlando market 38 Medically Speaking: Infertility – finding new paths 40 Education: Boost women’s confidence to fix STEM gender gap


MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE HER LEGACY STANDS THE TEST OF TIME Statue of Mary McLeod Bethune on the campus of Bethune-Cookman University Photo and cover photo by John Reeves


42 ONYX Profile: Derrick Blue 43 ONYX Profile: Lena Graham-Morris 44 Cover Story: Mary McLeod Bethune’s Legacy Stands the Test of Time 46 Florida Scope 48 Money Matters: The co-op that’s keeping community money out of big banks 51 Credit card fraud is down due to chip technology 53 Taxpayers beware 54 Food and Wine: Three red wine drinks for Valentine’s Day


FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2019 11:30 A.M. ALFOND INN, WINTER PARK, FL Women on the Move celebrates trailblazers who make positive impacts in their communities and their chosen professions. This event has become a highly-anticipated event to acknowledge these accomplishments.

For more information, visit

FROM THE PUBLISHER PUBLISHER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Richard “Rich” E. Black MANAGING EDITOR D. Shenell Reed, M.B.A. EXECUTIVE STRATEGIST Lena Graham-Morris ASSOCIATE EDITORS Gayle Andrews Talia Ashley Laura Dorsey Sharon Fletcher Jones



JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 Happy New Year! It is hard to believe another year has come and gone. I look on 2018 with the sadness of losing my sister, Pamela. She was the heart and soul of our family and was beloved by many. Pamela’s passing reminded me that time waits for no one. We must seize each day, live life on purpose and have fewer regrets. These are sentiments I am taking into 2019. I also recall new beginnings. In October, we launched ONYX Business Connect in Tampa and brought together the business and nonprofit communities to make power moves. It was a great event and it is only the beginning of positive things to come. In 2019, we welcome fresh perspectives and embrace new challenges! In our cover story, Mary McLeod Bethune reminds us of what it means to be resilient. Her struggles and hard times were the fuel she needed to birth one of the most formidable universities in the world. Bethune-Cookman University graduates top talent—men and woman who pour into their communities in extraordinary ways. Now, as the university faces an uncertain future, we hold onto the steadfast legacy of the founder. As an alumnus, I proudly chant, “Hail Wildcats, Hail Wildcats!” Have you ever taken your significant other for granted? With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, we explore exciting ways to rekindle relationships and keep the fires burning. In our Black History story we learn about a traveling art exhibit that is teaching viewers about the hidden secrets of slavery. Bishop T.D. Jakes leads a committee that is changing the way we see our ancestors and the hardships they faced. Thank you for being a part of our lives for more than 21 years. As always, we are dedicated to bringing you entertaining, inspiring and informative information that celebrate us! At ONYX Magazine, we are marching into 2019 with a bold approach: edgy and compelling stories that open our eyes to AfricanAmerican life. Join us on this journey.



GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jamaal Whitehead OFFICE ASSISTANT Maria Barnes BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR Matt deJager MANAGEMENT ASSISTANT Chelsey Rouse CONTRIBUTING WRITERS P. Qasimah Boston, Ph.D. Ivy Brashear Patricia M. Brown Michael H. Cottman

John Cox Lara Perez-Felkner Sarag Fisk Zenobia Jeffries

Dr. Terri Major-Kincade Jeremy Nelms Dee Parker Roniece Weaver

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Urban News Service Race Card Project ONYX ADVISORY COMMITTEE Deidre Parker, Chair Michelle Tatom, Immediate Past Chair Bob Berryhill Dr. Lavon Bracy Bryon Brooks Marva Brown Johnson Hon. Mable Butler Yolanda Cash Jackson Dr. Cynthia Chestnut James Clark

John Crossman Gary Hartfield Tony Hill Alma Horne Rodney Hurst Ann Jenkins Connie Kinnard Larry Lee, Jr.

Brenda March Nancy Port Schwalb Margaret J. Thompson Gail Thomas-DeWitt Hon. Alan Williams Carla Williams Dr. Samuel Wright Lady Dhyana Ziegler


Lester and Lillian Seays ONYX Magazine is published by ONYX Communications and Media Group, Inc., Address: P.O. Box 555672, Orlando, Florida 32855-5872. Phone 321-418-7216. Subscription rate is $19.95 for six issues. For subscriptions and notification of address change, contact ONYX Magazine at the above address or e-mail us at Letters to the editor are encouraged. Copyright 2018 by ONYX Magazine. All rights reserved. No part of the publication may be reproduced without written consent of the publisher. Opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the writer or interviewee and not necessarily those of the publisher. Manuscripts, photos and art should be submitted with a self-addressed stamped envelope. The publisher does not assume responsibility for any materials not submitted in manner advised. Unsolicited materials are not subject to payment from ONYX Magazine.

Happier New Year! Make your resolutions stick by making them in July instead. By Jeremy Nelms


It is what drives us to take action or even not to take action. Each goal must carry an emotional feeling deep down inside of you that makes you want to create a change in your life. Take out a pen and paper now and write down a sincere emotion for each of your goals/resolutions. The more emotion you can dig up, the more likely you will be to stick to that goal/resolution. Remember emotions drive you to do what you do... or don’t do! Now that you have found a need and attached emotion to it, you must find that burning desire to make the change. Thirdly, find an alternative for your previous actions. For example, if you need to lose 10 pounds because you come home and sit in front of the TV every night and munch on snacks, then you need to find a replacement action for your evenings. You might opt to go for a walk when you feel like pulling that bag of chips out of the pantry, or grab a big glass of water from the

fridge. Or find something that you enjoy doing that will occupy your time, so that the bad habits do not creep back. Finally, consistency is key. Research proves it takes 21 days to form a habit. We must be consistent with our actions, desires, and goals. You must pledge to do whatever it takes to make the change. You must decide to change, no matter what, and it must come from you and no one else. Yes, life gets hard and schedules get rearranged, but do not forget those emotions that you attached to your goals. When life gets in the way and you feel like it would be easier to give up then to stay strong and take the essential steps necessary to meet your goals, be sure to keep these emotions fresh on your mind. If necessary, sit down for five minutes and envision how you would feel and what the end state of your goal looks like, feels like, and yes, even tastes like!

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o, everyone has heard of New Year’s Resolutions, right? But many times, by March we have already fallen off the wagon. So, how do I make resolutions that stick? Give your January a break and make your resolutions mid-year. First, your resolutions must be simple, specific and to the point. The goal should fill a need that you have not been able to fill all year. Sit back and think about it. You must make the goal REAL to you by allowing it to fill a desired need. This adds meaning and a motivation for achieving your goal, that you might not otherwise have. Now, do not create one broad resolution that covers multiple areas of your life. The more specific you can be with your goals, the more focused and attainable they will become. Next, you need to allow some intense emotion to flow through your goals/resolutions. Emotion tends to be what drives us as humans to do what we do every day.



Black History Month 365 Days of the Year Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) Announces Black Migration as the Theme of Black History Month 2019


SALH, which was founded by Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Negro History Week and Black History Month, announced the 2019 Black History Month theme: Black Migrations emphasizes the movement of people of African descent to new destinations and subsequently to new social realities. While inclusive of earlier centuries, this theme focuses especially on the twentieth century through today. Beginning in the early decades of the twentieth century, African American migration patterns included relocation from southern farms to southern cities; from the South to the Northeast, Midwest, and West; from the Caribbean to US cities as well as to migrant labor farms; and the emigration of noted African Americans to Africa and to European cities, such as Paris and London, after the end of World War I and World War II. Such migrations resulted in a more diverse and stratified interracial and intra-racial urban popu-

lation amid a changing social milieu, such as the rise of the Garvey movement in New York, Detroit, and New Orleans; the emergence of both black industrial workers and black entrepreneurs; the growing number and variety of urban churches and new religions; new music forms like ragtime, blues, and jazz; white backlash as in the Red Summer of 1919; the blossoming of visual and literary arts, as in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Paris in the 1910s and 1920s. The theme Black Migrations equally lends itself to the exploration of the century’s later decades from spatial and social perspectives, with attention to “new” African Americans because of the burgeoning African and Caribbean population in the US; Northern African Americans’ return to the South; racial suburbanization; inner-city hyperghettoization; health and environment; civil rights and protest activism; electoral politics; mass incarceration; and dynamic cultural production.




Bishop T.D. Jakes takes a look at slavery as the honorary co-chair of a traveling exhibit By Michael H. Cottman, Urban News Service


Michael Cottman and Bishop T.D. Jakes, the exhibition’s honorary chair

Photos by The Mamones


nside a provocative exhibit about Thomas Jefferson and slavery, Bishop T.D. Jakes was reminded of his own enslaved ancestors. Jakes, who has visited Africa many times, proudly talked about his Nigerian roots. He said Dr. Henry Louis Gates, a professor of African and African American research at Harvard University, arranged a DNA test which confirmed that Jakes’ ancestors were from Nigeria. “Going back there recently, I went into an area that was predominantly Ibo and it was kind of emotional to me,” Jakes said. “Because they made presentations to me – my house is decorated with a lot of African art – and they were telling me this is what your language sounds like.” Jakes said he has a vivid recollection of his great-grandmother who was once enslaved. He was just 10 years old but said he remembers listening to his great-grandmother talk about slavery and his family’s history “And I think of how so many people look at Africa and they talk about poverty but when I looked at it I thought they are so rich in ways that we are poor.” Jakes said. “They know who they are, they know whose they are, they know where they came from, they proudly understand their languages, and in that way we are very poor and so there needs to be a greater exchange between us as people because for me it was like regaining a part of myself that was lost.” Jakes is the honorary co-chair of a new traveling exhibit, “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty,” which will run from Sept. 22 to Dec. 31 at Dallas’ African American Museum. The exhibit, which premiered at Smithsonian’s National

Thomas Jefferson statue with names of the individuals he owned as slaves listed behind him, the lap desk where he wrote a draft of the Declaration of Independence and the farm ledger he kept with the names and descriptions of the people he owned.

If I reach back far enough I can touch my own family slavery in a very personal way.

Photos by The Mamones

–Bishop T.D. Jakes

Museum of American History, breaks new ground by focusing in more detail on the life of Sally Hemings who was enslaved with an estimated 400 other men, women and children on Jefferson’s 5000-acre Monticello plantation. The exhibit showcases more than 300 artifacts. Some of the artifacts that appear in the exhibit include, nails made at the nailery, which was run by the enslaved families an became an extremely profitable industry for Jefferson; a tombstone of Priscilla Hemmings that was hand-carved by her husband, Michael Hemmings; (NOTE: spelling with two m’s is correct; and china

and pottery purchased by the enslaved families at the market. Some of Jefferson’s items on display include a finely carved chess set, his eyeglasses and bookstand. Also, a medicine bottle from Paris that may have been brought back by Sally Hemings during her time in France; a portion of a black pot (Jefferson encouraged his slaves to marry and gave them a black pot as a wedding gift) and an arm chair used in the house that is believed to have been made by John Hemings, (correct spelling) a gifted furniture maker. Meanwhile, Jakes reflected on the artifacts, which conjured images of enslaved Africans aboard slave ships heading from West Africa to the Americas. “All of the people who got on the boat were not the same people but they had to unify in order to survive under stress.” Jakes said. “It’s an amazing story when you think about it. They didn’t even speak any other’s language so well that was a certain amount of distrust under the planks of the ship there was a huge enemy above and so in that sandwich dimension of history we survive nonetheless.” “We learn how to communicate with

each other,” Jakes said. “We learned how to become a people. We struggle with what to call ourselves – ‘darkies’ and ‘coloreds’ and ‘niggers’ and negroes’ and all of these names that were thrust upon us is a reflection of trying to identify who am I,” Jakes added. Dallas is the first city to host the exhibit that will feature additional objects that have never left Monticello. Other stops for the exhibit include Detroit, Richmond and the West Coast in 2019. Jakes said slavery was also about survival, people who were forced into a violent life and stripped of everything, including their names. He added that slavery and contemporary issues of race are forever intertwined, and he stressed the significance of the Dallas exhibition. After Jakes completed a tour of the exhibit, he sat inside one of the museum’s upstairs galleries, glanced at a panel about enslaved African people, and spoke philosophically about slavery’s 300-year impact on the world. “I think that no matter what the color of the people are anytime we allow one group of people to have that much power, abuse perpetuates itself,” Jakes said, “whether you are talking about some of the atrocities that have happened in the history of the Jews or whether you’re talking about the apartheid in South Africa, or whether you’re talking about slavery and Jim Crow in America.” ONYX MAGAZINE 11


Zone Get in the

Parramore Kidz Zone changes lives and community

Since it started, more than 5,000 youth from birth to 24 have benefited from PKZ through preschool, parenting education, mentoring, tutoring, academically enriched after-school programs, arts, science and technology enrichment, college access assistance, youth sports, youth employment, and more. The investment is paying off: • Of the youth who received intensive academic support last year o 77% of middle and high school students ended the school year with a 2.0 GPA or higher. o 100% of middle school students and 91% of high school students were promoted to the next grade level. o 100% of 12th graders graduated and enrolled in post-secondary education. • Of the 117 youth who participated in PKZ’s youth employment program last fiscal year o 90% showed improved knowledge of workforce skills as measured by pre- and post-test scores. o 98% were rated “satisfactory” or above by their employers.


Photos courtesy of Parramore Kidz Zone


n 2005, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer sent a team of city staff to New York City to visit Harlem Children’s Zone, a pioneering program that was successfully “moving the needle” on the academic, social, and economic success of Harlem’s children. Convinced by what they saw, Mayor Dyer decided to replicate the Harlem project in Orlando’s Parramore Heritage Neighborhood. In July 2006, after raising public and private dollars, Mayor Dyer launched Parramore Kidz Zone (PKZ) in Orlando to level the playing field for Parramore’s children, equipping them to become successful, healthy, well-educated adults. PKZ aims to reduce juvenile crime, teen pregnancy, and high school drop-out rates in Orlando’s highest poverty neighborhood, and ultimately replicate this model in other Orlando neighborhoods. Investing generous public and private dollars in research-based youth programs has created a continuum of cradle-to-career solutions impacting all aspects of children’s lives. The results are extraordinary: • Between 2006 and 2017, juvenile arrests went down 66% in Parramore, compared to 26% citywide. • During that same period, teen births declined 78% in Parramore, compared to 38% citywide. • Neighborhood surveys show the percentage of children attending preschool rose 117%. • Neighborhood surveys show the percentage of children “getting into trouble in school” declined 76%.

Today, nearly 100 PKZ youth have gone to college – all of them the first generation in their families to attend. Going to college is no longer a dream in Parramore – it’s a reality. The payoff multiplies as students who were once receiving services through PKZ return to jobs at PKZ to make a positive difference by pushing the next generation forward. We are grateful for Mayor Dyer’s leadership and commitment to children. PKZ’s many donors and partner organizations and individuals throughout the Greater Central Florida area who have committed themselves to “moving the needle” on child well-being, and the youth and families of Parramore, have been steadfast partners every step of the way.



2. Ask yourself how did you get weak and let yourself turn away from being your best? Was it: • Work overload • Lack of having a plan which involved • Lack of family support • Inability to put yourself first • Lack of access to healthy environments, or healthy places to eat


What do your strengths look like? They should be consistent and achievable and replicable. In order to build on your strengths, you want to create strategies that are Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Replicable and with Timeline to achieve. Just remember the word SMART! When skills are learned, knowledge is attained. When you actually implement your strengths you actually feel the effectiveness of eating healthy, improved exercise and then you will begin to see your body and mind transform. To identify your own strengths, pay close attention to how specific activities make you feel. Your feelings will reveal your strengths

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ow do you turn a weakness around to a strength? Our strengths are the things we can hang our hat on because they make us look good, feel good and feel strong! However, our weaknesses can overpower our ability to change behaviors. Talent and skills are key qualities that we all need to manage our health however, a support system should always be in place to catch us when we fall. Let’s try a few new strategies to keep us on top of our health game. Steps to Strengthening Yourself : 1. Turn your strength into an activity that makes you feel strong. That activity is the action that makes you feel good and allows you to finish it to the end. Diligence for example includes activities such as: • Exercising 3-4 days a week • Walking a brisk walk for 60 minutes • Reducing TV time and increase family-oriented activities

Write three strength statements for yourself: 1. I feel strong when I____________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ 2. I feel strong when I ___________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________

3. I feel strong when I____________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________

Write three weakness statements: 1. I feel weak when I_____________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________

2. I feel weak when I_____________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________

3. I feel weak when I_____________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________

Now that you have completed this exercise, decide how you plan to turn the weakness into a strength, and a strength into a consistent habit, and a consistent habit to a way of living healthy. Look at your statements a few times a year to make sure you are not stuck in a rut. The best goal that you can set for yourself is defining your strengths and weaknesses and document the progress you have made since you began this exercise. Strength statements should get stronger and Weak statements should turn into a strength. Don’t let another day, week or month go by without self-examination. To improve your life-skills and health skill sets, email me at Sign up for our telehealth app and send me your name, email and cell number so we can continue the journey together. Be Blessed! Roniece

Roniece Weaver, M.S., L.D., R.D., is a registered dietician and president executive director and founding partner of Hebni Nutrition Consultants.

Got Water? Four Reasons to Drink More H20


e all know water is good for us and that we should probably drink more of it. So why, then, do Americans find it so difficult to sip from what is arguably the fountain of youth? Answers vary, but the fact is, one in 10 Americans drinks zero cups of water per day, according to a study by Dr. Alyson Goodman, a medical epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Zero. She suspects that those who don’t drink any water (or very little) are getting it from other sources such as food and coffee, but warns this may not be enough. “Many health risks decrease when you drink plain water,” says Goodman. Which is why, she says, the results are “mindboggling.” Robert Eakle, CEO of Alkame Water, agrees. “Without water, no living thing can survive,” he says. “It affects every area of our life and is an essential part to maintaining proper health.” However, not all waters are created equal. Enhanced waters, like Alkame Water, provide the body with more health benefits than regular water. Just take a look at how it can help: • It balances body fluids. Your body is composed of about 60 percent water and performs vital functions such as protecting your organs and tissues, regulating your body temperature and carrying nutrients and oxygen to your cells—essentially it keeps your body running like a welloiled machine. • It keeps skin looking healthy. Water moisturizes your skin and functions as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss (think free anti-aging cream). In addition, it can keep your skin fresh and smooth. • It boosts the immune system. Those who guzzle water are at a lower risk of getting sick. This crystal-clear concoction helps fight against flu, cancer and other ailments—especially if your water has mild alkaline properties, such as those found in Alkame Water. Including ionized water in your daily intake can give your immune system a boost through added antioxidants, improve aerobic capacity, enhance energy levels and through a patented technology that alters the molecular structure of water, hydrate your body more fully. • It can help control calories. While drinking water may not be a weight-loss strategy, per se, substituting it for higher-calorie or sugar-filled beverages can help by removing by products of fat, filling you up so you’re not noshing, acts as a natural appetite suppressant and raises your metabolism. NewsUSA report. Reprinted with permission.



Wiping Out Hunger Youth mentored to put food back in the community By P. Qasimah Boston, Ph.D., Tallahassee Food Network

A student from iGrow tastes a tomato grown in the community garden. Photo courtesy of iGrow


ood Insecurity is lack of access at times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. It is an ongoing problem globally and in the state of Florida and is linked to many negative health outcomes. According to Feeding Florida, 3.3 million Floridians are food insecure, including 1.1 million children. Additionally, the top five food insecure counties are Leon, Gadsden, Hamilton, Alachua, and Putnam. With past support


from the Childhood Obesity Prevention Education (COPE) Collaborative, the following community-based youth initiatives are designed to address neighborhood food insecurity and the resulting adverse health outcomes. iGrow Whatever You Like is a project of the Tallahassee Food Network (TFN) that engages young people in community building to create community-based food systems. It is an urban agricul-

ture and youth empowerment initiative focused on growing healthy food while providing youth employment and leadership development. Originally, iGrow was named and largely run by the iGrow youth themselves. It is a way to develop leaders, entrepreneurs and activists committed to enhancing the food environment. The initiative has gone from manufacturing and selling iGrow Buckets to planting, tending, harvesting, selling produce and teaching other young people urban agriculture. iGrow emerged from the Youth Empowerment and Leadership Development Academy (YELDA) a project of the Frenchtown Revitalization Council which in years past, conducted research on the availability of fresh, healthy food options within the Greater Frenchtown neighborhood. iGrow has become a Model that TFN works to spread globally. One example, is the iGrow South City project which was a partnership between the City of Tallahassee, South City and TFN and intended to help improve the neighborhood food environment. This project has now been handed over to the South City neighborhood. Preparing Youth to Participate (PYP) is a funfilled community-based health and wellness initiative that is developed to respond to the high rates of childhood obesity. The project is a public health approach that uses leadership development to engage the youth voice in activities to

eliminate and prevent childhood obesity through a behavior change approach. The goals of the PYP project is to increase knowledge and awareness of child health and wellness and to engage youth in actions that include peer-to-peer sharing of knowledge and influence for supportive policies. This training includes a community gardening and exercise component. Tallahassee Youth for Change (TYC) is a child health and wellness initiative that examines the food environment through the eyes of young people by using a technique called, Photovoice. Photovoice is a way to engage community voices and allow people to identify, represent, and enhance their community. This project was designed to address adverse childhood obesity outcomes and engages young leaders to help uncover solutions. In TYC, youth are given digital cameras, trained in how to take photos of their food environments and are empowered through their conversations about the food environment photos they take. Youth are also educated to act as promoters of child health and wellness. The photos that the youth take of their food environments are used to inspire conversations about child health and wellness. The photos are also used to envision strategies for neighborhood change that include policy recommendations. The TYC also leads a yearly Youth Symposium on Food & Hunger: Opportunities for Policy and Change.


Student Debt What perk would most entice you to accept one job offer over another? A company car? (How Boomer-like of you.) A 401(k) plan? (Pretty common these days.) With Millennials now comprising the largest share of the workforce, a growing number of companies are betting that offering to help pay off student debt is the next game-changer when it comes to attracting and retaining the best and brightest. It’s not a bad wager. Total education debt stood at a staggering $1.52 trillion at the end of March. And while the perk is by no means reserved only for Millennials - hey, even 4 percent of those 45 and older are still in the hole, according to the Pew Research Center - it’s not lost on anyone that the average student loan borrower will have graduated this year saddled with more than $37,000 in debt. “It stood at about $600 billion 10 years ago,” reported. One of the companies facilitating the new benefit is the same one - Fidelity Investments - that already handles millions of workers’ 401(k) plans. Businesses enrolled in its Student Debt Employer Contribution program are able to make after-tax contributions on their employees’ outstanding student loans, setting their 18 ONYX MAGAZINE

own parameters as to “who” and “how much” with the help of a modeling tool for estimating their potential recruitment and retention cost savings. “This is a new and relevant benefit that gives companies a competitive advantage to hire top talent,” said Asha Srikantiah, vice president of emerging products at Fidelity (, noting that the average contribution for most companies is about $100 a month, although it can be as high as $800 monthly in some cases. “It also enables employees to pay off their debt faster, which in turn allows them to focus on other priorities - including buying a home, raising a family, and saving for retirement.” Among the “early adopters” Fidelity says it’s teaming up with to offer the benefit: tech giant Hewlett Packard Enterprise; the rail industry’s New York Air Brake; financial firms Millennium Trust and OCC (The Options Clearing Corporation); and Ariel Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of separable reciprocating gas compressors used in the global natural gas business. In fact, more than just being a “facilitator” for others, Fidelity helped trail blaze this brave new world by having begun offering its own employees a student debt

program back in 2016. To date, more than 8,900 of its workers have received the benefit, paid directly to their loan service provider, with some pretty impressive numbers to show for it: a total of $22.5 million in savings on principal and interest, and 34,625 years of loan payments shaved off. The company is also taking what it calls “a holistic approach” to the student debt issue by offering open access to its website’s Pre-College Planning Resources, which can help avoid the pitfalls of incurring too much debt, and its Student Debt Tool that lets individuals view all their student loans and repayment options in one place. A deal recently inked with student debt refinancing platform now also integrates student debt refinancing into the Student Debt Tool, allowing employees enrolled in the program to receive actual pre-qualified rates from more than 10 refinancing lenders without affecting their credit scores. “The idea is to help more Americans take control of their debt so they can better save and invest for the futures,” said Stephen Dash, Credible’s founder and CEO. Copy provided by NewsUSA

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The latest job benefit helps employees pay it for you

A Way to Talk About Race, 6 Words at a Time The Race Card Project eases people into conversations around the uneasy topic of race and racism. By Zenobia Jeffries


f you were asked to sum up your thoughts about race in six words, could you do it? Eight years ago, Michele Norris, former host of NPR’s All Things Considered, asked people attending the book tour for her 2010 memoir, The Grace of Silence, to do just that. The exercise was meant as a conversation starter, a way to engage people on the uncomfortable subject by having them write their thoughts on postcards and then share them with others—directly and online. But Norris’ Race Card Project has become much more. Businesses, churches, and other institutions have used it to facilitate uneasy discussions around race. “When I first started asking people to share their little six-word stories on postcards that I had printed, I didn’t know what it would become,” Norris said. “I’ve been surprised at how many people have turned 20 ONYX MAGAZINE

to The Race Card Project as a trusted space to learn about someone else, to share their own story, [and] to use in a classroom or business space so that people can learn about each other or navigate this sort of difficult terrain around race and identity.” The idea is even more relevant today. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say racism remains a problem in the United States, according to a recent NBC poll. In fact, almost half of those polled say they believe race relations are getting worse. But there’s hope. Whether due to the number of police killings of unarmed Black people, emboldening of White Nationalist groups, or the introduction of terms like White fragility and microaggressions, the back-to-back presidencies of Barack Obama and Donald Trump have given rise to more public discourse around race. The Race Card Project is one of several efforts seeking to address racism—whether

it’s interpersonal, institutional, or systemic. In over eight years, it has archived over 250,000 six-word stories from all 50 states and more than 90 countries. The stories have come from people of various racial and cultural backgrounds, and across professions. “I feel invisible, while standing out,” read one essay by Aman Agah of Brooklyn, NY. “Race doesn’t define how you act,” wrote Ethan Flechner of Milwaukee, WI. Norris, a veteran journalist, has also been invited to facilitate countless discussions—sometimes within theatrical productions or dramatic readings; sometimes at roundtables or group chats. Always, they are a challenge. “Conversations around race are difficult on a good day,” Norris said. “But at a moment where we see these kinds of political divisions that have strong racial overtones and strong ethnic overtones, it makes that terrain even more perilous.” “Conversations around race are difficult on a good day.” At the University of Michigan, which became the focal point for a series of U.S. Supreme Court cases on affirmative action and where a Black student group launched a campaignthat brought international attention to the treatment of Black stu-

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dents on campus, the project set the stage for wide-ranging dialogue around race. Professor and legal historian Martha Jones, who was co-director of the law school’s program in race, law, and history and former associate chair of the Afroamerican and African studies department, had spearheaded a group that brought TRCP to campus in the spring of 2013. Organizers themed the event Understanding Race. “[It] was in a sense a continuation of the work we’ve always done,” said Jones, who is now at Johns Hopkins University. “But it was also a recognition that we were moving beyond the posture of litigation to think in more interdisciplinary ways and

“Part of her lesson to us was that while we could do large events and we could reach lots of people, some of the work of TRCP was always going to be happening in small settings, where colleagues and members of the campus community can really speak to one another,” Jones said. The Understanding Race theme was so impactful, that even todaymembers of the campus community continue to post their six-word stories on RCP’s website. In Marietta, Georgia, TRCP did similar work bringing two congregations together. St. James Episcopal and Zion Baptist churches are each more than a century old and separated by a funeral home. But

Photo courtesy of Race Card Project

The exercise was meant as a conversation starter, a way to engage people on the uncomfortable subject by having them write their thoughts on postcards and then share them with others—directly and online.

more campus specific ways about race.” Jones said the purpose was to help people distill their ideas and reflections about race. “There are a lot of people who are not going to come to a lecture. They’re not going to come to an academic conference. They’re not going to take a special course,” she explained. “But the postcards, we thought, had the ability to touch many more people who might not participate in any of the other events.” Norris and TRCP worked with the university to design a special postcard for the campus. She attended a series of events, including a public lecture and a pop-up installation on the Diag, the central crossroads in the middle of campus. And she directed a performance of dramatic readings of the race cards. She also met in small groups with the university’s president and executive leadership with students, and with faculty and staff. They talked about race in their lives, race on the campus, racism as one of the challenges to a campus community. “Everybody has a past to be reckoned with.”

in 2011, their mostly White and Black parishioners crossed the invisible but very present racial barrier between them. “One day I was walking to the church and passed a Baptist church, where a sign read ‘Formed by freed slaves in 1865,” said Charles Dean Taylor, who was interim rector at the time. “And it occurred to me, I wondered if some of the slaves had been owned by members of St. James.” While the congregations had shared each other’s facilities in the years before Taylor arrived, he was responsible for bringing the two churches together to specifically talk about race and the history of slavery that impacted them all. “I had to leave that next year, or I would have tried to make it an annual thing,” Taylor said. But, he explained, the work that was done in that one day over dinner between more than 100 people was a seed planted. “Anytime you gather around food, that’s another great way for people to increase fellowship,” he said. What Norris gave the congregants was a vehicle, Taylor continued. “There’s a

little bit of an awkwardness to it. Some embarrassment on our church’s part. The great thing is she provides a way to get over that to get through that. Everybody has an opportunity to say things about the racial divide. It starts easy.” But the process was anything but. “I will say, the problems that I had with getting my people there is that they had kind of perceived it to be what they would call political,” said Taylor. “In other words, this is a liberal kind of thing. And so, I had to really do some persuading … some the leaders of the parish worried if they were going to be persecuted, because I think some of the other programs had tended to kind of stick people. And then they’d say, I don’t want to do that anymore.” That’s not what happened this time. Some who originally pushed back said in the end they were honored by the process. “Everybody has a past to be reckoned with,” Taylor said. “You’re either going to let that past define you, control you, or put you in a mold or box, or listen to what I think is Scripture or the Holy Spirit.” The question is, he said, “can we be freed from that past, and therefore lead a better way? It was a graceful way to enter into those conversations.” In addition to helping start difficult conversations, the postcards and their backstories also serve as a sort of time capsule, marking specific events: The first Black president, Black Lives Matter, the Muslim ban, understanding of White fragility, and the most openly racist president in recent history. “I think it has great value over time,” said Norris, who now heads up a program called The Bridge at Aspen Institute, which focuses on race, identity, and inclusion. “I’ve done a lot of high-order research. What I would give to have an archive like this to better understand the lived experience of race and identity from the 1930s, or 1940s, 1960s, or even the 1970s, which wasn’t that long ago.” “And this project, this crazy project that started on the third floor of my house, I think will provide a unique window for people who are trying to understand the moment that we’re living in right now,” she says. Zenobia Jeffries Warfield is an associate editor at YES! She covers racial justice. This story originally was published in Yes! Magazine and has been reprinted with permission. ONYX MAGAZINE 21







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Aging With

Optimism By NewsUSA

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aving a “glass half full” approach to life has long been considered important for overall wellness. But evidence suggests that there may be truth in this folk wisdom. Humana recently surveyed 2,000 people age 60 and older, and found that 87 percent of seniors who identify themselves as “most optimistic” reported their health as good to excellent. This is compared to 44 percent for those who said they’re “least optimistic.” Also, the most optimistic people reported nine fewer physically unhealthy and seven fewer mentally unhealthy days per month than their least optimistic counterparts. Seniors who rated themselves as most optimistic also reported positively on other attributes linked to health, including sleep, confidence and overall happiness. * 91 percent of the most optimistic respondents reported feeling confident in the past week, while only 52 percent of the least optimistic respondents did, a difference of 39 percentage points. * 90 percent of the most optimistic respondents reported feeling happy in the past week, compared to 44 percent of the least optimistic respondents, a difference of 46 percentage points. * And only 31 percent of the most optimistic respondents reported getting a restless night’s sleep in the past week, while 62 percent of the least optimistic respondents did, another difference of 31 percentage points. Despite these impressive numbers, having an optimistic mindset is often easier said than done. The stresses of life, social stereotypes and one’s natural temperament can all impede approaching aging with optimism. Dr. Yolangel Hernandez Suarez, Humana vice president and chief medical officer for Delivery Care, has the following advice for anyone struggling to stay on the sunny side of life:

1. Take ownership and recognize that your health is your own. To achieve your best health, you need to set personal goals—just for you. 2. Engage with your doctor or other health care professional and build a trusting relationship. 3. Find a higher purpose that makes you excited to get up in the morning. Humana’s survey found that the majority of respondents (86 percent) who identify as optimists also rank a sense of purpose as an important attribute for aging. 4. Remain socially engaged, not isolated, and nurture close relationships. The importance of social engagement is recognized by the 71 percent of Humana survey respondents who identify as optimists and get together with friends or relatives either monthly or weekly. Further, 80 percent of optimists say maintaining an active social life is an important motivator to stay healthy.

5. Stay active and remember that physical activity is important. Find something that’s right for you and that you like to do. Almost all of the most optimistic survey respondents (97 percent) say remaining physically active is a major motivator for retaining good health. 6. Practice gratitude and make it a habit to look for and appreciate everything you’re thankful for in life. “As a boomer myself, I know that the majority of the decisions about my own health take place outside of a doctor’s office,” said Dr. Hernandez Suarez. “With the knowledge that optimism may be linked to health and well-being, I’m focused on making positive health decisions through all aspects of my life. Our goal at Humana is to empower everyone to approach health in the same way.”


What Every Frequent Flier Should Know


t any given time, up to 5,000 aircraft are in American skies. Ten million passenger flights took place in 2016. The “Golden Age” of air travel may feel like it’s long gone in a time of heightened security and since the advent of mass affordable flight, but experts say that consumers can expect flying to be more comfortable and convenient in the coming years -- even when you’re riding coach. “To survive and thrive, airlines are focused on product innovations and comfort upgrades to ensure repeat business from customers,” says Jennifer Coutts Clay, who has over 40 years of experience in the operational management and marketing of airlines, including time with British Airways and Pan Am. She is the author of “Jetliner Cabins: Evolution and Innovation,” a new eBook app featuring a historical record and futuristic look at the commercial flying experience, with over 6,000 images and interviews with airline experts. Are you a frequent flier? Clay says these trends may be headed your way: • Better seating: Ergonomically con-


structed seat-frames, climate-controlled seat-cover fabrics and lumbar-supporting contoured seat-foam inserts are just a few of the cabin upgrades being made to ensure more comfortable travel. • Mood lighting: Passengers are given more freedom to control their immediate surroundings through lighting. Thanks to developments in LED technology, many airlines are phasing out cold-looking lighting installations to feature a rainbow range of colors customized to suit the time of day, the specific area of the aircraft or to simulate the soothing gradual process of sunrise and sunset. • Connectivity: In-flight entertainment, streaming content options and connectivity are expanding as onboard Wi-Fi becomes faster and cheaper. In-seat power supplies will keep mobile devices running during long flights, giving passengers opportunities to work, keep in touch with those on the ground and more. • More accessibility: Airlines are making air travel more accessible to those with special needs. Recent advances include

aisle-size wheelchairs, seat-armrests that can be raised, extra grab bars and handrails, in-flight literature in braille, special meals for an increased range of dietary restrictions, privacy curtains for use around lavatory doors and baby-changing facilities. • Improved experience: Flights are getting longer and more crowded. In response, airlines are aiming to tackle the problems of stressed-out passengers, with more personalization, humanization and options for how time can be used onboard, including opportunities to move around the aircraft. • Luxury amenities: In first-class cabins of the “gold-standard” airlines, the luxury-level accommodations, amenities and in-flight service standards keep getting better. Passengers can rely on concierge-type support to handle personal arrangements before, during and after flights, and there is limo service for ground transfers to and from airports. In the future, passengers might be able to expect onboard salon-style spas and even gyms if they are willing to pay a premium. More about the air travel experience is available by downloading Clay’s app at The website also offers free videos where users can explore everything from new developments in plane cabins to behind-the-scenes glimpses into how cabin maintenance is performed in the modern age. “Preparing jetliners to accommodate airline passengers is both an art and a science,” she says. “As passenger expectations evolve and grow, you can expect significant improvements in cabin comfort and hospitality standards.” Copy provided by StatePoint.

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Dawaun Smith and his father attend the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week.

winner, and Smith could barely contain his excitement when he learned that the honor belonged to him. “Winning the Haggar Hall of Fame Dads contest has been the experience of a lifetime,” he said. “I am honored to receive the award on behalf of dads everywhere.”

Recognizing a True Hall of Fame Dad


ach Sunday, millions cheer as their favorite NFL stars charge out of the tunnel and onto the field. For those players, the ultimate dream is a shot at one day becoming a Hall of Famer. This past July, one special father found himself with that title without ever having played in a single game. Dawaun Smith of Jacksonville, Fla., never dreamed he’d make the trip to Canton, Ohio, for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week powered by Johnson Controls, but he did - and it all started with a simple letter. The rock of his family Smith faces challenges every day that might break other men. He is a father of three, and spends his days and nights caring for his wife, their 4-year-old twins and 9-year-old son, Liam, who has Down Syndrome and has battled Leukemia, requiring constant medical attention. Smith has spent the past several years traveling back and forth to the hospital for his son’s lifesaving treatments while his wife, Shenera, stayed home with the twins. Even during the hardest times, Smith does

his best to find ways to make Liam laugh during tough appointments, while also keeping the rest of his family’s spirits up. Recognized for his commitment Smith’s commitment to his family remained steadfast, and while he saw nothing exceptional in what he was doing, Shenera most certainly did. She captured Smith’s courage, strength and care in a heartfelt letter entering Smith in the Haggar Hall of Fame Dads(TM) contest. “He is the BEST dad because he is the rock of our family,” Shenera wrote, speaking for her 9-year-old son. “He donned his cape and made sure I was safe, comforted and happy as possible at the hospital during all of those crummy procedures ...” Haggar Clothing Co., the official jacket provider of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, wanted to create a new Hall of Fame to recognize and celebrate America’s greatest dads and father figures. The contest received more than 6,000 nominations and 50 dads were recognized as individual state winners. However, only one father could be chosen as the national

Celebrating with the greats In recognition of his award, Smith was able to choose between attending the Pro Football or Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony. He also received a special edition Haggar Hall of Fame Dad jacket and a complete Haggar wardrobe. A lifelong football fan, Smith chose the NFL route and embarked on a VIP weekend that started with tickets to the Hall of Fame Game between the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens. The following day, he took a tour of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and attended the Gold Jacket Dinner, where he saw the Class of 2018 Enshrinees receive their coveted Haggar Gold Jackets. The big event, however, was the Enshrinement Ceremony where Smith attended the VIP reception and watched as the newest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame were enshrined. “My favorite part was probably the Enshrinement Ceremony, listening to all of the speeches,” he said. “Ray Lewis is one of my favorite players and getting to see him and hear his speech was unforgettable.” Home again Smith’s Pro Football Hall of Fame experience may have come to an end, but he’s happy to be back with his loved ones and will continue to meet the challenges of his life with humor and compassion. He’s a Haggar Hall of Fame Dad, and that’s good enough for him. “I get emotional just thinking about it. I went with my dad and seeing the excitement he had and being able to experience everything with him, it’s something I’ll remember forever.” Content provided by Brandpoint ONYX MAGAZINE 29


Giving for Good Make an impact in your community

Spend Time with the Elderly Seniors often hold wisdom, knowledge and experience that younger generations have yet to accumulate. Yet, as they age, a community’s oldest residents are often left alone. These days it’s less common for family members to live near one another, so “adopting” an elderly resident down the street or at the local 30 ONYX MAGAZINE

senior housing center is a way to help monitor his or her well-being and ensure personal ties to the community are maintained. Not only can this provide a valuable service for an elderly person and his or her family, it may bring you great personal satisfaction as you learn about the community’s history through the eyes of someone who saw it evolve firsthand. Donate to Nonprofits If you’re concerned your budget doesn’t stretch far enough to make a meaningful cash contribution, there are plenty of other ways you can donate to nonprofit organizations in your community. Volunteer hours or even gently used items like office furniture or supplies are often in high demand. You can even donate by helping your favorite nonprofit uncover new funding opportunities. For example, the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, provides farmers an opportunity to help a nonprofit of their choice. Eligible farmers can enroll in the program for a chance to direct a donation to a local eligible nonprofit organization. Since 2010, the program has shown a commitment to strengthening

Photo courtesy of Family Features


nspiration to give back to your community can come from any number of places, from a personal desire to make a difference to fulfilling a graduation requirement for community service hours. No matter the reason or the origin, chances are strong that you can make an impact. Giving back may be as simple as writing a check to an organization that works to further a mission you care deeply about. Or it may mean lending a hand to put on a fundraising event in your community. Perhaps you have a skill or talent you can share with others in the name of a good cause. If you’re committed to contributing to your community in a meaningful way, consider one of these ideas to improve the lives of those around you:

farming communities by awarding more than $29 million to nonprofits, supporting food banks, ag youth organizations, supplying essentials for the needy and acquiring life-saving emergency response equipment. Be a Mentor Much as you can gain valuable wisdom from elderly residents, you also likely have your own knowledge that can benefit others in your community. Consider the areas where you excel and explore how your community can benefit. You might put your athletic talents to use coaching a youth sports team, teach scouts a skill for advancement or lend your experience as a human resources professional to an organization that helps disadvantaged individuals improve their employment opportunities. If you’re good with numbers, maybe volunteering as a financial advisor to a local nonprofit board is worth considering.

Plant Flower Beds Making a community better isn’t always about dollars and cents. Simply making your hometown a more enjoyable place to be is a reward you can enjoy along with your neighbors. Special beautification projects such as creating and maintaining flower beds in public spaces can help create a more welcoming, friendly environment. Other ideas include community cleanup initiatives and organizing groups to help with yardwork for those who are physically unable.

Get Involved in Schools Nearly every school district can benefit from added resources to support youth education. You may be able to help your school secure funding for a special initiative through a program such as America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, which allows farmers to nominate local public school districts to compete for merit-based STEM grants. Nominated schools have the opportunity to apply for a grant to fund projects that enhance science, technology, engineering and math education in their districts. Since 2011, more than $16 million has been awarded to over 900 rural school districts. Farmers can find more ways to give back to their communities along with program information and official rules at Content provided by Family Features

Photo courtesy of Family Features

Help Create Future Leaders If the future vitality and well-being of your community is a priority, your giving may involve creating opportunities for future generations. Programs like Ameri-

ca’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, encourage rural youth to become the next generation of ag leaders by awarding scholarships to support their pursuit of higher education in ag-related fields of study. The scholarships are administered by the National FFA Organization, but students do not have to be FFA members to apply. Since 2014, the program has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships for students looking to study ag-related fields after high school.



How to Rekindle the Romance in Your Marriage


trails, going to concerts, or giving and attending parties, these activities should be carried into any long-term relationship if you intend to have a meaningful romantic life together and a healthy emotional connection. • Take each other seriously: Don’t allow gender stereotypes to lead you to discount each other’s feelings or opinions as irrational. You’ll communicate more effectively, and be happier as a result, if you listen to your partner and take him or her seriously. In other words, there should be no “boss” in the marriage. Work at maintaining a peer relationship. • Ritualize contact time: Couples need ritualized contact time in which they get together, such as going to lunch once a week, having coffee together in the morning or watching a television program they both like. This is one of the most important components of having a close, emotionally intimate relationship. • Speak the language of love: Emotional intimacy has its own language, the language of endearment. Focus on all the right features of your partner -- the per-

sonal qualities you saw when you first met and still appreciate, and start to verbalize that information. If your partner reciprocates, it will create a feeling of closeness. These words don’t have to be rational or logical, but they should always be a validation of the relationship and your partner. • Lose your inhibitions: Be open with each other about everything — including sex. Unfortunately, lingering guilt, fear and shame on this topic prevent many couples from being candid with one another. Learn to lose those inhibitions so that you can share your needs, desires, feelings and concerns. • Give each other space: You don’t need to do everything together to have a happy relationship. In fact, the happiest couples tend to give each other the support and space needed to maintain their independent interests. You don’t have to resign yourself to receding happiness as time passes. A challenge of your current beliefs can help you rekindle the spark and enjoy a closer, more meaningful relationship.

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hether you’re a honeymooner or you’re celebrating your 50th anniversary, there’s a chance that the romantic spark that brought you and your partner together in the first place needs to be rekindled. Experts say that a continually fulfilling relationship requires establishing and maintaining a complete connection. “Marriage is more than a wedding and a license, it’s a psychological, emotional and spiritual sense of connection,” says Dr. Frederick D. Mondin, a marriage counselor, human sexuality professor and author of the new book, “Erotic Love & Marriage: Improve Your Sex Life and Emotional Connection,” which offers insights on the issues that almost every relationship struggles with, as well as solutions that highlight connection, communication and exploration. Dr. Mondin is sharing tips and insights to all couples seeking to connect or re-connect with one another. • Keep dating: No matter how busy you become, you should never stop having the kind of fun you had when you were courting. Whether it’s hiking beautiful

POWER Words of


Meaningful books to share with a mentee By Patricia M. Brown

Many of us don’t realize that every time we share our knowledge with someone who is eager to emulate our success we are effectively mentoring. Having someone to share your knowledge with is what mentoring is on base. Sometimes as mentors, sharing knowledge

The Sun is Also a Star By Nicola Yoon Nicola Yoon, is a best-selling Jamaican-American author of the novel “The Sun is Also a Star.” Yoon appeals to young adult readers, but is ideally suited for the people who want to share a story or two with their teenager or with a young adult they mentor. The author tells the story by introducing each character as if they are being introduced at a family gathering. You learn of their significance to the family unit, as well as the role they play in the life of the main character. As each person is introduced and the story is unraveled, you have a chance to explore how connected and disconnected even seemingly strong families can be.

isn’t as important as simply having someone with whom to share one’s story. The

Wade in the Water

authors of these books are all women who certainly have shared their stories from unique vantage points. They each have relatable messages that can be added to your collection of women writers.

By Tracy K. Smith “Wade in the Water” is a collection of poems by Tracy K. Smith, who is the United States Poet Laureate. All of her work in “Wade in the Water” evoke emotion and require more than one reading for interpretive purposes. One of the more compelling poems “Unrest in Baton Rouge” is attributed by Smith as her reaction to an image of Leshia Evans. The picture is part of a nearly iconic collection of images of protest over the police shooting of Alton Sterling. The image is of Evans, a nurse who traveled from New York City to participate in the protest rally in Baton Rouge and ended up standing face-to-face with the militarized police. In one captivating line of Smith’s poem she offers the essence of what she begins to think about as she looks at the picture. Smith writes, “Our bodies run with ink dark blood. Blood pools in the pavement’s seams.” There is subtle imagery and careful selection of words which makes the poem compelling.

Silver Sparrow By Tayari Jones Tayari Jones, the author of “Silver Sparrow,” breaks down the many ways that families are put together. This story can be either a heartwarming tale or a tragedy depending on your vantage point. Many young girls have spent their lives with absent fathers, or limited visitations with the fathers they love. This story is told from the perspective of one who is in the story with the wideeyed expectancy of a child. The novel lends itself to opening a conversation about just what makes a family unit and who decides what to call the unit once it is developed. The book would be perfect to share with a mentee who is adjusting to his or her own family challenges.



Investing In The Orlando Housing Market In 2019

By Dee Parker

Compared to other cities with competitive real estate markets, investing in Orlando housing market makes more sense since it has experienced a 6% increase in property prices in a year. In the first half of 2018, house flippers still made an average gross return of 44.3%, or $65,250 per deal. And, according to Zillow, the first-time home buyers in the U.S. looking for an affordable home without much competition may have the best luck in the State of Florida. Top 3 Reasons to Invest in Orlando in 2019: Job Growth: Orlando is the new hub for many young professionals especially those with various types of technological expertise, including engineers and IT professionals. This city has experienced an annual job growth of around 4.4% and is also one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country. The city is also set to experience its highest job growth rate in the 10 years to come. A market with high job growth is a great market for real estate investment as well.

Information compiled by Dee Parker, Parker Realty


Population Growth: During the last 3 years, the population in Orlando has been growing at the rate of 7.2% which has never been experienced by this city before. And, with all the new jobs coming to the area, it’s very likely this trend will continue in 2019. (This means the demand for housing is likely to increase.) Affordability: In Orlando it is still possible to purchase fully renovated 3-bedroom properties in good neighborhoods for as little as $150,000. Ten Florida markets have fully rebounded from the disruption caused by the global financial crisis. Most impressively, the Orlando housing market made it in the top 5 best places to invest in real estate for the third year in a row, and Orlando is ranked high in the Top 10 best cities for first-time home buyers in 2018!

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rlando is one of the best places to buy rental property in the state of Florida in 2019. Located in Florida’s “sun belt” region, the area is known for its warm climate, beautiful beaches, world famous amusement parks, and entertainment and the market is fueled by job seekers, baby boomer retirees, and students who want to live in an area that offers a high quality of living at a reasonable cost. With an average rental of $1,599, the Orlando real estate market is expanding at a great pace and people from all over the country are either choosing to move permanently or invest here. The demand for single family homes has been on the rise in the Sunshine State for quite some time. Still, it’s possible to acquire fully renovated properties in good Florida neighborhoods for under $175,000. What’s even more interesting is that, despite these incredibly low housing prices statewide, many home seekers are choosing to rent instead of buy. As you can imagine, this is causing rental rates to skyrocket.


Dealing With Infertility Is surrogacy the right path for you?


n November 2018, Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade were able to welcome their first child together through the miracle of surrogacy after suffering through the trauma of infertility for 3 years. Gabrielle Union has publicly and courageously shared her struggles with infertility many times, most recently in her book, “We’re Going To Need More Wine.” [1]. During her first post-baby interview with Oprah Winfrey, Union admitted that while she’s ecstatic her daughter is finally here, it’s “still hard to let go” of the fact that she couldn’t experience pregnancy herself after spending years trying to make it happen.


“For three years, my body has been a prisoner of trying to get pregnant — I’ve either been about to go

into an IVF cycle, in the middle of an IVF cycle or coming out of an IVF cycle,” she explained. Her candid share has opened a very needed conversation around the very common issue of infertility as well as parenting after surrogacy. Infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant or the inability to maintain a viable pregnancy, after one year of trying to become pregnant. For women over the age of 35, infertility is defined as an inability to become pregnant after 6 months of trying. Approximately 10% of

women in the United States or 6 million women in the United States ages 15 to age 44 are affected by infertility. [2] There many reasons for infertility. [3] This may include problems with the number of eggs or quality of eggs in women, as well as a number of sperm and quality of sperm in men. In women problems related to infertility leading to decreased egg production or decreased number of viable eggs may be related to several issues, including advanced age, history of cancer, problems with uterine lining, problems with blockage of the fallopian tubes or history of abdominal surgery. In males, infertility may additionally be related to several reasons, including, decreased sperm production which may be related to environmental reasons including temperature and medication exposure, history of cancer treatment, as well as problems related to delivery such as premature ejaculation. In both men and women environmental factors such as smoking, and obesity can affect fertility. An evaluation for fertility requires an extensive workup by a fertility specialist. For couples that may find themselves affected by infertility that are unable to successfully conceive and carry a pregnancy to term, despite the application of significant interventions, surrogacy can be a viable option. There are two general approaches to surrogacy. During traditional surrogacy, the father provides sperm which can then be used to artificially inseminate a biologic carrier who will be the infant’s biological mother. The infant would then be raised by the expectant couple following delivery. Now through the miracle of in vitro fertilization gestational surrogates can carry the embryo that is the product of eggs from the biological mother and the biological father. The AAP Committee has provided standard guidelines for Assisted Reproductive Technology that assist with the navigation

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By Dr. Terri Major-Kincade

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of issues both medical and ethical that surround surrogate pregnancies. [4] But creating the baby and monitoring the journey to a successful pregnancy is only half of the battle. The American Bar Association defines parentage in three ways (Biologically, Gestationally and Socially). [5] Thus, motherhood is often viewed through the same lens…though we know that the concept of the experience of motherhood begins before pregnancy and is expounded after delivery. Once the pregnancy ends and hopefully provides a healthy baby, the intended mother will need to navigate the journey of bonding with baby. One way to navigate and maximize this bond is through the touch. It is standard of care in non-complicated pregnancies to provide skin-to-skin care between mother and infant as soon as possible after delivery. This is sometimes referred to as “kangaroo care.” Kangaroo care has many benefits including: promoting temperature regulation for the infant; promoting regulation of glucose control by providing an opportunity for early breastfeeding with colostrum; regulation of heart rate; and respiration rate of the baby just by being naked on the mother’s chest; hormonal benefits of attachment for mother and baby as a part of the natural bond. Later studies show the benefits on brain development are associated with skin to skin care in preterm infant. As a pediatrician and a neonatologist, this is one of my favorite parts of the job… taking a newborn and placing them on their mother’s chest. It is in many ways perhaps the most important part of our assessment and resuscitation. This would explain why Gabrielle Union was indeed in a hospital gown and providing skin to skin infant for her newborn shortly after delivery. This is standard of care for all healthy newborns and perhaps even more crucial for bonding and attachment for newborn delivered through surrogacy. It is wonderful that the Wades were able to have this experience as a standard of care after delivery. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends the promotion and support of mothers who desire to breastfeed following the delivery of an infant traditionally as well as through surrogacy.

As a pediatrician and a neonatologist, this is one of my favorite parts of the job…taking a newborn and placing them on their mother’s chest. There are several documented cases of successful breastfeeding of infants delivered through surrogacy and infants breastfed successfully following adoption. The first successful case of induced lactation in a nonlactating female for an unrelated newborn infant was documented in 2014. It is not clear if Gabrielle Union has decided to breastfeed or not but skin to skin care immediately after delivery would support the success of this process. In order to breastfeed following surrogacy, there needs to be stimulation of the breast/ nipples for milk production as well as promotion of milk production through medications known as Galactagogues. Some of which include Reglan, Domperidone, Fenugreek, and Thistle. There are a variety of protocols for induction which can be reviewed at a variety of sites. Typically, if there is time to prepare for the infant a mother will receive a combination progesterone and estrogen using oral contraceptives to maximize structural changes in breast tissue which are gradually weaned prior to the delivery of the infant to maximize nursing. Following delivery, mothers are encouraged to begin nursing

and pumping every 2 to 3 hours with supplementation. Many women are able to achieve success by using a supplemental nursing system during breastfeeding. In this scenario, the baby will have a feeding tube in their mouth connected to a bottle that may contain formula, donated breast milk or mothers’ milk while the baby practices suckling at the breast. [10] In addition to promoting skin to skin care immediately as well as encouraging a desire if interested to breastfeed, additional suggestions for establishing bonding and breastfeeding for the intended mother during and after surrogacy include: Being involved as much as possible during the pregnancy, talking to the baby during the pregnancy, having a transitional item for the baby that the surrogate mother sleeps with such as a blanket or teddy bear or cloth that can be given to the baby after delivery which maximizes the babies sense of sight, touch and smell with their intended mother. This story originally ran in and has been republished with permission.



The key to fixing the gender gap in math and science: Boost women’s confidence


he gender gap in math and science isn’t going away. Women remain less likely to enroll in math-heavy fields of study and pursue math-heavy careers. This pattern persists despite major studies finding no meaningful differences in mathematics performance among girls and boys. Among U.S. students who score the same on math achievement tests, girls are


less confident in their math ability than boys are. That confidence predicts who goes on to major in math-heavy fields like engineering and computer science. The gender gap varies across STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math. Women remain underrepresented in high-earning and high-demand fields that require the most math skills, such as engineering and physics. My team’s recent

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By Lara Perez-Felkner

Socializing messages and support from mentors, teachers, peers and parents may help counter gendered stereotypes and create spaces for girls to build confidence in their ability to succeed in math and science.

study finds women are 12 percent less likely to earn math-heavy STEM degrees than men. My colleagues and I have studied gender gaps in STEM for several years, examining U.S. data on teenagers as they move from high school to and through college. Across our studies, we find a consistent pattern: Girls with strong mathematics ability in high school do not necessarily leave the sciences entirely, but they major in mathheavy fields at significantly lower rates than their otherwise identical male peers. Here’s the good news: These patterns can change. In one study, we found that 12th-grade girls with the highest levels of confidence in their mathematics ability with challenging material are more three times more likely to major in math-heavy STEM fields than girls with the lowest levels of confidence.

Ability beliefs, girls and STEM Our findings build not only on our own prior work, but also on decades of research finding girls underrate their abilities on tasks and careers that are culturally considered male. Contemporary data on U.S. students who were 10th graders in 2002 and were followed through 2012 show that girls do better in school than boys do and are more likely to graduate from college. Girls are increasingly prepared for college-level math, thanks to the fact that they take more STEM courses in high school, even in computer science. In one of our case studies on computer science undergraduates at two research universities, we found that women were more likely to take further computer science courses if they perceived that they had high skills and felt challenged. These findings complement those of our national study, which showed that women with positive math ability beliefs were more likely to choose math-heavy STEM majors. Girls are excelling at math. Still, boys think they can do better. Among those at the 90th percentile of mathematics ability in 12th grade, boys rate themselves higher than do their female peers. Progress failures and promising interventions The push toward equity has not just been slow; it at times seems to go in reverse. Emerging research suggests gender gaps in STEM seem wider in more economically developed countries and more affluent zip codes. Since the personal computing and technology boom, women have been losing representation among degree earners in computer science.

Among U.S. universities, we found the gender gap in math-heavy fields was widespread, but worse at less selective institutions. And, while the majority of community college students are female, after controlling for student and institutional characteristics, the gender gap in natural and engineering sciences at twoyear colleges is slightly worse – 12.4 percent more men – than at four-year institutions – 11.7 percent more men than women. There are signs of promise as institutions collaborate on gender equity and try other interventions, from introductory course redesign to curricular changes aimed at students’ beliefs in their abilities. While not directly focused on this issue, organizations may engage in confidence-raising to get girls and women into math-heavy fields like coding. As someone who has studied this issue closely, I believe those of us interested in gender equity should make female confidence a priority. This includes both directly building up girls’ and women’s confidence and educating influential actors in their lives. Socializing messages and support from mentors, teachers, peers and parents may help counter gendered stereotypes and create spaces for girls to build confidence in their ability to succeed in math and science.

Laura Perez-Felkner is an assistant professor of Higher Education and Sociology at Florida State University. The article originally was published in Yes! Magazine and has been reprinted with permission.



Derrick Blue Chief Executive Officer Tampa Hillsborough Action Plan, Inc.


errick Blue started his career with Tampa Hillsborough Action Plan (THAP) nearly nine years ago as Energy Services coordinator for the WAP, a program focused on lowering the carbon footprint in low income communities. Two years later, he was promoted to oversee operations in Hillsborough & Polk Counties. From there, Blue was named executive director of THAP Group Affiliate Coastal Bay Properties, Inc. In this capacity he successfully managed more than $16 million in federally awarded funds and completed over 1,000 residential retrofit projects. In addition, he was instrumental in helping develop the concept for one of the THAP Group’s newest initiatives, the 5508 CoWorking & Collaboration Exchange Program. 5508, as it is known, is one of the regions only minority-focused business incubators. 5508 is an entrepreneurial training campus for highly motivated business start-ups in the Tampa Bay area. In 2017, accepting the challenge and inviting the community to “Come Grow with Us,” Blue has demonstrated the consistency, energy and passion to make THAP better. Blue stands apart as a leader with an extraordinary ability to connect vision, people and ideas to drive strategy and execution. Today’s pace of change is exponential. 42 ONYX MAGAZINE

THAP’s role in the economic development has never been more important. Blue is unique in his ability to translate vision and strategy into world-class execution, bringing together teams and ecosystems to drive results. He is a champion of the THAP culture and has an incredible ability to inspire, energize, and connect with employees, partners, customers and community leaders. Blue’s vision, strategy and execution track record are exactly what the community need. Blue oversees three 501(c) 3 nonprofit subsidiaries created to carry out THAP’s mission in housing, economic development and healthcare. The THAP Group currently manages millions of dollars in grant funding through the Weatherization Assistance Program and the Minority AIDS Initiative and operates other programs focused on community and economic empowerment. These programs not only serve the community, but stimulate the local economy through job creation. As a result of these programs the THAP Group continues to meet the needs of residents who lack access to mainstream resources. For more information about THAP Group, please visit www. or call 813-626-4926.


Lena GrahamMorris Author, Coach and Strategist Lena Graham-Morris, The Entreprenista®, is an author, coach & strategist with a story of triumph and perseverance to share. Graham-Morris had been successful in her own business ventures in media and fashion. She launched Studio 277 Productions and wrote and produced a nationally syndicated talk show, Style Check. She did this in addition to numerous appearances on TV and radio as a recognized beauty expert. She currently pens a fashion column for ONYX Magazine. This woman is no stranger to the world of entrepreneurship. In fact, she will tell you it runs through her DNA. Graham- Morris comes from a legacy of passionate entrepreneurs. Horus Construction Services has sustained and prospered as third generation builders and dominates the Southeastern region of the United States with six offices. Graham-Morris has been instrumental in establishing critical strategic partnerships and securing over $180 Million dollars in contracts. She is currently the vice president of Marketing & Business Development for Horus Constructions Services. Her story of triumph and perseverance is one of a strong woman of color who will stop at nothing to succeed. Her motto is “From the green room to the boardroom, every day I balance passion with cash flow. I am the new age female entrepreneur; I am The Entreprenista.” In the words of The Entreprenista, “I’ve won, I’ve lost, I’ve failed, and I’ve succeeded. I am proud of it all! The absolute test of one’s character is the ability to lose as gracefully as you win.” Graham-Morris’s work in the business environment is but a part of who she is. She also finds time to donate her skills in the community. She sits on the boards of several organizations: Clarita’s House Outreach Ministry, which feeds the homeless on the streets of Central Florida; Infinite Scholars Program, which facilitates scholarship fairs for high school seniors across the state of Florida; National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and Dress for Success.



Mary McLeod Bethune Her Legacy Stands the Test of Time


By D. Shenell Reed

Never has one dollar and fifty cents realized such a return on investment. As the daughter of former slaves, little Mary McLeod sat at the knees of griots who recounted a time when Black people were blocked from receiving a formal education. Her roots, planted firmly in South Carolina, grew from resilience and determination to rise above the harsh racist realities of the Deep South. Mary McLeod Bethune once said, “From the first, I made my learning, what little it was, useful every way I could,” inspiring the next generation to know that anything is possible. She also famously said “Without faith, nothing is possible. Yet with faith, nothing is impossible.” So, in 1904, when she invested what is now considered mere pocket change into educating Black students, Bethune could only imagine what her vision would become. A training institute for five young girls was the impetus for what would become Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU); an internationally-important 44 ONYX MAGAZINE

institution of higher learning that produces some of the greatest minds in the world. Bethune’s legacy lives on in the influence of its leaders and the success of its students. Even amid a cloud of uncertainty and a $100 million debt balloon, Interim President Judge Hubert Grimes stands on a promise made to students of “the same excellence in leadership from my administration that we expect from them when they leave this historic institution,” he said. While the institution is at a “pivotal crossroad,” Grimes punctuates the pledge he made 18 months ago when he assumed the role. “I pledged to do all that I could within my power to save, stabilize and grow our beloved institution. I believe we’ve made significant progress, but much remains to be done…Constituents, students, faculty, administration, trustees, alumni, and believers in our mission must join together to rescue an institution that has been a beacon of hope and inspiration since its founding,” he said.

Since 1943, when the school issued its first degrees, more than 13,400 college graduates have called Bethune-Cookman University their alma mater. They contribute in the fields of education, science, politics, and business, just to name a few. Each year, B-CU recognizes 40 students younger than 40 who have excelled in their practices since earning their degrees. The school has been touted for its incredible band, the Marching Wildcats. Its musical prowess was documented in Netflix’s “Marching Orders,” a showcase of the grueling process students experience to keep their spot on the field. In the 2017-2018 year, B-CU soared past its 3,600 student enrollment goal to 4,143; the Bob Billingslea School of Hospitality Management has been accredited through 2021; and scores of other accomplishments to enhance the student experience can be found in the president’s 2017-2018 report. “We provide to our students the opportunity, if they are willing to take on responsibility, can go from a kid who looks like

“Without faith, nothing is possible. Yet with faith, nothing is impossible.” —Mary McLeod Bethune

anyone else on the street… because of the inspiration that takes place during the matriculation process… to one with a bright future,” says Grimes. “Sometimes it comes from a staff member or maybe a coach…it may even come from someone who is serving food in the dining room…somewhere along the way someone pours into that young student and says, ‘you have a bright future…don’t allow it to be wasted.” Evidently, the students believe it. The tests of monetary constraints and unpredictable challenges do not stop the momentum. Students take a note from their founder and publicly demand support for their beloved university: in rallies, marches, monetary donations, and letters. When those alumni proudly exclaim “Hail Wildcats” they remember they stand on the shoulders of a giant whose meager beginnings launched an awe-inspiring legacy. Mary McLeod Bethune was born July 10, 1875, in Maysville, S.C., one of Samuel and Patsy McLeod’s 17 children. Although she became very proficient at picking cotton with her family, (it is documented that she could pick 250 pounds of cotton per day when she was 9), she knew farming was not her future. Bethune attended Maysville Presbyterian Mission School, Scotia Seminary and Moody Bible Institute. Back then, no church was willing to support her as a missionary, so she followed another passion and became an educator.

While teaching, she met and married Albertus Bethune. They had one son and eventually divorced. To support her child, McLeod Bethune opened a boarding school, the Daytona Beach Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls. The school became a college and merged with the all-male Cookman Institute to form Bethune-Cookman College in 1929. It issued its first degrees in 1943 and Bethune served as the college’s president from 1923 to 1942 and again from 1946 to 1947. During a crucial time for Black people in America, Bethune took the helm as a leader in political movements. Nudged by close friend First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Bethune established the National Council of Negro Women, which stands strong today and has the same explicit civil rights agenda determined by its founder. Through the Council, she positioned herself to take on more national roles that positively impacted Black people. Her work was well respected and she influenced government in the 1930s as the chair of the Informal Black Cabinet of senior African American officials in the President Theodore Roosevelt administration, becoming the most prominent African-American among them. Bethune was instrumental in integrating the Red Cross, increasing public awareness of lynching, voter discrimination in federal elections, and segregation on interstate trains and buses. In 1949 she was appointed by President Harry S. Truman to lead the U.S. delegation to Liberia to observe the inauguration of President William V.S. Tubman. In 1951, she served on President Truman’s Committee of Twelve for National Defense. Mary McLeod Bethune’s influence on American culture, politics and education is revered by the United States government. In 1985, the U.S. Postal Service agreed to feature her portrait on a postage stamp.

Soon, the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall collection will get its first state-commissioned statue of a Black American: Mary McLeod Bethune. But perhaps her greatest legacies are the students who hail from the incomparable university that bears her name. Names like Harry T. Moore, an African-American teacher, founder of the first branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Brevard County, Fla., and a pioneer of the civil rights movement in Florida and the southern United States. Moore and his wife, Harriette Vyda Simms Moore, also a teacher, were killed in the racially-tinged bombing of their home on Christmas night 1951. Nathan K. McGill, the first African American to serve as assistant attorney general for the State of Illinois. He also was the first African American appointed to the Chicago Library Board; and countless others who have inspired the American landscape. Today, students get a daily visual reminder of the phenomenal Mary McLeod Bethune as they stroll the pristine campus of B-CU. In the garden of the Performing Arts Center stands a bronze statue of Bethune—the statue as majestic and imposing as the woman herself. A committee, led by B-CU graduate and ONYX Magazine Publisher Rich Black, raised nearly $1 million to erect the statue of Bethune in 2004, the university’s centennial year. The look on her face is one of grace and satisfaction that her $1.50 investment was indeed well received...and its return will outlive any obstacles that stand against it.

Historical References Bethune-Cookman University National Women’s History Museum Women in History



Awards Ceremony From left, ONYX Magazine Managing Editor D. Shenell Reed, ONYX Magazine Publisher Rich Black, and philanthropists Shirley and Bernard Kinsey attended the Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) Law School Legacy Gala during the 2018 Florida Classic game between FAMU and Bethune-Cookman University. The Kinseys, graduates of FAMU, were honored for their outstanding commitment to giving back and received the Community Advocate Award.

United Arts of Central Florida (United Arts) received a $250,000 Arts and Cultural Community Support Grant from the Darden Foundation to fund the ongoing objectives of the organization and the continued growth of United Arts’ initiatives. The Darden Foundation’s award allows United Arts to continue supporting more than 60 cultural groups, arts education and marketing. The Darden Foundation’s funding, coupled with United Arts’ expertise and management, will not only enhance the arts and cultural community in Central Florida, but enable United Arts to push forward with the exciting innovations implemented last year. “United Arts is grateful to have received this grant and continued support from the Darden Foundation,” said Flora Maria Garcia, president and CEO of United Arts. “We wouldn’t be able to have such a large impact in the community without the help from companies like Darden, who not only recognize the importance of a vibrant arts community, but go a step further in taking action to support it.”


St. Pete Service Award recipients announced for 2019 MLK Day of Service Projects The MLK Day of Service Advisory Board, in collaboration with St. Petersburg College, has awarded approximately $163,000 to local organizations for service activities scheduled in connection with the Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday on January 21, 2019. With the help of State Senator, Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, this is the seventh year St. Petersburg College has received funds from the Florida Legislature for the St. Petersburg MLK Day of Service. These projects will involve 56 nonprofits, organizations, and public agencies as part of the MLK Day of Service Advisory Board’s annual effort to transform the holiday into “A Day On, Not a Day Off.” The MLK Day of Service Advisory Board provides opportunities for groups, businesses, and people of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities through a variety of one day and long-term initiatives. Working with nonprofits, faith-based groups, schools, and local agencies, the MLK Day of Service Advisory Board engages neighbors in meeting critical needs in education, health, the environment, public safety, economic opportunity, neighborhood revitalization and other areas. For a full list of recipients, visit


United Arts receives gift from Darden


Me’Lea Connelly developed the idea for Minneapolis’ Village Financial Cooperative as a Blackowned credit union in 2017.

The Co-op That’s Keeping Community Money Out of Big Banks How marginalized groups are working to counteract historical wealth inequality.


e’Lea Connelly is from the Bay Area of California, but she has deep roots in Minnesota. Her mother’s family was one of the first to migrate to the state after slavery ended. When she was 15, her parents divorced, and she moved with her mother to Minneapolis. “I’ve always just felt more at home here,” Connelly said. “All my ancestors are just calling me home.” But that home, in Minneapolis’ Northside, has a severe shortage of shopping centers, grocery stores, and banks. In 2017, Minnesota was named the second-most unequal state for Black people in a study of Black and White inequality by 24/7 Wall St., a financial news and opinion website. Despite the strong sense of community that comes with a long history, the African American families of Minneapolis’ Near North and Camden neighborhoods weren’t thriving. As an activist against racial economic injustice, Connelly understood that she was witnessing how systemic oppression strips wealth and prevents generational wealth accumulation. Regardless of previous attempts by outsiders to invest in the Northside, Connelly and others realized that no one from outside the Northside was going to help their community revive itself and thrive into the future. “There’ve been a lot of big promises made by philanthropy to folks on the Northside, and very, very few—if any—have come to fruition,” Connelly said. She knew—as did many others in the Northside—that power lies in who controls the money. “How do we take control of our own community and not let the lack of financial services in our community dictate our future? We have to have our own,” Connelly said. 48 ONYX MAGAZINE

Connelly had previously started Blexit, a grassroots nonprofit that organizes boycotts of financial systems that have historically extracted wealth from Black communities and increases support for the Black-owned economy. And, in 2017, she developed the idea for Village Financial Cooperative, a Black-owned credit union. Connelly intends to find people with more financial experience to run it once it receives its charter, which she hopes happens by 2019. Connelly’s credit union is part of a strategy by a nonprofit consortium of investors, financial organizations, and community development groups known as the Financial Cooperative to set up locally controlled loan funds across the country. The cooperative’s founders believe investing and lending in marginalized communities can counteract historical wealth extraction, which happened in a number of interconnected ways, including removal of natural resources, discriminatory housing and banking practices, underinvestment in physical infrastructure, and a lack of well-paying, sustainable jobs. The Financial Cooperative calls its task “nonextractive” or “regenerative finance.” The goal is to give control of capital to communities that have been most marginalized, but also to funnel capital into those communities. It believes in cooperative control of community financial institutions and set itself up as a cooperative nonprofit, with each participating community getting a say in how the whole operates. The founding members of the cooperative are longtime leaders in the movement with years of experience in all areas of “impact” investment and cooperative finance: The Working World, the Southern Reparations Loan Fund, the Climate Justice Alliance, and the Baltimore Roundtable for Economic Democracy are all founding member organizations.

YES! Photo by Lauren B. Falk

By Ivy Brashear


Ed Whitfield, co-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities in Greensboro, North Carolina, was one of the co-founders of the Financial Cooperative. He says our current financial system isn’t set up to meet the needs of community. “Currently, we live in a world where the surplus of human labor is accumulated by individuals for the purpose of increasing their own level of luxury, privilege, and power,” Whitfield said. “It comes from an accumulation that knows no limits and sees no end.” There are now 23 member financial institutions actively lending or in development around the country. Most are in urban centers—such as the Detroit Community Wealth Fund, the Boston Ujima Project, and Cooperation Richmond in California. Some newer members are in smaller cities or rural regions, such as the Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative and Cooperation Central Appalachia Inc. in Charleston, West Virginia. In Florida, BBIF Florida’s mission is to develop and promote Black business enterprises through education, training, loans, investments, and other activities and to aggressively promote an atmosphere conducive to their development. The Financial Cooperative now has $7 million available for lending, and hopes to raise $20 million within the next five years. It’s set up as a revolving loan fund—a self-­ replenishing pool of money that uses interest and principal payments on old loans to issue new loans. Brendan Martin is the founder and president of the Working World, a nonprofit investment firm solely devoted to countering traditional “extractive finance” by funding cooperatives. His New Yorkbased organization pools investor money from around the world to incubate worker cooperatives, providing loans that don’t require collateral or go into repayment until the co-op makes a profit. The Financial Cooperative was Martin’s initial creation. The co-op seeks out capital from people who want to see their investments have a big impact while also carrying a relatively low risk. “Because they’re small, they can be locally connected. Because they’re locally

connected, they can be locally controlled,” Martin said. “[The Financial Cooperative] is infrastructure on behalf of the borrower, and the borrower is the rest of us; it’s not the 1 percent of the world who are capitalists,” Martin said. “It’s so radical, but also it’s just really obvious.” Most of the money raised so far has come from funding sources that are more politically aligned with the Financial Cooperative’s vision, Martin said. But the hope is that the organization will grow large enough in the future to absorb funding from less aligned sources, perhaps from more extractive sources that have interests in fossil fuels or multimillion-dollar businesses, for instance. “It’s really not been on my mind to think about the investors as aligned versus nonaligned, or extractive versus nonextractive,” said Marnie Thompson, project officer with the Southern Reparations Loan Fund. Thompson also serves on the Financial Cooperative’s investment committee. “It’s been on my mind to take money that’s been generated through human labor and put it to work building a more democratic, just, and sustainable economy that is owned and controlled by the communities that have been most excluded and extracted from.” “I think our project has given people something to opt into that’s hopeful and that has a real, tangible outcome connected to it.” “Minnesota is one of the most amazing places to live if you’re not Black,” Connelly said. She was among the activists and organizers who were outraged by the recent police killings of Jamar Clark and Philando Castile. After she formed Blexit, she saw the need for community meetings to discuss what actions residents wanted to take to improve the Northside’s future. Almost 200 people showed up to a community meeting after Castile was killed. That’s where the idea of establishing a Black-led financial institution in the Northside came to the fore. “Here are folks who are mourning the death of another Black man killed by police, who are absolutely emotional, but they have the clarity of mind to say the

crux of all of this is financial advocacy and institutional ownership,” Connelly said. That’s when Village Financial was born. About 1,300 community members have pledged to put their money into the credit union once it’s established. A typical community-driven credit union raises just 600 members. “I think our project has given people something to opt into that’s hopeful and that has a real, tangible outcome connected to it,” Connelly said. Connelly recently helped one of her clients get what Village Financial calls a “New Day Loan,” an alternative to payday loans, which target marginalized communities across the country. New Day Loans provide options for people struggling to pay off payday loan debt. The hope is that through the Financial Cooperative, others can learn from Village Financial’s example and potentially establish similar solutions in their communities. Connelly’s client is a county employee who had been using a Walmart cash card as her financial institution because she had no credit or bank account. Every time she used this card, she was charged a fee. After 12 years, those fees amounted to $24,000. “I don’t need to have 20 years of financial experience to know that this is crazy and to do something about it,” Connelly said. Providing financial services is an emerging role for what the Financial Cooperative calls its “peer members,” most of whom got involved to make loans to people starting worker-owned cooperative businesses. But Connelly said improving financial literacy and providing people with an avenue to establish healthier and more stable financial lives are crucial before any kind of worker-cooperative development can happen. “We can’t develop worker co-ops if people can’t make it paycheck to paycheck,” Connelly said. “We have to start where people are at.” Ivy Brashear wrote this article for The Good Money Issue, the Winter 2019 edition of YES! Magazine. It has been republished with permission.


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Credit card fraud is down 75 percent because of chip technology


he whole idea behind integrating EMV® chips into credit and debit cards was to make transactions safer and more secure for consumers and merchants. A recent report by Visa shows that it has hit the mark. Visa took a look at the numbers, comparing chip card use by consumers and adoption by merchants from the initial rollout of chip cards in 2015 to now. What they found is pretty staggering. Counterfeit fraud, where a criminal steals your payment card number and imprints it onto another card to use in-person at their favorite store, is down 75 percent from September 2015 to March 2018 at U.S. merchants that are chip-enabled. The sharp drop illustrates that the chip technology is doing its job as intended. That’s important, because criminals are always on the prowl searching for an easy way to get money. Data that travels through a payment network when you insert your chip card is different than the data that is sent when you swipe your payment card using its magnetic stripe. The chip generates a onetime code that can only be used for one transaction. If cybercriminals steal your card number from the merchant’s system or from a data breach, it is essentially impossible to commit counterfeit payment

card fraud because the one-time code cannot be re-used and the card number alone is not enough to complete a transaction at a point-of-sale (POS) machine. So chip cards and terminals protect the customer from his or her stolen payment card number being counterfeited and protect the merchant from having to refund the money while losing their merchandise. In the end, everyone wins except for the fraudster. Some other findings from the Visa study include: More than 3.1 million U.S. merchant locations or 67 percent of U.S. storefronts are now fully chip-enabled and accepting chip cards. As recently as September 2015, only 392,000 merchants were accepting chip transactions. That’s a 680 percent increase since chip technology debuted in the U.S.[ii]97 percent of overall U.S. payment volume in June 2018 was on chip-enabled cards.[iii]In September 2015, $4.8 billion was spent on chip transactions. In June 2018, that figure had jumped to $76.7 billion.[iv]Reasons for merchants to switch to the chip More and more merchants are accepting chip card transactions, but some, especially smaller merchants, have been slow to adopt

the technology. But there are good reasons for updating to accept chip card payments, not the least of which is customer expectation. People who have chip cards expect the payment security they provide, and not accepting chip payments might be seen as a negative with consumers. Other reasons for adopting chip technology include: Implementing chip-based POS terminals is easier than ever before. It has become standard technology among many merchants and their technology suppliers. Transactions involving chip-based payment cards at many merchants are faster than when EMV chip cards first became available thanks to Visa Quick Chip technology.Implementing and investing in chip-based POS systems in many cases can also support new payment technologies like contactless payments.For more information about the study, or to read the findings, visit Visa, Inc. at com/visa-everywhere/security/visa-chipcard-stats.html. EMV® is a registered trademark in the U.S. and other countries and an unregistered trademark elsewhere. The EMV trademark is owned by EMVCo, LLC. Content provided by Brandpoint ONYX MAGAZINE 51




As tax season comes around, you want to be wary of scams. By John Cox

‘Tis the season for scammers. As your W-2s are filing in, so are clever thieves. Scammers always want to stay ahead of the game, but what benefits taxpayers is saving your data from getting in the wrong hands! The techniques of scamming are way too advance these days that with a single phishing mail, scammers can hand on your recent activities and sensitive information which are supposed to stay personal with you only. Scammers try different ways to make you stuck and once you get stuck, you surely lose all of your personal data along with social security numbers and last visits made. It is very essential for taxpayers to stay wary of such frauds because no matter how effective your accounting or tax software is, scammers will play their kind of games and might win also. One best practice to keep a quick check on your data privacy is to integrate your business with QuickBooks Hosting, which offers remote access to your data. Here are some of the tricky ways that scammers choose to reveal your sensitive information:

hard for you to question their fake calls as they’ll always respond with “you can check the official IRS site to learn about the TAC number.” Scammers will call you, again and again, to make sure that you’re convinced to clear your outstanding tax bills with a debit card. Alert: IRS never order TAC offices to call taxpayers and clear their outstanding bills instead they always prefer to talk in-person with the taxpayers whenever needed. Email Phishing Scams Sending phishing emails to taxpayers is found to be an easy exercise which let scammers get their hands on your information without many efforts. In phishing schemes, the scammer will send you an email that will look identical to one sent directly by the IRS or any other program linked with IRS itself. However, the reality is a bit different!! Using such fake emails, scammers try to fetch your information by asking it directly on the mail or by asking you to fill a form.

Alert: IRS doesn’t try to fetch your personal or tax-related information via email as they already have plenty of records with themselves. Clicking not on links that look like suspicious or unrecognized to you will be a better practice to save yourself from scams. Wrapping Up Saving yourself from getting targeted by the fraud people are not a big deal. You just need to be wise enough to learn these simple things that IRS will never ask for themselves. • Your personal information, PIN codes or credentials such as password and username • IRS will never demand immediate payment by calling you • Demanding of tax payment you owe without actually offering you the opportunity of questioning • Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the call • Don’t be a victim! Learn your rights and act smart

Pre-recorded Messages This particular scam will suggest that if you won’t call back to the number, then a warrant will be issued in your name. Alert: IRS never calls you to listen a pre-recorded message. Do not call back as there’s no urgent messages waiting for you. Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) Calls. Scammers often try to prove that they’re real and to make it happen, they spoof with caller ID numbers. Being a target, it’s very



Three Drinks to Make with Red Wine This Valentine’s Day Kick up dinner with your sweetie this Valentine’s Day by adding these refreshing red wine beverages to the menu.

SAN FRANCISCO SANGAREE 4 cherries ¼ oz. simple syrup 1½ oz. merlot 1 oz. bourbon 1 lemon slice To make simple syrup, mix equal parts hot water and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Muddle cherries in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, simple syrup, wine, bourbon, and lemon slice. Shake and strain into a glass.




1½ oz. Camarena Tequila Silver 1½ oz. pinot noir ½ oz. lime juice ½ oz. agave nectar 2 oz. grapefruit soda

¾ c. red wine ¼ c. lemon-lime soda ice Garnish: lime wheel Combine ingredients in a glass filled with ice. Stir and garnish with a lime wheel.

Garnish: lime wedge Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.


ONYX Magazine_January/February 2019  

Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University

ONYX Magazine_January/February 2019  

Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University