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March - April 2018

The Women’s Issue

Charlotte’s African-American Magazine

The State of Black Women

Challenges and triumphs

Sexual Harassment 101 Know the facts

Charlotte Art

8 Sisters shaping the scene

Vi Lyles

Charlotte’s First Female African American Mayor



Down payment as low as 3%1 Purchasing a new home may be more affordable than you think. Bank of America® lending specialists can help eligible Charlotte-area homebuyers with a loan that requires as little as 3% down and a special grant program for closing costs.

Affordable Loan Solution® mortgage1

America’s Home Grant® Program

Bank of America offers this fixed-rate loan with a competitive rate and a down payment as low as 3% for low- and moderateincome borrowers.

This credit can help with nonrecurring closing costs like title insurance and recording fees.

• Down payment as low as 3%

• For Charlotte-area borrowers earning less than $56,560 per year2

• No mortgage insurance required • Affordable option for modest-income homebuyers • Maximum income and loan amount limits apply (varies by location) Learn more at

• Lender credit of up to $2,500

• Must live in the home as your primary residence and fund the loan with Bank of America Visit to learn more and find a local lending specialist who can help you get prequalified.3


Available for fixed-rate purchase loans with terms of 25 or 30 years and on primary residences only. Certain property types are ineligible. Borrower(s) must not have an individual or joint ownership interest in any other residential property at time of closing. Maximum purchase loan-to-value is 97% and maximum combined purchase loan-to-value is 103%. For loan-to-values > 95%, any secondary financing must be from an approved Community Second Program; ask for details. Homebuyer education may be required. Restrictions apply regarding co-borrowers. Maximum income and loan amount limits apply.


Qualified borrowers must meet eligibility requirements, including, but not limited to, being owner-occupants, meeting certain qualifying income limitations, and purchasing a home within a certain geographical area. Homebuyer education will be required if all borrowers on an eligible loan are first-time homebuyers. The America’s Home Grant Program is a lender credit and not eligible to be used for down payment, escrowed taxes or homeowner’s insurance. No cash back to borrower. America’s Home Grant Program is available for properties in the following counties: North Carolina: Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan and Union; South Carolina: Chester, Lancaster and York, and the maximum borrower/co-borrower annual qualifying income limit is $56,560 for properties not located in a low-to-moderate income census tract (LMICT). Qualifying income of $56,560 is 80% of Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) Area Median Income and is subject to change without notice. For properties in eligible counties and located within a LMICT, the maximum borrower/co-borrower annual qualifying income limit is $100,000. The home loan must fund with Bank of America. America’s Home Grant Program is only available with conventional, FHA and VA first mortgage loan products. Bank of America may change or discontinue the America’s Home Grant Program or any portion of it without notice. Please ask for additional details.


Prequalification is neither preapproval nor a commitment to lend; you must submit additional information for review and approval. Credit and collateral are subject to approval. Terms and conditions apply. This is not a commitment to lend. Programs, rates, terms and conditions are subject to change without notice. Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation. ARSVYKRN | 01-2018 | AD-12-17-0474

PROUD TO GIVE BUSINESSES A LIFT CATS is proud to provide opportunities for businesses to create local jobs through the advancement of transit projects. CATS also seeks to create an environment that gives small and socially or economically challenged local businesses the opportunity to compete for publicly funded contracts by participating in the Small Business Opportunity (SBO) and the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Programs. To date, 112 DBE firms have been awarded contracts of over $89 million to help build the LYNX Blue Line Light Rail Extension. As the major provider of public transportation to Charlotte and the surrounding region, CATS relies on the communities we serve to build and operate the service every day. By working together on these new opportunities, we can all keep our communities moving in the right direction. For more information, visit


March-April 2018

Departments 8 From the Editor 10 Notable Names 11 By Faith 12 Mindful Parent 13 Family Notes 14 Book Review 40 Scene and Seen


50 Events Calendar


Health 44 S  ix Vibrant Ways to Live

A guide to a healthy life

Business 46 L  ife of Debt

Black women and finances

47 F  resh Start



48 Innovation at Work

Language for Fun

49 F  YI News & Notes


March - April 2018


The Women’s Issue

Charlotte’s African-American Magazine

The State of Black Women

Challenges and triumphs

Sexual Harassment 101 Know the facts

Charlotte Art

8 Sisters shaping the scene


For these stories and more, visit us on the web!

Features 15 T  he

State of Black Women Changes and triumphs

23 P  aradigm

360 Coaching & Consulting Influencing business leaders and empowering women

26 A 

Conversation with Mayor Vi Lyles

30 M  aking

It Count EmpowHERment

31 L  essons

Vi Lyles

Charlotte’s First Female African American Mayor

On the Cover Vi Lyles, Charlotte’s first female African-American Mayor on location at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center. Photo by Jonathan Cooper.

to Live By Advice for daughters

32 C  harlotte

Art 8 Women shaping the scene

37 Dee

Travels to Toronto

38 C  harlotte

Works Addressing unemployment

42 S  exual

Harassment Don’t be a victim

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine


This is the place to be.

We offer nearly 200 full, half-day and overnight camps for kids, adults and families in art, science, technology, adventure, academics, sports and more.

Now providing lunch for all-day campers!

June 4–August 10, 2018 Summer.ProvidenceDa


Given the right financial circumstances, people will thrive! In order to move neighbors out of poverty, avoid a future financial crisis, and prepare for long-term stability, Community Link provides comprehensive Financial Empowerment programming, which includes counsel on: • Establishing specific, measurable financial goals • Tracking expenses and creating a budget • Credit repair and credit building • Free tax preparation • First-time homebuyer guidance

601 East 5th Street, Suite 220 Charlotte, NC 28202 704.943.9490 1.800.977.1969 6

Pride Magazine |

Mission: to enable individuals and families to obtain and sustain safe, decent and affordable housing









Charlotte’s African-American Magazine

CEO/Publisher Dee Dixon


Lashawnda Becoats

Copy Editor Polly Paddock

Lead Writer Angela Lindsay

Design & Production SPARK Publications

Creative Director Larry Preslar

Junior Art Director Genna Hardgrove

Distribution Watch Dog Entertainment®


Account Executive Nikelle Fesperman

Public Relations Nepherterra Estrada

Subscribe to Pride

$13.25. Please subscribe online at, mail to P.O. Box 30113, Charlotte, NC 28230 or call 704- 375-9553

Letters to the Editor

Eye Exams • Treatment of Eye Diseases Contact Lenses • Glaucoma & Diabetic Eyecare • High Tech Environment with Lots of Loving Care Most Insurances Accepted.

Please send an e-mail to fax to 704-375-9550 or mail to Pride Magazine 402 W. Trade St., Suite 102, Charlotte, NC 28202

Copyright© 2018 Pride Magazine All rights reserved. Copying or reproduction, in part or in whole, is strictly prohibited. Pride Magazine reserves the right to deny any advertisement, listing or feature that does not meet Pride Magazine standards or that is outside the scope or mission of our magazine. Pride Magazine assumes no responsibility for information, products, services, or statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors.

Pride Magazine prints with soy ink. Vol. 26 No. 2 March - April 2018 All rights reserved for PRIDE Communications Inc. Find us on Facebook:

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine



By Lashawnda Becoats

Women Supporting Women


hen we started planning this issue of the magazine, we had one thing in mind – to deliver stories that will inspire and motivate women. With women’s empowerment on everyone’s mind these days, we knew it would not be a challenge to find stories to share with you, and then something joyous happened! Vi Lyles was elected Charlotte’s first African-American female mayor. Vi is no stranger to the Charlotte community, so having her on the cover for our Black Women’s Empowerment issue made sense. After all, she graced our June 1995 cover, when she was Charlotte’s budget and evaluation director. Back then, she worked behind the scenes to make important decisions about our city. Now she’ll be front and center, influencing change and helping our city move toward a much-needed shift. I’m proud to call her a friend, and I’m excited to see her continue to develop and inspire many. Read her story on page 26. In this issue we also tackle a couple of subjects that aren’t easy for women to confront — sexual harassment (page 42) and personal finances (page 46). We will always encourage conversations about the importance of women standing up for themselves in all areas of their lives. For fun, lighthearted reads, we’ve highlighted some of the women who play key roles in running the prominent arts organizations in our city, so be sure to look on page 32, and don’t forget to support local art. Also check out our black women magic profiles throughout this issue featuring successful women professionals and entrepreneurs in Charlotte who are making their own magic. Spring is almost here. Get out and have some fun. Run toward your life,

Lashawnda K. Becoats Run Toward Your Life


Pride Magazine |

I’m proud to call Mayor Vi Lyles a friend. Whenever we see each other we always share a laugh.

A community exhibit organized by Levine Museum of the New South


200 E. 7th St. Charlotte, NC Photo by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr. of To Speak No Evil

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine


NotableNames By Jimese S. Orange





Each year, DiversityPlus Magazine names the Top 30 Champions of Diversity, honoring people who have driven diversity in corporate supply chains and workforces. As the senior vice president and head of supplier diversity for Wells Fargo, Regina Heyward is among the top recognized Champions of Diversity. The objective of this recognition is to encourage other businesses and leaders to think in broader terms, develop inclusive corporate cultures and expect real diversity and inclusion progress across their organizations. A key strategy Heyward has utilized is understanding business needs, and then developing strategies with diverse businesses. She recommends sharing quantifiable data and best practices with senior leaders, and regularly challenges the status quo. She has also developed a strong partnership with Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck School of Business Administration and manages a scholarship program for leaders in diverse businesses to attend its executive education program. P

Prior to accepting the head of school position at the Male Leadership Academy of Charlotte, Carlos Johnson traveled the country working with public, private and charter schools, transforming school culture and helping to reduce the school-home relationship gap. Driven by “creating a philosophy and developing a system that teaches youth how to discover, plan and train for the achievement of personal success,” Johnson has consulted, trained and held seats on both public charter and private school boards for more than 15 years. Through Johnson’s IMAGE of Success, Inc., he developed three systems for transforming school culture, educational reform and family development: “The Pains & Joys of Educating Boys,” “Breakthrough Relationships” and “Power Parenting University.” Along with his team of consultants, Johnson has utilized these systems to help transform struggling charter schools through training that lead to higher staff culture proficiency, increased parental engagement, student performance and family retention. Johnson is a certified trainer for gender-based learning, a practicing behavioral therapist, and is currently pursuing his doctorate from Ohio State University. P


Pride Magazine |

As founder and owner of Asfalis Consulting, Vanessa Vaughn runs a business continuity and crisis management firm that assists companies in maintaining their reputation, profitability and ability to operate in a crisis. She has worked with corporate brands such as Lowe’s Companies, Gulfstream Aerospace and Fortune 500 global businesses and governmental agencies in London, Mexico, Brazil and 15 locations domestically. Her resilience programs have impacted more than 16 million customers. She is also an instructor at Queens University of Charlotte’s McColl School of Business’ Executive Leadership Program. Vaughn has been a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte since 2015, and is currently serving as a member of the board of directors for Pride Entrepreneur Education Program (PEEP). As an alumna of Savannah State University, she was the first woman in the state of Georgia to earn a BA degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. She also has an MBA from the University of South Carolina. P

As a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Victoria Watlington has led programs to support African-American students enrolled in engineering programs at the UNCCharlotte, Johnson C. Smith University, North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T University. Her passion for community involvement led her to play an integral role in the growth and sustainability of the Westover Hills Neighborhood Association (WHNA), where she serves as the community liaison to the West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition. In 2015, Watlington secured and implemented a grant in support of the neighborhood beautification and identification plan, which earned her the City of Charlotte’s 2015 Charlotte Neighborhood Leadership and Exchange Award. Watlington is a registered professional engineer and a certified project management professional. She has a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida and a master of science degree in engineering management for the UNCCharlotte. She is the author of two books and business owner of Rubies Rising, LLC. P


By Rev. Dr. Dwayne Bond

A Voice for the Voiceless


oday, we are witnessing an avalanche of corporate leaders, political figures and entertainment personalities under scrutiny for inappropriate actions against innocent women. Some have been accused and are under investigation, while others have been tried and convicted. Sadly, there are an unsettling number of sexual harassment cases. These cases expose men who have selfishly leveraged their power and influence to engage in unwanted and inappropriate communication and relations with women, both publicly and behind closed doors. Fortunately, the #MeToo Movement has become a catalyst to victimized women feeling safe and empowered to come out of their silence. They view the movement as an invitation to share their personal and painful stories, in hopes of some type of justice being achieved. This is good news. Powerful and influential men who have mistreated and assaulted the personal dignity of women should be exposed and consequently experience the full weight of justice. Not only does my heart hurt for public figures, but also for the little girl, young lady or woman who is still trapped in silence and experiencing the loneliness, fear and shame that accompany sexual abuse and harassment at the hands of a family member. Belonging to countless women, these untold stories exist in homes and families. These are females who do not possess the know-how, courage or resources to speak up against their brothers, boyfriends, uncles, fathers, stepdads or cousins. They are suffering in silence, wondering whether people will ever hear them, believe them or take them seriously. They watch the groundswell of redemptive momentum in other people’s stories, while wondering what justice looks like for them. How can we help the lonely and voiceless female to stand up against those who are part of her family? How can we embolden her to risk coming out of silence, and know that she will be supported? How can she trust that her voice will be heard? Our hope is in a God who sees and knows all. God knows. God cares. God can

change things. Some may say, “Why did God allow it to happen?” I hear you. If we knew, we would be God. But what we do know is that sin is real. Sin is rampant. Sin is destructive. Sin causes pain. Sin can be confronted. In 2 Samuel 13, Tamar, King David’s beautiful daughter, was raped by her brother Amnon. He was driven by lust and was obsessed with his sister’s beauty. Listening to his manipulative and conniving cousin’s advice, he appealed to Tamar’s kindness as a sister, and sexually violated her. She pleaded for him to stop, but he used his physical strength to rob her of her purity. Amnon was slick, selfish and demented. Immediately after the incident, he expressed his hatred for her and put her out of his room. He called his servants and threw her out like a piece of trash. She cried, grieved and was heartbroken. Fortunately, her other brother, Absalom, saw her crying. After hearing her story, he told her to keep it a secret. Thus, she lived as a desolate woman in her brother

Absalom’s house (verse 20). This event turned Absalom’s heart against his brother; he hated Amnon for his cruel deed. When King David found out about it, he became angry, but did nothing. Two years later, Absalom contrived a plan and killed Amnon. Unfortunately, David’s passivity in shepherding his home, negligence in not protecting his beautiful daughter and cowardice in ignoring and excusing his son led to Tamar’s compounding despair, hatred, lies, violence and destruction. This illustrates the extreme havoc that family secrets can wreak within homes. We must speak up in our families, listen to our children and investigate accusations and concerns. Let’s empower these hurting girls and women by fostering environments of safety, transparency and honesty within our family relationships. May God strengthen and enable you to use your voice for the voiceless around you. P The Rev. Dwayne Bond is the lead pastor of Wellspring Church.

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine



By Shavonda Bean

Too Much of a Good Thing...

Children, Technology and Wellness


here’s no escaping the age of technology, the ease it offers our lives and the access it provides to the world around us. With advancements in technology, we now have new approaches to health care and treatment, new modalities for learning and skill development, and tech has drastically changed the economic capacity of many industries. However, as with most good things, there is another side to the story. Many parents express alarm at how social media and technology can influence their children, lead to disciplinary issues, loss of sleep, changes in mood, can influence peer relationships and can increase irritability if access is limited. In my practical experience, I observe how social media can influence behaviors, perceptions and reputations. We know this is true for adults, and it also applies to tweens and teens. As girls are developing a sense of self, they are looking to their peers for insight and approval, and their virtual persona matters. I believe this ultimately makes the job of parenting much more complex. As the number of people accessing technology and the internet steadily increases, we must be aware of mental health risks. Researchers are investigating increased symptoms of depression and anxiety among those who spend a lot of time on their devices, whether they are gaming, watching television, listening to music or accessing social media. A study published in the Clinical Psychological Science journal by psychologist Jean Twenge at San Diego State University found that girls between 13 and 18 reported an increase in symptoms of depression that appear to correlate with smartphone usage, and there might also be an associated increased risk of suicide and major depression when daily use extends beyond four hours. In general, this has affected girls, who are more likely to report depression and spend much more time on social media than their male peers,


Pride Magazine |

who spend more time using technology for gaming. Therefore, males are at a higher risk for addictive gaming behaviors that can be associated with increased irritability when use is limited, loss of interest in other activities and problems in relationships. We should pay close attention to any significant emotional or behavioral changes in our children that could be associated with technology usage. Where do we start?? • Talk to your children about the limits and expectations of internet and technology usage BEFORE you give them access. Take precautions as you would with any other environment you expose your child to. Be honest and offer explanations. • Be prepared to talk about pornography and internet safety. If you’re uncomfortable talking about safety, you aren’t ready to give your child full access to the internet. Consider how you might limit and monitor usage in the meantime. • Create a technology plan for the FAMILY to follow, and parents should hold themselves accountable, as well. Parents set the example!

• Balance social media time with faceto-face time with peers and family. Social skill development and healthy relationships are important to overall mental health and wellness. Less social media time increases happiness and decreases loneliness. • Children have many ways to bypass internet and social media limits and hide their usage. Stay aware and up to date with how to monitor usage. Building trusting relationships is important, but don’t be afraid to check their devices. • Common Sense Media ( is a great resource for guides, usage plans and general information about parenting children in the media age. Check it out! • Seek a professional therapist or counselor if you are concerned about how social media is affecting your child. Don’t wait. P Shavonda Bean is a licensed psychological associate and owner of Essential Assessments & Behavioral Health. Visit for more information.

FamilyNotes Compiled by Lee McCracken


Be Weather Ready lists the Netatmo weather station as a must-have gadget, especially with spring rains and summer pop-up thunderstorms. It features two sleek aluminum modules; the indoor one has a CO2 sensor to measure air quality, while the outdoor module tracks temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. See all data on the mobile app. The Netatmo also supports Amazon Alexa. $150 at

Women in the Arts

The entire family will enjoy seeing Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the Hippo and the hilarious, plotting penguins on stage in this musical adventure. Based on the smash DreamWorks’ animated motion picture, “Madagascar — A Musical Adventure” follows all the crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York City’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey. ImaginOn, 300 E. 7th St., Charlotte. For ages 4 and older; tickets $12$28. Visit

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture hosts “By and About Women: The Collection of Dr. Dianne Whitfield-Locke and, her husband, Dr. Carnell Locke” through the end of July. The exhibit highlights selected works from the Locke collection, which were either created by female artists or feature women as the subject. It represents a comprehensive history of art-making in general, and African-American art, specifically. Sculpture, sketches, oils, acrylics, paintings and collages fill the gallery. 551 S. Tryon St.; admission $7-$9 for non-members. Visit

Sleep-Away Summer Camp Is your child ready for a week of overnight camp this summer? The Greater Charlotte YMCA’s Camp Thunderbird may be just the ticket, as it’s located on Lake Wylie and not too far from home. The camp’s annual Open House is Saturday, April 22, 1-4 p.m. Enjoy fun activities as a family, meet the YMCA Camp Thunderbird staff, receive an in-depth tour and learn about the programs offered. 1 Thunderbird Ln., Lake Wylie, S.C. Free; register online at

MLK Legacy

“You need to be surrounded by people whose voices echo your soul voice.” — Robin Roberts

“Life’s timing is not random. When you’re being tested at all angles, it feels so overwhelming. Keep. Pushing. Through.” — Holly Robinson Peete

zainabsoly /

She Said …

“I’m not done yet. … This is just a new part of my life. My baby’s going to be in the stands and hopefully cheering for me.” — Serena Williams

“Death of a King: A Live Theatrical Experience” plays Friday, March 23, 7:30 p.m., presented by Tavis Smiley, broadcaster and author. The live multimedia performance describes Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last year and his surviving legacy. Jazz pianist Marcus Roberts accompanies Smiley with an original score to illustrate the poignant story. The presentation is a collaboration among the Harvey B. Gantt Center, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center and SOL Kitchen. Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts, 430 S. Tryon St. Tickets $25-$125. Visit

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine



Women and Family By Angela Haigler

March is Women’s History Month, a time to reflect on the contributions made by women. Books recommended for this issue celebrate women or issues important to women and families.

Children’s Book:

Black Ink: Literary Legends on the Peril, Power, and Pleasure of Reading and Writing edited by Stephanie Stokes Oliver with a Foreward by Nikki Giovanni We take it for granted now, but there was a time when reading and writing could get a black person killed. Stephanie Stokes Oliver’s selections from “Black Ink” remind us of that courageous history, while celebrating our current freedom to read and write for empowerment and joy. 

Albert Murray: Collected Novels & Poems Train Whistle Guitar/The Spyglass Tree/The Seven League Boots/The Magic Keys/Poems by Albert Murray

edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Paul Devlin Many of renowned cultural critic Albert Murray’s works are showcased in this collection edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Paul Devlin. From fiction to art criticism to poetry and music, Murray has written it all. He was also known for his friendship with Ralph Ellison, Romare Bearden and Count Basie. This 1,000page collection of his novels and poems is truly a treasure. It’s like a 1,000-page coffee table book for the writer’s soul.

Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery (New Edition) by Mat Johnson On the 10th anniversary of this book’s first printing, Mat Johnson is back with an even better telling of his graphic novel, “Incognegro.” In it is the story of a black reporter, passing for white, who is sent to the South to investigate lynchings. This time, he learns that the accused perpetrator is his brother, and is likely falsely accused. With Johnson partnering with illustrator Warren Pleece, this edition will become a new classic for many.

How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor Where three radical black feminists gather, so shall an organization be formed. That’s what happened when sisters Beverly and Barbara Smith, and colleague Damita Frazier, met and started the Combahee River Collective (CRC) in 1974. Born as a departure from white feminism through the National Black Feminist Organization (NBFO), the CRC was a think tank and a movement. Author and Princeton African American Studies professor Keeanga-Yamatta Taylor interviews the founders and provides this much-needed history.


Pride Magazine |

Grandma’s Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton Illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton is staking out new territory as both an illustrator and a writer in “Grandma’s Purse.” The colorful illustrations and buoyant writing work together to portray the happiness and delight that occurs when a favorite grandmother comes to visit with her magical handbag.

State of Black Women CHALLENGES AND THE TRIUMPHS By Angela Lindsay


f you have been on any social media platforms over the past few years, then you likely have seen the hashtag, #BlackGirlMagic. Simply put, it reflects a celebration of the strength, style and substance of Black women. A recent Nielsen report adds that the phrase has expanded to include “the savvy and influential ways Black women are shaping the consumer market both in what products companies offer as well as the purchases….” From marching in the streets to marching up Capitol Hill, Black women have been lighting more candles and blazing more trails than ever before. Though the journey hasn’t been without its challenges and setbacks, it also isn’t anything new. Black women have always possessed that twinkle in the eye, that inner warrior, that nurturing armor, that steely resilience, which has propelled them forward. To provide a snapshot of what the mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, friends and mentors in our own community think about the overall state of Black women in society today, we asked a group of local women for their thoughts and opinions. Despite their differences, we found a unifying spirit. Clearly, it’s always been there—that Black girl magic. The rest of the world is just trying to catch up.

A 2017 Nielsen report entitled “African-American Women: Our Science, Her Magic” states that “a core tenet of the Black Girl Magic is her perseverance against socioeconomic headwinds, and her gains in entrepreneurship and academic success directly contribute to her being the economic engine of the Black community.

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine


Valarie R. Brooks,

Owner-Managing Principal



To provide outstanding service for every client we represent. We break down barriers by being experts within our industry and giving individual attention throughout the entire home buying, home selling and coaching process.

Knowing who I am, walking in my truth, and waking up with the sole purpose to make each day a fresh opportunity!


Valarie R. Brooks Real Estate & Business Coaching 704-488-2420

The day that business takes your smile away, it is time to leave. Be comfortable in knowing that you cannot please everyone.


I HOPE MORE WOMEN WILL: Understand that good health is our biggest commodity.

MY MOTTO IS: Great communication not only solves problems, it PREVENTS problems. Open up. Talk it out.

Dare to be different, live in service and bring others along for the ride!



I’ve learned that creating and cultivating relationships is key in generating business in the awesome city of Charlotte.

I was a former winner of the Ms. Black Atlanta Pageant.

At 24.3 million strong, Black women account for 14 percent of all U.S. women and 52 percent of all African Americans.


Lisa Marie Johnson, Esq.,

45, attorney, business owner, single mother

75.4 percent of all Black breadwinner mothers are single mothers, which is the highest among the largest racial and ethnic groups

More than

6 in 10

(62.2 percent) of Black women are in the workforce, making them one of the two racial/ethnic groups of women with the highest labor force participation rate among women and the only group of women with a higher labor force participation rate than their male counterparts.

Shonda Rimes dominates Thursday night television with her creations: “How to Get Away With Murder,” “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”


BWM_Joyce_Palmer.qxp_Layout 1 2/7/18 5:50 PM Page 1

What does the hashtag #BlackGirlMagic mean to you? “Black Girl Magic, to me, means that young Black women are empowered to do and accomplish anything we want without question. That we can achieve impossible goals that everyone else thought was impossible. That we can change the paradigm and alter the concept that society expects us to follow someone else’s lead instead of lead on our own. Black Girl Magic is actually an oxymoron, because magic is not real. It is an illusion, and Black Girl Magic is just an unattainable notion of Black girl power. However, in actuality, Black Girl Magic is not only real, but is an unbelievable ideology of accomplishing the impossible. Of reaching the unattainable. Of turning a young Black girl’s questionable future into something magical, something attainable, something real. From where do you think Black women get their strength and resilience? “As diverse as we are, we all get our strength and resilience from many different sources. Some of us get it from family, from God, from church, from mentors and friends, from experiences—it all depends on the woman and her experiences. Speaking for myself, I do get a lot of strength from my mom, from God, my church family and all four of my grandparents, but I get my resilience, oddly enough, from failure and adversity. When I go through failure (or as I call it, a challenge), it pushes me to work harder and to do better. I keep myself


Divas Doing Real Estate 760-503-4827 DivasDoing

MY MISSION: To encourage & empower women of color to pursue their real estate goals. I ADMIRE WOMEN WHO: Pursue their dreams unapologetically, and allow their voices to be heard. I STAY EMPOWERED BY: Prayer, having both professional and personal mentors, obtaining a spiritual coach, staying healthy through exercise and eating better, and only allowing positive relationships. I HOPE MORE WOMEN WILL: Learn to embrace their awesomeness, and sincerely appreciate the same of other women. THE SECRET TO DOING GOOD BUSINESS IN CHARLOTTE IS: Being honest, true to who you are, and treating others with respect.


JP Financial Group LLC

Managing Partner & CEO



MY MISSION: To be a financial advocate for ladies. Empowering ladies to be proactive in making safe, simple and smart financial decisions. I ADMIRE WOMEN WHO: Have been trailblazers in business while providing a nurturing and fulfilling environment at home for their children. I STAY EMPOWERED BY: Helping my clients realize their financial retirement goals. I HOPE MORE WOMEN WILL: Continue to support each other. THE SECRET TO DOING GOOD BUSINESS IN CHARLOTTE IS: Business Integrity. Do what is right for your clients at all times. March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine


grounded in the notion that my failure is actually my setup for something bigger, something more impressive. I find myself working in a daze, almost like I’m on autopilot when I am faced with a challenge; and I don’t have time to think of the negative possible outcomes;, I just keep working at it until it happens. I do what I can to make it happen. My son and I have a special handshake we use all the time on a daily basis, and at the end of that handshake, we tell each other to ‘“make it happen.’” That’s my mantra. If something seems too hard, too impossible, I tell myself to make it happen and I keep at it until I do, because no one else is going to make it happen for me.”

Dawn Cauthen Thornton

history makers


In 2013, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi organized the Black Lives Matter movement and proceeded to galvanize the globe.


“Between 2004 and 2014, the share of Black women with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased by 23.9 percent, making Black women the group of women with the second-largest improvement in attainment of higher education during the decade.”

42, married, stay-at-home mother

As the mother of an African-American daughter, what are some lessons you taught her about her place in society? Because her school isn’t very diverse, my husband and I constantly remind our 5-yearold that her voice and feelings are just as important as everyone else’s. They are not to be minimized or deemed inferior simply because she looks different. I hope African-American women will continue to carve out their place in this country and plant their feet firmly down, unable to be moved. Know that we don’t have to walk behind anyone or exist in the shadows. Live in front. Be heard. Be seen. Be beautiful and confident in all your ‘naturalness’ and don’t conform to anyone’s ideals just to fit in.


Pride Magazine |

2015 In 2014, about 22 percent of Black women aged 25 and older had bachelor’s degrees or higher.


On January 29, 2017, Imelme Umana is elected as the first African-American woman to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review in its 130 years.

As of August 2016, 39 out of 50 states had at least one Black woman in their state legislatures. Georgia and Maryland had the highest proportions of Black women in their state legislatures at 11.9 and 10.6 percent, respectively. (Center for American Women and Politics)



Oprah Winfrey becomes the first Black woman to win the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2018 Golden Globes, an honor bestowed by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.

DFree /

Which AfricanAmerican women have been the biggest influences/role models in your life? Why? “As a member of two moms’ organizations, I’m in regular contact with lots of mothers. I am honestly in awe of the African-American moms that advocate for the success of their children and the children in our communities. Moms who are fully involved, who pay attention, and truly invest in the mental, physical and emotional wellbeing of their children are who I admire the most, because they absolutely inspire and motivate me to be the best mother and woman I can be; it allows my daughter to have something to aspire to, as well.” 

Verta Witherspoon Looper

trendsetters African-American women are setting trends for women of every race and ethnic background, and they are increasingly influencing mainstream culture across a number of areas including fashion, television and music. Because they know that style projects confidence, staying on the cutting edge and projecting an impressive personal image are important to Black women.


of Black women agree their fashion style is trendy


of Black women agree they are influenced by what’s hot and what’s not


agree they’ll buy trendy clothes even if they’re not the highest quality

Additionally, 41 percent of Black women agree they like to live a lifestyle that projects a positive image to others.

Ericka L.


69, retired professional How have you seen the roles/positions of AfricanAmerican women change over the past decade or so?  “The role of the African-American woman has changed as evidenced by women increasing their presence in the diverse job market and political arena. More women have assumed professions and leadership roles traditionally available only to males.” Last year, NASA announced that astronaut Jeannette Epps will be the first African-American space-station crew member. In 2017, the U.S. Senate quadrupled its number of members who are women of color, including the swearing in of African American Kamala Harris of California. In what ways would you say that African-American women have both shaped the consumer marketplace and become the economic engine of the AfricanAmerican community? “African-American women have shaped the economic marketplace for several reasons. They often make the decisions for the products that their family will use. Many have increased buying power. Younger professional generations have access to income, as single heads of households. Data has confirmed that AfricanAmerican females value cosmetic and hair products, as well as fashion, electronics, educational and recreational activities for themselves and their children, as well as increased healthy lifestyles and financial stability and investments. Therefore, economic marketing is often tailored to attract the African-American woman.”

ELM Realty & ELM School of Real Estate, LLC

Owner & CEO


Best Selling Author

MY MISSION: To empower, engage and energize others throughout life’s journey. I ADMIRE WOMEN WHO: Desire to use their gifts, talents, education, money, and time for the betterment of others. MY MOTTO IS: Work while they sleep. Learn while they party. Save while they spend. Live like they dream. I HOPE MORE WOMEN WILL: Believe in themselves - mind, body and spirit - in order to become the champions for many generations. THE SECRET TO DOING GOOD BUSINESS IN CHARLOTTE IS: Define your niche. Brand it greater than your competition as if you are the extraordinaire.

Fund Carrie B. GreenLight 980-292-1749


Executive Director Sites/Charlotte/

MY MISSION: My personal mission is to laugh daily, stay curious, create meaningful impact with people, and be a force for good. I ADMIRE WOMEN WHO: Lead authentically and unapologetically while supporting others to do the same. I STAY EMPOWERED BY: Staying connected to my purpose, people and legacy. I HOPE MORE WOMEN WILL: Know that you are enough! And please give yourself some grace. We’re way too hard on ourselves and each other. THE SECRET TO DOING GOOD BUSINESS IN CHARLOTTE IS: Building real relationships. When you are relational, you develop genuine connections that last no matter what your business is. March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine


Eboni Wallace Lewis

social media savvy

42, married, working mother

Black Girl Magic is just one example of how Black women have taken social media and used it to tailor an authentic message that speaks to her experiences; thus using social media in ways that differ somewhat from non- Hispanic white women. Black women over-index on a myriad of other reasons for using social media, including: Finding out about products and services

12% higher

Showing support for their favorite companies or brands

25% higher

Receiving exclusive offers, coupons and discounts

12% higher

Black women ages 18–34 and 35–49 are especially likely to utilize social networking sites for these consumer engagement activities.


Vincent Career Training Institute



What does the hashtag #BlackGirlMagic mean to you? “When I see or hear those words, there isn’t a meaning that comes to mind, but it evokes an inner feeling of pure joy and empowerment. When I see that hashtag, my soul starts smiling. Black Girl Magic sums up who we are…doers of the impossible.” What contributions would you say African-American women have made/are making to society, business, culture, etc., and do you feel that they have received proper recognition for these contributions? Why or why not? “Wow, this is a powerful question. Without a doubt, African-American women have made and are making significant contributions to life in general. There really are so many that it is difficult to list. I think the one that has been most recently highlighted is our impact in recent elections. We are usually the sparkplug for social change but often not adequately acknowledged. For example, the 2017 Time Person of the Year cover features the ‘silence breakers.’ They were so detailed to include the arm of a sexual assault victim who wanted to remain anonymous in an effort to protect her family, yet they did not feature the creator of the #MeToo movement on the cover. Her movement has clearly resulted in significant changes in workplaces across the country. I don’t know why we don’t receive proper recognition for our impact. It is very unfortunate the level of comfort people have in receiving credit for what isn’t theirs. What makes me more frustrated is that when we (African-American women) are in need of support from other groups—racial and gender—we don’t receive the same support we give to and for others.” P

Vincent 1-800-393-1922

MY MISSION: To provide affordable training for professional development, personal enrichment and career advancement. I ADMIRE WOMEN WHO: Are fearless to be themselves and embrace others who are still finding their way.



Building Endurance PLLC


980-288-5486 www.Building


MY MISSION: Decrease the stigma of mental health. I ADMIRE WOMEN WHO: Stay true to who they are.

I STAY EMPOWERED BY: Knowing I have a purpose, which is to empower others to believe they too have a purpose.

I STAY EMPOWERED BY: My faith, my support systems, and belief in the power of change.

I HOPE MORE WOMEN WILL: Come together to be the voice and leading force in business.

I HOPE MORE WOMEN WILL: Put themselves first and go after what they want in life.

THE SECRET TO DOING GOOD BUSINESS IN CHARLOTTE IS: Support other small businesses, and be a good neighbor to all whom you may serve.

THE SECRET TO DOING GOOD BUSINESS IN CHARLOTTE IS: To make sure your product is worthwhile.

Pride Magazine |

Dr. Paula

R. Newsome, CEO



To provide the best eye care services in Charlotte in a warm and caring environment.

My relationship with God through Jesus the Christ.


Understand their personal power and not give it away too quickly.


Advantage Vision Center 704-375-3935

Have found their passion and are pursuing it!



Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I have been parasailing, in a helicopter and a hot air balloon with an extreme fear of heights.

THE SECRET TO DOING GOOD BUSINESS IN CHARLOTTE IS: Passion, persistence, perseverance and PRAYER!

Michelle Outlaw,

President & CEO First Legacy Community Credit Union 704-491-8787



First Legacy Community Credit Union is committed to providing high quality service to its members.

Learning, growing and expanding my territory.


I HOPE MORE WOMEN WILL: Seek new and exciting opportunities and support other women in their efforts.

Always continue to re-invent yourself and do the job at the next highest level.



I’m a Peter; I am not afraid to jump out of the boat and walk on water.

Continuously strive to break barriers and forge into unknown territories.

YOU’D NEVER GUESS THAT: I have a B.S. in Accounting from NC A&T State University, Master of Accounting and Financial Management, Master of Divinity, and Doctorate in Ministry.

THE SECRET TO DOING GOOD BUSINESS IN CHARLOTTE IS: Giving good quality service and creating an environment of inclusiveness.

Firms Leads the Way in

Influencing Business Leaders and Empowering Women


By Kallan Louis

aradigm 360º Coaching & Consulting CEO Yvette Hall and President / COO Christina Lee were friends with successful careers and families living in California before they decided to go into business together. Hall was a marketing professional with experience working with Fortune 500 companies, and Lee was a nonprofit business leader and spiritual educator. “I always talked about us having some sort of joint venture together,” Lee said. “Initially, I thought it was going to be real estate.” Lee moved to Charlotte with her family, and about five years later, Hall

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine


From R to L Christina Lee, Yolanda Belin, Yvette Hall, Beryl Miller, Lisa Belin, Jerolyn Adewoyin, Cherrie Felisbret

and her family decided to move here, as well. Lee had an interest in becoming an executive leadership coach, and signed up for a training program that would ultimately fulfill her desire for the two of them to become business partners. “Not only did I sign myself up, I also signed up Yvette, because you needed a peer in order to go through the program. It was something we could go through together as friends.” Throughout the process, as the two drove back and forth together from Charlotte to the their classes in Atlanta, Lee realized they could take it a step farther. After finishing the program, they went through with the process to become certified to teach the coaching curriculum. They decided to open their own executive leadership coach training business. Now, armed with the credentials to run their business, the women faced a new hurdle -- finding clients. “We had no prospects,”


Pride Magazine |

said Lee. “Neither of us were from Charlotte. Besides a couple of people we knew, we didn’t have the bandwidth to start a successful venture.” The two threw a launch party and invited people they knew in the community. and built a client list form there. Paradigm 360º has been in business for five years and has now developed more than 700 coaches globally and has provided consulting and training for corporations, hospitals, local and federal government agencies. Developing and training the Paradigm 360º team, comprised of entirely Black women, is important to Lee and Hall. “We have been intentional with building an infrastructure of leadership with Paradigm 360º,” Lee explained. “For the last three years, I have required them, every Monday night to be in a leadership forum with me.” The team has remained the same from the beginning. The vision of a Black women providing leadership and coaching

executives and large groups makes a powerful statement. Success in the corporate sector has allowed Paradigm 360º to branch out with some cause-driven initiatives. Paradigm held an event last fall at which it gathered nearly 100 women to honor some female leaders and talk about how to break the glass ceiling. Hall and Lee launched Paradigm 360º Ministries with the goal of empowering coaches who would like to develop church planners and leaders in underdeveloped and underserved countries, where access to leadership development is unlikely. They also launched a youth program dedicated to entrepreneurship, often using the corporate relationships they have built to provide opportunities for the youths participating. Through coaching and training, Hall and Lee are finding ways to impact and transform leaders and those they serve, one conversation at a time. P

Sabrina Mack, Owner

Sabrina Mack & Co. LLC 980-213-0135



To encourage and empower women to tap into their gifts and make an impact on the world.

Traveling. Traveling empowers and recharges me. I love to meet women from all over the world doing amazing things.

BEST BUSINESS ADVICE I HAVE EVER RECEIVED: Came from my Grandmother. She always said “as long as you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life.”



Step out on faith. I started my first business with $50 and all the extra furniture in my garage. I believed in myself. I want other women to believe in themselves.

Encourage and uplift one another. We have to adjust one another’s crowns.

MY MOTTO IS: If it is to be, it’s up to ME! Philippians 4:13!

YOU’D NEVER GUESS THAT: I’m an amazing cook. I cook full course meals from scratch.

THE SECRET TO DOING GOOD BUSINESS IN CHARLOTTE IS: Being resilient and willing to change. I’ve had to evolve as a business owner to accommodate and best meet my client’s service needs.

Photo by Jonathan Cooper


Pride Magazine |


VI LYLES By Angela Lindsay


he did it. Last November, Vi Lyles became Charlotte’s first African-American female mayor after a hotly contested race—one which ended with a much more definitive defeat of her Republican opponent, Kenny Smith, than many residents and experts predicted. Blazing trails and defying the odds has been a hallmark for Lyles, from her childhood in the segregated South to her more than 40 years in public service. Now, she is entering new territory once again. But she is no stranger to leadership. The Columbia native began her career as an analyst in Charlotte’s budget department, and later became the city’s budget director. She served as assistant city manager for the City of Charlotte from 1996 to 2004 and, in 2012, decided to run for Charlotte City Council, where she was elected to an at-large seat for two consecutive terms. In 2014, the council elected her mayor pro tem, and now, as mayor, she is poised to face the challenges that both a new administration for the city and a new position for an African-American woman bring. Below, she shares her thoughts on her historic win and her hopes for the future of Charlotte under her tenure.


What is the very first thing you want to accomplish as mayor and why?


I want to build trust between the people who live in our city and local government. We need to engage with our citizens; determine how best to have a city where you can have a job, afford to live and feel proud of your neighborhood. Governance is about addressing the immediate challenges and creating a sense of community.


What do you feel is the most pressing issue facing Charlotte right, and how do you plan to address it specifically?


Economic disparity is the most pressing issue impacting people who create and those who feel left out of opportunity. It affects the connections between jobs, housing and education. To begin to address this requires understanding the history of how it occurred; who benefited and who didn’t. We have to

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine


EmpowHERment, Inc

980 - 288 - 4371

OUR MISSION: Empowering a continuous network of girls and women to be leaders in their community through mentorship, talent development and advocacy. WE ADMIRE WOMEN WHO: Have given of their time, talent and treasure to EmpowHERment! Thank you to the countless volunteers and supporters who want to empower girls and women to lead locally! OUR MOTTO IS: “When she succeeds, we succeed.”

Mayor Lyles during her oath of office on December 4, 2017 at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.

acknowledge our legacy of economic discrimination. Specifically, I will support and encourage policies and programs that remedy past actions and level the playing field. That would include minority participation in projects funded by tax dollars, development of job training programs and addressing the need for affordable housing.

Q A Nicole

Pink Cursive & Shug-A-Bug Kids Spa


PC:980-819-6351 Shug: 704-900-5214 &


MY MISSION: To help others start their own business and achieve success. Both of my companies have a business educational segment. It includes a program to teach others how to start their own kid spa, as well as how to transition from an idea into actually opening a business (Grand Idea to Grand Opening). I ADMIRE WOMEN WHO: Continue to be their authentic selves while juggling so many responsibilities. I STAY EMPOWERED BY: Constantly reading books. I am a book worm and I read three books at a time. I HOPE MORE WOMEN WILL: Realize their full potential and not be afraid to take risks. THE SECRET TO DOING GOOD BUSINESS IN CHARLOTTE IS: Staying consistent all while reinventing the business to fit the needs of the customer. 28

Pride Magazine |

Has the significance of your historic win set in yet, and what does it mean to you?

It is an honor and a privilege to be the one to blaze the path for other women of color and to inspire young girls to know that they can achieve the highest level of elected office in the city of Charlotte. I am proud that we’ve achieved this milestone, but I also acknowledge that there are many more accomplishments in our future. I want to be known for what we do after our historic election. I am working to be the mayor who helps to surge our city into an era of greater economic vitality. and that starts with more jobs and better paying jobs.


What surprised you the most about being on the campaign trail?

The willingness of the people who welcomed the debate on the issues; who understood the need for change and participated in our most basic and valued right — the right to vote.


What one thing did you learn the most about yourself during this journey?

I kept to the words of former First Lady Michelle Obama: “When they go low, we go high.” I found strength in her quote, and it helped to get me through the very negative ads. I learned to be my authentic self and to accept that I could trust the voters to know who I am, because I live my authenticity every day.


What effect do you think the newly elected city council, which includes several millennials, will have on the city?


The topic of millennials has been brought up frequently, and I understand that it signals a shift in what we’ve seen with past councils. But what makes the new members stand out more than their ages is the fact that they have demonstrated they are all leaders who deeply care about the future of this city. Together, with the veteran members, we have an opportunity to blend everyone’s unique perspectives to the benefit of those we serve. Each member of the council brings a point of view that, when forged as policy, will make our diverse communities stronger.


What do you think the election of so many millennials to the city council says about Charlotte, its residents and the direction the city is headed?


Looking at the election data, the millennials were elected by every voter segment from every age group. So, it says Charlotte is willing to step up to embrace the growing population of millennials as leaders, that new ideas and solutions are welcome to address community challenges.  P

Charlotte's first - former Mayor of Charlotte Harvey Gantt and Mayor Lyles.



Chief Learning Officer

MY MISSION: We inspire curious thinkers to discover the wonders of science, technology and nature. I ADMIRE WOMEN WHO: Are confident in their own skin, understand their power and are not afraid to demonstrate it. I STAY EMPOWERED BY: Remaining open to the evolution, adaptation and growth of my personal and

Discovery Place 704-372-6261

professional self. You can never learn enough, listen enough, read enough, explore enough… in this lifetime. I HOPE MORE WOMEN WILL: Confidently realize and leverage the opportunities before us, making sure our voices are heard. THE SECRET TO GOOD BUSINESS IN CHARLOTTE IS: To have the people and community at heart.

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine



Empowering HER to Succeed By Eren Simpson


hat started as a one-day summit in 2010 has evolved into a year-round program to empower young women. In 2010, Carrie Cook held a summit for girls at Ridge Road Middle School in north Charlotte to teach and motivate them. When the summit ended, girls reached out asking how they could stay in touch with the mentors they met that day, and EmpowHERment was born. “Our mission is to empower a continuous network of girls and women to become community leaders through mentorship and advocacy,” said Tiffany Allen, the organization’s director of operations. Since its inception, the annual summit, which includes leadership development workshops, team-building activities and a community service project , has reached 2,000 girls. EmpowHERment’s leadership academy, which developed after that first summit, is a four-year program in which ninth-graders in their second semester, who are referred by a counselor, teacher or parent, are paired with a mentor who will be with them for the next four years. No girl is ever turned away. “We are now onboarding our third class of ninth graders, with 60 girls in the program, along with 60 mentors,” Allen said.


Pride Magazine |

Allen said the mentors are from all industries and walks of life, including lawyers, doctors, teachers and stay-at-home moms. All want to connect with a young girl and help her discover and develop her voice. “I’m amazed by the quality of women that come through, that want to be a part of EmpowHERment,” she said. “And they’re so dedicated.” Throughout the four years, each girl and her mentor work on building a talent development portfolio that includes advocacy and community service work that will help the girls either apply for college or a job in the workforce after high school. Mentors and mentees spend a minimum of four hours a month together during the third Saturday of the month, when they all get together to work on the curriculum, but Allen said most of them spend much more. Camryn Love, 16, has been with EmpowHERment since she was in sixth grade, when her mom signed her up for the annual summit. She said she kept coming back because of the interaction with everyone who attended. “Everyone was so nice and caring,” she said. “Everyone who works there is so focused on assisting young girls, so they know they need support systems to make it through life, and everyone there is there to support them.” So in ninth grade, when she was given the option of having a mentor, she accepted.

“I knew a mentor would be able to help me in life,” Love said. “When I was younger, I was very shy, and by the time I got a mentor in the ninth grade, it ended up helping with my communication skills and not being afraid to talk to other people and standing up for myself and knowing I have a voice.” Love, who is a student leader at Charlotte Engineering Early College at UNC Charlotte, said she plans on going to college and majoring in biomedical engineering. “When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor, but my high school has a focus on engineering, and in biomedical engineering, you create stuff for doctors, and being able to have my name on a cure or something would be the greatest thing ever,” Love said. Allen said it’s wonderful to see the girls succeed, but the mentors do as well. “Our mentors become more dynamic women,” she said. “We’ve had mentors go back to school to get their doctorates and start businesses, and they attribute that to EmpowHERment and not just working on challenging a girl, but challenging themselves, as well.” P To learn more about EmpowHERment, visit

Lessons to Live by for Daughters By Lashawnda K. Becoats


eing a mother is a gift. You could not have told me that when I was 18 years old, pregnant in high school and uncertain of what my future would hold. Now it’s hard to believe that my three children (two daughters and a son) are adults. What a journey. When I look back on how nervous I was raising my daughters, I can now that say that having daughters has shaped my life in more ways than I could’ve imagined. First of all, raising girls comes with a special task…PATIENCE! But honestly, learning to stay true to myself as a woman and being a mother was a balancing act that took some time to master, because our daughters are always looking at how we live our life as guidance. Today moms have to be mindful of all the mixed messages in society, messages about everything from beauty to equal pay. Add social media to that mix, and believe me, my daughters and I still talk about how to be true to yourself and not get lost in what everyone else thinks. The best thing about having adult daughters is that we’ve grown up together. I enjoy spending late nights conversing with them, while listening to music I have no clue about. Lol! My millennial girls keep me hip, and trust me, we spend a lot of time laughing our heads off while watching videos on YouTube. We’ve been through some challenges, but I love witnessing how beautiful, intelligent and well-rounded my daughters have become. I definitely got that part right, and it warms my heart. J As they write chapters in their own books of life, here are some of the things I’ve told them over the years.


Be yourself. — Who you are and what you have to offer to the world are valuable. Don’t shrink to make other people feel comfortable. Learn from your mistakes, and always apologize when you are wrong.


Take care of yourself while you are young. — Mind, body and spirit have to be nurtured throughout life. Don’t wait until you’re older to be good to yourself. Drink water, read, pray, eat healthy, exercise and rest.

My beautiful daugthers, Tashara and Kayla.


Save something for a rainy day. — Money isn’t everything but not having any money when you need it can be stressful. Pay yourself first, and always save more than you spend.


Try different cuisines. See the sights and experience the local culture and people.


Dream a big dream. — Never limit yourself. Set goals, and always dream about what you want for your life, because anything is possible.

Learn to love your body. — There will always be days when you will not love what you see in the mirror. That’s OK and natural for every woman. Learn to accept your body type, and don’t compare yourself to others.




Follow your intuition. — Intuition is “God sense,” and when you learn to let it guide you, it will never lead you wrong.


Treat others kindly, but don’t be a fool. — Respect and kindness should be reciprocal. When they’re not, don’t let anyone take advantage of you, ever.


Travel and see the world. — You will learn a lot about yourself when you explore the world. Don’t be afraid to visit places where people don’t look like you.

Love is possible. — Heartbreak will come, but don’t close your heart and become bitter. Stay open to love. The right person is waiting to find and love you.

Watch what people do more than what they say. — Actions will always speak louder than words. How a person treats you speaks volumes.


Credit is king. — Don’t buy things you don’t need or use. Pay your bills on time, and monitor your credit score. Being financially sound will make your life easier.


Love is unconditional. — I will always love and be there for you, no matter what. P

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine


Black Women


Pride Magazine |

By Tonya Jameson


ptown is now the epicenter of performing and visual arts in Charlotte. As commerical and residential development suffocates the once-vibrant arts scenes in South End and NoDa, the traditional arts institutions uptown thrive. Over the years, those institutions have become more culturally diverse in terms of programming and community outreach. Unbeknownst to many casual arts fans, leaders driving the uptown arts scene are Black women. These women see their positions as an opportunity to push arts into the community conversation of creating a Charlotte that reflects the diverse people who live and work here. In this article, they share their thoughts on their impact on the Charlotte arts scene and the legacy they leave behind.

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine


“I was a change agent and advocate for global diversity and inclusion. That people became more aware through art education about the contributions of people of color. And that emerging artists were given greater opportunities, through their experiences with having an advocate to present unexpected opportunities for them that in turn allowed them to be more successful.”

— Rubie R. Britt-Height Director of community relations, The Mint Museum, and Commissioner, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Arts Commission (ASC appointee)

“My ultimate hope is to transform our region’s relationship to art and culture — to diversify and expand the framework that exists within our cultural community, and foster an appreciation of the many creative voices that exist on a local, national and international level... Charlotte has the potential to be a truly dynamic, inventive and equitable city. If I do my job correctly, artists and our institutions will have been at the core of that transformation.”

— Jonell Logan

Photo by Jeff Cravotta

Independent curator, founder, 300 Arts Project and director, Grace on Brevard. Logan has worked for various local arts institutions for more than five years.

“I want to champion the broadening of classical ballet’s aesthetic and reach by bringing up a generation of curious, dynamic, welltrained dancers.”

— Ayisha McMillan Cravotta Academy director, Charlotte Ballet Academy. Cravotta has been a director for three years and was the principal dancer for four years.


Pride Magazine |

“From growing the audience for CharlotteCultureGuide. com to connecting new residents to the cultural community through special ASC events like Connect with Culture Day or Culture Feast, my work is building awareness of and engagement in Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s vibrant and diverse cultural community. Central to my work is a core belief that equity, access, inclusion and diversity benefits the cultural community and everyone it serves. As Charlotte-Mecklenburg continues to grow, it is my hope that the cultural community will continue to bring people together through programming that is relevant and reflective of the entire community.”

“My goal is to cultivate culture to effect change. In my work creating, programming and performing onstage, I continually seek to exist at the intersection of art and social engagement. As visual and performing artists, we have an amazing opportunity to create lasting work that highlights societal issues that are difficult to navigate. At the end of the day, I hope I gave artists an opportunity to do that kind of work for the community and to continue to find a thread for themselves in the artistic tapestry of Charlotte.”

— Krista Terrell

— Andrea “Angie C” Chandler

Vice president, marketing & communications at ASC. Terrell has been in her current position for seven years and worked in various roles at ASC for 15 years.

Public engagement coordinator, McColl Center for Art + Innovation. Chandler has been in her current position since July 2017, but has worked in the local arts scene since 2009.



March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine


“The ASC motto is ‘culture for all.’ I want to be part of the solution that ensures our major cultural institutions are sustained and allow room for emerging and grassroots cultural organizations to flourish.”

— Toni Freeman Executive vice president, Arts & Science Council (ASC). Freeman began her current position in July 2017. She was the chief operating officer at the Mint Museum from 2012-2017.

Photo by T. Ortega Gaines

“Everything I do is about impacting the lives of others, and I believe that the arts can make lives better. Sometimes, it’s only through the arts – words, a photograph or painting, music, a film – that people are “disarmed,” they’ve let their guard down long enough for an artist to change their thinking, or, at the very least, open their minds to other possibilities.”

— Bonita Buford Chief operating officer, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. Buford has worked there in various roles since 2009.




REGISTER TODAY for the PEEP E2: Engineering Experience for Girls summer program. Open to middle school girls.

2017 PEEP E2 participants get to meet former NASA Astronaut Joan Higginbotham (in red.)

For info: visit PEEP E2


In the weeks to come PEEP will be launching a new logo to kick off its 10th Anniversary Celebrations! Here’s a sneak peak.


Pride Magazine |


PEEP E2: Engineering Experience for Girls

“I am a firm believer that the arts can bring people together and help them understand issues that may not necessarily be unique to their own community, but can shed light on issues in other communities and encourage dialogue between these communities. It has been important for me to introduce and connect the amazing artists that I have been so blessed to work with (and befriend) to the community through networking, holding dialogues and muchneeded conversations regarding issues impacting one’s everyday life. I have also always been big on collaboration, be it with other individuals or arts institutions. I would like to be remembered as a collaborator for good, for purpose.”

— Sharon Holm Director of marketing and communications, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Holm has been in her current position for two years. Holm worked as marketing manager at the Gantt Center.

The view from my hotel was surreal at night.

Dee Travels to Toronto H By Dee Dixon

i, folks. I did it once again, over the Thanksgiving holiday. Explored a city I’d never been to, for four days. Toronto was my choice because it allowed me to set foot in Canada for the first time AND visit Niagara Falls, which is now off my bucket list. It was an intriguing experience. When I visit a new city, I like to compare it the Queen City, subliminally, that is. I just sort of begin taking mental notes of some of the differences and commonalities, from my vantage point. I was left with the impression that Toronto is indeed much bigger (population 2.8 million), more modern and certainly more expensive than Charlotte – at least in the downtown area. My tour guide said a one-bedroom flat could easily rent for roughly $2,500 -$3,000 a month!

Maybe that’s why, although Toronto is known for being one of the most multicultural cities in North America, I saw very few people of African descent downtown. Note: This is pure speculation on my part; however, if Charlotte keeps growing at the rapid rate it is now, it will soon catch up with Toronto. It’s hard to tell whether this is a good or bad thing, right? I was totally shocked that it wasn’t that cold during my stay! After all, I gave careful thought and much consideration to staying warm and to how I was going to manage the new, big maxi coat I purchased from Burlington for my trip on the plane. Knowing the weather there in winter can drop below -25 C, I was totally prepared. But, as it turned out, it really didn’t get that cold at all. Rats! It was near 50 degrees some days! I was able only to wear my

I could only wear my hat once.

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine


Left, The absolute pinnacle of my trip was going to Niagara Falls. Below, Eighteen of the tallest buildings in Toronto are connected to the PATH

INSIDE|OUT CHARLOTTE IS COMING TO A NEIGHBORHOOD NEAR YOU! The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for AfricanAmerican Arts+Culture have joined forces to dot Charlotte neighborhoods with fabulous replicas of art. Find out more about Inside|Out Charlotte and learn where other paintings, drawings, and sculptures are springing up, Generously supported by Knight Foundation, Inside|Out is a national program that launched in 2010 at Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), and has since expanded to Akron Art Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art and Pérez Art Museum Miami.

A collaboration between


Generously supported by

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Additional Inside|Out funding provided by

authentic Russian Cossack hat, purchased in Moscow ONCE when the weather was near freezing, just one time. Anyhow…I did find Toronto’s underground city quite fascinating. I stayed at the Westin, and learned quickly to access office buildings, restaurants, drugstores, grocery stores and all kinds of retail and entertainment establishments by simply taking the escalator down to the “PATH,” which is what this hidden world is called. Get this: You could live your entire life in the PATH, never having to go outside for anything! And, you would never have to own a coat. BTW, 18 of Toronto’s 25 tallest buildings are connected to the PATH. The view from my room was surreal at night, with all the fancy Christmas lights. I spent several hours just gazing out my window, people-watching. Since my goal was to explore, I did not spend all of my time underground, but learned to walk the streets of Toronto and breathe the air. After all, I was in search of being able to buy something at a REASONABLE price, which was hard to find underground. Everything was so expensive on the PATH! So, after getting lost several times on the streets, I found a store called Winners, a JM and Nordstrom. Thank goodness, I didn’t have to come home empty-handed. My tour of the city took me to the CN Tower, the largest freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere; the longest street in the world, Yonge Street; and the world’s first retractable-dome stadium, now known as the Rogers Center. Of course, we had to drive by Megan Markle’s former abode, since Toronto has bragging rights to having housed the soon-to-be royal. The pinnacle of my trip, however, was Niagara Falls – the second largest falls in the world. It was breathtaking. Imagine, about 12 million tourists visit these falls each year, and on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, Dee Dixon was there. Thank you, Lord. P

Addressing Unemployment, the New Segregation By Tonya Jameson


he pockets of poverty that ring the center city have long been an ugly stain on Charlotte’s reputation, but Charlotte Works CEO Patrick Graham sees the problem as more than a stain. He calls it segregation. In November, Charlotte Works spearheaded an effort to address this segregation with the workforce development initiative Careers4All. Graham’s organization and community partners will target zip codes, and their unemployed and underemployed residents, that have been left out of Charlotte’s major economic development and infrastructure projects. The clusters are right outside the center city. The disparity in unemployment among the county’s zip codes has increased by 71 percent since 2000, according to Charlotte Works. “Too often, you hear people minimize our segregation issues down to a social capital argument,” Graham said. “While people need access to greater social capital, nothing will fully change in regards to economic mobility unless we address segregation head-on.” To address this disparity, Charlotte Works will invest $4.2 million in workforce development and expand availability of training scholarships to moderateincome families in Mecklenburg County. Graham and community partners, such as Carolinas HealthCare System, Accenture, the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and others, support the initiative that was announced during a press conference at the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. “Many Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents are being pushed farther away from employment centers and infrastructure projects, including transportation and internet, due to rising housing costs,” Graham said in a statement. “We’ve developed strategies to reach people in these unemployment clusters, which is an untapped talent pool for local employers. This will also take some private investment from the business community and foundations.” Careers4All will employ the following strategies to address economic segregation and unemployment clusters:

“Too often, you hear people minimize our segregation issues down to a social capital argument. While people need access to greater social capital, nothing will fully change in regards to economic mobility unless we address segregation head-on.” —Patrick Graham, CEO of Charlotte Works

• Increasing access to education and training scholarships • Increasing outreach career advisors for unemployment clusters • Increasing scholarship funding to provide advancement for existing entry-level employees • Increasing pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships • Creating a centralized job coordination and placement initiative for people with barriers to employment Since the initiative was announced last year, announcing the initiative last year, Charlotte Works has hired a job coordination unit director for its collaborative effort with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Workforce Providers Council, an advisory group of 14 partner agencies that are providers and funders of the local workforce system. The director will work with the partner agencies to coordinate job development activities for the benefit of individuals who live in high clusters of unemployment, identified by the U.S. Census. This will help identify and coordinate prospective jobs.  Charlotte Works has gained attention from several stakeholders, including

potential private partners, government and businesses.

Next steps:

• Identify partners and employers in unemployment cluster zip codes • Align career advisor and partner agency activity for unemployment cluster deployment • Align apprenticeship funding with current youth organization partners • Launch pilot program of job coordination and placement unit with partners In previous years, Charlotte Works was more focused on providing services, but the Careers4All platform examines workforce system’s effectiveness and addresses segregation, which before was not examined as a potential barrier to employment. “As a community, we must find innovative and direct ways to address economic and social segregation,” Graham said. “While changing housing segregation and infrastructure should be a long-term goal for our community, Careers4All strategies address the immediate concerns of training and job access for people living in the shadows of segregation.” P

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine



Cheers to 25 Years! The Pride Awards at The Westin. Photos by Jon Strayhorn.


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March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine


SEXUAL HARASSMENT Don't Be a Victim By Bartina L. Edwards


ne should not have to choose between feeding her children or sleeping with her boss. Thank you, but no thank you. Until recently, there are those who would have scoffed at this statement. While women are not always the victim in all cases of sexual harassment, the statistics show that bear out an overwhelming majority of the victims are women. As a result of the public outcry and media reports of sexual harassment, terms such as sexual harassment, hostile work environment, quid pro quo and sexual assault are now more commonplace than ever. However, in spite of receiving more than 30,000 charges involving workplace harassment in 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that three out of four cases of workplace harassment still go unreported. So, this is only a tip of the iceberg. According to the EEOC’s Study of Harassment in the Workplace Report, the most common workplace-based response by those who have experienced sex-based harassment is not to report it, but to avoid the harasser, deny or downplay the gravity of the situation or attempt to ignore or endure the harassment. Seldom does the victim complain about or confront the harasser, because she fears she won’t be believed, the company won’t take action, she’ll be blamed for the harassment or she’ll experience retaliation and reputational damage in her community. This inaction becomes even more problematic based on the laws and affirmative defenses that are currently in place and available to employers to avoid liability. Thus, it becomes a perpetuating cycle that causes grave economic and emotional damage. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination on the basis of sex. This form of discrimination violates applicable state


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statutes, where they exist, but on the federal level, sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for which the EEOC has authority to enforce this law. Title VII applies to those employers (private sector, state and local governments) who have 15 or more employees. More specifically, by definition, sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: (a) Acquiescing to the requested conduct is made implicitly or explicitly a term or condition of employment; (b) acquiescing or declining the requested conduct is used as a basis for an employment decision; (c) the conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment; or (d) there is an unwelcome display or communication of sexually offensive materials. Often, there is a reference to quid pro quo harassment and a hostile work environment. These are different ways in which sexual

harassment may be experienced. For example, where there is an action taken by one who has the power to hire, fire, promote, demote, affect one’s work hours or assignments, impact her benefits, pay or other terms of employment, the employer can be held liable for the actions of the manager or supervisor who took the action. As an offshoot of this, if that manager or supervisor asks for something in return from the employee, such as providing the employee with a raise in exchange for a sexual favor, this is known as quid pro quo, which impacts the terms and conditions of the employment. Compare the above to the definition of a hostile work environment, which is much broader. In this case, the offender/ harasser does not have to be a superior (i.e. supervisor/manager), but can also be a coworker. In order to be defined as a hostile work environment, the general view is that the harassment must be so severe and pervasive that a reasonable person would view the environment as hostile, offensive or abusive. While these legal definitions may seem

straightforward, often they are not, and the burden placed on the victim can be daunting. However, it is important to remember that there has to be some evidence that the conduct was unwelcome. So, it is important to unequivocally inform the harasser to stop and rebuke the conduct if you are a victim. Additionally, while the victim is usually a woman, the victim, as well as the harasser, can be a man or a woman, and the victim does not have to be of the opposite sex. The harasser can be the victim’s manager, supervisor, another employee in a different area of the company, a coworker or a nonemployee. Also, one who observes the harassment or is offended by the harassment may be a victim. The victim does not necessarily have to be the actual person harassed, if the victim is affected by the conduct as described in the definition above. There can be confusion around sexual harassment and sexual assault. While there can certainly be overlap based on the actual conduct, these are generally two different claims.. Sexual assault is an intentional sexual contact, usually with some use of force or abuse of authority, and/or is present when the victim does not or cannot give her consent. The primary difference between sexual assault and sexual harassment is that sexual assault is a criminal offense against the person regardless of the environment; and sexual harassment is a civil offense that involves the workplace or some form of performance- based activity. Both are illegal, and you may have a claim for either or both if you are a victim. But what does this all mean? And what do sexual harassment cases have in common? Historically, silence has been the most common response to sexual harassment. Sexual harassment has been illegal for more than 50 years. Yet, laws have been eroded, arbitration agreements have been implemented and workplace actions have been ratified and perpetuated by those in power. While many employers contend that sexual harassment cases are difficult to address because each one is fact-specific, my case experience shows something different. Regardless of the facts, these cases have a common thread: a culture of secrecy, retaliation and power. It is the commonality that can be addressed by employers instead of the differences. There is a mind-set that has existed for years that has to be changed. Culture is influenced and defined by leadership and the decisionmakers in a company. You change the culture by changing the paradigm, which necessarily changes the behavior. Sexual harassment is wrong, and companies should want to change for

altruistic reasons. Moreover, there is a pragmatic business case for making change. But simply, it is the right thing to do. Iit has been said that one cannot legalize morality. My response: You can mobilize reality. Movements such as #Me Too are prime examples of such mobilization, a catalyst for change. Another example is the reform that came after the Rape on the Night Shift project uncovered that 2,500 workers on the night shift had been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed. Sexual harassment is not about sex. It is about power, and until the culture changes and the power shifts, the challenge remains. Here are some actions that you can take to help protect yourself in the workplace:


Victims and bystanders should report (in writing) the harassment, using the internal grievance or complaint process outlined in the company’s handbook, and report what they have witnessed. Collaborate with others to get the courage you need. There can be safety in numbers. Additionally, once others are informed, most employer policies require the employees/managers having knowledge of the incident to report it;


As difficult as it may be to talk about it, talk about it. Use and retain emails, text messages and document conversations with coworkers, managers, supervisors, as it relates to the incident(s). This includes any responses you receive as related to the incident(s);


If the company insists on making verbal contact, as part of the investigation, you should document each conversation and provide a followup written summary, via email or written letter, if you do not receive anything in writing from the human resources department tor the investigative group that has been assigned to your claim;


Companies should limit meetings to locations in the workplace, unless a global offsite training is occurring. With few exceptions, any other meetings outside of the workplace should be confined to lunches; avoid dinners;

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Limit the consumption of alcohol at business meetings;

Depending on the passengers, consider riding in separate cars to and from meetings;


Document performance: Keep track of your metrics, keep copies of your performance reviews in a place where you can retrieve them if needed and report the lack of a performance review to your human resource manager if your manager is resistant to conducting a timely performance review;

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Be observant of your coworkers’ comings and goings;

Do not laugh off offensive jokes or pictures, especially when directed to you and in your presence, if you are offended;


Get a mentor or seek legal advice so that you can learn to self-navigate the workplace;


Seek advice on whether the use of tape recorders and cameras is prohibited. If there is not a company or facility policy prohibiting such, this may be an option. However, you also need to be aware of your state’s party consent laws.


While these suggestions may not be applicable to everyone or every situation, they may assist in self-navigating the workplace and minimizing one’s exposure to discrimination, and changing the harassing behaviors. The time has come, the time is now -- let’s change the paradigm. P


Bartina L. Edwards is based in Charlotte, NC, where she actively practices employment law and business law in The Law Offices of Bartina Edwards. She has a corporate background, represents the plaintiff in employment actions and is also trained in Civil Collaborative Law. She is a managing director of CP3 Paradigm, LLC, a consulting firm devoted to advancing equity in the workplace by focusing on organizational paradigms.

Keep your emails in a location where you can retrieve them in the event you need them and you are no longer working for the company, especially when you believe you are being harassed or retaliated against for reporting wrongdoing or taking valid actions within the workplace. Often, employees no longer have access to this information when they need it, and managers and others will say things in emails they won’t say in person, or don’t think about when they fire off an email to an employee; Seek legal advice if you’re asked to sign an arbitration agreement;

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine



Six Vibrant Ways to Live a Healthier Life By Jimese Orange


o matter what your age, you have the power to change many of the variables that influence how long you live, how energetic you are and how vital you feel in every stage of life. These six tips will have you well on your way to a life of more vibrancy, more joy and more satisfaction.

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Relish Awe-Inspiring Moments

Experiencing a sense of awe — such as when viewing the Grand Canyon or listening to a breathtaking live music performance — may boost the body’s defense system, says research from the University of California, Berkeley. “That awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines and the things we do to experience these emotions — a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art — has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy,” says Dacher Keltner, a psychologist and coauthor of the study.

Sleep is for the Living

If you actually want to have more days in your life, make getting good sleep a top priority. Consistently sleeping less than six hours a night can lead to all kinds of health problems, from obesity and heart disease to depression and a compromised immune system. Missing out on sleep regularly nearly doubles your risk of a heart attack orand stroke, according to a review of 15 studies published in the European Heart Journal. “Good sleep can help reverse all of those damaging effects, which can help you live longer,” says sleep expert Richard Shane, PhD, creator of the Sleep Easily method.

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Get Moving


Use Those Vacation Days

The act of planning a vacation and having something to look forward to can boost your overall happiness for several weeks leading up to your adventure or getaway. In the long-running Framingham Heart Study, women who vacationed just once every six years were eight times more likely to develop coronary artery disease or have a heart attack than women who vacationed twice a year.

What’s the best prescription for a longer life? Exercise. And doctors are literally prescribing it instead of medication. “There is no pill that comes close to what exercise can do,” says Claude Bouchard, director of the human genomics laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana. It benefits your brain, heart, skin, mood and metabolism. Even as little as 10 minutes of brisk walking a day can help. Exercise may be the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth, given the positive effects it has on the body and mind.


Age Gratefully


Practice Self-Care

“Love you the most,” says Courtney Leak, a licensed clinical social worker with a private practice in North Carolina. “Loving you the most means that you are taking the time you need to heal, nurture and grow as an individual. It means that your boundaries are clear. It means that we spend time alone with ourselves and we know our worth. It means that we have good self-care, which is not just taking bubbles baths and getting pedicures. it includes financial health, clear and clutter-free spaces and removing ourselves from toxic relationships.” Leak also highly recommends going to therapy and releasing shame and the stigma associated with it. “Ongoing counseling is a form of self-care,” she says, “a way to voice your struggles and receive objective feedback and support.” Maintaining mental health is vital to longevity.

You’ve heard of aging gracefully, but aging gratefully is really where it’s at. Research has proven that cultivating gratitude increases well-being. “Conscious aging is sometimes referred to as vital aging, or grateful aging, and the science behind it says that we can live longer by learning to become appreciative of the aging process,” says psychologist Deborah Serani, author of “Depression in Later Life” and a professor at Adelphi University in New York. “When you put your focus on the positive aspects of an experience, you tend to find acceptance,” she says. “This can help you prioritize what’s important, reduce stress and give you the motivation to stay active and eat well.” “The practice of gratitude keeps us in the present moment and focused upon what is RIGHT in our lives,” says Jatrine Bentsi-Enchill, oOwner and dDirector of Ja’Makin Me Dance Fitness Studio in IndianTrail. “Consider keeping a gratitude journal or go on daily ‘Gratitude Hunts’ where you remain on the lookout for things, people and occurrences to be grateful for.” P

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine



By Sophia Mitchell

Black Women: It’s a Matter of Life or Debt


s self-taught money managers, Black women have proven that, even with less than their fair share of income, they are magically making ends meet. However, financial empowerment is more than just getting by, it’s about developing good habits, moving away from instability to sustainable financial security. Financial empowerment starts with an “ask.” For many women in America, getting ahead financially is a daily struggle. More than 8 out of 10 Black women are breadwinners and of those breadwinners, about 75 percent are unmarried, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The majority of these women are taking care of their families alone, and not entirely by choice; the impact is financially catastrophic. Nearly 39.9 percent of Black women-headed families with children in 2015 lived in poverty, says the National Women’s Law Center. The most recent U.S. Census revealed that for every dollar $1.00 a white man earns; a Black woman earns .67 cents. In order for women to get ahead, it’s imperative to stretch, preserve and grow assets. Hard work alone is not enough, but working smarter with money can eventually allow for sound financial investments, instead of rash emotional ones. It’s time Black women started asking for exactly what they deserve from their families, employers and politicians. Women must invest in themselves first. They can no longer be society’s silent partner, which requires holding their significant others liable for the children they’ve had a hand in creating, and saying “no” to family members and friends who want to “borrow” money. The road to financial devastation is paved with good intentions.


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Here are four steps that can place Black women in a better position to put their money to work.


Increase income: Whether it’s a side hustle, a parttime job or simply working toward a promotion, increasing income is one of the most effective ways to achieve financial stability.


Limit discretionary spending: Create a budget, and wherever there is room for cutbacks, make the adjustments. If it helps, try opening a savings account with an onlineonly bank; typically they pay higher interest rates. If savings are not in place, investing in the stock market or real estate won’t be feasible. Having an emergency fund is the first step to financial stability.


Health Care: Don’t skip an annual physical. Health care is a top priority. Black women are predisposed to diabetes, heart disease and hypertension; early detection is key. As breadwinners, it’s imperative that Black women take measures to not only protect the income they have today, but also future income, with the right health and life insurance solutions.


Vote: It may seem that voting is pointless, but every vote counts; just ask the Black women of Alabama who showed up in record numbers this past year. The only way to ensure that change is made at the systemic level is to hold politicians accountable. P



By Kallan Louis


hen Linda Hill, an army veteran, teacher and mother from Austin, Texas, moved to Charlotte in 2010, she was excited about her new teaching job. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a substitute teaching position, and she would go months without working. Hill didn’t have the luxury of waiting for the right job, so she began searching for temporary work. Fortunately, an opportunity found her. While she was attending a playdate with her child, the host apologized to Hill for the messy condition of the home. She let Hill know she was looking into a new cleaning service. “I told her without hesitation that I can do it,” Hill said. “I thought this would be a great opportunity until I found my real job. Well, that ended up being my real job.” Hill turned a side hustle into a home cleaning and organizing company. As the business grew, she would often hear from clients seeking referrals for moving companies. This led her to expand her services and rebrand into MovePackClean. Hill employs up to 20 people, depending on the season, including four female military veterans, but she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. She answers phones, works on the back of the trucks and cleans and organizes homes. “It’s uncommon to see a womanowned moving company,” Hill explained. “Sometimes people think I’m not capable of doing my job because I’m a woman, but the truth is because I’m a woman, I can do the job.” She recalled a situation in which a woman requested a short-notice move. Hill didn’t have any employees available at the time, but she was more than willing to help. She offered to do the job herself, but the woman declined because she prefered to have male movers. Hill admitted that it hurt a bit to hear this, particularly from another woman. However, she knows the position she is in and moved on from it. While Hill was not able to help that potential client, she has had a fair share of loyal customers. As a physician, Jewell Carr simply doesn’t have much time

Linda Hill, owner of MovePackClean.

for household chores, let alone moving. MovePackClean is her go-to company for all of her cleaning, organizing and moving needs. “Linda’s business is more than just a means to make money, said Carr. “There was an instant connection. And it was really personal to her, as she tries to help you organize your life and your home.” Hill’s humble beginnings as an entrepreneur keep her grounded. There she

was, a college-educated army veteran with teaching credentials, desperately trying to find work in a new city to support her family. She hopes it can inspire others who are on the fence about taking a risk. She was able to turn lemons into lemonade:. “I started my business at the dollar store...true story. Maybe a situation that you thought happened to you actually happened for you.” P

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine



Innovation at Work

Learning Language for Fun

Shylene Santiago and her family make learning a new language fun. By Eren Simpson


earning foreign languages is a family affair for Shylene Santiago and her eight children. When Santiago’s now 10-monthold was born, he was born with a heart condition. Because of his fragility, Santiago decided she needed to quit the workforce and stay home with her son, and find a way to work from home to continue to provide for her family financially. Santiago and her children already speak Spanish, but every time they went out to the store, the children overheard shoppers speaking languages other than Spanish, and wanted to know what they were saying. “I said there’s a lot of people in the world who don’t speak Spanish, and my 9-year-old said, ‘Well, maybe we should learn,’ so we did,” Santiago said. As Santiago and her children started learning the languages, Santiago realized the need for this type of language would work for other students, since languages aren’t offered in many public schools. “That’s not OK here in the United States, the melting pot,” Santiago said. “So I said I’m going to create a program where I make learning a language fun.” The program Santiago has created is


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for children aged six weeks to 9 years. And because learning a language can aid in slowing Alzheimer’s, Santiago and her children often take their program to nursing homes to sing to the residents. So far, Santiago and her kids have explored 15 different languages, and she’s developed a curriculum for four of them, with plans to have a curriculum for all 15. Her background in working for day care centers and YMCAs has helped her in this process. “We teach the basics,” she said. “We’re not saying we’re fluent. I teach you the basics, the alphabet, numbers, colors, everything a child would learn in preschool and kindergarten are what we and the kids teach.” Santiago involves all eight of her children in the lessons -– from having them come up with fun facts for each of the countries they learn about, to picking out costumes, and videotaping the sessions and posting lessons on social media. “I give everyone in the family a job, so they can understand this is a family effort and what we can do can actually impact and help other kids in a fun way,” Santiago said. Santiago charges $10 a lesson if children join her at home, or $25 if she and the kids come to you. Their visits to the nursing

homes are free. Santiago said she’s priced her lessons so that everyone can take advantage. “Not everyone has money to travel the world and see all these beautiful things, and that’s what we do -– especially when we go to those nursing homes -– they’re at the end of this beautiful human experience, they can’t travel to Egypt and Spain, so we bring that to them,” she said. Santiago said one of the best things about this experience has been seeing her children communicate with perfect strangers in their language, and making those cultural connections. “Learning a different language opens your mind to so many different things,” she said. While Learning A Language 4 Fun is still young, Santiago has big plans for her curriculum. “I’m putting everything into this business,” Santiago said. “My goal right now is I want this program to be adopted into a curriculum for the public schools. I want it to be part of the curriculum for homeschoolers. The evolution of this program … I see it going so far.” P To learn more, visit learn4fun


FYI News & Notes Compiled by Lee McCracken

North Charlotte fans wanting to catch the opening games of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in uptown will be able to ride the rails. Charlotte Area Transit’s Blue Line Extension will open within days. March 16 is the first day of March Madness, and spectators will be able to ride the light rail from both north and south Charlotte to first- and second-round games at the Spectrum Center. According to CATS, trains will run every 7.5 minutes at peak. The ride will take about 22 minutes and stop at 11 stations between the university and 7th Street Station. A one-way fare is $2.20, with discounts for students, seniors and people with disabilities. There are four park-andride stations: Old Concord Road (free), Sugar Creek deck (free), J.W. Clay Boulevard (for a fee) and University Boulevard (for a fee). Riders from University City will experience an 820-foot long bridge over Toby Creek Greenway at the university and a 1,100-foot tunnel under North Tryon Street. When riding north from uptown, the train will move through a 340-foot tunnel, following a descent underground, where retaining walls feature floral design art by Denver, Colo., artist Carolyn Braaskma. Construction on the new 9.3-mile extension began in 2014 and was supposed to open last August. However, last winter, CATS delayed the opening until this spring. The southern section of the Lynx Blue Line, which runs from I-485 in south Charlotte to uptown, opened in 2007. Riding the entire length of the 19-mile line will take about 45 minutes.

$1 Million Grant Expands Foster Care Services, Quality Thompson has received a $1 million grant from The Duke Endowment to fund an expansion in evidence-based family education programming and foster care services in the Carolinas. Based in Matthews, Thompson is a nonprofit organization serving Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Buncombe and Union Counties in North Carolina and York County in South Carolina with mental health services that enable children and families to live stable, healthy and independent lives. The grant will be used to increase the number of well-equipped foster homes for youths requiring out-of-home care and to fund prevention services that reduce the rate of child abuse. Thompson says collaborations with local departments of social services have revealed the current foster care system isn’t able to handle present needs and high-quality training and support for foster parents is lacking. Additionally, the grant will help Thompson bring the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) to the Carolinas for the first time. This approach strengthens foster care by refocusing on excellent parenting for all children in the welfare system; it currently is being implemented in six states and three county welfare systems with positive results. “Every year, 122,100 children in North Carolina and 46,100 children in South Carolina are involved in cases of abuse and neglect,” says Will Jones, Thompson president and chief executive officer. “This is a massive issue – a crisis, in fact – and it must be tackled on several fronts.” For 131 years, Thompson has provided aid to the community, including serving more than 12,000 individuals last year alone. The nationally accredited nonprofit agency changes the lives of at-risk children and families through therapy, education and low student-to-teacher ratio care. Visit for more information.

Tammy Cantrell, Encaptured & Co.

CATS Blue Line Extension Opens

Preservation NC house at 329 S. Vance St., Gastonia.

Preservation North Carolina Receives Wells Fargo Grant A $160,000 Wells Fargo Housing Foundation grant was awarded to Preservation North Carolina for a revitalization project in Gastonia. The Loray Mill Village comeback project is part of Preservation NC’s years-long commitment to the mill — a historical, economic and architectural landmark — and the surrounding West Gastonia community. Four old homes on Vance Street are being relocated around the former mill, part of a plan to redevelop historically significant homes within the village and establish a new template for home ownership. Preservation NC’s mission is to protect and promote buildings and sites that are important to the state’s diverse heritage. The Loray Mill village once boasted 900 residences, and still has almost 500 homes that have historical significance. “Preservation NC has been engaged with the Loray Mill community for more than two decades,” says Myrick Howard, PNC president. “We are beyond thrilled to receive the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation grant to continue this important work.” The nonprofit currently owns 12 mill village homes and one vacant lot. Most homes average 1,000 square feet, perfect for millennials and empty nesters who appreciate a condensed living space and a historically unique home. Since 2009, the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation Priority Markets Program has provided grants totaling more than $48 million to nonprofits in more than 125 communities, impacting more than 40,000 people and creating more than 4,000 places for people to call home. For more on Loray Mill Village, visit

March-April 2018 | Pride Magazine



Mark Your Calendar Compiled by Shawn Allison, II

March 1 – 4 Everyone prepare for your ride to liberation, because it’s time to hop aboard the “Freedom Train.” This riveting story of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad utilizes traditional songs of the period and recounts a powerful and inspiring tale of courage, dedication, perseverance and the strength of the human spirit. Tickets are $1113. Matthews Playhouse. 100 W. McDowell St. March 3 Charlotte, get ready for the return of one of jazz’s most acclaimed and versatile crooners—Grammy Awardwinning Gregory Porter. Experience his rich and velvety voice as he takes you on a journey through classic jazz, with some surprises from up his sleeve and under his signature hat. Tickets start at $47.75. 9 p.m. Spirit Square. 345 N. College St. March 6 A Sign of the Times Band is proud to present “Diggin’ History Through Music & Dance.” This historical exploration looks at the contributions and struggles of Africans and African Americans, as presented through spoken word, music and dance. Free. 7 p.m. Little Rock Cultural Center. 401 N. Myers St. (704) 374-1565 March 18 Black women are everything, and now here’s your chance to honor their radiance at the #ASATA (A Seat at the Table Awards). Davita 50

April 5 - 8 It’s lights, camera, action and soul at the Charlotte Convention Center, because it’s time for the eighth annual Charlotte Black Film Festival. Artists, filmmakers and film enthusiasts congregate to edify the power of chocolate cinema in a series of screenings, workshops and seminars. April 17 - 23 Jazz, jazz and more jazz! It’s time for the 2018 Charlotte Jazz Festival. Bring your family out and improvise your weekend full of jazz performances, workshops and a few more surprises.

heart-wrenching story about race, crime and family. $28. Theatre Charlotte. 501 Queens Rd.

April 20-22 Get ready for the third annual art explosion in Plaza Midwood known as BOOM Charlotte. This three-day, interactive and multisensory art exhibition features everything from avant-garde performances to showcases, rousing dance numbers, instrumentalist jam sessions, spoken word and lots more. Tickets start at $10.

March 28 – April 7 On Q Productions returns with the third installment of its eleventh season, the adaptation of August Wilson’s “King Hedley II.” It’s a story about the title character feverishly scrambling to scrape up ends for a second chance at life after a prison stint. $28. Spirit Square. 345 N. College St.

April 29 Two of Motown’s biggest groups stop in the QC for a night of memorable music and energy—The Temptations and The Four Tops. Relive the harmonies of “My Girl,” “I Can’t Help Myself,” “Ain’t Too Proud t o Beg,” “Baby, I Need Your Lovin” and so many other classic tunes. Tickets start at $25. 7 p.m.

March 24 The soulful stringed soliloquy known as Black Violin slides up to nearby High Point for a special one-nightonly performance! Classical beats meet hip hop streets in this wondrous spectacle of sound for the entire family at the High Point Theatre. This performance is rated “D” for dope. Tickets start at $40. 7:30 p.m. Galloway and Brandi Williams will honor the contributions of Black women in the QC during a ceremony featuring some unique and unconventional award categories. Tickets start at $20. Camp North End. 1824 Statesville Rd. March 23 – April 8 John Grisham’s groundbreaking and awardwinning novel “A Time to Kill” comes to the stage in the form of a gripping adaptation. A small Mississippi town get turned upside-down in this

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2018 March/April " Womens" Issue  
2018 March/April " Womens" Issue