Outside the Cell: New Book for Inmates Seeking to Become Entrepreneurs

from AOL Black Voices, Your Black World 

In the first book published by her New York-based Resilience Multimedia, Sheila Rule delivers much-needed information to a segment of society that has long been ignored: the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated. In ‘Think Outside The Cell: An Entrepreneur’s Guide for the Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated’ by Joseph Robinson, readers learn vital information, including how to overcome obstacles that convicted felons face while trying to reenter society and find work.
Rule, who worked at The New York Times for 30 years before her recent retirement, was spurred to start her publishing company after writing to the incarcerated as a volunteer for the Riverside Church Prison Ministry. With funding from the Ford Foundation, she plans to publish next year the ‘Think Outside the Cell’ book series featuring real-life stories by the incarcerated, formerly incarcerated and their families. Rule takes time to talk about the book with AOL Black Voices.
AOL Black Voices: How did you come up with the idea for the book?
Sheila Rule: Joe’s book has been published amid renewed efforts to help the formerly incarcerated-who are disproportionately black and Latino-successfully reenter society. But Joe believes that the reentry programs being developed, while commendable, too often focus on finding jobs in a nation where, according to a Princeton University study, it is easier for a white person with a felony conviction to get a job than for a black person who has never been arrested. Joe believes that "Think Outside the Cell" presents a largely unexplored option-entrepreneurship-that can help give men and women leaving prison a realistic second chance


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Dr Boyce Watkins Writes for MSNBC – 8/26/09

about Dr. Boyce Watkins

Black Women and Eating Disorders

That wasn’t always the case. The cover of her new book, ‘Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat,’ tells it all. Jagged black scribbles cross out a childhood photo, which is set against the backdrop of a stark yellow cover. But the most striking image, also on the cover, is of two fingers-the index and middle fingers-both used to induce vomiting by sticking down the throat.

They symbolize bulimia, which is characterized by binge eating and purging either by throwing up, laxative abuse or over exercising. A compulsion, it is usually done to numb feelings of anxiety or pain, experts say.

“My childhood picture is crossed out because it’s about my self-loathing phase,” she says in a reflective voice in a telephone conversation from her home in Los Angeles. “The two fingers, well, they are about bulimia. It resonates for me.”

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News: Dr. Wilmer Leon Speaks with Dr. Robert Brown on Managing Stress

Dr Wilmer Leon and Dr. Robert Brown discuss how to cope with the stress of a changing environment.  Click here to listen!

President Obama Must Change His Drug Policy

by Dr. Byron Price, Texas Southern University

On his website, President Obama offers us a “seat at the table,” which is the equivalent of citizens offering policy prescriptions to his administration. This unprecedented effort to increase citizen participation in the policy making process has the added benefit of simultaneously empowering citizens in a way that our government has not done and has to be what the campaign meant by “change we can believe in.” The criticism of whom he has appointed misses the mark concerning what I believe his change mantra signifies. Since the president appears to be open to unsolicited advice, I offer the following criminal justice recommendations and justification for these suggestions.
President Obama and the 111th Congress should consider ending drug prohibition.
“Consider the consequences of drug prohibition today: 500,000 people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails for nonviolent drug-law violations; 1.8 million drug arrests last year; tens of billions of taxpayer dollars expended annually to fund a drug war that 76% of Americans say has failed; millions now marked for life as former drug felons; many thousands dying each year from drug overdoses that have more to do with prohibitionist policies than the drugs themselves, and tens of thousands more needlessly infected with AIDS and Hepatitis C because those same policies undermine and block responsible public-health policies.”

As the preceding paragraph illustrates, “The War on Drugs” has been a dismal failure and has gifted nonviolent African Americans offenders, especially males a permanent handicap—a lifetime of limited opportunities. The collateral consequences of a drug conviction which limit African Americans opportunities are:
The denial of financial aid and work study .
Felony Disenfranchisement.
Lifetime ban on cash benefits and food stamps.
Lifetime ban on public housing.
Termination of parental rights and ban from becoming adoptive or foster parents.
Remove the felony conviction question on applications of employment.

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Tiny, Toya, TI and Weezy: Dr Boyce Watkins Speaks on Love and Money

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

OK, was I confused when I found out that Tiny and Toya (TI’s “baby mama” and Lil Wayne’s ex-wife, respectively) were being given a reality show on BET? Yeah, I was a little surprised. If only I could find a way to become a high profile baby mama — that seems to be the way to go. With my being a man, I guess that might be difficult to accomplish. All jokes aside, I watched this show with tremendous curiosity, as I think we can all learn from observing the thought patterns of those who live behind the scenes of our favorite celebs. Part of me feels sorry for both of these women, who seem to be desperately fighting their way out of the massive shadows being cast by the powerful men in their lives. Even the daughters of TI and Lil Weezy are trying to get their own reality show. Maybe they too are feeling the weight of their daddies’ collective fame. Why don’t we just give a reality show to the family dog? Now that would be hot!

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It’s going to be a Movie?

BV Newswire has learned, exclusively, that filmmaker Will Packer has designs to adapt Steve Harvey‘s best-selling book ‘Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man’ for the big screen.
An official announcement isn’t expected to be serviced to film industry media until next week, but the mastermind behind black blockbusters such as ‘Stomp The Yard’ and ‘Obsessed’ and Screen Gems have reportedly acquired the film rights to the Amistad/Harper Collins book, which has been atop the New York Times Best Sellers list for the past six months.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Harvey, a first-time author, told BlackVoices.com about the book’s meteoric success back in February. “It really has to be some amount of favor from God, because I have no experience at writing a book,” he continued. “It ain’t like I’ve been there, done that. It’s got to be favor from God. It’s gotta be something that he has planned for me bigger than I could see, because I just wanted to write a book so the women on my show could quit asking me to write a book.”

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Dr. Wilmer Leon Interviews Suzanne Simons

Dr Wilmer Leon interviews Suzanne Simons about her book “Master of War: Blackwater USA’s Erik Prince and the Business of War”.  Click here to listen!

Wilmer Leon and Dr. Mack Jones Analyze Obama’s speech to the NAACP

Drs. Mack Jones, Robert Smith and Wilmer Leon do an in-depth analysis of President Obama’s speech to the NAACP.  Click here to listen!

Syracuse Prof Dr Boyce Watkins on CNN – 8/1/09

Click here to watch Dr Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University speak with Rick Sanchez of CNN.

Published in: on August 4, 2009 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Shanelle Walker: An Awesome Young Black Poet

Shanelle Walker is the former student body President at Kentucky State University. She wrote this amazing poem to encourage African American youth to get out and vote for President Barack Obama. Not only is she a political activist, she is a writer, leader and emerging media personality. Is she one of the dopest young black poets in America? You be the judge! Rather than reading the poem, I recommend that you watch her perform it. The performance is on the video link below.

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Published in: on August 3, 2009 at 5:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

News: What Black Thinkers are Thinking

Published in: on July 30, 2009 at 1:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dr. Deborah Stroman Speaks on Higher Ed


by Dr. Deborah Stroman

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Get Real! That’s my kind response to the critics of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) recent academic reform policy that eliminates the minimum SAT and ACT scores for admission. This well-thought out and crafted course of action finally gives colleges the academic freedom and independence to do what they do best – make decisions as to which students they want on their particular campus. Not the NCAA, the athletic leagues, or any other sport-related governing body has the right to tell an academic institution who is most deserving of the opportunity to sit in their classrooms and learn. Although our country promotes a spirit of education for all, the reality is that higher education is for the privileged. And those with the financial resources receive more access and resources. With a wink and a nod though, the student-athlete can oftentimes bypass this necessity if one possesses the talent to throw a tight spiral or shoot a silky-smooth jumper.

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Published in: on July 28, 2009 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

America’s Post-Racial Hangover

With the Gates fiasco, the rosy glow has faded

Our National Postracial Hangover 1

AP Photo, Cambridge Police Department

by Dr. Peniel E. Joseph

My first reaction to watching the unfolding Saga of Skip Gates’s Cambridge Arrest was that America’s postracial bubble, like its recent economic troubles, was about to pop. The fact that some observers had never bought into the story of a race-free America purged of its past sins by a watershed presidential election had done little to diminish either that narrative’s moral resonance or political weight.

Since America’s racial disparities remain as deep-rooted after Barack Obama’s election as they were before, it was only a matter of time until the myth of postracism exploded in our collective national face. That they would rear their ugly head in the form of an intellectual and racial cause célèbre is fitting, since black scholars and activists have been engaged in a robust debate over the meaning of race in the Age of Obama.

Suddenly Obama’s recent declaration before the NAACP—that American blacks have come farther than at any other time in our country’s history—seems suspect, our national progress undone by the fact that Gates’s predicament has become a metaphor for the nation’s legacy of racial discrimination.

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Published in: on July 27, 2009 at 7:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Black News: Dr Boyce Watkins on The Montel Williams Show

Dr Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University spoke with TV and radio show host Montel Williams on Monday.  The conversation focused on race and racial profiling.  They are going to also speak on financial advice in the future.

Published in: on July 27, 2009 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dr Boyce Watkins: Henry Louis Gates and His “Teachable Moment”

Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested last week on a charge of disorderly conduct.

Boyce Watkins
Professor, Syracuse University

I’d hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you are infected with a disease. The disease that has infected you is called racism. The disease is a silent killer, not of our bodies, but of our society. It also deteriorates the brain and makes us delusional, as we sometimes see things that are not really there or refuse to see things that are actually right in front of us. What’s worse is that we know the disease is in the fabric of our institutions, but it is difficult to pinpoint the exact location. This leads to sloppy missteps, embarrassments and damaging accusations.

Henry Louis Gates, the Prominent Harvard University Professor who was arrested this week at his home by Cambridge Police Officer James Crawley, may have been a victim of the disease of racism. Even he has gotten to the point of stating that this story is no longer about race and his buddy, President Obama, has been back-peddling faster than a free safety in the NFL. In the midst of letting go of his allegations of racism against Sgt. Crawley (which I thought was a very good idea) Professor Gates has stated that we should use this situation as a “teaching moment.” It is also my hope that Dr. Gates understands that the first step toward being a good professor is to learn how to be a good student. As a professor myself, I am hopeful that he will allow me to teach the first class.


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Published in: on July 25, 2009 at 4:29 am  Comments (1)  

Dr Boyce Watkins on AOL – 7/22/09

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Dr Boyce Money: Steve McNair’s Missing Will


Published in: on July 22, 2009 at 12:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Dr. Deborah Stroman: In God We Trust – And that’s about it!


Dr. Deborah Stroman

Sheeessh! By the news events of the past few weeks, one would have thought that it was time to grab our belongings and head to hills. Can anyone be trusted in this information age of hustle, fast-talk, get-rich deals, and quickie-relationships? Here’s a bit of timeless advice for those desperately seeking peace-of-mind and still holding on in hope for a brighter tomorrow –

1. Don’t seriously date someone that doesn’t have as much as you to lose financially in a relationship (especially if you’re already married). Yes, this tip may appear narrow-minded, elitist, and tough to swallow but the facts reflect reality. Mr. McNair more than likely lost his life not because the alleged killer was not cute enough or highly cultured, but rather she got a taste of the good life that she had never previously experienced. The young lover was not an observable regular in the high-income bracket circle. Her self-defined love and feelings for this once-in-a-lifetime fling would not permit her to let go. She probably rested on the “if I can’t have him, no one else will” sentiment to end their lives tragically. It is highly doubtful that a businesswoman with millions (who was rejected by a rich lover that would periodically spend his mint on her to woo her) would take her own life and risk the chance to meet another stud athlete with bank and street cred.

Click to read more on the black scholars blog.

Published in: on July 12, 2009 at 4:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Karine Steffans Releases a New Book

Karrine Steffans, author of the bestselling memoirs, ‘Confessions of a Video Vixen’ and ‘The Vixen Diaries,’ returns with a highly charged relationship manual for women.
In her latest, ‘The Vixen Manual,’ Steffans advises women how to avoid mistakes she’s made in the past and how to find, seduce and keep the man of your dreams. She goes into graphic details when it comes to sex and how to please your man. But as she writes, "once you truly love and trust one another, there is no room for prudence and barriers in sex.”
‘Confessions of a Video Vixen’ upended the music world with Steffans’s firsthand account of the pitfalls of life inside the industry where dancers made fast money but were treated as chattel and tossed aside for the next pretty face. ‘In ‘The Vixen Diaries,’ Steffans retreats a bit from the cautionary tale to dish about her various exploits in the music industry. She has come under criticism by some, especially commenters on some African American gossip Web sites, for her revelatory insight.

Click to read.

Published in: on July 11, 2009 at 1:01 am  Leave a Comment  

When the Sledding Got Tough…Sarah Palin Quits


Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

On July 3rd the democratically elected governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin announced that she will not seek re-election as Governor. Effective July 26th, she will “transfer the authority of governor to Lieutenant Governor Parnell.” Governor Palin is resigning. The woman who tried to convince all of America that she was capable of being just one heart beat away from being the leader of the free world has thrown in the towel. It’s one thing to decide that you will not seek re-election; it’s another to “transfer authority” before the end of your first term. Eighteen months before the end of her first term, the sledding began to get tough and the “musher” quit!

During her acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Governor Palin tried to belittle then Democratic Party nominee, Senator Obama’s work as a community organizer by saying, “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a "community organizer," except that you have actual responsibilities.” Apparently, those “actual responsibilities” are no longer relevant. If she is unable to persevere and deliver on her commitment to her constituents in Alaska, how can she be expected to, as she said, “work hard for others who still believe in free enterprise and smaller government; strong national security for our country and support for our troops; energy independence; and for those who will protect freedom and equality and life…?” The hypocrisy is nauseating.

Click to read more on the Black Scholars Blog.

Published in: on July 9, 2009 at 10:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Marc Lamont Hill Reflects on Michael Jackson


by Dr. Marc Lamont Hill

Last week, the world lost one of its most precious treasures. Michael Jackson, the greatest entertainer to ever walk the earth, died tragically from cardiac arrest. While much of the media coverage has focused on the most salacious aspects of his life, Jackson has undoubtedly left a legacy that is bigger, broader and brighter than the words of his detractors.

To call Michael Jackson a superstar would be an extravagant understatement. In his early days with the Jackson 5, Michael Jackson demonstrated a level of childhood virtuosity unseen since the days of Mozart. Although he was only 8-years-old, Jackson channeled luminaries like Sammy Davis, Stevie Wonder and Sam Cook with the effortless grace of a veteran performer. As he grew into adulthood, Jackson moved from child prodigy to world-historical figure, selling more records and garnering more fans than anyone in human history. More important than numbers or money, Michael Jackson was the embodiment of the African-American cultural tradition, a living testimony to the creative imaginations of our gods and our ancestors.

Michael Jackson’s extraordinary success, however, was not purely self- serving. In pushing MTV to play his videos, Jackson opened the door for countless artists to be seen and heard on mainstream cable video networks. Decades later, Jackson’s songs, music videos and dance routines continue to provide the artistic foundations for everyone from Justin Timberlake to Chris Brown. His trans-racial appeal enabled contemporary prominent blacks like Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama to enjoy universal appeal. On a more personal level, Michael Jackson was the first pretend boyfriend, imaginary brother and cultural hero of an entire generation of global citizens. In his best moments, Michael Jackson was quintessentially American, undeniably black and universally loved.

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Published in: on July 5, 2009 at 1:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Genma Holmes Calls the BET Awards a “Circus”

by Genma Holmes

Watching movies and barbecuing is how my family spends most Sunday afternoons. This past Sunday, I broke a cardinal rule and watched the BET Awards for the first time. My kids convinced me that it would be great since it was billed as a tribute to Michael Jackson and his humanitarian endeavors. However, the show that was promoted was not the show I watched. The BET Awards was a chaotic three hour black-a-thon fiasco.

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Published in: on June 30, 2009 at 11:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Your Black Health Articles from TheGrio.com

Dr Icilma Fergus

Dr Icilma Fergus


Published in: on June 29, 2009 at 2:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lester Spence: Holding Frats and Sororities Accountable

by Lester Spence

Since Alpha Phi Alpha was founded in 1906 the nine major black fraternities (Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Phi Beta Sigma, Iota Phi Theta, Omega Psi Phi) and sororities (Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta. Zeta Phi Beta, Sigma Gamma Rho) have been trailblazers, at the forefront of the fight against racism and at the forefront of the fight for African American empowerment. But over 100 years after their founding, are these organizations still doing the work that they set out to do?

To the extent that individuals have criticized these organizations from without they’ve attacked their membership practices–more specifically the practice of hazing. Almost all of the "Divine Nine" have had to deal with not only hazing allegations, but hazing related deaths over the past few decades.

But more recently members have severely criticized their organizations for their financial practices.

Most recently a case filed by a member is wending its way through the Nebraska courts alleging that the executive board of Alpha Kappa Alpha gave its International President an illegal stipend in the amount of $250,000, in violation of its Constitution and Bylaws, and without consulting the membership.

The case has not been decided, and the sorority is countersuing the plaintiff. However, this is not the first time in recent years that allegations of financial impropriety have been made against one of the "Divine Nine".


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Published in: on June 28, 2009 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Dr Boyce Watkins: Why Michael Jackson Will Live Forever

I was the guest host of a radio show yesterday. The show started at 3 pm (back when we all thought Michael Jackson would be going back on tour soon), and the producer asked me what kind of music I wanted to use for my intros and outtros. I said "Throw on some old Michael Jackson. The pre-nose job Michael Jackson." He did.
I then spent the next 2 hours reflecting on the air about Michael Jackson’s talent, as well as his peculiar personality. That’s when I got "the news."
While I was certainly shocked at the irony of a man dying right after I’d spent 2 hours talking about him on the radio, I wasn’t surprised. Michael Jackson had that kind of effect on music and our world. In spite of the fact that he’d turned into something we couldn’t quite understand, we always loved him.

Michael is going to live forever. The life and existence of such an impactful human being can’t be captured in his physical manifestation. Most of us never knew Mike the man, but he was always present in our lives. He was nothing like Elvis, he was not the Beatles. He was too interesting for that. He is one of a kind, even beyond the fact that he sold 750 million records.

Here are 5 reasons Michael Jackson is going to live forever:

Click to read.

Published in: on June 26, 2009 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment