Chicago’s Gun Violence is America’s Gun Violence Problem

I’ve heard it said before that it’s important to pay attention to social trends in the black community because they provide a roadmap for the challenges faced by the mainstream fifteen to twenty years later. Look no further than the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s which was the precursor to the current opioid epidemic. Or the ongoing employment battle for black Americans that now has suburban and rural whites firmly in its grasp. Then there is the gun violence in Chicago. Often used as a talking point for conservative lawmakers or as a quick clap back to neutralize African American progressive causes, it seems the type of gun violence seen for years in Chicago has now swept the nation.
Today, a gunman in the small California town of Rancho Tehama opened fire, killing four people and leaving ten injured including an elementary school student before being shot dead by police. And last Sunday, a gunman walked into a Texas church with a semi-automatic weapon and killed at least 26 people. Among the dead were children and a pregnant woman. 
In 2017, there have been more than 300 mass shootings in the United States, with Chicago representing 10 percent of those incidents. That’s 6,880 gun-related deaths in the U.S. and 591 in Chicago this year.
Although on its surface gang violence in Chicago may not seem related to the Rancho Tehama or Texas church shooting, in the most important ways they are the same. In Chicago, the vast majority of shootings and gun violence are committed by gang members. However, the profile of those gang members; disillusioned males who seek vengeance for small vendettas or out of envy, fit the same profile as mass shooters.
Both in Chicago and the U.S. two important elements are needed to stop the gun violence epidemic. The first is economic. People, and men in particular need access to stable jobs that provide a living wage. As our society has changed, jobs for blue collar workers have been eliminated or reduced leaving millions of men unemployed and feeling left out of the new economy. Second, is systematic change. This means equal access to education that prepares people for the global market, access to affordable mental health care and nationwide gun control laws that include mandatory gun training, licensing and a database of owners. As well as gun buyback programs.
Instead of throwing our hands up and writing gun violence in Chicago off as a lost cause, I think it is time America embraced the problems in the windy city. After all, solving the gun violence problem in Chicago very likely is solving America’s gun violence problem.

Serena Williams and Other Celebs Showcase Their Business Chops on the Inaugural Global Board of Advisors for Verizon’s Oath Company

Serena Williams will always be known as one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen. She’s also a woman whose business interests include a namesake clothing line featured on the Home Shopping Network, an ownership stake of the Miami Dolphins and endorsement deals with brands such as Nike, Delta Airlines, and Pepsi. This week, Serena’s influence into the business world expands as she and celebrities including Russell and Ciara Wilson, Chuck D, Karlie Kloss, Zac Posen and others join the inaugural global Board of Advisors for Oath. Williams will serve as the Chairwoman of Oath’s Board of Advisors.

Oath is a subsidiary of Verizon and owns iconic media brands including HuffPost, Yahoo Finance, RYOT, Tumblr, MAKERS, Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Lifestyle.

Oath’s Board of Advisors were selected for their track record of building successful brands and philanthropic foundations. As Advisors, the group will share their brand expertise with Oath leadership.

Also, the companies philanthropic and social impact arm, Oath for Good, will work closely with each Advisor, providing significant financial and volunteer contributions to the cause of their choice. Advisors will also have access to Oath’s global user base to build content relevant to their passion issues. For Serena Williams, that means support of The William Sisters Fund’s newest initiative the Yetunde Price Resource Center housed in Compton, California.





Someone Please Tell Donald Trump, Jr. That Halloween is All About Socialism

Last night after his children went trick or treating, Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted:

The problem with this statement as many Twitter users pointed out to the first son, is that Halloween is socialism at its finest.

In fact, Halloween is the love child of two traditions from ancient Europe based on the distribution and exchange of money and food to the greater community. Basically, Halloween is all about socialism.

The first tradition is Samhain, a Gaelic celebration that observed the end of the harvest season by providing offerings of food and drink for the dead. The festivities included neighbors dressing up in costume and going door to door to recite verses in exchange for gifts of nuts, apples, or homemade food.

The second tradition is All Souls’ Day a Christian observance in which soulers consisting of children and the poor went door-to-door begging and singing for soul cakes. Soul cakes were made of allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and other sweet spices and topped with the mark of the cross. This early holiday was based on the Christian ideals of assisting the poor and needy.

These two traditions morphed and came to the U.S. with immigrants from Europe. In early America, as the popularity of the Halloween tradition spread it mixed with Native American culture. These first celebrations involved communal sharing and were public events held to celebrate the harvest where neighbors came together to share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes as well as sing and dance.

The Halloween tradition continued in the United States with trick or treater’s gifted small tokens from neighbors such as nuts or coins well into the 1950s. It was not until the 1970s that candy companies became involved in Halloween, and treats moved away from givers sharing common household goods to pre-packaged candy. Still, the socialist nature of Halloween remains, and this year Americans gifted more than 600 million pounds of candy as a way to connect and share with their communities.

Perhaps, the best thing about the Halloween holiday is that it does not matter if you show up to a house as a ghost wearing an old bed sheet or in a five hundred dollar Game of Thrones costume; you both get the same amount of candy. As Americans, capitalism is our accepted economy and although not without flaws, it is the best solution at this time. However, socialism often gets a bad rap without looking at the positive programs such as Medicare, Social Security and yes, Halloween.

There are many reasons to love Halloween, but one of the strongest is that the holiday provides the opportunity to share. Most neighborhoods in the country are open to both privileged and underprivileged trick or treaters alike. In fact, one of the best aspects of Halloween is the incredible and free displays created by homeowners that are very often in the most established and wealthiest parts of town where regardless of class or wealth residents are invited to gather and appreciate the decorations.

The next time Donald Trump, Jr. takes a swipe at sharing, maybe he should consider the origins of Halloween and the sweet side of giving.

Five DIY Halloween Costumes for Naturalistas

Halloween is around the corner and for many that means the stress of putting together a cute and affordable costume. For those that wear natural hair styles the problem is often compounded since many pop culture characters rock straight tresses. Not to worry this year, because I’ve put together a list of Youtube tutorials that cater to those with curls including a beautiful Egyptian queen; a mystical lioness; Rosie the Riveter; a 70s disco diva; and a Carnival Goddess.

Channel your inner Cleopatra with this super cute style from Chronicurls. Bonus: The hairstyle’s so cute you can rock it year round.

This Mystical Lioness look from Ahfro Baang never gets old. A super sultry style for those with big curls, simply throw on an all black ensemble for an effortless Halloween guise.

If you’d like to flaunt a Halloween costume that is timeless and exude’s serious girl power, check out this tutorial by MsAriella89. All you need to transform into Rosie the Riveter is a bold red lipstick, a bandana and a collared shirt!

Spending your Halloween dancing the night away? A 70s disco diva costume combines red hot style with a dash of sultriness. Check out Arianna Jonae’s tutorial to transform into a modern day Donna Summers.

This Carnival Goddess look is fierce and perfect for those who are more than happy to celebrate their Carribean culture in the fall. Shameless Maya provides an easy to follow tutorial on how to achieve this stunning style.

What do you think about my DIY scarecrow costume? I put this together in fifteen minutes with my own makeup and a paper bag used as straw!

Have ideas for a great DIY costume for naturalistas? Post a comment below and share the love with the rest of us.