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Marching and taking pictures with hoodies on is not the final solution to this ongoing problem…Continued activism is.

By: Taren Vaughan

Deeply saddened and completely taken back, reactions have surfaced from millions across the nation in reference to the shooting death of Florida native Trayvon Martin. Prayers have been said and numerous protests have been held in honor of the 17 year-old boy’s memory, one of the most moving protests being the “Million Hoodie March”.

The march attracted the attention of a massive amount of Americans of all races and gender. And it created a chain reaction amongst U.S. citizens all over. College campuses have been flooded with student protestors and professional athletic teams have also taken a stand in the search for justice on behalf of the Martin Family as the Miami Heat players gathered dressed in hoodies, displaying a profound team effort to honor the cause. The wearing of a hoodie is symbolic as it was what Trayvon was wearing when he was killed. And as a way to show support, hoodies have become apart of many people’s attire. The wave has stormed the Internet as well, with changing of Facebook profile pics and Twitter avatars.

Constant outpourings of emotion have been witnessed from school aged children to those of celebrity status so it is obvious the masses of us have been touched by what has happened to this young man. But after the gatherings settle down, will Trayvon’s story be placed on the back burner, not to be brought up for years to come?

His tragic passing will be fresh in our heads for awhile. But will we continue on with true activism in his name and in the name of others who have lost their lives to false accusations and stereotyping? Or to the hands of those who look exactly like them? Black on Black crime is still alive and well too did we forget?

You see, without continued activism, this strong, powerful message that we are currently trying to send becomes faint over time. People begin to forget about the cause as things begin to die down. And that just opens the door up for yet another tragic loss to occur within our community.

And what are we risking when we do that? Another young life.

We are talking about a teenager who had his whole future ahead of him. He was not a common criminal, roaming the streets looking for trouble. Minding his business was what he was doing. And because an overzealous neighbor of his decided to defy police orders and take matters into his own hands, a family has endured a painful loss.

Zimmerman’s freedom remains one of the most infuriating parts of this whole situation as the arguments that many have posed certainly don’t lean in favor of his actions. But aside from that, back to the real question of: Should we stop at the hoodie march?

The answer is quite clear. It can’t stop at a march with hoodie wearing protestors. And it can’t stop with posted pictures on social media networks. It must stem far beyond that.

We must talk to our children about the ugly truths of our society and how certain people already expect you to behave a certain way because of how you look, talk, walk or dress. We must inform them that this is the country where a woman can be detained by security for flour bombing a Kardashian within the blink of an eye but a man can have every ounce of his freedom after taking the life of his innocent, unarmed neighbor. With that being said, it is most important for them to be watchful of their surroundings.

Sadly, Trayvon’s life was not spared but with a continuous effort to inform our young Black men and women about situations like this and what they could possibly have to deal with or face in this world, hopefully this vicious cycle will be broken.

Since when did football have anything to do with grown men sexually abusing little boys?

By: Taren Vaughan

College football is by far one of the most watched sports in the nation. And it brings the current students and past alumni of institutions together, cheering on their team front and center in the stands or in the comfort of their homes and local bars. Sports fanatics stand behind their teams through wins and losses. But there is a point when the actions of those who run the teams stem far beyond what happens on the gridiron.

Legendary Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno’s era has finally come to an end. And it came just shy of his retirement. On Wednesday, the Board of Trustees at the university fired 84 year old coach for his knowledge of his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexual abusing young males.

His response to not saying anything about this despicable act:

“I Wish I Had Done More”

You think Joe? With all this power that Joe Paterno had at that school, couldn’t he have spoken up and said something? If he had of let his moral instincts kick in and exposed that coach for the true pervert he was, that man would gotten caught a long time ago. But for the sake of the program, he remained silent. And his unspoken words have potentially scarred the lives of these young men.

To no surprise, not everybody felt that the dismissal of JoePa was necessary.

Turning on the television this morning and what did you see? Hundreds of students with picket signs reading “We Love Joe” and “Please Don’t Go Joe”. Broken car windows and raging emotions were the result of the gathering, the want for Paterno to stay and finish out his last games with the Nittany Lions.

I understand the love of winning but I hope that these students see the severity of what is going on here. Paterno didn’t get fired for something petty. We are talking about a man who knew that a member of his coaching staff was molesting innocent young boys, engaging in sexual acts with them. That is a criminal act, one in which was brushed off for several years too many.

Words have been spoken and some of them I can’t even believe people let leave their mouths. One comment in particular was to the tune of football being to blame for this all taking place.

So tell me, what the hell does this pervert’s actions have to do with the game of football?

“Man, you have got to be kidding me. All of these people are walking around here talking about all the great things that JoePa did while he was at Penn State but they are saying little about the fact that he knew this BS was going on and didn’t bother to say anything at all about it. But the point is that it has nothing to do with the game of football, period”

-Bryan S.
Age: 31
Marion, SC

“Joe Paterno ought to be ashamed of himself. How could you look in the mirror everyday and call yourself a man of morals having the knowledge of this situation? There is no way that I would know something like this was going on within my program and not do anything about it. And I’m sure other people on his staff knew about what was going on too and they should be held just as responsible”

-Janaya L.
Age: 21
Port Arthur, TX

“I’m not surprised at all that people are speaking more about JoePa’s accomplishments than about the fact that he literally turned his back on a group of innocent children. That’s how some college programs roll, rant and rave about the good and try to conceal the bad. It’s funny to me how Michael Vick is still being dragged threw the mud for his knowledge of dog fighting taking place on his property, which he served time in jail for but didn’t JoePa turn his back on eight kids who are getting sexually abused by one of his coaches? And all we can talk about his how great of a coach he was. Help me understand this please”

-Marcus W.
Age: 19
Jackson, MS

“Imagine if one of those boys was your child. How would you feel about JoePa then? Would you be parading around, talking about this man’s 409 wins? I don’t think you would. I know the parents of these boys are so hurt by what has happened to their children. I don’t know how I would be able to handle that. And to those who say that football itself is to blame, give me a reason why because I don’t see one”

-Ashlee D.
Age: 28
Brooklyn, NY

“I played football all through high school and college. And I’m here to say that people can not blame a sport for someone doing something like this. Sandusky has his own personal issues and unfortunately they are a reflection of the athletic program that he was associated with. So to bash football as a whole to me is wrong. But to fire Joe Paterno was the right thing to do”

-Marshall R.
Age: 32
Miami, FL

ANYBODY, and I do mean ANYBODY, can commit a demoralizing, despicable act like that so let’s not blame this on the sport itself because it has absolutely nothing to do with that.

It’s not about the power of the pigskin so let’s not go bashing other football programs for the shortcomings of another. It’s about the pervert who committed these acts that is the culprit in this situation and those who knew about it, along with a huge lack of moral responsibility to top it all off. Most importantly, it’s about the children. It’s about what they are suffering from, physically, mentally and emotionally.

So will Penn State ever live this down? Probably.

Will Michael Vick ever live what he did down? Probably Not.

Marinate on that…

By: Taren Vaughan

When you think of Hip-Hop music and those who brought it to the forefront, so many different names come to mind.

Run DMC: The Hip-Hop trio responsible for making the combination of kangol hats and shell toe adidas a lasting trend through the 80’s and 90’s.

Slick Rick: The UK native that perfected the art of storytelling and telling us how much teenage love can hurt.

Doug E. Fresh: The king of beat boxing.

The list could go on for days of the greats that have paved the way for Hip-Hop music.

As there were many that brought their own style and creativity to the genre, one artist in particular was not only a true emcee but he was no stranger to the dance floor either.

Dwight “Heavy D” Myers first stepped onto the music scene in the mid 80’s as the lead member of the group Heavy D and the Boyz. The group was a successful unit, drawing the attention of Hip-Hop heads all over the country. They were most known for hit singles “Nuttin’ But Love”, “Now That We Found Love” and “Black Coffee”.

Heavy D continued with his music, launching a solo career and he dabbled in acting, making appearances on “Living Single”, “Roc” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”.

The talent that he had poured out from all directions. And let’s not forget the fact that Hev moved like no other as his dance skills were impressive for a man of his size.

As we continuously recognized him for his contributions to the world of music, his life sadly came to an end on Tuesday in Beverly Hills, California. It was reported that the rapper collapsed outside of his condo after having difficulty breathing. Gaining consciousness before heading to Cedar Sinai Medical Center, he later died at the hospital. Heavy D was 44 years old.

“The Overweight Lover” will always be remembered for his music, “big boy” swag and dance moves.

We got nuttin’ but love for you Heavy D…Thank you for leaving your footprint in the game.

Heavy D. and The Boyz “Nuttin’ But Love”:

Taking a closer look into the meaning behind Troy Davis’ last words.

By: Taren Vaughan

Headlines began to heavily circulate after one of the most controversial executions of this century took place. 42 year old Troy Davis was accused of the killing of a Georgia police officer Mark McPhail in 1989 and sentenced to death 1991. After serving time in prison, Davis was executed on Wednesday night at 11:08 pm in the state of Georgia. Emotions are still flaring from citizens all over the country, namely those within the Black community. From social media networks to live protests shown on television, people have gone out of their way to show their support for Davis and believe him to be innocent of this crime. Sadly, his life was still set to be taken. Even though Mr. Davis knew that his life was shortly coming to an end, he managed to deliver a few words before his execution took place:

“The incident that night was not my fault, I did not have a gun…I did not personally kill your son, father and brother. I am innocent.” –Troy Davis

So the fate of this man rested in the hands of eyewitnesses’ words with no hardcore evidence to back up their claims?

The death penalty itself can be a very sensitive subject for many people to discuss. Some feel that executioners are playing God because they are determining when a person should die and only God should have the say so on that. And because it is not a reversible process, some feel that it should not even be considered in case someone is indeed found not guilty. Others feel that executions are just practices that we as Americans should allow to take place.

Mixed feelings have surfaced because of the execution of this man who professed his innocence up until the very end of his life.

It’s clear that this was an emotional event but what was the true message that Davis was trying to send in his last words?

Putting some deep thought into it, one could recognize numerous messages that this whole situation is trying to reveal:

Those who call themselves “friends” don’t always live up to the title that they give themselves.

When things are going good, everyone wants to befriend you. Being a member of your clique is the number one goal on everybody’s list. Telling you that they care about you and have your back at all times regardless of the situation, that’s what true friends are for. But what about Mr. Davis’ friends? If he was not the one who pulled the trigger, where is this mysterious person who did that he probably labeled as a “friend”? They surely were nowhere to be found at his execution. He was left to die without a “friend” in sight.

Message: From this, we see when choosing friends and hanging buddies, choose them wisely and know that when they say “through thick and thin” that they won’t leave you taking the blame for something that they did.

Guilty by association is just as crucial as being 100% guilty of a crime.

It was said that Davis verbalized his innocence on numerous occasions, including moments before his death. His claim was that he was not the one who pulled the trigger. Yes, he may not have been the gunman but being associated with the one who took Mr. MacPhail’s life is enough to make you guilty in many people’s eyes.

Message: You may not be the one who actually committed the crime but if you were apart of planning for the crime to take place, then you may be viewed as being equally as guilty.

In a nutshell, people need to understand what is truly going on here. If a man can be executed for a crime that he repeatedly claimed that he did not commit, what does that tell us? Could race have been a factor in how Troy Davis’ case was handled? Could it be that our society places more value on the lives of law enforcement officials than it does on any other American citizen that holds no badge? So many questions are still being asked in reference to this high profile case.

Less than a paragraph in length, Troy Davis’ last words were much more powerful than we think. It was more than just a man leaving the world with his final thoughts. It was a wake up call.

Are you awake now?

By: Taren Vaughan

Singer Keri Hilson has been applauded for her versatility when it comes to her wardrobe. Whether it be walking the Red Carpet in a pair of stilettos or wearing a pair of jeans and a pair of fresh J’s, the R&B hit maker can turn almost any piece of clothing into something pretty fab…well almost everything.

Hilson has recently been recruited as the new poster girl for Puma. And as we all know, Puma can’t hold a candle to other big name shoe brands like Nike, Adidas and New Balance as far style and durability are concerned. Even the long lost Reeboks are coming back in style. But they are bound and determined to get their sales up and decided that they needed to become a little more social:Link

Keri Hilson in Puma Social Video

Photo shoots, brief tidbits on her charity work, and hanging out with friends in the UK starring Keri sums it all up.

Didn’t entice me to hop in my car and go on a Puma spending spree after watching this.

And apparently, it didn’t tickle the fancy of her fans either. The Puma Social webisodes so far have gotten around a whopping 3,500 views on YouTube; 3,500 views compared to the millions of views for her musical performances, videos and interviews. They just weren’t feeling it.

It doesn’t seem like this stunt brought much hype to the form stripes at all. It’s not like she’s rockin’ a pair of retro Jordans. You could put the lamest artist in a pair of those and they would still sell with the quickness.

You would think having one of the top R&B chicks in the game to promo for you would be enough to push sales, put Puma in some real competition with the other hot sneaker brands on the market.

Truth be told, Pumas haven’t been in style for a minute now. And using the likes of a popular artist as a means to bring them back to life: epic fail.

Source: ABC News

Breast cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer known to mankind. Some people who are diagnosed with the disease are given months, even down to weeks, to live. On the positive side, there are those who are able to successfully win their battle with breast cancer. Be that as it may, breast cancer continues to take the lives of thousands of Americans every year. And as it once was considered a “woman’s disease”, it has started to really take its toll on the male gender as well. Thanks to new and improved medications and treatments for breast cancer, the chance of patient survival continues to increase.

The sad part is that whether or not you receive these treatments could be based on your sex.

South Carolina resident Raymond Johnson was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 26. At the time of his diagnosis, Johnson did not have active insurance coverage but immediately sought to get it after being given the news of his condition. His attempt to get coverage failed as Medicaid denied him medical coverage for breast cancer because he is a man.

And Johnson’s hourly wage won’t allow him to pay out of pocket for such treatment:

“I get paid $9 an hour, I don’t know how I’m going to pay for it,”

Paying out of pocket for cancer treatments is extremely steep for a person with insurance coverage so imagine how tough it would be for Mr. Johnson.

Being diagnosed with cancer is a hard thing to handle. And it is especially difficult when you are talking about someone who is not even 30 years old. But to be denied medical coverage simply because you are of a certain gender has got to make the situation just that much harder to deal with.

Read more about Raymond Johnson’s story here.

Source: CBS News

Over the years, numerous African Americans have been honored for their service and dedication to their jobs. And many of these awards have been related to entertainment, health professions, humanitarianism, athletics; the list can go on and on for days. But now, we are about to witness a first.

This past Tuesday, it was announced by the head leader of the Marine Corps that the first African American Marines will be presented with the Congressional Gold Medal.

After years of them battling at sea for our country, Commandant Gen. James Amos spoke out letting members of Congress know that the honoring of these men and women has been long overdue. As it appears, many others agreed with his thoughts of recognizing this outstanding group of individuals.

Amos also wanted to stress the fact that the Marine Corps is not at all what it used to be:

“Spread the gospel that the Marine Corps is a force that has changed,” “We’re not in 1942 anymore.” –Commandant Gen. James Amos

Not only will these Marines receive this medal but their story will become a part of the basic training process for all future members of the Marine Corps.

There was a time when black troops could not even come near a base unless they were joined by a white Marine. Now they are being given one of the highest honors for their efforts.

For more on this story, Click here