God never makes a promise that He won’t keep.

By: Taren Vaughan

Promises…What is the true meaning behind them? Are they verbal agreements that we make amongst ourselves that we must follow through with?

“I promise I’ll pay you your money back”

Or are they things that we say only because they sound good coming from our mouths?

“I promise I will change my ways”.

As the true definition of a promise may vary from person to person, there is one thing for sure that we all know about them. And that is that just like a glass plate hitting the floor, they can be broken, sometimes by those that we least expect. Relatives that share the same family tree with you on down to childhood friends that you have known practically all your life can be the very ones that are in the business of breaking promises. Sadly, a lot of times, it is the closest ones to us that can let us down the most. It starts to make you feel like everyone is like that. Makes you feel like no one is to be believed when that “promise” word begins to surface. That may go for the people that you deal with down here on Earth but it surely doesn’t apply to God.

God is one who doesn’t take promises lightly. If He makes one to you, then you can believe that He will follow through with it. Now He may not show up as soon as you get up off your knees from praying or as soon as you call out His name but He will show up. And when He does show, the answer to your questions and the blessings that He has in store for you will be revealed.

People in your life, or even those that you barely even know, are not perfect beings despite what they or you might think. Flaws they do possess, mistakes they will make, and promises just might be things that they can’t seem to hold on it to save their lives. Although this is true, we must not confuse that with the promises of God.

Our Father is very serious about these things called promises. They are not things that He takes lightly at all. He does not make them to break them. He makes them to keep them. To God, promises hold truth and value. His are true and will be brought to the light to those who keep the faith in His doings and listen to His voice.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

Hebrews 13:5

This promise He will always keep.

Who is he really feeling…The real you or your spokesperson?

By: Taren Vaughan

First impressions…how crucial they can be. One slip of the tongue, strand of hair out of place or a fail in wardrobe selection can make that first date your very last. Your appearance along with the things that come out of your mouth are your life lines. And knowing this, we try our hardest to be on point with every single thing, no matter how much it cost or how long it takes to do.

And when it comes to this, some of us as women can get a little out of control with it, transforming into a person that we ourselves have never even seen before; a character that is completely different from our normal selves.

Just that morning, you had shoulder length hair, a simple manicure and a light coat of make-up. Date time comes around and things change with the quickness. Hair is flowing down your back, nails are a couple inches longer now and make-up is caked on extra thick. Seeing you all dolled up this way, surely a man would be impressed and want to see you again and maybe even take it a step further. Much props to you for that but did you ever stop to think that he may be expecting the exact same replica of you on a regular basis?

So now you go from weavin’ it up for one night to having to keep it up on a consistent basis. Taking numerous trips to the nail salon is now apart of your agenda. And no more stepping outside of the house bare faced with a pair of jeans or sweats on. Dolled up at all times you must be. At this point, you have to ask yourself, who has this man fallen for, the real you or the spokesperson version of you? Could he accept you in pure form, without all the extras?

I’m sure we all can agree that first impressions hold significant value. There is no doubt about that. But they are important for a reason that many of us miss. It’s true that they are what can make or break you on a first date but who says you can’t still be yourself in the process?

If you are not a woman who likes wearing added hair or spending hours on end in a nail salon, then don’t. Wearing make-up not your thing? Then rock your natural glow. Sometimes we get too hung up on impressing a guy that we lose our true images in the process.

The best first impressions are always the realest ones. And that is what he should be falling for.

Before Beyonce’, Jennifer Hudson or Alicia…There was Whitney.

By: Taren Vaughan

To be coined a true diva is something that must be earned. That title is not just attached to any female with a cute face and a few dance moves under her sleeve. An abundance of talent this person must have, along with a set of pipes that are unmatchable to any ones ever heard of. Of the old school R&B crowd, many names are notably mentioned from Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan and Patti LaBelle. This list however would not be complete without one woman, whose powerful vocals still go untouched…Whitney Houston.

An angelic voice and a striking natural beauty, she had it all.

Her voice was incredible and pierced the very soul of those who listened to her music and who witnessed her live performances. One of her most memorable live performances was when she sang the National Anthem at the Super Bowl XXV in 1991 between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants.

To this day, this has been said to have been the best rendition of the National Anthem ever.

And it still has the same effect on people that it had years ago when it was first sung by her.

With her sweetheart image, Houston gained millions of fans over the years, along with releasing a countless number of awards for her chart-topping songs. Her self-titled debut album Whitney Houston was released in 1985 and became the best-selling debut album by a female artist during that time. The album also made Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Success is what she continued to find as Houston won a total of 6 Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards and 22 American Music Awards. Some of her classics include “I Will Always Love You”, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”, “How Will I Know” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”. Not straying far from her gospel roots, Houston also received much applause for her singing of “I Love The Lord” featuring the Georgia Mass Choir.

Aside from her musical stardom, Houston graced the big screen, making her way into the film industry, starring in “The Bodyguard”, “Waiting Exhale” and “The Preacher’s Wife” alongside Academy Award Winning Actor Denzel Washington.

Often imitated but never duplicated, Whitney Houston was the epitome of a songstress.

And she has had a major influence over those who have a true love for music like she did:

“I’m still in shock about her passing. It’s so hard to put into words. Whitney Houston was my childhood. I grew up pretending to be Whitney. She made girls who were singers and even those who weren’t want to be like her. An entertainer at heart she was. And even through her trials, you could always see the beauty in her. If it wasn’t for Whitney, there would be no Beyonce’, Jennifer Hudson, Brandy or any of the other young stars. The 80’s produced icons. And she was one that no one could compare to. The music industry as a whole suffered a huge loss but more importantly, her family did. My heart goes out to them. I hope that she knew how much she really touched her fans and how much we will miss her.”

Krystal R.
Age: 27
Los Angeles, California

“Whitney was a beautiful woman with one of the most gorgeous smiles I’ve ever seen. Her voice was angelic and uniquely incomparable to any other female artist I’ve heard. My most memorable performance was her 1991 National Anthem rendition at the Superbowl. The way she sung it in my estimation has never been sung like that before. It was technically pitch perfect and I was in total awe and that is still my reaction today. She was definitely before her time and it’s sad that her life ended the way it did. It should serve as example of what happens when we consistently make damaging decisions in our lives. Fame and fortune can never fulfill the void of emptiness and lack of peace. She will be missed.”

Jeremy M.
Age: 27
Whitsett, NC

Despite the ups and downs she faced throughout her lengthy career and her untimely death, Houston will always be remembered for her one of kind talent and ability to touch the souls of her fans with timeless hits. She has influenced numerous acts in the music industry and the legacy that she leaves behind will continue to live on for years to come through her family, friends and fans.

“Every Woman” is what she was and will always be; a sweet spirit that touched the hearts and souls of those who understand the essence of music. Instrumentals she did not need for her voice alone was more than enough to grab your attention and keep it.

Thanks to you Whitney Houston for leaving your everlasting footprint in the world of music.

Black men pursuing higher education unheard of?

By: Taren Vaughan

Jaw-dropping statistics lead many of us to believe that the above statement rings true for all African American males. Education is not anywhere near the top of their list of priorities or even if it is apart of their lists at all. With high school dropout rates continuing to remain high and with sisters steadily out numbering them on college campuses, one would think there is no need to speak of Black men achieving at higher educational levels.

“School and Black men just don’t mix” is the thought that many people have grown to believe.

That may be true for some Black men but it was men like W.E.B. DuBois who put that theory up for question.

On February 23, 1868, William Edward Burghardt DuBois was born in the cold state of Massachusetts and unlike most African Americans at that time, DuBois didn’t experience the harsh racism that other Black people did as his family was accepted in the community. DuBois took advantage of his unusual situation, focusing on the one thing that he had full control over…His mind.

Not only did he attend college but he took his pursuit of higher education a step further and became the first African American to earn a doctorate degree from the prestigious Harvard University, the same institution that President Obama graduated from with a degree in law.

With all of the education that he received, W.E.B. DuBois decided that it was time he took on the teacher role becoming a professor at Atlanta University. Academics were of extreme importance to him but he never stopped fighting for the rights of African Americans, co-founding the NAACP and leading the Niagara Movement.

Numbers don’t lie and stats are straightforward. But they don’t solely determine the future of our young Black men. What will become of them is not based on these things alone. It all comes down to their determination, self drive to make something of yourself and become anything but the stereotype.

Are the odds against Black men excelling when it comes to education? Yes.

But are there those who defy the ignorance that is attached to our race? Yes.

DuBois did.

And so have the many educated brothers that have followed in his footsteps.

Did the film truly honor the first African American aviators?

By: Taren Vaughan

For weeks, much hype has been centered on the release of George Lucas’ latest production Red Tails, based on the true story of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. Lucas’ previous work including a countless number of Star Wars flicks, have earned him tons of praise, not to mention money, over the years. But exactly how well did he do with a movie based on something so instrumental to the progression of African Americans?

For starters, there is much that can be said about the actors who took on such powerful roles. Terrence Howard did an outstanding job, nailing his role as “Colonel Bullard”. With a touch of arrogance mixed with an abundance of confidence, Howard’s character, along with Major Stance (played by Cuba Gooding, Jr., who did an equally great job as Howard), reflected how African American males were given authoritative positions in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Though true, the movie still showed how they had to go above and beyond to prove themselves and those associated with them worthy individuals for true combat.

As for the tone of the movie, it was overall a serious one. The blatant racism during these times was evident in the film as the “N” word was dropped a time or two in addition to some “awkward situations” that the men experienced as well. Aside from the rather serious moments, there were a number of humorous moments too, fueled by funnymen, “Smokey”, “Lightning” and “Joker”, allowing the audience to let out a few laughs. Even with that being said, neither of those things took the audience’s attention away from the main focus of the story.

As educating the audience was the mission, Red Tails can be summed up in one word…Action.

Nearly two hours of action packed footage is what one should be prepared for. This movie was filled with it from scene to scene, with the occasion down time. The dull moments were held to a minimum. Not harshly graphic in nature, Red Tails was typical of most war-based films, capturing full fledged combat and the fatalities that went along with it.

Red Tails was a solid, updated film of the legendary story behind the courageous African American aviators from now Tuskegee University. Focusing in on the general history was not all this film did. It zeroed in on the racial discrimination that the men faced as well as the comradery and the brotherhood that these men shared.

For those who knew little about the Tuskegee Experiment, they will most definitely walk away with more knowledge than they came in with.

Red Tails had a healthy mixture of battle, historical references and humor and it was a wonderful break from the stereotypical roles that Black men tend to play in Hollywood movies, making it a must see film.

Has Dr. King’s dream finally become a reality or do we still have a long way to go?

By: Taren Vaughan

So much can be said about the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His powerful speeches have been recited and replayed years after their deliveries, having the same impact on people that they had initially. And his extreme determination to create tranquility amongst people of all racial backgrounds, striving for equality for all mankind has never been overlooked. There is no doubt that Dr. King had a special gift that he continued to use up until his death in 1968.

Although he did not live a long life, the accomplishments of Dr. King were of such magnitude that we dedicate a day to him and what he did for our race.

MLK Day is used as a day to revisit the past and how Dr. King and other civil rights leaders came together to fight for a worthy cause, one that affected our well being tremendously.

As we celebrated MLK Day in various ways though, did you think to yourself: Can we really say that the dream that King had is now a reality?

“Dr. King was a visionary. He thought on levels that many of his peers did not, especially when it came to forming relationships with people of other races. To this day, some of us don’t necessarily believe in some of the things that he preached about but I feel as though what he was striving for was so positive and beneficial to our generation. As far as his dream actually coming true, I think we have made progress but we still have a long way to go”

Arianna B.
Age: 33
Boston, MA

“I believe that the dream is slowly becoming a reality. The election of President Obama led me to say that. What people need to keep in mind though is that his election didn’t 100% solidify progress for Black people as a whole. That’s why I used the word “slowly””

Troy W.
Age: 38
Portland, OR

“I don’t think the Dr. King’s vision has been fully brought to life for many reasons. Yes, we as African Americans have way more opportunities than we once had back in the day. We have better job opportunities now, we are able to receive higher forms of education and we are becoming president of the United States. But despite all those great things, we are still very much prejudged merely because of the color of our skin and are not granted the same things that other races are without having to work extra hard for them. As wonderful as his vision was, there will always be some things that we can’t change”

Maliyah D.
Age: 19
Milwaukee, WI

“Honestly, I think that Dr. King’s dream has been disrupted by the very ones that he was standing up for, African Americans. He wanted us all to live in peace and harmony, love one another. Are we doing that now though? Black on black crime continues to skyrocket and we don’t shy away from an opportunity to tear one another down. King spoke strongly on educational advancement for African Americans yet we are dropping out of high school left and right. Is it me or is something very wrong with this picture?”

Roderick R.
Age: 24
Atlanta, GA

Have we forgotten the struggle?

Or is King’s dream still in the process of being reached?

Her career is her “Motivation” for the moment.

By: Taren Vaughan

The life of an industry diva can be quite hectic at times. It’s almost unheard of for them, or any other star for that matter, to have one pathway that they are sticking to. Singers are not only going for Grammys anymore. They are striving for Academy Awards too as many of them have made their way into the acting game. When they choose to add to their resumes, it often leaves many of them with little free time on their hands for romance.

Singer Kelly Rowland admitted that her heart has been stolen but not by a handsome face and nice body. She has been swept off her feet by her career, which has kept her from settling down with a significant other.

“Most of the men find me too busy. Which is a real problem, because I like being busy,”

Droppin’ the mic for a man doesn’t seem to be something she is willing to do right now.

Rowland went on to say that she is quite content with devoting the majority of her time to her career.

“At the moment I’m in love with my job. But that doesn’t bother me [because at least] my job doesn’t nag.”

Rowland’s plate has been staying full here lately as her latest album “Here I Am” continues to get much airplay. She is also set to be one of the judges for the United Kingdom version of “The X Factor”.

Whenever she does have a chance to step back out on the dating scene, she knows exactly what she is looking for though.

“He has to be real and most of all he has to have confidence.”