Securing Online Payment Gateways

If you are like me, you take technology as it comes and you just make adjustments accordingly. I have made the jump from 8 track tapes to cassette tapes to CDs to live-streaming, all in just the past 40 years. I took shorthand in high school and learned to type on a typewriter—I used Wite Out correction fluid and those thin, plastic correction tabs to fix my errors—and this was cutting edge stuff back in the day. I now live in a time where people walk around with small computers in their hands all day and communication with someone half a planet away is possible within seconds. As technology constantly changes, we must adapt and even plan ahead, to ensure these “undiscovered roads” don’t take us down the wrong path. I mean, initially, when we first starting using the Internet, there were all types of potential threats many of us did not anticipate. New threats await us as our use of computers and hand held devices rule the day. To protect yourself, and your information on the internet, it is important to understand the newest technological advancements and how they affect our lives.

With online purchases becoming more and more prevalent in today’s world, the threat of hacking is very real. When you send your information out into the vast internet, whether it be your driver’s license number, your bank account number, or other personal material, the fact remains that it is susceptible to crooks—crooks who know how to hack information you thought was protected. What safeguards do we have when making online purchases or filling out personal forms on websites? Thankfully, revolutionary advancements in shielding sensitive details are protecting you, even if you aren’t aware they’re there.

Take, for example, encryption. Encryption takes an algorithm to transform plain text, like your credit card number, and convert it into a non-readable format called cipher text. To decipher the encrypted information, the party receiving the material must have the algorithm and an encryption key to return it to its original plain text. Built in encryption systems protect the millions of people from sensitive data breaches.

The drawback with encryption is that data can be breached on either end. The security of the data relies on the strength of the encryption. Encryption is also time consuming and somewhat expensive. The trouble is, you just never know how strong the encryption data is at your bank, your local store, or your kid’s school, so your information may be vulnerable to attack, even when you believe it has been safeguarded.

Since encryption has its detractors, tokenization has become a welcome alternative to protection of personal details. Tokenization works differently from encryption, even though they are widely mentioned together. Tokenization requires taking the sensitive data and replacing it with a token, or placeholder. This token is randomly generated and is swapped for the plain text and then it is stored in an offsite database. Essentially, the tokenization process is taking data and turning it into random, meaningless information so that if it is somehow compromised, it cannot be deciphered by criminals looking for raw data. With encryption, if they break the code, they have the desired information. Unlike encryption, tokenization does not use an algorithm to make its replacement token. Instead, data is stored in a secured token vault which stores the link between the actual data and the token. The great part about tokenization is there is no key to change the tokens back to real data, so information is safer in the long run. Tokens can be set up to reflect the actual number, or at least a portion of it, which is why your bank may ask for the last four digits of your social security number or account number. The actual numbers are saved offsite, but the token number might reflect a portion of the real data. So, say you are online and purchasing something from a company from which you have previously purchased something—your data should be saved. In this case, the token is submitted to the token vault when you request to use the card and the index retrieves the real data for use in the authorization process. The company receiving the data feels no lag time—they are given the real data immediately, yet the “switch” was made in the cloud token vault.

Tokenization is now widely used by vendors because the real data is kept off site. With encryption, it is still within their database, even if it is encrypted. The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council holds merchants to compliance standards to ensure clients’ information is protected. Both encryption and tokenization are accepted under these standards, but the encryption method leaves the merchant more at risk of a breach than tokenization does.

Some key vendors use tokenization for payment, including Visa, MasterCard and American Express. These big three are looking to standardize tokenization in the payment industry’s sector. Their push for tokenization stated this new standard would “help provide the payments community with a consistent, secure and interoperable environment to make digital payments” according to The Motley Fool, an online source. As a matter of fact, MasterCard has teamed with has teamed with Synchrony Financial and Citi Retail Services to use tokenization in their transactions, making it the first payments network to do so. Through MasterCard’s Digital Enablement Services, or MDES, MasterCard can offer tokenization services that can ensure purchases can be made from any internet connected device while also delivering the safety customers expect. Not only does this new technology give consumers the opportunity to make their selections online, revolutionizing the way we shop, but it also alleviates the lingering worry that your credit card information will be stolen online. Since there are more ways to purchase items, including through phone apps, ecommerce, and reoccurring payments, having the information stored in an off-site token vault makes the transactions even safer than ever before.

Consumers today can rest assured their information is protected to its fullest extent when tokenization is used. It’s the wave of the cyber-future, making online purchasing the most practical and convenient way to shop.

Difference Between Your General Dentist And An Orthodontist

Your dentist keeps your mouth clean and your teeth shiny, but what can you do about dental abnormalities like crooked teeth? Seeing a qualified orthodontist may be the answer for you!

An orthodontist is a specialist who focuses on the straightening of teeth and can treat problems pertaining to the upper and lower jaws, gums, and facial muscles. While many people see an orthodontist for purely aesthetic purposes, it is important to know that there are sound medical reasons to straightening your teeth. First of all, crooked teeth can impede your ability to properly bite, chew and even speak! Additionally, crowded or crooked teeth can cause jaw pain, uneven tooth wear and difficulties with oral hygiene, like flossing. To accurately assess your need for orthodontic work, the doctor will work in conjunction with your regular dentist. Once a need for orthodontia has been determined, it is then a matter of selecting the best method to properly align the teeth. Orthodontists have many different options to help you achieve your desired result and make your teeth functional for a lifetime.

So is there a real difference between your general dentist and an orthodontist? While both are dental professionals, they have different specialties, much like your family doctor is different from a foot doctor. After acquiring a doctor of dentistry degree, an orthodontist must complete an additional two to three years of specialized training. Orthodontists invest this additional time into learning how to treat misaligned teeth as well as other dental and orthodontic procedures. They can also treat abnormalities of the jaw, with the assistance of medical prosthetic equipment. The most common procedure that orthodontists perform is the straightening of teeth, generally through various types of braces. For an orthodontist to know how to reposition your teeth, they study the movement of teeth. At times, teeth may require spacers, usually either rubber bands or thin, metal pieces placed to separate or at times, join teeth that are either too close or too far apart. Braces can be used to fix overbites, under bites, cross bites, and open bites. After a patient is finished wearing braces, they usually graduate to a plastic retainer to ensure teeth do not shift back into their original places after the braces are removed. While many people believe that the retainer step is a nuisance or unnecessary, it is a key element is maintaining the straightened smile. In extreme cases, a patient may need the assistance of headgear, which can be worn just at night or all the time, depending upon the doctor’s recommendation. The use of headgear is not as prevalent as it once was, possibly due to the fact it is cumbersome for the patient.

Many orthodontic professionals will not start working on children until all of their baby teeth have fallen out. Orthodontics can also be challenging if an adult patient does not have all of his or her teeth, or a patient’s mouth is too crowded to start the process. You may need to have additional dental services before your orthodontia can begin, like dental implants to replace missing teeth or the extraction of wisdom teeth to reduce overcrowding. Your orthodontist will discuss the necessary options and answer any questions you may have. He or she will also discuss your medical history and any pre-existing conditions that may impede your progress. Once the treatment plan is finalized, the braces and a retainer will be used to align the teeth.

The first step in developing your orthodontic treatment is to have the doctor take x-rays of your teeth and gums and take impressions of your teeth. The orthodontist can view the mouth from every angle to put together the best course of action. The overall process to straighten the teeth is not a quick one; it can take months and in some instances, years before the teeth have moved into proper alignment. An orthodontist will see a patient every few weeks to determine the patient’s progress and to adjust the treatment as needed. Sometimes this is as easy as tightening braces and sometimes it is as complicated as taking an entirely new approach.

Taking care of your teeth while wearing braces is an important element in your treatment. Brushing twice a day or preferably, after each meal is of vital importance. Any trapped food left in between your braces or in the brackets can turn into decalcification spots—little white spots on your teeth where the brackets once were. Alignment can be delayed if your teeth and gums are not kept clean, resulting in a longer treatment plan. Flossing is paramount as well and some orthodontists may have you use a fluoride rinse to protect your teeth.

Your orthodontist will keep you apprised of your progression and make adjustments along the way. He or she may have you close gaps by wearing tight rubber bands in your mouth or may surprise you with the news that your teeth have aligned much faster than anticipated. When the braces are removed, you will find yourself licking your teeth and you may want to eat foods that you couldn’t eat while wearing traditional braces. The orthodontist will take another impression of your teeth to compare the before and after. You will probably examine your teeth often in the mirror; it’s hard to picture how great they look while you are wearing braces for so long! Your orthodontist will also give you your retainer with explicit instructions on how to wear it and care for it. Retainers are expensive to replace, so don’t let your dog get it and don’t drop it down the sink and most importantly, remember to wear it! By skipping the retainer step of the orthodontia process, you may find your teeth shifting back into their previous places and you may have to endure braces again to get them to straighten!

Choosing to have your teeth aligned may be a purely aesthetic choice or it may be a medical one. Whichever it is, you will want to follow the instructions of your orthodontist to ensure you achieve a picture-perfect smile.

Hearing Aid Care and Maintenance

Millions of Americans deal every day with some type of hearing loss. Although this this product is tiny, is can be expensive, therefore requiring information to correctly preserve its function and situation. Millions of Americans still depend on these gadgets that are little to create a difference in their own life.

Within the years, some key improvements have been created by hearing products. In reality, it is often noted time, the unit have been created to be smaller and more successful over that the digital hearing-aid was stated in in the 1950s and the littlest one to-day can create outcomes that are huge. To the device, directional microphones were put in the starting in their design to enable the wearer to concentrate on one-on-one conversation as well as the capacity to converse in places. As you can suppose, these versions weren’t as helpful as suppliers and those to day discontinued their production till about the 1990s where engineering actually took a flip for the better.

Hearing-aid technologies provide a range of possibilities, meeting the requirements of variety of folks, today. Some are more complicated or more costly than the others, but these digital or gadgets nonetheless need the assist of an experienced audiologist to select the correct item and proper-fitting. The price of the gadget can surpass $5 and can commence below $2,000. Combined with the installation comes good care, which may help keep it operating precisely and extend the life span of the hearing-aid. They’re an expense for particular.

As an expense, care makes your funds go quite a distance. Understanding repair, clear and the way to store your hearing aids in Oklahoma City will keep it working as it absolutely was meant to and might avoid the need for recurring repairs over time. First, in regards to the shell, the the top of hearing aid ought to be stored clear. Aids typically have particles from oil or dirt in the grooves. Using an absence of treatment, possibly are functioning precisely or perhaps not fitting precisely. Chemical and water cleaners needs to be avoided in your hearing aid. Tissue or a moist fabric needs to be watchfully utilized to wipe down the hearing aid. Many kits contain a brush that will be of good use for earwax buildup. The microphone is acutely fragile also it’s essential never to poke the port. During cleansing, the microphone should constantly be facing the ground as well as the brush that is provided ought to be used. Wax buildup could be prevented by daily cleansing together with the brush .

In the event you have any queries or need further help on the appropriate cleansing techniques, it’s recommended that you simply ask your audiologist. They are the specialists in this area and will gladly evaluate these procedures along with one to ensure effective hearing aid performance. As it pertains to moisture, a hearing aid can lengthen their life and drying container or a support package will assist keep dampness from building-up inside the hearing aids. Be certain before putting them in a great spot so that you can help them as long as they possibly can to consider the batteries from the hearing-aid. This, also, will extend battery life. Signs of batteries are scratchy sounds output, distortion, improved suggestions, intermittence or odd and uncommon sounds like static. As some batteries might only last a week or two proper battery treatment demands program everyday or weekly screening. It’s recommended that a spare battery that ought to also be stored in a great location is usually carried by a person using a hearing aid.

Although batteries nowadays are made to last considerably longer lengthier than in the immediate past, drying is advised with all the use of possibly a forced-air blower (no, maybe not a blow dryer) or a can of compressed-air such as the kinds employed to clear a key pad. Moisture can occur from even sweat or rain. Climatic circumstances and your activity level are a couple of the most frequent identified variables impacting dampness buildup. People with people who sweat or high ranges of bodily physical exercise are susceptible to moisture problems as it pertains with their hearing devices. Likewise, residing in locations of large humidity can also irritate its performance. Whether from external or internal sources, moisture ought to be averted as most useful you are able to. Some aids will stand as much as moisture than the others. Consult your audiologist to determine whether they advise drying containers or particular dry help kits and also discuss your particular lifestyle together. Your audiologist can assist you pick the correct aid that’ll support your present lifestyle in the event that you are a bodily individual and danger more perspiration than the others. This, subsequently, will assist you get the most from the hearing aid.

Many folks are interested in the common whole life of a hearing system. Their longevity depends on the sort of help in addition to good care they’ve gotten. Problem fixing care and methods can aid prolong the life span of course, of the gadget. For the most portion, the hearing aids of today’s are excessively trustworthy, long-lasting and powerful. Things might go incorrect, but it is possible to save time plus money in the end by avoiding pricey and serious repairs, when you care for them properly. Information on appropriate treatment is a potent device in this circumstance. Not only are hearing aids heading to boost the standard of life, however they’re worth the additional treatment which they require.


Healthy Eating In Oklahoma City

Restaurants Offer Healthy Alternatives

More and more Oklahoma restaurants are offering healthy alternatives to “Oklahoma comfort food“. As people become more health conscious in this day and age, they are becoming more picky about what they put into their bodies. We traveled to Oklahoma City this past month and ventured out on a foodie excursion to experience the local dishes first hand. I was not disappointed at all, plenty of “stick to your ribs” items on the menus and friendly faces serving. There was a highlight to our trip though that I wanted to share in this post. We found a gem, a place that took as much pride in their food as the Sooners do in their football team.

The Healthy Hearth

healthy hearth chefWe had asked some locals for a hole in the wall gem where we could eat healthy and enjoy Oklahoma cuisine at the same time. The Healthy Heart showed up on our radar and it did not disappoint. In addition to their healthy lunch options, they also had a desert menu to die for. I am not a fan of super sweet desserts, and I am not a fan of processed sugars in general, so I was hesitant to order any dessert. When I spoke to the Chef he said that they only used natural sweeteners in their desserts and stayed clear of anything that rots out the teeth. It was interesting to talk further about the menu because even the sauces were limited on sugars, which is a difficult thing to pull off. The Chef went on to say that with rotten teeth and cavities how can anyone enjoy their meals? I agreed, and I was pleased to taste such an amazing meal without all the sugar. I didn’t finish my dinner and want to rush home to brush my teeth, there just wasn’t that over abundance of sugar in any of the items I enjoyed. The Chef joked that if we ate dessert over at the Dairy Queen down the street that we might have to find an excellent orthodontist in the Oklahoma City metro area to straighten us out like a rotten set of teeth (haha). We laughed at his humor, our teeth were straight and our stomachs were full.

We Will Return

Next time we are out in Oklahoma City we will definitely be returning to indulge in the great food and company. Chef also suggested that we visit Shawnee Oklahoma for  bite to eat at a local caffe where they serve a healthy brunch for a fair price. He suggested that we try the roasted veal bone broth, but again joked that there is  a new orthodontist in Shawnee, Oklahoma if we needed to get a tooth repaired from biting into a bone. I hope he was kidding (haha).


Jackie Robinson’s Daughter on Carrying on Her Father’s Legacy and Working With Budweiser

Years before integration was legal in the United States, Jackie Robinson, at 28 years old, changed history by stepping onto Ebbets Field in 1947 and breaking Major League Baseball’s more than 50-year color barrier. The baseball legend also used his platform to advocate for the civil rights of African Americans well after his retirement.

In honor of the 100-year anniversary of Robinson’s life, Budweiser partnered with the Jackie Robinson Foundation to create a short film called Impact, produced by Oscar Award-winning director Spike Lee and narrated by Robinson’s daughter, Sharon Robinson. According to Budweiser reps, the film was inspired by Robinson’s quote, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” The beer company has also raised funds in support of the Jackie Robinson Museum, which is scheduled to open in New York City in December. [Watch Budweiser’s Impact film below.]


Black Enterprise spoke with Sharon Robinson about her father’s impact, working with Budweiser, and being the daughter of an American hero.

BE: How was your experience working with Budweiser on this film?

Robinson: It was an incredible experience working with Spike Lee and his team and the Budweiser Group. Everybody was very enthusiastic and creative in finding ways to keep the campaign contemporary while celebrating the accomplishments of Jackie Robinson and the breakthrough from 1947. We are thrilled they partnered with us; they are providing us great support with our museum. Spike was just a dream to work with. I was very honored that he asked me to do the voice for the Impact film.

BE: What was it like growing up in a baseball household?

Robinson: Well, I wouldn’t say I grew up in a baseball household. I was actually 7 when my father retired. My younger brother was about 4-and-a-half, and my older brother was about 9-and-a-half. We grew up more in a civil rights household. We knew our dad had played baseball, we had a trophy room, and people told us stories wherever we went. We really focused, as a family, on social changes during a time when so much was happening and eventually found our role as a family in the civil rights movement.

BE: Aside from being a trailblazer in the world of sports, what were some of Jackie’s contributions off the field?

Robinson: My dad retired in 1957 after 10 years. He was a vice president at Chock Full O’ Nuts but he had a deal with them that he can work in the civil rights movement and he was free to travel, he was able to have the time off to have a dual role. So, initially, he was fundraising for the NAACP and he would travel across the country raising money. He would travel south and we, as a family, intergraded [the] neighborhood we lived in; my brothers and I integrated our schools in Stanford, Connecticut. He would come home and share stories with us at the dining room table, and we would watch the news together as the civil rights movement was unfolding. In 1962, my dad would go on marches, he marched with Dr. King, he marched around jobs, he did a lot of that kind of activism.

Another key role my dad had played was [after] the bombing of the churches. My dad would go down and visit and help raise money to rebuild these churches. In fact, Dr. King had given him the entailment to raise money for the bombings across the country. He visited dad in Albany, Georgia, where there have been a couple of bombings and Dr. King had asked him if he would take that on as one of his fundraisers.

In 1963, things sort of changed in our family. Dad came home and said, ‘We’re going to have a family mission in finding work that you love.’ That’s when we started doing jazz concerts at our home to raise money for the civil right movements. Our very first jazz concert came after the work in Birmingham, Alabama; we raised bail money for the marchers who have been jailed. We had our second jazz concert in September right after the March on Washington. That’s when we, as a family, started doing activism, it became a family mission. That’s why it was so easy after dad died, we moved from our work in the civil rights movement to starting the Jackie Robinson Foundation and gearing our efforts toward education and leadership development.

Jackie Robinson Budweiser

Jackie Robinson and his daughter Sharon Robinson

BE: What are some of the recent activities going on at the Jackie Robinson Foundation?

Robinson: Currently we have almost 240 scholars who receive financial support for college and have mentorship support throughout their college years. We bring them all to New York for about four days in March; they take mentoring to another level, they attend workshops, go to cultural activities throughout NYC, and it cumulates at our annual Gala, where they dress up and play a role in the program itself and the leadership component. We just completed that networking weekend, it was great. Our alumni also participate in that conference, they also help with mentoring with scholars during that time.

BE: What should we expect to see at the Jackie Robinson Museum once it opens?

Robinson: We will we certainly see his baseball career in the museum; none of this would have happened if he did not have this tremendous career that created change within the sport and within the country. That part of the legacy was definitely not lost as we were children, it was very much there. In the museum, there will be a section on baseball accomplishments and ways kids can interact and learn how to slide, steal a home run, [along with] educational activities around baseball. What we are really hoping is to challenge young people to think about issues of race, diversity, globalization, finding your voice, all of that will be a large part of what we are going to be doing at the museum. So it’s really helping them move from Jackie Robinson in the past to what is happening in their lives, which is exactly what impact does: It doesn’t just stay in 1947, it shows what happened in 1947, continues to impact America today.

BE: What is the impact you want the Jackie Robinson Museum to have on the public?

Robinson: The impact we are hoping is that we will help children lift their voice against discrimination of all kinds and we will support that in that effort and show them our father was an activist as well as a baseball player and how he used his fame to impact others.


Sharon Robinson’s answers were edited for brevity and clarity.

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Kamala Harris, Other Dems Are Rejecting PACs, But Not All Are Bad

With the upcoming 2020 elections, political action committees (PACs) are a hot topic. Sen. Kamala Harris made it clear that she plans to reject assistance from super PACs as well as corporate dollars during her presidential run. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign was built on small-dollar donations and also rejected most super PAC dollars.

According to; super PACs; nonprofit organizations (so-called ‘dark money groups’); and 501(c) organizations spent $1.4 billion to support candidates in 2016—that’s up from $1 billion for the 2012 elections.

Considering the level of money raised by PACs to garner power and influence, it is not surprising that corporations such as Disney, Citibank, and Aflac, created their own PACs to support their business interests.

In fact, U.S. corporations leverage laws allowing them to solicit political contributions from their employees as long as donations are not coerced; allowing PACs to give thousands of dollars during a specific election.

To PAC or Not To PAC?

Critics of PACs believe that these committees create an unfair advantage to incumbents, weaken the political influence of the everyday citizen, increases campaign costs, and opens the system to the highest bidder. One thing is certain, elections cost money, and supporting candidates that represent personal values, beliefs, and who support marginalized communities requires funding. Finding the monetary vehicles to raise funds to support political candidates dedicated to the black community, can be challenging.

Ultimately, deciding to join or contribute to a PAC begins with thorough research of the PACs’ supporters and donors to determine if those funders align with your values and beliefs. Below is a brief list of PACs created specifically to support African American candidates and people of color:

  • Black America PAC
  • Congressional Black Caucus PAC
  • Higher Heights
  • Los Angeles African American Political Action Committee
  • The Collective PAC

For more information on PACs, check out the FEC’s “Campaign Guide for Corporations and Labor Organizations” and the “Campaign Guide for Nonconnected Committees.” For an alphabetical list of PAC acronyms, abbreviations, initials, and common names, see the FEC’s list of PACRONYMS, which is useful to identify committees when their full names are not disclosed on campaign finance reports.


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author’s and not necessarily the opinion of Black Enterprise.

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Capitalism, Economic Development, Gentrification: Who Benefits?

Capitalism, economic development, and gentrification. Major cities are being impacted by this trio. Some people revere them as the driving forces that keep America as a world leader; while others suffer. Simply put: Capitalism, economic development, and gentrification have not been on the side of black and brown people.


For capitalists, morality is not a factor in money making. To quote from Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development: “For a Yoruba man or Igbo woman to become a slave required more than the violent extraction of individuals from their natal communities. It involved practices of quantification and abstraction to render people into units of exchange, an epistemological shift made manifest.”

Economic Development

Economic development is defined as the process by which the overall health, well-being, and academic level of the general population improves. Sounds utopian, doesn’t it? It certainly was for slave and landowners, pre and post-Civil War. Yet, our ancestors, left acre and mule-less, were forced to “figure it out” for centuries to come.

In the 1930s, President Roosevelt passed the New Deal. This legislation was introduced to end unemployment and restore the country’s economy; however, a change in laws couldn’t change people’s hearts. As a result, employment and wage discrimination still plagued black communities, leading to foreclosure, continued unemployment, and deeper poverty.,

The Federal Housing Agency directly influenced segregation, through redlining—creating minority communities, lessening the value of their homes and property. On the heels of the Depression, the New Deal did its job in rebuilding the economy, making America great again; yet, blacks were still slighted.


If you live in the inner city, you might see a new café or big-name franchise moving in while the bodegas or mom and pop restaurants are closing their doors for good. Around the corner, you may find a block of formerly black-owned homes boarded up and abandoned.

New Orleans’ flood destruction hit the city’s poorest areas, leaving many homeless. Since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is rebuilding and thriving, mostly due to rich, migrant whites. Locals have tried to preserve their city’s culture with an inclusionary zoning plan that mandates affordable housing in affluent neighborhoods. State legislators, however, have avidly stood in the way of such plans.

With gentrification comes a privileged mindset of, “This is my neighborhood now and I will enjoy my amenities in peace, no matter who it hurts.” New people moving in can afford to do what many of the original residents cannot. Gentrification is a social justice issue that means people get displaced, even if they don’t have to, or want to be.

How Black People Can Leverage These Systems

Despite capitalism, economic development, and gentrification historically working against people of color, there are opportunities. Urban areas including Newark, Atlanta, and Brooklyn have experienced a renaissance of black entrepreneurship. As Kai Campbell, Newark native and owner of Burger Walla and Bragman’s Deli says, “How you spend your dollar is the most democratic thing a person can do, and if a community doesn’t control the businesses where people spend their dollars, then there can be no self-sufficiency.”

And the power of the black dollar has been seen from Jordan sales to Pattie Pie purchases.

Understanding our history on all fronts prepares us for a stronger future. With proper execution and education, black and brown Americans can turn these long-standing systems around for our good.

Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author’s and not necessarily the opinion of Black Enterprise.


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‘Rise of Skywalker’ Set to Be Most Diverse Star Wars Casting Ever. Here Is A Roster of Black Star Wars Characters

The Episode IX trailer for the latest Star Wars movie was just released. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be the space series’ most diverse casting since the first movie premiered in 1977. People of color including leading man John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Naomi Ackie, and the return of Billy Dee Williams in the iconic role of Lando Calrissian, are front and center in the latest episode.

And while there was controversy over the casting of John Boyega, a black British actor as a Stormtrooper in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie, there have been iconic black actors and characters throughout the Star Wars universe. Here are seven of the best known.

Black Characters Star Wars Characters

Mace Windu

Played by: Samuel L. Jackson

Film: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, 1999


black star wars characters

(Image: Facebook)


2. Lando Calrissian

Played by: Billy Dee Williams

Films: The Empire Strikes Back; Return of the Jedi


black star wars characters

(Image: Facebook)


3. Maz Kanata

Played by: Lupita Nyong’o

Film: The Force Awakens


black star wars characters

(Image: Facebook)



4. Voice of Darth Vader

Played by: James Earl Jones

Films: Star WarsThe Empire Strikes Back; Return of the Jedi


black star wars characters

(Image: iStock/tihomir_todorov)



5. Jabba the Hutt’s Twi’lek slave dancer Oola

Played by:  Femi Taylor

Film: Return of the Jedi



black star wars characters

(Image: Facebook)



6. Finn 

Played by: John Boyega

Film: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi 


black star wars characters

(Image: Wikimedia)


7. Rachel

Played by:  Crystal Clarke

Film: The Force Awakens



black star wars characters

(Image: Instagram)


Check out the trailer to Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker:





Editors’ Note: This article has been updated from its original publish date in 2017. 

The post ‘Rise of Skywalker’ Set to Be Most Diverse Star Wars Casting Ever. Here Is A Roster of Black Star Wars Characters appeared first on Black Enterprise.

For the Record, ‘Jemele Hill is Unbothered’ and Has a New Spotify Podcast

The ever evolving Jemele Hill is at an exciting point in her career. With 21 years in the game as a journalist, sports reporter, and activist (in her own right), she has learned to be unbothered and unapologetic. And she proves that each time she speaks or publishes her truth as a staff writer for The Atlantic.

Hill stopped by BLACK ENTERPRISE to give us an inside scoop on her new Spotify podcast, Jemele Hill Is Unbothered. During the our sit down, she talks all things career moves, securing the bag, and how to take a just stance no matter your industry or career level.

Hill’s partnership with Spotify is timely as the company seeks to amplify the voice of black women through podcasting initiatives.

“From a value alignment standpoint, that’s something I stand for–boosting the voices of young women of color—it’s something they stand for,” said Hill. “And I’m happy to be a part of a brand where we are very like-minded,”

Stephen A. Smith’s Most Controversial Public Comments

Controversy sells—and oftentimes it pays—a lot. Stephen A. Smith, an ESPN sports journalist known for his provocative commentary, is a prime example. On Thursday, it was reported that Smith is on track to becoming the highest paid TV personality on the ESPN network. The 51-year-old syndicated talk show host has a current contract that is reportedly worth around $5 million per year until 2021. However, the co-star of ESPN’s wildly popular First Take could be offered a new deal worth anywhere from $8 million to $10 million per year.

According to The New York Post, ESPN is willing to double Smith’s salary in order to avoid losing him to a competitor. Smith, who has been with the network since 2005, is arguably one of the most recognizable faces at ESPN and in the sports media industry at large. However, in addition to his catchphrases, the TV personality is known for his outspoken opinions and polarizing remarks, which are often criticized as sexist and crude.

Here’s a look back at some of Stephen A. Smith’s most flagrant public statements.

To Domestic Abuse Victims: Don’t “Provoke” Violence

Back in 2014, ESPN suspended Smith after he insinuated that victims of domestic violence are actually to blame for the abuse they’re subjected to. During a conversation about NFL player Ray Rice’s notorious attack against his wife, who he knocked unconscious in an elevator, Smith advised women not to “provoke” their attacker.

“What I’ve tried to employ [with] the female members of my family—some of who you all met and talked to and what have you—is that … let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions, because if I come—or somebody else comes, whether it’s law enforcement officials, your brother or the fellas that you know—if we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you,” he said on First Take.

Smith later apologized for his remarks, calling his comments “the most egregious error of my career.” He added, “My words came across that it is somehow a woman’s fault. This was not my intent. It is not what I was trying to say.”

On Mayweather’s Domestic Battery History: “Men Ain’t Wrong Always”

In 2010, Smith had trouble believing that boxing champ Floyd Mayweather, who has a documented history of domestic abuse arrests and citations, beat up his ex-wife, Josie Harris, who was hospitalized with a concussion. He also accused Harris of fabricating the story in order to extort money from the wealthy boxer. In an exchange on Twitter, Smith publicly defended Mayweather and stereotyped women who accused him of abuse as gold diggers.

To Ayesha Curry: Be A Good NBA Wife

Smith was accused of mansplaining appropriate behavior of an “NBA wife” to Ayesha Curry, who is married to Golden State Warriors player Steph Curry, when she accused the league of rigging a game against her husband. The incident occurred when Steph earned his first ejection in 2016 and Ayesha expressed her frustration on Twitter. “I’ve lost all respect sorry this is absolutely rigged for money,” she tweeted. “Or ratings in not sure which. I won’t be silent. Just saw it live sry.”

In response, Smith chastised Ayesha and suggested that she use LeBron James’ wife as a model for good behavior. “You are the wife of Steph Curry,” he said on his show. “What you do is a reflection on him. What you do is a reflection on the organization he works for. You have to be mindful of that. You can’t get caught up in your own individual emotions and having this zest to speak out to the point where it compromises your husband.”

Smith then compared her to Gloria James, saying, “She’s wonderful inside and out. She sits there, she doesn’t bring any attention to herself. She never tweets and goes out there and calls out the league and stuff like that. And nobody—NOBODY—is more scrutinized than her husband. But yet she thinks about how she represents him and she doesn’t do that.”

On Kobe Bryant: “N-gga, Please”

In 2012, Smith was heard using the N-word on First Take while discussing the upcoming NBA season and then-Lakers star Kobe Bryant’s foot injury. The word slipped out during an exchange with NBA star Dahntay Jones, who was appearing on the show as a guest.

“You think Kobe Bryant is going to miss it because his foot is sprained? Ni—a, please,” Smith declared.

Following the incident, Smith denied use of the racial slur, arguing that his words were “misconstrued” because “he’s a New Yorker” who talks fast.


At the 2017 Black Enterprise Black Men XCEL Summit, Smith blasted Colin Kaepernick for refusing to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Although Smith supports his #TakeAKnee protest movement, he said that Kaepernick’s decision not to participate in the pivotal election was ignorant.

“My only issue with Colin Kaepernick is when he announced to the world that he’s not one to vote. If you are black and you don’t believe that it’s important to vote, just do me a favor and stay the hell away from me….don’t talk to me, don’t look at me, I’m not interested in hearing that level of ignorance,” said the sports analyst. “Because it is ignorant. Because outside of money, the No. 1 instrument of change in our nation is the power to vote. And if you don’t exercise it, you’ve disrespected yourself, you’ve disrespected our ancestors, and you’ve disrespected our history and I have no respect for you.”


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Tapped to Sit on Fed Board, Herman Cain Straddles Fence Between Business Success and Political Controversy

Perhaps no other black business person stirs up more polarizing debate than Herman Cain. The former head of Godfather’s Pizza, stepped into the political limelight in 2011 when he announced his candidacy as the Republican presidential nominee. That effort was thwarted by a series of sexual harassment allegations against Cain. Yet, he has re-emerged on the national stage as a proposed pick by President Trump to sit on the Federal Reserve Board. A success in business, yet, a failure in politics—is now the time for Herman Cain to rise to political prominence?

Herman Cain’s Business Backstory

Cain was named president of the then-failing Godfather’s Pizza chain in 1986. In an article from Black Enterprise in 1988 on Cain: “Fresh from rejuvenating Pillsbury’s Burger King chain in the Philadelphia region, the energetic, enthusiastic new president of Godfather’s went immediately to work closing weak outlets, strengthening the company’s advertising thrust, repairing relations with franchisees and swiftly resolving legal conflicts.”

Herman Cain

Black Enterprise Magazine

Without question, Cain has proven he possesses sharp business acumen. Under his leadership, Godfather’s Pizza saw a reversal in sales decline and generated $260 million in sales.

He demonstrated business savvy early on. The Morehouse College graduate served a short period in the Navy and then went on to complete a master’s degree in Computer Science at Purdue University. His first corporate position was as a business analyst at Coca-Cola.

Cain’s business talents came to light during his next gig at Pillsbury where he advanced to vice president status within five years.

Entrepreneurial Mindset

Although he quickly ascended the corporate ladder, Cain also had an entrepreneurial spirit. He set his sights on the fast food business—even becoming a member of a Burger King kitchen crew to learn the ins and outs of the hamburger business. Within seven months, he was promoted to regional vice president.

“You’ve got to have a passion for that business, followed by a desire to make it to the top,” he said in an interview with Black Enterprise in 1988. “Then you will do whatever you need to do in order to get there.”

He eventually bought the Godfather’s Pizza chain from its parent company, Pillsbury for an estimated $50 million. The transaction was the first leveraged buyout of a major fast-food company by a black executive in business history.

Political Ambitions

Cain’s political ambitions were made clear when he ran as a Republican presidential nominee. Plagued by scandal, his campaign fell flat—perhaps one of the rare failures for the businessman.

Now, with the blessings of Donald Trump, it seems that Cain is poised to assume a prominent political and economic position at the Federal Reserve. How likely is his appointment and is he the person for the job?

No, says Catherine Rampell, a columnist for The Washington Post. And it isn’t just about the troubling sexual harassment allegations that took down his presidential run, she says.

“When it comes to understanding pretty basic policy issues, Cain isn’t able,” writes Rampell.

“Most people who remember anything about Cain’s brief political career might know him for the “9-9-9” tax rate plan. Unfortunately, neither did that plan have rates that were actually 9 percent nor did it turn out to be particularly strong in its arithmetic,” she continues.

A fellow Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney, also cast doubt about Cain’s fitness for the Fed. “I doubt that will be a nomination. But if it were a nomination, you can bet [what] the interest rates he would be pushing for,” Romney said in an interview.

“If Herman Cain were on the Fed, you’d know the interest rate would soon be 9-9-9.”

Some Republicans are more optimistic. Sen. David Perdue, a Georgia Republican, said about Cain; “He’s a business guy. He’s got a great background for it. I know him personally. I think personally he’d be a great addition,” according to Fortune.

Cain’s businesses successes have seemed to elude his success in politics. Is his appointment a serious consideration or another one of the mercurial President’s whims? And if appointed to the Fed, how effective can he be? That all remains to be seen.



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How I Revisited the Last Moments of Martin Luther King’s Life

When I agreed to travel to Jackson, Tennessee, to speak to students, faculty, staff, and community members at their Inaugural Leadership Conference, little did I know what was in store. In addition to the warm reception, the local news coverage, and the camaraderie from my longtime friend Dr. Logan Hampton, the president of HBCU Lane College, revisiting the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is an experience I will never forget on the drive back.

I made two new friends on the sojourn: chief Steaven Joy, my security detail and driver and Darryl M. Bell, the actor from the hit TV show A Different World. Bell is also a producer, an entrepreneur, a fierce advocate of people of color in STEM, and not surprisingly, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Martin Luther King

(L-R: Logan Hampton, L Michelle Smith, and Darryl M. Bell)

Bell wanted to visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

We visited the landmark museum just a few days before the 51st anniversary of King’s assassination. There were people waiting in the rain to experience the context of King’s death—what led up to and culminated in his last breath on the balcony of Lorraine Motel.

A tour guide walked us through historical periods that violently affected black people: Jim Crow-era segregation, boycotts, and protest. Bell and I joined a sit-in at one of the many lunch counters in the South, where students faced violence despite their commitment to non-violent protests.

Martin Luther King

(A statue of Rosa Parks sitting on the bus in Montgomery)

There were statues of blacks who participated in the Montgomery boycotts for some 138 days, protesting racism. We eventually learned what brought King to Memphis in the first place—the unfair treatment of the city’s sanitation workers at the time.

Martin Luther King

(Bell stands in front of the iconic sign at the Lorraine Motel)

Though from behind the glass, we observed room 306—preserved in time and undisturbed—where Dr. King and Abernathy stayed until that fateful moment on the balcony.

We came face to face with the death of an absolute hero.

Listen to a special double episode of The Culture Soup Podcast today to hear a special fireside chat between myself and Bell at the Lane College Leadership Conference. Part two features a conversation with Hampton on the importance and remaining relevance of HBCUs.

Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Chicago’s First Black Woman Mayor, Lori Lightfoot

A black woman makes political history again: On Tuesday, Lori Lightfoot became Chicago’s first black woman mayor.

Lightfoot achieves another milestone as the first openly gay mayor of a large city. The Chicago mayoral race was closely watched around the country. There were two black women in the race—Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle—in a political battle that at times became contentious.

Yet, Lightfoot emerged the victor. In a statement to the press, DNC Chair Tom Perez commented on Lightfoot’s win:

“This historic win reaffirms that our diversity is our greatest strength, and that our elected leaders should reflect the diversity of the communities they represent. I look forward to working with Mayor-elect Lightfoot as she fights to build a brighter future for all. The people of Chicago will be well served with her leadership.”

Those outside the gritty world of Chicago politics may not be too familiar with the Mayor-elect. Here are five things you may not have known about Lori Lightfoot.

She grew up in Ohio from humble beginnings.

In an interview with The Chicago Tribune, Lightfoot mentioned that her parents migrated from the South to Ohio. Her father was from a sharecropper family. When she was a girl, her father contracted pneumonia that turned into spinal meningitis. Her father spent time in a coma. The doctors told her mother not to bother to “waste money on medicine,” because her father would not recover. He did, although he became deaf from meningitis.

She is an attorney.

Lightfoot earned a law degree from the University of Chicago for which she received a scholarship to attend. She worked as a federal prosecutor and served in several high-profile civil positions, including chair of the Police Accountability Task Force, and president of the Chicago Police Board. Before running for mayor, she left her position as a law partner at Mayer Brown.

She is married.

The 56-year-old lives in the Northwest side of Chicago with her spouse, Amy Eshleman. They have a 10-year-old daughter.

Chicago police reform is a priority on her agenda.

Lightfoot was part of a task force that looked into police misconduct after the shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald at the hands of white policeman Jason Van Dyke. According to her website, her plans for police reform include: Ensuring full and swift compliance with the consent decree; implementing civilian oversight of police; improving police training and accountability; and reducing police misconduct.

She said that the way the Jussie Smollett case was handled, raises “serious questions.”

During a debate with Preckwinkle, Lightfoot said that the dropping of all charges against Smollet merited a “fulsome explanation.” She also expressed concern over State Attorney Kim Foxx’s decision to seal the records on the Smollett case.




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McDonald’s Celebrates Black Excellence Through New ‘Black & Positively Golden ‘Campaign

McDonald’s USA rolled out its largest campaign in 16 years targeting African American consumers on Friday. The new campaign, titled “Black & Positively Golden,” aims to uplift black communities and inspire excellence through education, empowerment, and entrepreneurship. It also replaces the McDonald’s 365Black platform, which began in 2003.

The campaign launched in partnership with YWCA USA at a community event held at Leimert Park in Los Angeles. The event began with a panel of black corporate executives that discussed the messaging behind “Black & Positively Golden” and how it celebrates black excellence and highlights stories of truth, power, and pride. The kickoff also featured the unveiling of a mural created by L.A.-based artist Enkone, an appearance by Insecure actress Yvonne Orji, and a live performance by multi-platinum recording artist Normani.

Beyond the launch event, McDonald’s has commenced a yearlong commitment to support the YWCA USA’s Women’s Empowerment 360 Program—an initiative designed to empower female entrepreneurs of color. The global food chain’s financial support will provide approximately 5,000 aspiring businesswomen around the country with an education curriculum and other tools needed for success.

According to Lizette Williams, head of Cultural Engagement & Experiences, McDonald’s USA, the fast-food chain has been a pillar in communities of color by providing jobs, franchise opportunities, and scholarship funding for decades. “The African American consumer, for McDonald’s, is critically important,” she told BLACK ENTERPRISE. “We’re a brand that’s accessible for everyone, but we’ve been there in the black community for 50 years. We’ve supported the black community through our work with HBCU scholarships,” in addition to supporting organizations like the YWCA and NAACP. “It continues to be at the very fabric of what the corporation and brand represent.”

Nicole Enearu, a franchisee who currently owns/operates a total of 18 McDonald’s restaurants with her family, told BE that the campaign “is really about shining a light on the positive things that are happening in the African American community and demonstrating McDonald’s ongoing commitment to our community.”

Enearu is just one of 300 African American McDonald’s franchisees in the U.S. who will help bring the campaign to life by providing economic opportunities to the neighborhoods they serve. “We maintain a commitment to our neighbors through various parts of our business—including scholarship partnerships with historically black colleges and universities, generational wealth-building with franchisee training and partnering with minority suppliers,” she said in a statement.

Terrence Burrell, the vice president and creative director of Burrell Communications Group, the firm that helped create the “Black & Positively Golden” campaign, says he hopes it will ultimately drown out negative news surrounding the black community. “We want that to be the narrative versus what we’re getting from the BBQ Becky’s of the world and all of those moments that seem to go viral.”

In conjunction with the YWCA launch event, McDonald’s debuted the campaign with a 60-second television spot during the 50th NAACP Image Awards. “Black & Positively Golden” will also be featured in black-oriented media outlets and events. Furthermore, McDonald’s says it will continue to provide scholarships for students attending HBCUs through its partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

“More than a campaign, we want to create a movement around positivity in black America,” said Williams.

Watch the “Black & Positively Golden” spot below.

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