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).


Malcolm X’s Daughters Launching a New Malcolm X Clothing Site

Malcolm X's Daughters L to R: Qubilah Shabazz, Gamilah Lumumba Shabazz Malaak Shabazz, Attallah Shabazz, Ilyasah Shabazz (Image:

The sisters, Qubilah ShabazzIlyasah ShabazzAttallah ShabazzMalikah ShabazzMalaak Shabazz, and Gamilah Lumumba Shabazz have partnered with technology company Hingeto, to bring the apparel line to life.

Malcolm X's Daughters L to R: Qubilah Shabazz, Gamilah Lumumba Shabazz Malaak Shabazz, Attallah Shabazz, Ilyasah Shabazz (Image: Malcolm X’s Daughters L to R: Qubilah Shabazz, Gamilah Lumumba Shabazz Malaak Shabazz, Attallah Shabazz, Ilyasah Shabazz (Image:


“Honoring Malcolm X’s legacy via a clothing store is a dream and the most meaningful application of Hingeto’s system to date. We first met one of Malcolm’s daughters alongside Colin Kaepernick in a full-day meeting in New York,” said Leandrew Robinson, co-founder and CEO of Hingeto.

“It was clear Malcolm’s principles are as relevant today as ever. We all thought it was imperative to represent his message and today’s human rights movement as a brand that people can outfit themselves in daily,” said Robinson.

And as Robinson mentioned, Kaepernick is in full support, tweeting the line and helping to get the message out.

Kaepernick shows his support for the line (Image: Twitter) Kaepernick shows his support for Malcolm X Legacy (Image: Twitter)


Malcolm X’s 12 Principles


The collection will honor Malcolm X’s 12 principles.



The world is dependent upon the ability to unite ideas, skills, organizations, and institutions for a better future.




Human rights are your God-given rights…rights that are recognized by all nations of this earth



The spirit of self-sacrifice is the dignity and glory of humanity, living forever




Taking the Spiritual Journey which leads to one’s highest potential and enlightenment



Striving for right to direct and control your lives, your history, and your future



Using education as a tool with critical thinking that liberates minds and creates civil society



Freeing oneself of economic slavery and building strong economics for self and community



Affirming your right and obligation to defend yourself in order to survive



Resisting all forms of Racism and Discrimination that dehumanizes human life



Having a keen awareness and honor with your Culture and Ethnicity



Restoring broken bonds with your people, heritage, and past



To establish justice throughout the world

The new line can be found at Malcolm X Legacy.

Steve Stoute’s New Venture, UnitedMasters, Disrupts the Record Industry

Steve Stoute (Image: Instagram)

The record industry has been ripe for disruption for years and who better to do it than music veteran Steve Stoute. His new venture, UnitedMasters, will help up-and-coming artists get their music on streaming platforms such as Spotify and Pandora and use online tools to market the musicians and help them reach fans, according to The Wall Street Journal, and investors came through for this one.



Superstar investment firms backed the company including Google parent Alphabet Inc., Andreessen Horowitz, and 21st Century Fox, totaling $70 million.

“The new firm helps answer the question of how do you convert cultural capital into financial capital,” said Ben Horowitz in a statement.



The San Francisco-based company already houses a 40-person team and because of Stoute’s background as a leading music industry exec for labels including Interscope and Sony Music Entertainment, he knows very specifically what the music industry needs in order to reinvent its business model.

Steve Stoute (Image: Instagram) Steve Stoute (Image: Instagram)


Business Model


Similar to CD Baby, a platform that rose to popularity in the early 2000s, artists who work with UnitedMasters will pay to have the company distribute their work. UnitedMasters has teamed up with music streaming services as distribution partners aiming to keep low price points for their users. There is also a variation in payout. Whereas some services only offer payments per stream, UnitedMasters is allowing the artists to diversify the payment structure to include ticket sales and merchandise.

Data Analytics


The most important point to note here is UnitedMasters will help brands connect with highly targeted audiences through data analytics. The difference between the music industry and Stoute’s platform is the label never knows who specifically is purchasing the artist’s music. However, with this service being driven by data, UnitedMasters can provide the brands with insights that the companies can A/B test against, therefore better-targeting the consumer.

“Brands are spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to get to young people by using music as the vehicle,” Stoute said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal. “Being able to use music data and making it actionable so they can target and speak to these fans, that’s super important.”

UnitedMasters will live under Translation Enterprises, which also houses Stoute’s ad agency, Translation.


Reigniting Your Passion With This Faith-Based Conference for Millennials

Cassondra Lenoir

Earlier this year, Black Enterprise had the opportunity to attend the first ever Passion is Pursuit Conference—an entertainment and media conference for entrepreneurial millennials of faith.

From start to finish, the room buzzed with excitement: passionate entrepreneurs eager to connect, sponging up the invaluable information provided by the panelists and keynote speakers. This one-day event encouraged attendees to “Move Different” in business, branding, and finances, equipping them to do so with power and passion that left them eager for more.

We recently had a chance to catch up with the creator of the Passion is Pursuit Conference, Cassondra Lenoir—author, entrepreneur, and media expert.

Cassondra Lenoir (Image: Cassondra Lenoir)


You created the Passion is Pursuit Conference and will be releasing a Passion is Pursuit devotional. How do you define “passion/passion is pursuit?”


Cassondra Lenoir: In college, I created the following definition. “Passion is the driving force in one’s life. It’s the thing that keeps you dedicated, motivated, and focused in striving to achieve greatness,” and I now live by this. 


Passion is Pursuit became my life’s mantra once I understood that without action, there’s no proof of passion. You can’t turn your cant’s into cans or your dreams into plans without putting forth effort. I live with the revelation that the PROOF of passion is pursuit.


What do you feel attendees of the Passion is Pursuit conference came away with?


I believe attendees ended the day knowing who they are and what they were created to do. Our goal was to prepare and properly equip each attendee for their entrepreneurial journey through personal faith and professional expertise. As I like to say, “The Passion is Pursuit Conference is founded on faith, but at our core, we are a business conference.”


The purpose of the Passion is Pursuit Conference was to inspire, inform, and ignite the inner Passioneer of all in attendance. Passioneers pretty much figure out which route to take through life’s journey by following the burning desire from within, and they understand that impossible is nothing. Once Passioneers arrive to this new space, they then prepare the way for others to follow.


What would you say to anyone who has slowed in their pursuit of passion?


I want to encourage you not to grow weary in well-doing. This means that no matter how tired you become or how hard things are, YOU CAN’T GIVE UP! Don’t stop. Remember who you are. You are enough, and you’ve been equipped with everything you need to succeed. You must have the courage to persevere. You were created for greatness, and your diligence will impact the lives of many. Your pursuit will help others to achieve greatness. You’re needed. Keep going and growing, Passioneer.


You’re currently planning a Vision Board Workshop. How does creating a vision board help one with pursuing their passion?

Seeing your mental vision manifested on paper produces a greater level of possibility. Sometimes things seem impossible until they are no longer just an idea. Vision boards are the first step to turning your visions into reality.


At my Vision Board Workshops, it’s more than just arts and crafts. These sessions are filled with passion, planning, and purpose as I help participants to discover and pursue every great thing that’s inside of them. Attendees are welcomed with a stress-reliev[ing] prelude. ALL vision board materials (including magazines) are provided, and I am always sure to create a safe haven suitable for dream sharing, transparency, and networking. All they have to bring is their vision!

I utilize the W.I.N. model, one of my own design, and it’s created to not only help attendees discover their visions but also to provide guests with the next steps to manifest those visions!

What inspired you to create the devotional?


After the December 2015 release of my first book, From Nothing to New York, I received an overwhelming influx of the question, “When are you releasing your next book?” The year had not yet ended and the book was freshly released, but people were ready for the next one.


My initial plan was just to compile some of my social media posts, monthly newsletter content, and personal journals into one book as a means to pour quality inspiration into people while I continued to write, From Nothing to New York 2. However, I quickly realized this devotional required more from me. It is powerful. It’s life-changing.

What is the most powerful way the Passion is Pursuit devotional will benefit readers?


The Passion is Pursuit Devotional provides 40 Passion Pillars to help readers discover and pursue who they are and what they were created to do. A passion pillar is a term I coined while writing, “From Nothing to New York.” In a nutshell, a passion pillar is something that keeps you going while providing reliable support. The devotional does just that. Readers will benefit in various ways because it is filled with life and business concepts for personal, spiritual, mental, relational, financial, and professional growth. It all just depends where you are along life’s journey of self-discovery and professional independence.


To stay informed about upcoming networking mixers, where you can pick up the Passion is Pursuit devotional, and what Lenoir has coming up next, visit

Taylor Bennett and Urban Outfitters Are Giving Back to Homeless Youth

Taylor Bennett

Independent music artist and entrepreneur Taylor Bennett is partnering with Urban Outfitters to give back to homeless youth this holiday season.

The 21-year-old Chicago native, who happens to be the younger brother of hip-hop star Chance The Rapper, is one of eight creatives selected to participate in “The Giving Guide” campaign, presented by FujiFilm and Urban Outfitters. Through the campaign, the retail store will donate $5,000 to eight different charities chosen by the creatives.


Taylor Bennett (Photo Credit: Photographer: Anna Zajac)



In an interview published on Urban Outfitters Blog, Bennett talked about why he chose to support La Casa Norte, an organization that helps provide homeless youth and families with housing and other resources. “I’m proud to work with La Casa Norte here in Chicago,” he said. “In 2002, La Casa Norte opened its doors to youth and families in Humboldt Park. Over the past 15 years, they have helped over 25,000 individuals from 43 Chicagoland zip codes move towards housing stability, self-sufficiency, and financial security.”

Although Bennett grew up in a prominent, politically connected family in Chicago’s West Chatham, he revealed that he has supported friends who have been homeless. “I have friends who have often had to stay at my house, another friend’s, or slept on the train. I have friends that wouldn’t go home because of issues with their families,” he said. “Chicago Public Schools (CPS) identified a record 22,144 students experiencing homelessness or housing instability in 2013-14.” Bennett, who came out as bisexual in January, added that “a large portion of homeless youth is LGBTQ.”

Bennett also opened up about working with the clothing company. “I love Urban Outfitters,” he told Black Enterprise, noting that he was an ambassador of the retailer’s pride collection earlier this year, which celebrated the LGBTQ students. “I love the fact that they’re helping not just artists, but influencers, give back to a charity of their choice.”

In addition to being a fan of Urban Outfitters clothing, Bennett says partnering with the company has given him an opportunity to gain exposure for his brand and issues he cares about. “I think it’s very important to get your face out there,” he said, and “to be able to collaborate with major corporations that can give you platforms that…artists might not be able to get through music videos and touring.”


Taylor Bennett (Photo Credit: Photographer: Anna Zajac)



When he’s not making music and building his brand, Bennett is focused on up-and-coming artists like Bianca Shaw, a rapper out of Chicago signed to his indie music label Tay Bennett Entertainment. He started the label in 2015 with his own money, without investors or a parent company. Now, he uses the label to teach artists the ins and outs of the industry while giving them a chance to be at the front of their image and art. “It’s just important to be in control of your marketing and your music. I think if you create something, then you should be in charge of how you sell it.”

After working with Urban Outfitters for two campaigns and other big name brands like Timberland and Footaction, Taylor says he’s hoping to collaborate with designer cap company New Era next year. “We have something in the works with New Era, which should be really dope. I think they’re one of the best hat companies. I grew up wearing New Era hats.”

Ultimately, by building his brand, Bennett hopes to continue to be an inspirational voice for others. “If you have a platform to help and give back then you should.”








How Much Are Your Favorite Black Power Couples Worth?

Black Power Couples

In addition to being a leading example of the beauty of black love, these celebrity power couples have accumulated a massive combined net worth.


1. Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade


(Image: Instagram/GabUnion)


Gabrielle Union, 45, recently opened up about her marriage to NBA superstar Dwyane Wade, 35, in her new book, We’re Going to Need More Wine, revealing that the couple has been struggling to have a baby for years. In the process, they have suffered from eight or nine miscarriages. “For three years, my body has been a prisoner of trying to get pregnant —I’ve either been about to go into an IVF cycle, in the middle of an IVF cycle, or coming out of an IVF cycle,” she writes. However, despite enduring years of failed IVF cycles, the actress says she and her husband “remain bursting with love and ready to do anything to meet the child we’ve both dreamed of.”

Married Aug. 30, 2014

Gabrielle Union’s net worth: $20 million

Dwyane Wade’s net worth: $115 million


2. Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Beyonce Knowles-Carter


(Image: Instagram/Beyonce)


With a combined net worth of $1 billion, Jay-Z, 47, and Beyoncé, 36, are one of the most powerful celebrity couples in the music industry. However, despite their accolades and global success, the couple has used their music to express the challenge of marriage. Queen Bey’s highly acclaimed 2016 album Lemonade centers on the themes of love, infidelity, and forgiveness. Likewise, Jay rapped about cheating on his wife in his 2017 album 4:44.

Nonetheless, the hip-hop mogul has also boasted about the benefits they have gained by fighting to stay together. “You know you made it when the fact your marriage made it is worth millions,” he raps on the 2016 remix of “All The Way Up.” 

Married April 4, 2008

Beyoncé’s net worth: $450 million

Jay-Z’s net worth: $900 million


3. Michelle and Barack Obama


(Image: Wikimedia/Commons)


Former President Barack Obama, 56, earned an annual $400,000 during his eight years in office. Now he and his wife Michelle, 53, generate revenue through speaking engagements, a large retirement pension, and book royalties, which has helped the couple amass impressive wealth.

Married Oct. 3, 1992

Barak Obama: $40 million

Michelle Obama: $40 million


4. Ciara and Russell Wilson


Image: Instagram/Ciara



After a series of public breakups throughout her career as a singer, Ciara, 32, tied the knot with NFL quarterback Russell Wilson, 28, in 2016. Known for her hit songs and killer dance moves, Ciara has also earned revenue as a model. In 2009, she signed a multimillion-dollar modeling deal with Wilhelmina Models. Last year, she signed a modeling contract with IMG and became a Global Brand Ambassador for Revlon.

Meanwhile, Wilson signed a contract extension with the Seattle Seahawks worth $87.6 million that included $61.5 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $31 million in 2015.

Married July 6, 2016

Ciara: $20 million

Russell Wilson: $45 million

5. Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith


(Image: Facebook/WillSmith)


In addition to having 20 years of marriage under their belt, Will, 49, and Jada Pinkett-Smith, 46, have accumulated an impressive wealth through multiple film projects and endeavors. The couple has also raised two teenage children.

Married Dec. 31, 1997

Will Smith’s net worth: $260 million

Jada Pinkett-Smith: $20 million





Monday Motivation: How To Keep Going, From A 102-Year-Old Runner

Ida Keeling’s life story is rife with motivation. The 102-year-old began working at age 12 to help provide for her immigrant family, lived through the Great Depression and the civil rights movement, raised four children as a single mother, and then set world records as a runner—in her 90s.

motivation from Ida Keeling (Photo courtesy of Zondervan)


Keeling is sharing that inspiring story in her memoir, Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down: Chasing Myself in the Race Against Time, which will be released next February and is available for pre-order this month.

“I was feeling so blue,” Keeling writes of the period after her two sons were murdered, less than three years apart.

“My psyche had slowed down and it felt like I was moving around in a bowl of thick oatmeal. Not a pleasant feeling, but me and the icky sensation were becoming well acquainted. Too well.”

Keeling credits her daughter Cheryl, herself a runner, with saving her life by pleading with her to run for the first time at the age of 67. Running is “an answer to grief, stress, obesity, bad health, and bad habits,” Cheryl writes. “It is a survival tool.”

More than 30 years later, Keeling is sharing some motivation from her journey:

Stick it out, even when it hurts


“It was my first race. I took off and all these people was rushin’ past. It felt like somebody pulled a sheet off me; it was horrible,” Keeling writes, “but I said I can’t slow down now. I got to keep going.”

“I started thinking this is too much, then all of a sudden, I started picking up a little speed and I thought, gee maybe this is good for me.”

The way you talk to yourself matters


“The gun sounded, and I was off, putting to shame younger couch potatoes, excuse givers, or plain old slackers who might’ve been well accustomed to convincing themselves that they were too over the hill to compete,” Keeling writes.

“That’s the thing about feeding yourself negative information. It always slows you down.”

Surround yourself with the right people


“I absolutely refuse to tolerate drama,” Keeling writes, adding “I just don’t have time for people who live only to cause trouble.”

“Just find the nice, kind, supportive people and bring them into your circle. Let the others find God in their own way and in their own time.”

Interview: Christina Milian On Expanding Her Entrepreneurial Venture, Viva Diva Wines

Entertainer Christina Milian’s Viva Diva wines have been enjoyed by other celebrities including Karrueche Tran and Snoop Dog. As a woman who keeps her brand in mind at all times, Milian used her savvy to position her product on her E! Network show Turned Up and mentions her wine in her 2015 song “We Ain’t Worried.”

Milian spoke with Black Enterprise contributor Tia Walker for an update on Viva Diva Wines since the label launched in 2013.



(Image: Facebook/Viva Diva Wines)



As the face of Viva Diva Wines-a joint venture with your mother and publicist-whose idea was it to focus on wine (moscato) as an extension of the Christina Milian brand?

Christina Milian: We (myself, mother Carmen Milian, and publicist Robyn Santiago) actually purchased a preexisting brand that I was a brand ambassador for. The line consisted of moscato, pinot grigio, sweet red wine, and a varietal of naturally flavored moscato.


Clearly it’s exciting that you are a celebrity whose wine is consumed by other celebrities. Was this deliberate? Who is your current target consumer and why?

Our target consumers are the 21+ millennials who enjoy moscato. Moscato is an easy, fruity drink so it tends to be a favorite for 21+ millennials as well as an older generation.  We did a lot of celebrity events at the beginning. That was great. People like Snoop Dog had our wine, and many others. It helped elevate the brand. Additionally, my fan base has been extremely supportive.


How lucrative has the venture been and how have you determined what countries to bring the product to next?

It’s a very difficult market to break into and it definitely takes persistence. We have owned the brand for two years and have found that because of the saturation in the moscato market in the U.S., bringing our brand international has been a great turning point. We have the brand going into 75 Sobeys stores. We are working on Mexico and Greece as well.


What is your favorite product in the line?

I love the Pina Colada the best.  I love to mix it with Diddy’s Ciroc on ice. It’s delicious.


How do you successfully balance being a mom, entertainer, and entrepreneur?

My daughter and my family are always my first priority but my dedication to my businesses are important to show my daughter a good work ethic. It’s hard to say how much time I set aside for each. I really put my all into everything that has my name on it because I love to watch the growth of everything, including my daughter and my family.


This Woman’s Plan to Improve the Quality of Life for Dialysis Patients

Due to high rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, blacks and African Americans have an increased risk of developing kidney failure, according to  As a result, also reports African Americans represent more than 35% of all patients in the United States receiving dialysis for kidney failure. When your kidneys fail the treatment is dialysis to remove waste, salt, and extra water to prevent it from building up in the body.

In honor of National Diabetes Month, we caught up with Eboni Gee—a wife, mom, registered nurse, and woman on a mission to help dialysis patients and their families discover a new normal for their lives. As co-founder of Living With a Purpose, a consulting business and wellness platform, she provides wellness workshops and dialysis classes focused on techniques for organizing medication and doctors’ appointments, controlling fluid intakes, and protecting your bones and heart while mentally handling a life-changing diagnosis.



Why did you decide to expand your nursing career into entrepreneurial waters?

Living With a Purpose was born out of an awakening. When I first started working with dialysis patients, I noticed I enjoyed helping people see past where they were at the present moment to where they could be. As time went on, it became clear that dialysis patients and their families needed the individualized education and support to decrease their stress and anxiety while maximizing their ability to advocate for themselves.

What’s a common misconception people have about dialysis treatment?

Many people think their kidney function will return. While this might be the case for someone with an acute kidney failure diagnosis, most end-stage renal disease diagnosis is irreversible.

When it comes to diabetes prevention, how can we take better care of ourselves?

  • Practice healthy habits and routines as well as a healthy mindset. Stress creates damage in our bodies and can cause hypertension.
  • Exercise and move our bodies on a regular basis.
  • Pay attention to what you’re eating. Food portions are two to three times what they should be. Ask for only half the meal to be served or eat half and box up the rest.

What resources are available for patients and their families? 

  • Our website provides holistic support and solutions.
  • Kidney Grub has recipes specifically for people with kidney disease. Of course, everyone still has to follow a diet that works for them.
  • The Kidney Connection Podcast covers kidney health and dialysis wellness.

Psychologist Dr. Samantha on Overcoming Our ‘Internal Self-Image Problems’

Psychologist Dr. Samantha Madhosingh is the founder and CEO of ElevateHER, an organization serving women leaders by providing key strategies to rewire their brains, achieve mindset mastery, maximize communication and relationships, and ultimately create a legacy of lasting wealth.

Her cutting-edge, proprietary system is built on principles of neuroscience, human potential, positive psychology, cognitive therapy, leadership, and coaching to deliver fast, life-changing results.


(Dr. Samantha Madhosingh. Image: Jin Kim, Jin Kim Studio, Dallas)


A frequent media contributor and sought-after expert for both local and national media, “Dr. Samantha” as she is known, has appeared on broadcast TV and is the author of the books Strike it Happy! 101 Reflections to Revolutionize Your Life; the Strike it Happy! journal; and Magnify Your Brilliance: 5 Keys to a Powerful Life.

Black Enterprise caught up with Dr. Samantha to discuss neuroscience and human potential.


You’re a brain expert. Explain.

I’ve studied—quite extensively—about how the brain and mind work, as well as how each impact and influence behavior. I am also keenly interested in the mechanisms and processes of the brain that explain how and why people think and behave the way they do.

When you truly understand that the brain’s purpose, from both an evolutionary and biological perspective, is to keep you alive and safe, understanding why people behave the way they do is much easier. Our brain is conditioned by our interactions with everything and everyone in our environment. About 90% of our brain’s processing is unconscious and is influencing our actions without us even thinking about it. We develop biases and preferences because of who and what the brain thinks is safe. I teach my clients how their brain’s conditioning has led to their current biases, beliefs, and behavior patterns; how to unlearn the old conditioning; and how to prime their brain intentionally for what they want to achieve, how they want to be, and act.


What’s the connection between the brain and the study of metaphysics?

We create our reality by the meaning our brain forms from our experiences and the words we attach to them. It is from this narrative that our individual “stories” are created, and that we exist in life. Reality, then, is our brain’s interpretation of our physical experience. The very nature of our being is deeply spiritual and energetic, and yet even this is processed by our brain.


What critical factors do you think keep most people from reaching their true potential?

Most people have an internal self-image problem: Their deeply held beliefs about who they are and what they are capable of get in the way. This is the result of all the conditioning (and we all have been conditioned) they have received over the years. These internal limits, the point where their brain says, “This is what you deserve,” or “This is all you are capable of” function as sabotage, and in some way help them to “restore” balance. In other words, it helps them to maintain the status quo and allows the brain to rationalize that it is safe.


Share a challenge that you were able to overcome with your own brain—and an opportunity that you were able to harness by leveraging its power.

The biggest challenge I have had, and continue to have, is a depressed brain. At various periods in my life, I have succumbed to the damaging wiring and “lies” that my brain and mind have offered. Nevertheless, I have also learned how to create new neuropathways.  With lots of daily practice, I am able to prevent my brain from sliding me into deep darkness. If I listened to my depressed brain, I would not be a speaker, psychologist, writer, or mentor; because I would believe that I have nothing to offer. My own personal growth work is ongoing because our brains are like radars and are always seeking validating evidence for confirmation. The work I do both with my clients and personally continues to strengthen this muscle.


What’s your best advice to someone struggling with becoming their best self?

Get curious about your brain’s conditioning and pay closer attention to your thoughts and beliefs. If the language you are constantly using to describe yourself, your life, your work, your impact, your career is negative—then you will keep struggling. Reframe it. Focus on falling in love with and accepting who you are right now, even as you grow and evolve. You are beautifully perfect in all your imperfections. Stop focusing on what you perceive as “wrong” and start using all your gifts and strengths to your advantage.


Jay Ellis Named 2018 Ambassador for American Black Film Festival

Jay Ellis 2018 ABFF Ambassador

Actor Jay Ellis, best known for his role on HBO’s Insecure, has been named the 2018 celebrity ambassador for the American Black Film Festival, which was launched by Jeff Friday over two decades ago.




“Jeff’s vision for ABFF and his continued passion to create a platform for storytellers and content creators of color has been inspiring to me and many others,” Ellis said in a press release. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of building on the mission of ABFF.”

The festival returns to Miami next spring for its 22nd year, June 13 to June 18. Recognized as one of the leading film festivals in the world, ABFF is dedicated to fostering talent of African descent—both in front of and behind the camera.

“Diversity and equal opportunity for people of color are just some of ABFF’s main goals for film and television,” Ellis elaborated, in a statement on Instagram. “It’s a platform with a mission to keep moving forward.”

“We are delighted to welcome Jay Ellis to the ABFF family. His commitment to new and diverse stories embodies the mission of this festival,” said Jeff Friday, CEO of ABFF Ventures, in a press release.

In addition to his role as Lawrence on the critically acclaimed Insecure, which screened at ABFF this year, Ellis has a number of impressive acting credits. He starred as Bryce “Blue” Westbrook on the hit BET series The Game and had roles on Masters of Sex, Grace and Frankie, How I Met Your Mother, Grey’s Anatomy, and NCIS.

Ellis is currently on location in Cape Town, South Africa, filming Sony Pictures’ The Maze, for the big screen with producer Neal Moritz. He recently wrapped production on the indie film A Boy. A Girl. A Dream: Love on Election Night, co-starring Omari Hardwick and Meagan Good and directed by Qasim Basir.

“Jay’s career trajectory exemplifies the importance of supporting and uplifting our own. We feel very fortunate to have him as our 2018 ambassador and are excited about what his participation will bring to our event.”