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).

 

Voter Suppression Tactics Prove Many Fear the Power of the Black Vote in 2020

A voice that cannot be ignored is the one that goes to the polls and casts a ballot. For generations now, the white majority has put into place mechanisms to suppress the black vote. Some of these laws are just now being repealed—for instance, in Florida, felons have been given back the right to vote.

Georgia also has barriers in place to suppress the black vote. Many polling places in black communities were shut down prematurely or suffered from voting machines that broke down or weren’t working.

What Do The Numbers Say?

Despite these voter suppression efforts, according to Bold Blue Campaigns, a polling and campaign strategy company in Georgia, there was a significant increase in black turnout for the midterm elections.

Whites historically have shown up in the largest numbers of any group voting. Across the board, there was a higher turnout of voters for the 2018 midterm elections: 2.3 million black 18-to 29-year-olds voted; up from 1.6 million in 2014. Georgia, a significant swing state in the upcoming 2020 elections, saw a 63% increase of black voters, which just slightly outpaced the white voter increase of 56%.

Still, white voters were still the majority at the polls. Just think about it for a moment. If black voters cast ballots at the same percentage as white voters in 2020, what kind of power could the black vote wield?

Georgia, Florida, and Texas are Battleground States in 2020

2020 is going to be a crucial year for voting. The strength of the black community comes from the number of registered voters that utilize the power to vote. This was evident in places such as Georgia where some were so afraid of the black community coming out to vote, that they brazenly closed polling locations and made it as difficult to vote as possible.

States including Georgia, Florida, and Texas can turn blue, but this requires not just registering to vote but actually showing up and casting a ballot. Change doesn’t happen unless votes are cast, and power is never surrendered without a struggle.

2020 is not that far off, it is vital that community leaders unite and create not only opportunities to register more voters, but to assist in getting everyone that wants to vote to the polls to cast that all important vote. Staying ahead of the game is the only way to gain on the political playing field.


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.

The post Voter Suppression Tactics Prove Many Fear the Power of the Black Vote in 2020 appeared first on Black Enterprise.

20 Must-Listen to Black Women Podcasts for 2019

Podcasting is a big business and one that is expected to keep growing. According to Podcast Insights, there are currently over 660,000 podcasts and over 28 million episodes as of last month. Convince&Convert states podcast listening by women has increased 14% in one year. Yet, podcasting remains a genre mostly used and created by white people. In fact, The Columbia Journalism Review asked recently, “Why are #PodcastsSoWhite?” Even major podcast platforms including Spotify and Google are holding competitions in an effort to increase podcast diversity. There is anecdotal evidence, though, that more black people–and black women in particular–are turning to podcasting as a way to amplify their voices. With that in mind, here is a round-up of 20 podcasts by black women that are sure to inspire, spark joy, and give you a few giggles.

20 Must-Listen to Black Women Podcasts for 2019

1. Affirm 

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

This biweekly mental health podcast is for women of color who seek wholeness through affirming their worth and placing value on their mental health.

2. Balanced Black Girl

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

This self-care podcast hosted by Lestraundra Alfred is known for providing a dose of real-life wellness for women of color. She often has guests on who have candid discussions surrounding healthy lifestyle and happiness.

3. Black Girl Podcast

Having met at radio station Hot 97, hosts Scottie Beam, Gia Peppers, Sapphira, Bex, and Alysha P come together for giggle-worthy conversation on the topics of sisterhood, pop culture, love, dreams, and growth.

4. Black Women About Business

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

This entrepreneurial podcast, hosted by Demarra Gardner, MA, LPC, CAC, is fairly new to the scene, beginning in November of 2018. All episodes are under 20 minutes in length and deliver information to support black females to “intersect business, leadership, and wellness.”

5. Clever Girls Know

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

Hosted by Bola Sokunbi, this podcast is a platform for financial education that assists women to get out of debt, save, and build their wealth. If you’re looking to improve, maintain or build upon your wealth, this one is for you.

6. Courtney Sanders Show 

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

On The Courtney Sanders Show (formally known as The Think and Grow Chick Podcast), host Courtney dives into entrepreneurship, finances, spirituality, and personal growth topics that are sure to kick you in the butt to chase your goals.

7. Gettin’ Grown

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

Hosts Keia and Jade are two happy and whole 30-somethings figuring their adult lives out. On a weekly basis, they discuss all things regarding black women self-care and pet peeves sure to give the listening audience a chuckle.

8. Halfway Bougie

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

In this podcast, hosts Perri Furbert and Courtney Roberts promise to keep it “halfway bougie and all the way real.” Touching on all things pop culture, the two Millennials mix personal stories with real world problems, sparking reflection, and lots of head nods.

9. Happy Black Woman Podcast

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

If you’re an ambitious black woman who wants to have her cake and eat it too, this is the podcast for you. Host Rosetta Thurman empowers women to have it all in this personal development podcast through interviews with powerful black women who’ve created lives of happiness and freedom for themselves.

10. H.E.R. Space: Uplifting Conversations for The Black Woman

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

The H.E.R. in H.E.R space stands for healing, empowerment and resilience. In this podcast hosts Terri Lomax and Dr. Dominique Broussard are the catalysts for meaningful conversations, discussing everything from “fibroids to fake friends.”

11. Introverted Black Girl Podcast

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

This podcast touches on society biases and pop culture in a relatable way. The host of the Introverted Black Girl Podcast, who is set to reveal her identity this Spring, shares stories of her day-to-day experiences as a black introverted girl in a world that seems to be rigged for extroverts.

12. Jesus & Jollof

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

Hosted by Luvvie Ajayi and Yvonne Oriji, this lifestyle podcast is a random mix of talk on life happenings, success, food, and all things the hosts love. In a nutshell, it’s two Nigerian goddesses chatting it up for listener entertainment.

13. Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

This inspirational podcast’s aim is to assist listeners to “awaken, discover, and connect” to the world around them. Oprah has personally chosen the audio of interviews she has conducted with some of the world’s top movers and shakers in an effort to guide all who listen to be the best version of themselves.

14. Rants & Randomness

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

Luvvie Ajayi is known for being a NYT best-selling author and blogger at AwesomelyLuvvie.com, but she prefers to call herself a side-eye sorceress and professional troublemaker. In this hilarious podcast Luvvie rants about society and all things pop culture. Her Jan 7 episode entitled “Do Better: Social Media Etiquette” is a must-listen for all.

15. She’s Got Drive

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

This podcast, hosted by Shirley McAlpine (business consultant and executive coach) asks black women what empowers them. McAlpine strives to dive deeply into the source of guests’ success, finding how they overcame obstacles and pulling out tools and strategies that listeners can apply.

16. Side Hustle Pro

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

This entrepreneurship podcast hosted by Nicaila Matthews Okome shines the spotlight on black females who have scaled their side hustles to profitable, established businesses in an effort to assist listeners to learn actionable strategies they can apply in the infancy stages of their business.

17. Spiritpreneur School: Spiritual Business for Entrepreneurs

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

The host of this podcast, Abiola Abrams, is an empowerment superstar and author whose mission is to assist heart-based entrepreneurs succeed. She touches on all things law-of-attraction and healing to build soul-fulfilled, thriving businesses.

18. The Broomstick Podcast

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

The Broomstick Podcast hosted by Natalie Edwards shares all things weddings and marriages for women of color. If you’re getting married soon, or feel the time is near, this is a great listen to get you prepped for your walk down the aisle.

19. The Glow Up Podcast

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

This podcast hosted by Lené Hypolite is the success antidote for women. The Glow Up Podcast shares stories and takeaways to assist listeners to glow up in their career, finances and personal life.

20. Therapy for Black Girls

Black Women Podcasts for 2019

As a licensed psychologist in Atlanta, Joy Harden Bradford, PhD, provides a weekly share session on all things mental health and personal development. Dr. Bradford touches on the latest mental health news and trends, as well as provides practical tips and answers listener questions.


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

The post 20 Must-Listen to Black Women Podcasts for 2019 appeared first on Black Enterprise.

The Black Woman Who Helped Turn Trap Music Into A Museum

When T.I.’s manager and business partner Douglas Peterson first contacted music video producer Antwanette McLaughlin to present her with an idea for a pop-up experience, she had no clue what he was talking about. His plan was to convert an abandoned shack on the west side of Atlanta into “Escape the Trap,” a combination maze, cryptic codes, brain teasers, and riddles that visitors would have to decode in a 30-minute time frame.

McLaughlin remembers that conference call being mass confusion: A bunch of men on a speakerphone trying to scream out different ideas all at once. She took on the project despite still not knowing what the outcome would be. “The conversation was nurtured because I didn’t get it,” McLaughlin told BLACK ENTERPRISE.

“We ended up meeting. It took about a week or two for us to flush out the concept for me to understand it and see it. I couldn’t see it in my brain at first then finally as we kept talking, I could see it.”

trap music

Antwanette McLaughlin

Trap Music Museum

McLaughlin is the creative director and founder of her own boutique production company, The Spice Group, which co-curated the Trap Music Museum, along with T.I., visual artist D.L. Warfield, and Peterson. She, along with a team of 30-50 people, re-purposed an old warehouse in The Bluff, a crime-ridden, low-income community on Atlanta’s west side, into three-dimensional, interactive installations that bring the eerie-sounding hip-hop subgenre and its grim subject matter popularized by T.I., Jeezy, Gucci Mane, Migos, Pusha T, and Rick Ross to life.

Opened in October 2018, the Trap Music Museum is now one of Atlanta’s high volume, cutting-edge tourist attractions. The Trap Music Museum’s interior starts with a mock corner store that transitions into a living room decorated with plastic-covered furniture adorned with  framed child portraits of some of the subgenre’s more popular acts. The main area includes a large foam snowman, a pink big-bodied Chevrolet Caprice Classic, banners etched with codes of the streets, mugshots, oil paintings of rappers, and mini-shrines dedicated to the rappers. The Trap Music Museum was fully assembled and designed in two months. There are plans to turn the destination into a traveling exhibition across the U.S.

[WATCH: THE TRAP MUSIC MUSEUM]


Motel 21

McLaughlin was also the chief creative strategist behind the Motel 21 activation to promote Grammy-nominated chart topper 21 Savage’s sophomore album I Am>I Was. She, and a crew of 50-75 people, (11 on her core team who are all women) took a week to turn a seedy motel in Decatur, Georgia, into a series of pop-up rooms that graphically depict and capture I Am>I Was track listing.

Bringing 21 Savage’s vision to life came from McLaughlin sitting in on many of the “Bank Account” rapper’s recording sessions. She paid close attention to his body language along with the vibe and the energy in the room. For McLaughlin, her creative process always starts by giving the artists her full undivided attention.

“I catch what I can catch like a reporter and make notes; then go back to their team and ask if they like it or not,” the Clark Atlanta University alumna said. “Every client is different. A lot of artists are reserved, and they don’t speak unless it’s time to be spoken to or they don’t say anything if everything is right. They will speak if they have a specific thing that they want to share. Some artists have something to say the whole way through. If they were all the same, it wouldn’t be fun.”

trap music

Motel 21, an interactive pop up in Decatur, Georgia.

Breathing Life Into A Vision

The Spice Group specializes in music video production, short-form visual content and commercial photography. For the last nine years, the detail-oriented businesswoman has been able to oversee video concepts for T.I., Meek Mill, Young Thug, Migos, Lil’ Uzi Vert, Dej Loaf, Big K.R.I.T., 2 Chainz, Future, and T-Pain. Despite her highly sought-after vision, McLaughlin was seeking to produce more ambitious projects. Her goal, she says, was to produce and curate festivals, concerts, and live events.

Now, because music is primarily accessed and consumed via streaming platforms and social media, McLaughlin believes activations such as the Trap Music Museum and Motel 21 are great vehicles for popular acts to connect with younger audiences.

“Young people don’t connect unless they can see it or touch it,” she said. “They’re not going to go the long route of Googling, researching, and reading articles. They want to look at a picture, touch it, talk about it, or insert themselves into it. You touch millions of people that way per se rather than having something uploaded online.”

Peterson remembers McLaughlin’s temperament to execute the vision. “[Antwanette’s] a genius,” he said. “In our eyes, it was a lot of arguing, fussing, and fighting, but at the end of the day, it was for the culture. When it was all said and done, we all created something that we could all be proud of. It’s something everybody will enjoy. It’s dope.”

Trap Music Museum

The Trap Music Museum and Escape Room in Atlanta

McLaughlin cut her teeth in entertainment as a professional dancer and choreographer. The former dance talent spent time in Los Angeles, performing with Jagged Edge, Ying Yang Twins, Outkast, Nelly, Fat Joe and Jennifer Lopez. She originally set her sights on Broadway, but says the theatre community wanted a token black girl who could sing, dance and act. Dance was McLaughlin’s passion, but she also noticed the lack of women of color in executive roles in theatre.

The creative made the conscious decision to quit dancing to become a music executive. Too often, she would overhear artists, managers, and label executives at rehearsals chatting about the artists’ performances, set designs, and tour schedules. McLaughlin felt the suits’ observations always missed the mark. “All of them were saying the wrong stuff,” she recalls.

“Every time I would hear them, I knew how to fix every problem. I knew my voice was bigger, and my voice couldn’t be heard just being a dancer all the time.” By the time McLaughlin pivoted deeper into the music business, she was living in Las Vegas, working with Celine Dion, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, and Mariah Carey. While at Interscope Records, she handled artist development for Keri Hilson, Mario, and Rich Boy. Following her stint as creative director and executive assistant to Grammy-winning singer/songwriter The-Dream, she started The Spice Group in 2010.

Managing a successful business always poses new challenges to McLaughlin. She emphasizes how good she is at articulating details to her staff, though, she says it gets on their nerves. She uses numerous pictures, collages, boards, and descriptions to illustrate her plans. If McLaughlin coaches someone, she considers herself “a good teacher.”

Trap Music

Antwanette McLaughlin inside the Trap Music Museum (Photo Credit: The Yes Life)

“I know exactly what I want,” the organized boss said. “When it’s not done right, I’m very adamant about showing you. I teach and explain very well. I do that as much as I can until we get busy. Because when it gets busy, there’s no time to talk.”

She continues, “When we’re not busy, I’m always feeding information. If I see anything wrong, I point out that’s not right. If you put it in your head to get it right the first time, then you’ll be fine.”

McLaughlin is proud to be a black, female business owner exposing audiences to art and museum culture. She’s aware that trap music’s graphic, vulgar subject matter may be a problem to some critics, but says trap music’s lyrical content may be what will encourage people to appreciate a new form of high-brow art.

“There are all kinds of stuff is in the world that I don’t necessarily agree with but it’s interesting,” McLaughlin said. “You learn something from it. We’re getting people to come see art. People come in here who have never been to an art show. That’s beauty. If you don’t bring anything to the community, then they won’t know that they can do something else outside of the community. That’s what we do: take a seed and make it blossom.”

 


Editor’s Note: The headline and the body of this article were updated on March 18, 2019, to reflect that The Trap Music Museum and Escape Room was co-curated by Antwanette McLaughlin’s company, The Spice Group, along with T.I., visual artist D.L. Warfield, and Douglas Peterson.

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Google is Once Again Looking for Podcasters and Creators of Color for 2019

The Google Podcasts Creator Program, run by PRX, is back and is looking for its next round of participants. The program provides 20 weeks of training and mentorship as well as seed funding to promising podcasters with the aim of promoting underrepresented voices throughout the industry and around the world.

Catalina May and Martín Cruz, the team behind Las Raras (The Outsiders), are independent podcasters based in Santiago, Chile. They are one of the six teams participating in the first round of the program. Their training began in January 2019 with a week-long intensive bootcamp at the PRX Podcast Garage in Boston, and will culminate in a final showcase on June 19.

“At the PRX Podcast Garage, we met amazing trainers and the five other teams in the program,” stated the Las Raras team. “It was a dream to talk about podcasting for 12 hours a day with a diverse group of people who share our passion.”

Other podcasts accepted into the program included AfroQueer, a podcast that sets out to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ people’s lives in a place where homosexuality is illegal, Long Distance which tells stories from the Filipino diaspora; The Colored Girl Beautiful which reflects on modern beauty standards; Timestorm introduces children to Puerto Rican history, and “Who Taught You How to Drive?!”, a [odcast that talks about car culture and road rage.

Las Raras,” was inspired by the first season of Serial. As a journalist and a sound engineer, the team understood the influence that podcasts could have on their culture. “This intimate medium is perfect for telling stories of people who are frequently overlooked, stories of people challenging norms, and stories of people defying the status quo.”

The Google Podcasts creator program has sense assisted all of the teams in bringing their goals to fruition by helping to increase the diversity of voices in the podcasting industry.

Applications for the next round are currently open and will be accepted until 11:59pm ET, Sunday, April 14.

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The Importance of Meditation: How to Stay Calm at Work

Having one of those days when you’re buried in paperwork while your boss piles on a list of unrealistic demands and a difficult co-worker manages to get on your very last nerve? If so, then it may be time for you to step away from your desk and take some time to meditate.

We’ve all had tough days like this while working on the clock. However, we don’t always deal with the stress of challenging situations and people at work in a healthy way. That’s why Black Enterprise invited entrepreneur, wellness expert, and author Quentin Vennie to stop by our office in New York City to share advice on how and why we must meditate.

Stay Calm at Work

Vennie explained why it’s imperative for everyone, especially working professionals, to give themselves a mental break and practice mindfulness.

“So often throughout the day we’re faced with so much adversity, so many things, so much stress, [and] we’re trying to multitask,” he said. “Sometimes I think it’s important to just take yourself outside of that. Focus your attention on one thing and move forward from that point.”

In a nutshell, here is why Vennie says mindfulness is crucial for success:

  • We are what we think
  • You can’t be faithful and fearful at the same time
  • Focus on what you want to accomplish
  • Gratitude is the best mechanism to defeat depression

Vennie also talked about using meditation as a tool to overcome affliction. Watch the full interview below.

 

Overcoming It All

Vennie, who says meditation has personally helped him overcome drug addiction and severe depression, was also recognized as a 2017 BE Modern Man of Distinction, where he shared his story. Here’s an excerpt:

I was born and raised in a single-parent household on the west side of Baltimore. My father was a heroin addict, and by the time I was 12 I had been shot at and spent more time visiting prisons than most of the people I was close to. Despite spending a lot of time in my old neighborhood in West Baltimore, I went to predominantly white schools in the suburbs of Baltimore County. I experienced racism, discrimination, prejudice, you name it. I was diagnosed with acute anxiety and mild depression when I was 14, and then diagnosed with severe generalized anxiety and panic disorder, and mild to severe major depressive disorder, at 26. I endured a two-year addiction to my anxiety medication, survived an accidental overdose and two failed suicide attempts, but was fortunate to discover a wellness system that saved my life (yoga, meditation, and fruit/vegetable juicing). Not only did it help me get off all medications, but it also made my anxiety and depression easier to manage.

 

I started telling my story of my battles with anxiety, depression, and addiction in 2012 when I first started my journey into sobriety, and on May 30th of this year, my first book, Strong in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Addiction and Redemption Through Wellness was published in the U.S. and Canada, and published in Australia and the U.K. on July 1st. I was able to successfully turn my trial into a triumph that has positively impacted people worldwide.

Now, it’s time for you to meditate with us! Follow along with this 14-minute meditation session guided by Quentin below.

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3 Healthy Business Lunch Ideas

You’ve been on point with your workout routing. You’ve been prepping your own healthy lunches and dinners. You are all set to lose those extra pounds gained this winter. Then, you get invited to a business lunch (or dinner, or networking event). You don’t want to be that person who everyone at the table side-eyes for asking too many questions about how a dish is prepared, and you don’t want to make your fellow diners feel awkward by eating too little Here are three tips to make a business lunch healthy.

How to Have a Healthy Business Lunch

Cut Down on the Liquor

Studies have linked moderate consumption of alcoholic drinks–especially mixed cocktails–to weight gain. Most of this is due to the calorie content of sugary mixes and juices added to cocktails. For example, one margarita can have more than 150 calories, compared with a white wine spritzer, which has less than 100.

If you just can’t get through that lunch or dinner without a stronger spirit, experts recommend nixing the chasers altogether and going with a top-shelf option on the rocks. For example, an ounce of 80-proof vodka, gin, rum, or scotch contains 64 calories and the same amount in 100 proof varieties has 80 calories. The average neat cocktail contains 1.5 ounces of liquor, so you’re still keeping the calories lower than if you’d gotten that Bloody Mary or Long Island Iced Tea.

Look Up Menu Options and Plan Ahead

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends researching the meal options at restaurants and checking online menus if available for nutrition information before a business lunch. If you’re being invited to a business dinner or lunch, request a particular restaurant that has a diversity of healthy options.

If you’re at a conference, nutrition buffs recommend skipping the donuts and muffins and going for fresh fruit or juices. You can also ask if vegetarian or non-meat options are available.

If All Else Fails, Doggy-bag Half Your Meal

We know; this can seem like an obnoxious and annoying request, but some restaurants will oblige a request for a doggy-bag. If you can discretely ask a server to take half your meal from the start and put it aside for taking home, do it. If that’s not a possibility–or you just cringe at the thought–the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests visualizing how your portion should be and eating accordingly.

 

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10 Common Health Issues Entrepreneurs Face

There are many perks of being the head honcho, but the toll of pursuing success in entrepreneurship can also be enormous if you don’t protect your biggest asset: your well-being. Below are 10 common health issues entrepreneurs face:

1. Depression: In a recent landmark study by Dr. Michael Freeman, a clinical professor at UCSF and entrepreneur, 49% of the more than 240 entrepreneurs surveyed reported having a mental-health condition, with depression as the No. 1 reported condition among them.

2. Anxiety: Dr. Freeman’s study also indicated that 27% of entrepreneurs surveyed indicated issues with anxiety. That’s more than the whole U.S. population, (at a rate of 18.1%.)

3. Addiction: Recent research has found that habitual entrepreneurs display symptoms of behavioral addiction similar to other traditional behavioral addictions, such as gambling or internet usage. Symptoms can include obsessive thoughts and sometimes there are negative emotional outcomes such as guilt, high levels of strain, and abuse of foods, alcohol or even drugs.

4. Hypertension/Heart Disease: It’s no secret that being responsible for the financial prosperity of others as well as the overall success of a business can be quite stressful. High stress has been shown to temporarily heighten blood pressure and can trigger habits such as unhealthy eating which can lead to heart disease.

5. Lack of Health Insurance: A recent Gallup-Healthways analysis conducted for The New York Times found entrepreneurs are less likely to have health insurance, with solopreneurs in particular often have to choose between covering everyday necessities vs. paying high monthly insurance premiums.

6. Joint and Circulation Challenges: Entrepreneurs have been found to work 63% longer than the average worker, and many spend a lot of that time at a desk, behind a computer or on their smartphones: a welcome environment for circulation and joint challenges.

7. Sleeping Disorders: With a large percentage of founders working at least 52 hours per week (with some even working a whopping 70 hours), there’s not much time left for sleep. Experts recommend 6 to 8 hours of sleep a day, but entrepreneurs working long hours are getting more like 4 to 6 hours. Also issues like insomnia and jet lag are common with busy CEOs.

8. Vision-Related Problems: The average adult spends 11 hours per day on gadgets, and entrepreneurs are more than attached to their smartphones, laptops and computers. And there actually is a such thing as computer vision syndrome, also referred to as digital eye strain.

9. Migraines: Of course, being an entrepreneur doesn’t directly cause migraines, however, many of the triggers for them have been found to be a weekly norm for ambitious startup stars.

10. Sexual Health: Stress, anxiety and depression have all been linked to issues such as erectile dysfunction and hormone suppression in women. They can also have an opposite effect, leading to unsafe sexual behavior which can lead to risk for STDs.

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Could Tami Sawyer Become The First Female Memphis Mayor?

It’s official! Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer announced that she is running to become the next mayor in Memphis. This election will put the 36-year-old Memphis activist on track to become the first female Memphis mayor.

 

“I’m running for mayor because we haven’t been heard. We haven’t been valued. We haven’t been included. The city is moving along on a wave that ignores us,” says Commissioner Sawyer. “I want to get in and broaden the opportunity for not just black people but people who come from low-income backgrounds and marginalized communities. Here in Memphis, we’re facing so many urgent indicators, such as economic inequity, that say the time is now for someone to step up and be aggressive about this type of change.

memphis mayor

(Photo: Wiley Brown, Contempo Studios)

Sawyer’s campaign slogan, “We Can’t Wait,” emphasizes the need to defy great odds and be a community that shows up for each other. “We can’t wait to invest in our schools. We can’t wait for incarcerated people to return home and feel valued and become a vibrant part of our community. We can’t wait for economic opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

While many Memphians have flocked to other cities in search of better opportunities, Sawyer is committed to making a mark in the town that she calls home. “Memphis is everything that made me the person that I am. Whether it’s the hip-hop or BBQ or being ‘quick-witted,’ Memphis is about the culture and the people.” Sawyer has taken a stand for many people as a community activist and managing director of external affairs at Teach for America – Memphis. Most recently, she founded the #TakeEmDown901 campaign, which made national news for the successful removal of Confederate statues from Memphis parks.

As Memphis celebrates its’ 200th birthday, Sawyer says she brings a vibrancy and authenticity to the campaign that will allow her to redefine the narrative of Memphis.

Sawyer, once voted most likely to be Judge Judy in her high school yearbook, is making her classmates proud by standing up and taking action in a city that serves a predominantly African American population. “Stacey Abrams opened a door for me. I don’t know her personally but watching her lead her campaign so bravely empowered me in a short period,” says Sawyer as she reflects on what being on track to become the first female mayor in Memphis means to her.

“I grew up with Carol Mosley Braun being the first black female senator. I grew up looking at black women break ceilings. The fact that we still have a ceiling to break means that I’m not just going to break this ceiling, but I’m going to open the door for so many girls of all identities to say that ‘I can do that, too.’”


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

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27-Year-Old Co-Founds Children’s Urgent Care Center in Birmingham

She may be the youngest healthcare administrator in the country. 27-year-old Tiffany Alexander is the co-founder of Pediatrics PM—a pediatric urgent care center in Birmingham, Alabama, reports The Birmingham Times. The facility had its grand opening on March 8, according to a Facebook post by Alexander.

Also listed as the facility’s administrator on the National Provider Identifier Database, Alexander co-founded the clinic which provides after-hours pediatric care.

“I knew I wanted to leave a legacy [after retirement],” Alexander told The Birmingham Times. “In my mind, it was something that could live on forever. It wasn’t conventional health care, it was something different, something out of the box, something we could one day franchise, that could have multiple locations, and reach the entire state.

Alexander also spent several years as an administrator at the University of Alabama. During that time, she managed day-to-day operations of the facility and its associated labs. She was also responsible for the budget and grant funding. She came up with the idea for the pediatric clinic while working at the University of Alabama.

According to the website, Pediatrics PM has a chief medical officer, a medical director, and four physicians. It offers services including urgent care, flu vaccines, and x-rays and lab testing.

Alabama has received national attention for some of the health challenges throughout the state. It consistently ranks as one of the most obese states; has the second highest percentage of people with hypertension; and the third highest rate of people with diabetes.

Recently, the state saw record numbers of children infected with the flu in emergency rooms.

With such alarming statistics, it would seem that Alexander is providing a very important service to her community.

I’ve been fortunate and very blessed, so I’ve always wanted to give back,” said Alexander to The Birmingham Times. “All the things I do go back into community engagement, … go back into giving people the opportunities I’ve been given.”

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Detroit Couple Builds Chitlin’-Cleaning Empire

Bruce and Cynthia Tucker built a successful business around one of the oldest and most fundamental components of soul food: chitterlings, or chitlins as they are more commonly called.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the Tuckers are the owners and operators of Gourmet Food Center in Detroit which specializes in hand-cleaned chitterlings.

Cynthia got the idea as she prepared to cook dinner for her family. “I was getting ready to have the family over for dinner, so I was going to be cleaning 40 pounds of chitlins, and while I was cleaning these chitlins I thought to myself, boy, this is a lot of work. I need to be getting paid for this,” she told The Detroit Free Press. 

chitlin

The Tuckers (chitterlingcleaners.com)

The Gourmet Food Center is a 5,000-square-foot facility in the Eastern Market district, where “well trained, experienced and health-conscious food handlers clean the Chitterlings under strict Gourmet Food Center guidelines, preparing packaged, fresh and ready to cook Chitterlings,” as posted on its website.

chitlin

(Facebook)

Chitterlings, which are pig intestines, are notoriously difficult to clean and are known for their rather pungent odor when cooked, even after cleaning. A true American staple, chitterlings were consumed by black people during slavery, although many cultures around the world eat the intestines and other internal organs of animals. What’s Cooking America provides some insightful history on chitterlings:

In colonial times, hogs were slaughtered in December, and hog maws or ears, pigs feet, and neck bones were given to the slaves. Until emancipation, African-American food choices were restricted by the dictates of their owners, and slave owners often fed their slaves little more than the scraps of animal meat that the owners deemed unacceptable for themselves. Because of the West African tradition of cooking all edible parts of plants and animals, these foods helped the slaves survive in the United States.

The site also states that the business has been in operation for 29 years. There are three locations on both the East and West sides of Detroit. The couple says they clean more than 100 tons of chitterlings a year, and that their facility is the “largest Hand Cleaned Chitlin Cleaning Facility in the United States.”

The store’s motto, as per the website, is, ‘We clean the s**t out of chitlins!”

In addition to the stores, the business offers online ordering where customers can purchase cleaned chitterlings, hog maws, honey-glazed ham, and other soul food staples.

 

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