Ensuring Those Who Can’t Hire a Private Lawyer Have The Best Public Defender

For more than a decade, Ilham Askia has embraced an audacious mission: To ensure that those most prone to incarceration – young, indigent citizens of color – gain the best defense. As co-founder and Executive Director of Atlanta-based Gideon’s Promise, the former schoolteacher has sought to reform the culture of the criminal justice system by transforming public defenders from dispirited cogs cutting plea deals that have made courts “turnstiles to prison” to zealous advocates who relentlessly fight for their clients’ freedom.

“Right now, the criminal justice system really has a way of processing people through instead of allowing [them] to actually get their constitutional right to have a good, quality public defender,” she told Black Enterprise. “Gideon’s Promise works with public defenders, slowing down that system of processing and talking about the humanity of people who are accused.”

Reforming the Public Defenders System 

Gideon’s Promise was launched in 2007 as a nonprofit to provide strategic training to public defenders while changing their mindsets about clients who can’t afford to hire their own attorneys. The organization was the brainchild of Ashia’s husband Jonathan Rapping, the former Training Director for the District of Columbia’s Public Defender Service who was recruited by the Georgia Public Standards Council to design and run development programs for staff across the state.

After his first visit in court, Askia said Rapping was galled by the frequent occurrence of constitutional violations. For example, he witnessed lawyers not filing motions for dismissal when prosecutors failed to produce evidence to make their cases. In some instances, he was told that public defenders were fearful of angering judges who were focused on clearing their dockets. Recalls Askia: “We came down here to help reform the public defender system in Georgia. After going to Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, and seeing young lawyers who were really passionate about this work quickly get burnt out by the system, we were trying to figure out why. Jon said, ‘They don’t have training and mentorship, and support to stay in this work.’ The next thing he said, ‘Why don’t you take a year off, and help me build this movement of public defenders?’ ”

The couple’s kitchen table conversation ignited the spark to spawn Gideon’s Promise – so named to fulfill the constitutional guarantee mandated by the 1963 landmark Supreme Court ruling in Gideon V. Wainwright that requires states to provide attorneys to defendants in criminal cases if they cannot afford such legal representation.

“Almost Every Man In My Family Has Been In The System” 

Forming the organization was also extremely personal to Askia. “Almost every man in my family has been in the system, whether it’s jail or prison. When I was five, my father was arrested and convicted, and I spent most of my childhood visiting him in Attica. We couldn’t afford a private defense attorney, and a public defender was assigned. That public defender never told the story of the impact of taking the head of our household,” she recalls. “Not that my father was necessarily innocent of everything he was accused of but he at least deserved to have an advocate. I had a distrust for the system. I thought everybody in the criminal justice system were against people that looked like me [or] who came from communities [like mine].”

Today, Askia works with Rapping to make sure others don’t receive the same type of legal neglect. Here’s how the program works: Rapping and Askia has develop a three-year “core program” for attorneys in which they gain training in technical areas such as forensic evidence as well as their approach to litigation, strategy and advocacy. The program also engages in a mentorship component that has help attorneys improve client representation. They also advise public defenders on how to best manager their annual average workload of 250 cases per year. In fact, she says that they have trained public defenders in the entire state of Maryland and Virginia at the senior management level. Moreover, they have aligned with law schools who have increased the pipeline of program participants. In terms of the success of their programs, she says Public defenders offices have retained 86% of Gideon’s Promise graduates and those trained by the program have increased the number of cases resolved in favor of defendants.

Their work has been so groundbreaking in the criminal justice arena that Rapping was named a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Fellow” in 2014.

Building a Sustainable Empire 

More than just a movement, Askia has built Gideon’s Promise into a sustainable enterprise. “Although this is a nonprofit, there are a lot of business philosophies I had to learn and adopt to attract those public defenders to partner with us,” she says. “For funders, it’s really telling a story. We make sure that our donors hear the story from the lawyers and the people that they serve.” As a result, Askia and her team have been in securing financing from sources ranging from the Ford Foundation, Koch Industries and Open Society Institute, developed by billionaire George Soros, to individual donors who may contribute amounts ranging from $100 to five dollar check. “The demand for our service has increased. I am supposed to have doubled in capacity by 2023, ideally is to have Gideon’s Promise Hubs in each quarter of the country. That’s $1.5 million of funding that I have to find additional to what we’ve raised.”

Askia draws upon another personal example to share the impact of Gideon’s promise. One day, she pick up her eight-year-old son. Lucas, from school and brought him to the office. At a local deli, her son was asked by the one of the cooks, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ Lucas said, ‘I want to be a public defender.’ So when my children say that, I’m ready for the negative reaction that most people give us. The guy says, “That’s great, I had a public defender once. I had been in trouble my whole life, and it was the first time that a public defender actually fought for me, and we won.” So I  asked, “Where did this happen?” He said, “Here in Georgia.” His public defender was a lawyer we had just trained the year before. My son got to meet someone who was positively impacted by a lawyer that came through our program, and is now leading an office here in Georgia. That just warmed my heart.”

In the video, find out how Gideon’s Promise seeks to protect the legal rights of citizens regardless of their financial standing.


A core tenet of the Market-Based Management framework developed by Charles G. Koch, CEO of one of the nation’s largest privately held corporations, Principled Entrepreneurship focuses on companies that emphasize value creation, innovation, self-determination, and integrity to drive long-term success while developing products and services to help people improve their lives. As such, we feature Ilham  Askia, co-founder and Executive Director of Gideon’s Promise as our subject in this installment of our special “Profiles of Principled Entrepreneurship” video series.

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Letitia James First Black New York Attorney General is Coming For Trump’s Neck — And His Family

Michael Cohen won’t be the only Trump associate serving time in the pen for breaking the law if it’s up to Letitia James. The incoming New York Attorney General revealed that she plans to ignite a fire under President Donald Trump and anyone in his camp who may have engaged in illegal activity within her jurisdiction once she steps into her new role next month.

“We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well,” she said in an exclusive interview with NBC News. James, who currently serves as New York City’s Public Advocate, became the first African American and the first woman to be elected as attorney general in New York, making her one of many African Americans who scored a historic win during the 2018 Midterm Election. “We want to investigate anyone in his orbit who has, in fact, violated the law,” she added.

The former New York City Councilwoman went on to outline the following probes she intends to pursue regarding the president’s namesake business, the Trump Organization, his campaign headquarters, and the Trump Tower — all of which are based in New York.

  • Any illegalities involving Trump’s real estate holdings in New York, highlighting the October New York Times investigation into the president’s finances.
  • The June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian official.
  • Examine government subsidies Trump received, which were also the subjectof Times investigative work.
  • Whether he is in violation of the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution through his New York businesses.
  • Continue to probe the Trump Foundation.

James is also working on passing a bill that would change New York’s double jeopardy laws so that she could potentially indict someone who allegedly violates New York state law even if they are granted a presidential pardon over federal charges or convictions.

“I think within the first 100 days this bill will be passed,” she said, adding, “It is a priority because I have concerns with respect to the possibility that this administration might pardon some individuals who might face some criminal charges, but I do not want them to be immune from state charges.”

She added, “taking on President Trump and looking at all of the violations of law I think is no match to what I have seen in my lifetime.”

Maxine Waters

Rep. Maxine Waters (Image: Flickr)

James is not the only black woman in office itching to light a fire under Trump. Rep. Maxine Waters, who has led the charge to impeach Trump, is poised to take over the House Financial Services Committee, which would give her the power to subpoena the president. As chair of the powerful banking panel, Waters could target Deutsche Bank for its past dealings with Trump and issue subpoenas to Trump allies, like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, forcing him to provide documentation regarding the president’s alleged ties to Russia.

Kamala Harris

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)(Wikimedia)

Rep. Kamala Harris is another woman who could give Trump a run for his money should she decide to jump into the 2020 presidential race. She told The Hill that she intends to make a decision about whether to run for president in 2020 over the holidays, adding that it will “ultimately be a family decision.”

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GoFundMe for Jazmine Headley, Brooklyn Mother Who had Baby Ripped From Her Arms by Cops, Exceeds $25,000 Goal

A GoFundMe campaign to raise $25,000 for Jazmine Headley, the Brooklyn mother who had her toddler wrestled from her arms by police, exceeded its goal– raising $30,894 in just a day.

In a viral video, the 23-year-old mother holds on desperately to her one-year-old son as police officers forcibly attempt to separate the child from her arms.


The police were called in after Headley refused a request to stop sitting on the floor of a Human Resources Administration facility. She was on the floor, reportedly, because there were no chairs available as she waited for service.

Headley was arrested and spent time on Riker’s Island, but was freed after New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio’s office convinced the Brooklyn District Attorney to drop the charges against her, reports CBS News.

The GoFundMe was started by the Brooklyn Defender Service, the legal team that got Headley out of jail. According to a note posted on the GoFundMe page, the funds will be used to help Headley get back on her feet and also to “help her pay for child care and other expenses, allowing her to get back to the job and life that is waiting for her.”

The incident is the latest in what has become routine acts of police brutality against people of color. In May, a 23-year-old woman was violently arrested at a Waffle House in Alabama, after she refused to pay $0.50 cents for plastic spoons and had requested a corporate phone number to lodge a complaint.

Earlier this year, 22-year-old Stephon Clark was fatally shot by police in his grandmother’s backyard after cops mistook his cellphone for a gun.

And more recently, Jemel Roberson, an armed security guard who apprehended a shooting suspect in a Chicago bar, was mistakenly shot dead by police who thought he was the perpetrator.





The post GoFundMe for Jazmine Headley, Brooklyn Mother Who had Baby Ripped From Her Arms by Cops, Exceeds $25,000 Goal appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Our Green Monday Editors’ Choices for Online Buy Black Holiday Gifts

Happy Green Monday! Green Monday is considered the best sales day in December, usually the second Monday of December. There are tons of terrific online deals today that rival Black Friday.

And, of course, for the purpose of wokefulness, we have a listing of Black Enterprise editors’ favorite holiday gift ideas—all items from black-owned businesses. Here is the rundown:


  • Clothing, Jewelry, and Accessories

Buy Black Holiday Gift Guide


  • Health, Wellness, and Beauty

Yubi makeup Brush

(Photo courtesy of Yubi Beauty L.L.C.)

  • Food and Drink 

Buy Black Holiday Gift Guide

(Image: longevitywines.com)

  • Tech, Recreation, Toys, and Games

Buy Black Holiday Gift Guide.


  • Home, Decoration, Baby, and Pets

    Buy Black Holiday Gift Guide.

    (Image: harlemcandlecompany.com)

  • Books

Buy Black Holiday Gift Guide.

  • Unique 

Buy Black Holiday Gift Guide.

(Image: That Melanin Life/Etsy)

The post Our Green Monday Editors’ Choices for Online Buy Black Holiday Gifts appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Republican Who Was Considered By Trump For UN Ambassador Role Has One of the Largest Black-Owned Businesses

John E. James just lost his senate run in Michigan, but he is a major up-and-comer in Republican circles, and is part of BLACK ENTERPRISE’s BE100s – its annual listing of the nation’s largest, most-successful black-owned businesses.

President Donald Trump was reportedly looking at James to replace departing United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, according to some media outlets and sources acquainted with the situation. That has not come to fruition as media outlets are reporting former Fox news alum Heather Nauet is Trump’s pick for the next UN ambassador.

James’ Backstory 

A Republican and Iraq War veteran, James was not successful in his bid to unseat Senator Debbie Stabenow in the November 6, election. James lost to the Democrat incumbent senator 46% to 52%.

James was reportedly in Washington, D.C. in the latter part of November to interview with Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser John Bolton, a source said. Bloomberg News first reported that James was being examined for the position of United States ambassador to the United Nations.

James is president of James Group International Inc., a Detroit-based supply chain management company. The business was No. 27 on BE’s 2018 BE 100s Top Companies list, raking in $119 million in revenue last year.

He is the son of James Group International founder and chairman John A. James, a seasoned and eminent black businessman in Detroit. James Group International, the parent company for several management and logistics companies, has been ranked as a BE 100s company, an annual listing of the nation’s largest black businesses for many years.

A West Point graduate, James holds a bachelor’s degree in Law and Systems (Industrial) Engineering.  He earned a master’s of Supply Chain Management and Information Systems from Penn State University Smeal School of Business in 2014, and an MBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business in 2015.

According to the company’s website, he currently serves on the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) Board of Directors, the Detroit Workforce Development Board and as a Member on the Michigan Council on Future Mobility Board of Trustees.  Personal accolades include The Michigan Chronicle’s Class of 2014, “40 Under 40” and DBusiness magazine’s “30 in Their Thirties” in 2012.

James joined James Group International in 2012, and became its president in 2014. Since his arrival at James Group, its workforce has climbed notably, and revenue grew by $100 million. It estimated 2016 revenues of more than $130 million.

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‘I Can’t Date Jesus’ Best-selling Author Michael Arceneaux On Writing

Michael Arceneaux, author of I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé, is breaking barriers and assisting in bringing necessary diversity to our bookshelves. Arceneaux is all shades of amazing – he’s a black, gay, millennial man from Houston, Texas, doing his thing. When BLACK ENTERPRISE asked how he feels about the ceilings he has crashed through, he replied, “I have a habit of being extremely hard on myself because I’m always thinking about the next goal, but I have tried very hard to make sure that I take in this moment as much as possible.”

He’s also very aware of societal stigmas that keep marginalized folks back. “I’m Black, I’m gay, I’m country, and from a working-class family,” he said, adding, “I am proud of myself for getting to this point. I am also truly happy that I am helping make it easier for others like me to share their stories, and ideally, take them even further.”

Becoming The Cardi B of Lit

The New York Times best-seller list is an unfathomable dream for most authors. The allure of it has always been there, but the difficulty and rarity of it happening has left many discouraged. Arceneaux, however, says he’s honored to join this elite class of writers. “I’m fortunate and very much grateful that everything aligned the week my book was released and I was fortunate enough to make the list.” He added, “Now, other black writers, black queer, and queer writers, southern black writers, or some combination of these can cite my book in their proposals and show publishers that our stories are not niche.”

It wasn’t a stroke a luck, however. Arceneaux is a brilliant writer with a unique, hilarious style. The former Howard University grad has been writing for many years for the likes of Essence, Complex, and The Root. He has also been featured on BET, MSNBC, VH1, The Breakfast Club, and CBS.

Needless to say, he has built a solid platform and name for himself in the industry. He is a blue-tick certified, Wikipedia-page-having, New York-Times-appearing real deal. A very humble and admirably transparent real deal. He mentioned that he received the news of making the list on a terrible day,

“I was questioning aspects of my life and choices and then my agent called me while I was at the gym and everything just felt lighter in that moment. It reminded me that I am going to be okay because I always am. Also, made me think of my friend Nakisha, who always tells me to chill out because every goal I said I would achieve eventually happens.”

While so many have been grabbing his best-seller off of shelves, his parents aren’t tuned into this aspect of his life and still have not read it. The family members who have, on the other hand, are proud of him and have opened up to him in ways they hadn’t before. As for his friends, some are getting a kick out of the response he has been receiving. “I think some of my friends – like the ones who don’t live in NY – are kind of surprised at the different types of people who know I am alive. One, in particular, could not believe so many white folks showed up to a book event I did in Baltimore. My response at the time was, ‘Me either, but I told you I was gon’ crossover and become the Cardi B of lit.’”

Life Has Been No Crystal Stair

The most difficult part of the author’s journey was getting others to believe what he already knew – that there was an audience for books like his. “Getting people to believe black gay me was not ‘niche’ and finding the balance between writing to support myself and working on my book, which ideally would get me over that hump.”

Getting an agent and publisher behind him wasn’t an easy feat for Arceneaux either. “I had envisioned a book idea some eight, nine years ago, but it took a very long time to convince the people necessary to make it happen (an agent and a publisher) to get behind me.”

I Can’t Date Jesus & Future Projects

I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race and Other Reasons I Put My Faith in Beyoncé launched on July 24, 2018, from 37 Ink/Atria Books/Simon & Schuster. His publishing house describes the book as, “A timely collection of alternately hysterical and soul-searching essays about what it is like to grow up as a creative, sensitive black man in a world that constantly tries to deride and diminish your humanity.”

There have not been many books I’ve read this year that made me laugh out loud, while at the same time reflect and question the world around me. Arceneaux’s book did just that. It was both humorous and inspiring. To my surprise, he didn’t think too much about the message while writing.

“I don’t really intend anything for the reader beyond making them laugh and making them think. I knew that I set out to write the book I wish I had growing up, but I try not to think too much on what the reader will take from what I write. I like to hear them tell me. And honestly, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. So many different types of people have reached out and it means a lot because there was concern from people I met in publishing about the book — that my identity made me have limited appeal. Meanwhile, white folks in their 70s are constantly emailing me to say they love my book with plenty of references they have never heard of (like Pimp C lyrics).”

It is no surprise that so many resonate with his words. His book grabs you from the very first sentence in the dedication, sharing the story of being told by an old high school classmate that he’d end up working at Burger King because he majored in journalism. Fortunately for fans of Arceneaux’s writing, he has a new book coming out, entitled I Don’t Want to Die Poor. It will be an expansion of the themes I touched on in an essay I penned for the New York Times’ Sunday Review about my struggles with private student loans. I think we need more stories about how many of us live with that debt.”

In five years’ time, he feels that he will still be writing books, but Arceneaux has much more in mind to use his voice to help the world around him through honest dialogue and laughter. “I plan to still be writing books but, I’ll be working primarily in television. I want to write and create shows, appear on camera, etc. I want to do speaking events, too, but I love television and I really want to lend my voice to the medium. My book was just the start of what I plan to make a long life of storytelling and shaking s–t up.”

Some Final Words for Beyoncé

Arceneaux’s love for Beyoncé is clear from the very beginning of the book, when he references the span of time since he last went to church by the amount of Beyoncé albums that had come out. The mentions of Queen Bey are side-splitting and his disdain for people who do not support her (Beytheists) is equally amusing. With this in mind, I had to know what he’d want her to know if she were to read this article. “Please read my book, my Lord and gyrator and fellow Houstonian. I talk real good about you. Also: girl, can you do that rap album for me already?”

If Arceneaux intrigues you, you’d love his book and rants on Twitter.


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DanceLogic Teaches Girls Dance and Computer Coding

DanceLogic, a unique S.T.E.A.M. program that combines dance and computer coding leading to the development of original choreography and performance, is continuing onto its second year. Girls ranging from the ages of 13 through 18 years participate in the program held at West Park Cultural Center in Philadelphia and learn the value of focus, dedication, and teamwork, as well as industry standard coding language.

Shanel Edwards, co-instructor of danceLogic, stated that “danceLogic is helping these girls have access to the arts realm and science world as possible career paths, it is allowing them to stretch their own boundaries of what success looks like for them.”

computer coding


During the dance class, led by instructors Edwards of D2D The Company and Annie Fortenberry, a performer with Ballet 180, the girls learn dance skills and movement techniques. This is followed by an hour of learning industry standard coding language under the direction of coding instructor Franklyn Athias, senior vice president of Network and Communications Engineering at Comcast. “I’m helping the kids see that someone, just like them, was able to use Science and Technology to find a very successful career,” Athias expressed in a press release.

The girls use coding to create their own choreography. “The combinations of dance and logic have good synergies. Learning something like dance requires practice, just like coding,” said Athias. “The dance is more physical, but it requires the students to try, fail, and try again. Before long, the muscle memory kicks in and the student forgets how hard it was before. Coding is really the same thing. Learning the syntax of coding is not a natural thing. Repetition is what makes you become good at it. After learning the first programming language, the students can learn other programming languages because it becomes much easier.”

computer coding


“My favorite thing about the program is that the students can explore leadership roles. By building their own choreography and supporting each other in coding class, they navigate creating and sharing those creations, as well as resolving conflict to make one cohesive dance. There’s a lot of beauty and bravery in that process,” stated Fortenberry.

The very first session of danceLogic culminated with the girls performing choreography and sharing what they learned through coding and how it has impacted their lives.

For more information, click here.

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Shanae Jones is Using Herbalism and Hip-Hop to Change the Way You Think of Tea and Holistic Health

Meet Shanae Jones, an herbalist and the founder of Ivy’s Tea Co., an organic line of locally-sourced, handcrafted teas, tisanes, and herb-infused sweeteners. Inspired by childhood teatime with her grandmother, Jones launched Ivy’s Tea Co., and combined hip-hop and herbalism so she could teach herbalism in a fun and refreshing way—while making the holistic health and tea market more inclusive.

Consumers of Ivy’s Tea have purchased teas to help with a variety of ailments such as the flu and severe menstrual cramps:

“Our ‘Sister Sister 2’ tea relies on stinging nettles, a mineral-rich herb, to help women manage menstrual pain,” said Jones. “We’ve also had a customer use our ‘What the Flu?’ tea to make Elderberry syrup for herself and her daughter. ‘What the Flu?’ is a blend of elderberries, ginger root, and turmeric to help support the immune system, especially during the fall and winter seasons when we’re resting less, eating fewer leafy vegetables and getting much less sun than usual — these all help improve the immune system, too.”

In addition to selling herbal tea, Jones provides a wealth of online education and provides philanthropic support to make an impact on the lives of others—specifically in the black community. If Jones has her way, you’ll never look at a cup of tea the same way again. We caught up with Jones to talk tea culture, benefits, and holistic medicine myths and misconceptions.


What makes Ivy’s Tea Co. so unique? 

Consider this: What if your hot beverage connected with your identity? Most of us cannot say that our experience buying tea (or coffee or kombucha or any other wellness beverage for that matter) really connects with who we are. Current herbal tea companies on the market are just not inclusive — at all. The others that verge outside of typical western herbal remedies bring to the market what I would call wellness porn — really pushing a strict and regimented lifestyle that includes hours of meditation, ritualism, and yoga, but some people just want herbal tea. And Ivy’s Tea Co. provides that. We’re committed to bringing -lack culture to the herbal tea company industry.

Beyond that, our teas are high quality, organic, and hand-blended by an herbalist. Many come to our site intrigued by the catchy product names (e.g., Green Bae, Pusha Tea, #TrapTea Holiday Gift Set) and funny product descriptions, but they all walk away informed about some aspect of herbalism and that’s what makes us so unique.

Our most popular selling tea is our staple tea and the first tea we brought to market, Rise & Grind, a black tea with coconut and vanilla. It’s a full leaf black tea full of flavor with a hint of coconut, the vanilla rounds out the sip.

Let’s talk about some of the myths or misconceptions of holistic medicine. If a person has a certain illness, like high blood pressure, do they have to choose holistic medicine in lieu of prescribed medicine? Or can they choose both?

Of course, you can choose both. That’s true holistic living — being balanced in accordance with your own body and lifestyle. With the right health care professional, an informed consumer will find that holistic medicine can work well with prescriptions from your doctor. Sometimes, there are contraindications between herbs and prescribed meds, which is why it’s so important to talk to your doctor before you begin any herbal medicine regimen. On the flip side, holistic medicine is not always taking herbal medicine, sometimes it’s meditation, journaling, spending more time with family and friends, taking a vacation, etc.

Ivy’s Tea

Ivy’s Tea

Does alternative medicine only offer placebo effects?

No way. I’ve seen alternative medicine work; not just for myself, but for others. It requires time, patience, and a lifestyle change. Take something like insomnia for example. Many people end up using herbs to treat the symptoms and not the cause. While you can use conventional medicine to treat symptoms, most times, herbal medicine just doesn’t work like that.

Can you share your perspectives on the importance of holistic medicine, especially in communities of color who suffer more from heart disease, diabetes, etc?

Holistic living, particularly as it pertains to simple dietary changes, for example, can make significant improvements in the lives of black and brown people. We’re not even talking about going to the health food store and spending money on expensive essential oils or superfood powders. We’re talking about eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, adding garlic and ginger to the diet, using more spices, etc. Holistic living can be one of the most affordable ways to improve the quality of life.

As it pertains to heart disease and obesity, your diet can change your DNA – your diet includes what you eat, but also what you see, what you speak, and what you feel. Making that change with holistic living from the inside out (or the outside in, depending on your circumstances) can be the biggest act of self-love and self-care.

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Tyler Perry Pays Off Over $400,000 Debt for Walmart Shoppers Who Made Layaway Purchases

Tyler Perry is already in the holiday spirit. TMZ reported that the film mogul has paid off over $400,000 in Walmart shoppers’ layaway debt —paying off $178,000 at one store in Atlanta and another $256,000 at a Walmart in nearby Douglasville, part of the Atlanta Metro Area.

According to TMZ, “all the customers have to do to collect their outstanding items is pay a penny at pickup.”

Perry is not only generous with his money but as a successful filmmaker and entrepreneur, he finds time to dole out advice to aspiring creatives and entrepreneurs. At a recent event, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit, Perry took part in a panel discussion dropping various gems of wisdom. Some of his tips for entrepreneurs included:

  • Stay creative, fresh, and relevant
  • Serve and then super-serve your audience
  • Focus intensively on your core/niche
  • Show them how special they are
  • Show them that you appreciate them
  • Treat them with as much respect and sincerity as you would anyone else

Perry also advised those in attendance of the importance of having a good team in place to achieve your dreams, acknowledging that it’s extremely challenging to identify and formulate a good team.

Click here for more on Perry’s advice from the summit.


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Attention, NYC Fashionistas: Event This Weekend Showcases Emerging Designers of Color

Epic & Co., formerly known as ‘The Ultimate Trunk Show’, returns to New York City, on Saturday, Dec. 8 for its newly rebranded event, “Epic & Co. Presents: The Showroom” an event showcasing emerging fashion designers. From the press release:

[The] fashion event will host a curated selection of the most talented emerging designers in the country, incorporating elements of a capsule collection showcase meets pop-up shop. Participants are carefully selected and must meet certain criteria, such as possessing a cohesive and original design aesthetic, in order to present. This year’s participants include ARRYLES, Grand Ave, Riche Blac, and Chic by Choice.


Since the platform’s inception in 2009, founder and creative director of Epic & Co., LaToya Gordon, has been committed to celebrating and promoting emerging fashion entrepreneurs by bringing the attention of curators, innovators, and fashion-forward authentic contributors to cultural trends.


“Since my original concept (The Ultimate Trunk Show), I have remained dedicated to my vision of providing a platform that serves as a breeding ground for young creators and entrepreneurs,” said Ms. Gordon. “This framework illustrates not only the need for collaboration but also the importance of ‘networking across,’ pooling ideas and resources and coming up together. The Showroom shares the same mission and quality experience as the original model, with an upgraded concept focused on fewer brands.”

You can find out more about the event here.

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