Artist Nick Grant on Navigating A Career in the Business of Hip-Hop

Nostalgia is a dangerously beautiful thing. Too much of it will prevent you from appreciating the new, but the right amount will leave you feeling refreshed. Nick Grant is the perfect balance. His presence on the microphone reminds us all of the golden age of hip-hop, drawing on a genius level talent for wordplay and storytelling. His approach, however, is not one that is so deeply rooted in a 90s persona that it comes off as overly reminiscent of times past. His beat selection is soulful but still current. The content? Topical, he tells the story of a willingness to get uncomfortable while pursuing an intrinsic passion. Taking on life’s wins, failures, and the lessons in between while growing into the person he saw himself as before the world got the big picture. Grant’s newest project, “Dreaming Out Loud,” delivers that narrative in sonic form, and with 6.2 million streams on his latest project, tour dates with Nas and Lauryn Hill, and cosigns from greats like DJ Khaled, it appears that hip-hop may have a new challenger to the throne. 

Modern day artists are fully aware of the need for multiple streams of income. The music industry business model is still in transition. Streaming pumped life back into the business, but artists aren’t seeing much profit from the sales. According to The Guardian, artists only get $0.00783 and $0.00397 per stream from Apple and Spotify, respectively. As a result, musicians must heavily rely on show money and merchandise sales to pull in cash. Naturally, an artist like Grant who is poised for worldwide success must keep his head on a swivel when it comes to diversifying his portfolio. After all, music is a young man’s sport and eventually the goal is to move into other business ventures. 

In a conversation filled with sheer appreciation for the moment, Grant revealed a very focused intent. The first chapter of his journey is closed, and his future is on the horizon. As he reflects on the experience of putting himself in position to eat, he has honed in on solidifying a foundation upon which his empire can stand. Coming from Walterboro, South Carolina, with a population of 5,000 people, it was no easy adventure for Grant to get here. 

“You can’t walk into a label from a small town. I didn’t even have a studio, we had to make one and record in a closet. A move to Atlanta was a family move that worked out. At the time Ludacris, T.I., and Outkast were artists you could look up to and also run into at any time. It was a different world, but it was accessible. I still had to pay my dues, go around and do rap battles and go to studios and get my voice heard.” 

Nowadays, opportunities to diversify your career trajectory depend on social currency. Those ever-so-necessary metrics that prove you’ve got the audience to drive revenue. It’s what every brand looks for when forging partnerships with artists looking to merge into other lanes of creative professionalism. While Grant is undeniably talented, he’s still earning his spot among the megastars of the game. The necessary evil in that is maintaining a social presence and growing a visible fan base by the numbers. 

“Everything is just hip-hop while I build a solid foundation. I want to get into acting, clothing, and finding artists. Music has a deadline so diversifying is key. You have to pay attention to the things you’re into and your direction. It takes staying committed and being comfortable with yourself. I could be better with social media and things. I’m growing to learn about those things on top of doing more shows and touching fans. Developing those habits of making sure it’s my best whenever I put up content.” 

You can hear the reluctantly wise compromise in his voice. He’s an MC to the core, cut from the cloth of earning his stripes through battles and fighting for his songs to be heard in studios. The music should speak for itself, and create all of the opportunity he deserves. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world and sometimes people want to see before they hear. That includes the folks who can provide opportunities in Grant’s places of interest beyond beautifully crafted bars. A true professional, he’s OK with playing the game as long as the music is on point. He’s got a platform now, and with that comes a duty. 

We’re the first generation of black men facing our demons without burying our emotions. On top of that, black women are holding us accountable for appreciating them and dispelling toxic viewpoints we learned from fathers, uncles, and brothers who went unchecked. Both subjects are regular topics of conversation across Twitter timelines. Using songs like “Father Figure” and “Black Woman,” Grant addresses two of the most sensitive topics for many black men. Confronting unresolved issues with the men responsible for raising us, and embracing the importance of the women who nurtured us no matter the cost. 

“I realized having a voice is a responsibility. These are things that I always wanted to talk about. Women were a village that raised me and provided for me when I couldn’t provide for myself. It was important for me to speak on, even if I was the only one to hear the records. Fortunately, it didn’t go unnoticed. Black Woman is 2-3 years old, but it shows you that God has his timing.”  

Nick’s appreciation for his position is full proof, while the game he’s in keeps reinventing itself. Platforms like Spotify offer licensing deals to artists, while companies like United Masters help artists create direct-to-consumer markets. It’s all in an effort to cut out the middleman. Still, Grant saw fit to sign with a major label. His golden ticket is in the business minds he keeps around him at Culture Republic, an imprint focused on identifying and cultivating authentic brand partnerships for the artists it represents. Culture Republic is run by Jason Geter, Chaka Zulu, and Bernard Parks who have successfully launched and navigated the brands of international superstars such as T.I., Ludacris, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, Iggy Azalea, Outkast, Cee-Lo Green, 8 Ball & MJG, B.O.B., DJ Drama, and Big K.R.I.T.

“I feel like I always got the cheat code. The people in my management are schooling me. I’m also picking up on ideas through conversation and learning on my own. I’m paying close attention to my peers and the moves they’re making. For me, it’s about letting the music open up the doors. Make sure the art is right, and everything is a domino effect.”

Grant’s whole mentality is to lift as he climbs. He wants to build a studio back home in South Carolina, He wants to help dope artists put out projects, and put people in the position to help others. He’s a fan of the culture first, so as long as he can aid others in realizing their dreams, he’s satisfied. His love for simple things is draped in the humble nature of the southern states that raised him. With a lyrically refreshing project receiving a warm welcome from critics and fans alike, Grant offered parting words on the possibility of the cultural pendulum swinging back in favor of the wordsmiths. 

“I don’t think it ever swung away. Who’s to say that the people everyone calls microwave artists aren’t just being who they really are, and that’s why it’s working for them? I would like to say I’m cut from the same cloth as a Kendrick or a J. Cole. To be a king in hip-hop you have to have a story and messaging. As long as you’re speaking about certain things you’re going to cut through. Everybody who’s the GOAT has to have a body of work. That’s my path. I want to be one of the greatest.” 

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Nurse Alice: American Toddlers – Too Much Added Sugar Consumption

It’s every parent’s dream for their child to one day be living large and in charge… but not literally. However, the way things are shaping up, toddlers are being set up not only to become obese, but for several other potential health problems that stem from too much sugar consumption. A new study suggests children in the U.S. begin added sugar consumption at a very young age and that many toddlers’ sugar intake exceeds the maximum amount recommended for adults.

The daily recommended limits for added sugar are 6 teaspoons or less per day for children ages 2 to 19 and for adult women, and 9 teaspoons or less per day for adult men. Previous studies show that people far exceed recommendations and this study showed 60% of children were found to consume added sugar before age 1.

The study found 99% of a representative sample of U.S. toddlers ages 19 to 23 months consumed an average of just over 7 teaspoons of added sugar on a given day—more than the amount in a Snickers bar.

“This is the first time we have looked at added sugar consumption among children less than 2 years old,” said lead study author Kirsten Herrick, a nutritional epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Our results show that added sugar consumption begins early in life and exceeds current recommendations.” The U.S. government’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) does not include guidelines specific for children under age 2 although the 2020-2025 edition, soon to be in development, will include dietary recommendations for infants and toddlers.

What are added sugars?

Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. This does not include naturally occurring sugars, such as those in milk and fruits.

What’s wrong with added sugars?

Added sugar consumption has been linked with obesity, dental caries, asthma and risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Eating foods with added sugar also can influence a child’s food preferences, potentially leading to less healthy food choices later in life, researchers say.

What’s the difference between natural and added sugars?

There is no chemical difference between sugars that are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and milk and sugars that are added to food products during processing or preparation. The body metabolizes natural and added sugars in the same way. However, added sugars are considered more damaging to health because they displace nutritional components of foods and contribute significantly to caloric intake. Foods containing added sugars are often not accompanied by the other nutritional benefits one gets from eating foods that naturally contain sugar, such as the fiber and vitamins contained in an apple.

How do I know if there are added sugars in my food?

Reading the ingredient label on processed foods can help to identify added sugars. Names for added sugars on food labels include:

  • anhydrous dextrose
  • brown sugar
  • confectioner’s powdered sugar
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • honey
  • invert sugar
  • lactose
  • malt syrup
  • maltose
  • maple syrup
  • molasses
  • nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
  • pancake syrup
  • raw sugar
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • white granulated sugar

You may also see other names used for added sugars, but these are not recognized by the FDA as an ingredient name. These include cane juice, evaporated corn sweetener, crystal dextrose, glucose, liquid fructose, sugar cane juice, and fruit nectar.

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Nurse Alice: Health Considerations for Those Trying to Be Dad

Father’s Day is a wonderful time to celebrate the dads of the world, but it’s also a good time to talk about men who are trying to become dads. Some men have fertility issues making it difficult for them and their partner to get pregnant; in fact, male infertility accounts for an estimated 40% of fertility problems in couples who have difficulty conceiving.

When it comes to a man’s fertility, a number of common factors can be at play, says UCLA urologist Dr. Jesse Mills. Here’s what dads-to-be—and their partners—need to know.

Basic Lifestyle Changes are Fundamental

“Eat, move, sleep.” That’s a mantra that Mills, who serves as the director at The Men’s Clinic at UCLA, recites to all his patients.

Taking care of diet, exercise, and sleep is a vital part of a man’s overall health and, in turn, reproductive health.

  • Diet. Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, high protein foods, and foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (like tree nuts, almonds, and walnuts).
  • Exercise. Men should break a sweat for 30 minutes or more each day. “Exercising just once or twice a week is not enough,” Mills says. “Anything that improves blood flow, heart rate, and metabolism is probably going to translate to better sperm production.”
  • Sleep. Try to get more than six hours of sleep per night. “When men sleep, they recharge their pituitary gland, and the pituitary gland controls sperm production by the testicles,” Mills says. “If you’re consistently not getting enough sleep, there’s a good chance the hormones that control sperm production are lagging.”

Overweight or obese men have a higher incidence of fertility issues. One potential reason is that larger thighs can cause the testicles to be at a higher temperature, affecting sperm health. Obesity also causes decreased testosterone.

In any event, diet, exercise, and sleep all help to stabilize weight—and improve a man’s health overall.

Stress and Fertility

“I can’t tell you how many men I see in my clinic that are not only stressed professionally but have the added stressor that comes with trying to get pregnant,” says Mills. “Just that stress of making a baby is enough to send couples fighting and not being able to accomplish their fertility goals, and that doesn’t do anyone any good.”

If stress is an issue, it’s important to do what you can to reduce it. Again, exercise helps, says Mills, as does sufficient sleep.

 Potential Medical Problem?

There are certain red flags that could indicate a potential medical problem affecting a man’s fertility. Mills says men should look out for the following issues and let a physician know if they’re experiencing any of them:

  • Pain during ejaculation. Men should not be experiencing pain during ejaculation. It could indicate an infection or a blockage such as an ejaculatory duct stone, a calcification similar to a kidney stone but located somewhere along the reproductive tract.
  • Low ejaculate volume or irregular ejaculate color. Normal ejaculate volume should be about half a teaspoon to a teaspoon. Ejaculate should ideally be a pearly white color.
  • Abnormal testicle size or feel. A healthy man’s testicles should feel firm and should be close to the size of an apricot. Softness or squishiness usually indicates a problem with sperm production, as 80% of the size of the testis is devoted to sperm production.

If any of the above medical issues pertain to you, or if you and your partner have been trying to conceive for six months without a pregnancy, a visit to a men’s health specialist is a good idea. Physicians are able to perform a number of tests to determine the root of fertility issues, and there are a number of surgical and medical options to repair such issues and help couples reach their fertility goals.

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Meet the Black Woman Behind the Video That Led to the Trump Clemency of Alice Johnson

You may not know the name Topeka Sam as well as you know Kim Kardashian, but you should. Sam, a prison reform activist, facilitated the viral Mic video that moved Kardashian to take a meeting with President Donald Trump to plead the case of Alice Johnson, a black woman who was granted clemency June 6 after serving 21 years for a nonviolent, drug-related crime. Though Kardashian helped put a worldwide spotlight on Johnson’s case, Sam was a major leader in a community of activists, legal professionals, and entrepreneurs who worked on her behalf for years before the day she was finally freed.

Sam, a formerly incarcerated woman herself, has advocated for female inmates’ rights, prison reform, and empowerment for women through spiritual renewal, education, and entrepreneurship since her own 2015 release. “My parents were franchise business owners for the first 20 years of my life,” Sam says. “They owned a Carvel franchise in Brooklyn, N.Y., and after that, they ran their own restaurant in Harlem until they retired. I’ve always been exposed to what [owning a business looked like]. I think it was just in my DNA, that I was going to be a business owner at some point.”

The founder of The Ladies of Hope Ministries and Hope House NYC, was bitten by the entrepreneurship bug in her youth, and she has since promoted the freedom and power of entrepreneurship as a viable and sustainable option for formerly incarcerated individuals.

“Prior to going to prison, I’d launched several small businesses, [from] a concierge service to throwing parties. I started a customized mobile-phone case boutique for brands with a friend of mine, who’s still an entrepreneur,” Sam recalls. “When I was inside, God gave me the name The Ladies of Hope Ministries and Hope House. I had a business plan and everything. …I wrote out what my ideas were, like the Bible says, ‘Write it down and make it clear, and at the appointed time, it will come to pass and will not tarry.’  That’s exactly what I did.”

In launching Hope House NYC, Sam has combined entrepreneurial knowledge with her personal experience of prison life for women, and she also uses knowledge she’s gained while serving as a Columbia University Beyond the Bars fellow, a Justice in Education Scholar, and director of dignity for the Van Jones-helmed Cut50 initiative to keep the Bronx-based facility going. At the home, women and girls affected by incarceration can get educational, vocational, spiritual, and entrepreneurial resources and housing, and find a safe space of support from other women.

“It’s everyday work, not only because you’re a social entrepreneur or systems entrepreneur, [but because] you have people’s lives in your hands,” Sam says. “You have to make sure the bills are paid so that women can remain safe [at Hope House NYC] and they can thrive in their lives. I have to make sure the resources we are providing are viable.”

She takes pride in the impact she can make through starting something she is in charge of, and knows how entrepreneurship or launching your own platform can have a positive effect on lives beyond that of the business owner.

“With entrepreneurship, it allows you to hire people who have been impacted by incarceration and give opportunities to people so that when they come home, they don’t have to worry about applying for a job and being told they’re being terminated because of a prison conviction,” Sam says. “When you think about entrepreneurship, it doesn’t mean you have to build an organization. Speaking about your experience, you get paid to speak, that’s a business. …I speak across the country. … Whatever you’re good at, you can make a business out of it. Every time a woman comes through my organization, the question I ask them is, ‘what do you want to be [moving forward]?”

Building a foundation of business smarts and tenacity helped Sam balance her process of transitioning into life after prison, sharing her story through panels and speaking engagements and fulfilling a vision to help others. She knew she had to strengthen herself through research and education in order to accomplish the freedom of running her own show.

“I think because I had the understanding of what it took to start a business, because of my past, I knew [I had to do my due diligence]. … We’re creating an entrepreneurial course and partnering with a large corporation to do it. I believe education is extremely important for people to change their lives. …Skills education leads to business, and business leads to entrepreneurship. [Through entrepreneurship], I have the freedom to do this as I want to, and I don’t have to worry about people putting [limitations] on me [as a formerly incarcerated woman.]”

Watch the Mic video that led Kim K. to go to Trump: https://www.facebook.com/MicMedia/videos/miss-alice-is-serving-life/1687918217897628/

Video of Johnson’s release:



 

 

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Shonda Rhimes to Produce Netflix Series Based on the Life of Con Artist Anna Delvey

TV producer Shonda Rhimes is bringing the real-life story of a socialite who conned her way into an elite life of luxury to Netflix.

Rhimes, the showrunner behind the hit series Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, left her longtime home at ABC Studios and signed a lucrative deal with Netflix last year. Her first original production at the streaming platform will be based on the life of Anna Sorokin, a 27-year-old woman who posed as a German heiress under the alias Anna Delvey and scammed banks, businesses, and her wealthy friends into financing her lavish lifestyle. A recent article about Sorokin, penned by New York Magazine writer Jessica Pressler, went viral. Since then, dozens of producers have reportedly approached Pressler about adapting the story as a TV series or feature. However, Deadline reports that Netflix managed to buy the rights to the story by stepping up in a major way and leveraging Rhimes’ commitment to do the adaptation.

Sorokin, who managed to swindle her way into becoming an “it” girl on the New York social scene, was busted for six counts of grand larceny and theft of services in October 2017. She is currently being held without bond on Rikers Island. She has pleaded not guilty and won over an online fan base that is both fascinated and obsessed with her artful sham.

The new series will mark the first project that Rhimes has created since Scandal, which launched in 2012 and just ended its fifth and final season in April. If successful, Rhimes could earn $300 million from her five-year deal with Netflix.

Last year, Rhimes, the founder, chairwoman, and CEO of ShondaLand, credited her prosperous career in the entertainment business to her relentless work ethic. “What made the difference is that I was willing to stay longer and work harder than anyone else,” she said during a discussion at the American Express OPEN Success Makers panel in New York.

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What is Lil Kim’s Net Worth? Rapper Files for Bankruptcy

Back in 1997, Kimberly “Lil Kim” Jones famously rapped about being “all about the Benjamins.” But today, the platinum-selling hip-hop artist is singing a very different tune. According to The New York Daily News, Jones has filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in New Jersey and has racked up more than $4 million in debt.

Jones, who had a net worth of $18 million in 2017, filed for bankruptcy protection on May 8, just three days before a bank foreclosed on her $3.1 million mansion in Alpine, New Jersey. Court documents show that she owes $664,474 in late mortgage payments for the $2.3 million loan she used to finance the property in 2002. The 6,000-square-foot home is scheduled to go up for auction on June 29.

In addition, the Queen Bee owes a total of $1,845,451 in back taxes after accumulating $1,469,105 in unpaid federal taxes and $376,346.74 in unpaid state taxes from 2004–2017. She also owes $186,000 in legal fees.

The “Get Money” rapper owns $2,573,300 in assets, which includes a 2000 Mercedes worth $4,200, a 2005 Bentley worth $52,600, $25,000 in jewelry, $25,000 in household furniture, $5,000 in electronics, and $5,000 in apparel, reports The Blast. Jones lists her cash on hand as $2,500.

Court documents show that the Brooklyn-born rapper’s income has dropped from $823,659 in 2016 to just $398,000 last year. She generates $18,286 each month through her company Queen Bee Entertainment. However, $12,784 goes toward monthly expenses that include $2,200 on wardrobe, while $10,410 is allocated toward travel and entertainment. She also has a monthly mortgage payment of $6,610.

The Blast reports that Jones offered to pay $5,500 to her creditors for the next 60 months in addition to selling her home to repay or modify her mortgage on the property in order to pay off her debt. However, the trustee for the bankruptcy has objected to her proposal.

Jones joins a list of other hip-hop stars who have filed for bankruptcy, including Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Earl “DMX” Simmons, and Stanley “MC Hammer” Burrell.

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Nurse Alice: Suicide in Real Life and On TV

Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, both loved and widely admired, were both lost to suicide in the same week. They now join the millions of Americans lost to suicide. Every year, 9 million people think about it, 1 million attempt it, and in 2016 alone 45,000 Americans committed suicide.

Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in the US. Men have 3 -5 times higher rates of committing suicide than women. And the highest rate of suicide occurs in adults ages 45-65.

Why do people contemplate suicide?

Many people believe that having a mental condition is the cause of suicide. However, there is no one cause for suicide and just because you have a mental condition doesn’t mean you will commit suicide. Fifty-four percent (54%) of those who commit suicide don’t have a diagnosed mental condition. Most people who died by suicide had experienced one or more risk factors that may have contributed, including a relationship problem (e.g., the unwanted end of a relationship), a recent crisis (e.g., death of a loved one) or substance misuse (e.g., increased alcohol intake), job, financial or legal stress. For many, that sounds like “adulting.” And because of that, there’s no better time than the present to check in with our loved ones, friends, co-workers, neighbors and family.

But not only are we seeing this in real life but its happening more in our entertainment as well. After a long day of work this week I decided I would do a solo night of Netflix and chill. When I logged into my account I noticed that my kids had been watching a show called 13 Reasons Why. I was unfamiliar with the show so I began to watch. And my jaw dropped!

I know TV and movies are exploring more sensitive life issues in attempts to depict real-life stories, however, this is not a show that children should be watching alone. In fact, there are probably many shows they shouldn’t be watching but I just so happen to catch this one and became overly concerned. If you’re a parent with kids this is a show you should be aware of. Its already in season 2 and kids (mine and others—probably yours too) are watching it. I polled my nieces, nephews, the neighbor’s kids, kids at church, and several middle and high school kids—many familiar with the show. With what can be mistaken as a glorification of celebrity suicide, and all of the bullying, sexual misconduct, school shootings, and social injustices happening today, kids are experiencing more depression, mood, and behavior disorders that are going under the radar. The last thing you want is for your child who may be remotely experiencing any of these feelings is to watch this show unguided and without support to discuss what they’re watching or feeling.

What is 13 Reasons Why about?

The show starts and ends each episode with actors sharing resources for where one can go for help, however, that’s not enough. Someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts or ideations may not be in a state or too ashamed to ask for help.

Season 1 of the show opened with the aftermath of high school student Hannah Baker’s suicide. Clay Jensen, Hannah’s classmate and co-worker, then received 13 cassette tapes detailing the reasons Hannah killed herself. Hannah was bullied, assaulted, and ignored while she was alive, but her death and the tapes she left behind changed that. She gained power through suicide, and that’s a dangerous message to send to impressionable minds. Season 1 also includes a failed suicide attempt by another character named Alex who felt guilty about Hannah’s death. And let’s just say, the storyline suggests/shows rape, drinking, bullying, shaming, and other inappropriate behavior and by high school students.

But let’s fast forward to Season 2. The show attempts to address other mental health conditions and their rehabilitation. A character named Skye tries to explain to her boyfriend Clay that she has overwhelming feelings that make her cut herself. She is hospitalized and then sent to a psychiatric facility after a serious self-harm attempt. She’s later diagnosed with bipolar disorder and started on medications. 

What the expert says

I consulted with Dr. Nicole Bernard Washington, a board-certified psychiatrist and chief medical officer and founder of Elocin Psychiatric Services for her professional opinion on the impact a show like this can have on impressionable kids and what parents should do or say if their children are watching this show. 

According to Dr. Nicole, “multiple studies indicate that roughly 40% of children and adolescents with depressive disorders are not treated. Many parents are not able to recognize depression in their kiddos, possibly due to denial and others simply from lack of education.” She also went on to say that parents should be on the lookout for low mood or tearfulness. It is also not uncommon for kids to present as irritable with depression. If a kid starts to isolate from friends or withdraw from activities they love, depression should be considered. Changes in performance in school should be investigated since impaired concentration can be a symptom of depression. Other symptoms include changes in sleep pattern, changes in appetite or weight, energy changes. Lastly, if parents suspect depression in their kids they need to inquire about hopeless feelings or thoughts of suicide.

So why am I writing about this? Because the sad truth is suicide among our youth ages 10–24 is the third leading cause of death according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We as adults need to do everything we can to create healthy environments for our children. That includes being more engaged and attentive to them, getting them the help they need, involving them in dialogue, and understanding that sometimes what is viewed as entertainment may actually encourage or provoke the behavior being observed as entertainment. 

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Nurse Alice: What Women Need to Know About Their OB-GYN Appointments

Another lawsuit against a doctor accused of sexual misconduct? Does it ever end?

Six women and former college students at the University of Southern California have filed lawsuits against OB-GYN doctor George Tyndall, who has had numerous complaints of sexual misconduct over the years. Even the doctor’s staff complained about his behavior. What’s even more tragic is that the school was aware of the complaints and did nothing until he was finally removed from his 30-year tenure just last year.

In light of this and all the other sexually inappropriate things happening in society today, what’s a young woman to do?

For many young women away at college, going to your first gynecological appointment without the help or advice of your mother, grandmother, or some other female support person can be scary, awkward, and even overwhelming. Although a woman’s first OB-GYN visit is recommended to occur between the ages of 13 to 15 or when they first become sexually active, it doesn’t usually happen that way. Let’s face it, many young women go to a pediatrician throughout their late adolescence, and probably not even on a regular basis if they’re otherwise healthy.

Many times, a woman goes to her first gynecological appointment after she has concerns: e.g., heavy or irregular menstruation, concerns about sexually transmitted infections, exploring birth control options, or because they suspect pregnancy. Nevertheless, this is a very important first appointment that includes a general overall health exam and questioning about general health and lifestyle, and then one more focused on the health of your sexual and reproductive organs and system.

Empower yourself with knowing what to expect. Here are eight important things women should know when having their first gynecological appointment.

  1. Familiarize yourself with what to expect. The medical office and provider should instruct you on what to anticipate before you step one foot into the exam room. Examinations should be performed with only the necessary amount of physical contact required to obtain data for diagnosis and treatment. And an appropriate explanation should accompany all examination procedures.
  2. Having a female chaperone present is standard of care unless you decline the offer. But the key here is that you were offered one, regardless of the gender of the provider. You should be allowed to undress and put on a patient gown in privacy. Never dress or undress in front of your doctor.
  3. The doctor should be explaining and educating you throughout the exam so you know what’s happening and why before it happens. The physician-patient relationship can be damaged when this does not occur, and leaves room for misinterpretation of touching during the exam.
  4. Health professionals are expected to wash their hands and put on gloves when doing any invasive exams or procedures and that involve touching bodily fluids. A doctor should never be doing a pelvic or rectal exam on you without gloves.
  5. Both health providers and patients should avoid sexual innuendo and provocative remarks. Sexually offensive or suggestive language or jokes should be avoided. Keep things professional.
  6. If you feel uncomfortable at any time during the exam, you can stop the exam immediately and tell the doctor you don’t feel comfortable. This also allows the opportunity for the provider to clarify what’s happening should it truly be a misunderstanding.
  7. If you believe there was any misconduct or you feel violated, please notify the medical administrator immediately while the occurrence is still fresh in your mind. This helps you to retell an accurate story and intervene to prevent any potential further misconduct from happening to someone else.
  8. Physicians and medical administration aware of instances of sexual misconduct on the part of any health professional have an obligation to protect the safety of the public by removing said person from patient care immediately and reporting such situations to appropriate authorities, such as institutional committee chairs, department chairs, peer review organizations, supervisors, or the medical board. You can report this as well. And if you do, always do it in writing.

Watch Nurse Alice share tips on NBC:

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Bias Because Drake Is Biracial? [Opinion]

Recently, a rap feud between Pusha-T and Drake unfolded. On May 29, Pusha released his song “The Story of Adidon” and tweeted a photo of Drake in blackface. In his song, he claims Drake has insecurities of being biracial as his song states, “Confused, always thought you weren’t Black enough; Afraid to grow it ’cause your ‘fro wouldn’t nap enough.” Drake has spoken out on the complexities of being biracial in the past. If Drake had referred to Pusha’s hair as “nappy,” wouldn’t we all be outraged? The following day, Drake put out a press release for the explanation of the photo:

“The photos represented how African Americans were once wrongfully portrayed in entertainment. Me and my best friend at the time Mazin Elsadig who is also an actor from Sudan were attempting to use our voice to bring awareness to issues we dealt with all the time as black actors at auditions.This was to highlight and raise our frustrations with not always getting a fair chance in the industry and to make a point that the struggle for black actors had not changed much.”

Blackface is a delicate topic due to its historical racist roots. One could argue that it is an insensitive method to express a message of inequality. This was not the first time a black artist has used blackface to convey this message.  In 2000, Spike Lee released his movie Bamboozled, which told the story of a group of black actors on the variety show Mantan  (played by Savion Glover and Tommy Davidson) who ruthlessly wore blackface while shucking and jiving and telling racist jokes, which leads to high ratings. The movie highlights the racism black actors face in the form of a dark, unapologetic satire. The film was criticized for its controversy in the beginning of its run, but was been given an honorary salute in 2015 at the Governor’s Awards. Ashley Clark, film curator and critic, and author of Facing Blackness: Media and Minstrelsy in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled commented on the film: “It’s a film that holds Hollywood and the establishment accountable in the present and in the past,” says Clark. “It aims to call out racism, which happened 100 years ago and is still happening today.” 

From this photo, the focus has shifted to Drake’s racial identity, the pressure on his views on BLM, and what contributions he has made to the black community. After Drake issued his statement, Pusha responded by saying that Drake is “silent on all black issues.” Drake is not entirely silent. He expressed his views on police brutality in his 2015 song, “Charge Up.” The rapper also addressed the killing of 37-year-old Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police officers on Instagram. Drake has made numerous donations according to Billboard over the course of his career. A few contributions listed are: a donation of $30,000 to the Jamaican Learning Center early in his career in 2010; in July 2015 he hosted a softball tournament along with other celebrities. Proceeds went to the Houston Astros’ Urban Youth Academy. There are other artists of color who have been silent on black issues. In 2016, while being interviewed by Nightline, rapper Lil Wayne was asked about his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement. He stated that he doesn’t feel connected to the Black Lives Matter movement and that the idea of the movement, “just sounds weird.” And how can we forget Kanye West’s controversial statements on slavery being a choice. Why are we not holding both of these entertainers and rich celebrities to the same type of pressure as we are now holding Drake? Wouldn’t it be hypocritical to support Kanye after his recent actions and insensitive comments?  

Interestingly enough, on Friday June 1, old tweets from Pusha were dug up. In an angry 2014 tweet, he refers to a rude black flight attendant as a monkey and mocks the attendant to clap his hands while singing and dancing. Is this not racist? When H&M dressed a young black boy in a T-shirt stating, “Coolest monkey in the jungle” for an ad, and most recently when Rosanne Barr compared former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to an ape, we raised our collective fists in fury. If the argument over Drake’s picture (which Pusha put out without any context, and which Drake provided a context to) is because he is biracial and should know that it is insensitive to use blackface, does Pusha get a pass because he’s a (100%) black man calling another black man a monkey? Does Lil Wayne get a pass for adamantly and unapologetically dismissing BLM as a worthy and important movement?

Being biracial does not make a person “less black.” Who are we to judge on who gets to claim the black experience? Is there a sole keeper of the black cards?

There can be a bias toward people who are mixed. A study led by social psychologist Sarah E. Gaither researched white and black people’s perceptions of Barack Obama’s race before and post re-election. White individuals reported Obama being “too black” and black individuals reported Obama being “too white” before his re-election. It was not until after the success of his re-election that perceptions dramatically changed. White individuals then saw Obama as “white enough” and black individuals saw him as “black enough.” We were all on the Drake bandwagon during his feud with Meek Mill and we were okay with him saying the N-word. His race was not the topic of discussion. Now, all of a sudden after this photo, he isn’t black? We shouldn’t cancel Drake for trying to make a statement on art and its limitations for people of color. He has the right as a black artist to express these oppressions, as stated by journalist Touré:

“It wasn’t hateful. It wasn’t denigrating anyone. It was an artistic choice that he made to comment on himself and his people…Artists have the right to explore—and the right to repurpose—the tools of their people’s oppression. It’s not racist for a black artist to use racist tropes and symbols in ways that reprogram or interrogate or challenge that racism. No one gets to tell us what we can and can’t do with the symbols of our own oppression.”

Can Drake’s use of blackface be seen as hurtful and insensitive? Yes. But it was not done with a malicious intent to degrade anyone. To argue he can’t use this form of expression strictly because he is mixed, now that is just straight bias.

 

 

 

 

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Why Anthony Bourdain Mattered

I had just finished my work at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Summit conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Exhausted, yet exhilarated over meeting so many people of color with entrepreneurial dreams, goals, and pursuits – I retired to my hotel; happy and tired. As I do so often on a business trip, I kept the TV on to news. Calculating about six hours of sleep before I had to get up to work again, I was jolted in the fifth hour. CNN broke the news that its celebrated travel journalist and on-location bad boy, Anthony Bourdain, was dead.

I am a foodie and a huge fan of chefs. Being an atrocious cook yet one who can make something palatable by fanatically following a recipe as closely as a programmer writes code, I am enamored of those who take the time to make the stuff that keeps our bodies alive and also can bring the deliciousness. Or, enamored of those who can tell us where to find the delicious food and why it is to be appreciated. Hence, my almost 15-year devotion to Bourdain; not only as the ultimate foodie, chef, and adventurer, but as a profound, soul-stirring writer.

I met him first as did many, by reading his best-selling book Kitchen Confidential. I was enamored. This tall, white man, so prepped to receive all the goods that white maleness bestows- and so different from short, surly, black female me- resonated, He owned up to his privilege and did everything to experience what it was like to be born not so privileged.

From his show “No Reservations” to his CNN stint in “Parts Unknown,” Bourdain wanted to experience and show a world outside of the one in which he was raised. This eternal globetrotter always seemed to say, “Hey sheltered white people; here is a world, a culture, burdens you have never known” without any hesitation or pretense.

Tony Bourdain was the epitome of the 21st century Renaissance Man. Many of us, including people of color, admired him. He had the gift of bringing us cultures different from ours, and without any  condescension.

Anthony Bourdain mattered. A former junkie, someone who knew what is was to be in debt, someone who went through divorce – he was so many of us. And yet, in his too short life, he touched so many and brought different peoples and cultures together in ways no one else could.

Please, if you are suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts, get help.

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