Prince Ea Social Media Video is On Point

Prince Ea Social Media Video is On Point
Prince Ea

Prince Ea

By Cheryl Mattox Berry

Okay, I’m a little late to the party, but overnight I’ve become a big fan of Prince Ea, the spoken word artist/filmmaker/musician/motivational speaker, who has legions of fans on Facebook and YouTube.

His video, Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?, was shown at a conference I attended for college-age young women. The video spoke to many concerns that adults have about social media: It keeps young people from developing real relationships, affects self-esteem, destroys the ability to use words to express feelings, and focuses on materialism and superficial things, such as hair, clothes and body.

Prince Ea, 27, raps about the dangers of social media in a way that ought to make young people take notice. In rapid-fire rhymes, he tells them that technology has made us more selfish and separate as ever and how they measure self-worth by the number of followers and likes while ignoring those who actually love them.

He urges young people to not let social media dictate their lives. Take some cues from him: He prefers to enjoy a special moment instead of recording it with a phone and eating his meals rather than taking a picture of them.

As the video played, I looked around around the room. I wasn’t surprised to find many young ladies glued to their phones. I wanted to snatch the phone from the student seated next to me and yell at her, “This is exactly what he’s talking about. Listen and learn,” but I refrained.

Prince Ea, whose pseudonym means Prince of the Earth in Sumerian mythology, says the purpose of video is to show young people that they should be balanced. Check out the Can We Auto-Correct Humanity? video on YouTube, and let the young people in your life watch it. Then, ask them what they’ll do differently now that they know social media can take over their lives and keep them from truly enjoying what they’re so busy Face-Tweet-Snap-Insta-Pinning about.

Feminism: No Longer a Dirty Word?

Feminism: No Longer a Dirty Word?
President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

By Cheryl Mattox Berry

A big thank-you to President Barack Obama for his support of feminism in the August issue of Glamour magazine.

In an article, the president describes himself as a feminist and defines feminism in the 21st Century as “the idea that when everybody is equal we are all more free.” Obama says he’s aware of the challenges women face, and his views on feminism have been shaped by watching his mother, wife and two daughters.

Obama embracing what had become a dirty word should be transformational for this generation of women and men. Back in the 1970s, feminism was given a bad rap. Those who joined the women’s liberation movement were quickly branded lesbians and man-haters.

The negative image caused many women to reject the feminist label, though they strongly believed in issues on the movement’s agenda: reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, sexual harassment, sexual violence, women’s suffrage and equal pay for equal work.

I’ve been a feminist since I took a women’s literature class in college from a female professor whose husband was a stay-at-home dad, which was unheard of at the time. The ideas we discussed in class validated what I had felt all along about a woman’s role in society.

However, I was naive to think that these ideas would be welcomed in the workplace. It wasn’t easy in the late 1970s and 1980s speaking your mind when white men weren’t used to a woman – especially a black woman – standing up for herself.

If it wasn’t right, I was going to same something about it. If you treated me unfairly, you would get an earful. That was the only way I knew how to be. All the women in my life – mother, grandmother and great-grandmother – were outspoken.

I also took cues from my colleagues in the newsroom, most of whom were men. I knew their salaries and asked that mine be raised when i found out there was a difference.

My boldness earned respect, but sometimes I lost opportunities. When I worked my first job as a TV reporter, the news director offered me a job doing the morning news cut-ins without a salary bump.

He was aware that I wanted to stop working weekends, and I knew that I should have gotten extra money for being on the air. I turned down the job and continued working weekends to prove that I wouldn’t be taken advantage of. I soon got another job in a larger market.

I’ve passed on the lessons I’ve learned throughout my career to my daughter and nieces. In their personal and professional lives, I’ve told them that they deserve to be treated equally and with respect. Demand it!

The Olympics, Life Expectancy and Injuries

The Olympics, Life Expectancy and Injuries

By Cheryl Mattox Berry

The Olympics

Watching the female athletes perform at the Olympics demonstrates once again how sports can play an important role in a girl or young woman’s life. When you read the back stories of the athletes, you’ll learn that many of them overcame tremendous odds on the road to Rio de Janiero.

It was through their sport that they learned how to channel their feelings into something positive for themselves and their country. Sports teaches a girl discipline, goal-setting, team building skills and how to accept defeat. It gives her self-confidence and pushes her beyond what she thinks she’s capable of doing.

Studies show that high school girls who play sports are less likely to get pregnant; get better grades in school; and graduate at higher rates than girls who don’t play sports. They also have higher self-esteem and a more positive body image.

Even if she doesn’t become an Olympian, a girl can benefit from the lessons learned by participating in sports. Encourage your daughters, granddaughters, nieces, cousins and goddaughters to find a sport they like and excel in it. They’ll thank you later.

Another Reason to Get Active

According to a study published in Health Affairs, blacks are more likely to face disabilities in their later years than whites. Sixty-five-year-old whites could expect 15 of their remaining 20 years to be active, compared with black seniors  who could expect only 12 of their remaining 18 years to be active.

The reasons: Blacks are more likely to be in worse health earlier in life, uninsured and have higher rates of obesity and cardiovascular risk factors.

Misdiagnosis

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my sprained ankle. As it turns out, the doctor at the urgent care clinic failed to properly diagnose my injury. He took x-rays and found “no broken bones,” and gave me a prescription for Naproxen. He didn’t advise me to follow up with my doctor.

About four weeks later, my foot was still swollen and painful. I went to a podiatrist, who also took x-rays. He found three fractures and said I probably had more. He gave me two anti-inflammatory shots in the foot and ordered an MRI, which found a total of six fractures and contusions in my mid-foot.

The podiatrist said urgent care doctors miss 25 to 30 percent of fractures because they’re not specialists.

He said it’s too late to put my foot in a cast. It will have to heal on its on, and that may take several months. He gave me two more anti-inflammatory shots and a script for more anti-inflammatory meds.

Until the foot heals, no excessive walking, running, dancing or exercise using the foot. That doesn’t leave me with very many options.  Once again – as I did with the ruptured Achilles tendon – I’m calling on the patience gods to keep me sane through this process.

The takeaway: Avoid urgent care clinics if you can. Go to the emergency room or your primary care physician.

Image of Female Athletes Needs Improvement

Image of Female Athletes Needs Improvement
Serena Williams

Serena Williams

By Cheryl Mattox Berry

A day after I’m nearly blinded by Dove’s “My Beauty My Say” message on a billboard in Microsoft Square near the Staples Center in Los Angeles, tennis star Serena Williams’ twerking video pops up on TV.

Talking about mixed messages.

Williams’ so-called instructional twerking video for Self magazine and a Snapchat of her twerking prior to Team USA hitting the field for opening ceremonies at the Olympics in Rio de Janiero make a mockery of Dove’s latest beauty campaign.

In a letter on the gigantic LED billboard, Dove implores the media to refrain from using sexist language to portray female athletes because it undermines their achievements and chips away at their self-confidence.

Did someone forget to tell Williams, the No. 1 ranked women’s singles player, and the other female athletes to act the way they want to be treated? How do you expect the media to respect your athletic prowess when you’re performing like a stripper? I don’t recall seeing any male athletes bouncing and rolling their butts before the camera.

Isn’t twerking passé anyway?

As a journalist who worked hard to eliminate racist language about blacks and Hispanics on TV and in newspapers, I understand the importance of treating female athletes like their male counterparts. The focus should be on their athletic ability, not their looks.

However, female athletes need to make sure they don’t invite comments about their bodies by acting in a sexualized manner, such as twerking. (In Williams’ case, of course, the comments were about the size of her butt.)

To make sure Dove’s message is heard by the right people, I made a point of telling my husband, Jim Berry, the CBS sports anchor in Miami, to be careful with words he uses to describe female athletes.

A female writer at The Miami Herald had already given him an earful after remarks about Venus Williams’ new hairstyle at the Miami Open last March. Jim claims he would have mentioned a new do by a male tennis player but conceded that her point was well taken.

If you read or hear comments about a female athlete’s hair, face, body parts or overall looks, write a letter to the news organization. You don’t want people judging you like that and neither do female gymnasts, runners, swimmers, basketball players, volleyball players, boxers, etc. Female athletes deserve respect.

Don’t Blindly Follow Celebrity Endorsements

Don’t Blindly Follow Celebrity Endorsements

By Cheryl Mattox Berry

I like shopping at boutiques, but sometimes the sales associates hover too much and get on my nerves. When I walked into one boutique looking for a dress, a store employee pounced on me at the door, saying she had the perfect pair of pants – the Lisette brand Oprah Winfrey raved about on her talk show.

She didn’t ask whether I was looking for anything special as they usually do. She just assumed because the pants were a fave of Winfrey’s that I would fall in love with them. I explained nicely that I don’t buy a product simply because Celebrity X endorses it.

Winfrey has her favorite things, and so do I. Rarely does our list contain the same items. Besides, nothing comes between me and my NYDJ shorts, capris, ankle, boyfriend and straight pants.

When I didn’t find a dress, I sauntered over to the pants rack, and the woman continued to pitch the $125 Lisette pants, even shoving them toward me so that I could feel the fabric. They looked and felt a lot like a style of Alfani pants sold at Macy’s for about $40.

Out of curiosity, I tried them on. They were stretchy, comfortable and made me look slimmer, just like the lower-priced Alfani pants.

However, the Lisette pants were about five inches too short. The saleslady offered the shop’s alteration services, saying the seamstress could add length. I was sure the pants still wouldn’t be long enough to keep them from looking like high waters, and altering them would hike the price by $30.

I blocked out the saleslady’s infomercial about the Lisette pants and Winfrey, and took them off. If I wanted that style of pants I would definitely go with the Alfani brand because they looked the same and fit better (longer) than the Lisette brand, and cost less.

As I left the store sans pants, I remembered the TV and radio commercials featuring Sy Syms, founder of the now-defunct Syms stores. He coined the slogan, “An Educated Consumer is Our Best Customer.” I’ll add the following advice, “Don’t be a slave to celebrity endorsements.”

The Truth Will Set You Free

The Truth Will Set You Free
Melania Trump

Melania Trump

By Cheryl Mattox Berry

For a minute, I thought lexicographers had removed the word “sorry” from the dictionary, and I missed the memo.

The Melania Trump speech debacle is the latest example of how some people refuse to take responsbility for their actions and let others take the blame because they don’t want to look bad.

Lying isn’t a good look either.

For a day, the Trump campaign had us thinking that we were deaf and blind for believing that Melania’s speech was lifted from first lady Michelle Obama’s address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Typical Trump campaign strategy: deny and attack.

Then, staffers did a turnabout and admitted passages were taken from Obama’s speech. Apparently, the Trumps didn’t care that they were setting a poor example for their kids and grandkids by denying Melania’s plagiarism.

As a child, I was taught to apologize when you stepped on someone’s toes, interrupted their conversation or committed some other mishap. However, apologies are hard to come by these days from children and adults.

People blame everything and everybody but themselves. They mistakenly think that admitting you’re wrong is a sign of weakness. However, it’s just the opposite. Saying “I’m sorry” shows that you’re human and big enough to know that you don’t always get it right.

Coming clean also clears the air so that you can move forward. It’s difficult working with someone when you question their integrity. You’re constantly doing things to cover yourself knowing that one day it might come back on you.

The proverb, “Honesty is the best policy,” needs to make a viral comeback and not just for Baby Boomers. Millennials, in particular, need to be taught that it’s okay to admit that you’ve made a mistake. Trying to cover it up just makes matters worse.

I’m woman enough to say “I’m sorry,” are you?

Women to Celebrate

Women to Celebrate
Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton

By Cheryl Mattox Berry

Although it’s not Women’s History Month, which is celebrated in March, I think there are some women who deserve recognition for their courage, tenacity and foresight.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Throughout all the investigations into her use of a private server for classified emails, Clinton stayed focus on her bid to become the first female president of the United States. She has maintained her poise and dignity in the face of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s rants.

Given her background as a former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state, she’s much more qualified to run this country than any Republican opponent. She is a politician and knows the ins and outs of Washington, and how to bring all parties to the bargaining table. That’s who I want in the Oval Office.

 

Qandeel Baloch

Pakistani social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch (real name Fauzia Azzem) wasn’t a household name in the United States, but she was a popular and controversial figure in her country.

Baloch’s posts and pictures of herself engaging in activities (a sexy dance and playing with a Muslim cleric) considered scandalous in conservative Pakistani society apparently led to her death. Her brother is accused of strangling her as she slept in a so-called honor killing last week.

A self-described feminist, Baloch urged women to stand up for themselves, each other, justice and demand equal rights.

Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors

Activist Alicia Garza of Oakland and her friend, Patrisse Cullors of Los Angeles, started the Black Lives Matter movement on July 13, 2013, after George Zimmerman was acquitted of fatally shooting unarmed teen Trayvon Martin in Florida.

The Black Lives Matter organization has grown to 40 chapters and is part of a nationwide network of groups that organize protests against police slayings of unarmed black citizens, police brutality and other issues.

Weeping Ivy Eight 

In 2009, eight women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., sued the sorority, then-International President Barbara McKinzie and its leaders for financial malfeasance. They accused McKinzie of stealing more than $2 million and diverting funds for personal use.

The women: Joy Elaine Daley, Newburgh, N.Y.; Kezirah Means Vaughters, Wyncote, Penn.; Carol P. Ray, Philadelphia; Elizabeth Berry Holmes, Wyncote, Penn.; Catherine Alicia Georges, Bronx, N.Y.; Marie L. Cameron, Atlanta; Brenda Georges, Fairburn, Ga.; and Frances Tyus, Warrensville Heights, Ohio.

In retaliation, McKinzie suspended the women, and they endured a backlash from some members who were angry that they had exposed the sorority’s dirty laundry. The plaintiffs were eventually re-instated, and the ultimate vindication came last week at the AKA international convention where McKinzie was expelled from the sorority for stealing $1.3 million.

Full Disclosure: I am a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., the nation’s oldest black sorority. 

Listen to Your Inner Voice

Listen to Your Inner Voice

1335298102955658970Speech Bubble with Stop Sign.svg.medBy Cheryl Mattox Berry

Have you ever been ready to do something and the little voice in your head starts talking? Do you heed that advice? Sometimes I do, and sometimes I dont. When I ignore my inner voice, I regret it.

Case in point: Three weeks ago, I decided to retrieve something from the garage around 1 a.m. I flipped on the light switches upstairs and took three steps before I realized that I had only turned on one set of lights. The lower stairs weren’t lit.

The inner voice told me to go back and flip the second switch so that the stairs would be illuminated all the way to the first floor. Well, I kept going, thinking that I could see well enough in the dark. Wrong. I missed the last step, fell and sprained my ankle. The loud noise woke my daughter who ran downstairs and found me sprawled on the tile floor.

My foot was twisted grotesquely underneath me, and the pain was worse than when I ruptured my Achilles tendon playing tennis four years ago. Not only was I embarrassed but also angry with myself because I knew better. It would’ve taken me only a couple of seconds to go back and turn on the other set of lights.

Note to self: Listen to my inner voice.

By definition, that small voice is a monologue we have with ourselves. You hear it all the time, especially when you’re anxious, in a hurry or distracted. When you’re not in our right mind, common sense and wisdom get tossed aside. Enter the little voice.

Some writers and philosophers call it the voice of God or your soul. It’s reassuring, protective, persuasive, powerful and ever-present. I call the inner voice my guardian angel. I’m going to slow down and listen to her from now on.

Don’t Suffer Through Menopause

Don’t Suffer Through Menopause

By Cheryl Mattox Berry

You’ve seen them fanning incessantly while proclaiming to everyone in earshot that they’re having a private summer. You’ve witnessed their irritability and keep your distance. The two of you play a game of seesaw with the thermostat.

Women going through menopause are easy to spot. If you ask them, they’ll rattle off a list of complaints, including night sweats, insomnia, weight gain and, of course, those hot flashes.

Then, they’ll shrug as if it’s one of those female things, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Au contraire.There’s medication for menopause – prescription and over the counter.

Unfortunately, many women have heard old wives’ tales about women who took hormones, and they won’t even consider it. Some even brag about going through menopause drug-free as if it’s a badge of honor.

I hate to see women suffer when there’s help readily available. It doesn’t help that research on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been confusing over the years. At one time, HRT was touted as the fountain of youth. Then came news that it could lead to breast cancer, heart attack and stroke.

According to recent studies, the age that you begin HRT determines whether it is potentially heart-protective or contributes to your chance of heart attack and stroke.

Taking hormones was a no-brainer for me. I couldn’t sleep, and everyone and everything got on my nerves. The tipping point was when I looked into the linen closet one day and went off because someone had folded the towels the wrong way. I knew that I needed help. Fast.

After several herbal products failed, I sought help from my gynecologist. He said at the outset that I should be on HRT for the shortest period of time. After two years, my symptoms had subsided, and I stopped taking medication.

I can’t imagine what I would’ve done had I not gone on HRT. I was thisclose to burning down the house, which would have left me homeless, husbandless and hormonal.

To determine whether HRT is right for you, talk to your doctor. Make an informed decision, not one based on what your grandmother, auntie, godmother or girlfriend say they heard.

Thinking about Cosmetic Surgery: Go For It

Thinking about Cosmetic Surgery: Go For It

By Cheryl Mattox Berry

Dr. Marcus Crawford of Atlanta Plastic

Dr. Marcus Crawford of Atlanta Plastic

The last time I got together with girlfriends for Happy Hour, the conversation eventually turned to our aging bodies, specifically what we’d go under the knife to change. Survey said: boobs (perkier,) bellies (flatter) and erasing those facial lines that make us look tired and angry.

Of course, we were under the influence of potent cocktails when we drew up our wish list, and no one whipped a cellphone to make an appointment with a plastic surgeon. However, more and more men and women, especially people of color, are making a trip to the doctor’s office to fix something they don’t like.

In 2013, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that 1.2 million procedures or 8 percent of the total number were performed on African-Americans. Between 2005 and 2013, the group estimates the number of cosmetic procedures performed on blacks rose 56 percent, compared to 35 percent for non-Hispanic whites. Among Asians and Hispanics, the numbers grew faster.

I’ve been watching patients get plastic surgery on Atlanta Plastic, a Lifetime reality TV show that features three black cosmetic surgeons who perform body magic on mostly minority patients. This program is not for the faint of heart because it shows graphic, closeup video of surgeons in the operating room, slicing through bloody tissue, sucking out fat and stuffing breast implants in chests.

The show takes you from the consultation, into surgery, through the painful recovery and finally the big reveal. The patients are ordinary people. Many have lost weight and want excess skin removed. Some have deformities, such as uneven breasts. A lot of women want breast augmentation or their pre-baby bodies back.

Doctors ask patients to explain how the problem they want corrected has affected their life. That was the eye-opening part for me. These people aren’t trying to look like celebrities: They just want to feel and look normal.

Not everyone is a candidate for cosmetic surgery because of a medical condition or they need to lose more weight. It’s amazing how many people get angry when the doctor turns them down. They are reminded that staying alive is more important than looks.

I used to think only vain people and celebrities underwent cosmetic surgery, but after seeing Atlanta Plastic I now know that fixing what you think is broken boosts your self-confidence and allows you to live the life you deserve.

Tip: Go to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ website at www.plasticsurgery.org, to find a board-certified cosmetic surgeon. The site also provides information on patient safety and what to expect following surgical procedures.