No Need for Third Presidential Debate

No Need for Third Presidential Debate

By Cheryl Mattox Berry

We’ve seen enough. If you haven’t made up your mind by now, I can’t imagine what else you need to hear from Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

What I don’t want to see and hear is Trump snorting into the microphone, snarling and glaring at Clinton. I can’t take any more demeaning remarks made under his breath as she’s talking. She takes the debates seriously. He rants like a wild man.

Trump’s bombastic behavior is typical of a schoolyard bully. He belittles Clinton by bringing up former President Bill Clinton’s infidelity, which has nothing to do with her bid for office. He’s using sex to put Hillary in her place and turn voters against her.

When it comes to women, Trump seems to relate to them only in sexual terms. We’ve heard his crude remarks about grabbing women and kissing them, and several women have confirmed that he’s made unwanted sexual advances. He even made ugly remarks about Ciinton’s appearance after the last debate, another attempt to objectify her.

Trump isn’t fit to be the president of anything. He discriminates based on a person’s race, religion, gender, color, creed, you name it. Trump is the antithesis of the U.S. Constitution and hasn’t shown an interest in anyone or anything but himself throughout his life.

Clinton is the best choice based on her track record of helping those less fortunate from her days as a young lawyer, first lady of Arkansas, first lady of the United States, U.S. senator and secretary of state. She’s human and has made some mistakes, but they’re not of a magnitude that disqualify her from being president.

You know what Clinton represents and what to expect from her: compassion, empathy, even temperament, clear-cut policies, ability to build a concensus, knowledge of world affairs and respect from world leaders. That’s who deserves to be in the White House.

Beauty Pageants: Trump’s Harems

Beauty Pageants: Trump’s Harems
 Miss Universe 2016 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach Miss Philippines

Miss Universe 2016
Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach
Miss Philippines

By Cheryl Mattox Berry

Reports that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump barged into the dressing room of Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA contestants and leered at them while they were half-dressed is yet another example of his sense of entitlement and lack of respect for women.

Who does that?

A millionaire businessman who is so secure in his celebrity and power that he knows no one would dare reveal his perverted behavior. Until now.

Thankfully, he has sold both pageants so the contestants don’t have to worry about him any more.

The larger question is why are these pageants still being held in the 21st Century? They’re  demeaning to girls and young women, and a holdover from the days of a patriarchal society.

Young women say they enter pageants to get scholarships and launch their careers. However, they don’t get all of the cash and prizes promised to them, and often end up spending more for clothes and other expenses than they make. In 2016, there are other avenues to achieve both goals that don’t require women to parade on stage wearing stillettos, skimpy swimsuits and fake smiles.

Growing up, I was a fan of beauty pageants, especially Miss America. We sat around the TV and rooted for our homegirl, Miss Tennessee. Later, I learned that many of these young women suffered from anorexia and bulimia – serious health issues. There’s nothing pretty about them.

Supporters claim that pageants improve a young woman’s self-confidence and public speaking skills, and teach her how to compete in society. While that may be true, pageants also force a woman to strive for an impossible standard of beauty that haunts her beyond the days of competing.

It’s time to put beauty pageants on a shelf. They do nothing but objectify women and give misogynistic men, like Trump, an opportunity to live out their fantasies.

                                                       “Beauty fades. Dumb is forever.” – Judge Judy


Urge Friends to Get A Mammogram

Urge Friends to Get A Mammogram

By Cheryl Mattox Berry

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I usually get a mammogram in August, a month after my annual gynecological visit. This year, I didn’t get around to it until September and worried for a whole month that something might be wrong.

After my mammogram, I attended a meeting and mentioned that I had been poked, mashed, pulled and manipulated from top to bottom because I had a mammogram and physical therapy on my fractured foot that day.

A friend, who is in her late 60s, casually said she needed to schedule a mammogram because she hadn’t gotten one in two or three years. She didn’t seem worried, but it bothered me because I know firsthand the importance of early detection.

Several years ago, our mutual friend said she had been putting off having a mammogram because they were so painful. I hounded her until she got one. It turned out that she did have breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy, and is now cancer free.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women get annual screenings for breast cancer starting at age 45, and get them every other year when they reach 55. Needless to say, I’m making it my personal mission to get my friend to a diagnostic center.

Sadly, many Hispanic women are like my friends and don’t get mammograms. In fact, they have the lowest mammography rate. According to a 2013 study by the American Cancer Society, the rate was 62 percent for Hispanic women; 67 percent for Asian women; 66 percent for non-Hispanic blacks and whites; and 63 percent for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The reasons for the low rate among Hispanic women are numerous: lack of financial resources, limited access to medical care, poverty, illiteracy, discrimination and machismo. Many Hispanic women experience abandonment and loss of self-esteem with a cancer diagnosis.

More education – targeted for men, too – needs to be done in the Hispanic community, and all women must make health their No 1 priority. Studies show that most women survive early detection of breast cancer. That’s reason enough to get screened each year.

BTW: I got a letter from the Women’s Diagnostic Center yesterday, and my mammogram results were normal. Yay!

Women Need to Tackle the Gun Problem

Women Need to Tackle the Gun Problem

140730113813-01-guns-file-large-169By Cheryl Mattox Berry

“In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man; if you want anything done, ask a woman.” – Margaret Thatcher

Ladies, enough with the talk, tears and hand-wringing. it’s time we took the lead in getting guns out of our cars, houses and communities. I’m sick and tired of watching videos of senseless killings at schools, in front yards and during police confrontations.

As women, we know how to get things done when the odds are stacked against us. We gather our  sistah-friends, start a dialogue and then take it to our church, sorority and other organizations. After the movement gains steam, we turn to lawmakers and law enforcement to rectify the problem.

First, we must disavow ourselves and loved ones of the notion that guns are needed for protection. That could be a tough sell in drug-riddled and gang-infested neighborhoods, but keep in mind that the drug dealers and gangs usually shoot at each other.

When their bullets go awry and hit an innocent bystander, the gun locked away in your closet is useless. Getting guns off the streets, however, would increase your chances of survival in that same neighborhood during a fight between gangs.

I know, the National Rifle Association is a powerful lobby and beats back any attempts at gun control. We have to put a face on those fatal bullets to make our narrative more compelling, and unfortunately, there are plenty of names to choose from.

The stories of mothers whose children have been killed and women who must raise children alone because the fathers have been gunned down must be told to convince our leaders to do something. NOW.

There are some foundations and organizations that are addressing the problem, such as Moms Demand Action which has chapters in each state, but they need more women to join the cause.

We need to address this issue with the same tenacity that black Americans did to gain their civil rights and like women who fought for voting rights. We can’t afford to lose any more children and black men. It’s time to RISE UP!

Me Time is a Necessity

Me Time is a Necessity

By Cheryl Mattox Berry

Hallelujah! Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is back on the campaign trail. You’d think she committed a federal crime by taking a few sick days. Her bout with pneumonia is a reminder that we need to take better care of ourselves, and not be afraid to say we’re sick and need to shut it down.

Note No. 1 to self: I’m not Superwoman.

I know, we’re wired to believe that no one else can do the job; we have to prove that we can handle work like our male counterparts; and fear illness might be perceived as a sign of weakness.

Where is that written? We need to delete those thoughts and replace them with a more sensible attitude toward work. We can’t help others unless we are well. I’m reminded of that each time I fly. During safety instructions, the flight attendant tells you to put on your oxygen mask first, then your child’s.



Too often we work ourselves to the point of exhaustion and end up missing a few days of work. Once we’re well, it’s back to the same old work habits until we’re felled by illness again. It might be more serious the second time, and forces us to listen to our bodies and make changes.

Note No. 2 to self: I’m not a robot; I’m human.

When it comes to work/life balance, we need to take a few lessons from the millennials. They’ll put in a good day’s work but make time to socialize with friends and family. They don’t see the value in excessively long hours with no off days.

This weekend, take a good look at your schedule. Have you factored in time for yourself? When was the last time you exercised, went to the movies or read a book? If you’re the family member who always volunteers to chauffeur elderly family members or kids, ask someone else to do it. Then, do something you enjoy.

Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself. In the end, your family will benefit from having a wife/mother/daughter/sister who is mentally and physically able to meet all challenges.

Note No. 3 to self: Life is short; Take time to grow some roses.

Not Happy With Service, Write a Letter of Complaint

Not Happy With Service, Write a Letter of Complaint

By Cheryl Mattox Berry

What do you do when carefully arranged plans go awry due to no fault of your own or a service you paid for was less than perfect?

A.  Suffer in silence

B.  Cuss out an employee though that person has no authority at the company

C.  Complain to friends

D. Tell yourself you’ll deal with it later but never do.

My answer: Write a letter to the Customer Service Department or head of the company.

Friends joke that I should start a business that specializes in writing such letters because I’ve sent  so many in recent years. It’s not that I’m a whiner or nitpicker. I believe that when I pay money for something, I should get exactly what was promised. Here are a few examples of problems I’ve encountered that led to one of my letters:

On a trip to Paris, I booked a City of Lights Tour, which started at 8 p.m. Well, at that time of night in June it’s still daylight. I didn’t know that it doesn’t get dark until around 10 p.m., but the tour operators did so why would they offer a tour that began and ended before nightfall?

I tried to get a refund on-site, but the cashier gave me the run around. After I returned home, I wrote a long letter explaining the absurdity of the tour and got a full refund.

The airlines – pick one – get the most letters from me because they’re always messing up. Usually it takes only one email to resolve a problem, but I had to write three letters to get fair compensation for my mother-in-law’s lost luggage.

An agent checked her bag at the gate and assured my mother-in-law that it would be waiting for her when she arrived in Memphis. However, the bright blue carry-on, which she bought to avoid checking luggage, was nowhere in sight.

Initially, the airlines offered $100, which covered the cost of the bag but not the contents. After going back and forth for three months, she finally received $450.

In May, I paid the airlines twice for one bag. When the ticket agent informed me of my mistake, I asked that $25 be credited to my Visa card. She told me that the airlines didn’t give refunds. “Oh, yes it will,” I told her. I wrote the airlines and received the credit two months later.

It takes time and patience to deal with problems, but you do yourself a disservice by not following up if you weren’t satisfied. Plus, companies needs to know when they’re doing a lousy job.

My letters are very simple: I explain the problem, how it affected me and what I think needs to be done to make me happy. Sometimes, I let the company offer compensation first, and then we negotiate.

So far, I’ve had a 100 percent success rate. That’s something to write about.

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.


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.