Being a Strong Black Woman in 2017 by Nancy L. Collins

You speak your mind. You don’t hold back your feelings. Standing up for others, who cannot do it for themselves, is what drives you. Wearing your feelings on your shoulders is a “no, no.”

However with every chance that’s allowed, you take life by the horns! You have been given rotten peaches and sour cream. Yet you have turned it around for your good. Despite everything and everyone negative, that has come your way, somehow you made it all work for you!! Many people don’t understand you. It’s been a constant battle to defend yourself and/or your actions.

Nevertheless allow me to encourage you today. Keep being you!! There are enough people in the world who don’t stand up for anything! Everything gets a pass with them. Nothing ruffles their feathers. Don’t become like them. Your personality and strength is needed! You were created with and for a purpose.

People who may not be as strong as you, are awaiting your arrival. They need your passion & fire! They need to be pushed and encouraged in the right direction. If you stop being you, (it’s possible) that those person’s will never get to their next level in life.

Be you!! Be the Strong Black Woman whom you were created to be! Stop explaining yourself, to people who are not concerned about knowing you. After today, it’s no longer your problem if others don’t get you. Of course this is not a written permission to become unruly or hateful. Yet it is a permission to stand strong.

Understand this, being a Strong Black Woman will never be easy. You will be labeled as having a bad attitude, being a loud mouth, messy, angry, lonely, and every other negative thing you can think of. Most persons who give out those labels to Strong Black Women, are probably at a loss as to how to handle her.

Don’t hold it against them. Some men find it hard to date those type of women. While other men, find those types of women invigorating. Many days you may feel alone. The quantity of equal minded friends, may present itself as a challenge. Don’t throw in the towel. Keep being you. No matter how long it takes, the right persons will enter into your life and appreciate you.

You’re on the right path just for you. Trust and believe, they are plenty of other sisters traveling down the same road as you. Link up with those sisters. Build a network. Work on Friendships. Stand confident in who you are. Be unique. Be you. Be strong. For someone is waiting on the strength that lies in you!


Why are we Broke, Black People? By Toni Larue

“Dr. King organized the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968 to shut down Washington, D.C. and force legislators to tackle poverty. His efforts to shift focus from civil to silver rights were interrupted by his untimely death. He fought ardently for Black rights, but he also recognized financial literacy as the key to an America that was truly free for all people”. ~John Hope Bryant

Every Black family should invest in a family business. I believe in that statement and in fact I’ve been working on making it happen. I have several independent businesses that I own with my husband but wanted to widen the opportunities.

I reached out to my family and my husband’s side of the family and the discussion I had with them led to the following article. Why are Black people broke? I received a plethora of responses to why people think our community is lacking financial prosperity. I’m going to highlight a few of those claims:

Every generation starts from scratch: Some of us are lucky to enter the world with a financial head start. It could a be trust fund, a home, stocks and bonds, a large sum of money to invest, something that gives you an edge over the rest. Unfortunately, most Black generations are forced to start from scratch because the generations before us left us with nothing.

I stumbled across this article online called, African Americans Face Financial Challenges (2013), that proposed a reason it’s difficult for Black families to get ahead. “Family responsibilities weigh heavy in the African American community.

Some 40 percent of African American households are headed by women with no partner or spouse, compared to 26 percent of female-only heads of household in the general population. On top of that, 33 percent of African American households are financially supporting children and grandchildren younger than 18, and 9 percent are supporting parents or grandparents. In the general population, only 25 percent support children younger than 18 and 4 percent support parents or grandparents” (Phipps,2013)

Lacking Financial literacy: Before you think of building generational wealth one thing to pass down is financial literacy. What good would it do to pass down a fortune to someone who doesn’t understand how money works? They will only run through the wealth you’ve acquired, leaving the generation that follows, high and dry.

Fixed Income: A fixed income isn’t just associated with people who collect social security, disability, etc… Fixed income is correlated with receiving one income from one source. In order to build generational wealth, we must acquire various streams of income (that can be passed down). It is not enough depending on a job to provide you with overtime in order to increase your income. Never allow one person or employer to control whether or not your family eats. Be in control of your earnings.

Integration and not supporting Black Business: I wrote an article a while ago about integration being the demise of Black wealth. I believe that our need to assimilate has destroyed our need to support our own people.  Psychologically, there is a lot that we must work on as a community to understand why it is hard for us to support our own people but for now seek out some Black owned businesses and support them.

“One Generation Plants the Trees; another gets the shade”. ~Chinese Proverb


Phipps, Jennie L. (May 21,2013). African Americans face financial challenges. Retrieved from

 Author bio:

Toni Larue

author-Toni-LarueToni has new novels out titled No Kissing that is available on Amazon:


Photo Credits:  Multi-generational Wealth. Digital image. 4 Keys to Building Generation Wealth. October 26th, 2015. Web. April 17th, 2017.


Your Patience is Key-By Charlotte Croom Martin

In a world filled with so much going on where do we find the time to have some patience? This is a question that a select few people are asking themselves. 

We can take a tour bus ride through New York City and see just how much patience is displayed. For example, we see a group of ladies trying to cross the street before the light turn red, but here is a taxi cab driver trying to make a turn at the same corner where the ladies are trying to cross the street. 

So where is the patience here I ask myself. Here is another senior you are in the checkout   line at Walmart and there are two customers ahead of you, they are smiling and talking to the cashier as they are making their purchase and then you say  out loud enough for them to hear, “can we speed up the talking some of us got to go to work.” Again, where is your patience?

In our everyday life, we can be busy at times but we should find some patience along the way at the right time. If we don’t know how to show patience, how do we expect for people to have patience when we just may need it? Here are just some of the places where your patience are needed; on the job when we are dealing with co-workers and our boss. 

At home, we especially need here because we are dealing with our front line important people in our lives. When the children need help with homework or projects that has a dead line. Another one is in our marriage sometimes partners do not always see eye to eye on every issue and we got to have patience that that partner will come around. 

Last is learning to have patience when you are asking God to help you get out of a mess that you put yourself into. Now you know you been in that thing for a while so be patience and wait for the answer from him. To many times we move before God on a situation and mess things up for ourselves.

In the Old Testament in the bible, God was patiently waiting for Israel to choose to obedience but they kept sinning in his face. God gave them ample opportunity to stop sinning and turn towards him but they didn’t so he withdraw his protection from them until they would cry out and return to him. 

So if God is still showing us patience and he is; therefore, let’s show patience for one another on the face of the Earth. With Holidays  approaching us we need to think about patience along the way. Many of us will be out hustling through the Malls and streets trying to buy this and that for our love ones. 

Take time to have patience while waiting in the long line at the grocery store or at the Mall. The truth of the matter is when you have patience and wait on certain things in your life you will get the right job or the right mate and not just any mate. 

Patience is key when we are operating with other people. Not only that but it makes a person feel good because you can display patience when others can’t. This world was not always in the fast pace lane but because of the technology today we want things when we want them and sometimes that is not good.

Sometimes it is good to let things come to you naturally not so much in a hurry. Where would we be if God did not have patience with us today? 

Sit back and think about your day, did you show patience today? What if your husband was not patience with you, wouldn’t you feel some kind of way? Or our boss if they never showed patience, you probably wouldn’t be working there much long.  

We are humans so we will make mistakes along the way. But we can try to do what is right and what we know is right to others. Maybe patience does not mean a thing to you and you care not to show patience. Well that is fine also but we hope nothing will ever happen to you where you will want someone to have patience with you. This is the thing if you are in the field of servicing, you need patience. 

Some jobs more than others need people to have patience. It only takes a few seconds to display patience to your brother or sister or even your neighbor. Just by you showing patience will make someone day especially if they are not having such of a good day.

Author’s Bio

Charlotte Croom Martin is a self-publish author in North Carolina. She works for one of the largest retail stores Walmart. She is known for her smile that brings you to smile. Her 2013 book “In The Stranger’s House” earned her air time on bctv. org as a guest for a topic called”Matters Of CONCERN”.

Social Media:

Charlotte M.  Croon M @AquaBrowneye  twitter

Authoress Charlotte Croom@facebook



It’s Alright by Shaniqka Canty

Today I was able to ask myself a series of questions that I don’t have the answer to and what downloaded to my spirit was that “it’s alright”. I may not have the answers now but they will come. I was on the phone with someone special who I consider a big sister and she said “Just remain open and it will come. It may not be packaged how you expect it to be…but the answer will come!”. I hear that statement so many times but today when I heard it, It felt like a ton of bricks was lifted off my shoulder and my spirit feels so much lighter.

 Whoever is reading this you maybe in a situation and it seems like this answer is not coming fast enough. But I want to ask you. Are you in the receiving position? Some of us (including myself at times) remain with our hands closed instead of being open.

 Sometimes we must be in a giving position to receive FIRST! So I want you to do a self-evaluation and see if you have your hands open or closed. This is a two way street. You have to LOOK BOTH WAYS to get to the OTHER SIDE. We want God to give and give but are we open, ready, willing, able and positioned right. We are here on earth to be served so in return we can be serviced. I want to encourage you to know that it’s alright!

Author: Shanikqa Canty



Photo Credits:  Pixabay Photo


Have Black’s been Trump’d? by Toni Larue

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you down. It’s the pebble in your shoe. ~Muhammad Ali

             It took me awhile to write this article. I wanted to make sure I chose my words carefully because the topic provoked an emotional reaction from most people. Though I want to provoke thought, I do not want to offend anyone and their personal beliefs. In fact, I want this article to be inspiring and not only offer hope but encourage action among Black people. No matter how someone feels about the Presidential election, we must use that fear, anger, anxiety, and apprehension to do something about it. After many rewrites and days of contemplation, I decided to share my thoughts about our newest President elect, Donald Trump.

Just like you, I remember election day. It started off as a normal day. I had a conversation with various clients as they looked forwarded to casting their votes. One client in particular asked me if I was going to vote. My answer…” No!”. I can still see the puzzled look in her eyes and then she asked me why. I explained to her why I felt I had no dog in this race. I’m Black and I’m middle-class.  I went on to say that I didn’t favor either candidate so I decided not to participate in the election.

Later that night I was watching the news as the results were coming in. Many friends and family members were texting me at various points of time when it appeared that Donald Trump was winning by a landslide. I eventually fell asleep before our newest president was elected. I woke up the next morning and asked my husband who won. His response, “Trump!”. I thought about my response for brief a moment and said, “Maybe this is what Black people need to finally rise to the occasion because we’ve been comfortable for too long.”

Like with any subject, I don’t like to speak about what I do not know.  I found after Trump’s election that a lot I discovered that the people who were most upset had no ideas what his policies were. What they didn’t like were the images that were displayed on media throughout presidential campaign. Now, I will be the first to admit that Trump appears to be racist, prejudice, chauvinistic, and so on but what I cared about were his policies and what I found wasn’t bad….

I agree with most of what he “plans” to do, like:

  • Middle class tax reduction
  • Increasing federal funding for low-income (urban) schools
  • Rewrite the tax code to allow working parents to deduct from their income taxes child care and elderly dependents expenses

…to name a few but only time will tell. He has strict policies on crime and plans to heavily fund the military which is common for the Republican party.

After this election, what saddened me was the overwhelming emotional response from Black people. I received a different response from other communities. The morning after the election I went to the nail shop. Not one Korean spoke about Trump winning. For the sake of conversation, I asked the Technician who was doing my nails what he felt about it. His response justified my feelings. He said it doesn’t matter who is in office because his family (and the Korean Community) are self- sufficient. 

Exactly! I thought.

 We shouldn’t be fearful (after all, we survived Bush and Bush, Jr) but we are because we’re too reliant on the government for our success. Donald Trump’s election should be a wake-up call to all Black people. It is time to organize and create our own economy because the government will never be the savior that we keep hoping for.

 “The sooner you realize it’s never going to go back to the way it was, the sooner you will move on. ~Unknown

Photo Credits: For image: Digital image. Trump card.Publish date March 30th, 2016. Retrieved 11/12/2016 at

About the Author:

Toni Larueauthor-Toni-Larue

Toni Larue is an author, entrepreneur and women’s empowerment advocate. She is the author of fiction novels, Abandoned Secrets (available now) and No Kissing (release date TBD), and the co-owner and COO of Team Jon Doe Management and Entertainment and Sounwave Music.



Is Boycotting Effective? By Toni Larue

“The majority of Negroes who took part in the year-long boycott of Montgomery’s buses were poor and untutored; but they understood the essence of the Montgomery movement; one elderly woman summed it up for the rest. When asked after several weeks of walking whether she was tired, she answered: My feet is tired, but my soul is at rest.

~Martin Luther King, Jr

 It was just over 60 years ago when a woman by the name of Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a White passenger on a city bus. The controversial act lead to Parks arrests and sparked the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycotts which lasted 381 days. The 13-month protest ended with the United States ruling that segregation on public buses was unconstitutional.

We haven’t seen an impact as big as the MBB (Montgomery bus boycotts) take place in 60 years which have some people saying that boycotts are just not as effective as they once were. Is this true? Maybe! The act of boycotting isn’t what’s ineffective. I believe it’s the absence of carrying it out and the lack of productivity during and after the boycotts. Think about it. The MBB took place for 381 days. That is over a year of determination and dedication and it paid off well. The problem today is we lack the dedication and we refuse to sacrifice our temporary comfort for the greater cause.

It’s been over a month since the Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile killings. Most people were outraged and fed-up with what was happening and proclaimed to make a difference. A lot of us received text messages and emails saying boycott Target, Walmart, etc. We’ve watched videos telling us to move our money to Black owned banks. WE WERE HYPED!!!  And it lasted for about a week. Though Black owned banks seen an increase in new accounts, the journey doesn’t stop there. Just because the news isn’t talking about it, doesn’t mean we stop talking about it.  Just imagine if Blacks could unify for the greater cause for six months, one year, two years…. How amazing would that be?

Boycotting is effective if applied appropriately. It isn’t something you do as a standalone; meaning don’t JUST boycott for a few hours and spend the rest of your days doing nothing to support the cause.

Here are some tips you can do to make sure your boycott efforts are effective:

  • City specific boycotts
  • Put your money into Black owned banks
  • Support Black owned businesses

“It is easy to sit up and take notice, what is difficult is getting up and taking action.”

~Honore de Balzac

Photo Credits

For image: Digital Image.381 days. Publish date unknown. August 18th, 2016


When will the crimes against black people stop? 

The senseless crimes continue to plague the black community with unjustified shootings of black men. After the holiday, which was the celebration of Independence on July 4th only to wake up to the  senseless murder of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge,LA and less than 24 hours the shooting of Philandro Castile in Minnesota.  It was too much to bare emotionally within one week. Like many of my fellow brothers and sisters I was extremely angry, hurt, disappointed with our justice system, and my heart went out to the family of the victims.  What made me even more mad was how the media decided to flip the focus from the victims to nonsense they called news worthy.

People are crying out about the injustice that continues to plaque the Black Community. Many celebrities spoke out and posted picture memes for their frustration along with the rest of the world. In a country where black men and women were brought to this country in chains in the 1700’s sold and separated from their families only to endure more pain with lynching’s as a way to teach a lesson.  Then to follow in the 20th century with just blatant unjustifiable shootings that take innocent lives with no criminal charges.

The above picture stood out in my mind and truly had me in tears. One would ask, where is the justice in all of this? When can a man Black or Brown be treated equally? When will a Black man be treated like a free man instead of the treatment that was reflected in the history of African Americans?

When will the justice system see Black men and women as equal to any other ethic background? When will corrupted polices officers be charged with murder? We don’t want to hear about desk duty or administrative leave as a form of punishment for their actions. The evidence is clear in the recorded videos that clearly speak for itself. It’s as if the justice system has taken a blind eye to the unfair treatment and senseless killings of African American men and women.

I was happy to see the peaceful rally’s around major cities like Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Chicago. It’s about bringing the awareness to the forefront that we as a nation of people of many ethic races are tired and had enough of the injustice. We are uniting to show our grave concerns for the wrongful shootings that have taken place not just during the week of July 4th  but for several years with many other heartbreaking shootings.  It’s not just about gun control anymore, it’s about the injustice performance against Black men and women.

It’s time to stand up and let our voices be united and heard. We are not hear to add to violence against anyone.  It’s long over due that we must demand justice for the unjust. We have to be their voice and not be silenced. We must set aside our differences and look at the faces that are before us and stop turning a blind eye to the situations at hand. It’s time the world know we matter and our lives are just as important. We are not inferior nor are we animals. You go haunting for animals not human beings.

We have the power to voice our rights, our choices, our position, to demand justice, and most important to exercise our vote in the 2016 election. We do have the power and it’s greater in numbers.  It is important to vote not just in the primary elections but the local elections too. It’s time to get to know the names of judges, district attorney’s, state representatives, ect so that you exercise your right by keeping the hypocrites, the racist, and those who don’t believe or stand for justice for all irregardless of your skin color or gender out of the office.

The oath they take is to protect, serve, provide justice for all not some. It’s time to hold the justice system to be accountable for the actions of those who feel the need to abuse the system.  It’s time to take back our power by electing appropriate officials that will help legislate, implement, and enforce laws that will give criminal charges against those who choose to violate a person because of their ethnic background, skin color, or gender.

Too many lives have been taken way too soon with unjustified actions. It’s time to be held accountable. It’s time to unite a people and a community.  We cannot demand change without standing up together as a community. Are you going to stand up?

Will you join me by taking action on this campaign?

#BlackLivesMatter  #StandUp #TimeForJustice #Vote2016
The article was originally posted on Sistah’s Blog at


Government Dependency is Destroying Black Communities

“No society ever thrived because it had a large and growing class of parasites living off those who produce.” ~Thomas Sowell

By now, if you don’t know, I love running my mouth and picking the brains of those who I have the pleasure of communicating with. Most of the time my conversation with others lead to very interesting topics that I can discuss with my readers. The conversation that I had the other day with a client of mine was no different:

Just when I thought my people were becoming conscience about the things going on around them, I received a figurative slap in the face and then I realize all over again why I write this blog and why I attempt to educate my people. My client and I were going over her finances so naturally that was the head space we both were in. She was explaining her finances and things she was planning to accomplish in the near future and then smiles big and bright, and thanked Jesus that she qualified for subsidized housing…better known as section 8. My response was congratulations but why was I congratulating her as if she had actually accomplished something. The truth is I didn’t know what to say, she was my “young” client (fully capable of working a full-time job and providing her herself) and the customer is always right…right? Now, before I start a war, I am not knocking anyone who receives public assistance but I want to shed the light on an epidemic that is subtly destroying the Black community.

“Government assistance should do exactly that…assist you until you’re in a better situation to provide or yourself and your family. Government assistance should not be the “better situation”. ~Toni Larue

Of course I got out my laptop and did a little research on the topic and here is what I found: Since the “War on Poverty” was implemented by United States President, Lyndon B Johnson (1964) there was an incline in teen pregnancy and the absence of men in the home began to rise.

How does a system that was designed to decrease poverty and make American’s (more so Black American’s) self-sufficient, make us dependent and self-entitled? There are many theories why this is so. Some people claim the government strategically set-out to destroy Black families. Others say the system was designed to create a dependency for the Government to gain and maintain control. I think it’s a little bit a both. Keep reading to see why J

Teen Pregnancy

I remember being a fresh faced college freshman standing in line at the college’s financial aid office. I had all these dreams and aspirations but they were quickly put on hold when I was told my mother made too much money and I didn’t qualify for financial aid. I couldn’t understand how that could be. I didn’t live in the suburbs and my mother worked at a fast food chain and we struggled every day to make ends meet. Feeling frustrated, I vented to a friend. This friend was my age (I was 18 at the time), with two kids. She told me she received assistance to go to school with free childcare. She then went on to say she only had to go to school for the first semester to get her $3000 financial aid check and then she would quite. I was pissed! Here I am, working a full-time job, with no kids and had every intent on making something out of my life and I couldn’t get the Government to even pay for my books? However, someone who couldn’t hold a job for more than two weeks and made the choice to have not one, but two children, was offered opportunities that she only took advance of, not to better herself as a person but to put new rims on her vehicle. I’ve seen this time and time again, young women continuing to have children for the sake of a check.

This brings me to my next point…

Taking the man out of the household

To get this “free” check, women had to be single, meaning the father could not be involved in the child’s life and not providing financially for his children. Sure, some women would lie and claim the male was not in the house hold, however; subconsciously, it created an illusion that is was more beneficial for the woman to be a single mother. In her mind, a man would reduce her income and where is the benefit in that?

When President Lyndon Johnson implement the “War on Poverty”, he stated his objective was to reduce dependency and break the cycle of poverty. However, the “War on Drugs” did the exact opposite. How can government assistance programs reduce poverty and dependency when these same programs make it comfortable for people by rewarding negative behavior?

 Author Bio

Toni Larue is an author, entrepreneur and women’s empowerment advocate. She is the author of fiction novels, Abandoned Secrets (available now) and No Kissing (release date TBD), and the co-owner and COO of Team Jon Doe Management and Entertainment and Sounwave Music.

Photo Credits

We accept EBT. Digital image.Gateway Arch bomb plot stopped by maxed out EBT card?. November 27th, 2014. Web. May 11th,2016.

Simone Carter’s Journey to graduation from Loyola University

Simone Carter graduated from Loyola University Chicago on May 12, 2016 from The School of Communication with degree in Advertising & Public Relations. The journey to completing this great milestone has been long but truly worth the accomplished goal.

Simone’s journey with education started after graduation from Dunwoody High School in Dunwoody, Georgia in May 2009. The high school graduation tests in Georgia was a struggle for her on the math portion. However, with a determined mother and mentors Simone did not allow the frustrations of the Georgia Graduation tests to stop her push toward her goals.  Simone has always been determined and focuses on going off to college just as her mother had the pleasure of being a 1st generation graduate, she wanted to keep the legacy going.  Plus, the importance about education was stressed by her mom Letrise Carter and teachers. She was doing college for her not anyone else so it made her journey better.    It was during her Senior year of high school that Simone wanted to become a nurse and work with babies and expecting moms.  Her journey would start at Sanford Brown College in Dunwoody, Georgia and then onto Georgia Perimeter College after discovering the non-accredation that Sanford Brown College held when she inquired looking into four year university.  Still, she seem to struggle with math and science which made her search out what it was she wanted to study that would lead to a career. It would be a afternoon power walk with her mother that they discuss relocating back to the Chicago western suburbs as she looked at schools in Illinois.

Since relocating back to western suburbs of Chicago, she has attended four educational institutions. The first being the College of DuPage where she focused on completing her general studies prior to transferring to Aurora University where she was interested in studying nursing.  Though, Simone was struggling with finding what she wanted to do, she changed her major to something that she truly enjoys and that was Communication.  This changed sparked her to investigate her current schools program offerings which lead her to Benedictine University where she would study Communications.  This program was too generic and Simone was driven by finding out what it was in the field of communication that she wanted to do.  It was an internship at the Benedictine Art Gallery as a Public Relations Coordinator that sparked her interest in Loyola University because the program was not offered at her current school.  Simone transferred to Loyola University for the Fall 2014 school where she would major in Advertising & Public Relations in the School of Communications.  She finally found her school that would train, teach, and influence her craft.

simone by herself-5.12

It was a long journey to self-discovery and purpose, but it was worth it. Sit back and enjoy a Q&A from our college graduate Simone Carter.

MBS: Why did you move around to multiple schools?

Simone: I didnt’ feel like those school made me feel at home. I didn’t feel they made me feel like I reached my goals. I had a purpose,but the other schools were not offering me the various resources and support to figure out what I was destined to do. I didn’t feel a need to stay. 

MBS: When did you realize what you wanted to get your degree in?

Simone: I honestly didn’t fully figure out what I desired to do until I got to Loyola University Chicago and was in my internship. Yes, I had declared my major as Advertising and public relations but I’ didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do till I got my web design internship. It was that very moment I discovered what I desired to do and felt confident in what I was getting my degree in. I honestly selected advertising and public relations because it gave me the opportunity to utilize my voice. I know I want to be a field that allowed me to speak to a large audience and I knew I wanted to be creative in my approach. 

MBS: What was the reason you choose Loyola University?

Simone: I choose Loyola University because they offered opportunities that my previous schools did not offer.  I felt at home and I truly had the support team with my advisor (Dr. Cooper-Gibson) and friends. 

MBS: What barriers and frustrations did you deal with at Loyola University?

Simone: Honestly, at Loyola University Chicago I dealt with frustration, but in the end it was a great eye opener. I faced racial discrimination and people who didn’t share my vision. All of which helped me become stronger and ready to share my vision even more.

MBS: How did you handle not quitting?

Simone: Quitting was not even an option for me. Even though there were many moments I desired to give up. My mother and God were my strength through college. I had a praying mother who refused to let me give up. 

MBS: What kept you from transferring to another school when times get tuff and frustrating?

Simone: Honestly, my mother lol. Besides my mother, the fact that I was ready to go to the next chapter in my life .  I knew God did not bring me this far for nothing. There was a reason I came to the point and place in my journey. We all have a season and I was in mine. 

MBS: Did you have mentors that supported you and encouraged you during this journey?

Simone: My mother and advisor were my mentors. 

MBS: How does it feel to complete such a milestone as graduating from a top university like Loyola University Chicago?

Simone: Honestly, it feels great. I don’t think it will completely  hit me until August. I do feel like I walked out a stronger person. 

MBS: What advice would you give to another young African American student?

Simone: My advice that I would give to other young African American students would be to never give up. You need to knOw that God will reveal to you in time your purpose and gifts. You need to know that it won’t be on your time or anyone else’s time so be patient and listen for his voice. 

Simone’s journey may have taken her from 2009 to 2016, but it was a journey to discover who she is as not just a college student but to develop, grow, and mature into a beautiful and talented young woman. There is power within you when you discover who you are and who you belong to.  It was a journey where she realized her purpose and her passion.  Having to tap into who she is helped to shaped her voice, her gifts, and her talents so that she may have a positive impact and influence on others.  Remember that you can get through anything during your college journey by faith, prayer, your support team, love,  understanding, and knowing the power in your voice.  Congrats to Simone Carter and her friends on an amazing milestone achieved.

group picture-simone

End Mass Incarceration by Author Toni Larue

“Arguably the most important parallel between mass incarceration and Jim Crow is that both have served to define the meaning and significance of race in America. Indeed, a primary function of any racial caste system is to define the meaning of race in its time. Slavery defined what it meant to be black (a slave), and Jim Crow defined what it meant to be black (a second-class citizen). Today mass incarceration defines the meaning of blackness in America: black people, especially black men, are criminals. That is what it means to be black.”

― Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Like many Blacks, who grew up in lower/middle class areas (urban) areas, I’ve had the misfortune to witness many friends and family members go through the prison system. Overtime, I adopted the attitude, “If you do the crime, you do the time”, and had no pity for those who begged, pleaded and prayed for a second change. If you were a criminal you deserved to be prison…right?! The answer to that question is still correct. Yes, if you do a crime, you have to accept responsibility for that and pay your debt to society. What changed for me was when I realized that Black men, who are incarcerated, pay far more than their fair share. Mass incarceration has affected Black families throughout the United States. Not only are Black men being stripped away from their families for years for non-violent crimes, they are more than likely to receive longer sentences for these crimes than their counterparts, white men. There have been controversial claims made that the “3 strikes law” and the “war of drugs” were put into effect for the sole purpose of locking the Black man up and breaking up the Black family and the Black community. I am not writing this to dispel certain “conspiracy” theories but I do want to shed light on a growing epidemic that is having a dire effect on the Black community.

Prison Is A Billion Dollar Industry

Fact: Prison is a billion dollar industry. It costs approximately $38,000-40,000 per year for each inmate, to house and feed. States receive these budgets through federal funding. There is an estimate of 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the United States.

According to Global Research, the figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people. From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000. In 1990 it was one million. Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, according to reports.

It isn’t by accident that United States has a climbing incarceration rate. The education budget, in Arizona, is cut every year; however the prison budget continues to increase. Long ago, prison stopped being used for reform and rehabilitation purposes but has become operated as a business. So, the more people that are locked up, the more money these businesses…excuse me…prisons make. Isn’t that a conflict of interest?

Speaking of conflict of interest…fact: the prison industry is the fastest-growing industry in the United States with stockholders that range from judges to prosecutors to record executives…

Media Is Partly Responsible For the Incline in Mass Incarceration

Yes, record executives have large shares in prison stocks.

Theory: It was claimed that in 1991 an anonymous email was sent to various members of the music/publishing industry by a former record executive, who disclosed information that took place during a private meeting on the role hip hop would play in the increasing demand to drive up privatized prison profits. Their jobs (record executives) were to market criminal behavior by glamorizing it with the rap/hip hop community.  Because this “executive” didn’t release his identity, some have claimed that it is false. But what is not fake, is the Corrections Corporation of American (CCA) contacted 48 states offering to buy their prisons, contingent on a minimum 90% occupancy rate. Two months after that is when the anonymous record executive claims a letter was sent to him and his colleagues. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out. Media plays a huge role in shaping society because media controls the images that we see. Though I cannot say for certain that the record labels were directly involved in this secret meeting to use rap music to influence criminal behavior, I can say I wouldn’t be surprised to find it to be true.

Prison Is Modern Day Slavery

We’ve heard before that prison is modern say slavery but what makes it so? One of the definitions of slavery is a condition compared to that of a slave in respect of exhausting labor or restricted freedom. Restricted freedom is a given. What about the fact that felons are often stripped of their rights to vote, employment and government funding. While in prison, inmates are forced to work for wages as low as $0.40 an hour, even though the prisons are being paid quadruple that amount for the inmate’s labor. So what do they do with the extra money earned off the labor of the inmates, they pocket it.

Back to the subject at hand, Black’s have the highest imprisonment rate in the United States. Laws such as the 3 strikes that offered life sentences for repeat offenders (of even non-violent crimes or the use of drugs) and the war on drugs were targeted in the Black community. Our men are not all innocent; however, they are receiving sentences that reach far beyond the offense. Why? Because the prison is a business and it is a way for the system to destroy Black families while making profit.

“We lock up nonviolent, first-time offenders, users or tiny drug dealers … and dump them back in the ‘hood. Then jail culture becomes the core culture of communities, and you wonder why some communities are so violent.” ~Russell Simmons

Author bio:

author-Toni-LarueToni Larue is an author, entrepreneur and women’s empowerment advocate. She is the author of fiction novels, Abandoned Secrets (available now) and No Kissing (release date TBD), and the co-owner and COO of Team Jon Doe Management and Entertainment and Sounwave Music.

Website & Social media Links

Photo  Credits:image: Shackled hand in front of American flag. Digital image. Justice not Jails. May 27th, 2014. Web. April 11th,2016.