LA EVENTS: The Black Is Break Goes Live!

Happy New Year Family!

First of all, we want to thank you for your continued support! As we get things underway this year, we ask that you continue to support and encourage us and what we are doing. Even more, we are asking that you interact with us – we want to hear from you! Feel free to give us a call on the hotline at (323) 455-4219, leave comments on our posts, and be sure to follow us on both Facebook and Twitter!

We appreciate all the feedback we have received about our two-part Django Unchained podcast, and as such we are hosting our first live broadcast this Friday on Spreecast! Join us and jump in the chat room with your questions and commentary and be a part of the conversation! Log in to Spreecast and RSVP for our show today!

See you Friday!

Family Reunions: Keeping the Tradition Alive

This past weekend was the 37th family reunion on my maternal side, and I was shocked to see how much our numbers have dwindled over the years. I had to admit my own responsibility to this change: it had been at least 10 years since I’d last attended so I shouldn’t have been surprised at the lack of 30-somethings in attendance. However, I was – and was confronted with a banquet filled with elders and children. So many members of our family who were central to reunion planning had transitioned in recent years, that the committee had gone from 30 to 6 – what would happen to this tradition if we didn’t step up?

I immediately recalled my childhood and the large packet that would arrive every spring announcing where this year’s reunion would take place. I eagerly anticipated the road trips we would take and the family and American history I would soak up on each trip. I thought about the cousins from New York and Detroit that I would kick it with every year, and how much we shared in common in spite of our regional differences. I remembered the feeling of sitting with my grandmother’s cousins and listening to them chat about their childhoods, breaking into roaring laughter at their memories at times, and how priceless those stories were. I had to accept how far removed I’d become from it all, letting work and other events of life get in the way.

There’s nothing like our families, but too often our time together is spent at funerals and weddings only, and not spending time talking about our history and culture. The family reunion is the one event where we can say, “Look at how far we’ve come” and celebrate our collective experience together. Without the reunions, the ties that bind aren’t strong and it’s easy to only spend time with immediate family, never knowing the background and foundation for how things came to be. The reunion traditions are an important part of our history, one that my generations’ lack of participation in showcases just how much the world has changed in the last decade.

This week, I’m starting a Facebook page for my family reunion group, in hopes of getting more people of my generation involved in the planning. We can’t leave it on the elders to take care of everything – at some point we have to pick up the torch and let them rest. I’m looking forward to introducing my son to his family around this nation and elsewhere, and helping him learn the value of attending this annual event. One day, it will be his turn to take the reins and I want to lead him to that place, by setting an example for him to follow – the same way all the generations before have done for me.

Make time to spend time with family today – tomorrow is not promised.

The Digital Age of Narcissm

It has officially been proven: The more friends you have on Facebook the more you are considered to be a narcissist and perhaps even a narcissist that is “socially disruptive”. A recent poll was conducted studying the Facebook habits of nearly 300 students at Western Illinois University. Students who scored higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire had more friends on Facebook, tagged themselves more often and updated their newsfeeds more regularly.

How many of your Facebook friends fit this profile? I can name a few. Just today one of my Facebook friends updated her status: “I am just too cute today! Geez lol.” She then posts a picture of herself in her cheer uniform as her school is trying to recruit for next year’s squad. Ok so she had a reason to wear her uniform today for school spirit purposes. But to post a picture and then tell the world how cute you look, get over yourself right? She could have just updated her status telling her friends to come to the information booth so to find out about upcoming cheer tryouts without being extra about it.

But that wasn’t her case just like it is not the case for many other people on Facebook. Why? It is because we are living in a digital age of narcissism. Facebook is becoming the outlet of social narcissism. Wait, let me rephrase that: Facebook is the outlet of social narcissism! I believe we are living in a “look at me now” era.  Everyone wants to be a legend in his or her own mind. Facebook gives them the tool to do it in your face. As if society wasn’t already full of phonies, Facebook adds a new dimensions in fake. If people realized the truth that most people could care less about their daily activities, Facebook would see a dramatic drop off in usage.

Who has those types of Facebook friends who post damn near daily photos of themselves? I have a few friends who do and one of them has an album entirely dedicated for just that reason with it titled: This is why you love me. Seriously, get over yourself! Once upon a time Facebook was only meant for the college community. Now look at it, Facebook is like the refrigerator where you know the same thing is there, but you still check it every 15 minutes. I mean come on, more students are on Facebook zoning out instead of paying attention in class. Granted, Facebook is still used for promoting special events, businesses, concerts, rallies, parties and causes. However, it looks to have gone from reuniting with old friends, networking with new friends and posting occasional pictures that capture memories into a superficial mirror on the wall with the hope of hearing that they are the fairest of them all.

“If Facebook is to be a place where people go to repair their damaged ego and seek social support, it is vitally important to discover the potentially negative communication one might find on Facebook and the kinds of people likely to engage in them. Ideally, people will engage in pro-social Facebooking rather than anti-social me-booking,” Christopher Carpenter said.

Carpenter, who ran the study, defined narcissism as “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and an exaggerated sense of self-importance.” He also notes that social networking allows the user a great deal of control over how he or she is presented to and perceived by peers and other users. Do any of your friends fit these criteria?

One of my Facebook friends tries so hard to sound like Dr. Phil in her status updates.  She posted three status updates in the span of twelve hours. “Hanging onto someone who isn’t adding value to your life isn’t loyalty, it’s stupidity.” “Anything worth having in life takes work. The good things never come easy; success, love etc.” Followed up with “Your body is what makes you sexy. Your smile is what makes you pretty. But your personality is what makes you beautiful” I want to ask her what my lucky lotto numbers are for the week because I feel like I’m reading a fortune cookie every time I read her status updates. Get off the soapbox please!

I realize I didn’t mention any of the male friends I have on my Facebook. This is mainly because Facebook addiction has been attributed mostly to women and younger users thus according to the research conducted by Cecilie Schou Andreassen. Facebook needs to go back to what it was originally intended for. It wasn’t intended for you to post a daily picture of yourself in your outfit for the day.

At least one of my Facebook friends had something engaging to say “An interesting topic was brought up just now… can a man call himself a feminist, and accept/expect he is going to receive criticism and his masculinity is going to be questioned??? Does gender automatically define who can be a feminist?”

Finally, something I can comment on!




The Truth About The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (VIDEO)

I recently engaged in a discussion on Facebook regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What disturbed me most about the conversation is how a long time friend of mine practically called me Hitler for the following statement:

“I DESPISE the way Israel refuses to even ‘consider’ ending the occupation & returning even SOME of the stolen land to the Palestinians!”

What disturbed me most about the discussion is how my friend just assumed that because of my stance, I knew nothing about the history of the region. Almost as to suggest that I’ve been bombarded with pro-Palestine propaganda. The voice of Palestine is all but muted in the States. To have any position other than complete support of Israel requires an extensive amount of research!

It took me years of research to draw a conclusion on this matter, but just yesterday a family member emailed me the documentary Occupation 101 that sums up my research in just 90 minutes (yeah, I wasted years of my life when I could have just grabbed a bag of popcorn and sat on the couch).

This film tells the real history of this region from the point of view of Palestinians and Israelis… yes ISRAELIS like Arik Ascherman (so no one can claim bias) who live in the region.

So here is what I ask of you all:

Please find a free 90 minutes to watch this film. I don’t want you to draw any conclusions, create a plan of action, join a “terrorist” organization or any other drastic measure. I just want you to be informed.

Then once you know the truth, spread the word! Post this article on your Facebook page, email it to your family members tweet it, Digg it, Ping it. Let the world know that they’ve been fooled by mainstream media!

Exit Facebook. Turn off the TV. Turn off your phone. Put the children to bed. Dim the lights. Hit play! (Expand to fill screen)

You can also purchase the film here.

For some reason the series above starts at part 2, so I’ve pasted part one below.

15 Minute Break: Twitter/Facebook/Texting Revealed

Listen in to a round table discussion as KC and the family discuss how social networking reveals character in ways face-to-face communication can’t. Podcast guests include DJ A-ski, Toria Williams, Mike Eagle, Malcolm Darrell, Tash Moseley, Brother T, Jamila Farwell, and Darius Gray.

10 Minute Break: Black Men Speak!

Listen in to a special edition of the 10 Minute Break! Black Men Speak about parenting and discipline in response to the uncle who spanked his nephew and broadcasted it on YouTube and Facebook (see below). Podcast guests include Chris Lehman, Tash Moseley, Ahshawn James (Mr. CEO), Yohance Serrant of,  Aaron Wilson, and Troy Moore.

The Unholy Alliance: The Rise of an Internet Cartel

The only way to predict the future is to have power to shape the future.” – Eric Hoffer

There was an announcement that seemed to have gone largely unnoticed in the financial and technology world today. Mainly because today Mubarak was reportedly stepping down as Egypt’s president – he did not. It went across the screen like any other typical headline reported on Bloomberg. Google and Facebook looking to acquire Twitter for a valued $8-10 billion. I recently closed my own Facebook over continued privacy concerns. Let’s see how long I can stay away given Facebook has become almost as necessary today as a cell phone it seems. That being said I took to my real addiction Twitter and said, Facebook posts today are going to be for this generation the tramp stamp and tribal tattoo of my generation. There will be things a lot of us did, thinking they were cool at the time, but will ultimately regret later in life. Ironically comments made on the internet are becoming as permanent as tattoos. Everything we say becoming a fixture that can be recalled later to our dismay and held against us.

Twitter and Facebook are places where people have become accustomed to expressing themselves to no end. Every random thought and feeling finds its way to Twitter or Facebook statuses. The problem is we’ve forgot that essential tool that we were raised with: the ability to filter. In the age of reality television it certainly could be argued that Facebook has become that for the everyday person. We see meltdowns, breakups, bullying, and every other imaginable thing happen via Facebook. Life imitating the art. So then why should the purchase of this pesky little Twitter company bother me? One word: POWER.

Over the past year we’ve seen Facebook, Inc. become a company valued (at press time) at $60 billion in its most recent valuation. This places the company’s value roughly equal to Ford Motor Company, U.S. Steel, and Monsanto (world’s largest agriculture seed company) – COMBINED. Three companies, who transport us, help us build, and feed us. A social media company is worth the equivalent. Wrap your mind around that for a moment and ask yourself why? And the answer is in one word: INFORMATION. Facebook and all social media are and will be the most valued companies for years to come because they do one thing better than any company previously who were paid to do it, and that’s get our personal information, thoughts, desires, hopes, fears, dreams and we give it willingly for FREE. As deputy editor at Forbes Nicole Perloth stated today in her article as it related to the almost 3 to 1 bid to value Facebook and Google offered to Twitter “The real value is going to be in the data Twitter already has and continues to amass about topics, people and their connections.” And information is power. The ultimate power for companies and organizations who want to control trends, purchasing, and attitudes of the consumer or voter.

So let’s get back to this alliance and why it alarms me. These companies are arguably the most powerful companies in their field. Let’s connect the dots and start at the beginning with America’s wealthiest and largest philanthropist – Bill Gates. The Microsoft corporation which at one point tried to buy Google but missed the window owns a small but influential portion of Facebook. Google now owns YouTube, the largest broadcaster of uploaded user videos and growing corporate and organizational videos. Al-Jazeera actually reported live from YouTube on Mubarak’s speech if you could not get to a television. Signaling computers and smartphones will be even more so the medium from which we get our news via the web. Google as well tried to purchase Facebook. Now there is Facebook and its 500 million users (minus one); a founder who has consistently run into abuse of power issues since the company’s very founding; a company that continues to become wealthier by the day; and that has reached a value of $50 billion just weeks ago with the announcement of an investment by none other than Goldman Sachs. The Goldman Sachs whose reach into Washington politics is so deep that if it played with Washington’s proverbial ass it could make the mouth talk. It also manages close to $1 trillion in assets, an economic weapon not to be take lightly, and who many say was one of if not the most influential player in our subprime crisis. Now there is Twitter. The company who has 200 million users itself and by some estimates are a make-up of the who’s who and everyday man. Politicians like mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey who is so popular being a follower of his is almost cult-like. His public schools just also happen to receive $100 million from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Who else is on twitter? The better question is who is not? Every major company worth its salt is on twitter, non-profit organizations, politicians, celebrities, bloggers, and everyday joes and janes.

There is a massive amount of information being consolidated in the hands of a few and it is has the potential to be extremely dangerous. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter – all intertwined. Apple aside can you name companies more powerful roaming the internet and collecting your information? Now back to that conglomerate who has the financial and political backing of Goldman Sachs, who all but bullied the U.S. Government to use AIG as a backdoor bailout so it could avoid receiving pennies on the dollar for its bad debt and instead received dollar for dollar. Every search we search on Google, every video posted on YouTube, every bit of personal information from location to workplace to school we post on Facebook, and every thought we post to Twitter is all in the hands of a small group. Lest us not forget that Microsoft’s founder is head of the world’s largest non-profit organization. If you think non-profits can do no harm, ask Africa about the missionaries who came to “help”.  Or ask New Orleans about about non-profits that came to “help”. The proverb by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux says L’enfer est plein de bonnes volontés et désirs” better known as – The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The very thing the internet was suppose to do is give everyone free uncensored access to information. The ultimate ability to level the playing field. That was because everyone was powerful on the internet. Nobody controlled the internet. Now we see that we might have hoped too  soon for this to be true. The way we have the diamond and oil cartels there is clearly a forming internet cartel and its commodity is information. Maybe the most valuable commodity on this Earth. El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz famously said “Power never takes a step back – only in the face of more power.” The U.S. can vie to this truth with the rise of China. A superpower needs another superpower to keep it in check. And we are witnessing the rise of a superpower in a place that knows no borders. After all it is the World Wide Web. Did I forget to mention that Google was collecting your health data? This information cartel very well could know you better than you know yourself.

It may be 2011 but its feeling more and more like 1984.

Mr. Foster is the Interim Executive Director of HBCU Endowment Foundation, sits on the board of directors at the Center for HBCU Media Advocacy, & CEO of Sechen Imara Solutions, LLC. A former banker & financial analyst who earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics & Finance from Virginia State University as well his master’s degree in Community Development & Urban Planning from Prairie View A&M University. Publishing research on the agriculture economics of food waste as well as writing articles for other African American media outlets.

10 Minute Break: Social Networking & Relationships

Listen in as KC and the family discuss social networking and it’s effect on person-to-person relationships. Podcast guests include Chris Lehman, Tash Moseley, Je Lewis, Malcolm Darrell, Toria Williams, Stacee Brewer and John Byrd III, editor-in-chief of Sickly Cat Magazine.