Occupy The Media

All my life I was taught how to talk, act, and look in order to get a job and be successful. Well now I’ve mastered those skills and I’m still unemployed and unsuccessful. Did I do something wrong? Was it something I missed? Or am I just simply not good enough?


The system is designed to control us with unrealistic employment opportunities. Wealth isn’t something earned by waiting for one company to hire you. We have to teach one another how to create revenue and have several businesses. I’m tired of asking for a job I’m beyond qualified for and I am totally out of patience. I have my degree and I will tell and share stories that are important to me. Thank God for websites like Black Is where ordinary people like me can tell extraordinary stories about overcoming obstacles and daily struggles with injustice in Mass Media.

We no longer need permission to broadcast on television and radio for corporations that are ignoring minorities and diluting the importance of community news. We all know someone with access to the internet and with that platform you can be a voice to the voiceless, host your own show, produce your own movies, and create your own P.S.A’s.

I know I’m a great writer, I know I have influential stories, and now I’m taking action. Women take up 51% of total population but only own less than 5% of the stations. We must make a stand. Mass Media controls the way our youth thinks, its the way we attain information, and its how our stories are shared. If we don’t level the playing field we will suffer from misunderstanding and that will create chaos among the majorities and minorities. Occupying The Media will get the attention of major media conglomerates and FORCE them to put quality news back on television and stop cutting corners when it comes to producing unbias thought provoking programming. Ethics and moral conduct should be enforced in hiring a diverse staff that everyone in the community can relate to. America is the melting pot and our broadcast media needs to be the platform where that can be seen.

Aubrey Grier resides in Atlanta, GA and is the voice behind The Authentic MANual. Aubrey comes to us with over 10 years of writing experience and worked previously for Clear Channel Radio. Check him out on Black Is for life tips and relationship advice for Black men.

The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl

I was pleasantly surprised when Chris  introduced me to a webisode series entitled The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl. This series had us in stitches as we followed the protagonist, J, a black girl who secretly writes hardcore rhymes to help cope with the awkward situations she’s confronted with and her overall awkwardness. The series exposes a simple truth: we are all awkward and often employ comical devises to deal with our discomfort. By the time I finished the seventh episode, I was clamoring for more but found myself at a dead end, as the series comes to a halt before the storyline is completed.

This void led me to do some research.  I discovered that the creator, Issa Rae, had recently launched a successful campaign to raise more funding to continue the series. I was all too happy to receive that information, albeit a little late, but realized I had to tell everyone I knew about this show. How often had I gotten into tired conversations about the lack of good Black programming on television these days? Thank goodness for the Internet!

I wanted to know more about this series and decided to reach out to Issa Rae, and learn more about the woman behind the show. Listen in to a conversation we had about how and why she started the show, what’s next for her viewers, and other projects she has in store in the near future.

After listening, get hooked on the show itself like I did! Check out episode #1 below and the rest of the series here. Trust me – you will tell a friend. Enjoy!

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.

Unlimited, Has Its Limits

Phenomenal phones are flooding the market. In the past few weeks the new iPhone 4, the HTC 4G EVO, Droid X and HTC HD2 debuted, all phones with fast processors and big screens.

But these new phones come at a cost – a recurring monthly charge. So before you sign a contract for two years of payments, which phone is really the bargain?

Before I get too far, let me acknowledge that the value of a phone is in the eye of the beholder. The least expensive isn’t a value if it doesn’t have the features you want.

That said, all of these phones are high-powered computing devices, each with features to recommend. But let’s take a look at pure costs, compiled with the help of cost calculator Validas.

Pricing of the HTC EVO ($200 with a contract after rebates) which works on Sprint’s high speed 4G network, has raised some hackles. The reason is the phone requires a $10 premium data plan, whether you are in a 4G city or not. And chances are that you aren’t – there are 33 4G cities, and they are modest markets like my home town, Baltimore. You won’t find 4G in New York or San Francisco.

The premium brings the monthly price for unlimited service to $110. That is, unless you want to add hotspot service, which lets you connect your computer to the Internet through your phone. That costs an additional $30 a month.

But that isn’t the most expensive plan. You’ll pay more for an iPhone 4 ($200 for the 16GB memory, $300 with the 32GB memory, with contract) unlimited plan at AT&T. The iPhone’s unlimited plan will run you $115 a month. But don’t forget that the AT&T unlimited plan is no longer unlimited. New customers are capped at 2GB of data a month, with a $10 per gigabyte charge when you go over the limit. By AT&T’s count only 2 percent of its users exceed 2 gigabytes a month.

Still, it is not the most expensive plan. That honor goes to Verizon, whose unlimited plan for a phone like the Droid X ($200 with contract after rebate) is $120 a month. Like the HTC EVO, the Droid X has a hotspot feature that lets you use it as a router to connect a computer to the Internet. Add that service and it’s an additional $20 a month. That brings it to parity with the Sprint’s EVO.

So if you aren’t going to use the hotspot, the EVO costs less per month than the Droid X. If you are going to use the hotspot, they are equal.

That brings us to the least expensive unlimited plan, which is T-Mobile’s, at $95 a month. T-Mobile’s HTC HD2 ($100 with contract after a Web-only discount), with a 4.3-inch screen, was the largest display available on a phone when it was released a few months back. It is on the Windows Mobile operating system, which I found quirky, glitchy, and confounding to use. You might splurge for the MyTouch slider ($180 with contract), an Android phone with a slide-out keyboard, a button dedicated to activating voice commands, and a set-up assistant that makes it easy to get the phone configured.

To any carrier’s monthly bill you also have to add an average $9 in taxes and surcharges, a total of $216 over the life of a standard two-year contract.

In the end, the HTC HD2, the most economical choice, would cost about  $2,600 while the Droid  X costs about $3,290 over a two-year contract, a savings of nearly $700.

That is how the pricing shakes out with the unlimited plans, but the best way to save money is to buy the minimum number of minutes you need, so you aren’t throwing away money on voice, data and text that you don’t use.

According to Validas, a 450-minute plan with unlimited text and data is plenty for most single users and saves $20 to $30 per month. For families with two lines, the company said average use is about 735 minutes, so a 900-minute plans would be ample and save you $10 to $20 per month.

You can check your past bills to find your actual usage, or use an online service like Validas or BillShrinkwhich take your bills and calculate the best deal for you.

-Mr.CEO (via yahoo)