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Nomalanga: Defending Obesity Is Not Cute

By Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses Not long ago, I wrote a blog post suggesting that a young woman who was overweight and had recently acquired a platform ought to use the platform to address the challenges and effects of being overweight (or obese or even corpulent). The problem with discussing weight issues is that people, especially women, tend to become very, very defensive. Long story short, the conversation did not go as I intended, but instead turned into a debate about whether or not making such a suggestion was mean spirited or not. Just to be clear, my intention was not a mean spirited one. Because I have had my own challenges with managing my weight, I do feel that, unlike the people who have never known the frustration of being able to mange most things in your life except your weight, I feel like I approach the subject in a more realistic way. The first step to tackling being overweight is to acknowledge it-remember: you can not change that which you can not acknowledge. To further clarify what the effects of being overweight are and also at what point a person is actually overweight, I reached out to Yonka Beckem , a  personal trainer as well as a health and wellness expert. Beckem outlined the following as effects of being overweight:  insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes Joint problems (osteoarthritis) breathing problems  cancers  hearty disease  strokes Beckem went on to further elaborate on these effects as follows: “Insulin resistance is when your liver, fat and muscle cells stop responding correctly to insulin. As a result, blood sugar doesn’t get to these cells to be stored for energy. This causes high levels of blood sugar to build up in the blood, which is also known as hyperglycemia. Obesity leads to osteoarthritis, which is wear and  tear on the joints. Bio mechanically, the force on the knee joint is three times your body weight when walking, and more when performing more intense forms of activity. This means that a 300 lb person’s knee joints are getting 600 lbs of force. This wears out the cartilage in the knee, which leads to pain from bones rubbing together from not having the cushion between them. Hypertension (high blood pressure & infertility are also effects of being obese). She also shared the following useful pieces of information: A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more constitutes being obese; as well as a body fat percentage of 30% or more. 60 million Americans are overweight of which 35% is obese. Obesity is the #2 preventable cause of death. So there are the facts. The next time the subject of being overweight comes up, instead of jumping to the defensive position, please consider that being overweight and not being diligent about overcoming it is like killing yourself slowly, but surely. Do women have to be skinny to be cute? Of course not, you can be “fuller” and still be a “knockout” but lets not mask our weight management issues (or lack of) with cliches like “phat and fabulous” or whatever Monique, the comedian,  is saying these days. And for those ladies who used to use her as a role model, please note that she said all those things, in defense of her obesity, and then went and lost weight, so the joke is on you. Nomalanga helps Black Women thrive in their lives and careers. She is a Social Commentator , an Editor at Your Black World , Assistant Professor of Professional Studies and the reigning Mrs Botswana. Visit Nomalanga’s blog at successfulblackwoman.com

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Dr. Boyce: Black Entrepreneurship is Key to Solving Problems in Black Unemployment and the Black Family

by Dr. Boyce Watkins I recently traveled to New York for a panel on black male fatherhood, hosted by former NBA player Etan Thomas.  The panel consisted of other great athletes, including former NY Knick Allan Houston, Billy Hunter (Executive Director of the NBA Player’s Association), Chris Broussard from ESPN and several others.  One of the topics that came up ...

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I’m Black, But I’m Not One Of Those Blacks

When I was a New Jersey college student back in the 90s there was a universal understanding of Black unity on my campus. Of course there were the usual student groups such as the Black Student Union, The Pan African Student Union, the Caribbean Student Organization and the Latino Students Organization. At that time and

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Nomalanga: Can a Modern Woman Be in a Polygamous Marriage?

President Of South Africa & His Wives By Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses Today, as I opened my eyes and pondered starting my day, I was very tempted to just pretend that all my responsibilities had disappeared and I could just go back to sleep. Those who know me and my workaholic tendencies know that that would actually be a punishment, but I digress. The reason why I was struggling to get out of bed was that I reckon my body is fighting off some variation of a cold, cough or flu. So I got to thinking…what if I could stay in bed and someone else other than my husband could get the kids ready for school, make breakfast and do my chores for the day? Because I had recently engaged in an interesting conversation about polygamy over the Thanksgiving holiday, the thought of it came to my mind. I thought, what if there was another woman in the house who could do everything that I did and I could, just this once, have the luxury of staying in bed and resting for a while longer? Now, unlike some other women, I did not immediately reject the thought. Maybe it is because I recently saw a rerun, on OWN, of an episode of “Our America with Lisa Ling” as she visited some polygamists who seemed perfectly happy with their lives. Maybe it is because my grandmother was one of two wives and my mother has constantly told me how much she loved and appreciated her “other mother”. Maybe, maybe, maybe…I could go on but the truth is that I honestly do not have the strong and almost always very negative reaction to polygamy that a lot of “modern” women have. Before anyone suggests that I feel that way because I am “African”, let me be the first to tell you that in Botswana, where  I was born and raised, I did not know of any other family that had two mothers or two grandmothers. In fact, most of the women that I have spoken to, who were also born and raised in Botswana like me, reject polygamy and say that it is an outdated and “backward” way to approach marriage. So, why would a seemingly “modern” woman such as myself, who grew up in a city with all the conventions of modern life and a mother and father who did not practice polygamy, say that she was not against it? Well, first of all, having been married for close to eight years, I can honestly say that I believe marriage is a good thing. But, just because I am in a monogamous marriage, it does not mean that I reject polygamy. I had a Moroccan co-worker, some years ago, who also happened to be a Muslim and had an in depth knowledge of polygamy . Of course, being the curious being that I am, I had to ask some questions. What he explained to me was that polygamy was originally allowed primarily as an exception rather than a rule. He went on to explain that at times of war, women often lost their husbands or young men simply died before they had even married. What this created was a situation where there were more women who desired marriage than there were men available to marry them. And so, because at that time women depended heavily on men to provide for them, it became necessary for men to take on more than one wife so that the women could be taken care of. Even now, if you speak to anyone who is knowledgeable (and I have) about polygamy, as it is practiced today, they will say that it is necessary for the man who takes on more than one wife to have the means to provide well for all of them. While I have very limited knowledge of the many polygamous communities here in the U.S., the glimpses that I have seen of them, usually show the “sister wives” living in what are, by American standards, huge homes and they typically seem to be well provided for. When I ask some of the very angry women who are strongly against polygamy why they so strongly oppose it, they usually say that they don’t wan to share or that they think that there would be too many problems with the women not being able to contain their jealousy (which to me  still sounds like “I don’t wan to share”). One woman told me that the Bible says “one man and one woman”. To that, I simply countered, what if the person practicing polygamy does not look to the Bible as the source of what they accept as the truth? And so, we are back to square one. On the subject of jealousy, I will ask you to bear with me while I direct your thoughts a little. Consider this: When a child is born, they typically feel possessive of their parents and that usually becomes very apparent when the second child is born. After a while though, the older child eventually learns to  co-exist with their sibling. I reckon the same happens in polygamous families-they learn to co-exist. Many people who oppose polygamy oppose it because they think that it is forced upon the women who are in the marriages and maybe some women are forced. But to cite that as a reason is like saying you hate Muslims because they go around bombing buildings. Have some Muslims bombed buildings? Sure, but so did Timothy McVeigh, a White man from Lockport, New York and I reckon there are more Muslims who do not bomb buildings than there are those that do. When I married my husband, our agreement was that we would only be married to one another and that is what we are doing. That being said, every time I hear a discussion about polygamy, I never hear anyone who opposes it give a solid reason as to why it is “wrong”. The danger that I see with polygamy in modern times is that I often hear men who don’t understand it saying that the would love to engage in the practice because the don’t think that being faithful to one woman is realistic. While I am certainly not an expert in the subject, what I can say, is that the practice is not intended for men who are only pursuing it because of their lustful “appetite”. Instead, it should be approached with a desire to ease a woman’s suffering, much like marriages between two people. Anytime people walk into marriage thinking only about themselves and what they stand to gain, they are heading for trouble and I don’t believe polygamy is any different. What those men with big “appetites” would do well to recognize is that being unable to control your “urges” is not a reason to marry more than one woman. In fact, a man who has more than one wife should be a man who has excellent leadership skills, the ability to provide well for his family and he should also be fair and just. A man who wants multiple wives because can can’t  control his urges is certainly not going to find the answer to his “problem” in a polygamous marriage. In fact, I reckon he would probably be more likely to lack the leadership skills required to be the leader of a plural marriage. As for the women who say that they don’t want to share, I can respect their choice, but I also think that we could also do well to learn to respect the choice of those who embrace the polygamous life style. It’s certainly not for everyone, but for some people, it works and I don’t see anything “wrong” with it. Nomalanga helps Black Women thrive in their lives and careers. She is a Social Commentator, an Editor at Your Black World , Assistant Professor of Professional Studies and the reigning Mrs Botswana. Visit Nomalanga’s blog at successfulblackwoman.com

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Gabby Douglas: “I almost quit gymnastics to work at Chick-Fil-A”

by Dr. Boyce Watkins We all know about Olympic superstar Gabby Douglas.   Gabby is now a household name and will probably be one for the rest of her life.  She has inspired millions by doing what seemed to be impossible and setting a new standard on how high our kids can fly when they put their minds to it. According to The New York Daily News, Gabby sent a text to her mother a few years ago saying, “gymnastics is not my passion anymore.”  She said that she wanted  to stop training every day and “be a normal teen.”  Being normal to Gabby, according to her new book, meant “getting a job at Chick-Fil-A.” In her new memoir,  Grace, Gold & Glory: My Leap of Faith,  Douglas mentions that the big move to Iowa to train at the highest levels was a difficult challenge for both she and her mother.  No mother wants to send her child across the country and few teenagers are willing to put in the day-to-day sacrifice necessary to become a world-class athlete.  The massive investment the family made into Gabby’s career is what set them apart from all the other families with talent and a dream, but no ambition to pursue that dream at the highest levels. Investments of that caliber are matched by other extraordinary parents, starting with Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena.  Tiger Woods’ father, the late Earl Woods, was willing to make extraordinary investments in Tiger in order  to make him the greatest golfer in the history of all mankind (putting aside his off-the-course mishaps).   Every parent who spends his/her last dime sending their child to an academic summer program is also showing the kind of grit and sacrifice necessary to give that child a chance at greatness.  Stepping out of your comfort zone is typically critical to doing something special. One of my friends told me that her son is gifted in math and  science.   Upon hearing this, I recommended that she send him to the MS-Squared summer program for high-achieving black students in the sciences.  She jumped on the opportunity and even though she doesn’t make very much money, she was determined to get her son into that program. The mother told me that even though several mothers at her son’s school were told about the program, she was the only one who applied.   The others, it seemed, were too afraid to send their kids away, claimed they couldn’t come up with the money or just didn’t feel like filling out the application.   Most of us know people who would rather spend their money on a flat screen TV than to send their kids to an academic summer program.  There is no greater dream killer than to train your kids to watch BET in high-definition for 12-hours a day. There is an old saying that “You will never discover new lands if you are always afraid to leave the shore.”  The tremendous success of Gabby and her mother is a firm reminder that if you want something different, you MUST DO something different. Had Gabby’s mother been too lazy to fill out the applications or unwilling to make financial sacrifices, her daughter would have been nothing more than a local legend on her high school gymnastics team with access to free chicken.  Had Gabby not been willing to stick her neck out, go to Iowa and endure long training sessions every day, we wouldn’t know who she is today. There is another saying which says, “You spend a few years living as no one else WILL, so you can spend the rest of your life living like no one else CAN.”  This saying is what got me through eight long and brutal years of graduate school when I had my dream of being Dr. Boyce Watkins.  No other African American in the country received a PhD in Finance when I graduated, and it was nothing more than stupid faith that kept me going down this cold, lonely road.   But when the sun came out after my battles were over, I looked around and saw that I’d been able to do something that was entirely unique from every other person I knew.  I am no Gabby Douglas, but I certainly had many opportunities along the way to console myself with a blanket of mediocrity. Keep this in mind as you raise your children and make decisions in your own life.   Talent must be accompanied by day-to-day commitment  if it’s ever going to amount to anything.  Also, most highly successful people will tell you that it was their willingness to venture down the road less traveled that made them different from all the wannabes.  You must be willing to go the extra mile. Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, “ Black American Money .” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.    

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Keeping your Holiday Season Debt Proof

Borrowing money for the holiday season is no misnomer for many American families. American families are constantly being bombarded with retailer’s advertisements of buying, and fighting the buying temptation can be difficult. Statistics show that nearly 1 in 10 families borrow money to spend on Christmas gifts and those same families are unable to pay

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“Black Leaders” Step Forward with a Black Agenda for Obama: Is It Serious?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins US News reported that a group of African American public figures spent four hours in a closed-door meeting and emerged with a “wish list” for President Barack Obama. The two being mentioned by the report are Urban League President Marc Morial and Rev. Al Sharpton, President of the National Action Network.   I suspect that NAACP ...

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Dr. Boyce: In Belcher Murder, We Cannot Forget About the Real Victims

by Dr. Boyce Watkins My heart stopped beating for a few moments after hearing about the murder-suicide of 25-year old Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs.  For reasons yet to be determined, Belcher made the tragic decision to kill the mother of his child (22-year old Kassandra Perkins) and then himself.  All of this happened in front of the people ...

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