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Social Media’s Impact on Black Millennial Relationships

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Self-Publishing Guru Emeka Ossai’s New… Scam 🤷‍♂️???

A few weeks ago, self-proclaimed self-publishing “guru” Emeka Ossai announced plans to close his My Self Publishing Blueprint course. I had written a blog on Emeka where I questioned his claims of the self-publishing success on which he founded the legitimacy of his course. I was relieved recently to see he was closing the course, but I wondered what he would do next. He answered my question with a loudspeaker.

Emeka promises 12 Zoom calls with him over an 8-to-15-month timeframe.

Emeka sent me an email with my name and wrote, “Jermaine I made this just for you, please give it a look and let me know what you think.” I’m not sure it was sent specifically to me or if it was a mass email with my name on it. Anyway, the email led me to a Google Doc with Emeka pitching 12 calls with him for nearly $5,000.

In the document, he promises 12 Zoom calls over an 8-to-15-month timeframe with unlimited emails. These calls and emails with him will supposedly help self-publishers increase profit.

Emeka Ossai.

I have a few contentions with his offer. One issue is, Emeka mentions a book he’s working on and promises the book will be a major success. For the five years I’ve been following Emeka, I haven’t seen any of his books, not even on Amazon. He claims to have sold thousands but has offered no verifiable proof.

Moreover, he didn’t even name the current book he’s working on. Even if he is really working on one, he’s banned on Amazon. I’m not sure he’s sold as many books as he claims.

What can Emeka tell you for $416 an hour?

The salesman that he is, Emeka claims the $4,997-course is “technically free” since it is one’s investment in one’s self. This is such a condescending way of selling things to your audience. He’s basically saying, “They’re so dumb, they’ll pay me and think it’s free.”

Also, at $4,997 total for the 12 Zoom calls and some emails, that’s the equivalent of paying Emeka roughly $416 per hour. What can he tell you for $416 an hour you can’t learn with a little YouTube focus and books, if you want?

Emeka Ossai Early on in His Career.

Moreover, Emeka plays some reverse psychology in his document by saying he is only accepting 4 – 5 self-publishers. Basically, he pulled the ole, “Hurry up and buy because space is limited.”

He isn’t even trying to sell anymore. He isn’t hustling. He’s sending out emails and promising Zoom calls to avoid any heavy lifting.

Emeka declares results are not guaranteed.

Five grand is a lot of money, and if you have it, you’re better off throwing it in a pit of fire than giving it to Emeka. Even with all his hype about his Zoom calls, he declares results are not guaranteed. It’s a gamble. Remember, no matter how much you think you’re winning, the House always wins in the end.

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share to get new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913.

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F*ck Those People: Take Control of Your Own Life

In life, we sometimes struggle and then have to deal with bad advice from nosey people. We have a problem at home, and our best friend becomes a relationship counselor. Or a coworker overhears you in a disagreement over the phone and feels the need to chime in with their opinion. It’s time for you to turn down bad advice and take control of your life.

[You have to] defend yourself.

Sometimes, you feel the need to vent. You’re not looking for advice but an avenue to express yourself. However, when you do so with a family member or friend, you find yourself arguing to defend yourself.

It is human to want to open up about your struggles. However, doing so within your inner-circle could cause uncomfortable disagreements. To take control of your life and express yourself, see a counselor, start a blog or go to a support group.

NFL Player Russel Wilson and Singer/Wife Ciara Photo by People.

Also, before pouring out your emotions, you could start off by telling the person you’re talking to that you just want to vent. Tell them you’re not looking for advice or to be judged. This should make the conversation more comfortable for both of you. Also, you have to set boundaries with coworkers.

I’ve dealt with a pushy coworker who insisted I allow them to buy me things. It was a very uncomfortable experience brought on when this person asked me if I’d ever tried a particular thing and I said, “No.”

I took coworkers’ advice because I felt pressured.

Although the moment I turned down my coworker’s offer felt awkward, I ultimately felt better in the end. I don’t know where things would have gone had I accepted the offer, but I do know I felt extremely uncomfortable.

The coworker I mentioned was also very nosey, having their ear to every office door in the building. A few times, they insisted I take their advice. Many times I did because I felt pressured to. And that’s where I went wrong.

Arguing Coworkers. Photo by Black Enterprise.

In human communication, there will be uncomfortable moments. You must confront them head-on. It’s OK to say, “No. I got this.” That applies to family as well.

We like to think our family’s advice is always coming from a place of love. However, when our families dislike our spouses or have hidden jealousy towards us, their advice might be tainted. Take their advice with a hint of doubt.

You have to stand up for yourself.

Everybody has that nosey friend who makes it seem like their own life or relationship is perfect. Actually, it isn’t. They just don’t fill you in on the negative issues. Because of that, it seems they have it all together. They don’t.

Still, we fear what our family and friends will say behind our backs if we continue to date the person they don’t like. We are reluctant to stand up because we don’t want the drama.

Friends and family genuinely enjoy each other’s company. Photo by Black Enterprise.

Tell your family and friends you don’t need their advice. Keep them out of your business. If they try to discuss it, change the subject. Avoid going there with them.

That said, everybody goes through things. It’s up to you to make your best decisions. It’s fine to tell a coworker you don’t need their help or advice. It’s better you avoid discussing personal issues with your friends and family they use to judge you. You are amazing. You got this.

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share to get new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913.

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Amber Heard: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck 2022

To be clear, no one really knows what happened between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard, though he’s currently suing her for $50 million for defamation. Johnny says Amber accused him of domestic violence when she, in fact, was the abuser; at worse, his legal team claims, it was “mutual abuse” between the two. Back when the couple initially fell out, the media and social media took Amber Heard’s side. Now, we’re questioning cancel culture and asking what a “victim” really looks like.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is a 2016 book by blogger Mark Manson. Part of Mark’s argument in said book is, some people like playing the victim and social media fuels this. His point is not to blame the victim. His point is, we give too much credence to those only playing the victim, as some would argue in Amber Heard’s case.

We give too much credence to those playing victim…

There are controversial social media sensations like Kevin Samuels who contend women abuse men but society doesn’t take it seriously. In a tape played by Johnny Depp’s defense team in court, Amber seems to argue the same thing. In the audio, she says, “Tell the world Johnny, tell them Johnny Depp… I, Johnny Depp, a man… I’m a victim, too, of domestic violence. Let’s see who believes you. Let’s see who believes a white man, a white man of privilege can be a victim over a woman? Go on.”

[Cancel culture] is like a blunt object wielded by a toddler…

What Amber says is inflammatory but true. Johnny is in a bad situation because of his gender and fame. As a white female, Amber could do just about anything to him and without hardcore proof, Johnny would be dragged and made to seem like the bad guy. Indeed, it is was happened, some argue. So, what does this say about cancel culture?

Twitter user accuses Johnny Depp of Domestic Abuse.

Cancel culture’s purpose is to challenge controversial figures who would otherwise go unchallenged. It is supposed to be a system of checks and balances to ensure we the people don’t empower people intending to tear us apart. In that way, it is an honorable idea. In practice, it is like a blunt object wielded by a toddler who likes to throw temper tantrums.

Again, Johnny and Amber are pointing fingers at each other, so it is hard to decide who’s telling the truth. However, the aforementioned audio may convince some that Johnny isn’t the bad guy in this case. But what if Johnny Depp really isn’t the bad guy?

We must check cancel culture…

With the way the media sometimes jumps on claims without verifying them and how rumors spread like wildfire on social media, an innocent man being attacked is natural collateral damage. The accused will remain guilty, and, even if he’s found not guilty in court, he will remain guilty in the public eye.

Therefore, cancel culture as whole must be checked. Social media platforms must remain objective and moderate posts with false news so that the image of good people isn’t ruined. This is an age of information and an era of victims. Everyone shares everything, and some overshare for attention. Some love the support that comes with being a victim. We must check cancel culture or watch our world become a cesspool absent self-accountability.  

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share to get new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913.

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Brittney Griner: Runaway Black Girl Theory (RBGT)

Imagine LeBron James gets on a plane to Russia only to end up a prisoner to the country at a time it is at war with a country the U.S. is supplying with weapons and other aid. The headlines would be innumerable, and the outrage would be tangible. Every reporter to politician would be seeking answers. In the case of Brittney Griner, her case has not gotten a quarter of the attention it deserves.

WNBA player Brittney Griner went missing in February of 2022. Originally, articles focusing on her disappearance were scarce. When the public finally found out she had been detained in Russia for allegedly possessing a marijuana vape pen at a Russian airport, former WNBA star Lisa Leslie said that officials had instructed Griner’s team to remain mum on the topic.

Silence… is hurting more than helping…

It is fully arguable and understandable that authorities would want to avoid causing ruffles with the public. Griner is captive to an enemy state, and avoiding antagonizing Russia is a smart move. However, silence in this case is hurting more than helping.

Many people don’t believe the United States government is doing enough to secure the safe return of Brittney Griner. There have been some talks between Griner and American government officials, but none of those talks have led to her release. Usually in a situation like this involving someone of Griner’s stature, reports concerning her would be headlining every station.

Photo of WNBA Player Brittney Griner by NBC News.

Race and gender have played a role in the mishandling and seeming indifference concerning Griner. It’s similar to the “Runaway Black Girl Theory” (RBGT); when a Black girl goes missing, instead of labeling her a missing person and pouring in resources to find her, authorities sometimes suggest a Black girl in this situation is a runway. Doing so gives them the cover they need to ignore her case.

As for Brittney Griner, some will say, “She had a vape pen and brought this on herself.” However, this does not excuse what seems to be the American government’s indifference in relation to Griner. Americans are known for causing trouble overseas and being saved by their country.

Brittney Griner deserves the same American government… intervention Fay got.

Michael Peter Fay is an American who vandalized over 18 cars in Singapore in 1993. In 1994, he was sentenced to a number of whips with a cane and ordered to pay fees. America fought hard to bring Peter home and get his sentenced tossed. Eventually, America was able to get Peter home, though he took six cane whips across the butt and paid a fine before Singapore freed him. He later committed several new crimes in America for which he was either given a slap on the wrist or allowed to walk away from without a conviction.

The above acknowledged, although Griner and Fay’s cases are not the same, they share similarities. Brittney Griner deserves the same American government backing and intervention Fay got. However, it does not seem that will happen. Some in America say they don’t see color; I’m beginning to think it’s true. They can’t – or just choose not to – see us.

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share to get new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913.

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Emeka Ossai: Is he worth listening to?

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 .

If you’ve ever looked into self-publishing on Amazon, you’ve probably heard of Emeka Ossai. A charismatic Canadian with a disarming smile, Emeka claims to know the way to sell thousands of dollars worth of books. Through his My Self-Publishing Blueprint course launched over five years ago, Emeka claims to reveal the ways to self-publish a profitable book. As of 5/01/2022, My Self-Publishing Blueprint is closed, but was there any merit to it to begin with?

From poking around online, I found Emeka allegedly has been banned from Amazon KDP, the self-publishing leg of the online giant. Because of shady review practices, he is supposedly not allowed to self-publish on Amazon. In a few of his YouTube videos, he addresses these accusations. And this is where the story gets fuzzy.

It is hard to see where the truth ends…

However, Emeka claims to have sold thousands of books and made a profit doing so. Still, he presents no tangible proof. Instead, he claims to have ghostwritten books that he can’t name due to non-disclosure agreements. In his defense, he does present people who allegedly took his course and made money. It is hard to see where the truth ends and mistruths begin.

I have been told, as cliché as it is, to believe half of what I see and none of what I hear. Emeka’s Self-Publishing Blueprint course is not one I have taken. I’m not sure how beneficial that course is, but I know I have not witnessed any real proof from Emeka that would funnel me into purchasing his course. Maybe the best thing to happen to this course is its closing.

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Netflix: The Closing

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 .

When Netflix originally launched in 1997, it offered DVD rentals and sales. Eventually, it focused just on DVD rentals, before becoming the biggest streaming platform on the market. However, due to unbelievable price jumps, defending offensive comedians and more competition, Netflix may be the next big business to fail.

Since the beginning of the 2022 quarter, Netflix has lost over 200,000 subscribers and may lose up to two million more this year. That may seem like nothing, considering the platform has over 222 million total worldwide subscribers. However, if this trend continues, Netflix may have to close its doors. Some have asked, is Dave Chapelle to blame for the fall in subscribers?

Netflix has laid off twenty-five full-time employees…

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special The Closer aired in 2021, Dave was accused of making transphobic jokes. Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos chose to stand beside Dave, even with bad press and employees boycotting the job. Quite frankly, Sarandos grossly mishandled the 2021 incident. And membership to the platform is now down, so much so that Netflix has laid off twenty-five full-time employees. Naturally, it would seem the Dave Chappelle incident played at least some role in the in losing subscribers, but the incident may be only one part of the issue.

The Dave Chappell controversy happened during the same time as many other impactful events. At the same time, Netflix continued raising prices of subscription. Since 2015, Netflix has increased its subscription prices as much as sixty-six percent. As a person who has gone through at least three price hikes with the streaming platform, I was just not ready to do it again at $19.99. A lot of subscribers to Netflix feel this way and may not think its worth it.

Employees protest Dave Chappelle outside of Netflix Headquarters. Photo by Al Jazeera.

For instance, under certain bundles from other providers outside of Netflix, subscribers can get HBO and Disney+ together for under $12.99 a month. Also, Hulu is a great streaming platform with shows like Woke that make it a fitting alternative to Netflix. And Hulu isn’t on the offensive about account sharing like Netflix is.

Although the Dave Chappelle controversy may have turned away some subscribers, it is not solely responsible for the decline. Netflix’s prices are too high, and they may not come with benefits like a subscription to a music streaming service or other streaming service. Hulu, Showtime, Starz and other streaming services have content that is as good as Netflix’s or better. Netflix made an assumption about its worth that viewers are proving they just don’t believe.

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TV Show “Woke” Puts Me to Sleep

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 .

*Spoiler Alert: This post contains a lot of spoilers.

The first season of Hulu’s show Woke introduced the audience to Keef Knight, a Black cartoonist who experiences police brutality. This experience jars Keef awake socially, and he begins to really see racism for the first time. Though season one left us on a promising note, season two of Woke is proving to be a snoozer.

The art of enjoying television is partially based on your willingness to suspend disbelief. This suspension is tempered by the world in which the characters live. That is, you’re more likely to accept vampires in The Walking Dead than you are to accept vampires in Miami Vice.

Situations in Woke are compromising the viewer’s tolerance…

The above stated, although Keef does talk to live garbage cans, markers and other normally inanimate objects, other situations in Woke are compromising the viewer’s tolerance for suspending disbelief.

For instance, Keef gets into a deal where he unknowingly distributes shoes that contain 5G and tracking technology to homeless individuals. Complicating the issue further is that the data is being sold to the City which is using it to find and disband peaceful homeless encampments.

Here, Fonzie jumps the shark. This stunt is allegedly what cost the show its viewers.

This is a stretch at best and just plain bad writing at worse. For me, it’s like the moment Fonzie jumped the shark. Maybe it’s not unbelievable that a private company or the government would put tracking devices in shoes. It is unlikely it would be done in such poorly, openly brazen manner.

And wandering how Keef has this season looking for a fight, he now has to battle against something he helped start? So, Keef begins a fight against Laura, the Silicon Valley archetype that helped invest in and start the “Keef Knight Project”, after the company she works for goes after Keef’s friend Ayana.

Keef accomplishes nothing…

After organizing a rally against himself to ruin his own name and making it seem like the 5G shoes hurt him, Keef threatens to sue the company Laura represents if the company doesn’t drop its suit against Ayana which it seems will happen. At the end, Keef rides off with Clovis’s dad in search of himself.

To say the least, a lot happened and nothing happened simultaneously in Woke Season 2. Each twist and turn led to nowhere. Keef accomplishes nothing on a grand scale and grows in no meaningful way. In sitcoms many time, characters do not grow. What set Woke apart was its potential to push boundaries sitcoms normally don’t.  

Keef Knight and his crew. Photo from TomsGuide.com.

This season of Woke is not worth the time it takes to consume. It’s like getting a big, juicy-looking steak only to find out it’s just meaty air. This season served no purpose. Keef did not move or grow as a character. His agenda has not been furthered. And, honestly, it wasn’t that funny.

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Abbott Elementary: A Step Back Concerning Women?

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcastand subscribe there to hear more.

ABC’s new hit show Abbott Elementary is a fun mocumentary with a cast that has viewers holding their sides every week. With a diverse body of teachers balancing the pressures of educating America’s youth, the show has captured the hearts of many. However, there is a particular detail that plays to a stereotype of successful women.

Ava is unbelievably unqualified for her job.

Stuck in her ways, Ava Coleman (played by Janelle James) is an atypical principal. She dances, openly insults some of her staff and shows a general disinterest in the welfare of the school. This coupled with the fact that she’s the most powerful person in the school makes her golden for viewership.

However, Ava is unbelievably unqualified for her job. She has it only because she caught the superintendent in a compromising situation that could have ended his marriage. She used this as leverage to become principal.

Greg’s reaction to Principal Ava Coleman. Image from Tenor.com

Furthermore, the audience finds out teacher Gregory Eddie (played by Tyler James), the straight-man amongst the madness of Abbott Elementary, was supposed to be the principal there. He was beat out by Ava’s strong-arming the superintendent. Greg is actually qualified to be principal and seems to lack any respect for Ava.

It may be problematic that in this day and time, some writers are still depending on old stereotypes of women in the workplace. In the case of Abbott Elementary, the writers relied on the disproven idea “a woman in power doesn’t get there by her qualifications alone.”

Principal Ava Coleman Poses Outside of Abbott Elementary. Photo from EntertainmentWeekly.com.

Though Ava is hilarious and fresh, her backstory could have been more enriched and giving, some would say. Her backstory could have been one of success while still being fun and inviting. Abbott Elementary is progressive in some ways, but it has failed viewers in this instance.

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Superstore’s Garrett McNeil Doesn’t Like Black People

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcastand subscribe there to hear more.

Garrett McNeil, played by Colton Dunn, is the sarcastic and most sane character on NBC’s hit show Superstore. Wheelchair bound, Garrett doesn’t disclose or much talk about what led to his being in a wheelchair. He can be cynical and petty, and when someone suggests a terrible idea, he is the first person to encourage them to act out the bad idea, as he sabotages them along the way. Being the only Black male main character on the show, one would expect Garrett to be more than what he is: A Black man who actively participates in the disenfranchisement or dislike of other Black people.

Garrett Confronting Vendor about Bud Light ale.

On Season 03 Episode 18 “Local Vendors Day”, Garrett samples a Black woman vendor’s ale. After a few sips, he says her ale tastes like Bud Light. She denies using Bud Light. Throughout the episode, Garrett pressures the woman to reveal the origins of her ale. When she won’t admit she uses Bud Light, Garrett loudly tells her potential customers that the woman is selling re-labeled Bud Light. To save her business, the vendor pulls Garrett aside and admits she buys Bud Light wholesale and sells it under her own private label.

Garrett threatens [the vendor’s] livelihood.

Garrett’s handling of the ale situation with the Black woman vendor was poor and unnecessary. Out of pure selfishness, Garrett attempts to expose a Black woman doing the exact same thing many companies do: sell brand name products under their own private label. By telling other potential customers the vendor’s secret ingredient, Garrett threatens her livelihood. To be fair, Garrett did ask the vendor out after she admitted she was using Bud Light, so one could argue Garrett used this attack on her business to have a reason to connect with her.

On Season 03 Episode 04 “Workplace Bullying”, Jonah walks in on a thief robbing the store’s safe. Jonah freezes, but Dina catches the robber. In the aftermath of the robbery, Garrett suggests to Glenn, the store manager, that Glenn should fire the security guard (who’s Black), who should have been there to stop the robbery. Due to being late to work, the security guard, should be fired.

Glenn confronts the security guard Garrett wants fired.

The call to fire the security guard could have come from anyone. Glenn is the store manager, and if he wanted to fire the security guard, it would have been at his discretion. One could argue that Garrett was simply looking out for the store and the safety of his coworkers. However, that is not Garrett’s nature. Maybe the security guard should have done his job better. However, Garrett is not a supervisor. He does not have insight into the security guard’s personal life or what led to his being late to work the morning of the robbery.

Furthermore, Garrett is seen as the cool person in the store. Although his advice usually comes from a place of wanting to make things worse for the advice seeker, his coworkers feel comfortable asking for his guidance or opening up to him. When Erick, played by Phil LaMarr, visits the store, Garrett is stuck between awe and envy. Erick is a video game voice artist, who has voiced a number of popular games, and Garrett seems to idolize him.

Phil LaMarr as “Erick” having an awkward sit-down with Garrett.

However, the usually bold and outspoken Garrett chokes up in the presence of Erick. A sit-down between Erick and Garrett ends badly, with Garrett accusing Erick of not being so cool. Garrett goes on to note that he is the coolest person in the store. This interaction shows how threatened Garrett feels around other Black people. Cloud 9 doesn’t have many Black men as main characters, and Garrett looks to keep it that way.

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How I Got My First Book Deal and How You Can Too

Image from RedBubble.com.

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

Everyone says, “I should write a book.” Then, they jot a few words in Microsoft Word or whatever writing app they’re using, close the file and never look at it again. But that’s not you. You’ve written a book or are just about finished, and you’re thinking, “How do I get a book deal?” I thought the same, and getting a book deal was simpler and more complicated and simple as I thought it would be.

When I penned my first serious story, it was a full-length action book, over 75,000 words. Depending on the genre, a novel can be anywhere from 60,000 to 90,000 words. That’s a lot to write and even more to revise, edit and proofread. To hone my craft, I began writing short stories. Within a few months, I wrote dozens, focusing on dialogue.

At the same time I was receiving rejection letters concerning my short stories, I had begun writing Operation Soul Cast

As I began sending my short stories out to magazines for publication, I kept noticing a recurring theme in the rejection letters: The reviewers said I “told too much.” They said I didn’t show enough. They also complained that the exposition didn’t allow them as readers to make their own conclusions.

At the same time I was receiving rejection letters concerning my short stories, I had begun writing Operation Soul Cast, a Science Fiction novella (a short novel) with about 30,000 words. When I finished writing this novella, I sent it out and got similar feedback from Tor.com, a reputable publisher.

…the novella of 30,000 words, I wrote in a weekend.

With every rejection, my face reddened a little more. Inside, I questioned my own talent. Outwardly, I blamed the publishers for being closed-minded and unable to spot talent. After throwing a Kanye-like fit, I read and reread the rejection letters.

After rewriting two short stories and parts of the novella I previously mentioned, I sent the pieces out to publishers, and all three got picked up.

I didn’t write my first serious story until I was in my mid-twenties.

In full disclosure, I have a bachelor’s degree in English Writing and a master’s degree in Creative Writing. You don’t need a degree to be an author. However, you do need some of the skills associated with college-level writing and insight into creating fiction.

I haven’t always been a fiction writer. Though I attempted to write stories as a younger teen, I didn’t write my first serious story until I was in my mid-twenties. I thought writing fiction was all about the grammar and punctuation, but I was wrong.

For your manuscript to shine, it must show more than tell.

If your manuscript is filled with error upon error, no publisher is going to take your writing seriously. My command of the English language gave me an advantage, but it isn’t the only thing that sealed the deal in terms of my getting a book deal.

For your manuscript to shine, it must show more than tell. That means describing actions more in-depth than “He ran quickly” or “The cave was hot.” You have to describe the sound footsteps as the person ran or the sweat that drenched them as they stumbled by cactuses in the desert.

…no one told me about elevator pitches, query letters or synopses.

Moreover, you must revise, edit and proofread your manuscript as well as possible. Some writers ask if they should hire an editor or proofreader. How confident are you in your command of grammar and punctuation? If you are not that confident, hire an editor or proofreader; if you are confident but can spend the money without jeopardizing the rent payment, hire someone. If not, prepare to spend hours upon hours perfecting your manuscript.

To continue, in all the blogs I read about getting published before I actually got published, no one told me about elevator pitches, query letters or synopses. If you’re writing a novella, novel or full-length nonfiction book, having all three would be safe; but you’re definitely going to need a query letter (one page) and a synopsis (500 — 800 words. An elevator speech is usually 18 — 25 words). Follow the links within this paragraph to learn more about each.

What matters is how you use the rejections to your benefit…

In closing, after publishers rejected my manuscript for my book Operation Soul Cast, I huffed and puffed and took the advice. There are a couple types of rejections in the publishing world: general and personalized. General feedback is nonspecific and is a ready-made rejection letter. Personalized or specific feedback gives clear examples of how the manuscript failed and could be better. If you get the latter, use it to rework your manuscript. Rejections come and go. What matters is how you use the rejections to your benefit to make a stronger manuscript that will help you get a deal. If you follow the steps, getting a book deal is easy; if you don’t, getting a book deal is the equivalent of solving a Rubix cube on your very first try.

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Post-Valentine’s Edition: How to Keep a Man (Late Post)

In this photo, a woman argues with a man. Photo from Guy Stuff Counseling.

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

This post-Valentine’s Day, in this age of information where social media dominates, the percentage of Black men and Black women cohabitating is at what some say is an all-time low. Many Black women ask, “Where are the good Black men?” They exist, but getting them and keeping them is a task in and of its own, from what a successful Black professor/grammar school professor/teacher told me.

This is not to be taken as a comment on all Black men or all Black women, to be clear. My friend, we’ll call him Greg, has been in a decade-long relationship but is contemplating leaving his wife. Of the many reasons, he cites poor communication on her part and lack of submissiveness.

… the average Black successful man’s road… to success has been filled with unimaginable trials.

Black men, as Black women, have dealt with/deal with indescribable social barriers. For the average Black successful man, be he a lawyer or barber, his road to success has been filled with unimaginable trials. He has figuratively had to fight for everything in his life. As my friend Greg notes, the last thing he wants is conflict at home.

The above stated, Greg says, “I’m tired of arguing. I just want peace.” His wife holds a master degree as he does, but for all of her education, Greg believes she is a poor communicator. For example, when he initially suggested they leave the state together for career opportunities, she said yes. When the time came, she refused.

In this photo, a woman waves a man off. Photo from Bauce Magazine.

Furthermore, Greg explained his view of what he meant by “submissive”. “For any successful business to run, you need a sole CEO. Two people can’t be in charge at the same time. There has to be a tiebreaker of sorts. When there’s an important decision to be made and we don’t agree, I want her to trust in me that I will make the right decisions for us.”

“There’s nothing wrong with an independent woman,” Greg says. “The problem is when independence is used as leverage to treat or talk to a man any kind of way.” As he and some other men see it, he says, the word “independent” has been weaponized. It is sometimes used as a euphemism, signaling a woman has no respect for a person she’s dating because she doesn’t need that person.

My independence doesn’t make me believe I can disrespect a woman.”

As Greg notes, “I have a car, house and two great careers. I’m independent, but I still treat my woman with the utmost respect. My independence doesn’t make me believe I can disrespect a woman.”

This is a photo of a Black man accused of crack cocaine possession. Photo from News10 ABC.

Due to the crack era, over-prosecution of Black men and other social issues, many Black men have been benched, to a degree, in society. In the absence of the Black man, some Black women have had to do it all: Go to school, take care of the kids and house and work. Being the most educated group in America, Black women have worked hard to earn their way in this country, even though they don’t always get the recognition they deserve.

Because of this, some Black women have a different experience in life than their white counterparts. Having to shoulder the burden of life so long alone, some Black women are tougher. Greg contends “they wear their independence like a suit of armor: it’s as much for protection as it can be for show.”

Where are the good men?

Constantly, the question “Where are the good men at?” is thrown around on social media. But Greg, like some other men, ask, “What is considered to be a good man?” Greg is employed, educated and faithful, but he feels his wife treats him as she would any guy she’s in a relationship with.

Still, in this 21st Century, we have seen gender roles flip; women are no longer expected to be housewives who set aside their own dreams and aspirations. Therefore, many of them expect something different than their grandparents did in the past.

Screenshot from social media.

In the above screenshot, the person posting it asserts the logic that it is fine to disrespect someone because this person has materialistic possessions. I once read somewhere to judge a person not by how they treat their superiors but how they treat their perceived inferiors. How someone treats someone who they think doesn’t have any social importance shows their true character.

[Some women] display an attitude that will turn most “good men” away, Greg contends.

So, the person who posted that screenshot believes financial stability gives them the right to treat men badly. Their financial stability has made them believe a man has no value. In another lifetime, the man was the expected-breadwinner. These days, if a woman is the breadwinner and she believes men can help only in that way, she may not see the other values in men.

Therefore, when she dates, she may display an attitude that will turn most “good men” away, Greg contends. He says, “Some women create force fields against good men and wonder where they are. Ladies, don’t be those women.”

In this photo, a man and woman smile and dance. Photo from iStock.

That acknowledged, you have to be real with yourself. Would you date a man with kids, and how many kids do you have? Do you view men as more than a “provider”? What do you expect from a relationship, and what are you willing to bring? Being real with yourself and who you are may be the only ways to keep a man.

Show your a man that you value him. Be nice. Smile. Keep your heart open. Don’t fall for your usual type. If you do those things, you’ll be the woman a good man loves, values and cherishes forever.

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Wendy Williams Masturbates in Front of Crew and Manager

Talk Show Host Wendy Williams (Center). Photo by PageSix.com

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

Since 2008, The Wendy Williams Show has based its success off juicy gossip. Most famously, Wendy Williams once accused Judge Greg Mathis of snorting cocaine and having a threesome with his wife and another woman. As noted by Judge Mathis during a radio interview with Wendy at that time, Wendy Williams was experiencing her own controversies. Her husband had left her for, or was at least cheating on her with, a younger woman, and Wendy had relapsed back into cocaine addiction, leading her to miss important days of filming her show. Most recently, she has been accused of masturbating in front of her crew and manager. The question becomes, is this the end of the road for The Wendy Williams Show?

Is this the end of the road for The Wendy Williams Show?

According to multiple news outlets, last year, the 57-year-old Wendy Williams stripped naked and masturbated in front of her crew and manager. The incident allegedly occurred while she was filming an episode of the show and had become excessively intoxicated.

Photo of Wendy Williams from All About the Tea from Twitter.

Of course, Wendy’s actions are a cry for help. Drug abuse is a symptom of depression, and so is alcoholism. However, it is hard to feel bad for a person who for years spread embarrassing news of others and showed no remorse. It seems as though Wendy only cared about the ratings but not the people she hurt with offensive and sometimes unsubstantiated gossip.

It is a well-known fact that before her show, Wendy suffered from drug abuse. She even referred to herself as a “functioning drug addict”. This is nothing to poke fun at; rather, this is a time to see how one of the most influential television personalities ended up in her current situation, where it seems she may lose it all.

Wendy has made millions disclosing the secrets of others to her audience.

Because Wendy has spent so much time digging into the personal lives of others, it is apparent she did not have time to properly care for her own. She is not to be blamed for a cheating husband. Still, one wonders, how much time could a person who knows the status of everyone else’s marriage properly care for her own?

Moreover, Wendy has made millions disclosing the secrets of others to her audience. She has behaved as judge, jury and executioner in controversy that has taken down dozens or hundreds of others. If nothing else, Wendy is getting back with interest what she has paid out.

Wendy Williams and Her Former DJ, DJ Boof, Who Agrees Wendy Needs Rehab. Photo by Johnny Nunez of WireImage.

Although the last few years of The Wendy Williams Show has been ripe with Wendy’s own personal scandals, her show has not been cancelled. In an age where ratings matter more than the health of the host, as long as Fox Broadcasting can make money off of her, Wendy’s personal end may come quicker than her professional end.

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Fresh and Fit Podcast: Disrespectful to Black Women

Fresh and Fit podcast hosts Myron Gaines (left) and Fresh (right). Photo from http://www.TheShadeRoom.com .

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

Fresh and Fit Podcast Hosts Fresh and Myron Gaines, who are Black, have made headlines, after woefully disrespecting African American women, calling them “Shaniquas”. As for dating Black women, the two argue they “don’t dabble in the dark.” They said they would probably be romantically involved with a “redbone” — lighter-skinned African American women — but Black women are generally not their “preference”. Are their statements a matter of preference or a symptom of self-hate unfairly projected onto Black women?

Gaines and Fresh show their bias when referring to Black women as “Shaniquas.”

When defending their statements about not dating African American women, they did what most prejudice cowards do: they hid behind the word “preference”. Dating preferences are fine. No one should dictate who another person loves, but Gaines and Fresh show their bias when referring to Black women as “Shaniquas.”

Rapper Asian Doll (directly center) having a heated argument with Myron Gaines and Fresh on their podcast, before walking out. Photo from www.HotNewHipHop.com .

Collectively calling Black women “Shaniquas” shows how careless Fresh and Gaines are and reveals a certain level of contempt of Black women. Though unsaid by the two, one walks away feeling the underlying message from these two is, Black women lack diversity in personality and uniqueness that set them apart from one another. Gaines and Fresh’s statements are ruled by gender and race, without taking into account any Black woman’s individuality.

Black women bring education, financial discipline and spiritual wealth

For instance, according to ThoughtCo., African American women “are the most educated group in the U.S.” Moreover, Black women are “among the fastest growing entrepreneurs,”noted Forbes. These things considered, Black women bring education, financial discipline and spiritual wealth, wherever they go. With all these facts being true, what is the issue with the statements made by Gaines and Fresh?

Although Black women saw the ugliest parts of slavery — rape, child abduction and worse — they have constantly had to battle popularized stereotypes about their personalities, attitudes and social usefulness. The statements by Gaines and Fresh reinforce these false ideas.

Podcasters Myron Gaines (right) and Fresh (left) being trashed by Black Twitter.

Also, when Gaines and Fresh say they might date a “redbone”, they boost the idea that light skinned Black women are more attractive than darker skinned Black women. This assumption is based solely on skin shade and gender and nothing else. It also upholds the disproven theory that lighter skin is somehow better or more attractive than darker skin. Mixed with ignorance, misogyny of Black women and a terrible understanding of the socially negative effects of these statements, Fresh and Gaines spread a disdain for Black women.

Fresh and Gaines don’t deserve an audience…

Before hearing of these statements this week, most people probably didn’t know who Fresh and Myron Gaines were and didn’t listen to their podcast. These two have nothing to talk about, other than spewing ignorance against African American women. Their statements are cringeworthy and offensive. Those who support their statements are just as much the problem. Fresh and Gaines don’t deserve an audience; they need an educator.

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2021 in Review: Formula for Success

Hip-Hop Mogul and Entrepreneur Jay-Z pops a bottle of champagne. Image from www.Google.com

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

In quiet moments of self-reflection, I have continuously examined who I am and who I want to become. To say this year has been a complete success would be untrue. Yet I have experienced more professional success this year alone than I have any other. The question becomes, where do I go from here, and how do you yourself achieve such success?

This year, I have become an English professor for two different colleges, three if counting the one my tight schedule obligated I turn down. Now, I am the coordinator of a center as well. I contribute this success to the timing of the Universe, my exceptional résumé writing skills and my dynamic interviewing style.

I came from a place that got more bad press than anything.

At this relatively youngish age, I have jumped tax brackets twice over and experienced meaningful careers that drive me. However, it has not ever been about the money for me, though it helps. Positively impacting the future of students who will change the world for the better is the fire that ignites me.

Kids play in a water from a fire hydrant on a hot summer day near the Robert Taylor Projects on Chicago’s Southside. Image from www.BlackPast.org

People often wonder how I did it. From humble beginnings, I came from a place that got more bad press than anything. But I didn’t ever doubt myself. And self-doubt is something you must learn to avoid.

Recently, I was speaking to someone experiencing a rough patch in life. This person complained how no one was doing anything for them. I listened with both my ears and my heart. Yet I had to let this person in on a secret: no one cares.

[People] may not always have the… resources necessary to help you

The world can be dismissive and cold. It can turn its back on you when you need it the most. It’s not always malicious. People have their own lives, bills and situations to deal with. In their strive to do better, they may not always have the time or resources necessary to help you.

As I explained to the previously mentioned person, accepting responsibility for your own life is the first step to success. If you believe that your life is yours to control, if you do not blame others, if you hold yourself accountable, you will achieve more than you ever thought possible.

Hip-Hop Mogul and Fashion Guru Kanye West celebrates. Image from www.CelebrityNetWorth.com

Life is a series of decisions, and there will be good times and bad times. Your success is determined by how well you maneuver the bad times. No one’s life is without trial and error. What separates those who make it and those who do not is the will power within the person.

Tell yourself, my life is mine to cherish and control

When you are alone, utilize that time. Examine your situation. Ask yourself, what do I want? How can I get what I want? Write it down and then act on it. Tell yourself, my life is mine to cherish and control.

A student’s failed exam. Photo from www.TheDailyCougar.com

As an English professor, I have heard students brag and say, “I got an A on my essay.” When their assignment is not as successful, they say, “The professor gave me an F.” In the instance of success, they own it. In the instance of failure, they blame their professor. In both instances, this student wrote the essays. So, this student earned both grades.

self-accountability + planning + action = success

The above noted, I can say success is not easy. It is not infinite, either. You must work to keep it, or it will be washed away by the ever-present tide of failure that is not ever fully at bay. Success has a formula: self-accountability + planning + action = success. Failure is empty words + no action + no accountability.

This has been a wildly successful year for me but only because I live by the formula for success. None of this was given to me. I earned it with the backing of the Universe. I do not know where further success will land me, but I know that there are no limits. Don’t doubt yourself or let failure dishearten you. Own it, grow your wings and take off.

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Jury awards $26 million in Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally civil case

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Overcoming Being Judged

Two strong-willed women from the movie Black Panther. Image from uhighmidway.com

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

Maybe someone recently told you that you’re too “fat” or too “dark”. Maybe someone at work doesn’t like the way you dress or wear your hair. When you come around, your coworkers, frenemies or family members whisper about you. You bravely smile or ignore them, but deep down inside, you’re on fire with embarrassment. During these moments, you feel lost or hopeless, but there are ways to overcome the feelings of rejection that naturally come with being judged.

Focus on the positive.

One of the most important things you have to do is focus on the positive. Too many times, we allow ourselves to focus on the negative. We post a picture on social media and get fourteen “likes” and a bunch of supportive comments. However, the one discouraging comment from a troll is what aggravates us. This shouldn’t be the case.

Realistically speaking, not everything we see or hear about ourselves is going to be positive. We find ourselves scrolling social media and see the high school friend with the new career. Or we see our coworkers riding in a luxury car or going on a dream vacation and wonder, why isn’t my life that good? Why am I not as successful?

Optical illusion of a house that is not a house. Image from loveproperty.com

Imagine a nice-looking house being situated in a landfill. The person living in that house takes a picture and crops out the piles of trash in the background and posts that image to Facebook. All anyone is going to see is an appealing house. No one will know the house is surrounded by trash or smell the rotting garbage. This is what social media is: people posing in the landfill they call life and cropping out the trash. Their life isn’t perfect; it’s cropped.

That being acknowledged, what good is going on in your life? You may not have a mansion, but you have somewhere to live. You may not have a Tesla, but you have transportation to work. You may not have your dream job, but you’re employed.

Be confident in yourself.

Moreover, self-validation matters more than the validation of others. If you struggle with weight, there are a multitude of people who will appreciate your figure. Plenty of people may find your crooked smile attractive. Still, you have to be confident in yourself. If you are not comfortable with yourself, no one will be. Low self-esteem is almost tangible, and it attracts bullies and people with terrible intentions.

However, it is OK to want more. It is fine to want to lose weight or find a better job, if that is what you want to do for yourself. Losing weight isn’t all about aesthetics. You may have a health condition linked to your weight. Know that you can reach whatever goal it is you want to reach.

Woman being bullied at work so much so that she is stressed and can’t get her work done. Image from verywellmind.com

If you are being bullied at work because of your weight, age, skin color or for other reasons, address the people who are doing this to you. It may be uncomfortable at first, but if you don’t stand up, it will become even more uncomfortable for you. If it continues, talk to the appropriate person at work. Doing so almost guarantees the harassment will stop. People have a tendency to appreciate their job over harassing coworkers.

Not all family is worthy of your presence.

Also, family is always beautiful to have, but sometimes you have to distance yourself from those within your family who cause you stress. We are taught family is everything. This is true, but not all family is deserving of your presence. Stay away from those who try to tear you down or judge you.

Photo of Stephanie Yeboah. Image from theguardian.com

To conclude, you are more powerful than you think. Everyone has a certain level of self-doubt. Some just mask is better than others. Distance yourself from those who tear you down. Address coworkers who do, and if they continue, get the appropriate manager or supervisor involved. You will feel better when you do. You’re fine the way you are, and there is always self-improvement for everyone. But don’t change anything about yourself, unless you’re doing so for yourself.

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Harvey Justice: The Hennessy Robe Guy

Picture from Harvey Justice III Facebook Page

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

If you have ever visited Facebook.com, intentionally or unintentionally, you have come across the hilarious Harvey Justice, who got his stardom making videos about Hennessy. Harvey uses his favorite cognac in everything from liquor-infused food recipes to outlandish drinking sprees. With over 1.2 million Facebook followers and over 90,000 YouTube subscribers, the comedian-turned-entrepreneur Harvey has tried to monetize his fame. In doing so, he has created a not-so-concise but intriguing brand that promises to make him rich(er) someday. With a blossoming music career, one has to wonder how Harvey went from making videos about hilariously misusing Hennessy to being a rapper.

…his base product of robes seem well-made and to be in high-demand.

Usually clad in one of his “Daddy” Robes, Harvey’s image is based on mock-sexual appeal and his relentlessly genuine interaction with his fans surrounding his comedy and “Daddy” brand. The brand includes condoms, soap, sleep masks, his comfy robes and more items associated with relaxation. Oddly enough and befitting of his quirky personality, his products are priced with two or three of the same digits in a row. Though expensive, his base product of robes seem well-made and to be in high-demand. Outside of that, Harvey has been making music, and shockingly, it’s not half-bad.

Harvey Justice Modeling His Episode 27 Mink Robe

Harvey Justice’s music is a direct reflection of his image: laidback and stress-free. His song “Love Me Back” is smooth as Hennessy over ice and tackles the woes of love. In it, he asks to be “loved back” and be “loved first.” Over a mellow beat, he pours his heart out concerning the insecurities that come with love, including sex and potential heartbeat. He rebukes hate, claiming to have had enough of it. But Harvey is not a one-hit wonder.

His pain and anguish are almost palpable.

In another song called “Forget About Me” which is about love, Harvey recounts a girl’s telling him to “forget about [her]” if he can not distance himself from other girls. Harmonizing more than rapping, he recounts a close girlfriend becoming his enemy. A step away from his usually playful personality, he laments the ailments of losing a girl whom he has conflicting feelings about. His pain and anguish are almost palpable.

Also, Harvey has a song called “Pancakes and Hennessy” that is reminiscent of the quirkiness that initially got him famous. If he had not made this song, he wouldn’t be himself. While discussing a bad view of girls, he recounts the joys of Hennessy and Pancakes. Unlike many of his other tracks, the beat to this one is hard and bass-heavy. Though some may find the lyrics distasteful, the song itself is more comedy-based than reality.

“Daddy” is a microcosm of the man himself.

From “Daddy” robes and prophylactics to chill, smoke-by-yourself lyrics over butter-like beats dripping heartache and comedy, Harvey Justice demonstrates his many talents and urge to be financially set. Though the “Daddy” brand may be in need of a more concise message, “Daddy” is a microcosm of the man himself. Harvey comes off as a relaxed guy who doesn’t take life too seriously. This magnetic attitude is likely what draws his fans to him in the first place.

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Has Dave Chappelle Gone Too Far with The Closer Special, or Has He Not Gone Far Enough?

Photo by Mathiue Bitton of Netflix

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

Dave Chappelle speaks controversy as a second language. In many of his stand-ups, Chappelle attacks cancel culture. In his Netflix special Sticks and Stones, Chappelle does an impression of a group of people attacking a comedian for saying something controversial. He then tells the audience the impression is of them; as fans have cancelled the great Kevin Hart, Chappelle’s argument is, one day his loyal fans will do the same to him. He believes that those who practice cancel culture are too sensitive, have too much power and that they should relax a little. However, with his new Netflix special The Closer, many are wondering if his own predictions of being cancelled are now coming true.

[Chappelle] goes on to say “gender is a fact”.

In The Closer, after mentioning J.K. Rowling’s being cancelled for what some deemed anti-trans ideas, Chappelle defends the author of the Harry Potter novels, while asserting that he himself is a TERF: Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. He goes on to say “gender is a fact”. This view is directly opposite of those who believe gender is a social construct used unfairly to dictate the roles of people based on a gender that was assigned to them at birth.

Furthermore, Chappelle says he wants to “negotiate the release of [the rapper] DaBaby”, who recently took some financial hits because of disparaging comments concerning the LGBTQ+ community. Chappelle downplays DaBaby’s words and argues for his inclusion in the music industry.

Employee of Netflix Terra Field who spoke out against Dave Chappelle and was suspended by Netflix but later reinstated. Photo from NY Post.

some of the employees are planning a walkout to boycott Netflix.

Following The Closer special, backlash reigned down on Chappelle in the form of Netflix employees storming a meeting in which Chappelle was a part of. The streaming guru suspended said employees. This being seen as an attempt by the company to silence the voice of trans people, the move did not sit well with many. Shortly thereafter, at least one of the employees was reinstated, but some of the employees are planning a walkout to boycott Netflix.

Up until this point, Netflix has defended Dave Chappelle, arguing that comedy is supposed to push the boundaries and that none of it is about discrimination or bigotry. The company further argued that what it produces as comedy does not reflect its values or workplace environment.

Comedian Dave Chappelle juxtaposed to Terra Field, who confronted the comedian about the trans jokes he told in The Closer. Photo by NY Post.

To protect himself and Netflix, Chappelle strategically released The Closer last in his installment of specials. Although the comedian has previously made jokes about the trans community, none have been as boundary-pushing as the jokes in The Closer. Chappelle has already been paid, and he does not have to worry about an upcoming special being boycotted in the near-future. Also, in this final Netflix special, Chappelle said this would be his last for a while. So, what happens next?

How does [Netflix] strike a balance between defending Chappelle [and] ensuring its viewers will not experience bigotry?

The above noted, Dave Chappelle likely knew the potential fallout from his comments. That is why he hinted previously that at some point, fans would turn on him or want to cancel him. However, Netflix is fighting up a slippery slope. How does it strike a balance between defending Chappelle while also ensuring its viewers will not experience bigotry at its hands? There are a few possibilities.

Firstly, Netflix could continue its defense of Dave Chappelle and risk losing a significant number of subscribers. This is unlikely. Though the company initially defended Chappelle, executives made sure to note that Dave Chappelle’s comedy is just comedy and does not reflect the company’s views towards the trans community.

Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos. Photo from Fox Business.

Also, the company could pull Chappelle’s specials and bury them, while issuing an apology for the material. This could be a likelihood. After suspending activists for barging in on the Chappelle meeting, the company quickly reinstated at least one of the suspended employees. This shows a crack in the company’s resolve in defending Chappelle. It seems that the fire of cancel culture is turning up the heat on the streaming giant. But what about Chappelle?

[Some] companies [value] return on investment…more than human equity.

Chappelle is one person. He is not a company. His fears are not losing an entire company. With a fanbase as loyal as his, being cancelled is not a strong likelihood. Whether it is through another streaming company or a cable company, Chappelle’s ability to bring revenue is undeniable. In many cases, some companies value return over human equity.

Dave Chappelle out with his wife. Photo from The US Sun.

Moreover, the question becomes, where is the line between comic and bigot drawn? Toward the end of The Closer, Chappelle vowed to stop making jokes about the trans community until he is sure he, his audience and every community are laughing together. Though he made these “jokes” under the guise of comedy, some believe he actually holds a disparaging attitude towards the trans community and that his remarks may incite violence against trans people. Is Chappelle right for cracking jokes and pushing boundaries or wrong for seemingly perpetuating negative stereotypes about gender and gender identity in regards to the trans community?

Whatever the case may be, while some laughed deeply while watching The Closer, a number of people didn’t find it so funny.

The question remains though: Is cancel culture strong enough to take down Dave Chappelle? Should he be cancelled for what some see as bigoted, dangerous remarks about the trans community, or should he be given a comedic pass? Whatever the case may be, while some laughed deeply while watching The Closer, a number of people didn’t find it so funny.

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Netflix Chooses to Standby Dave Chappelle and His Controversial Standup “The Closer”

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Drake and Kanye Release 2021’s Worst Albums

Left, Drake. Right, Kanye West. Photo by Rap-Up

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

If you are absolutely intent on wasting three hours of your life you will never get back, Certified Lover Boy by Drake and Donda by Kanye West are the perfect albums for that. Probably two of the most anticipated albums of the year, Drake and Kanye’s albums have proven to be the longest, boring music put on wax. The two rapppers, who have previously feuded and continue to do so, dropped their extremely underwhleming albums on the same date, and there’s hardly anything good to say about either.

[Drake’s album] promotes a disregard for women…

Years ago, a rapper named Pusha T revealved that Drake had a “bastard” child born to a stripper. No one truly understood the impact of that revelation, except Drake, since he basically made an hour-and-a-half long album discussing all the women he may have indiscriminately impregnanted. The album is filled with toxic masculinity, as Drake promised. It is also promotes a specific disregard for women as a whole.

Rapper Pusha T, who may have single-handedly caused Drake to Release Certified Lover Boy after revealing Drake’s hidden child. Photo by Best Music.

Moreover, what’s really troubling is Drake’s album cover which depicts multiple pregnant emojis of different skin tones. If anything, listeners learn that Drake is not biased. He has no standards. He’ll have anyone from celebs to fans. It just depends on whom he can get into the bed for the night.

Kanye’s album is boring…

On the other hand, heavy with autotune, Kanye’s album is not tasteless like Drake’s. Though his lyrics are underwhelming, Kayne did have a vision for this album. He hosted listening parties and sort of built a culture around his album. At the very least, he’s nearly built a cult. Kayne’s album is boring and feels directionless. It seems like he wants to make a point, but that point is lost within the terribly annoying delivery of his lyrics.

Photo by Vibe.com

To say the least, both albums fall short of the respective talent of their creators (or writers like Drake is known to use). However, Kanye tried to make a point in the memory of his mother. Drake simply made a child support confessional album that listens like a Deadbeat Dad Anthem. Both albums are too long and needed someone to edit the fluff. It’s like Drake and Kanye each recorded nearly two hours of what they call music and just threw it on the albums without first listening. Neither is worth the time it would take to listen to them.

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Becoming a Stronger You

Photo by Pexels.com

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

You may feel that things never go according to plan. You feel for every step forward, there are two steps back. Though you may feel this way, it is not true. If you focus hard enough, anything you want, you will have. The key to success is accepting bad things in your life as your own issue to deal with.

For instance, a family member of mine struggled with personal issues much of her life, having lost three newborn children. During these struggles in her life unknown to me, I was facing my own issues: finding a steady job, getting my master’s degree, family issues and so forth. I could have given up; most people would have.

Instead, I confronted the issues and overcame them. I did this by accepting them as my own problems to solve and sacrificing my time. The family member I mentioned drew inspiration from witnessing me overcome my trials and tribulations. You never know who’s watching you. You must deal with your own problems without blaming others because doing so will help you and those close to you.

What can you do better to fix your own situation?

Furthermore, you must be honest with yourself. Are you really trying as hard as you can? Is there no way you can make it to work on time to look more like a dedicated employee? What can you do better to fix your own situation? Are you blaming others or actively working to fix the issue?

To continue, how strong you are is not determined by your failures; how strong you are is determined by your ability to bounce back. “A bus ran over my bike. Now, I can’t ride my bike to class” or “a car side-swiped me, and now I don’t have a car to do Uber.”

Photo by Pexels.com

In both of the above scenarios, you may not be at fault. Does this mean you should not try and find another way to school or another way to do Uber? How you react to a problem can be more important than the problem itself. A crushed car isn’t nearly as bad as being evicted for not paying your rent. Your landlord won’t care about your Uber car being totaled. She’ll just want her cash. And your professor won’t care about your broken bike. That exam is still due.

If you’ve failed previously, write out what you could have done better.

So, to be more successful, write out your goals. Set deadlines. Have your Google or Alexa assistants remind you of your goals. If you’ve failed previously, write out what you could have done better. Then, do it. And make sure you do it to make yourself happier or to better your own situation, whether it’s getting a new career, earning a degree or connecting with a new social network.

The above acknowledged, what you wish to accomplish, you must do it for yourself. It is great to have a motivating person or factor, but if you’re not pursuing a degree or career or goal for your own benefit, accomplishing it will be a little more difficult. The motivation won’t be there or as intense. You have to want to satisfy yourself and impress yourself. Do not do things simply to make someone else perceive you differently.

You got this.

In the end, your will and strength will determine your future. There are sayers, and there are doers. Sayers make promises. Doers take action. Find motivation within yourself. No one can do for you what you can. Do not blame your problems on others. They are yours to accept and figure out. You’re strong enough. You got this.

Photo by Pexels.com

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A Quick Word on How to Balance Work, School and Your Personal Life

Photo by The Education Trust

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

Right now, there’s a college athlete wondering how she’ll do basketball practice and study for her exams. If she doesn’t pass her exams, she can’t play. If she doesn’t practice, she can’t play. On the other side of town, a young man is out on his own, wondering how he can work enough to pay rent and afford and attend night classes in college. Some may think the previously mentioned plights are impossible. However, it is possible to do it all — work, school and party — but it takes a certain discipline.

Release the pinned-up stress you’re carrying around…

Though college shouldn’t be treated like a party, there are plenty, and you should enjoy them to an extent. All work and no play is a recipe for disaster. You need to release the pinned-up stress you’re carrying around in your tight muscles. Still, you must unwind wisely. There is a fine line between unwinding and losing control.

Photo by Adventist HealthCare

Moreover, this may sound abstract, but plan your days loosely if not in full detail. Putting your life on paper helps to see what works best for your schedule. For instance, if you normally have lunch at noon and you prefer a stress-free lunch, it would not be wise to plan to study while having lunch. You may be distracted and unable to absorb the information you are reviewing.

Yet [we all] have that one person who guilt trips [us] into clubbing…

Be realistic about the negative people in your life and lose contact with them. You know how important the meeting coming up at work tomorrow morning is. Yet you have that one person who guilt trips you into clubbing until the wee hours of the morning. You always feel terrible after these nights. Tell that person how much you enjoy spending time with them, but explain why you have to draw boundaries on certain days. Real friends or spouses understand. The others should be of no concern to you.

On another note, prioritize your life. Do you have kids? A job? School? A great personal life? Which comes first? What’s the most vital in order of importance? This is crucial to consider. At some point, you may have to choose between working a double or doing a final exam. Be prepared to have to potentially make such a decision.

Photo by TheSource.com

As you see, balance can be gained by mapping out your day. Prioritize the elements of your life: work, school and family and friends. Doing so will prepare you for hard decisions down the road. Remove from your life people who distract you, intentionally or unintentionally, from your overall goals and time management. If you do all of the above, there is no way you can fail.

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Power Book III: Kanan’s Fail

Photo of Kanan (Mekai Cutis) by IMDb

Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

*Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen “Power Book III” episode one and don’t want it spoiled for yourself, come back after you have. Also, this was written after seeing both episodes one and two of “Power Book III”, but this covers episode one only, yet both episodes are fails.

“Power Book III: Raising Kanan” is a spin-off of the Starz hit-show “Power”, produced in-part by 50 Cent. In this prequel, actor Mekai Curtis portrays the teenage-version of 50 Cent’s Kanan. The teenage Kanan happens to be the reluctantly academically gifted son of drug queenpin Raquel Thomas (Patina Miller). In the very first episode, “Back in the Day”, the gifted Kanan decides to fail an important entrance exam to a great school to absentmindedly set off a street war. And this is where the story falls apart.

Left: Mekai Curtis, teenage “Kanan”, Right: 50 Cent, “Kanan”and producer of “Power”, photo by Digital Spy

To begin with, Mekai Curtis doesn’t have the “look” associated with Kanan. Granted, this is a younger, more scaled back version of Kanan, but Mekai looks meek or fake angry most of the time. He possesses none of the menace 50 Cent’s Kanan is known for.

[making] Kanan both a genius and a street guy doesn’t work

Moreover, Kanan’s story makes no sense. It is a stretch at best. For instance, when Raquel gives up one of her corners to another dealer, Kanan is in the dark about the deal. After seeing guys hanging out on what he believes to still be his mother’s corner, Kanan takes this as disrespect and murders a kid named Buck 20. Afterwards, Kanan finds out the fatal error he’s made, and now he’s “in it”. Still, this error costs Raquel all of her blocks.

Kanan standing over a body, photo by SOHH

The issue with this is, no audience is going to believe an academic genius was stupid enough to commit murder for seemingly no reason. Trying to make Kanan both a genius and a street guy doesn’t work from what is known about the original version of Kanan. At best, 50 Cent’s Kanan was conniving; a genius he was not.

The storyline [of episode one of “Power Book III”] is weak and makes no sense.

Additionally, Kanan in this new prequel costs Raquel a whole empire. Yet he pays no price for wrecking an empire that feeds not just Raquel and her family but her brothers’ as well. In a real crime family where one individual has cost the family its means of survival, some price beyond a stern talking-to would have happened to Kanan, regardless of who his mother was.

Overall, out of five stars, “Back in the Day” gets two. The storyline is weak and makes no sense. If this episode is any reflection of what’s to come in “Power Book III”, it may be best to wait for Tommy’s story. It’s supposed to happen in Chicago, and Tommy never lets the audience down. But “Power Book III” is so far a fail.


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Happy Father’s Day to EVERY (Black) Father

Photo of Rapper Young by The New York Times

About the author: Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and Creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913 . Check out The Reeders Block Podcast and subscribe there to hear more.

On this day, fathers are celebrated for being a father. However, some people use this day to ridicule dads. “Don’t celebrate if you can’t pay child support” and “You don’t see your kids enough, so don’t celebrate Father’s Day” are regular anti-father sentiments spewed over the Internet. Without drawing distinctions or comparing one father to the next, I say, “Happy Father’s Day to all fathers, regardless of your circumstances”, and I think everyone should do the same.

Many think a father should shoulder “all expenses”

Some may believe that a father who can not afford to pay the amount of child support the child’s other parent wants is a deadbeat. They might think a father should shoulder “all expenses” the other parent argues for. This is a faulty and damaging premise.

Post from Facebook ridiculing fathers whose situations the author of the post does not know

As an example, sometimes, what a court decides a child needs in support is less than what the primary guardian is seeking. Because of this, the primary guardian is sometimes left bitter and resentful. In their anger, they illogically argue the father is a “deadbeat” because he is not required to pay the bonanza sought by the primary guardian.

“You can’t afford to see your kids” has become a popular motto

Moreover, “deadbeat” is often misused to describe a father who doesn’t meet the financial expectations of the primary guardian and is forced by the primary guardian not to interact with his children. “You can’t afford to see your kids” has become a popular motto, but who is hurt more by this? The kids or the father?

Lonely Black Boy. Photo by RagsAndPieces.com

Additionally, a father who does not see his children on the regular basis is not always to blame. It can be argued that any man who really wants to be in his child’s life would go to any legal means to make it happen. This may be true. There is no excuse for not being there for one’s child when the law makes it possible. But does a father want to sue for custody and cause more troubles for his kids? Does a dad want to take the other parent of his kids to court? How would doing so damage his kids?

But no matter your shortcomings or failures… you’re the greatest dad in the world.

Lastly, happy Father’s Day to the fixed dads, broken dads, poor dads, rich dads and every other type of father there is. The world does not always take it easy on Black men, especially not Black dads. In fact, the world can be quite cruel. They will call you “thug”, “criminal”, “loser”, “ex-con” or any other belittling title they can think of. But no matter your shortcomings or failures, as long as you try, you’re the greatest dad in the world.

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The Economics of Juneteenth: The Rich Will Get Richer and Whiter

Drawing by Issuesunderfire.com

About the author: Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Although Juneteenth as a national holiday is a win for Black Americans who have fought decades for its inception, there are still a tremendous of moving parts to sort. Without a doubt, Juneteenth will bring in millions of dollars in revenue. But where will this revenue go, and who will be the biggest benefactors?

Black Americans continue to face social and economic strife

Black people celebrate Juneteenth in Chicago (photo by the Chicago Tribune)

As with all Black movements, corporate vultures will attempt to monetize Juneteenth. This monetization will come by way of clothing and apparel, books, music, art accessories and more. Collectively, these markets will bring in millions using Juneteenth as a vessel to make more revenue.

Moreover, if the situation is evaluated honestly, Black Americans continue to face social and economic strife. Most corporations are white-owned, and they have the manufacturing to produce large quantities of goods and sell them at a lower price than their struggling Black counterparts.

Large retailers can sell these products for less than five American dollars.

For instance, gigantic retailers such as Target and Walmart are known for having some of the lowest clothing and apparel prices across the industry. By paying their Black and other employees barely minimum or living-wage and having access to lower production costs, these companies have the potential to mass produce graphic Juneteenth shirts for pennies on the dollar. Additionally, they can sell these products for less than five American dollars.

Photo of various shirts and websites where consumers can get shirts for next to nothing

On the contrary, many smaller Black retailers do not have access to cheap labor. Many times, their teams are comprised of less than ten people. The amount of materials and labor it costs these small companies to produce a shirt is at least twice what larger retailers can sell their own shirts for. So, if a shirt costs ten dollars in labor and materials, the least this small company should sell it for is $36. Would a mom of three on a budget rather buy three five-dollar Walmart Juneteenth shirts or three thirty-six-dollar shirts from a small Black boutique or retailer?

Black people [must be] the primary financial benefactors of all things Black

The above stated, Juneteenth is a step forward in the Black plight to be reconciled for their mistreatment. However, the economics of Juneteenth should not be grazed over or discounted. There is money to be made, and pressure must be applied to the government and large retailers so that Black people are the primary financial benefactors of all things Black.

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The Importance of Juneteenth as a National Holiday

Photo by the New Yorker of writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, author the 1619 Project.

About the author: Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and Creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Recently, President Joe Biden signed into law a bill making Juneteenth a national holiday. While this should be a celebratory moment in history, some Black people are erroneously degrading this bill as useless. They contend it will change nothing. These naysayers view the law as an empty gesture to quiet the rumblings in Black America that can become a revolution. Contrary to what these naysayers believe, Juneteenth as a national holiday has the potential to change everything. The implications are endless. In order to understand this, one must understand Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Scholars are pushing for the 1619 Project and CRT to be taught in schools.

To continue, Critical Race Theory was initially a practice to examine law and how it is integrally constructed to disadvantage Black people. This theory has expanded as a tool used to examine race on every level, personal and systemic.

Moreover, the 1619 Project draws from elements of the Critical Race Theory to examine Black American history on a more intimate level. Scholars are pushing for the 1619 Project and elements of CRT to be taught in schools. As one would imagine, there has been major pushback on this idea from conservatives.

some conservative states have moved to bar the teaching of CRT or the 1619 Project.

On a level ripe with demagogue, conservatives are arguing CRT and the 1619 Project teach hate against white people. They further argue that those ideologies are revisionist history that train white people to be ashamed of their white identity. Because of this, some conservative states have moved to bar the teaching of CRT or the 1619 Project in schools. But what does any of this have to with Juneteenth?

With Juneteenth being so interrelated with the concepts of CRT and the 1619 Project, this national holiday can be used to inform the country about what those ideas really are. This holiday can be used to teach those who are hesitant about what CRT can do to eradicate racism. Once this happens, it will be easy to make the 1619 Project and CRT a part of school curriculum.

With that noted, CRT and the 1619 Project force students to evaluate not just others but themselves. It gives them insight as to how racism has worked and how to dismantle it. It gives real versions of events in American history that have never been told or have been told incorrectly. These ideas make it possible for genuine Black stories to be told from Black perspectives.

this self-evaluation will heal … Black Americans the most.

In closing, Juneteenth as a national holiday isn’t going to change the world overnight. Yet that is not the purpose. The goal is to sit a mirror in front of America and have it examine its deep, race-related festering wounds. In the process, this self-evaluation will heal all Americans but Black Americans the most. This national holiday is the loudspeaker for Black American woes and solutions. It may be hard to see, but progress is being made, and Juneteenth as a national holiday is vital. Sure, there is work to do in the realm of more actionable policy for Black Americans, but Juneteenth is part of a starting point.

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Being Rude is Polite: A counterintuitive approach to building personal relationships

Megan thee stallion flips the bird in this picture from http://www.redbubble.com

About the author: Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and Creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

“I don’t want homemade fish tonight. I want Chinese takeout.” That statement may seem simple to most, but to some, it’s easier to just eat fish than explain why they don’t want it. Maybe the person cooking the fish under seasons it; or maybe they fry it too hard or too soft. Whatever it is, telling the person their fish is not your favorite meal may seem rude to do. However, it is these uncomfortable truths in personal relationships that strengthen them.

To continue, there are some who absolutely love gore films, while there are others who absolutely hate gore genre. If you are a hater of blood and guts but your significant other isn’t, there may be no grounds to compromise. Or so you assume. Therefore, night after night, you watch gore films with your significant other and pretend to like them. This is unhealthy for many reasons.

…you’ll be disgusted by the touch of [your spouse]

One of the most important aspects of biting your tongue is, suppressing your emotions builds resentment. It makes you disdain the person you’re with. You may begin to see them as selfish, pushy and overbearing. Soon, you’ll be disgusted by the touch of this person.

To avoid this, you must fight, be bold, maybe even rude. Tell your partner how much you dislike whatever the issue is. Explain how it bothers you, and ask that person to stop. Let them know they can watch all the murder they want outside of your time together. If they persist, draw a line and explain the repercussions. Follow through with what you say.

In other instances, being what some would call “rude” can be helpful to a friend. For example, what happens when your friend squeezes into a pair of skinny jeans three sizes too small for him? Do you tell him those are a perfect fit for him and try to boost his self-esteem when his jeans burst at the seams on the club’s dance floor? Or do you say, “Tony, maybe you should pick a different pair of jeans”? What would a real friend do?

Be confident and vocal

Though being polite is expected, being “rude” is sometimes necessary. It may be the difference between your happiness or someone else’s. Being frank might rub some people the wrong way, but those who matter will get it. Be confident and vocal. Never hold your tongue when speaking up can make the difference.

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VLAD TV: The Bane of Black America

In this photo, DJ Vlad throws up “West Coast”, a symbol popular amongst rappers, though he is not a rapper and was born in Kyiv, Ukraine

About the author: Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and Creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

Updated 2/18/2022

On playgrounds across America, before the pandemic, one child with their hands extended would stand between two other kids and say, “If you’re bad, hit my hand.” The purpose of this is to instigate a fight that the two combatants are not that enthused about initiating. Interestingly enough, the instigator usually doesn’t have to worry about being punched in the face. This instigator is like Vlad who uses hip-hop radio and vlogging to single-handedly send more Black men to fight petty wars between each other than white slave holders. It is time to cancel Vlad for good.

Vlad… keeps up conflict that should have evaporated… decades ago.

Vlad Lyubovny, known professionally as DJ Vlad has made a name for himself instigating rap beef between artists. One would think Vlad would be covering timely issues, but he has managed to keep up conflict that should have evaporated into thin air decades ago.

For instance, Vlad had rapper Young Buck on his show in December 2020. During the interview, Buck mentioned that rapper Juvenile and others from Cash Money Records had left him stranded in California. Recently, Vlad had Juvenile on his show and mentioned Buck’s interview. Juvenile called Buck several derogatory names during the interview with Vlad and this caused a bigger stir between the two rappers.

Detroit rapper Royce Da 5’9 took to Twitter to accuse Vlad of stoking the fire between Buck and Juvenile

In this photo from No Jumper, Detroit rapper Royce Da 5’9 calls out DJ Vlad

While the world was waiting for Young Buck to respond, Detroit rapper Royce Da 5’9 took to Twitter to accuse Vlad of stoking the fire between Buck and Juvenile. Royce went on to say how Vlad is poisoning relationships in hip-hop by using his platform to create tension amongst rappers. This is a true assessment of Vlad, because, other than causing conflict, Vlad’s show has no purpose or substance. It’s trash journalism/vloggism at best, the video equivalent of the National Enquirer tabloid.

Rappers are not forced to appear on Vlad’s show, but that does not mean Vlad has no responsibility.

Once upon a time, comedian/entertainer Nick Cannon expressed some stressing sentiments on Vlad’s show. Nick’s contention was that Vlad was corrupting rap music by creating a space where rappers are invited to incite confrontations and incriminate themselves. Vlad’s argument, as his supporters’ is, is that these rappers appear on his show without duress. This does not address Dj Vlad’s instigating.

Rappers are not forced to appear on Vlad’s show, but that does not mean Vlad has no responsibility in the drama he perpetuates. In the law, any person who creates an environment where bad things happen are responsible for that. As an example, if an adult throws a party where there’s underage drinking, the adult is responsible.

Here, Nick Cannon appears in a Howard University sleeveless hoodie

DJ Vlad is a culture vulture who means rappers no good. Due to contracts and wanting to promote their music, rapper sometimes use Vlad’s platform as an outlet. However, he preys on them and coaxes them into violent situations or snitching on themselves. He does not care that things may turn deadly from his instigating.

Moreover, Vlad has no moral compass beyond dollar signs. The more beef he starts, the more clicks he gets. His show is nothing more than a pre-fight club. It is where rappers go to ruin their careers and be made a puppet of for Vlad’s gain. He is untrustworthy, greedy and selfish.

rap music is art

Also, “hate” is a strong word, but does “love” describe what Vlad has for hip-hop culture? Black culture? People will say, “Vlad didn’t force those rappers to say what they said.” Some will go a step further and say, “Rappers talk about killing each, sex drugs and money all the time. How is what Vlad doing any different?”

To begin with, rap music is art. As white multi-platinum rapper Eminem who threatened to kill then-Vice President Mike Pence on record said, “A lot of people think that what I say on record…I actually believe. Well, if you believe that, I’ll kill you.”

Former Rap Group NWA, known for their hit “F*ck the Police”, pose for the camera

Sometimes, when kids who are not POC draw guns or non-POC men paint a nude woman or a non-POC woman makes a sex toy, it’s considered art. It should be marveled at; it should not be picked apart, some in America say. And if a non-POC rapper “threatens” to “kill” the Vice President, it’s art but not a threat.

it is time to cancel Vlad and the bloodsucking, culture vulture part of society he so adequately represents.

However, Black people’s art has rarely been appreciated by America; it has never been understood. It is why the 1619 Project by Pulitzer Prize-winner Nikole Hannah-Jones caused such a stir and Black rappers who have not threatened the lives of sitting authorities are portrayed as a threat. Hip-hop is rooted in storytelling, grand pseudo-luxury realities and pessimistic hope. It is about struggle and overcoming it, about being someone other than who the rapper truly is. Rap is an expression of everything good and bad the rapper has experienced. Hip-hop/rap is art.

Black America was told not to run numbers, not to smoke cannabis, not to use “Ebonics”, correctly known as African American Vernacular English. Then, America became rich off the lottery, richer off African American Vernacular English by using it in their promotions and became legal billionaires with the same marijuana that sent Black men to jail for decades. Vlad is an embodiment of the social leech that has always been on the groin of Black America, and it is time to cancel him and the bloodsucking, culture vulture part of the world he so adequately represents.

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Shameless: A Liam Gallagher Story

Liam Gallagher of Shameless

About the author: Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and Creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

SPOILER ALERT. If you have not seen all of Shameless and don’t want to ruin your experience, read this after you have seen it all.

Towards the end of the final episode of Shameless, Liam Gallagher, played by Christian Isaiah (11), finds himself at Veronica and Kev’s bar. As everyone pours out of the tavern, Liam is left standing alone, eyes scanning the empty space. He is looking for Frank, who is nowhere in sight. Mouth drawn downward, Liam closes the door of the bar and catches up with his siblings and the others to have a spontaneous celebration of sorts. The viewer can’t help but feel a pang of hurt for Liam who does not know yet that Frank has passed. If the last two seasons do nothing else, they bring to light the feelings of loneliness and displacement Liam feels as the only Black person in an Irish-American family.

Liam’s existence in Shameless is a perplexity, since he is Black but both his parents are white. It is well-known that Monica, Frank’s late ex-wife and Liam’s mother, was a drug addict just like Frank. Throughout the show, on various occasions, Frank explains Liam’s racial identity as being the result of a rare biological occurrence in which a Black child is born to white parents. In reality, it is more likely that Liam is the result of his mother’s drug-tainted lifestyle. It is not uncommon for addicts to sell themselves for drugs. This indicates that had the show continued, Liam would have deduced this and decided Frank Gallagher was not his real father. But what is the significance of this loosely veiled hiccup in Liam’s sad story?

Liam finds out that maybe being Black is something far harder than he had predicted

Though Liam lives around Black people, he is rarely shown interacting with them in earlier seasons. In the later seasons, he develops a yearning to know himself in relation to Black America. This self-searching leads to several hilarious endeavors where Liam finds out that maybe being Black is harder to learn than he had predicted. But he also seeks friendships with other Black boys. However, these relationships are shallow and brief. In most cases, the soft-spoken Liam is nothing more than a push-over for his Black friends. In the end, he does not connect well with Black people, beyond surface-level interactions.

Because of this, Liam becomes a wanderer in the last season. When he hears about the house being sold, he prepares for homelessness. Periodically, he spends time outside trying to see what it would be like to be homeless. Though he has brothers and sisters, Liam has come to understand that his family is broken. It is every person for himself or herself. His natural reaction is to try and save himself.

In this photo, Liam Gallagher stands behind his family

Even with all of this happening in his life, Liam manages to be there for Frank when Frank’s alcoholic dementia renders him nothing more than a confused old man. Together, throughout the final season, Liam builds a closer bond with Frank. He writes notes on Frank’s arms to remind Frank of who he is. When Frank is at his worst, Liam uses this to his advantage to spend time with the man who has always managed to be around Liam but never a part of his life.

During these moments with Frank, the viewer sees the hope Liam has for his and Frank’s relationship. Liam knows there is something there, but he also knows Frank does not have a lot of time. This is obvious when Frank forgets mid-sentence the subject of their conversations on multiple occasions.

In this photo, Liam absorbs bad advice from his father Frank

At one point, Frank runs Liam off, who leaves Frank reluctantly. Frank ends up in a hospital where he finally succumbs to a life shredded by alcohol and drug abuse. There is no one there to share Frank’s last moments. He leaves as alone as he lived his life. The word “alone” is more appropriate since Frank did not necessarily lead a lonely life. He dealt with people on his own time.

In death, Frank does more good for Liam than he could ever have alive

But what does Frank’s tragic end mean for Liam? Though Liam loved Frank, there was nothing Frank could do for him. Frank was a man who could not see beyond his own selfish addictions. His influence over Liam would have ruined Liam. In death, Frank does more good for Liam than he could ever have alive.

As for Liam’s place in the world, though Debbie, Lip and some of the others may be half-siblings with him, they are not his people. They can not feel what he feels as a Black child in a white family. Liam is intelligent and will leave the Gallaghers. Where he will end up, only a spin-off may know.

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Satisfying Your Sex Partner

About the author: Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and Creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

In the realm of the bedroom, depending on parties involved, anything can — or can not — happen. The possibilities depends on both partners’ understanding of satisfaction and what this means. Some think satisfaction is the sweaty, breathtaking climax. In reality, satisfaction is about the ride to that climax.

You’ve been told you’re boring in bed. The other person has told you, “We should try something new. Let’s do something extreme.” In response, you secretly bought what you thought was sexy lingerie to show off your amazing breasts or giant bulge. Your partner was under enthused and your ego was deflated. What did you do wrong?

Your partner asked for a specific thing, but you did not [give them that]

To begin with, you’re attractive. Your partner knows you’re attractive. When your partner said, “Let’s do something different, something extreme”, what they meant was, something extremely different. Lingerie is different, but chances are you already have sexy boxers or bras gathering dust in the closet. Your partner asked for a specific thing, but you did not deliver. You gave them what you wanted to give them instead of what they asked for. You have left them dissatisfied.

Moreover, sex can become so routine as to be like a career your partner hates punching in for. Make sex random and spontaneous. Think about where you have not had sex and go there. Do it anywhere you legally and safely can. Make it risky and risqué.

Also, teamwork makes the dream work. If your partner wants to go somewhere sexually that you have not been, listen and consider. If your partner brings something up, respond with how you all can make this happen; do not respond with “why nots”. If you do, you come off as not wanting to. If you do not want to, say that upfront. Your partner will respect your honesty more than a thinly veiled excuse to hide your true apprehensions.

If you want to keep your partner, know your “kink level”. In other words, know how far you are willing to go and make it clear. For your partner and yourself, knowing ahead your sexual comfortability level can save many awkward conversations. What people like in the bedroom varies drastically overtime, especially if you two have been together for some time. Monotony in the bedroom is a real risk.

maybe [your sex] is not enough for your partner

Altogether, leave knowing this: if your partner says she wants to go out on more dates, renting a movie from Prime Video does not count as “going out”. When your partner speaks, listen and give them what they ask for. Though you may end the night with a breathtaking orgasm with your partner the way you like to, maybe this is not enough for your partner. You’ll say, “But they orgasmed.” They could have faked or felt as though the climax should have and could have been better. Sometimes doing your best means doing a little bit more, especially when your partner satisfies you.

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Saying “No” to Family and Friends: Financial Stability

In the above photo from WordPress, two friends disagree over a loan

About the author: Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and Creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.

After all the crushing student loan debt, coffee laden nights into the wee hours of the morning, studying until you nod into a stained book, you have landed a career. You are worn, beaten but semi-optimistic, even if you are not confident in your abilities. However, on the outside, all your family and friends see is the one who made it. Or they view you as “the one who has it all together”. All they see is the degrees and career. They assume you have money now, so much of it that you should loan it to them. Or give it to them. Just say “no” to loaning money to family and friends to save your relationships.

…they get money [from you] and they won’t…pay it back.

Saying no to a family member or friend’s financial requests may be uncomfortable, but it will save your relationship. Say for instance that when you call to collect your money, that family member or friend does not answer. Hours turn into days and then weeks. Still nothing. You will be upset and feel betrayed. The other person may argue that you are overreacting and that the money is no big deal. They will make you feel bad for requesting your funds back. Undoubtedly, this will alter your relationship with this person forever in a bad way. So, how do you say no?

Chances are, the person who wants to borrow money from you has already burned you in the past. Since then, the amount of money they want to borrow has increased. You know why? They have already burned you in the past, and that was a test. You did nothing significant when they didn’t pay you in the past. They also know you’re good for the money. It’s a win-win for them.

In this photo, gold and silver Bitcoin shine among fresh $100 bills.

The above noted, if a person wants to borrow money from you but did not repay a past loan, just say no in one of these ways:

1. I understand your need, and I wish I could help you, but you did not repay me last time. (If this is too much for you, use the next one)

2. I don’t have it right now. (If this is a lie and you don’t like to lie, use the next one)

3. I understand your need, but you didn’t pay me back last time. In order for me to loan you anything else, you must first repay the last loan in full. I know if you had the money now to pay me, you wouldn’t be asking, but I need my money upon the conditions we agreed because I have my own expenses.

You do not owe anybody anything

Still, you feel a little guilty every time you say no, but why? By nature, you’re a giving person, and if you have it to give, why not? Well, a loan is not a gift. If you want to give all your money away, go ahead by any means. But what will you get in return? Most likely cold shoulders and indifference, other than maybe one or two people who are likely your parents or longtime friend.

You do not owe anybody anything. Each time you punch a clock, wake up earlier than you want to, make it to work on time or pay your bills, it is because of the hard work you put in. That time sheet doesn’t have your begging friend’s name or your greedy brother’s. It is yours. You worked for it.

In the above photo, a hard working man struggles while studying

Moreover, you have to be a little selfish in life. That doesn’t mean stop donating to your favorite charity or not to give spare change to homeless individuals. It means that you must make the right decision for yourself not to harm yourself. For instance, you loan your best friend money on the promise that person will repay you next week on a certain day. You need this money for your phone bill.

However, on the day your friend is supposed to pay you back, they ghost you and your phone gets disconnected. “My check didn’t come”, “My account was overdrawn so the money was taken when it was deposited” or other excuses are what your friend will use. At the end of the day, you put yourself in a bad situation. Now, you may have to borrow some money or have your phone embarrassingly disconnected until you can pay.

Are you fine? When was the last time someone other than your parents asked?

All of that said, self-care is important. Are you OK? Are you fine? When was the last time someone other than your parents asked? You have worked hard to earn your way. You don’t owe anything to anyone, except yourself. Never lend what you can not afford to lose.

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