HBCU Sports Roundup

The Historical Black Colleges and Universities sports roundup for this week is about training, signing, and moving on to bigger and brighter opportunities:

Delaware State University Hornets: Former Delaware State University pitcher Jordan Elliott has signed a contract with the Frontier Professional Baseball League’s Washington Wild Things in Washington, Pa. Elliott completed his Hornets baseball career this past season as the team’s all-time leader in pitching wins and innings pitched, while ranking third in strikeouts. Congratulations to Elliot and it is just a matter of time before we see him in the major leagues.

Winston Salem University Rams: The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Football Championship Committee has unanimously selected Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) as the host institution for the 2013 CIAA Football Championship Game, scheduled for Saturday, November 16. The CIAA selected WSSU to host the game at Bowman Gray Stadium following an evaluation process of bids that began in April. Most recently, the Football Championship Game was hosted at Durham County Memorial Stadium. Keep reading the Baltimore Times for information on tickets, times, and teams.

Coppin State Eagles: This past week the Coppin State Eagles had a few athletes sign letters of intent to play for the Eagles:

Head baseball coach Sherman Reed announced Bryant Miranda has signed a letter of intent to attend Coppin State University and play for the Eagles. Miranda attended Royal Palm Beach High School in West Palm Beach, Fla., and is scheduled to enroll at Coppin State in the fall of 2013. Also, Zollisca Sunkins has signed a letter of intent to attend Coppin State University and play women’s tennis for the Eagles announced head coach Diwani Lewis on Monday. Sunkins recently graduated from Varina High School in Richmond, Va., and will enroll at Coppin State in the fall of 2013.

University of District of Columbia Firebirds: Head women’s basketball coach Jay Butler and the University of the District of Columbia will host the 3rd annual Youth Basketball Camp at the UDC Gym this summer. The first session is already underway (June 24th-28th) and the second session is July 15th-19th. For more information on the basketball camp, visit http://static.psbin.com/v/0/6v8y37yecikjx2/Jay_Butler_Basketball_Camp_2013.pdf

That’s a look at HBCU sports for this week. Please send any questions, comments, or HBCU Sports and news to pdemps@btimes.com. You can follow Phinesse Demps on Twitter: @lfpmedia; Baltimore Times: @baltimore_times.

Indie Soul: Guess who’s back? Tavis Smiley

Radio and TV host, author and community activist, Tavis Smiley has a new home on radio. Smiley recently debuted his radio program Tavis Talk on BlogTalkRadio.com. In addition to his new radio show, Smiley also has a whole network called Tavis Smiley Network or TSN for short.

What is BlogTalkRadio? BlogTalkRadio has been around for seven years. It is used by thousands of regular people who want a platform. Even big name stars like Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Cosby, and Robin Williams have used BlogTalkRadio as a way to get their message to the masses.

TSN will feature new shows by hosts focusing on relationships and advice (Rolonda Watts), diet and lifestyle (Robert Ferguson), social media in business, sports, and entertainment (Beverly Macy), news (John Daly), fatherhood and mentoring (Kenneth Braswell), politics and pop culture (Stephanie Robinson) and humor (Rick Najera). Other shows will be announced and added to the line-up in the coming weeks.

TSN Schedule

Tavis Talks, Weekdays, 4PM Eastern

Sundays With Rolonda, Sunday 5PM Eastern

Ties Never Broken (Kenneth Braswell), Monday 7PM Eastern

Social Media Radio with Beverly Macy, Tuesday 3PM Eastern

Diet Free Life (Robert Ferguson), Tuesday 5PM Eastern

Almost White with Rick Najera, Tuesday 6PM Eastern

Roundtable with Stephanie Robinson, Thursday 11:30 AM Eastern

Informed Not Inflamed (John Daly), Thursday 7PM Eastern

Go to: www.blogtalkradio.com and search Tavis Smiley to listen today.

Indie Soul welcomes your questions and comments. To contact Phinesse Demps, email: indiesoul.lfp@gmail.com or call: 410-941-9202. You may follow Phinesse on Twitter: @lfpmedia; The Baltimore Times: @Baltimore_Times.

Little difference between used car salesmen and college leaders

This series of columns is written for parents preparing to send their sons and daughters to college for the first time this fall. Each week will include advice I truly wish a veteran college parent had given me. It’s not meant to dampen the excitement you feel at this significant point in your child’s life. It is instead offered as a reality check on what the next four years may cost you financially, academically, and emotionally.

It is also for everyone impacted by the financial practices of America’s colleges and universities. If you think that does not include you, you would be mistaken. College costs (tuition, books, housing, meals, and fees) are primarily funded by borrowed money. These loans are directly responsible for racking up over a one trillion dollar debt.

This figure exceeds the amount owed on credit card debt. The default rate on student loans is rapidly increasing. Banks and other lending institution are passing on these losses to anyone who seeks consumer credit, such as car loans, mortgages and credit cards.

The biggest losers are poor and middle class students who often get little in return for taking on this stifling debt. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s college completion study, the majority of students leave school without earning a degree. Only 22.8 percent of students graduate in four years from Maryland’s colleges at a cost of $166,534.00 ($41,633 per year) at private schools and $71,101.00 ($17,775 per year) at public universities.

What’s the value of one, two or three years of college without a degree? Not much. Increasingly, employers are seeking job applicants with four-year degrees, while the market for people with “some college” is shrinking. After two years of college a student could easily accrue upwards of 30 or 40 thousand dollars in loans, yet lack the academic credentials to secure employment that could help pay down the debt.

Watchdog organizations are beginning to say the student loan debt could be “the next economic bubble waiting to burst.” This dire prediction and my personal experiences helping my son earn a college degree accounts for my belief that the practices and policies of many colleges are no better than what you might get when purchasing an automobile from an unscrupulous used car salesman.

My thoughts are subjective, but I doubt I’m the only parent who feels like they are dealing with lower rather than higher education institutions.

After considering a number of schools, Kennard received early acceptance to the country’s oldest private Catholic University. My sense of pride in his accomplishment was tremendous. Not only had he beaten Baltimore’s formidable odds against an African American male graduating high school, he had gained admittance to a highly respected university.

The price was mighty steep but, with the school’s seemingly generous offer of scholarship dollars, coupled with a few loans, our family considered it a wise investment in his future. However, looking back to those heady days of telling anyone who would listen about Kennard’s prestigious college, I now realize his academic interest would have been better served if I had tempered my hubris with due diligence.

Two years later, he’s about three years away from earning a degree. Through various missteps— a few due to my naiveté, but many the result of university systems driven by profits, our family has shelled out thousands of dollars, accrued thousands more in debt and by my best estimates he is at least a hundred thousand dollars away from earning his college degree.

This week’s advice is quite simple. Google every college or university under consideration, and carefully read the comments people write about the school. Of course, you should not make a final decision based on someone’s online posting. Nevertheless, their comments may raise red flags, prompting you to ask relevant questions about the school’s safety record, classroom amenities and curriculum. Make certain the school

responds to your concerns. You must look beyond the usual hype colleges put on their websites.

For example, if I had read this description of the state university Kennard transferred to after his first year at the Catholic college I would have done a closer inspection of the campus and perhaps selected another school:




Sadly, based on my son’s experience everything this person described proved to be true. I followed the chain of command regarding a very serious issue on campus and I was brushed aside. I then called the president’s office several times, without any response to the messages I left. Metaphorically speaking, I was sold a clunker and the dealer felt no responsibility to stand behind his broken down product.

After this experience I see no difference between buying a used car and acquiring a college education. You may or may not get what you paid for, but you’re still on the hook for the financing.

Jayne Matthews Hopson writes each week on education matters because “only the educated are free.”

Public invited to participate in flag stitching as part of bicentennial celebration

— Beginning July 4, 2013, The Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) will recreate the 30 x 42 foot Star-Spangled Banner flag that inspired the writing of our national anthem. Using authentic materials, MdHS will employ traditional stitching techniques that Mary Pickersgill used 200 years ago.

Once completed, the flag will fly over Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine and, along with the original Star-Spangled Manuscript, will be a part of the 2014 Flag Day celebration at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

“We are so fortunate, during the Bicentennial celebrations, to make an idea like this come alive!” says Kristin Schenning, MdHS Director of Education. “It means so much for our state of Maryland, and its place in American history.”

The Maryland Historical Society has recruited more than 100 experienced quilters from around the country to construct the majority of the flag. The group will gather in MdHS’ France Hall and, by working up to eight hours a day, will assemble the flag in three sections, including: the long stripes, the short stripes, and the blue field. Descendants of Mary Pickersgill are scheduled to participate.

On Saturday, August 3 and Sunday, August 11 from noon until 3 p.m. the general public is invited to come and add a stitch to the flag. During these days, MdHS will host the Fort McHenry Fife and Drum Corps, celebrity guest appearances, actors in period costume, exhibit tables from our friends and partners, and mobile food vendors outside of the

Museum. To register for the public days, visit www.mdhs.org/events.

“This is the ultimate participatory event,” says President Burt Kummerow. “It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Visitors will be able to participate in the creation of an artifact that will become part of the nation’s proud history.”

Participants in the sewing days will also receive a stamp in the 1812 Bicentennial Passport, a free passport from the Baltimore National Heritage Area that includes over a dozen Baltimore-area historical sites.

“Safe Sleep” campaign aims to reduce infant mortality in Baltimore

— Antoine Dow is a barber and business owner. The father of three children, Dow has put his children to sleep on numerous occasions. However, Dow says he watched a video that ultimately changed the way he was putting his infant son to sleep.

“After watching this video I realized that I was putting my son to sleep incorrectly and risking his life,” said Dow who owns Cutt Styles Unisex Barbershop. “This issue is extremely important for me as father.”

The Druid Heights resident had watched a video released by B’more for Healthy Babies (BHB), which showed the proper way to put infants to sleep. Dow shows the video to clients who come to his barbershop.

“This issue is extremely important for me as father,” said Dow. “I get this information out to other fathers who are risking their child’s life by incorrect safe sleeping patterns. I want to save as many children’s lives as possible.”

Now Dow himself is featured in a video aimed at reducing infant mortality rates in Baltimore City. In the new video, Dow and two other fathers talk about the importance of safe sleep and encourage fathers to tell their friends to put their babies to sleep following the “Alone. Back. Crib.” method.

The video is part of the new “SAFE SLEEP” campaign, which seeks to encourage fathers to implement and promote safe sleep practices. The launching of the campaign coincided with Father’s Day, and is being presented by Baltimore Commissioner of Health Dr. Oxiris Barbot, The Family League of Baltimore, and leaders of the B’more for Healthy Babies.

“We identified community partners who were trusted health information communicators,” said Barbot. “We focused on Druid Heights because of the high infant mortality rates. We specifically focused on barbershops, which is how we met Mr. Dow. He is a messenger for us in his community.”

In addition to the video, the campaign features posters and media outreach. The campaign is part of a multi-year messaging strategy, launched in August 2010, focused on promoting a safe sleep environment for infants.

“The most fundamental goal is to change behavior,” said Barbot. “We want a city where all of our babies are born healthy, full-term, and ready to thrive. That means that everybody knows that babies are put to sleep on their backs, and in their cribs alone. That also means no stuffed animals, and no smoking around the infants.”

Cosponsored by the Family League and the Baltimore City Health Department, the BHB initiative was launched in 2010 to combat Baltimore’s high rate of infant mortality.

“Infant mortality is a significant public health issue and an indicator of how the community is taking care of its most vulnerable,” said Barbot. “We saw a need for this campaign not just to reduce overall infant mortality, but to address the disparity between African American mortality rates and white individuals in the city.”

She added, “The need for this initiative was also based on a combination of research, focus groups, community involvement, and looking at the data which illustrated a significant number of infant deaths were due to unsafe sleep practices. A campaign was needed that was strong and effective in getting across an important public health message about safe sleep.”

Through the implementation of new policies, the launch of various messaging campaigns such as the “SAFE SLEEP” campaign, and by forging partnerships with community organizations, the initiative has spotlighted the issue of infant mortality in Baltimore.

It appears that the efforts have paid off. Up until 2009— the year in which BHB was launched— Baltimore City had the fourth highest infant mortality rate in the United States.

According to statistics obtained from the Baltimore City Health Department, there has been a 27 percent decline in overall infant deaths (not just sleep-related) in Baltimore between 2009 and 2011.

“The biggest measure of success is that we have seen a decrease in sleep-related infant deaths over past two years,” said Dr. Barbot. “The first campaign focused on moms, and this one focuses on dads. There will also be two additional phases which focus on grandparents, other caregivers, and the Spanish speaking population.”

The new “SLEEP SAFE” video can be seen at a number of different places including hospitals and some circuit courts. To see the video online, or for more information, visit: healthybabiesbaltimore.com.

What it means to be an American

With the deepening polarization of our country, I have been reflecting on the cause of this polarization.

One of the major issues confronting the United States is what it means to be an American. This may sound a bit trite, but this is at the heart of a lot of the intractable problems we are facing as a country. Everyone wants to carve out their own identity, with individuality being the motivating force behind the move, not the betterment of America.


Raynard Jackson, NNPA Columnist

There was a time when we were simply all Americans. Then we became Irish-Americans, Jewish-Americans, African-Americans, Homosexual-Americans, Illegal-Americans, etc.

There used to be the Chicago Bulls, the Jackson 5, and the Supremes. Then they became Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, and Diana Ross and the Supremes.

We used to rally around the principle of being an American. We “Pledged Allegiance,” which is now optional, we sang the national anthem at public events (now controversial), we prayed at graduations (mostly illegal and very controversial).

Blacks, Jews, and Mexicans celebrated their heritage, but still considered themselves Americans first. Now that has all changed. You have people in the country, who cannot speak English and have no interest in learning. They expect America to accommodate their unwillingness to learn our language.

Now you have illegals in the country demanding rights; homosexuals wanting to become a protected class based on their sexual preference, and you have the county of Los Angeles required to print ballots in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Japanese and Korean. These ballots are mandated by federal law.

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 was originally enacted to prohibit state and local governments from denying or abridging the right to vote “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” a right guaranteed by the 15th Amendment. It applied to political jurisdictions with a history of denying such rights to black Americans and was specifically aimed at removing barriers to voter registration. It was intended to be a temporary remedy. However in 1975, Congress greatly expanded the Voting Rights Act’s original intent by inserting special protections for “language minorities.” The so-called language minorities singled out for protection under Section 203 of the Act were: American Indians, Asian Americans, Alaskan Natives, and citizens of Spanish Heritage. For the first time in our history, states and counties with substantial populations of these newly-protected protected language minorities were required to provide ballot and election materials in languages other than English.

Our shared values not our uniqueness is what makes us Americans. The English language should be the language we can rally around and the language that creates a common bond.

When you focus on the individual, the group loses its identity. We must get back to what it means to be an American. We must speak one language— our national language— and not have our motives questioned for insisting on that basic requirement. No other country abandons its language to accommodate “language minorities” who don’t speak its national language.

One of the beauties of America is that we are free to disagree. Recently, however, the Language Police for various groups are trying to infringe on the rights of others with whom they disagree. Your disagreeing with me on affirmative action, doesn’t make you a racist; your disagreeing with me on abortion, doesn’t make you immoral; your disagreeing with me on war doesn’t make you a warmonger. Rather, it simply means we have a difference of opinion. That is what being an American is all about— respecting our differences, but yet the acknowledging of our commonality.

Homosexuals have called me homophobic because I don’t agree with their lifestyle choices. Those in the country illegally think that I don’t have a heart because I don’t support amnesty. Many liberal blacks think I am a sellout because I am Republican.

Why can’t it be, “I disagree with you, now let’s go to dinner.”

It would be a sad world if we only surround ourselves with people who share our opinions. If we agree on everything, one of us is not thinking. On the other hand, a healthy exchange of views helps us refine our arguments. And if we’re open-minded, it might even cause us to change our opinions from time to time.

We celebrate the Fourth of July next week and this will be an ideal time to reflect on what it means to be an American. Our difference of opinion should not be divisive, but a tie that binds us. So, whether we agree or disagree, we are all Americans.

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his website: www.raynardjackson.com.

Baltimore City student receives outstanding school safety patrol award

The Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education recently honored 14 Maryland students by presenting them with the 2013 Outstanding School Safety Patrol Award. Selected for their extraordinary leadership, dedication, responsibility and service to their schools and communities, each of these students received a plaque and a $100 Visa® gift card from the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education.

Baltimore City student, Kiara Gordon of Abbottston Elementary School in Baltimore City was one of 14 Student Patrollers out of nearly 30,000 Patrollers in Maryland to be honored with the 2013 Outstanding School Safety Patrol Award.

“All of Maryland’s AAA School Safety Patrollers are valued students, serving as role models while protecting fellow classmates, teachers and others from traffic dangers, as well as other hazards through their daily efforts,” said Myra Wieman, Safety Services Manager for Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education. “We are especially proud to honor several students for going above and beyond the call of duty as AAA School Safety Patrollers, as they truly make their schools safe for everyone.”

Established in 1920, the AAA School Safety Patrol is one of AAA’s oldest programs. More than 585,000 children throughout the country participate in the program by safeguarding their classmates on the way to and from school. Over 93,000 patrollers alone are in the AAA Mid-Atlantic territory with nearly 30,000 in Maryland.

The primary purpose of the AAA School Safety Patrol program is to enhance the safety of students walking to and from school. Schools utilize Patrols in many different ways including positioning them at street corners that lead into the school, on school buses, at parent pick-up/drop off areas, and coordination of arrival and dismissal. The program also promotes the development of leadership skills and good citizenship qualities in students.

Candidates for School Safety Patrol are selected based on the following criteria: Ability to follow rules; Good attendance record; Good judgment; Courtesy; Respect for classmates; and Desire to help others

Many famous Americans have held the position of AAA School Safety Patrol, including Vice President Joe Biden, former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, five current and former Supreme Court Justices, five Olympic Gold Medalists and 21 astronauts.

Five unexpected ways to get your kids to eat veggies – and like them

— (BPT) – Peas, carrots, broccoli and spinach … some kids love vegetables, but many do not. We know that veggies provide nourishment, especially for growing children, but getting your kids to eat healthier can be a challenge. Luckily, there are plenty of creative ways to increase the amount of veggies in your kids’ diets. Here are five tips to get the little ones in your life to eat – and even enjoy – their vegetables.

Smooth operator

Picky eaters might turn up their noses at the sight of leafy green vegetables, but they’ll gladly accept a tasty, blended treat. Incorporate a variety of veggies, plus some fruit for sweetness, into a smoothie, and your kids will just taste the sweet fruit flavor. Throw a few broccoli florets and a handful of spinach, along with some green grapes, a bit of pear and avocado, plus water and pineapple juice, into a Vitamix 5200 to create a sweet green smoothie. The little ones will think they’re enjoying a decadent treat, but they’ll also be getting antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients.

Squeeze the juice

Most kids enjoy a nice glass or box of refreshing juice. Rather than giving them store-bought juices, which could be loaded with sugar and missing essential nutrients, utilize a high-powered blender to make whole-food juices at home. Use carrots, pineapple and a little water to make a sweet yet healthy juice that contains antioxidants and fiber. With whole-food juices, you’re able to keep the healthiest parts of the fruits and vegetables: the seeds, skin and pulp. Plus, you’ll know exactly what your kids are drinking.

Sauce it up

What kid doesn’t love macaroni and cheese? Increase your children’s veggie intake by making a homemade cheese sauce with healthy ingredients. Puree cauliflower, carrots or butternut squash, add them to your sauce and serve over whole-wheat macaroni noodles for a more nutritious version of this favorite dish. You can also make a fresh tomato sauce to serve over spaghetti squash “noodles,” a wholesome, gluten-free alternative to traditional pasta. To make the “noodles,” simply halve and seed the squash, then bake in a dish with one-half cup of water at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. When the squash is cooked, use a fork to scrape the flesh, which creates the “noodles.”

“Souper” healthy

Another great way to get more veggies into your kids’ diets is to add them to a soup. Many kids would rather not eat plain broccoli, so try a low-fat cheesy vegetable soup that incorporates this essential ingredient. All you need is broccoli or cauliflower, low-fat milk, low-fat cheese and some spices to make a nutritious, satisfying soup. Your kids will love the cheesy taste – and you’ll love that they’re eating more vegetables.

Sweet treats

A frozen treat is a satisfying way to end a meal. Create an avocado sorbet using soymilk and a touch of sugar, or make a spinach-lime sorbet with fruit juice for sweetness. You can make the sorbet ahead of time and let it freeze, or use frozen fruits and vegetables to whip up a quick treat in a high-powered blender. Your kids will enjoy their dessert, and you’ll enjoy knowing it’s full of healthy veggies.

You may have to be creative to get your children to eat the recommended three to five servings of vegetables each day, but there are many ways to introduce them to new flavors. Try some of these ideas, and your kids will be getting the nutrition they need. Also, when it comes to eating your veggies, be sure to lead by example. Children are much more apt to try new things if they see others enjoying the food.

Vitamix All Green Smoothie


1/4 cup water

1/2 cup pineapple juice

1 3/4 cups green grapes

1/4 Bartlett pear, ripe, seeded, halved

1/2 avocado, pitted, peeled

1/4 cup coarsely chopped broccoli

1/2 cup spinach, washed

1/4 cup ice cubes


Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.

Select Variable 1.

Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.

Blend for 35-40 seconds or until mixture is smooth.

Paula Deen and Southern food: Critics say credit is past due

— No matter how you slice it, Southern food is complicated. Some detractors dismiss the whole menu as an over-larded, gravy-drenched, carbed-up monolith; they clearly just haven’t been invited to the right homes for supper.

At its core, Southern food is one of the most multilayered, globally-influenced and constantly evolving cuisines on the planet. It’s inextricably and equally tied to the rhythms of the seasons and the lives of the people who cook it the way their grandmother did, and her grandmother before her, and so on.

No one cooks Southern food alone; there’s always a ghost in the corner giving guidance. For millions of people, that’s Paula Deen, a celebrity chef whose sugary, bubbly bonhomie has earned her the moniker “Queen of Southern Cooking” – as well as her share of critics.

Deen has come under fire in the past for promoting aggressively unhealthy recipes, then failing to disclose her diabetes diagnosis for three years before picking up a lucrative endorsement deal for a drug to treat it. Her more recent admission of a racial slur in the past and that she had once discussed putting on a “plantation-themed” wedding party – complete with waiters dressed in a manner reminiscent of slaves – has proven even more sickening to some.

Internet backlash was fierce and pointed, and at least four of Deen’s major sources of revenue – the Food Network, Walmart, Caesars Entertainment and Smithfield Foods – have cut ties with her and condemned her words. Although many fans have gone out of their way to express support for her online and at her flagship restaurant in Savannah, Georgia, Deen apologized in online videos and in a teary appearance on the Today Show.

But some African-American food and culture scholars find it’s what Deen didn’t say that’s the bitterest pill to swallow. They claim that she has profited off the culinary legacy of African Americans, a group she’s repeatedly failed to credit in her cookbooks or on her television shows. Their contributions to American cuisine are often marginalized in the food world, despite having introduced rice cultivation techniques to the South, along with watermelon, okra, chile peppers and other foods that were already part of the African palate. Representatives for Deen weren’t immediately available to comment on the issue.

In the wake of the controversy, pre-orders for Deen’s cookbook are red-hot, but some feel frozen out.

“We’re burned by this,” says writer and image activist Michaela Angela Davis. “Why does she get all the money and fame around the food that our ancestors created and sweated over?”

Davis argues that minimizing the role of the African-American culture’s contributions to Southern cooking isn’t unique to Deen, but fallout from a cultural system that needed to dehumanize slaves to keep the status quo. “Completely divorcing us from our history, our cuisine, our languages – that’s just all par for the course. You can’t let people have pride and then have them be your slaves.”

Culinary historian Michael Twitty agrees. “Our ancestors were not tertiary to the story of Southern food,” he says. “Whenever our role is minimized to just being passive participants or just the ‘help,’ it becomes a strike against culinary justice.”

“Paula Deen once did hoecake on her show and never once mentioned that this was the hardtack and daily bread of enslaved people,” he adds. So were, “gumbo, okra soup, red rice, fried chicken, black eyed peas, various greens, sweet potatoes, boiled peanuts, cala, jambalaya, hot sauce, barbecue, the list goes on.”

In Deen’s autobiography, “It Ain’t All About the Cookin’,” Deen touches on her dealings with the African-American community in her hometown, saying, “None of us were strangers to the black community, although they seemed to live their lives and we lived ours. I would say we lived a pretty unexamined life in terms of politics or civil rights.”

Perhaps if Deen were just “a cook” and not “the Charles Barkley of food,” as Syracuse University scholar Boyce Watkins argued in a discussion with Davis on CNN’s AC360, that lack of context around her food would be understandable and even acceptable. But as Davis pointed out, “She’s a brand.”

That brand reportedly pulled in more than $17 million dollars in 2012 alone, and Davis ascribes Deen’s lack of connection in some part to that level of success.

“We all related to her when she was at the bottom and worked her way up, ” Davis says. “When you put money in it and you’re in a different class, you get all the benefits of being white and privileged. Your sensitivity and need to know about us goes away. There’s nothing in your life that brings about the urgency of knowing about the culture you’re benefiting from.”

Twitty and Davis are both eager to have some potentially difficult and painful conversations – over a meal.

Twitty is on a mission of reclamation and healing in a project he calls The Cooking Gene. He spent much of 2012 on the “Southern Discomfort Tour,” visiting the former plantations where his ancestors were enslaved, meeting the descendents of the people who claimed ownership over his family, and sharing meals together. Through breaking bread in these haunted locales and having difficult conversations with people of all races, Twitty seeks to dispel any romantic notions of slavery, and begin to heal.

“I think the enduring myth is that slavery was a time when blacks knew their place, didn’t make trouble and served as the perfect status symbol of Western superiority and white supremacy. Nothing could be more un-American or untrue,” Twitty says.

“People who worked in the ‘big house’ didn’t have it easy. Women and men who cooked and served usually had one of three fates. They were often treated abusively and savagely punished; they could be family figures of great respect and trust or they were autocrats who used their unique role to carve out a special power niche with lines and boundaries not to be crossed.”

Cooking meant power in many cases, Twitty says, and per plantation records, good cooks were often “worth” more than a “plain” or “tolerable” cook.

There’s power in owning your culture’s narrative, Davis says, and it’s painful when a thing that should be a great source of pride and joy is instead used as a vehicle for shame. “Fried chicken is creative. Collards with smoked neckbones is creative,” Davis says.

“This generation gets to say, ‘No! Fried chicken is amazing!’ Everybody gets to participate in it, but let’s be clear about whose brilliance made this thing be popular.” It worries her that Paula Deen and Colonel Sanders are seen as “the face of fried chicken,” and sees it as a failure of an educational system that diminishes African-American contributions to history.

“We are the fried chicken makers – everybody’s grandma, Sadie, whomever, can make some fried chicken that would make your wig fall off,” she says. “African-Americans being ashamed to eat fried chicken or watermelons is heartbreaking and in complete alignment of the philosophical alignment of oppression and slavery. You’re made to turn against yourself and abandon your culture.”

Davis combats that in the kitchen, she says. While she doesn’t fry chicken every Sunday like her grandmother did, she corrals her daughter a couple times a year to show her how it’s done. Her daughter is from the lean-chicken-breast-on-the-grill generation, Davis jokes, but there’s a serious point: “We lose our food, we lose our stories.”

“I would sit in the kitchen while my grandmother told the story about her grandmother made this pound cake – as she’s making it and I’m watching,” she recalls. “I remember that she would use the notches in her fingers as measurements.

“It wasn’t precise, but there were all these stories and our history was completely folded up in telling these stories as you’re sitting in the kitchen and watching your grandmother and your mother cook. This happens with everybody. That’s why they call it ‘soul food.'”

And that’s what Davis wishes Deen would acknowledge – that she’s peddling and profiting off the food part, but leaving the soul behind.

Deen writes frequently about learning in the kitchen at her Grandma Paul’s side, and shares that story with a wider audience. African-American food traditions were often shared orally, and only within the community, Davis says. She now believes they need to take control over their own story, document it and spread the gospel. Cookbooks by African-American celebrities like Pearl Bailey and Patti LaBelle are a great start, but there needs to be more, and in cooks’ own words.

“If our stories aren’t told correctly and through a proper lens, we get cut out of the narrative,” Davis says.

“In those kitchen moments, my grandmother and grandfather’s life became real to me. We have to write it down. We’re not living in a time where people are eating fried chicken for four or five hours on Sunday, with anybody. This is the perfect time to take our oral history, film it, write it down so it’s not lost.”

Food justice activist and podcast host Nicole A. Taylor, a native Southerner, said in a recent video blog that she’s “done with Paula Deen,” but that the incident sheds a light on the food world needing more African-American representation on Food Network and in mainstream media outlets.

“We need to show that the South is just not Paula Deen,” she said. “The South is me. The South is immigrants who are moving here. We need to lift these people up so that Paula Deen does not become the poster child for what is Southern in terms of food.”

And Twitty would like to sit down and talk about it over a meal. In a much-read open letter to Deen on his website yesterday, he invited the embattled chef to a gathering at a historic plantation in September when he’s hosting a fundraiser for Historic Stagville, a North Carolina, plantation that once held 900 slaves and is now a historic tourist destination.

“I want you to walk the grounds with me, go into the cabins, and most of all I want you to help me cook,” Twitty wrote. “If you’re brave enough, let’s break bread…This isn’t publicity this is opportunity. Leave the cameras at home.”

Davis, too, believes in the power of food to soothe and stitch painful rifts. “Food and music are the foundations of African-American – and American culture. They’re a perfect way to talk about race and move forward. And they’re a thing that people love about us, and we love about us – but it’s been abused,” she says.

Davis continued, “The first thing you have to do is admit that it’s happened, talk about it, move on and forgive. Have a conversation over a meal with some music. These conversations: This is the work. This is how we heal.”

Want to know more about African American contributions to Southern cooking? Dig in:

Books (note: some are out of print, but available through used book stores):

  • The African American Heritage Cookbook: Traditional Recipes & Fond Remembrances – Carolyn Quick Tillery

  • Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine One Plate at a Time – Adrian Miller (Coming August 15)

  • Mama Dip’s Kitchen – Mildred Council

  • The Taste of Southern Cooking – Edna Lewis

  • High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America – Jessica B. Harris

  • Hog and Hominy: Soul Food from Africa to America – Frederick Douglass Opie

  • A Taste of Heritage: The New African American Cuisine – Toni Tipton-Martin and Joe Randall

  • The Dooky Chase Cookbook – Leah Chase

Fewer, larger meals key to weight loss?

— You’ve probably heard that eating multiple small meals throughout the day is a good way to stave off hunger and keep your metabolism revved up while trying to lose weight. But a new study could change your diet strategy.

Eating two large meals early and skipping dinner may lead to more weight loss than eating six smaller meals throughout the day, research presented at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions conference this week in Chicago suggests.

“Both experimental and human studies strongly support the positive effects of intermittent fasting,” lead study author Dr. Hana Kahleova told CNN in an e-mail.

The study

Researchers from the Czech Republic followed 54 patients with Type 2 diabetes for 24 weeks. The study participants were split into two groups at random. Both groups followed a diet that reduced their energy intake by 500 calories per day and contained 50 to 55% carbohydrates, 20 to 25% protein and less than 30% fat.

For the first 12 weeks, one group ate three main meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – and three small snacks in between meals. The other group ate a large breakfast between 6 and 10 a.m. and a large lunch between noon and 4 p.m. The two groups then switched for the second 12 weeks.

Researchers asked the patients not to alter their exercise habits during the study.

The results

Although both groups lost weight and decreased the amount of fat in their livers, the group that was eating only two larger meals lost more during each 12-week session. Eating fewer, bigger meals also led to lower fasting blood sugar levels, meaning that the body’s insulin production was working more efficiently.

The timing and frequency of the groups’ meals did not seem to have an effect on the function of beta cells that produce insulin or on the glucose metabolic clearance rate – i.e. how fast their bodies were able to process and get rid of sugar.

Our expert’s take

“This is interesting,” says CNN diet and fitness expert Melina Jampolis. “But the first thing I think of is that it’s not really liveable, telling people to skip dinner every day.”

Jampolis is also concerned that the two groups did not end up eating the same total number of calories. “Eating six times a day, it’s very hard to control calories,” she says. The researchers admit that while they did their best to ensure both groups consumed the same amount, the group that ate two larger meals may have eaten less.

While the study was small, Jampolis agrees that there’s research to support eating a lighter meal later in the day. Most of us consume the majority of our day’s calories late at night when we’re the least active, she says. And when we’re not active, our insulin sensitivity drops. A recent study showed that walking for just 15 minutes after dinner can help lower your risk for diabetes. Fasting between lunch and breakfast may have a similar effect, she says.

The takeaway

Don’t skip dinner altogether. Focus instead on eating a hearty breakfast and lunch, and keep your last meal of the day low in calories.


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