Center Stage: ‘One Night in Miami’

“We all have a voice the Movement”-– Malcolm X

When you are in a position to be able to uplift and educate, you must do so. The stage play “One Night in Miami” by Kemp Powers and directed by Center Stage Artistic Director, Kwame Kwei-Armah does just that.

“I think part of my job is to bring the best new plays to the theater. This play focuses on an iconic moment not just a sporting event, but in black history. Cassius Clay coming out and moving to Muhammad Ali. Malcolm X dying within the year. It’s a huge moment for African-American history and for American history” states Kwei-Armah.

“One Night in Miami” is centered around the night Cassius Clay defeats Sonny Liston. Clay, Malcolm X, NFL Running Back-Jim Brown, and Soul Singer Sam Cooke, gathered in a motel room to celebrate. What comes out of this gathering is a conversation about life and the Civil Rights Movement. Although no one knows for sure what really took place that night, this is a look at what might have transpired between these heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.

The cast includes Tory Andrus (Malcolm X), Sullivan Jones (Cassius Clay), Grasan Kingsberry (Sam Cooke), Esau Pritchett (Jim Brown), Royce Johnson (Kareem), and Genesis Oliver (Jamaa). They played their parts so well you would believe you were actually in the room with the real life individuals.

The play runs until February 8th 2015. Plan a date to attend!

Fifty years of black progress

— Has black America made significant progress politically, socially and economically over the past 50 years? This is not only an important question to pose, it is equally important to answer and the answer is a resounding yes!

In fact, 1965 to 2015 has been a remarkable period in the history of black America. However, make no mistake about it, all of our progress has come as a direct result of a protracted struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

The universal right to self-determination is a fundamental human right recognized by the United Nations. We have too often allowed non-blacks to mis-define our reality with distorted myths, negative stereotypes and cynicism.

This year will mark the largest Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) with 46 members. In 1965, there were only five African Americans in the Congress. We have come a long way politically in the past 50 years at the federal, state and local level.

In addition to representation in the House and Senate, we have served as mayors of big cities, as governors, as lieutenant governors, as speakers of state legislatures, as county commission chairs, as city council chairs, as school board presidents and as national party chairs. Black participation in state legislatures alone has increased five-fold over during past five decades.

Since the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Black Power has moved from becoming a chant to a political reality. The late Edward Brooke (R-Mass.) blazed the way as the first black attorney general of a state and later as the first African American popularly elected to the U.S. Senate. Following suit, as governors were Doug Wilder in Virginia and Deval Patrick in Massachusetts.

Jesse L. Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns paved the way for Barack Obama’s successful campaign in 2008 to become the first black elected president of the United States of America.

On the heels of that success and blacks voting at a higher percentage than whites in 2012 for the first time, have come efforts by Republicans to suppress the black vote. This effort, carried out largely by Republican-dominated state legislatures, is underway as America experiences a dramatic demographic shift.

We are grateful that Sister Jeri Green and others at the U.S. Census Bureau who have assembled the latest social and demographic statistics for Black History Month observance:

•As of July 1, 2012, there are now 44.5 million black Americans, either alone or in combination with one or more other races, in the U.S, up one percent over 2011.

• New York is the state with the largest black American population with 3.7 million. The District of Columbia has the highest percentage of black Americans at 51.6 percent, followed by Mississippi at 38 percent. Texas has the highest numeric increase in black Americans since 2011 (87,000. Cook County, Illinois, (Chicago) had the largest black American population of any county as of 2012 at 1.3 million.

•The percentage of blacks 25 and older with a high school diploma or higher was 83.2 percent.

•The percentage of African Americans in that same age group with a bachelor’s

degree or higher in 2012 was 18.7 percent.

•There were 3.7 million blacks enrolled in college as of 2012, a 28 percent increase over the 2.9 million in 2007.

•The annual median family income of black households was $33,321 in 2012, compared to the national figure of $55,017.

•The poverty rate for African Americans was 27.2 percent in 2012, compared to 15 percent nationally.

•There were 9.8 million family households in 2013 and among black households, 45.7 percent contained married couples.

•There was a record 17.8 million black voter turnout in 2012, a 1.7-million voter increase of the number of black Americans who voted in 2008.

•The record 66.2 percent of black Americans who voted in the 2012 presidential election was higher than the 64.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites who voted in 2012.

Yes, we have made progress over the past half-century, but future progress will not happen by osmosis. Rather, it will happen when we become wiser about how we spend more than $1 trillion each year. We will also need to focus on strengthening black-owned businesses and grow a new generation of committed young entrepreneurs.

To be blunt, black Americans cannot afford to entertain any ideas of not moving forward to make more progress over the next 50 years. We have come too far to turn back now.

Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). He can be reached at:

Heart attack survivor spreads important message

— A website saved her life. Julia Allen, the national spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women’s campaign, says can save many more lives if everyone becomes aware of and makes good use of the website.

“If you say nothing else about me or about this cause, please just point everyone to the website,” said Allen, who survived two heart attacks in one day in 2013. “There’s nothing like a heart attack to make you change the way you eat and lose a little weight.”

Allen is also helping to spread the word about the American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day, which takes place on Friday, February 6, 2015.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer, according to heart association officials.

Allen says the statistics are even more deadly for African-Americans and other minorities. African-American women are less likely than Caucasian women to be aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death. Diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity, obesity and a family history of heart disease are all greatly prevalent among African-Americans and are major risk factors for heart disease and stroke, heart association officials said.

What’s more, African-American women have almost two times the risk of stroke than Caucasians, and more likely to die at an earlier age when compared to women of other ethnicities. Tjhe unsettling statistics include the fact that cardiovascular diseases kills nearly 50,000 African-American women annually and of African-American women ages 20 and older, 49 percent have heart disease and only one in five African-American women believes she is personally at risk.

Further, just 52 percent of African-American women are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and as little as 36 percent of African-American women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk.

In Allen’s case, the married mother of three boys ages 14, 11 and 7, said she had always put her family and friends’ needs ahead of her own.

She worked a full-time job, helped to get her children off to school each day and participate in various activities while also preparing regular meals for the family.

Allen said she first felt a heart attack come on while at work. Then, even as she felt pain in her chest, she went home to make an after school snack for her boys before finally deciding to drive to the hospital.

“I didn’t want to believe I could be having a heart attack,” she said. “But, I had at least two that day. And, really, I looked on the internet and came across the American Heart Association’s website and I was able to check my symptoms and I found that I had six of the seven symptoms and that’s when I knew that I was definitely having a heart attack.”

Allen had also ignored the red flags she said were present, such as being anemic and a strong family history of heart disease.

Doctors told Allen that an artery in her left ventricle was 80 percent blocked, but because of where the blockage was, it couldn’t be repaired with a stent. Treatment was done by medication, which helped the area repair by building new capillaries.

Allen, now 46, has made important changes to her lifestyle to reduce her heart attack risk. She eats healthier foods and makes more time for exercise. Instead of waiting in the bleachers while her kids play sports, she brings exercise clothes and walks around the track.

“My 14-year-old is my biggest supporter. He makes sure that I exercise and that I keep active,” Allen said.

Thanks to a loving husband, family and supportive friends, Allen says she has also been able to reduce her stress and she regularly makes healthy lifestyle choices. She became a volunteer with the heart association where she works to raise awareness about heart disease and its affects as the top killer of women.

“I would encourage people to talk to their primary care physician and listen to him or her. Know your family history,” she said. “And, if something seems out of whack, go to the doctor. Don’t ignore it.”

For more information about Go Red For Women or about heart disease, visit

LETTER: Quick tips for winter driving


When it comes to winter car care, many motorists think of antifreeze and batteries, but vehicles need extra attention when temperatures drop below zero. These six quick tips will help your vehicle perform at its best during cold weather months.

  1. Keep the gas tank at least half full; this decreases the chance of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing.
  2. Check the tire pressure, including the spare, as tires can lose pressure when temperatures drop. Consider special tires if snow and ice are a problem in your area.
  3. Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
  4. If you’re not trying to defrost the windshield or warm the interior, modern cars are ready to be driven right away. Idling longer than 30 seconds in most cases is unnecessary for the sake of warming up the engine. The best way to warm up your car is to drive gently at the start.
  5. Change to low-viscosity oil in winter as it will flow more easily between moving parts when it is cold. Drivers in sub-zero temperatures should drop their oil weight from 10-W30 to 5-W30 as thickened oil can make it hard to start the car.
  6. Consider using cold weather washer fluid and special winter windshield blades if you live in a place with especially harsh winter conditions.

Sub-zero temperatures can have a real impact on your vehicle. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance and rough idling, and very cold temperatures reduce battery power. If you haven’t had your vehicle checked recently, a thorough vehicle inspection is a good idea so you can avoid the aggravation and unexpected cost of a breakdown in freezing weather.

For more helpful auto care information, motorists can order a free copy of the recently updated 80-page Car Care Guide for the glove box at

Rich White

Executive Director

Car Care Council

Bethesda, MD

RAMBLING ROSE: Lexington Market celebrates Black History Month

Hello, my dear friends, I hope all is well with you and your family. As you know, this is a fun and festive time of the year for many people, for many races. Many folks take advantage of this month by having special entertainment events featuring Afro American-American shows; plays; dances; exhibits; display; arts and crafts. Well, my friend that is a good thing. Our World Famous Lexington Market is doing just that. For the entire month of February you can enjoy Lexington Market’s free concert series every day. Performances of music, songs, narrated skits and dances based on African, Caribbean, jazz, blues, gospel, or big Band Swing/jazz themes. Also featured will be exhibits from Great Blacks in Wax Museum, African American authors, crafter’s and a special presentation by the Buffalo Soldiers in full uniform. This wonderful lineup is both educational, entertaining and a lot of fun for celebrating Black History Month. With more than 100 food vendors and an international cuisine selection, there is a flavor for everyone. I will be there with both of my books ready to autograph them for you, so look for me.

James Wright, president of Black Writers’ Guild will be at the World Famous Lexington Market, 400 W. Lexington Street in Baltimore for the first two weeks of February, Monday thru Saturday to start the celebration of Black History Month.

James Wright, president of Black Writers’ Guild will be at the World Famous Lexington Market, 400 W. Lexington Street in Baltimore for the first two weeks of February, Monday thru Saturday to start the celebration of Black History Month.

Eubie Blake Cultural Center located 847 N. Howard Street is hosting a show on Sunday, February 8, 2015 starting at 6 p.m. featuring a one-man show with Robert Lee Hardy entitled “I Carry My Own Spotlight.” Food and beverages are available for purchase. This one-man show will feature comedy, movement, drama, music and poetry. Mr. Hardy morph’s into numerous characters that address many taboo issues in our culture. Mr. Hardy is a 2005 graduate of SUNY Purchase with a bachelor of fine arts degree in acting. He currently teaches drama at The Mount Washington School, he was the Youth Theatre’s play director at the Arena Players; he taught acting at the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center and was an acting instructor for Baltimore City Recreation and Parks. For ticket information call 410-225-3130.

Carolyn Richardson, well-known card player from the Elks Lodge on Harford Road to the Sphinx Club to Maceo’s Lounge is celebrating her birthday at Maceo’s Lounge located at 1926 N. Monroe Street on Sat., Feb. 7, 2015,  starting at 5 p.m. Delicious food will be served and music provided by Lil’ Joe.

Carolyn Richardson, well-known card player from the Elks Lodge on Harford Road to the Sphinx Club to Maceo’s Lounge is celebrating her birthday at Maceo’s Lounge located at 1926 N. Monroe Street on Sat., Feb. 7, 2015, starting at 5 p.m. Delicious food will be served and music provided by Lil’ Joe.

I call this month “The Double Whammy Month,” because we also celebrate the “Sweethearts” Valentine’s Day right in the middle. “The Quality Plus, Inc” will present a Valentine’s Day Red & White Affair on Friday, February 6 from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. at the Delta Center, 2501 Springhill Avenue with an open buffet, free set-ups, champagne toast and it is BYOB. A special contest prizes for best dressed man and woman, Book signing by Yours Truly, “Rambling Rose”, vendors and live entertainment by Nirvine Jazz Duo. For ticket information, call Vinnette Johnson at 443-762-7926. I will see you there.

Another “Sweethearts” event for next week is a “Pre-Valentine’s Celebration Red & Black Affair” hosted by Carl Beasley, Mattie Holman and Carlos Hutchins on Sunday, February 8 from 4-8 p.m. at the American Legion Post #22 at 125 York Road in Towson, Maryland. Live entertainment by Slagz Band, DJ Sugar Chris will be playing your favorite records, It is BYOB and BYOF with free beer and free set-ups. For ticket information, call 410-916-2605 or 443-963-5711. I also will be there for a book signing. I will see you there.

Well, my dear friends, we are out of space, remember, if you need me, call me at 410-833-9474 or email me at UNTIL THE NEXT TIME, I’M MUSICALLY YOURS.

For USC cornerback Josh Shaw, the focus is football

Josh Shaw was a standout at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Shaw is one of the prospects that the Baltimore Ravens had their eye on last week. He was clearly one of the better corners this week. He did exactly what he needed to do after the tough season that he experienced this year. He had an off field incident that may cause some teams to be hesitant.

His performance in front of the NFL teams will help to minimize the emphasis that may have been placed on his suspension. Many people who haven’t spoken to Shaw before came away surprised at how well spoken he is and how much of an understanding he has of the position.

Shaw showed that he can be a versatile player. Some teams talked to him about playing safety. In his mind, he offers a variety of ways to help a team.

“I think I bring multiple things. First off, I am a guy that can play on special teams and help whatever organization in that regard.” Shaw said. “I am also a guy that can line up at any position in the backfield on the defensive side, at a high level.”

His confidence shows when talking to him. That is the reason he has the mental makeup to be a very good press cornerback, which he says is his preference.

“It’s where I am most comfortable at. I think I have the most upside at that position.” Shaw said.

The Baltimore Ravens have shown interest in Shaw because his press coverage ability matches their defensive scheme. He is an aggressive defensive back that has all of the ability to “Play Like a Raven.”

Shaw went into detail about what it takes to excel at the position.

“You have to trust in your preparation, how your coaches are coaching you but most of all, it’s about confidence. Playing corner, if you’re not confident, you’re no good. You have to go out there with a great deal of confidence,” Shaw said. “I think I am a match up nightmare for a lot of receivers. I know when I line up across from them, they probably don’t want to deal with me. My mindset is to have a plan when I get to the line of scrimmage, I will make them have to deal with me.”

Shaw plays the position almost like a cat and mouse game.

“I always come to the line of scrimmage with a plan. If you don’t, that’s when you get in trouble. Sometimes, I like to switch up my techniques. I don’t want to give the receivers the same picture every time. I don’t want to give the quarterback the same thing every time. “ Shaw said. “I want to be able to mix things up. Of course you always want to make them feel you but there will be times when they may not feel you. That’s when you just mirror them, turn and run with them. That’s how you change it up.”

Playing corner, especially a press corner requires having an extremely competitive edge. Shaw definitely checks that box on the football field.

“My mindset is that I am so competitive that when the defense is in the huddle, I hope the coach calls cover one or cover zero. That way, it’s me versus the receiver.”

While press coverage is something that he prefers, Shaw says that he has seen a lot from the five coaches that he had while he was at USC.

“In the end, it all comes back to being confident with who you are.” He feels that he can adapt very quickly. He said that he’s had to play his share of off man in college also. The thing that he likes about it is that at some point, it becomes just man.

His reasoning is that he isn’t one to hurry into his backpedal because he trusts his speed. He will allow the receiver to make their move and act accordingly. Some corners tend to lunge at the receiver because they have to get a hand on him to redirect them.

Shaw said that he likes Patrick Peterson and Aqib Talib because they are long corners. From a technical standpoint he studies Darrelle Revis. The same guys who trained Revis in the off-season are training him now. He knows the value of watching film but understands that each player is unique.

“I watch a lot of his film [Revis] but every guy is different. What works for him might not work for me,” Shaw said.

City College raising funds for library

— For one-time Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, the facts are quite simple.

Ninety-nine percent of Baltimore City College High School students are accepted into college, and a key to that is a solid, 21st century library where studying and research can be achieved in the best of settings.

Schmoke, now the president of the University of Baltimore, has quietly helped City College Principal Cindy Harcum and other officials raise more than $674,000 for a new school library and academic center.

On Tuesday, January 20, 2015, a public effort to raise $2 million began with what officials called a “Torch Burning Bright Kickoff and Pep Rally.”

“A new library will help ensure that students, faculty and parents have access to the technology they need for instruction, research, and college preparation in a space that preserves and celebrates the historic nature of the school’s early 20th century gothic building,” said Schmoke, a proud alum of City College.

Officials have noted that the current library is outdated and existing media resources are for the most part, inaccessible. There are no e-books at the school and the library hasn’t undergone a comprehensive renovation in four decades.

“I spent a great deal of time in that library when I attended,” Schmoke said. “It’s really dear to my heart and there is a need to have a modern facility that addresses today’s needs.”

The campaign is a partnership between Baltimore City Public Schools, City College alumni, parents, students, faculty and the larger Baltimore community to build a cutting-edge academic hub suitable for the nationally renowned college-preparatory school now in its 176th year, Harcum said in a statement.

The campaign will raise the funds needed to build a new library in a building that opened in 1928. Funds will also be used to purchase state-of-the-art equipment, including computers with ready access to online databases and other digital resources.

“The goal is to create a modern academic center where students can research and learn and be well-equipped to meet the demands of the digital age,” Harcum said. “The installation of a new technology infrastructure will enable a significant number of students to gain Internet access that they currently lack.”

In just six months, the Torch Burning Bright campaign has secured $674,000 in contributions and commitments from individuals, foundations and corporations, as well as the Baltimore City Public Schools.

“We have corporate groups that have made pledges and some who have already made donations,” Schmoke said. “The school has an outstanding principal and all of us are proud that she’s a City College High School alum because it builds upon the legacy.”

Harcum and other school officials say the renovation will create the perfect harmony between the past and City College High School’s future, its tradition and quest to innovate.

By exposing the original terrazzo and stone flooring in the hallway and reading room and separating the hallway from the library space, the renovation will honor the historic nature of the space, according to Harcum. At the same time, the renovation will outfit the space with wireless Internet, multiple projector screens, plug-in-play workstations, and technology that students and teachers depend on in the 21st century.

“With a physical space that reminds us of our tradition, and the resources necessary for the future, student’s creativity will be catalyzed, helping them come up with innovative solutions to complex problems,” the principal said.

Also, because every great institution has “The Place,” a central space where students can go and know that they are safe and surrounded by those on a quest similar to their own, the new library promises to be that place.

“It’ll be a place that can inspire,” Schmoke said. “It can heal and transform.”

To make a donation, send payment with “BCC Library” in the memo line, to 800 North Charles Street, Suite 400, Baltimore, Maryland 21201. To make a secure online donation, visit:

Five myths about losing weight this year

— More than a third of adults in the United States, 35.1 percent, are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Nearly 70 percent are at least overweight, and obesity in adolescents has quadrupled in the past three decades.

“Despite all the attention, an unhealthy amount of body fat remains an insidious problem,” says Dr. Eleazar Kadile, who specializes in treating patients with obesity and associated chronic disease.

“Most of us know we’re facing a national health crisis, yet diets for millions of Americans continue to be based in heavily processed foods. Obese people often live in perpetual shame, and many others believe they are right to blame the overweight and obese for their problem.”

Dr. Kadile, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine and author of “Stop Dying Fat” (, says poor attitudes and lack of understanding contribute significantly to this national crisis, which contributes to our national healthcare difficulties. He debunks five myths about being overweight and obese.

•“It’s your fault that you’re fat.” Obesity is caused by complex imbalances within a person’s body and his or her environment. Some imbalances are exacerbated by poor dietary choices based on bad dietary information, personal history and psychological patterns. Together, the physiological, psychological, social and environmental causes of the disease of obesity create a predicament that obese people are drawn into and unable to get out of.

•Obese people are among the “fat and happy.” Large people can be masters at suppressing the indignities they suffer in society. The obese often have to pay first-class fare since cheaper seats for transportation are designed for thinner people. Most advertisements employ beautiful people who are thin, and rarely attractive actors who are larger. National campaigns to battle obesity do not focus on the factors beyond diet and exercise that keep people overweight. Obese patients also spend an average of nearly $1,500 more each year on medical care than other Americans.

•Obese and overweight people just need the right diet. There’s no shortage of diets promoted by beautiful people who promise amazing results. If only overweight people eat what they eat, then they’ll be beautiful, too. But that’s just not true. What and how one eats is just a part of an excessive body mass index level. Other important factors to achieving a healthy BMI include good information regarding one’s health, sustained motivation to change, continuous learning, vigilance and an ability to be extremely honest.

•Food is not an obese individual’s friend; exercise is. Eat less; exercise more; lose weight— those have been the commandments in the religion of weight loss. But most obese people have tried this and it hasn’t worked. More than being a source of pleasure, comfort and survival, food is medicine.

“I’ve developed a complementary set of protocols that target an obese person’s specific set of problems,” Dr. Kadile says. “Sometimes, you need to eat fat— the right kind— in order to burn fat. And, many exercises can actually harm an obese person. You can’t impose cookie-cutter solutions to this complex problem and expect them to work.”

•Fat people need to “just do it”— lose weight. This attitude is not based in reality; it’s an over-simplistic response for a frustrating problem.

“Morbidly obese patients need plenty of preparation,” he says. “When a patient comes to me, I go through a rigorous list of questions regarding medical and family history. I ask about eating, sleeping and activity patterns, as well as medical conditions, emotional patterns, stress histories, good times and bad times, etc. I also have them go through an extensive battery of medical tests. That’s the effective and safe way of doing it.”

In other words, “just do it” just doesn’t cover it.

Dr. Eleazar Kadile is the director of the Center for Integrative Medicine in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He is a complementary physician who specializes in treating patients with obesity, who may suffer from heart disease, hypertension, type-2 diabetes, arthritis, depression or ADHD. For more information, visit:

New book, “Raising Black Boys to Men: A Mother’s Guide to Raising Thugless Sons” offers tips, strategies

Patricia Joseph’s new book, “Raising Black Boys to Men: A Mother’s Guide to Raising Thugless Sons” reveals tips, strategies and a real-world blueprint for raising responsible children in a society that glorifies gang culture.

“Raising Black Boys to Men: A Mother’s Guide to Raising Thugless Sons” is a candid book of one mother’s journey: her successes, trials and errors, in raising her three boys, in a society that glorifies thug-life. Author, Patricia Joseph, who successfully navigated the lives of her three sons, through the ever-present negative influences in society, felt compelled to write about her experience in raising thugless sons. Patricia credits much of her success to just “good, ole-fashion child rearing.”

In her book, Joseph provides simple anecdotes and tips, to help mothers faced with the challenges of raising black boys. She cleverly sprinkles humor throughout the book, and provides laughter to the role of parenting. The book is a short, quick-read, which can be read in a few hours. At the end of each chapter, Patricia provides “Mom Tips,” which are little nuggets of information, for moms to reference long after reading the book.

Readers will enjoy the heart-felt emotion of Patricia’s call-to-action: “Save Our Sons.” Also, readers will come to understand the unique challenges African-American mothers’ face, with raising their boys. Patricia takes no prisoners, when she writes about the incarceration rates, and illiteracy of young, Black men. At the end of the book,

Patricia provides readers with a list of “Recommended Reading,” as a supplement to further their knowledge and increase awareness.

“From my own upbringing I was acutely aware that raising African American sons would present its own unique challenges, many of which would be forced on them by the pressures and prejudices of wider society,” said Joseph. “But I was committed to giving them the same chances as everyone else— a responsibility that would ultimately fall on me.”

Continuing, “I learned so much that I had to share it. Right now, a mother somewhere is crying over losing her son to a pointless crime, or racked by guilt at an incarceration that could have been avoided. If parents adopt the right strategies early enough, raising thugless sons is 100 percent possible and life-changing for all.”

“Raising Black Boys to Men: A Mother’s Guide to Raising Thugless Sons,” is now available for purchase at: For more information and bour Patricia Joseph or the book, visit

Six ways a hug a day keeps illness away

New research suggests that prevention of infections and reducing stress-related illness might be as simple as a hug from a trusted person. The findings of this latest research were published in Psychological Science. It found that the physical act of hugging is associated with protection from the effects of depression and anxiety, as well as lessening the number of stress-induced infections and severe illness symptoms.

The research team studied hugging as an example of social support, because hugs are typically a marker of having a more intimate and close relationship with another person. People who have ongoing conflicts with others are less able to fight off cold viruses and infection. The interesting fact is what hugging represents to the participants. They stated that hugging made them feel more connected, more supported, more validated and intimate with the hugger, which had a direct effect on their immune system. The researchers went on to say that those who receive more hugs are somewhat more protected from infection. For more information about the study, visit: (

If you’ve decided that this is your year to be on a health kick, in addition to watching your diet and exercising, you may want to add hugging to your list of daily activities. Here are six ways to protect your health and relationships with hugs:

*Studies show people who are hugged regularly by their close friends and family have reduced blood pressure, lower heart rates and feel more connected to one another.

*People who are contented in their marriages report frequent hugging and non-sexual touching.

*Couples who report hugging or cuddling frequently also report feeling more emotionally connected to their partner. They also reported feeling more secure than non-hugging/minimal-touch couples.

*Ten minutes of hand-holding or hugging greatly reduced couples’ reported stress and the harmful effects of stress on their body.

*The release of oxytocin in the body from hugging helps foster a healthy immune system.

*Children who grow up watching their parents hug feel more secure and perform better in school.

*As you begin the new year, don’t forget the most important gift you can give all year round, the gift of belonging, being valued and being emotionally connected to your loved ones. Something as simple as a hug can provide those feelings and it doesn’t cost you a thing.

Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist. For more information about Rapini, visit: