Black women face pay gap

— Black women working full time earned just 64 cents for every dollar White men made in 2013, according to a new report by the Center for American Progress (CAP).

Researchers with CAP, a nonpartisan education and policy group, released the issue brief that reported that even though the types of jobs and the number of hours that women worked can affect the wage gap, “structural and economic realities that limit women’s abilities to compete with men in the labor force” also contribute to the pay disparities. It noted that Black women working several part-time jobs to make ends meet may be falling further behind.

Although White women working full time also earned less than White men (78 cents for every dollar), women of color often earned because they were stuck in low-paying jobs, worked fewer hours and had greater responsibilities as the primary caregiver in their households.

More than half of all Black children grow up in single-parent homes with their mothers. Black men raise children alone in 9 percent of single-parent households.

Black women are also less likely to graduate from high school or attend college than White women.

“This places African American and Hispanic women at a disadvantage from the moment they enter the workforce, creating major structural barriers to entering top-earning professional fields,” stated the report.

Nearly 60 percent of Black women worked in either the service industry, sales or office jobs.

“Jobs in industries such as food service—where women of color are concentrated—are often hourly jobs in which many workers are part time and schedules are subject to cancellation or alteration on short notice,” stated the CAP report.

A recent report on the effects of irregular work schedules by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank focused on low- and middle-income workers, noted that employers in the retail and wholesale trade and services industries, such as hospitality and leisure, professional and business services are more likely to hire part-time workers and adjust their schedules without warning to meet immediate customer demands.

“Moreover, because precarious employment is concentrated among relatively lower-income earners, it not only exacerbates growing income inequality stifling potential economic expansion and underutilizing potential available labor input, but takes a toll on the wellbeing of working families,” the report explained.

Workers who made less than $22,500 annually were more likely to work irregular schedules than workers who earned more.

The EPI report said that, “For workers with significant caregiving or financial commitments, having weeks with as few as zero hours and days when there may be either no work or short notice to arrive at work, may make balancing work with life stressful, intolerable, or even impossible, forcing them to choose between participating in the paid labor force, unemployment, or withdrawal from the labor force.”

Just 35 percent of Black women were employed in higher-paying management, professional and related jobs compared to 48 percent of Asian women and 43 percent of White women, according to the CAP report.

EPI researchers also reported that 43 percent of workers may have less than a week’s advanced notice of their hours. Another 8 percent indicated that they knew their work schedules one to two weeks in advance had and 6 percent had two to four weeks.

“Employees who work irregular shift times, in contrast with those with more standard, regular shift times, experience greater work-family conflict, and sometimes experience greater work stress, stated the report and that work-family conflict is in turn associated with lower job and life satisfaction,” the EPI study said.

The CAP report on the race and gender wage gap said that expanding policies like paid family, medical leave and paid sick days, and strengthening equal pay laws would help women of color remain in the labor market and protect them from racial and gender discrimination.

Milia Fisher, a research associate with the Women’s Initiative at CAP and the author of the report, wrote that public policy alone will not close the gender wage gap for women of color.

Fisher concluded: “The United States needs to address both the structural drivers behind the pay gap and the persistent cultural biases against women and people of color if it wants to truly affect change for these populations.”

Floyd Mayweather: The star athlete no sponsor will touch

— Floyd Mayweather is one of the most successful athletes in the world, but no advertiser wants him selling their product.

Even companies such as Nike and Coca-Cola that have signed or stayed with athletes who find themselves in legal trouble, such as Michael Vick or Kobe Bryant won’t touch Mayweather, who is undefeated in 47 professional matches.

“You can’t deny people want to watch him, and people have been waiting a long time to see this fight. It doesn’t mean you’ll buy a product he’s endorsing or believe him as a spokesman,” said Bob Dorfman, editor of the Sports Marketers Scouting Report.

Mayweather has pled guilty to domestic violence charges at least three separate times. He served served two months in jail in 2012 for attacking the mother of his 9- and 10-year old sons in front of them. He’s also plead guilty or was found guilty on domestic violence charges in 2001, 2002 and 2003, serving suspended sentences and house arrest. A former fiancee is suing him over allegations that he beat and threatened her for two years.

Even if he wins his much anticipated match with Manny Pacquiao Saturday, he probably still won’t score any endorsements, Dorfman said.

Advertisers avoided Mayweather before he landed in jail, thanks to his habit of going on racist and homophobic rants about other fighters, including Pacquiao.

He did one commercial for AT&T in 2009 in which he didn’t have any lines. And he had a shoe deal with Reebok. But neither deal was renewed in 2010.

And unlike other athletes who apologize when they find themselves in legal trouble, Mayweather has never acknowledged or apologized his guilt despite guilty pleas.

He defended his domestic abuse record to CNN’s Rachel Nichols last fall, saying that there were “no pictures” of the abuse, even though he had plead guilty to the charges.

Mayweather was also a bigger defender of Ravens NFL running back Ray Rice, than Rice was himself. Rice issued numerous apologies after knocking out his then fiancee and pleading guilty to aggravated assault.

Mayweather is the world’s best-paid athlete according to most estimates, based solely on his earnings in the ring. So it’s not like he needs the sponsor money.

He earned more than $100 million in 2014 alone, and will likely get at least $120 million for Saturday’s fight.

Mayweather’s vast wealth is another reason why he probably won’t get any endorsement deals — few advertisers could pay enough to make it worth his while.

“There’s a lot of brands who might be interested if they could get him for $50,000 or $100,000,” said Matt Delzell managing director of The Marketing Arm, which negotiates celebrity endorsement deals. “But not at the prices he would demand.”

Ravens First Round Selection Projection

— The first round of the 2015 NFL Draft has finally arrived. The Baltimore Ravens hold the 26th pick and have needs at various positions. The recent shortcomings of Missouri outside linebacker Shane Ray could cause him to still be available when the Ravens are on the clock. There have been connections to Ohio State wide receiver Devin Smith. Position coach Bobby Engram was at Smith’s pro day and had him run Ravens routes.

Cornerback is an area of need for the Ravens. There are three corners that have been linked to the Ravens in the first round. Marcus Peters and Kevin Johnson have been to Ravens facilities for a visit. Byron Jones and Jalen Collins have also received some interest as well.

There’s a good chance that Peters is gone by the time the Ravens are on the clock. Kevin Johnson is likely to be on the board when the Ravens pick. If that is the case, he will be the pick. Johnson is a local product out of River Hill High School in Clarkesville. The Ravens can count on him to come in and compete with Lardarius Webb for the starting cornerback position opposite of Jimmy Smith. Johnson also gives the Ravens another option to fill in at the nickel position.

The Ravens get a willing contributor on special teams in Johnson. That is something that head coach John Harbaugh will surely appreciate being as though he was a special teams coordinator when he was with the Philadelphia Eagles. Johnson is one of the more aggressive press corners in this draft class. The Ravens use a lot of man coverage which is an area of strength for Johnson.

Freddie Gray investigation turned over to prosecutor

— Police have handed their Freddie Gray investigative files over to prosecutors a day earlier than planned, police officials said Thursday, adding that newly discovered evidence in the case indicates the transport van made a previously unreported stop before delivering Gray to the precinct.

Following the announcement, the state’s attorney for Baltimore confirmed she had received the report and said that while police have regularly briefed her office on their findings, her team has been conducting its own independent probe into Gray’s April 19 death after his arrest a week earlier.

“While we have and will continue to leverage the information received by the department, we are not relying solely on their findings but rather the facts that we have gathered and verified,” prosecutor Marilyn Mosby said. “We ask for the public to remain patient and peaceful and to trust the process of the justice system.”

Investigators delivered their report early because “I understand the frustration. I understand the urgency,” police Commissioner Anthony Batts said.

“This does not mean that the investigation is over. If new evidence is found, we will follow it,” he added. “Getting to the right answer is more important than speed.”

At the same press conference, Deputy Commissioner Kevin Davis revealed for the first time that there was a fourth stop made between the time Gray was placed in the transport van and when he arrived at the police department’s Western District building.

Last week, Davis said there were three stops: the first to put leg irons on Gray, the second “to deal with Mr. Gray” (an incident, he said, that remained under investigation) and the third to pick up a prisoner in an unrelated matter.

The new stop, which “was discovered from a privately owned camera,” Davis said Thursday, came between the first and second stops.

The latest revelations came shortly after two new accounts of what happened to Gray emerged — threads that could offer clues as to where and when the man whose death sparked protests in Baltimore was fatally injured.

The first comes from a relative of one of the officers involved in the arrest. She told CNN the officer thinks Gray was injured while he was being arrested — before he was put inside a police van.

The second is an account from a prisoner who was in the same police van, as published in The Washington Post. The prisoner reportedly told investigators he thought Gray “was intentionally trying to injure himself.”

Source: Officer believes Gray injured during arrest

The woman who spoke to CNN did so on the condition of anonymity. She is related to the officer but said the officer didn’t request the interview.

The relative said she worries all six of the officers who encountered Gray, 25, during his April 12 arrest will be incriminated when only some might be responsible.

“Six officers did not injure this man,” she said. “Six officers didn’t put him in the hospital. I’m worried that instead of them figuring out who did, that six officers are going to be punished behind something that maybe one or two or even three officers may have done to Freddie Gray.”

She also told CNN that the officer doesn’t know how Gray was injured but said he believes it happened during the arrest.

“He believes that Freddie Gray was injured outside the paddy wagon,” the relative said.

She also gave an explanation of why Gray was not buckled into the police van: He appeared belligerent.

“They didn’t want to reach over him. You were in a tight space in the paddy wagon. He’s already irate,” she said.

“He still has his teeth, and he still has his saliva. So in order to seat-belt somebody you have to get in their personal space. They’re not going to get in his personal space if he’s already irate.”

Batts, the police commissioner, has said Gray should have been buckled in.

“We know he was not buckled in the transport wagon, as he should’ve been. No excuses for that, period,” Batts said last week.

As for when Gray suffered a severe spinal injury, Batts said there was “potential” it could have happened either in or outside the police van.

Report: Gray was trying to hurt himself, prisoner says

The Washington Post account cites an investigative document written by a Baltimore police investigator.

In it, a prisoner who was in the same police van as Gray said he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the van and thought Gray “was intentionally trying to injure himself.”

The prisoner was separated from Gray by a metal barrier and could not see him, police have said.

The account is similar to what Batts told CNN affiliate WJZ-TV last week when the police commissioner said another suspect in the van heard Gray “thrashing about.”

But Gray family attorney Jason Downs disputes the notion that Gray caused his own fatal injury.

“We disagree with any implication that Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord,” Downs told the Post. “We question the accuracy of the police reports we’ve seen thus far, including the police report that says Mr. Gray was arrested without force or incident.”

An attorney for the local police union has said those moments in the van are critical to understanding the case.

“Our position is something happened in that van,” police union attorney Michael Davey said. “We just don’t know what.”

Regardless of what happened, the police commissioner said Gray should have gotten medical help sooner.

“We know our police employees failed to get him medical attention in a timely manner multiple times,” Batts said last week.

Police hand over investigation

The police handing over the files to the Baltimore County state’s attorney’s office hardly marks the end of the case, Batts said Thursday.

And don’t expect prosecutors to announce a decision about charges anytime soon.

“I think that the government officials need to advise people of how the process honestly works and to lower their expectations,” Gray family attorney Mary Koch said.

Mosby, the state’s attorney, will decide whether charges should be filed against any of the six officers involved in the arrest.

On Wednesday night, protesters took to the streets of Baltimore once again, demanding change and accountability for Gray’s death.

For the second night, a 10 p.m. curfew went into effect. And for the second night, a crowd dissipated peacefully, preventing a repeat of Monday’s riots.

But a protest in New York turned out differently. Police said more than 100 people were arrested during a “NYC Rise Up & Shut It Down With Baltimore” rally.

In Denver, police made nine arrests during a similar protest Wednesday night. The charges include assault of a police officer, robbery, resisting police, disobedience to lawful orders, obstructing roadways and interference.

And more protests are slated over the next two days in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, Oregon, and Oakland, California.

CNN’s Jason Hanna, Rich Phillips, Dana Ford, Ed Payne, Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper contributed to this report.

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Ravens 2015 NFL Draft Needs: Running Backs

— The Baltimore Ravens signed Justin Forsett to a long term contract and officially got him out of “the friend zone.” The move is a step towards stabilizing the running back position. Second year player Lorenzo Taliaferro is a big back that could be relied upon in short yardage situations. After those two, there are definitely some questions as far as depth is concerned.

The 2015 NFL Draft is rare in that there are two running backs that have a legit shot of getting selected in the first round. Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley are two explosive players that would fit into the Ravens zone scheme very well. Both of these players could very well be available when the Ravens are on the clock with the 26th pick. There are also some pretty solid options that will be available in the second and third round. Here are the top prospects that the Ravens could get in the first couple of rounds:

Todd Gurley Georgia

Gurley is the most explosive running back in this draft class. He has a track background and it shows when he pulls away from defenders. Gurley is a tough running back that runs through tackles and always runs downhill.

Melvin Gordon Wisconsin

Gordon is a perfect runner for the Ravens zone scheme. He has the ability to see running lanes open up in advance and can make the necessary cuts to get into the lane. His acceleration is elite and it is exactly what allows him to get to the second level of the defense in a hurry.

T.J. Yeldon Alabama

We all know that Ozzie Newsome loves Alabama prospects. Yeldon is a big back that could be a third down specialist. He does a good job of gaining those tough yards. Yeldon is also a dangerous weapon on screens, another reason why he would be an ideal third down back for the Ravens.

Tevin Coleman Indiana

Coleman is a north and south runner that hits holes right away. Like Gordon, he has the ability to make cuts and change gaps quickly. Coleman can demolish the angles that defenders take when he hits the second level and that leads to some explosive plays.

Duke Johnson Miami

Johnson is another home run hitter with top level acceleration. He is also a very good option out of the backfield. He and Forsett are very similar in build and running style.

Just Missed the Cut:

Ameer Abdullah Nebraska

Super Sleeper: Trey Williams Texas A&M

‘Black Panther Party’ film seeks wider audience

— The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, the first feature-length film to focus on the origin and downfall of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense is making waves in the film community. It’s been a breakout entry at the Sundance Film Festival, and has already won an award at the Pan African Film & Arts Festival in Los Angeles.

But for acclaimed director Stanley Nelson, the real triumph will be in getting the film to the masses.

“We’re going to film festivals…and getting great, great, great responses. But one of the things that we feel is that film festivals reach a certain segment of the population,” says Nelson, the filmmaker behind Freedom Riders, The Murder of Emmett Till, and other notable documentaries on the African American experience.

“Another segment of the population doesn’t go to film festivals, and those people are the people we want to reach in the theatrical release.”

Thanks to financial backing from PBS, the film will have a theatrical release in more than a dozen cities across the country this September. Still, the documentary team hopes to raise additional funds through donations website, Kickstarter (kck.st/1IjSI1V). These funds will support the film’s expansion via broad advertising, and public appearances and events with the filmmakers and Black Panther Party leaders.

“Our hope is that if we raise a bit more money…as we go through these [13] cities, if we’re successful and recoup our investment, then we’ll just put that money into going to more cities,” Nelson explains. “Our goal is not to make a profit, our goal is to get people out and have as many people see it as we possibly can.”

Other documentaries and movies have either focused on Black Panther figures such as Kwame Toure and Assata Shakur, or have explored the Panthers as one part of a larger picture. The Black Panther Party focuses solely on the organization in its entirety and weaves together a variety of voices, from Party martyrs to those tasked with their destruction. The film also boasts original content from notables such as Kathleen Cleaver, Elaine Brown, Henry Douglas, Elbert “Big Man” Howard, and more.

“One of the things we tried to do in this film is make sure it’s exciting and we tell a new story to everybody,” both the well-informed and the newcomers, Nelson says. “Some of the great things that have happened in the screenings is, people who were Panthers themselves come up to us and say, ‘You know, I was in the middle of it. I didn’t know half the stuff that was in the film.’ There’s a lot of new information.”

Donations through the Kickstarter come with interesting perks, ranging from social media shout-outs for donations as small as $5, to T-shirts, tickets to screenings, autographed photos, and more. For those who cannot donate, Nelson recommends sharing the Kickstarter link with others (kickstarter.com/projects/blackpanthers/the-black-panthers-theatrical-release).

New York, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, Chicago, Boston, Portland, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Atlanta, Seattle and Washington, D.C. are the 13 initial cities slated for wide release this fall. The film will also be screened at several film festivals around the country throughout the summer. More information on these screenings can be found on www.TheBlackPanthers.com.

Most schools teach little to nothing about the political and social movement launched by the Black Panthers. And in the midst of today’s movements against injustice and discrimination – from police violence to reproductive rights – the film is well timed.

“We want a lot of people to see the film, especially young people. It’s not only a film about the Black Panthers, but the Black Panthers represent young people who really became involved in changing the world,” Nelson says. “Right or wrong, they did feel like they were changing the world. And we want young people to get that message.”

Governor Hogan launches ‘Maryland Unites’ to assist Baltimore relief efforts

— Governor Larry Hogan today announced that his administration is launching a new Web page, “Maryland Unites,” as a way to provide information and encourage the public to lend a helping hand to the Baltimore community in the aftermath of this week’s rioting and looting.

The Web page is a resource for citizens to do three important things in support of Baltimore City:

1) Obtain up-to-date information from law enforcement officials and pertinent state agencies;

2) Donate to charitable organizations assisting community members who are in need; and

3) Volunteer to assist in clean-up and other efforts.

“We have received an outpouring of support from Marylanders and people all around the country who want to help get our beloved Baltimore back on its feet in the wake of the violence and destruction,” said Governor Hogan. “This Web page is a one-stop shop for citizens to help, and I encourage everyone to do what they can to assist Charm City at this difficult time.”

Please click here to view the Web page: www.marylandunites.org

For real-time information on services and assistance in Baltimore City, please call the Department of Human Resources’ Information Hotline: 1-888-756-7836.

Tips to reduce your risk of osteoporosis

Special to the NNPA from the Houston Forward-Times

Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. There are no symptoms in the early stages of this disease; but over time other symptoms become obvious. A woman’s bones may become painful or tender. Bones can also fracture with little or no trauma. There can also be a loss of height (as much as 6 inches) over time. Have you ever seen an individual, usually someone of seasoned age, who is starting to bend over forward? Usually that is from Osteoporosis. The condition is called “kyphosis.”

Isn’t it funny how we look at individuals with kyphosis and think to ourselves, “I can’t imagine my fine body growing like that”? But guess what? Ladies, it can happen to the best of us. Although we may not be able to avoid osteoporosis, there are simple ways to keep the bones strong and reduce your risk of osteoporosis.

You can start young. For those of you who are still my junior, think of your bones like you do your savings or retirement account…you have to start saving young so you can reap the benefits when you are older. The same goes for storing calcium and vitamin D in your bones as well as exercising to make and keep them healthy and strong.

Know your T-Score.This is the number that is the result of a bone mineral density test. Ask your medical provider to test you to see how strong your bones are. Your t-score combined with other factors, such as age, can help determine your risk for osteoporosis so that you don’t find out the hard way by doing the simple task of walking then suddenly find yourself on an ambulance stretcher because your bones broke and caused a fall.

Aim for 1,200 mg of vitamin D each day. That is about 4 cups of nonfat milk or three cups of yogurt. If you are like me and can’t take non-fat, try 2% instead of whole milk. If milk is not your drink of choice, try orange juice with calcium and vitamin D and consider taking supplements.

DON’T SMOKE – limit drinking. Smoking reduces estrogen in women which tends to cause women to hit menopause sooner than they normally would, both of which accelerates bone loss. If you drink, keep it to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. Unfortunately, alcohol interferes with your body’s ability to absorb calcium, and it also slows new bone formation.

Meat in Moderation. I know this is a killer for some; but meat can be considered a doubled edged sword. It’s good in that your body needs protein to help calcium absorption in the intestines but on the other hand, eating too much red meat, fish, pork and poultry can sap important resources from the bones. So, I guess as the saying goes, “eat all things in moderation.”

You’re never too young or too old to improve the health of your bones. Osteoporosis prevention should begin in childhood. But it shouldn’t stop there. Whatever your age, the habits you adopt now can affect your bone health for the rest of your life. Now is the time to take action.

A few brave peacemakers tried to intervene on Baltimore’s streets

— Please, not even a demonstration. Freddie Gray’s family had asked there be quiet on Baltimore’s streets the day they laid him to rest. And above all, no violence.

Raging hordes turned a deaf ear to that Monday. But a handful of people repeated the family’s message. They became criers in the desert against countless young people flinging rocks at police, breaking windows, looting and setting fires.

The peacemakers — clergy, Gray’s family and brave residents — placed themselves in the rioters’ way. Their message was the same.

“I want them all to go back home,” said the Rev. Jamal Bryant.

“It’s disrespect to the family. The family was very clear — we’ve been saying it all along — today there was absolutely no protest, no demonstration,” he said.

But the messengers were a finger in a dam that quickly crumbled, as rowdy groups swelled into a full urban riot. It overshadowed the message peaceful protesters delivered on prior days — justice for Gray.

The 25-year-old African-American man died from spinal injuries after being arrested earlier this month.

Mourners walk into violence

The early fits of violence came in the afternoon, about the time mourners left Gray’s memorial services blocks away, Bryant said. They bumped right into it.

“For us to come out of the burial and walk into this is absolutely inexcusable,” he said. He did not want to see it spread to downtown Baltimore, where some rioters said it would, and he organized people to stand in the way.

“We have a line of gentlemen from the Nation of Islam to build a human wall, as well as men from the Christian church making that human wall,” he said.

But as crowds turned into multitudes, the intervention became a drop in the bucket by compare, and police lines were also no match.

Without police support

As officers in riot gear receded, flames engulfed cars and stores and roared out of apartment buildings into the night sky. A senior living facility under construction by a Baptist church burned to the ground. The blazes stretched the fire departments’ resources, as at least 30 trucks deployed.

Looters streamed into a CVS, bodegas and liquor stores and walked out with what they could carry.

A young man in a blue sweatshirt tried to talk people down by himself.

He walked up to CNN correspondent Miguel Martinez, as a store nearby was being looted. It later went up in flames. The man, who didn’t say his name, was disgusted by what was happening in his neighborhood and disappointed in the police response to rioting.

There was a line of police down the street, not far away. “They could have moved down here to stop it,” he told Martinez.

Against all odds

The Gray family’s lawyers, again, put the family’s wish out to the public that there be no protests that day, let alone violence.

It’s marring the cause and hope for change that may have come out of the investigation into Freddie Gray’s death, said family attorney Mary Koch. “That’s just disintegrated into just looking at Baltimore city and thinking that the city is the city of violence,” she said.

Against all odds, a handful of individuals kept trying to stop it.

A tall, adult man walked up to a young man who was confronting riot police. He slung an arm over his shoulder, turned him back around in the other direction and marched him away from police lines.

But as they strolled past a crowd, a young man behind them hurled a stone at police, putting his whole body into the throw.

Tough love

At least one young man paid the price for his participation, when his mother turned up to spank him home. Before running cameras, she slapped him in the head again and again, driving him away from the crowd, as she cursed.

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts later thanked her. “I wish I had more parents that took charge of their kids out there tonight,” he said.

After night fell, giving way to a 10 p.m. curfew for juveniles, Robert Valentine stood alone with his back to a line of police in riot gear. He shooed away young people tempted to approach them.

“Go! Step your –ss away!”

“I’m just a soldier,” said Valentine. He told CNN’s Joe Johns that he was a veteran of the Vietnam War.

Young people had no business on the streets, he said. “They need to be in their home units studying and doing something with their lives.”

Crips and Bloods

Even Baltimore members of the Crips and Bloods, two street gangs renowned for drug dealing and extensive violent crime — and for killing each other — came together with others who condemned the rage that swept through their neighborhoods.

“The guys who pulled me aside are self-identifying as Crips and say they don’t approve of whats happening. ‘This is our community,’ ” Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton wrote on his confirmed Twitter account.

Gang members joined community leaders and Gray’s family for a news conference Monday night on the stage at New Shiloh Baptist Church, which had held Gray’s funeral. An announcer thanked them for coming to the church.

The gangs have signed a peace deal and are uniting to push against police lines in protests, according to a report by The Daily Beast. Bryant, the reverend, also mentioned their peace treaty.

But police say the gangs’ purpose goes much further — that they and another gang called the Black Guerilla Family plan to “take out” law enforcement officers, police said. “This is a credible threat.”

The gangs are consistently pursued by the FBI.

Gray family condemnation

At the end of the day, Gray’s family had the last word on the violence at the news conference. It wasn’t good.

“To see that it turned into all this violence and destruction, I am appalled,” said Richard Shipley, Gray’s stepfather.

“I want y’all to get justice for my son, but don’t do it like this here,” said Gray’s mother, Gloria Darden, who wore a T-shirt with her son’s photo.

“I don’t think that’s for Freddie,” said his twin sister, Fredericka Gray. “I think the violence is wrong.”

After their comments, Gray family lawyer William H. Murphy took the microphone. Violence is not the path to change, he said. Then he got back to the message that had been bitterly marred by the rioting.

Murphy asked for church audience members to raise their hands if they had experienced police brutality or personally knew someone who did.

All but a few hands went up.

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Vaginal Health 101: Dryness, Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRTs) and Viagra for her

— Special to the NNPA from the Houston Forward-Times

In communities around the world, the vagina seems to be a taboo topic; an irrelevant topic or a touchy topic to say the least. However, in other communities, it seems to be the first line of interest and debate for very loud discussion. People are posting it on social media every minute of the day (so it seems). So, because they are so free, open and loud with talking about their vagina’s, other, communities, at the risk of not sounding like “that” just avoid the topic all together. The more quiet communities end up ignoring their feminine center…our child baring gifts…our pleasure postures. There have been age old habits and ideas about what makes it tick, or what makes it become and stay healthy. Well, I will attempt to touch on just a few structured ideas that may work well in your favor.

What is the vagina?

At the risk of sounding too simple, I will define the vagina. The vagina is an elastic, muscular canal with a soft, flexible lining that provides lubrication and sensation. It connects to the uterus on one end and to the outside world on the other. The vagina received sexual intercourse and is a conduit for menstrual flow from the uterus. During child birthing years, it allows the baby to pass through its canal into the world. Sound like a miracle! Only God could make this, approximately 8 inch canal do so many wondrous things in a life time!

Vaginal Dryness: Who turned off the faucet, and who said I was done!

Vaginal dryness is a VERY common issue for women (believe it or not) of all ages! However, it is more common in women during and after menopause (the stopping of the menstrual cycle with a decline in Estrogen production). Continued vaginal dryness is the tale-tale sign of thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls due to the decline in estrogen production. During our younger years a thin layer of moisture coats our vaginal walls and stays there uninterrupted! During arousal, more blood flows to the organ, creating more lubricating fluid. But, changes in the hormone levels such as menstrual cycles, aging, child birth, menopause, breast-feeding will all dictate the amount of moisture that is available for comfort.

Signs of Vaginal Dryness

Recurrent urinary tract infections

Pain or bleeding with sexual intercourse

Burning

Itching or tingling pain around the vaginal opening

What to avoid

Avoid douches: vinegar and/or yogurt. I understand many women still douche after cycles and sex, however, we have discouraged its usage! It is just not beneficial… You end up washing away the necessary and very healthy “flora” that keep your vagina healthy.

Avoid hand lotions. These will irritate the sensitive nature of your vagina.

Avoid antibacterial or fragrant soaps. OUCH! Antibacterial soaps kill the normal “flora” in your vagina leading to many irritations.

Avoid scented toilet paper, detergents, bath oils and bath bubbles. These too can cause irritation.

Many women feel ashamed and will not bring up this with their doctors. However, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. It does not mean you are “getting old” or that someone is going to put you in the “do not use” pile and forget about you! If vaginal dryness affects you in any way, in particular your sex life, please speak with your doctor. Living with vaginal discomfort does not have to be a check mark of “Oh, I’m just getting older”.

Hormone Replacement Therapy: Lubricant, Rings and “Viagra for Her”

Over-the-counter, there are many products available to use. Just stroll down the aisle and you will find that it has a variety of products that make many promises… So, look for what you are desiring. If it is sexual, they have that. If it is just for everyday lubrication, they have that too!

Seeking medical advice for your dryness related to hormonal imbalance may give you more structured solution. It has been studied, that in general, treating dryness is more effective with topical applications rather than by taking a pill or applying a skin patch. There are Estrogen Creams, Estrogen Rings and Estrogen Tablets your medical practitioner can prescribe.

I often shake my head in awe at the number of laughs a crowd can inspire with the sheer mention of the work “Viagra” in a commentary! I was telling my sister, “I think people are just nervously laughing. Surely a women finds sexual pleasure a priority.” I continued, “At our age, I am sure we do not care what he does. Just do what-EVER it is you have to do to ‘keep the car going’”! I got a resounding “YES GIRL” from her! And in my years of nursing, I cannot find, in my memory bank, one women who would disagree with the above statement. However, with the use of Viagra for men, women seem to have been left in the dark.

Viagra has been a common use in heart health for a very long time, until in 2008 it was introduced as a “cure-all” for male erectile dysfunction (ED). Women became curious at its effects on their own sex life and so it was tested and trialed. Viagra works on a woman’s clitoris in the same manner it works on a male penis. In women it increases the blood flow allowing orgasms to be reached and to be reached quicker. It does not affect the arousal or desire to have sex… but it is not intended to do that in men nor women. For increase in desires, I will direct you to a sexual therapist.

In conclusion, I must remind you: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE…. Do not reach into the medicine cabinet of your loved one and pop a few of his “little blue pills” and expect it to work and work for you. As you know, I am not an advocate for sharing medicine! That is a No-No! You will need to be thoroughly evaluated by your doctor regarding your heart and hormones before prescribing the correct dose for YOU!

As always, I pray this information has given you the tools for health! As with every week’s article, my focus is to make medical information make sense. I pray this article finds you in perfect peace.