SBLC Salutes ‘The Stars Among Us’ At Annual Gala

— SBLC, a Baltimore nonprofit that provides functional literacy, life skills training and career preparation services for adults, is hosting its annual gala Saturday, April 13, 2019 from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel located at 202 East Pratt Street in Baltimore City.

This year’s theme, “The Stars Among Us,” pays tribute to SBLC’s learners, volunteers, staff and supporters. Vytas Reid, chief meteorologist for Fox 45, will serve as master of ceremonies.

The goal of the gala is to raise $100,000 to assist with adult literacy and workforce development programs that help the more than 700 learners who study at SBLC each year. M&T Bank is the gala’s “Graduate Level” sponsor.

The evening features live music by Advanced Party Solutions, a photo booth, games, raffle showcase, a video and more. Dinner will be served as a buffet with food stations featuring Baltimore restaurants including Blue Agave, DiPasquale’s Italian Market, Germano’s Piattini, Great American Cookie, MaGerk’s, Matsuri, Roma Sausage, Row House and United Shell Fish.

The raffle showcase features several themed packages including:

Charm City Chic: Travel by private limousine for a luxurious night at the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore’s Harbor East. Enjoy an ultimate spa experience, followed by dinner at Bygone Restaurant. The package includes tickets to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, cognac and cigars at Quintessential Gentleman, shows at the Hippodrome, Charles and Everyman theaters, trendy restaurants (including Charleston), a Robert McClintock original print of the Baltimore skyline and more.

Fun in the SUNshine State: Spend a weekend for two at the Hammock Beach Resort, a premier oceanfront golf destination and spa. Enjoy this Palm Coast ‘suite’ experience, have fun at the beach, relax in the spa or enjoy a round of golf. The package includes air travel for two valued at $400 per person, a car rental voucher, two-nights’ accommodation and a resort credit of $400 for spa and golf.

New York, New York: Travel to the Big Apple with two roundtrip train tickets and two nights in Midtown Manhattan at the exclusive Harvard Club. Use your New York Passes to reach your choice of hundreds of attractions. Enjoy dinner at Carmine’s in Times Square, lunch at 5 Napkin Burger and a decadent dessert at Junior’s Cheesecake. Get glammed up with a private stylist and tour three boutiques for a personal styling session. Grab some stylish, free accessories, or use your $250 American Express gift card to splurge.

La Ville Lumière, Paris, City of Light: Discover the Paris that only a Parisian could know. Book a flight for two using a $2,000 American Express gift card for a weeklong stay in a charming Paris flat within walking distance of the Notre Dame de Paris and the Louvre. The trip includes a bike tour and food tastings at local French markets.

Raffle tickets cost $50 each or three for $100 and may be purchased in advance at: sblcgala2019.eventbrite.com or by calling SBLC at 410-625-4215.

Tickets to the gala cost $125 ($75 for young professionals) and may be purchased at sblcgala2019.eventbrite.com.

America’s Small Businesses Win And Will Thrive Under New Trade Agreement

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was signed by President Donald Trump and his fellow leaders at the G20 in Argentina. The accord modernizes the decades-old NAFTA and is chock full of provisions that will help American small businesses boost exports and safeguard their intellectual property (IP). Congress needs to approve USMCA as soon as possible.

Small businesses drive the United States economy. Thirty million small businesses employ more than 58 million American workers. They also account for roughly half of United States GDP.

Small businesses rely heavily on North American trade to stay afloat. Of the U.S. companies that export to Canada and Mexico, three in four have fewer than 50 employees, and four in five have fewer than 100.

Modernizing NAFTA to strengthen IP protections will provide a much-needed boost to the U.S. economy. Small firms invest heavily in research and development. They produce 16 times more patents per employee than larger businesses.

This innovation would grind to a halt without patents, copyrights, and other IP protections, which prevent rival firms from unfairly replicating and undermining an innovator’s creation. Entrepreneurs wouldn’t invest in innovative ideas— and neither would outside investors— if rivals could steal the fruits of such labor.

The USMCA bolsters IP protections in several ways.

Consider copyrights, which prevent competitors from stealing creative content like books, movies, and art. The USMCA would extend Canada’s copyright terms by 20 years, putting them on par with U.S. standards. This change would give U.S. small business owners and their families more time to benefit financially from their creations.

The USMCA also furthers the capabilities of research companies that develop biologic medicines— drugs derived from living organisms. These firms are set to receive ten years of “regulatory data protection” for their biologics. During that time, no rival firm can use the innovators’ lab or clinical trial data to create a knockoff treatment.

Canada used to grant just eight years of data protection. Mexico offered a maximum of five years.

The new, stronger standard will spur additional research in the biopharmaceutical industry, which directly employs more than 800,000 Americans and indirectly supports four million other jobs.

Big drug companies depend on thousands of small vendors for help in producing lifesaving treatments. Small entrepreneurial firms also dominate the biopharmaceutical industry. Among pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing firms, 57 percent have less than 20 workers, and 79 percent have less than 100 employees.

The USMCA would assist small firms in other ways, too. For instance, it establishes a committee to educate small businesses about ways to expand their exports and reach new markets.

The USMCA would greatly benefit American small businesses. Congress should waste no time in approving the deal.

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

African American Heart Health Is Vital

Last month, February 2019, was not only Black History Month it was also Heart Health Awareness Month per the American Heart Association. Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States.

Generally, heart disease is considered a man’s disease, but more black and white women die of heart disease than all cancers combined. About 610,000 men and women die of heart disease each year and it accounts for one in four deaths in both genders. Coronary Heart Disease is the most common type and accounts for over half of these deaths.

Coronary heart disease increases the risk for heart attacks and over 700,000 Americans have heart attacks each year.

Like other serious health issues, African Americans have disproportionately high rates of heart disease. Every month for 49 million African Americans should be heart health awareness month.

The three largest risk factors that lead to fatal heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Diabetes, Obesity, poor diet, physical

inactivity, and excess drinking are other risk factors. There are other lifestyle concerns that can also lead to high blood pressure and obesity such as poor sleep and high stress levels.

Heart disease signs and symptoms are chest pain and discomfort, nausea, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, sweating, upper body pain or discomfort (jaw, arms, neck, upper back, upper stomach). If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms you should call 9-1-1 immediately.

Now that I have your attention at least for a moment, there are specific ways to improve your heart health. Know your heart-related numbers. Get your primary care doctor at least once per year to check your blood pressure, heart rate, BMI (body mass index), and cholesterol.

High blood pressure or hypertension is called the “Silent Killer” because many people have no symptoms of their blood pressure being high. Your doctor will also screen you for depression and other conditions depending on your age and risk factors.

Check your weight at home often (daily, weekly, monthly) to make sure that you are not gaining weight. Many people gain 5 pounds per year without awareness and that adds up over the years. The goal is a blood pressure under 130/80 and a heart rate between 60 and 80.

Smoking cigarettes is not good for your health and in particular smoking is not good for a healthy heart. If you smoke, you should consider the health benefits of “stop smoking.”

Consistent exercise is also important to keep your heart healthy. Be Active: at least 30 minutes five days per week. Think about how you can move naturally in your home. Can you walk more in your home? Can you routinely bike or lift weights or stretch? Make a plan to walk more by setting goals for how much you want to walk, how often, and how you will track your progress (pedometer, stopwatch, timer, calendar, etc).

Eat a ”Heart Healthy Diet.” Of course there will always be a range of strategies and objectives to help maintain having a healthy heart. Diet is another user-friendly item. In other words, you can control your personal daily diet. Overweight and obesity, are both related to diet. Studies have concluded that a “Mediterranean Diet” has consistently been shown to be the preferred diet for heart health. It is not actually a diet but the way that people in Mediterranean cultures eat for their whole lives. It consists of small amounts of meat, fish, and dairy but is mostly plant based.

Body weight is directly related to diet and physical exercise. Maintaining a healthy weight is a factor in sustaining a healthy heart. This is a somewhat controversial because as recent studies have shown that weight is not as important to heart health as diet and exercise. That is to say that whether your weight is low or high, you should still be working to have a healthy diet and stay active. If you do desire to weight loss, talk with your doctor about long-term plan.

We all should strive to have quality sleep. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble falling asleep: try setting a regular bedtime; avoiding long naps during the day; getting rid of the TV in your bedroom; leaving your cell phone on the other side of your bedroom; reading a physical book or journaling while trying to fall asleep; and, get out of the bed until you are more sleepy.

Lastly, we emphasize the critical importance of managing stress to prevent heart attacks and heart disease. Stress may cause heart attacks and death even in people with normal cholesterol and coronary arteries. It is very important to reduce stress in your life. Work to not over commit yourself to family, friends, work and tasks. Self-care is key and learning how to say “no” is part of self-care.

Work on your mindset and how you view your world and stressful situations. Learn how to let go of things that are out of your control. Utilize mindfulness, journaling, talk therapy, meditation, yoga, exercise to help clarify what is important to you and filter out the things that may be causing your goals and vision to be clouded.

All of the above advice and recommendations will help you to focus on keeping your heart healthy and strong. Again for African Americans the health of our hearts will determine the health of our families and communities. Our heart heath is vital.

Dr. Anisa Shomo is the Director of Family Medicine Scholars at the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio and is a health columnist for the NNPA. She can be reached at drshomoknows@gmail.com

Maryland Fellowship Of Christian Athletes Celebrates Grand Opening Of New Park Heights Saints Community Center And Resiliency Hub

In 2016, Garrick Williams, Sr. dreamed of a place where hundreds of athletes and coaches could gather, delve into the Bible and worship and fellowship together. On March 20, 2019, the dream became a reality as a $250,000 transformation of a West Baltimore home into the Park Heights Saints Community Center was completed and celebrated at a Grand Opening.

Williams of the Maryland Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and others in the organization will now be able to reap the benefits of the transformation as the nonprofit works with more than 300 athletes and 45 coaches in Park Heights.

It is believed that the 2,000-square-foot home will have a great impact throughout the community.

“Rebuilding this house and turning it into the Park Heights Saints Community Center for the football and cheerleading teams is a dream God gave to Garrick Williams,” said , the Maryland FCA State Director. “So, when the community comes into this house, they will have their lives impacted forever by what God will do when they gather.”

After $250,000 in reconstruction and upgrades, the Park Heights Saints community can now gather in the center to do schoolwork in the computer lab, host team meetings and huddles, eat together or watch a game on TV.

Coaches and athletes will also be able to utilize the state-of-the-art workout room, thanks to Brick Bodies and Planet Fitness Growth Partners.

Smithson says the building will provide a safe environment that fosters hope and empowers the coaches and athletes to work, study and fellowship.

Parents and other adults in the community will also have access to a classroom, where they will be encouraged to obtain their GEDs and find work opportunities and the kitchen’s stocked pantry will offer more than snacks after practices; it will aid the community and be a home away from home, a central place to gather and grow together, according to Smithson.

“These athletes [have] never had a place to gather indoors and our goal is to create a place for the community to gather,” Smithson said. “It will have computer labs and there are already some people excited to come and teach classes.”

Smithson added that the center will also feature a workout facility in the basement and the organization will continue to work toward building and promoting health in the community.

“The initial challenge in launching this initiative was the questions of whether it was worth investing here and I think from an outsiders perspective, you can come and see a neighborhood that looks to be falling apart so naturally you get those questions,” Smithson said. “But, people have a passion for this community and they’re sticking around and rebuilding and providing opportunities for others.”

Smithson says that none of this would have been possible without dedicated sponsors and partners, including Wayne McPartland, Grace Community Church, Kelly & Associates, Under Armour, Brick Bodies & Planet Fitness and many others.

The nonprofit Power52 also played a large role in the process and the organization received a grant from the Institute for Sustainable Communities to convert the Park Heights Saints Community Center into a Resiliency Hub serving the local Park Heights community.

“Power52 is excited for our organization and graduates to be a part of bringing resiliency to those most vulnerable in the face of disasters,” said Cherie Brooks, Executive Director of Power52 Foundation. “We look forward to expanding our model and footprint to further benefit low-mid income (LMI) communities throughout the country.”

Smithson says FCA continues to touch millions of lives— one heart at a time. Since 1954, FCA has challenged coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use athletics to impact the world.

“This [community center] has been a really fun process to see come together,” Smithson said. “We started with the dream of Garrick Williams and what’s interesting is that the couch in that dream is the same couch we now have. To watch all of this come together is kind of cool.”

Manna House Prepares For Renovations And Expansion

The Manna House, a community resource for needy and homeless individuals in Baltimore City, plans to expand its facilities in 2019 in order to provide more services to their clients.

Located on East 25th Street, this organization has been serving free hot breakfasts to underprivileged community members in Baltimore City for 53 years.

“It’s important to us that people get fed,” said case manager Patty Feick, who has been working at the Manna House for nearly five years. “We try to set people up so they can at least have their basic needs met, so they can get to the important stuff like finding housing and a job.”

In addition to serving breakfast, the Manna House provides a diverse array of services to the struggling and homeless individuals of Baltimore City. Clients can access shower facilities, apply twice a month for clothing, have mail delivered to the Manna House’s address, receive food bank vouchers, and access weekly on-site healthcare services.

“I’ve been coming here for about five years,” said Fred Owens, a Manna House client. “This place is awesome— they bend over backwards to help you.” Another client, Leonard Wayne Wright III told The Baltimore Times, that facilities like the Manna House can help provide the dignity its clients need to better their lives.

“We all need a support team,” he said. “I come here because of the showers. As long as I got my shower, I say thank you God because I want to be clean.”

Jennifer Dubreuil has been the program manager of the Manna House for the past decade. She expressed hope that the facility’s upcoming expansion project will allow it to help more clients in a wider variety of ways.

“We want NA and AA groups to be able to hold meetings here, we want a computer lab, job training programs,” Dubreuil told The Baltimore Times. “We’re planning to double our dining area, which means clients won’t be waiting outside as long or at all.”

Construction is expected to start in April, expanding the space into the buildings next door. The 1.2 million dollar project is funded by a combination of grants and donations. During the renovation, Feick and Dubreuil emphasize that the Manna House will remain open.

“We’ll find a way to provide some kind of a meal. We do plan to feed people one way or another,” said Feick.

“We’re the only agency in Baltimore that’s open seven days a week, because our clients rely on it,” added Dubreuil. “We will probably have to scale back services [during construction], but our clients are our top priority.”

The Manna House serves clients from a variety of backgrounds, and recent years have seen an increase in housed individuals seeking the organization’s services.

“The cost of living is rising at a very rapid pace, but the wage earned is not. Low-income clients end up spending all of their money on rent and not having enough left for food,” said Dubreuil. “We are not only serving homeless people, but also a greater amount of low-income people because of the nature of the economy.”

The Manna House relies largely on volunteer work and private donations. The organization is especially eager to receive fresh fruits and vegetables, coffee, sugar, creamer, and donated clothing. Organizations can also make a monetary donation to sponsor a breakfast, or send members to help serve food and organize the dining room.

“The volunteers are great. They don’t look down on nobody,” said Owens, who also expressed overall appreciation for the organization’s staff and services. “I can’t say nothing bad about it.”

Wright added that he considers the Manna House an invaluable community resource.

“These things help people out,” he said. “You’re saving people’s lives when you open up these organizations.”

Victorine Quille Adams: First Black Woman Elected To Baltimore City Council

Baltimore native Victorine Quille Adams became the first black woman elected to the city council and proved herself as a civic leader and pioneer in African American politics.

Born in 1912, Adams lived through stringent segregation, racial violence and economic turbulence.

She attended Morgan State and Coppin State universities and, according to a new book, she took to the classroom and enriched the lives of her students.

In 1946, she founded the Colored Women’s Democratic Campaign Committee to educate African American women about the vote and the power of the ballot box.

In concert with fellow educators Mary McLeod Bethune, Kate Sheppard and Dr. Delores Hunt, Adams persisted in educating and empowering voters throughout her life.

Author Ida E. Jones, who serves as archivist at Morgan State University, revealed the story of Adams and her crusade for equity for all people in Baltimore in Jones’ new book, “Baltimore Civil Rights Leader Victorine Q. Adams: The Power of the Ballot.”

“She was a force so imposing that she couldn’t be overshadowed by any man— not even her husband, the Baltimore gambling kingpin, William ‘Little Willie’ Adams,’” Jones writes in the book.

“When some suggested that she won the 1967 election solely because her wealthy husband financed her campaign, she wrote the following rebuttal: ‘I should be regarded not only as the wife of Willie Adams but as a woman who has used her influence and affluence to better the community in which she lives,’” Jones said.

In capturing Adams’ story, Jones says she sought to document all the various lines that Adams crossed in her 93-year life including racial, gender and voter registration.

Following Adams’ death in 2006, then Baltimore City Council President Sheila Dixon was among the many who paid tribute.

“She was a very fiery woman at a time when, in city government, women were in the minority,” Dixon said. “That kind of a voice for those who didn’t have a voice was so key to city government.

In 1946, Adams founded the Colored Women’s Democratic Campaign Committee reportedly to mobilize support for candidates who were sympathetic to black causes. From her living room, Adams pushed for change and African American voter registration.

She was credited with helping to state a key victory in 1954 when Judge Harry A. Cole, a young black Republican lawyer, won a state Senate seat over a white Democrat.

In 1962, Adams ran unsuccessfully for state Senate but four years later she won election to the House of Delegates. One year later, Adams resigned from the House of Delegates and won election to Baltimore City Council— a seat she held for four terms.

Among her vast accomplishments, Adams led fundraising efforts for the former Provident Hospital, the city’s only minority-owned hospital. She served as a member of the National Council of Negro Women; was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1964; and served as a local election campaign director for President Lyndon B. Johnson.

“The lady always looked out for people in need.

Always,” then State Sen. George W. Della Jr., told reporters after Adams’ death in 2006. “That is what she was in public office to do, to make things better for those in need and she did a great job.”

Donna Brazile Trying “A New Lane” By Joining Fox News

Donna Brazile says there is no way she is selling out and her core values will always remain intact despite her controversial decision to sign with Fox News.

“I’m not changing my values. Nobody would ever make me change my values,” Brazile told NNPA Newswire in an exclusive interview. “The only thing that will change about me is my age.”

The former Democratic National Committee chairwoman, signed on as a contributor with the Fox News Channel on Monday, March 18, 2019. Previously, Brazile had been a contributor for CNN and ABC News.

In an op-ed article on FoxNews.com, Brazile wrote that she hoped to improve the tenor of political debate. “Will I agree with my fellow commentators at Fox News? Probably not but I will listen,” Brazile wrote.

Brazile says she would question assertions about low-income people and issues such as climate change, but would do so with “civility and respect.” Brazile added: “I will also freely admit the weaknesses in liberal arguments and the strength in conservative positions.”

Her signing with Fox comes as the network has faced growing criticism and mounting allegations of racism as hosts like Jeanine Pirro and Tucker Carlson have spewed hateful messages on air.

Fox has openly been aligned with President Donald Trump and many observers have criticized the network and the president for their alleged pro-white supremacy views.

Brazile, a longtime friend of the Black Press, was honored last year during Black Press Week by the NNPA when she delivered a stirring address about the “State of the Black Press in 2018” at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The NNPA is a trade group that represents more than 200 black-owned media companies operating in the United States. NNPA member publications reach more than 20 million readers in print and online every week.

“I’ve known Donna Brazile for about 40 years and, in 2016, the Democrats couldn’t have selected a better person to lead them,” said Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the NNPA.

Brazile says that the Black Press is the “pulse of the community.”

“You are carving out stories that the mainstream [media] won’t,” she said. “You’ve been at the forefront of change, even before change was in vogue. That’s why I’ve always supported the Black Press.”

Brazile says she expected criticism when she decided to sign this week with Fox News.

“If I made a decision tomorrow to work for a presidential candidate, people would ask why,” Brazile said. “It reminds me of 2008 when people asked how come I’m not working for Barack Obama, that he’s a black man. Or, how come I’m not working for Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman.

“I said, I’m getting old and gray, so if I choose, can I work for John McCain?”

Brazile says the importance of the 2020 presidential election was a primary reason she decided to join Fox News.

She says it’s of great concern that the national debate has become hostile and disrespectful.

“Fox has one of the largest audiences during the evening hours and they are not just Republican voters and they’re not just Trump voters,” Brazile said.

“In order to win, we have to expand the electorate and we can’t just talk to people who agree with us. We have to talk to people who may not agree with us because they don’t hear us,” she said. “I hope that I’m able to come across as someone reasonable and someone people can respect and I will do my very best.”

Finally, she says unlike those who wish to “stay in their lanes all of their lives,” she needed a change. “I want to try this lane [Fox News]. If I don’t like it, I’ll get out of this lane and hopefully I’ll get a job when I get out of this lane.”

Stacy M. Brown is an NNPA Newswire Correspondent. Follow him on Twitter
@StacyBrownMedia

Priceless Gown Project Celebrates 15th Anniversary

The Priceless Gown Project Prom Dress Giveaway returns to Baltimore for its 15th year to continue granting prom dreams for area high school junior and senior girls on Sunday, March 31, 2019 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Lord Baltimore Hotel located at 20 W Baltimore Street in Baltimore City. The free event takes place during Women’s History Month and focuses on uplifting and supporting young women to recognize the power, intellect and beauty within themselves to overcome obstacles, resolve issues, maintain a healthy lifestyle and change the world.

The Priceless Gown Project Prom Dress Giveaway incorporates several fun activities and the participation of many volunteers including area Pageant Queens, guest speakers, entertainers and resource vendors. Inspirational and empowering information will be presented this year by Amber Miller, WBFF Fox 45 (Host); Mama Key, “The Rap Game Season 2” produced by Jermaine Dupri (Motivational Speaker); Sage Sarai, Brown Girls Do Ballet Ambassador 2018 (Performer); Pageant Queens Brittany Dorsey (Miss Morgan State University 2018-2019), Michaela Smith (Teen Miss Baltimore 2019), Laura Singer (2019 Royal International Miss International Role Model), and more. The hottest mainstream music will be played by the talented DJ Tiara LaNiece of DTLR Radio.

Courtesy Photo

A team of experienced Makeup Artists, Glam Gurus, will provide outreach services of beauty, skincare, and self-esteem along with complimentary makeup demos of eyes and lips for the girls to enjoy after they choose their prom attire.

The Priceless Gown Project is an organization that empowers and enlightens young women to strive for excellence via events, workshops and community service. One of their long-standing events is providing free prom dresses for hundreds of girls in the Maryland and District of Columbia area.

Admission is free on a first come, first serve basis, however, early arrival is suggested due to the limited quantity and sizes of inventory. The Priceless Gown Project offers a unique shopping experience where students have time to review a large inventory of new and gently used donated gowns, try them on in the dressing room area and depart with the gown of their choice for absolutely no cost.

Local Maryland and District of Columbia high school juniors and seniors with proof of current school enrollment are eligible to attend the Priceless Gown Project Prom Dress Giveaway. Students must present a valid school ID card, a letter from their principal or guidance counselor, or current report card to prove current enrollment in high school. The Priceless Gown Project currently relies on the honesty of the students to verify financial need.

Baltimore High School Student

Baltimore High School Student

“Our goal is to not only provide each young lady with the prom gown of their dreams, but to also give them an awesome experience that will inspire, empower and change their lives for the better,” said Catonya Lester, president of the organization.

The Priceless Gown Project Prom Dress Giveaway is sponsored and supported by several philanthropic organizations and businesses in Maryland and abroad to include: Empowering Minds of Maryland’s Youth, McCormick, Organization of Hope, Promgirl.com, 92Q Radio One, Crystal’s Bridal And Tuxedo, Luster’s Hair Care, Flirt Cosmetics, LDJ Expressions, Musa’s Organics, Shuttle Me Limo and more.

Students are strongly encouraged to pre-register at www.pricelessgownproject.com/ events. We are currently accepting donations of prom gowns, shoes, jewelry and accessories. View more details and the donations protocol at www.pricelessgownproject.com/donations.

Celebrate Cherry Blossoms With Sakura Sunday At National Harbor On April 14th

The Washington, D.C. region has long treasured cherry trees since they made their initial debut at the Washington Tidal Basin more than 100 years ago as a gift from Japan. Since that time, millions have visited Washington to see these spectacular trees in all their glory. Last year, in honor of its 10-year anniversary, National Harbor added more than 100 Okame cherry trees to its existing collection, bringing the number of trees it has to more than 200. Many of these are along the waterfront in the Waterfront District at National Harbor.

“The trees have been planted in mass around the waterfront so that residents, locals and visitors arriving by car, bus or boat will be dazzled by the site when they reach National Harbor,” said Deborah Topcik, director of marketing at National Harbor. “Cherry Blossoms are such a signature part of Washington, D.C. and we love extending that to National Harbor. They are a great sign of spring.”

This year, National Harbor is partnering with the Japan-American Society of Washington, D.C. for the annual Sakura Sunday event. This official participating event of the 2019 National Cherry Blossom Festival will occur on Sunday, April 14, 2019, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. At the free festival, guests can enjoy authentic Japanese Cherry Blossom bloom traditions including traditional Japanese picnicking with food available for sale, a sake, rosé and beer garden, a Japanese Market and Japanese-inspired music and entertainment. Additionally, The Capital Wheel will be pink throughout the festival.

National Harbor celebrates cherry blossoms beginning Saturday, March 30, 2019, from 7 to 11 p.m. with a kick-off event at MGM National Harbor. Cherry Blast has become an annual tradition of the National Cherry Blossom Festival as a fun party celebrating history and culture. Throughout April, the celebration continues at National Harbor with various offers throughout the destination including special cherry blossom spa treatments at Gaylord National’s Relâche Spa, themed cocktails and menu items at various restaurants and bars and overnight hotel packages. Visitors can unwind at National Harbor, stroll and shop along the tree-lined promenades; relax in one of two of the largest spas in the D.C. region (Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center’s Rêlache Spa or the spa at MGM National Harbor), or dine at one of the more than 40 restaurants. Visitors to National Harbor have easy access to the Washington D.C. Tidal Basin cherry trees via water taxis from National Harbor.

The MGM National Harbor will feature a jaw-dropping cherry blossom display in its Conservatory until the end of April. Situated just outside of the theater and hotel lobby, the Conservatory celebrates seasons through a highly talented horticultural team that creates magnificent displays.

“Not only is National Harbor the perfect place for visitors to stay when coming to D.C. to see the Tidal Basin cherry trees,” Topcik added, “But it’s a great destination for viewing our cherry blossom display and enjoying our many waterfront restaurants, hotels and shops.”

For more information about the National Harbor, visit: www.NationalHarbor.com.

Morgan State University’s Professor Talks About Inner City Youth And Survivalnomics

African American youth have historically been disproportionately affected by an array of environmental stressors (exposure to violence, living and playing in high-risk scapes, and adverse childhood experiences) that have put them at higher risk for poor adjustment outcomes (Adams III et al., 2003). Despite their hardships, not all of these youth fall victim to negative and stressful environmental and community level influences (Miller & MacIntosh, 1999). In spite of the many social, environmental, and political factors that shape health and influence outcomes.

The importance of resilience cannot be overlooked. We must remain vigilant in exploring the processes through which resilience is achieved giving full consideration to the world in which they live. There is a T’Challa and Killmonger in every youth.

Extensive research has conclusively demonstrated that children’s social class is one of the most significant predictors—if not the single most significant predictor—of their educational success.

Moreover, it is increasingly apparent that performance gaps by social class take root in the earliest years of children’s lives and fail to narrow in the years that follow (Elias, 2013). That is, children who start behind stay behind—they are rarely able to make up the lost ground. This trajectory supports as well as stamps the school to prison pipeline. The school-to-prison pipeline is a process through which students are pushed out of schools and into prisons (Elias, 2013). In other words, it is a process of criminalizing youth that is carried out by disciplinary policies and practices within schools that put students into contact with law enforcement.

Instead of pushing students out of school, we need to “rethink schools” and make them responsive to the contemporary needs of our children and young adults. There needs to be teacher trainings, appropriate resources, perceived-risk assessment, and the development of culturally appropriate and compatible trauma-informed curriculum. Furthermore, we must give full consideration to the communities that our kids come from. Schools need to be a safe place where children feel they belong and want to attend. No Child left behind and No Child found on a MurderInk search. According to Dr. Berttina Love (2019), our educational system is maintained by the profits from the suffering of children of color. She suggest that, instead of trying to repair a flawed system, educational reformers offer survival tactics in the forms of test-taking skills, acronyms, grit labs and character education, which Love eloquently calls the educational survival complex. The educational survival complex is a system in which children are left learning how to survive (Love, 2019).

More than just the facts. Many young parents drop out of college to care for their children having difficulties matriculating through school. Black children constitute 18 percent of students, but they account for 46 percent of those suspended more than once and are more likely stereotyped as youth with behavioral problems (Elias, 2013). Schools with a high percentage of low-income students and/or students of color for the most part have fewer resources, spend less on staffing, lack adequate instructional materials, and have worse physical building conditions than their counterpart schools serving higher income or more racially and ethnically diverse (or more uniformly white) student bodies. These conditions may eventually translate into lower educational attainment for the residents of a neighborhood as a whole.

According to Massey and Tannen, 26% of all African Americans in the United States live in hypersegregated metropolitan areas. Among African Americans living in metropolitan areas, 53.1% of African Americans live in metropolitan areas characterized as highly segregated or hypersegregated. Racially segregated Black neighborhoods create high- risk landscapes that increase the threat to Black lives, whether in the form of disproportionate exposure to lead poison and toxic waste, educational inequality, redlining, subpriming, or transit inequity. Racial segregation escalates danger in all forms for residents who live in disinvested, redlined Black neighborhoods, creating what we call “high- riskscapes” where the threat of death and harm are perceived as immanent rather than far off, especially for black youth and emerging adults.

High-riskscapes alter risk portfolios and perceptions of residents’ risk and place concerns for health, education, employment, STIs, alcohol, and substance use low on the list of concern because the threat of violence and the exposure of cumulative community violence mandates of survival in environments of concentrated poverty and unresolved traumas (historical trauma and the epigenetic effect) rank as primary concerns.

For almost two-decades, exposure to community violence has been designated a “public health epidemic” for adolescents and young adults residing in economically-disadvantaged, urban neighborhoods (U.S. Surgeon General 2001). Not only is community violence an enduring public health challenge in many high-poverty, urban communities (Tung et al., 2018), exposure to community violence/trauma in early life may profoundly affect a youth’s development in multiple domains from early childhood into adolescence and beyond (Griffin, Bradshaw, & Furr-Holden, 2009). Community violence affects all racial and ethnic groups, but African Americans living in low-income urban neighborhoods experience higher rates of community violence and crime than other racial and ethnic groups (Crouch et al., 2000). Alarmingly, several studies document that between 45% and 96% of urban, African American youth have witnessed violence in their communities, ranging from assault to murder (Gaylord-Harden, Cunningham, & Zelencik, 2011), and 16% to 37% of youth have reported being victims of aforementioned violence (Spano & Bolland, 2013). Growing up under the conditions of adversity by being victims of violence or witnessing violence has long-term effects. (Center on the Developing Child, 2019).

Significant early adversity can lead to lifelong problems. Toxic stress experienced early in life and common precipitants of toxic stress—such as poverty, abuse or neglect, parental substance abuse or mental illness, mass incarceration, education inequalities and exposure to violence—can have a cumulative toll on an individual’s physical and mental health (Center on the Developing Child, 2019). Among our youth, the “struggle for existence” requires extraordinary coping skills. To face the immense challenges of high-risk scapes, exposure to community violence, lead poisoning, school safety, and a cadre of other adversities, they must adjust to the hardships associated with learning how to survive.

SurvivornomicsTM is a term coined that emerged from a theory developed by public health scholars and activist at Morgan State University’s School of Community Health and Policy identified as the Perceived Risk Hierarchy Theory TM (PRHT) (article found in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved May 2017, 28 (2).

SurvivornomicsTM, is not traditionally defined in the ethos of traditional sciences. Rather, survivornomicsTM is the integration of two sciences: survivability and economics. The best way to describe survivornomicsTM is the ability to quantify and measure resiliency and personal mastery over intense physical and emotional states. As we blend these emerging concepts, a cost-benefit analysis calculates the ratio of benefit over cost. Simply put, a cost benefit analysis ismade to identify how well or how poorly an individual adjust or thrive in the face of adversity and/or intense emotional states.

SurvivornomicsTM proffers that youth and emerging adults residing in disadvantaged, hyper-segregated and marginalized communities live, adjust, and thrive in the face of adversities while finding resilience. Because the challenges they face are multi-factorial and involve so many different systems, we must think critically and avoid becoming rigid in our deliberations. The problems confronting our youth are voluminous: morbidity, education inequality, residing in high-risk scapes, cumulative exposure to community violence, as well as un-addressed adverse childhood experiences (ACES). We can no longer afford the luxury of ignoring the deleterious dilemmas facing of our African American youth. This work immediately calls for a deeper thinking and understanding of the all-encompassing features of their everyday lives. We must charge forward recognizing the lack of effectiveness in our current systems. Let’s transform dialogue to action and create a structuring framework for this segment of the population that refuses the disposability of African American youth.

Tupac Shakur also known by his stage names 2Pac and Makaveli, was an American rapper, writer, and actor. He left us with these words: “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside while still alive. Never surrender.”

If you are interested in making a difference in the life of youth. Please be a part of the Morgan State University West Baltimore Get Smart Drug Free Community Coalition. Our goal is to delay, reduce and eliminate alcohol and substance use among youth ages 12 – 17 in West Baltimore. For more information, please contact Dr. Lorece Edwards at 443-885-3566 or Lorece.Edwards@morgan.edu.

*A special thanks to Dean, Dr. Kim Sydnor, Dr. Ian Lindong and Dr. Randolph Rowel.