Kerry Washington Stars in “Purple Purse” PSA to Help Victims of Domestic and Financial Abuse (VIDEO)

Women In Film 2014 Crystal + Lucy Awards Presented By MaxMara, BMW, Perrier-Jouet And South Coast Plaza - Show

Olivia Pope may strike fear in the hearts of corrupt politicians in D.C., but it’s Kerry Washington who is the gladiator in real life. This week, she’s bringing attention to the important issue of financial abuse.

What’s financial abuse, you ask? As Love is Respect explains, it is a form of dating abuse and domestic violence that can often be very subtle. This, however, is what you really need to know: “At no point does someone you are dating have the right to use money or [dictate] how you spend it to control you.”

In her PSA for the initiative, Washington notes how “one in four women will be a victim of domestic violence.” She goes on to explain how finances are often “a weapon of choice.” This can include taking away access to cash or destroying someone’s credit.

As an Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Ambassador, Washington designed a bag for the “Purple Purse” initiative. Why purple? It’s the color often associated with domestic violence awareness. And why design a purse? Washington said the purse is symbolic because that’s where you keep everything that is important to you.

According to the Purple Purse website, Washington says she is “extremely proud to wear it (her purse) and to know that it will increase awareness and create conversations around this important issue.”

So how can you help Kerry and her cause? When you donate at least $10 to any organization in the Purple Purse Challenge, you’ll have a chance at winning one of the purses Washington designed.

article by Claire Biggs via

Brian Benjamin: Building and Doing Business in Black Communities for the Benefit of Black People

Brian Benjamin- GenesisOne can help a community one is familiar with in order to make things beneficial for that community. The beauty of giving back is knowing who you are giving back to, the purpose you’re giving back and the satisfaction of realizing that the community grows based on the contribution you are making. Brian Benjamin knows this firsthand and it’s the crux of his real estate development firm, Genesis Companies. was able to talk to Benjamin regarding the basis of the reason Genesis Companies has been in existence for over 10 years and growing stronger as more projects land on his plate.

BlackEnterprise:com: You are a partner in Genesis Companies could you explain to us what that is and your role in the company?

Brian Benjamin: Genesis Companies is a black-owned real estate development and construction company focused on enhancing urban communities through the development of high quality affordable and mixed-income residences in New York and New Jersey. My job is to find new development opportunities and help steer them through the predevelopment process.  I also work to ensure that we have community support for our projects and that they benefit communities and improve neighborhoods.

How did you get your start in your current business?

Karim Hutson founded the company in 2004, and he was actually the first person I met on a Harvard Business School recruitment weekend when we were prospective students. He became a very good friend and so I was around Genesis since inception until I joined officially in 2010.

What gets you up in the morning to run your business?

Knowing that I am playing a role in creating quality affordable housing for residents is a great feeling. In many urban centers, like my community of Harlem, there is a lack of low-income and middle-income living opportunities, so doing something about it is challenging and rewarding.

How important, if it is important, is it to have a Black company doing business in Black communities for the benefit of Black people?

It is quite important.  We primarily partner with nonprofits and churches, where trust is essential. They are giving us the power to build or renovate housing for their constituents so when they see us and communicate with us and understand that we are just like them, it puts them at ease.  Furthermore, having grown up in primarily African-American communities, we understand first-hand some of the issues that our communities face due to poor quality housing, such as asthma or lack of security, and so we are very focused creating healthy and safe living environments. We know the experience of our residents, and I believe that makes us better developers.

I know this is your 10-year anniversary of Genesis, what was/is the most important thing your company has done that you are most proud of or is a high point in your 10 years?

First and foremost is surviving for 10 years through difficult economic times. It is hard work starting and growing a business in the development space. As a result, we are able to employ people and feed families, which will only grow over time.  Additionally, we provided community space, at below-market rent, on the ground floor of one of our residential buildings in Harlem for a Dream Center to help underserved children and families.  I recently did a site visit of the center, which is operated by First Corinthian Baptist Church, to view its progress and I was blown away by what the church is doing with the space.  The amount of young people, who are impacted on a daily basis, as a result of the work we do is very gratifying. Continue reading

HEALTH: The Five Amazing Powers of Avocados

Nutrition of Avocado

Avocados are one of the most rich, delicious, and satisfying foods on the planet. But as a nutritionist, I’m also happy to report that an avocado is a powerhouse superfood. These luscious gems—which are technically fruits, although I categorize them as “good” fat—are packed with anti-aging, disease fighting antioxidants, and nearly 20 different vitamins and minerals.

One study out this year found that regular avocado eaters have higher intakes of fiber, vitamins E and K, magnesium and potassium—pretty darn impressive! I eat avocado in at least one meal each day, and I love how versatile they are for cooking (more on that below), but there’s also more health-related news to share.

Check out these five amazing avocado benefits.

They boost satiety

Eating good fats helps to slow stomach emptying, which keeps you fuller longer and delays the return of hunger. Avocados, which provide about 22 grams of fat each (mostly as heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs), certainly fit the bill. In one recent study, volunteers rated feelings of satisfaction and appetite after dining on meals with or without avocado. The addition of half of an avocado to meals resulted in a significant boost in self-reported satiety and a reduced desire to eat for up to five hours. This is one of the reasons I often reach for guacamole as my salad dressing.

They’re waist whittlers

According to a recent survey, Americans are still fat-phobic, probably due to the notion that eating fat makes you fat. But the truth is eating the right types of fat is actually a savvy weight-loss strategy. In addition to upping satiety, plant-based fats like avocado provide antioxidants and fight inflammation, which have both been linked to weight management. That may be why recent research revealed that regular avocado eaters weigh less and have smaller waists, even without eating fewer calories.

They protect your heart

The MUFAs in avocados have been shown to slash “bad” LDL cholesterol, and up “good” HDL levels—a double whammy effect that helps to lower the risk of heart disease, the #1 killer of both men and women. A recent UCLA study also uncovered some remarkable heart protective effects of avocado consumption: Compared to eating a burger without avocado, the addition of half of a Hass curbed the production of compounds that contribute to inflammation, improved blood flow, and didn’t increase triglycerides (blood fats) beyond the amounts raised by the burger alone. Avocados are also a source of potassium, a nutrient that helps reduce blood pressure by acting as a natural diuretic to sweep excess sodium and fluid out of the body, which relieves pressure on the heart and arteries (bonus: that also means avocado is a natural de-bloater!).

They’re nutrient boosters

Enjoying avocado at mealtime can help your body absorb more antioxidants from other healthy foods. In one Ohio State study, when men and women ate salads and salsa topped with 2.5 tablespoons of avocado, they absorbed over 8 times more alpha-carotene and 13 times more beta-carotene—phytonutrients known to fight cancer and heart disease. Another recent study found that pairing avocado with tomato sauce and carrots boosts absorption of the veggies’ vitamin A, a key nutrient needed for healthy skin, vision, and immunity.

They’re not just for savory dishes

I adore guacamole, but one of my favorite things about avocado is that there are so many other ways to enjoy it, including in sweet dishes. I often whip avocado into fruit smoothies, whip it into chocolaty pudding, and substitute it for butter when baking. Just trade each tablespoon of butter in recipes like brownies and cupcakes for half a tablespoon of avocado. This swap slashes calories, upgrades the nutritional quality of your goodies, and still provides the creamy texture that will leave you feeling satisfied. Try it, and send us a picture of your healthy creation!

article by Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD via

Tracey Lewis 1st Black Woman Promoted to FDNY Lieutenant in 12 Years

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The New York City Fire Department promoted a black woman to the rank of lieutenant for the first time in 12 years.  Tracey Lewis was promoted Wednesday. She’s the second-ever black female firefighter to be promoted to lieutenant in the department’s history.

Lewis has been a firefighter for 17 years, starting off as a cadet. She was an emergency medical technician and later worked on Engine 222 in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn.


There are only nine black women firefighters at the FDNY. There are about 40 women total at the department of nearly 10,400 people. The department said it has promoted three women to lieutenant and one to captain this year.

Ella McNair was the first black woman promoted to rank of lieutenant in 2002.

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New Jersey 10 Year-Old Cory Nieves Builds Delicious Cookie Empire From The Age Of 5


Mr. Cory’s Cookies CEO Cory Nieves (Photo: Facebook)

Cory Nieves wants to become a household name because of his decadent cookies. CBS News reports that every Saturday, Nieves can be found along with his wagon cart of treats, selling homemade cookies to clients at various city locations. In an interview, Nieves told a CBS reporter the reason why his cookies are so good is because they are “made with love”… and without preservatives. Nieves founded his company, Mr. Cory’s Cookies at the age of five. Currently, he is the founder, CEO and head of distribution for his company. He created Mr. Cory’s when he and his mother moved from the Bronx to Englewood, New Jersey; his mother recalls the conversation that birthed his business:

“One day, we were on the bus and he just came out and was like, ‘Ma, you know, I wanna get a car or whatever. Cause it’s too cold.’ I said, ‘Cory, how am I gettin’ a car, off of my looks?’ I told him that and then, he said, ‘Well, we can sell hot cocoa. And then, he wanted to add something to that, like, something, a dessert base. And he wanted to try the cookies.”

Although Nieves did not know much about baking, he set forth to research the craft before making into an enterprise. He shared: “I didn’t really know. I just looked it up with some magazines, websites. Looked it up. Little search. ‘What is this? How you make that?’ And I didn’t like the recipes, so I just started changin’ it around.” From a humble beginning in his home kitchen, Nieves has now moved into a commercial space to bake his desserts. He sells a thousand cookies a weekend at about $1 a piece.

Besides becoming a culinary mogul, Nieves would like to own a fashion line. With over 30,000 followers on Instagram and press appearances, his most recent on The Ellen Degeneres Show we are sure Nieves will be a name we won’t forget.

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Ravens Player Retires to Give Kidney to Younger Brother, a Retired Steelers Player

The Kemoeatu family post-transplant surgery. (Photo: Amani Martin)

The Kemoeatu family post-transplant surgery. (Photo: Amani Martin)

BALTIMORE — Ma’ake Kemoeatu missed his final collegiate football game because the NCAA suspended him for improperly providing textbooks to his younger brother.

He was a four-year starter at Utah on scholarship and his little brother Tevita was a walk-on. Their parents didn’t have enough money to buy books, so Ma’ake bought them for him and therefore couldn’t play in the Las Vegas Bowl against USC.

But Ma’ake wasn’t trying to cause trouble. The oldest of seven kids, he steps up for his family when they need help.

So when his brother Chris needed a kidney transplant this past August, Ma’ake, a former nose tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, didn’t hesitate when he heard the news. He was going to donate.

When Chris was in eighth grade, he started having kidney pain. Over the years, as he grew into a 6-foot-3, 385-pound lineman for Utah and go on to win two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the pain got worse.

He played through it. Training camp, regular season practice, games and playoffs. With what was later discovered to be a form of kidney disease. He grew up in a tough family. A family that rarely said ‘I love you’ not because they didn’t have feelings, that’s just how it was.

“I’ve seen him struggle and the last three years of his career, fighting through a lot because of his kidney,” Ma’ake said at a press conference at the University of Maryland Medical Center on Wednesday. “When we found out he needed a transplant, we had to stop our careers because his health was most important to us.”

After the 2011 season, the pain was too much and Chris stopped playing football. Ma’ake ended his career with the Ravens after the 2012 season to be with his brother.

(USA TODAY Sports)

(USA TODAY Sports)

In early 2013, Chris met with Dr. Matthew Weir, a nephrologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Chris learned then that he had advanced kidney disease and needed a transplant. Ma’ake immediately said he would be the donor. And he was a 99% match.

“The doctor said we could pass as twins to do this surgery,” Ma’ake said. “My dad wanted to do it, and we kind of got into it because I didn’t want him to do it. I’m the oldest of seven kids so it was my responsibility to take care of my younger brothers and sisters.

“If my brother or any of my siblings needed blood, they have to have my blood. If any of my siblings needed a kidney, it would have to be my kidney.”

Ma’ake had to pause for a second as tears welled in his eyes.

“My dad wanted to do it so bad,” he said. “I had to stop him. But the credit goes to my brother because he had so many flare ups. He had to go into training camp and had to fight through the pain and get ready for the season.”

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President Obama Unveils Push via “It’s On Us” Public Service Campaign for Young People to Do More Against Campus Assaults

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WASHINGTON — President Obama has tried to use the power of his office to combat sexual assaults on college campuses. On Friday, he got some help.

In a speech from the East Room, the president announced “It’s on Us,” a nationwide public service campaign aimed at urging young people to do more to prevent campus sexual assaults. Mr. Obama called for a “fundamental shift in our culture” in the way women are treated and in the response to victims of sexual assault.

“From sports leagues to pop culture to politics, our society does not sufficiently value women,” Mr. Obama said. “We still don’t condemn sexual assault as loudly as we should.”

At the event, the administration debuted a 30-second video, which features celebrities including the actors Kerry Washington and Jon Hamm, the musician Questlove, and NBA star Kevin Love.

Officials said the celebrities involved would know how to get through to the millennial generation.

Mr. Love, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Olivia Munn, an actress in the HBO series “The Newsroom,” attended the announcement.  Mr. Obama also put a heavy emphasis on engaging men in the conversation.

“It is not just on parents of young women to caution them, it is on the parents of young men to teach them respect for women,” Mr. Obama said. “It is on grown men to set an example and be clear about what it means to be a man.”

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