Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In Case You Missed It...

After weeks of trying, I finally got around to seeing Chris Rock's latest film, Good Hair. The 90 minute documentary attempts to uncover the real reason Black women will do "anything" for the pursuit of "Good Hair". Of course, this is a Chris Rock production so it is as much about getting a laugh as it is about exploring the roots of the truly complex relationship between a black woman and her hair.

I invited two of my favorite bloggers/writers Patrice Grell Yursik of Afrobella.com and Deanna Sutton of Clutch Magazine to discuss their reaction to the movie and what Black women across the country are saying about Good Hair.

Click here to listen.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Let's Talk About It....

I can't lie, I was a little taken back by the news that Hampton University had crowned it's first non-African American queen. After reading the full story and talking to a few of my fellow HBCU alumni, I realized that this story is much deeper than we realize. Join me along with my guests, former Hampton University SGA president Darrian Mack and former student and VP of EMQTV.com, Erin Young on Thursday morning at 8:00am ET for a in depth discussion on what Nickole Churchill's crown means not only for Black College queens but for the future of all HBCU's in America.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Souls of Black Girls

Now that my computer has fully recovered from it's run in with the cyber H1N1 virus, I'm back to my regular scheduled surfing. First stop Facebook, where one of my favorite bloggers, Nichelle of 55 Secret Street and Anovolista.com posted a story out of the UK about a Black woman/mother who traveled thousands of miles to Panama to undergo a risky surgery to change the color of her eyes from brown to blue. I guess I don't have to tell you how that story turned out, but if you're interested check out the link. Then there was the big Tyra Banks season premier. Black women everywhere were sitting in front of the television prepared to celebrate "real hair" only to discover that Tyra's definition of "real" was long, permed, fried and laid to the side. While I do commend her for taking the first step, I like Afrobella, assumed "real" meant "natural". Then there was the Monday's Oprah ( a rerun from 2008) that looked at the how women around the world define beauty. I was shocked to find that hundreds of thousands of Iranian women choose to get nose jobs to "fix" their round noses, not to be outdone by the women of Mauritania who force feed little skinny girls to fatten them up to make them more appealing to men. Although I don't agree with the method, it was refreshing to discover there's a place on earth where the standard of beauty is nothing like our euro-centric ideal. All of this talk about beauty got me to thinking about how African American girls (and women) self esteem and image are being influenced by images in the media. This question was also presented by director Daphne S. Valerius in her documentary The Souls of Black Girls. Join me on Thursday at 8:00am ET as we discuss the movie and our personal experiences as little Black girls growing up in America.

In case you missed it: Click here for a download of the full interview.

Cocoa Mode in the Eagles Nest airs every Thursday at 8:00am on XM 169 and on WOL-AM 1450 in Washington DC.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Is this racist?

There's been a lot of discussion about the images of Black women in the media, specifically in fashion magazines. Recently, Harpers Bazaar threw their hat in the ring by publishing a striking, albeit problematic, spread featuring Naomi Campbell photographed by Jean Paul Goude titled, "Wild Things". The spread is reported to be a throw back to Goude's work with Grace Jones in the 1980 also titled "Wild Things". On her blog, Sandra Rose, labeled the photos racist. She was particularly upset about the photo featuring Naomi playing double dutch with a group of monkeys while a white man looks on. While I can understand why that image bothers her (note to white folks - Black people do not appreciate being associated with monkeys in any way, shape or form, so please just stop it. ) I think the rest of the spread is beautiful. Could it be that some of us are just a little upset over the whole black people in the African jungle thing? I can understand why, for generations we've been conditioned to believe that Africa is is a vast waste land of nothingness and to be associated with it somehow proves that we're sub-par/human. Perhaps when we begin to re-evaluate our relationship with our ancestry (or for some, acknowledge our ancestry) we'll begin to take back our history find pride and power in our identity. In the meantime, I will celebrate the beauty of my blackness, just as Naomi is celebrating the beauty of her chocolate skin against the backdrop of what her ancestors valued. Home. I'd love to know what you think.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Talk about super serving your niche! I think this is a fabulous idea - kudos to the ladies who are making things happen here and abroad. I wonder if this kind of thing would work in the states? Hmmm.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Vintage Ebony & Jet

Am I the only one who didn't know that you can browse vintage Ebony and Jet magazines using the Google books application? The issues date back to 1950 and you can read the entire magazine cover to cover. This is a great way to learn more about African-American (Negro) history from those who were there. In the early days both Ebony and Jet were the preferred sources for political, lifestyle and entertainment news. From what I've heard the reporters were top notch which was reflected in the writing. I plan on spending some time this weekend going through as many issues as I can. You can discover a piece of history on your own by clicking this link. Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is obesity a criminal offense?

A South Carolina court will decide if the mother of a 555lb young man should go to jail for allowing her child to gain so much weight. Jerri Gray has been charged with criminal neglect. She has said that she's done everything she can to help her son loose weight but he keeps finding ways to get food from other sources. Some are wondering if this is a case of neglect or a case of too little information. Anyone who's been in an inner city grocery store knows that the choices of healthy foods are far and few between, while there's no shortage of processed and high fat foods. I know first had how difficult it is to get inner city stores to stock healthy choices - never mind fresh produce. The last time I asked the manager of my local grocery store for a box of veggie burgers she looked at me like I'd asked her for a package of pig ears. No, I take that back, they actually HAD pigs ears, just not veggie burgers. Tune in this Thursday at 8:00am ET to Cocoa Mode in the Eagles Nest to share your thoughts. 1-866-801-8255.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

This Week on Cocoa Mode

Actor Erik Todd Dellums is working to recognize August 29th (MJ's Birthday) as a National Day of Peace, Unity and Artistry. Tune in to my conversation with Erik this morning. In the meantime, join the movement by loging on to the Facebook page dedicated to the movement. Cocoa Mode in the Eagle's Nest. 8:00am ET on XM 169 and WOL-AM 1450

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

United We Serve

Michelle Obama's call to action. How will you serve your community/country? Tune in to Cocoa Mode tomorrow morning at 8:00am for more. Call in with your stories at 1-866-801-8255.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

She Keeps Rising To The Top!!

Introducing yet another Phenomenal Woman!

Ursula Burns is the first African American female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Her journey started in the housing projects of the lower east side of New York and now the sky's the limit. Congrats Ms. Burns. We salute you!!! (Read More)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What you should be doing this weekend.

Lamar and Ronnie Tyler, co-founders of Black and Married with Kids along with Lashanda Henry, founder of Black Moms Club have put together what promises to be an informative and powerful three day web conference dedicated to Black Families. Creating Conversations will explore three of the most important questions in the Black community. Do good Black fathers still exist? Are Black mothers as strong as everyone thinks? What is happening to our babies? I hope that you will take time out this weekend to log on to at least one of the discussions. To find out more about the web conference, download the podcast from Cocoa Mode Online. In the meantime, register for the Creating Conversations seminar NOW. Space is limited. I'll meet you there!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Go Wanda!!!

This brought me to tears, but some people say she went to far. Do you agree?

Click here for Part 2

Thursday, May 7, 2009

On today's Cocoa Mode....

Guess Who's Coming Over:

Bristol Palin....Don't Do It! Are you buying it? Does abstinence education work?

Teacher Appreciation Week
...Teachers have the power to transform lives.

Plus, your calls at 1-866-801-8255.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

So you want to talk about torture?

Millions of American school children are being tortured everyday in classrooms, school yards and at bus stops by bullies, an issue that continues to be ignored by teachers, administrators and community leaders.

According to a report released by the National Youth Violence Research Center, nearly 30% of young people have been involved in bullying either as the victim, perpetrator or both. Although bullying can occur anytime between elementary school and high school it is most common between grades 5-9. As is often the case with many issues related to the socialization of our young people, bullying only becomes a topic worth discussion after something tragic occurs to bring it to the front of our collective consciousness. April 20, 2009 marked the 10th anniversary of the infamous Columbine Massacre, one of the deadliest school shootings in history. Experts and those close to the case contend that the killers were subjected to constant bullying by athletes and “popular kids”, creating a fertile ground for the anger and frustration that drove two high school boys to kill 12 and injure 23 others before committing suicide. Earlier this month , Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover an 11 boy from Springfield Mass hanged himself after repeatedly being teased and tormented in school. Just last week another young man, Jaheem Herrera from DeKalb Georgia hanged himself after being bullied by classmates. Although their reactions to the situation were extreme they are indicative of the pain and frustration that comes with being a victim of bullying, a pain that I know well, having been bullied by classmates throughout middle school . My bully’s preferred method of torture was name calling and public humiliation. My crime, being awkward and unattractive, which happens to be the most common reason for bullying among girls, but I was fortunate to be surrounded by teachers and counselors who cared enough about my emotional well-being to not only equip me with tools to handle the bullies but also to do what was necessary to protect me from harm by facilitating discussions with my aggressors and their parents. Had Carl or Jaheem’s teachers done the same perhaps they would still be here. According to Carl’s mother she had approached the school a number of times about her son being teased, in fact she was on her way to a meeting with school officials when she found her son’s body. Masika Bermudez, Jaheem Herrera’s mother , during a memorial service, urged parents and teachers to work together to combat bullying in schools. While I applaud these parents and the others who speak out against bullying I wonder why they’ve been left to do so on their own. Where are our community leaders on this issue, where are the marches, the rallies, the demands that our schools implement programs that educate children about the dangers of bullying and teach tolerance and acceptance of others no matter their race, gender or sexual orientation? Why are our leaders silent and why are we allowing them to be? Most importantly when will we begin to realize that all of the negativity that we experience in our society takes root during the important formative years? It should be no surprise that 60% of children who are categorized as bullies will have at least one criminal conviction by the age of 24. Victim or victimizer, in the end we all lose. There’s an old Ashanti wisdom that says ‘The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people”. Indeed.

Special thanks to Jewel Woods and the Renaissance Male Project for the work their doing to combat bullying in schools. You can visit Jewel's blog here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

In Case You Missed It...

Thank you to Tonya Lewis Lee for taking time out this morning to discuss the work she's doing with Spelman College, who in support of National Minority Health Month, is sponsoring the "Health Baby Begins With You" campaign. For more information on the event visit the Office of Minority Health website, here.
Also, feel free to continue the discussion on weight discrimination in the comments section below. Look for the podcast coming soon.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

In case you missed it...

Thank you to Sonja Ebron of Black Energy. You can find out more about the work she's doing to help people around the world conserve energy (and money)by logging on to blackENERGY.com.

Also, if you're interested in learning more about last week's guest, Takeyah Young, of Core Connections Lifestyle, please visit her website.

The weekly podcast will be posted Friday after 7:00pm.

Stay Tuned,
Shawna Renee

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I Hear You Steve

Steve Harvey. He's everywhere. On the radio, at the top of the NYT Bestsellers list and earlier this week on Oprah (for the second time in a month!) all thanks to his new book Act Like a Lady - Think Like a Man. Normally, I try to stay away from books like this. 90% of the time they're filled with the same common sense information that we've been told before and just choose to ignore. I can't say that this book is any different in that regard, but there's something about it that really caught and held my attention. For one, I do believe that Steve Harvey wrote this book not only to get paid (he's admitted that most of what he does is for a check - listen to his radio show and you'll hear the dollars flapping with every live read and sponsorship mention) but to also help women. For years he's been dishing out this kind of advice to his listeners and from what I can tell he's always been sincere in his desire to help women (and men) understand how to be their best. Second, the way he presents the material is clear and at times funny. Finally, I believe the true test of a book like this is to share it with the men in your life. Some (the good ones) will appreciate the information because deep down inside they just want some peace and understanding. Others (the players) will react something like this, "Damn that Steve, he's breaking the man code, he's telling the secrets. Just wait until the next Kings of Comedy tour, I'm going walk right up to him and punch him in the face!!" Someone actually said that..no really! To which I responded, " don't be mad because the man just made millions of dollars trying to help women and you just made "nadda" trying to manipulate them. Don't hate the player - you know the rest". This book passes that test.

There's an old Ashanti proverb that says, "the ruin of a nation begins in the homes of it's people". I interpret that to mean without strong families, there's no way we can build strong communities. It's high time that we stop trying to get over on each other and begin loving (or at the very least respecting) each other.

There were a few things that really stood out for me in this book. The first is from the chapter "Our Love Isn't Like Your Love" where Steve breaks down the three things men will do for the woman he loves. Profess, Provide and Protect. On the issue of providing, he writes:

"For sure all too many men shirk this responsibility, whether out of selfishness, stupidity or sheer inability or a combination of all three. But some men simply do not have the education resources, and wherewithal to make an adequate amount of hard cash. And if a man can't provide, then he doesn't feel like a man, so he flees to escape the horrible feelings of inadequacy, or he's going to bury those feelings in drugs and alcohol. Indeed you can probably trace a whole host of the pathologies exhibited by the most trifling men back to their inability to provide"

So in short, for all the ladies who've fallen into the "be the woman of his dreams and he'll always take care of you" trap, let it go. Understand that this is not about you, it's about him. So stop beating yourself because things didn't work. Have a good cry, go do something special for yourself and get on with living your life.

Then there's the chapter,

"Men Respect Standards, Get Some."

Basically, know what you're worth and not just in monetary terms. If you're a woman who carries herself with dignity, you deserve a man with dignity. If you're an honest woman you deserve and honest man. If you demand respect, you'll get nothing less. If a drink and a Big Mac is all that it takes to get you in bed, guess what, that's all you'll get. To be fair, Harvey did make an excellent point about this during his recent appearance on Oprah, which was to be mindful that you don't require certain characteristics of a man that you don't possess.

I also love the chapter "The Five Questions Every Woman Should Ask Before She Gets In To Deep". I think this is especially important for older (read: over 30) women who are looking for a relationship. Time is short, why waste it on someone who has no intention on giving you what you want. Again, just because he doesn 't want to get married doesn't make him a bad guy, it just means he's not the one for you. So after a few months ask:

What are your short term goals?
What are your long term goals?
What are your views on relationships?
What do you think about me?
How do you feel about me?

If you don't believe Steve, trust me, a REAL man will answer those questions (so long as you have enough decorum and finesses to not make him feel like he's being interrogated by the CIA). Here's the key, even if he's willing to answer you've got to listen with an open mind and a "third ear". If he's not speaking your language, move on. Know that "the one" for you is out there, but you make it hard for him to find you when you're spending all your time laid up underneath the guy who just wants to "kick it".

Anyhow, I think it's best I stop here, if I go any further I'm going to have to demand a check from Amistad books, but I will leave you with this:

"Don't rely on someone else for your happiness and self worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can't love and respect yourself - no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are - completely; the good and the bad - and make the changes as YOU see fit-not because you think someone else wants you to be different." Stacey Charter

Ladies (and gentleman) love and respect for ourselves and each other has to become a priority..not an option. We owe it to our families, communities, country and the world.

As Obama ans the scriptures said,
"the time has come to set aside childish things."


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

2 text or not 2 text...that is the ?

Last week, my hometown (Detroit) was all abuzz about the infamous text messages that were released to the media between former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and a number of his aids, family members and *ahem* conquests. Never mind many of the messages were over 5 years old, it was still all over the news and on the minds of those who could not get enough of the scandalous details. Now, I will admit that I was curious, not so much because I give a hoot about who Kwame was sleeping with, but because this story reminds me of how little privacy we have left in our society. There used to be a time that a conversation between you and another person, was just that, an "A&B" conversation (C your way out - hee hee). These days anything you say, text, write or record is fair game. As someone who has shared a few questionable email and text message exchanges in my day (like you haven't), after reading about the K.K. fiasco I started to think, what if one day I decided to run for public office (highly unlikely) would my ex-husband sell all of our torrid text message exchanges to make a few bucks? Would it matter? Or what about that guy I dated in college, certainly he may want get in on the action. (Come to think of it, I think I'm safe there - we were still using pagers when I was in college). Anyhow, these days I pay close attention to what I write when I'm texting, IMing and emailing people. Both my personal and professional conversations are carefully crafted to avoid any post-conversation drama or embarrassment, and for the most part I think I've been successful (except for that one exchange, but that's an entirely different post all together). Good thing I've always preferred a face to face exchange, even in this strangely impersonal data filled world we live in. So, what about you? Has the Kilpatrick fiasco or any other story like it changed the way you communicate using technology? Let's talk. Thursday at 8:00am ET on Cocoa Mode in the Eagles Nest on XM Channel 169. Until then....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

In Cae You Missed It...

Once again, thank you to everyone who called in this morning to discuss today's topic. As we move into the weekend I hope that we spend some time thinking about what we can do to help the millions of women and men who are involved in abusive relationships. A great place to start is to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Please feel free to continue the discussion in the comments section below.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Michelle Obama Covers the New Yorker, Again.

So, the New Yorker has decided put First Lady Michelle Obama on the cover once again. To be fair, she was not the First Lady when they released the controversial cover that depicted her as a militant, rifle toting, afro wearing, fist bumping, America hating future first lady. This time around F.L. Michelle Obama is walking the runway, donning a smile and looking rather fabulous, the way a First Lady should right? I noticed all three illustrations show her with her arms covered, I guess all of the hubbub about her baring those perfectly toned arms got to the folks over at there at the NY'er, but I digress. What do you think about the cover? Does it depict Michelle Obama as the intelligent, educated, hard working wife and mother that she is or does it instead reduce her to a fashion plate and will we ever be satisfied with the way the mainstream media depicts the first ever African American First Lady? Although I will not be picking up a copy of the New Yorker, I will be heading to the bookstore soon to pick up a copy of O Magazine featuring two of the most powerful African American women in the world on the cover. Can't wait!!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

In Case You Missed It...

We're back in business!!!

In case you missed today's show or if you want to hear it again, the podcast is available for download on Cocoa Mode.com as well as itunes.

All of the links, including Tonya Ladipo's website can be found on the podcast page.

To read the Essence article on blended families, click here. Also, to check out the awesome article written about our friends Ronnie & Lamar Tyler of Black and Married with Kids, click here.

As always feel free to leave your comments below and don't forget to tune into Cocoa Mode in the Eagles Nest, every Thursday at 8:00am ET on XM Channel 169.

Clickin Around...

I found this wonderful article on Black and Married with Kids. "How President Obama is Ruining My Marriage.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

In Case You Missed It:

Thank you to all who called in to discuss the State of the Black Union. If you couldn't get through, please feel free to leave your comment below.

Also, for more information on our resident Hip Hop Republican, Lenny McAllister visit his website.

The re-broadcast of Cocoa Mode in the Eagles Nest will air on Friday at 3:00am ET on XM Satellite Radio. Barring any technical difficulties, the podcast will be available for download later tonight.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

In Case You Missed It....

Thank you to Dr. Emily Pollard for taking time out to share with the Cocoa Mode audience the risks and benefits of Cosmetic Surgery. If you are in the Philadelphia area or are willing to travel for a consultation, please visit Dr. Pollards website for more information.

In case you missed the show, check back for the podcast Sunday after 9:00pm.

In the meantime, take a listen to some of our previous shows here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Yoga for Lovers!

Cocoa Om Yoga Presents:

Embrace: The Prelude
Tantric Yoga & Massage for Couples

February 14th
6:30pm - 8:00pm

Joe's Movement Emporium

3309 Bunker Hill Road

Mt. Rainier, MD 20712

Join Shawna Renee as she introduces the fundamentals of Tantric Yoga and Massage. During the 90 minute workshop you'll learn how to achieve the 4 goals of Tantra.
1. Quiet the Mind
2. Release Stress
3. Energize the Body
4. Deepen the connection with yourself and your partner.

Cost: $45.00 per couple
Register for the event by email - shawna@cocoaom.com

Please dress comfortably. Bring a towel, blanket and yoga mat. (community mats are available)

Saturday, January 31, 2009

This week on Cocoa Mode

I can not WAIT to see Chris Rocks' latest movie, HAIR. The low-budget documentary traces the growth of the multi-billion dollar industry "rooted" in the maintenance of African-American hair and it's place in African American culture.

Here's a clip of Chris Rock talking about HAIR.

This week on Cocoa Mode in the Eagles Nest we'll talk to Ronnie and Lamar Tyler, authors of BlackandMarriedwithkids.com about the movie, plus we'll dish about the latest development in the" Michelle Obama should have worn a Black designer debate", kids and computers and the dangers of social networking. Finally, I'll open the lines for you to discuss the latest PETA ad that some television networks have called "too hot for tv" (kiddies close your eyes)

We'll also be taking your calls at 1-866-801-8255.

It's the Cocoa Mode Roundtable on Cocoa Mode in the Eagles Nest, Thursday at 8:00am ET.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Africa as you've never seen it.

From the Motherland website:
Motherland is a passage, which sweeps the continent of Africa. W A bold empowering sophisticated story of Africa, which in progressive looks at Africa's past, present and future. Motherland is an epic and unprecedented entry into the canon of African-owned cinema, which charts the glory and majesty of the Motherland (Enat Hager). Motherland is a film that unapologetically calls for African unity, self-determination and the African rebirth.

I have a special place in my heart for both Ethiopia and Kenya, I can't wait to see Motherland on the big screen.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

In Case You MIssed It....

Here's a link to Mike McQuerry's suggestions for this weekend's inauguration events. Feel free to use the comments section below to promote your event. Also, I want to know if you're planning to take your children down to the official swearing in on Capitol Hill.

EDIT: I just received this link from a listener who confirmed that strollers will be allowed on the Mall in the un-ticketed areas. HALLELUJAH!!

"Backpacks and strollers will be permitted in the unticketed sections of the National Mall west of Fourth Street, but they are being strongly discouraged. The restriction on those items, along with thermoses, coolers, umbrellas and laser pointers, applies in ticketed parade-route and swearing-in areas and at the balls. In ticketed areas, cameras are permitted but tripods are not. Don't bring posters or placards bigger than 18 inches square." (Thanks Latoya!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This week on Cocoa Mode....

I'll talk to Mike "The Mayor" McQuerry, special assistant to the Chief Administrative Officer on Capitol Hill and according to Politico.com one the 25 people you should know on The Hill. He'll bring us up to date on all of the parties/concerts/events for the "regular folk" at next week's inauguration.

Plus I'll let you know what I think about Ann Coulter's comments about single mothers. If you missed it, check out the video of her appearance on The View. I'd love to know what you think. Call me tomorrow at 8:00am ET to talk about this and more! 1-866-801-TALK (8255.)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year

2008 is over and the Year of Change is upon us. I trust you had a wonderful holiday season and I look forward to catching up with you this Thursday, January 8th at 8:00am on Cocoa Mode in the Eagles Nest. In the meantime, I leave you with this awesome video clip I snagged from What About Our Daughters. My prayer is that every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle and guardian become so unashamedly involved in our children's lives.