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Archive for September 2011

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  • Comments Off on Sage’s Rage: Black girls are using drugs to feel good cause they don’t feel good about themselves

–Black girls will steal your boyfriend– Black girls are loud and have an attitude–

These are among the statements highlighted in my research which was recently published in the article “Gold Diggers, Video Vixens, and Jezebels: Stereotype Images and Substance Use Among Urban African American Girls” in the Journal of Women’s Health.  The federally funded study included African American adolescent girls (ages 10-15).  I was very alarmed by the findings and felt a scientific article buried in the halls of academe was not doing justice to the important information found in the report.    

Almost half of the girls agreed with statements such as:

-Straightened hair looks better than natural hair

-Black girls are loud and have an attitude

– Having long hair gives you a better appearance

-Black girls are mad and ready to fight

Almost a quarter of the girls agreed with statements like:

-Black girls are gold-diggers

-Black girls use sex to get what they want

-It’s important to have good hair

Findings from the study showed that girls who agreed with these types of statements were most likely to use drugs.  Teens that use drugs at such an early age are at risk for many other issues including school dropout, early sexual activity, violent behavior, STDs/HIV and involvement in the criminal justice system. 

The findings are a call for us to pay attention.  It shows us that some of our girls are buying into the negative stereotypes they may be seeing in the media/popular culture or their surroundings about Black girls/women.    It underscores that Black girls are getting a message that what they look like counts and for some of them this means believing having darker skin and/or kinky hair counts less. 

We need to ask ourselves as a community, where are our girls hearing or seeing these messages?  In what ways are those messages being validated and reinforced?   Are we doing a good job of helping them navigate the messages they are observing? Are we speaking up about the need for more balanced images? 

So what can we do?  Here are several tips to help Black girls through these difficult issues:

–          Have Black girls read books (or read to them) which have images of girls from all backgrounds, including stories where Black girls/women are shown in a positive light.  This way at an early age and beyond our girls can see a variety of hues and shapes.

–          Comment on how much you appreciate and adore Black girls for who they are. This is especially important when combing a Black girls’ hair.  As challenging as you may find it; be sure NOT to show the child that you might be upset or challenged by their hair.  Let them know that their hair, skin and features are what makes them unique and special.  Repeatedly tell them that you love them no matter what they look like (this includes the teen years when their style of choice may make you cringe).

–          As they encounter negative images/stereotypes, talk with Black girls about it and help them understand the history behind such values.  Give them an opportunity to voice their opinions without judgment.  Talk to them about the importance of celebrating the beauty of all Black women and the many accomplishments we have had.

–          Take note of your own judgments and how it might impact Black girls and their wellbeing.  How may your comments about the way a Black girl or Black woman looks or behaves contribute to what Black girls may think about themselves or others? Remind yourself that those comments may impact a Black girl’s drug use and many other issues such as, self esteem, dating/relationships, and school success.

–          Monitor the media Black girls are exposed to.  There are many reasons for Black girls to take a TV break; including the fact that Black youth spend more hours watching TV than youth of other races. Media exposure without adult monitoring may expose them to negative images and stereotypes that could harm them.  In addition to limiting TV/media time, try to make sure Black girls have access to diverse images and role models which match multiple hues, shapes, sizes and from all walks of life.

–          It’s not only girls that need to be aware of image values and negative stereotypes.  We should also have conversations with our Black boys. What are the image values and negative stereotypes they observe about Black women/girls?  Have discussions with them about their values and how it may play out in their interactions with Black girls/women.

Although the findings from the study are a cause for concern; the solution is in our hands to teach the next generation a better way to see themselves.

For more information about the study and the author, contact Dr. Wallace at

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  • Comments Off on Hot of the Press: Professional Development Opportunity for Youth in NYC

I had a the pleasure of being connected with Dominque Reese, who is doing great work empowering communities to get their financial house in order.  She has a training program for youth, which is currently seeking applications.  See below for more details.  The deadline is Sept 30th.


CommunitreeLLC has developed a student professional development training program to provide youth with exposure to professional cultures, tools and processes and business etiquette. The Student Professional Development Training (PDT) is a youth training program where high school junior and senior and college students gain real-world career and job readiness. We accept students of all calibers, experiences and background. We only select 1-3 students per 3 month rotation. The objective of this training program is to teach, counsel and provide the tools for students to develop their professional capital via professional education, mentoring, leadership, project-based assignments, networking and “in-the-field” trips.

We are currently seeking three NEW Student Professionals!!!!

Applications are available online at:

Applications are due on September 30, 2011
First training starts October 14, from after school hours (3pm-6pm)
After your acceptance into the program, you will need to schedule a conference call between your parents and Ms. Dominique’, in addition to your parents signature on the release documents.
For more information visit:

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  • Comments Off on Sage’s Rage: Giving birth…

I’m a little late to comment on the final episode of my now favorite reality TV show, Laurieann Gibson’s Born to Dance.   Some of you know that I am a little biased in that I was given the gift to dance and did for many years.  But I can honestly say it was NOT nostalgia that gives this show a huge thumbs up for me.   It is by far the most inspiring and positive image  on TV I have seen lately of young women and their pursuit of success.   I must admit I didn’t want to give Laurieann a chance given the way she was portrayed on Making the Band.  But for the first episode I decided to use the 10min rule and by minute five I was hooked. 

Each week she worked with the girls to bring out their inner strength, she did not sugarcoat how hard it is to achieve one’s dreams and she created a supportive environment for the girls to lean on each other.   Most of all, she has called me and so many other viewers to push harder to birthing as many of  our dreams as our souls can imagine…I cannot wait to see what season two will inspire us to do.  

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  • Comments Off on Sage’s Rage: Foie Gras, Faux Pas?
I don’t eat meat but I was really intrigued to try the traditional french dish, Foie Gras. I gave it a whirl and boy was I glad I did.  It’s a rich, creamy duck gravy which combines with the unexpected texture of what tasted to me like boiled egg. It doesn’t sound so tasty but was really delightful to eat.   I only took a few bites for fear my digestive tract would be put on overdrive. Food and Paris go hand in hand and I got my fill on this trip…

It was recommended that I try  L’arbre de sel, a Korean restaurant in the 6e (Saint Germaine de Pres).  Though I’ve never had Korean food before, after my China trip I figured I could try anything.  My meal included deliciously seasoned delights; a vegatable pancake like appetizer that you dip in soy sauce and a stir fry bbq  chicken dish with a spicy twist.  After being blown away by those bites, I got adventurous. I tried Kemchi, which is fermented cabbage (an acquired taste that’s not for me).  Despite that, I can’t wait try Korean spots in NYC (any suggestions welcome). 

Paris is a place where making the most of life is paramount.   They take their time to smell the roses and their fabulous wine:)    So imagine the drama I caused when one night I decided I would soak up the evening by having dinner at a local french restaurant while getting some work done.  I figured it was a great way to spend a night if I had to be on my laptop.  But the locals saw it a different way.  How sad to them that I was working, while everyone else is taking time to rest and focus on food, friends and fun.  

I learned quickly to stop my addictive multitasking and from that day on when it was time eat that’s all I did.  Silly Americans…we just don’t know how to enjoy.  When in Paris, do as the French and who wouldn’t want to enjoy life at a slower pace, valuing the richness in art and reveling in the sophistication of the language and impeccable style of the people.  Next stop, Paris!  I honestly can say I cannot wait for the next time to visit Paris.  It offers the best of what a city can offer…

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