This Week in the News-Enlightenment

This is what everyone's face looked like at the news this week...or maybe just mine

Happy Friday, folks! So of course there’s been WAY too much going on this week, so no small talk today.  Let’s just get this show on the road.

First, Bishop Eddie Long.  I’m not going to spend too much time on this, but I will share my thoughts.  We are not God, so we cannot judge anyone.  I will say I hope people focus on the real crime in this story-not the fact that Bishop Long may be a homosexual but the fact that he is accused of molesting young boys.   If he used a church-based organization to find his victims, that’s what makes this issue even more despicable.   I will pray for everyone involved in this, from the pulpit down to the congregation.  These people need all the support they can get.  Lastly, people need to be honest with themselves and the people in their inner circle.  I’m sure it would make their lives a whole lot easier…

On a brighter note, Micheal Vick has been named the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.  IMHO, I believe he should have been the starter from the beginning, but what do I know???  I truly believe with him leading this team, they are destined to have a great season. 

The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has agreed to donate $100 million to Newark, N.J. public schools.   Newark Public Schools is the largest school district in New Jersey, and I’m sure they can use the funds.  Some skeptics believe Zuckerberg is making the donation to off-set his non-flattering portrayal in the upcoming film “The Social Network“, which is set to be released on October 1.  Whatever the reason, I’m glad Zuckerberg has decided to make this donation, because I’m sure the schools need it and appreciate it.  And please believe I’ll be going to see “The Social Network” next week, if for no other reason than Justin Timberlake is in it…LAWD!!!

Sad to say, but Lyfe Jennings is headed back to jail.  In 2008, the singer was arrested for a dispute with his ex-girlfriend.  The singer was sentenced to 3 1/2 years behind bars and was charged with DUI test refusal, criminal trespassing, discharging a weapon near a street, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and fleeing or attempting to elude a police offer.   I hope this will be Lyfe’s last stint behind bars.

Lastly, let’s talk about this whole “No Wedding, No Womb” thing…Yeah, I’m straight on it, and I’m going to tell you why.  I don’t believe that people who have children together should get married.  What if the people don’t love each other, or even like each other for that matter?  What if the only place they get along is the bedroom?  I believe that children need happy homes.  If parents are continually fighting, that child will have little peace.  What I do think should happen is that the two parents should be mature enough to do what is in the best interest of the child. 

Ok, I’m done ranting for today.  I’m sure you all have something you want to say, so be sure to comment.  And if there’s something I missed, which I know I have, please share.  Oh, tomorrow I’ll be volunteering at the Barracks Row Fall Festival!  If you’re in the District, you should definitely stop by!  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Next week, you can look forward to more commentary from me on “No Wedding, No Womb” and mega-churches and the messages they send.

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Discussion with the Modern Day Matchmaker

The Modern Day Matchmaker-Paul Brunson

Most of us are looking for love and are focusing on becoming better people.  Paul Carrick Brunson, the Modern Day Matchmaker, has made it his goal to assist his clients do just that.  I was able to speak with Mr. Brunson and pick his brain on a few things.  To see what’s going on his world, read the interview below.

Elle: How long have you been a matchmaker and life coach?

Paul Carrick Brunson: Unofficially for 10 years.  I began doing this officially in early 2009.  I began by attending conferences and trainings.  I also did an apprenticeship under Rachel Greenwald.

Elle: What made you choose this profession?

Paul: There were actually two drivers and one incident.  First, while working for a Turkish family, I was a world traveler.  I was always in conversations where relationships were brought up.  At times I was the only American/male/married person.  And I enjoyed answering questions.  Second, I work with a non-profit foundation that runs a summer camp in DC.  Not one of the 100 students had both parents in the home.  Lastly, the incident is what I refer to as the “Obama Epiphany”.  When he was elected, he stated that you can achieve anything you want and that we must do something in this space.  A year after that, I made my decision to pursue this full-time.

Elle: What are some things that people should look forward to from you over the next 6 months?

Paul: A tour is coming in 2011, we’re making upgrades to the website and blog, and we’re premiering the new season on the web series, hopefully by September 30.  There are some possible television appearances and special events I’ll be attending.  I’m always looking to push the envelope and do something different.

Elle: What’s the most difficult thing about your career?

Paul: From a business standpoint, I’m still in the beginning stages. I’m pulled in various directions-I have so many opportunities.  I have to be disciplined and focus on what I do well.  Also, I’m the first full-time black male matchmaker in a historically white, female occupation.  Clients are typically based in the upper socio-economic echelon; most of my client’s make less than $100,000 a year.  I also use social media a lot.  I still get resistance and have to continue to prove myself.  But the distinct challenge as a pioneer is that the sky is the limit for what can be accomplished.

Elle: Are more of your clientele men or women?

Paul:  Women, but we are getting more male clients.  The ratio changes day-to-day.

Elle: What’s your greatest matchmaker success story?

Paul:  We have a couple that is married.  90% of our clients who have worked with us for 6 months or more are in a committed relationship.  Also, we’re able to send out great information via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Elle:  Have you ever had to tell a client that you were unable to work with him/her anymore?

Paul: Absolutely.  The #1 reason is that they don’t want to work.  There is a myth about matchmakers that the matchmaker will do 90% of the work. The truth is that the client needs to put in about 60% of the work.

Elle: I know you have a web series; are there any plans for you to write a book?

Paul:  Yes, and it will be sooner than you think.  I’ve waited because I want to be emerged in the industry.  No one knows that I was planning on writing a book.  I want to see if any patterns or trends exist.  The book will be from my point of view and observations.

Elle: Who do you look to for inspiration?

Paul:  In the industry, Evan Marc Katz and Rachel Greenwald.  Evan is one of my mentors and is a great date coach.  I saw him at a conference in 2009.  Rachel is the best in the world.  Non-industry, I look at Kanye West.  As a producer, he takes hip-hop and gets unconventional.  I also look at Gary Vanyerchuk.  He’s a social media leader.  Everyone should read his book “Crush It”.

Elle: How do you improve and become a better matchmaker/coach?

Paul: I continue to ask for feedback.  I listen to peers and clients, and I’m open to what they say, whether it’s critical or not.  I treat this like it’s a craft.  I continue to study, read books, observe clients, and read blogs.  I believe in getting my feet wet by putting the things I learn into practice.  There’s a big difference between those who are talking heads and those who are service providers.

Elle: How can people get in touch with you to find out more about the services you provide?

Paul:  The best way to get in contact with me is through the website, One Degree From Me, and Twitter and Facebook.

Elle: Is there anything else that you would like to share?

Paul: Absolutely.  For everyone reading this, you should all support the “Freshman and Sophomore Class” of life coaches.  The best relationship coaches are also life coaches and are sending out totally new messages.  Some young black men with terrific messages you should keep your eye on are Thomas Edwards and Tony Gaskins.

I want to thank Paul Carrick Brunson (again) for allowing me to interview him and pick his brain.  What are your thoughts on the interview?  Are there any questions you would have liked for him to answer?   Share any thoughts that you have!  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Way Back Wednesday-High School Reunion

My memory book-looks good for being 10 years old!

We all look forward to high school reunions-who got married, who has babies, who still looks 18, and who looks like they could’ve been one of our teachers!  I had a great time this past weekend, and being with my classmates brought back so many memories.   On Friday, a few of us took a tour of the new school (we were SO jealous!), went to the football game, and got a shout-out from the announcer.   On Saturday, my mom and I hosted breakfast for some of my best friends from middle and high schools and the “big event” was that evening.   I can honestly no one has aged in 10 years. 

We were able to reminisce about the good ol’ days.   It really felt like nothing had changed.  We all meshed well and were able to talk and hang out just as we did 10 years ago.  My friends are still crazy, and I must admit some of us huddled in our little corners and talked about people. (What can I say, we’re human!)  The icing on the cake was my classmates spouses were really nice, too.  I’m not sure if that’s an appropriate statement, but it’s truth.  I’m glad to know my classmates married nice people.  One regret I have is that I wish we had acknowledged our classmates who have passed.  We had 2 die while we were in school and one died within the last year.   Unfortunately, not everyone came; we probably had about 1/3 of graduates come back.   Hopefully they will show up for the 20 year reunion…gosh, I don’t want to think that far ahead.

Being with classmates put me in a nostalgic mood.  One memory that sticks out in my mind is when one of my BFFs, another classmate, and I decided to try to be grown right before graduation.  I will not put what we did here on the blog, but let’s just say that somebody could have gotten in A LOT of trouble…Hey, we were in high school, thinking we were grown!  What were some of your favorite memories from high school?  Even if it’s been more than 10 years that you’ve been out, feel free to share.  And I would love for my classmates to respond and share what they loved about the reunion…and high school!   Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

WHHS Class of 2000

Benevole Inc. hosts First Annual Fundraiser

Yes, you all are quite lucky-two posts from your girl in one day!  And don’t get your hopes up, this is not related to the reunion…I’ve actually decided that’ll be my Way Back Wednesday post! 🙂  In any event, this post will highlight an organization that has become near and dear to me!

Benevole, Inc. is the brain child of George Slaughter, originally from Chicago.   George has always been in the business of giving back.  He and his parents began volunteering and serving the Chicago community when he was young.  After losing both parents, his father when he was 10 and his mother when he was 18, George kept that giving spirit.  During his undergrad years, he began working with orphans and continued this work after he graduated.  He started “Belk Cares” to raise awareness for orphans and was able to have his company host a Christmas party for kids instead of just giving the toys to faceless names.  He also hosted Families First in Atlanta each year he lived there.  Now in the District, George has decided to continue his philanthropic work.  To find out more about the event, read below.  And don’t forget to purchase your ticket.  This is sure to be an event you don’t want to miss!

Contact: LaToya Grant




Benevole, Inc. is hosting its First Annual “Walk-a-Mile in Someone’s Shoes” Fundraiser and Cocktail Social on Saturday, October 2, 2010 at Hotel Rouge (1315 16th St. NW, Washington, DC) from 7-11 pm.  The donation per person is $25, and the evening includes heavy hors d’ouvre and an open bar.  High heel shoes are mandatory for men and women.  No photography will be allowed, and all cell phones will be checked at the door.  In keeping true with the organizations mission of meeting the operational needs of existing non-profits, 100% of the proceeds from the event will go to N Street Village, which empowers low-income and homeless women to achieve their highest quality of life by offering various services to its clients.

According to Co-Founder and President George L. Slaughter, Benevole, which is French for “volunteer”, hopes “to raise awareness about existing non-profits” and “desires to become the bridge between the benefactor and the beneficiary”. Slaughter created Benevole to give back to the community.  The organization has four pillars on which they focus-women, children, homelessness, and health.  Tickets for the event can be purchased from this site and must be secured by September 30.  For more information regarding Benevole, Inc., please visit the website at

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If you would like more information regarding Benevole, Inc. or the above mentioned fundraiser, please contact LaToya Grant, Director of Communications, at

Is Natural Hair Professional in the Workplace?


Natural Hair in the Workplace


Happy Tuesday!  I know you’re wondering how the reunion was…Well, it was great! Everyone had a lovely time, caught up with old friends, and looked great!  It was like 10 years hadn’t even passed!  As I try to recouperate from this weekend, we have a guest blogger today.  Veronique George of Naturally You-The Hair Journey has written a post today regarding natural hair in the workplace.  For those of you that don’t know, I am natural and struggled with my decision initially in regards to how it would be received when I worked in corporate America.  So, enjoy the post, feel free to comment and share your experiences (good and bad), and definitely check out Veronique’s blog!

Watching me, watching me

Watching me, watching me

Watching me, watching me

Watching me

And you keep sayin’ that I’m free

And you keep sayin’ that I’m free

And you keep sayin’ that I’m free…

Many times African-American and other multicultural women who wear their hair natural are not considered professional or conservative in the work place. Instead of embracing natural hair, businesses sometimes shun, or even discourage, it. After working in some of Corporate America’s top companies, I believe that natural hair is not accepted in the workplace because employers and their employees do not know what to make of it. They look at natural hair and think, “Why is it so curly? Why does it look like that?  Why can’t they comb their hair?” Most companies have an idea of what professionalism is, and most times it does not include tightly or loosely coiled curls, braids, two-strand twists, and the like. It does not look like a large afro or even an afro puff tilted to the side. Rather, professionalism is limited to the constraints of long, straight hair and even pulled back in a pony tail depending on how conservative the company may be.

Long, straight hair may be a preference even if you are natural. That is fine if women choose to do so because they want to. However, a work environment that only accepts or encourages that particular hairstyle may not be a healthy situation for natural hair wearers or the company. I have heard a lot of women say to me that they have considered going natural for a long time, but they have to wait or they just cannot do it right now for whatever the reason may be. It is very disheartening to know that women want to wear their natural hair, but are afraid because they may lose their jobs or even credibility from their counterparts. Natural hair is not a rebellious act of free speech or entitlement; it is your hair, my hair, our hair. It is an extension of the divine will of the Most High and there is nothing unprofessional about that. Our hair is an extension of who we are, our adornment. Our intricate styles dates back to Zulu women of the Congo region and beyond and celebrate our rich history.

Rather than shying away from women with natural hair, businesses have to learn to embrace them. In doing so, they embrace themselves, by embracing their consumers and the world as we know it. Diversity of thought, culture, and even hair should be supported and celebrated. Work place environments should reflect the colorful DNA of the world and reflect the neighborhoods, grocery stores, beauty parlors, and shopping centers where companies conduct business.

Natural hair is here to stay. It is beautiful, it is professional, it can and cannot be “conservative.” It must become standard that when businesses hire minorities, including African-American women, they hire their hair as well. Now this does not mean women can nor should come to work without putting their best foot forward and properly caring for and maintaining their hair. But a job offer should not be contingent on the conditional statement: we will hire you if and only if you do something with your hair. Professionalism relates to the expertise and know-how you bring to the table, how you conduct yourself in business settings, and a well-kept appearance. Women with natural hair should not be watched, scoped, demoted, or considered not to be a “good-fit” in the workplace. Instead, they should be able to freely and unapologetically wear their natural hair tresses.

Veronique George, is a marketing and advertising consultant. She is also a natural hair consultant. Her blog, “Naturally You: The Hair Journey,” can be found at: