Americans are considered to be a generally happy people, both among themselves and by foreigners, but the story of happiness in this country is in fact not an especially pretty one. Self-doubt, insecurity, and uncertainty have been tightly woven into the narrative of happiness, a major source of frustration for those seeking to be happier people. In conjunction with our achievement- and money-oriented society that is often the source of what Alain de Botton called “status anxiety,” the belief that we are a chosen people and a shining example to others around the world to follow have set too high of a bar of happiness for most individuals to actually realize.
Our core mythologies grounded in specialness and superiority have been instrumental in leading Americans to assume they are entitled or have an inherent right to happiness, the basis for a rude surprise when life does not turn out that way. Our expectations for happiness have far exceeded its realization, in other words, suggesting our way of life rooted in consumer capitalism has major flaws in terms of emotional fulfillment. In a nutshell, happiness has proven to be an elusive and often futile pursuit in this country over the last century, something that has held true across the social divisions of race, gender, and class.
One thus has to question Americans’ inclination to work harder to make more money in order to become happier. Inscribed in our national charter, happiness is no doubt a very American idea, but the ways in which most of us pursue it are not very well suited to creating it. Our system of free-market capitalism (the American Way of Life) and aspirational ethos (the American Dream) are actually better designed to generate stress than happiness, I believe, with the pressures of modern life not conducive to promoting a state of wellbeing. Those who have dropped out of the “rat race” are more likely to find a sense of inner peace, history shows, implying that our competitive society is at best not ideal and at worst fundamentally flawed in terms of seeding the possibility of happiness.
The coronavirus pandemic is a terrible thing, of course, but it has presented us with a singular opportunity to rewrite the story of happiness. Our priorities have realigned, in the process laying a foundation for a happier future, both individually and collectively. We have become less acquisitional and consumptive, a very good thing given the detrimental role that the endless pursuit of stuff has played in our lives. We’re more appreciative and grateful for what we have and less concerned for what we desire. Our orientation has shifted more towards relationships with family, friends, and neighbors, which research study after research study has shown to be the ideal basis for nurturing happiness. With our interconnectedness now readily apparent, we appear to be caring more for each other, this too a main ingredient of happiness. We’ve become more patient and reflective, a precious asset that most of us have undervalued. Our slower pace has provided the time to focus, a far richer luxury than anything we could purchase with money.
Amidst all the bad news, then, a new narrative of happiness is emerging, one grounded in the simple pleasures of life, the most important one being love. Let’s embrace this once-in-a-lifetime chance to transform ourselves into a truly happy people.
New Orleans Must Improve the Lives of ALL African Americans
By Jeff Thomas
Many people often say I’m too focused on race. But look around our city. Most of the big social problems are in the African American community. Murder. Car jackings. Poverty. Covid hospitalizations. Drug abuse. Unemployment. The list goes on and on and on. Fixing these problems in that part of the African American community that struggles makes the city great for EVERYBODY. So if you are black or white or Asian or Hispanic and doing pretty good want to live in a safer cleaner city, let’s fix the problems in the ailing parts of our city. Helping poor black people benefits everybody.
Good news is we can do it. And it is not that hard. New Orleans should be a sanctuary city for the poor and struggling African Americans. Every policy and regulation possible should support this notion. And given the egregiously regressive and burdensome past, city government should fast track all current, available solutions. Even a cursory glance at the plight of hard-working African Americans in the city provides ample evidence of the urgent need for change.
Our current paradigm has created and sustains the crime-plagued, underperforming city. Low-performing schools contribute to the highest dropout rates in the country. Gentrification and low-paying jobs force many into the rental market in our city. And people who own their homes are nearly 90% less likely to commit crimes compared to those who rent. Though the murder rate is once again the highest in the country per capita. African Americans in NOLA die at alarmingly high rates. Especially when it comes to young people. We must fix serious and deeply-entrenched problems here quickly. It can be done with surprising ease if a coordinated attempt is employed.
THE SANCTUARY CITY MODEL
Characteristics of the sanctuary should include
home ownership programs
good neighborhood schools,
and ample business opportunities with direct access to available financing.
Combined, these targets will dramatically reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for all our citizens. With access to good-paying jobs and pathways to home ownership, crime will drop precipitously. Working men, who earn living wages, will fatten city coffers via property and sales tax payments. Needing fewer police officers, more money could then be shifted into job training programs. These programs prepare young people to enter the workforce and become taxpayers.
SWB JOBS PROGRAM
The Sewerage and Water Board can be the greatest jobs program in city history. Billions of FEMA dollars are scheduled to be spent repairing crumbling infrastructure. The board must hire, train and demand excellence from its repair people. Our ability to pump water is our lifeline. We must invest in training our people to protect our property. The SWB is more important than the NOPD. SWB must pay enough to enable employees to purchase homes.
Eighty five percent of people who commit crimes do not own their homes. Neighborhoods where people own their homes are cleaner, safer. And they provide ancillary activities (kids sports programs, block parties, etc.) that promote healthier living. Living wages help people qualify for mortgages. City-sanctioned home ownership classes would motivate and inspire people to save for down payments and improve their credit scores. The soft second mortgage programs should also be expanded.
Working families need close and convenient good schools for their children. Our experiment with charter schools must shift to emphasize local school excellence. Good neighborhood schools reduce stress, increase participation and reduce dropout rates, which in turn strengthen families. Parent-school partnerships are easier when parents are able to access school personnel close to home. Friendly rivalries centered around athletic and academic achievement will transform educational achievement[ in The Bowl. Businesses could offer cash prizes to the students who perform best and the schools which achieve great successes.
Police Chief Shaun Ferguson rose through the ranks. And he is a man from our streets who now leads the men and women who patrol our streets. He says, “The community and police must form a partnership.” He is correct when he says the NOPD needs citizen support. Right now, our NOPD is dangerously understaffed. Shifting to 12 hour shifts increases presence on the streets. Good move Chief. Also moving more desk and clerical jobs from police to citizen staffing will enable more officers to get out. And top brass should patrol our neighborhoods. They are our best and brightest. They have the experience and authority to effectively decipher complex situations. Is a shouting match serious?
We know arresting and jailing people for minor crimes, even for short periods of time, has dramatic and real effects. And ironically results in yet more crime. Instead, community policing operates in an atmosphere of cooperation and respect. Too often, police have operated with rigidity and oppressiveness. That stifles the community support it needs, desires, and deserves.
For too long, New Orleans and other municipalities have focused on fines and fees to finance government. Police decide who gets pulled over and issued a ticket. Furthermore, rigid rules and immediate late fees from municipal utilities create undue stress in an already overburdened populace.
In the 21st century, our cities must uplift the lives of all the citizens who make these places home.
It happens everyday in America!
By Jeff Thomas
Black men kill each other at alarming rates all across America every day. Nearly every city’s daily news casts reports, “Today in our city three (or thirty depending on the size of your city) men were shot and killed in three (or thirty) separate shootings. Police have no suspects in any of the cases.” And immediately and innately you know that the people killed were black and the killers were black. This has been going on for the last 30-40 years and no end is in sight. New Orleans has one of the highest murder rates nationally. Why do black men kill each other?
First Let’s Dispel a
First thing you have to know is that 99.999% of black men do
not commit murder ever in their lives.
That is a fact! This is not a
black man issue. There is nothing
genetically or intrinsically wrong with black men. But the fact remains that
daily hundreds of black men across this country are murdered everyday by
another black man. Why does this happen
with this subset?
Common factors to Black
men murdering other black men
The first thing about murder is that people usually kill
people who are similar to them in many ways, particularly race. White men normally murder other white men and
black men normally murder other black men.
In the black community, these killings are normally city events. Rarely do you hear of a drive by in the country. Most of these daily killings occur on the city streets. People kill others who they interact with.
Young men engage in risky and violent behavior. Most of the men dying on our streets are
between the ages of 17-35.
But these are often cited, unsurprising factors. More salient is what goes into the psyche of a guy who can look into the eyes of another man and pull the trigger at close range or jab a knife with the intent to murder another man? What are the other factors that contribute to becoming a murderer? Why do Black men kill each other
The guy who ain’t never scared and always looking to
escalate a situation. Down for whatever. Nothing to live for and anticipating the day
he will either kill or be killed. This
mindset is cultivated in a limited option, few chances, success deprived
life. This guy has had a number of
arguments and fist fights throughout his life.
He hates authority and frequently feels angry or resentful towards
people. He often seeks to overcome a
feeling of powerlessness. This guy is a
walking heap of rage. He is always nothing
but a gun and an argument away from murder.
The Disrespected Man
A man who feels like everybody but him gets respect.
Unemployed or stuck in a low wage hard work job
where his contributions are unrecognized
Lives with his mother and has little control over
his home environment
Has a child but no custody and a bad relationship
with his baby mama
Been profiled and harassed by the police
Observes community members driving nice cars
Rejected for better jobs
Feels unable to change his life status and is
insignificant in the world
Seeks to overcome feelings of impotence
For this guy, respect is everything and options to express
anger or refutation are often limited. He
often seeks to overcome a feeling of impotence. If another who seems unworthy
of disseminating criticism or scorn or generally crosses the line of imagined
respect, then a high level of response will be meted out.
Little life happiness
Thrill seeker often brags and talks about his toughness and ‘hood status.
Wants to make a real name for himself
Will recklessly escalate a situation or
When challenged by a non-believing skeptic, this man often
acts in unnecessarily violent ways in unnecessarily violent situations. Often seeks to overcome a feeling of powerlessness.
Too often black men suffer an inferiority
vilifies and criminalizes black men on a daily basis.
American culture is based upon the notion that
black people and specifically black men are less intelligent, completely
unpredictable, beast like, lazy etc., etc.
Black men internalize this notion and are
conditioned to see little value when they look in the mirror.
Beset by internal angst and torment.
Unresolved pain combined with poverty,
ignorance, oppression, violent police, violent neighborhoods, etc.
symptoms of an inferiority complex include a high sensitivity to criticism, perceiving
others as a threat, jealousy, a lack of dreams.
The daily feeling of isolation, powerlessness and impotence is like being a prisoner of war. One reason black men grab their genitals is to stress their vitality. Men who have been literally stripped of the ability to display their manhood – great jobs, big houses, educational attainment and all the other accoutrements of modern society- are literally killing to express their power in life. Twisted but true.
According to a Dietitian
All your questions about booze, diet, and health—answered!
BY ERICA SWEENEY
ENJOYING A NICE glass of red wine with dinner, sipping a tumbler of bourbon after a long day, trying a new craft beer, or mixing up your own cocktail. Everyone loves a good drink from time to time. Though drinking too much (and, we’ve all been there) isn’t good for you, it is possible to incorporate your favorite alcoholic beverage into a healthy lifestyle.
So, what is healthy drinking? “Moderation is key,” says Brittany Kunza, M.D., a medical director at virtual health platform PlushCare. “Alcohol really shouldn’t be considered ‘healthy,’ but it certainly can be part of social gatherings.”
Drinking too much long-term can bring many health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, and stomach problems. It can also weaken your immune system and increase your risk for certain cancers.
Either inspired by these health risks or striving to cut back for other reasons, many people are partaking in Dry January or permanently embracing a “sober curious” lifestyle. And, non-alcoholic, booze-inspired drinks are becoming more popular.
Many aspects of drinking can affect your health—how much you drink, how often, and your beverages of choice. A healthy approach to drinking alcohol is part of a healthy approach to life. Often, that means choosing drinks that are lower in sugar and calories, such as skipping sugary mixers and using seltzer in place of tonic.
What’s the best way to balance drinking and a healthy lifestyle?
It’s best not to overdo it when it comes to alcohol and stick to two drinks or less a day. But, having a few more from time to time likely won’t harm your health—just don’t drive when you’re drinking.
Everyone is different in terms of how they handle alcohol. Some people can drink more than others before they feel drunk.
“Alcohol impairment is an individual number that is different from person to person,” says Ernest Gelb, D.O., president of the American Osteopathic Association. “The legal limit is 0.08, but there are many individuals who can’t tolerate that much alcohol. The end result of impairment is the same and will not end well.”
It’s a good idea to understand what’s considered a “standard drink,” too, says Dr. Kunza. According to the CDC, standard drink sizes include:
12 ounces of beer
8 ounces of malt liquor
5 ounces of wine
1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, like gin, vodka, or whiskey
What Kinds of Alcohol Are the Healthiest Options?
Ignore the myths you heard in high school about your body processing certain alcoholic beverages in different ways. Your liver doesn’t recognize wine from beer from a Long Island Iced Tea—it only processes alcohol.
That said, if a drink is higher in alcohol, your liver has to work hard. So if you’re drinking a finger of Scotch whisky neat (typically about 40% alcohol by volume, or ABV), your liver is going to have an easier time than with that Long Island Iced Tea (typically four shots of alcohol—all of which are roughly 40% ABV).
So, usually, the simpler the drink—and the less of it that you’re drinking—the better off your liver (and you!) will be. Here’s what to know about drinking different kinds of booze.
Beer can contain anywhere from 103 to 350 calories per 12 ounces. Craft beers often have a higher ABV than traditional macro-beers. And more alcohol means more calories.
For example, a 12-ounce beer with 9% ABV (typical for craft brews) has about 270 calories. But because craft breweries don’t have to list the calorie count on their beers, you can use this handy equation to estimate the number of calories in your beer: Multiply the ABV by 2.5, then multiply that by the number of ounces in your beer.
Vodka, tequila, and other spirits
Put this in the myth category. Tequila—as well as vodka, rum, and gin—all have zero grams of carbs, so they won’t raise your blood sugar if you drink them straight up. If you have diabetes, you should count your drink as two fat exchanges.
But don’t fall for the hype that choosing a tequila made from 100 percent agave changes the impact. All of the health attributes of agave (aka lower glycemic index, etc.) are gone once it’s been distilled into tequila. That said, choosing pure, agave tequila means you’ll typically skip unnecessary additives like caramel coloring. It’s also gluten-free.
Most hard seltzers are lower in alcohol, ranging from 4% to 6% ABV. But, they can contain added sugar.
Look for brands that offer very little sugar per serving. Otherwise, you’ll take in an overload of calories, mainly from the sweet stuff. Spiked seltzers, on the other hand, aren’t a bad option. Ideally, you want one that’s zero-calorie flavored sparkling water with booze added.
Most wines contain 120-130 calories per 5-ounce glass. But, the sugar content can vary. A glass of red table wine contains about 0.9 grams of sugar, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some white wines, like chardonnay, can contain 1.4 grams of sugar, and super-sweet dessert wines can have 7 grams.
Determining the calorie and sugar content of a cocktail is tricky, as it depends on what ingredients they contain. A simple vodka soda with seltzer and a squeeze of lime would be a low-calorie, low-sugar option.
But, sweet cocktails like a mai tai can have as much as 300 calories and loads of sugar. Creamy drinks like a White Russian or Piña Colada can clock in at more than 500 calories.
It’s always a good idea to opt for low-calorie mixers and avoid drinks overflowing with sugar, Dr. Gelb says.
You also need to drink plenty of water, too
Alcohol is a dehydrator. So, it’s crucial to drink plenty of water while you’re enjoying a beer or cocktail.
“Physicians recommend a one-for-one ratio, which is one 8-ounce glass of water for every alcoholic drink,” says Brian Fiani, D.O., attending neurosurgeon at Weill Cornell Medicine/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and vice chair of the American Osteopathic Association Bureau of Emerging Leaders.
Drinking alcohol can also irritate the stomach, worsen acid reflux, and contribute to gastritis, Dr. Kunza says. So, it’s a good idea to eat something before you drink or while you’re drinking.
How Drinking Too Much Affects Your Body
Having a few too many glasses of wine or overdoing it on the beer is OK every so often. Drinking too much of even low-calorie alcohol long-term can be detrimental to your health.
For one, it can affect the brain and spine. “Specifically, regarding the central nervous system, alcohol slows down the cerebral cortex process, which can lead to poor judgment,” Dr. Fiani says.
Long-term drinking can damage the brain’s frontal lobes, which can affect decision-making, memory, judgment, and impulses, he adds. It can also lead to degenerative disc disease of the spine and cause back pain.
Excessive alcohol intake over a long time period can cause a thiamine deficiency, which might lead to someone developing the brain disorder Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, Fiani says. “This condition can cause irreversible mental confusion, loss of coordination, and memory problems similar to dementia.”
Overdoing it on alcohol can cause (or increase your risk for) a number of other health problems, like liver disease, pancreatitis, cancer, high blood pressure, anemia, GI problems, and other conditions.
Signs You Might Be Drinking Too Much
Excessive daily drinking could signal a drinking problem. “Individuals who can’t just have one drink would be a warning sign,” Dr. Gelb says.
Is drinking getting in the way of day-to-day activities?
Is drinking getting in the way of your relationships?
Do you need to drink more than you used to?
“The number of yes answers determines the degree to which one’s substance use is problematic,” McMahon says. For example, two or three yeses might signal a mild alcohol use disorder, four or five a moderate disorder, and six or more a severe disorder.
by Mark Travers Ph.D.
Successful couples’ counseling starts with a shift in these four behaviors.
Many people assume that a successful relationship is something that happens by itself. They may have the idea that some people “just click,” and that the more effort one has to put into their relationship, the less likely the partnership is to work.
But the truth is that all relationships take work and we should always be striving to be better partners. In this article, I’ll talk about four habits you can develop to manage what psychologist and relationship expert John Gottman views as the most common relationship killers.
1. Be gentle, not critical.
Criticism is a direct attack on someone’s character or behavior. It may be expressed as an accusation or judgment about one partner’s personality rather than a specific action or event.
Criticism sounds like, “You never help around the house!” instead of “I feel frustrated when you don’t help with chores.” Criticism often leaves people feeling attacked, unheard, and defensive.
While it’s not likely realistic to tell yourself that you’ll never be critical of your partner again, you can work on how you deliver your critiques. For instance, use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. Express a positive need instead of negative judgment. Avoid making your partner feel attacked.
Here’s an example. Instead of saying, “You always talk about yourself. Why are you so self-obsessed?” try reframing it as “I feel left out in our conversations. Can we please talk about my day as well?”
2. Appreciate instead of being contemptuous.
Contempt goes beyond criticism. It’s a damaging form of communication that involves attacking one’s sense of self-worth with name-calling, hostile humor, body language, and/or sarcasm.
A contemptuous relationship often involves using sarcasm or making disrespectful jokes about a partner’s character traits or behaviors, behind their back and to their face. Contempt sounds something like, “Oh, don’t start your emotional drama again.”
To cure contempt, build the habit of nurturing fondness and admiration in your relationship by engaging in appreciation.
Here’s an example. Instead of saying, “You forgot to do the laundry again? Why are you so lazy and forgetful?” try reframing it into “I understand that you’ve had a long day, but could you please remember to do the laundry on days I work late? It would be really helpful and I’d really appreciate it.”
3. Take responsibility instead of being defensive.
Defensiveness occurs when one or both partners respond to conflict by denying responsibility for their contribution to the problem and shifting blame onto their partner instead.
Defensiveness can include phrases such as:
“It’s not my fault!”
“Why are you always blaming me?”
“That’s not true!”
When people go on the defensive, it leads to further arguments without resolution because both partners feel like they have been unfairly accused or blamed for something they didn’t do.
The antidote to defensiveness is to accept responsibility for your role in a conflicting situation. Develop the habit of taking mutual responsibility.
An example: Instead of accusing the other person by saying: “It’s your fault that we’re late because you take way too much time to get dressed!” try reframing it as “I like to be on time as much as possible. But it’s OK, we can be flexible at times.”
4. Try self-soothing in place of stonewalling.
Stonewalling occurs when one person withdraws emotionally from an argument to avoid further conflict. This can take many forms—such as avoiding eye contact, walking away from discussions before they’re resolved, refusing to talk about certain topics altogether, and shutting down conversations if things get too heated.
Stonewalling does nothing to address the underlying issues between two people. Instead, it increases feelings of isolation and disconnection which can then lead to further resentment between partners over time.
Self-soothing is an antidote to stonewalling. When you sense an impending stonewalling situation, instead of shutting yourself down completely, first stop the conversation, communicate with your partner, and take a break to practice physiological self-soothing for a minimum of 20 minutes.
Here’s an example of how you can go about it: “I am feeling overwhelmed with our conversation. I need to take a break. Can you give me twenty minutes to take a walk around the block and I will get back to you after that?”
Relationships are like most other living things: They need constant nurturing to achieve their fullest expression. Take time to reflect on how you can approach your relationship with more patience, appreciation, and responsibility-taking. Things can, and will, get better.
If only Alvin Richard and Jimmie Woods had identified as black women. Maybe then Mayor LaToya Cantrell would’ve given their trash contracts the first-class treatment.
Surely, if a black woman requires $30,000 in upgraded “protection” to travel on an airplane, then black businessmen must require so much more to traverse the treacherous process of getting a major contract, then keeping it in this city.
Instead, the mayor has smeared mud on their names. And given them both a lesson in the politics of trash. Politics can get dirty in New Orleans.
Why Is Mayor Cantrell Discriminating Against Black Business?
As Gerod Stevens once said on WBOK’s The Reality Check, “Ever since these two black men got these contracts, they’ve had to fight like hell to hold on to them.”
Mayor Cantrell has had no time for their struggles. Whenever they’ve brought up an issue, her response has simply been: you can miss me with that. And she proceeded to channel her inner Mitch Landrieu and get down to the business of running these two high performing businessmen out of business.
Jimmie Woods, owner of Metro Service Group, tried to inform the administration that his company was owed more money. He explained that his company was picking up trash from more houses than initially estimated. The mayor heard that and essentially flipped him to voicemail. She then proceeded to not pay an extra dime. And that was despite a mutually agreed upon 3rd party concluding that Metro’s contract stipulated the city did in fact owe the company more money.
Then Woods and Alvin Richard of Richard’s Disposal informed the administration that COVID and Hurricane Ida had both companies hauling a larger tonnage of trash. As a result, their dump fees increased. Again, the contract required the city to pay for the extra trash. But again the mayor refused. And this too was despite both being eligible for emergency funds the city had already received from the federal government.
You can run scenario after scenario. And no matter what, the mayor’s response to the city’s legal obligations to these two black businessmen has been silence or a big so what.
You couldn’t blame Richard and Woods if this left them feeling like they’re in a similar situation as the soon-to-be ex-Mrs. Vappie claims— wondering if their contractual obligations were being screwed by the mayor.
But with Metro driven out of the residential trash disposal business in New Orleans, the mayor apparently has had no qualms about spreading her wallet wide for Sidney Torres.
With much fanfare, the mayor signed a new contract with IV Waste, Torres’s company. Now the city is paying twice as much per household than it was paying Metro. And this is for half the service — one day a week picking up, instead of two. Maybe citizens should identify with Mrs. Vappie, too.
Why all the hostility, though? Why would the mayor agree to this ridiculous contract when the city could’ve gotten better service for less. There’s a simple answer: the mayor is using Torres’ inflated contract to try and drive Richards out of business, too.
As Alvin Richard said, if you’re going to pay the competition double, then they are just going to lure his workers away. That has already started. And it hasn’t taken long for the mayor to pay Torres even more money. She quickly hired him to cover the parts of a route after Richards fell only a couple of days behind.
This is typical New Orleans politics, and politics in general. You support my campaign, and when I get elected, I’ll throw contracts your way. This is the politics of trash in New Orleans.
Remember back when Cantrell was a councilperson running a tight mayoral campaign against Desiree Charbonnet? Just as he is today, Torres was a known supporter of Cantrell then. And he took it upon himself to not only sponsor a debate, but also host it as well.
The Politics of trash in New Orleans
Attorney Suzette Bagneris made an important point on WBOK radio. Paying for a debate is a slick way of skirting campaign finance laws. Campaign finance law caps individual contributions to a mayoral candidate at $5,000. Clearly, putting on a televised debate costs a lot more than that.
Of course, Desiree Charbonnet didn’t show up. Torres then set up a PAC to attack her candidacy. And Cantrell went on to win the election. Now it seems that Mayor Cantrell has finally found a way to pay Torres back. Typical politics. Typical New Orleans.
Mayor Cantrell can get this one right. Councilman Freddie King asked Mr. Richard how much the city owed him. He replied about $5,000,000. The administration knows Richards picks up more houses than the city pays for. He deserves the full amount owed. And he should be paid the market rate of at least $28 per house. That’s what the city is paying IV Waste. So Richard’s should be equally paid for doing the exact same work.
Richard’s contract should be extended, too. For the last 15 years it has been the best disposal company in this city. They are a local success story. Celebrate and promote them. Don’t destroy another successful home-grown Black business.
Clearly, this is one of those teachable moments former president Barack Obama always talked about. From allegedly sleeping with her security detail officer, to overseeing one crime wave after another, to discriminating against two major black businesses, this mayor has given a lesson in the politics of trash. Now suddenly she finds herself surrounded by a city full of adversaries who are looking forward to a day when she and her tonnage will be hauled away.
Black owned businesses operate in every business sector. Many are small shops. But others are some of the biggest businesses in the country. These companies’ stocks are sold on national stock exchanges. They employ tens of thousands of people. These biggest Black owned companies earn billions of dollars annually. This is our list of the 20 biggest black owned companies.
Owned by Sheila Johnson, cofounder of Black Entertainment Television, Salamander Hotels and Resorts is a 168-room luxury hotel, resort, and spa located in the Virginia countryside. The hotel is built on a 340 acre property and boasts a 230,000 square foot spa with many outdoor activities such as hiking, zip-lining, and horseback riding. The resort took ten years to build, finally opening in August 2013.
Devon Industrial Group is a construction company located in Michigan. They specialize in construction projects in various sectors, including commercial, health care, industrial, and educational. The Devon Industrial Group’s main target market for its services is across the midwestern states of the United States, with the headquarters in Detroit Michigan.
Georgetown Metal Processing is a steel processing service center, specializing in blanking and warehousing located in Georgetown, Kentucky. Their produce range includes aluminum, flat-rolled steel, cold-rolled steel, coated and exposed steel products. Georgetown Metal Processing boasts an 80,000 square foot facility, which is climate controlled due to the nature of their work.
Founded in 2004, Bird Electric is a leading full-service electric company. Services provided by the company include transmission, maintenance, instrumentation and electrical construction, automation, and storm restoration. Bird Electric operates in over ten states in the United States including Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Florida, Mississippi, Idaho, California, New Mexico, Alabama, Maryland and Puerto Rico.
Richardson Foods is a leading custom ingredients manufacturer for the food and beverage industry. It is a family owned company originally founded as Baldwin Ice Cream in Chicago. Illinois in 1921. In 1997, five years after current CEO Eric Johnson purchased the company, Baldwin Ice Cream Company purchased Richardson Foods, creating Baldwin Richardson Foods. Over the next twenty years, the retail business grew to become a custom ingredients manufacturer making many kinds of liquid products for the food industry, including condiments, sauces, and syrups.
Founded in Maryland in 1999 by Charles Adams, Adams Communication & Engineering Technology is a leading technology company providing services for Government Defense, Intelligence, and other Federal Agencies of the United States. The company provides products and solutions in information systems, healthcare systems, aerospace, and electronics.
Founded in San Antonio Texas by Henry Jackson in 2005, Millennium Steel of Texas ia a steel company providing automotive grade outer body steel sheets to auto makers across the state of Texas. Their services include steel processing, warehousing, and storage.
Global Automotive Alliance is a holding company of many different companies originally founded by William Pickard in 1989. It is a consolidation of logistics and automotive manufacturing companies with eight plants in the United States and Canada. GAA supplies to top three United States automakers: Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler. In addition, it also supplies to other global companies such as Boeing, Mercedes Benz, Starbucks, and Home Depot.
Sister company of Millennium Steel of Texas, Millennium Steel Services is an automotive steel processing and warehousing company based in Princeton Indiana. It provides warehousing and supply chain management including inventory managements, inspection, slitting, and information technology system services.
Fair Oaks Farms is food services company which produces fresh, ready-to-cook, and fully cooked beef, pork, and poultry products. Products offered by the company include sausages, cured meats, smoked meats, and canned meats. Founded in 1985 in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin in the United States, Fair Oaks Farms distributes its products to a variety of national and international restaurant chains and food companies.
Operating for over 58 years, Hightowers Petroleum Co. is a petroleum products distribution company founded by Stephen “Steve” Hightower in 1982. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Hightower built the company from humble beginnings to a well-established business through persistence, drive, and determination. It is a family business providing services in bulk fuel delivery, HPC fleet cards, inventory management, emergency fuel, and supply chain managements.
Based in Silver Spring, Maryland, Urban One Inc is a publishing and broadcasting company primarily providing content aimed at the African American community. Self-titled as the “leading voice speaking to Black America “, Urban One Inc is the largest distributor of urban content in the United States since 1980. It is the largest Black-owned broadcasting company in the United States, with 53 radio stations, cable network TV One, digital media company iOne, and news provider NewsOne all under its belt.
Launched in 1991, The Andersons-Dubose Company is a distribution company providing logistics services to McDonalds and Chipotle fast food restaurants in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia in the United States. Their services roster includes transportation of groceries, happy meal toys, paper products, dairy products, frozen meat and fish, and other food products. The Anderson Dubose Company operate from two locations, one is a 210,497 square foot facility in Lordstown, Ohio and the other is in Rochester, New York.
Thompson Hospitality Corporation is a food and facilities management company providing hospitality services in the United States. It is the largest minority-owned Food Service and one of the largest Retail Food and Facilities Management companies in the United States. Thompson Hospitality Corporation was originally founded as a restaurant company in 1992 and has now branched out to offer all services of the hospitality industry.
In 2010, the company was awarded the Black Enterprise Award of Company of the Year. In 2017, Washington Business Journal ranked it #1 Minority Owned Company. And in 2019 they were again recognized by Washington Business Journal as the Largest Independent Employer Company.
6. Bridgeman Foods
Revenues: $870 Million
CEO: Ryan Bridgeman
Located in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, United States, Bridgeman Foods is a part of the fast-food and quick-service restaurants industry. Formerly known as Manna Inc, Bridgeman Foods was founded in 1988 in Louisville, Kentucky. Currently Bridgeman Foods affiliates operate 139 Wendy’s restaurants, 27 Golden Corral Buffet and Grill restaurants, 83 Fazoli’s restaurants, 6 Mark’s Feed Store restaurants, 7 Blaze Pizza restaurants, Napa River Grill, Jimmy John’s, and The Layover Bar.
Modular Assembly Innovations is one of the United States’ largest black-owned businesses. Based in Dublin, Ohio, Modular Assembly Innovations is the parent corporation of a group of certified, minority-owned companies part of the Machinery Manufacturing industry. MAI companies include Great Lakes Assemblies, Gulf Shore Assemblies, Indiana Assemblies, and North American Assemblies. These are all aware winning, tier one suppliers of automotive parts to customers in both the United States and abroad.
A family owned company, Coca-Cola Beverages Florida L.L.C. is an independent Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) beverage bottler company with over 18 million consumers across 47 counties of the state of Florida. This includes all the major metropolitan markets of Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa. Coca-Cola Beverages Florida L.L.C. , or Coke Florida as it’s known for short, manufactures, sells, and distributes over 600 products of the giant Coca Cola Company as well as many other partner companies.
Coca-Cola Beverages Florida has received a number of awards. They received the Minority Business Enterprise Supplier of the Year Class IV honor in 2020. The Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council also recognized Coca-Cola Beverages Florida L.L.C. as the Supplier of the Year Class IV in the same year.
Founded over 20 years ago, Bridgewater Interiors is an automotive seating manufacturing company based in Detroit, Michigan. The company specializes in JIT (just-in-time) manufacturing, sequencing, and delivery of seating in automotive vehicles. The company does assembly for 15 car models belonging to four automotive manufacturers. Bridgewater Interiors has four facilities at its two locations, three in Michigan and one in Alabama.
Bridgewater Interiors L.L.C has received a number of accolades throughout the years. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Commerce, through its Minority Business Development Agency, named Bridgewater Interiors its Manufacturer of the Year. General Motors (NYSE:GM), Honda (NYSE:HMC), and Ford (NYSE:F) have all recognized Bridgewater Interiors for their quality and service.
ActOne Group is a privately held corporation based in Torrance, California founded in 1964. The ActOne Group, stylized as Act 1 Group, is a global enterprise that provided employment, workforce management, and procurement solutions to a wide range of industries. ActOne is the largest debt-free woman-owned, minority-owned workforce management company in the United States. ActOne is a global leader in the human resources industry and currently operates in 19 countries around the world with 17,000 clients and 2,600 employees worldwide.
The CEO, Janice Bryant Howroyd was awarded winner of the 2016 Peter Yessne Staffing Leadership Award for all her efforts.
Topping the list of 20 biggest black-owned companies in the United States is technology solution provider World Wide Technology with $11.2 billion in annual revenue and more than 5,000 employees. Founded in 1990, World Wide Technology provides supply-chain technology to 45% of Fortune 500 companies. The company provides information technology and software solutions. Some of the world’s most recognizable brands are WWT’s customers, namely Boeing, Cisco, AT&T, Microsoft, and the US Air Force. World Wide Technology employs more than 3,800 people and operates in more than 20 facilities throughout the world.
New Orleans has a crime problem. The solution is not more police. The solution is more and better jobs. In New Orleans, that means more and better black owned businesses. Black businesses create better jobs for African Americans. And that is because black businesses hire African Americans at a higher rate and pay them more money. Our community needs more black jobs. Those are jobs for us by us.
We Need Black Jobs
Black jobs by definition are offered by African American businesses to African American people. Black companies hiring black people. Strong African American companies create generational wealth. People with good jobs are good tax paying citizens. Our city council must create meaningful pathways to black jobs. Creating access to contracts and the capital to fulfill them is the proper role of our city council. Some states offer free land or no taxes to attract businesses. The New Orleans City Council must offer contracts and capital. That creates Black jobs – African American companies hiring African Americans people to do work.
Black jobs are the key to our city’s future. Growing an African American business class provides long-term stability for our families. Hiring African Americans and providing good paying jobs has immediate impacts. People with good jobs are much less likely to engage in crime. If you got a good job – paying all your bills and have some left over – you don’t need to be on the corners involved in street crime. If you have a good paying job, you will not be angry all the time. You will have something to live for. And you won’t shoot the guy next door over “disrespect!” And having an African American company to offer the jobs means better jobs.
The best employers for young African American men are African American businesses. A reason white owned companies hire more white employees is because people like to work with people who are like them. Cohesive happy environments foster creativity, productivity and profitability. Yes diversity is very important. But we just do not have enough successful African American businesses. This dearth contributes to the troubled neighborhoods. We must do better in New Orleans. We must develop, support an grow more African American businesses. Creating business opportunities in our communities strengthens our communities. Good jobs help young men develop into good citizens. And growing Black businesses promote other ancillary Black businesses. Those will also hire African Americans. Black jobs are the best jobs.
For our existing African American owned businesses, we need to support and protect them. Bigger companies want their valuable contracts. But the city council must protect these contracts. We need successful African American companies to support our communities. The profits stay here and are multiplied when the companies are New Orleans based. New Orleans based African American companies help reduce crime, grow the tax base and create more business opportunities. More black jobs make New Orleans a better city.
We must support our local businesses. Our political leaders must contribute to their success. If they need help, that is precisely the role of government. Instead of tax breaks to attract big businesses, we need tax incentives that support local businesses. Support our local African American owned businesses. They create black jobs. Black jobs are the best jobs.
We published a list of things that white people should never say to their black co-workers. Now, Risha Grant, a public relations professional and diversity and inclusion expert, asked white people on her Facebook feed, to list the things that black people say or may do that annoy them.
Here are 16 of the top annoyances (mild and otherwise) that white people said they felt about black people mostly in the workplace, but also in general (these are posted verbatim from Risha Grant’s Facebook feed):
WHEN YOU WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH THEM AT WORK BUT THERE ARE OTHER BLACK GIRLS SO YOU JUST CAN’T GET CLOSE CUZ UR JUST THE WHITE GIRL WHO IS HELD AT ARMS LENGTH. YOU GET THE FEELING THAT THEY DON’T BELIEVE YOU WANNA BE THEIR FRIEND. THEY THINK WE ARE TOO DIFFERENT.
…THERE HAVE BEEN TIMES THAT CONVERSATION WITH A BLACK PERSON SOMEHOW TURNS TO THE TOPIC OF INEQUALITY…I HAVE NO WAY OF TRULY KNOWING ALL THE PRIVILEGE THAT I ENJOY AS A WHITE, STRAIGHT MALE. I JUST KNOW THERE ARE TIMES, I’D LIKE TO LEARN MORE AND THE DOOR CLOSES.
…ANY TIME A BLACK PERSON WALKS INTO A ROOM — SAY A NEW EMPLOYEE IN AN OFFICE — THEY MAKE A BEELINE TO THE OTHER BLACK FACES. IT CAN BE DISAPPOINTING BECAUSE I MAY KNOW FROM ADVANCE NOTIFICATION ABOUT YOUR HIRING THAT YOU AND I HAVE A LOT IN COMMON, BUT I HAVE TO WORK HARDER TO BE YOUR FRIEND.
ON SOCIAL MEDIA, A LOT OF MY ACTIVIST BLACK FRIENDS WILL POST COMPLAINTS ABOUT “WHITE PEOPLE SAY …” “WHITE PEOPLE THINK…” “WHITE PEOPLE DO …” AND I ALWAYS FEEL LIKE SAYING, “NOT ALL WHITE PEOPLE!”
… MORE COMMON AMONGST MY BLACK FRIENDS THAN ANY OTHER GROUP. I DON’T LIKE IT WHEN BLACK PEOPLE BRING UP MY ‘WHITE PRIVILEGE’ FOR THE REASON THEY AREN’T AS WELL OFF AS THEY THINK I AM
I FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE JOINING AMAZING ORGANIZATIONS IF PREFACED WITH ‘BLACK’. LIKE BLACK NURSES ASSOCIATION. THESE ARE AMAMAZAZAZING COLLEAGUES I WANT TO NETWORK WITH BUT….I’M NOT BLACK.
…HAVE NOTICED A LOT OF TIMES WHEN I EXPECT THE BLACK FRIEND OF MINE TO FOLLOW THROUGH OR FOLLOW UP ON A CONVERSATION, WEATHER [SIC] IT BE TO CONTACT SOMEONE IN BUSINESS OR TO GET BACK WITH ME WITH SOME INFORMATION IT DOESN’T ALWAYS HAPPEN. SO I WOULD SAY FOR ME IT’S FOLLOW THROUGH OR FOLLOW UP WHEN CONVERSATIONS ARE MADE ABOUT MOVING FORWARD WITH SOMETHING.
…WHEN I WAS WORKING WITH CHILDREN IT SEEMED MORE COMMON FOR BLACK ADULTS TO COME DOWN ON A CHILD FOR CRYING OR HAVING EMOTIONS (PARTICULARLY WHEN LITTLE BOYS AND YOUNG MEN CRIED, TELLING THEM TO “MAN UP.”)
I CAN SAY THAT IN MY TRADITIONAL CLASSROOMS OVER THE YEARS I’VE HAD MORE BLACK KIDS THAT SEEM TO GO RIGHT TO FIGHTING ON THE PLAYGROUND- NOT A LOT OF BUILD UP, JUST STRAIGHT TO THROWING PUNCHES
“THE VICTIM.” THE ONES THAT MAKE ANY NON BLACK RACE FEEL LIKE A DOG FOR WHAT THEIR ANCESTORS MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE DONE DURING THE PERIODS OF SLAVERY, AND ACT LIKE THE CURRENT PERIOD NON BLACK RACES OWE THEM SOMETHING FOR IT.
SPEAKING AS IF THEY ARE UNEDUCATED. NOT ACCENTS BUT REFUSING TO SPEAK CORRECTLY.
…IT SEEMS LIKE AFRICAN AMERICANS NEVER USE A CROSSWALK. EVEN IF IT’S RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM, THEY WILL GO OUT OF THEIR WAY NOT TO CROSS AT THE LIGHT. IS THERE SOMETHING THERE OR AM I IMAGINING THINGS?
IT REALLY IRRITATES ME THAT Y’ALL CAN DANCE SO MUCH BETTER THAN ME! (NO ONE WHO WITNESSED IT HAS EVER FORGOTTEN YOUR VALIANT ATTEMPT TO TEACH ME THE WOBBLE!)
…PLEASE DON’T ASSUME ALL WHITE PEOPLE SUPPORT TRUMP. BECAUSE WE DON’T.
A WHITE PERSON HAS TO WALK ON EGGSHELLS WITH CAVEATS TO KEEP OVERLY SENSITIVE PEOPLE FROM BEING OFFENDED — THAT SEEMS TO BE ONE THING THAT BLACK PEOPLE DO—GET OFFENDED TO EASILY.
BY MALAIKA BATES
The Center for Disease Control defines health disparities as “preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations .” As the second-largest minority population in the United States, African Americans have been disadvantaged racially, socially, and economically for decades and their health has been drastically affected by this trend through a number of factors.
Factors outside the community
The socioeconomic status of African Americans is a determinant of healthcare access and is an integral part of how race affects health . Racism in healthcare is not new. On average, African Americans have limited access to good quality, conveniently located healthcare facilities. In communities with a high proportion of African Americans, these necessary facilities are placed few and far between and are of poor quality. This has fostered a mindset that is in denial of health issues amongst the community members as there are most times no affordable treatment available, increasing the percentage of chronic illnesses. Research has shown a high correlation between low income and being uninsured, implying that African Americans struggle to afford any insurance.
A racial and economic gap has existed between African Americans and white Americans since 1968 with no significant sign of change. People assume that the amount of money someone makes is based on their job, but for African Americans, their race is tied to their income level and as a result, their health. The average black person has earned about 57 percent of what the average white American makes from 1968 to 2016 . The U.S. economy enforces regulations that keep the majority of the finances in the hands of the richest members of society, excluding most people of the African American race .
Still today, the average white American household earns 6.5 times the amount of an African American household, despite a thriving U.S. economy. Income level is also reflected in the type and placement of housing, allowing for large groups of people within the same race and income level to form their own neighborhoods and attracting those who wish to take advantage of this.
Factors within the community
Health starts with what you eat. Everything you put inside your body is either nourishment or a detriment and for African Americans, the latter is more often true but not by accident. It has been found that unhealthy foods are promoted heavier in African American communities as they are often cheaper and what can be afforded, leading to drastically reduced access to healthy food choices, even in grocery stores. Studies have shown that there is a higher prevalence of fast-food restaurants among and an inverse relationship with low-income neighborhoods, even at the national level . This means that as the overall income level of the neighborhood goes down, the number of fast-food restaurants increases.
In most cases, the population of African Americans per area was a better indicator of fast-food restaurant density than household . Essentially, increasing proportions of African Americans in a neighborhood is an indicator of average decreasing income levels and is positively correlated with an increasing number of fast-food restaurants. The conclusion can be made that these fast-food establishments follow elevated African American populations because they are guaranteed business as their prices are more affordable, but the food rarely has any great nutritional value and is highly fattening. What can be seen as somewhat healthy, such as a side salad, is often twice or three times as expensive making it the least likely to be bought by people with limited funds or knowledge of healthier food options.
Effects and implications of these factors
It is no surprise that with all these factors in place to promote unhealthy eating amongst the African American population, a frightening number of health concerns have also raised. The risk factors, morbidity, incidence, and mortality rates for the top ten leading causes of death are disproportionately greater for African Americans than white Americans . This leads to elevated death rates for heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and homicide, and decreased life expectancy overall for African Americans at an average of 76.1 years compared to 79.8 years for white Americans .
Another obvious effect would be the high obesity rates among adults and children that contribute to a number of additional health risks such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attacks, and strokes, not to mention decreased performance in completing everyday tasks. The strategic placement of and excess access to unhealthy food without the same ease of access to health facilities to combat the issues that arise shows that the U.S. economy has no intention of closing the racial or socioeconomic gap between white Americans and African Americans soon.
What can be done to alleviate these effects?
This issue with African American health disparities is a matter of environmental justice because it is concerned with the equal distribution of environmental burdens such as health hazards and other inequalities . It is the responsibility of the U.S. government to provide all citizens with equal access to healthy food choices and healthcare facilities. The implementation of universal, race-neutral policies would be a step in the right direction . Other means of solving the food situation in African American neighborhoods directly might include improved transportation to facilitate access to healthful foods or mobile markets to increase the supply of fresh produce, and nutritional education . There is too much of U.S. history built out of racism for all of our problems to be fixed with any one solution, but these propose a good start. Until the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities between African-Americans and white Americans are dissolved, environmental justice cannot be achieved.
If you haven’t tried some of these, your waistline really wants you to.
If you haven’t tried some of these, your waistline really wants you to.
There’s a good reason that some like it hot. Capsaicin — the compound that gives peppers their fiery kick — helps boost metabolism by raising your body temperature.
Surprise! Contrary to popular belief, hot red peppers aren’t the only veggies that contain metabolism-boosting capsaicin. Though bell peppers have smaller amounts, they still allow you to get your fix.
Celery might not seem like it has any superpowers, but it’s blandness can be beneficial. It doesn’t have much taste on its own, but chomping on the super low-calorie food stimulates digestion, keeps your body hydrated, and has plenty of fat-burning fiber, all of which amp up your metabolism.
Nothing to be sorry for, Charlie. Tuna — along with salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines — contains omega-3 fatty acids, which stimulate the production of hormones that regulate metabolism and appetite.
You need water to survive — and drinking eight glasses a day is also great for your metabolism. A small study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that consuming 500 ml of water caused metabolic rate to spike 30 percent within 10 minutes, an effect that lasted for around a half hour.
These nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fats, which studies show could help melt belly fat. The how isn’t totally clear, but it could be because mitochondria, the energy factories of cells, need polyunsaturated fats to help burn flab.
If you’re going to cut back on an Italian dinner, it’s better to ditch the pane than the vino. Refined carbs found in white bread and pasta trigger a release of insulin, which can then store as extra fat. Red wine, on the other hand, contains resveratrol, which may help you better metabolize the sugar you do eat.
It has nothing to do with looks but it’s universally appealing.
by Rosemary K.M. Sword and Philip Zimbardo Ph.D.
Studies indicate that compassion is one of the top traits people find attractive in others.
Practicing compassion-focused meditation on a regular basis can slow aging and increase happiness.
Research suggests that seeing someone helping another person creates a state of elevation in the onlooker.
Throughout our decades of research, we’ve found that compassion is the overarching trait that brings out the best in oneself, as well as others. Our work includes time perspective, post-trauma, shyness, evil, heroism, meditation, and the indigenous Hawaiian practice of ho’oponopono. Moreover, in recent years studies indicate that compassion is proving to keep people younger, more attractive, healthier, and happier. For us, that is one big wow.
Compassion may be defined as sympathy or concern for the suffering of others, but it’s much more than that. It involves feelings of empathy with someone else and an authentic desire to turn those feelings into pro-social action, when possible (Goetz, Keltner, et al, 2010). We also know that compassion can be taught through meditation training, and, for example, can increase prosocial affect and behavior (Condon, Desbordes, et al, 2012; Lieber, Klimecki, et al, 2011).
To experience true compassion, we must, on some level, feel a deep, emotional connection – empathy – with one or more other people. The recipients of our empathy may be total strangers, or perhaps animals, anywhere in the world. Curiously, for whatever reason, we relate to and connect with them and their situation.
Gain big benefits by being compassionate
While there are numerous benefits to having a compassionate nature – such as routinely taking kind actions that help others – there are also advantages for the compassionate person:
Compassion can slow the aging process. Throughout our lives, telomeres – the genetic markers for aging – generally shorten. Scientists can determine by the length of telomeres, and how quickly their length diminishes, how old a person is, as well as how fast they’re aging1. In 2019, a team of researchers, including psychologists at the University of North Carolina, led by Khoa Le Nyugen, discovered something amazing after conducting a 12-week randomized controlled trial. They compared the length of telomeres in people who practiced loving-kindness meditations with those who didn’t. As expected, the length of telomeres in non-meditators shortened. But astonishingly, the length of telomeres in the loving-kindness meditators did not shorten at all2.
Compassion makes you more attractive to others. Research also indicates that when a person exemplifies characteristics associated with compassion such as empathy, kindness, and selflessness, they are more desirable partners3. And according to a study conducted by University of Iowa social psychology professor Eva Klohnen we are genetically attracted to compassionate people4. This makes perfect sense as we all want to be around people who understand us and also love us.
Compassion-focused meditations deliver multiple benefits. These meditations can heighten optimism and positive feelings5, increase stress immunity6, enhance feelings of closeness, connectedness, and social bonding7, and decrease posttraumatic stress symptoms8.
To paraphrase the Dalai Lama, compassion is innate and, like a muscle, it can be strengthened with exercise. According to master meditation instructor Vishen Lahkiani, “From a spiritual approach, you can train our brain to be kinder and more compassionate through meditation .… Think of it as the act of moving from judgment to caring, from isolation to connection from indifference or dislike to understanding.”
In case you are new to meditation, we share Lahkiani’s 6 steps to compassionate meditation below to help you get started. As he shares, “It will take a bit of practice, and it might feel weird or silly at first. But once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature.”
Bring a loved one to mind. Take a deep breath, and on your exhale, see a loved one in front of you in the most vivid detail possible. If you’re not a visual person, just sense their presence. Internalize the feeling of compassion by tuning into the love they inspire within you. Bring awareness to your heart space, and give those feelings of love a color. It could be pink, light blue, green — whatever comes to mind. Allow your heart to marinate in that color.
Allow the compassion you feel to encompass your body. Let yourself go from feeling compassion for your loved one in your heart to feeling the sensations all over your body. Feel it forming a comforting bubble around you. Try your best to find compassion for yourself. As a good friend of mine once put it: “Fill your cup first, only then can you serve from your overflow.”
Expand compassion into the room you’re in. Take another deep breath, and as you exhale, see that bubble of compassion expanding. Imagine it growing and covering everything in the room, including people, plants, pets — no boundaries needed.
Send your compassion to the streets. Now that you’ve got the hang of expanding compassion through a small space, you’re ready to go further afield into your neighborhood. Imagine your bubble of compassion spreading throughout your entire home first, touching anyone who lives there. Next, imagine it expanding to engulf your entire neighborhood.
Allow compassion to encompass your city and country. Start with your city, then expand to your entire country. For this part, imagine a map of your town or city in your mind’s eye that zooms out into a map of your country. See the space beneath you as if you’re flying over it in a helicopter or viewing a drone shot of it.
Allow your compassion to envelop the Earth. This is where things get interesting. Take a deep breath. From your country, you’re going to keep sending this compassion out into your continent on the exhale. Then make your way through every continent for each new exhale. This is the final stage of the practice that connects us not just to those closest to us, but to all of life on Earth.
If you get lost at any point, return to step one. See your loved one in front of you again, charge yourself up with love, and spread it outward again.
By practicing compassionate meditation for a few minutes each day, we can live a happier, healthier life as well as transform not only the way we think about ourselves and those we’re close to, but also the world. How? By the positive micro- and macro- actions we’ll make happen due to our expanded capacity for compassion. Research suggests that seeing someone helping another person creates a state of elevation in the onlooker (Algoe and Haidt, 2009). This data in turn proposes that elevation then inspires onlookers to help others—and it may just be the force behind a domino effect of greater empathy and giving.
Finally, we advance the proposition that compassion is contagious: Acts of generosity and kindness beget more generosity in a chain reaction of goodness going forward (Fowler and Christakis, 2010). Let us become the bright spark that illuminates the world.
Maybe the City Council should have a say over who the police chief appoints too. They’ve already gained control over the mayor’s appointees. And given who Interim Chief Michelle Woodfork has surrounded herself with, there may be some questions in order. Let’s meet some of these people, starting with her 2nd in command.
Captain Hans Ganthier. Never heard of him? Well you should’ve. Ganthier was one of the off-duty officers involved in the Beachcorner incident. Remember, that’s when a gang of white off-duty NOPD officers jumped 4 black off-duty RTA workers after an argument in the bathroom line. They kicked and stomped one of the workers, then planted a gun on him, then tried to cover it up by getting an innocent bystander to help falsify a police report.
Ganthier was listed as one of the officers directly involved in the beating. Now Woodfork has appointed him as her right-hand man. Should there be outrage? Belden “Noonie Man” Batiste thinks so.
“You tell me we gon make this man the 2nd in charge when we got a black mayor who says she’s a black woman, but she hires somebody who beat 2 black people up and possibly called them the n-word? Something is wrong with that system to me.”
Last week, mayor Cantrell, for some reason, voluntarily revealed that she had a say over who Woodfork did and did not appoint.
“Think about it,” Batisite said, “if she’s saying that, then she’s saying the chief don’t got no power. But for the police to do the job they need to do; we need a police chief that the mayor can’t control. That’s the problem with this city.”
Woodfork’s other move was promoting Captain Nicholas Gernon to Deputy Chief of Professional Standards and Accountability. This is an interesting choice, considering that the Independent Police Monitor just investigated Gernon. And they concluded that his standards and accountability weren’t up to par during an investigation he led.
Gernon was tasked with determining whether there was some shadyness in how summons were issued after Batiste and then council member Jay Banks had a dust up. 6 officers, including a captain, 2 lieutenants, and 2 sergeants showed up at Batiste’s house to issue a minor summons. Yet, Banks was allowed to simply pick his up from a police station.
Somehow Gernon failed to conclude that a show of force of that magnitude wasn’t an act of intimidation or that Banks received preferential treatment. The Police Monitor wasn’t shy about calling that out in their report.
The report “asserts that Investigating Officer Capt. Gernon should have conducted a more thorough investigation into the allegations of disparate treatment and whether then-Councilmember Jay Banks’ political status had any influence over the involved officers.”
Should the Council Vet Chief’s Appointments?
And then again it says, “In reviewing this investigation, the OIPM concluded that Investigating Officer Capt. Gernon should have also considered the appearance and the perception that could be created by seeing a group of officers, including a district captain, two lieutenants, and two sergeants, showing up at a house unannounced to serve a summons for a minor offense.”
Ironically, one of the involved officers was Interim Chief Woodfork herself. Gernon cleared her. And now, she’s given him a promotion. Banks, meanwhile, got a position in the mayor’s office. In contrast, Batiste, one of the leaders of the mayoral recall, got harassed.
“Make this make sense to me,” Batiste said. “Woodfork is just promoting all of her friends. And we got good officers stepping down behind these appointments. It’s just another example of the favoritism and nepotism that 86% of officers said they was tired of.”
Some might say there’s nothing to see here. That it’s just an example of Woodfork getting a top position and bringing along the people she trusts most to help her serve. Possibly, but their performance and reputations precede them.
“I’m asking for justice,” Batiste said. “We need a plan and we need a plan now. People are being robbed, carjacked, bust in the head, and how we supposed to believe in this chief when she promoting people who cover up crimes? If she’s doing that, what else is she about to do?”
Being that the national search for a permanent chief is off to a less than stellar start, it looks like Woodfork will hold the position for a while. So going forward, we are all about to get a front row seat to see exactly what she’s about to do. Hopefully, in a good way, we’ll all be in store for a nice surprise.