Sunday, May 02, 2021

Employee Mental Health and The Pandemic

In case you didn't know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  This year, probably more so than in years past, mental health is even more important because of the pandemic.  No doubt about it, the pandemic has taken its toll on all us in one way or another.  

  • As a matter of fact, a recent survey, conducted by The Conference Board, indicates 60 percent of U.S. workers are concerned about their mental and psychological wellbeing in the wake of the pandemic's aftermath. 
  • More than one-third of respondents also expressed concerns about their physical wellbeing, including fear of getting sick. 
  • Another one-third worried about social wellness and belonging, such as opportunities to connect with others. 
  • Spiritual wellbeing was of least concern, with only 10 percent reporting they were worried about feeling a sense of purpose in what they do.

When it comes to the generations, Millennials appear to be the group who are most concerned with their mental and psychological wellbeing. The survey also indicates they are also more concerned than other generations about professional and financial wellbeing. 

  • GenXers were more concerned about social wellness and belonging than other respondents. 
  • Baby Boomers are more concerned about physical wellbeing than their generational counterparts.
  • Women were more concerned about spiritual wellbeing and slightly more concerned about physical, professional, and financial wellbeing than men. 
  • Men were slightly more concerned about social wellbeing than women.

What was surprising to me about the survey is that an overwhelming number of employees said they felt their supervisors genuinely cared for their wellbeing.

Let's see how much that changes in the next year.  How has the pandemic affected you personally?

Friday, April 23, 2021

Stop Jumping on Every Bandwagon


Dear Fellow Black Folks and Well Meaning White Folks,

I think we can all agree that the Derek Chauvin GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS was a VICTORY for the majority of us, not only in this country---but around the world.  No one will ever forget seeing Chauvin's knee on the neck of George Floyd for more than 9 minutes as he cried out for his mama and yelling "I can't breathe!"  The image of Chauvin kneeling nonchalantly on Floyd's neck will be edged into our minds forever.  

Meanwhile, just hours before the Chauvin verdict, police in nearby Brooklyn Center, MN shot and killed a 20-year-old black man named Duante Wright, whose crime at the time was having an expired registration tag.  The police officer, Kim Potter, claimed she was going for her taser but pulled out her Glock 9mm handgun and fatally shot him.  There have been stories circulating about whether or not there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest on aggravated robbery charges, which USA Today clearly determined was FALSE. There has been a lot of disinformation about the young man.  My point here is if he didn't have an expired registration tag, perhaps he wouldn't have been a target that day.  We should not be giving the "trigger-happy" police a reason to stop us because we know they will and if they believe they are justified, they will surely do it and then all hell is likely to break loose.

Next, we have 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who was gunned down while running away from the police in Chicago. The video in that case seems to show him dropping something on the ground right before he turned around to put his hands up. Police and the media claim it was a gun.  My question is: If it was,  what was a 13-year-old doing with a gun?  Who gave it to him and why was he out during the wee hours of the morning on March 29th? 

Then we have 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant of Columbus. OH who was gunned down by Officer Nicholas Reardon, who was responding to a call about someone with a knife threatening bodily harm to another.  Now this case doesn't sit well with me.  There are too many unanswered questions that I haven't heard responses to.  For example:  Who made the 9-1-1 call to report the incident?  Family members say it was the deceased, however, that has not yet been determined.  You may say it doesn't matter who made the call.  The fact of the matter is a young girl is dead at the hands of the police.  While I agree with you, I'm looking at it differently.  The video I saw clearly shows she had a knife and was lunging at someone.  If the person she had been trying to stab was my daughter or grandson, I would be grateful that their lives had been spared.  Once again, we don't know all of the facts but many of us are up in arms over the fact that a cop killed an "innocent child" who had her whole life ahead of her.

My question is:  why was this child in a foster home when her mother was living in the same area?  Why did she feel the need to defend herself with a knife?  What led up to the confrontation?  Various media outlets are putting their spin on the situation and family members only want you to know she was "smart" "loving" and an "honor roll student" but no one knows for sure except Ma'Khia (who can't tell us) and the other parties involved (who may be reluctant to talk or may try to sway public opinion their way).

Unfortunately, we are now living in a world where so much unreliable information is being spread and because of the state of the country, we are sucked into the drama.  We are demanding police departments be defunded and every cop who shoots a black victim go to jail for life (or receive a death sentence).  The truth of the matter is, not every person who gets shot by the police is innocent.  Just like there are bad cops, there are bad people who commit violent crimes without regard to the lives of others.

And then we have some gold-digging family members who grieve for the sake of a GoFundMe page.  Dear White people:  Don't let your bleeding heart liberalism make you foolishly open up your wallets to support a not so worthy cause.  Perhaps those family members should've thought about the value and importance of life insurance.

Now I know this is not going to be a popular post among many and I will be criticized for not being down for the Black Lives Matter Movement, but I just want to state for the record, I'm not prepared to jump on EVERY bandwagon until I have all the facts.  Perhaps, that's the true journalist in me.  

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Havoc of the Pandemic on Your Finances


A new survey indicates many Americans believe the pandemic has seriously altered their financial situation, which may force them to delay their retirement or not be able to retire at all.    

When news of the COVID-19 wildfire started spreading out of control across the country, many businesses were forced to shut down. As a result, millions of us lost our jobs. (I was one of them). Even though unemployment benefits were made available it didn't prove to be enough to make ALL ends meet for some families.  When you're trying to live off of $600/week with more than $3000/month in household expenses, it can be more than challenging.  Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers were busy complaining about how some people were making more money by collecting an unemployment check than they did on their jobs. (Perhaps if they raised the minimum wage to something people can actually live off of, no one would give a damn about unemployment!)  

According to the survey, 1 in 5 people say the pandemic has forced them to delay their retirement or no longer retire at all.  The study also found that nearly 30 percent of Americans have saved less or stopped saving for retirement all together because they lost their job or another reason.  Nearly 40 percent say they have or will likely withdraw money from their retirement plan.  

The survey also reveals the fact that younger adults have struggled with navigating their finances the most:  62 percent of millennials and 51 percent of Gen Xers say the pandemic has made their finances more complicated and is forcing them to re-think the priorities in their lives.  On the other hand, just 27 percent of baby boomers say they are facing financial challenges.

In another survey conducted by Pew Research, the picture was even more bleak:

1 in 4 adults say they have trouble paying their monthly bills. 35 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 and 30 percent of those ages 30 to 49 say they have had trouble paying their bills. This compares with 22 percent of those ages 50 to 64 and 10 percent of those 65 and older. 

1 in 6 adults say they have borrowed money from family or friends or gotten food from a food bank. 

Blacks make up 40 percent of those who say they used money from their savings or retirement to pay monthly household expenses, compared to just 29 percent of whites.

28 percent of Blacks said they had problems paying their rent or mortgage, compared to 11 percent of whites.   

Some economists are saying it could take up to four years to fully recover from the pandemic.  What do you think?  Do you think we'll ever fully recover?

Sunday, April 11, 2021

When will Confidence Against COVID be Restored

Will we ever return to "business as usual" since the invasion of COVID-19 more than a year ago?  According to a new Pew Research Center survey nearly 60 percent of Americans believe it will take a  more than a year before most businesses, schools, churches, etc., return to what they were prior to the pandemic.  

Although more than four million businesses received emergency loans from the Small Business Association (SBA), a study conducted by researchers at Harvard Business School and The University of Chicago indicates over 100 thousand small businesses have closed their doors forever.  Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center study shows that only 16 percent believe businesses will be able to bounce back in 6 months to a year.   A whopping 81 percent believe it will take a year or more for the job market to recover.

When you examine the study along gender, racial, income status, and political lines, it reveals the following:

60% of women believe it could take two or more years to return to some sense of normalcy, compare to 53 percent of men.  

64% of Black Americans believe it will take longer than a year to resume a normal life, compared to 56% for Asians and 51% for Hispanics.  

People in the upper income brackets are the most optimistic about when life will return to normal.  49% believe the country will get back to business as usual in 6 months to a year compared to 43 percent of people who fall into the middle income bracket and 40% for lower income.

Republicans account for 44% of people who think it will take more than two years for jobs to return in comparison to 26% of Democrats. (Wonder how different these numbers would be in Trump were still in office)?    

It's been over a year now since we've been dealing with the pandemic that has taken more than 500 thousand lives.  Personally, I don't want us to return to "business as usual."  I want to see us grow from this mess and implement new strategies to avoid a similar disaster in the future.  Perhaps it means getting rid of ELECTED OFFICIALS on the local, state and national levels to make that happen.  What do you think? 

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Why is Easter a Floating holiday?

This inquiring mind wants to know.....why is Easter a floating holiday?

When I was five-years-old Easter was on April 22; At the age of 10, Easter was on March 26; In 1972 it was celebrated on April 2; Last year the date was April 12 and now in 2021, we recognize Easter on April 4.  So how do all of these different dates play out for Christians who believe Jesus died on a specific date?   

As a child I was taught Jesus died on the cross on a Friday (which we observed as Good Friday) and He arose three days later.  No specific date was ever given and as a child I never questioned it.  My main concerns as the time were seeing the Easter Bunny, getting a cute little dress to wear to church, coloring Easter eggs and getting an Easter basket.  The date seemed irrelevant.  But today my mind is piqued with curiosity on why Easter is celebrated on different dates?  Is this more symbolism rather than actual fact?

Here are the facts I've gathered:

Easter is determined by the Jewish calendar.  Easter's date varies so much because it is dictated by the moon. Easter falls on the First Sunday after the full moon date.  (In 2021, that date was recorded as March 28). If the full moon falls on a Sunday, Easter is celebrated the following Sunday.  Because the Jewish calendar is tied to solar and lunar cycles, the dates of Passover and Easter fluctuate from year to year.

Easter is mentioned only once in the Bible (King James version).  The other versions refer to the Passover. 

In the Hebrew Bible, Passover is a festival that commemorates the liberation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt.  Easter, meanwhile, is a springtime Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and freedom from sin and death.  

Good Friday is a day set aside for Christians to remember and mourn the death of Jesus and then to turn around three days later and celebrate His resurrection.  Twelve states have made Good Friday a public holiday:  Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota.  NC celebrated Easter Monday  from 1935-1987 because of an early 2oth century tradition of state government workers taking the day off to attend an annual baseball game between N.C. State and Wake Forest.

Easter actually started out as a pagan festival celebrating Spring in the northern hemisphere, prior to Christianity.  To be a pagan meant you worshipped many gods but when Christianity came on the scene, we were taught there was only one God to worship.

There was a German tradition known as the Easter Hare, where bringing eggs to good children became a custom.  When German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, they brought the Easter Hare tradition with them and the wild hare they used to use was replaced by a domestic bunny rabbit and tied directly to the Easter celebration. 

Since there is no exact recording of the death of Jesus that probably explains why Easter is a floating holiday.  And man, with his greed and capitalism, has done his best to make the most of it.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Why Going to an HBCU is Important Part II


This is an update to the original post I wrote in August of 2019:  

Let me first of all say, I am NOT a Stephen A. Smith fan.  I understand what he does and, perhaps, why he does it but I don't like his antics with all of the yelling and "I know it all" attitude.  I do, however, respect him a lot because I truly understand that to get where he is today has been no easy task.  He is to be applauded for that.  Another black man paving the way......

Today, I was watching First Take with Stephen A.  and Max Kellerman and I was rather moved by Stephen A's tribute to HBCUs.  I watched him do it last year but this time it was different.  It seemed more sincere.  LESS of Stephen A. and more about the HBCU he represents--Winston-Salem State University (WSSU).  I got to hear from students who went there and their reasons why---they ALL said the same thing:  They felt like they were a part of a family there and were nurtured in addition to being educated.  Their motto:  Earn to Learn, Depart to Serve.  That resonated so deeply with me because I never thought of my alma mater as very nurturing (as a matter of fact, it was just the opposite. At Ohio University, I felt like I was being thrown into the lion's den and had to fight daily to escape). I have no doubt I received a good education there but that's all it was.  I went out into the world to show everyone what a great school I went to.  OU did not encourage me, in any way, to go out and serve in the same way HBCU students are indoctrinated to do.  I have often wondered had I gone to an HBCU would I have had similar success in radio and television news?  Perhaps, I would've had even more.  But who knows.

I am so happy my daughter chose to go to an HBCU (North Carolina A&T University) even though I had my heart set on her going to my alma mater.  And I can honestly say right now I am excited to be affiliated with another HBCU--North Carolina Central University (NCCU), where I work part-time as a Writing Consultant--helping students find their unique voices through their writing. Their motto is:  Truth and Service.    It is a position I absolutely LOVE and it is my way way of giving back.  It is my way of nurturing young minds and being connected with a "family."   

Here are some other HBCU Facts you may not know:

60 percent of all Engineering degrees are earned by black students

70 percent of black dentists and physicians earned degrees from an HBCU

40 percent of blacks in Congress come from HBCU's

HBCU's  only have 1/8 of the average size of endowments that PWI's have

Cheyney University of PA was the first HBCU founded in 1837

In addition to Stephen A. Smith (WSSU), other celebrities attending HBCUs include Oprah Winfrey (Tennessee State), Samuel L. Jackson (Morehouse College), Taraji P. Henson (NC A&T/Howard University) and Chadwick Boseman, a.k.a "The Black Panther" (Howard University).

And there were many notable Black Scholars including:  Poet/Playwright Langston Hughes (Lincoln University),  Biologist Ernest Just (South Carolina State University) Mathematician and computer scientist Katherine Johnson (West Virginia State University), and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Colbert King (Howard University). 

These are just a few examples of what makes going to an HBCU so special.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Karma Needed and Appreciated in 2020


To say it's been one hell of a year is clearly an understatement! When I look back over all that I've been through personally and professionally in 2020, I know it is by the Grace of God that I am still able to persevere.  In addition I have watched in horror as people of color have been beaten and murdered at the hands of police and vigilantes like Kyle Rittenhouse.  We continue to fight against social injustice, police brutality, the Covid health disparities and economic hardships ON TOP OF being led---no, I mean  dragged by an illiterate and non-functioning Trump Administration.  

But that's not what this particular post is about. Today I experienced some karma that was so needed and truly appreciated.   Here's what happened:  I went to the post office to purchase some stamps and mail some Christmas cards.  I put the stamps inside the case of my cell phone and then proceeded to go to the beauty supply store.  I made a purchase there and then went to the Dollar Tree to get some more Christmas cards.  While in line I noticed a woman behind me who had a few items so I offered to pay for them.  She said, "Happy Birthday to me!"

"Oh, it's your birthday today?", I said.

"Yes, it is and I was just buying some items to wear."  Now mind you, we're in a dollar store that doesn't sell clothes.  Her items consisted of Christmas tree ornaments, a wreath and some lights I believe. 

"Well, Happy Birthday to you!  My daughter's birthday is next Tuesday."  My husband then chimed in and said his daughter's birthday was today also (which I obviously forgot).

After the clerk rang her items up she continued to thank me and I asked her to just pay it forward when she could.  She said she would.

Now once I got back in the car, I realized I didn't have my stamps and assumed they had fallen out of my phone when I made the purchase. So I asked my husband to go back into the store to see if he could find them.  No such luck.  I then told him we'd have to go back to the post office to get another book of stamps because I really needed them to finish my Christmas card mailings.  (I also knew I was going to spend another $11 because the post office doesn't give refunds on lost postage).

Then I thought, perhaps I should go back to the beauty supply store where I FIRST went after the post office to see if, by chance, someone had found then and turned them in.   When I walked in there was another young lady at the register.  I told her I was looking for the person who waited on me about 15 minutes earlier because I had lost a book of stamps.  And guess what?

The cashier said, "Yes, we found them!" Then she handed them to me.  All I could do was cry, thank her, and think about the KARMA that had come back to me for a small gesture I did for someone else.  I needed that---especially on a day like today when I woke up dealing with some health setbacks.

When I was a child, my parents used to say "What goes around comes around."  KARMA is real.  How you treat others will come back to you---good or bad.

Employee Mental Health and The Pandemic

In case you didn't know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  This year, probably more so than in years past, mental health is even mo...