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Meet the first African American champion in the history of the Scripps National Spelling Bee!

Zaila Avant-garde, 14, of Louisiana USA, won the event in Lake Buena Vista, Florida becoming the second Black champion in the bee’s 96-year history. The only previous Black winner of the spelling bee was Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica, who won the event in 1998. Her win is significant to us, because black children were often excluded from participating on the national stage, even well after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Schools were ordered to racially integrate in the late 1950s, but this did not prevent white supremacists in governing positions within these schools to purposely exclude black children, by cunningly finding ways to make it difficult for black children to advance in the contest.

During Zaila’s spelling stint, she appeared virtually unaffected by stage fright. In fact, the only bump in her night came when she spelled “nepeta,” a genus of Old World mints.Chaitra Thummala, 12, of San Francisco, was the runner-up, and Bhavana Madini, 13, of New York City, placed third. The winning word was of course, an unusual one. “Murraya,” which is the genus of a fragrant tropical Asiatic and Australian tree.

She has been competing in spelling bees since she was 12, and participated in the 2019 Scripps Spelling Bee but did not place, and last year’s tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This now 14 year old also shares her love for spelling with basketball. She holds three marks in the Guinness World Records for her basketball prowess, according to the Times-Picayune. She owns records for the most bounce juggles in one minute with four basketballs (255), set last November, and most basketball bounces in 30 seconds (307), also with four basketballs, also set in November. In January 2021, she tied the record for most basketballs dribbled simultaneously by one person, bouncing six at once to share the record with Joseph Odhiambo, of Mesa, Arizona. She got her first record in 2019 for the most bounce juggles with three basketballs in one minute, finishing with 231.

Avant-garde said she hopes to become an NBA coach someday or work with NASA, the Times-Picayune also reported. She added that she might also pursue neuroscience, a topic she learned about while listening to the NPR podcast “Invisibilia.”

With her talent on the court and her otherworldly intellect, Zaila serves as real inspiration to black children, like Venus and Serena Williams have been to a new generation of Black women tennis champions. Remember the The against-all-odds success story featured in the 2006 fictional film “Akeelah and the Bee?” Now we have Zaila and the bee, and her inevitable success will play a significant role in fostering a new generation of black success stories.

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Slavery helped to generate ‘The Absent Black Father’

BY TARYN ST.LOUIS, JUNE 10, 2020

Let’s focus on our black kings. The head of the household, defenders of their bloodlines. Our black men aren’t failing their families because they want to. They are failing because they weren’t taught how to be men. Sounds harsh? Well, let’s think about this. How many single mothers do you know? The cycle has been in existence for years, and even though we may try many ways to escape the reality, it dates back to slavery.

As a baby needs time and guidance in order to learn how to walk, so does a people who were ripped of every social freedom known to man.

What would life have been like for a family torn apart and sold to multiple slave owners? According to Heather Andrea Williams of University of North Carolina, https://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/, Both slaves and slave owners referred to these relationships between men and women as “abroad marriages.” A father might live several miles away on a distant plantation and walk, usually on Wednesday nights and Saturday evenings to see his family as his obligation to provide labor for an owner took precedence over his personal needs. Does this sound familiar in any way?


Many of our ancestors watched their families torn apart as children, and got accustomed to a visit from their daddy every now and then. Belonging to another human being while trying to maintain a household is a different level of sorrow. Each mother who was left with the task of raising our black men tried their best, but the anger was already there. Festering through our bloodlines, this dark stain of involuntary absenteeism and lack of healthy family dynamics rears its ugly head in all of our communities. Our men are perpetuating these social ills and our women, unfortunately, have accepted them as normal.

How do we change? Of course, there are many examples of healthy black nuclear families and single moms and dads who raise healthy, well-rounded children. So here is the answer. Lead by example. This is our only hope. If we want to see change, we must become that change. As a baby learns to walk, through patience and guidance, we must show our children what it means to have a healthy family bond.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Author Unknown

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Black businesses will not survive without the support of black people.

BY TARYN ST.LOUIS, JUNE 10, 2020

Why buy black? It is a fact that the race that does not support it’s own, will be controlled by those who do. Buying from black businesses in your community not only supports a dream, it will also raise the economic power of the people. Black owned businesses and black consumers are a necessary alliance. In 2015, black people represented over 1.1 trillion dollars in spending power. This spending power was mostly exercised in markets outside of the black community. If this spending power was used within our own communities, can you imagine what that would mean?

Why do we support others instead of our own?

Let’s think deeper on this. Wide spread psychological programming has powers that many refuse to accept. According to Established Author, Michael Rice, “Psycho social conditioning including the Willie Lynch effect, racism and post traumatic slave syndrome contribute strongly to the black condition. To ensure compliant and submissive slaves, The Willie Lynch syndrome was instituted which was a brainwashing process that resulted in mental control of the behaviors of captive slaves.” Think about it for a minute. There were more slaves on those plantations than there were slave masters. The only way to ensure control was to implement a system in which we devalued ourselves in favor of others. Of course, this did not work on everyone, especially the mentally strong, but the masses were left virtually defenseless as their minds were held captive most times in bodies that could’ve easily escaped to freedom. The challenge therefore, is for us to start seeing ourselves as worthy.

According to Cashmere Nicole Carillo, Founder of Beauty Bakery in San Diego, “Now is a time for everyone to create change and a lasting legacy.”

What can we benefit?

There is no blueprint for change, but we can show you why making changes in the way we spend can benefit us tremendously:

  1. Lower unemployment in our communities
  2. Enrichment of our own communities
  3. Greater Control of our own communities
  4. Creating a legacy for our bloodlines
  5. Closing the racial wealth gap

How can we fix it?

Let’s start with the business owner. It is time to take your business seriously. There is no blueprint for success, but your perseverance in business matters. If you don’t take the time to research what you’re selling and understand your market, your business is likely to fail. Take the time to learn the importance of a good customer- client relationship and remember that the well – known phrase, ‘the customer is always right’, does not mean that the customer cannot be wrong; it highlights the fact that the customer is ‘king’. Without a customer base, you will have zero profits. Read that again!

There are no friends in business. Establish your professionalism and ensure that your friends understand this before you even start selling to them. Your reputation will be your legacy. Do not sell inferior products or products that you don’t believe in yourself. Marketing is paramount! If you don’t have a marketing team yourself, research affiliate programs that can benefit your business, or take the time to get in depth knowledge of marketing so you can be your own team. Finally, did I say that your perseverance in business matters? Don’t give up!

It’s up to us!

Want to buy black? Yes you do! Research black owned businesses in your community. If you need a particular product, find out if there are any black owned businesses that you can buy it from. This is not a quick fix, but we can do this over time. Every time you feel the urge to buy something, ask yourself.. in what possible way can this purchase benefit my community and the generations after me?

Here are 10 black owned business sites you can review:

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