The cold facts stare us in our face:
Fact 1: More than 300 girls were abducted from the rural northeast region of Nigeria on April 15 while attending secondary school; 276 are still believed to be held captive.
Fact 2: The federal government has yet to forcibly intervene to get our girls back.
The issue isn't just that the government hasn't fully addressed this atrocity, the deeper questions are: What decisive action is necessary to put a stop to what is becoming a normal occurrence? Does the Nigerian government have what it takes and what it needs to make this happen?
With the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls dominating the headlines, what has gone largely unnoticed is that some of the world's most powerful women in fields such as media, business, fashion and politics recently convened in Nigeria for a conference intended to empower global leaders.
Attendees and speakers at the third annual WIE Africa Symposium ("WIE" stands for Women, Inspiration and Enterprise), held on May 3, included movers and shakers such as CEO of Johnson Publishing Co. Desiree Rogers and CNN anchor Isha Sesay, as well as African powerhouses like business tycoon and billionaire Folorunsho Alakija and business executive Jennifer Obayuwana.
In addition to these prominent leaders, the conference could well have included women from the town where the girls' abduction took place, Chibok, given the Herculean efforts and proven leadership skills that these local women displayed in raising global awareness about the hostage crisis created by the terror group Boko Haram. These women worked tirelessly, and many did so without first world resources like the Internet.
Juxtaposed to news coverage in recent weeks about the horrifying abduction of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls is the sheer volume of national media attention devoted to Donald Sterling's garden-variety racist rants; a positioning that seems, frankly, absurd.
The girls' story is thankfully starting to get traction, but too often in mainstream media, coverage of critical news trails more sensationalized stories.
Despite many news programs featuring African-American women as on-air hosts – Joy Reid of MSNBC's "The Reid Report," Robin Roberts on ABC's "Good Morning America," Gwen Ifill anchoring "PBS Newshour" and Michel Martin helming NPR's "Tell Me More," to name a few – there are still far too few people of color, particularly black women, in executive, editorial and production positions who have the decision-making authority to promote stories in ways that reflect the concerns of our communities.
Tech giant Apple is currently in negotiations to buy Beats Electronics, the company that produce the uber-popular "Beats by Dre" headphones and was founded by rapper Dr. Dre and record producer Jimmy Iovine in a $3.2 billion deal, according to several reports.
Reports from The Financial Times, Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal all confirm the negotiations and according to Business Insider, the deal could be announced as early as next week.
Beats Electronics produces a variety of audio products, including the Beats Pill portable wireless speakers. According to Business Insider, Beats recently launched Beats Music, a music streaming service.
Four years ago a theater actress and storyteller was allowed into the women's prison, the Shelby County Detention Center. She began teaching inmates how to write the true stories of their lives up to the point they were incarcerated. The women bonded with their visitor as if she were the first person who truly had listened to them, which in many cases she was.
Viewers will journey through this outreach program, called "Prison Stories," with a special half-hour documentary airing on WKNO/Channel 10 on Thursday, May 15 at 9 p.m. "Inside Story," produced by local award-winning filmmaker Craig Leake, follows storyteller, writer, and actor Elaine Blanchard and her twelve students through the sixteen-week course. It was funded, in part, by the Department of Communication at the University of Memphis.
Although she is an ordained minister, Blanchard doesn't lecture her captive audience about Jesus. Most of her inmates/students already have been exposed to prison ministries. Some of the "Prison Stories" participants have been baptized as many as four times. Instead of praying over the women, Elaine listens to them and becomes a friend who helps them analyze their pasts and plan for their futures out of jail.
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