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If Ebony Wilkerson has a mental illness, it’s a wake-up call for all African Americans

mental 600Ebony Wilkerson is sitting inside a Florida jail cell, but should she be viewed as a cold-blooded criminal or a mentally-ill person in need of long-term mental health care?

Wilkerson, 32, has been charged with three counts of attempted murder and is being held on $1.2 million bail after she drove herself and her three children (two girls and a boy, ages 3, 9 and 10) into the Atlantic Ocean in Daytona Beach last week.

While it has not been confirmed, reports suggest that Wilkerson may have been suffering from a mental disorder, thus renewing public conversations on how the mentally ill should be treated by the legal system and society in general.

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Memphis rankings!

memphisranking 600On what the Greater Memphis Chamber clearly viewed as good news day, Forbes ranked Memphis as the 2nd most affordable city in the U.S. and WalletHub ranked Memphis as the 5th best city to start a business.

Chamber officials are spreading the word about the rankings, which both were announced on Tuesday.

2nd most affordable city

Forbes recognized Memphis as America's second most affordable city when surveying the 100 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the country.

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Is it hip-hop homophobia over French nails and skirts?

frenchnails 600Apparently, veteran gangster rapper Snoop Dogg still enjoys defying all the rules of so-called authentic black masculinity found in mainstream hip-hop culture. After reinventing himself as a devoted father and Snoop Lion – the reggae-infused advocate of black consciousness and universal love – he is now using Instagram to promote his fierce, duo-chrome French manicure, complete with marijuana leaf and dollar sign.

Do real Gs get manis?

The news has left hip-hop fans debating whether Snoop is "gay" or mind-controlled by the "Illuminati," while rapper 50 Cent has questioned Snoop's sexuality. In response to 50 and the haters, Snoop replied that he is still a gangster: "Real playas keep they nails fly fresh n dipped at the tip." A few days later, 50 Cent posted photos suggesting that P. Diddy, Steve Stoute and Rick Ross are in a gay love triangle. In the mind of a hip-hop homophobe, "something ain't right (#smsaudio)" when black men get their nails done, wear pink and/or hug each other.

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J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise help a retired sheriff’s deputy shine on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’

choir 600Retired sheriff's deputy Ezra Harris of Chattanooga, Tenn. gained national headlines after a YouTube video of his mangled rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" at a memorial service went viral and gained over 1.3 million views as "worst rendition of the national anthem ever."

Recently, Harris got a second chance of sorts and some backup. The vocal support came from the Stellar Award nominated urban inspirational music ensemble J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise. The group stopped by the New York studios of ABC's "Good Morning America" for a special makeover week music segment.

Producers of the No. 1 rated morning show decided to give Harris a chance to redo the anthem during its "do over" week makeovers this past week. Staffers called in J.J. Hairston and country music star Dierks Bentley to individually coach Harris on how to sing the song and to memorize the lyrics.

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Even our greatest fears shouldn’t deny Tennessee children school vouchers

Jennifer-Littlejohn 600The Tennessee state legislature is currently debating two versions of a bill that would bring school vouchers into existence in our state. The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) welcomes and encourages the delivery of means-tested school vouchers to Tennessee, but our reasons for supporting vouchers aren't for any of the politically charged ideas that are often cited when school vouchers are discussed.

No, we support vouchers simply because they can help low-income and working class families access quality educational options for their children that would otherwise be out of reach for them.

The side that typically opposes school vouchers is interested in making sure the financial stability of public school systems remain in tact. The opposition is also well known for its willingness to fight to prevent parents from utilizing vouchers as a way for their children to leave failing schools. And while some may find their arguments valid, BAEO rests with our message that all families need access to high-quality options despite their income-level and geographic location. Access can come in form of a voucher, tax credit, charter school, or even in a traditional public school.

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