Increasing African-American homeownership is important to economic progress

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Cerrita-Battles-Wells-Fargo

By:  Cerita Battles, SVP, head of Retail Diverse Segments, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

Black History Month celebrates the achievements of African Americans and the progress that has been made to achieve racial equality in this country. This also is an important time to recognize work that still needs to be done to achieve that equality.

One area is homeownership, where African Americans lag behind all other ethnic groups when it comes to owning a home.

People from rapidly growing diverse communities represent the majority of growth among potential first-time homebuyers. According to the 2010 Census Bureau, of the 14 million new households expected by 2024, 75 percent of those will be diverse. For many Americans and particularly African Americans, homeownership is an integral component of the American dream, and a way to build security and wealth for families.

However, the African-American homeownership rate does not align with the significant desire to own a home. The current homeownership rate for African Americans, about 42 percent, is the lowest among all ethnic minorities.  As one of the nation’s leading lenders with a team of mortgage professionals dedicated to helping customers achieve the dream of homeownership, Wells Fargo stepped up its efforts to positively impact African-American homeownership. During Black History Month in 2017, the company announced a 10-year commitment to help increase African-American homeownership that includes: $60 billion in purchase lending to create at least 250,000 homeowners; a focus on increasing the diversity of its sales team including African-American Home Mortgage Consultants; and dedicating $15 million toward homebuyer education and counseling initiatives. To achieve this important work, Wells Fargo is proud to have the support of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, the NAACP and the National Urban League.

It has been two years since we made that announcement. We continue to make progress on that commitment, helping more customers become educated about and prepared for the homebuying process and guiding and supporting them as they travel the journey to become homeowners.

Our commitment to increase African-American homeownership is part of Wells Fargo’s overall Advancing Homeownershipsm effort, which brings together people, partners and resources to create new opportunities for long-term, successful homeownership.  In addition to the African-American lending commitment, this effort includes programs like Neighborhood LIFT®, which helps low- to moderate-income families achieve homeownership with homebuyer education and down payment assistance. Since, LIFT programs have helped to create nearly 20,000 homeowners.

Even though we are making progress with our African-American lending commitment, we realize there is still much work to be done to raise the homeownership rate of this segment of the population. Like many Americans, African Americans desire to own homes, but are often challenged by industry barriers like affordability and lack of inventory. And even though we have seen improvements in the economy, underemployment and unemployment are factors in the inability to own a home.

In addition, there are misconceptions about homeownership and lack of knowledge about the process that create perceived barriers to owning a home. One of the most-believed myths is that is takes a 20 percent down payment in order to qualify for a loan. That’s not true. Many lenders, including Wells Fargo, offer financing options with a low down payment.  Another myth is that borrowers need perfect credit.  It’s important for aspiring homeowners to speak with a lender to separate the myths from the facts when it comes to purchasing a home. Homebuyer education and counseling are key in helping aspiring homeowners avoid myths, and create more confidence and knowledge when it comes to pursuing homeownership. That’s why investing in education is such a critical part of the African-American homeownership commitment.

Wells Fargo views homeownership as a pathway to financial success for our customers, a source of stability in communities and a key driver of our economy.  We want to help people find the place they will call home – the place where their lives will happen, where they will create memories, spend time with friends or raise their families.  We are dedicated to helping those who want to achieve homeownership, and our African-American commitment is one way we are working to do it.

For more information on home mortgage, visit WellsFargo.com.

Taraji P. Henson: A Real-Life Heroine

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Taraji P. Henson speaks onstage during the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards. TOMMASO BODDI/GETTY IMAGES

By Lori Denman-Underhill

Not every actor or actress has the privilege of telling a story on screen whose message is completely synergetic with their own. Actress Taraji P. Henson would tell you it’s no accident. Films that cover controversial subjects, female achievements or human rights within the African-American community are exactly her cup of tea.

Much like her role in the acclaimed drama Hidden Figures, where Henson plays the brilliant Katherine Johnson, an African-American female mathematician whose calculations as a NASA employee were critical to the success of one of the greatest space operations in history.

“I feel like it’s my obligation,” Henson explained in an interview with Ebony.com. “I’m an artist. I want to tell stories that matter. I’m always interested in movies that move humanity forward, change perspectives of people you know.”

The Golden Globe winner and Academy Award-nominated Henson, 48, is conscious about picking projects that speak to her heart and further her own message of equality and progress for the African-American community.

She addresses the historic yet still relevant topic of race relations in her latest non-fiction film, The Best of Enemies. Set in Durham, North Carolina, in 1971, the film—based upon the novel by Osha Gray Davidson, The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South—centers around a two-week-long discussion of ordinary citizens on the subject of school integration.

Based on a true story, the film brings together members of the black and white community—most dramatically the two main characters; Ann Atwater, played by Henson, a local firebrand of a Civil Rights activist, and Claiborne Paul “C.P.” Ellis, played by Sam Rockwell, the head of the Durham Chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

Cast: (L-R) Bill Riddick, Taraji P. Henson, Sam Rockwell and Robin Bissell attend a photo call for 'The Best Of Enemies’. DIA DIPASUPIL/GETTY IMAGES FOR STXFILMS
Cast: (L-R) Bill Riddick, Taraji P. Henson, Sam Rockwell and Robin Bissell attend a photo call for ‘The Best Of Enemies’. DIA DIPASUPIL/GETTY IMAGES FOR STXFILMS

Portraying the true-life character of Atwater gave Henson a chance to show the integral part segregation has played within American society. It also gave the actress a platform for her own civil rights advocacy offstage, she explains in an interview with Oprahmag.com.

“What’s happening today is that everyone is doing a lot of talking, but not much listening. We should try listening to understand the other side…Often, we can find better solutions that way,” Henson said. “But if you try to match hate with hate, you’re not going to get anywhere.

“At the end of the day, we just need to have more compassion for each other and unconditional love, no matter our differences or background,” she adds.

Born and raised in southeast Washington, D.C., Henson grew up watching Solid Gold and was inspired by the likes of such acting legends as Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett and Flip Wilson. She studied acting at the famed Howard University and began her Hollywood career guest starring on several television shows before making her breakthrough in the coming-of-age film Baby Boy in 2001. She received praise for her performance as a sex worker in Hustle & Flow (2005) and as a single mother of a child with a disability in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). She also made noteworthy appearances in the action comedy Date Night and the remake of The Karate Kid.

While she is now happily engaged to former NFL quarterback Kevin Hayden and residing in Chicago—her self-proclaimed dream town where everyone is ‘real’—her own life story has not been without its share of strife.

In a recent interview with Variety, Henson opened up about her personal battle with anxiety and depression following two tragedies in her life in 2003—the death of her father, Boris Henson, and also her son’s father, William Lamar Johnson. “We’re walking around broken, wounded and hurt, and we don’t think it’s okay to talk about it,” Henson told Variety’s Elizabeth Wagmeister.

She shared that her depression and anxiety escalated during the skyrocketing success of her pivotal role on the hip-hop TV drama Empire. During that time, she says the desire to pull away from the limelight was strong, as was the longing for more privacy and time for self-care, in addition to caring for her son, Marcell, who was also suffering from depression.

It was while looking for a relatable therapist for Marcell that Henson discovered how tough it was to find one of African-American descent. The experience jump-started her effort to get rid of the taboo associated with metal health, specifically within the African-American community.

“People are killing themselves,” Henson said in the Variety interview. “People are numbing out on drugs. Not everything is fixed with a pill.”

Taking her efforts a step further, the actress created the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in honor of her father, who also suffered from mental issues following his service in the Vietnam War.

Washington DC Mayor, Muriel Bowser (R), honors actress Taraji P. Henson with a Proclamation to the City at the Office of the Mayor. PAUL MORIGI/GETTY IMAGES FOR PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Washington DC Mayor, Muriel Bowser (R), honors actress Taraji P. Henson with a Proclamation to the City at the Office of the Mayor. PAUL MORIGI/GETTY IMAGES FOR PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Henson explains that there is still a lot of work to be done, but the first step is to lift up the carpet and talk about it. Her personal advice for others who are struggling is to find a professional therapist—someone who has no stakes involved so that “when you’re on the ledge, you have things to say to yourself that will get you off of it,” she explained.

Henson remains true to herself and her work. Her latest project will be released in 2020 and promoted later this year—a Netflix original police drama called Coffee and Kareem. Henson will star as the girlfriend of a Detroit cop who aims to clear his name and take down the city’s most ruthless criminal with the assistance of her 11-year-old son.

Henson’s main message was perhaps best summed up during her recent Glamour interview: “The fight continues,” she said. “Just like so many women before us who fought so that we could sit here. Now’s not the time to drop the torch.”

“We have to continue fighting,” she insists, “so the ones coming behind us—maybe one day this is not their narrative. So we have to keep fighting.”

Living the Dream and Tapping Into Your Potential

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Yes, it’s something people say, but did you know that there are those out there who are truly living their best life? Coriel Taylor is one of them.

And for her it started with a dream job leading the Digital Delivery Studio team for Accenture, where they “create killer experiences for clients in mobile and web applications,” she says.

To really discover how Coriel landed at the company, you have to take a look back at a girl from Detroit who grew up surrounded by a large, close-knit family and suddenly found herself as a black woman on a majority-white college campus. At the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, the high-school honor student wanted to feel included, valued and respected. This unique perspective—and as a result, her understanding—has become the backbone of her charismatic leadership style. “We need that extra encouragement to feel comfortable,” she says. “That may mean spending a little bit of time to talk about how a person’s day is going or getting to know a person’s background and what their story is.”

At Accenture, Coriel has been given the freedom to tap into her personal potential while building a well-rounded team with her signature family-style approach. Dedicated to diversity and inclusivity, her Digital Delivery crew features a former pipe fitter, a teacher and a group of individuals with a variety of different backgrounds and skills—but together they become truly innovative. “I drive them to deliver transformational results for our clients, and a critical part of this is ensuring that everybody feels valued and appreciated for the role that they play—and is rewarded for it. It’s our home,” she says.

Now she has the opportunity to fulfill another lifelong goal of encouraging diversity in the workforce. After finding her way in college with the help of an on-campus office for under-represented minorities, Coriel was inspired to carry this mission with her to Accenture, where she supports diversity recruiting and mentoring. As one of the co-sponsors and leads for Accenture’s sponsorship of the National Society of Black Engineers, she gets to meet a lot of diverse engineering students whom she hopes will come and work for Accenture. Coriel says, “I can’t really imagine work without diversity. I mean, think about it. It’d be so boring.”

Continue on to Essence to read the complete article.

These 6 Customer Service Skills Will Help You Land Any Job

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Working in retail, hospitality, a call center, or another job focused on customer service can give you vital workplace skills. No matter which industry you want to work in, the following six strong customer service skills are transferable to any job.

1. Strong Communication Skills

Good communication is the key to good customer service. It’s also the cornerstone of working in any industries where you need to work with other people, from customers to colleagues, and clients to business contacts.

Through your customer service role, you’ll learn how to explain concepts to others in easy-to-understand terms and how to placate people who may not share your point of view. You’ll find that you use these same skills in most roles. Your oral and written communication skills will also help you get your points across in meetings and during collaborative tasks.

2. Solid Active Listening Skills

Good communication and active listening skills tend to go hand in hand. Good communication is a two-way street. While effective public speaking skills are important, so is effective listening. Customer service professionals hone their active listening skills when they listen to what a customer says, then ask questions to clarify what they’ve heard before delivering a response.

A study by Korn Ferry International, an executive search recruitment firm, found that active listening is the most important competence for any workplace. The firm gave active listening this rating because it believes active listening can cover gaps left in other workplace areas. For example, if you don’t yet have skills in negotiation, you could rely on your active listening skills to get through a negotiation process.

3. Excellent Problem-Solving Skills

Customer service representatives are pros at problem solving. So much of their job involves handling complaints and queries customers have. They must use ingenuity to find solutions that work within a business’s preferred practices yet satisfy customers. Problem-solving skills cultivated in a customer service role are transferable to almost any profession, but they are especially important for creative and technology roles, such as advertising executives, engineers, and software designers.

4. Ability to Work as Part of a Team

No customer service worker is an island. Instead, customer service employees work as part of a team to support their employer’s positive image and customer service standards. Many customer service workers find themselves jumping in to help colleagues address customer queries or assisting their co-workers when they’re especially busy.

The kind of collaborative teamwork skills demonstrated by customer service workers is essential for success in many professional environments. It’s important for people in a range of industries to work within their designated roles but come together when required, such as for group projects and meetings.

5. Good Multitasking Skills

Many customer service professions require you to multitask well. Every customer wants to feel important, even though your attention may be pulled in several directions. It’s not uncommon for customer service professionals to run computers or cash registers while speaking with customers.

You might also deal with a number of customers at once if people with more urgent concerns need help while you’re dealing with more routine matters. And, of course, you must do it all efficiently and with a smile on your face! That aptitude for multitasking is useful for working in any busy profession.

6. The Ability to Show Resilience

Customer service workers must be resilient. While most members of the public are pleasant, some can be short-tempered and belligerent. In these circumstances, customer service workers must rely on their skills of resiliency to power through. Otherwise, they can’t deliver their best service to the next customer they interact with.

Similarly, you won’t find all the people you deal with any profession in good humor all the time. Sometimes, events in life simply don’t go your way. Despite the challenges, it’s important to rely on your skills of resiliency to move on to the next task. Demonstrating your resilience to a potential new employer will hold you in good stead on any job interview that you face.

Don’t underestimate how important having a background in customer service can be. A role focused on helping members of the public can position you well for landing any job.

Source: CareerBuilder

After Careers With U.S. Armed Forces And Fema This Couple Opens Their Own Business

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McDuffie,Sharron, Rodney, Lee's Summit, MO

After Rodney and Sharron McDuffie retired from long and successful careers that included both the U.S. Armed Forces and the U.S. Government, the Raymore couple was looking for an attractive business opportunity to bolster their pension income.

So on April 15, Rodney, “61 years young,” and Sharron, “59 years younger,” as they note, officially opened for business as franchise owners with Floor Coverings International, whose representatives visit customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Floor Coverings International Lee’s Summit serves customers throughout greater Kansas City.

Sharron retired after 30 years with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), where she was a Technological Hazards Specialist assigned to several nuclear power plants throughout Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. Rodney retired from the U.S. Navy with 25 years as a Yeoman Administrator before joining the Department of Immigration, where he spent more than a decade before retiring as an Immigration Supervisor this past February. “We had started talking about what we would be doing in life with retirement approaching and looking forward to living the lifestyle we were comfortable in after more than 30 years working for the government,” Sharron said. “And we were not sure that once we retired on a government pension, if it would be enough. We are still pretty young and in good health, so we started looking for a business we could purchase that also offered plenty of flexibility, such as being able to work from home when we wanted to.”

In Floor Coverings International, the McDuffies found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations.

The McDuffies are also very excited about having the opportunity for their children to play a role in the business. Their oldest son, who just earned his master’s degree in Public Affairs, is “more excited than my husband and myself,” said Sharron, while their youngest son, who just graduated from high school, is looking forward to joining one of their flooring installation teams where he will gain the necessary experience to later become a Project Manager or Design Associate. A daughter, currently a middle school biology teacher, might join the business as an office manager or Design Associate while her husband is assisting with local marketing. “Since we have been up and running, the whole family is seeing what a great opportunity it is by joining or just participating in this family business,” Sharron said.

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com.

Rihanna Presents Mary J. Blige With Lifetime Achievement At BET Awards

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Rihanna presents Mary J. Blige with award on stage at the BET Awards Show

Mary J. Blige received the highest honor at the 2019 BET Awards on Sunday. While presenting the Queen of Hip-hop and R&B with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the ceremony in Los Angeles, Rihanna praised Blige for the blueprint she set.

She changed the game with her unique style: the backwards cap, the baggy jerseys, y’all know the Mary J. look. She took it there with those thigh-high boots,” Rihanna said, going on to praise Blige for her many successes, including becoming the first person to ever be nominated for an Oscar in both music and acting in the same year.

“Happy Mary, sad Mary … we’re here for all of it,” Rihanna said. “Mary J. Blige, you have set the bar for relatable, timeless, classic music. You opened multiple doors for female artists in this industry. And on behalf of all the women that came after you, like myself, thank you for being you so we can feel comfortable being ourselves. Thank you for pouring yourself into every track and giving us a song for every feeling. Thank you for showing us that love is all that we need. But we didn’t know how much we needed you.”

Blige accepted the award and told Rihanna the feelings of inspiration were mutual. She went on to thank BET, her family, friends, Diddy, Andre Harrell, other collaborators, her team and fans.

“People always ask how do I sustain and stay relevant in this industry,” Blige said. “It’s because although I am a leader, a queen, a living legend, although I’m all of these things, I’m a servant as well and I’m here to serve. Being a servant is not always glamorous or popular, but it’s the job and assignment I was given. It’s because in order to be an authority, I had to learn how to come under authority. It’s because when the glory is placed on me, I give it back to God immediately. This journey has always been bigger than me and my job is not only to survive, right now it’s to thrive and continue to make history while I do it.”

Continue on to Huffington Post to read the complete article.

The amazing CMO and CEO of Naturade/VeganSmart, a minority owned business

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Kareem Cook and Claude Tellis stand in front of the promotional truck parked in a parking lot

Kareem and Claude became friends while attending Duke University. Both having many family members who passed away from diet-related illnesses or suffered from diabetes, heart disease and other obesity-related illnesses, they often discussed doing something to address this issue.

In 2002, Kareem and Claude moved to Los Angeles and immediately recognized the child obesity crisis and decided it was time to do something. They founded Healthy Body Products, a healthy vending machine company with the mission of providing healthier options to public schools. Within a year, they co-led a movement that resulted in a ban on junk food in the Los Angeles public schools. Within two years, they were awarded the contract for every public high school and middle school in Los Angeles.

From there, Kareem and Claude sought to make an even bigger impact on diet-related illness and obesity. The question that bothered them most was “Why do people who need quality products have the least access to them?

Which led them to Naturade. In 2012, they acquired Naturade, a premium level natural products company distributed primarily in natural food and product stores. In 2013, they met John Lewis, an internationally recognized vegan advocate and fitness expert.

John explained that the best way to prevent obesity, pre-diabetes and heart disease was a plant-based diet. Later that year, they partnered together and created VeganSmart. They distribute their product not only in premium health food stores but in local health food, drug stores and supermarkets that sold to the underserved, undereducated and low-income communities that are often ignored. Stores include CVS, Walgreens, Albertsons, Safeway, Meijer, H-E-B, Harris Teeter, Publix, Hannaford, Weis and thousands of stores nationwide.

Financial Freedom for Millennials: A Bucket List

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millennials discussing finances

By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life

The 2007 movie “The Bucket List” told the story of two terminally ill men seeking to finish out all the things they’ve always wanted to do but never completed. The duo set out on their adventure with the intention to fulfill all their dreams before they “kicked the bucket.”

While most people associate bucket lists with experiences, you can apply the same concept to personal finance matters, as well. Essentially, you list all the things you need to accomplish in your financial life and then start making moves to get them done. According to financial experts, people should start to tick off money-matter items on their lists while they are still in their 20s and 30s. With this strategy, they’ll achieve financial freedom sooner than later because they’ve set themselves up for a less stressful future as they reach retirement age.

At this point, retirement probably seems a million years away, but now is the time to start thinking wisely when it comes to money. Check out our financial bucket list for millennials.

1. Live with roommates

Most millennials want to move out of their parents’ home but can’t always afford to do it. Why forego and miss out on the pleasures of autonomy you can enjoy living on your own? Get some roommates instead to help share housing costs.

When seeking roommates, always be smart and keep safety in mind during the selection process. Everyone, especially women, should stay away from listings on Craigslist and other platforms that don’t fully vet the people out who post these listings.

Once you’ve got your roommates in the house, aside from the financial savings you’ll enjoy by splitting the rent, you can make some great memories — or at least accumulate a few great stories to someday tell your family and friends.

2. Move to an affordable city

Sure, New York is the city that never sleeps, and Los Angeles sees a lot of action, too —but these cities are incredibly expensive to live in. Instead of struggling (even with the help of roommates) in an expensive city, consider relocating to a more affordable city with a lower cost of living. Kansas City, for example, is not only affordable, but it also offers plenty of great job opportunities and even boasts some of the shortest commuting times in the country.

3. Downsize and sell some stuff

We live at a time minimizing is en vogue, especially for millennials. Aside from being a trendy thing to do, selling off possessions you no longer need or want can net you some serious cash. Try selling clothes, unused gift cards, old electronics and gadgets, pretty much anything.

If you have old toys, video games, or other nostalgic items you don’t necessarily want to hang onto anymore, try selling these too. You’d be surprised at how well nostalgia sells! Set up an account on eBay (or another preferred platform) and get selling. Then take that money and save it or invest it so it grows.

4. Learn thrifty shopping habits

Even if you’re aiming to downsize, there will still be stuff you need. Instead of paying full price for new items, learn the art of thrifting by shopping at places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity resale stores. You can find great deals on everything for the home from kitchen necessities to furniture, along with personal items, too, such as clothing and accessories.

Other ways to save on shopping are to watch for sales, try extreme couponing, and follow discount sites such as Groupon for deals on things you want to buy. Also check out Craigslist and Freecycle to find freebies in your neighborhood.

5. Make a few investments

While making habitual changes can go a long way toward achieving financial freedom, you’ll want to find other ways to increase your bank account. Why not try purchasing some stocks and seeing what happens? Some online brokerage sites let users start buying with as little as $100 and make trades for $5. You can buy small amounts and see if you can aggressively make them grow. “Playing the market” is a unique experience that not everybody gets in their lifetime — and watching your stock’s values go up is a thrill.

6. Launch a business

Even if you’re holding down a full-time job, you can launch a business on the side to generate some extra cash and help build your financial future. It could be something as straightforward as buying a property to use as a vacation rental. Or you can build a brand in your spare time, you can market your business by creating a presence on social media and cultivating helpful business relationships. Sign yourself up to attend some trade shows to help establish a name for yourself.

Depending on your line of work, you may need to obtain a license, insurance, or meet other local legal requirements. Be sure to have your ducks in a row and do everything legally. Also, remember that you’ll need to file taxes as a business. An online calculator can help you make the necessary tax calculations.

Achieving financial freedom is a wonderful feeling! The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be that much closer to your ultimate money goals … and then you’ll be able to afford the things on your “other” bucket list.

The Only Black-Owned 5-Star Resort In The U.S. Is Perfect For Your Bachelorette Party

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By Joi-Marie McKenzie

What happens when you get engaged and you’ve partied so hard in your 20s you’d rather not “party like a rockstar” at your bachelorette party?  Gather your best girlfriends and check out the only five-star resort owned by a Black woman in the U.S.

Salamander Resort & Spa, owned by Sheila Johnson, is tucked on 340 acres of the greenest land I’ve ever seen in Middleburg, Virginia. If you’d rather lie by an infinity pool than turn up at a pool party, or visit a nearby winery rather than throw back shots, or enjoy fine dining rather than stuffing pizza to ward off that hangover that might come the next morning, this is the place for you.

Right outside of Washington, D.C, 16 of my closest friends, family and linesisters descended on Salamander Resort & Spa.

Here’s what we recommend you should try.

The Spa

After the drive, my maid and matron of honor decided to start my bachelorette weekend the right way: with a bit of R&R in the resort’s 23,000-square-foot spa. From exfoliating body treatments, to all types of massages, the spa is a one-stop shop. And for my girls who didn’t have time to get a pedi before they arrived, the spa offered that too along with make-up artists and manicurists. Since I’m expecting, it was the perfect spa to grab a pre-natal massage. Even the indoor whirlpool was body temperature so I could enjoy some girl chat in the water. Afterward, we all gathered by the infinity-edge pool to chill in a cabana and take in the lush landscape.

The Finest of Dining

Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill

We felt like we were in an episode of The Real Housewives of Potomac when we tried out Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill for dinner. Right there on the grounds, it offers a private dining room, perfect for any large party.

An Easy Trek To The Wineries

After a night at the resort, the girls and I were itching to get off the property and explore Middleburg. And Salamander makes that super easy to do thanks to complimentary car service. We hopped in the resort’s Audis, which took us to a nearby winery. While the girls sipped on wine blends, created from last year’s harvest in Virginia, I took in the sites and dreamed about lunch.

Continue on to Essence to read the complete article.

Rihanna Is Now The Wealthiest Female Musician Alive

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Rihanna poses in red dress and red lipstick

It’s official, Robyn Rihanna Fenty is the world’s wealthiest female musician. Let’s let that sink in.

The 31-year-old singer, actress, entrepreneur, beauty and fashion powerhouse just became the world’s highest female earner in music, according to Forbes. Meaning she’s out-earned Madonna ($570 million), Céline Dion ($450 million) and, Beyoncé ($400 million), three of the most wealthy women musicians alive today.

The financial glow up is real: In 2018 Rihanna ranked number 7 on Forbes list with an estimated $37.5 million. As Forbes notes, she’s now worth an estimated $600 million.

As for the tipping point? In May, Rihanna officially launched her luxury fashion label in partnership with the French luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH. The partnership was historical, she became the first woman of color to lead an LVMH business and Fenty Maison is the first fashion company that LVMH has launched from scratch.

While news of Rihanna’s ascent into the highest tax bracket in her respective field is a major accomplishment, it comes as no surprise. Launched in 2017, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty generated $570 million in revenue during its first 15 months.

Then in May 2018, Rihanna launched Savage X, an online-based lingerie company. During the first 40 days on the market, the company made $100 million in sales. It’s now available in 40 markets. Sheesh.

Work, work, work, work, work indeed.

Continue on to Essence to read the complete article

Get to Know These Notable Black-Owned Banks

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The outside of OneUnited Bank

As of 2018, there are only 19 black-owned banks in the United States, according to BankBlackUSA.org. These banks, however, make a big difference in their communities. The following banks are among those that have served the African-American community.

Citizens Trust Bank

Citizens Trust Bank has been building relationships since 1921 – it remains committed to providing personalized service and financial solutions to meet the growing needs of its community. Through a legacy built on principle, the bank goes beyond meeting the needs of offering banking solutions; its mission is to empower customers and future generations for financial success. In turn, their success is Citizens Trust Bank’s success.

Source: Citizens Trust Bank

First Independence Bank

First Independence Bank, the only black woman-owned bank in the United States, was founded in 1970. The Detroit-based bank now has three branches and was established to serve the financial needs of its community, businesses and citizens.

Source: First Independence Bank

Liberty Bank and Trust Company

Liberty Bank, a Louisiana-based commercial bank and the third largest African-American owned financial institution in America, was founded in 1972, with holdings of $374 million. Liberty Bank has 15 branch locations in Louisiana, Mississippi, Kansas, Missouri, Alabama, Minnesota, and Illinois. Liberty Bank is passionate about helping more people achieve more economic freedom.

Source: Liberty Bank and Trust Company

Mechanics & Farmers Bank

Founded in 1907, Mechanics & Farmers Bank (M&F) is the second oldest minority-owned bank in the United States. The bank is the ninth largest financial institution in the United States, with nearly $256.9M in total assets as of 2018. M&F Bank is certified as a Community Development Financial Institution and is the only bank in North Carolina to receive this designation.

Source: Mechanics & Farmers Bank

OneUnited Bank

OneUnited Bank is the premier bank for urban communities, the largest Blackowned bank, the first Black Internet bank, and a community Development Financial Institution that started the national #BankBlack Challenge in 2016. OneUnited Bank is designed to harness the economic power of the Black community and focuses on one clear financial message that #BlackMoneyMatters. The bank has offices in Los Angeles, Boston, and Miami and has financed more than $100 million in loans in the last two years.

Source: OneUnited Bank

If you’re on the go and want to see what Black-owned businesses are near you, download WhereU. The app is a directory of local Black-Owned Businesses and has information for the United States, the UK, France, and Canada! It’s user-based so you can add any Black-owned businesses you haven’t seen on the app!

Artist, Icon, Billionaire: How Jay-Z Created His $1 Billion Fortune

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Jay-Z is seated in front of audience clapping his hands wearing a NYN baseball cap

Nine years ago, two unlikely lunch partners sat down at the Hollywood Diner in Omaha, Nebraska. One, Warren Buffett, was a regular there. The other, Jay-Z, was not. The billionaire and the rapper ordered strawberry malts and chatted amiably, continuing the conversation back at Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway offices.

Buffett, then 80, walked away impressed with the artist 40 years his junior: “Jay is teaching in a lot bigger classroom than I’ll ever teach in. For a young person growing up, he’s the guy to learn from.” This moment, which was originally captured in our 2010 Forbes 400 package, made it clear that Jay-Z already had a blueprint for his own ten-figure fortune. “Hip-hop from the beginning has always been aspirational,” he said.

Less than a decade later, it’s clear that Jay-Z has accumulated a fortune that conservatively totals $1 billion, making him one of only a handful of entertainers to become a billionaire—and the first hip-hop artist to do so. Jay-Z’s steadily growing kingdom is expansive, encompassing liquor, art, real estate (homes in Los Angeles, the Hamptons, Tribeca) and stakes in companies like Uber.

His journey is all the more impressive given its start: Brooklyn’s notorious Marcy housing projects. He was a drug dealer before becoming a musician, starting his own label, Roc-A-Fella Records, to release his 1996 debut, Reasonable Doubt. Since then he’s amassed 14 No. 1 albums, 22 Grammy awards and over $500 million in pretax earnings in a decade.

Crucially, he realized that he should build his own brands rather than promote someone else’s: the clothing line Rocawear, started in 1999 for $204 million to Iconix in 2007); D’Ussé, a cognac he co-owns with Bacardi; and Tidal, a music-streaming service.

Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean, the superproducer behind some of Jay-Z’s biggest hits, looks at Jay-Z as something others can model: “It’s bigger than hip-hop … it’s the blueprint for our culture. A guy that looks like us, sounds like us, loves us, made it to something that we always felt that was above us.”

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

Making Strides in Health Care—AMA elects its first African-American woman president

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Patrice A. Harris, MDposes outside the AMA

Atlanta-based psychiatrist Patrice A. Harris, MD, is the first black woman to become the American Medical Association’s (AMA) president. When Dr. Harris assumes her role in June this year, she will also be the Association’s first African-American female to hold that office.

“It will be my honor to represent the nation’s physicians at the forefront of discussions when policymaker and lawmakers search for practical solutions to the challenges in our nation’s health system. I am committed to preserving the central role of the physician-patient relationship in our healing art,” Dr. Harris said.

First elected to the AMA Board of Trustees in 2011, Dr. Harris has held the executive offices of AMA board secretary and AMA board chair. She will continue to serve as chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force and has been active on several other AMA task forces and committees on health information technology, payment and delivery reform, and private contracting. She has also chaired the influential AMA Council on Legislation and co-chaired the Women Physicians Congress.

Dr. Harris continues in private practice and consults with both public and private organizations on health service delivery and emerging trends in practice and health policy. She is an adjunct assistant professor in the Emory Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Source: wire.ama-assn.org

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