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2011 February

26 Feb


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February 26, 2011 | By | No Comments

by Paul Carrick Brunson

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New people come and go. You make new friends. You go out on different dates. But the common denominator in all those situations is the individual.

And that’s you.

It’s easy to point to outside factors as being the reason why a relationship failed, like maybe he cheated or she was irrational. But if every guy you date turns out to be an abusive bad boy and every girl you romance is a clingy, possessive crazy woman, maybe it’s you setting yourself up for dating failure.

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26 Feb



February 26, 2011 | By |

– with Mikaila Brown

If you are like me, for a while you were completely obsessed with Carrie Bradshaw. Her commitment to friends, fashion and frivolous fun aligned with some of your values. However, if you are like me, you questioned the complete absence of any extended community or a responsibility to it.

I’m going to tell you a reworked story of “Carrie Bradshaw”. It will be the story of highly ambitious, fashionista who values accountability to her community, as much as her own self-fulfillment. This will be an ongoing story of budding minority entrepreneurship; an experience indivisible from a commitment to not only growing, but giving back. For the next year, I will chronicle the story of my newly formed fashion line, ALIAKIM.

This fashion line has an unconventional history. I, Mikaila Brown the founder, have a doctorate in Anthropology and Education from Columbia University. Most anthropologists work as a researcher, professor or non-profit executive. I took a conventional route, working seven years with domestic and international non-profit organizations. In 2008, after a mildly major burn out, I decided to creatively re-channel my commitment to raising awareness to social issues around the world. I have always had a fanatical passion for fashion, so it became my obvious next step. I quit my cushy non-profit executive job, overlooked the pressure of looming student loans, and embarked on a new course of learning. I attended courses at Fashion Institute of Technology and the London College of Fashion; as well as plunged into a two-year period of hodge-podge jobs with a variety of world-class designers like Reem Acra, Pamela Rolland, and Oscar de la Renta.

The major motivation behind completely reinventing my life was a calling to make clothing and accessories for women like myself: cosmopolitan women who want the opportunity to express their political opinions as sophisticatedly as they express their femininity. For many years, political messages have been relegated to the world of t-shirts and pins. It is my belief, that these same opinions, passions and convictions are shared by women who appreciate high quality, high-end fashion. American’s obsession with celebrity has greatly contributed to the broadening scope of this appreciation. As every aspect of celebrity life is consumed, more and more laywomen begin to personally identify with the celebrity lifestyle. As a result, the average woman feels as entitled as the rich and famous to be glamorous.

This has had a profound effect on fashion. Firstly, high-end fashion has become more appealing, as well as perceived as more accessible to the masses. Secondly, even the most socially conscious, bohemian women are paying attention to quality fabrics, innovative stitching and impeccable draping. I imagine that the revolutionaries of old like Angela Davis and Ella Baker would have worn beautifully crafted clothing like those donned by India.Arie, Erykah Badu and Michelle Obama.  It is no longer necessary to wear Birkenstocks and tattered t-shirts to prove your commitment to social development. Therefore, this is the perfect time to create fashion that empower women to wear clothes and accessories that represent not only how they look, but also what they stand for.

ALIAKIM is a distinctive accessory and clothing line that blends fashion with activism. ALIAKIM’s pieces uniquely meld cultural icons with high-end fashion elements to artistically raise awareness of current world affairs. It is my heart-felt mission to provide women with apparel that reflects their social consciousness as much as their exceptional taste. I also want to empower women to use their style as a means to benefit communities and causes that they care about. I have committed to always donating a percentage of my profits to an established community project. Giving meaning to the term “revolutionary chic”, it is the intention of this line to put the “wear” in “awareness” and, as a result, inspire change.

The inaugural collection is fish inspired jewelry. Though my first love is clothing, this collection of jewelry resulted from my first lesson in starting a business- always be ready to improvise in order to move forward. Manufacturing clothing is very expensive and I quickly realized that I had to start on a smaller scale. I decided to capitalize on this season’s trend of animal inspired costume jewelry. My animal of choice became the fish, because in almost every culture fish are a feminine symbol of transformation and creativity. My strong belief that every woman has the power to reinvent herself and her community for the better became the message behind the first collection. 10% of all profits are donated to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund.

There are many different aspects of this company’s development that reflect the exposure gained from my doctoral and non-profit experience. An ability to identify problems and creatively share this understanding are the basis of Anthropology. A commitment to contributing to solutions and developing communities is the bastion of non-profit work. I relish using skills gained from these seemingly opposed worlds to create an innovative and influential fashion line. Finally, the social activism approach of this fashion line is directly derived from my life experiences as a minority, woman, and social conscious individual. Many of you reading this piece fall within one or all of these categories. I am excited to take you on this unconventional, yet hopefully relatable, journey with me.


For more information on the line, check us out at:

26 Feb


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February 26, 2011 | By | No Comments

He’s Hoping to be the Next Kansas City, MO City Councilman

Jermaine Reed is a son of Kansas City and a product of Kansas City Public Schools.  He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Over the past ten years, he has dedicated his life to empowering others to achieve their dreams by exposing them to opportunities that give many the equal footing needed for them to succeed.

Strengthening the Kansas City community has always been one of his top priorities.  Mr. Reed ‘s dedication to community organizations such as the Ad-Hoc Group Against Crime, where he serves as Chairman of the Board, and his most recent experience with Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver’s Green Impact Zone of Missouri, are clear examples of his commitment to making Kansas City a better place for all of its citizens.

Mr. Reed has also been very focused on the youth of Kansas City with his involvement with the teen talk show, Generation Rap on KPRS/HOT 103 JAMZ that focuses on issues and topics that interest today’s youth.

It has always been a lifelong desire to support the very community he grew up in by utilizing his skills and experiences to help Kansas City become a world-class city.

Jermaine Reed is dedicated and energized to take his commitment to the next level as an elected official.

Jermaine tells us why he is running:

I have decided to enter the race for the 3rd District City Council Seat of the City of Kansas City, Missouri because I have always had a strong desire to be involved in the political process, and even stronger love for helping others.  As a product of this my community, I recognize that the citizens are seeking serious candidates that understand their needs and concerns.  Our community is in desperate need of action.  The time is now – I have answered the call, and I am motivated to bring about progress in my community.

My pledge as a City Councilman is to Energize & Restore the 3rd District.  Our plan includes….

  • Creating Job Opportunities
  • Improving our Neighborhoods
  • Empowering our Youth

These are vital issues that need to be addressed to bring the 3rd District BACK to its glory days and to help position Kansas City as a “world-class city.”  You can read more about my plan at:

Revitalizing the 3rd District will not be an easy task… nor will it be a quick task…but I am willing to work hard to complete the job for my friends & neighbors of the 3rd District in Kansas City, Missouri. I truly believe that I can help energize & restore the 3rd District by being your City Councilman.

26 Feb


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February 26, 2011 | By | No Comments

by Brandon Andrews

The author pictured, center in the white shirt, with other MLK Day volunteers.

In 1926 Carter G. Woodson sought to establish the permanency, in the American consciousness, of African American contributions to fueling the American economic fire that roared in the 1920’s. His Negro History Week would become today’s Black History Month. That same year, Langston Hughes articulated a reality branded into the consciousness of American minorities with his now familiar verse: “A Dream Deferred.”

37 years later Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. articulated a dream that began to heal the mental scarring of 400 years of slavery and soothe the pain of the 100 years of racial discrimination that followed. With every protest, every speech, every act of kindness not only did Dr. King’s dream become more real, but also the collective consciousness of African Americans, and yes dreamers across the world, began to come to the realization that their personal dreams could become reality.

Dr. King served the world with his gift, his vision. Accordingly, each year our nation pauses to honor his life and legacy with a day of service. A day for each of us to dedicate to making Dr. King’s overarching dream a reality eventually through making the dreams of others a reality immediately.

However, despite our efforts: the stark reality of incivility, inequity, injustice, poverty, and violence permeate the news cycle and begs Hughes’ still prescient question:

What happens to a dream deferred?

For Dr. King’s dream, the more it is deferred, the more injustice and poverty abound.

Does it dry up

Like a raisin in the sun?

With many historic civil rights organizations now struggling to find an identity and membership base in the 21st century, and the number of available jobs shrinking it would seem that the dream of social justice and economic empowerment are drying up.

Or fester like a sore–

And then run?

The disease of hate still festers in the world the carriers of it still run for cover when exposed.

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over–

like a syrupy sweet?

The stench of incivility still lingers from ugly political debate, personal attacks, and protests turned violent.

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

We all feel a heavy burden of collective responsibility when the dreams of children die, almost before having a chance to grow, due to inequities in education and poverty.

Or does it explode?

I would argue that Hughes’ last statement is his most accurate. On January 17, 2011 Dr. King’s dream exploded in Washington, DC and across the nation as untold thousands dedicated a day to service. I was honored to lead a volunteer team in rehabbing a k-12 educational space at New Community for Children (NCFC) , an after school program in the nation’s capital. The NCFC project was one of literally thousands of volunteer projects that honored Dr. King’s legacy not by painting over the ugly reality with his dream, but by following his example and confronting reality: changing it with direct action.

Yes, incivility, injustice, poverty, and violence still exist. The positive actions of one person often seem small, but our consistent collective efforts are making the dream reality. The explosion on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day was powerful, but one day is not enough. A life committed to the service of others is the real example we must follow. The multiplier effect of time coupled with our talent is incredible and can brighten the darkest realities.

Dr. King said it best:

“I must confess, my friends, the road ahead will not always be smooth…. Our dreams will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted… When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows.”

That power lies dormant in each of us, and through consistent service to others, we allow it to flow through us and blur the line between dream and reality.

16 Feb


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a birthday fundraiser…

February 16, 2011 | By | No Comments

03 Feb



IL: Sinorice Moss

February 3, 2011 | By | 3 Comments

Sinorice Moss - Superbowl Champion Wide Receiver

Sinorice Moss has challenged kids across the nation to Dare to Dream! Moss, a Florida native, played college football at the University of Miami, where he was a standout wide receiver as well as a champion track star. He was selected in second round of the 2006 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami by the Giants and was a member of the Superbowl winning team in 2007 that cut short the New England Patriots previously undefeated season. Moss is currently on the roster of the Philadelphia Eagles and looking to set another major city on fire with his playing abilities.

A true world-class athlete, Sinorice Moss’ explosive performance on the field is matched by his unwavering commitment to the youth who are following in his footsteps. Through his own dedication and hard work, Sinorice is a living example to the youth he supports and advocates for, proving that any individual with a similar mindset can always accomplish his or her dreams.

Sinorice founded the Dare to Dream Foundation in order to help challenge children and teachers take an “I can” attitude in life. This will help to empower kids with the proper mentality of making dreams come true and to provide them with the educational tools to succeed in life.

In his spare time, Sinorice has also held guest starring roles in several TV shows and films, including the hit independent film “This Time” which co-starred Reagan Gomez. The movie dealt with the complex range of feelings that a loss loved ones whom enter the battlefield but do not return home bring about in the lives of millions of Americans.

Moss is the younger brother of Washington Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss, who was also a standout wide receiver for the University of Miami prior to entering the NFL. He has one son, Sinorice Moss Jr.

INTERVIEW | Getting to Know Sinorice Moss:

1. What inspired you to start the Dare to Dream Foundation? What made you want to include teachers? Is there a story behind that? Two years ago, I noticed that a number of schools in Miami were shutting down due to poor test scores and a lack of funding.

I wanted to find a way to jump directly into the classrooms to provide support for individual students, because they were the ones suffering the most from the school closures. That’s when I decide to start the Dare to Dream Foundation. I wanted students to feel that they had people on their side who inspired them not only to have big dreams, but also to accomplish them.

I wanted to include teachers because they are such an important part of the equation. They come in to work every day to fight what sometimes seems like a losing battle, especially in some of the more under-funded school districts. Teachers can have such a huge impact on the development of students. One particular guidance counselor of mine in high school, Ms. Black, challenged me to think beyond graduating high school. It was because of her encouragement and support that I went on to attend the University of Miami.

2. What is the key to balancing a thriving football career with running a non-profit? My team, both on and off the field, is the biggest key to my success in football and in my non-profit. I think it’s important to surround yourself with people who support you and believe in you.

While I’m playing football, it’s difficult for me to be as involved with Dare to Dream as I usually am during the off season, so I am grateful that there are people who are willing to help me.

My football teammates and friends are also very supportive, constantly calling me about Dare to Dream, upcoming events, and ways they can help. A lot of them show their support on Twitter, and I’m so thankful that they are enthusiastic and willing to help out.

3. How has football helped you succeed in running your non-profit? You can’t just wake up and decide that you’re going to play in the NFL. You need to train, learn the plays, and work with your team, all of which takes time, effort, and determination.

The same goes for the Dare to Dream Foundation. I spent over two years building the foundation, and it took a lot of hard work from many committed individuals to get where we are today. That is the message that I want to send to the students we work with, that they can accomplish whatever they set their minds to, but it still takes a lot of time and willpower.

4. What advice would you give other young professionals who desire to start or run a foundation? I would say to make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons. A lot of people, not just athletes, start non-profits for marketing or PR reasons, and their foundations don’t end up doing anything.

The second piece of advice is to surround yourself with mentors and knowledgeable people who can help you along the way. It’s really important to have a support system and a team of advocates that will fight for what they believe in. I wouldn’t have been able to get Dare to Dream off the ground without the help and advice of my friends and family.

5. What’s been the best experience of your football career thus far (or the most rewarding)? What’s been the most fulfilling experience with the Dare to Dream Foundation?

Winning the XLII Super bowl with the New York Giants in 2007 was probably the best experience of my career so far. Winning the Super bowl has been my biggest dream ever since I was a kid, and to be able to accomplish that dream is an unbelievable feeling that I still experience every day.

I think the most rewarding experience, though, was when I was able to come back from injury last year. I got hurt and I wasn’t able to play football at all during the season. I spent those months healing and getting back into football shape, but it was a long and incredibly difficult process. Luckily, I was able to stay motivated and had a lot of people helping me along the way. It is a blessing that I will be with the Philadelphia Eagles next season and I am still able to play the game that I love.

With Dare to Dream, I think the most fulfilling experience is the ongoing one of seeing teachers and students taking the initiative, setting goals, and pushing themselves to accomplish them, just like I did.

6. What’s next for you and the foundation? What should we look out for?

I’m just excited to continue to expand the Dare to Dream programs. Most of our programs are currently in New York and Florida, but we are constantly reaching out to different communities, cities, and states. We can’t wait for Dare to Dream to become a truly national organization that is able to help students and teachers across the country.

7. Lastly, give me three words to sum up Sinorice. Compassionate, optimistic, and committed.