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Rashan Charles's Death: We MUST Change This Narrative

The death of Rashan Charles is just the latest of a long series of deaths involving Black people in Britain. 

Click here to read my blog post

Go here for more blog posts about how violence affects Black communities

What will you share with the Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence 2017

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Best Baltimore Cafes to Get Work Done

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If you're easily distracted like me, you know that trying to get work done at just any cafe with free WiFi isn't going to cut it. Call me high maintenance, but I need relatively comfortable seating, music that isn't too loud or familiar, quality food and drink options, and an environment where other customers are focused on their laptops and not rushed by the staff. These aren't necessarily my favorite cafes overall, but they are the ones where I've found I'm able to concentrate best and be most productive.

I'm lucky enough to have a job where I can telecommute a few days every week. When I start to feel like a slob working in my pajamas and need a change of scenery, these are my favorite Baltimore cafes to settle in with my laptop. 

Peace & a Cup of Joe

Peace and a Cup of Joe (pictured) is the most homey of the cafes on this list--in no small part due to the fact that the building is an actual rowhome. The first floor has typical cafe seating, the upstairs is basically a living room with sofas and a fireplace for a cozy feel, and in front of the cafe is a small fenced-in outdoor seating area. If you had a particularly frustrating work day, you can always stay for a drink at happy hour and live music. 

Red Emma's

Red Emma's is a radical bookstore and vegan/vegetarian cafe in the heart of the Station North arts district. Most of my time there has been spent either attending or organizing events around social justice issues. Now that my job gives me the option of telecommuting, it's also where I can get some work done while trying a barbecue seitan burger (my first one and, as a carnivore, surprisingly very good), and grabbing one of the many books on my to-read list before heading out the door. 

Atwater's

One of my favorite things about Atwater's in Canton Crossing is how clean it is. I can be a bit of a germaphobe, so when I see bits of food stuck to the wall (*cough* Au Bon Pain) it's pretty much impossible for me to concentrate. Luckily, that's never a problem at Atwater's. I'm also a fan of their food that uses fresh ingredients and the always friendly servers. When the weather is nice the outdoor patio is a peaceful place to sit and people (or car) watch. It's not the cheapest cafe in the world, but when I really want to eat healthy and be productive, Atwater's is at the top of my list.

The Bun Shop

If you like savory pastries, the Bun Shop has plenty of good options. It's not a cafe you would go to for a full meal, but if you're serious about your work this is the place. Whenever I've visited, the majority of customers have their laptops out, earbuds in, and are hard at work. It's a small space and can get crowded at times, but when available, you have the option of couches, cafe tables, or a communal bench table. It's location right in walkable Mt. Vernon is also a plus for when you would rather move around throughout the day than sit in front of your computer for hours on end. 

See you out working!

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MOTHER'S DAY THOUGHTS

THE MOTHER-CHILD BOND

A while back, I attended a college graduation ceremony and observed something that verified something I already knew; but hadn’t actually thought about. Seated in front of me was a young mother and next to her was her newborn baby. The infant couldn’t have been more than two weeks old as it sat in the plastic car carrier oblivious to the world. What I observed was this mother’s constant and deliberate attention to this new person. Every few seconds she would look inside the carrier to see if everything was alright. The baby was sleep, yet the new mother kept watch much like a mother robin does with her newly hatched babies; or like a mother lion does with her baby cubs. And it occurred to me that there is a special bond between child and mother that is pure and natural. It cannot be duplicated. It cannot be replicated. Grandma doesn’t have it. Auntie doesn’t have it. And definitely Dad doesn’t have it. That bond between mother and child is like no other bond ever created. You can’t describe it. You can’t study it. You simply have to know that it is.

And while the bond gets tested many times as a child grows, the bond remains intact. Mom will defend you to the Supreme Court if need be, yet be your harshest critic when you act a fool. I instinctly knew that this bond existed, but when you get to be grown, sometimes you have to be reminded of what you know. That’s what the woman at the graduation ceremony did. She reminded me that the Spirit created the bond between mother and child to be like no other human connection on earth, and because of that, we are blessed more than we can ever comprehend.

MOTHER’S DAY, WHAT’S ALL THE FUSS?

What is all this noise about Mother’s Day?  Why are people breaking their necks to celebrate this manufactured holiday created by the greeting card companies?  All your mother ever did for you was:

*Carry your butt for nine months while being your sole source of survival

*Provide immediate nutrition at her bosom the minute you were born.

*Change your smelly diaper after you messed all over yourself.

*Protect you from dangers that you never even knew existed.

*Be your first teacher about being Careful, being Fair, being Honest, and being

  Responsible.

*Believe in you when you didn’t have the good sense to believe in yourself.

*Be the first person to Love you unconditionally.

So now you pick one day out of 365 to buy the flowers, the candy, the necklace, the dinner that the advertisers tell you to buy so that your mother is celebrated appropriately.

This is what your really mother deserves.  She deserves to be able to say her prayers at night and be able to thank the Lord for a child that is Responsible, Caring, Safe, and Happy.  A child that does the Right Thing, because it’s the Right Thing to do.  Your mother loves you unconditionally, and always will.  So be worthy of that love by simply being a better child, a better citizen, a better person.  Instead of making the flower companies and the phone companies rich one day a year, make your mother Proud Everyday.  Do that, and Everyday will truly be your Mother’s Day.

SoulVisionTV.com

 

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MARRIAGE IS BUSINESS

It is presumed that people decide to get married because they love each other and want to spend their lives together.  In theory there would be no need to document such an arrangement except for the fact that the arrangement would not be recognized legally.  Thus marriage is a joint venture based in legal doctrine.   A license and documents signed by some “legal authority” are necessary before a marriage is “recognized” as valid.  Marriage then, is a contract designed to assign legal responsibility to both parties for the duration of the relationship, and thus, couples need to recognize that a marriage is an entity just like a small business.  And as with any business deal there are always questions that need to be addressed before any contact is signed.  It is the same for couples contemplating marriage.  Questions should be asked and answered before anyone says, “I do”.

When you incorporate a small business you legally give it its own identity.  A marriage license does the same thing for your relationship.  And just as you do with a small business, you have to develop, nurture, and protect your marriage.  The two people in the marriage become the managers responsible for jointly attending to those things that keep the marriage strong and healthy.  Where people mess up is that they aren’t committed to managing the marriage.  They can deal with the “fun” stuff, but are unwilling to deal with the “hard” stuff.  Guidelines about how the marriage will operate aren't discussed.    Expectations aren't expressed.  When there is no commitment to manage the marriage; when there are no clearly defined rules and roles; when expectations aren’t clear; when both partners aren’t “hands-on” in managing the marriage, it will soon cease to exist.

Marriage can be one of the most fulfilling things you ever do in life.  To share your days with someone who truly wants to share their days with you can bring you the most joy that you will ever experience.  You have to be committed to the marriage, and be willing to put forth the effort to make and keep it successful.  Just like a business.

SoulVisionTV.com

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The SEO Trick You Keep Forgetting About

Search Engine Optimization is highly important for every website. We often focus on the words within our articles, meta tags, site descriptions and etc. However, as I work with different clients, I’ve come to see many companies that continue to forget about one keep aspect of every website…images. As we work towards optimizing websites for search engines to pick up, do not forget to search engine optimize your pictures.

Every picture that you upload to a website has a name. Make sure that the name saved to the image is specific to your company and industry. Search engines, such as Google, pick up on the key words in the names of images. Images are also becoming more vital for websites due to the advancement of Instagram and Pinterest. Before you upload an image to your website, check to see what the image name is and change it according to your needs.

Image Name Examples

Right: Entrepreneur-Resources-EntrepreneurOpps.jpg
Wrong: Phone-57689.jpg

Note the difference between the two names. If someone is searching for entrepreneur resources online, this name will add to key word strength amongst search engines. Be sure not to forget about this key SEO factor.

 

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How to really start a blog

By Jamie Broadnax of Black Girl Nerds

You see that everyone now has a blog and it appears relatively easy to get one started. The pressing question is how do I get started? And most importantly, how do I attract readers to my blogsite?

Here are my suggestions to all the newbies out there interested in starting a blog:

1. Find Your Niche.

Who will be your target audience?  Yes, believe it or not, you have to treat blogging like television and figure out which segment of the population you are trying to reach.  As a new blogger, it is best to start from a specific demographic and allow it to expand, rather than going generic. This is a common mistake among bloggers.  Many writers choose a broad topic such as Fashion, Movies, or Celebrities to write about, but remember---you have to contend with a plethora of other extremely successful sites that talk about the same thing.  Why should anyone go to your blog rather than going to Perez Hilton for celebrity gossip or Ain't It Cool News for movies?  Take baby steps and narrow down your topic when you start.  So rather than creating a blog about movies in general, create a blog about independent movies or horror movies.  If you're a fashionista and want to write about fashion, create a site about hipster wear or fashion for nerds (now that's a blog I'd like to read)

2. Find Your Platform


Now that you know what you are writing about, figure out which blogging platform you will choose to launch your site on. There are several platforms out there such as Blogger, Wordpress, TypePad, Tumblr, and LiveJournal just to name a few.  I have been using Blogger myself for several years now, just because it was an easier platform for me to manage.  However, now there are so many platforms out there for writers to choose from, any one will do.  Figure out how you want your site to look to readers and take some time to research which platform best fits your style and go from there.

3. Create Content In Advance


Now here is a secret that I use that I will reveal to each of you nerdy girl readers that will help you in maintaining and updating content.  One of the biggest hurdles writers come into when creating new content is the dreaded writers block.  Those moments where you find yourself staring at a blinking cursor for an hour.  The best way to prevent that is to take a day to find material that you would like to write about and email those topics to yourself.  That is what I do.  For example, at the beginning of the month, I will write out a list of topics I am interesting in blogging about and usually  I will come up with roughly 10-15 topics or so.  From there I will keep inventory of those topics by emailing them for myself and say "okay, for the month of January, I have these 15 topics I plan on blogging about".  Therefore, when I open my laptop and feel compelled to write, I can look to my inbox and see the list of topics I compiled a list of from the beginning of the month and start working down the list and go from there.  Writer's Block cured!  The hardest part about this is coming up with those topics at the beginning of the month.  I usually find a day when I feel the most creative (usually in the early morning after I have had a cup of coffee) and my brain is swirling around with tons of info.


4. SEO Is Key


Whenever I mention the term SEO to some of my fellow bloggers or friends they look at me with an unfamiliar expression.  SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  I have no training or expertise in SEO, I just decided one day to learn how to do it. I would highly recommend learning more about SEO to help give your blog some more visibility.  First start with Google.  Go to Google Blog Search to "ping" your blog in Google's beta search.  What this means is Google will find a crawl for your site, and within 24 hours or so, the next time you do a Google search and type your site's URL it will come up.  Sites like Ping-O-Matic and Technorati use tools to help search engines find your blog. There is so much more to SEO than using these sites.  Here is a random SEO trick to make it easier for people to find your blog: Whenever you upload an image to your blog, when you save the file, use your blogsite's name or URL for the image.  That name or URL will be embedded within the image, and when that image gets picked up my Google's search engine, whenever someone chooses to click on that image, it will generate directly back to your blog site. 


5. Market Your Blog To An Audience


Now you have your blog created and you have your content prepared, it's time to find people interested in reading what you have to say.  This is actually not as difficult as you may think.  Social media makes it incredibly easy to market yourself to readers.  Open up an account on Facebook and Twitter and if you choose to be even more creative, create a Facebook page and a Twitter page specifically for your blog.  I use Networked Blogs.   This particular platform allows you to auto-publish your posts to Facebook and Twitter.  This is a great tool to allow the links to your blog post to go directly into someone's Facebook feed or Twitter feed should they choose to like your Facebook page or follow your Twitter account.



6. Network With Other Bloggers


Networking is crucial when it comes to just about everything, but in the world of blogging it is the one thing that will allow you to build up your readership substantially. There are sites like My Blog Guest that allow you to publish posts on other blogger's websites or vice-versa.  You may receive an offer from a blogger to write a post for your website and you can offer to write for them.  This type of rapport is important, because it not only generates more visibility to your site, but it also gives you more legitimacy as a writer that you also create content for other websites.  This is meaningful to readers as well as other bloggers.  In return bloggers may choose to link your blog to their website and you can also return the favor.  The more hyperlinks your blog receives from other websites the better.  It increases your Alexa Rank , which can not only lead to a higher readership but can lead to further opportunities along the way should you choose to monetize your site by publishing ads.

7. Paid Advertising


This final step is one that I don't primarily focus on simply because it means having to use your own financial resources which can be both risky and at times unnecessary. In my opinion, this is the old school way of marketing your blog, and although at times it is effective, I feel that the social media route is the best form of advertising and obviously the least expensive.  However, if you feel confident enough that your blog has potential to reach a larger market and you have the financial capacity to do so, I would recommend setting up an account with Google Ad Words so that you can pay certain keywords to come up in Google's search engine that relate to your blog.  You can also choose to advertise through Facebook and advertise your Facebook page to your blog through their website.  I only recommend this if you feel confident enough and you have the extra funds to advertise.  However, this is not necessary when social media has a profound viral effect when it comes to marketing yourself.

I hope these 7 tips are helpful to you as a new blogger.  I started blogging in 2007.  It was all trial and error and everything I have learned and done since I started has been self-taught.  I don't claim to be an expert by no means, but I have enough insight to know what can help you get started on the right track.  It will be a little overwhelming at first.  When I started, blogging wasn't as popular as it is today.  It seems like everyone has a blog.  I urge you to please do not feel intimidated or frustrated at that prospect.  If you stay focused and continue to update and manage your content, that is what matters.  Consistency in blogging is essential.  Blog about topics that are of interest to you and don't feel compelled to blog about a topic that everybody is talking about.  I rarely blog about pop culture because frankly there are a thousand other blogs for every topic about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West or the latest political scandal in the White House.  Who cares what everyone else is talking about, what do YOU want to talk about? 

Finally, blog about a topic that NOBODY else is discussing.  Don't succumb to the noise of Twitter and Facebook by chatting about trending topics.  I like to chat about cartoon theme songs from the 80s and 90s and movies with interracial couples.  Create a unique approach in your content.  That is what will draw readers to your blog not the recycled topics of the day that will become yesterday's news within the next 24 hours.

Good luck blogging!  You're gonna be a success!

 

 

Jamie is the creator of Black Girl Nerds. The site is geared towards a subculture of
women who embrace their nerdiness and feel empowered by their quirky personalities.
Jamie has been blogging since 2007 and hold a Masters degree in Film and Marketing.
http://blackgirlnerdy.blogspot.com/2013/01/so-you-want-to-start-blog.html

Twitter: @BlackGirlNerds
Facebook: www.facebook.com/blackgirlnerds
Tumblr: www.blackgirlnerds.tumblr.com

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