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Life-Changing Decisions + A Woman's Worth

Actress and model Melyssa Ford will be serving up a four-part series on the state and importance of black sexual health, delving into the topics AIDS/HIV. Be informed, be safe and protect your worth.

Here is a proposed statistic for you: it’s said that no less than 60% of African American women are single in this country, and they say that’s the low end of the statistic. It’s safe to assume quite a lot of us are currently in some stage of the dating game. With all of our social networking activities, we’ve increased the amount of perspective partners we have access to 10 fold.

Now, we all have our checklist of things we look for in a man (provided you aren’t looking for the second coming of Jesus in the form of Adonis, like Chilli was!), but I wonder where do health and all communication on things related fall on your list of priorities? It goes without saying, right? It’s top priority, but the statistics on the spread of HIV in the African American community don’t really support this notion.

African American women are still disproportionately affected by the spread of HIV. They are 15-20 times more likely to contract it than their white counterparts and three times more likely than Latina women--the third largest cause of death amongst African American women. That basically says that a large portion of us are a) not getting tested, b) not practicing safe sex and, c) not carrying around our negative test results and demanding that our partner show us proof of the same or the cookies STAY in the jar!

But what about those women who contracted HIV from an unscrupulous partner while in--or what they thought was--a monogamous relationship? Were they expected to ask for their partner’s status report every six months? Aren’t relationships built on trust? Yes, they are, but… Consider the situation faced by Marvelyn Brown, a beautiful chocolate sister who’s an enthusiastic advocate in raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and co-author of the book The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful and (HIV) Positive. She’s been living with the disease for eight years; she contracted it while in a monogamous relationship when she was 19 years old.

Like many of us, she grew up watching Disney fairy tales, always believing that her prince would come along one day. And from the day she laid eyes on David (not his real name), she believed that day had come. She loved everything about him: his walk, his talk… his scent. Prior to meeting this man, Marvelyn had never before been tested for HIV and was largely ignorant about the virus itself. Her discovery that she had the virus came while she was at the hospital for non-HIV related pneumonia. Upon being told by the doctor that she was HIV positive, she describes herself as feeling empty, simply because she didn’t know what it was or what the total life changing ramifications of this diagnosis would create. Marvelyn didn’t care to listen to any information provided about HIV prevention because she didn’t feel it applied to her. Because of her lack of understanding of the virus or the stigma attached to it, she told her family and friends and her boyfriend.

David broke up with her because he didn’t want anyone to know his positive status, and word spread about her positive status through her community and her church. At home she was forced to eat off paper plates and use plastic utensils; at church, she found judgment and scorn. Experiencing complete ostracism from her friends, she eventually dropped out of school.

What do you think, as women, we value most about life? The support and love of our families, socializing with our friends and the feeling of connectedness with our communities, correct? Have you ever asked yourself, if you were robbed of these three critical components of our identities, would life even be worth living? Who would care about the new Christian Louboutin’s we just copped, or the law degree we’d achieved or that we’d just lost our job due to downsizing? How would your faith hold up, knowing that your church--an institution that is supposed to embody the notion of the importance of social cohesion and that we are all equal under the eyes of God--has branded you an outsider and created a perceptible wall of dismissiveness between you and everyone else?

These circumstances became Marvelyn’s reality. And although she has turned a negative, life-changing experience into her own positive circumstances, what she’s had to endure is nothing she would wish on anyone. The eight pills with the nauseating side affects that she has to take every night in order to sustain her health is something she hopes you don’t have to deal with.

So the next time the “unsexy” subject of comparing sexual health status between you and a perspective partner arises, ask yourself the following questions: How much does your life mean to you? Does the concept of trust in your mate outweigh your sense of personal responsibility and self-government?

Traversing through relationships and dating these days is already like a mine field without the slippery slope of hasty or poor decision-making becoming complete self-compromise in response to another’s discomfort or objection. As women, we are the givers and nurturer’s of life, and we’re succumbing to illnesses and diseases brought on by poor choices and lazy attitudes. As it relates to our health and well-being, the only constant is this: the choice is yours.

For more information about b condoms, HIV/AIDS or World AIDS Day, please check out @bcondoms, www.bcondoms.com, or worldaidsdays.org

Please check out The Naked Truth: Young Beautiful and (HIV) Positive By Marvelyn Brown with Courtney E. Martin.

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CupcakKe Reveals Abusive Boyfriend Led Her To Contemplate Suicide

Months of abuse led to the suicidal tweet posted by Chicago native CupcakKe, earlier this month. In a lengthy message posted to her Twitter account over the weekend, the 21-year-old rapper admitted that she’s been battling depression, brought on by an abusive ex-boyfriend.

In the post titled “my disturbing read,” CupcakKe accuses a man named, Christopher Terrell, of stealing her credit cards and terrorizing her throughout their relationship.

“This is someone I’ve been dating for the past [five] months,” she wrote in the now deleted post. “Out of the kindness of my heart I gave this man over [$30,000] during this period [of] time because I understand how it feels to be without (especially after me being homeless). He also has threatened to shoot my mom in the face [and] has threatened me on multiple occasions [and] said he can do it because he will get away with it!!!! I have screenshots, recorded calls, bank statements and all types of proof.

“Me being stupid in love I have [taken] this man back multiple times but every time I take him back the abuse gets [worse],” she added.

Further in the post, CupcakKe explains that her depression from feeling trapped in the relationship resulted in her contemplating suicide. “He [has] snatched off my wig in public, broke phones [and] continues to traumatize me every step of the way! This is what [led] to my ‘I’m committing suicide’ tweet…I have called the cops multiple times and they have yet to do anything about it,” she wrote, adding that Terrell is threatening her with revenge porn. She also admitted to posting his number on social media, and the numbers of women that he “plotted” with  to steal her money.

“Yes I am wrong for that,” she said. “But by me sending this message out it is not for harm to be sent his way, it’s for the police to make things way more serious!!!! Also this message is for every young girl or anyone in general that is struggling with abuse right now. I get u (once you see the first sign) leave!!!”

Read the full post below.

@Chicago_Police y’all really need to do something about @CupcakKe_rapper and her situation, she’s mentioned reaching out to y’all multiple times about this and nothings happened! Please do something before it’s too late... pic.twitter.com/ZczGq1jmcK

— moonlight_baes (@m00nlight__baes) January 20, 2019

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Kelly Rowland Says Her Highly-Anticipated Project Is "Definitely Coming"

Six years ago, Kelly Rowland released her fourth studio album titled Talk a Good Game. The project boasted hit singles like "Kisses Down Low" and the transparent "Dirty Laundry." Now, the Houston native is preparing to release a project that'll surely satisfy fans' patient earbuds.

In an interview with Billboard, Rowland shared her hopes for putting out a new body of work and the pressure that she's encountered since she's been in the studio. "This is by far the longest, most pressure-filled process ever, only because I know what it's supposed to be and I have been so hard on myself. I know it," she said. "And it's the first time I've said it out loud. I've been extremely hard on myself. But it's definitely coming, and I'm more so excited about this project than anything else."

The news follows the recent release of Rowland's "Kelly" track, which was met with critical acclaim in November 2018. In addition to preparing the release of new music, the "Motivation" singer discussed fans' wish for a Destiny's Child reunion. The rumors have been fueled by social media photographs of Rowland with either Beyonce or Michelle or all three, especially during Beyonce's past Coachella performance. But Rowland assures readers that it's not what they think.

"It's so funny. I guess every time people see us together, they just see music but I see sisterhood, and that's what we are and that's what me, her, Michelle [Williams] and Solange and I are. People see us all together, they immediately think music. I'm like, no. Just family." As Rowland previously mentioned Solange, she hopes to one day work with her again.

"I'm a huge fan," she said. "I love her writing and how detailed and particular she is. I always wanted to figure out how the heck she has so many different layers of harmonies when she is constructing these vocals, and it's so complex but simple. It's genius. It's the genius in her genius mind that she has in there." One of the last times the pair collaborated was on Rowland's "Simply Deep" track off her debut solo album of the same name. Solange also penned a few songs off the same project. Fast forward to 2016, and Rowland's vocals were featured on Solange's iconic A Seat at the Table.

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Teyana Taylor To Pay Homage To Ballroom Culture In "WTP" Video

Teyana Taylor aims to keep her hot streak of innovative videos coming thanks to this recent announcement. Taking to Instagram on Wednesday (Jan. 9), the "Gonna Love Me" singer will show adoration to ballroom culture in the visual for "WTP."

Directed by Gregory "Beef" Jones, The Aunties Inc., and Taylor herself, the Harlemite takes viewers on her journey to the expression-filled space where she hopes to rack up 10s across the board from a group of judges. The premise of the video also seems to follow a mockumentary format airing on a fictional network named FEMTV. Alongside Taylor, other men and women get ready to display their talents and confidence on the ballroom floor.

"WTP" is featured on the mother-of-one's sophomore album, K.T.S.E., which was released in June 2018. While the rollout's controversy didn't entirely muddle the excitement behind the project's debut, Taylor said she was sold on the idea that her album would be treated as the biggest out of G.O.O.D. Music's string of releases last year.

"I didn't know ahead of time that there wouldn't be any singles or visuals. But I knew that it was going to be the five-album thing," she said during a HOT 97 interview. "[Kanye] wanted [my album] to be last, he wanted mine to be the biggest. That's the way they sauced it up. I was sold."

The video will debut on Jan. 19. Check out the teaser below.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

👀 1.19.19 👀 #WTP Directed by @teyanataylor & @ogbeefjones @theauntiesinc 🙏🏾🙌🏾🙏🏾 The wait is ALMOST over. 😏 @museumofsex

A post shared by Jimmy Neutch- Shumpert (@teyanataylor) on Jan 8, 2019 at 6:32pm PST

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