Opinion: VIBE Editors React To #CharlestonShooting

VIBE offers their emotional reactions to the Charleston shooting

On Wednesday (June 17), 21-year-old shooting suspect, Dylann Roof, opened fire during a Bible study session at the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Six females and three males were killed, including South Carolina Senator, Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

As the nation tries to make sense of the heinous hate crime, VIBE reflects on last night's events and weighs in on the current state of America.


When you're covered in black skin, there are a list of things you can't do in America without putting your life in danger. Now, added to that list is going to the house of the Lord.

Buying Skittles and wearing a hoodie has proven to be detrimental. Celebrating your bachelor party the night before your wedding day will merit you 50 shots, while holding your wallet will earn you 44 bullets. Blasting what some deem to be loud, ghetto rap music while at a Florida gas station will get you killed and running away from police means you are to be shot in the back. Let's not forget having your hands raised as you surrender is now grounds to be murdered and have your body lay on display in the sweltering August sun for hours. So yes, black people in America are well-versed on what we should not do.

But the shooting in Charleston is different. Worshipers have long sought out refuge in the four walls of their church home, whether it be for Sunday service, bible study or simply to fellowship among fellow believers, and for someone, unprovoked, to open fire as attendees bowed their heads, closed their eyes and prayed is an unexplainable evil, a robust cowardice, and has ignited a very palpable fear once again in the black community.

Are we now being told worship will also get us killed?

I am a writer. I've been a writer for many moons, and seldom am I at a loss for words, yet the shooting in Charleston has rendered me speechless. All I can do now is pray, but as the recent events showcase, I must do so from the safety of my own home.
—Shenequa Golding, Editor

Hearing the news about the about Charleston shooting struck a particular nerve with me this morning. The details about about the victims in the prayer group sent a chill through my spine as I instantly thought about my own mother, who attends her prayer group five days a week at 6am. She's mostly there to pray for me, my well-being and for me to have a successful career. As I realized the victims very well could have been members of my family, I could feel the heaviness creeping to my eyes. I couldn't tell if I was feeling the burdens of sadness because I became conscious that similar heinous acts of violence could very well happen at my mother's church or if the death of nine innocent churchgoers was plaguing my soul. This is life in America now.

—Mikey Fresh, Music Editor

SEE ALSO: What Needs to Happen After Eric Garner

I hate that the first thing that came to mind when I heard about the Charleston, SC shooting was, "Another one?" Another mass killing? Another white gunman dismissed as an isolated incident or a mental illness discrepancy? Another set of black lives erased from Earthly existence? Another day we have to prove our lives are worth even a morsel of a damn?

Every day living in America feels like a game of Russian Roulette. There's honestly no safe place to go where people of every color, religion or cultural background can feel safe going about their day to day lives. It's disturbing to know that the one institution constructed as a place of peace and a safe haven for Charleston's black community was reduced to a floating target for a trigger happy (alleged) white supremacist. What kind of hatred is brewing so feverishly inside the heart of 21-year-old Dylann Roof—the confirmed suspect in last night's shooting—that he NEEDED to go kill off innocent people during their time of prayer and worship?

As a person of color, how can you not feel helpless in this country at times like these? The same country that personally saw to it that we stayed at the bottom of the bottom, and continues to do so in subtle, underhanded ways and with one-sided public policies. We're not wanted here, and it's a waiting game until the next moment presents itself for American purists to let us know exactly how much they want us gone.

Which city will be the next to be rocked with a hate crime? Who will earn the next roadside memorial, hashtag and placement on an inner city mural? Which state will slap its residents of color in the face by saying that, legally, there's not enough evidence for justice and no realistic way to protect black lives? The worst feeling in the world is not knowing any of the answers.
—Stacy-Ann Ellis, Assistant Editor

I'm still struggling to make sense of America. Especially when news of a neighborhood watch captain is acquitted in fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager, who just bought Skittles and Arizona iced tea. When a 43-year-old man is wrestled to the ground in a chokehold by a police officer and elicits his final words, "I can't breathe." When a cop shoots an 18-year-old man and lets his body lay out on the Ferguson street for hours. When nine people in South Carolina are shot during bible study by a 21-year-old who opens fire at a church...

I'm not the type to wear my emotions on my timeline but I can't suppress the heaviness on my heart and mind, wondering how many headlines depicting people of color dying from police brutality, gun violence and hate crimes need to be published before a real change comes. If this is the so-called Land of the Free, why doesn't it feel like it?
—Adelle Platon, Associate Editor

As I stood in my living room, watching the underwhelming media coverage on TV this morning, I couldn’t help but think about how 2015 has already been a year filled with disappointment, sadness and deep, long sighs.

Will hateful racism ever die its overdue death? When will the excuse of “mental illness” cease to exist as the cause of one’s actions rooted in anger? Why is a rhetorical question being posed every time one person of one race causes physical and fatal harm on that of another? What ever happened with that pool party incident? Why are we so focused on Rachel Dolezal’s wanna-be blackness more so than the Haitian deportation in the Dominican Republic?

As a Black woman, I can only pray for the remaining six months of this year… and for my future children.
—Eboseta Christine, Social Managing Editor

SEE ALSO: Everything You Should Know About The Charleston, South Carolina Shooting

A lot has changed in the last 50 years, and yet nothing has changed at all. By the looks of our social climate, we are merely living in a remix of the 1960s. Though tweaked with considerable new elements such as the Internet and the presence of a black president, the undertones of racism and hatred make for the same song and frankly, I’ve grown weary of singing it.

Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Denise McNair were just four little girls who went to church on September 15, 1963. Likely coerced by their God-fearing elders to sit still and pay attention in the house of the Lord, those four little girls saw their final day at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham after Ku Klux Klan member Robert Chambliss bombed the church with dynamite, leaving them dead. Targeted as predominantly black church and hub for civil rights protesters, the 16th Street was punished for being a vehicle of faith and peace. The fact that this story is even remotely familiar to what transpired at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church yesterday – in 2015 – is equally saddening and mind-blowing.

This is evidence that the wool has been pulled over our eyes. In this sociopolitical remix, the lyrics are muffled, murmured and interpolated to trick us into thinking that times have changed. We’ve been hoodwinked into faux freedom. We’ve been deceived into imaginary equality. But if we slow down the track and listen with a more meticulous ear, we realize that this is just like that other song – the one where we are slaughtered, imprisoned and degraded. We’re just bopping our heads to a new beat.

And I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d like to change CDs.
—Iyana Robertson, News Editor

Rage. The kind you have where you don't yell out and go all crazy, but the quiet storm rage is what I have right now. It's been brewing long before Trayvon's unfortunate death and following circumstances. What I personally went through in Charleston, South Carolina, dealing with the affairs of my ailing grandfather in that town would make anyone lose it. A lot of the issues I dealt with was being a black male questioning the movements, decisions and authority of those in power that preyed on the weakened condition of elderly people of color. Yet I also noticed the dire situations of the black community in the downtown area of Charleston. The youth, looking lost and unstructured and aimlessly wandering...just hurt. Then seeing the hate by some that looked and lived differently was also a huge problem. Was it all white directed? It wasn't totally, but those in position to make things harder than they needed to be were white and seemed to revel in making things tough. I understood then that things were racially motivated as the white families going through similar processes as mine weren't dealing with the same obstacles and were given special treatment.

Mindstate. Racism is taught. The battle rapper Hitman Holla of St. Louis said something profound on Instagram about this. If the young man that did this heinous crime is indeed the one, and did this out of racism or black hate, he's only 21. He doesn't even know why he hates black people. He can't! But I have a bigger issue. I don't even think he's only motivated by black hate. I think there is a planned angle to stop the momentum that State Senator/Pastor Clementa Pinckney had going with challenging police law and the push for cops to wear body cameras in South Carolina.

The 41 year-old Democratic Senator was connected to Al Sharpton during the national news story of Walter Scott being shot down by the hands of South Carolina authorities. Pinckney was highly educated, spiritually focused and married with two kids. Was this mass shooting to cover up a hit on this man? I question that motive. I really do. So many thoughts and emotions are traveling through me right now. The main one is sorrow for all the lives lost in this tragedy. My heart and prayers go to the victims and their families.

Now that this subhuman has been caught, I hope justice is served. Will things ever change? Will this moment of rage be the turning point for modern civil rights like the bombing of that Birmingham, Alabama church that killed four little black girls in 1963? How much more can a race of people take? I hope we don't have to answer that last question anytime soon.
—Datwon Thomas, Editor-in-Chief

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Remain Calm: 5 Ways To Curve Negative Effects Of Coronavirus Isolation

Self-isolation during the coronavirus outbreak seems to be best practice in keeping our families and peers safe but it's also a shift in our normal social behavior. As millions of families around the country get adjusted to self-isolation, the state of our mental health and how our bodies react to the practice are changing by the day, especially lower-income and marginalized groups.

Speaking with Wired, John Vincent, a clinical psychologist at the University of Houston, shared how apathetic behavior can rise to the forefront, making space for anxiety and depression.

“People start getting lethargic when they don’t have positive inputs into their small worlds,” Vincent says. “We can expect depression to kick in, and depression and anxiety are kissing cousins.”

But the biggest reason behind the uneasiness isn't the self-isolation but just how long it will last. Details of COVID-19 are changing by the day with the most cases now coming out of New York. Yet, there's still little to no information on what happens next.

“Open, transparent, consistent communication is the most important thing governments and organizations can do: Make sure people understand why they are being quarantined first and foremost, how long it is expected to last,” Samantha Brooks of King’s College London told the outlet. “A huge factor in the negative psychological impact seems to be confusion about what's going on, not having clear guidelines, or getting different messages from different organizations.”

Uncertainty hitting low income and marginalized groups is also a problem within itself. As virtual parties and celebrities opening up on social media happen on a daily, there are people who might not access fun distractions on the web.

“Some people have posited technology as a means of connecting people, but lower-income groups might not even have FaceTime or Skype or minutes on their phone,” Thomas Cudjoe, a geriatrician researching the intersection of social connections and aging at Johns Hopkins University says. “People take that for granted, using their devices can be a strain on people’s incomes.”

To make self-isolation less than a bore or a daunting task, experts suggest creating a schedule to dictate control in your home.

1. Work It Out

Gyms are closed, but your home can be transformed into a personal training center. Use heavy bags for weights and if you can, create a playlist of workouts on YouTube. For those who have memberships for Blink or Peloton, the platforms have streamed their workouts on apps.

2. Mindful Meditation

Meditation isn't about dumping your thoughts, it's about staying aware and mindful. AQUA has developed online that leverages the power of "Mindful Meditation and Mobility Movements" for flexibility and fluidity in the body. Classes are free of charge but feel free to donate.

3. Take It Back To High School

Give your friends a call or indulge in a FaceTime party. Feel free to use the Wifi in your home to reduce the amount of data used on your phone. Lala Anthony held a too-cute FT birthday party for writer Kiyonna Anthony with a 70s theme. You can also find creative ways to hop on the phone with friends and family instead of constantly chatting about 'rona.


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We made the best out of our quarantine situation🎉‼️FACETIME 70s Party💃🏽🎉HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY NIECE @kiyonnathewriter ❤️❤️💃🏽💃🏽SHOUT OUT TO ALL MY ARIES ♈️ MAKE THE BEST OF IT!!!😘

A post shared by ℒᎯ ℒᎯ (@lala) on Mar 23, 2020 at 7:14pm PDT

4. Start A Journal

Journals just aren't for kids. The practice not only gives you something to do, but it fuels creativity and a new level of self-awareness. Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently developed Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice, with over 150 inspiring questions and quotes that connect to key themes in her memoir. The journal will also help bring readers to terms with the importance of family and personal reflections as well as the goals they'd like to make a reality.

5. Have a Dance Party or Enjoy Lo-Fi Beats To Quarantine To

If you don't have data or battery power to watch a virtual DJ party, make your own. If you have to pull out your record player, do it! You can also hop on your favorite streaming service and create a playlist all your own.

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From Teen Sensation To Vocal Bible: Brandy's 15 Best Songs

September 27, 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the multiplatinum self-titled debut album by one of R&B’s greatest voices, Brandy Rayana Norwood, or simply Brandy. She was already well on her way to stardom prior to her debut as a background vocalist for Immature and one of the stars of the short-lived ABC series, Thea. However, it was the album Brandy that set her on the path to tremendous success.

Since officially bursting onto the scene in 1994 sporting her well-known braided crown of glory, she has been a force to be reckoned with. She was handpicked by her idol, the late Whitney Houston, to portray the role of the first Black Cinderella in the 1997 film Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. Her show Moesha was one of the longest-running black sitcoms. Brandy was also a CoverGirl in 1999 and became a friend of Barbie that same year when Mattel released the Brandy Doll. In music, she’s released six studio albums, sold more than 40 million records worldwide, headlined three world tours, and won more than 30 awards including seven Billboard Music Awards, a Grammy and the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award. Brandy deserves her flowers.

Let’s check out the top 15 songs that helped solidify Brandy as your favorite singer’s favorite singer (just ask Solange) and earned her the title of the “Vocal Bible.”

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In this photo illustration Dollar and Euro notes are displayed, on November 26, 2010 in London, England.
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Money Trees: 10 Tips On Managing Your Finances During The Coronavirus Pandemic

The COVID-19 outbreak has shifted the lives of millions as self-isolation has become a brief normal. With students and some people working from home, many folks have also seen a vast change in their finances.

The latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows increases in claims for jobless benefits for the week of March 14 with California taking the top spot with 58,208 claims, District of Columbia second at 16,120; Washington state third, with 14,846 and North Carolina rounding out the top four at 14,413.

As the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports, Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters the state received 80,000 unemployment applications last week. “We average about 2,000 unemployment insurance claims a day,” Newsom said. “Two days ago or three days, we saw about 40,000 applications. After that 70,000 applications. Yesterday, 80,000 unemployment applications.”

But each state, job, and situation are different. One thing that remains the same is staying ahead of your finances the best way possible. Hailing from a community who barely enjoys money talk, I know how hard it can be to work against the forces that include Sallie Mae, rent, credit cards, and UberEats orders. It's why I indulge in the gift that is The Financial Gym. With a fitness-inspired take on finances, the company works one-on-one with each client to ensure everyone gets to one step closer to financial freedom.

Below are some tips from the gym as well as your favorite hip-hop songs to keep you accountable and financially healthy.


1. Scale Back On Extra Expenses

Non-essentials like to hide in plain sight. If there is a service you no longer need but still pay for, now is the best time to cut the cord and pad your bank account.

2. Create An Emergency Fund (If You Don't Have One)

According to Finder, the US average of savings accounts in 2019 was $16,420 with the median savings account holding $4,830. It can be very difficult to keep a savings account due to unexpected expenses but it doesn't hurt an emergency fund for rainy days.

“If you think we’re heading into a recession and you want to be extra safe, then you may increase your emergency savings to 8 months or longer,” suggests Shannon McLay, founder of The Financial Gym.

If this isn't realistic, adapt to your salary and build from there.

3. Don't Forget About D.E.B.T

If you have to adjust payments to fit your current situation, do so. The one thing that can harm you, is ignoring a bill. It won't go away until you make it.

Also, check-in with your bank. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, banks have waived fees and other costs. For example, Ally Bank is waiving fees for overdrafts, excessive transactions for savings and money market accounts for 120 days with expedited shipping of checks and debit cards. They've also pledged $3 million to help the communities where their employees live and work, with special hometown locations of Detroit and Charlotte.

4. Have Some Talents? Use Them!

If kids can make millions on YouTube by playing with toys, imagine what you can do simply by funneling your other talents. Create a YouTube channel. Make a blog. Get into photography. Start making clothes. Don't allow fear and panic to reduce your creative spirit. You might even make some money out of the deal.

5. Look Back On Life Goals

If you're planning on taking a big vacation or making a big purchase, put it on hold. “If your life goals are between two and five years, then you may want to think about a more conservative asset allocation, depending on your risk tolerance,” says Shannon. “However, if you’re life goals are beyond five years out, then the best thing you’re going to do is avoid looking at your statements, watching CNBC, and doing anything rash like selling at the wrong time.” Sure her sentiments were for facing a recession but the gospel applies here.

6. Sell Gently Used Items Online

'Tis the season for spring cleaning. While you're at it, you should empty your closet and fill your pockets. From electronics to gently worn shoes, clothes or accessories, feel free to turn your possessions into gems for the next person.

Also a tip from The Financial Gym:

Since you want to avoid conducting pick-up arrangements, you’ll want to sell on a platform where shipping is the standard. A few places to sell your pre-loved items online include, eBay and ThredUP, buy-sell-trade Facebook groups, and Gazelle for electronics. Just make sure your listed price accounts for costs, like platform fees, PayPal fees, and shipping.

7. Purge Your Photo Library...For Cash

We take a lot of photos we never share. Instead of letting them collect digital dust, sell your images of that sunset in Bali or crowd photos from Afrochella to sites like Shutterstock and iStock Photo.

8. Take Online Surveys

Platforms like Swagbucks and Survey Junkie provide cash for your time but don't quit your day job. Taking surveys online requires a lot of time so don't dump it all there.

9. Prepare For The Next "Pandemic"

Nipping the excess now only makes you a stronger financial warrior in the future. In addition to securing your pockets, accountability is a great quality you will likely spread to other aspects of your life.

10. Join The Financial Gym

The Financial Gym is currently offering a 20 percent discount to join. To get started schedule a consultation call here. All their events in NYC and D.C. are currently virtual experiences through the end of March.

Learn more about The Financial Gym here.

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