Thursday, April 29, 2010

To Kill or Not to Kill- That is the question

In light of some recent conversations surrounding the subject of abortion, I have decided to expound upon a piece that I published last year about the subject. I invite you to engage on the subject:

Abortion: To kill or not to kill
Commentary by Janaya Black

For the past twenty-five years or so the subject of abortion has served to cause division among millions who are of various opinions as to whether or not it should be legal to kill the unborn.

Some argue that abortion is a private matter; a decision to be made by the woman alone. While others maintain that human life is sacred no matter what stage it’s in, and to end it in the prenatal stages is still murder.

No matter which side of the issue one chooses to stand on, there are many things to consider when weighing the options of something of this magnitude. There are physical, emotional and psychological factors that come into play when dealing with this life changing decision.

The Pro-choice argument:

The primary reason that pro-choice advocates argue that abortion should be legal is that ultimately it’s the woman’s body, so therefore it should be her choice as to whether or not she wishes to have a baby and the government should have no say in the matter.

It is also argued that a fetus is not a human being, rather just simply a blob of tissue that has no meaningful life. They believe that life does not begin until birth, while others maintain that it’s not fair to bring unwanted children into the world so abortion presents a sensible alternative to wreaking more havoc on our already strained economy.

Abortion is the answer to preventing more welfare babies and that legalizing it will prevent thousands of deaths that could resort from women seeking back-alley abortions out of desperation if it is not legal.

The more conservative pro-choice arguments state that abortion should only be utilized in cases where the mother’s life is threatened, there are deformities or in cases of incest or rape and not as a method of birth control.

The Pro-life argument:

Pro-life supporters vehemently support the fact that mothers have a moral and natural obligation to protect their unborn babies. They maintain that life begins at the moment of conception and that murder by abortion, or any other means, should be illegal in a moral society.

According to the National Right to Life Organization’s (NRL) website,, scientific research has shown that the fetus the woman carries is a complete and fully new human being from the moment of fertilization, and that by the time an abortion is performed the baby has a heartbeat and identifiable brainwaves. These traits therefore identify the fetus as a unique human being who should, by rights, be deserving of protection under the law.

In direct argument to the pro-choice arguments that abortion prevents worsening the poverty levels by populating the world with unwanted children, pro-lifers maintain that poverty will never cease by killing babies. They credit the problem of poverty to lack of development as opposed to population.

Moreover, with respect to the argument of increasing number of deaths due to back alley abortions, the NRL maintains that these numbers are fabrications used by pro-abortionists to validate their claims when in fact the real numbers of deaths before 1973 are vastly different. Before Roe vs. Wade there have only been 39 documented cases of women who died from illegal abortions in 1972.

And their rebuttal in cases of deformities, rape and incest is that killing the patient does not cure the illness. They recognize that while these instances are both tragic and trying, their sentiment is that aborting a child because of illness or disability is a blatant display of prejudice and aborting because of rape is equivalent of condemning an innocent person for the crime of another.

What God says:

There are numerous examples in the Bible where God clearly validates the fact that he recognizes the unborn as His and has designated purpose for each life that is conceived.

These are just a few examples:

Luk 1:15- For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.

Psa 22:10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou [art] my God from my mother's belly.

Isa 49:1 Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.

The Mental impact:

While most women go into the process of abortion with a definitive mindset about terminating their pregnancy, many experience deep psychological problems following the procedure.

Many women have reported having nightmares, while others have fallen into deep depression researchers refer to as Post-Abortion Syndrome.

In addition to the typical emotional trauma that post-aborted women grapple with after abortion procedures, it has been noted that chemical abortion methods have introduced another level of psychological threat due to the fact that women who use this method often see the complete bodies of their aborted fetus, as opposed to those who are shield from aspect when using the more traditional methods.

“Two weeks after the abortion, I went into labor. I staggered into the bathroom. And there, with my husband beside me, I delivered a part of my baby the doctor had missed. It was the head of my baby,” stated Lori Nerad, former national president of Women Exploited by Abortion on “I’ll wake up in the middle of the night, thinking I hear a baby crying. And I still have nightmares in which I am forced to watch my baby being ripped apart in front of me. I simply miss my baby. I constantly wake up wanting to nurse my child, wanting to hold my child. And that’s something the doctor never told me I would experience.”


Though the arguments for both sides of the issue are compelling, in the midst of it all there are other options.

Of course abstinence is always the sure-fire way of ensuring that unwanted pregnancies do not occur. It is unfortunate that now days people view that word as passé, but increased sexual promiscuity has contributed heavily to the staggering number of aborted babies.

Adoption is another viable option for those who are not ready to take on the responsibilities of motherhood. There are thousands of adoption waiting lists filled with women who have tried unsuccessfully to get pregnant and are overflowing with love and would cherish the opportunity to give a child a loving home.

Whether your stance on abortion if pro-life or pro-choice, it stands to reason that both sides will stand firm in their beliefs. The moral fabric of today’s society is clearly not what it was twenty-five, or even ten, years ago so ultimately the decision lies with the mother regardless if the issue is legalized or not. If she has the will to do it then she will find a way to have it done.

One can only hope that by providing information people will be equipped to make informed decisions. Because once you’re informed then there can be no excuses.
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One-on-One with B.o.B

Grand Hustle’s newest prodigy B.o.B, a.k.a Bobby Ray, has officially taken his place as hip hop’s next “it” guy. With a swagger that screams of confidence and a sound that has definitely caught the attention of the masses with his new single Nothin’ on You, the Georgia native has staked his claim and has no intention of letting it go.

The Adventures of Bobby Ray is the name of his debut album that dropped on April 27 and it is chock full of blazin’ tracks with an eclectic mix of music and an all-star lineup of guest appearances. Even Detroit’s own Eminem is in on the action on the remix track Airplanes pt. 2.

During a brief stop through Detroit, B.o.B rocked the stage with a live band and his guitar at the Royal Oak Music Theatre and the FrontPage got a chance to catch up with him to get the skinny on the real Bobby Ray.

Janaya Black: Tell me about your album “The Adventures of Bobby Ray”.

B.o.B: The album comes out April 27. It has Eminem on it, it’s got Lupe Fiasco, Janelle Monae, Rivers Cuomo from Weezer, Hayley Williams from Paramour, its got B.o.B on there…he’s spitting a few verses (laughing). Overall it’s good. T.I.’s on the album and he also produced a few songs on the album. So the’s a pretty dope album. Well rounded.

JB: Does anybody ever tell you that your sound is a little reminiscent of Kanye when he first came out?

B.o.B: I know what you mean; it kind of has like…it’s relative to where the game is and how I’m emerging. Where the game was when he emerged was like this really different style and seemed really organic. You know what I mean? And he’s really frank. Kanye’s really frank and I guess I’m kind of frank also sometimes. But I feel like the comparison’s more so relative to the state that the game’s in and just the new movement that’s taking place.

JB: Your lyrical dexterity is bananas.

B.o.B: I love the word “dexterity”; lyrical dexterity.

JB: Yes, you can use that if you want (laughing). But seriously, what is your whole process of coming up with your rhymes? Is that a practiced thing or is that just a God-given gift?

B.o.B: Well, it’s like when I was a kid, and I don’t say this because a lot of people will write verses, and when I was a kid I would write verses too. I would fill up note books. But I feel like the flow came from free styling a lot because when you freestyle a lot it forces you to just flow. You can’t think about what you’re saying, you just gotta flow and when you feel that feeling…it’s kind of like when a dancer freestyles. They’re just in a zone and they’re not thinking about it; they’re just going. And it’s the same way lyrically. So when I was a kid I used to just freestyle for hours at a time, like non-stop. I would go 45 minutes to an hour. I’d rap to my brother and he’d get so sick of it and I’d just keep rapping and that put the flow in me.

JB: How long have you been rapping?

B.o.B: Since I was about 9. I would record verses in the bathroom on a little tape recorder.

JB: With this first album, what are you trying to say to your fans with your music?

B.o.B: With this album it’s more so a display of emotions. It’s not so much a message that can be put into a line or phrase because it’s such a wide range of things and emotions about how I feel. It’s kind of like my conversation to the fans. If I were to have a conversation with the fans the album would be that conversation in music format.

JB: Did you go to college after you got out of school?

B.o.B: No, I didn’t. I kind of knew what I wanted to do and I was very impatient, so I jumped right in to the music industry. I feel like people should prepare themselves more before they get in to the music industry. I feel like I’m the type of person where I just dive in. I wouldn’t recommend that for everybody; definitely not. Definitely learn before you jump right into it.

JB: As an artist, I know that you understand that a lot of young people are looking up to you. How do you feel about the whole role model aspect of what you’re getting into now?

B.o.B: I feel like as an artist, or even somebody that has a position of influence, I feel like you should be conscious of it but not necessarily fearful. The responsibility you feel should be a choice, it shouldn’t be because you feel it’s your duty. It should be a choice to be as responsible as you want to be.

Me, I feel responsible in a sense of I want to help people to not have to go through what I went through when I was a kid coming up. And that’s the sense of responsibility that I feel; that my experiences taught me a lesson so, therefore, I have to give that back. I have to give what I learned back to people to help them learn also.

JB: What do you like to do when you’re not on the road?

B.o.B: When am I not on the road (laughing)? When I’m not working…I don’t know! This is sad, I should get a hobby. I’ll say guitar playing because even when I’m not making music I still play the guitar. Like when I go on vacation I bring my guitar with me.

JB: Who inspires you?

B.o.B: It’s a wide range. Artists from John Mayer to Waka Flocka Flame and from Bjork to Snoop Dogg. From Eminem to Cold Play…you name it. The inspiration is wide ranging. I feel like the album reflects that; The Adventures of Bobby Ray reflects all the music that I’ve learned and studied and listened to as a fan.

The Adventures of Bobby Ray is now available in stores. For more on B.O.B please visit or follow him on Twitter at
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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Whose Responsibility?

Michigan’s Driver Responsibility law has been wreaking havoc on Michigan residents. Signed into effect under the premise of making the roads safer, this law seems to have become more of a drain on society than a remedy for traffic infringements.

Hefty state fees levied against motorists, on top of the already astringent local municipal fees, are a devastating reality for those who are already struggling to make ends meet. And this is all in the name of the state’s attempt to raise money to bring down the deficit.

While the idea of using people’s negligence as a way to deter them from breaking traffic laws seems like a good idea in theory, lawmakers really needed to take a closer look at how this law would affect an already recessed economy.

The Michigan unemployment rate is at an all time high, and if drivers can’t pay the additional fees to keep their licenses active then they run the risk of accumulating more fines for driving on a suspended license. But if one can’t get back and forth to work, how can they be expected to pay their bills? It’s not like Michigan has a large effective mass transit system that those with hindered licenses can use as an alternative.

So what is the solution? Since people should be held accountable to adhere to the traffic laws to ensure the safety of everyone on the road, perhaps the driver’s responsibility law could be modified to make provisions scale the 2 year fee down to a 1 time fee that is a certain percentage of the original fine. Or perhaps if one is unable to pay the fee, they can have the option of doing some sort of community service instead.

We understand that the State of Michigan is in a financial sling, but the state government cannot realistically expect to solve our financial woes on the backs of people who are struggling just to get by. So it is up to us as voters to hold the people that we put into office responsible for addressing our needs.

Don’t wait for someone else to speak up for you, be proactive in making sure that your voice is heard. If your life has been or is currently being affected by the Driver Responsibility Law pick up a pen or put in a phone call to your state representative and let them know what’s on your mind. After all, your tax dollars pay their salary, so technically you’re paying them to listen to you and service your needs

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Up Close and Personal with Robin Givens

Ever since the day she appeared as the fresh-face Darlene Merriman on the sitcom Head of the Class in the late 80’s, Robin Givens has captured the attention of viewers everywhere. Aside from her highly publicized marriage and divorce to the troubled former heavy-weight champion Mike Tyson, Givens has gone above and beyond to prove that she is much more than just “Mike Tyson’s ex”.

Now with an impressive resume of successful films to her credit and a plethora of hit stage performances to boot, Ms. Givens has returned to Detroit for another theatrical venture. While visiting the Motor City in preparation for her role as Cat Jones in Church Girl, the new stage play by Detroit’s own Angela Barrow Dunlap, Shop Talk got a chance to catch with her to find out more about the roles she plays on stage and in real life.

Shop Talk: Tell me about the new play Church Girl that you’re starring in and the role you’re playing.

Robin Givens: It’s an interesting show because I think it sort of blends with what’s going on now -and its very contemporary- which is the idea that many young women consider stripping as an option for life. And then for looking at it in a larger spectrum, which is sort of a lost soul in sort of the sense of coming back to who you are and who God intended for you to be.

I play sort of, I would say, one of the main girls at this club. I mean, now she doesn’t even really take her clothes off anymore, she sort of helps this man build this business. She’s sort of like a Madame to the women.

ST: How do you keep yourself looking so great?

RG: Oh my god! Well, I do yoga. I found my yoga in Detroit; that’s the first thing I do anytime I’m traveling. You know, I’m at an age where I can’t eat anything that I want to eat, which doesn’t make me happy (laughing), but I try to stay active.

ST: Of all the roles that you’ve played, stage and otherwise, which one would you say has stretched you the most?

RG: I would say that my favorite one was my [role] in A Rage in Harlem. Once I did that, I felt…I was so happy. Imabelle, I mean I loved her and I love Bill Duke so that was a big one for me.

ST: I loved you in “The Game”. What happened to that show?

RG: I don’t know! I know that they seemed to pull it and now it’s on BET. So I don’t know if it’s still continuing with new shoots. I get asked that question constantly. People really seemed to love that show and we don’t really seem to have much out there in terms of material for us, and things for us to watch as a group of people.

ST: What is the climate like in Hollywood for Black actresses right now?

RG: I don’t know. I mean, that’s not a space where I really live. I think that in doing this for so long, I love sort of just watching young people come up. And I love my friends who, you know…Cicely Tyson has been like a mother to me and in my business and career I try to give the advice. I think that as people we’re still kind of growing and paving the road. We had MoNique win an Oscar! How exciting was that? So I think you just sort of keep at it.

ST: I read that you’re somewhat of a genius. You went to college at the age of 15?

RG: Well, that as a long time ago so I don’t know about my brain cells now (laughing), but I did go to college fairly young.

ST: What was that whole experience like?

RG: I think it was a little bit difficult. I wouldn’t encourage it. You know, then it just seemed very natural, but I think it was a time in my life when I didn’t know anything if it didn’t come in a book. And I think that life and education and being smart is much more about life. I think you kind of learn life by living it, not necessarily by reading about it.

ST: With all the media that you’ve had surrounding your life as it related to your ex-husband and (Mike Tyson) and everything, when you wrote your book “Grace Will Lead Me Home” how therapeutic was that for you?

RG: It was magnificent. And not so much regarding…my ex-husband is not something I want to talk about at all, I’m just so over it, but I think in terms of life as we try to figure out who we really are. I do believe that so much of who we are is because of the family that we’re born into, so that’s what I tried to do was really examine and really figure out: Who am I? Why did I make certain choices? When I decided to do that exploration, I began to decipher who my mother was…not only as my mother but as a woman, and then my grandmother. So I did three generations, and I think we’re far more the same person. It’s almost like, you know, a continuation; time to perfect a soul and a being. And that, for me, was quite magnificent.

ST: Have you been able to use your life experiences to help mentor other young women?

RG: I sure hope so because I’ve really tried. So I believe that so much of the way we feel, and I know it’s worked for me, is by helping other people. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense. It’s like why did I go through that? For me, kind of reaching out to other people, especially young women, and talking and help, and hopefully, being a source of encouragement has made me feel like ‘ok, that was worth it then.’ That’s what it’s about. I think often times we’re so busy worrying about what the world’s going to provide for us and God is important for my life. We’re always looking for blessings and praying please God, and we don’t realize that sometimes maybe he’s using us to bless other people. So that’s important to me.

ST: do you have any new movie projects coming up, or anything that you’re producing personally?

RG: I’m working a show with Debbie Allen where I get to play a mother. So that’s very nice. It’s called My Sister, My Parents & Me, and I just love it.

It’s an interracial couple. My character’s divorced, I have a daughter and my husband’s character is Jewish and his wife died. He has a daughter and our daughters hate each other. So I think that’s a good thing, and I love working with Debbie Allen. And then I’m hoping to shoot my book. I just sort of signed something to shoot Grace Will Lead Me Home as a movie. So that’s really important to me.

ST: Well, you’ll have to make sure that you come screen that here with us in Detroit.

RG: Yes! I love Detroit! I love the people of Detroit. I feel such warmth here. I eat way too much catfish here, but everybody’s just so warn here so it’s always very nice.
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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Do You Believe in God?

For centuries many people have gone through life asking themselves one pivotal question: Does God really exist? Whether this question stems from a matter of a personal life experience that caused a loss of faith or from a cynical sense of reasoning that will not allow someone’s mind to grasp the idea of one supreme being pulling all the preverbal strings that control the universe, the question of God has presented itself in more ways than any one person could count.

But when you look at the world around you, how can one not see the finger of God in all the natural beauty that surrounds us? For instance, look at all of the flowers and the way the way that each one has delicate petals infused with its very own thumbprint of vibrant colors and is enamored with its own tantalizing scent.

Consider the massive snow capped mountain tops that sit majestically beneath sky, or the beauty of life itself and the way that each human being is miraculously formed cell by cell within the womb. Can a logical human being honestly reason that these things just came about by happenstance?

But rather than attempt to go into a long drawn out opinionated piece as to why everyone should believe in God, it is preferable to simply play upon logic.

It would be most prudent to first examine the primary concrete reasons that point to the fact that God really does exist.

First, scientific fact through the first Law of Thermodynamics proves that something cannot be formed from nothing. If there is no God, then how would one explain the human existence or the existence of any type of matter? Sure, the Big Bang and evolution theories present compelling evidence, but none of them can explain where the first particles or matter came from. And since man’s own scientific facts state that you can’t get something from nothing, that notion quickly becomes invalid.

Second, history validates the existence of God. Throughout history, God’s Word as spoken through the Bible has yet to be disproven. It has been systematically validated by historical facts and records, and many of the prophecies from the Old Testament have been fulfilled precisely as foretold by God through his prophets to the letter.

Aside from the cerebral explanations that surround this debate, the best answers are of a more personal nature. When you think of a cool breeze on a hot summer day where does that come from? Even though you can’t see it you can feel it so you know it’s there. It’s the same thing with gravity; the force of gravity can’t be seen but its effects can be seen and felt despite the fact.

Many people choose to deny the existence of God because of all the bad things that happen in the world that they feel that no loving God would willingly look upon or allow to take place, but what they fail to realize is that man was given the gift of free will. And with free will comes the ability to choose between right and wrong.

God does not want us to serve Him out of obligation; rather He wants us to serve Him out of love. And to deny His existence because of decisions that other free-thinking individuals make is like blaming the firefighter for the fire. Just because the fireman knows how to prevent or put the fire out doesn’t make him responsible for the blaze, nor does it make the firefighter any less real. So it is the same with God.
As God’s creations, we are all born with a sense of a higher power but the knowledge and wisdom of understanding comes in learning the true nature of the One that holds that power and what a relationship with Him means for your life. And that can only be ascertained by studying what He tells us about himself in His Word.

One of the best movie lines ever quoted was from The Preacher’s Wife when the little boy says, “Just because you can't see the air doesn't keep you from breathing, and just because you can't see God doesn't keep you from believing.”
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Death and A Funeral

Comedian Chris Rock has returned to the big screen in the spring comedy release Death at a Funeral, a remake of the 2007 movie of the same name, and he brought an all star cast with him.

Death at a Funeral centers on a dysfunctional family that has lost its patriarch, and in keeping with his dying wishes the funeral is to be held at the family’s estate. And as the family begins to trickle in the problems seem to get bigger and bigger by the second.

Aaron (played by Chris Rock) and Ryan (played by Martin Lawrence) are two brothers who must overcome their personal issues long enough to bury their father. Not to mention that on top of everything else that’s going on Aaron, who is the oldest, has to deal with a wife who’s biological clock is ticking a mile a minute, a mother who is an emotional wreck, a wanna-be drug dealer cousin who can’t keep up with his supply, a grumpy uncle and an uninvited guest with a hidden agenda.

It would seem that an all star cast that includes the likes of Loretta Devine, Danny Glover, Tracy Morgan, Columbus Short, Luke Wilson, James Mardsen, Regina Hall and Zoe Saldana on top of Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence would be a surefire recipe for a blockbuster comedy hit, but this one fell a little short.

While at the end of the day the movie was enjoyable and had some laugh out loud moments, some of the comedic relief seemed a little forced and the chemistry between some of the characters could have been a little better.

Overall, I would have to give this one a solid C+. If you can catch a matinee or get the student or senior discount go ahead and knock yourself out, but I would pass on the evening full price ticket. If you want the most bang for your buck, pass on the theater and wait until it comes out on DVD.

P.S. It really seemed like Anthony Anderson should’ve been somewhere up in this joint, but oh well. Maybe next time.
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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Why Did I Get Married Too?

Tyler Perry has done is again! Why Did I Get Married Too came out in theaters this past Friday, and as usual Perry showed that he definitely has the patented formula for getting people out to the theater.

In this installment of the series, we revisit the same characters from Why Did I Get Married with a whole new batch of problems to sort out on top of most of the old ones.

Terry (played by Tyler Perry) and Diane (Sharon Leal) still struggle to find common ground and honesty in their relationship; Marcus (Michael Jai White) and Angela (Tasha Smith) still fight like cats and dogs; Troy (Lamman Tucker) and Sheila (Jill Scott) try to adjust to their new life together as husband and wife; while Gavin (Malik Yoba) and Patricia (Janet Jackson) still try to portray their union as the epitome of perfection.

While Janet Jackson has always been one of my all-time favorite performers, her voice made my ears bleed in Why Did I Get Married. Literally, every time she said more than four words I wanted to take my ears off and put them in my pocket. Needless to say that this time around her performance far outweighed her voice. Miss Jackson did her thang!

The supporting cast was enjoyable to watch as well. Tasha Smith was just as loud as ever and Jill Scott was very compelling in her role as a woman who has finally adjusted to understanding her true worth.

Overall, the movie stayed true to its original theme, but the storyline in part two was a lot stronger and even offered some unforeseen twists as an added bonus. Tyler Perry is definitely going the distance to solidify himself as a credible all-around writer and not just a chitlin circuit playwright who's trying his hand at movies. Not to mention the fact that he got his sexy on a little bit in the movie too.

Why Did I Get Married Too is a definite must see for the spring. It has something for both the guys and the girls, and its sure to tug on those heart strings too.

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