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About this blog

Real Characters, Real Stories from Real Life.


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Entries in this blog


The Barbershop: Social Network|Topic: Cryptocurrency - Bitcoin

As long as black women need to get their hair "did", and black men need to get lined up, we will always come together in the "Shop" or around kitchen tables to share the latest news.  No matter how many social networks like Myspace, Facebook and Twitter spring up they will never replace Low tech media such as The Barbershop,The Beauty Salon & Kitchentalk.      On this video, Software and Mobile App developer Anari Sengbe, illustrates this point when after his days of disrupting Silicon Valley, he returns to the village to talk about cryptocurrency. I've been following this tech guru since he came up with the GoVote app that would allow volunteers to wait in line for others who couldn’t afford the long wait time to vote I was updating ads on my blog and I came across a story I "pressed" on him last year.    As you can tell, from the name of this blog, I look for interesting  "characters" and so I followed up with him on LinkedIn to find out the latest. 

Earlier this year, Anari Sengbe launched OWO (Yoruba-English translation: Money).  OWO.world is a digital platform that has a suite of applications from social to gaming with a twist that allows users and developers to earn/exchange cryptocurrency.   

I'm working my way up the learning curve to understand this digital currency, but I like the questions these brothers ask because when you teach you learn.  And Sengbe is able to answer these bitcoin questions in a way that s easy to understand.   

By the way, Gaming is included in the Trillion-dollar Media & Entertainment industry but I don't think the government did an assessment that includes bitcoin mining.   
My head is spinning trying to make sense of all this  but you only get old when you stop learning. 

How to Profit from the Underclass

The Black community who have nearly zero wealth but $1.5 trillion buying power keeps the U.S. economy afloat.    
Some have the belief,
Absolutely some of those tactical and strategical solutions require mental reprogramming and behavior modification.   The Black community didn’t create fiat money or its banking system.  Therefore, we're clueless when dealing with it.  The system terrorizes and traumatizes others, crushing them under the weight of insurmountable financial problems.   The former can be solved by education, while the latter would require reprogramming to alleviate ourselves of its pressures.   For example, many believe we derive our worth from our financial portfolio, our parents or where we were born.     Society programs us to believe what we own, who we can influence even our zip code determines our value.  Once we’re indoctrinated into that belief system; once we begin to equate our intrinsic value to tangibles such as assets, physical appearance, influence or anything outside of our control; we quickly travel downhill on a slippery slope.       For many of us, this is a way of life.  It is as natural as breathing.    We’ve been taught to seek outside acceptance, or even popularity, i.e., create an artificial demand for ourselves.  We will do anything to achieve it.  We'll pay for things we can’t afford to get the attention of people we don’t know, have a relationship with, or even like.   When we follow this path, we create demand for human-made products giving it value and thereby enriching its producer. Ironically, the value comes from the demand. Without demand, there would be no value.  Humans, however, are valuable whether or not there's a demand.      Looking for outside validation, or even valuation wouldn't be necessary if we recognize that we're invaluable from birth.   More on that later when we discuss remedies for financial pathology.   Some attention-seekers don't understand how attention derives its value or its purpose. So, they exchange it for money.  Others attempt to convert it into status. Once in demand, the goal for many is to gain an illusory higher ‘position’ in society.     Hollywood even has a rating system for a celebrity’s popularity and will pay according to the rating.      And as a society, we’ve agreed to this rating system as if it’s nature’s design.  Instead of what it is, an artificially created social stratification system.  In nature, there’s no such hierarchy only symbiosis and mutualism.   Every species has a role and carries out for the continued evolution of this planet.  
Our belief system should reflect what exists in nature.     Our innate abilities, talents, and Love at its apex are for this planet's growth, not its destruction.   It's inherent within the Black community or any indigenous people to know their role in nature.    We're here as sustainable support for nature and all that exists within.    Still, that knowledge conflicts with the members' need for acceptance.      Further, the natural system wouldn't benefit parasites who have learned how to thrive off the artificial system of selling attention-getting products.  Unfortunately, they have convinced us to bury our talents and abilities and instead trade our time for a pittance so we can pay twice the amount of our earnings for trinkets.     The price of human ingenuity is incalculable.     Meanwhile, the black community is financially-strapped because they work to get attention. Some will convert the attention into money to buy things they don’t need, tire of it and unfulfilled will self-destruct.     Others will use the attention currency, convert it to power then into money to maintain the social stratification system.     Of them, in whispers, we'll say, "so-and-so sold their soul."     For the rest, the tactical solution is to remember individual intrinsic value. Then we'll realize humans belong at a roundtable not in a pecking order.      But I digress.     There's a difference between how things are and how they should be. There's a difference between reality and belief.     Maybe our psychological challenges stem from overthinking this lopsided mixed economic system.    Therefore, a strategic solution is to understand that in democratic capitalism, money is a medium used in an exchange of goods and services.   The key is knowing the difference between price and cost.

Mel Hopkins

Mel Hopkins


Character Building

It all begins with the character.  The story has its genesis in the character. Without the character - there is no story.   

Whenever I'm having a problem writing fiction, ( or even in my own life)  I know I have to return to the protagonist. 

If she's fully developed then I have to concede that maybe she's in the wrong story.   

-Originally Posted in The Thriving Writer 

Mel Hopkins

Mel Hopkins


Playing the Long Game

I love it when a good plan comes together.    Many who are dazzled by the media and may have missed the plot.    We must remember, we're a civilization rooted in story-telling.   We share information filled with iconic imagery, symbolism, and sounds.     Celebrities are no different.  They use the media to tell stories that voice their platform position or opposition.

  Case-in-point, On December 5, 2017 "Beyoncé surprised free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick with Sports Illustrated‘s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award."     Here's the backstory for those who missed it.   Beyoncé became Enemy #1 when she performed "Formation" during the 2016 Super Bowl.      SUPER BOWL 50.   It was the only time the NFL ditched the Roman numerals.   Like a Trojan Horse, Beyoncé and her Black Panther styled-warriors marched out on their field.  She resurrected Malcolm X and gave corporate America the finger.   Without those who sound off every time a celebrity offends their sensibilities, we'd miss the story unfold.      White folks screamed bloody murder and cops threatened not to provide security for her upcoming concerts.    Butthurt.   Now, 45 and white America are butthurt because Kaepernick took a knee 7-months after Bey danced into Formation.    For a protest to be effective, you got to surprise them on their battlefield.   Awarding the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award to Kaepernick is nearing the apex of consciousness raising.    If this were a monomyth, also known as the Hero's Journey; it would be where the Hero gets the gift from the Goddess right before he returns from his journey.    Together, whether it was planned or not, they used their platform to bring attention to police brutality and state-sanctioned murders.    Beyoncé and Kaepernick didn't level a gun. They waged protest in an arena the military used to raise support.    Raise. Support. For. War.     Maybe like me, you weren't aware of how the National Anthem and the NFL wedded at the conclusion of World War II.  The Washington Post shared that part of the story in September. 
Up until 2015, the Department of Defense contracted with the NFL using millions of taxpayer money.   I never had a problem with military pageantry.     I do have a problem with hypocrisy.     Neither Beyonce or Colin Kaepernick used taxpayers money to advance the cause of bringing attention to police brutality.   They told a story through their actions.     Proving once again; a storyteller's wheelhouse is winning hearts and minds. 

Mel Hopkins

Mel Hopkins


Blitter , An ISM-Free Social Network?

Blitter, a new social networking app created by Patrick Francis, made its debut on October 5, 2017. The Blitter profile listed in the iTunes Store indicates: Frances doesn't make the claim but I suspect Blitter is a mashup of BLACK TWITTER . I signed up today. Being an early adopter comes with its own set of anxiety-inducing questions.   I've already contacted support to ask why the app hasn’t requested access to my photos. It doesn’t. I can access my photos on the app but I didn’t give permission.  I also want to know how the app verifies my identity.   I like the illusion of privacy.   If you decide to leave the network, it’s easy to delete your account.  Some apps, such as HYPEAPP, make it extremely difficult to remove your account.        Once you download the app it’s easy to register on the site.   Note: The @ username is the first and last name used to register.        The app is end-user friendly and intuitive. Click the camera icon and a screen appears that will allow you to add or shoot a 15-second video or photo. Choose the text icon to write a 120-character status.   Francis's profile update indicates he’s in the process of updating the app. There should be a new update on Tuesday.   Currently, Blitter is only available for IOS devices.

Originally Posted at melhopkins.com

Mel Hopkins

Mel Hopkins


Episode 2: Internal Conflict

What does it take to get to a Happily Ever After?  

It's 2017 and romance novels are still the best-selling trade books in the America, maybe even the world. I'd go out on a limb to say the reason is two people always find their happily ever after.  But how about outside the book covers? In life?  What does it take to get HEA?
 In today's podcast, I explore the reality.  Do you have what it takes to hurdle the obstacles to achieve your happy ending?     Transcript available on melhopkinsdotom  in the comment section.    

Mel Hopkins

Mel Hopkins


Discussion: The Last Word (2017)

I'd probably watch any Shirley MacLaine movie and while I was online tearing up folks' safe spaces today, I found "The Last Word" .   If I had to guess the movie's plot - it would be moppet, (Ann’Jewel Lee ) a young black girl saves old white woman who saves young white woman (Amanda Seyfried).     Yes, think #blackgirlmagic meets #greypower meets #girlpower where Shirley MacLaine plays Harriet Lauler, a retired Ad Woman working to "shape her legacy" before the last word is written on her life. 

Harriet decides there are    "4 Essential elements to a really great obituary" The deceased should be loved by their family. The deceased should be admired by their coworkers. The deceased must have touched someone's life unexpectedly and if said person was a minority or a cripple; so much the better.   And the 4th?  That's the wild card.   A statement of such breadth and wonder that it's the opening line in the obituary.   The Last Word   If "life is the sum of your choices" and best revenge is living fabulously ...WYD today? Before I drift off to sleep at night, I often wonder if I accomplished something that would get me closer to living my dreams.  

I did last night.  I decided to embrace my angry black woman archetype. Yes, I'm a mean woman who loves unconditionally with her whole heart.  I embraced that side of me yesterday.  It was liberating.  Now, I can live.   How about you?     Are you living your dreams?  Or are you an extra in someone else's dream?

It's your choice, of course but please have the last word.    
Thank you for reading.  

Please report typos and grammatical errors below or shoot me an email mel at melhopkins dot com.   Originally posted at melhopkinsdotcom  

Mel Hopkins

Mel Hopkins


Bridget's Baby. Daddy's Maybe?

Bridget Jones's Baby is the 3rd installment of the Bridget Jones' saga.
The first one was thoroughly enjoyable.  Second, likable. The third and latest released September 2016 and I absolutely hated it.
The movie made me angry. I stopped watching three times before I finally finished it.   When the final credits finish rolling I almost gave it two stars.  Instead, I gave it three, so not to confuse the Netflix's recommendation algorithm.   The next morning, while brushing my teeth, I thought about the movie again.  I stopped brushing and asked myself,   "Why did you hate that movie so much?"   It's a romantic comedy for goodness sake, I thought. If there's any genre I enjoy more than thrillers, it's RomCom and Action RomCom.   But here we have Bridget Jones in all her goofiness and I'm angry.   Here's why.    After celebrating her 43rd birthday with wrinkles to prove it, Bridget goes to a Glastonbury-like music festival where she has unprotected sex with a stranger. We later find out he's tech billionaire, Jack Qwant. A week later she meets up with her former boyfriend, Human Rights barrister Mark Darcy, for a second time, at a baby christening.   The first time they saw each other, after a long hiatus, was at the funeral of Bridget’s former lover and Mark’s nemesis, Daniel Cleaver.  At the christening. both are serving as god parents and it seems to reignite their old feelings.  Later, they find themselves in bed after Mark reveals he’s getting a divorce. They have sex but the morning after, Bridget decides she doesn’t want to continue the dance the two have been dancing for the last 13 years.
In an unexpected twist, the dance becomes a Do-Si-Do country hoedown for three as Bridget finds herself pregnant.  She doesn’t know whether the father is Jack or Mark. By the time, we reach this point in the film, I'm angry with her and everyone affiliated with this plot.   In fact, I targeted my anger on white women.  Yep, lovable Bridget Jones became #everywhitewomen and Helen Reddy was singing the anthem. No, not the Chaka Khan anthem.  #everywhitewomen, you don't get Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston, to sing your anthem. Then as I'm seething, I realized my anger arose from jealousy.
I noticed there's not one black woman in this flick.  And the black women's absence becomes conspicuous and an ugly reminder that an unwed black woman who doesn't know who fathered her baby is an ugly societal meme.
  Black woman's absence is reminder that, "It's a White thing", and a black woman just wouldn't understand. Because as a black woman, I'm not allowed to be frail, clumsy, forgetful or even inept.  I, as a black woman, must be twice as strong, twice as smart, and expected to shoulder the problems of the world with grace...
But, in the immortal words of Elaine Benes, (a character on the show Seinfeld where there's also an absence of black people except for Attorney Jackie Chiles) "Alright, alright, look, I don't have grace.  I don't want grace... I don't even say grace, OK?   Then I took a breath.   GRACE   When I saw Bridget's two baby-daddies carry her through the streets because she could no longer walk, due to labor pains, I got mad at my whiter than white ex-husband. Hindsight had me thinking he married me because he thought I was a strong black woman.  When he found out I only played one in music videos it frustrated him. He said,
"You don't know how to struggle!"
I wondered, why should I? Is "struggle" a dance I should know?   Or did he believe struggle-mode is the standard for every black woman?   GRACE   Even though Bridget Jones exists in the mind of the writer, watching this movie. I wondered how this imperfect specimen of a woman deserved the love of a high-profile publisher, barrister and a tech billionaire.  Were these men so emotionally weak they needed a woman who appeared to be dumb enough to lock her belongings in a ATM alcove.  Especially since she knew she couldn't retrieve them because only minutes before, the ATM confiscated her access card!     Why is it that this type of woman attracts the most dashing men, I wondered?   Men; some black women call, "Captain-Save-a-H*s! Then Mark's montage memories of Bridget rolled.  And I finally understood.   Maybe, these men weren't weak. Maybe, they just enjoyed being around and caring for Bridget because she forgave herself for her shortcomings.  Bridget knew she was far from perfect, but in her quest to be one of those "perfect women”, she forgave herself.   Short of the funeral, christening and wedding, there's not much talk of religion but Bridget lives as if she's covered by grace. And she affords all who come into her world to forgive themselves their transgressions, too.   GRACE   is so powerful, it is in the top 1% of look-ups on Merriam-Webster.   The word denotes divine assistance, approval, favor, privilege; a disposition of or to act in the instance of kindness, forgiveness, clemency; beauty, charm, ease and suppleness; a short prayer giving thanks; a melodic note, three goddess sisters (plural); sense of propriety or right, quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful.
My visceral reaction had nothing to do with the movie; but it spokes volumes of my perspective. Like Elaine, I saw grace and ran the other way.  Learning to love and be easy with yourself is rarely taught or implied.  

Instead, some of us are taught the way to achieve acceptance is through perfection.
The further away from the ideal we get, the sadder we get.  Sometimes that sadness turns into anger.  For some, it can be depression and guilt. Yet, there's a tool available to all of us when fail miserably at being perfect.
GRACE    Grace isn't something bestowed, in the sense it's only for the select few.  When you look at the definition, it's easy to see grace is something we all can choose, accept and share.
I'm glad I gave "Bridget Jones's Baby” 3 stars.  I might go back and give it 4.  It's not often a silly little movie can give birth to a brand-new outlook.
Source: Grace / Merriam-Webster
Thank you for reading!  

Originally Posted at Melhopkinsdotcom

Mel Hopkins

Mel Hopkins