You've heard a lot of information about retirement planning basics: contribute regularly to tax-advantaged accounts like your 401(k) or IRA, choose the right mix of assets for your age and risk tolerance, and rebalance regularly. But you still can't help but wonder if you're missing something crucial.
The only way to say the words and not fall to pieces under the crushing irony doled out by a double-talking justice system is to understand "Black lives matter" not as a slogan or a hashtag but as a meditation. A mantra. A prayer. Or...
As an employee of a bank offering a national student loan refinance and consolidation program, I often speak with recent graduates looking for guidance on questions regarding their student loans. So, for those of you who still don't fully understand how student loan refinancing works, let me help you out.
"I can't breathe" speaks from the grave and describes the circumstances faced by many who are being choked by a system that treats different races and classes of people unequally.
On the surface, there is absolutely no reason to update the classic Broadway show Annie, which was already adapted for the screen in 1982. But this multicultural cast redux adds a hip swag to the classic kid's story. This Annie is urban, emotional and fun. But far from perfect.
I honor the enthusiasm, the tenacity, vigilance of all who have marched, took rubber bulletts, made financial sacrifices, and found strength to go on anyhow. But as you assess where you are, and you find that this work is in your purpose, grab hold to your lane and stay in it with consistency and persistency.
Although everyone could probably benefit from a smart-spending lesson or two, today, we're talking to you 20-somethings. While you haven't had all that much time as an adult to establish your shopping routines and habits, you've had enough time to start developing some.
We need to take a hard look at what is causing this income disparity. Is it prejudice? Is it lack of economic or educational opportunities? Is the system corrupt, and if so, where? And what questions need to be asked to change that?
All were willing to step up to make a difference, to lead when it could be dangerous, and to let their lives be shining examples for others. We should remember them when we face stormy and cloudy weather in our national life and become bright rainbows of hope like them.
Most of the news stories I've see about Ferguson market and sell fear, and many of the community reactions to the events focus on blame and retribution. This deeply concerns me because blame doesn't heal and revenge doesn't satisfy.
We will not move forward as a society until we can bring ourselves to listen and respond to the cries of those whose spirits have been crushed by the chokehold of poverty and racism.
The news media--people in our society who could play a pivotal role in creating a "dialogue" about such injustices as police killings of young black men--have fallen short.
At the same time, events like the ones in Ferguson, Staten Island and Cleveland, and the responses to them dominate the news. All of these things remind us of the truth that anytime anyone is treated less than equal because of who they are, we are diminished as people.
Wondering what story to tell when you preach on race? Tell the story of how your congregation came to be predominantly white in the first place.
I believe the revolution has begun and we are ready for change and soon no one will be able to mislead us and we will take advantage fully of the voice we have on a regular basis. Not just in extreme times, so if you want to be a part of this revolution, look on your phone or computer.
I am not interested in using the unfortunate deaths of my black and brown sisters and brothers as a platform to advance myself or my "brand," rather I am much more interested in how I can lead from behind.
Be the one. At your family dinner table. In the bar at happy hour. At your job. In the cafeteria. In the classroom or at rehearsal. In the courtroom, in a chat room. In your church, in the choir, in your synagogue or in your mosque.
R&B crooner Eric Benét had his share of collaborative hits, including 'Georgy Porgy' with Faith Evans and 'Spend My Life With You' featuring Tamia, but the crux of his notoriety came from his highly publicized marriage to Halle Berry, where Benét's infidelity ultimately ended things.
That's all in his past now.
The Grammy Award nominee is newly engaged, and his daughter, India, is following in his footsteps by pursuing her own singing career. Fresh off touring with Fantasia and Kandi Burruss, Benét has been promoting his latest offering, 'Lost in Time.'
The 44-year-old singer sat down with BlackVoices.com to chat about how he proposed to the new lady in his life and how he's grown since his controversial breakup.
Here's 20 Questions With Eric Benét.
BlackVoices.com: How's the reception been to your new album, 'Lost in Time'?
Eric Benét: It's been dope. They really have been feeling this new record. The whole idea behind it was to do a homage to '70s R&B and soul, where live instruments were played and people would sing as opposed to having overprocessed [music] and using Auto-Tune to the high heavens.
BV: When you perform the new stuff live, what kind of feedback have you been getting?
EB: Performing the new record live has been incredible. The new single, 'Sometimes I Cry,' went to # 1, and it was one of those songs that I could perform in front of an audience before it got airplay, and it got a crazy reaction. That is usually a rare occurrence; people generally need something on the radio before they say, "That's my song," but people went crazy for it.
BV: You're newly engaged and have a beautiful teenage daughter. What place are you in your life right now and how is that reflected in the new album? You seem to be doing really well.
EB: I feel like I'm living a dream right now. I have this daughter who I've become just so proud of and has turned out to be this beautiful, strong, confident and intelligent woman. And I have the love of my life who wants to spend the rest of her life with me, and we're just over the moon about our future. I feel like I'm making the best music I've made in my life. S**t is good, man [laughs].
BV: Why do you think it took this long to find your happy place?
EB: I think a lot of it comes with just growing up. I think a lot of the mistakes that I made in my life had to do with me being young and stupid. I think I'm at this place now where wisdom is translating into happiness, and it's a great thing.
BV: Speaking of your daughter, isn't she following your footsteps and pursuing a music career?
EB: She is a really talented songwriter and singer, and she's singing on a song on my new album, called 'Summer Love.' She did an incredible job on it, but I feel like such a hypocrite when I talk to her about choosing college over the music industry because I've become my parents. When I was her age, I wanted to drop everything and just join a band, and my parents really, really wanted me to go to college and I did. Then, I dropped out after two years and did my damn thing. So, now I'm my parents. I'm encouraging India to stay in college and get her degree, and all of this crazy music stuff we will go after when she gets her degree.
BV: Are you worried about some of the things that come along with the fame and the pressure of being an entertainer, and do you two have these kinds of conversations?
EB: That really does concern me. I know this industry from a couple different angles. There have been times when I have been hot and then there have been times when I couldn't get arrested in a town. There are times when I have been in-between and a lot of that acceptance can be really trying on somebody emotionally. It really concerns me that my daughter may go through the same thing. The only want for a father and mother is to have a better life for our children. At the same time, India has to follow her own dreams and find her own way. As a loving father, I am going to support her whatever that is.
BV: You're engaged to Manuela Testolini. 'Halle's Ex is Engaged to Prince's Ex' was the story, but you two are your own people. Is it safe to say that you're first marriage was full of drama?
EB: I think you can get away with saying there was drama there.
BV: How did you meet your new fiancée?
EB: Before I was somebody's ex and before she was somebody's ex, we were just Eric and Manuela, and I think that we just complement each other in so many ways. We met four and a half years ago and started dating shortly after, and she has an incredible heart. Some people try to put the spotlight on themselves and she's always trying to put the spotlight on children who need backpacks for school, and she's just a loving, beautiful person. It was very easy to fall in love with her.
BV: How did you propose?
EB: There's a song on my record called 'Never Want to Live Without You.' It's actually my second single after 'Sometimes I Cry.' I held off letting her hear that song because I had special plans for that song. We were having a little dinner one night, and we were talking about our relationship and our future, and I just started singing 'Never Want to Live Without You' to her and after I finished singing the song, I asked her to marry me. I'm really looking forward to what the future holds for us.
BV: Are there things that you are taking with you into your new marriage that you've learned from your first marriage to Halle Berry?
EB: I'm going to take a greater appreciation for honesty into this relationship, starting with being honest with myself. I learned a powerful lesson. I think before when I was in a relationship, if there was something I wasn't getting, I would sweep it under some rug in the back of my mind and deal with it on my own. After doing that for a while, that had a very bad outcome. One of the beautiful things about our relationship is she is very open about what she wants and expects. I've done the same with her, and we meet each other on common ground.
BV: Is this easier than having a relationship where you don't have a microscope of paparazzi watching you? You two have been together for years, and a lot of people had no idea.
EB: I love the fact that we have been able to go under the radar. I think superstardom has its perks, but it definitely has its disadvantages. My name hasn't been at the top of the charts long enough for the people who care about me taking the garbage out or having a coffee at Starbucks. I prefer them not to. It's been really cool. It's not a conducive thing for a relationship to be in a fishbowl for everybody to monitor every move you make. It will make you crazy. In the last relationship, it made me a little crazy, and this is much better.
BV: So much of your music reflects your story in love and getting out of your relationship with Halle. Was there a dark period for you?
EB: There were a few years after Halle and I broke up that I really needed to do some soul searching and growing up. Realizing that I need to be a better person and I need to be a better man. If I want to attract the type of person I want to spend the rest of my life with, I have to grow up in a lot of ways. I worked on myself and really tried to be a better person. I'm grateful about the person that I am now. It feels good to be in a place of wisdom, knowing and just to be a man.
BV: You were spun as a sex addict. Are you having trouble being monogamous still?
EB: I have no issues with not being monogamous, and I don't plan on having any issues with that. Manuela has like Egyptian family members and Italian family members. [If I cheated on her] you would hear about me being in a mysterious car accident and it would be a wrap.
BV: Do you talk to Halle now?
EB: I watch Halle from afar, and I want her to be happy and find peace. We don't talk. India nor I have not spoken to her in quite a while now.
BV: Was it hard for you being deemed the bad guy with the breakup?
EB: You know what going on in your head and if you are a good person or a bad person. I think if you were to do something wrong, people who really don't know you at all, that would be their impression of you. I've got a lot of layers to my personality and to me. I've done some stupid and bad things in my life. I've done a lot of cool and great things. The fact that I'm the poster child for infidelity, it was annoying. But at the end of the day, when it comes to being the type of person I wanted to be, you have to own it and take accountability for what you do. I've really grow as a person and a man.
BV: Is there anything that you would like to do in addition to making music?
EB: I don't think I would abandon making music. I've been perfecting a screenplay for a couple of years now and would like to do more of that – more writing. The other things I think about doing all come back to music. I want to develop an artist and do music for movies. I may take off the artist hat, but there will always be things that I want to do that are associated with music.
BV: What are your thoughts on the music on the radio today?
EB: There are things about it that have gotten better, but for the most part, I think it has digressed in a way in my genre: R&B. Technology has become a crutch for a lot of artist who don't have a lot of talent. Back in the day, if there were instruments being played on a song, that meant somebody was actually playing them as opposed to someone looping a couple of chords over and over or someone who has a drum machine. When I listen to R&B today, it sounds like a mixture of techno and hip-hop with Auto-Tune vocals on it. In that respect, I think R&B overall has digressed, but I think the artists out there, like Maxwell and Chrisette Michele, hold a torch for real musicianship and real song construction.
BV: In terms of the future, will you hit the road anytime soon?
EB: I was on the road with Fantasia and Kandi. I am doing a couple of dates here and there over the next month or so, and in April, I am going to do my international promo thing in Europe, Korea and Japan. In May, I am going to come back and do another domestic tour.
BV: Is there a dream tour collaboration that you have?
EB: I would love to get on the road with Al Green, Maxwell, Corinne Bailey Rae, just to name a few.
BV: In five years, where do you want to be?
EB: In five years, I want to be watching some type of 'Your Baby Can Read' DVD with my new twin babies at home. I would like to have a couple artists who I am promoting and producing, and I would like to be in production and co-producing my first film.
Eric Benét's 'Lost In Time' is in stores now.