Questions and Answers

For many of us there are many aspects of the game that we traditionally don’t know. Many questions that either we don’t know the answer to or don’t even know to ask. For others in and outside our community who have found success in one area or another there is a wealth of knowledge that could be shared to uplift and transform our community. We need your help to answer these questions.

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Food (16)

A vegetarian is a person who maintains a diet that excludes meat, poultry, fish and seafood.  There are many sub-categories of vegetarian to include ovo-lacto vegetarians and vegans.  Ovo-lacto vegetarians are vegetarians who do not consume meat, poultry, fish, and seafood, but do consume eggs and milk. This is the largest group of vegetarians.  Vegans are the strictest form of vegetarian and they do not consume any animal products or by-products.  Some vegans even exclude yeast and honey from their diet and many expand their veganism to their lifestyle by choosing not to wear any clothing or shoes made with animal hides, skins or or other parts.

A vegan is a vegetarian who, in addition to excluding meat and poultry, maintains a diet that includes no animals or dairy products at all.  Some of the additional foods excluded from a vegan diet are fish, milk and milk products, eggs, and honey.  An extension of the vegan diet is the complete vegan lifestyle where a person seeks to exclude the use of animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.

BOGO stands for Buy One Get One free and is a term often used in relation to grocery shopping or the purchase of commercially available items.  Most "expert" shoppers live and die by BOGO and we want you all to become experts.

Organic food is food grown "naturally", free from pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals.  Also organic foods are not genetically altered (what's up with those huge strawberies?).  There may be dispute in the medical community about the health difference between organic and non-organic foods but many advocates say that organic food is more healthy, more nutritious and tastes better. 
Let us know what you think.  Leave a comment below.

"A superfood is a food rich in phytochemicals, which are special chemicals that have been noted to have disease-fighting properties. Phytochemicals can reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer, reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune system, or in some other way contribute to a person being healthier. When foods are high in these phytochemicals, they may be eaten not only because they taste good, but because they are good for you too."

A chef is someone who has been trained in the art of food preparation (usually at a culinary school) and also is a master at innovation in creating menus, food preparation and presentation.  A cook is trained to master food preparation but generally takes direction from a chef.

There are several online cooking channels and cooking shows on cable TV that will cook, but don't really teach.  On this site we are committed to helping you understand the basics and really learn how to cook (even if you don't know how to turn on the stove).  Check out our starter article "Learning how to cook? Start here" and then check out the other articles in the Food section of the Survival Guide.

Any research on this topic tells you that so much of what we eat is unhealthy that you wonder if you can eat anything at all.  The simple answer to that question is yes as long as you stick to natural foods and stay away from processed foods.  Below is a list of 10 of the unhealthiest foods based on sugar content, fat and chemicals.  This list does not contain junk food, sodas, alcohol and similar food and drink as those should be obvious as bad for you.  For a more comprehensive list of unhealthy foods check out this article on the top 100 unhealthy foods.

    Just when it seemed like all was lost and everything in the world that you eat is bad for you, common sense prevails ad we find that if we just eat what we always ate in the past we could be healthy.  SImply put, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and seafood and we can maintain a healthy diet.  Below are some of the best (that actually taste good).
    Black Beans
    Pinto Beans
    Whole Wheat

    "Liquor lining" is the practice of encouraging very high density of liquor stores and other alcohol outlets in low income and/or minority communities relative to surrounding areas.

    Liquor lining is a form of "reverse redlining" in which a lender or insurer particularly targets minority consumers. As with supermarket redlining this process is not illegal, but highly immoral.

    Urban Agriculture is the process of growing food in cities and in urban areas for consumption by the local population. Urban agriculture increases the capacity of local communities to grow food to meet their food needs, engage in enterprise activities and reduce our ecological footprint. The process also eliminates the middle man thus reducing cost to residents and increasing profits for growers.

    Residents of cities like Detroit are utilizing urban agriculture to revitalize the inner city.

    "Supermarket redlining" (sometimes called "grocery store redlining") is the preferential placement of grocery stores in wealthy neighborhoods, where potential profits are greatest. It is not illegal, just immoral.

    A community food system means producing healthy food locally and distributing, marketing, and consuming that food locally. It allows farmers and their customers to develop relationships that enhance food security for both parties by cutting out the middle man.

    Food Justice is the belief that everyone should have access to healthy food, regardless of income.

    Shelter (8)

    If you recently lost your home or have been evicted from your apartment there are options besides going to stay with a friend or family.  If you want to get back into your own place there are several agencies in your area to help you find affordable housing. If you’re not sure where to start you might try Public

    There are many shelters available for people in almost every major city in the country.  If you don't know where to start enter your zip code in the widget below.  Also, check out our article on Where to find a Homeless Shelter.

    A short sale is a sale of your home where the amount you sell it for is less "falls short" of the balance you owe on your mortgage.  Short sales usually happen when the homeowner can't pay the mortgage on their loan and the lender decides it is better to sell the property at a moderate loss is better than pushing the borrower or letting the house go into foreclosure.  When you do a short sale as the borrower you are still responsible for paying the remaining balance (the difference between the sale price and the amount you still owed unde the mortgage) unless you vcan make some special arrangements with the bank.

    Mortgage points are certain charges to be paid in order to get a mortgage on a home.  Each mortgage point is a fee based on one percent of the total amount of the loan.  There are two different kinds of mortgage points-discount points and origination points-and each lender charges different amounts for each.

    Nothing beats driving the neighborhood and talking to local residents when inspecting an area where you want to buy a home, but when you want to save some legwork you might want to try an online website like (

    On Zillow (and similar websites) you will of course be able to find house listings based on your search criteria (location, number of bedrooms, etc.) but you will also get information on:

    • price of the house over time (if it has gone up or down)

    • schools information

    • demographics (how many married, single, etc.)

    • price of similar properties in the area

    • local restaurants and

    HELOC (pronounced hee-lok) stands for Home Equity Line Of Credit and is a loan given to a mortgage holder based on the amount of equity you have in your home.  Equity is the appraised value of your home minus the amount of money you owe on the mortgage.  Although a HELOC is a loan, it is often treated as a credit line where you can have a card that you can use for purchases myuch like your other Visa or MasterCard credit cards.

    The days of buying a house with no money down are long gone.  With the economy being so bad and banks still licking their wounds from all their foreclosures you will need at least 5% of the price, most of the time a minimum of 10%, and probably between 20% and 40% to satisfy bank requirements. 
    There are several programs out there to assist potential home owners and we will add to this answer as we get more input from the community.

    Clothing (10)

    If you've got a teenage daughter and she wants togo shopping, point her to the mall and let her loose (ha, ha!).  If however you have the problem of getting your teenage daughter a prom dress, you are low on funds and you have no idea where to go, try the Princess Project  The Princess Project is a national organization (with local chapters) that offers prom dresses for girls who cannot afford them.

    The origin of this fashion trend comes from the prison culture.  Prisoners are not allowed to wear belts so their pants tend to sag.  The look also indicates that the wearer belongs to another prisoner (sexually).  The look is identified with thug-life and for many creates a negative stereotype.  Note – “Saggin” spelled backwards is “Niggas”.

    Its a fact of life: Bugs happen. And its never a good thing to pull your favorite sweater or suit out of storage only to find that some moth has eaten a hole in it. The following are some tips to prevent bug accidents and other problems with your gear.
    Dry cleaning
    Dry cleaning is an excellent technique for preventing insect damage. This works for two reasons:

    1. Moths and silverfish don't like dry cleaning solution, so they will most often stay away from clothing for up to four weeks after it's returned from the cleaner.

    This video shows how to create the perfect Windsor knot.  Note there are other ways but this is the standard.

    There are different clothes to wear for different functions (funeral, graduation, wedding, etc.). How do I know what to wear when.

    How can I keep my shirts from shrinking, changing color? Sometimes they are dirtier after the wash than when they went in.

    There are two main problems that come up when doing laundry: 1) the clothes come out smaller than when you put them in; and 2) the clothes come out a different color than they were when you started.  To solve problem number 1:
    Make sure that you read the labels (tags) on each clothing item before you put it in the washing machine.  Some clothes say "hand wash only" or "dry clean only" (like a silk shirt for example) so those clothes do not go in the washing machine unless you want to look like Erkle from Family Matters. 

    • If you're eating a juicy hamburger and you spill grease on your shirt you can rub the stain with Crisco or butter (because grease removes grease) and the put it in the laundry.

    • If you drop half your blueberry (or cherry, etc.) on your shirt - hold the stained area over a bowl, boil some water, and then pour it over the stain and into the bowl.

    • If you got punched in the eye and you're bleeding all over your shirt (we need a topic on "learning how to fight") - pour some hydrogen peroxide onthe stain, watch it bubble up and then rinse the shirt.  Keep doing this until the blood stain is gone.

    If you need clothes and you don’t have any money you don’t necessarily have to beg your friends and family.  There are several other options to explore:

    • You can go to your local church and see if they have clothes donated by church members.  If they don’t, they will probably be able to refer you to a local organization that has donated clothes for people in need.

    If you have a job interview (congratulations and good luck!) and you have limited funds, try Career Gear  Career Gear is a non-profit organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged men by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools to help men thrive in work and in life. 
    Also, see the topic "Where can I get clothes for free" in this section

    Should you always wear a suit to an interview or can you freestyle?

    Suits are usually preferable as you are trying to make a good impression.  A nice shirt and tie, slacks and a blazer will also do but in general "freestyling" is not recommended.

    Health (0)
    Mental Health (8)

    Depression is definitely a real illness although mental health experts agree that there is no single cause.  There are several types of depression to include Major Depressive Disorder (very common), Post Partum Depression (occurs in women after childbirth), and Psychotic Depression (feelings of sadness accompanied with hallucinations and/or breaks with reality).

    Everyone feels sad from time to time but if those feelings have not gone away after a few days you might want to examine other symptoms. 

    • Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" feelings

    • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism

    • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness

    • Irritability, restlessness

    ADD stands for attention deficit disorder and is often referred to as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).  It is a biological brain condition very common among children and can continue unto adulthood.  The primary symptoms are lack of focus, fidgeting, hyperactivity and poor impulse control.  If a child has ADD it could affect how they function in school and or social interactions. 

    Everyone (including you and your children, wife or girlfriend) will have feelings of sadness at times during thier lives.  There is no clear answer for when normal sadness can be diagnosed as clinical depression but these are some of the signs that a person may have a problem:

    • loss of appetite

    • excessive sleeping (sleeping all day, every day)

    • significant weight loss and/or disinterest in eating

    • feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness

    • irritability and/or restlessness

    • talk of suicide

    Psychiatrists are medical doctors and psychologists are not.  Psychiatrists treat mental issues such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia with medicine (i.e. pills).   Psychologists use counseling and/or therapy to deal with mental health issues. The suffix "-iatry" means "medical treatment," and "-logy" means "science" or "theory." So psychiatry is the medical treatment of the psyche, and psychology is the science of the psyche.

    Physical Health (0)
    Grooming (5)

    The origin of this fashion trend comes from the prison culture.  Prisoners are not allowed to wear belts so their pants tend to sag.  The look also indicates that the wearer belongs to another prisoner (sexually).  The look is identified with thug-life and for many creates a negative stereotype.  Note – “Saggin” spelled backwards is “Niggas”.

    Before there were grills everyday people who needed dental work had their teeth pulled and replaced with gold teeth. Many black people opted for this option rather than spending lots of money for expensive dental repair and  so gold teeth were prevalent in black communities. During the late 1980's gold teeth gained popularity and exposure as rappers like Flava Flav of Public Enemy and others began to show off their gold teeth (along with their gold chains, rings, etc.) as bling was the style of the time.  Gold teeth quickly went from a dental solution to a fashion statement as more rappers included sets of false teeth in their gold and jewelry arsenal.  After Nelly made the song "Grillz" in 2005, the rest was history.

    Wellness (8)

    This is a person in charge of carrying out your wishes stated in a living will in the event you become incapacitated and cannot speak or convey your wishes directly.  For example, the healthcare proxy will be in charge of removing life support if you are in a hospital and in a permanent vegetative state.

    A living will is a legal document and is sometimes known as an "advanced health care directive". It provides instructions as to your medical wishes should you ever become incapacitated and are unable to speak your wishes.  You need to have this in place BEFORE the tube goes in, before you get shot, before alzheimers kicks in, etc.  For more info on this topic, check out the upcoming article on "How to Create a Living Will - and Why" in the Health section of the Survival Guide.

    A "potter's grave" is a place where people who don't have money for funeral services are buried.  It is also reserved for people who have no loved ones to bury them or people who are unidentified at their time of death.  A potter's field (where the graves are) is called so, not because it is owned by a potter, but rather because the land is barren and unable to grow crops, so it was only good for potters to dig up clay.

    The prostate is a walnut sized sex gland located just beneath the bladder in males.

    Of course any disease can affact any man on the planet, but some diseases and conditions disproportionately affect the black community.  In some cases black men are more genetically pre-disposed to getting certain diseases (think pancreatic cancer).  In other cases lifestyle in the black community plays a significant role in higher rates of disease among the black population (think AIDS).
    Below are some of the diseases that have a higher rate of occurence in black men compared to the rest of the U.S. population.
    Pancreatic Cancer
    Prostate Cancer
    We will be adding to this answer so stay tuned...

    There are many local organizations and groups that can help you kick the smoking habit, but if you don't know where to start try calling the Smoker's Helpline at 1-800-No-Butts (1-800 662-8887)

    Relax and Relate (0)
    Parenting (9)

    Twitter is a social networking and blogging site created in 2006 that enables users to send and receive short messages referred to as "tweets". A tweet is a text-based message no longer than 140 characters long and us displayed on the author's profile page in twitter.  Each tweet is delivered to the people who subscribe to the author's page.  These subscribers are called "followers". 
    Tweets can be went from the Twitter website or from a cellphone and the twitter service is free to use.  Currently there are over 100 million users of Twitter worldwide.

    Facebook is a social network website where people can sign up, create a profile and meet other members.  When you create an account you get your own page on the website where you can upload phots, write messages to yourself and to other members, and play online games.  When you invite someone to list on your page, you are asking them to be your "friend".  When you allow someone to be listed on your page you are "friending" them.
    You don't have to be friends with someone (or even know them) to be "friends" on facebook.  Many poeple are friends on facebook because they belong to the same social group. 

    If you've got a teenage daughter and she wants togo shopping, point her to the mall and let her loose (ha, ha!).  If however you have the problem of getting your teenage daughter a prom dress, you are low on funds and you have no idea where to go, try the Princess Project  The Princess Project is a national organization (with local chapters) that offers prom dresses for girls who cannot afford them.

    Relationships (5)

    MSM stands for Men who have Sex with Men and is and is a term usually used to describe a man who has sex with both men and women.  MSM behavior refers to a man engaging in bisexual activity. 

    Back in the day keeping something on the "down low" meant to keep something quiet, to keep a secret or to not let people know what you were doing.  Today the term "down low" is used to describe black men who engage in sexual activity with women and with men.  Many brothers on the down low have wives or girlfriends but also engage in sex wih men on the "down low".

    Sometimes you just want to go out and "get your freak on". Where should I go?

    Money (0)
    Credit (14)

    Identity theft is when someone gets access to your personal information and uses it to impersonate you.  Usually this impersonation involves using your personal ID information and credit information to purchase things under your name.  Generally a person's identity is stolen by someone getting access to your social security number, credit card numbers, and/or your bank account numbers.  If an identity thief is skilled he can use one or two pieces of this information to find out everything about your current and past financial profile including all your credit card numbers and bank accounts.  Once your identity is stolen a thief can wipe out al of your accounts in a matter of days (if not minutes in some cases).

    Generally if you keep your credit balances below 30% of your total available credit and you pay your bills on time you should maintain a good credit score (above 700).

    Besides being something your mama used to do when she went to the store, layaway is an arragement between you and a store owner where you buy something (ex: a suit) and pay cash a little at a time.  The store owner keeps the suit until you finish paying the item off (usually over a period of a few weeks or months).
    Layaway used to be common when there weren't so many credit cards and store cards around, and is still a great way to buy things because you usually don't have to pay high interest rates on top of the purchase price of an item.  The bad news is that most major stores don't offer layaway anymore because they would rather have you use their store cards (so they can make all the money on those high interest rates). 

    There are several types of bankruptcy, but the 2 that apply most directly to a person who cannot pay their bills are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
    Chapter 7 This is also known as a "fresh start" bankruptcy, or "liquidation". Your debts are discharged (canceled), but you must give up any nonexempt property to the trustee to pay to your creditors. You can keep secured property if you are current on the payments and continue making the payments regularly.

    The worst negative record that you can possibly have on your credit report is a bankruptcy. Usually bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 7 years, but the effects on your credit report can last for as long as a decade. You probably will not be able to get approved for credit or a loan at all during the first few years after you have filed for bankruptcy, because it has a very large and very negative impact on your perceived capability to repay an obligation.  If you need a car or any major item that you can't pay for in one cash lump sum bankruptcy may not be the option for you.

    The simple answer is that in 2010 you can't but whree there's a will there's a way.  Community, help us out with this one.

    "Good" is a relative term, but generally a score above 750 is considered adequate for getting the best deals on credit cards, car loans and mortgages.  On the flip side, any score below 700 may make it difficult to get good rates.  In today's tough economic times, credit scores are required to be much higher than in the past as banks are very concerned about lending money without being repaid.

    The best way to check your credit report is to go the source -  You can sign up for a fee and get your credit report from all three credit agencies (experian, transunion and equifax).  You need to know your score from all 3 agencies because they don't always report the same information.

    Even though you are only 1 person, the 3 rating agencies (experian, transunion and equifax) do not have the same information about your credit history.  This is because different stores, banks, etc. report to different rating agencies.  Often times the credit scores are different for each rating agency, and sometimes they differ by alot!

    A FICO® score is a way of measuring whether you should get credit and how well you mange your credit without requiring access to their income history or employment status. The FICO score is developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation and is now used by most major credit reporting agencies.

    Jobs (8)

    When you have a job you are working for an employer and you are getting paid a certain amount for your services.  If you don't have experience in a certain area but you want to learn in the real work environment you can get an internship.  If you have an internship (you are called an "intern") you are working for an employer and in many cases you are not getting paid.  There are some paid internships, but in general an internship is about learning, not about making a lot of money.  Internships usually are short term, lasting from a few months to about a year.

    Saving (Assets) (2)

    A budget is simply writing down your monthly expenses in an organized list, and then tracking your expenses against it.  To find out how to create a budget and manage it, check out the article "How to Develop and Manage a Budget".

    A Last Will and Testament is a statement of what a person wants done with their estate (their property and posessions) after they die.  You can create a will by yourself, online wih a legal services website or with an attorney (the recommended method if you can afford it).  Saying that you need "a will" is not an adequate description as there are other "will" documents (ex. Living Will) that serve different purposes.

    Saving (Deals) (1)

    If you have a job interview (congratulations and good luck!) and you have limited funds, try Career Gear  Career Gear is a non-profit organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged men by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools to help men thrive in work and in life. 
    Also, see the topic "Where can I get clothes for free" in this section

    Taxes (5)

    The alternative minimum tax (or AMT) is an extra tax some people have to pay on top of the regular income tax. The original idea behind this tax was to prevent people with very high incomes from using special tax benefits to pay little or no tax. Over time the AMT has increased its reach and now applies to the middle class as well as the rich.  Proposals to repeal or reform the AMT have not made it through Congress although many want to get rid of this tax.  If you don't itemize deductions on your tax return you don't have to worry about it.

    Capital gains tax is the tax that you pay when you sell assets for a profit.  The most common asset that people pay capital gains on are stocks and bonds.  There is currently a debate in Congress and the country to raise the capital gains tax rate from the current level of 15% for short term capital gains.

    Complicated question, but the simple answer is yes.  If you have an estate and you want to leave that to someone, the debts (including owed taxes) have to be paid before your benificiaries get anything.
    Community, add your thoughts.

    Meals can be written off as a tax deduction as long as the meals are a legitimate job expense, your boss has not reimbursed you for the meal, and you are itemizing deductions on your tax return.  Only a portion of the cost of your meals can be deducted.

    Education (3)

    A college offers degrees in one specific area of expertise (ex. business), while a university is a collection of colleges. When you go to a university you graduate from one of their many colleges, such as the business college.

    A dropout factory is a high school where a least 40% of the students do not graduate or "dropout".  According to a Johns Hopkins study in 2007, 1 out of 10 U.S. high schools is a dropout factory.  To see a map of where they are click here.

    Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before 1964 with the intention of serving the black community.  There are currently 105 HBCUs mostly located in the southern and eastern United States.

    Legal (2)

    Stop-and-frisk is a controversial police policy instituted in 1968 that allows the police to stop and detain a person based on "reasonable" suspicion. If the police "reasonably" suspect the person is armed and dangerous, they may also frisk him or her for weapons.  Stop-and-frisk reports are at an all time high for black men in major urban areas like New York and Philadelphia even though they result in arrest rates of less than 10%.

    This is a document that allows you to appoint a person or organization to handle your affairs while you're unavailable or unable to do so. The person or organization you appoint is referred to as an "Attorney-in-Fact" or "Agent."  For example, a HealthCare Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone (often designated in a living will) to make health care decisions for you if you're incapacitated.