Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I normally shy away from covering "hard news" items on this blog, not because I don't care about what's going on in the world, but because I'm not a journalist and I never want to be accused of reporting inaccurate information. I do read the newspaper every day and I try to catch a minute or two of television news coverage when my son allows me to turn away from Nickelodeon. My primary source of news and information comes from the radio. I am a NPR junkie and I often tune into The Power, XM's Black Talk Station. This morning I tuned into the Warren Balentine Show just in time to hear him discussing a case in Dallas, Texas involving a 19 year old man who has been accused of killing two men outside of a recording studio. Warren played the audio from the young man's confession - the You Tube clip is below. Though I do not condone what he's been accused of doing and I strongly believe he should be given life in prison, I was saddened to hear him say that his life had been hell and that he would rather be given the death penalty than life in prison. He doesn't really get into specifics, but clearly this is a young man who has given up and is without hope. Clearly he's without guidance - a mentor. There's so much pain in his eyes, he is lost. His story demonstrates how we, especially those of us who know better, have failed our young people. I read a study a while back that attempted to explain why young people were so prone to violence. If I remember correctly, the author concluded that our culture has become so violent - just look at all of the violence in the media, not to mention the fact that we've been at war for 6 years - and because young people don't have the impulse control that comes with age and normal physiological development, they are more prone to act out without even thinking about it. They "blank out", kind of like this young man describes in the video. Without the proper guidance these children are released into the world underdeveloped and dangerous. To be honest, this all scares the crap out of me, especially as the mother of a young boy. I know we will try our hardest to raise him to believe that he's special and destined for greatness, but what I can't control is how the other children he will come across will respond when faced with the challenges of being Black in America. Ladies, I know this blog is supposed to be about empowering women to live our best lives, but truth be told, we can't do it alone. Our communities need the men to stand up and be leaders, or at least just be present. I just don't know.... One thing is for sure, seeing this has made me reconsider my decision to not get involved with a mentoring program. I was afraid that with work and a young child I couldn't afford to devote the time to someone else the way I would want. I'm now realizing I can't afford not to.

WARNING: This video contains strong language.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Aint Love Grand?

Congratulations to Ms. Jill Scott on her engagement. Looks like she read my post and decided to sink her teeth into a fine young brother...I'm not mad Jilly!!!! All jokes aside, I'm excited to hear that Jill has found love again. I pray that they can make it last forever -- sorry I couldn't resist. lol

In other news, I had a blast hanging out with the Broads this afternoon, I hope you got a chance to check it out. If not, no worries I'll be back in a couple of weeks to represent for the sisters once again. Check back for details.


Check it out....

For those of you who want to continue the discussion on African American men and the international sex-tourism industry, check this out. Also, tune in Monday June 30th for Part 2 of my interview with author Jewel Woods.

Don't forget to check me out today at 2:00pm on XM Channel 155, I'll be hangin' with the ladies of Broadminded. Can't wait!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Shawna Renee & The Broads Talk Men

This ought to be interesting. Tune in Tuesday (tomorrow) at 2:00pm ET for my conversation with The Broads of Broadminded. Wanna know why men do what they do? We do to, and we're gonna try to figure it our for ourselves. If you know anything about the ladies of Broadminded, you know this is going to be one crazy hour of radio. Check it out on Take Five, XM Channel 155.

There's No Place Like Home

Imagine my surprise when yesterday morning I opened the Sunday edition of The Washington Post to find in the Travel section (above the fold no less) the following headline: In Motown: Stop in the name of Hope. I was so excited to see pictures of my beloved hometown in full color with the letters D.E.T.R.O.I.T in bold print underneath, but seconds later I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. This happens whenever I read stories about Detroit, especially those written by "outsiders" who travel to Motown looking for an example of how "not" to run a city. Although I've been away from Detroit for almost 15 years I do visit as often as I can and I try to keep up with the latest developments. At times I'm beam with pride, like when Detroit hosted the Super Bowl - I hate football, but I watched the entire game fingers crossed that everything would go off without a hitch. I still root for the Pistons and I've been known to talk my fair share of trash to the hockey fans at work. But lately things have been down right depressing in my ol' hometown. The mayor can't keep is thing in his pants (or his thumbs off his Blackberry), city council members fight in televised meetings like little children (or scorned lovers - not to start any rumors, but really now..) crime is up, unemployment is rising and according to the piece in the Post many people consider it the most miserable place in the U.S. It makes me want to cry. Especially since I have so many good memories of the city. Cruising Belle Isle, hanging out in Greektown, late night dinners at the Coney Island - the list goes on. But now when I go back everyone seems frustrated, scared or just defeated. My dream of one day returning home to do for Detroit what Oprah did for Chicago is starting to seem unlikely. I guess it's not all bad though, even the article mentions a few places where people were having fun and at least looked happy - cheap beer and good music has the effect on folk - but I wonder what life will be like for those folks come Monday morning. Many years ago an old (drunk) man at a bar once told me, "I used to give my money to the UNCF, but I don't anymore, cause I don't get no return on my investment, these young people go on off to college and they never come back." I was afraid to tell him that I was one of the young people who left to never return, and truth be told, after that conversation I promised myself that one day I would return to give back to the city that has given me so much. But it's hard to do when, like the old man said, you may never get a return on your investment. God Bless the Motor City!

Friday, June 20, 2008

You Need This....

It doesn't matter if you're an A or DD, we've all been there, you're rocking the cutest little tank dress ever and in the middle of your "street strut" your bra strap begins and embarrassing game of peek-a-boo with the world. Or maybe your girls are a little too large to rock this season's adorable little strapless numbers without a bra and you're down right depressed about it. Well wipe your tears and gather round because I've just discovered one of this summer's must have items...
Introducing: Peek-A-Boo Strapz. Is this not the most ingenious thing you've ever seen? I'm thinking this should go right up there with Spanx and those little plastic thingies you put in your sling-backs so your feet don't slide forward. Anyhow, I absolutely love the Flower Power and Show Stopper designs. At $30.00 a pair they're a little expensive, but being able to rock my favorite off the shoulder blouse again makes it all worth it.

Ladies, have an awesome weekend!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

In Case You Missed It....

Author Jewel Woods stopped by Cocoa Mode in the Eagles Nest to discuss his new book, Don't Blame it on Rio: The Real Deal Behind Why Men Go to Brazil for Sex. Shawna and Jewel explore the disconnect between Middle Class African American men and women and how it contributes to need for African American men to travel thousands of miles in search of power, respect and s.e.x.

Enjoy the interview and check back for Part 2 in the coming weeks.

**NOTE** Cocoa Mode in the Eagles Nest is part of the new Joe Madison and friends segment, you will hear a long intro for the Joe Madison show at the beginning of the podcast.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Don't Blame it on Rio

I just got through listening to the show. And here's the thing - I don't think brothers go to Brazil on an elaborate attempt to shortchange or abandon sisters. It's another version of going to Cancun or the Essence Festival or Freaknik in its day. I don't understand why sisters would really get mad about it. Haven't Black women gone to the islands for some years now? Like the old Eddie Murphy "Dexter St. Jacque" joke? Or in real life, Terri McMillan aka Stella? So I'm just saying its not that serious. If cats are saying that Black women aren't giving them what they want sexually, then obviously they have made attempts with sisters. Superhero, Cocoa Mode listener

I told you we were going to keep it real and we did. In case you missed it, my interview with author Jewel Woods will be available for download Monday, June 16th after 5:00pm. I've also invited Jewel to join me for a special Cocoa Mode Online podcast so check back for more details next week. In the meantime, feel free to leave your questions and comments about today's show below. I'm especially looking forward to hearing from men who have traveled to Brazil.

FYI: Beginning June 19th Cocoa Mode in the Eagles Nest will air every Thursday at 8:00am ET on the Power 169.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Diane Da Costa & The American Beauty Tour

Our resident hair guru and stylist to the stars, Diane Da Costa is back to answer your questions about natural hair care, transitioning and looking your best for the summer. She'll also give us the 411 on the American Beauty Tour which rolls into Atlanta this weekend. The tour features guest host, Julissa Burmudez who also checked in to give us a heads up on her latest projects and the one beauty product she can't live with out!

Stylist to the Stars: Diane Da Costa

Website/American Beauty Tour/Divabetic

A special thank you to Diane and all of the participating sponsors of the Great Cocoa Mode Beauty Give-Away. If you're interested in winning the bag of goodies Diane mentioned in the interview, email me at and tell me why you're a true American Beauty. You have until June 30th to enter. Good Luck


You know her from BET's 106 & Park, but Julissa is more than just a pretty face. Tune into hear about her new film projects, non-profit work and how important it is for her to represent for the Latinas at the years American Beauty Tour
Julissa Bermudez

Julissa Bermudez


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's official...I'm back in business.

Beginning June 19th make sure you tune in every Thursday morning at 8:00am ET for Cocoa in the Eagles Nest on the Joe Madison show on XM Channel 169 - The Power.

But wait, there's more
This Friday, June 13th I'll be in the house to start a little trouble with Jewel Woods, author Don't Blame it on Rio: The Real Deal Behind Why Men Travel to Brazil for Sex. We'll discuss the reasons why African American men are traveling thousands of miles to find what they can't get at home. We'll also explore how this trend is effecting the women left behind at home and in Brazil. Tune in Friday the 13th (!) at 9:00am ET on XM Channel 169.

But wait, there's more
If you miss the show or you don't have XM, be sure to check the website after the show for a free download of the show...That's right...FREE

Stick around ladies this is just the beginning!

Cocoa Says...What Men Want.

This post is dedicated to African American men, specifically the ones who travel thousands of miles to live a fantasy. Ladies listen up, the beans are about to be "spilt"!

Tune in to hear my interview with Jewel Woods Friday, June 13th at 9:00am ET on The Power XM Channel 169. n the meantime, check out his book Don't Blame it on Rio: The Real Deal Behind Why Men Go to Brazil for Sex.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Don't these people know we're in a recession?

I like to think I'm a pretty optimistic gal. When times get tough I try to remind myself that things could be worse and for the most part it works. But it's getting real hard to remain in denial about this nasty little economic recession we're experiencing. Like many of you I'm really starting to feel the pinch in my pocketbook. This is especially hard for a lady like me who looooooves to shop. I have a thing for handbags, shoes and pretty summer dresses but with times as they are it's becoming more difficult to afford beautiful clothes. Especially when gas is a trillion dollars a gallon and I'm paying more for a dozen eggs than I would for a chicken. This is why I don't understand the fashion editors who continue to feature outrageously priced items in their magazines - as if. Are you going to spend $500.00 for a pair of flip flops? Don't these people know we're in a recession? The unemployment rate is the highest it's been in years and you're recommending I spend $125.00 for a 1oz jar of wrinkle cream? C'mon now!

Luckily all is not lost, some designers actually understand and are making products available for those of us who are a little more "economically challenged". Like my girl Kimora Lee Simmons, the queen of all things fabulous, who makes no apologies for her grand lifestyle but understands we're all not there - yet. Her new line Fabulocity will be available at JC Penny this July. The line includes cute little sportswear options for young women (or young at heart women). Speaking of JC Penny don't forget about Nicole Miller's line of cute dresses and blouses. For the young men in your life, Sears will be teaming up with Todd Smith (AKA L.L. Cool J) to create an affordable line of casual wear under the L.L. Cool J label.

Then of course there's my favorite store, Target, who's been on the cutting edge of the mass market designer trend for years. Their latest offering is the GO International line by Rogan Gregory. Of course there's also Simply Vera (Wang) at Khols.

Ladies, let's not let these crazy economic times prevent us from looking and feeling our best. Worst come to worst I'll pull out my sewing machine and we can do an old fashioned sewing circle...Cocoa Style. Don't think I won't. Anyhoo, if you're looking for more tips on looking fabulous for less, please visit the ladies over at The Budget Fashonista. Gotta love it!

Tomorrow: Cocoa Says...

Friday, June 6, 2008

And the sky turned green..

Green skies, horizontal rains, vicious winds, broken trees and blackouts. This pretty much describes the last 3 days in DC/MD/VA. The power is back on but I'm still doing damage control so I'll leave you with an interesting little story on native tribes in Brazil. Fascinating.

Check back next week for another edition of Cocoa Says, interviews with Diane Da Costa & Julissa Bermudez and a special announcement about Cocoa Mode radio.

P.S. Congratulations Dad!

Have an awesome weekend!!!!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


After 15 months we can finally say, what I've been saying all along Barak Obama is the Democratic Nominee for President of the United States of America. With the exception of our last show back in December and this post, I've been pretty quiet about my support of Obama. My decision to stay out of the political blogger game was two part - One, all I can really offer is my opinion and I believe when it comes to politics, voters should rely on facts not opinions when deciding who to support. Two, the primary season was way too long and to be honest, it was beginning to bore me. I mean really, the attacks on Obama were far reaching and quite frankly, tired. But now that he's won round one I'm here to show my support for the man who may come to define our generation and has made it possible to dream that my Kenyan-American son could very well become President of The USA and really believe it. Beyond that I am also looking forward to hearing Obama detail his plans for health care, foreign policy and the economy. Ladies, it's rough out here and like many of you I'm feeling the pinch in the worse way. So I say bring it on Obama, let's fight the good fight and run these crazy bald heads outta town! I've already signed up to help, have you?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Cocoa's Summer Soundtrack..Pt 1.5

Much love to my girl Afrobella for posting this awesome video. You can surf over to her site to hear more international musical tributes to Obama.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Watch out for the Big Gurlz..Pt. 2

In response to my sister.....

I'm ready to put my 2cents in. You always hear that the big girl has Diabetes, high blood pressure and whatever. But there are smaller women who has the same things. No one never mentions that. No...they always mention about the big girl. There are plenty of big girls who are healthy too. They work-out and I don't mean at the dinner tables for all the narrow-minded people out there. They work out at the gym. And have healthy reports from their doctors too. So what you say about that? What do you say is the reason why the smaller women get the same illness as the big girl?Big girls are just as beautiful as the small girls...if not more. The big girls attitudes are a lot better then a lot of smaller girls too. A lot of the smaller women have attitudes that make them think they are the sh*t. Then if that's the case, why are there so many men..and yes I mean our black men, into the big girls? And I know for a fact that a lot of these men have it going on in business, health and looks. These men work out at the gym just about every day. And still LOVE THEIR BIG GIRLS!And no I'm not getting off the subject. Whats fair IS fair. Just don't point fingers at the big girls because of their sizes. Look at ALL women when it comes to health...or anything else. I'm beginning to see why the actress Monique said..."SKINNY GIRLS ARE EVIL..."

Cocoa Says....
Before I begin, let me make it clear that I am by no means a "skinny girl", at least not by conventional standards. I'm a solid size 10 and many people are shocked when I tell them how much I weigh. (muscle weighs more than fat - at least that's what I tell myself!) In some circles, I am considered the "Big Girl". Having said that I think that it is important to make clear that when I mention "Big Girl", I'm not talking about the average size 12 - 14 woman. I'm talking about obese women. And while it is true there are women with a BMI over 30 working out everyday, many more are not. Obesity is not something that "just happens", it is a direct result of too much food and not enough exercise! Flat out. True, there are "skinny women" who eat like pigs and never seem to gain weight, blame it on (or celebrate) genetics, but honestly, those women are few and far between. Also true, skinny women suffer from diabetes, but according to this article, 80% of people who suffer from Type 2 diabetes are obese or overweight and since 51% of African American women over 20 are obese, it stands to reason that those of us who care about the well being of Black women will point this out. I don't mean to sound unsympathetic or self righteous, but really, those statistics are unacceptable. We can do better. We must do better. For the women who consider themselves "Big Girls" and are hitting the gym regularly, I celebrate you and encourage you to stick with it - I'm right there with you. But if you're not, now is the time to start. In fact, in the coming weeks I plan to include tips and tricks for getting and staying in shape on Cocoa's Corner. So stick around, I've got plans for us, by the end of the summer we're going to feel, look and be (even more) FABULOUS

My sister, Sensual2u, I agree with you, big girls are beautiful and I know plenty of men who know it too, but while I'm knee deep in statics I though you might want to check this out. It seems that while over half of African American women are obese, less than a quarter of African American men suffer the same fate. Hmmm...I'm just sayin'...