What Oprah’s Lifeclass teaches us about being present

 

Over the past month, I have been watching Oprah Winfrey's show entitled "Life Class," where they have been looking at the issues of absentee fathers and the children they leave behind. One of the key points made in the specials was that a father can be present but not really present in the lives of their children, which can be just as bad. 

The shows had me thinking about all of us. What can you do to be more of a presence in the lives of those around you? Do you plan meetups with your friends and family just to sit down and be on your phone the entire time? Do you avoid talking to people who could really benefit from hearing your voice and just send them text messages? In your relationship with your spouse or significant other, are you celebrating them or just tolerating their presence or being indifferent to their wants and needs now that you're together and you think the courting process is done?

No matter where you are in life, you and I know that you can do more to be a better presence in the lives of those around you. If you are an absentee parent, you need to do whatever possible to go back and reclaim your child or children. Your presence should really be a present to those around you, not a curse. If you know this applies to you, then you have much more work to do! Get to it!

 

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Music to Raise Hope for Congo

Mercer Street Records and the Enough Project is sponsoring one of the largest campaigns to stop genocide and crimes against humanity in the Congo by releasing a new album. Available on CD and as a digital download, this new album features songs by Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, Bat for Lashes, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Mos Def, Omékongo… and many more. Raise Hope for Congo, a campaign of the Enough Project, is mobilizing the public to end the violence by addressing its root causes. Collaborating with national, grassroots, and Congolese organizations, the campaign aims to educate and empower individuals to be a part of the solution to the conflict.

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Biography

Omékongo Dibinga is an UPstander, not a bystander. His life’s mission is to inspire all across the globe to take a stand when they witness an injustice, no matter how small or large. Omékongo is a youth motivational speaker, trilingual poet, CNN contributor, TV talk show host, and rapper. His Urban Music Award winning work has best been described by Nikki Giovanni as “outstanding, exciting, and new while being very old.” His book, From the Limbs of My Poetree was described by Essence Magazine as “a remarkable and insightful collection of exquisite poetry that touches sacred places within your spirit.” He was one of 5 international recipients out of 750,000 to win the first ever “CNN iReport Spirit Award”. He has received over 1,000,000 views on CNN.com.

Omékongo’s music and writings have appeared alongside artists such as Sheryl Crow, Angelina Jolie, Norah Jones, Damien Rice, Angelique Kidjo, Don Cheadle, and Mos Def. He has shared the stage with Wyclef Jean, OutKast, Sonia Sanchez, Dennis Brutus, and The Last Poets. Internationally, he has shared his work in 19 countries on 3 continents. He is the host of the talk show “Real Talk”, which deals with issues facing our youth today. His writings and performances have appeared in O Magazine, as well as on TV and radio from CNN, BET, and the BBC to NPR, Music Choice, and Voice of America in millions of homes in over 150 countries. He has also written songs for movies as well as organizations such as NASA and the Enough Project.

Omékongo has studied at Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Georgetown, Morehouse, and The Fletcher School, where he received his M.A. in Law & Diplomacy. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in International Education Policy at The University of Maryland, where he worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Teaching Diverse Students Initiative” as well as a Teaching Assistant to Dr. Michael Eric Dyson at Georgetown. He provides educational and diversity empowerment as a consultant and motivational speaker for organizations, associations and institutions. He has featured/lectured nationwide in venues from TEDx and Harvard to Russell Simmons’ Hip-Hop Summit and the Nuyorican Poets Café. His rap mixtape series “Bootleg” promotes positive hip-hop with remixes of songs by Tupac, Notorious BIG, Jay-Z, Nas, 50 Cent, and others. His 1,000,000 Youth Campaign has directly impacted over 75,000 youth across the globe to date.

Omékongo’s publishing company, Free Your Mind Publishing, a subdivision of his organization, UPstander International, has produced 7-fusion music and motivational CDs, 6 books, and one independent DVD. His motivational book “G.R.O.W. Towards Your Greatness! 10 Steps to Living Your Best Life” has received praise from great motivational speakers such as Willie Jolley. His most recent book "The UPstander's Guide to an Outstanding Life" is a life balance book for students.

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It’s a Girl

200,000,000 missing, not talkin’ ’bout money see

Talkin’ about somethin’ worth more than currency

Talkin’ about missin’ girls the foundation of a nation

But born in India and China brings damnation

Desperation, having a girl brings trepidation

So being born a girl leads to deadly devastation

Baby girls bouncing from the womb to the tomb

Delivery room delivering gendercide too soon

How have we forgotten that the woman is key

To open the future’s door for our children to see?

The phrase “it’s a girl!” should bring cause to rejoice

But we kill innocent victims who have no choice

No say in the way they will die this way

Parents leave their land so daughters won’t die today

We’re killin’ our seeds we gotta tell the world

So parents can say proudly “It’s a girl!”

 

Can’t see women as a burden, men gotta realize

Gotta save the people that hold up half the sky

Family planning police planning family murderin’

Just because they think havin’ a girl is a burden

It’s not about condemning culture but saving lives

Dowry deaths for those left wondering why?

Why oh why not practice safer sex

Than kill a girl who had nothing to do with this?

Buy her, sell her, kill her, keep her!

Sex shouldn’t lead to visits from the grim reaper

India and China, what you gonna do?

When there’s nothing but men in your countries too?

Can’t import wives like you might do food

See the value of your girls, don’t kill ’em so soon

A woman’s body is not a boy factory

We gotta give our girls the right to be born and be free!

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Wagas Janjari

On this episode of Real Talk, Omekongo invites poet, Wagas Janjari, to share his perspectives and thoughts on life.

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