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How my son started me on a journey I never planned to take.

Me and Geneology Expert Tony Burroughs

Lately, my son TJ has been asking a lot of questions about our family history.

“Mommy, do we have any famous people in our family?”

“Did we have any Kings and Queens in our family?”

“Was anybody in our family a scientist or actor?”

I am suddenly feeling extremely inept because I can’t rattle off a great answer to THESE questions like I can with everything else…

So now, here we are, on this journey that I never really planned to embark upon but I know that I should.

In between watching his favorite YouTube videos and working on his books and animation projects, TJ has been spending time googling his two very interesting last names — Caradine – Kitchens — to see what he can find and learn.

So much for mom knowing everything…

Nevertheless, my lack of answers for TJ prompted me to invite Tony Burroughs on my show Perspective.  He’s one of the world’s most respected geneology experts.  He’s spoken all over the world and has written a book about finding your family history.

We had a fascinating conversation.  He chunked down what could seem like a huge and overwhelming task of finding out more about the legacy of the Caradine-Kitchens families.  Dammit we should know this stuff shouldn’t we?  Stories of the greats in our family should the centerpieces of our discussions at the dinner table right??  Hmmmm, does anybody ever sit together at the dinner table anymore?

Here’s an excerpt from the show Tony appeared on.

Recipe For Life: My50CHICAGO.com

His compelling book, Black Roots: A beginner’s guide to tracing the African American family tree, is available everywhere.

Have you ever researched your family tree?  What did you find?  Leave your answers below.  Tony has already agreed to doing part two with me as we dig into the history of MY family tree.  Stay tuned.

Scholarships for aspiring medical and nursing students

Recent Provident Foundation Scholarship Recipients

On Monday, February 28, 2011 I’ll be at the DuSable Museum with my fellow board members of the Provident Foundation (and hopefully lots of you) giving way ten $1,000 scholarships to some super deserving students.  Over the years, we’ve given away some serious cash to students who might have otherwise had to drop out due to financial hardship.  Join us!  Donate $25 and let’s support our Future Doctors and Nurses!

Monday, Februay 28, 2011

Dusable Museum

540 E. 56th Street


Contact the Provident Foundation at 773-363-4272

Chef Jamika shows me that delicious food doesn’t have to be hard to make

Chef Jamika from the quot;Next Food Network Star quot; and TLC #39;s Home Made Simple

Even though I am the queen of bold, fearless and fabulous, I must admit, I’m a little scaredy cat in the kitchen. I have this awesome kitchen and just have never used it to its full, fabulous potential. Thank God for celebrity Chef Jamika Pessoa. She stopped by Perspective recently and showed me how to make some pretty tasty (and classy-looking) dishes that I can make with ease and that my picky 7 year-old son would love.

Check these two dishes out, created by Chef Jamika who you can see every Saturday morning on TLC‘s HomeMade Simple.  This first dish was delightful.  Very light and yummy and super easy to make.

CheddarWurst Frittata

Cooking time: 10-12 minutes
Serves 4-6 people


1 cup Hillshire Farm CheddarWurst sausage, diced
6 eggs, beaten
1 tomato, diced
¼ cup sliced green onions
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Spray 10 inch non-stick pan with cooking spray. Heat pan to medium high temperature.
2. Sauté sausage for 2-3 minutes until sausage begins to brown. Stir in tomato and green onions.
3. Pour beaten eggs into pan over sausage mixture. Sprinkle with cheese.
4. Lower heat to medium. Do not stir. Allow eggs to cook for 1-2 minutes. As sides begin to pull away, remove pan from heat and place under the oven broiler. Continue cooking for 5-7 minutes until eggs are no longer runny and slightly firm to the touch.
5. Using a spatula, slide out from pan and slice into wedges. Serve immediately.
Equipment for Demonstration:
- 10 inch non-stick sauté pan
- Cooking spray
- Spatula
- Whisk
- 2 medium size bowl (for cut sausage and beaten eggs)
- 2 small bowls (for green onions and tomatoes)
- 10 or 12 inch white plate for presentation
Some Talking Points:
1. To cut calories or fat from this dish, use egg substitute instead of whole eggs.
2. This is a great breakfast for the family or romantic bunch idea for February.
3. Fill your frittata with your favorite vegetables like spinach, onions or even artichokes.
4. To serve several guests, make individual frittatas by baking in a muffin pan.
5. The frittata can be cooked on the stove instead of putting in the oven. Simply lower the heat and cover with a lid until eggs are cooked.

The second dish Chef Jamika prepared is the one I’ve already tried at home…and it was a WINNER with my picky little guy!  Check it.


Jerk Chicken Hardwood  Smoked Sausage

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves 4-6 people


1 package Hillshire Farm Chicken Hardwood Smoked Sausage, cut into ½ inch slices

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 green bell pepper, seeded, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, seeded, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons dry Jerk seasoning

1 cup pineapple, diced

3 cups cooked rice


  1. Heat olive oil in large sauté pan to medium high temperature. Cook sausage for 3-4 minutes or until lightly brown. Stir in onions and peppers. Add in Jerk seasoning and stir well to evenly coat.
  2. Cook approximately 4-6 minutes or until onions and peppers are slightly tender. Pour in pineapple. Stir and remove from heat. Spoon over cooked rice.

Equipment for Demonstration:

  • 12 inch non-stick sauté pan
  • 4 medium size bowls (for sausage, peppers, onions, pineapple)
  • 2 small ramekins (for oil and seasoning)
  • Large spoon for stirring
  • Small pot for cooked rice
  • 10 or 12 inch white plate for presentation

Both dishes are Delish and easy to make for you busy moms and dads.  Try them and leave your comments below. Thanks Chef Jamika!

3 things black businesses MUST do to survive; New book shares success secrets for black businesses

Required reading for black business owners

In just the past few months we’ve seen some of Chicago’s most legendary businesses either downsize or close their doors completely due to our nation’s struggling economy.  The black community was shocked when Army amp; Lou’s recently announced it’s closing.  For more than 50 years the Southside restaurant became known as a gathering place for politicians, celebrities and everyday people.

A few months ago, media giant Johnson Publishing announced it was selling its historic downtown headquarters to Columbia College.  The move sparked concern that the company, known for creating and publishing Ebony and Jet magazines, was struggling to survive.

These are just two examples of what’s happens when businesses lack the agility needed to adapt to the new economy AND an ever-changing business climate.

I recently interviewed Dante Lee.  He’s the CEO of Diversity City Media, the parent company of BlackPR.com and BlackNews.com and others.  Dante is also the author of Black Business Secrets.  He told me that entrepreneurs must realize that in order to survive and thrive during these times, they must do 3 things:

1.) Always be marketing, 2.) leverage social media and 3.) go global.  Listen to this fascinating 15 minute interview as Dante share’s his insight and I reveal how I made a nice chunk of change doing business in the midst of Chicago’s recent historic snowstorm.

Dante’s book is a must read!  Get it.

What secrets have you employed to help your business thrive in this economy?

8 years later, still no closure in E2 tragedy; Memories of 21 lives lost must always be honored.

Inside E2

Eight years ago today, 21 people died in one of Chicago’s worst human tragedies. More than 50 were injured.   It was February 17, 2003–a long holiday weekend. No one imagined a night of fun at one of the city’s most popular spots would end like this.

The details of how the stampede actually started were hashed out in 2008 when the case finally went to trial.   There was reportedly  a fight, someone sprayed  pepper spray and  there was panic.

People ran for the exits but the stampede to the main door–which could only be opened by pulling from the inside rather than pushing–created a human bottle neck making it impossible for people to get out. Another exit was apparently chained shut.

I covered the story as it happened for WVON.   I remember going to the scene the morning after and seeing family members of victims overcome with grief, trying to get answers to what happened.    They were in complete shock.   I was 7 months pregnant at the time  and already an emotional wreck.   The pain of the tragedy hit me at the core.

Memorial for victims outside the E2 Nightclub

A year later, I covered the story for the Tavis Smiley Show on NPR.   I spoke to the family members of Nicole Rainey.   She was a 25 year old mother of 5 who died that night.   Her sister recalls the pain of going to the morgue to identify her body.   I also spoke with  Lamont James.   He was at the club that night and describes the horror he experienced.  You can hear that chilling report here.

The city of Chicago insists that club owners, who kept the club open despite code violations, were to blame for the tragedy. The club owners dispute that charge saying they were told only to shut down the upper level or VIP section  of the night club.

Inconsistencies and uncertainties around paperwork filed by the city still leaves questions about who is to blame and whether or not this could have been avoided.   Most of the charges in the criminal case were thrown out, but the owners were convicted and sentenced to serve jail time for building code violations.  

It appears to me that the city of Chicago is doing more to try to salvage what’s left of its reputation as a world-class city, than trying to accept responsibility for its fault in this and doing more to honor the lives of the 21 Chicagoans who died eight years ago today.

May their souls rest in peace.

E2 Nightclub Owners Sentenced to 2 Years Each: MyFoxCHICAGO.com

Is Black male imprisonment accepted as the norm?

Many people believed that the election of President Barack Obama marked the beginning of a post-racial society but author Michelle Alexander says with nearly half of the nation’s young black men behind bars, the heavy hand of racism is still very much alive and well.  

Michelle  is the author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness.”   In the book Michelle says that black male imprisonment allows the criminal justice system to function as the new system of racial control.

My question is, why isn’t there a national outcry about this pervasive problem?   We should have people challenging the justice system at every level, trying to find out why our men and boys are filling up this nation’s prison systems at break-neck speed.   The statistics are dramatic and alarming.   Not to mention the fact that so many are locked up for crimes they did not commit.

Black men  have been so criminalized by the media that our sensitivity to this issue has been brainwashed right out of us.   Have we come to  accept  black male  imprisonment as a normal part of Black life and culture?   Watch the video and weigh in below.

The Crisis of Black Male Incareration: My50CHICAGO.com

Why today’s sorry excuse for news media is to blame for a misinformed America

Despite the presence of 24 hour news networks and an endless number of online news blogs, I believe the media is to blame for the public being misinformed and political apathetic. The way I see it, there are 4 key problems:

1.) The rules of REAL journalism have almost ceased to exist because so many outlets have been compromised by business and personal political influences (i.e. NBC is owned by GE. There connection to the federal government and it’s dealings is astounding. Google it.)

2.) Too few journalists have the balls to ask tough questions because they are afraid to ruffle feathers and instead bow to partisan influences and regergitate what everybody else is saying.   Also, there have been so many cuts in newsrooms nationwide, that few have the resources to really investigate issues.

3.) News Media has morphed into personality-driven media. These days it’s all about which network has the hottest chicks or the handsome-est dudes. If not, it’s who’s got the loudest mouth or most obnoxious attitude. Quite pathetic if you ask me.

4.) News outlets have created an effective strategy to distract the American people from the issues that matter most: Focus on celebrity gossip and tabloidism as a way to avoid dealing with inept political leadership and more important, pressing issues. Sadly, we fall for it everytime.

So in these unprecedented social and political times when America is facing some major crises– including a disappearing middle class, no jobs,  poor healthcare, jacked up education and an relentless assault against a president that inherited a mountain of problems created by a president that STOLE the office–can the public really trust the media to give us unbiased, non-partisan, truthful information so we can make sound decisions about our future?

I have a choice few outlets that I trust to give fair and balanced information and real insight including The Chicago Reporter and a few others.   Which outlets do you trust?

Weigh in below and check out this snippet from Perspective where I asked my team of veteran journalists their opinions.

Has Journalism Changed?: My50CHICAGO.com

Looking for Work? Meet Monique at the Job Readiness Boot Camp and Career Fair!

Finding a job in this economy is tough!   But you do not have to get  discouraged. By being focused, strategic and by adopting the right mindset,  you will find the opportunity that is looking for you!

I’ll be kicking off the event with an empowering  talk called Re:Invention:  5 ways to Master Your Mindset  and Attract the Job of  Your Dreams!

Here are the details:

YWCA-GSU Job Readiness Boot Camp
Thursday, February 24
Keynote Speech: 5:40 — 6:00 p.m.
Location: E Lounge

Governors State University in University Park, Illinois.
*Parking lot E is closest to the venue and there will be signage directing participants to the Boot Camp the day of the event.     See you there!

Monique Speaks at the South Suburban College Women’s Conference

Connecting with women is my passion

Join me at the 3rd Annual Chicago Women’s Conference and Expo on Friday, March 11, 2011!   I’ll be giving one of  my signature talks entitled Bold, Fearless amp; Fabulous! 8 secrets to getting the abundance, success and satisfaction you deserve!   This talk is a favorite because it gets you excited about life again and helps you to see obstacles as opportunities!

You’ll walk away with specific strategies for transforming your life starting TODAY!   Plus, you’ll have a chance to become a part of my brand new Million Dollar Mastermind!

My talk starts at 10:50 a.m. but get there early because the room WILL be packed!!!   Get more information here:   www.TheChicagoWomensConference.org.

Can’t wait to meet you!!

Want to get publicity for your business? Take this survey.

Would you like to be coached by Monique Caradine, a seasoned, on-air broadcast professional to help you get publicity for your business?   How would you like to appear on one of my shows?

Click here to take  a super quick, 3-minute  survey  so that I’ll know exactly what your needs are.


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