Singer Mary J. Blige performs on stage during the 20th annual Nobel Peace Prize Concert at the Oslo Spektrum on December 11, 2013 in Oslo, Norway
*When Mary J. Blige recorded her album “My Life” in 1994, she was battling drugs, alcohol, clinical depression and dealing with an abusive relationship.
She’s the first to tell you, she was a mess.
“That album was very dark. I didn’t even want to live,” said the singer, whose album “A Mary Christmas” is in stores. “I wanted to die, but I didn’t want to die. I just wanted to numb myself. I didn’t appreciate life.”
Amy Winehouse’s father wants drug and alcohol awareness lessons added to the national curriculum in the United Kingdom, because he said there are ‘legal highs’ that can be dangerous. Judging from that statement alone Europe’s overwhelming amount of drug addiction, drug-related crimes and drug related deaths among young adults might be due to their ineffective approach. I’ve heard the stories about open recreational drug use there. Consequently their carefree attitude about this issue obviously has led to more experimentation in the UK than in the United States. But regardless of the location drug use or “experimentation” is a learned behavior that first should be taught and corrected by parents.
I’m sure we can agree that more knowledge about drugs and alcohol is better than less knowledge on the subject, and children constantly are learning through formal training and by observation. Still countless studies confirm that parents, more than anybody else, are the biggest influence on a child’s behavior. That includes their teachers and their peers. The trouble is some parents either don’t realize their power and defer to someone else or they have such poor parenting skills they expect somebody else to pick up the slack and do their jobs.
Yes, everybody has the gift of free will. So yes children test boundaries and make mistakes. But access to information is not the problem. Parents who refuse to act as role models for their children: That’s the problem. I don’t smoke because my mother didn’t smoke. And I don’t drink alcohol because my mother didn’t drink alcohol – at least not in front of me. ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ was not her constant refrain.
So when I hear stories such as the one about the 41-year-old husband and father of a teenage girl who left his wife and daughter to shack up with an 18-year old girl who – until a month ago – was a student in his class at a local Modesto high school that both girls still attend – it’s apparent that some people underestimate the value of role models in the lives of children.
James Hooker, the name of the sorry example of a father, husband and teacher, said he and the girl, who is only a few years older than his own daughter, wanted to “follow our hearts.” Nevermind the humiliation his daughter must face everyday at school. Nevermind the commitments made as a husband, father and role model for his students. What ever happened to honoring those commitments?
Mitch Winehouse has it all wrong. Whether or not drugs are illegal is not the issue. Their body and mind altering side effects: That’s the issue. Public schools have enough of a challenge teaching children the basic reading, writing and arithmetic. Teaching children how to behave starts in the cradle and there’s no better teacher for that than mom and dad.
Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Send comments, questions and speaking requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Los Angeles, CA — TV personality and actress Rolonda Watts makes her first starring role as lead actress in an independent film entitled A Mother’s Love.
The feature length film is being released on DVD by BCB Records and Productions, an independent film and stage play production company owned and operated by Bradley Alexander and Carolyn Alexander.
A Mother’s Love also stars NAACP image award winner, supporting actress, Vanessa Williams, from the Showtime hit series “Soul Food” and actor and comedian, Buddy Lewis, from David Talbert’s hit gospel stage plays “Love on Layaway” and “Fabric of a Man.”
The film was written by emerging African-American screenwriter, Carolyn Alexander. Concerning her, Watts comments:
“She has created a great masterpiece and a special ‘Mapquest’ to that special place we all know called ‘Home’. Even those who merely dream of such, get to experience all through her courageous writing and her compelling story. I am very proud of her.”
A Mother’s Love has also received rave reviews and a 5 star rating from the Dove Foundation, who released the following statement: “This is a remarkable and inspiring film! It has all the key elements: good acting, fantastic direction, and a good story to boot. We at Dove can’t recommend this one enough. We are most pleased to award this film five Doves, our highest rating.”
The faith-based film chronicles the lives and relationship of three generations of African-American women as they battle to mend the broken relationships torn apart by short-sightedness, greed, and drug abuse.
Regina Reynolds’ (Rolonda Watts) life is turned upside down when her daughter Monica (Selina Duplessis) becomes addicted to drugs and Regina is soon faced with loosing everything, because she herself has made some very bad decisions. What will it take to get Regina Reynolds back on track? … nothing short of “A Mother’s Love.”
*In an emotional visit to “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Todd Bridges spoke very candidly about the sexual abuse, drugs, arrests and pimping that contributed to his catastrophic downfall after the end of his hit TV show “Diff’rent Strokes” – all of which are detailed in his new autobiography “Killing Willis.”
In Wednesday’s episode, the former child star described in painful detail how he was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a family friend. Bridges said even worse was being called a liar by his father, who didn’t believe that he was abused.
“That really destroyed me,” he says, “because my father was supposed to be my protector. He didn’t protect me.” At this point, Bridges breaks down in tears. [Watch clip below.]
Bridges, who played adopted son Willis Drummond on “Diff’rent Strokes,” also explained how he became a drug user in the mid-1980s and started dealing speed, crack, cocaine and marijuana when “Diff’rent Strokes” wrapped in 1986. The actor said he began carrying guns and pimping out his female friends.
He explains, “They would sell drugs to johns (clients) and also have sex with johns, so I got paid in a double way… I was a pimp in a lot of ways.”
Todd Bridges' mother Betty A. Bridges
The actor went on to describe being introduced to methamphetamine, saying he was hooked after the first hit gave him an orgasm.
Bridges, who was still trying to escape memories of being molested at 11, said, “I thought that that was the drug that would take me through everything else because it really covered up everything that I was feeling… I was numb to society, I was numb to life… I felt that’s what I deserve… that’s who I am.”
He also revealed that he once stayed awake for 14 days straight when he was high on meth, and eventually suffered psychosis and seizures.
“I started seeing these little green men that came up and I thought that my grandmother had put these inside my house,” he said. “And they were running around and I was chasing at them and I was shooting at them… I was crazy at that point.”
Bridges broke down in tears again as his mother, who was in the studio audience, cried as she recalled how she prayed to God and said, “If you wanna take him, take him; I don’t wanna see him like that… I said, ‘I’m giving him back to you.’”
Bridges says he has been clean and sober for 17 years now, and credited his mother for helping him straighten out his life.
*The last we heard from El DeBarge, he was in jail for possession of a controlled substance in Oct. 2008. And that charge came just weeks after he was jailed on two warrants stemming from several other offenses from the previous year, including vandalism, drugs and domestic violence.
But those days are in the past, the singer told EURweb’s Lee Bailey.
“Things are fine right now. My challenges were basically a drug addiction that sat me down for a minute and made me stop writing, and made me not participate in my own self,” said the famous falsetto. “I got tired of that, I got tired of being stuck on stupid. I went through something, I learned from it and I got a great story to tell. It’s a testimony, it’s not misery anymore.”
These days, El DeBarge is in the studio working on a new album, and he’s featured in the current “soundtrack week” (Feb. 8-12) of TV One’s “Way Black When” programming for Black History Month.
“It’s basically paying respect and homage to as many of the black films, black producers and black recording artists as we possibly can of the 80s,” El explained of the TV One specials. “I realized a lot of success in the 80s, so naturally I had some things I want to say about it.”
Under host Chris “Kid” Reid (“House Party”), TV One’s soundtrack week honors the movie albums that had an impact on African American pop culture. DeBarge is joined by musical artists Brian McKnight and Kurtis Blow, along with producer/director Warrington Hudlin, actor Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and actor Glynn Turman.
“We just talked about ‘Cooley High’ being one of the films,” said DeBarge. “We talked about ‘Boys N the Hood,’ [my song] ‘Rhythm of the Night’ being in ‘The Last Dragon,’ this song I did in the movie ‘Short Circuit’ called ‘Who’s Johnny,’ you know, that’s pretty much it.”
As for his other 80s pastime of drug abuse, El says he got a lot of prodding from his family and fans in recent years to finally get his act together.
“People were reaching out to me. And really, actually it was God. It was a spiritual intervention that took place in me,” he said. “I just didn’t want to do it anymore and I had to just lay back, go somewhere, take a vacation and just chill and just get my thoughts together – get my will power together because that’s what was missing and that’s where I’m at right now.”