Colin lost his locs, has a new look

So I was messing around this morning retexturing this Cats & Dogs hair and I loved it so much on Colin. So after a year of wearing long beautiful locs, Colin has decided to cut them off and get faded up. This is how he’ll appear in the story in the future.

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Bash’s Sister Cassie is Not Representative of all Black Women

And that was never my intent when I initially wrote for her. This is my author’s note:

Author’s Note: It just should be noted that I am aware, some may not like the representation of Bash’s older sister Cassie (who isn’t a main character) being on gov’t assistance. Often we see these images presented with the face of black women when that is not the case as statistics show others get more gov’t help than blacks. As you can see, while Bash’s family is working class, his parents do own their own home and have jobs. I would never look down on my own people, but I wanted to make a story based on the reality of many people. You will see that there are well to do black people in this story and in my past stories. I have characters from all social classes. The truth of the matter is, when I was very young, my mother had to get assistance for us even though she worked, my father wasn’t around. The fact is a lot of people (White, Black, Latino, Asian) in this country are classified as “working poor” they have jobs, but can’t afford the basic necessities of life.  Some characters and storylines will not sit well with all people who read it, and that is fine. I’ve always said there would be things people may not like, but I wanted to write a story that in some ways reflected some of my past experiences and those around me or people I’ve known and those who I come up with in my head. Thanks for reading and I’m always open to feedback.

Chapter 1.2 The Games Begin

 

Rico Thomas POV:

“I do understand power, whatever else may be said about me. I know where to look for it, and how to use it.”  It’s one of the many profound things I’ve learned from one of the most successful power brokers in US history, President Lyndon B. Johnson.

What I value in LBJ’s methods for attaining power is the practical means to deal with the obstacles and problems that befall a strong and capable leader. Similarly, when I set about achieving a goal, roadblocks are inevitable; it’s how I choose to deal with those roadblocks that determine the desired outcome. Power is a tool that I use to elevate my position and attain my goals. For some people, power is a drug, and if not used wisely and without self-control, it can overtake you.

Let me start with a bit of commentary on history for you. Say what you want about Johnson’s war record or his pre-Presidency civil rights record that doesn’t concern me, because I am living in the modern world. I could choose to be idealistic and cry about how things should be, or I could make changes that matter. Here’s the lesson: Great men, great leaders, go out and make the changes needed. They don’t wait on others to do it for them. Inertia and weakness never elevated anyone to a real position of power. Some methods used may not be favorable in the eyes of many, but the world runs, civilizations thrive, and we wake up with a false sense of security due to necessary evils. Not everyone will agree with what I do or the methods in which I do them; that doesn’t concern me.

For as long as I can remember, it has always been ingrained in my head to set goals and to achieve them by the best means necessary. Notice I did not say by any means necessary because they’re not all smart and “any” leaves you open to considering some less than smart options. No, complete your goals by the best and most effective means.

**************************************

I was up at a quarter past four this morning, which was typical for me. I kept my mattress extra firm; for not only did it keep my posture long and straight, I felt as if I had one that was too soft and comfortable I would not easily get up in the morning.

I stepped out of my bed and carefully smoothed out the percale sheets and bedspread. I was not a wild sleeper, I rarely moved. My housekeeper would come a little later and make over my bed again, not completely satisfied until everything in the house had her approval and final touch. I walked across the wooden floors, satisfied that I spent the money for custom heat controlled flooring throughout the apartment. For some people, it may seem like a waste of money, when I could just wear slippers. Not to me, this was my home. I was going to have every luxury afforded to me within these walls. I couldn’t be bothered with cold floors in the morning.

I keep late nights and early mornings, but I never feel unrested. All the same, I have my unique daily brew, rare Arabica beans naturally refined by elephants. I won’t get into the details; put it this way: it’s very expensive to drink coffee that has been processed through an elephant’s digestive system.

It’s worth it, however, because I wake up with one of the world’s finest coffees in my cup each morning.

After I’d poured my coffee, I headed to my office to check the market and read emails. As expected, I had just over fifty messages from after ten o’clock last night up until fifteen minutes ago. About half of the emails were from my work associates as well as what some may call an executive assistant, Cressida Castro. Her main role was managing the day to day operations of Thomas Global Strategies, my consultation business; that also meant managing me; as much as anyone can do that. Cressida did everything; therefore she doesn’t have an official title. Some of her duties included: maintaining my schedule, determining what was considered high priority, and which problems were salient.

Most of the firm’s clients except for a distinguished few went to Cressida as their first line of contact and information. Many times, my clients insisted on talking directly to one of my top-level team members or me. It wasn’t always convenient or necessary that they speak to me. And nine times out of ten, Cressida was able to answer their questions or handle whatever specific issue that needs addressing.

*******************************

I founded Thomas Global Strategies while I was in prep school; only it was more informal. I didn’t have any staff, nor did it have a name. We provide services to corporate clients with workforces that number into the thousands, to smaller companies with less than fifty people. We consult on matters such as mergers and acquisitions, valuation and financial preparedness, political and campaign strategy, crisis management, investigative forensics, information technology, analytics, and public relations. That may seem like a long list, but you’d be surprised at how closely related each of these areas are, none are mutually exclusive of the other. We meet our clients’ needs through a system I call SIR: Strategy, Integration, and Resolution.

I arrived at my office building a little bit earlier than usual. I wanted to answer some correspondence before my team arrived. I had been at my desk for roughly an hour when Cressida walk in, looking down at her tablet.

“Did you get the dossier on Grazier I sent?” she asked, not looking up. “Yes,” I replied. I pulled up the file on Grazier Technology’s last quarter performance Cressida sent last night.

“Boss, I know you’ve worked with this company before. I assumed you had me gather all this information for M&A. It couldn’t be for another PR scandal. That was before I joined the firm,” said Cressida, sitting down.

I sat back in my chair and looked across my desk at her. “You know what I say about assuming. Yes, a few of years ago, Grazier retained our crisis management services. The company was going through an ugly public relations crisis due to a sexual harassment suit against two members of their executive team.”

“Autumn handled the case?” asked Cressida, referring to Autumn Ross, our main public relations expert at the firm. I nodded. “What we found during our internal investigation was that human resources had failed at every turn to investigate the allegations against their director of marketing and senior vice president of operations. A female project manager had accused them of an inappropriate sexual relationship.”

“How does an adult accuse another adult of having an inappropriate sexual relationship? Relationship implies there was consent; unless her job was threatened,” said Cressida

“Yes. In this context, it’s a new pc way of saying ‘fucking your way to the top’ The woman alleged the director and VP sexually harassed her and demoted her from senior manager to a position one below. During our inquiry, we found out that the accuser had been in consenting relationships with both of these married men at different times. She pursued both men. While we found inconclusive information on the director’s part, we found enough correspondence from the senior VP that could cause the company a lot embarrassment. The woman claimed once she ended the affair, he demoted her, but there was enough evidence in her previous performance review that her bosses weren’t happy with her. Autumn said she was a piece of work and no one on her team liked her.”

“Did she end up leaving Grazier?” asked Cressida. “Yes, with a much smaller settlement than what she was suing for. The director was allowed to resign, and the senior VP took a leave of absence until the storm was over; he’s still with the company. It’s harder to replace an executive than a low-level project manager. It wasn’t a complete loss to Grazier.” I replied.

Pretending as if sex hasn’t been used for centuries in exchange either for money or other goods and services, is a fallacy. Here’s the lesson: It happens all the time, and a lot of people benefit from sexual favors. Not all. It sounds like bullshit, but you’re not living on planet Earth if you don’t think this happens and is accepted every single day. Am I saying that every little bright-eyed bell with perky tits and a fat ass spending years trading her southern accent away, started on her knees underneath the boardroom table to attain a leadership position? No, what I am saying is situations like this happen more often than you think; that’s the world in which we live. Here’s a pro tip: if you’re not playing the game wisely, you will get run out.

Check out the biography of Rico and other main characters here.

Check us out on Facebook for cc and story updates. Come and join our group. SOCS

 

Chapter 1.1 The Games Begin

Sebastian “Bash” Banks POV:
FROM JOHN SCHOENFELD, VICE PRESIDENT
TO: CC DAVID MCKINLEY CEO, ROBERT WAKEFIELD CFO
BCC JUPITER WORKS ASSOCIATES
Good Morning Team,
It is my pleasure to announce that Timothy Reynolds is our new Senior Software Developer. Tim brings a wealth of knowledge in software design and development. As a member of our team for the past two years, we have been more than happy to have his insight and expertise on our internal systems and the new innovative applications we have created here at Jupiter. Let’s all say congratulations to Tim.

I closed the email that sent to us from our company’s vice president announcing that the promotion I had been working my ass off for the past six months had gone to someone else. I opened the email back up and moved it to the trash. It was such bullshit. I don’t know why I’m surprised. I have seen this same thing happen two other times since I have worked here. Somehow guys who haven’t been here longer than me or don’t have as much experience and education as I do, somehow keep getting these promotions. Of course, sometimes it is nepotism, but mostly it’s the fact that they have the complexion for protection and I don’t.

Tim had started at our company, Jupiter Works only two years ago as a junior software developer. He went to fucking Rutgers, which was like number 45 on the top 50 best schools for computer science, undergrad. I went to UPenn, number 15, not to mention I had my masters from MIT, specifically a Master of Science program in Computation for design and optimization. Tim not only just went to Rutgers and didn’t have a post-graduate degree but also waitlisted. Who the hell gets waitlisted for Rutgers? Of course, his daddy who was friends with the dean of admissions made a call, and a small donation and Tim was able to move right in, taking a more deserving person’s spot no doubt. You see, how unfair that is? My black ass got into school on my merits.

I silently sat at my desk for a moment. I could feel my anger rising. I took a deep breath and slowing exhaled through my nose, trying to calm myself. I glanced at the clock; it was barely three, still too far away from five and my escape.
I could hear some of my co-workers laughing and congratulating Tim on his undeserved promotion. Tim and I worked on the same team, and now his ass will have seniority over me.

I was about to get up and head to the bathroom when I sensed Tim making his way over to my desk. It’s not that Tim was a bad guy; he was friendly, not pretentious like some of these other assholes, but he was annoying. He and some of the other guys were always asking me to join them for a beer after work. I accepted their invitations some of the time. Most of the time, however, I declined, making up some excuse for needing to go home and work. Usually, I was lying because it was bad enough working them every day. The last thing I wanted to do was pretend to like their asses outside of work.

“Hey, Bash! How’s it going, Bro?” asked Tim, as he strutted up to my desk with a slight bounce in his step. He grinned from ear to ear. “Eh, man congrats on the new promotion,” I said, trying to keep my voice upbeat and force a smile. “Ah, thanks! I couldn’t have done it without you and some of the other guys. You’ve helped me out so much since I’ve been here.” Yeah, no shit. I practically trained this guy, and hate he gets a sizeable raise and a lead position.

“The guys were going to grab a drink downstairs after work, you should come along,” said Tim. I held in a sigh, the last thing I wanted to do was grab a beer with these frat boys once five o’clock rolled around. I usually work late, sometimes past eight. But it was a Friday; therefore if I tried to get out of it, they would just keep badgering me. “Yeah, sure,” I reluctantly agreed. “Awesome. Try not to work too hard, we only have a couple of hours left!” said Tim and walked off to talk to some of the other ass kissers that were too eager to get in his face and congratulate him.

It’s not that I wanted to stay late on a Friday, but I could think of so many other things I wanted to do once I left this place. I could go to the gym, I could grab something to eat, and there were so many other things way more appealing than heading down to a bar. I would only stay two hours max, and then I was free-free to salvage the rest of my weekend. I had dinner with my family on Sunday, which is something I don’t look forward to doing. My only free day would be Saturday. I needed to make the most of it because Monday would come around again too soon.

**********************************************************

Every Sunday, my parents have dinner at their house in the old neighborhood where I grew up. I hated coming here and did everything I could to avoid it. The old ramblers with spotty yards, patches of dry grass and dirt. The old beat up cars blocking the whole sidewalk. The fences encased small homes that were half bent downward, rusted, and neglected. The weeds and dandelions grew out the cracks of the sidewalk that had long seen its better days. The paint on the homes was worn and weathered, peeling off the siding; rusted storm pipes and leaves stacked in the gutters that no one bothered to climb up and clear out.

You could find the usual suspects sitting around on stoops drinking forties and playing their music much too loud. Any number of half-dressed children who were badly in need of a bath ran around the yard cursing along to the lyrics while their parents and the other adults around them laughed and filmed them with an iPhone they no doubt were financing or received through the homie hookup. They did this, all so they could post videos on Instagram, like the fact that their kids were cursing like full-grown men was something to be proud about.

I’m a black man, but I hate niggas. And nothing but niggas occupied my family’s neighborhood, and if I never got out of here and got an education, all I would ever be is another nigga slanging and hanging out; not doing shit for myself and blaming the white man for my failures and lack of opportunities. If I could make it out, there was no other reason any other black male in America could not make it out.


I pulled up to the curb outside my parents’ house and sat in my car, dreading on opening the door and entering the house to a permeating smell of greens, gumbo, and fried fish. I looked down at the top I chose to wear. Dammit, all that shitty ass grease is going to get into my clothes, and I’ll have to send not only my shirt but my trousers to the cleaners. I don’t know how many times I have implored my mother to cook normal food, not all that salted up, greasy, fatty chitlin’ circuit shit.

I glanced across the street through my car window and could see our neighbors staring at me. I don’t know if these were the same thugs that moved here about a year ago or a whole new crop of Section 8 dwellers. I got out my car, keeping their gaze as the young thugged out guys watched me. They seemed to be salivating seeing my new seventy-five thousand dollar Mercedes-Benz. I shut the door and hit the alarm.

I walked up to the front door and could hear my father’s booming voice coming from inside. I took one last deep breath and knocked on the door. My younger sister, Michelle answered the door. “Hey Bash,” she said, opening the door just wide enough to let me in. “Eh, Baby, why ain’t you come outside?” a shout came from one of the young thugs from across the street. I glanced down at my sister, whose face had gotten red from embarrassment. “You know those thugs?” I asked. “No, not really. One of them goes to my school,” answered Michelle, shrugging.

Michelle was a sophomore in high school and made outstanding grades. She was a good student and usually didn’t my parents any trouble. Michelle is well-liked and attractive. What I never liked was the attention she received from the jailbird types across the street. Whenever I came here I tried to encourage Michelle to stay on track and keep up her grades so she could get into a good school. Other than me, no one in our family encouraged her to go to college. If anything our older sister Cassie and our mother have told her she go to hair school. Why the hell is that black women always want to push the younger girls in their family to doing hair? Or some other meaningless ain’t shit job.They never told her to do nails or own a beauty store because other people had that shit on lock. Black folk always throwing their money on stupid shit. Sending the money away from the community all so they can wear hair that belonged to someone else.


I saw my father glance out the window toward my new car. Orvel Banks was a big man with a tall hovering stature. Most people look at him and would easily be intimidated by his size and presence. As a kid, his presence scared me and I feared him, for knowing if I stepped out of line at any given time he could crush me with one paw. Yes, a paw, because a bear was what my father reminded me of. He wasn’t abusive nor did he barely whoop us; that was left up to my mother. Dad feared that if we did something that truly enraged him, he’d seriously hurt us with a belt or extension cord. Because of that, he allowed our mother to be the main disciplinarian.


Dad had worked in construction for thirty years. Construction workers, the people who put nails through wood, drywall, lay down plaster and poured cement. All he is; is a glorified handyman. Got a plumbing problem? He can fix that, need your car worked on? No problem, call Dad. What about a new fence? My father could do it. If scrubbing toilets and washing dishes was considered women’s domestic work, then plunging, fixing the garbage disposal, and raking leaves were Dad’s domestic duties, which he did so masterfully.


I can remember being ten years old; I was at a grocery store with my father. He had to pick up a few groceries that day because my mother had gotten injured at work and couldn’t drive. On the conveyer belt were bread, milk, cheese, rice, eggs, apple juice, collard greens, and several packs of cheap hot dogs and lunch meat. Dad gave the cashier his debit card after she ran it, the payment didn’t go through. “Run it again, please,” said Dad. The cashier slid it again, and it was declined once more for insufficient funds. I looked at the total price on the register; the total amount was $23.01.


I glanced back and the line growing behind us, as the people waiting grew more impatient. Dad wasn’t one to be easily stirred, was flurried as he searched through his wallet for any cash. Finally, he pulled out a five and three crumpled one dollar bills. Some of the other people waiting in line started to grumble about us taking too long. “Damn, nigga if you ain’t got the money, get cho’ ass out the line!” a man yelled. Dad turned and glared at the younger man with a wife beater on, cornrows and a toothpick in his mouth. He didn’t respond him, but his stare was enough of a warning to shut anyone up who was thinking of lodging any more complaints at my father. Dad ended up putting back a few of the items, and only kept what his eight dollars could afford; I’d never been so embarrassed in my life. I wasn’t angry that someone had called Dad out. I felt pissed at him for not being able to afford $23.01 on groceries. I vowed then and there, never to be in a position of powerlessness. I promised never to slave away at a dead end job with barely two nickels to rub together. That would never be me.


I watched the expression on his face; the disapproving look in his eye. I knew what he was thinking, but he chose to remain quiet. “That’s my new Mercedes, Dad,” I said. “Yeah, obviously.”

 

I impatiently waited for him to offer more commentary than a two-word answer. After a long silence, I proceeded to tell him about all the special features of the car. The horsepower, handling, system, and about a dozen more exclusive features one could expect in a luxury vehicle. “Does it fly?” asked Dad, sarcastically. Lorenzo, my sister’s live-in boyfriend had been sitting on the couch and began to laugh. I glared at him.

“Is that supposed to be funny?” the question was to my dad, but I looked in Lorenzo’s direction. “A new car was necessary, especially when you barely had the other one for long,” replied Dad.

“Because I wanted a new car and I trade them in every two years. Is that a crime?”
“Bash, do what you want with your money, that’s up to you. I have always told you growing up to save for a rainy day,” said Dad. I scoffed.

“Yeah right. How is it then; that we always had rainy days growing up, but you never had any money saved?”

Before my father could answer, my mother walked into the living room. “Hey, Baby. You made it this time. The last two Sundays, we ain’t seen you.”

“Sorry, Mama. I’ve been busy with work, and I was recently out of town on a business trip,” I answered. It was half true. I was on a business trip two weeks ago but got back on a Saturday night. I didn’t want to deal with my family the next day, so I told my mother I was still out of town. Last week I didn’t come and lied to her that I was sick. I could only stomach coming here once or twice a month, and even then that could be too much.

My mom said she could tell that something was bothering me by the look on my face. I didn’t feel like getting into the details of the problems at work, nor did I want everyone to overhear that I had once again, getting passed over for a promotion. My father would tell me to quit complaining, and my mother would say I should be thankful for having a job. My family was happy with mediocrity and they expected I would I would accept it all the same. I don’t and I never could. “Let me get back in this kitchen so that I can finish up this food,” said Mom, as she turned around and walked out of the room.


I sat on the couch, with my little brother, Usher. He, my father, and Lorenzo were watching Sunday football. The San Myshuno Panthers were playing an away game. You could hear the faint sound of starting quarterback, Colin Stone calling the snap: Blue 82! Blue 82! Hut Hut!”
I glanced back down at my tablet, not interested in watching the game. It’s not that I didn’t like football; I just hated watching with my brother and Lorenzo, who could be quite obnoxious whenever the Panther’s offense was on the field.


“Bash, can’t your job hook us up with some tickets, yo?” asked Usher. “Tickets to what?” I asked, not looking up from my tablet. “Man, to see the Panthers!”  I shook my head, annoyed. “I don’t know, Usher. Usually, you have to sign up long before the season starts. I haven’t gone to any game since last season.”


“Dang, Bash you got a job with all these perks and making bank. You don’t even get nothing from them. You hustling backward,” laughed Usher. “Well, quit skipping school, get a degree and then maybe you can get a nice job with fringe benefits one day too instead of begging me for shit.” “Watch your mouth, Bash,” warned Dad, sternly.


After another hour passed by, dinner was ready, finally. I went over and sat down at the table. The sight of fried catfish, heaps of collard greens smothered over hammocks, mac n cheese, cornbread, and soggy green beans made my stomach turn. Growing up, I enjoyed my mother’s cooking, but I don’t eat like this in my everyday life. I want to keep my arteries clear and unclogged. I watched as my father piled his plate with food; a heart attack waiting to happen. One of these days, he’s going to keel over right here at the table; probably with a chicken wing in his hand.

My sister, Cassie was the oldest child. She brought a plate over to Lorenzo and fixed her kids theirs before she sat down and began eating. Cassie and Lorenzo had been together off and on since high school. They had two kids, lived together, but weren’t married. Up until a few months ago, they’d been living here because for the third time three years they couldn’t afford to pay their rent. Thanks to the US federal government, Cassie was recently approved for Section 8, which allowed her, Lorenzo and their kids to move into a three-bedroom house just five blocks away on the taxpayer’s dime. God bless America. Only here could someone not do shit all day but post to Facebook about “slaying” and showing off some homey hookup Jordans she got her kids so she could “stunt” on her “haters.”

Lorenzo worked; at times. He never graduated high school but went to work with my dad in construction. Work wasn’t always steady for him, and Cassie often had to ask either our parents or me for money to pay the bills. I had long ago put an end to Cassie’s begging me for money and trying to guilt me into paying her rent or other expenses simply because of my income. I couldn’t give two shits whether or not her lights were cut off.


I sat quietly, eating my food as quickly as I could. I didn’t want to give it time for my taste buds to adjust to mounds of grease, salt, and fat that covered every morsel. I zoned out the conversation around me; as it was the same thing week to week. My mom was gossiping about her sisters and their trifling kids, my sister blaming the illegal immigrants for the state cutting the number of food stamps she gets each month, and Dad giving mundane details from the previous week job site he dry-walled. Michelle stayed on her phone talking to her friends over social media, and Usher took a selfie and after selfie, sending off each one to the two or three girlfriends he kept. It was his junior year in high school, and he was going nowhere fast. Usher thought he would be a rapper and his skills would as he claimed: “make more bank than you Bash!”

Usher was cocky and boorish, and unfortunately; not very bright. Whenever I told him to get a college degree, I meant community college; goodness knows he’d never make it a state school let alone a top-tier school like me. My little brother thought he’d be the next Drake. I’ve told him many times, the main reason Drake is so accepted by many is that he’s biracial. That’s why he’s able to get away with having ghostwriters and stealing everyone’s culture for his latest hit. The most Usher could hope to be is a Soundcloud rapper. That’s as far as he’d ever go.


I started to think of an excuse I could give my mother for not coming next week for dinner. There were only so many times I could tell her I had to work or that I was on another business trip. It took everything for me to come here and stomach the mindless chatter, the complacent mindset, and disregard for me and my ambition. I’ve tried countless times over the years to get my family to see that there was life outside of this neighborhood and that they didn’t need to settle for these dead-end jobs that pay pennies. But they all seemed too satisfied with the way things were, and after a while, it would just be me alone in a room talking to myself; no one there to hear me, no one there to care.

Check out the biography of Bash and other main characters here.

Author’s Note: It just should be noted that I am aware, some may not like the representation of Bash’s older sister Cassie (who isn’t a main character) being on gov’t assistance. Often we see these images presented with the face of black women when that is not the case as statistics show others get more gov’t help than blacks. As you can see, while Bash’s family is working class, his parents do own their own home and have jobs. I would never look down on my own people, but I wanted to make a story based on the reality of many people. You will see that there are well to do black people in this story and in my past stories. I have characters from all social classes. The truth of the matter is, when I was very young, my mother had to get assistance for us even though she worked, my father wasn’t around. The fact is a lot of people (White, Black, Latino, Asian) in this country are classified as “working poor” they have jobs, but can’t afford the basic necessities of life.  Some characters and storylines will not sit well with all people who read it, and that is fine. I’ve always said there would be things people may not like, but I wanted to write a story that in some ways reflected some of my past experiences and those around me or people I’ve known and those who I come up with in my head. Thanks for reading and I’m always open to feedback.

 

Check us out on Facebook for cc and story updates. Come and join our group. SOCS

 

Will Ayana Dinha Survive The Game of Power?

Ayana has the Family Aspiration

Ayana’s traits are: Good, Family-Oriented, and Cheerful

Introducing Ayana Dinha

Ayana Dinha is a former top fashion model who founded S.H.E magazine, an online publication shortly after she retired from full-time modeling. Ayana has always wanted something she could build from the ground up and make a success of it. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia before immigrating with her family to the United States at five years old. Ayana’s parents, Ahmed and Faizah Tesfaye have successful careers in the STEM field, and her siblings are headed along the same path.

The Tesfayes didn’t approve her choice to quit college midway through her freshman year to become a full-time model. They thought she’d come to her senses once she told them she had retired from the business, but they were appalled once their daughter told them of her plans to sink most of her savings into a fashion and lifestyle magazine. Ayana is very sensitive to her parent’s feelings, but it would be hard for her to live the life they want for her when she’s always dreamed of publishing her own magazine.

Everything Ayana makes from ad revenue goes back into the magazine. If it weren’t for her best friend and fellow editor, Parminder Patel who comes from a wealthy Punjabi family, giving her money each month, Ayana would not be able to keep a roof over her head. The Tesfayes have money, but they refuse to support Ayana in what they see as foolishness. Ethiopians are very proud people, so when Ayana began working for different fashion houses scantily dressed, she brought shame on her family. Her father didn’t even speak to her for nearly a year once she dropped out of college.

Ayana’s greatest fear is that her magazine will fail and prove her parents and other family members right. When she came over to the US, Ayana dived right into American culture, particularly Black American culture, so much, so she saw it as more of her own than the Ethiopian culture she was born into. Ahmed and Faizah were distraught when they saw their middle daughter turning her nose up at their customs and ways. They didn’t approve of the American guys she brought home during high school nor most of her friends. Ayana even stopped speaking their language to her parents, breaking her mother’s heart. It’s not easy for Faizah to talk to her daughter, she doesn’t get why Ayana can’t be like her sister, Fana and do what is expected of her. Faizah suffered immensely to get to where she is today and never wanted her daughters to go through what she did before she left home. Now that Ayana is throwing her life away, it’s a slap to her face for all of her hard work.

One thing Ayana has always had a talent for was getting men to fall at her feet. She learned from an early age how easy it was for boys to men to throw themselves at her and do just about anything to please her. She desires to have true love in her life, but she is never sure if a man is dating her purely based on what is on the outside. More than one gentlemen of means have offered to give her magazine the exposure it desperately needs. Ayana’s beauty is her asset, but it is also a hindrance in many ways because men find out that she’s in great need of help, help only they can give her, so they use it as a possible opportunity to bed her. However, Ayana’s beauty could be the only card she has to play. If she sacrificed her integrity, how could she look at herself in the mirror each day? Would the ends justify the means if it meant getting what she wanted; fame and success?

Ayana considers herself to be a classic model and she prefers the tried and true institutions and platforms of high fashion. Now, every Instagram girl claims to be a model. Ayana could not be more disgusted with the barrage of IG models, the ones with silicone butt implants, filtered pictures and several pounds of makeup. Whatever happened to real and natural beauty? Not only are the social media girls’ platforms getting larger by the day, but designers are also now flocking to many of them to wear their clothes or sign a branding deal with them. S.H.E and Ayana’s personal Instagram doesn’t even have as many followers as many of the “models” that are getting exposure and attention Ayana feels her magazine should be getting. She gets it, most of the people who follow those girls, are young everyday round-the-way girls, who believe with weave, ass shots, and good Facetune, they too could get millions of followers and get paid by companies eager to endorse them. Their looks and “beauty” isn’t anything special nor is it natural. Ayana was blessed with exquisite natural beauty that millions of women and girls pay thousands of dollars for. She embraces her looks and knows many women covet her features, so she doesn’t feel guilty for making money off her own vanity and allowing her to step into spaces most people could only dream about.

Every day it’s a struggle for S.H.E as Ayana fights for designers to send over their creations for a review, getting companies to advertise on the website, and fighting with Parminder about the content they should be showcasing. Parminder knows that Ayana needs to get her head out of the clouds; thinking S.H.E will be on the same level as Vogue or ELLE. If Ayana wants to get more viewership, she is going to have to market to the online social media crowd, no matter how much it pains her to do so. Ayana has a lot of pride and doesn’t want to sully her brand with the IG aesthetic, but her tunnel vision only allows her to focus on the more low brow side of social media modeling.

As an idealistic person and purist, Ayana’s methods are not cutting it in the cutthroat world of fashion publishing. She could barely deal with the backstabbing when she was a model. Usually, she has been the type to stick her head in the ground when she didn’t want to deal with something or give up when the fight got too tough. Ayana refuses to give up her dream, but if she doesn’t start getting in the game, making the right connections with the power players that can get her what she needs, Ayana will inevitably fail, and her family would look at her as the disappointment they believe she is.

One thing is for sure, if Ayana is unwilling to put her game face on and make changes to take S.H.E to the next level, she’ll pass on her one chance at success and lose the game. A lot of other players are more skilled than her, and they are willing to do whatever it takes, no matter what; something she may not be cut out for. As Ayana will soon begin to discover as her ambitious drive grows, she could be capable of almost anything to get what she wants. The world is waiting to see if Ayana can step up and survive the game of power.

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Rico Thomas, The Ruthless Pragmatic Player of the Game of Power

 

Rico has the Knowledge Aspiration

Rico’s traits are: Ambitious, Self-Assured, and Insider

I do understand power, whatever else may be said about me. I know where to look for it, and how to use it.”

-President Lyndon B. Johnson.

LBJ’s words here are true for Rico Thomas. He adheres to that truth each day. Like LBJ, Rico doesn’t gain his power through ideal tactics and what is considered morally right in the eyes of many (depending on who’s the observer). For someone who knows very few things in life are black and white, the ends will justify the means. It’s essential to Rico to set goals and achieve them by the best means possible, not by “any means necessary,” because not all means are the smartest and “any” leaves one open to considering some less than smart options.

Rico is the CEO of Thomas Global Strategies, a consulting firm that offers expertise and services for finance, legal, public relations, crisis, management, political strategy, and in several other fields. Rico founded his company and ran it on a much smaller scale when he was in prep school. He has a business degree from Wharton, one of the country’s premier business schools and an MBA from Harvard.

As a pragmatist, Rico often employs ruthless methods to get what he needs and serve his clients. He has little use for emotions when making decisions in his everyday life and business. Rico is highly intelligent, but he’s smart enough to know that he can’t assume to be the smartest person in the room. Keeping both friends and enemies alike in his fold, helps keeps his ear to the ground. It gives his associates a false feeling of security and makes them vulnerable to lower their guard, all to his advantage.

Rico’s motivation for his business is to serve his clients faithfully and efficiently. TGS may be a small firm, but its highly efficient and is gaining a reputation for its expertise. A significant portion of the firm’s clients is connected to the elite Blue Bloods in American and European society. However, Rico himself is not a classist and he believes even empowering someone born into a lower social class than he could be beneficial for his goals. For everyone Rico helps, that person is indebted to him. You may not know when he is coming to call in a favor, but once he shows up at your door, you know why he’s there.

As an apolitical consultant and operative, Rico services both Democrats and Republicans alike. Through crisis and management as well as public relations, Rico’s firm has provided consultation services to police organizations accused of brutality to black socialist groups who have nationally opposed the practice of excessive force and racial profiling. TGS counts The Congressional Black Caucus, The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and members of the GOP as its clients. Through complete non-biased services to his clients, Rico has at times come to aide those that some see as fighting against “his own people.” However, Rico has no shame and no use for it. He doesn’t allow his ethnicity and background to control his decisions. He sees the world as it is, and deals with it accordingly.

Rico is a student of the 48 Laws of Power and makes many of his life decisions based on the fundamental truths of those laws. For if he allowed relationships and feelings to cloud his judgment, anyone would pounce on the opportunity to destroy him and take away what he has spent years building.

Knowing and spotting advantages for power is essential to survival, and Rico will take any opportunity to gain an advantage. He was born into wealth, but his family went through troubling financial hardships and lost most of their fortune before rebounding, albeit not at the same level. Rico witnessed how in an instant money didn’t secure his family. It can be taken from you in the blink of an eye. He has made it a goal to gain power and an edge for he doesn’t want to experience the feelings of helplessness and depending on someone else as his family did years ago. Power itself can be fleeting. You can’t put complete trust and faith into one person or entity. Loyalty only goes so far before it hands you your ass and you’ve been stripped of all power because you bet on the wrong horse.

The stakes are inevitably high and of vital importance. As a seasoned and skilled player of the game of power, Rico is good at winning, but it’s not always so easy, and when you’re on top, a fall to the floor is all that much harder. No one is immune, and anyone can win or lose at the game, for the power players are forever changing. Rico needs to make sure he can stay in the match in the growing face of adversity if he wants to win the game of power.

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Meet Det. Bella Vega, One of the Players of A Game of Power

Bella has the Knowledge Aspiration

 

Bella has the Ambitious, Self-Assured, and Active Traits

Detective Bella Vega is the first Black Latina of Puerto Rican descent to named a head detective in the San Myshuno Narcotics Unit. She is highly decorated and has been with the department right out of college. Bella comes from a long family line of cops.

Through her hard work and ruthless ambition, Bella has risen in the ranks within the department. Not fast enough for her, however. She believes she should have made lieutenant already for that would surely put her on track to become Chief of Detectives once the current chief retired in a few years. Bella will have a tough road ahead of her, as not only is she up against more experienced officers in higher positions, but her superior, Staff Sgt Det Hartley Fullerton; whom she is having an affair with is also in the pool. Bella knows she is at the very bottom of names that could be considered in a few years because she has not been in her current position as long as some of the other candidates and she is the only female detective in a historically sexist male-dominated department.

Initially, Bella became a cop to impress her father, as he was still on the force at the time. One of her older brothers, Miguel had been killed in the line of duty the year before she graduated college and entered the academy. She was never good at expressing her emotions, and she wanted to in her own way comfort her dad and make him proud. But her efforts are forever lost on him. Her father, Juan, was a decorated officer when he retired. He never encouraged or approved of Bella becoming a cop and told her to get a regular office job after college, the same he told her sisters. Juan has sexist tendencies and doesn’t believe women need to be in uniform, they didn’t have the strength for a police job, and they lacked logic and ran on pure emotion.

The department investigated for years to bring down a most wanted cop killer, but at every turn, they came to a dead end and got nowhere. The more years that go by, Bella knows it will be harder to find out who killed Miguel. He was brutally beaten nearly beyond recognition once his cover was blown and before they killed him. She has taken it upon herself to investigate. In the back of her mind, if Bella found her brother’s killer, her father would finally accept her as an officer and give his approval.

Not only has Bella had to deal with sexism at her job, but the more covert racial microaggressions by some officers on the force with her. The San Myshuno Police Department has recently made more of an effort to recruit officers of color to bring into the unit, hoping to ease the very tense race relations between the Black and Latino communities. There are some who feel as Bella received her promotion because she was a double minority- a woman and a person of color. Bella is not interested in the racial politics of the department. While some officers do hold prejudice views, it’s not all, and of the ones who have been passive aggressive with Bella and other officers of color, Bella gives it right back to them and doesn’t take the bull people try to throw her way. She’s not interested in equality for all; she is only interested in furthering her career.

Bella sleeps with men, whether married or not when it’s expedient for her and if it will help get what she needs for her career. She suffers from sex addiction, but as an addict, she doesn’t always need a reason for her next conquest and no promise of favor earned. It was either sex or drinking, and she almost had an incident a few years back due to alcohol abuse, that if she hadn’t slept with one of her superiors, it would have gone on her record and messed with her chances for a promotion.

Bella’s married, lover Det Hartley Fullerton has had it hard at times as well from some of the fellow officers. Due to the significant level of backlash the department has received in recent years from accusations of police brutality and excessive force, the department sought to place more officers of color on the force and promote from within their ranks. Some feel as if Hartley was a beneficiary of “an Affirmative Action promotion.” In truth, Hartley knows as a black man and the SMPD wanting to ease race relations; he was given the promotion to staff sergeant faster than was routine. But he didn’t doubt his capabilities because he was highly skilled, educated and he was great at police work. If his color were the reason for his promotion, Hartley would never allow anyone to say that he didn’t deserve it; they could think it, but not say it.

Bella has several personal vices and dark secrets that must be kept. As her thirst for power, respect from her father and finding her brother’s killer grows, the more she is tasked with making decisions that would violate the oath took as an officer of the law. It’s not easy to stop, how can she give up now when so many things have been working in her favor? Can Bella handle it? She must if she wants to survive the game of power.

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Introducing Sebastian “Bash” Banks, One of the Main Characters in Reign: A Game of Power

 

Bash has the fortune aspiration.

Bash’s traits are: Materialistic, Snob, and Ambitious

Sebastian “Bash” Banks.

Bash is an ambitious young software developer for an up and coming firm, Jupiter Works. He graduated from Wharton at the University of Penn and went on to receive his Master of Science Program in Computation for Design and Optimization from MIT.

Bash has always thrived for greatness, as he didn’t want to live the life of his working-class upbringing. He has never held his father, Orvel in good regard. He sees him as an unambitious man who has kept a job in construction for over thirty years; nothing Bash wanted to ever aspire to. He doesn’t just disregard his father, but most in his family who have never strived for the same success as he.

Higher education, multiple degrees, and a large salary equal success and happiness. While the world may look at Bash’s achievements in admiration, the people he most desires acceptance from has never given it to him. Bash is kind of a paradox, in his mind because of their low birth, Bash wants his family to fall at his feet and revere him for all his achievements. At the same time, he has much disdain for them because they always seemed to be forever content with life in a lower working class neighborhood and working low paying blue collar jobs.

The Banks aren’t the only ones that Bash ferociously seeks approval from. All his life, through images in the media and real life encounters, he’s been told as a black man, he was doomed to fail; that his only chance for greatness was to be an athlete or rapper. If he didn’t achieve status through entertainment, he would either face jail through chasing money in a life of crime or end up just like his father, a man who only works six to eight months out of the year in a thankless construction job. Bash wants to be accepted into “The Great Society”. He wants to be on the same level as the controlling elite. To be welcomed into their country clubs, to marry their women, and to command and receive the same respect as the forefathers.

As one of the most talented software developers in his company, Bash has both the education and skills to become a software architect. But after years of being an employee of Jupiter Works, putting in his time and proving his capabilities, Bash has become bitter and resentful as he watched co-worker after co-worker get promoted over him. They didn’t have the education he had and in some cases hadn’t been with the firm as long as he has. The setbacks won’t stop him. He needs to be great, and he needs to be accepted. Whenever one door closes, Bash finds a window. He doesn’t even care how many he has to break, but no one will stop him in his pursuits while he is playing the game of power.

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