Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Missouri Students Learning From Ferguson and Baltimore

It took a number of tactics to get the administrative body to see that there was a race issue on the campus of Missouri's flagship university.  Let's see...there were complaints, there were protests, there was even a hunger strike; however no action was more vital than the university's football team's refusal to be a part of scheduled athletic activities. It was simply a method of hitting them where it hurts; and the place where it always hurts the most is in the wallet.

During the past number of months at the University of Missouri, black students had been exposed to maltreatment ranging from being called nigger to visuals of feces-decorated swastikas on campus walls. However, all matters that were reported to the school's administration was taken as lightly as a 3rd grade Valentine's Day exchange.  It's been a year since the incident involving Michael Brown in which the unarmed teenager was shot and killed by Ferguson, Missouri police.  In similar fashion, the university's approach was just as insensitive. 

Somehow, the young men on the University of Missouri's football team knew that the movement would be even more effective if they made a statement themselves.  The decision to boycott the sport (which pays the athletes' tuition) proved to be a deciding factor in effort to get the university to understand that a problem does exist on campus.  It's estimated that the school would have lost nearly $2 million dollars had the team refused to play their game on Saturday versus BYU.  One million dollars of that amount would have gone directly to the opposing school. 

It was also only months ago when people were questioning the validity of several protests in Baltimore regarding the brutal death of Freddie Brown at the hands of the city's police.  The questioning ceased  only days after the protests when the city's administration charged the officers involved with manslaughter and other serious crimes.  All it took was the mere thought that the city's own people would be hindering Baltimore's ability to make money from visitors, in addition to the money already lost trying to protect its Downtown and neighboring area.  Quite similarly, $2 million dollars and a solid reputation was simply too much to lose for Missouri's chief university.

Will the racial tension in Missouri cease to exist?  Perhaps not.  Will the university's administration be more attentive to the needs and demands of it's minority students?  Well, as long as the majority of its football team is black. One thing is for certain, however; every Missouri student has now completed an unexpected non-degree seeking course in both business and sociology.  Apparently, when it comes to race relations, the two subjects go hand in hand.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Why We Like Donald Trump...I Think

I was trying to get some writing done at a local cigar shop when all of a sudden, "Hey, did you see the last Republican debate? 
Well, of course I saw the debate.  So did 20 million other people.
"So what did you think?"
"Well," I say, "I thought it was very entertaining."
"Sure.  Wasn't it set up for the sake of entertainment?"
"I don't understand," says the stranger.
"Well, you had Trump standing next to Jeb Bush and Ben Carson.  Trump's slapping fives and ribbing up Jeb.  Carson is trying to spit out words that are read on a cue card in his mind.  Meanwhile, Chris Christie is posted to the far right nearly hidden from camera view.  Rand Paul is debating with Jeb Bush about marijuana.  Carly Fiorina is looking weird in the face meanwhile Trump's on the spot for saying that she looks weird in the face.  I'm tellin' ya, it was good entertainment."
"Well, they did talk about the issues though," the stranger says.
"Yeah, it's a I'm glad they did talk about the issues."
"But still, I think I really like Trump."
"Yeah," I say, "everybody likes Trump."
My stranger takes a pull of his cigar.  I can feel his eyes studying my soul as I'm glued to my keyboard.  "I don't understand.  What do you mean by that?"
I finally look up.  "Everybody likes Trump, man.  We like that he speaks his mind.  We like that he's honest about most of the things that he says.  Americans like him because he's a celebrity.  But still, nobody loves him.  I mean, do you love him?"
"Well, I actually like him a lot," says my stranger.
"But do you love him?  Is he your guy?  Or do you just like that he speaks his mind?"
"Well, I like what he says about immigrants.
Geez.  Well, I'm not gonna touch that one.  "Let's look at it this way," I say.  "I have no doubt that he's a leader.  I have no doubt that he's a successful leader.  However, I do feel that to be the leader of this country one has to have compassion for all Americans in a addition to being a successful person.  Do you think that Trump has compassion for all Americans?  Because you can't have empathy for people worldwide if you don't have compassion for every living American.
My stranger gives up on this one.  "Well, I think he's better than Obama.  I mean, what has Obama done anyway?
Okay.  Here we go.  Well, Obama is the one person who came to mind when I was talking about compassion for Americans. True compassion starts with being open-minded."
"Well, I agree that a president should be open-minded."
"Well that's good.  But can you honestly say that President Obama hasn't done one thing since he's been in office?"
My stranger doesn't say a word for the next 30 seconds.  I can see that it hurts him to admit that fact that President Obama has indeed done one good thing since being in office for over six and a half years.  At that moment, I receive a phone call from my mother who wants to meet me Downtown for lunch.  I excuse myself and take the call to confirm a time.
"Sorry about that," I say. I scribble a web link down on a piece of paper.  It read:  "This is a list of many of President Obama's accomplishments since taking office.  You may enjoy it."
"O-kaaay."  He frowns his face.
"I wish you well in the upcoming election.  And remember what I said... Everybody's like Trump."

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Return Of Kanye

Of course, any writing about Kanye West is an interesting read. I've had a number of Kanye blogs which have been well-supported by my beloved followers. One even suggested that Kanye is homosexual. Well, that just goes to show how hard it is to figure out the guy.  But one thing that is for certain, Kanye West is indeed a musical genius.  He's also one of the most complicated humans we will ever see in our lifetime.

Yes, I watched the Video Music Awards. And yes, I saw Kanye West's reception of the Video Vanguard Award.  He was looking at the audience, and the audience was looking at him.  Everyone was like, 'what the hell is he gonna do.'  It was an extreme oddity at the very least.  Kanye takes what seems like an hour to explain his awkward first encounter with Taylor Swift during the infamous VMA where he snatches the microphone away from her. He rambles on, and he rambles on...then all of a sudden he goes all Kanye 2020 on us. 

Now, we all regress to our normal "Kanye's crazy" mentality. But at the same time, with the recent success of Donald Trump's campaign for president, we are reminded that even the presidency is a popularity contest.  It's like high school all over again.  I mean, the guy isn't serious is he?  Is he??

Well, in Kanye's world he's probably dead serious. We also know that the odds of he winning such a thing is a probability that can only be seen in the movies.  But then there's the ongoing success of Trump. But still, it's Kanye... And all of a sudden, 2016 seems far less interesting.  

Monday, August 17, 2015

Addressing Baltimore: 1200 City Workers Making Six Figure Incomes Doesn't Help

Some time ago, I had worked as a counselor for a major city in the state of Virginia. It was the first time I had worked in the area of local government. I was an eager twenty-five year old man who was two years removed from college. There was much to do then and so many people to help.  

In the first year I received an award for performance excellence, and I am still very proud of that accomplishment to this day. However, all I had really done was perform my job efficiently. I did nothing (at that time) out of the ordinary.  I was actually still learning my job duties. My true difficulty centered on dealing with city employees who were blatantly more focused on receiving big pay checks rather than assisting those who were in need. Helping people in the community was actually the reason our jobs were created. 

When I read that 1200 city workers in the City of Baltimore received six figure incomes, it agitated me somewhat. We've all seen the issues pertaining to police brutality in the city of Baltimore.  We've all seen the poor handling of the matter by the city's administration. Just like most major cities, there are key issues regarding youth education, poverty, and race relations. Yet, the funds distributed to these areas remain few and infrequent. While investigating the matter in Baltimore, I've found that people who are on a $70,000 a year salary are making upwards of $160,000 due to excessive overtime pay.  I have no quarrels with anyone receiving money for a good day's work.  My concern is that there are people in need who are not receiving assistance because local government is improperly handling its resources. 

It reminds me of the time when my department was being audited by the state during an annual review. There was an unlimited amount of overtime pay being offered just to get our files in order.  It was if a red flashing siren was turned on by the administration just to cover our overwhelming amount of negligence. Clinicians were making double and triple their monthly salary just to cover a facade, meanwhile funds that could have been given to the homeless, the mentally ill, or the hungry were never being considered for dispersing. 

Twelve hundred people made six figure salaries, yet these same people who are in the position to help those in need are basically benefiting from other's misfortune. This is what many would call a broken system. Sadly, when I'm traveling or interacting with various people, I often hear complaints that the protests in Baltimore, St Louis, New York and Oakland are all cries over spilled milk. Truly?? Spilled milk?

Why are we so blind to the mistreatment of the many who are in need? It's as if we feel better about our own lives knowing that there are others out there doing worse than we are? I suppose that is a question that is more suited for those who have recently moved to a higher tax bracket courtesy of an inadequate government system. Because obviously there are deceitful activities occurring right under our noses; yet somehow, we continue to accept it.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

3 Reasons Why Nobody Cares About a Meek Mill and Drake Beef

Nah...we don't care.  I mean, we really don't. Of course, hip-hop heads love a good beef every now and then; but overall, no one really cares about a Meek Mill and Drake hissy fit. Sure, the two are super-sensitive grown-ass men who are drawn to attention like a desert horse is drawn to water. And yes, I'm sure Nicki Minaj did voice to her new boo Meek that once upon a time someone did write a few bars for his pseudo-enemy Drake; but still, no really cares about this beef. And here are three reasons why:

Reason One:  We are seeing on a regular basis that people of color are mistreated every single day; thus real news is out there, and the average person is more society-conscious today than ever. Therefore, this little quarrel draws no true interest...well, with exception to the folks who get paid to broadcast (or create) entertainment news. But basically, all of it is sort of unimportant.  

Reason Two: Drake is no stranger to criticism. Not only is he immune to criticism, but he's managed to surpass the kicks and punches from both haters and critics alike. Let's face it, the man is super-talented...maybe a little passive, but he is super-talented. And yes, he's far more talented than Meek Mill. I mean, hey...come on now, you know it's true.

Reason Three: It'll all blow over in a week or two. And after that they'll probably do another song together just as Drake and Chris Brown did after their real beef in which more bottles and law suits flew over New York City than Mike Tyson's pigeons. And truthfully, I'll probably be the first to buy the collaboration album when it's all over (or download it for free on DatPiff.)  Yeah...I'll probably download it for free.

But still, I do give the folks who lurk in the shadows a bit of credit for keeping this "beef" thing going. Surely, units are being sold and people are getting paid; and perhaps the one who's benefiting most of all is Meek's boo-thing Nicki Minaj. I don't know why, but I got a feeling she'll end up with most of the buzz when it's all said and done. Actually, I kind of feel a little sorry for her. For the life of me it seems like poor Nicki just can't get away from these overly emotional dudes. But I don't know; I suppose they're everywhere nowadays. 

Bless their precious hearts.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Wimbledon: Thumbing Its Nose To The World

Don't we simply love to watch the good-looking rich folks as they sit grumpily at those prestigious venues. They may appear grumpy, but in fact they a not. These people are the wealthy few whose images are a fixture in the minds of those who see Wimbledon as it desires to be: posh and upper-class. However, there are grumblings from the country's citizens who would like to see far more than what they're getting.
Truth is, British tennis players haven't performed very well in Wimbledon in years, and the country's people would like to see a change. It is indeed possible to attract more people to the sport. Tiger Wood did just that in the sport of golf, and the William's sisters changed the view of American tennis nearly 20 years ago. Certainly the British can do the same.  All you have to do is promote and advertise. Nike's sponsoring of young phenomenons such as Michael Jordan and Labron James has changed the NBA forever. So why not do the same in England? Well...I suppose that's not quite the British way.
Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates, a media and sports consultancy, estimates that Wimbledon takes in roughly $6 million a year from sponsorship by companies like IBM and Rolex.  Over the past several years Wimbledon has generated an annual profit of $42.2 million.  The U.S. Open tennis tournament, which has similar audience figures, earns $118 million from sponsors. Wimbledon does not deny that it can increase profits by simply advertising more; it simply prefers to keep its level of exclusivity by appealing chiefly to the middle-class and up.
So, what does this mean for tennis fans?  Well, that depends on your perspective.  Certainly, Wimbledon would continue to require athletes to wear lily-white outfits, Mercedes-Benz and Rolex will maintain their sponsorship for years to come, and apparently Britain will always be mediocre at best as it pertains to representing their country in tennis.  But if you weigh all of that with the visual of Bradley Cooper and other super-star media folks sitting in the front row of Wimbledon in their dashing suits, designer gowns and expensive sunshades, isn't this really nothing but a non-issue? Well...I suppose not.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Who Should Celebrate Independence Day

What a great day Independence Day appears to be. It is the day our country celebrates its independence from Britain, and one which it annually proclaims to be the greatest country in the world. Certainly the United States is not perfect, but indeed there have been numerous global accomplishments. 

Great men and many leaders have placed their lives on the line for the belief that this nation had the potential to be great. If that is the case then certainly the mud that stains its red, white, and blue coat should humbly be displayed, and then hopefully mended before washed it away. This year alone has certainly been one to remember. There have been murders of black people in a South Carolina church and churches have been burned throughout the Bible Belt. Baltimore was forced to stand up and march against both police brutality and a government trying its best to mask the problems exposed from its fragile inner structure. Poverty has remained an overwhelming issue, as well as the not-so-subtle injustices directed towards gays and lesbians, and immigrants. In the past six months we have been a country in mourning due to prejudices and hatred directed towards a bulk of its citizens. 

Still, we celebrate...and we should. We glorify the magnificent country that has endured war, recession, and a downtrodden spirit with a faith that this nation can truly be that which it claims to be. It is no longer one which waits on the actions of an ever-active president, nor is it one that can count on state government to effectively lead.  Instead, it is a nation that now knows that the true power comes from the citizens who will help steer it in the best direction it deems necessary.

Again I say celebrate. Celebrate yourselves for seeing this country's faults and acting against them. Celebrate your actions in standing against recognized injustice. Celebrate your open-mindedness as you finish out the year knowing that it is you and your contributions that will make this country all that it has claimed to be. Celebrate yourselves on this Independence Day!

Without a doubt, change has indeed come and change will once again be needed as we the people help this country restructure its foundation. And we'll do it again and again, all for the sake of this fragile nation's often-assumed greatness. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Supporting Rachel Dolezal

"She has to be crazy," they said. "Who would pass themselves off as being black?!" Those were the words said by many throughout the week after Dolezal, head of the Spokane, Washington NAACP, was discovered to have lied about her race for years. Dolezal's parents were seen on news outlets around the country stating that their daughter is indeed not black, and also produced the birth certificate proving that very point.

Rachel Dolezal told KREM reporter Shawn Chitnis, "Actually, I don't like the term African-American; I prefer black. So if asked, I would say, yes, I consider to be black.

The NAACP leader explained that everything she is being questioned about -- her race, her children and her biological parents -- are "a very private matter." Dolezal has two adopted brothers who are black, as well as a son who is of African-American descent. She obtained legal custody of her adopted brother, Izaiah, after he sought emancipation from Dolezal's biological parents. Dolezal also refers to Izaiah as her son. "I am his mom," she told KREM. "I do see myself as [that]. He's not my brother. That's not our relationship.

She has also revealed that she doesn't consider her biological parents her "real parents." Dolezal does not speak to them due to an ongoing legal issue; and perhaps that's why she was interrogated on the street by a news investigator.  

Instead of the focus being on the "crazy white woman" who tans her skin and wears afrocentric wigs and blowouts to make herself look black; certainly credit must be given to the woman who raised two black men on her own and heads a local NAACP chapter. One can easily say that this white woman has done more for the black community than 100 Caucasian and Black people would do in a their entire lifetime. 

So, let's simply leave the white/black lady alone. Surely, she has plenty of work to do.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Police Brutality Exposed In Cleveland And Everywhere Else

Once upon a time there were these musical artists, you see...(okay, we can call them rappers) and they went by the name of NWA. One of the groups most noted songs was titled "F### Tha Police." It was a song popular among many, including street kids and teens, who were attracted to the rebellious words which bombed out of their stereos.  

The group spoke of police brutality on a scale that suburban America did not truly believe existed. That was nearly 30 years ago; and it seems as if nothing stemming from their words has changed since that time. 

Most recently, a Cleveland officer was found not guilty in the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects in a 137-shot barrage of police gunfire. Thirteen Ohio officers fired at the suspects' car that night in a school parking lot. One officer was charged in the incident. His name is Michael Brelo. 

Prosecutors said Brelo waited until the vehicle had stopped and the occupants were no longer a threat when he stepped onto the hood and fired 15 rounds into the windshield.

The judge's verdict for 31-year-old Michael Brelo came after a four-week bench trial on two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams on Nov. 29, 2012.
Brelo was also found not guilty on two counts of felonious assault. Russell was struck 24 times and Williams 23 times.

So, how much more police brutality do people of color have to endure? There's no need to strike up conversation about those who have died by the hands of police in Baltimore, New York, Ferguson, and surely every city where black Americans live. We're now quite familiar with those accounts. 

Still, no one wants to regress to a radicalized mindset such as the one expressed by rebellious, yet poignant, hip/hop artists nearly 30 years ago. However, the more we see injustice regarding senseless black killings by the hands of the police, the more we truly feel like regressing to a "f### tha police" state of mind. Surely by now, they have to understand that...I hope.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Missouri's Poor Handling Of Their Welfare System

Lawmaker's in Missouri have voted to remove thousands of people from its welfare program. The act will force 6,400 children to lose benefits in the first year alone. The new law will reduce the state's lifetime limit for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) from five years to three years and nine months. This act starts a countdown before many will go further into hunger, homelessness and despair.

Individuals will have six weeks after a meeting with a social worker before losing half of the family's benefits. All benefits will be cut off after an additional 10 weeks. In 2013 researchers from an anti-poverty group, Maine Equal Justice Partners, found that cuts to TANF push families deeper into poverty and forces them to rely on charity. Neighboring state Kansas did a similar, yet somewhat milder, act to Missouri's when Republican Governor Sam Brownback prohibited families on welfare from using cash assistance on recreational activities such as swimming pools and movies.

A study which focused on families transitioning from welfare reported that 70 percent of the recipients had to go to the food bank, and more than 1 in 3 families quickly lost their utility services. Such acts as these are part of the reason why the outpouring in Baltimore felt to be a reasonable and necessary resolve. The local and state government had been consistently letting their citizen's down. 

It's almost amazing to think that groups of people in the United States have been deprived of certain freedoms for hundreds of years. In addition, these deprived people (our citizens) are expected to believe that the "bootstrap theory" (which maintains that you alone should be able to pull yourself out of your own muck) is an American manual for successful living. To this day, it is a concept rejected by most university professors and sociologists.  

Only six years ago, many Americans were homeless due to a recession which took years to overcome. It was not government regulations that supported Americans in these dire times but government assistance. It seems logical that people who have experienced tougher times should be able to empathize for others going through similar situations. However, one can only conclude that in order to have empathy for another, one must first obtain the necessary characteristics which defines a human being.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Race Tensions: Will Baltimore Be The First To Change

Much needed protests turning into acts of random violence is something that appears to be a regularity these days.  The city of Baltimore was the latest to record this experience.  Police cars were vandalized and a 7-Eleven convenience store was trashed as people outwardly expressed themselves in reaction to the death of Freddie Gray to the hands of some Baltimore police officers.

Twenty-five year old Freddie Gray died after suffering a severed spine as a result of police brutality. Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts voiced months earlier his concerns regarding his officers' handling of daily matters.  Now Batts has to handle the reactions of black Baltimoreans who are asking for immediate change.

The city of Baltimore could be the one place where measurable changes can actually take place. We've seen young black men murdered by police in states all over the country and no can actually say that "change" has occurred. However, many sense that the city of Baltimore is a place that can be more welcoming to change. Baltimore is one of the smaller metropolitan cities located in a prominently liberal state with a large black population. Each of these factors is an important one if a positive outcome is expected.

Moreover, if a measurable change were to come, many in the city would agree that it would not be because of the responses (and requests for assistance) from black mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake nor from the expected works of black police commissioner Anthony Batts. It's apparent that this matter is all in the hands of the black citizens of Baltimore and the small number of non-black protesters. But most importantly, this group has to survive whatever reaction there is to come.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Walter Scott Murder: Is It More Than Racism?

We've seen a black man strangled to death by police officers for selling loose cigarettes and we've seen a young black man killed by police while his hands were held in the air. We've seen black kids shot to death while holding toy guns and we've heard the struggle of a black teen shot to death while walking home by a self-proclaimed neighborhood watchman.  The result has normally been the same.  Another black man or child is murdered while the killer who has vowed to serve a community is set free.  

We've considered these incidents to be acts of racism. We've also categorized these murders as police brutality feeling that something is wrong with the way the police force trains its officers.  But, have we once thought that these assaults are the result of innate feelings that non-black people can not truly explain. Well, sounds like racism, right?  It always sounds like racism; and it certainly feels like racism.  But can one truly explain how one automatically concludes that the best course of action to handle a child who has a black pointy object in his hands is to drive towards him and shoot him dead?  There simply has to be more to it than racism.

Walter Scott ran away from his vehicle after being pulled over by Michael Slager, a white South Carolina police officer.  It is presumed that Scott felt that he would be going to jail for non-payment of child support or some other minor offense after Slager checked his ID.  Scott fled and Slager pursued after him. There was a confrontation and Scott fled again. Slager then shot Scott eight times in the back.  What logical reason did Slager have for shooting a fleeing man in his back? Would he have done this to a white man? That's something that we honestly do not know; however, the majority of rational thinking people feel that he probably would have not.

Are some white folks truly that afraid of black people? Are some white folks simply tired of seeing black people in prominent positions?  Is there pressure felt based upon the fact that the American society has changed in ways that is far from the "good days of old?"  

All of these scenarios are possibilities, but I'm starting to wonder if non-blacks truly know that these thoughts exists. Nevertheless, they continue to act upon a level of hatred that seemingly they don't even understand. For certain, this is an issue that does not appear to go away. More questions and better answers are needed; these casual murders of American black men is growing sorrowfully old.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Why Black Men Are Somehow Considered More Threatening Than ISIS

Prominent U.S. Congressmen recently stated that the terrorist group, ISIS, is the country's number one security threat. If so, then why have so many black men been incarcerated or shot down in the streets over the past 60 years? Exemplified by the number of police shootings of men and children of color in 2014, many people today consider a 22-year-old black man to be a more threatening figure than a teenage member of ISIS. Why is this the case? Well, let's take a quick look at our American history.

Since the early days of slavery (and believe me, no one wants to start a paragraph using those words), it had been instilled in the minds of slave owners and slave traders that a successful slave revolt would be absolutely devastating. Just like an animal in the zoo; black men, women and children were bound in chains in order for their captors to force their will upon them. Maximized security was a part of life's necessities for the slave owner. To this day, it's still shocking to think that humans would capture and enslave other human being.  It's just as mind-blowing to think that such action and behavior is still minimized in unapologetic fashion.

Nevertheless, slave owners would often remind one another of the importance of handling their slaves. Fathers would tell sons to refrain from playing with enslave children in effort to build distrust for their perceived enemy. Nightmarish stories were told to family members in effort to rid feelings of compassion for slaves. In a nutshell, dark people were bad and could not be trusted. To this day, this form of thinking exists in the core of folks for such foolishness was passed down from generation to generation.

As a result, blacks remain incarcerated at an ridiculously high rate in a country that houses more prisoners than any nation in the world. Unarmed blacks have been seen on video murdered by police based upon training that perceives blacks are dangerous. This is a manner which is indeed no different than how blacks were handled centuries ago. Meanwhile, terrorist groups are recruiting and training soldiers with instructions to capture or kill for reasons chiefly based upon hatred.

How is it that a youth with a gun and a mask seems less threatening than a black youth wearing a t-shirt and jeans?  The problem is that many have been bred to think that way. The problem is that people take pride in being prejudice because somehow it feels good to think that you're better than someone else. The problem is that this belief of maintaining hate has yet to go away. Time has proven to be ineffective in washing away this stain that was created so very long ago; and even more concerning is the fact that we are running out of solutions to resolve a problem that has existed for over 400 years.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Barack Obama: The Greatest President in U.S. History?

With less than two years before Barack Obama leaves his position as President of the United States, the time is approaching when we will be comparing his legacy as Commander-in-Chief to those of other presidents. Of course, there are many who consider his performance to be nothing more than questionable at best. Throughout the years, people have voiced an obvious dislike towards the president based upon race and perceived notions pertaining to his beliefs and values. There have been members of the House and Senate calling for his impeachment; and there have even been people in the media who have voiced a disapproval of him as a father and husband. Despite the disfavor, surely one cannot argue his ability to repeatedly bring about effective change.  Listed below are only a few of over 280 accomplishments of President Barrack Obama.
  • He created the post of Chief Performance Officer, whose job is to make operations more efficient to save the federal government money.
  • On his first full day of office, he froze White House salaries.
  • He pushed through and signed the Democratic-sponsored American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as "the stimulus package."
  • He held the first-ever online town hall from the White House, and took questions from the public.
  • The president appointed more openly gay officials than anyone in history demonstrating his stance on equal rights.
  • He expanded funding for the Violence Against Women Act.
  • The Obama Department of Justice made significant reductions in drug sentencing guidelines for current prisoners.  The final step in 30 years towards reducing the highest prison population in the world.
  • He ordered and oversaw the Navy SEALS operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
  • He funded the Department of Veterans Affairs with an extra $1.4 billion to improve veteran's services.
  • The present oversaw the expansion of the Pell Grants program to expand opportunity for low and middle income students to go to college.
  • He reformed the student loan programs to make it possible for students to refinance at a lower rate.
  • He helped steer the Affordable Care Act which dropped the number of uninsured Americans by over 22%.
Certainly, any reader can take a look at this list and recall an achievement that is not listed here.  There have been presidents who are remembered solely for leading the United States through wars, there have been those who are remembered for being an advocate for human rights, and there are also those known for being a pioneer for economic reform.  President Obama has achieved all of those feats during his tenure, in addition to numerous other significant works. Without a doubt, it can be argued that Barack Obama is one of the most effective presidents in United States history.  However, one most make the effort to remove the disdain and obvious prejudices in order to see it.


Friday, January 16, 2015

For The Love Of Cardale

He said it.  Ohio State's national championship winning quarterback Cardale Jones has told America that he's returning to school and forgoing the NFL to continue his pursuit of a college education. Surprised, anyone? Sure you are. Haven't we all seen high school and college athletes quickly decide to seek the financial benefits of going professional over the pursuit of a quality education?  Quite obviously to Cardale, the latter is proving to be more valuable. 

Cleveland bred Cardale Jones did something that even Labron James has yet to do.  He has proven that he's a man committed to the town that raised him. Certainly, the two are totally different people. However, both are from Ohio's inner city; and both were heavily supported by their communities as youths.  Despite the similarities, Jones is one who sees that an education will eventually take him further than professional sports ever will.

Cardale Jones has shown in his young adulthood that commitment, loyalty and the pursuit of knowledge are the traits that showcases a true role model.  Please pay attention, dear youths of America. Finally someone emerges on the national stage who is not tarnished by a self-inflicted shadowy past, and is worthy of the attention that he feels that he does not yet deserve.

In the meantime, the shoe deals and the Buick automobile contracts will have to wait, corporate America. Young Cardale has proven that the key to success is the surety that you're on a successful path. So, thank you for your service, sir. Already, you have proven to be a huge success.  

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Second Civil Rights Movement

Thanks and blessings to the many men and women who lay in the streets and walked the avenues in hundreds to protest injustice on behalf of the many people of color who were killed by law enforcement in the year of 2014. Thanks and blessings to the people of prominent stature who were not afraid to wear t-shirts reminding the world of the wrong-doing done to people of color by the hands of those who unjustly practice law enforcement. Thanks and blessings to the many college students who were willing to stand up for justice in recognition for the people of color who lost their lives because of the color of their skin. Thanks and blessings to all the people who have taken part in the beginning stage of the second civil rights movement in the United States.

Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice are only a sample of the many black people who have lost their lives due to no reason of their own.  We have seen black men executed on television yet nothing has been done. We have heard the story of black men murdered while surrendering, yet nothing has been done.  For years, black people have voiced that racism still exist in this country; however those voices have been rejected by the masses as the faces of prominent athletes and entertainers mask the fact that racial problems truly exist.  

This letter and blog was completed to prepare my fellow citizens for the civil rights movement which is to come. Please see this concern for what it truly is for black people are still being incarcerated in waves.  Black people are still living in a high poverty rate.  Black people are passed over on promotions and are nearly non-existent in the newest areas of commerce such as technology.  Mexican people are considered a threat to this country as the fight against immigration reform remains a focal issue in Congress. Since the election of Barack Obama, it seems that there has been a pressured vendetta against people of color. How else do you explain the filming of a man being choked to death by police (despite the cause of death being ruled a homicide) yet no man has been held responsible for the act. These stated actions can easily be construed as an act of revenge on the people of color.

Fellow citizens, prepare yourselves for a trying new season for there is still much work to be done. The fight remains for Mexican people who have migrated from the south. The struggle continues for women of color who continue to survive while her children's father remains incarcerated. The war remains for young black men who will always look like a suspect in the eyes of law enforcement. Prepare yourselves for the necessary marches and protests that are to come in this new year. The opposition has an unwanted look in its eye; and until a better fight is fought, that stern look of injustice and revenge will remain.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Missing People Of Silicon Valley

It's the land of the entrepreneur and the dream place for those aiming to birth a billion dollar start-up company. In the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay area lies a place called Silicon Valley, and it is the home of most of the world's largest technology corporations. It has prided itself for being the place to be for venture capitalist and young CEOs. However, these super-rich businessmen and executives failed to mention that blacks and other minorities have an extremely low representation among this group.

Within the past year civil rights activists have pressured tech firms to release the figures on ethnic and racial makeups of their companies. Seekers of this information had believed that this data was hidden from the public. Surprising to most, the result of these numbers perhaps indicate that there may have been reason for the conspiracy theory.

Google was the first to report its numbers on the company's racial makeup. Out of its 46,000 employees there were only 2% who were black, and only 1% represented its technology workforce. Similar to Google, only 1% of Yahoo's 12,300 employees are black; and only 1% of black people comprise Facebook's list of employees. Apple appeared to be the least shameful of the pack with 7% of blacks making up its workforce; however, when you factor in the number of minorities working in Apple's 425 retail locations, that slightly higher percentage simply masks the company's poor representation of the group.

African-Americans have represented every aspect of business in the United States, but no black man nor woman has attained a high level of success in the technology industry. In this recent time of protest for police humaneness, certainly this writer isn't suggesting that racial discrimination is the reason for the misrepresentation. But surely there are talented young black entrepreneurs in the San Francisco area; and surely there are enough venture capitalists willing to give these highly-educated young people a chance to start a business. Therefore, if you shed the idea that racism exist in Silicon Valley then certainly one would have to ask, so why keep these numbers a secret?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Why Ferguson Had To Burn

The jury's decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for firing six shots into eighteen-year-old Michael Brown could go down as the the worst judicial response to racism in U.S. history. Peaceful protest is expected from the people of Ferguson, Missouri; and one can certainly expect that non-peaceful protest will exist as well. Unfortunately, there truly may be a need for both.

The biggest misconception that the general public has about the protesters in Ferguson is that there is a desire for an "eye for an eye" type of resolve. Although there are people who want Darren Wilson to suffer, the reality is that all the people of Ferguson really want is for the world to see that racism is happening in their town.

"We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen." 

Those were the recent words of Michael Brown's family, in addition to a request for a peaceful resolution. President Obama and U.S. Attorney Eric Holder have voiced their concerns regarding non-peaceful demonstration; however, peaceful protest have been active for months yet the jury's outcome was one that many had expected. There is a need for an outlet in the town of Ferguson, and sadly the only one which appears to get the most attention is one of violence. Are visuals of war zone activity necessary for people to see that there are position needs for special investigators to look into particular matters such is this one? Surely, one would assume that such logical ideas would be an immediate response to a police killing of a teenager. Unfortunately, such resolves do not happen in places like Ferguson, Missouri.

Peaceful demonstrations will help bring a conclusion to this dilemma; but they will not be effective until the powers-that-be view the smoldering embers that was once a town's factory, warehouse, or restaurant.  It appears that many have forgotten that a unarmed teenager was shot and killed by a man who was hired to serve and protect the citizens of that town. It also seems as if the jury there had forgotten that the people of Ferguson are no longer going to witness the senseless killings of its young black men.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Why It Took An Army To Bring Down Bill Cosby

The story had been alive for years that actor, comedian, and philanthropist, Bill Cosby, had been drugging women and taking advantage of them. Some women reported that he would pretend to be their confidant and life coach who would steer them into the entertainment business. Other women reported that the drugging was simply his standard method for obtaining sex. However, it wasn't until after the interview with former model Janice Dickinson's on "Entertainment Tonight" did the masses take the matter seriously.

Some people know Bill Cosby from the days of the television series "I Spy" and his creative social cartoon "Fat Albert." But most of America know him as the loving father Heathcliff Huxtable on "The Cosby Show." In addition to those works, there have also been a slew of other television shows and movies which Cosby has starred. In his later years, Cosby has been considered an educator and a philanthropist who has been paid to talk about societal problems in America. Beloved by white America for his comedy and fatherly roles, including one as the popular host for, "Kids Say The Darndest Things," such allegations of rape and sexual assault appeared to be of no interest to anyone. Cosby had already lost favoritism with most black Americans due to years of his criticism of blacks on issues pertaining to education and culture. Even today, more white Americans come to Cosby's defense than do black Americans.

It was only two months ago when another rape allegation surfaced concerning Bill Cosby. The story lingered in the news for about a week or so before drifting away. When Cosby himself requested that he wanted to be projected in social media memes (an idea or style expressed by way of using pictures with captions), it appeared as if Cosby was purposely shooting himself in the foot as the public brought more attention to the accusations. However, when Dickinson recently voiced her opinions on the matter, the issue became a career-altering one for Cosby. The television series "The Cosby Show" alone had generated well over $300,000,000 dollars; therefore those who were financially affiliated with it certainly did not want to rock that money-making boat. But, it was Cosby's request for attention fused with the strength of social media, in addition to Janice Dickinson's comments, that forced TV Land, Netflix, and NBC to cancelled its recent showings. Cosby's new project has also been scrapped due to the popularity of the topic.

So why did it take so long for the matter to be taken seriously?  Was there simply too much money involved for anyone to care that a celebrated figure had been drugging and rapping women for years?  Did the women involved not have enough clout to get Cosby's crimes acknowledged?  Oddly enough, as all of this unravels, it still feels as if we still won't get an understanding of who the true victim really is. In the meantime, let us at least seem content with the idea that due diligence is finally taking its course.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Reason We've Given Up On Keyshia Cole

She has 3 platinum albums and sings in a way that can easily be described as soul fused with raw emotion. Keyshia Cole has entered the hearts of millions, yet somehow has not been able to stay there. Cole isn't a menace to society nor is she an attention-seeker looking for the next opportunity to discard her clothes.  So how could this songstress so quickly fall from many people's lists of favorite people?

Keyshia Cole appeared on the national scene with her debut album, The Way It Is.  She has a total of six albums with half of those selling over a million units. Cole was one of America's favorite star who represented her life, her culture, and her city to the fullest. She is also known for dauntlessly displaying her true self on reality television. But is it Keyshia Cole's "realness" that has placed her in the public eye as being inconsistent, or maybe "too hood" (as if such a term exist)?

Cole married professional basketball athlete, Daniel Gibson, and seemingly poured all into a relationship that eventually ended in failure. She's criticized for making comments about singers Beyonce and Michelle Williams. Her judgement is questioned again when she appeared at rapper Birdman's condo and gets arrested for attacking one of his female companions. We invited her in to our lives and then we discarded her just as quickly for doing things that most of us claim that we would do but probably would not.

I am not Keyshia Cole's #1 Fan nor will I ever be. That title probably belongs to a little girl in Cole's hometown who sees nothing but God's graces when she stares at the artist's postered face on her bedroom wall. However, I do confess to being someone who knows passion personified in a human form when I see it. Keyshia Cole is someone who will respond outwardly (and sometimes publicly) to matters without totally spiraling away from her ability to self-reason.

A similar type of person was introduced to me in a novel years ago entitled The Sorrows of Young Werther, a book written  by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In that novel the main character, Werther (pronounced Vector), would not allow his passion for the woman he loved be constrained. Young Werther inhaled the essence of his love-interest on a daily basis ultimately displaying true love in its paramount. It's a book of which one learns that a closed mouth and a closed heart proves unsuccessful in the areas of true love and conviction. Keyshia Cole is indeed like the character Werther. Her voice is strong and her actions are even stronger when it relates to something that she deems important.

I proclaim that Keyshia Cole is certainly not a "hood chick" who can't control herself, nor do I consider her to be a pampered artist. We need to support her for being quite the opposite. Cole is someone who is simply led by her heart; and surely that's a character-trait which should be respected. Or maybe we should give credit to another of her lesser known qualities: the ability to disregard her heart's cravings when love no longer beckons its way. I'm sure that talent alone should make us all want to buy Keyshia Cole posters.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Key To Handling Ferguson

I'm sure that you already know that there have been recent demonstrations in the tiny city of Ferguson, Missouri. More protest came when another 18-year-old was killed by police only weeks after the murder of Michael Brown. Seventeen protesters were arrested on the 12th of October, and many others were subdued with pepper spray. it was reported that riot police told the crowd to leave, but some 50 protesters linked their arms together heeding the police warning and intentionally walked past a police barricade. The activity gets more unpredictable by the day.

So, how are we going to resolve the matter in Ferguson, Missouri?  I believe that President Obama has said a word or two; and I suppose that Reverend Al Sharpton voiced his opinion, and even Jesse Jackson made some sort of attempt at making himself heard. But, the key to handling the problems in Ferguson, and in all other parts of the country where police brutality exists, is simply keeping the mental and physical aspects of protesting alive. The people are sticking together on this one. This isn't some fad where it's cool to take a selfie on the same street where Michael Brown was killed. This isn't Occupy where we show up on Friday then go back to work on Monday with our "We Were There" t-shirts.  The marches are real, the voices are loud, and the demonstrations will not stop unless careless acts of violence towards young black people ends.

Do I have a problem seeing an elderly Cornell West getting arrested by Ferguson police in his attempt at being relevant?  No.  Do I have an issue with the report that Jesse Jackson was booed in Ferguson after requesting monetary donations during the demonstrations?  Nope.  Did I find it unnecessary when reporter Don Lemon was repeatedly checked by his own people during his Ferguson interviews simply because it was a much needed act?  Not at all. What about Chris Brown's appearance, or J. Cole's, or any of the other so-called celebrities? No. No. And no. We need attention in Ferguson today, and we need attention in Ferguson tomorrow.

Something enormous is going on in that town, and quite honestly, it doesn't matter if the young black males who were killed were stealing a drink from a convenience store or walking home from bible study. The goal is to show the world that it is not acceptable for black teenagers to be killed by police; and it has become very obvious that black people in Ferguson have grown tired of being a witness.  So once again, what is the key to handling the situation in Ferguson?  It's simple: you can show up, you can tweet about it, you can repost news feeds, you can challenge celebrities on social media, you can talk about it in class, you can remind someone that there's a fight going on, you can even share this page. Whatever it is that you can do then do it.  This matter may be a current event, however it is certainly not a fad. The people of Ferguson are all in on this one. It's a city where over 70 percent of the population is black. What else are they going to do, leave the fight?  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Is The Media Raising Today's Black Youths?

Arizona Cardinal's Jonathan Dwyer
The fact that Beyonce's 63-year-old dad, Mathew Knowles, has fathered children from women much younger than he (one while still married to his then-wife) characterizes what many would consider to be trifling behavior. The fact that the Carolina Panther's 6-foot-4, 275 pound defensive end, Greg Hardy, is being suspended by the NFL because he threatened and beat his girlfriend is also a verification of trifling behavior in its abundance.

There's been an outcry over former Baltimore Ravens' running back Ray Rice's domestic abuse case, as well as the Minnesota Vikings' running back Adrian Peterson's child abuse case.  After viewing the public display of these men's negative behaviors, once can conclude that the media is doing something that has been lacking in the black community. They are successful re-educating our youths.

In a time when going to prison is considered to be a badge of honor and drug use is glorified, black youths have lacked the proper guidance necessary to make the transition to becoming responsible adults.  Also, due to the decreasing number of long term marriages and the increase of young people raised in single parenthood, education of black children has proven to be stifling at best; leaving many to feel that the future for black youths is daunting.  However, that notion appears to have changed some weeks ago when Ray Rice was ridiculed publicly when the video of he beating his then-fiancee surfaced on TMZ.  The matter was so extreme that it forced the National Football League, the most visible sport in the world, to be scrutinized for how it handled its disciplinary procedures.

While the poker was still hot, there arose the Adrian Peterson case followed by the poorly handled Greg Hardy case.  Now, we have the case of Arizona Cardinal's player Jonathan Dwyer who was also arrested for domestic abuse. Even middle-aged men can't get away from a lesson because now we have the older man, Mathew Knowles, being subjected to paternity test to prove that he fathered children with women half his age. And to think, it was only about five years ago when married actor Morgan Freeman flipped his vehicle several times while driving with an alleged mistress on a Mississippi highway. Somehow, Freeman's not-so-noble act was swept under the rug. Today, however, such matters are not as concealing.

I can only hope that all of you well-known black folk continue in your ways of error for the sake of today's black youth.  If a good father or mother is not present, at least young people can rely on the people they look up to the most to be publicly scrutinized as a result of their wrongdoing. So, let's give thanks to that aloof young woman (whose name escapes us all) for almost single-handedly bringing down NBA owner Donald Sterling. Who would have known that exposing someone publicly would be one of the greatest teachers to us all.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Black Man Chronicles, Part 1: Living Up to The Stereotypes

We're shiftless, lazy, irresponsible people.  I'm certain that there are at least a hundred other adjectives and adnouns used to describe the black man.  You can find us see us out in the street hustling drugs, t-shirts, or even bottled water. We've also achieved the incomparable feat of occupying the most space in national jail and prison systems.  It is said that we've fathered numerous children out of wedlock and that we have no intention of being committed to a monogamous relationship.  Surely, that is what most of you think; and I'm certain that you have mounds of evidence to support your belief.

If you live in the United States then you certainly have been affected, both positively and negatively, by some plight that has ensnared a black man. Fortunately, I was very born son to a father who had gone only 14 days without having a job during a span 45 years.  My father's father had worked as a porter on the railroads.  He was also a carpenter, a plumber, a master gardener, and a mechanic, all while suffering from the disease of alcoholism. Neither man was perfect; but they were both strong providers for their family. During that time of obvious racial strife, it was necessary for black families to stick together.  Perhaps the lack of job opportunities in areas of obvious racism, which forced most black men to move away from their families in effort to find work, was the reason for the lack of stability in black home today. And then again, perhaps not.

I've never lived in the housing projects, nor did I visit there much as a kid.  The most I've spent there was while working as a counselor for troubled youths when I was fresh out of college.  Men my age or younger were sentenced to prison in alarming numbers for drug-selling or drug related crimes at that time.  As a result, single black mothers were doing everything they could to survive. Some worked two or more jobs, some made money as strippers (which I believe propelled the acceptance and glorification of the strip club today), and others were either unable to work due to lack of child care or simply chose not to work. I suppose the black man's response to poverty during his quest to obtain that which capitalism exploited is the reason why black families still struggle to this day.  And then again, perhaps not.

There is a calling on your life.  There is a calling on every human's life.  Few have met their calling from God. Many of us are still struggling to hear what God is actually saying. A century ago, you could find nearly every black child in the church.  Almost every black family went to church during my father's child and teenage years.  When I was young, we were strongly encouraged to go to the church as well; however, the church looked different when I became a teenager and young adult. There seemed to be less men participation, and as a result there were few male role models for black children and teenagers.  Many men today simply do not feel the void of being fatherless because there existed nothing with which to compare. Many of the "old men" in the church are simply that.. old men in the church.  Either they chose not to get involved in the lives of young males who needed their support the most, or they suffered from a spiritual void within themselves and did not feel the calling to help; or maybe they felt disconnected from the youths and considered them unreachable. Perhaps, the lack of church guidance and the decline in church attendance among black male adults is the reason why young black men have a distorted sense of who they are spiritually.  But then again... perhaps not.      

As I've grown as an adult, I've discovered that there is a reaction for every action.  There is also a reason for every single thing, especially the negative ones.  Though we're led to think differently, we have to believe that the stereotypes of black men are actually not facts at all; there only stereotypes.  And not only that, it seems that we can also trace the origin of the issues that force us to believe these stereotypes to be true; and if we can gather an understanding of the root of the problems which lead to these negative thoughts then it's apparent that we can also develop the solutions to rid them just the same.  The problem with finding the cause of most problems is that there has to be an revealing of the one or ones who are truly at fault.

So, I guess I'm led to think that perhaps there are people who feel that no fault truly exist if there is no one there to step forward and take responsibility for that fault.  And then again; perhaps not.