Thursday, September 27, 2012

No Truancy In Detroit

As of Oct. 1st the State of Michigan is enacting a new policy for those who receive cash welfare benefits. Their children must attend school or they will lose their benefits.
On Monday The Michigan Department of Human Services will require children ages 6-15 to attend school full time or the entire family will become ineligible for cash benefits. When a student has 10 or more unexcused absences during a school year it is considered truancy. In order for a family to regain eligibility the child must attend school at least 21 consecutive days. This would effect more that 59,000 open welfare cash assistance cases, and 162,665 recipients. The average household eligible for cash assistance in the state receives $463 a month.
This policy was created with the urging of Michigan governor Rick Snyder who called for a crack down on truancy earlier this year and the crime attributed to it. During the 2011-2012 schools years 93,408 cases of truancy were reported state wide. 10,000 more than the 2010 school year which had 83,491 reported cases of truancy.
This new law goes into effect two days before Michigan's fall Count Day, when attendance is used to determine 90% of a school district's per-pupil funding from the state. So this tells us that reducing crime isn't the Governor's only motivation. But, if this policy manages to help the state get funding for education, urge parents to make sure their children attend school, and reduces crime, it seems like it will be very beneficial to those involved. No one should have to force adults to make responsible decisions when it comes to raising children. But the reality is, their are some who are just content with getting by, caught in a cycle of survival, passing this dubious legacy to their children. Money is probably the best motivator in this case. Sad but true.


Fight Him Already!

I've been a boxing fan my whole life. There is something about the primal nature of the sport. It is the ultimate challenge, where manhood is tested, fortitude is measured, and it often comes down to heart. I have seen many a great champion come and go and what makes them great champions is the fact that they took on all comers. From Muhammad Ali, to Iron Mike Tyson, to Sugar Ray Leonard. These former champions of the sport all gave 100% each and every time they stepped into the ring, and they knew that to be the best they would have to beat the best. Floyd Mayweather is arguably the best fighter in the world, but he will not be a great fighter until he faces Manny Pacquiao in the ring.
Mayweather wants random drug testing, and Pacquiao has agreed. Mayweather wanted 55% of the purse and Pacquiao agreed. So it seems as if the only thing stopping the fight of the century from happening is fear. Floyd knows that Manny will give him the fight of his life, and he is afraid to look possible failure in the face, and defeat it. The sad thing is, I believe he can beat Pacquiao. But it doesn't matter what I believe if he doesn't believe it himself.
At first I thought that this was just a grand scheme to build anticipation and increase viewership but, the more time passes, the more I am starting to believe that it isn't. It is genuine self sabotage on the part of Mayweather, and he will never live up to his full potential as long as he refuses to take care of business.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ban The Box

Ban The Box is a campaign started by a grass roots civil rights organization called "All Of Us Or None". The purpose of this organization is to fight for the rights of both former and currently incarcerated people. The purpose of the Ban The Box campaign is to eliminate any questions regarding criminal history on both employment, and rental applications, background checks would not be done until after and only after a qualified applicant is selected. This would give someone who was formerly in custody a better chance at having a second chance.
The so called correctional system is in fact not designed to correct the behavior of anyone who has been incarcerated. Initially the intention may have been to rehabilitate offenders. But at this point it has become a system in which human beings are warehoused, and then released into a world where they are rarely given a chance to redeem themselves. They are forced to wear their mistake like a scarlet letter each and every time their background is investigated. This contributes to a high recidivism rate. Of course their are those who put no effort into being productive adults. But their are others who genuinely want a chance to prove that they have not been defined by their mistakes.
The prison industrial complex is a billion dollar industry in which inmates are it's hottest commodity. With the privatization of prisons on the rise, and states being told that they must guarantee that it's correctional facilities are kept at 90% capacity, it comes as no surprise that this campaign is facing some opposition. Banning the box could actually increase employment, there by lowering the rate of recidivism, and decreasing the ranks of American's who are in custody. A lower crime rate is bad for business when it is depended upon it for profit.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Romney Health Care Solution

You have to wonder if deep in Mitt Romney's subconscious he knows that he is in way over his head. It would be one thing if he willfully engaged in self sabotage but, I don't think so. I honestly believe that he says what he means and means what he says. But, I also believe that every now and then his simmering insecurity bubbles to the surface and manifests itself in one idiotic statement after another. Of course this is just my theory, and my attempt to make sense of his nonsense.
On 60 Minutes this past Sunday Romney said that people without health insurance can use emergency room health care. In other words if you have a heart attack which you may or may not survive, you can just go to the emergency room instead of making regular visits to a physician to treat the condition that put you in the E.R. In the first place. The down side is the fact that in most cases people who don't have health insurance, don't have jobs. So they are now stuck with a medical bill which they are unable to pay.
Governor Romney knows that this is wrong because, he said so. Two years ago when he appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Romney stated that using the E.R. as an alternative form of health insurance is unfair because tax payers will have to pick up the bill when the uninsured cannot afford to pay it. Yet another contradiction, from a man doesn't seem to know whether he is coming or going.
Ever since President Obama made his statement regarding same sex marriage, the Black community has been divided. There are those who are making the choice not to vote because of President Obama's failure to condemn gay marriage, and then there are those who are willing to overlook his statement and vote for the greater good of our country. As American citizens, everybody has the right to their own opinions. But I just don't understand how any politically astute person could make a decision that could adversely affect their future for years to come based on one piece of the puzzle. Many of us have chosen to cloak ourselves in morality, and religion. Making a pious stance based on what we believe. But there is a much broader scope. God has given each and every one of us a mind with which we should be able to analyze, recognize, and weigh the pro's and con's so that when we make life decisions we can make the best possible choices. The only perfect choice that we can make is accepting Jesus Christ. All others require critical thinking. In other words, a republican president is going to do far more damage to the quality of our lives than a democratic President who is in favor of gay marriage.
This is the last time I will right about Mitt Romney. Those that get it will help this country move forward, and those who don't will learn the hard way.

Monday, September 24, 2012

NYC Plan B!

New York City Public Schools have started making the controversial morning after pill, or plan B pill available to its students without parental consent. This new contraceptive makes it possible to prevent a pregnancy for up to 72 hrs. after unprotected sex.
Students can get birth control from the school nurse confidentially as part of the CATCH (Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health) program. This program is part of a citywide attempt to lower the rate of teen pregnancy which leads, mostly poor teen girls, to drop out of school.
Parents have the option to opt out of the program but, so far less than 2% have chosen to do so.
When I first heard this story the "without their parents consent" part is what really bothered me because I believe that parents have the right to know if their children are engaged in sexual activity. Any child who requests contraception, especially this particular pill has probably already been engaging in intercourse. So it is almost as if the NYC school system is helping its students deceive their parents. I hope this CATCH initiative also teaches students about the risks of unprotected sex because unlike condoms the morning after pill does not prevent STD's. It also makes me wonder if teenage pregnancy amongst the poor in New York City is considered a forgone conclusion without government intervention, and if not, then abstinence should be introduced as an option. With that being said, parents who have not, and do not discuss the dangers of sexual activity with their children, and the pitfalls of teenage pregnancy, are somewhat irresponsible. There are some things that the schools should not have to teach our children. Learning begins at home, and these days too many parents rely on the system to raise their children, and in this day and age where one mistake can cost our children their lives, failure to parent can be fatal.

I Write, Therefore I Am

I write 7 rings around 7 moon's, and give my gift to planet earth.
I form art in analysis, and implant rhythmic seeds in your cerebellum.
Because I love it so much I never cease, and I string words with my eyes closed, constantly like I inhale and exhale.
My mind springs with the brand new, and brims the reflection of old, and I flow in waves like mountain springs and faucet water, fast.
When I get weary I move until my form forms my original in my mind, and then I make it matter.
Me being just a human being, who is being true to how he is meant to exist, sometimes makes me want to jump back and give myself a kiss, just like James.
Men known by many other names are just as true, in triumph, and all respect is due.
But I write 7 rings around 7 moon's.


1 Man's Castle

On Dec 6 , 2005 John McNeil 46, a long time resident of Kennesaw, Georgia rushed home after receiving a call from his teenage son about a strange man lurking around their property. Like any other self respecting family man the safety of his family is important to him. When McNeil got home he found out that Brian Epp, a contractor that he had difficulties with in the past, confronted his son with a knife. Epp refused to leave Mr. McNeil's property after repeatedly being told to do so. After calling 911, McNeil fired a warning shot into the ground. Undeterred, Epp then charged toward McNeil while reaching into his pocket. McNeil fired at point blank range fatally shooting Epp in the head.
This sounds like a open and shut case, and in fact, Kennesaw Police Detectives found that McNeil acted in self defense after completing their investigation, and did not charge him. Georgia has a law in place called the "Castle Doctrine" law. This law allows anyone to use deadly force to protect their home or anyone in it from a violent trespasser. This sounds pretty cut and dry unless you are an African- American in Kennesaw, Georgia protecting your home from a trespasser who just happens to be Caucasian. Then things get a little complicated. A year later, Pat Head, the district attorney for Cobb county, made a decision that seemed reminiscent of the Jim Crow South. He decided to prosecute McNeil, even though Kennesaw Police refused to arrest him. The Cobb County Sheriffs department arrested McNeil at Heads urging.
When the case went to trial the two senior detectives who investigated the case, and a couple who say that they felt threatened by Epp when they hired him, all came to McNeil's defense. All are white. Despite their testimony McNeil was found guilty and was sentenced to life in prison, for having the audacity to defend his home and family. An appeal was filed and in 2008 6 of 7 supreme court justices upheld the decision. The only voice that found this case problematic was then Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, who was the only African-American member of the court at the time.
The irony of this situation is the fact that Kennesaw, a prodominently white suburb 25 miles north of Atlanta, where McNeal chose to raise his family, has had a mandatory law on the books for 30 years requiring heads of households to to own at least one firearm. Obviously both this law and the castle doctrine do not apply to African-American's.
It is difficult not to compare this to the Trayvon Martin case. John McNeil and Trayvon Martin are both victims whose rights are not being protected by the laws that were established to do so. George Zimmerman murdered Martin, and used Florida's "Stand your Ground" law as his defense despite the fact that there is no evidence to suggest that his life was in danger. Even though Zimmerman constantly gets caught in lies and inconsistency there is still no Justice for Trayvon.
John McNeil thought he had protection under a similar law giving him the right to protect his American dream, his family, and his home. But the system failed him and there is no justice for him either.
Every time I hear about cases like these it makes me think that my pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness as an African-American in this country is at someone else's descretion, severely limited by a racist system that alters laws by interpretation and applies them without objectivity. This sends a dangerous message, black life has no value in America, or at least not as much value as the lives of those who are not African-American. Actions speak louder than words, and the fact that the McNeil case has gotten very little media attention makes me suspect that there may be a concerted effort to prevent his struggle from playing out on the national stage, in hopes that this story will fade away behind bars with Mr. McNeal. Sometimes I wonder if justice can see right through her blindfold.


Friday, September 21, 2012

New Life!

A few months ago I lost someone that I love and respect, and it has been really tough for all of us. There are still moments that the present seems surreal and the past seems like a more comfortable place to be. My children, and my nephew ask questions that we struggle to answer, as we try to return to normalcy. But we take comfort in knowing that while our loved one is gone away from us, he is in a better place where sickness and pain give way to joy and happiness. Those of us who are saved, as my loved one was, know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, and we find new life in heaven. Although the hurt is still there we know that he is in a better place, and we know that if we continue to follow a Christian path we will see him again one day. Knowing that we will make it to heaven is one of the best parts of being a Christian. Getting our reward is part of a job on earth well done. Everybody doesn't make it in. So being a Christian is like being part of an elite group of people. Those who believe that they have been born again, and have brand new life even in death. Amen!


They Make Me Better

Ever since I was a little boy I've known two things. I knew that I wanted to be a father, and I knew that I wanted to get married. Of course when your 5, of 6 years old you really have no idea what a big responsibility either one of those is. But that was really all that I saw around me. My parents, and just about all of my aunts, my uncles, and cousins, got married and had kids. It just seemed like what I was supposed to do.
Many years, 1 wife, and 3 kids later I have come to realize that raising children is one of the few things in my life that is an even better experience than I imagined. Keep in mind that better does not necessarily mean easy. It just means that there was a time when I looked into the eyes of my oldest child and wondered if I could do it. I had aspirations of raising my son to be the perfect man, and then raising my daughters to be perfect women, but I realized one day that I have no idea what perfect actually is because I am not perfect and neither is anyone else. So my expectations, both in my own ability as a father, and in my children, though well intentioned, were unreal.
The best that I can do is try to raise them to be exceptional, productive, people and in doing so I have found out that each one of my children have their own unique strengths, and flaws. I love cultivating those strengths and helping them work on their flaws.
The one thing that I never imagined was that being a father would make me a better man. My children study everything that we do. The reason I use the word study is because all three of them pay close attention to our actions and then emulate us in some ways. Actions, words, and deeds are all fair game. I do not take my job as a father/role model lightly because I know that once I send my children out into the world they are a direct reflection of home. Knowing this, I strive to teach them sometimes, without even saying a word. I let my actions speak for themselves. My daughters never see me doing anything but honoring and respecting their mother, so that they have an idea of how a man should treat them, and my son always sees me conducting myself as an honorable, responsible man. So that he knows all that a man is, and should be. It is never enough for me to tell them how to behave. I must be an example of that behavior. This forces me to be a better man because the stakes are higher and their ability to thrive hangs in the balance. They have taught me things about myself that I could have never learned without them, and I will continue to teach them things about themselves that they could have never learned without me.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Son Or Husband?

The relationship between a mother and son is like no other. My mother went home to be with the Lord 26 years ago, and in many ways I am still a "Mama's Boy". Raising a son gives a mother insight into manhood, and it gives them a chance to learn about the male dynamic in a way that is just not possible when they are dealing with other males. They have access to an unadulterated, honest portrayal that is more pure and reflective of male development. The nurturing is different. Women know all about what it is like to be a little girl, so while there are nuances, it is still somewhat familiar territory when raising one. I think there is a tendency for a mother to coddle her son as oppose to a father. Most men realize that simply being a productive man in today's society has it's own set of unique challenges. Challenges that, no matter how wonderful a Mom a young man might have, just will not allow her to convey the particular skill set necessary to not only survive, but thrive in sometimes harsh world. So the instinct is to protect rather than to prepare, and with the number of single parent household's higher than it has ever been, often times there is no father or father figure present to help a young man spread his wings. In the absence of a father a lot of boys end up becoming both the man of the house, and a substitute husband for the mother who has dedicated her life to raising him. These children quite often become their mother's best friends and confidant's, and are really nothing but little boys who find themselves filling the shoes of grown men by default. Although unintentional some mothers treat their son's as equal's allowing them to make their own decisions way before they are equipped to do so.
On my son's team there are two mother's who each bring a son, and two father's who each bring a son, including myself. All four of our son's had a tough time in the beginning because they wanted to be on the team but had no idea what was required. My son is a few years in, and going strong. I realize there may have been times when he wanted to quit but he knows that winner's never quit because I tell him that a true man never gives up. The other young man who is accompanied by his father has always struggled and has continued to struggle but never gives up, and never complains. The other two boys who were brought to practice by their Mom's, struggled, complained to the coach and their mother's and just stopped coming all together after a few practices, driven home by sympathetic women with looks of pity in their eyes.
So these prepubescent young men are taught to give up when the going gets tough. Over the past few years I have seen a lot of young men come and go, and while I don't know what the reasons were, I know what I observe.
My purpose in writing this is not to beat up on single mothers because there are those who manage to raise son's who grow up to be productive citizen's despite adversity. The fact of the matter is, if more men were willing to participate in raising their children this would be much less of an issue. But, on the other hand there are women who deny men the right to parent, and participate in their sons development. There has to be a common ground, and these young men should be the #1 priority.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

From Classmate To Inmate

This sounds like a conspiracy theory. That's what I thought when I first heard about the school to prison pipeline. I thought that it might be a far fetched story filled with outlandish accusations that could not possibly be true. But, the difference between theory and reality is facts. While I was never under the impression that the system was designed for African-American's to prosper, I had not anticipated such a blatant attempt to stymie our progress.

The school to prison pipeline is a disturbing national trend in which schools in poor, urban areas are taking a zero tolerance stance when it comes to discipline. As a result children are being arrested for what were once considered minor infractions, charged, and then funneled through the juvenile or criminal justice system. These children are overwhelmingly poor, African-American, and in some cases disabled.

Last month officials in Lauderdale, Mississippi were being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for operating a school to prison pipeline. This violates the constitutional rights of students by incarcerating them for school disciplinary infractions as minor as "defiance". The agencies Civil Rights Division has threatened to file a Federal Lawsuit against the state if it did not agree to take part in meaningful negotiations within 60 days to end the violation of these students constitutional rights.
Three 9 year-old girls, and one 8 year-old boy were handcuffed and arrested at Morrell Park Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland, after allegedly being involved in a fight. They were then kept in a holding cell for 12 hours. The 4 children were charged with aggravated assault, and despite the outrage from both parents and the ACLU The Baltimore Police Department reserved the right to handcuff, any individual who has been placed under arrest regardless of age.
If this had been done years ago we would have all been arrested. Who hadn't had to defend themselves at least once in school?

In related news, The Corrections Corporation of American, the nations largest private prison company, has reached out to 48 states offering to buy and manage their penitentiaries at a lower cost, as part of a $250 million plan. The catch, the states, if interested, must agree to a 20 year contract, and the prisons must be kept at 90% capacity. So far Ohio is the only state to take advantage of the offer.
The question that we must ask ourselves is how any state could possibly guarantee a 90% incarceration rate? In order for such a guarantee to be made there would have to be a broad effort to increase the ranks of those who are incarcerated, and or insure that once released, former felons become habitual offenders. A school to prison pipeline is nothing more than a fast track to institutionalized slavery where African-Americans children are groomed to become, and remain state property for state profit. So it appears that crime really does pay, if you can sell or purchase a penitentiary.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Out Of Touch and Running Out Of Time

We have all been watching the Mitt Romney Show for months now, and as much as I would love to categorize his unending series of gaffs as a sitcom, it has just as many elements of tragedy.
He has become his party's worst nightmare. Although they know that he is mediocre at best, they still hoped that he would be conservative both in his ideas, and his sound bites. But unfortunately he is neither. Instead he has become the male version of Sarah Palin, an out of control knit-whit who has no idea when to shut up. That is both comedy, and the tragedy.
When asked in a recent interview earlier this week what he believed constitutes being middle class. Romney stated that those who make a salary of at least $250,000 a year are the middle class. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the range for middle class income is $36000-$56000 per year. I guess having a net worth of $500 million makes $250,000 a year seem middle class. Talk about being out of touch. The salary of the average U.S. citizen doesn't come close to that figure.
In a recent meeting with millionaire contributors Romney was quoted as saying, 47% of the people in the U.S. do not pay taxes, have a since of entitlement, and are looking for government hand outs. He then went on to say that these are not the people that he is concerned with. The ironic thing is that the majority of those who benefit from "entitlement programs" are Caucasian American's, and they make up a significant portion of that 47%. Those who do not pay taxes are the elderly, or the unemployed. Some of these people are his voting base. So he is essentially not concerned with his own constituents no matter what color they are. His remarks, wreak of classism, and speak to a deep disdain for the poor and underprivileged in America. Given the fact that the upcoming Presidential election is in November, Mitt Romney is quickly running out of time to prove that he is a viable candidate who is capable of holding the highest office in the land. in fact he is proving to be quite the opposite.


Monday, September 17, 2012

The Unbanked $

The term unbanked refers to those who do not have a bank account. According to the FDIC 10 million American's do not have a checking or savings account, and 22% of all African-Americans have no checking or savings account. Most live in poor urban areas and rely heavily on check cashing institutions, and pawn shops, for all of their financial transactions. Check cashing places have proliferated certain neighborhoods so much so that they have become as much a part of the urban landscape as malt liquor billboard's and cigarette ads. Such places always charge a fee to cash checks, pay bills, and to wire transfer funds. For example, a check cashing place charges about $20 to cash a $600 check. If a patron were to cash a check twice a month the total amount spent in fees is $40 per month. In a years time that is a total of $480 is spent in fees.. In comparison, there are many banking institutions that will allow you deposit your payroll check for free provided that you have an account with them and some will even allow prospective account holders to open an account with no initial deposit. The same $480 spent in fees could be deposited into an interest bearing savings account or a checking account.
It would be easy for me to follow a familiar narrative, and write about greedy corporations like Western Union, which is one of the largest proprietors of check cashing places across the country, profiting from urban blight, and poverty. and it didn't come as a surprise when I discovered that they use sophisticated software in order to pin point prime locations predicated upon the number of desperate, poor and disenfranchised people, who live in areas where banks are few and far between. Their research has shown that these elements create repeat customers. It is not unusual for corporations to use target demographics in order to make such a determination because their main concern is profitability. There is no doubt that they are turning a profit by taking advantage of those who are at a disadvantage because of poverty, old age, infirmity or lack of transportation. But, in my opinion there is still something to be said for personal responsibility. Many of the people in these areas who are unbanked will gladly travel to another part of town to see a movie, buy the latest in footwear or see a show. But they will not take the time to travel to the nearest bank. We live in a day and time when immediate gratification has become the norm. It seems as if, as long as  needs and desires are met immediately there is no thought or value put into long term planning, just momentary satisfaction and accessibility. Believe it or not there are those who will gladly stand in long lines to be taken advantage of, if it is more convenient to do so. So paying a $25 fee to cash a check is worth it in the minds of some people if it means that it is simply the easiest option.
I am not saddled, and perched on my high horse being critical of anyone, because I've been there. I have stood on line at check cashing places and I have paid upwards of $25 or more just because it was convenient, and I have payed more than a few bills for a fee just because it was easier. But, there has to be a point in life where we decide that enough is enough. Making mistakes is a part of life, but making the same mistake over and over again is insane. Quick fixes are only temporary, and while I do have some objectivity given the fact that some people just don't know any better, there are many people who do. It has often been said that knowing is half the battle. But in all honesty, those who know, and still insist on defeating themselves have no one to blame but themselves for losing the battle.


Proof That Your Vote Really Matters

This year's Presidential election is definitely going to be a close one, and voter suppression is probably more prevalent than ever. States like Florida, for example, have effectively put an end to voter registration drives like those carried out by the League of Women Voters. These drives have traditionally been successful in registering new voters. Other states are shortening early voting periods, and are no longer giving registered voters the opportunity to cast their ballots on the Sunday before the election. Some states  will request that prospective voters have proof of citizenship before they are allowed to vote. At least two dozen states have significantly tightened their voting requirements since 2008, requiring government issued I.D. as the only valid form of identification accepted in order to vote. Each and every new law introduced to suppress your vote has been sponsored by Republicans in the name of preventing voter fraud, which they claim is a major issue.
Between 2002 and 2010 a major probe done by The Justice Department failed to convict a single person for going to the polls and impersonating an eligible voter. Only 86 people were convicted of voter fraud out of 300 million votes cast, and the majority were either felons or immigrants who were simply not aware of their ineligibility.The fact that laws are being enacted just to discourage your vote is proof positive that it is valuable, and the fact that some states are going to greats lengths to suppress our vote speaks volumes.
On August.6, 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law. This law applied a nationwide prohibition against the denial of anyone's right to vote, as specified in the 15th amendment which had been in place since the end of the Civil War. Before the voting rights act African-Americans were not allowed to vote simply because of the color of their skin and were often made to take literacy tests, and "good character" tests which were easily manipulated. After the act was passed into law, special provisions had to be made in certain southern jurisdictions in order to prevent such outlandish caveats from being used in order to discourage African-Americans from voting. In the summer of 1964 The NAACP, and the Southern Leadership Conference organized voter registration drives in the south because civil right leaders realized that African-Americans were most often adversely affected because of their lack of political representation. These registration drives were often met with intimidation, violence, and murder. Too many people paid the ultimate price for us to have the right to vote, and if we do not participate in this basic human right that they fought so hard to gain, it dishonor's  their memory.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Top 10 Blessings

Some of us spend so much time worrying, that we don't take a moment to think about or appreciate the blessings in our lives. We must be careful not to let our problems and worries consume us.
Having a refrigerator and a pantry full of food in a day and age when some people are on the streets begging for a meal.
Having a job that helps me keep the refrigerator and pantry full of food.
Being in my right mind, and being strong enough to stay that way.
Having a nice house, in a quiet neighborhood with electricity, gas, and water. Some people in other parts of the world just don't have these things.
I not only have a vehicle to get me and my family where we need to go, but I have 2 to choose from.
I have life, good health, and strength.
I woke up another day, and started it with brand new mercy.
I have 3 healthy, beautiful children.
I am blessed with a healthy, intelligent, supportive, and gorgeous wife, who takes good care of me and our children.
Most of all, it is a blessing to have Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior, because some don't know him and some never will.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

7 More Things That Really Annoy Me

People who speak to you one day but, say nothing the next day. Either you like me or you don't. Either you want to be friendly, or you're not. If you can't speak every day, don't speak to me at all.
Server's in restaurants who are not good at serving and still expect a tip. It shouldn't take 15-20 minutes to bring my son a straw, and how hard is it to remember that I wanted onion rings instead of fries?
Smart cars. They are obnoxious, little conversation pieces.
The fact that Kim Kardashian thinks that what she does is really considered a career.
The fact that some of you who are reading this probably think that what she does is considered having a career.
Gas prices going up and down even though this country reportedly has millions of barrels in reserve. $3.85 a gallon, really?! When I got my license, gas was just 80 cents a gallon. You could get gas, go see a movie, buy lunch, and still have enough money left to buy fat laces for your shell top Adidas. With $30!
Calling customer service and not being able to get a human on the phone. Sometimes I think the object of the game is to keep a me on hold just long enough to frustrate me and make me hang up. I guess that is why they sound so shocked when they say hello 25 minutes later, and I'm still there.


Elmer Fudd For President

I love being right but, who doesn't? For the past few month's I've been telling just about everyone I know that the Republican's and conservatives are not voting for Romney but, they are voting against President Obama. Some thought it was double talk. While others wondered what the difference is. Well as it turned out, Rush Limbaugh, radio host, political commentator, attention seeking clown, and de facto head of the Republican Party confirmed my suspicions. Earlier this week in a rare moment of honesty, Limbaugh expressed the frustration of the party on his syndicated radio program by saying that Mitt Romney needs to realize that this election is not about him, but it is about getting Obama out of the White House. Limbaugh went on to say that they wouldn't care if Elmer Fudd ran against Obama as long as he won the election.
The GOP, which was never thrilled with Romney to begin with, has apparently grown tired of Romney's "flip flopping". His latest, is the fact that he once said that he would do away with Obama Care in totality. Now he says that he will keep part of the program in place. Republican's and Conservatives alike are watching their party implode at the hands of Mitt Romney, and there is really nothing they can do about it.
If I were a Republican, or a Conservative, I would feel anger, betrayal, and I would be deeply disappointed. It is a sad state of affairs when the political party that you chose to be affiliated with takes one of the most sacred rights that you have being part of a democracy for granted. Your right to vote for a candidate who accurately represents your values. Limbaugh's statement made one thing clear. The party is willing to sacrifice the well being of its constituents in order to satisfy their long standing vendetta against Barack Obama. The truth is, given the fact that the President's approval ratings are up, and both Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, are both habitual liar's, the GOP needs to give serious thought to whom they will nominate in 2016.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Why Black Love Is Important?

If you were to write a list of each and every show on TV you would be hard pressed to find positive relationships involving African-American's, and no programming celebrating Black love. While it is very important for our children to see loving relationships in our homes, in a media driven society in which our youth are constantly bombarded with negative messages and imagery, it is equally important that our examples are reinforced. Especially given the fact that the majority of our children probably watch TV more than they watch us.

Love does not begin with penetration and end with ejaculation. Love does not mean planting your seed inside of any woman who spreads her legs for you. Love is not an open hand slap when your frustrations become too much to bare. Love is making her yours in the eyes of God, and the world, giving her your last name, and no longer playing childish games. Love means loving her even when she is not easy to love and still being by her side when she is.
Love does not begin when you spread your legs and let him in, and end after shallow minutes of pleasure. Love does not mean that every man who peaks your interest becomes the next one in your bed. Love should never hurt, harm, or injure. His love should never be something that you have to share with another woman. Love is not short lived infatuation. Love is does not mean baring his child with no firm promise for tomorrow. Love is a man committing to you and you only in the eyes of God. Love is him giving you his last name, and reciprocating genuine feelings, not using you for his personal gain.
Love is a beautiful thing when you recognize it, understand it, and appreciate it. Without these elements it is nothing more than a word.
Black love is important because it nourishes our souls, enhances our lives, and creates levity in our hearts.


Terror On Tuesday

The morning of September 11, 2001 seemed like just another crisp fall day in New York. I left for work, and following my morning routine I went to the store on the corner for my daily caffeine fix. Looking at the TV screen mounted behind the counter I saw a building that looked like one of the world trade center towers with smoke billowing from a gaping hole.
I asked the store clerk what movie he was watching, he gave me a look that I will never forget and told me that it wasn't a movie at all. He told me that there had been reports of a private plane accidentally crashing into one of the World Trade Center buildings. We talked for a few minutes and then watched in horror as a second plane crashed into it's twin tower. First one tower crumbled like a brittle house of cards and then the other followed suit. It was a surreal, unsettling, and awful event to witness. It was later discovered that we were the victims of cowardly suicidal terrorists who murdered thousands of innocent New Yorker's. Today is eerily reminiscent of that day, a chilly Tuesday morning with clear blue skies, and citizens going about their daily grind.
I remember arriving at work that morning and sitting on the roof with my coworkers watching all hell break loose across the river. I remember seeing bits of burned paper floating on the morning air, and I remember feeling like my life was in danger for the first time, just because I am an American. Since that day the New York City skyline looks like a puzzle with a missing piece. A mere fragment of what it once was, and no matter what stands on that site today it will never be the same.


Monday, September 10, 2012

We Wear The Mask

I'll admit it, I am just not an emotional man. I feel joy, happiness, hurt, pleasure, anger, and pain just like any other human being but most times I just can't show my emotions, especially not if they make me appear weak. Like most men I internalize the vast majority of my emotions. This attitude or way of life is almost monolithic when it comes to men. Some of us spend so much time being strong for our families, that we don't have time to manifest what we feel inside. We go straight into "fix it" mode, and we demonstrate our feelings by doing all of the things that a man is supposed to do. We protect, we provide, and we come up with solutions for those that we love. But there are times when we as men feel like we are being crushed by the weight of our own logic. More often than not we fight the urge to appear vulnerable, and a lot of us have been masquerading as iron men for so long that we barley have to put any effort into it anymore. It has become second nature. Our children might cry and our wives may even cry, but as the heads of our families most of us believe that we have to be the rock.
As comfortable as I am in my own skin I still take pride in being a man's man, and I am always in problem solving mode. Whenever I feel emotional I tell myself that my time is better spent trying to find tangible solutions to the situations that effect my family, so I quickly put an H on my back and handle it.
The topic of vulnerability is sort of like a taboo topic for men. We never talk about it, and we never discuss it, but it is reality. A reality that we all face and deal with on some level. Whenever I attend church. I feel the spirit moving, I feel the weight of the week lifted off of me, and then I begin to feel myself slowly losing control. In the midst of it all I see the stoic expressions of other men trying to hold it together just like me. I feel a praise on the inside, I stand in acknowledgement of his presence, and I may even shed a tear but, I never let it all "hang out." My wife is able to manifest her praise for all the world to hear and see. But, I still remain reserved, calm, and cool on the outside, while I shout on the inside. Sometimes I feel like breaking down but I don't, because I know that The Lord recognizes my heart no matter what the world sees. My Pastor says that everybody praises God in their own way, so I remain just as I am. I just wonder how it would feel to step outside of myself and just let go, and I know that I am not alone.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Real Race Hustler's Are........

One of the oldest psychological tricks in the book is to accuse someone of something that you are already doing. This not only creates a diversion, but it can also, when given the right circumstances, exploit the fear and insecurity of a certain group of people. Given the economic and racial climate in this country this time is as good as any to apply such skulduggery. I have heard the phrase "race hustler" frequently used in a venomous tone to describe those in our community who stand up for us. This inaccurate, dangerous, and outright false accusation is often used to disparage the efforts a the few who dare to challenge the status quo on our behalf. The irony is, the true race hustlers are the conservatives and Tea Party Republicans, who repeat the same false narrative to instill paranoia in their followers. The one that stands out in particular is the assertion that President Obama has altered The Public Assistance program, and has made it possible for all welfare recipients to receive free money without working. It is no secret that in the minds of the ignorant and narrow minded that welfare has become synonymous with African-American's. So the subliminal message has been sent. The message is, there is a Black President who only helps Black people, because we are the face of welfare even though we do not represent the majority of welfare recipients. How many times have we heard them say "we want our country back." My question always has been and always will be, from who? These people are being fooled into voting against their own interests and no one has taken their country. They have been victimized by race hustler within their own ranks.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Listening To That Voice

We've all heard that voice in our heads. That confirmation that validates a feeling that we have deep inside. Even though we know right from wrong there are times when we are pulled in two different directions because, our flesh wants what it wants. Do you listen? Even when it doesn't feel good to listen. Do you listen? Even though you're not being told what you want to hear. That voice that we hear guiding us in the right direction is not just your conscience, it is the Lord protecting you. On those days when you're headed home and you feel the urge to go the long way even though it doesn't make since, and those times when you feel an urgent need to avoid certain situation are not just coincidental. It's not your minds ability to be clairvoyant. Your mind wants to do it your way because your way makes more since to you. Our Lord and savior thinks in the super natural which often doesn't make since to us but his way of thinking is always right. Even when we make since, are we always right? No.
As I've gotten older, and have suffered through some trials and tribulations, I have learned to listen. It doesn't always feel good but I know that it's for my good, and I've found out that whenever I listen, the reason always comes to light. It is really all a part of surrendering to God's will and not brushing him off by saying "something told me." Give credit where credit is due and give God the glory.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

What Did You Expect In 4 Years?

In discussions with some of my friends and associates who voted for President Obama, both black and white, they have often said that they are disappointed in him, and some are not sure if they will vote for him again. The consensus is that they expected more. Some African-Americans gave me the impression that they thought having a Black President was suddenly going to solve their problems and undo decades of being disenfranchised. Most Caucasian people that I know, on the other hand, seem to believe that since President Obama got the prevailedge of their vote, he should be some kind of superhero with the power to move heaven and earth.
I don't agree with either point of view. It isn't logical to expect President Obama to clean up a fiscal disaster in 4 years that took 8 years to create. I know that everyone is anxious for the change that we were promised & slowly but surely it is changing.
What did you expect in 4 years?
Feel free to leave your comment on this site. On Twitter @prbrownreport, on Facebook, or send an e-mail to
Check out the following link to see the 200 accomplishments of President Obama.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Recidivism, The Revolving Prison Door

Recidivism, according to Webster's Dictionary is, the repeated or habitual relapse, as into crime.
When I was a teenager back in the 80's one of my best friends was the neighborhood Barber. He always cut hair in his mother's living room and there was always a group of guys that we both knew, coming in and out. We talked about everything that guys talked about back then, girls, cars, rap music, and jail.
Yes, jail! I have personally never had the experience of repeatedly being institutionalized, and I was always shocked by the attitudes of my counterparts who had been locked up on multiple occasions and often knew the law well enough to represent themselves. I would regularly hear adventurous tales of crime, and I was often puzzled by the complete indifference to imprisonment. They would say things like, "I can do a nickel up North, that's nothing." Translation, it's easy for me to do 5 years in a prison far north of the city. For them prison time had become an inevitable way of life. I have always found this attitude both disturbing, and fascinating at the same time. When I was a child there were two things that were taboo in our family, going to jail, and getting pregnant out of wedlock. Both were the exception and not the rule. But today it is quite common to have experienced one or both. Out of the two, going to jail was considered the worst, and if you found yourself in the system it was a shame and a disgrace. Today the Black male incarceration rate is 6 times more than that of white males. What that means is that for every 100,000 black males 4,777 are in the prison system. In comparison, there are only 777 white males for every 100,000 in the prison system.
The recidivism rate of African American males is 55.9%, and studies show that Black males return to jail at a significantly higher rate than white males. It is no secret that factors such as racism, lack of opportunity, and the failure of the system to rehabilitate individuals once they are in custody, have had a huge impact on allowing a one time felon to transition into being a productive citizen but, there is something much deeper involved.
72% of all black babies are born to unmarried mothers. Given the fact that some are girls, and some young men do have their fathers in their lives despite not being married to their mothers, the percentage may drop to about 60% which is still too high.
I believe that there is a direct correlation between the high percentage of African-American unwed mother's and the incarceration and recidivism rates of black men. A vast number of Black men have either abandoned their sons or have not been allowed to actively participate in the development of their sons. The result has been generations of young black men seeking to define themselves by any means necessary. These young men go through life in search of manhood and identity because their mothers capacity to guide a burgeoning man into adulthood is limited. Some believe that money will make them men, while others believe that sexuality is the key to manhood. There has even been a tendency to seek validation as men through violent aggression. But the reality is that these temporary fixes do not heal the wound that has been left by their father's absence, and these temporary fixes are just that, temporary. This search is one that is often never ending, and unforgiving in a merciless world where personal responsibility is the be all, and end all, and any deviation from that value system is not appreciated or tolerated, often resulting in repeated incarceration. There is really no excuse for breaking the law, but just like anything else, recidivism has a cause and effect, and the corrections system will never correct anyones behavior or rehabilitate even one individual if there is not even an effort to scratch the surface. Until then, the system will just be a modern day plantation used for cheap labor and warehousing repeat offenders who will "live" and die institutionalized.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

7 Things That Really Annoy Me

#1. Twenty something year-olds who insist on playing profanity laced rap music at the gas station for the world to hear.
Obviously they don't care who hears it but it is so unfair to those of us who are actually adults with good sense. It especially annoys me when I have my children with me because I do not choose to expose them to such language but they are being forced to hear it anyway. Besides that, what many in the younger generation don't realize is that someone is always watching. The person at the pump next to them may be the same man or woman that will interview them for a job, or entrance into a University.
#2. People who don't use their turn signals.
Turn signals were first put into cars in 1938, yet some people still refuse to use them, and it really isn't that complicated. Left turn push the lever down, right turn push the lever up. There is nothing worse that sitting at a stop sign waiting for the driver coming from your left to pass in front of you so that you can turn, only to find out that they are not passing in front of you because they are also making a turn. You could have turned 5 seconds ago but, you didn't know that because they just didn't bother to use their turn signal.
#3. Customer service associates who call me by my first name.
It never fails, each and every time I get a call from a customer service associate offering a product or service, they address me by my first name. I absolutely, positively hate that. We didn't grow up in Bushwick together, we never played in the sand box together, and we never played Atari at my house back in the day. This is business. So stop calling me by my first name!
#4. People who have tattoo's on their necks and or hands.
I once saw a girl who had a tattoo on her neck that said "pink chocolate."I don't know what that means but, I do know what I think it means and if it is what I think it is.......that's just wrong on so many different levels, and for so many different reasons. Another time I saw a guy who had a picture of a 38 revolver tattooed on the back of his hand. WHY?! What is the point? I used to love seeing people like these two when I went on job interviews because that eliminated some of the competition.
#5. Friends who only call when their husband, wife, or significant other is acting up.
You can go a whole month without hearing from these people, and then as soon as their wife or husband gets fed up and threatens to leave, they want to call and cry on your shoulder, which wouldn't be so bad if that wasn't the only time they called.
#6. The constantly rising price of Time Warner Cable.
Every 2 or 3 months our cable bill goes up $10-$20, and when we call customer service its always the same old story. The promotion, or campaign that was applied to our service has ended, and we are now being charged "regular price" for Showtime, Cinemax, phone, or internet service. The question that I always ask is, why can't my bill just stay the same? They can never answer this question but, I know that this tactic is all about making a buck, and taking a buck from hard working individuals like us. If they want more money from us the least they could do is stop showing the same 3 movies on 10 different HBO channels!
#7. I never hear politicians, whether they are Republican or Democrat talk about helping the poor and indigent in this country. I only hear about efforts to strengthen the middle class. You would almost think that the poor don't exist. Yet there are homeless and hungry people everywhere.


Monday, September 3, 2012

The Sin That Nobody Talks About

I have been attending church my entire life, and I've heard many a fiery sermon preached about the sins of drinking, smoking, adultery, gossiping, and jealousy. But I have NEVER heard a sermon preached about one sin in particular, that is perhaps the most tolerated in the African-American church, gluttony. Gluttony is the act of overindulging in food and drink. If you walk into just about any African-American church in America you will see a fair amount of people who are either overweight or obese, and I suspect this is the reason why I have never heard a sermon about gluttony. Weight has always been a sensitive subject in our community and such a sermon would no doubt offend many seated in the pews on a Sunday morning, but I have always believed that things that are good for you, may not always sound good to you. First and foremost we all have a responsibility to ourselves and our families to treat our body as a temple, that includes the soul that inhabits it and the building blocks that we use to keep it's foundation strong. While no Pastor or religious leader is responsible for our actions as adult's having free will, our physical well being should be taken into account just as much as our spiritual well being is.
It is no secret that obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer run rampant in the black community, due in part to our eating habits. We have been known to overindulge in all the wrong foods at every occasion. The kind of foods we eat are deeply rooted in our heritage. During slavery African-Americans were given the scraps that their owners didn't want to eat and massive amounts were often consumed in order to maintain strength after a hard days work in the cotton fields. These were almost always foods that were unhealthy. Foods like chitterlings, pig feet, fried chicken and ham hocks which were often deep fried in fat and lard, have from then on become staples in our community because they are inexpensive to prepare and readily available. Eating these foods have been a part of our tradition for decades, and our tradition is slowly killing many of us.
I have always been taught that all sins are the same in the eyes of God. So if God looks at us unfavorably for lying, stealing and murder, then gluttony should be no different. Yet, Christians who would never drink, or smoke would think nothing of gorging themselves on soul food buffets, and overeating every chance they get. I am guilty as charged. I am a Christian who struggles from day to day with my eating habits, and It is a constant battle to protect my heart and soul from all sin just like any other Christian. But, the one sin that is the hardest to over come is the one that I put the least effort into resisting, gluttony.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Reality Of Being Poor

having little or no money, goods, or other means of support:
the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor; indigence.
The word "poor" has been misused quite often because we are so privileged here in America that a lot of us feel that the slightest set back puts us in a state of poverty. The U.S. government defines the poverty line as living with an income of $22,314 for a family of 4, and $11,134 for an individual. So the next time any of us feels tempted to complain about our salaries we should remember that there are millions of American's, some of whom are our friends and neighbor's, who can't make ends meet, and have no meat to eat. Some due to circumstance, some due to ignorance, and some due to lack of opportunity. Being poor does not just refer to a lack of finances, it also means having a lack of information, having little or no support system, being uninformed, and lacking access to a network that opens doors and provides opportunity. We all know people who are gainfully employed because their mother knew someone, or a cousin already worked there, or a friend's friend who knew another friend, got them an interview. But if there is no connection, nepotism or referral, then what? Some of the things that we take for granted are the very things that keep us above the poverty line. Things like being able to prepare for an interview. Having proper business attire, having a good resume', or a resume' period. Both of which can be fairly expensive, and then there is the cost of transportation. Whenever I get upset about rising gas prices and having to put another $75 in gas in my SUV, I drive past a bus stop, see 10 or 12 impatient people waiting, and I thank God for not only blessing me with a vehicle, but for blessing me with the means to buy gas no matter what the price. The fact is, not everyone has the means, and not everyone has alternatives that will allow them to stay above water. There may not be someone they can ask for a loan or a helping hand. Not everybody can borrow against the equity in their home because they may not own a home. Better employment may not be easy to obtain if there is no access to a computer. While you may worry about stretching your last little bit of money until pay day, many American's don't have a pay day to depend on or look forward to. So the next time you try to figure out how to put that brand new pair of shoes in your budget, even though you have 3 other perfectly good pairs in your closet, or you try to decide which restaurant to patronize this weekend, remember a lot of people wish that they could be in your shoes, literally.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Murder In Chicago, Where Is The Outrage?

The number of people killed in Chicago , Illinois this year so far is 228, that is more than the number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan, 144 over the same time period. Obviously it has made the news but the question is, where is the outrage? In all honesty if white people were killing black people in Chicago half of the African-American population would want to mobilize, march, protest, and call for federal government
intervention. But, "black on black crime" in our neighborhood is accepted by a lot of us as a way of life. I have to admit that the phrase "Black on black crime" has always bothered me. It seems to have the connotation that crime is a disease, and a problem that is unique to our community. Therefore making a surging murder rate in a pro dominantly black mid-western city seem like it is par for the course. The problem is, nobody believe's this more than African-American's. We all know what parts of town to avoid depending on what state we're in. If you were in Brooklyn, New York there was a time when you avoided going anywhere near, Bedford Stuyvesant, also known as, (Do or Die Bed Stuy). If you go to Los Angeles you don't go to Compton, and if you're in North Carolina you don't go to Durham. If you happen to live in one of these neighborhoods, proceeding with caution has always been and always will be a way of life but, perfectly acceptable.
Apathy has always been a huge problem in our community and it is a dangerous part of our psyche because it signifies indifference. We have become accustomed, just as the rest of the country has, to hearing about high murder rates in our communities. That is why there is no out cry, or marches for justice and peace. To a lot of us the soaring murder rate in Chicago is business as usual, and not our business.