Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Will They Blame Sandy?

A few days ago Super Storm Sandy hit the east coast, flooding much of New York City, and washing away the shore line in Baltimore, and parts of New Jersey, leaving devastation in her wake. As a result millions are without power, and some families have lost everything. Almost as soon as this storm hit there was talk of the possible political ramifications given the fact that the Presidential election was only a week away. President Obama offered immediate government assistance to the Governor's of New Jersey and New York in the wake of this tragedy, and has been criticized by former FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) director Michael Brown of all people. Brown had the nerve to say that he believes the President offered government assistance too soon. This is the same Michael Brown who over saw the relief effort after one on the worst natural disasters on record, Hurricane Katrina, and failed miserably, costing many their lives. Brown went on to say that President Obama's quick reaction was a calculated political move.
It is an unbelievable allegation. Making such an accusatory statement is the result of nothing more than a fault finding fishing expedition. New Jersey Governor Chris Cristie praised President Obama during a Fox News interview when asked about the President's response to Super Storm Sandy. Cristie spoke highly of the President for his quick response in offering full government assistance in the face of this disaster. Governor Cristie, who was the Republican National Convention's key note speaker accused the President of not having leadership ability during his speech. But it is now apparent that he has had a change of heart. Our President has once again proven that he is not only Commander and Chief, but a born leader who puts the American people above campaign rhetoric. Governor Romney on the other hand has managed to firmly wedge his foot in his month. About a year ago in a speech during the Republic primary he said that all states should be responsible for their own disaster relief, and should not get government assistance from FEMA. If he were President in the face of such a tragedy would not be inclined to help the very people he was elected to lead. His most recent faux pas, misspeak, or just flat out lie is insisting that Chrysler has decided to open an automotive plant in China, to manufacture its Jeep brand SUV. He made a couple of commercial's and repeated this lie so many times that the CEO of Chrysler was forced to make a statement refuting this false assertion.
I've been hearing repeated concerns about Governor Romney's ability to conduct a far reaching campaign because of this disaster, and concerns about voter's possible inability to go to the poll's and cast their ballot's.
I smell a set up. The wheels are already in motion, and I have a prediction...........Once President Obama wins, and he will win, the GOP is going to insist that he was reelected because of the gratitude of those who received government assistance in the aftermath of Sandy. They then will go on to say that voter turn out was lower than usual because of the devastation from Sandy. I'm sure they'll be many more excuses, none of which will be valid but, the truth means absolutely noting to The Republican Party anyway!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sucker Punch

I'm sure we've all seen the video of 25 year-old Shidia Lane taunting 59 year -old Artis Hughes as he drove a passenger-filled bus in Cleveland, Ohio. After being threatened, cursed at, and then hit. Hughes became frustrated and decided to strike back, literally. So at the next stop he did something both shocking and deplorable, he hit Lane with a vicious uppercut, and then he threw her off the bus like trash. It wasn't my intention to write about this story, because it seemed like sad sensationalism. But two weeks later this story still lingered in the back of my mind. Not the story, as much as the reaction to the story. I found the opinions of African-American women especially interesting. Some have come out in support of Hughes. The general consensus seems to be that he was justified in his violent reaction, even though he was not in the throws of battle at the time, and there was absolutely no evidence of self defense. As I peeled back the layers of this event I began to wonder what our society has become. When a women finds it acceptable for a man to assault another women there is definitely a disconnect in some way shape or form. When a man finds it ok to hit a woman it's called battery, and it usually represents insecurities in reference to his own sexuality. Another puzzling aspect of this story is the fact that Hughes felt that it was necessary to hit a woman for mouthing off. I personally find this incident hard to swallow but, I believe the fact that both Hughes and Lane, are Black, makes this situation palatable for some people. It says a lot about how we view ourselves as African-American's, and even more about what is socially acceptable to us.
First and foremost, after watching the video numerous times I would be remiss if I did not admit that I believe Lane played the antagonist, and was absolutely wrong for provoking a man who was just trying to do his job. However, given the fact that she posed no immediate threat at the time, she did not deserve to be hit like a street fighter.
In all honesty, if Hughes was Caucasian, African- American's would protest, and then speed-dial Rev. Sharpton for advice. If Lane was white, Hughes would have never made it off the bus unless he was in handcuff's. White folks simply do not tolerate violence against their own. Hughes would have never put his hands on a white women. Maybe because of the possible ramifications or perhaps because some of us undervalue other African- American's just as much as the rest of society does. Had he assaulted a white woman, you would be hard pressed to find another who would say that she deserved it. So does this imply that we as African- American's hold ourselves in such low regard that it is ok if we commit acts of violence against each other? Or have we become so desensitized that it no longer matters? Maybe a little of both. Indifference from other segments of society is not acceptable but it is expected. But our indifference towards each other is a dangerous paradigm. As of this writing, Artis Hughes has been suspended after 22 years of service, and charged with assault. Shidea Lane has been charged with disorderly conduct. A petition is currently being circulated to have Hughes reinstated by all of those who believe that he was justified, and acted in self defense.
There are a few questions that we should all ask ourselves before we rush to judgement in this matter.
What if Shadia Lane was your sister, your daughter, or your mother? Would there being anything that she could have said that warranted an uppercut. The answer is, absolutely not!


Monday, October 29, 2012

51% Racist

In a poll conducted by the Associated Press it was discovered that 51% of all American's hold explicitly ant-black views. This figure is up from 48% four years ago, proving that the idea of a post racial America after the election of President Obama is little more than a myth. The number of those who expressed implied racism has also gone up from 49%-56% over the same four year period.
The political divide in and of itself is not surprising but the results are. 79% of all Republican's polled, willingly expressed racial prejudice when answering question which measure explicit racism, as opposed to 32% among democrats. In other words, racial prejudice exists in both parties but is more readily expressed by Republican's. The Democratic Party on the other hand is one in which such behavior is frowned upon and not readily expressed because of the stigma attached.
The implied racism test showed that the majority of Republican's, 64% and Democrat's 55% have an implied racial prejudice against blacks.
According to this survey, political independence are the least racist, with 49% exhibiting implied racial prejudice against African-American's.
This poll was taken solely online because the respondents were more likely to express their true feelings on a computer as opposed to an interviewer.
The explicit racism component of the test exposed those polled to a wide array of questions in reference to African- Americans, asking them to agree or disagree, and then measured their responses. The survey also asked the respondent's to associate Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics with certain adjectives including friendly, hard working, violent, and lazy.
In the second section of the test measuring the implicit component, those tested were shown the neutral image of an Asian character on screen while pictures of Blacks, Whites, and Latino's were flashed immediately before the character appeared. This enabled the tester to gage the feelings of the respondents because research suggests that people project their feelings about the photograph on to the character.
This study repeatedly uses terms like "anti-black sentiment", "explicit feelings of prejudice", and "implicit feelings of prejudice" in an attempt to soften the blow because racism is not politically correct in this country even if it in fact is prevalent and does exist. Overt (explicit), expressions of racism, or subconscious (implicit) feelings of racism is still racism. Who are they softening the blow for. It is a widely held notion within the Black community, that certain segments of our society are inherently racist. The political party affiliation doesn't matter.
Republicans who are 97% white believe that African American's are the cause of each and every one of society's ill's. They believe that we are social leeches in search of a hand out. As evidenced by Mitt Romney's 47% comment. His statement was far more than the inane rambling of an elitist opportunist. But he most likely espoused the views of many in his party, rich and poor.
The vast majority of Caucasian Democrat's and Liberal's see the African-American community as little more than a progressive cause which they can use for a dual purpose. To assuage their "guilt", and rebel against their peers and family. There are some who actually have good intentions but, their inability to identify with African- American's is a hinderance to any well intentioned efforts. Racism and prejudice are not just learned behavior. We are all affected by cultural conditioning in some way, shape, or form. Those who are not conscious of the behavior and perpetuate it are, in a sense, doing what comes naturally. This does not make it right by any means. The one thing that segment's of both of these parties have in common is that fact that they hoped the election of President Obama would keep us quiet, stop us from playing the race card, and keep them from having to walk on proverbial egg shells around us in the process. This is the reason for the spike in racism in the past four years. They feel more comfortable in being who they are in what they think is this new "post racial America" because Barack Obama being elected some how leveled the playing field. As if the remnants of hundreds of years of slavery, prejudice and discrimination could all be wiped away in 4 years. Nothing could be further from the truth. It has, as evidence by this poll, made attitudes about race regress. The election of President Obama has unequivocally proven that racial prejudice is still alive and well in America.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Giving It Away For Free

The buying power of African-American's in this The United States has been estimated at approximately $857 Billion dollars. Despite this fact, of the $257 Billion dollars spent annually by advertiser's, less than 1% was spent on advertising to African-American consumers. These advertiser's take our spending power for granted because they know that most of us desire to conspicuously consume the same products that most of society does. In other words they ignore us because they know that we will not ignore them. It's kind of like, trickle down advertising. These agencies focus their campaigns on the rest of society, and we are subjected to their advertising by default. The fact of the matter is, there is absolutely no need for these corporations to waste money trying to advertise to us because they know that we will support them anyway. If they don't have to advertise in our community or our publications for our business then there is absolutely no incentive for them to support or invest in our interests. African-Americans are among some of the most brand loyal consumers in this country, and we give or loyalty away for free.
In a study done by NewMediaMetric's, a strategic marketing optimization company in New York, African-American's are significantly more attached than Caucasian's to the following products and services:
Lexus, General Motors, Google, Fidelity, Slim Fast, UPS, Tide, Pampers, Jell-O, Doritos, Dawn, Oreos, Ragu, Campbell Soups, Yoplait, Dentyne, Charmin, Bounty, Betty Crocker, Walmart, the Gap, Lowe's, Macy's and Levi's.
These companies invest very little if any resources in the African-American community, and most of us have patronized some, if not all of these products and services.
Sports figures and rapper's have been endorsing brands in commercial's and music for years. Some get huge pay days for endorsement's while other's name check their favorite cars or beverages absolutely free of charge. But in the end we pay the cost of being used and ignored because we allow ourselves to be used and ignored.


Friday, October 26, 2012

3 Fingers

I am about to make a blanket statement, and paint a whole group of people with a broad brush. But this is based on my own personal experience. Christian's are the most judgmental
people that I have ever encountered. A lot of us sit on high, and look down low as if we are sitting at the right hand of the father. Some use the Bible as a weapon, and are quick to condemn others by using scripture as justification, firmly holding stones in their hands as if they are without sin. Many conveniently omit certain scriptures in order to legitimize their own brand of truth, choosing to spread dangerous nonsense, refusing to be confused by facts. They conveniently overlook who Jesus is. He does not judge, and loves everyone in spite of. If the whole idea of being a Christian is to be Christ like, some will never come close because they do not understand the principal.
Matthew 5;7 says,
Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. 6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
There is an old saying that says for every finger that you point, there are 3 finger's pointing back at you. We all fall short. Point blank, period, end of story. The fact of the matter is that many of those who dare be judgmental and critical of others have enough skeleton's in their closet's to fill a cemetery, and those who do not should know better.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Most Offensive Thing I've Ever Heard

Back in 1994 former President Bill Clinton spearheaded the Omnibus Crime Bill. This bill cost $30 Billion dollars and helped to rapidly accelerate the growth of the prison industrial complex.
The bills provisions included,
1. $10.8 billion dollars in matching federal funds to local government's to hire 100,000 new Police Officers in 5 years.
2. $10 billion dollars for the construction of new Federal prisons.
3. An expansion in the number of federal crimes to which the death penalty applied from two to fifty-eight (the bill also eliminated an existing statute that prohibited the execution of mentally incapacitated defendants).
4. A three strikes proposal which mandated a life sentence for anyone convicted of 3 "violent" felonies.
5. A section that allowed children as young as 13 to be tried as adults.
These are all provisions which overwhelmingly effected the Black community, and the impact is still being felt today.
When President Clinton came into office in 1993, the federal, state, and local prison population was 1.7 million. By the time he left office, the prison population grew to 2 million. This is the highest rate of incarceration and the highest number of people behind bars in the history of the world.
During President Clinton's 2 terms the stock market was at an all time high, there was a boon in the economy, and he was able to survive scandal's and even impeachment because of it. As long as people were able to thrive and eat well, the public didn't seem to care what he did.
Few things in life have annoyed me more than when African- Americans started calling Bill Clinton the first Black President. The fact that some of us are so eager to embrace the first white president in decades who has shown us attention and seems to embrace us, is appalling. African-Americans being in love with Bill Clinton is like an innocent girl running off with the first man who shows her some attention, and then ends up getting turned out. Just because he is the first President who sought to ingratiate himself to the African-American community does not entitle him to a free pass. Playing the sax on The Arsenio Hall show was the political equivalent of jumping the shark, and a lot of us fell for it. He seemed to relish being accepted by the Black community, and the black community was in awe of the fact that he did.
In October of 1998, esteemed-author Toni Morrison wrote a piece in the New Yorker in which she stated that Clinton is, "Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children's lifetime. After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas."
Miss Morrison did not seem very optimistic at the time in reference to there being an African-American President in our future. In fact her glass seemed to be half empty. The question is. What was she drinking before it got that way? Really?! Is this the criteria for being black? It has been said that she may have been taken out of context. But as far as I'm concerned there is no amount of spin that can clean up this statement. Wrong is wrong, and in embracing former President Clinton many in the African-American community have embraced a fallacy.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Battered Men?!

What kind of self respecting, testosterone-filled man would admit that he is getting pulverized by a woman. Hardly any. this is the reason most men do not report domestic violence. But studies show that just as many men get battered as women do. Here in America we have been culturally conditioned to believe that men are the stronger, more dominant sex. But in fact, being an abused man may have little if anything to do with strength or domination. I believe that the causes are far more psychological than anyone realizes, and are really no different than the reasons women have for staying in abusive relationships.
I, like most men have been told my whole life to never hit a woman, and thankfully I have never been put into a situation where I was forced into such contemplation. But many men apparently have been. Some have chosen not to fight back because of the stigma involved. Knowing that if they complained they would be looked at as even less of a man than their significant other thinks they already are. So, they stay in this abusive relationship with dwindling self esteem and accept their circumstances as their destiny, never aspiring to be in a healthy environment. They simply feel like they can't do any better. So these men take the physical and verbal blows in anticipation of quiet moments of transformation, and peace. Other's may not want to risk being torn away from their families by a system that will provide and enforce order's of protection based on a women's accusation. Most of which are legitimate but, there are always those who endeavor to abuse the system. Lets face it, nobody wants to lose their family. These feelings are not much different than those of battered women. There are subtle nuances in both experiences but the stigma of being less than a man because they are being abused is not so subtle at all. Police called to scenes of domestic violence involving a man as a victim will not take the matter seriously, and often assume that he must have gotten hit for a reason. The possibility of self defense is basically non existent, and laughable in the minds of most. I have even heard of cases in which the man called the authorities and then ended up going to jail. The reasons can vary according to the situation. While I don't advocate violence of any kind, I also do not advocate being on the receiving end of it either. In my mind the gender of the abused doesn't matter. If you are being abused, you will leave. Either on your own in a moment of clarity, or on a stretcher in a moment of pain. Door #1. Is by far the best option.


The Power Of Prayer

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
Every day is not going to be a good day. That is just the way that life is. Just being part of society presents a challenge sometimes, and when you are a Christian trying to walk a righteous path, it makes life even more difficult. Trying to live, and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ in a wicked world can be an up hill battle, and many will tell us that we are foolish for believing in a God that we cannot see. Even though there are a number of days where you may feel like throwing in the towel. I know that your good days will always outnumber your bad days.
Prayer is an important, and powerful way to speak to our Heavenly Father. He knows what we go through, and he knows our pain. This is the reason that he gives us grace and new mercy each and every day. But we must humble ourselves before him, fall to our knees and thank him for just being who he is. We must thank him for the lives that we have, in order to live the lives that we want. Then as we pray for what we want and need, we must believe that our God will do it. The Lord doesn't even require you to have a whole lot of faith. If you have faith the size of a mustard seed he'll work in your favor. I have prayed on many occasions, stepped out on faith and watched God work wonders for my family and me. There were even some times when I had doubts, and have even been a little discouraged. But, through it all I held on to a little bit of faith and The Lord carried me through. If it works for me, it will work for you, through the power of prayer.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Living Life In This Skin

I am Christian, a husband, a father, a friend, a writer, and an employee. The fact is, I wear many different hat's which I rotate on a daily basis. But first and formost I am a Black man living in The United States of America. Some choose to call themselves African- American, but the so called African- American has little or no ties or knowledge of what it is like to be African, or has ties to the culture. Black people of African decent have no relation to African, dialect, custom or culture. Most Black people of African decent do not have family names that are relative to who they are or to who their generations were. When you hear the names Weinstein, Kawalski or Martinez we know that they each represent a unique heritage that is treasured by each group with pride, and a legacy to be passed on. So, being called Black is accurate as far as i'm concerned. To me being Black means that I have to use America to make my own valuable background on a dark canvas. Black people in America have struggled to live "the American dream". A dream not designed to include us and in many ways lets us know it at every turn. Black people who attempt to live the American dream often find themselves in a monolithic subculture whose influence on popular culture has made it what it is. Yet success is often visible, and glorified through mass media but far more difficult to attain and maintain. We are part of a struggle that has been so difficult at times that the majority of us have never established a since of kinship. An innate since of family that gives us the desire to help one another. We have individualized our journey. So, instead of each one, teach one. It has become, each one figure it out on his own, often with devastating consequences. I could go on and on about racism, prejudice and a corrupted system but these things have already been given far too much lip service as it is. Living life in this skin doesn't have to be a hinderance or a road block. Our experiences represent an opportunity if we dare to strive. The fact is that to thrive being who we are, we must often navigate our way across choppy waters by prayer, relying on God for supplication, and putting faith into action. We must use our free will and wisdom in all things, and after we've done all we can we must stand. Like the old song says, "Nobody told me that the road would be easy, but I don't believe he brought me this far to leave me"!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

The War On Drugs.......(Black People)

The war on drugs is far more than a losing battle. It's a farce, a money pit, and a platform that has often been used by politicians who claim to be "tough on crime". This code, or catch phrase has been repeated over and over again by eager politician's to assure America that African-American's will be well regulated by the system. This continued proclamation, accompanied by mass media imagery of African-Americans as the sole perpetrators of all crime, and the representatives of lawlessness, create a stereotype which resonates in the psyche of U.S citizens.
To date the United States Federal government has spent more than15 Billion dollars fighting the so called war on drugs, at a rate of $500 per second.
Approximately 500,000 people are incarcerated as a result of drug offenses compared to 41,000 in 1980. Four out of every five drug arrests are for simple possession, and 80% are for marijuana. Studies show that most of those arrested are non violent offenders. As of this writing there are more than 7,000,000 people behind bars, on probation, or on parole in the United States. Arrests for minor drugs offenses have become a gateway into a life of crime for many, whose felony status has relegated them to being underclass citizens who are not allowed to reintegrate into society. The fact that they have felony records allows for legal discrimination, and prejudice. In effect denying most ex offenders the rights that most of us take for granted.
Local Police Department's patrolling the African-American inner city take a hyper-vigilant, aggressive, and often violent stance which is absolutely not tolerated in the white community. In these communities the rights of African-American's are often ignored, and applied on a discretionary basis. Selective enforcement, railroading and plea bargaining make up the foundation of this injustice. As a result, despite the fact that whites are just as likely to use illegal drugs as Blacks, 1 out of every 14 black men is behind bars for drugs, while only 1 in 106 white men is behind bars for the same crimes. As a result of the Anti Drug Abuse Act of 1986, higher sentences were imposed for offenders who were arrested for possession of crack cocaine. Historically most of the offenders arrested for possession of crack cocaine are Black and account for a staggering 82% of all crack cocaine related related arrests. African-Americans sentenced for crack cocaine receive a 43.5% longer sentence than those sentenced for powder cocaine offenses. These figures prove that the so called " War on Drugs" is really a war waged against people of color.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

3 Reason's Why He Won't..........

There are a lot of women who have been in long term relationships with men who will not commit. Some may be content and are willing to settle. But I am willing to bet that there are many more who feel that they deserve a man who wants to marry them.
Today there are many couples who live together. This living arrangement has become a staple of modern times, and has even been said to be a necessary precursor to marriage. But "shacking up" more often than not, is just a precursor to disappointment. I may be a bit presumptuous for assuming that the man involved is the one who doesn't want to marry but, the complaint that I hear regarding this issue is always from women. Reasons for a man not wanting to commit vary but these are the top 3 reasons.
#1. He already has all of the benefits.
You live together. You sleep together. You may even cook his meals and Do his laundry. You work as a goal oriented team. You may even raise children together but you're still not married. Why would he marry you if he can live like a married man without a legal or spiritual commitment. There is no mystery as to what his married life with you would be like because nothing is left to the imagination. If he already has your mind, your heart, and your body, what incentive is there? Love is not legally, or spiritually binding.
#2. You are not the one. It doesn't take a man 5 years to realize that he wants to give you his last name. An experienced man knows exactly what he wants in a woman, and more importantly, he knows what he doesn't want in a woman. If you are really what he wants he would have married or proposed to you within the first year. If he hasn't, it is probably because he doesn't see you as marriage material. Whether you know it or not, you could just be his "Miss Right Now", and the minute something better comes along, he will commit to her. I know!
#3. You haven't set a standard. Years into a relationship is not the time to start pressuring him to marry you. If you have the slightest inkling that you might want to have a life with this man, you have to let him know from the beginning. Don't let him sleep with you for years, bear his children, live a marriage like life, and then decide that you want more. Chances are he will not be willing to give you more because you never set a standard. Men are far more complacent than women. If it isn't broke, in his mind. Why fix it? He's getting what he wants, needs, and desires.
There is one last point. Having his children will not make him marry you. It just makes him more comfortable. So what if your children's teacher calls and refers to you as Mrs. Jones when your last name is Davis. I guarantee you that won't phase most men.


The President "Showed Up"

Last nights debate was a town hall war of words, with Governor Romney playing the role of a deceptive school yard bully, and President Obama effectively fending off each and every lie with facts. Governor Romney attempted to dominate the debate by by frequently interrupting the President and the moderator. At one point in a moment of contemptuous disrespect he even scalded the President when he tried to correct his inaccuracy. But President Obama did not fall for Romney's obvious attempts to frustrate him by making frequent misstatement's, and creating his own truth. In the end Governor Romney showed signs of frustration as the President pointed out the fact that he had failed to reveal a specific plan to create job growth, lower the deficit, or give tax breaks to the middle class. The President was also able to site a number of inconsistencies in Romney's platform. He speaks of job growth, but was in favor of letting the auto industry fail. He talked about being tough on China, but has and continues to do business with China. Governor Romney also wants to repeal Obama Care but he had the same health care plan when he was the Governor of Massachusetts. The President used his finesse, knowledge, and facts to expose Romney for what he is, window dressing with absolutely no substance.


Monday, October 15, 2012


The divorce rate in America is now at 50% for first marriages, 67% for second marriages, and 74% for third marriages. There are a myriad of reasons why the numbers are the way that they are. It is quite typical to blame marital woes on infidelity, money problems, and communication, or lack there of. But there is one reason that is never recognized or discussed.
Today we live in a "microwave society". A society in which everyone has become accustomed to instant gratification with little or no effort. A society in which the line between desire and need have become blurred. In today's world we can accomplish a laundry list of tasks from the comfort of our homes that were impossible years ago. We can be entertained 50 different ways at any given time, the internet has brought the world to our finger tips, and we can literally have anything delivered right to our doorstep. As far as many people are concerned, waiting is now a thing of the past, and patience is simply not required for most of the things that satisfy them. The majority of us have become so accustomed to having everything immediately that any alternative has become difficult to fathom. This behavior or lifestyle affects relationships because it sets an unreal expectation. It sends an "automatic message". People begin to believe that their spouse will automatically understand them, and everything will automatically be heaven on earth or become heaven on earth over night. But marriage, like everything worth while, requires two very important ingredients, patience and dedication, and unfortunately there is no app that will tell you how to accomplish or give you real insight into either one of them. These two words may seem like relics from a time long ago before the advent of technology, and high speed happiness. It is easy to give up on a marriage when you can find a brand new husband or wife with the click of a mouse. There is little or no incentive to stay in a long term commitment for those who are not strong, and steadfast because it is 10 times easier to start over than it has ever been. If a marriage does not offer instant fulfillment, for some it is easier to just give up and start over as if it were a game that could be reset time after time. This is why the rate of remarrying has increased. I believe that people remarry simply because they can. They can get acquainted with a stranger's profile on a dating site, and quickly fall in love with a prefabricated list of fantasy attributes. A process that only requires a few steps which they allow to lead them into a decision meant to last a lifetime but barely lasts past moments of superficial pleasure. The unusually high divorce rate is symptomatic of societal changes which have created a lack of the ability to discern or the desire to. It is just too long a process for some people to be a part of. Instead they opt for quick decisions that lead to quick failures because they are not used to committing to anything long term due to the options, and availability afforded them in every other facet of their lives. Marriage is not about instant gratification, quick happiness, or constant pleasure. Marriage is about two people in love working as a team for life, on the same page to achieve a common goal. If you enter into matrimony, and still insist on being the MVP on the team of me, it will not work.


Is Affirmative Action Still Necessary?

On March 6th,1961 President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10925 which created The Committee On Equal Employment Opportunity. The purpose of this new mandate was to insure that projects financed with federal funds take "affirmative action" to ensure that hiring and employment practices are free of racial bias. Affirmative action seeks to protect minorities and women from descrimination in hiring practices by allocating jobs and resources. It was implemented as a policy by Federal agencies enforcing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under the Civil Rights Act, government agencies and institutions receiving Federal Funds were required to create affirmative action programs. The Equal Employment Opportunity Act which was passed in 1972, set up a commission to enforce these programs. Many private companies have since followed suit, implementing voluntary programs in an effort to effect fair employment practices.
Affirmative action will become obsolete if and only if racism, and discrimination no longer exists, and everyone is guaranteed a level playing field. Until such a time comes to pass, Affirmative Action should always be implemented, as an integral part of the employment process in America. Especially given the fact that there is absolutely no sign racial bias, or prejudice disappearing, or becoming a thing of the past. I believe that employers should have the right to be discerning when they decide to hire anyone. But I also believe, given both the history and the current climate in this country minorities should be given equal opportunities to excel.
It is a widely held notion that African-American's and other minorities want a hand out in the form of Affirmative Action, and other social programs. But Affirmative Action and similar programs are designed to give minorities a hand up instead if a hand out. No one is asking for minorities and women to be given jobs that they are not qualified or trained for. The aim is to give those who have suffered the legacy of Jim Crow an opportunity to plant the seeds that will allow their dreams to come to fruition. It is all about opportunity, not charity or a form of welfare. The vast majority of African-Americans don't want anything given to them.
The chorus in one of my favorite James Brown songs says, "I don't want nobody given me nothing. Open up the door, I'll get it myself." Affirmative action keeps the doors of opportunity open to those of us who dare to get it ourselves.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Why Did African- Americans Vote For President Obama?

The general consensus amongst those both inside and outside of the Black community is that the majority of African-Americans voted for President Obama and continue to support him simply because he is Black. This is only partially rooted in the truth. To say that the only reason African-Americans voted for the President is because he is Black, underestimates, and marginalizes all of us. It reduces us to mere sheep incapable of cognitive reasoning, and it implies that we are not equipped to make educated political choices. Besides, it's not as if African-Americans would have come out in support Flava Flav or Michael Jordan had either one of them decided to run for President. Well maybe Michael Jordan. But the fact is, most of us are far more politically astute than society believes we are.
President Obama was the best qualified candidate for the job. An extremely well educated Senator, community activist, and former president of the Harvard Law Review who just happened to be African- American. Then candidate Obama represented a refreshing alternative to the old Republican boys club. A fresh faced enthusiastic politician who was both relatable and affable at the same time. An every man born with no advantages, yet he was able to succeed within a system designed to put him at a disadvantage. He is squeaky clean example of the American dream being realized without the slightest inkling of a skeleton hiding deep inside of his closet, Did African-Americans vote for Obama because he he is Black? No, but it definitely didn't hurt. His being Black was not only an added bonus, but it symbolized where we've been, where we've come from and where we are. His being Black was a huge reason for getting 95% of the African-American vote but far from the only reason.


Friday, October 12, 2012

& Down Goes Ryan

This past Thursday Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan met in Kentucky for the Vice Presidential debate and it was all out war. With Paul Ryan blatantly lying, and Joe Biden counter punching with ferocity. Vice President Biden could barely contain himself as Ryan went on to say that he and Mitt Romney could lower the deficit while continuing to give tax breaks to the wealthy. A calculation that just doesn't add up, as Biden was more than happy to point out and refute in detail.
Paul Ryan did his best to make the public believe that he and Romney have America's best interest at heart , but he was unable to map out a clear plan or strategy. Instead he seemed to be intent on attacking the President, but he failed to offer a viable solution to increase job growth, or stimulate the economy.
Vice President Biden effectively rebutted each and every falsehood and denial that Ryan put out there, frequently interrupting his often rambling monologue. Biden's performance was so impressive it almost made me wonder if he should have been President. Hopefully Biden's triumph over Ryan will energize President Obama so that he will take back the ground that he lost in the first debate.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

G.O.P Insanity

When Barack Obama was elected President there was a lot of talk about a post racial America. The theory was, if an African-American man could be elected President it meant that the system is fair and balanced. I suspect a great number of Caucasian American's were collectively relieved because they thought that they would never have to hear Black people "whine" and complain about racism again. After years of wondering why African-American's couldn't just get over it, there was finally a grand catalyst that would work magic in the heart's and mind's of African-American's causing them to never complain again. After all what could be better consolation prize than having a Black president. It would be nice if it was that easy. But the fact is, those who hoped that the Obama Presidency would mean that America was suddenly healed of its racism, and prejudice, now face a disappointing reality. There is still a racial divide in America driven by radical fringe groups like The Tea Party who insist that they must take their country back, as they reminisce about the "good old days". There has also been a steady stream of radical GOP politician's spouting absurdities, who make you wonder how they were ever elected or appointed to represent anyone or anything. The latest totally offensive assertion was made by State Representative John Hubbard (Republican, Jonesboro Arkansas) who said that he continues to stand by what he wrote in his 2010 book, in which he stated that he believes that slavery was a "blessing" for Blacks because being slaves in America gave them a much better life than they would have had in Africa, and African-Americans would not be in the U.S. if it were not for slavery. Hubbard went on to say that he didn't know any other way that African- American's would have gotten here.
These comments have set off a firestorm in Arkansas with Republicans scrambling to distance themselves from Hubbard. So much so, that the state Republican Party announced that it would not give him any more assistance.
These comments, although surprising are not at all shocking to me. Hubbard's attitude most likely reflects the feelings of many of his constituents, and some within his own party.
What does concern me is the fact that he not only felt comfortable saying what he said but, that he felt comfortable enough to stand by his ludacris statements 2 years later. In my opinion, he didn't expect any controversy. Especially given the fact that what he said had been published in his book two years earlier. There was no outrage in the Black community or the public at large that I am aware of and no widespread media coverage.
Slavery is as much a part of the fabric of America, as apple pie. But its bloody legacy is rarely acknowledged. A great number of American's, including some African-American's have been culturally conditioned to believe that Black is inferior, and white is superior. As a result, African-American's have been underestimated, and relegated to being an ineffective race of people who want something for nothing in the minds of many. This is one of the reasons why, politicians like Hubbard think that they can get away with making such idiotic statements. He wouldn't dare make any disparaging remarks about the holocaust because he knows that there would be hell to pay. But he feels absolutely justified and free to say whatever he wants about slavery because he probably thinks that African-Americans will call Rev. Al Sharpton, march for a week, and then move on to the next issue, and to some extent, he is right. No one wants to boycott, or apply economic sanctions against those who insult us as a people. If we stopped patronizing every brand, institution, or municipality that seeks to violate our rights, and disregard us as relevant human beings, I am willing to bet that the majority of this overt racism would stop. Not due to a change of heart but due to a lack of finance. Currency is a universal language.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

School System Failure!

In January of 2011 Kelley Williams-Bolar of Akron, Ohio was sentenced to 10 days in jail, 80 hours of community service, and 3 years probation. In addition she was forced pay $800 in restitution and the cost of being prosecuted by Summit county. Her crime, falsifying documents. Williams- Bolar did not falsify records with the intent to steal, defraud or commit any other crime. All she wanted was what all well meaning parents want, the best possible education for her children.
Williams-Bolar lived in a housing project with her 2 daughters in Akron, Ohio. For 2 years she sent them to a school in the Copley- Fairlawn district where her father lived. The high crime rate in her area was her deciding factor. The schools in Akron were infested with gangs, and were so under funded that there was even talk of combining Middle and High School's. The Copley-Fairlawn school district which is located in a suburban enclave not far from Akron, paid a private investigator $6000 to find the children's residential records and as a result found out that although she listed the children as living in the area, they actually lived with her.
Today Williams-Bolar who had a spotless record before this incident, is 2 years into her sentence. As a part of her probation she has to report monthly to a probation officer, is not allowed to drink, and must submit to random drug tests. Bolar once worked as a teaching assistant with special needs children while earning her teaching degree. But since she is now a convicted felon, under Ohio law she can no longer earn that degree.
Falsifying records is a felony and Judge Patricia Hargrove initially sentenced Williams-Bolar to 2 concurrent 5 year prison sentences. But suspended the sentence in favor of 10 days in jail, probation, and community service.
This decision has sparked outrage amongst long time advocates for improvement in education for poor and underprivileged children. The fact that one school district can afford to waste $6000 on a witch hunt, while another is so underfunded that they may have to combine schools is alarming to say the least.
It is outrageous to put a working class single mother behind bars for attempting to give her children the best possible education for their future so that they could have a chance to lift themselves out of poverty. Rather than punish her for being a good mother, something should be done so that parents don't have to take such drastic steps in order to insure that their children receive a quality education in a quality environment. But for all of her good intentions, she has been marginalized, and her dream of teaching special needs children has been deferred.
But I guess it doesn't matter, as long as the Coppley-Fairlawn district accomplishes its mission to deprive ghetto youth of an education, and keep them in their place.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Leave Vick Alone!

Back in 2007, animal rights terrorists and over reactor's alike had total conniptions when it was revealed that Michael Vick, then quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, was involved in dog fighting. Vick and three others were convicted of federal offense conspiracy charges, and were sent to prison. In addition, Vick was suspended by the NFL, and forced to pay the Atlanta Falcons back a portion of his earnings. He also lost millions of dollars in endorsement deals and was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy the following year.
After losing almost everything, being locked away in a federal prison for 2 years, issuing numerous public apologies, and turning his life around once he paid his debt to society, Michael Vick is still not forgiven.
He made the mistake of tweeting a picture of his daughter at home with a box of dog treats on the table in the background. This has caused quite a stir and the fact that his probation ended in July doesn't seem to matter.
Are prominent African-Americans ever really forgiven?
I know that the following is difficult to overlook especially in light of what the general consensus is. But, lets forget the fact that OJ Simpson is a low life jerk, who turned his back on the Black community years ago, for a moment. After he was found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife and her lover by a jury of his peers, he was still found guilty in the court of public opinion, and was hated, ostracized, and ridiculed for many years after. Of course he was probably guilty but no more guilty than Robert Blake who was no where near as reviled after being acquitted after standing trial for murdering his wife. The reasons are clear. African-Americans are held to a standard that is much higher than that of their Caucasion counterparts because in America most of the public believes that when we prosper it is a privilege that has been given to us, and not a right. Their conditioning suggests that if we show ourselves ungrateful by betraying the public trust we should then be stripped of our status, wealth, and fame for as long as we are no longer deemed valuable.
Michael Vick has the right to own a dog. Unlike Robert Blake and OJ Simpson he paid for his crime, and has become a better man for it.
Perhaps the most alarming thing about this case in comparison to the other 2 cases I mentioned in this article is the fact that a clear message regarding the value of human life has been sent. That message says that the life of a canine is far more valuable.


Fatal Punishment

The University of Michigan law school and Northwestern University have compiled a New Registry of Exoneration's data base as the result of a new study. This data base contains a list of 2000 prisoners exonerated from 1989 to the present day, when DNA evidence has been used to clear the names of innocent people accused of rape and murder. 855 of them have profiles developed for the registry website.
The data revealed some disturbing results. Death row inmates were exonerated 9 times more frequently than others convicted of murder. 25% of those exonerated of murder had received a death sentence, while 50% of those wrongfully convicted of rape or murder faced death or a lifetime of incarceration. 10 of the inmates went to their graves before their names were even cleared. For those who place unequivocal faith in our justice system, this may be somewhat hard to digest. But the data suggests that the criminal injustice system is failing those it is supposed to protect.
The leading causes of wrongful convictions are flawed eyewitness identification, prosecutorial misconduct, and perjury. There is no system in place that will totally eradicate the possibility of any of the three reoccurring. There are also studies indicating that race plays a decisive role in who is sentenced to death in this country. For example in the case of McClesky vs Kemp, McClesky argued that racism played a key role in Georgia's application of the death penalty. To support his argument McClesky sited a statistical study done by Professor David Baldus of the University of Iowa Law Schooland and his colleagues. As part of their study they collected information about all of the Capitol defendants in the state of Georgia, and after a statistical comparison of cases was done, his results were astounding.
As it turned out. Fewer than 40% of Georgia homicide cases involved white victims, but in 86% of cases where the death penalty was imposed, the victim was white. Cases involving white victims are 11 times more likely to result in a death penalty ruling than cases involving black victims.
Another finding was the fact that 22% of Black defendants who killed white victims were sentenced to death, as opposed to 8% of white defendants who killed white victims being sentenced to death. The death penalty is imposed on 34% of those who are convicted or murdering Caucasians, as opposed to 14% of defendants who are convicted for murdering African-Americans.
This is proof that the Criminal Justice System is broken, ineffective, and racist. A system which seeks to punish, yet sees only the absolute, without nuance has no right to sentence someone to death. This goes far beyond theory, or personal opinion, but is deeply rooted in truth. Besides the fact that no system is full proof, there are just too many people who benefit from its failure. The penal system has become a profit driven machine feeding on injustice which is used as a tool to increase the ranks of those who are incarcerated. But when capitol punishment is a byproduct, it
becomes a detrimental, and sometimes fatal hindrance to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Shades of Black

When I was a kid my Grandmother told me a story about going out with my Grandfather many years ago and being told that she could not come into an establishment with him because she was darker than a brown paper bag. He refused to go in without her, which made her feel good but, I remember the hurt in her eyes as she told the story about what happened some 30-40 years earlier. This was in Georgia, and I suspect that it was probably in the 40's or 50's but there are still signs that this kind of color complex still exists in our community.
One day while skimming through Essence magazine, I saw an advertisement for "skin lightening cream". I was surprised that a magazine which celebrates the beauty of African-American women would have such an advertisement between it's sheets. The fact that such a product still exists, is a sad commentary on our community. Because usually a product is created as a result of supply and demand, and the fact that advertising dollars were accepted to nationally promote this product is a complete contradiction in reference to what this publication proclaims to be its purpose.
Other's realize how beautiful Black is, and they spend time under concentrated, cancer causing light trying to achieve what we have naturally. Some bake themselves in the sun, and peel like a banana in an effort to be something that they are not. I can't say that I blame them though. There is no beauty like black beauty. 7 different shades of pretty brown, comparable to Jesus's skin as described in the Bible.
Society seeks to define everything in an effort to create its own version of reality. Mostly through misrepresentation and deception. If you compare the amount of money that African-American's spend in this country as consumer's to the amount of advertising dollars spent to accurately represent us in the media, there is a huge discrepancy . Actresses like Halle Berry are celebrated as examples of Black beauty, while actresses like Viola Davis are often overlooked and criticized. Both are beautiful in their own way but, it almost seems as if the world seeks to hold us to a standard of beauty that is monolithic. Some of us buy into it, and believe that we must achieve this false standard to be both Black and beautiful. But long before there was a media there was an industry based on our hard labor, born of hatred and founded on our backs. Being kidnapped and enslaved meant that we had to be psychologically primed to believe that we were sub humans not worthy of freedom. We had to be made to believe that because we were not like our captors that we were inferior. Our dark skin and tightly curled hair texture was deemed unacceptable to the slave master, and soon unacceptable to us because we were taught to hate ourselves. We were relegated to being property, our lives used at someone's else's discretion. Today some of us are still affected by the legacy of slavery, and many of us still believe in the negative propaganda which attempts to dictate our acceptance whether we realize it or not.
This is a cycle that must be broken by teaching our children to love themselves. Our daughter's are particularly exposed to preconceived notions of beauty. This is why it is important to reassure them from day one that they are gorgeous and worthy of each and every gift that God has to offer. We must teach them that different can beautiful, and that self esteem begins with loving themselves regardless of what the world says. It all begins at home.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Predatory Lending?

Over the past 5 years the phrase "predatory lending" has been repeated on every news cast, and printed in just about every periodical in circulation. Yet, this phrase did not exist before the start of the financial crisis in 2008. Those given the dubious distinction of being predatory lender's are banking and loan institutions who knowingly steered consumer's applying for home loans into mortgages that they did not qualify for, many of which had high interest, variable rate mortgages. Variable rate mortgages are mortgages with interest rates that can be increased at the lender's discretion. This would cause the borrower's interest rate to increase thus increasing their mortgage payments. The banks, and lenders would then push it's employees to approve as many loans as possible using aggressive financing, and loose guidelines so that these mortgages could be bundled together, and sold as mortgage backed securities to investors. As a result, many American's were not able to make their mortgage payments. This is just one of a few key factors that caused the housing/credit crisis. The banks and lender's engaged in unscrupulous practices to exploit those American's who wanted nothing more than the American dream.
But the term "predatory lending" has always confused me. I understand the connotation and I understand the reference but, when I hear the word predator, I imagine an eagle swooping down on it's helpless prey, with the intention to devour it. In my vivid imagination I never picture adults with the ability to think and reason, as prey, and I don't see the image of a bank in business to make money, as a pouncing predator forcing it's intentions on a consumer.
It is our duty and responsibility as adults who have freedom of choice, to choose wisely. Blaming a "predatory lender" for a consenting adult's poor choices, is just as absurd as blaming a tobacco company for getting lung cancer after smoking for 30 years.
It's common sense and basic mathematics. If anyone, bank or otherwise offers to grant you a loan that could possibly be a burden to you or your family, it probably isn't a good idea to accept it. If you have a mortgage which requires 4 jobs between 2 people just to make a payment, that basically means that there is an overextending of your resources. This is not an ideal situation because there is too much possibility for failure when the variables involved are taken into consideration. There is an old saying, "You have to crawl before you walk." The problem is, so many of us want to jump up and run without using critical or analytical thought.
When my wife & I applied for a mortgage loan we were offered double what we were asking for, and we excited at first. The prospect of a huge home that exceeded our expectations was exciting. But when reality set in we realized that although we would be able to obtain the property, it would be a struggle to maintain it. In the end, we agreed to a home loan for half of the original amount offered to us, and we were able to purchase our home for even less. It's not our dream house but, it is the house of our dreams. All we did was the math, figuratively and literally. There have been times in my life when I have made irresponsible poorly informed decisions, but I have never blamed anyone else, or labeled myself the victim of a catch phrase.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

What Is Love?

Nothing is more misunderstood or sought after. Everybody wants it and everybody needs it but, some don't know how to love or be loved. It is a craving to validate your very essence, and a need to satisfy your desire for a deep emotional connection.
Before I get deeper into what love is, I'll tell you what it isn't.
First of all, love is not sex. They are two very different things. Sex is purely physical and love doesn't have to be involved. Sex is an important expression of love between man and wife. But if there is intercourse and no love, it is just lust manifesting itself in a physical form. A lot of people get love and sex confused especially if they have never been loved. It is difficult to recognize and understand something they have never had. But the unquenchable thirst for love, has lead many people to make promises with their bodies that their hearts and minds can't keep, in an effort to fill that void. In all honesty, the concept of sex as love is much easier to comprehend than what true love really is because we live in a mass media society that promotes sexuality. It almost seems as if love is old fashioned and outdated. But when you know what love truly is, you realize that it is a vital part of your humanity, and something that you'd be hard pressed to live without.
Love is understanding when you really don't understand. Love is loving someone even at times when they are not lovable. Love is an aching when you're apart, and sometimes an aching when you're together but, staying because temporary stress does not change your commitment. Love is all of these things and much, much more.
But there is no greater love that the love of God, who gave his only begotten son so that we would not parish but have everlasting life. That's love!


The Big Debate

Last night was the first Presidential debate between The President, Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney. I was extremely disappointed in the President who seemed almost lethargic as Romney landed jab after jab without 1 counter punch from the President. Romney was not the same man that we've all been seeing in the media, an outlandish, Buffoon with no mute button. Instead he was confident, self assured and comfortable threatening to cut funding to both PBS and Big Bird, repeating the same $716 billion lie, and claiming that he could cut taxes without adding to the deficit. The President on the other hand was a little more cool and laid back than usual. He never took the opportunity to skewer Romney regarding his comment about the 47% of American's that he said were not his concern. He never took the opportunity to toot his own horn in reference to month's of steady job growth, and he never talked about how his bail out of the auto industry helped to revitalize the economy.
Romney won on style but had no substance, and seemed like an easy mark for the President. But instead Obama decided to lay on the ropes and strategically punch back, without going for a K.O. I sincerely hope that his conduct was pure strategy, a grand scheme allowing Romney to build up his confidence, and get comfortable so that that the President can take him out on the 16th. Unfortunately in today's world style counts more than substance, and this debate has given Romney momentum.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Who Is The Real Victim?

It started out as just another school day for John Webster, a 27 year old, 5'10", 250 pound former Division 3 college football player, and now gym teacher at PS 330 in Queens, New York. Little did he know, it would be anything but normal. By the end of the day he suffered an injury that required surgery, and was so humiliated and traumatized by an alarming turn of events that he would later seek therapy, and file a law suit against the city.
Webster was viciously attacked by one of his students. But not just any student. His attacker was Rodrigo Caprio, a 50 pound, 6 year old, first grader who stands a little over 4 feet tall. Although diminutive in stature, little Rodrigo apparently packs a wallop.
The incident occurred when Webster, who was escorting Rodrigo to his classroom asked him to stop jumping and spinning on the stairs. When this behavior continued, Webster grabbed Rodrigo's arms and this extremely strong 6 year old launched a retaliatory attack on his teacher, after kicking him once in the ankle, he then spun around and kicked him in the knee. According to the victim he heard his knee pop. Webster took this young man to the school's main office shortly after where he then attack the Principal when confronted the threat of his parents being called. The principal sustained minor injuries. But as a result of this incident, Webster suffered a broken ankle, and his knee required extensive surgery that kept him out of work.
Mr. Webster's attorney claims that the school was aware that Carpio has attacked both students and teachers in the past and no action was taken.
When little Rodrigo's mother asked him about the incident, he said that he hadn't done anything, and in fact, didn't even remember what happened.
When asked by the local media about their child's actions regarding the incident both parents denied the possibility that their son could have harmed anyone. Especially not one of his teachers.
On the surface this story sounds laughable. A 50 pound 1st grader beating up his teacher who just happens to be to a big, burley ex college football player. My first thought was to dismiss this story as that of an opportunist looking for an easy pay day. But, once I did the research, and peeled back the layers I realized that this story is much deeper than it seems. There are several interesting parts of this narrative that are worth dissecting.
First and foremost I found it interesting that Mr. Webster claimed to have been humiliated by his 6 year old pupil. But to me it would seem more humiliating to admit to the world that a 50 pound, 6 year old beat your behind, and then file a lawsuit because of it. I guess money trumps humiliation. I'm sure that he's been hit much harder by guys far bigger than Rodrigo on the football field. I think that he either had prior injuries or has bones made out of peanut brittle. No matter how you look at it, no self respecting man would take such blatant disrespect from a child. If I were in his shoes this kid's parents would probably file a lawsuit against me for putting this kid across my knee.
Secondly, our society is becoming one in which lack of reverence for authority and disrespect have run amuck without consequences. It has been reported that this rambunctious 1st grader has been involved in one incident after another. Yet nothing was done to get this unusually aggressive child the help that he so desperately needs. Not correcting and or punishing a child when their actions are unacceptable is the same as condoning their behavior. This sends the message that it is ok to kick anybody they want because they haven't faced any consequences for doing it in the past.
Lastly, I cannot believe that there are still some parents out there who think that their kids are angels who have dropped from heaven, and do no wrong. These parents are possibly in denial, have their heads buried in the sand, or do not want to know the truth. What they fail to realize is the fact that the world is not going to perch their children atop a pedestal, and ignore their faults. In fact the world will think nothing of administering the swift punishment necessary to teach the lessons never taught at home.
Little Rodrigo told his parents that he doesn't remember anything? I have a 6 year old, and trust me, they remember EVERYTHING in vivid detail. I hope that the parents and the NYC Board of Education are able to work together to help this young man, and get to the root of the problem.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Intoxication Party?

On a recent Friday afternoon I heard a commercial spot advertising the opening of a night club. Which is not unusual in and of itself, because it was a Friday. The thing that caught my attention was the fact that it was being promoted as an "Intoxication Party". They offered an open bar to anyone 21 and over.
At first I thought I was hearing things. After all who would actually promote intoxication as if it were a benefit? But after further investigation, I discovered that is was true. This kind of advertising is irresponsible, reckless, and dangerous, and the fact that this was promoted on an African-American owned radio station, speaks volumes.
According to a study done by The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, African-American's are targeted by alcohol companies more than any other group. As a result African-American youth are overexposed to advertising at a substantially younger age, through TV commercials, magazine ads, radio spots, and billboards. The fact that African-American's have such a high level of media consumption increases the exposure to such advertising. So by the time they are of legal drinking age the many have already consumed some kind of spirit or beverage that contains alcohol.
If you drive through just about any African-American neighborhood in the country you will see a proliferation of ads for malt liquor, alcoholic beverages and distilled spirits. When I was growing up I remember one billboard in particular in which there was a Black woman scantily clad in a leopard bikini, strattling a malt liquor bottle. Besides the suggestive nature of this billboard it was also desensitizing, and for years I found nothing wrong with it. I eventually tried malt liquor, and because of its potency, availability, and low price point, all of my teenage friends tried it also. Today, 25 years later some of those same teenagers have grown into adulthood, and have become fixtures in my old neighborhood most have remained loyal to the same brand of malt liquor first consumed decades before. There but for the grace of God, go I.
The Johns Hopkins study also sited Hip-Hop culture as a possible influence. In an analysis of the most popular rap songs done from 1998-2009, it was discovered that between 2002-2005, 64% of the songs referenced alcohol. As opposed to 44% found in songs released from 1994-1997. Another study of American popular culture found that rap and R&B music had more alcoholic references than any other genres. With 24% of all R&B songs referencing alcohol.
It is clear that African-American's are targets of this kind of advertising. I've seen it my entire life mostly in magazines and periodicals filled with articles on self improvement, and social issues in between ads for Hennessy and Newport. Advertising dollars are indiscriminately accepted as revenue without taking often loyal readers into account. Magazines like Ebony, and Jet have been staples in African-American households for decades, and have probably had liquor and cigarette ads in their magazines for as long as they've been around. So magazines such as these, geared toward The Black Community should accept some responsibility. Just like the local radio station owned by an African-American who accepts revenue from proprietors of an establishment bold, and audacious enough to promote intoxication. Ultimately we are are accountable for the choices that we make. But if something like alcohol has become a pervasive part of American culture cross promoted by an ever present, massive media machine, it makes the choice that much harder.