Sunday, March 31, 2013

The True Meaning of Easter


John 20:1-17

1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.

4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.

6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,

7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Notice, this scripture does not mention anything about a bunny at the tomb rolling the stone away, and it does not say anything about colored eggs, Easter baskets, or Peeps.
There is nothing in this text about Jesus appearing in a brand new suit and alligator when he rose again.
The essence of this message is that Jesus rose triumphantly after completing the mission that he was sent on by his father.
He is, was, and always will be the only man ever born to die for us. The purpose of Easter is to celebrate the resurrection of the Lamb of God. No matter how we decide to celebrate today, we should never forget what he has done for us and continues to do for us. To God be the glory!

HAPPY EASTER!!

PR


Sacrificing The Baby!?

We've all heard this story by now. A 13th month old murdered in Brunswick, Georgia as he sat in his stroller, by 2 callous cowards when his mother refused to give them any money. It is a chilling, heinous, brazen, and just plain evil crime.

De'Marquise Elkins, 17, and Dominique Lang, 15, are accused in the death of toddler Antonio Santiago. Elkins' mother, Karimah Elkins, 36, and aunt, Katrina Elkins, 33, are charged with making false statements to the police during the investigation of this crime.
Katrina Elkins has said her nephew didn't kill the child, and that he was at her house having breakfast at the time of the shooting. Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said that both women gave investigators new information that led them to a pond where they found a handgun. It's being tested to determine whether it was used in the slaying.

Sherry West the mother of the slain child, who was shot in the thigh during the murder, expressed her anger and outrage........"I identified the shooter, and it's definitely him (Elkins)," She said. "They shot my baby in the head, and I had to watch him die."
West says she wants the prosecutor to seek the death penalty.

In the days that followed, this story began to develop an unimaginable twist. A twist that if proven to be true represents the very embodiment of depraved indifference. According to report's, West's daughter Ashley Glassey was upset about her mother's behavior directly after the shooting. Glassey says that her mother, called the night of the shooting and asked how soon she might expect a check from a life insurance policy! Glassey also said that her mother changed her story.
"She told me that the baby was shot first, and then she told me that she was shot first."
So, as it turns out, there seems to be an awful wrinkle in this story. If Elkins, and Lange were both pawns in a plot to collect on an insurance policy, that would make West a co-conspirator, and equally as guilty. Although it is hard to imagine any mother coming up with a plot to murder her child, it is a sad sign of perilous times, and a disturbing reality check. The fact of the matter is, the first time I heard this story, it seemed too much like a story. An unbelievable work of fiction so disturbing in nature that it angered the entire country. Perhaps that is exactly what this narrative was designed to do, inspire so much anger that it would create a smoke screen which would muddle both the facts, and the truth. Only time will tell. But if it is true, God have mercy on her soul. He is probably the only one who will.

PR


Saturday, March 30, 2013

The HIV Quarantine

In a move that reminds me of a story straight out of the dark ages, state legislators in Kansas are considering a bill that would allow the quarantine of people with AIDS or HIV, even though neither the virus that causes AIDS or the AIDS virus itself are air borne. The HIV virus is a blood borne pathogen, that can be spread through sexual intercourse, blood transfusions or needles used by those who are infected. It is not like the "Black Plague", or leprosy.

Kansas House Bill 2183 was originally created to serve first responders who might be at risk of contracting HIV through their work. But the Kansas Department of Health and Environment rewrote the language in the bill, broadly deregulating when isolation can take place and opening up the possibility that HIV positive people could be quarantined.

Activists have expressed concern that some Kansas residents might not understand how HIV can be spread, and have certain biases thanks to a lack of knowledge. Cody Patton,who represents Positive Directions, an organization for sexual health was quoted as saying,
“We live in a very conservative state and I’m afraid there are still many people, especially in rural Kansas, that have inadequate education and understanding concerning HIV/AIDS,”
Earlier this year the Kansas Health Department eliminated HIV testing for most counties in the state. This makes absolutely no sense. They don't want people tested for the virus. But if they find out who has been infected they would be quarantined. How will they know who to quarantine? This sounds like a knee jerk reaction fueled by ignorance, and a lack of education, perpetuated by the myth that HIV/AIDS is a gay man's virus. The reality is that 27% of those infected are heterosexual.

But unfortunately, in this case, the facts don't matter, and reality is an after thought, if anything at all. It looks as if ignorance will prevail . The Kansas senate has approved the HIV quarantine bill, and it looks likely to pass.
The most disturbing thing about it is the fact that approving a bill like this sets a dangerous president which may cause other states to follow suit, spreading ignorance and unfairly punishing, and persecuting some of the very same people that it is supposed to protect. It is just another case of bureaucracy attempting to turn back time, and turn on people. 

PR

Thursday, March 28, 2013

3 Reason's Why You Should Shut Up & Listen

1. You don't know everything. If you're quiet for just 2 seconds maybe you'll learn something from someone who can fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle. Pieces that you may not even realize are missing because you think that you have all of the answers.

2. Abraham Lincoln said it best,
"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."
If you listen more than you speak you will never be thought of as a fool, unless you do something incredibly stupid, but that's another story.

3. Sometimes we spend way too much time insisting that our will be done that we ignore that little voice inside of us which urges us in a positive direction. We give in to our flesh & disregard what we hear. But that voice is a blessing. A guidance system that is gifted to us through our Lord and savior. Not everyone has that gift, so those of us who do need to listen, and be grateful.

PR

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The New Poll Tax?

A poll tax, is a capital tax levied equally on every adult in a community. Poll taxes enacted in Southern states between 1889 and 1910 with the sole purpose of disenfranchising African-American's because payment of the tax was a prerequisite for voting. Some were even subjected to literacy tests. By the 1940's some of these taxes had been abolished, and in 1964 the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution disallowed the poll tax as a prerequisite for voting in federal elections. In 1966 this prohibition was extended to all elections by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that such a tax violated the "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

More than 50 states have enacted laws which require state issued I.D. in order to vote. Such a requirement will disproportionately affect the elderly, the poor and minorities. Many of whom cannot afford to pay the fees associated with acquiring a state issued I.D. This is nothing more than another mean spirited attempt by the GOP to taking away or hamper the voter turn out. No if's, and's, or but's about it. Their motives are crystal clear. This week Virginia passed a voter I.D. law under the guise of stopping voter fraud. But in the common wealth of Virginia there has only been 1 case of voter fraud since the year 2000.

There are many in the Black community who feel that these tactics are reminiscent the poll taxes in the days of Jim Crow, and they are absolutely right. But unlike the Jim Crow south, here in 2013 we have opportunities that were unheard of in the 40's, 50's & 60's, many of which, people spend their last dime to enjoy, or stand in line for.
So, besides the sheer principal of it, I fail to see why acquiring a state issued I.D. presents such a hardship unless the individual is elderly, or incapacitated.

Lets be honest. Expensive automobiles, and $200 sneakers are not uncommon sights in many urban areas. If just a small portion of the money wasted on nonessential's were reallocated to fund things that mattered, such as, purchasing a state issued I.D., would not be an issue.

I understand the principal of the argument, and I believe that the right to vote should not be hindered, or prohibited in any way. Any laws passed to do so are baseless, racist, and an obvious attempt to exclude certain segments of the population from the voting process.
I get it. But anything that is worth the effort is worth the time, and anything that is worth the time is worth the money. Life is full of obstacles that we must overcome. It is up to us to decide not only how to overcome them, but whether we actually want to.

PR

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Disrespected, Undervalued, & Marginalized

When I started writing this blog some months ago, I made a conscious decision not to dwell on one subject, and not to reiterate the same narrative. But as time goes on, I realize that there are certain "threads" in our society that are unending.
The blatant culture of disrespect when it comes to African-Americans is definitely one of them. It always has been and always will be a bone of contention with me. The fact is, no matter who you are, or how much you've achieved, there is always some one out there who sees you as less than, because of the color of your skin. So in their minds you are worthy of disrespect, inconsideration, and being under valued. Sometimes even by other African-Americans who have issues with their own self esteem. But that is another topic for another time.
The latest victims of disregard, disrespect, and disdain are former CNN reporter, Roland Martin, and former radio personality, Michael Baisden.

Back in January Roland Martin found himself embroiled in controversy due to messages that he tweeted during the Super Bowl that were perceived as anti-gay. Shortly after Calvin Klein commercial aired aired featuring David Beckham in skimpy underwear Martin tweeted,
"People should "smack the ish" out of any male fans of David Beckham's underwear commercial". Earlier in the evening, Martin made fun of a football player who arrived at the big game wearing pink.
Many of his Twitter followers immediately criticized him for posting tweets that promoted violence against the LGBT "community". Critics and activist groups, including the radical gay rights group GLAAD, called for CNN to suspend or fire him. It seems to me that GLAAD is a hammer that sees every non-gay individual as a nail. For an organization which prides itself on tolerance, it definitely lacks the ability to exercise any itself. This kind of knit picking makes them seem hypersensitive, petty, and small.

Martin who is known for his sharp, and witty commentary has been a CNN correspondent since 2007. CNN suspended him immediately after the uproar.

On Monday, Martin apologized for his messages and maintained that he was joking about soccer. He said he meant no harm and apologized for any 'offense' he may have caused. Two days later, CNN suspended Martin indefinitely, stating that his tweets were "regrettable and offensive." During his suspension, Martin met with leaders of GLAAD. The organization issued a statement stating that the meeting signified the "beginning of an open and honest dialogue."

An open and honest dialogue about want? The fact that anyone who offends the gay "community" must be prepared to kiss the ring of whoever is in charge in order to make a mends.

The ironic thing is the fact that the controversy over Martin's comments is much ado about nothing. Because he said absolutely NOTHING wrong. Other media personalities like Howard Stern, and Rush Limbaugh have said far worse, and were not only allowed to keep their jobs but have gone in to make hundreds of millions of dollars. Rolland Martin is nothing more than a victim of selective rage, and racism.

Over the last decade, Michael Baisden's nationally syndicated radio show has become one of the most popular in the country. His social, and political commentary is always inspiring, and informative, and Baisden has not only championed justice, but he has helped others get justice.

Last Thursday when Baisden and his staff arrived at work, they were locked out of the studio, and were not even allowed to retrieve their personal items. Michael Baisden has been listened to by over 7 million people, his Facebook page has a whopping 695,994 likes yet he will be off the air permanently on Friday March 29th.

It has been widely reported that there have been problems between Baisden and Cumulus Media (The company that has syndicated the show) for some time now. Cumulus Media, Inc. is the second largest owner and operator of AM and FM radio stations in the United States, behind Clear Channel Communications, operating 570 stations in 150 markets as of September 16, 2011. The current CEO is Lew Dickey and revenue listed for 2007 was $243,922,000.

According to Baisden the abrupt separation is due to a failure to come to a contractual agreement. On Monday, January 7, 2013, he posted a letter to his fans on Facebook stating that,
"there seems to be a disturbing trend in urban radio to opt to give the Black community less information about what's going on in our community, even when my program is competitive, and in some cases winning in its time slot."

I have never heard of a company that did not want to make a profit, so I am puzzled as to why Cumulus Media chose to forgo any further broadcast's of The Michael Baisden Show. Maybe Michael has a point, maybe there is a concerted effort to keep the Black community uninformed, under educated, and in the dark. Maybe it is a conspiracy theory that is far more conspiracy and much less theory.

PR


Monday, March 25, 2013

The Difference Between Being Intelligent & Being Wise

Contrary to popular belief, being intelligent and being wise are 2 very different things. Being smart or intelligent means that one you have the ability to maintain, process, analyze and apply a vast amount of information.

Wisdom means that you actually know how to effectively apply that information in a way that is advantageous. In other words, a wise person has the ability to maintain, process, and analyze a vast amount of information, and then utilize it effectively. Anyone can use information. But not everyone is able to execute. This may sound like sum mantis. But some very intelligent people, can make very bad decisions.

We all know a least 1 person who is intelligent, but not wise. We have even asked ourselves once or twice, how someone so bright can be so dumb. The answer is simple. Just Being knowledgable in and of itself does not make anyone effective It just qualifies the individual to take part in the profession or endeavor that they choose. Success relies heavily upon maximizing the information, and then making a wise decision.

There are some people who stymy their own progress because they equate intelligence with wisdom. They assume that every choice and decision that they make is a wise one because they take pride in their own acumen. They have the answers to each and every question before they are even asked, and although they hear those around them, they rarely listen. These people operate on a narcissistic level and take great pride in the fact that they are the smartest person in any space that they occupy. At least, this is their perception. The monumental tragedy in this is the fact that those who operate within this self imposed bubble with never gain the wisdom which is vital to fully utilize, maximize, and recognize their full potential.

So, how do we seek wisdom?

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Proverbs 8:11
For wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.

We must ask God for wisdom through prayer, believe that we will receive it and have a desire to actually be wise. More than we desire material things, and more than we desire frivolity.
Nothing compares to wisdom.

Many are intelligent, but not all are wise.

PR

Worth more than a thousand words!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Getting Over Monday

I do not like Monday's. The weekend is over, and I can no longer spend my days doing the things that I enjoy. The minute that my alarm clock goes off on Monday morning, I lose complete autonomy. I have to start doing what I have to do for 5 long days instead of what I want to do for 2. I have to leave the comfort of my home for 10-12 hours and go out into the world and make a living. But a mans gotta do what a mans gotta do.

Many studies have been conducted to see the correlation between moods and the day of the week. In a recent survey involving 202 people, participants were asked what they thought their mood was for each day of the week. Most of the people believed their worst moods were on a Monday, with 65% believing Monday morning was the worst, and 35% believed Monday evening was their worst mood. Most of the participants believed their best moods were on Friday evenings (43%), and Saturday morning (45%). So are their feelings because of the day or, a state of mind.

It is impossible to know everybody's story. Of course, circumstances vary. But my own personal method for fighting a case of "the Monday's" is to not only think about where I was, but I also think about where I could be. There have been a few Monday mornings when I didn't have a place to go, and I would begin and end each week searching for a job. Those were dark days. But through the grace of God, I always had a roof over my head, and I never missed a meal. When it was all said and done, I not only found a job, but I found a better job than the one I lost. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I could be in the same predicament all over again. In a desperate search without a time set on my alarm clock alerting me to get up and go. Then I immediately snap out of it, and I realize how blessed I truly am. Grateful for another day that I can go out, make a living, and feed my family.
It is important that we do not take our blessings for granted because many people are not as favored, and never will be.

PR


Friday, March 22, 2013

Cashing In On King

Proverbs 13:22

A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children:

An inheritance is often thought of as monetary, or material possessions. But when put in context it means much more. An inheritance can also be a legacy passed on from one generation to the next. An example of accomplishment, and successful endeavors in which ones descendants can take pride in. Character can also be a part of that inherited legacy, setting a standard to be cherished, honored, and followed. Unfortunately the descendants of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have not chosen to use their inheritance wisely.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a huge advocate for public charity, and was once quoted as saying, "Every person must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness." As eloquent, and as well spoken as always, Dr. King's philosophy on life could not have been more apparent. His words echo the conscience of a man who is an advocate for selfless public service. Unfortunately his offspring have not chosen to live their lives as a reflection of their fathers credo.

I have often heard stories about Dr. Kings children. The narrative was always one in which his greedy, selfish, and ungrateful sons and daughters were selling their fathers likeness, speeches, and in essence his dream for a profit. For a long time I have declined to judge them because, after all, he is their father, and no matter how much he means to the world, he undoubtedly means much more to them. But as I began to do the research for this story the facts began to convince me that their intentions were less than admirable.

In their latest attempt to cash in on their fathers legacy the King children have sunk to a new low. This past week it was revealed that they had been paid more than $800,000 by the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation for the use of King's image and words on the planned King memorial on the Washington's Mall.
I am sure that Dr. King would be proud of the fact that his children demanded money in exchange for his name. As if a price could be put on his contribution to all man kind. He has probably already turned over in his grave multiple times.

For many years, the family has insisted that although Dr. King may have been called the nation's prophet, as far as they are concerned, his image is for their profit. Of course, it is the profits, and not the prophet himself, that has led them regularly to court to fight over royalties and control.
Given the fact that they lost their father at such a young age, I understand the desire to keep his memory to themselves. But in an attempt to do so, they are branding Dr. King as a product for sale to the highest bidder.

The surviving children of Dr. King have been feuding in court since July, when daughter Bernice and son Martin Luther King III filed a lawsuit against their brother, Dexter, chief executive of the family corporation, King Inc., accusing him of misusing funds. He countersued, saying they had interfered with the goals of the King Center. The siblings' most recent battle involved a $1.4 million book deal with New York publisher Penguin Group for a ghostwritten memoir of Coretta Scott King. Dexter King went to court to force his siblings to turn over photographs and personal papers for the project. The siblings refused, saying that their mother had decided before her death that she no longer wanted author Barbara Reynolds to do the book.

During the 1990s, the King children sued USA Today for publishing, and CBS for broadcasting their father's "I Have a Dream" speech without payment and they won. In 1999, a federal appeals court ruled that the speech could be claimed as property because the family refused to release it into the public domain. CNN had to buy the rights to broadcast the speech to the nation. How sad is that?

"Nobody has the monopoly on Martin and Coretta Scott King," Bernice King told the Associated Press in an interview. "This is ours, and it should be governed that way." When she says "ours," she is not referring to the nation. Indeed, the only thing the three living King offspring seem able to agree on is that anyone wanting to further their father's legacy should pay for the privilege. To refer to her parents memory as "this", is a sign of objectification, dishonor, and indifference to say the least.

In 1997, the Kings signed a multimedia publishing deal with Time Warner reportedly worth $30 million to $50 million. Although often criticized by scholars for limiting access to King material, the family sold the right to use the "I Have a Dream" speech in commercials for the electronics companies Alcatel and Cingular. They also sought to sell King documents to private bidders in an auction. Philanthropists quickly acted to buy the historical material to prevent its loss.

Nothing is too small for the family to ignore. Isaac Newton Farris, King's nephew and chief executive officer of the King Center in Atlanta, demanded payments for images showing President Obama and King on the same T-shirts. "We're not trying to stop anybody from legitimately supporting themselves," Farris said. "But we cannot allow our brand to be abused." It is hard to imagine King himself demanding payment from someone who wanted to put his image alongside that of the nation's first African American president.

"Brand ?!" Hellman's is a brand, Fruit of The Loom is a brand. Pepsi is a brand. But the greatest civil right leader of all time is not a brand to be exploited by ungrateful opportunist's who do not have an ounce of character.

When Dr. Kings delivered his iconic "I Have A Dream", speech he said,

"I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Unfortunately the fruition of the dream is bitter sweet. Martin III, Dexter, and Bernice King are indeed being judged by the content of their character. But if those contents were to be packaged, branded, and sold the same in which their fathers legacy has been, the label would read,

Caution: may cause disdain, irritation, and extreme disappointment.

PR

SIde Bar:
I wonder if they plan on going to each and every church and funeral home in the Black community to request a royalty for those white cardboard fans with Dr. Kings picture on it. In just saying......


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Juvenile Injustice?

This past Monday, March 18th in Steubenville, Ohio, Judge Thomas Lipps sentenced two star high school football player's to 16 year old Malik Richmond, to 1 year in a Juvenile facility, and 17 year old Trent Mays was sentenced to 2 years. Both young men may be detained until they are 21 depending on their progress in juvenile detention, Judge Lipps said, in front of a stunned court room.
The judge's decision, comparable to a guilty verdict in adult criminal court, follows four days of testimony in a nonjury trial that attracted national and international media outlets to the economically depressed former steel town of 19,000. which is located 40 miles west of Pittsburgh.
Both boys were charged with rape, for penetrating an inebriated 16 year old girl with their fingers and other inappropriate sexual acts. Their attorneys did not deny that sexual contact took place. But argued that the evidence did not support rape charges. Pictures and video of the assault taken at a party on August 11, of last year, were posted on Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube by numerous teens who were in attendance.

Richmond, the youngest of the two, walked across the courtroom toward the victim's family but collapsed, crying, into the arms of the chief probation officer.
He apologized several times but his sobs rendered the apologies virtually incoherent, and indecipherable.
This case has divided the town amid allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, after prosecutors granted immunity to certain witnesses, some in the community were outraged due to the fact that some of the teens who were present that night weren't facing charges. A big part of the controversy was the fact that once the footage was seen on social media local authorities were slow to act. So much so that special prosecutors from the state attorney general's office and Judge Lipps, from Hamilton County, were brought in after some local officials recused themselves for conflicts of interest.

There are obviously no winner's in this case. All 3 teens, including the victim, made extremely bad decisions on the night of August 11, 2012 that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

The fact that both Richmond, and Mays thought that it was ok to assault an inebriated girl is an indication of a much deeper issue.

It has been said over and over again that rape is about power, and not sex. People who seek power are most often people who are powerless. Those who have a perception of powerlessness will always seek to build their inner strength by taking someone else's power. We must teach are young men to have high self esteem, so that they do not feel the need to make themselves feel strong and powerful by taking someone else's strength, and power. We must raise them to love themselves so that they feel worthy of receiving, and not taking. If they have a high self worth then nothing that they want will be out of reach, and their positivity will attracted progress. It also important that they are taught to ignore societal norms that objectify women. Because women are not just objects of lust and desire to be had at a mans whim.

Young girls must be taught to be young ladies who respect themselves, and each other. They must learn to love themselves enough to maintain a level of self awareness at all times. Not allowing themselves to be put in a position where they could be violated. There is a legal drinking age in all 50 states for a reason.

A part of this story that I did not mention is the fact that the victim received death threats from other teenage girls via Facebook. I find it absolutely amazing that this girl was vilified for being assaulted, and demonized for being taken advantage of. The defenses argument was that the sex was consensual. So automatically there was an attempt to prove that the victims character was dubious at best, and promiscuous at worst. This defensive tactic was a play on public perception and double standards. (The victim brought it on herself, and boys will be boys.) But we will never be able to turn boys into men if we reinforce the stereotype of the heterosexual male as a beast who's ability to control his urges depends purely on his circumstances.

Ultimately raising boys to be men, and raising girls to be young ladies is the parents responsibility. If parents don't take responsibility for training their children in the way that they should go, and raise them with a sense of discipline, there are a number of correctional institutions that are ready, waiting, and willing to pick up the slack.

PR

Side bar:
Before the verdict, at the top of the picture on the right. He looks kind of smug, almost as if he is smiling.

After the verdict. At the bottom of the picture......he doesn't seem quite as happy.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Should Sexual Education Be Taught In School

Few subjects are as controversial as sex. The birds, and the bees, the facts of life, and the miracle of child birth are perhaps the most difficult things to explain to a child. Especially when you have children like mine who expect us to elaborate on every minor detail involved in everything. To call it a challenging task is an understatement of epic proportions.
But I'd rather they learn life's lessons from me and my wife than to live in an bubble, or learn from a cold, unforgiving world.

My father told me about the birds and the bees as graphically as possible when I was about 8 years old. I was horrified, terrified, petrified, and any other fied that you can think of but, I learned, and sex was no longer a mystery to me. Unfortunately not all parents choose to have this kind of discussion with their children, and as a result many children learn about sex from their pier's. Many of whom are misinformed, uninformed, of under informed. In this day and time what children don't know about sex can have such a drastic impact on their lives that by not educating them about the perils of promiscuity, STD's and unsafe sex, would be doing them a grave disservice.
I believe that abstinence until marriage should be taught first and foremost. But simply saying "Don't do it" and waiand expecting children to listen, is not realistic, and represents a dangerous form of denial, and a tremendous amount of naïveté.
The facts are the facts.

Even though the teen pregnancy rate has declined over the past few decades, the fact of the matter is that the United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate of the Western industrialized world. Most of the teen pregnancies occurring before 1980 were to married women. Now, most of today's teen mothers are unwed. Here are some more cautionary teen pregnancy statistics.
Despite declines in rates of teen pregnancy in the U.S., about 820,000 teens become pregnant each year. That means that 34 percent of teenagers have at least one pregnancy before they turn 20. 79 percent of teenagers who become pregnant are unmarried. 80 percent of teenage pregnancies are unintended.
Nearly four in ten teenage girls whose first intercourse experience happened at 13 or 14 report that the sex was unwanted or involuntary. The main rise in the teen pregnancy rate is among girls younger than 15. Close to 25 percent of teen mothers have a second child within two years of the first birth.

These are all facts that are children need to know. Facts that could save their lives both literally and figuratively.

The ramifications of not receiving some kind of sex education curriculum, or training is staggering.

Only one third of teenage mothers complete high school and receive their diplomas. By age 30, only 1.5 percent of women who had pregnancies as a teenager have a college degree. 80 percent of unmarried teen mothers end up on welfare. Within the first year of becoming teen mothers, 50 percent of unmarried teen mothers go on welfare.
The daughters of teen mothers are 22 percent more likely than their peers to become teen mothers, and sons of teenaged mothers have a 13 percent greater chance of ending up in prison as compared to their peers.

But teen pregnancy is just one aspect of what can happen if children do not receive sex education. There can also be deadly consequences to being uninformed.

Of the approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV, approximately one in five, or 220,000, doesn’t know they’re infected. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than half of all undiagnosed HIV infections are youth ages 13 – 24.

Of HIV diagnoses among 13 to 19 year olds, almost 70 percent are to black teens, even though they constitute a much smaller proportion of the adolescent population in the U.S. Almost 80 percent of all adolescent infections are to males. Nine out of 10 adolescent male HIV infections result from male-to-male sexual contact. The same proportion of adolescent females is infected from heterosexual contact. Although HIV testing is widely available, self-reported rates of HIV testing have remained flat in recent years.5 Forty-six percent of high school students have had sex at least once, yet only 13 percent report ever having had an HIV test.

As parents we can choose to either have a real discussion with kids, or be advocates for sexual education curriculum in schools. The third choice is to take care of your child, and your child's child, or inquire as to whether your HMO will cover your child's HIV medication. I know which conversation I would choose to have.

PB

Please Consider The Environment

I know what you're thinking, and no, this is not about global warming, or ice caps, or the ozone layer. I am not overly concerned about any of these things. Ok, I'll be honest. I am not concerned with these things at all. There are too many important things in life, for me to waste time on trivial concerns.
The only environment that I am concerned with is one of comfort and safety for my family and me. It is also important for me to engage in behavior that helps create a positive environment everywhere I go. But some people have a twisted idea, or no idea of what this concept is all about.

Whenever I get an e-mail from one particular co-worker, at the very bottom it says "Please consider the environment. Do not print this e-mail unless absolutely necessary." I guess it means that he is trying to save trees or not create more waste. Who knows what his intentions are. Each and every time I get mail from him and scroll down, I shake my head and wonder what he is trying to prove. Given the fact that he is by far the biggest jerk that I have ever met, I am somewhat puzzled by his attention to paper. This rotund ray of sunshine, never misses an opportunity to make a cutting remark, a sarcastic quip, or exercise his proclivity for mean spiritedness. The ironic thing is, the very same individual, sponsors MS walks, participates in charity events, and drives a tiny economy car to cut down on pollution. His only concern seems to be causes, campaigns, and propaganda. Not people. It seems almost implausible that someone who feels the need to urge the recipients of each and every whiny e-mail that he sends, to consider the environment, especially given the fact that he obviously does not consider the environment that he creates by being insolent, insulting, and inconsiderate.

Our actions speak volumes, and empty gestures say nothing. Things should never take priority over people, and we must realize that the way we treat each other says a lot about who we are. We must consider the environment that we create. Anyone can play a game of make believe, but not everyone can make you believe.

PR


Monday, March 18, 2013

Shot In The Back In Brooklyn

When I was growing up in New York there were always certain things that you could count on. Things like mass transit delays, rush hour traffic, and unjustified Police shooting's were all so common that it was never a question of if they were going to happen. It was always a question of when. The sad fact of city life is that tragedy, and violence can almost become mundane because of the sheer volume, and frequency in which they occur. There were many days growing up in the early eighties when just leaving home was an exercise in survival. You had to watch out for the criminals and you had to watch out for the cops who automatically thought you were a criminal. In many cases the criminals were the cops themselves. But that is another story, for another time.
There are 2 things that kept me out of trouble through adolescence, a good God & good parents. Some of my peers were not as fortunate.
Fast forward 30 something years later, and not just Brooklyn, but NYC as a whole has changed dramatically. Gentrification has changed the face of the urban landscape, and people who once would have never even drove through my old neighborhood, are not only buying homes, and rent apartments there, but they are paying top dollar to do so.
High priced luxury condominium's and ostentatious apartment buildings ascend high into the sky as monumental symbols of progress, on the same slabs of concrete once frequented by prostitutes and drug addicts.
The crime rate in New York is lower than it has been in decades, and it continues to plummet. Yes, a lot of things have changed. But the one thing that never seems to change is the fact that NYPD continues to shoot first, and ask questions later. As a result, African-American men, women and children continue to die at the hands of over zealous, week day warriors from the suburbs masquerading as Police Officers, hired to save the urban jungles inhabitants from themselves.
The latest victim is 16 year old, Kimani Gray.
Gray, who is from the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., was gunned down by two plainclothes officers on the night of Saturday March 9. According to official New York City Police Department reports, the officers on patrol approached Kimani when he separated himself from the group he was with and "adjusted his waistband" in "a suspicious manner."
( WARNING: do not fix your belt, or adjust your waist band if you live in or plan to visit New York City. The life you save may be your own.)
Police say that Kimani had a small revolver even though an eyewitness says the young boy had no weapon at all and was "running for his life."
Officers fired 11 shots, mortally wounding Kimani. The handgun, which police claim belonged to Kimani, had not been fired, and forensic reports confirming that the gun was actually in his possession have yet to be released. As such, Kimani's family and friends remain highly suspicious. "We were just hanging out," 15-year-old Akeem Brown, who was one of six friends with Kimani that night, told the New York Daily News. "We didn't know he had a gun."

The victim's sister, Mahnefah Gray, 19, told the New York Times that her brother had been fixing his belt when he was shot. As the teenager lay dying, another eyewitness, according to the Times, heard Kimani say,

"Please don't let me die," to which one of the officers apparently responded, "Stay down or we'll shoot you again."

The young teen had reportedly just returned from a baby shower, and his cousin Malik Vernon attests that he had never known Kimani to have a gun.

Some things never change. This callous disregard for life is one that is common amongst those in the NYPD who vilify the very same people in the communities that they have sworn to protect and serve.

The NYPD has been quick to release information suggesting that Kimani had a criminal record. His past violations, according to police reports, include possession of stolen property and inciting a riot.

These are dubious infractions at best, especially given the fact that New York City's stop and frisk policy, which uses racial profiling of young black and Latino males as a fundamental tool of its operation has given "criminal records" to many who would otherwise have not had any. Kimani, as a result, was not given the "benefit of the doubt," because societal norms which frame all African-American males as suspects treat (nonexistent) guns and red bags of Skittles candy as equally dangerous weapons.

The Black community is outraged, amid some anonymous reports that young Kimani was shoot in the back. This past Friday marked the fifth straight night of protests following Kimani's death.
Dozens of demonstrators have been arrested and a police officer suffered a wound to his face after a being hit by a flying object.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said a "full and fair" investigation into the shooting would be conducted, urged community members to abstain from violence.

I applaud the African-American community in Brooklyn for their protest's, but I must urge them to engage in peaceful civil disobedience for self preservation. This method is just as affective and causes the world to take notice. We have had to fear those who have sworn to protect and serve us for far too long, and they have made a habit of taking our lives for granted. Some New York City Police Officers are nothing more than armed civil service thugs who rob the public on a daily basis. Brutalizing tax payers, and taking their hard earned money in the form of a bi-weekly pay check.

PR


Sunday, March 17, 2013

More Opposition To The N.Y.C's Anti-Teen Pregnancy Campaign

Last week I wrote a piece about the controversial anti-teen pregnancy campaign in New York City. The campaign features both Black and white babies on billboards with cautionary captions on the sides of buses.

For some in the African-American community this campaign reinforces negative racial stereotypes and promotes negativity, low self esteem, and shame in African-American teens who are either pregnant or have children. In my opinion this represents the height of hyper-sensitivity. Nothing more than emotional responses based on personal experience, and void of analytical thinking. In my opinion this is the absolute best ad campaign that N. Y.C has ever conceived.

The latest objection comes by way of an article in the New York Times written by Gloria Malone entitled, "I Was a Teen Mom, and I'm Just Fine". Malone is the head of an organization called "Teen Moms NYC" an organization which offers support, and resources for teen Moms.
Malone writes,

"These ads do not explain why New York City, which thankfully makes birth control accessible to youth, has only recently begun requiring that comprehensive sex education be taught in all its public schools. Nor do they offer teenage parents any support for how to get out of poverty and provide their children with a more stable upbringing. Until that happens, there will always be teenage pregnancy and teenage parents.

Malone, who became a mother at age 15, then went on to say,

"I was a good student and determined to apply to college. But after I had my daughter, my high school guidance counselor refused to see me and help me with my applications. She never expected me to graduate. Most people, even within my family, assumed I wouldn’t amount to anything and would be dependent on government assistance for the rest of my life.The blame, shame and stereotypes expressed by so many others simply told me to give up. But, I also had a few people who encouraged me not to listen to the stereotypes. People like my chorus teacher, who allowed me to show up a few minutes late to class, so I could pump breast milk first; my economics teacher, who congratulated me on having a healthy child and reminded me that he was proud of me for not giving up; and the nurse at my daughter’s doctor’s office, who told me I was doing a great job and to keep it up. These bits of encouragement are what kept me going. Thanks to them, I graduated with honors and went on to community college. Today I am a student, an advocate for young parents and, above all, a proud mom.
Stereotypes and blame do not stop teenagers from engaging in unprotected sex or discourage teenage pregnancy. They simply keep teenage parents from seeking the help and support they need. The only tools that have been proven to prevent teenage pregnancy are comprehensive sex education, birth control and abstinence."

Gloria Malone is a success story. But unfortunately she is the exception, and not the rule. In an extremely visual, media driven world, mass media is the best way to drive any agenda, or a reasonable point home, and while I do not agree with stereotypes some have the ring of truth, and others are simply based on facts. The ugly truth is the fact that that only 40 percent of all teen moms finish High School. The vast majority of teen Moms drop out long before graduation day. A little more than 50 percent of all N.Y.C teens finish High School all together. So, while I do agree that it is a good thing that NYC public schools have included sex education as a part of their curriculum, in order for any learning to take place, students must first attend school. As long as there are even a few children who do not learn this curriculum there will always be a disconnect. So if it takes a rolling billboard to get their attention, so be it.
I'll take proactivity over reactivity any day. Especially if being proactive could positively impact a child's life.

PR


Thursday, March 14, 2013

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Worry

3. There is not a problem in the world that can be solved by worrying. In fact, worrying only makes things worse. Excessive worry has been linked to fatigue, stroke, heart attacks, and a shortened life span. It can affect your concentration, cause a decrease in brain tissue, and increases the possibility of depression. Worry is never beneficial, and always takes a toll on the worrier. NOTHING is worth sacrificing your health.

2. Tomorrow is another day filled with new hope, new opportunities, and brand new mercy, and no matter how bad your situation is some people wish they could be in your shoes because their situation is so much worse.

1. God is still in control ! Always has been and always will be.


Proverbs 3:5-6:

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.[a

PR

Throw Grandma From The Train ?! Really?!

It never fails, just when you think the world can't get more absurd, it does.

The family of Emma Anderson, 82, claim she was injured by a Metro-Dade Transit security guard who they said roughly yanked her from a train seat and escorted her off the train on Feb. 20.

Anderson of Miami-Dade, was singing spiritual hymns from her train seat when a security guard asked her to stop. The security guard told Anderson that she was being disruptive.

"I was beating my little beads with the bottle and I was singing a song, and he came up to me and said, 'Ma'am, you're making too much noise.

A passenger started recording Anderson and the guard's interaction on his cell phone. The video shows Anderson being forcibly removed from the train.

"By what we saw on the footage, she was dragged off the train. She wasn't escorted," Anderson's son, Kenny Anderson, 42, told ABC News. "She was just singing to the Lord, preaching to the Lord, and he grabbed her bag and drug her off the train."

Kenny says the security guard pulled the bag his mother was holding so hard that she fell backwards and hurt herself.

"We took her to the hospital and they took X-rays. Doctors say she has a bruised hip and shoulder," Anderson said.

One of the witnesses is heard on tape demanding the name of the security guard.

A spokesperson for Miami-Dade Transit said in a statement, "The elderly passenger, Ms. Anderson, who was escorted from a Metrorail train, was initially asked by a security guard to refrain from singing loudly and playing an instrument while on the train. She refused to comply."

The spokesperson said singing, dancing or playing an instrument are prohibited without permit.

"Ms. Anderson's singing was causing a disturbance to other passengers and impeding important train announcements from being heard. We regret that Ms. Anderson had to eventually be escorted out, but regardless of age, all passengers need to abide by the rules associated with using transit," the statement said.

The Anderson family said they have hired an attorney and plan to pursue legal action for their mother's injuries.

This story makes me very angry. The fundamental lack of respect that this "security guard" has for the elderly is disgusting and disturbing to say the least, and the fact the Miami Dade transit is not at all apologetic about this vicious assault, is a crime in and of itself.
The way Mrs Anderson was treated speaks to a much larger problem in our society. The older generation is no longer treasured or revered. In fact, it is quite the opposite. They are treated is if they are useless nuisances who have outlived their usefulness. But the generations before us have made it possible for us to thrive. They have made sacrifices that many of us could never dream of making. Many have been active participants in the civil rights movement, while others have fought in wars to keep us free. Some have lived their lives as shining examples of what men and women should be, and others have more heart than people half their age.
Mrs. Anderson has lived almost a century, and she has no doubt had her ups and downs just like the rest of us. But she still has joy. As she sang her spiritual hymn to the glory of God that day on the train the last thing that she expected was to be brutally assaulted, and tossed off of the train like trash. But her testimony is that she will live to sing another day.

I have to wonder if this situation would have gone a different way had Mrs. Anderson not been African-American, and I also have to wonder if she was both a victim of agism and racism.
There is one thing that I know for sure. She is definitely a victim.


PR

Side bar: If you know that your 82 year old mother or Grandmother was going to be all over the news, wouldn't you at least tell her to take off her shower cap? Or maybe it's just me. I couldn't find one pic of her without this shower cap.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Just 6 Months Old !

CHICAGO. chicago. CHICAGO !
To say that this city has turned to an urban war zone is a cliche. To say that this mid-western town represents the worst series of tragedies due to gun violence in the history of this country would be and understatement. Chicago, Illinois has in fact, become the embodiment of a community quickly imploding, which seems to be all well and good with the general public as long as they remain "urban incidences". Desensitization is an extremely dangerous thing because it can make the most vile occurrence seem routine, or even mundane if it is repeated.
But when a 6 month old baby is murdered there is no amount of head shaking, intellectual discussion, reasoning or analytical thinking that will relegate this into just another case of death in a violent city.
6 month old Jonyla Watkins and her father, Jonathan Watkins age 29, were shot in broad daylight on Chicago's south side while he was changing her in a parked mini van early Monday afternoon. Not exactly the brightest idea, if you are gang affiliated and live in Chi-Town. But I digress. Strangely enough this was not little Jonyla's first experience with gun violence. Her 20 year old mother was shot in the knee when she was 8 months pregnant with her, in another gang related shooting.
Jonathan Watkins is in critical condition, and Police are not sure if he will cooperate with the investigation. Watkins has an extensive criminal record which includes more than 30 arrests, and his apparent ties to gang culture make him less likely to testify. If he refuses to cooperate, he should be arrested, and prosecuted in my opinion. According to preliminary reports the shooting was spurred by a Facebook beef. The gunman opened fire on Watkins and the baby hitting the infant 5 times, and hitting him twice. The gunman was then seen running across a vacant lot and escaping in a waiting blue van. At the time of this writing, no witnesses have come forward because in most urban areas such as Chicago snitching is frowned upon and comparable to treason, or being a traitor to your community. Even if it means that a 6 month old baby dies in a hale of bullets, to so ignorant, and asinine, it is a rule that must be strictly followed. So people within the gangs don't snitch because they don't want to violate the code, and people who are not in the gangs don't want to speak up because they're afraid of what the gangs might do to them for violating the code. Each and every person who knows something about the death of this child and doesn't come forward has her blood on their hands, and more babies will be murdered, as a result. More innocent children will perish at the hands of their peers. This is not speculation, or imagination. The current climate dictates that this is a fact.
So the question is, what should be done? Obviously President Obama doesn't know because he hasn't done anything. A ban on assault weapons and stricter gun laws mean nothing to criminals who don't purchase their firearms legally. The Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, has been eerily quiet in the face of all of this. It's almost as if he is The Mayor in name only. Is there an actual Police Department in Chicago?! There has to be, right?
So......., more lip service, more dialogue, or diatribes, and more statistics? No! It doesn't work.
Extreme circumstances call for extreme actions. Martial Law is a possible solution.
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis. It is usually imposed on a temporary basis when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively and when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law becomes widespread. The disobedience of the law has never been more widespread than it is in Chicago. Perhaps the sight of tanks rolling down the streets of Chicago's South side will be a wake up call for those who perpetuate gun violence, and those who condone it with their silence. Once babies start dying from multiple gunshot wounds, the time for talking is over. Of course this will never happen. The ACLU, The NAACP, and the rest of the alphabet would no doubt, protest, and argue about civil rights violations, and the violation of civil liberties and how something like this would disproportionately affect the poor, and minorities in the community. Which is their right, and I would be right on board......if they actually had a clue as to how to stop the blood shed using nothing more than speech and empty rhetoric.

PR

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The N.Y.C Anti-Teen Pregnancy Campaign

If those of us who are African-American are honest with ourselves, we must admit that there are times when we don't pick our battles wisely. There are a myriad of issues that deserve discussion, planning, and solutions that are executed. In other words there are many battles that are worth fighting. Things like unemployment, gun violence, and poverty are all things that we should be ever diligent in combatting, and then there are things like, African-Americans having the right to drink a Big Gulp, or how many African-American shows are on T.V. (As if children don't watch enough T.V. as it is), that seem trivial in comparison. Fighting for these things are a waste of time because they are not pertinent, or particularly important. They are what I call "fruitless fights" because they don't yield anything that is really substantial.
The latest "fruitless fight" comes in the form of a controversial ad campaign in New York City spear-headed by Mayor Bloomberg. The ads are aimed at Black teens, and discourage teen pregnancy.

The advertisements, which will run on subways, buses, and social media platforms, feature a multiracial cast of babies in various states of distress accompanied by text that explains how hard their lives will be because of their parents' ages. One image of a dark skinned little girl includes the message, "Honestly mom ... chances are he won't stay with you. What happens to me?" Another features a crying toddler with curly blond hair telling the world, "I'm twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen."

Jamilah King, wrote a piece for Colorlines magazine issuing a strong admonishment to Mayor Bloomberg stating the the ad campaign is aimed at shaming teen Moms of color. She also said that , "A 27 percent drop in teen pregnancy rates over the past decade apparently isn't good enough for politicians in New York City".

I am amazed the anybody could fine fault with an ad aimed at preventing teen pregnancy. Have our expectations for African-American teens gotten so low that a 27% drop in teen pregnancy over the past ten years is looked at as a sign of victory, and a step toward eradicating the problem? If so, what does that say about us as a people. It almost seems as if the bar for standards is being treated like a limbo bar, with the objective of seeing how low someone can go without hitting the bottom. If we received 27% of a pay check. that would be s crisis. If we returned home to find 27% of our homes gone, that would be a crisis. But a mere 27% drop in teen pregnancy is an improvement?! It is sad that teen pregnancy has become so acceptable to some people that there is actually an emphasis, or concern about Black teen Moms being ashamed. Shame is the least of their problems, and the facts should not be hidden, sanitized, or swept under the rug in the name or political correctness, and sensitivity. Hello! NEWS FLASH! Teenagers are not supposed to get pregnant no matter what color they are.
REALITY CHECK! 75% of all Black households are single parent households. So like the ad says,
"Honestly mom ... chances are he won't stay with you. What happens to me?"
Although it is a sad reality, it is reality none the less. But I guess some people feel that these facts should be ignored in the name of sparing feelings. The bottom line is that the children born of teenage children are at a disadvantage, as opposed to those who have adult parents or a two good parents in their homes. It is what it is.
We have always complained about issues that disproportionately affect our communities being addressed by the media, but when they are, some of us complain about how. Those who are offended should ask themselves if they are willing to adopt the children of teenage girls in the event that they cannot adequately take care of them. If not, would they mind donating a portion of their resources to help these teenage mothers in need? Are they willing to have a real conversation about the the incarceration rate of African-Americans? Many of whom happen to be the offspring of teenage mothers? These are the questions that should be answered before there is an emotional, knee-jerk reaction to any effort to curb the problem. Those who view these ads as a racial issue fail to realize that the show "Teen Mom" on MTV is an anti teen pregnancy ad in and of itself, and the majority of the teens on the show are white.
There are many problems in the African- American community that need and deserve attention. But the shame of pregnant teenage girls is not one of them. Preventing teen pregnancy in the first place should be the main concern.

PR

Monday, March 11, 2013

Revealed !

There was a time in my life when I would not only hold on to a grudge for dear life, but I would seek revenge. In the past I've thought nothing of going to whatever lengths necessary to crush those who wronged me, and I felt a deep sense of satisfaction from causing calamity in their lives. At least, I thought that I was satisfied. Looking back, I realize that carrying grudges and exacting revenge took a lot of energy, both mentally and physically. It wasn't until I let go and let God have his way, that I realized that he will always fight my battles.

Romans 12:19
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

What I believe is based on Biblical principal but the fact of the matter is that those who are evil, and seek to hurt others, always have been, and always will be revealed. They will always reveal themselves through their actions. It is the inevitability of human nature. Most people can't help but be who they are, or what they are unless there is a miracle, or a self-initiated miraculous change in their lives.
Free will is perhaps the greatest gift that we have. We can choose to use it wisely, or we can choose to abuse it for the sake of self gratification with absolutely no regard for others. We are all guilty of misusing our free will. But to do so continuously is not a virtue. The problem is, all too often our decisions are based on emotion, which most often means that we're trying to satisfying our damaged feelings, bruised ego's or broken heart's.

In life we either react, act, or do nothing. reacting which is often based on emotion is rarely if ever advantageous or productive. Actions are decisions that are far more calculated and thought out. This does not mean that the actions are positive, but there is a much greater chance that they represent a step in the right direction in comparison to simply reacting. Having the strength, wisdom, and discernment to know when you should just do nothing is the hardest thing to do out of the three. Letting The Lord fight your battles, letting the karma of the universe work into a revelation can seem like an arduous task. But the reward is much sweeter in the end. The bottom line is, what goes around comes around, and we do not have to do evil for evil. We can relax and take comfort in knowing that self sabotaging people will eventually self destruct. I am a witness. If you wait, evil doers will always implode sooner or later. It may not always be according to our time line but with patience belief, and faith, what is done in darkness will always come to light, whether it is intentional or not.

PR


Saturday, March 9, 2013

The 9 Fruits Of The Holy Spirit

Being a human being living here of planet earth certainly presents its own unique set of challenges. But being a human being here on planet earth who is a Christian, presents challenges that are beyond unique. But unlike those who are non-Christian or non-believers The Lord has left us with a Devine reference guide called the Holy Bible. The answers to every single one of life's questions are within the this Devine reference guide.
As Christians we are given 9 special gifts called the 9 fruits of the spirit.

1. Love;

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:13
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Love is a reoccurring theme throughout the Bible. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that we could have everlasting life. We can only hope to be able to achieve loving anywhere near this level.

2. Joy:

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
James 1:2-4
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

The joy in our trials and tribulations is the fact that they give us a testimony to prove to others how great God is.

3. Peace:

Philippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
2 Thessalonians 3:16
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.
1 Peter 3:11
Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.

Peace comes from knowing that God is in control. As long as we understand this we don't have to be anxious about anything because our Heavenly Father sits high, and looks low, and takes care of us.


4. Long suffering:

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Romans 8:28
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

God loves us, and would never put more on us than we could bear. No matter what happens in our lives. No matter how long we're in the midst of a storm, if we wait on him he will bring us out.

5. Gentleness:

Titus 3:2
To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
Psalm 18:35
You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.

We don't have to quarrel, fight, or argue because The Lord our God fights our battles, and protects us from evil. We must be considerate of others as ladies and gentlemen.

6. Goodness:

Psalm 31:19
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
Psalm 23:6
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

There is no greater goodness than the goodness of God. We must strive to treat others as we would like to be treated, and walk as living examples of God's goodness with our lights shining to show others the way.

7. Faith:

Romans 10:17
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

I am a living witness that if we believe, just a little bit, that God is who he says he is, and have faith in his word he will supply all of our needs, and a portion of our hearts desires.

8. Meekness:

Matthew 5:5
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Titus 3:2
To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

There is no need to act out, and we nothing to prove. We live meek and mild, and seek to uplift others so that we may be lifted. We don't have to seek acceptance, or try to fit in. As Christians we will stand out.

9. Temperance:

Galatians 5:23
Gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Titus 2:12
Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
1 Corinthians 9:27
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

We should not fear taking a stand for righteousness in an increasingly wicked world, and we must be careful to live righteous live in which we practice the principals that we stand for.

Meditating on the fruits of the spirit and putting them into practice makes it easier for us to live the God centered lives that we embarked on once we confessed that Jesus Christ is our Lord and savior.
But like anything else that is worth being mastered it requires practice, patience, and strength to make it through.

PR

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Dred Scott Decision

March 7th marked 157th anniversary of the Dred Scott decision. The decision which has gone down in history as the Supreme Courts worst ruling ever.

Dred Scott was born a slave in Virginia around 1800, and was taken westward by his master, or as I prefer to call him, his captor, Peter Blow. Their journey took them to Alabama, then to St. Louis Missouri in 1830. Born around 1800, Scott migrated westward with his master, Peter Blow. They travelled from Scott's home state of Virginia to Alabama and then, in 1830, to St. Louis, Missouri. Two years later Peter Blow died. Scott was subsequently bought by army surgeon Dr. John Emerson, who later took Scott to the free state of Illinois. In the spring of 1836, after a stay of two and a half years, Emerson moved to a fort in the Wisconsin Territory, taking Scott with him. While there, Scott met and married Harriet Robinson, a slave owned by a local justice of the peace. Ownership of Harriet was transferred to Emerson.
Scott's extended stay in Illinois, a free state, gave him the legal standing to make a claim for freedom, as did his extended stay in Wisconsin, where slavery was also prohibited. But Scott never made the claim while living in the free lands perhaps because he was unaware of his rights at the time. After two years, the army transferred Emerson to the south, first to St Louis, then to Louisiana. A little over a year later, when Emerson got married he had Scott and his wife relocate. Instead of staying in the free territory of Wisconsin, or going to the free state of Illinois, the two travelled over a thousand miles, apparently unaccompanied, down the Mississippi River to meet their captor. Only after Emerson's death in 1843, after Emerson's widow hired Scott out to an army captain, did Scott seek freedom for himself and his wife. First he offered to buy his freedom from Mrs. Emerson then living in St. Louis for $300. The offer was refused. Scott then sought freedom through the courts.
Scott went to trial in June of 1847, but lost on a technicality he couldn't prove that he and Harriet were owned by Emerson's widow. Their ability to prove this could have possibly been grounds for their freedom because she would have been able to substantiate the fact that Scott and his wife once lived in a "free territory". The following year the Missouri Supreme Court decided that the case should be retried. In an 1850 retrial, the the St Louis circuit court ruled that Scott and his family were free. Two years later the Missouri Supreme Court stepped in again, reversing the decision of the lower court. Scott and his lawyers then brought his case to a federal court, the United States Circuit Court in Missouri. In 1854, the Circuit Court upheld the decision of the Missouri Supreme Court. There was now only one other place to go. Scott appealed his case to the United States Supreme Court.
The nine justices of the Supreme Court of 1856 certainly had biases regarding slavery. Seven had been appointed by pro-slavery presidents from the South, and of these, five were from slave holding families. So the deck was stacked against Mr. Scott from the start. Still, if the case had gone directly from the state supreme court to the federal supreme court, the federal court probably would have upheld the state's ruling, citing a previously established decision that gave states the authority to determine the status of its inhabitants. But, in his attempt to bring his case to the federal courts, Scott had claimed that he and the case's defendant (Mrs. Emerson's brother, John Sanford, who lived in New York) were citizens from different states. The main issues for the Supreme Court, therefore, were whether it had jurisdiction to try the case and whether Scott was actually a citizen.

The decision of the court was read in March of 1857. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney who just happened to be a staunch supporter of slavery, wrote the "majority opinion" for the court. That is the equivalent of leaving a wolf in charge of the hen house. The decision stated that because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and therefore had no right to sue. The decision also declared the Missouri Compromise of 1820, legislation which restricted slavery in certain territories, unconstitutional.

While the decision was well received by those who held Black people captive in the South, many northerners were outraged. The decision greatly influenced the nomination of Abraham Lincoln to the Republican Party and his subsequent election, which in turn led to the South's secession from the Union.

Peter Blow's sons, childhood friends of Scott, had helped pay Scott's legal fees through the years. After the Supreme Court's decision, they purchased Scott and his wife and set them free.

Unfortunately Dred Scott was only able to live free for 9 month's before he died.

The main idea of the Dred Scott decision was that Black people in America had no rights that whites were bound to acknowledge or respect because they were considered property unworthy of the same consideration of the citizenry.
Although rendered invalid by the 14th amendment which stated that anyone born in the United States is a natural citizen, the Dred Scott Decision was never over turned, or officially denounced by the Supreme Court.
While I was doing the research for this blog, I began to realize just how much I had been taking my freedom for granted, having never been subjected to the many atrocities or slavery or the distinct culture of hatred that my ancestors suffered through as a part of their mere existence here in America. Dred Scott's efforts have shown me that freedom is anything but free.

PR


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How Employers Have Benefited From Unemployment

There was a time in America when you could settle in, work on a stable job with great benefits for 20-25 years, build up a nice pension, and or 401k cushion, and retire comfortably. My parents did it, my in-laws did, and several other family members have done it. They were all able to provide nice homes and good lives for themselves, and their families with little or no concern for job security, because they knew that as long as they came to work and put in a hard 8. Their jobs would always be theirs. Unfortunately, those days are long gone, and those kinds of jobs are few and far between.
Today's employment landscape, and culture have changed considerably within the last 5-6 years due to the economic down turn. In 2009 the unemployment rate hit 10.2% which was the highest it had been in 26 years. Although there has been talk of a slow recovery, millions of Americans are still struggling to find their footing, and those who once relied on job security have often found themselves back to square 1.
Given the fact that so many people are without gainful employment, it may seem a little ungrateful for those of us who are, to gripe about our working conditions. But the fact of the matter is that simply being one of the "lucky" few who are employed is a perilous adventure fraught with uncertainty. The high rate of unemployment has given many employers the ability to choose from a large pool of desperate applicants. This new found advantage has given some employers the opportunity to not only pick and choose from a huge demographic, but it has also given them the opportunity to create an interchangeable work force. A work force in which current employees are no longer viewed as a commodity or a valued contributor to an organization, but as tight rope walkers who are forced to balance the agenda of the organization with complete loyalty in the face of danger. One slip, and their employment may meet a fatal conclusion. Some organizations have cut salaries, while others have drastically increased the work loads of their employees. There have even been stories of loyal long term employees who have been terminated, in favor of new hires at a lower pay grade.
There was once a common dilemma that was often discussed , "How do I ask my boss for a raise?" But these days I don't know many people who would dare ask for a salary increase. Having the sheer audacity to ask for what you deserve may be viewed as insubordination, insurrection, and initiate ideas for your replacement.
A friend of mine told me about a meeting at his office the other day in which a gregarious co-worker directly questioned his supervisors intentions. The supervisor was quoted as saying, "This is your job. if you don't like it, you don't have to work here!" This particular manager then pretended to realize that his remark, was crass an insulting. But according to my associate his behavior seemed deliberate, and focused on the collective. Meaning, he used the opportunity to send a message to all 11 employees in attendance. His sentiments, though rarely heard, seem to represent a new way of doing business for many organizations. A model that is far more profit driven, than people driven. But it helps to remember that God is still in control!

PR

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Another Myth Down The Drain

We've been had! We've been took! We've been hood winked! We've been bamboozled, and after careful research yet another myth has gone the way of Bigfoot, and the Easter Bunny. The glaring difference between this particular fairy tale and the others, is the fact that it has been repeated so often that it has been taken at face value, and has caused extensive damage to the Black community.
For years it has been repeated ad nauseam, and the effects has reverberated for generations.
"There are more black men incarcerated, than there are in college."
I take great delight both in writing, and telling all who will listen that this is emphatically, and unequivocally WRONG!
According to The U.S. Department of Education and The Department of Justice, the number of Black men in college is more than 1.4 million versus the 824,340 who were incarcerated. That is a difference of over 575,660 Black men. A huge number by any stretch of the imagination.
This falsehood has probably done more to the psyche of African-American men that any other lie that has been told. Because it is easier to be the norm, than it is to strive to be the exception. Even if the norm is negative. The exception is almost seen as unattainable because so few have achieved it. Imagine how many more Black men would be in institutions of higher learning today had it not been for this repetitious myth.

PR


The Infamous Florida A&M Hazing

Up until a few years ago, I wasn't sure what hazing was. It was quite a difficult thing for me to figure out judging by its usual connotation. But once I began reading story after tragic story, it became clear. These tales of juvenile ridicule run amuck remind me of the initiations/abuse that fraternities used to put their prospects through. The upper class men would take pleasure in subjecting some desperate freshmen to their vile, idiotic, whims. I've heard stories about some of them being made to swallow a piece of raw liver, or a live goldfish. Notorious tales of young men being spanked with huge wooden paddles seemed almost too insane to believe, but some turned out to be true.
It never made any sense to me. I have never been and never will be a huge fan of self deprecation, or public humiliation, and the only man who has ever spanked me is the man who brought me into this world. Given the fact that hazing and things of that nature thrive by pushing the envelop it was only a matter of time before things went too far.

A fatal beating that began as a welcome to the famed Florida A&M marching band and became a symbol for the anti-hazing movement has resulted in expanded charges.
Twelve former band members now face charges of manslaughter in the 2011 death of drum major Robert Champion.

The new charges were announced at a hearing Monday. Last spring, 10 band members were charged with third-degree felony hazing. A conviction could result in a prison term of up to six years. The additional charges can mean up to 15 years in prison.
State Attorney Jeff Ashton also filed charges against two more band members.

Champion's parents, Pamela and Robert Champion Sr., have sued the school and other parties. FAMU has failed to make a comment at the time of this writing.

The Champions' lawyer, Christopher Chestnut, said they learned of the added charges last week in a meeting with Ashton via Skype.
The Champions, who live in Decatur, Ga., had complained that the initial charges were too lenient given the fact that Champion wasn't hurt by hazing but, he was killed by hazing.
Neither the Champions nor Ashton's office responded to phone calls requesting comment.
Two former band members pleaded guilty to hazing last year; they do not face new charges. They were sentenced to probation and community service.

Champion, 26, died in November 2011 after a hazing conducted by band members on a bus in Orlando after Florida A&M had played its football archrival, Bethune Cookman.

His death revealed a culture of hazing in the band, which has played at Super Bowls and presidential inaugurations. The band was suspended for this year.

Mary Madden, co-director of the National Collaborative on Hazing Research and Prevention, said the case
"has brought sustained attention to how serious hazing can be and how serious those consequences can be. I understand a lot of that is attributable to his parents being willing to stay out front in the media, and I give them a lot of credit for that."

An autopsy concluded that Champion suffered blunt trauma blows and died from shock caused by severe internal bleeding. In other words he died as the result of fatal assault, and the perpetrators were his own band mates.
The Champions said their son often spoke out about the band's routine hazing.

Pamela Champion, the victims mother, was quoted as saying,
"He was murdered on that bus, and no one signs up for that."

In December, the State University System of Florida released findings of an investigation into hazing at the school prompted by Champion's death. It found a lack of guidance for enforcing policies against hazing.

To me one of the saddest aspects of this tragedy is the fact that a group of young African-American men, beat the odds, and accomplished what many young men before them had not. They were not only able to attend an institution of higher learning. But they also had the prevalage of being part of an institution, the FAMU marching band. Although Robert Champion Jr. is the only fatality, there are over a dozen people who have been affected by this case. Champion has lost his life, and in effect his future, and it is doubtful that any of the young men involved will continue their education. Young African-American men who made it all the way to college on to become victims of black on black crime.

PR


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Rape Shirts!?

There are some things in this world that only require 1 adjective. They do not require elaborate, complex, or extensive explanations, because their mere existence speaks loud and clear.
Ugly:
disagreeable; unpleasant; objectionable: ugly tricks; ugly discords.
morally revolting: ugly.

This past Saturday The Twitter-sphere erupted in anger after discovering shirts listed on Amazon with a slogan that appeared to promote rape and violence against women.
The shirt read "Keep Calm and Rape On" and was available on Amazon's UK website. The company responsible for offering this atrocious shirt, Solid Gold Bomb, removed the listing after it was notified of the slogan.The company also removed a shirt with the slogan "Keep Calm and Hit Her."

Solid Gold Bomb apologized, saying the slogans were computer generated and the company did not deliberately create them.

Users also focused their anger on Amazon for listing the shirts.
"Amazon fail,"
tweeted user Richard Machtel.
Amazon's spokesman in Britain, Ben Howes, gave a statement to CNN saying, "I can confirm that those items are not available for sale."
According to Amazon these t-shirts were sold on a print to order basis. But whether the shirts were actually printed or not doesn't make a difference. The fact that Amazon allowed such salacious, offensive material to be sold on its website is disturbing, and what is even more disturbing is the fact that there would have been no action taken if there was no outrage. It is difficult to believe that a company as renowned and reputable as Amazon, had no idea that something they were selling such morally apprehensible
apparel.

PR