Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Child...Your Parents: We Need To Talk - Pt. 2 (i.e. - It's Your Life!)

Well, after a tumultuous first year; I really thought things were going to be better. After all, my daughter and I had sat down on many an occasion a talked: about school, about life, her goals, her dreams and our hopes and dreams for her. Her mother and I had done everything any parent could do--she wanted for nothing, we even attended a school disciplinary hearing to keep her in school. Now, the moment of truth, the grades are in...and...all flags! Arguh!

After listening to my wife yell at "T" almost an hour over the phone, after my wife and I going back and fourth about what to do, after lying in bed all night thinking over the situation, after sitting in the office all day going over and over this in my head, all that comes to mind is an old saying, "You can take a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." And that's my message to both my daughter and you.

While others can want the world for someone, or want to give it to them if they could; they must want it for themselves. They must have the "whateverittakes" to do what's good for them. They must be honest and forthcoming, especially with themselves. We have our first black President; anything is possible--if THEY believe it is and THEY try. So, while we as parents can pick a child up when they fall, THEY must be willing to stand on their own two feet; or we are simply carrying them. Which is as much as to cripple them. You know, my Mom says that, "if you aim at nothing, you'll probably hit it." Now, while this is certainly not the end of the world, you have made your life a little harder and your world a lot harder place in which to live.

My wife and I are weighing our options. We know that anything we do must be in partnership with "T". She must want to do different from here on out. And obviously, we want the best for her, and that might mean letting go.

So, after the countless man-hours filling out forms, the hundred of dollars spent on tutoring, the thousands of dollars spent on tuition, fixing up the dorm room, buying school clothes, buying a car, the joy of seeing her go off to school, the pride of visiting her, the pride of telling friends and family that she was in college, the let down of her failing and still not really knowing why she failed and had such poor social performance, I can't ask but one question. Knowing what I do now, would I do it all again? Yep, you bet, because even if she doesn't know it, she deserved this chance.

And by the way baby girl: failing does not mean you're a failure.

I think someone in the church wants to testify. "Halla" if you feel me.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

23 Days To Inauguration: Should You Care About What Rick Warren Is Saying?

There’s a furor in the black community over the selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. Many, in both the black and Gay communities’ criticize Mr. Warren for his stances on the issues of Gay marriage and abortion. But it’s not that Mr. Warren is speaking at the inauguration that bothers me. I’m concerned about all the other “motivating” elements out there and their influence on white Anglo-Saxon sentiment.

First up are conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh. As you know, Mr. Limbaugh is almost always surrounded in controversy for exposing racist and bigoted views. For instance, as the host of "Sunday NFL Countdown" Mr. Limbaugh said that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed. Most recently, during the 2008 Presidential election, Mr. Limbaugh avidly stated that he and all the “angry white males” out there were conducting a grass roots anti-Obama election campaign called “Operation Chaos.” Its purported purpose was to get a “less electable” Barack Obama the nomination. So much for that! But I digress. He also sparked controversy by playing a comedy video about a Democrat named Barack Obama running for President. He also routinely played a video called "Barack The Magic Negro". Now I won’t dignify this man by reciting all the things he’s said and done to alienate people in the black and Gay community. If you want to know more visit Wikipedia for a comprehensive selection. The point I’m making is that Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk show hosts like him make a living instilling hate and fear: they have lots of listeners— Rush has over 12 million daily and 20 million weekly.

Next on my list of things that worry me is the ever present “Old Boy Network.” Sarah Kaip, in an article entitled Women and the “Old Boy” Network, Sums it up thus:

“Monday morning meetings begin with talk about Sunday’s football scores. Men in upper management invite lower level male employees to lunch. Water cooler conversations center on hot rods and drag racing. Do you ever feel like you work amidst the “old boy” network? An “old boy” network has a more formal definition. It’s an exclusive and informal network that links members of a social class or profession in order to provide connections, information, and favors—especially in business or politics. When a boss hires a friend of a friend, that person was hired through the “old boy” network. When a man gets a promotion because his friends are on the committee that decides promotions, he is arguably the beneficiary of “old boy” networking.”

The “Old Boy” network is a danger to any economic stimulus plan simply because the monies from said plan would most certainly not filter down to people of color. Even worse, this means that any such plan would only serve to stimulate the kind of "hiden racism" that has kept black folk down; even to this very day.

I’m also concerned about the mindset of the “angry white males”. You know, “Joe Six-pack”, “Joe the Plumber”, “Joe Bag of Donuts”, etc. These are the men that were captivated by Sarah Palin: a gun-toting, hunting, fishing, boisterous, hockey-mom with almost no understanding of world geography or politics. These are also the very same men that are now buying guns in droves. Can black folk have true justice and live in peace with this type of “thinking”?
Finally there is the Religious Right. And this is where Rick Warren fits in, but not because of what he’s saying at the inauguration, but because of what he and others like him are doing. Note what Theocracy Watch had to say:

“One way to understand the Religious Right is to look at the kinds of legislation their lawmakers sponsor. In the U.S. Congress and in state legislatures, bills are proposed that are anti-women, anti-labor, and anti-civil rights. Their legislation opposes finance campaign reform; environmental protection; gun control; social justice for the poor; public education; teaching evolution; human sexuality; and a separation of church and state.”

More importantly, these folks are in cahoots with our politicians to change and or make political policy—that affects you. Using their large congregations, media access, and tax exempt status they have the funding and follower ship to influence politicians to endorse their political agendas.

So no, I’m not a bit concerned that Rick Warren is praying at Barack Obama's Inauguration and you shouldn't’t be either. We have more important things to worry about.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Child, This Is Your Mom and Dad: We Need To Talk

Got a kid going off to college? Got a kid in college? If so, I know the last thing on your mind are all the “little” things that could go wrong while they are there. After all, you send you kids to these places thinking they are safe and sound. And for the most part they are. But take it from me; you can’t afford to be complacent. Sitting at work a week ago, I was suddenly interrupted (again) by a phone call from my daughter. It was the same sort of interruption I had experienced on four separate occasions this year—thus the subject of today’s post.

I don’t think it’s any secret that as parents, we need to talk to out kids. As a new step-father of a 19-year-old, I thought I was doing a pretty good job of communicating the things she needed to know. Then she went off to college...

Several situations latter and a few dollars shorter, I’m going to pass on this word of advice. Mom, Dad; talk to your college student; teach them “life skills.” What are Life Skills? Occurrences, events, or situations pop up in the lives of our children from time to time that could, if handled improperly, adversely affect them for the rest of their life—especially true for college students who often are away from home for the first time. College students need to know how to deal with these events to minimize harm to themselves and others—these are life skills.

The next time you sit down with your child, play the “what if” game. Then, explain to them what to do if…

You’re in a car accident. (1) Never get out of the car if the car is still safe. My daughter did and got into a fight: now we have to go to court to settle it—could have been prevented if she had stayed in the car. (2) Call the police. (3) Take pictures of the accident vehicles. Virtually every cell phone today has a camera. Better yet, buy a cheap disposable and put it in the glove compartment. (4) Get the other persons insurance information. (5) Stay calm and talk to people politely.

An altercation develops. (1) Back away, give them room. If a fight does ensue, you will be able to say you were not the aggressor. (2) Avoid arguing if at all possible and watch the sister-girl hand gestures! (3) Guardedly walk away to a safe place. (4) If the person is persistent, find a cop and/or dial 911. Once the police dispatcher answers, do not hang up until police arrive. (5) If the person attempts to hit you, protect yourself, and then get away—fast. Don’t stand there and swing it out with them. (6) Take pictures of your injuries and get to a doctor as soon as possible.

You are arrested. (1) Don’t panic—stay calm. (2) Don’t try to conceal your identity—in many states this is a crime in itself. (3) Ask why you are being detained. (4) Ask to speak with a lawyer or your parents. (5) Don’t sign any written statements or say anything until you can talk with a lawyer or your parents. (6) Be courteous to the officers and their staff. Walk through Michael Bluejays’ excellent checklist on the subject.

Someone offers you drugs. (1) Politely and confidently refuse them and get away form them, right then. (2) If you’re out with someone else, call a cab.

Your roommate is on drugs and/or you find drugs in your room. (1) Ask them to refrain from using them around you or in your room. (2) Ask them to remove them from the room. (3) Ask for a room reassignment. (4) As a last resort, alert the Resident Advisor and the Police.

You are attacked. (1) Make noise and draw attention to yourself, (2) Try to reason with your attacker, (3) If this is unsuccessful, fight back, and run to safety, (4) A wise sage once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” ALWAYS be mindful of your surrounds. Stay in well lighted areas and always know where the nearest police station or substation is. (5) Prepare for this event—take a self defense class such as Krav Maga.

Also, teach them how to: (1) Balance a checkbook, (2) Make a simple budget*, (3) Change a flat tire, (4) Avoid date rape, (5) Be safe at a nightclub, bar, or house party. Don’t smirk, chances are good your child will come to like these sorts of establishments—so prepare them! One good tip on this note: never leave your drink unattended and never accept a drink from someone you didn't see poured.

While this is not an all-inclusive list, it covers things many parents never think about. I know, because as a black parent, I thought sending my child to a “place of higher learning” raised them above such things. Take it from me, it doesn’t.

* And no child, you don’t need those credit cards they’re offering you.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Two Georgia HBCUs To Fall?

In news straight from the Associated Press, Republican Senator Seth Harp, Chairman of Georgia’s Higher Education Committee, is proposing that two of the states Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU) merge with white colleges.

You read me right! Because of a $2 billion budget shortfall, Senator Harp wants to merge Savannah State University and Albany State University with nearby white colleges. Blacknews.com reports, and I quote, that the Senator feels the mergers would “…save money and, in the process…erase a vestige of Jim Crow-era segregation.” End quote. Now ain’t that a b*#@ch! Let’s see here: in Georgia we got a Muslim in Douglasville who was arrested for not removing her traditional religious head dress, there’s the case of a bar owner in Marietta who printed up “Obama monkey” T-shirts (they sold like hot cakes by the way), and the Alpharetta woman who had racist graffiti painted on her home twice in one week, and rampant police profiling and institutional racism in Columbus. I’ll have you know that Turner County High School, located in rural Ashburn, just integrated its prom in 2007. So now the Senator wants to effectively close two fine black institutions because their existence is segregationist? Oh hell to the no!

I’m totally against merging ANY HBCU with a white college: (1) HBCU’s have historically provided our children better educations about the contributions of their ancestors to this rock called the U.S. of A; (2) HBCU’s provide a more familiar living environment for our children as the campuses are built around their needs; (3) HBCU’s have turned out some of the finest minds in history—Martin Luther King, Guion S. Buford Jr., Alexis Herman, Thurgood Marshall just to nave a few; and (4) Black men who attended a HBCU incomes increased faster each year than those who did not, according to Newswise; and (5) the kids at both the HBCU and white colleges are going where THEY want to go, with whom THEY want to go with, in the atmosphere THEY want to be in, in an environment which gave them a choice of the schools THEY wanted to attend.

While attending a HBCU is not right for every person of color, their value is still immeasurable today.

And oh, by the way, did you know that the Governor Sonny Purdue wants to spend $28 million to build a site for a bass fishing tournament in middle Georgia?

Senator Harp, help your fellow politicians fix the budget and leave our schools alone!

Top 10 HBCUs

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Institutional Racism: 45 Years Later – Even With A Black President ***Yes*** Here's Another One!


Please read and share this because this stuff has got to stop! This is a story my wife has made me aware of happening in Galveston, TX right now. Chirs Vogel, on his blog Hair Balls, reports that apparently, the police in Galveston were notified that WHITE prostitutes work were working in the area. The article, "Police Get The Wrong House In Galveston, Allegedly Assault 12-Year-Old Girl", states that Daymond, a young 12 year girl was outside in her front yard in the early morning resetting a breaker in the home's electrical panel box. Then, three plain-clothed Galveston police officers jumped out of a van and attempted to abduct her. When she cried to her father for help, they hit her in the face and throat. Dad came out and fought them off. After the incident, Dymond was hospitalized and suffered black eyes as well as throat and ear drum injuries. Three weeks later...the police went to Dymond's school, where she was an honor student, and arrested her for assaulting a public servant.

This isn't Russia. It ain't China. And it darn show isn't Cuba.

Let's put an end to this. Share this with everyone you know.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Institutional Racism: 45 Years Later – Even With A Black President

I saw something on the news this morning that moved me to ask myself how, in this day and age, could anyone be subjugated simply because of their race, color, religion, or national origin? As I watched; transfixed by the account of a young Muslim woman who was arrested and jailed because she did not want to remove her traditional head scarf, I wondered. How could I help? A few moments later, still troubled, the words of my dear brother Martin’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech echoed through my mind. And then it hit me. Who, but someone like me, understanding the power of the media in all its forms and the omnipresence of government in our lives, was more suited to shed light on this issue?

If you haven’t heard about this check out an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution entitled, “Georgia Judge Jails Muslim Woman Over Head Scarf.” It’s quite enlightening.

What happened to this young lady is a vivid example of Institutional Racism. Wikipedia defines it as “a form of racism which is structured into political and social institutions. It occurs when institutions, including corporations, governments and universities, discriminate either deliberately or indirectly, against certain groups of people to limit their rights...It reflects the cultural assumptions of the dominant group, so that the practices of that group are seen as the norm to which other cultural practices should conform…”

Sad thing is this is not an isolated case. In 2007, The Advancement Project detailed three notable cases of institutional racism in an article entitled, “Buried Alive: Institutional Racism and Zero Tolerance.”

And, it’s also not limited to the courts. As the name implies, it occurs in almost all of our American institutions including housing, health care, education, and the military, just to name a few.

V. Elaine Gross, explains the affects of institutional racism on minorities and housing in her article, New Horizons for Long Island: Undoing Institutional Racism And Overcoming Regional Inequities. Ms. Gross notes, “Land Use planning and municipal codes, policies and enforcement practices often create and perpetuate racially segregated housing patterns. Examples of this include: (1) private and public affordable housing (especially rental housing for low-income families and other social-purpose housing) is excluded from many predominately white neighborhoods and sited in the few predominately black neighborhoods. Also, some practices of realtors, housing developers, and landlords, notably “racial steering”, “blockbusting”, selective advertising, and removing housing from the market based on the race of the applicant, ensure that African Americans (and other people of color to differing degrees) are afforded a limited number of communities in which to live.”

Vernellia Randal notes differences in health status reflect, to a large degree, inequities in preventive care and treatment. For instance, African-Americans are more likely to require health care services, but are less likely to receive them.

In education, it is well known that many academics and theorist believe that girls are somehow less able in the hard sciences (math, physics, chemistry, etc.).

Many feel that the military’s current “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy is biased against homosexuals.

The bottom line is that 45 years later after Martin Luther King made his famous “I Have A Dream Speech”, racism is still a problem in America—even though the nation has elected its first black President. But know this, you can fight back and here’s how:

Know The Rules. Know the processes and procedures of how things are done, who does them, what forms to file, and how to appeal decisions you don’t agree with. Read everything BEFORE you sign it.
Know Your Civil Rights.
Exercise Good People Skills. Stay calm and be mindful of what you say to whom.
Get The Facts. Take notes; get names, titles, and dates; record conversations (when legally permissible); take pictures; keep a phone log and a journal.
Get A Second Opinion. Ask to speak with a supervisor or unbiased party empowered to make a decision.
Get An Attorney. Keep one on retainer if you can.
Inform Consumer Rights Organizations. The Better Business Bureau as an example. You can find a fairly comprehensive list on the Consumer World website.
Write. Your congressman, senator, governor, mayor, city councilman/woman, alderman, police chief, sheriff, etc. all have select staff to help you—take advantage and remind them that these institutions were put there to serve you. Write letters to supervisors and fill out customer service surveys and complaint forms.
Be Active In Your Community. Vote; attend parent teacher conferences, city council meetings, church meetings, etc.
Network. Talk to neighbors, church members, fraternities, sororities, Masonic organizations, and clubs and share war stories.
Push For Dialogue On The Issue Of Race.
Tell Local Civil Rights Organizations.
Alert The Media.
Candid Camera ‘Em!
Send a WASP in and see how they are treated—the results just might surprise you.
Become An Activist. Boycott, picket, start a petition, pass out leaflets, begin a letter campaign, voice your opinions on blogs, etc. Exercise your right to free speech!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How Can We Fix Clayton County?

Just a few of the problems facing this once proud Georgia county.

At Issue

In August of 2008, the Clayton County School district, the fifth largest in Georgia, looses it's accreditation and became the first in the nation in the past 40 years to lose accreditation for failing to meet eight of nine improvement mandates. This means that approximately 50,000 Clayton students could have trouble getting into some colleges and universities, or receiving scholarship money. School Board corruption has been cited as the main reason for the failure in a number of articles and as the topic of conversation between parents and teachers.

At Issue

"Home prices in Clayton County appear to be taking a major hit from the crisis in the county’s school system. The average sales price of a home in the south metro county is down nearly 32 percent from a year ago, far worse than the rest of metro Atlanta, where the average sales price is down 14 percent."

At Issue

Victor Hill, Clayton County Sheriff [soon to be former], embroiled in controversy. According to a recent article in the Last Days Ministries, Sheriff Victor Hill called 27 of his employees into a jail holding area, ordered them to hand over their badges and gun, and told them they were fired. The sheriff called the move necessary, part of a plan to reorganize a dysfunctional department. Those fired - the majority of them white - say they were let go because of their race, age or support of Hill's political opponents including the white sheriff he unseated. The firings touched off a racially charged uproar and cast a most unwanted spotlight on a growing suburban Atlanta county where residents thought racial tensions were a thing of the past.

In December of 2007, The State Ethics Commission has ordered Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill to pay a $2,000 fine for using county money to advertise his campaign. The Ethics Commission found Hill "improperly used county resources" when he advertised two campaign fund-raisers in the department's newsletter and interoffice memos. Also in 2007, Sheriff Hill banned Clayton police detectives from interviewing inmates in the county jail.
In September of 2008, a federal jury ordered Victor Hill to pay $475,000 to the brother of the man Hill defeated to become sheriff four years ago. Mark Tuggle was arrested in January 2005 after calling and leaving angry messages for Hill following the sheriff’s firing of 27 employees. Tuggle, who was jailed 30 hours, sued for false arrest and malicious prosecution.

Now, according to recent news articles, Mr. Hill is refusing to work with the incoming Sheriff-elect.

At Issue

As reported in Obi's Sister in May of this year.

"Clayton County District Attorney Jewel Scott and her husband, candidate for the
County Commission Chairman’s seat, Lee Scott, are being sued for more than $1
billion. Earl Randall, a candidate for the chairmanship, who used to work as the district attorney’s chief of staff, filed the law suit on Monday afternoon, alleging he was fired from his job in an act of political retaliation and suppression. Randall was fired right before Christmas. Jewel Scott reportedly said he was campaigning while on the job, but Randall maintains he was fired because he was running against Lee Scott in the 2008 election. “Within days of filing his Declaration of Intent [to run for county chairman], Randall learned that Lee Scott was very angry,” according to the suit. “Lee Scott was observed slamming his fist into a table at Fridays Restaurant while eating lunch with Jewel Scott and several employees of the CCDA. Lee Scott was heard screaming at Jewel Scott that the CCDA was his house and he ran his house. He paid $250,000 for Jewel Scott’s election."

It would seem that corruption, nepotism, palm greasing and personal agendas, which sound like words from the headlines of Washington, D.C., are widespread throughout Clayton County government. I would say that there needs to be better vetting of people seeking political office. However, if there's on thing you and I know about politicians (just think about the one's at work) is that they know how to make themselves look good. So, the only other option is to get them out of office when they mess up. The citizens of Clayton County must demand that a system be put in place that allows voters to get these folks out of office as soon as unethical behavior is proven. And, while any investigation is ongoing, they should be stripped of the power of their office. No other political protections should be afforded them.

Other than that, tell me, how do we fix all of this?

Monday, December 8, 2008

What Can Black Folk Really Expect From An Obama Presidency?

I was just reading a piece by Keith Boykin entitled, "Obama's Black Appointments." First thing I thought was wow, this guy is for real! Then, my mind turned to recent news story about gun sales and a visit to my daughters college. What, you might ask, does this have to do with Barack Obama?

First, the news piece talked about whites who were supposedly buying guns because they feared that they would lose the right to do so under an Obama presidency. Now, while this reason seemed legitimate enough, I personally think there are a whole lot of other fears associated with this behavior: fear of blacks taking over the country, fear of black reprisal for racism, fear of losing jobs, or fear that blacks will just run wild! Don't laugh, these fears are being baited by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk show hosts. The point is, although Obama has done a bang up job showing that a black president would not be a counter-revolutionary, left-wing, militant; there is still a lot of fear and doubt in the white community. And until that fear subsides and whites begin to use reason to evaluate his policies, not much will change.

I visited my daughter's college a few days ago and I must say, things have sure changed since I went to school--notably the dress. When I was in school, we [blacks] were trying very hard to emulate what we understood of the world of white business, both in the way we talked and dressed. I tell you, although the school is mixed, you couldn't tell the black students there from the average teen in the hood. So while I saw a lot of positives with black and white students co-existing together, I was a bit disappointed with the students dress, speech, and general disposition. I remember reading a book somewhere that talked about, "a development in college life." And to me, that what college is, a place to grow and develop and find and do new things with people from all walks of life. Young people, wake up, wise up, and work hard to work up. You've been asking for your chance and now you just might get it.

Barack On Key Issues
  • Barack Obama plans on saving the government $150 billion by eliminating tax cuts for people who don't need them.
  • Barack Obama supports affirmative action in colleges and government and would re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment.
  • Barack Obama would ban racial profiling and eliminate disparities in sentencing. He would create a civil rights division to enforce laws fairly and justly. He has legislated to protect detainees during interrogation, and pushed an Illinois bill to videotape all capital interrogations.
  • Barack Obama would teach both abstinence and contraception to teens, ensure that all children learn about sexual abuse and expand flex-work and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • Supports universal health care for all Americans.

One theme that rings central to Obama's philosophies is that of personal responsibility. So, while we can expect Barack Obama to continue to carry himself with dignity and poise, continue to make record appointments to his cabinet, and steadfastly develop an economic plan that will bring far more minorities to the table than ever before, he cannot do THE most important thing to bring about change in your life--you're actually taking responsibility, taking control, and taking off.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Black Sellouts - Do They Exist?

Watch this video. Then answer a question, is he a sellout?

Next, I want you to review a list of prominent African Americans. While reading, I want you to note the first impression that comes to mind.

Barack Obama
Jesse Jackson
Al Sharpton
Rev. Jeremiah Wright
Colin Powell
Condoleezza Rice
Bill Cosby
Magic Johnson
James T. Harris
Oprah Winfrey

Do you consider all of these people "down for their race?"

Now, I want you to look back over your lifetime. Was there anybody that you felt was a sellout?

Finally, keeping all this in mind, do you feel black sellouts, Uncle Toms, etc. exists within the black community? Or, are we simply envious?

The Biggest Problem Facing The Black Community!

About a year ago, a fellow activist, brotherpeacemaker, said that the biggest problem facing the black community is our inability to come together at times of adversity...

I must say I agree. Although brotherpeacemaker made this bold revelation in 2007, the problem of diviseveness is still with us today...the victories of Jena Six and Barack Obama aside.

So, tell me black folk, how do we go about coming together as a people?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How Do You Define Ghetto?

Keeping It Real?
Down for your people?
Or something elsese?

  • Tell me, How do YOU define ghetto?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Will The REAL African-American Please Stand Up?

Are "black reality" shows like Flavor of Love, I Love New York, and The Way It Is, casting a biased and negative stereotype of what the AVERAGE black person is like--even in the hood?

Does this represent us?

Does this represent our mothers?

Do the current "black elite" reflect who we are?

Or, are many of the behaviors we see depicted on the television and movie screens simply "ghetto?" - You tell me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What Can You Do About Juvenile Vandalism? Plenty!

According to the Office of Juvenile Justice, in 1997, law enforcement agencies made approximately 136,500 arrests of persons under age 18 for vandalism. These juvenile arrests represented 44% of all vandalism arrests.

As many of us know, vandalism is a real problem in many communities, but there is something we can do:
  • Ensure property is well lit at all times. Be sure that property throughout the community, especially common areas, is well lit.
  • Start and get involved in a neighborhood watch program. Even if your community does not have a neighborhood watch, be the nosy neighbor. Take the time to peak out your window or door. Look around and if you see something suspicious--call the cops!
  • Clean up graffiti as soon as possible.
  • Report all crime to local police.
  • Use unbreakable glass and fixtures.
  • Put up and lock away all tools, machinery, and lawn furniture.
  • Report teens engaging in anti-social behavior (speeding, loud music, in common areas after they close, etc.). Complete log sheets to keep a record of anti-social behavior.
  • Contact local youth workers to find out what activities are available for young people.
  • And, if all else fails: Prosecute--if not the juvenile, the parent.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Right Kind Of Education?

The civil rights organization Operation Hope just released the results of a study, the third of its kind, about African American students and their personal finances. The results are intriguing.

According to the article, Third Study Shows African American Students Consume More, Save Less:

When contrasted with the financial literacy of whites with the same incomes, the
highest income African Americans (those with family incomes above $80,000) had
financial literacy scores that were just 71.9 percent of whites. In contrast,
the lowest income African Americans had financial literacy scores that were 95.6
percent that of whites in the same income group. The report also revealed that
African American students are better spenders than savers.

In contrast to young white adults, African American high school seniors of
the same age are more likely to use credit and debit cards, are less likely to
have a bank account, and are less likely to work part-time or summers while they
are still in high school. This orientation toward consumption and away from
saving may help explain higher relative scores of African Americans on spending
rather than saving questions.

Several things jumped out at me. While high income African Americans had only 72 percent of the financial literacy of their white counterparts, low income African Americans had 95 percent of the financial literacy, or should I say illiteracy, as their lower income white counterparts. And, many of the African American "high-schoolers" did not work. The conclusions one can draw from this are many: (a) African Americans with good incomes who know a little something about managing their money need to know more, (b) knowing how to use your money means you're probably going to have more of it because you're going to keep more of it in YOUR pocket, (c) not knowing how to use your money will keep you poor--regardless of race, and (d) by not making our children earn what they want, we (African Americans) are not preparing our kids for the real world or the responsibilities of handling money. We are setting them up to be poor.

All of us want our kids to have the best education possible. Perhaps we should teach our children that character is "who we are" on the inside that shows outwardly in our decisions and actions--you don't wear it on your back. Next, we need to teach them the difference between needs and wants. And clearly, as this study by Operation Hope shows, it is important for us as black parents to learn all we can about personal finance and then teach those skills to our kids. Remember, many of us created our own financial crisis by buying way more house, car, clothes, hair, jewelry, holiday gifts, etc. than we need.

A final note - "Don't spend money you don't have trying to impress people who don't feed you."

Monday, November 17, 2008

The "Down Low" Brother - Undermining Black America?

Today, I came across some standard statistics about the Aids epidemic among African-Americans:

The CDC states that according to the 2000 census, blacks make up approximately 13% of the US population. However, in 2005, blacks accounted for 18,121 (49%) of the estimated 37,331 new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in the United States in the 33 states with long-term, confidential name-based HIV reporting.

Of all black men living with HIV/AIDS, the primary transmission category was sexual contact with other men, followed by injection drug use and high-risk heterosexual contact.

Of all black women living with HIV/AIDS, the primary transmission category was high-risk heterosexual contact, followed by injection drug use.

Yet, it's not the numbers, but the words within the statistics that are telling. The highest risk for HIV/AIDS for women are black men...who are also having sex with other black men. As if black women don't have enough to worry about!

It's not enough to keep quoting the standard although all-important mantras: practice safe sex, get yourself and your partner tested, practice monogamy and celibacy. There's another, SIMPLE, solution to this! BLACK MEN--be honest with yourself and your partners! If you are in any way having sex with another man, you are Gay!

OK, let's move beyond labels. Stop the risky behavior. No, I'm not talking about being homosexual--that's your personal choice. No, I'm not talking about having unprotected sex or even having sex with multiple sex partners, although this type of risky behavior is dangerous to both heterosexuals and homosexuals. I'm talking about lying. And if you're a male who has had any type of sexual contact with anther male and you don't tell your partner, especially a women, I'm talking about you. Any mature adult, regardless of sexual orientation, knows that "honesty is the best policy." So let your partners, especially our precious black women know! As you can see, your dishonesty is killing them.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

How To Find The IMPERFECT Mate

Today, I came across an interesting statistic about black people and marriage: 43.3 percent of black men and 41.9 percent of black women in America had never been married, in contrast to 27.4 percent and 20.7 percent respectively for whites. And, African American women are the least likely in our society to marry.

This got me to thinking. Why do so many black folk, and women in particular, find it so hard to find someone to/worth marrying? My mind flashed back to my parents advice, all those articles I read on relationships, the Sunday sermons, and the seminars and books on "how to find the right person." As I reviewed the stuff in my mind, it dawned on me that there were common themes. So why are black folk still having a hard time? Well, sometimes I understand things better if they are stated in opposition, i.e. tell me to do something that results in exactly what I DON'T want to happen. So, if you want to practically guarantee you will enter into the wrong relationship, wrong marriage, or not marry at all, read on.

Robert's 10 Rules For Finding The Imperfect Mate

Rule 1. Date someone below your social class. That's right, marry someone with far less education and money than you and you guarantee yourself a miserable existence.
Rule 2. Date someone with different religious beliefs than you. Go ahead Christian and marry that non-church goer or that atheist. And by all means don't pray about it.
Rule 3. Judge a book by its cover, date someone simply because they are your look type.
Rule 4. Go to the club, chat room, gym, mall, Internet, etc. to find that special someone.
Rule 5. Totally disregard anything your family has to say about the person you want to marry. After all, what do they know? And you're grown!
Rule 6. Date someone solely because of their material possessions. What's the phrase on Tyler Perry's movie? "Quality"
Rule 7. Value good sex more than good conversation.
Rule 8. Date someone who is selfish and self-centered.
Rule 9. Let your Friends decide if the person is right for you.
Rule 10. Don't meet the other person's family while dating.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Will Obama's Presidential Election Doom Affirmative Action?

Today, ABC News talked about how Barack Obama's election as President of the United States would change the dynamic of the US workforce. The supposition was that the US workforce would become more culturally diverse as a result of his election and his leadership thus far in assembling a very culturally diverse team. ABC also noted another positive: African Americans and other minorities finally see that they can achieve more and are motivated to do the right thing: go to school, work, start businesses, etc. (more on this later) But I wonder, could an Obama election have just the opposite effect?

For many years when people debated the merits of affirmative action, those opposing affirmative action usually split into two camps. The first are those that opposed because they feel any quota is wrong. The second set are those who oppose because they feel blacks and other minorities have been in this country long enough to have overcome the handicaps of segregation. While I don't agree with either, Obama's election, as well as the very high profile careers of many other people of color, adds strength to their central theme--people should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

Obama, like many Americans, started with humble beginnings (not to mention a checkered family history) and finally realized that he had to buckle down and use his wit, charm, and poise to succeed. Both he and Michelle worked hard and graduated from Harvard School of Law. Now I wonder if many Americans might expect the same of all of us? That is, to buckle down, work hard and receive the rewards thereof. Or not to do so and live in mediocrity--without excuses.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

How To Keep A Job In This Economy

Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years:

1. Be good at what you do, but not to good. Basically, be one of the productive members of the team, but not so much so until your coworkers notice, single you out, and help find a way to get you fired.
2. Don’t be terrible at what you do. If you can’t or won’t do your job, why should they keep you?
3. Use teleworking and leave sparingly. After all, if you can be absent for long periods of time, why have you there at all?
4. Lean to do other people’s job--quietly! The more you know, the cheaper it is to keep you because you can do more than one thing. So, take on new responsibilities, volunteer, learn.
5. Stay out of, but keep tuned into office gossip and politics. You don’t want to be a part of it, but you do want people to tell you what’s going on. Sometimes the grapevine can reveal when the sharks are out for you! And by all means, don’t discuss your personal life at work. But, because people fear what they don’t understand, learn to make idle, but harmless chit chat. (talk about insignificant things like what the kids did, sports, weather, etc.).
6. Learn and follow the cooperate culture for the position you’re in. Learn how you are expected to act, communicate--especially when speaking and most assuredly in disagreement, dress, and what work related social gatherings to attend. When in doubt, be conservative. And remember, ANY gathering where your coworkers or boss are in attendance is a work gathering. Finally, never drink at any gathering where coworkers or your boss are in attendance. Why, management tend to listen to management, so while your boss may be OK with your drinking, it’s almost a sure thing another manager will not be.
7. Learn to manage your boss. Read up on various methods of personality profiling and try to sum your boss up. Treat them they way the want to be treated!
8. Don’t complain. Always be positive and upbeat. If someone asks and you can‘t think of anything else, just say how glad you are to have a job.
9. Be likable. Be friendly, help others from time to time, genuinely hear what others have to say and respect their opinions, get to know the people you work with. I once had a boss call it the “likability factor.” That guy or gal everyone feels is just a “good guy” or “good people.“ It’s hard to fire someone when you feel a genuine kinship with them. Be mindful of how you present yourself and even more so of how others see you. Take note of those little cues and ask trusted friends what they think.
10. Don’t use company equipment for personal use. And never, never, never do, write, say, or look at anything sexually explicit at work.
11. Don’t date anyone at work.
12. Update your resume and keep it updated. Post it on several of the large job search engines. Carry a few clean copies with you to hand out. However, be careful--you don’t want someone from work to see it.
13. Always be on the lookout for a job, whether you have one or not. You don’t wait until you need insurance to buy it? Right? Search employment websites, newspapers, magazines, etc. And by all means, do the next bullet.
14. Network, network, network. People, not resumes, or qualifications, or anything else hire. Many jobs are never even advertised. Talk with friends who might have leads on job openings, talk with people at training classes, seminars, meetings, etc. Discretely visit other departments. Attend job fairs. If you do some work for someone outside your agency and they like what you do, put a feeler out. Stay connected, when you meet someone in a position to either give you a job or let you know one is opening up, stay in touch--send a Christmas card or drop a friendly email.
15. Remember that when an employer has a job opening there is a problem that employer is trying to solve. Often the problems an employer is having, and therefore a job opening, can be found in unconventional places like the television, magazines, and radio. Just yesterday I saw that a major housing authority had fired their executive director and a senior board member was running things. I also saw where a major county was getting a multi-million dollar grant to revitalize a community. So, I shot them both a resume!
16. Be prepared to do anything legal that pays the bills. You may be a software engineer now, but if working two jobs as a restaurant manager will pay the bills, do it!
17. Always find time to volunteer--you will meet lots of people and do lots of good. And if that’s not enough, you will undoubtedly hear about some of those employer problems, i.e. job openings.
18. Heaven forbid if it should happen, but if you must leave a job, for good or bad, leave gracefully. Don’t badmouth your boss or coworkers and don’t cast blame. Remember, you will probably need a reference. One trick I've seen is to befriend a mid to senior level staffer who is familiar with you work and have them write the recommendation.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

How To Survive A Bad Economy--Now That’s A Good Question!

Here are a few simple tips that work!
  • Pay yourself first--start an emergency fund. If you can, start a retirement account and a college savings account for your kids.
  • If you’re fortunate enough to have a retirement account, leave it alone.
  • Pay down debt, especially credit cards.
  • Stop buying things you don‘t need. You don’t have to have designer clothes, a European car, or the most expensive house, and you don’t have to drink or smoke.
  • Take care of the things you have. If the things you have work, don’t go into debt or spend money now to replace them. Take a few cues from Katherine Reynolds Lewis who offers some sound advice on how to cut your cost of living.
  • Again, put something away for a rainy day, i.e. start an emergency fund. Try to build up three to six months of living expenses which will give you a comfortable cushion in case you lose your job or see overtime hours cut. You will also be able to cover the unexpected medical bills, car repair, or help for a relative or friend.
  • Know the difference between needs and wants and ONLY BUY THE THINGS YOU NEED. You need a roof over your head, food and water, clean clothing, a dependable vehicle, and to maintain your basic hygiene--you don’t have to eat seafood, go to the hairdresser each week, or get your nails done, and you don’t have to have the sexist cell phone. By the way, does everyone in your family NEED a cell phone?
  • Shop for the best deals. Clip out store coupons and use Internet coupons. Buy generic foods and medicines. Take advantage of sales, but again, buy only what you NEED. Shop at dollar stores, they have lots of stuff, especially the basics. Take advantage of flea markets, swap meets, and garage sales--lots of good deals here. Buy in bulk (Sam’s Club, etc.). Compare prices, most stores have the unit price printed on a label on the shelf--this is the true cost of the item. Recycle gifts. How? Have an old gift that just isn't you? Don't just let it sit on a shelf or throw it away, give it to someone! Review your insurance policies, compare them with others and choose the one with the best value.
  • Learn new skills. For instance, learn how to do small repairs around the house yourself. Patching a wall, fixing a faucet, painting--there all easy things to learn and Lowes and Home Depot offer classes. Increase your skills base on the job--if you're a carpenter, learn how to do small electrical and plumbing repair. If you're a contracts manager, learn how to both administer and let contracts. You should also balance your skills base. If you're a white collar person, pick up a trade such as carpentry, and if you're a blue collar person, learn a clerical skill such as using a computer or bookkeeping.
  • Use bartering instead of cash. This is the way our forefathers did things. For instance, you need your car repaired and someone else you know needs a room painted. Why not paint their room and in turn let them repair your car?
  • Reduce utility usage. Go easy on the lights and gas by keeping your thermostat set at the minimum level comfortable. Turn off lights and other electric appliances in rooms not in use--and unplug that phone charger! Don't you know its still using electricity even though the phone isn't on it?
  • Use public transportation, especially if your job helps pay for it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

To Bail Or Not To Bail, Is It A Question?

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk among the candidates about what THEY would do to resolve the housing foreclosure crisis. John McCain, in his second debate against Barack Obama, made the “off the cuff” statement that he would have the Government purchase mortgages directly from homeowners and mortgage servicers, and replace them with manageable, fixed-rate mortgages that would keep families in their homes. [The idea] is that by purchasing the existing, failing mortgages, the McCain plan would eliminate uncertainty over defaults, support the value of mortgage-backed derivatives and alleviate risks that are freezing financial markets.” The plan would be available to mortgage holders who live in one home as their primary residence, and had good credit at the time of the loan. The mortgage would be a fixed-rate loan the homeowner could afford. McCain Proposes Bailout for Homeowners

It’s no doubt that African Americans households, have been particularly targeted by subprime mortgage lenders, are bearing the brunt of the housing crisis. Planetizen points out that, "predatory lenders have been steering blacks toward subprime loans for years, even when they could afford prime rates. I know this is true because my finance company tried it with me.

Interestingly, first-time homebuyers make up only a small percentage of subprime loans. According to Kai Wright, over half of all subprime loans were refinances of exiting home loans. This is a real tragedy because so much of black wealth is dependent on home equity. So as the housing market collapses, much of the trumpeted new wealth that has accumulated in black communities in recent decades will go with it.

Now, I’m not sure if McCain’s plan would work. In fact, I’m not sure that even if it could, I would want it to. After all, is it fair to bail out approximately 10 percent of the homeowners who got in over their heads? How would the Government distinguish between the folks who bought the property as an investment (i.e. to flip) and those who bought it to live in for the long term? Is it fair to give them a better interest rate than me, just because they couldn’t live up to their commitments? Is it fair that when values do go up, the folks who were “bailed-out” stand to make even more profit than me because they have less in the home? Or worse, they can undercut my price exactly because they have less to loose? And if my next door neighbor sales his or her home based on the new “value” which is lower than what we both originally paid, will that really help my home's value?

So yes, the crisis in the black community is real, and we need real solutions. However, every time I pay my house note and my taxes, I just can’t shake the feeling that if something like this is passed, it would be unfair to me and others like me who are struggling to hold on. I guess the old adage just keeps ringing in my head, “who’s going it bail me out?”

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Black Conservatism - An Oxymoron?

A few nights ago, a young man stood up at an election rally and begged GOP candidate John McCain to "take it to Obama." Now, normally this would hardly raise an eyebrow and would be seen as a person expressing their opinion or simply politics as usual. However, the comment apparently set off a firestorm of outrage in the black community. Why? Because the person making the desperate plea, James T. Harris, is black. Mr. Harris says that since making his nationally televised comments, he has received an outcry of “threats” and insults from black folk who just can‘t understand how a black man could make such comments.

So, who is James Harris? A visit to his web page proved interesting:
  • He is Republican and self-proclaimed “conservative."
  • He hosts his own radio show, the National Conversation, WTMJ 620 in Milwaukee.
  • He taught history at Brown Deer High School.
  • He has traveled abroad--Western and Eastern Europe, India and West Africa.
  • He graduated from Cardinal Stritch University, studied history and sociology at the University of Nottingham.
  • He is a national motivational speaker and owner of the company IllumiNation.
From the looks of it Mr. Harris is doing alright, he has a college education, a good job, and owns his own business. So what’s so wrong with him being conservative?

I looked up the definition of “conservative” and found this one most applicable, “favoring traditional views and values, tending to oppose change.” Let’s break it down.

Hmm…“favoring traditional views.” So, what “traditional” views does Mr. Harris favor? Those that oppose blacks even going to college, yet alone going to school with whites? What about segregated schools? Maybe its the "old boy" network that still prevents many minorities from having a high paying job or owning their own business? Could be being able to travel, period, or having to ride in the back or eating in a “blacks only” area. Surely, being a black man, Mr. Harris does not favor these viewpoints, yet many conservative whites do. So why would any black man be conservative?

And what change does Mr. Harris oppose? Does he not want to change the fact that a black man, no matter how rich, well spoken, educated, well-dressed, or morally conservative can’t catch a cab in most cities? Or, does he object to the fact that many whites don’t want to live in the same community as a person of color? Perhaps he feels it appropriate that many whites feel blacks are inferior and are spreading negative stereotypes abroad? Indeed, does he support the negative stereotypes of blacks in the media? Could it be that he considers it fair policy that we spend more money on prisons than schools? Or that the sentence for drug crimes are horribly unequal? Is he comfortable that white women cross the street when they see a black man, including him? Or doesn’t he want people to stop beating up other people just because they are not white, or are gay? Perhaps its women wanting equal pay for equal work that bothers him. Maybe its the fact that because of Barack Obama, voter registration among people of color is the highest in history. Is he unnerved by the fact that a black man is so close the Presidency? And should the practice of racial profiling not change? And how could anyone not support changing the predatory lending practices that have ruined the lives of so many? Changing these negative policies would not only help people of color, they would help America--and him. So how could he not want change?

Which begs the question: Can a black person truly be conservative in America?

Mr. Harris has obviously carved out a niche for himself and I praise him. He has found a life that eludes many people of color: a good education, a good job, business ownership, and a political voice. I submit what he really does not want to change is his life. But brother, if that’s the case, he's on the wrong side!

Your thoughts?