Thursday, July 23, 2009

How Long Can The Black Middle Class Last?

Americans, and I mean all Americans, are in the midst of some of the worst economic times since The Great Depression. We are all struggling in some form. That's why I think it is so intriguing to find conversations taking place about the black middle class. Usually, all most Americans hear about when the media does cover African-American economic issues is their supposed use of entitlement programs. But, many of us are not receiving any type of government assistance--not yet anyway. It is also important to note that CNN is not the only media outlet taking African-American economic issues head on. Penn State has a great dialogue going on entitled, "Conversations: The Black Middle Class."

Which begs the question, just how are you doing? Are you doing better under an Obama administration? Have you benefited from any of the Stimulus funds? Will the black middle class fade with the manufacturing industry, particularly the big three auto makers (even though Ford just posted a profit for the second quarter).

And while you're figuring out what you're going to say, and please say something, here are a few facts for 'ya. Hey, you know I couldn't let you read without learning something!

  • A new study of 401(k) plans has revealed that black and Hispanic workers save significantly less for retirement and tap into their accounts more frequently than white and Asian employees.
  • data collected by the Federal Reserve shows that minorities are most at risk of damaging their financial futures due to poor credit card management. African American households, in particular were shown to spend larger percentages of their incomes paying credit card and other high interest rate debt, heading closer to foreclosure bankruptcy while enriching lenders.
  • Because of their dependence on non-standard loan agreements, African-Americans are still the most vulnerable ethnic group to foreclosures.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Free Eric Frimpong!

eric frimprong playing soccer Brothers, sisters and all those who hunger for justice; I would like to take a moment to fill you in on a tragic court case that took place in Santa Barbara California—the case of Eric Frimpong.

A rising soccer star at California’s UC Santa Barbara; a year later he became a campus hero while leading the Gauchos to their first-ever national championship. But in 2007, just weeks after being selected by the Kansas City Wizards in the MLS draft, he was accused of raping another student on the beach near his house. Now he's a convicted felon serving a six year sentence in the State Prison. I urge you to read Sam Alipour’s (ESPN Magazine) excellent coverage of the case .


And, if like me you feel justice was not served, write Santa Barbara District Attorney Christie Stanley and let her know you are aware and that you care! Click the following link.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Memorialized Today @ Issue: What Did We Learn From Michael Jackson?

Today the world witnessed the memorial of Michael Jackson, one of the greatest entertainers of all time. I wonder; what did we learn?

Jesus said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." All his life, all Michael wanted was to be loved as a person and respected as an artist. What did we learn from Michael's example? His Life? His Success? His Failures?

Did we learn to love each other, even in our differences?

Did we learn that all the money in the world doesn't matter if you don't surround yourself with positive people?

Did we learn about the awesome responsibility of being a parent?

Did it change your thoughts or cause you to think more about child abuse and its prevention?

Did we learn about human nature and those who would enable us to do what we want--even if its bad for us?

Did we learn to take care of ourselves?

What did you learn? What would you like to say to the family? What do you think about his life, his issues, and yours?

I hope you learned to share--your testimony just might save a life.

“Ebonic” Transformers — Offensive or Oft Realistic?


I've been waiting to talk about this one until I was sure most of you had a chance to see the movie “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” Apparently, some folks find two of the characters, Skids and Mudflap, tow twin robots disguised as compact cars offensive. Why? Because they speak Ebonics and one of them has a gold tooth—one can’t read.

Racial stereotypes have been a part of the media since its inception. Starting in the 1915 with “The Birth of a Nation” where blacks were depicted as thieves, coons, untrustworthy, decadent, servants with dominant mammies. Even back then, concerns over black stereotypes existed: The Independent Black Filmmakers were formed and produced “The Birth of a Race” as a counter to the film. The 1930s continued to see the popularity of Blackface in movies. The period of Sixties through the Seventies marked the era of "blaxploitation” films showing black characters as overly macho, overly violent, overly sex crazed, hood heroes fighting each other, the man, and just about everything in between. And even to date, movies, television, and radio are marked by the stereotypical rendition of black folk as neurotics, religious zealots, criminals, gang members, gangster rappers or athletes. And in 2005 who could forget Ja-Ja Binks of Star wars? Point is the media has always had a fascination with and disdain for African American culture, then and now. And, this love hate relationship will probably continue. So is there an issue here?

Fact is these folk exist in our community (as in all others by the way). So should we, as African Americans, get upset when these behaviors are shown? After all, I didn’t hear of anyone getting upset with any African American comics portrayal of black folk. Do any of you out there not think that Fat Albert, Mudbone, Sheneneh, Jerome, Professor Clump, and Wanda are some of the funniest and true to life characters in history?

So here’s what I think. Wouldn’t it just be better for more African Americans to do better (eat right, attend school, marry, work, save, and own businesses)? When more of us do that fewer of us will be offended and these characters will have less relevance.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Should You Fear Drug Dealers? Perhaps. But Did You Know You May Be Your Child’s Pusher?

The recent death of Michael Jackson has served to highlight many things that should be addressed in American society: child abuse, mental illness and drug abuse to name a few.  This is not to say that Jackson suffered from any of these maladies, but some of the circumstances in his life and death served as a catalyst to allow discussion of these critical issues.  For instance, Jackson’s family and close friends speculate that his death was caused by possible prescription drug abuse of painkillers, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. 

According to a recent article by Jill Harris, Managing Director of Public Policy at the Drug Policy Alliance,’…deaths from drug overdoses have been rising and have reached crisis levels in our country. A newly-released report by the Drug Policy Alliance documents the extent of the problem: drug overdose is now the second-leading cause of accidental death in America, surpassing firearms-related deaths. And it's not just young people who are dying of overdoses: overdose is the number-one injury-related killer among adults aged 35-54.”

Also of note, this crisis isn't only about illegal drugs, the greatest number of people dying from accidental overdose are those who use legal prescription drugs (typically painkillers called opioids) which can include both opium-derived drugs like morphine and codeine, and synthetics like Percodan, Percoset, Oxycontin and Vicodin.  These drugs are also those most often used by young people to get high.  According to the U.S. government’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, prescription painkillers rank second behind marijuana as the nation’s most common illegal drug problem.  And in 2005, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported that 48 million Americans aged 12 and older (or 20 percent of the U.S. population) have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in their lifetimes.

Now, where do you fit into this equation?  By not taking drugs as prescribed by your doctor, not monitoring the whereabouts of these drugs in your home, not storing them properly, and not disposing of them properly and in a timely manner.  Following are a few things you can do.

  • Safeguard all prescription medications in the
    household. Remove them from the medicine
    cabinet and place them out of reach of children
    and teens.
  • When a family member receives a prescription,
    ask the doctor or pharmacist if the medication
    has the potential for abuse. Keep control of
    all medications.
  • If your child must take a prescription during
    school hours, arrange for them to receive it from
    the school nurse. Make sure that all unused
    medication is returned to you.
  • Ask the pharmacist how to safely dispose
    of unused medications.  Do not flush them down the toilet! The US EPA has deemed flushing expired medications-otherwise known as PPCPs (pharmaceuticals and personal care products) in domestic sewage systems as the "least desirable way to dispose of any drug." According to the EPA, "If you throw your PPCPs down the drain or flush them down the toilet, and if your home is connected to a municipal sewage system, some of the PPCPs would typically be discharged into lakes, rivers, or oceans, because most waste water treatment plants are not designed to remove or destroy PPCPs from wastewater." Several studies by various municipalities have confirmed that domestic septic systems (water treatment plants) do not destroy or remove PPCPs.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Why Today’s Supreme Court Ruling In Favor of “The New Haven 19” Could Turn The Clock Back On Minority Economic Gains

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of 19 white fire fighters and one Latino fire fighter in their lawsuit against the city of New Haven Connecticut. The case stems from a 2004 lawsuit filed by white firefighters who passed an exam for a job promotion only to have the test results thrown out because no African-American candidate received a high enough score to also be considered for promotion.

City officials said they wanted to add diversity to the management ranks within the fire department. But when no blacks and only two Hispanic applicants qualified for consideration for the management jobs, the city decided to scrap the entire test. So the white firefighters sued charging that the city violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against them solely because they were not black—the court agreed.

While the Supreme Court’s ruling might help fuel conservatives´ opposition to supreme court nominee Sonia Sotomayor (as today's decision in Ricci v. DeStefano ruled against an earlier ruling Sotomayor upheld as an appellate judge) I fear this case will have a wide-ranging negative impact on anti-discrimination employment—especially in Government which has traditionally been a bastion for minority economic development. Think about the “good jobs” of the past: teachers, postal workers, city workers, county workers, and Federal workers. The only equal for minorities were factories and the mills. Now look at today, those factory and mill jobs have all but dried up, making Government employment all the more important for minority economic parity. If affirmative action programs are abandoned and Government goes the way of cooperate America, fewer minorities will be hired or promoted to high-level Government positions—regardless of how well they do on some “objective” test or process. How could I say this? More on why later, but first, some background.

The first reverse discrimination law suit reached the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1970s when a white student named Allan Bakke accused the University of California medical school of twice denying him admission because he was white. In their decision, the Supreme Court ruled that strict racial quotas were unconstitutional but affirmative action was not. In the years to follow, the cases continued to mount, especially as minorities and women began to get climb the economic ladder.

In April of this year in South Carolina, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued a historically black college on behalf of three white faculty members who complained they were forced from or denied jobs because of their race.

Simultaneously, federal officials reached a settlement agreement with Benedict College paying $55,000 to each instructor, including an art teacher who said she was denied promotion in favor of a black professor.

And there have been other Governmental cases:

Michael C. Ryan v. Norman Y. Mineta (FAA). On October 6, 2004 -- after nine years of litigation and hearings, Federal Judge John W. Bissell found that the FAA had, in fact, illegally discriminated against white employee Ryan via the agency's zealous racial-quota hiring and promotion policies.

Larry Price v. HUD. The HUD St. Louis office denied promotions to Larry Price because he is white and male. Mr. Price won in Jan. 2002.

Joseph Ray Terry vs. EEOC. EEOC found guilty of reverse discrimination! White EEOC employee wins lawsuit.

Diersen vs. U.S. GAO. U.S. General Accounting Office discriminates against its older employees, especially those who are white and male! Lawsuit pending for discrimination and retaliation. Agency downsizing disproportionately affects older, white males. (UPDATED 12/17/04)

IRS found guilty of reverse discrimination and retaliation against employees! (Updated 04/22/99)

FAA -- Air agency rejects highly qualified, disabled, white veteran DeWayne Currier. FAA says air safety is less Important than skin color. (Updated 12/30/98)

INS Fires Disabled Jewish Woman. In Caryl Leventhal v. Janet Reno; Caryl B. Leventhal worked for the Immigration and Naturalization service (INS). Caryl is white, she is Jewish, and she has multiple sclerosis. Black INS employees insulted and discriminated against Ms. Leventhal for her race, religion, and medical condition.

Yet, there were no major rulings to Governmental affirmative action programs—until today. Why is this so important? I would dare to say that the Government (County, State, and Federal) is by far the principle provider of higher paying jobs and advancement opportunities for minorities. According to the Office of Personnel Management, the Federal Government’s rate of employment of all minorities ranged between 29 percent in 2001 to 32 percent in 2006—far above minority population levels. If these opportunities are lost due to a “fairness issue,” it could set minorities back 100 years. Many conservatives argue to the contrary.

Whites, especially white males, say that affirmation action is no longer necessary and that instead of leveling the playing field for minorities, it unfairly punishes whites. Let’s examine this argument. First, I challenge the idea that affirmative action unfairly punishes whites and does not level the playing field. I would agree if it weren’t for one simple fact: the “old boy” network and “white privilege” still exists. Are whites being unfairly punished? Some…maybe. The majority of CEO’s are white, the majority of business owners are white. Time and time again studies have revealed that whites receive better treatment from everything to loans to catching a cab. So, while some whites may not get the job they think they deserve, this is not the norm for them—for minorities, it is.

And here’s something to think about. Could it be that the election of the nations first African American President will only strengthen the dismantling of affirmative action? My answer, could be. It’s exactly because you now have an African American President and Republican Party Chairman—both firsts the history of this nation. You also have a good number of African American professionals. Because of this, some would argue that affirmative action is obsolete. You also have a President who’s big a advocate of personal responsibility and has called loudly for the same saying Government can not and should not do it all. How will he be balance these proclamations with the needs of minorities in a still racially divided America? and still be the President for all the people?

Friday, June 26, 2009

You Left Too Soon ~ A Tribute To Michael Jackson

clip_image002 You left too soon.

I remember it was only yesterday, maybe Late ’79, that you came to visit. Now you’re gone. But we’re still here, experiencing this thing called life, still here to carry on. We are here: fighting, crying, laughing and playing. Yeah, ,79 was really Off The Wall. I’m sure you’re proud of what we did: Maynard H. Jackson, Jr. was elected the first black Mayor of Atlanta and Coleman Young was elected the first black Mayor of Detroit. But still; we miss you. We want to be with you, to have just one more good time to Rock With You.

clip_image003 You left too soon.

I was talking to Bille Jean just the other day in ’82. We were talking about what a Thriller it was: Rev. Ben Chavis’ struggles to block a toxic waste dump in Warren County; North Carolina launched a national campaign against environmental racism. And, Bryant Gumbel was named anchor of The Today Show and became the first African American to hold the post on a major network. I was so pumped up! She said that I always Wanna Be Starting Something. Na, I’m just tired. I’m tired of pouring out swigs for my “homies.” I’m tired of attending funerals. I’m tired of walking behind draped chariots or following in somber processions. I’m tired of 21-gun salutes. I’m tired of dancing in the streets with fewer of my friends. I’m tired of being tired. I guess I’m just tired of seeing good men die too young.

clip_image005 You left too soon.
You see, I will never forget The Way You Make Me Feel—the joy, pain, sorrow and happiness. Sometimes I didn’t like it. Sometimes I didn’t understand. But through it all one thing remained constant—I always felt real. Yeah, ’87 was a rough year; hundreds of our families that really felt Bad. We remember that this was the year that HIV/AIDS ranked 10th as a cause of death for African Americans (third for African-American men, fifth for African-American women between 25 and 34 years of age, and ninth for African-American children ages 0 to 14). Even more sadly, many of those inflicted were treated like some sort of pariah…Smooth Criminal.

clip_image006 You left too soon.

In ’91 did you Remember The Time Roland Burris become the first black attorney general of Illinois? Or who could forget the Los Angeles police force beating and arrest of Rodney King after a San Fernando Valley traffic stop? What about Clarence Thomas, taking a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court? Or Julie Dash releases “Daughters of the Dust,” the first feature film by an African American woman? clip_image008 And although our emotions would sway too and fro like a ship in the wind, we had your music and your life to see us through. I had you Michael to Rock My World.

clip_image010 Yes Michael, you left too soon.

But now, you are gone. You are no longer with us. In this year, when we have so much to celebrate—most notably the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States. And so many challenges: home foreclosures, Wall Street, bank bailouts, healthcare reform. The list goes on and on. I guess we will have to hold on to the memories, both good and bad. And as I think about it, I know what you would tell me, tell us. I, we, must do our best…because We Are The World.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

PETA Pissed ‘Cause Obama Kills Fly. Who Cares? Let Me Tell You What We Should Be Talking About!

PETA or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is upset with President Obama because he killed a fly during a recent interview with CNBC. The organization even went as far as to send him a Katcha Bug; a device that catches bugs not kills them.

Give me a break! You tell me with all that’s going wrong with the country today, all PETA has to focus on is the killing of a fly? And just think; this is the same organization that called for the imprisonment of Michael Vick.

Here are just a few of the issues WE SHOULD be talking about:

1. The Economy. Deep recession, job loss, and retirement savings loss are the current drivers of the challenges to the economy right now.

2. Breakdown of the family. Welfare: a system that makes government dependency more attractive than husbands. Illegitimacy: children born out of wedlock have increased from 23.6% in 1963 to nearly 70% of all black children today. Absence of black fathers: Over three-quarters of black household do not have fathers in the home or involved with the children. Even more don’t have a positive male role model around. Marriage or lack thereof: Half of all black women and men are not married.

3. Black anti-intellectualism. Accusations of "acting white" in the classroom, as detailed by John McWhorter, undermine education as a vehicle for advancement. Instead, black leaders expend enormous resources to advance affirmative action at a small number of elite universities, unmindful of the pernicious effects it has had on talented young blacks. Low-Effort Syndrome: African-American students are not putting forth the effort to succeed in the classroom while parents enable them to do so. The high school dropout rate in the U.S. is higher for black males than any other group — 53 percent. There are so few African-American males attending college until it’s be deemed a crisis by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

4. Failure of urban K-12 schools. Teachers unions and the education establishment have been more interested in pay-raises and grants than student achievement, testing, and competition from Catholic schools. Not to mention the costs of replacing the more effective Basic Instruction with the Self-Esteem pedagogy.

The failure of urban schools is not attributable to a lack of funding. There has been a 300% real increase in per pupil spending since 1970. This increase has been only modestly offset by increases in special need students from 8.3% to 11.8% of the student body - of which the percentage of seriously challenged children actually declined.

5. High incarceration rate of black men. Black males make up more than half of America's prison inmates. They are four times more likely than whites and twice as likely as Hispanics to be jailed.

6. Reduced respect for human life. A study conducted by Northeastern University found that nationwide, the number of black male juvenile homicide victims increased by 31 percent from 2002 to 2007. The number of homicide perpetrators within the same demographic group increased by 43 percent during the same time period. As if that weren’t bad enough, black women have nearly 30% of the all abortions, resulting in the death of 350,000 fetuses a year or one every 90 seconds

7. Financial Freedom. Today, many African-Americans (regardless of educational and employment status) are living paycheck to paycheck, overwhelmed with debt—stressing already fragile families to the limit.

8. Poor Lifestyle Choices. According to the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, two-thirds of the difference between death rates among African Americans and Caucasians are now due to causes that could be prevented or cured. – Wow

And these are just a few.

Even more idiotic; the media covered this story! That’s exactly the reason why folks like us have to holler at the top of our lungs—TO GET PEOPLE TO MAKE COMMON SENSE!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Low-Effort Syndrome: Just Another Label For Lazy

John Ogbu was a Nigerian-American anthropologist and professor known for his theories on observed phenomena involving race and intelligence, especially how race and ethnic differences affected educational and economic achievement. One of his more famous studies was why Black children consistently underachieved in the affluent suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Ogbu found that while Shaker's Black children did better academically than Black children everywhere else in the state and in much of the nation, the gap between the Black children of Shaker Heights and their White schoolmates was significant. For instance, more White kids were in advanced placement and honors courses. The Black children however, who took the easier "general education" and "college prep" courses but made up 80 percent of the failing grades.

During the course of the study, Ogbu and his researchers found that, in general, White students studied more, worked harder and cared more about getting good grades. Even more interesting was the fact that Black students knew one had to work hard to succeeded, but didn’t. Ogbu characterized this as low-effort syndrome. . . . “[They] were not highly engaged in their schoolwork and homework.’ And their parents and communities, wittingly or not, supported them…”

You know what? This just sounds like laziness to me and giving it a new label is part of what is wrong with our children today—we as parents don’t want (or want anyone else) to hold them accountable! There’s nothing clinical about this, these children simply didn't want to apply themselves. That’s called laziness.

Recently, a teacher introduced her students to the study. And you know what these kids said was the number one cause of the problem? Lack of parental involvement. Yep, you’re hearing it here—again. Parents, take an active part in your child’s education.

  • Education is important. Homework has to be done. Let children know that this is what you value.
  • Read to them while they’re young and encourage them to read while they continue to stay with you—a family that reads together grows together.
  • Set specific study times—peek in on them from time to time to be sure they are doing it.
  • Try to have a special place where each child can study.
  • Ask to see homework and check it after it’s done.
  • Review report cards.
  • Monitor what your kids watch on television. In fact, turn it off while they’re young and give them a book.
  • If your kids are having problems with a subject, get them a tutor if you can.
  • Keep your child’s mind active during the summer months by having them study a bit each week, especially on subjects they are week in.
  • Help your children plan how to do all the things they need to do--study, work around the house, play, etc.
  • Let your children know that you have confidence in them. Remind them of specific successes they have had in the past perhaps in swimming, soccer, cooking, or in doing a difficult homework assignment.
  • Don't expect or demand perfection. When children ask you to look at what they've done--from skating a figure 8 to a math assignment--show interest and praise them when they've done something well. If you have criticisms or suggestions, make them in a helpful way.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Put An End To The Bailouts! GM Should Just Make Cars People Want To Buy

I recently came across an article written by Felicia Davis entitled “Why Blacks Should Support GM.” In the article, Ms. Davis argues rather passionately that more US taxpayer dollars should be used to bailout General Motors (GM) and that the company should not be allowed to fail. She also goes on to say that African-Americans should be loyal to GM for all it’s done for them. I couldn’t disagree more. The taxpayers are not responsible for GM’s solvency—their management is. GM should focus on making cars people want to buy. But this is so obvious, why would Ms. Davis make such an assertion?

According to Ms. Davis, “…One in 10 jobs are connected to the auto industry and for Blacks, especially Northern Blacks, there are deeper and more extensive connections to UAW and our mighty automobile industry. Union jobs still offer the best opportunity for supporting a family for men and women lacking a college education.”

To this I say, Poppycock! African-Americans need to change their focus and not let the Government change the system of Capitalism as we know it. Face it—manufacturing is out! Ever since John Nesbitt wrote Megatrends 2000, anyone in the know realized that the US was moving from a manufacturing economy to an information economy. They also knew the important role a college education would play in being qualified for these jobs. African-Americans, like all others, must re-think and re-tool to stay competitive. That means staying in school and getting a good education and/or marketable skill. You know, most trades today are requiring more than just a high school education. I always tell folks you should have a college degree and know a trade just to be safe.

And what about Unions and job opportunity? According to the Heritage Foundation, “Economic research finds that unions benefit their members but hurt consumers generally, and especially workers who are denied job opportunities. The average union member earns more than the average non-union worker. However, that does not mean that expanding union membership will raise wages: Few workers who join a union today get a pay raise. What explains these apparently contradictory findings? The economy has become more competitive over the past generation. Companies have less power to pass price increases on to consumers without going out of business. Consequently, unions do not negotiate higher wages for many newly organized workers. These days, unions win higher wages for employees only at companies with competitive advantages that allow them to pay higher wages…”

Ms. Davis then says that the automobile industry might be needed for war mobilization—saving it would protect the country’s manufacturing capability. Being a former logistician in the military, yes, some capacity is needed just in case of war. But what one has to remember is there are other manufacturers out there besides GM. There are also manufacturers of other things such as tractors and heavy trucks. The simple fact is if GM folds, the US wartime manufacturing capability would still remain strong.

Finally, in her most emotional argument yet, Ms. Davis says that GM monetary contributions helped move black folk forward. “It was GM that provided buses to transport people to the Poor Peoples’ March on Washington not to mention supporting national organizations in significant ways for decades.” Again, I applaud GM’s efforts. However, I don’t see anyone giving black folk reparations because of all the pain and suffering done to them during slavery. So why should black folk repay GM with unconditional loyalty to a poor product?

Why should more taxpayer dollars go to a company that pays executives millions of dollars just to drive the company in the ground? And when the company fails, they still get all this money while they are laying laborers off. GM’s
Chief Executive Officer is getting paid to ensure their financial solvency, not the taxpayer.

Let me finish by saying I am pro-labor, pro-union and pro-US business. I also believe given the current economic crisis the Government had to do something. But, as TD Jakes says, “sometimes you have to know when to let go.” I think when you approach this issue from a demagogic point of view you miss the point: GM should make a product people want to buy.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Perhaps you remember this clunker?


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Atlanta To Tear Down Public Housing - Why This Could Spell Doom For Local Communities, Why You Should Take Heed

In 2008, the Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD gave the city of Atlanta Georgia approval to tear down its last four major housing projects. For those of you who didn’t know, Atlanta was the first city in the nation to create public housing during the Great Depression.

Today, Atlanta stands on the precipice of being the first to have eliminated all of its large public housing projects by 2010. Back in 2008, Renee Lewis Glover, Atlanta Housing Authority’s (AHA) Executive Director said, “These approvals mean the end of the 73 years of housing projects in Atlanta. We have become the first major city in the nation to completely eradicate these areas of government-sponsored concentrated poverty, crime and low educational achievement." Question is: where will all the poor, crime-ridden, under achievers go? According to the AHA, “AHA will utilize Responsible Relocation in coordination with Atlanta Public Schools and other community stakeholders.” Short answer: your community! I believe, if not closely scrutinized by the communities involved, this could threaten home values more than the foreclosure crisis.

What I found most odd was the lack of specifics of what the AHA meant by “Responsible Relocation.” By that, I mean just where does the AHA plan on relocating former public housing residents? I’m sure by now they have a good idea—and I have some of my own.

I think several factors have come together that make this a big win for the cities and developers and a big lose for you. Right now, Atlanta, Sandy springs, and Marietta Georgia rank third in the nation for average rental and home ownership vacancies according to and the U.S. Census Bureau. What are cities to do with all those houses, even when the market improves? After all, these cities are not land locked and builders will continue to build, because that’s how they make their living. And you are all too familiar with the federal intervention in bailing out the banking and housing industries. Right now, the federal government owns a major portion of the banks and thousands of home mortgages—some of which are being foreclosed on today. And, HUD has always had an expansionist agenda and has been toying with the idea of locating public housing tenants in residential communities for years-- “just give them a house and they’ll make it a home.” And did I mention that the properties being torn down in Atlanta are right next to downtown and represent a real gold mine. That’s pretty much the case in most major cities.

I believe these pressures—large indigent populations, too much housing stock, federal government intervention (indeed ownership of private sector properties), developer interest in extremely valuable land located in or near major cities, and HUD expansionism could mean that the indigent might be moving to a house near you. This could spell doom for your property, your wealth and community. Why, because it's human nature not to care about anything you didn't pay for.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Obama Honors Confederate Soldiers: But, If America Has Changed, Then Some Traditions Should Too

Should the President of the United States honor Confederate soldiers who, among other things, fought to keep slavery a way of life in the South?

President Barack Obama sought to avoid racial controversy on his first Memorial Day in office by sending wreaths to a monument for Confederate soldiers and a memorial honoring more than 200,000 blacks who fought for the Union during the Civil War. However, a group of African-American academicians petitioned the President not to do so asking President Obama not to honor the Confederate soldiers.

The professor’s felt, "The Arlington Confederate Monument is a denial of the wrong committed against African-Americans by slave owners, Confederates and neo-Confederates, through the monument's denial of slavery as the cause of secession and its holding up of Confederates as heroes," the petitioners said. "This implies that the humanity of Africans and African-Americans is of no significance."

So, given this argument; why would President Obama honor Confederate soldiers? Conventional wisdom would say that traditionally, Presidents visit Arlington personally to leave a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Presidential aides then deliver wreaths to other memorials or monuments, generally including the Confederate memorial.

But are there other reasons?

For instance, did you know that the South is overrepresented among military recruits? That’s right. Southern states provided 42.2 percent of 1999 recruits and 41.0 percent of 2003 recruits but contained just 35.6 percent of the population of 18-year-olds. Could it be that President Obama didn’t want alienate Southerners and possibly hurt recruiting numbers?
According to Wikipedia political centrism refers to the political idea of promoting moderate policies which land in the middle between different political extremes. I think this definition fits President Obama to a “T”. He’s not going to go too far out on a limb on any position. This was noted by many African-Americans when he took the helm of “The Harvard Review,” by Tavis Smiley during his campaign, and now in his presidency. Hey, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. For sure, with Rush Limbaugh on the Right and Reverend Right on the Left, the last thing this country needs is more political demagoguery. However, when you’re a leader you sometimes have to make decisions that some folk just aren’t going to agree with—you can’t always go down the middle.

So, you decide. Did President Obama do the right thing in sending a wreath to the monument for Confederate soldiers? Should there even be such a monument? Or, in light of the pain, suffering and loss of life that slavery, segregation, and racism have caused (even to this day) he should have cut with (White American) tradition and just said no.

Let me know what you think…and say somethin’ that makes sense!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Black or White, Democrat or Republican, Conservative or Liberal--Politicians Are All The Same Unless We Demand Solutions

Well, it just goes to show you, when in Rome, politicians WILL do as the Romans do. My girl Dovescorner turned me on to this one in the Washington Times. It seems RNC Chairman Michael Steel has hired a few of his relatives at relatively high salaries.

"When [he] took over as chairman of the Republican National Committee earlier this year, he brought along longtime personal assistant Belinda Cook and gave her a salary nearly three times what her predecessor made. Mrs. Cook's son, Lee, also slnded an RNC job. Mr. Steele [also] hired another family friend, Angela Sailor, to be the party's outreach director at a salary of $180,000, more than double her predecessor's compensation."
Mr. Steele was a speaker at Tavis Smiley's annual State of the Black Union event in Los Angeles. There he said, "Who would think that in 2009 you'd have two black men at the pinnacle of political power in this country. I tell you this, black folk expected Steele to be different. But you know what they say, "absolute power corrupts absolutely."

The point is why focus on race, political party, liberal, or conservative. If given the chance, politicians have shown they will "conduct business as usual." That is, unless they are held accountable. If we, the American people really want change, let's demand politicians solve problems and bridge gaps among the American people--not talk about them.

You know Congress votes for their own pay raises. I don't know about you, but I've never had a job where I could raise my own salary without someone's approval. How do you feel about the people voting on Congressional pay raises?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

42% of Black Women Never Married – Want To? Date Sponge Bob Square Pants!

According to national statistics, 42 percent of black women have never been married, compared to 21 percent of white woman. Question is: what can the average black woman do about it?

When one talks about marriage and black women, there are a list of common and I believe somewhat applicable reasons given for why many black women are not married: (1) the incarceration rate for black men is higher than men of other races, (2) the increase in black men dating and marrying outside of their race, (3) black men on the “down low” (living secret lives having sex with other men while pretending to be homosexual), (4) black women are “more independent” and don’t need a man to take care of them.

But you know what, I’d like to steer from the academic and offer three things that would make any man not want to marry a woman: poor choices, poor attitude, and putting penis before personality or P3B. I know, controversial and stereotypical. Well, this is a blog, and I am trying to stimulate minds and conversation. In truth, all of the reasons mentioned by anyone or at least partially true once. And we are not going to solve this issue over night. But I’m a firm believer that good communication is the key to any relationship and solving any problem. So who knows, you just might meet your soul mate while talking about this article! So fire away!

Poor Choices

Choosing to have a baby outside of marriage. According to DADI, nationally, 69 percent of births among black women were to unwed mothers. For a man, especially a black man whose income and resources are often limited, the decision to take care of someone else’s child is a monumental one. He’ll have to provide financially for more than two people—right of the bat. Then there’s the baby’s Daddy drama. And if the kids are older, as in my case, he will have to take time to develop a relationship with them. However, no matter how good, it will never be as strong as with his own kids—but the bills we be just as large.

Choosing to have sex outside of marriage or at least having casual sex. My Mom has a saying, “why buy the cow when you can drink the milk for free?” Think about it.

Attraction to the wrong type of male. I will cover this later.

Poor attitude

Black women, I know for much of your life you have had to do it on your own. I know you have been with some pretty sorry men. But sometimes you need to know when to be quite! When God sends someone to help you, please, let them. And for God's sake, build them up, don’t tear them down. The next time you are talking to a potential life partner, and you aren't married yet, ask yourself this question: is it more important for me to get my way, or for us to find OUR way together. I know you have a picture of how you want things to be, but remember that if you want a mate, you have to cooperate.


What’s that? Putting penis before personality. That’s right. As the old folks say, all that gliders is not gold. Has good sex paid your bills, nursed you when you were sick, counseled you, or comforted your children? If not, read on. Chose a man who’s a provider, a giver, a friend, and who is also God fearing and working. And if he’s educated (good trades count!) then all the better. To put it humorously give the small-sized, homely, easy-going, average income, God-fearing, boring, working brother a chance! So, the next time Sponge Bob Square Pants asks you out, go!

Penny for your thoughts?

Monday, May 11, 2009

How To Protect Your Child From Bullies--Teach Them Not To Be An Easy Victim

Recently, two young boys have taken their lives. Allegedly because of being bullied in school. Both boys were 11 years old. Jaheem Herrera of DeKalb Georgia committed suicide last week. Earlier this month, Carl Joseph of Massachusetts, also committed suicide. Both boys killed themselves amidst taunts that they were gay.

What’s striking is that parents for both children said they had alerted school officials about the violence against their children.

Both schools were taken aback by the allegations. The DeKalb school district even had an anti-bullying program which had received praise for its approach which sought to raise student, teacher, and parent awareness. There was also a trained liaison on staff. The program even went as far as asking students to sign a no-bullying pledge. Despite this, other parents told CNN they have complained about bullying as well. So, what went wrong?

I think in both cases, these parents expected the school to protect their kids. And, while that may seem like a reasonable assumption, it wasn’t true in my day and it most certainly isn’t true today. Parents, you are going to have to take charge of the situation in order to protect your child.

The first step is enabling your child to deal with a bully. KidsHealth recommends two approaches: preventing a run-in with the bully and planned reactions if your child ends up face-to-face with them.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Within reason, instruct your kids to avoid the bully by taking a different route to and from home and to class. Also, tell them not to frequent where the bully hangs out.

If your kids do happen to end up face to face with the bully, KidsHealth suggests the following:

Ignore the bully. Bullies want a reaction.

Stand up for yourself. Be brave and confident. Tell the bully "No! Stop it!" in a loud voice. Then walk away, or run if you have to. Kids also can stand up for each other.

Now, I’m going to recommend something here that KidsHealth DOES NOT. Thinking back on when I was in school, if I were bullied and ran from a fight, I would get a whipping for running away. Did any of you experience this? In my family we were taught to defend ourselves if we could not get away from the person bothering us or if they would not leave us alone. We were taught that a true bully really doesn’t want trouble, just an easy victim. So we were taught not to be victims. We were taught to fight and fight hard. The way my parents figured it, even if I didn’t win, the bully would take so much punishment in return that he would surely find an easier mark. Were any of you out there taught this? Now, one must really exercise caution here—I’m not talking about fighting, which is illegal. I’m talking about self defense, which is doing what’s necessary to get out of the dangerous situation. So, just how does a parent go about teaching their kids productive self defense? Personally, I think enrolling a kid in a martial arts class is a great way to teach them how to defend themselves, teach them respect for human dignity, improve their physical health, and boost their self confidence. My daughter is two and I plan on enrolling her in a Tae Kwon Do class this fall.

Don't show feelings. Kids should try not to show they are angry or upset.

Tell an adult. If being bullied, it's very important to let kids know to tell an adult such as teachers, principals, parents, and lunchroom helpers

Now, just as important, what can you do as a parent? Get involved and stay involved. Partner with your child, the school, and the community. Watch your child. Talk to them. Know who their friends are and talk to them. Watch for signs of depression or suicide. Look for changes in personality whether manic or depressive. Build them up and let them know they are loved. Enroll them in a martial arts class. Heck, go with them. Visit the school unexpectedly. Pick them up from school unexpectedly. When your child first enters school, meet with the Principle, teachers, counselors, administrators and staff. Attend Parent Teacher Association and academic advisory meetings. Visit the school often. Get to know other parents. Is one of their children being bullied? Give them your support. Ask them to read this article.

And what if your child does fall prey to bulling? I’ve seen parents come to school and raise holy hell over school uniforms, why not over bulling? You need to be the most vocal, most political, most obnoxious, most engaged parent in the school. Meet with all the people I named above and express your displeasure. Demand a solution not just an answer. Bring your lawyer or City Councilman if you have to come back. Offer to meet with the other child’s parents to see if they are open to resolving the situation. If possible, take time to take your child to and from school. Question your child and find out at what time of the day the bulling is taking place. Then demand that school officials be there to intercede or you will.

Just remember, no external system can protect your child in and of itself. But you can. Get involved and demand solutions--continuously and LOUDLY!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

FL “Man” Throws Infant From Car @ Issue Women: How Tell If You’re Dating A Psychopath Men: How To Know If You’re One

By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard about 21-year-old Richard McTear, Junior, who allegedly threw an infant from a car along I-275 in Florida Tuesday morning. The 3-month-old boy died. According to ABC news, the police were called to a home at 12414 North 15th Street about 45 minutes earlier on a domestic violence call at the Marbella Apartments. The caller, Jasmine Bedwell, said that she and McTear were fighting and that she and her 3-month-old son had been battered. Bedwell told the operator the man picked up the baby and threw him on the concrete. McTear then picked up the child and took off in a blue 4-door Chevrolet Impala. When asked why he did it, McTear replied, “It’s a dirty game.”

Obviously, McTear is sick; therefore, I don’t want to dwell on his actions but rather on how to help women avoid such men and help men recognize when they need to get help—before they shed innocent blood.

So, women, how would you know if the person you’re dating is capable of this sort of violence?

Look for control issues. If he always has to pick where you go for a date, where you sit at the movies, orders your food without asking what you want or needs to know where you are and who you are with every second of the day—step back, he’s crazy!

Observe what he focuses on. Psychopaths can be very obsessive-compulsive on the smallest things. If he freaks out when you move a knick-knack on his mantle or fold a towel the wrong way, you may be in for a scary ride.

Watch for attempts to isolate you. Psychopaths work best once they have you isolated from family, friends and anyone who can point out what a kook you’re involved with. Sometimes, they start by needing to be with you every moment, leaving you no time for others. He’ll continue by curtailing your phone calls. He’ll conclude by taking you to isolated places, like his "romantic" trailer up in the mountains, where you can’t get away.

Beware of jealousy. If he becomes insanely jealous and enraged when you talk to the waiter, your friends, or even your brother, get out of the relationship.

Finally, take this tip from Dovescorner, Psychiatric Nurse at a major hospital and good friend. Look for change! Sudden and not typical "he is finally coming around" change in situations. Bipolar people usually do this before just before committing suicide.

Guys, how would you know if you’re crazy?

If, like this fellow, you’re caught up in a lifestyle that only allows resolution of problems through violence (whether physical, emotional, verbal, or whatever), you don’t respect human life, you don’t mind taking a human life, or you don’t respect your own—and all of your "friends" act and react the same way, you are crazy. Get help; now!

It's as simple as that.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Piracy only on the high seas? Think again, cops are jacking minorities in TX…Arggg (not my idea of a post-racial society)

CNN and other major news agencies are reporting that motorists are being stopped and robbed on the highway. What’s the issue? They’re being robbed by the police! That’s right, the cops, and the very folks sworn to protect and serve us. According to the story, several victims are now seeking redress from the Tenaha Police Department in a lawsuit seeking to end what the plaintiff's lawyer, David Guillory, calls a “systematic fleecing of drivers passing through the town of about 1,000.”

As common in most jurisdictions, the police can confiscate drugs and other illegal and/or dangerous articles. Some states even allow sale of confiscated items after conviction. However, if there is no conviction or charges are not filed, then legal possessions must be returned to the individual. I don’t know of any state police agency that demands thousands of dollars cash or take your jewelry on the spot—unless they are on the take.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Guillory, estimates Tenaha police seized $3 million between 2006 and 2008, and in about 150 cases — virtually all of which involved African-American or Latino motorists — the seizures were improper. According to Guillory, “They are disproportionately going after racial minorities,” he said. “My take on the matter is that the police in Tenaha, Texas, were picking on and preying on people that were least likely to fight back.”

City officials, including the Mayor, are circling the wagons and saying that proper procedures under Texas law were followed and that Texas law allows use of “seized” items “for official use.” So, where do the proceeds go?

According to Stop Corrupt DSS a CNN public records review said this is how:
  • $524 for a popcorn machine

  • $195 for candy for a poultry festival

  • $400 for catering

  • $6,000 to a local Baptist church

  • $10,000 went to Barry Washington, a Tenaha police officer for “investigative costs.” By the way, Washington has been repeatedly named in several complaints by stopped motorists.

  • In addition, money was donated to the local chamber of commerce and a youth baseball league.

Man, this opens up all kinds of issues. For starters, is this a state-sponsored shake down or what? What’s my advice? Plan your trip around this town or maybe even the state if you can. Think I’m kidding? Keep in mind that Jasper Texas, which is just down the road, is where James Byrd was dragged and lynched. Need I say more? What say you?

Also, how can a state that’s given us two Presidents harbor such ignorance? Looking at this, could the people of Louisiana be right in their assertion that their lack of aid during Hurricane Katrina was racially motivated? Before, during, and after the election of Barack Obama as the nations’ first African-American President, pundits and political thinkers have been talking about the coming of a “post-racial society”— that race matters much less than it used to, that the boundaries of race have been overcome, and that racism is no longer a big problem. I don’t think so! From whites buying guns to Economic Survivalist to conservative talk radio to white supremacy; the Barack Obama Presidency has divided or at least shown how racially polarized this country really is. And, if there’s anything this story yells out loud and clear it’s that we ARE NOT in a post race society, that we are living separately, and we are still not all equal.

Albert Einsten once said, “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.” Want more? Read these realated posts: (1) "Want A 'Justice' System? End Four Wack Practices" (2) "Shopping While Black? Don't Get Mad, Get Activist!"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

As Economy Sinks Guns Sales Climb: Why? The Darker Side Of Human Nature

Every since the election of Barack Obama as the first black President of the United States, gun sales have been steadily climbing: so much so until there is now a nation-wide shortage of ammunition.

Know who's buying? White folk.

My question is why and what does it mean, if anything, for the average African-American citizen.

Many of the articles and forums cite possible Obama gun control measures as the reason: Obama administration might rise taxes on guns or restrict gun ownership. According to, " It amounts to "panic buying" — people are buying now because of the strong possibility that their sale could be outlawed within Obama's term, especially if the so-called "assault weapons ban" in reinstated. The uptick began in October, with many gun-owners fearing Obama would be elected." As a gun owner myself, I can understand people's concern over restrictions of their gun rights. But in these tough times, when many of us are forced to cut back to the bare necessities, literally choose between food and medicine, is there a darker side to this issue?

Yes, there is. I have also found that gun purchases have also been climbing because of the worsening economy, racist fear mongering (both from conservative talk radio and white racist groups), and National Rifle Association propaganda which has served to fuel fears of crime and civil disorder. Many white people in the U.S. are preparing for catastrophe right now and fear the possibility of civil disorder quite high right now. If you don't believe me, just check out this fact: more than three dozen interviews with gun dealers and buyers in Virginia and Maryland and with experts nationwide indicated that the increase in gun sales appears to be driven predominantly by concerns about the presidential election and the economy. You also see it in a resurgence of the "Survivalist Movement." The current trend is toward Economic Survivalist, but many white Americans are moving far beyond this and seem to be preparing for all out war.

Why should black folk be concerned with all of this? Well, racism still exist in America and black man, you are still being painted as the villain. While I know we have our own problems to contend with, so do white Americans. With the advent of a struggling economy, a schizophrenic stock market, record job losses, and white supremacist and NRA propaganda, many white people are being driven to sheer panic. Now, while not all are going out and buying guns, many are.

What can you do? I don't know, buying a bunch of guns is not the answer. Perhaps awareness is. I just want you to know that there are a lot more sacred folk out there running around with guns, isolating themselves, and thinking you are the cause of all their ills.

While there are a lot of issues out there, I found this one quite alarming for the simple reason that it appears there are a few groups out there who, "want to the are to pop off," or at least have white folk think it will, for personal gain.

For this, I have no words. How will you deal with this? My international brothers and sisters, what do you make of this? As you look in, can you tell me why we are so afraid of each other here?

Related Posts: "Economic Survivalist: A Few Of Their Strategies Can Help You In These Uncertain Times."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Don’t Blame Twitter For The Swine Flu Brew Ha-ha, After All, It’s Just People Talkin’!

The swine flu outbreak is causing debate about how people get information during health emergencies – particularly when there are so many independent news sources.
Folks like Brennon Slattery (PC World Contributing Writer) feel Twitter -- a micro-blogging site where users post 140-character messages – is fueling misinformation about the outbreak. Folk went on to say "This is a good example of why [Twitter is] headed in that wrong direction, because it's just propagating fear amongst people as opposed to seeking actual solutions or key information."

How do you feel about that? Do you think that Twitter is being socially irresponsible?

Well, here’s my take—I totally disagree. You know why, because Twitter is just that, a bunch of folks chatting away about anything that comes to mind. It’s just people talking! You see, it’s what Twitter isn’t that makes this whole “Twitter social responsibility” thing irrational.

Twitter is not a blog. Blog’s, albeit of a tremendous variety of subjects, generally try and pass on information of value to their readers. Many bloggers consider themselves experts, or diligent followers, of the subjects of their blogs. Blogs give authors more than 140 characters to develop a story line and generally allow authors to site sources: most do. So, readers might expect to gain a modicum of truth about the Swine Flu outbreak from let’s say, a health blog. But I don’t know any reader who would expect to find something of value about the Swine Flu on a pornographic blog! And you best believe that not all bloggers are created equal. Some writers are more “expert” than others (academic education in field, lifelong experience, etc). Some do more research. Some bloggers are biased and favor a particular viewpoint on a subject. But, no matter what, the lesson is the same, take what you read with a grain of salt—its just people talking!

Twitter is not a full blown social networking site like Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn. Why is this so significant? Because on such sites; you’re going to have a lot of folks who have the same general interest and as much or more expertise than the author. This is what makes them so much fun. There will always be someone with an alternative point of view and able to express it in more than 140 characters. Twitter’s mantra says it all, “What Are You Doing?” It’s just people talking!

Twitter is not YouTube, a video sharing website where users can upload, view and share video clips. Many fancy themselves as cub reporters showing events as they happen in real time. Twitters tweet. What can you learn from a bird? Relax. It’s just people talking!

So for me, to say that Twitter should “seek actual solutions or key information” is to say that every human being who has anything to say should say something meaningful. They should, but they don’t! And in Twitter’s case, I actually think this is a good thing. You see, Twitter provides a great service, especially in this instance, because it gives people a place to vent: which lessens anxiety.

And, did I mention that the Centers for Disease Control has its own Twitter account?

The Twitter “debate” is stupid, people aren’t. The tweeters on Twitter understand that gathering information, from any source, is just like buying something: caveat emptor “let the buyer beware.” They understand they’re just talking!

One of the real issues here is where should people EXPECT to get credible information about such things? While there’s a host of good tweets on it; it definitely isn’t Twitter.

There is also the issue of satisfying the public’s need for credible information. Perhaps the Government or more specifically President Obama should speak to the American people and let them know what’s going on…in lieu of the media sound bites.

Finally, the current Swine Flu outbreak has sparked a number of old debates and questions. Hmm…perhaps it’s time to discuss immigration? How about what to do with the boarders? Just what are you going to do to protect US citizens from this outbreak and others like it? Are illegal aliens in the US putting all Americans at risk with insanitary lifestyles based on the cultures and countries they came from (e.g. keeping farm animals within the city limits and in their homes)?

While I don’t know the answer to these questions, the Government does, or at least it should. And believe me the American people (even Tweeple) expect the Government and not Twitter to address them now.

How do you feel?

- Has Twitter been irresponsible?

- Where have you been getting your information on the Swine Flu epidemic?

- Do you feel the Government has done a good job of keeping the public informed?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

(Harrit's Quilt) Swine Flu Spreading In US— Precautions You Should Take

By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard that there is concern over a form of Influenza called Swine Flu: a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A Influenza normally found in pigs. While it normally does not affect humans, human infections do occur.

There may be as many as 40 human infections from 10 states across the U.S. Of concern are a few confirmed cases of a new strain of Swine Flu A (H1N1). Laboratory testing has found this strand responds favorably to two antiviral drugs and has issued guidance to healthcare officials on how to use them. There are antidotal reports that the prescription drug Tamiflu will fight the virus. However, I have not seen reports from official medical agencies on this—Check with your doctor.

What can you do to stay healthy?

Be courteous, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue in the trash after use. If you don’t have a tissue, cough in your coat sleeve to prevent the spread of viral particles.

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also work. TIP: After washing hands, use the paper towel used to dry your hand to open doors from the bathroom and your office.

Wipe down your phone receiver with an alcohol-base wet wipe (doesn’t hurt to wipe your computer keypad and mouse either).

Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.

Avoid crowded areas. If you are coming down with something but must ride in a bus or plane, wear a surgical mask made to help contain viral particles (will cost more, but will help). TIP: If you are sick but must care for children, wear one before coming in close contact with them.

If you get sick, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

When Should I or My Family See A Doctor?

Children Should See A Doctor When

High fever (above 103 degrees), or a fever that lasts for more than 3 days
Symptoms that last for more than 10 days
Trouble breathing, fast breathing or wheezing
Bluish skin color
Earache or drainage from the ear
Changes in mental state (such as not waking up, irritability or seizures)
Flu-like symptoms that improve, but return with a fever and a worse cough
Worsening of a chronic medical condition (such as diabetes or heart disease)
Vomiting or abdominal pain

Adults Should See A Doctor When

A high, prolonged fever (above 102 degrees) with fatigue and achiness
Symptoms that last for more than 10 days or get worse instead of better
Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or pressure in the chest
Fainting or feeling like you are about to faint
Confusion or disorientation
Severe or persistent vomiting
Severe sinus pain in your face or forehead
Very swollen glands in the neck or jaw

You’re undoubtedly seeing a lot of sensationalistic articles and blogs about a Pandemic. Keep this in mind, while the outbreak in Mexico is cause for concern (81 deaths related to the Swine Flu virus and more than 1300 reported cases), the people stricken with this in the US are (at the time of this post) recovering without incident—there is no need for alarm.

If you are really concerned, check with your doctor and develop a course of action, now, for you and your family. Good questions to ask are: Have there been any cases reported in your area? What drugs work to prevent the disease/treat it? Do you have adequate stores of them? Since symptoms resemble the flu, when should I see you? Also, don’t forget to ask your doctor to help you identify family members that might be more at risk of catching Swine Flu or it might be harder on due to certain risk factors (young children, elderly, immune deficiency, etc.).

Following are a list of links with credible information on this situation:

United States Department of Health and Human Services

Centers for Disease Control

Friday, April 24, 2009

Poor Schools Or Being Poor Are Not Holding Your Kids Back: your poor parenting skills are — turn your family on by turning your TV off

Now that I have your attention, let me start by saying that urban schools are not without their challenges: in-effective school boards whose members are more politicians than educators, unqualified or barley qualified staff, teacher turnover lack of funding, etc. And yes, these things need to be fixed. However, despite these challenges, most public schools, even those in the inner-city, do a good job given the task at hand: educating children who come through their doors with a host of issues that should have been resolved at home: lack of quality medical care; hunger; depression; domestic violence; child abuse; alcohol or drug abuse by family member; family lack of priorities, especially for education; lack of productive male role model; etc. The way I see it, these schools are being asked to be mom, dad, counselor, pastor, doctor, dietitian, motivator, and teacher—all rolled into one. And folks, that simply just can’t be done. Government cannot fix all the ills of society. Parents, you need to get involved! One way to do this is to get family back focused on each other by turning off the television.

The average U.S. household has at least one TV set turned on for about seven hours a day. The American Academy of Pediatrics' recommends that a child watch no more than one to two supervised hours of TV a day. Yet the average school-aged child watches 27 hours of television per week (some preschoolers watch much more). And most of the time, they are unsupervised by a parent or responsible adult.

Here’s an interesting fact. Did you know that kids today spend twice as much time in front of a TV or computer as in the classroom? Children spend about five hours watching television, playing computer games or online each day—that’s 2,000 hours a year! Yet, they only spend 900 hours in class and 1,270 hours with their parents.

Do you allow your kids to watch this much TV or stay on the computer this long?

Did you also know that much of what your child is watching is intended for adults and that TV shows contain approximately 20 violent acts per hour?

Do you supervise your children while watching TV or using a computer? You should.

I also found the habits of parents in other countries interesting. Japanese kids watch about four hours of television every day, yet they continue to outscore American kids on all standardized test. Why? Japanese parents not only monitor but control what their kids watch. Japanese parents tie television watching to homework (i.e. watching more educational shows and the completion of homework before watching TV. Wow, there goes that parenting thing again—and it didn’t cost any money.

Chinese children are not even allowed to go out with friends or watch television on school nights—they to school six nights a week. They are expected to be responsible, work on their own, do their homework, and do well.

You see, it’s all about priorities. We must make parenting, education, and saving a priority in our families. Parenting is not just something you do because you had kids. You should have had the kids only after you knew you wanted to and were ready to be a parent. While public schools have their share of problems, I contend that too many of our children come to school ill prepared to learn and expect schools to fix these problems. Mark Michaelis in “The Seven Big Problems In High School,” summed it up this way:

"In the 1940s a survey listed the top seven discipline problems in public schools: talking, chewing gum, making noise, running in the halls, getting out of turn in line, wearing improper clothes, not putting paper in wastebaskets. A 1980s survey lists these top seven: drug abuse, alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide, rape, robbery, assault. (Arson, gang warfare and venereal disease are also-rans.)"

After reading this, do you still feel public schools share much of the blame for your child's lack of academic success? If so, would you please tell me why?

Keep this in mind; over the course of a year, children spend more time watching TV than they spend in school or participating in any other activity except sleep. If one of these kids is yours; you need to reset your priorities. So, the next time your kid reaches for the remote or the laptop, give them a book instead. Better yet, read the book with them. After all, if your kid is not doing well in school, it’s your fault.

Do you send your children to school ready to learn?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Economic Survivalist: A Few of Their Strategies Can Help You In These Uncertain Times

Are you worried about the future? Are you concerned about the economy? If so, you’re not alone. According to a recent Gallop Poll, “55 percent of consumers rate current economic conditions poor.” It’s a small wonder that record mortgage foreclosures, an anemic stock market, a collapsing banking system, record unemployment, high prices for basic items, and high uncertainty has created a new offshoot of an old breed: “Economic Survivalists.” Economic Survivalist are people who are cutting expenses by becoming more self-sufficient and self reliant. Note, this is different than your “old school” gun toting apocalypse now variety survivalist who feared world collapse. While some Economic Survivalists do include preparation for a total collapse of civil society in their planning, for many, this is not their main focus.

So, are any of these strategies right for you? I don't know. I do know this, many of these things make sense, not matter what the economic climate. Also, you may find that reviving "almost lost" skills and preparing for tough days make you feel and put you more in control.

Here are some of things Economic Survivalist are doing:

Take Control of Your Food Source

  1. If you can, install a wood furnace somewhere in your home.
  2. If you have the space in your yard, grow a garden. Better yet, get together with family, friends, and love ones, buy a plot of land, and plant together!
  3. Raise farm animals such as chickens, pigs and cows for food.
  4. If you are in an area where you can, hunt and fish to help put meat on the table.
  5. Can your food—remember Grandma’s preserves? Pickle items such as fresh eggs.
    Fix things around the house yourself. Lowes and Home Depot offer excellent classes on many home repairs.

Make Your Household Independent

  1. Produce more of the things you need: paper, candles, soap, bake your own bread, sew your own clothes (many stores carry patterns for making pants and dresses), and make home decor (i.e. curtains, comforters, pillows, chairs, etc.).

  2. Give up anything unnecessary: vacation cruises, restaurant meals, high-tech toys and electronics (big screen televisions, stereos, DVDs, new clothes), etc.
    If you must buy, buy only necessary items and buy them in bulk which is usually cheaper.
    Use herbal remedies to treat minor illnesses.

  3. Do your own home maintenance and repairs.

  4. Do your own automobile maintenance.

Work With Others in Your Community

  1. Get to know your neighbors.

  2. Group related jobs (from several homes) together in order to get a better deal.

  3. Barter; trade services instead of money.

Make Your Money WORK FOR YOU

  1. Begin to pay down your debt but save money for a rainy day.

  2. Save some paper and coin money in a safe place in your house (you might want to invest in a small or medium size safe to store your money and other valuables).

  3. If it isn’t necessary to support life; you don’t need it. And if you can’t buy it with cash; don’t buy it at all.

Remember, economic survival=self sustained living. By now I'm sure you see that this is a “lifestyle.” It can be as involved as you want—the degree is up to you.

Finally, this isn’t just “a black thang.” People all over the world are struggling in these troubled times. Many were struggling when we in the U.S. were experiencing our highest standard of living. Yet, people all over the world are learning to survive in these troubling times—knowing how; that’s confidence. Knowing you can weather the storm; that’s power.

Want to know more? Comment on this post and I’ll get you the answers you seek. Are you an Economic Survivalist? Have you found a great way to save money?

Share! Let me know what you are doing to get by.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Want A “Justice” System? End Four Wack Practices

The other day I came across an article talking about ways to fix the U.S. penal system—the prison system specifically. The article concluded that the U.S. prisons were vastly overcrowded and that minorities were disproportionately represented in the prison populations and recommended several courses of action such as greater access to drug treatment. This is nothing new.

But this got me to thinking. What are the real day-to-day practices and therefore the real issues that are putting minorities behind bars at a disproportionate rate? I set my mind to thinking and came up with four practices that must end if the U.S. Justice System is to really dispense justice.

Like It Wear It!

It isn't you know. That said; here are four practices that simply must end.

End racial profiling. You know, “driving while black,” “shopping while black,” “flying while Muslim,” etc. End it all. Did you know that using racial profiling to interdict highway-bound drug couriers is ineffective? A study done by the Department of Justice in 1999 revealed that officers focused more on African-American and Latino drivers. However, drugs were found more often when they searched whites (17%) than when they searched African-Americans (8%).

End Crack and Powdered Cocaine sentencing disparities. Why in the world would two people get entirely different sentences for possessing the same amounts of powdered versus crack cocaine? They do. Sentences are much harsher for the possession crack cocaine. And by the way, because it’s cheaper, blacks are far more likely to use it.

Don’t give time for minor crimes. The majority of inmates in prison today are there for drug use and small time street dealing. We need to reduce the use of prison for low-level drug offenders and to increase the availability of substance abuse treatment.

Have you heard of “Sexting” – the exchange of explicit photos and videos via mobile phone? It’s the in thing with teens now. In several states it’s a crime. Participants can be charged with child pornography, convicted as sex offenders, and have to register as such for the rest of their life! This is another example of how some states and courts are overreacting and unnecessarily increasing prison populations.

Ensure all defendants have adequate pretrial counsel. Minorities, who often cannot afford lawyers, are disadvantaged in the pretrial process because of the ineptness of their public defender: often grossly unprepared, poorly trained, lacking resources and experience.

Point is, if just these four things were corrected, we would see fewer minorities in the “system” and therefore in jail.

Monday, April 13, 2009

53 Lives Lost In A Month: I Think I Favor Gun Control — Do You?

A string of shootings in the U.S. in the last month alone has claimed the lives of 53 people. Police still don’t have a motive for several.

Is it time for gun control? Think about it, you have to have a license to drive a car, to fish, even to do nails. So why not to own a gun?

Fact: There are over 83 handgun deaths each day in the U.S. (That’s each and every day)

Is it time to mandate some sort of training to own one? Many states mandate driver’s education for teens, motorcycle safety courses and certification to own certain martial arts weapons. In many states you even have to have training to hunt on public lands! So why not to own a gun?

Fact: In 2005, the most current statistic available from the Centers for Disease Control, there were 789 accidental gun deaths per 100,000 people.

Should sanctions be taken against gun owners whose firearms were improperly stored and consequently were used to cause death or injury?

Fact: In a single year, 3,012 children and teens were killed by gunfire in the United States, according to the latest national data released in 2002. That is one child every three hours; eight children every day; and more than 50 children every week. And every year, at least 4 to 5 times as many kids and teens suffer from non-fatal firearm injuries.

Is it time to require a basic level of mental screening to get one?

Fact: In the U.S., guns are associated with the majority of homicides and over half the suicides.

Is it time to rethink limiting the type of guns Americans can own (i.e. a new Brady Bill)?

Fact: While fun to shoot, the Kalashnikov's automatic rifle model of year 1947 (AK-47), M16, Armalite Model 15 (AR 15), Hekler and Koch MP5, Uzi and the like were not meant for any type of “sporting” use. They were designed to kill human beings in a combat environment, thus the name “assault weapons.”

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Okay Chris, Rihanna: If You Want To Stay Together; Here’s How To Heal

As many of you know, Chris Brown entered a not guilty plea Monday on charges of beating and threatening his girlfriend, Rihanna. While the gossip is “off the chain,” rumor also has it that these two young people still continue an “off-again”, “on-again” relationship—much to the disdain of family and friends. As a dad of a daughter who was in an abusive relationship; I thought I would pull out my couch and offer some advice to these two (and some of you).

Chris, Rihanna:

First of all rumor has it that you are both pretty hot-headed, so this advice is for both of you.

Know That Being Abused Is Not Your Fault. While certain actions may trigger an abuser, their actions are their fault and are inexcusable.

Ask Yourself; Is He or She Worth It?

If You’re Together - Work on a Safety Plan. Look at patterns in your behaviors to figure out when either of you might be explosive or violent. Decide how and where you would go if you had to leave home quickly (and Chris, you should if things get heated).

Remove Yourselves From Harm As Soon As Possible. Until both of you gets help, completes therapy, and a professional says it’s okay to see each other—don’t.

Stop ALL use of alcohol or drugs.

Seek Help For Yourself. Let The Other Person Go Voluntarily. If you have to ask the other person to go, they are not sincere. Alcohol Anonymous says: “Abusive relationships do not change without sustained therapy specifically targeted toward the abusive relationship patterns. These relationships cannot be changed from one side, it takes mutual honesty, openness and willingness from both parties to work through these issues. Group therapy is highly recommended for abusers, as it helps them to break through the denial that is generally a part of the abusive patterns. (People in denial generally recognize their own dysfunctional behavior in others more easily than in themselves.) This applies to the partners of abusers as well - group helps them to break through the denial by seeing the relationship patterns from a wider view.”

Also, many authorities on the subject warn against your attending any type of counseling or therapy together—whatever triggered the abuse in the relationship may be triggered there also.

Some abusers have obtained a measure of success by attending a Batterers Intervention Program (BIPs). BIPs are educational groups that are designed to hold batterers accountable for both their physical violence and other forms of coercive behavior. Anger Management and Marriage Counseling have not netted good results.

Commit To Change For The Rest Of Your Life. Realize, That You Will Never Be Totally Cured. Abuse is about many things…control, insecurity, enabling, and most importantly, poor reactions to stress. It is poor reactions management at a basic level. It is both learned and innate. I want both of you to realize that to change one’s basic reactions is very hard and will take a very long time—probably the rest of your life. While I know you want to stay together, know that the odds of doing so without doing each other harm are against you. Sometimes, the best way to really love someone is to let them go.

And for those of you in the reading audience; how do you feel about this? Do you believe Chris is worth it? How about Rihanna? Do you think Chris or Rihanna will commit to it? Can each of them do it? Do you have any personal advice or stories you would like to share?