Saturday, January 31, 2009

$18.4 Billion in Bonuses: Don’t Blame Wall Street!

Okay, what don’t the American public, Congress, and the President understand? You gave money to people who are in the business of making money—ANY WAY THEY CAN. You gave them the money with little or no strings attached and now you want to complain? That’s both stupid and ineffective; controls should have been put in place to ensure that taxpayer dollars were being spent as intended. At least, as a public sector contracts manager, I’m sworn and held accountable to do. And that’s the problem: no one is held accountable. Wall Street got themselves into this mess with shady deals, questionable investment practices; executives got their companies into this mess because they were more concerned with rewarding the stockholders and themselves than the overall health of their companies; banks got themselves into this mess by granting loans to people who obviously could not afford them; and the American public got itself into this mess by buying more than they could afford. Now, when the curtain falls and the show is a flop, no one wants to be held accountable.

You know, accountability is not all that hard, we, as citizens, just need to ask a few questions.

Write your President, Senator, and Representative today and ask them:

  • President Obama, why did you, as a Senator, agree with a bailout plan that put little or no controls on how the taxpayer’s money could be spent?
  • Congressman, why did you do the same?
  • Are there no provisions to take the money back? Are there no sanctions?
  • Mr. President, Congress, have you put provisions to safeguard taxpayer interest on the money you are about to give them?
You may contact your Congress via this online link from Contacting The Congress. White has a convenient online form you can use to contact your President.

And by the way Mr. President, if this happens again, don't call names, take the darn money back!

Friday, January 30, 2009

You Are What You Eat--Or Is It Eating You?

Here's one you don't see everyday.

Rosemary Alvarez of Phoenix thought she had a brain tumor. But on the operating table her doctor discovered something even more unsightly -- a parasitic worm eating her brain! Seems the condition developed from eating undercooked pork. (topix)

Now, black folk, do you still want to eat that swine?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Heart Wrenching

Ervin Lupoe shot and killed his wife and five kids and then took his own in a apparent murder/suicide last week. The couple allegedly agreed to do this because they were upset about losing their jobs at Kaiser Permanente hospital. According to AOLnews it was the fifth mass death of a Southern California family by murder or suicide in a year.

Many of us in the black community think that we are “too strong” or have been through to much to kill ourselves—statistics show otherwise: suicide is the third leading cause of death among black youth, after homicides and accidents.

But you can help. How? Recognize the warning signs:
  • Talking About Dying -- any mention of dying, disappearing, jumping, shooting oneself, or other types of self harm.

  • Recent Loss -- through death, divorce, separation, broken relationship, loss of job, money, status, self-confidence, self-esteem, loss of religious faith, loss of interest in friends, sex, hobbies, activities previously enjoyed

  • Change in Personality -- sad, withdrawn, irritable, anxious, tired, indecisive, apathetic

  • Change in Behavior -- can't concentrate on school, work, routine tasks

  • Change in Sleep Patterns -- insomnia, often with early waking or oversleeping, nightmares

  • Change in Eating Habits -- loss of appetite and weight, or overeating

  • Diminished Sexual Interest -- impotence, menstrual abnormalities (often missed periods)

  • Fear of losing control -- going crazy, harming self or others

  • Low self esteem -- feeling worthless, shame, overwhelming guilt, self-hatred, "everyone would be better off without me"

  • No hope for the future -- believing things will never get better; that nothing will ever change

Other things to watch for- Suicidal impulses, statements, plans; giving away favorite things; previous suicide attempts, substance abuse, making out wills, arranging for the care of pets, extravagant spending, agitation, hyperactivity, restlessness or lethargy.
REMEMBER: The risk of suicide may be greatest as the depression lifts.

If you or a person you love is in crisis, seek help. Contact family, friends, your pastor, a counselor/mental health professional, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Will This Really Help You Make Money?

This started off as another “honey do” from my wife who wanted us to attend the Atlanta Millionaire’s Summit. First thing I did was call the number listed on their website and got a weird message stating something to the effect that “the number could not be accessed now, please call back.” Next thing I did was scrutinize the web site a bit more. It seemed to me that the material they were “teaching” is available for free at any public library. I also took pause that they made it seem like anyone could be a millionaire. Another problem I had was there were no real specifics on what I would learn for $75.00…A Choo! I mean $50.00 (they had cut the price in half). Needless to say, we didn’t go.

I must admit, I’m always skeptical when someone charges me a fee to tell me how rich their “secrets” will make me. Now, I’m not saying this event isn’t what it was billed to be, but before attending this or any other like it I would keep the following in mind:

1. Get your personal finances in order—first. That means no debt, money saved for a rainy day, and expendable cash (money you don’t mind loosing)—most businesses fail within the first three years. Generally speaking, you need enough money to feed you business and your family during that time.

2. Don’t do it for the money. Marsha Sinetar says, “do what you love and the money will follow.” True, if you like something it won’t seem like work and you’ll do it more often.

3. Realize that not everyone is meant to be a millionaire.

4. Beware of multi-level marketing, “get rich quick” schemes, or “new” and “novel” approaches to making money. They’re out there, but always ask; if they’re making money, why would they tell me?

5. Understand that this summit and others like it are sales events. Their main purpose is to get you to buy something, if nothing more than the ticket. If they impart useful information in the process, you’ve come out ahead.

6. Before attending this or any other sales event, put a limit on how much you will spend—no matter how good whatever it is sounds.

7. Be leery if you’re asked to make a commitment on the spot or before leaving the event.

Well, those are just my thoughts. Having said this, did any of you attend this event or another like it? If so, please tell me what you thought.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Secret To Finding Jobs In An Obama Economy (Part 3 of 3)

While there seems to be much debate on Capital Hill about the size, scope, and timing of the ecomonic stimulus package, please note, there will be some sort of economic help on the horizon aimed at creating jobs. So, what can you do to be the best position to capatilize on this environment?


  • Polish up your skills or broaden them to be qualified for the job you want.

  • Monitor you state, city, and county web sites for solicitations (remember, the package will work with Government dollars--solicitaitions must be duly advertised).

  • Follow public college websites or visit them to find out what projects they will undertake.

  • Check local newspaper public announcement pages.

  • Review trade journals to see which companies seek contracts that involve your line of work.

  • Follow your local City Council meetings for word on public works projects being undertaken.

  • Meet with contractors and vendors NOW to introduce yourself, discuss your qualifications, and submit an application and/or resume.

  • Read parts 1 and 2 of this post to find good websites for the position you want and build an online resume.


  • Wait until jobs are advertised--by then you will be competing with hundreds of applicants.

  • Assume the skills you have now will sufice: grow yourself!

  • Rely soley on friends...who knows, they may be out of work soon themselves.

  • Not look for a job just becuase you have one--'nuff said.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Secret To Finding Jobs In An Obama Ecomomy (Part 2 of 3)

This is a continuance of a previous post on my ideas for finding jobs--this year!

Public School Modernization Jobs

According to, economists say as many as 150,000 jobs could be created from the proposed [Obama's] school building plan. This is another area that will generate jobs every skill set out there to modernize and rebuild school infrastructures, to training and development of teachers, administrators, and other employees on how to utilize the latest computer and software technologies. In addition, there will be a tremendous need for community planners, project manages, and contract managers. The need to train teachers on the use of new technologies and installation of new computer equipment and supplies also spell a boom for folks in Information Technology. To find these jobs, you can use all the normal Internet sources such as, but to really get ahead of the pack, be sure to find and bookmark the following web pages: your local Board of Education; state, city, and county government web pages, local government Public Works web pages, all public college (including two-year institutions). Also, follow your city council meetings. Also, get tomorrow's Sunday newspaper and check the Public Announcement section. Please note that these will be public procurement projects that will be bid out or obtained with Grants (ah! Grant Writers!), so these projects will be advertised.

Communications Jobs

These jobs will involve a push to increase America's broadband capabilities. The hot jobs in this area will not only be the usual construction folks, installers, and computer technicians. Logisticians, project managers, planners, and office workers will be needed. And while you can wait until the jobs are advertised in the usual sources: newspaper, Internet (,,,, or at your local telecommunications affiliate (Comcast, AT&T, Alltel, Cox Communications, etc.), I still think your best bet is to check all the government sources these programs are meant to help. I know, I know, I keep harping on it--but just trust me, there's a method to my madness which I'll explain in Part 3 of this post.

Science, Research, and Technology Jobs

When I think of this, I see scientist of course. But those folks need a whole lot of support from lab assistants, research analyst, suppliers of goods (specimens, food, animals, etc.), administrative specialists, and the list just goes on and on. Perhaps the best way to find these jobs is speaking with the agencies being helped themselves: those receiving public money of any kind.

Well, I've covered quite a bit in parts 1 and 2 of this post. I'll give you some time to digest what I've outlined and then we'll get back together to recap.

Until then, PLEASE; let me know what you think, because someone who needs a job, needs you.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Secret To Finding Jobs In An Obama Economy (Part 1 of 3)

Here are a few tips, based on the President’s agenda for an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, on where the jobs will be and how to find them:
  • Doubling the production of alternative energy in the next three years.
  • Modernizing more than 75% of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of two million American homes, saving consumers and taxpayers billions on our energy bills.
  • Making the immediate investments necessary to ensure that within five years, all of America’s medical records are computerized [data entry and computer].
  • Equipping tens of thousands of schools, community colleges, and public universities with 21st century classrooms, labs, and libraries.
  • Expanding [communications] broadband across America, so that a small business in a rural town can connect and compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world.
  • Investing in the science, research, and technology that will lead to new medical breakthroughs, new discoveries, and entire new industries.

In this, part one I discuss what the jobs will be and how to find them under the fist three elements of President Obama’s Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.

Alternative Energy or “Green Collar” Jobs

The majority of green jobs are what’s called “middle skill,” meaning that you need more education than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree, according to the Apollo Alliance. Green jobs include in all major industries such as manufacturing, construction, sales and agriculture. Since green jobs encompass just about every skill set, the most important thing to do now is find them. The following web pages are great starts: Apollo Alliance, Alternative Also, keep an eye on your state, city, county, and school web pages and articles in the newspaper—these jobs will be highly advertised as public works projects.

Modernization Jobs

This is a biggie! This too is another area that will encompass all skill sets from construction trades to secretaries to accountants. The only problem I see here is that many of the contractors seeking award of these jobs using an illegal labor force. There not supposed to do it, but believe me, unless the Obama team watches this, it will happen. USA Jobs is a great source for all federal jobs. Also, watch your newspaper for local improvement projects. Not surprisingly, one place that constantly does renovations and will be first in line is public sector housing. Also, keep an eye on small local contractors who are not big enough to bid on the multimillion dollar jobs but will try to cash in on the home improvement market. Workers and contractors, review FedBizOpps, the single source of advertisement for all Federal Government jobs, on a regular basis. Finally, when you’re driving through downtown, look! All federal jobs must be properly advertised with a banner or sign detailing the project.

Data Entry and Computer Jobs

Already red-hot, the health care field will continue to explode under an Obama administration. There will be a huge demand for Abstractors, Records Scanners, Site Managers, Medical Billing Clerks, Coding/Billing Instructors and trainers, Medical Review Nurses, Medical Receptionist, Medical Transcriptionist, Medical Billing and Coding Specialist, and Data Entry Clerks In fact, a great source for these jobs, listed 10,477 jobs associated with these fields alone—better get started!
In order to take advantage, those outside of the health care field, such as traditional secretaries and data entry clerks, and office workers, may want to take time to freshen their skills or go back to school for Medical Coding and Billing, Medical Transcription, etc. Besides a bevy of Internet job sites such as and Health care Jobs Career Center, your local newspaper also provides a great place to look for these jobs.. Don’t forget to talk to your doctor and dentist to find out where they got their people. And look around, there building those “immediate care” centers everywhere, they often take applications directly. Junior colleges and trade schools are also a goldmine because many have internships that lead to jobs once the program is complete.

Information Technology (IT) folks will also need to update their skills because the nature of their business makes technological obsolescence is a fact of life. I foresee a big demand for Database Managers and system configuration specialist to establish common standards for exchanging clinical information between independent computers. There will be a need for security specialists to safeguard all this personal information. Of course, hardware and software installers, vendors, and trainers, are just a few of the careers that will be in high demand. The best way to get at the front of these jobs is to take a look at who’s bidding on them. Turn to your large companies and don’t forget the government, particularly all the services. And I would continually review FedBizOpps: if you’re a contractor, you’ll see where the jobs are, if you’re a worker, you’ll see who was awarded the contract and then know where to apply.

I know this just touches the surface, but that’s the great thing about President Obama’s plan, there’s something for everyone—you just have to get started now.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

descendant of an African immigrant? Wake Up - He's Black!

Okay. Was I the only one to catch the slight Rick Warren said in his prayer at the inauguration on yesterday? Specifically referring to President Obama as, "...a descendant of an African immigrant."

Technically speaking, we're [African-Americans] are all descendants of African immigrants, even if some of our forefathers were brought here by force.

Come on! Give the man and our people some respect. He's an African-American and he's a pragmatist!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

hail FROM the Commander In Chief: take responsibility!

And I heard the prophet say:

  • End petty grievances and false promises.
  • End counter accusation and worn out dogma.
  • Earn your greatness: be a risk-taker, a doer, a maker of things.
  • Government shall serve the people--if a program meets the needs of the people; it will continue, if not; it will end.
  • Reject the "culture of anything goes."
  • Take personal responsibility for yourself, your family, your country, your life.

And the word was good.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Join My "E-March" To Washington! [this is a rolling post]

Today, like so many Americans, I am reflecting on the life and times of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. and what his life has meant to me and all Americans. Yet, at the same time, I am also focused on the history that is in the making as we approach the inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States. Like many African-Americans, I am walking down two paths: the bitter-sweet memories of the days of Dr. King, and the bright future of hope ushered in by President-elect Obama. I've decided to take this journey with all of you. As we walk, I will share my thoughts and feelings as we approach this monumental occasion in our nation's history.

I will update this post with our thoughts, prayers, and please check back often or subscribe.

Come, join me in an Electronic March to Washington and the Inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44Th President of the United States.

01-19-09 @ 11:15 AM: Assembly At Zion

I woke this morning watching all the black anchors on television, in the cold, talking about the inauguration. The crowds were huge, all braving the cold. Of course, all the who's who of African-American society are there. There was lots of talk about what an Obama presidency would mean and how good it felt. Yet, at the same time, there were only a few comments about Dr. King: not nearly as many as times past. I couldn't help but feel that in some way, Dr. King and the things he accomplished are being overshadowed by the inauguration. This made me sad.

01-19-09 @ 3:13 PM: Crossing The River Of Woe

Just got back from the mall...and it was crowded. I wondered what all those people, especially black people, were doing there. Barack Obama called for all Americans to spend the day doing public service projects to commemorate the life of Dr. King--he's doing so himself and I saw where he was painting in local D.C. community. Yet, despite the home foreclosures, despite the credit crunch, despite the bank bailouts, despite the massive job losses, despite the record number of business closings, despite the crisis on Wall Street, we keep shopping. The President-elect is painting walls and the vast majority of Americans are shopping. Who's got the wrong idea?

01-19-09 @ 8:19 PM: Climbing The Mountain Of Hope

Although the crowds have not gathered, it appears the whole world is alight with hopeful anticipation of President-elect Obama's inauguration as President. CNN reported a world leader as saying, "the Obama spirit of hope just might cure the world economy." I couldn't help but think; was there ever so much pressure for one man to succeed?

01-20-09 2 @ 7:51 AM: Strolling Through The Prairie Of Anticipation

This morning, CNN reported that the majority of Americans thought, "...the dream has been fulfilled." I couldn't disagree more. I thought; the dream will be fulfilled when every citizen of this country has the same access to: education, health care, employment, housing, competent legal representation, and entrepreneurship that Obama has. The dream will be fulfilled when people everywhere are judged by their contributions and not by the color of their skin, religion, culture, gender, or national origin. We're not there yet; there are those who are still harping on Obama's middle name.

01-20-09: @ 11:55 AM: Standing In The Land Of Freedom

And I heard the prophet say no more worn out dogmas or petty politics. ...That's its not if government is to big or too small, but whether it works...and that's how it [government] will be judged. And you know what, the word was good.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Should We Celebrate Martin Luther King's Birthday?

Today, I read an article where the author said the celebration of Martin Luther King's Birthday reminded them of "the grim apparel of shackles and chains African Americans were once forced to wear...[and that] the national celebration of Dr. King's birth is a symbol of the continued bondage of African Americans."

Come to the light.

Perhaps one of the greatest lessons from that era is that we have choices, either to do great good or great harm. Martin Luther King was one of the greatest orators, philosophers, and leaders of the 20th Century--indeed a profit. Born in a time of great injustice, he chose to take the high road. His words and deeds moved Americans of all races, cultures, and religions to do something great: to stand up for the humanity of African-Americans, even if it cost them their lives. And for many it did.

With the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States; we enter the dawn of a new era. I think it important that we understand we do have choices about how we conduct ourselves during the course of our lives and that those CHOICES are what define us, both then and now.

The United States, its people, and its institutions have a long way to go. So far now, as a black man making the right choices in "this new era", I stand encouraged but not satisfied.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Study Finds African American Contributions Left Out of College Textbooks

Well, if you’re one of those parents who feels school just doesn’t teach your kids anything—you might be right…and wrong. A recent study of college introductory textbooks and African-Americans coverage in them revealed that our contributions, if mentioned at all, were very superficial.

Sherri L. Wallace and Marcus D. Allen found the following:

African-American participation in American’s political development is treated separately from the rest of the country’s development, often only including a chapter on Civil Rights.

Very little thought was given to the political differences among us.

Narratives were limited to historical-institutional discussions of famous court cases or well known black institutions or figures—all were dealt with in the past tense.

Discussions about women were based on the historical worldwide view of white middle-class women with little mention of the contributions of African-American women—there were a few references to famous figures such as Anita Hill, Barbara Jordon, Condoleezza Rice, etc.

Very little research the authors used to write about us was taken from works by African-American political thinkers.

So, if you feel your kids aren’t learning anything is school, you’re right—they aren’t learning about themselves. Equally sad; white kids aren’t learning about the tremendous accomplishments African-Americans have made to this country and the diversity of our race.

This is very troubling. As Wallace and Allen put it, books do more than just deliver information, they serve as a template for how people are viewed and expected to act. They are also written by people with ideas, interests, and agendas—“they help create what a society recognize[s]…as legitimate in its political culture.”

Parents, be warned, this is racism at its deepest level—our institutions of “higher learning.” that’s why it’s vital you teach your kids their history. What if you don’t know? There’s nothing more fun than going to a public library as a family and reading it together! And for me, it also settles the debate over the relevance of our historically black colleges and universities because at them, our children can learn from us about us.

Monday, January 12, 2009

It's Your Money: So where has $325 billion in bank bailouts gone?

O.K. I woke up this morning only to find that our government does not know where $325 billion in bank bailouts has gone. Not that having no accountability standards isn't bad enough, but the banks, who begged us [taxpayer] for this money, are refusing to let us know how they used it! According to Money Morning, " billions in U.S. bank rescue funds are financing buyouts worldwide - instead of lending at home. Some of those buyouts deals are being done in markets as far away as China. Meanwhile, credit remains tight here in the U.S. market, a situation that could be alleviated if only the banks made the bailout money available to consumers in the form of loans."

Folks, this is utterly ridiculous and shows that the flawed institutional and public policies that got us into this mess still exists in Washington today--greed, corruption, hidden agendas, elitism, and institutional racism are still running amuck in D.C.

So, where has the money gone? Perhaps to pay shareholders instead of lending money to the American public as the money was intended. Democracy Now! raised concerns as far back as October of this year:
" ...major US banks are on pace to spend more than half their bailout money on rewarding their shareholders. The thirty-three banks are set to receive some $163 billion in government bailouts. Half of that sum would go toward paying off shareholders over the next three years. The Bush administration touted the bank bailout as necessary to resume lending. But Treasury officials say the banks
would never accepted loans if they were n’t allowed to redistribute dividends to shareholders. Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York is calling for the suspension of dividend payments at bailed-out banks."
As reported by, perhaps some of it went to buy out ailing competitors.

My point is neither the Government nor the taxpayers are aware of where and how this money was spent, so chances are it's not being spent wisely or for the purpose for which it was intended--to help the average American citizen maintain their lifestyle.

Barack Obama, I'm asking you, are you going to put an end to this stuff or just continue with "business as usual?" 'Cause the people want to know.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Black-on-Black Violence Study: Not Just Causing African-Americans More Harm Than Good (Part II)

In my previous article we reviewed an interesting abstract by James F. Anderson on the causes of crime in urban areas [1]. We concluded that one of the main problems with studying community crime the way Anderson did and how many others are doing now is that it fosters separatism and fragmentation at all levels and out right denial by the white community. We found that this “us” and “them” mentality results not only in fragmented societies but fragmented public policy—which has caused many of America’s communities to become dysfunctional. It has also resulted in lethargy and misunderstanding from whites.

Yet, there are commonalities in Mr. Anderson’s treatise that offers hope for a solution. I noticed two common threads ran through each of the “classical” approaches to dealing with crime: the crime-ridden communities were broken by policies and attitudes of the greater community at large and the young black males were struggling to achieve economic and social prominence. What I gathered from this is that the system is broken, both in and around these communities, at every level (individual, family, local, county, state, federal, and industry). In addition, we have young black men wanting the same things all Americans have been encouraged to want, it’s just that the system that allows so many non-black Americans to achieve these ends have failed the young men black of the community.

So, to me, we’ve got to fix the system as a whole. We’ve got to fix our urban areas to be sure. Oh by the way, we’ve also got to fix the communities next to them—the ones with the million dollar homes who’s residents are either providing the drugs in bulk for our young men to sell, buying their drugs “in the hood”, running brothels from their homes, fostering hate in their homes, or are simply being victimized. They also have a problem. You see, we’re all interconnected and it really is “a small, small world.”

Now, how? Anderson favored what he called a Public Health Approach. Basically, he wanted to treat crime in “the hood” the same as a doctor would treat a patient to “change attitudes, knowledge, and behavior of offenders and victims of violence.” But for me, this was still to singularly dimensional. After all, what doctor would treat your pain without also trying to figure out how you injured yourself or ascertain what roles your environment plays in your illness? While Anderson’s was a good start, more is needed.

Since the system is broken down and must be fixed, it is only logical that comprehensive, INTERELLATED, and SYMBIOTIC measures must be taken to fix it. Government (at all levels), schools, the correctional system, industry, individuals, parents, and kids up to the date of this writing have largely been working to different ends—we must now all work together. To do this, we must all understand what is expected of us, what we need from each other, and how working together will benefit us. We must also do a better job of selling our ideas. For instance, schools and industry should be partnering together: industry must let all schools, in all “hoods” know what type of employee they require in the future, and kick in a little money and equipment to get them! Ever heard of Bill Gates? Gave schools money and his computers—they got great computers and educations; he got good employees and loyal users of his systems for years to come. Schools must then educate our children in a way that they can compete for the high-paying jobs of the future. Until know, we haven’t done this. America has relied on imports (Asians, Indians, Russians, etc.) for its talent. Now I ask you, how can the “leader” of the free world call itself a leader if it can’t even produce thinkers and creators? That’s why I believe we need someone who can help pull all these little fiefdoms together.

I believe we need more community organizers. I personally like the setup of many of the old cities up North have with the Aldermen system. But it doesn’t have to be a government official, it could be you! Interested? Here’s my job description for a community organizer: (1) Must know the people and communities, (2) The people know must know you, (3) Must be trusted by all stakeholders, (4) Must be an accomplished salesperson, (5) Must have superior people skills, (6) Organizational skills a must, and (7) High-energy, workaholic, extrovert, highly desired.

Know anyone like that?

1. Anderson, James F. “African-Americans, Violence, Disabilities, and Public Policy: A Call For A Workable Approach to Alleviating the Pains of Inner-City Life.” Western Journal of Black Studies Summer 1998;col1

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Another “Black-on-Black Violence” Study: Why It’s Not Just Causing African-Americans More Harm Than Good (Part I)

Ok, by now I’m sure you’ve seen or heard the latest headliners about young black males and homicide: Criminal Justice professors James Alan Fox and Marc Swatt “… [found]… an increase of more than 39 percent from 2000 to 2007 in the number of black males ages 14 to 17 who were killed and a 34 percent increase in the number of blacks in that age group who committed homicide.”

While the numbers are alarming, the only problem I have with studies such as these is that they tend to portray or are used to casts ethnic groups as the sole source of the malady. White youth commit crime too: According to Newsmax, the federal Centers for Disease Control reports that "a white adolescent male is four times more likely than his African-American classmate to be a regular cocaine user. Whites are 66 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds, and yet they are 70 percent of drug users in that age group… [And], approximately 9 out of 10 serial killers are white males between the ages of 20 and 35. Yet we never hear these statistics repeated over and over again in the mainstream press, making these crimes synonymous with one particular race as is the case with blacks."

I conducted a search of the literature to help me get my arm around the subject and came across an intriguing abstract by James F. Anderson [1]. Anderson does an excellent job of defining the three classical views on the causes of crime IN URBAN AREAS (remember this because I’m going to come back to it). Some believe that because blacks were excluded (i.e. from good jobs, education, housing, and political access) and victimized (institutionalized racism, discrimination, and brutality) many blacks to chose crime as an alternative means to achieve social and economic prosperity. [Anderson] In other words, a community structure just wasn’t there. Others believe social forces are responsible: peer pressure if you will. [Anderson] Finally, there’s the view that black males learn and assimilate criminal attitudes from others. [Anderson] The proverbial; “birds of a feather flock together.”

As I read the abstract I came to one conclusion: we keep saying that “these” people are broke and we need to fix “them”; even if society, as a whole, created the problem. Remember earlier when I mentioned the abstract focused on urban areas? That IS the problem! We keep trying to define the problem as a black problem as if crime only exists or is committed in the black community by black folk. And that simply is not true. Again, there is no black crime, white crime, race crimes, etc. There is only crime and it affects us all—if not, why do you have that car alarm on that expensive car that you drive from that expense (and alarmed) house in the “burbs” to that high-profile job downtown?

The bottom line is crime is a problem—for everyone, every race, everywhere. We are all victims of crime in one way or another. We have all enabled crime to happen, even if only through indifference (i.e. to “those victims”, “those communities”, “those people”, to the human spirit). Seeing it any other way probably explains why our “solutions” to it are so fragmented, mismanaged, uncoordinated, and inept. Therefore, all Americans are suffering.

I also found one interesting commonality among all three theories that I feel offers a solution. I will cover both his proposal and mine in part 2 of this post.

1. Anderson, James F. “African-Americans, Violence, Disabilities, and Public Policy: A Call For A Workable Approach to Alleviating the Pains of Inner-City Life.” Western Journal of Black Studies Summer 1998.;col1

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Biggest Issue On Your Mind: Getting Permission To Puff?

Last week, the website — the official website of the Obama Transition Team — asked the public to provide them with a list of the top public policy questions facing America. Visitors to the site were then asked to vote on which questions should take priority for the incoming administration. According to the website, “participation … outpaced our expectations. … Since its launch … the Open for Questions tool has processed over 600,000 votes from more than 10,000 people on more than 7,300 questions.” Ironically but perhaps not surprisingly the top question for the new administration — as chosen on and voted by the general public — was one most politicians seem utterly unwilling to talk about. “Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?” To anyone thinking the #1 question was some kind of fluke, consider this: More than a dozen of the top 50 vote-getting questions pertained to amending America’s drug policies.

Now, consider the state of our nation: we have record home foreclosures, record job loss, a stock market in crisis, the near collapse of the banking industry, the airline industry is in trouble, businesses are closing in record numbers, the automobile industry is almost defunct, we're fighting a war on two fronts (Iraq and Iran) with no foreseeable end in sight, we're "fighting" a war on terrorism, thousands of working families are still without health care, AIDS and HIV are becoming the number one killer of black women, the problem of illegal immigration and our boarders still needs to be solved, and the Government (and therefore the taxpayers) have bought out just about every major industry thereby making this a socialist nation.

Given all of this, I really don't think that the main thing on our minds is whether the President-elect will legalize marijuana. In fact, CNN conducted a poll in December of this year and the top issue for three-quarters of Americans...unsurprisingly, the economy. Furthermore, I just don't think this is the "change" we voted for: yet, considering how bad things are right now, to many, maybe it is.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Jena Six teen shoots himself: Is this the REAL story? No!

The latest news on the infamous Jena Six case is the story of Mychal Bell. According to EURweb, [Bell] "one of six black teens charged with beating a white classmate at Jena High School in December 2006 shot himself in the chest with a .22 caliber firearm and was taken to a hospital in Monroe, La., on Dec. 29." Apparently, Bell was upset over recent coverage of an arrest during Christmas. According to the article, "His [Bell's] arrest came less than one month after he completed a sentence for his role in the beating of a fellow classmate, Justin Barker, at Jena High School in 2006."

But is this, the story of a young man upset over an arrest and shooting himself, the real story? Or, is the real story that this young man, indeed, young black males in general, are out of control? Could it be that issues facing the black community: babies being born out of wedlock, single parenthood, poverty, drugs, and gangs, are the real story? I say no and I think we, the American public, have missed the real problem reflected in this incident. The REAL problem is the BIAS and fear that STILL governs what we HEAR and subsequently accept about ourselves and our children.

While there are countless news stories out there about the problems of black youth and the plight of the black male in general, I would have you know that ALL of our children are at risk. According to Newsmax, the federal Centers for Disease Control reports that "a white adolescent male is four times more likely than his African-American classmate to be a regular cocaine user. Whites are 66 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds, and yet they are 70 percent of drug users in that age group. Blacks are 13.5 percent of persons in that age group and only 13 percent of young adult drug users, while Hispanics are nearly 15 percent of that age group, but yet comprise only 12 percent of drug users 18-25. [And], approximately 9 out of 10 serial killers are white males between the ages of 20 and 35. Yet we never hear these statistics repeated over and over again in the mainstream press, making these crimes synonymous with one particular race as is the case with blacks." Thus, the real problem is not that young black men are out of control; the problem is that the American public has failed to realize that ALL of our youth are making life-threatening mistakes. Yes, young black males do have their problems, but so do white youth, or any other youth for that matter. You know, Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." In parallel I say that a for every child in trouble in an inner city, borough, or hood, there is another in trouble in a suburb, country, or Beverly Hills. The preference of the media to cover only the negative aspects of black societal behavior, and our (both black and white) willingness to buy into this distortion, is the REAL problem. The twisted view we Americans have of our children is preventing us from helping them. As long as African-Americans have these views, which are perpetuated by media, we as blacks cannot possibly understand our children, yet alone steer their behavior in a positive direction. Conversely, with the "all is well" media stories, whites will not even try to change the behavior of their children, yet alone try to understand the issues black youth face each day.

As a republic, we cannot continue to think that crime in one place simply reflects the norms and morays of "those people." We must see ourselves as one nation, one people, one planet. We must see the problem of our youth for what it is--an epidemic of national proportions.