Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hunger Hits The Middle Class...In America!

How many of you were aware of the following?

Food pantries are no longer strictly the realm of the low-income or "working poor." Now, more than ever, "middle-class poor" families with two incomes from the suburbs are seeking assistance from food banks. America, this is the reality all across the country from Wilmington, Ohio to Atlanta, Georgia clear to North Texas. People don't have enough food and are turning to food banks for sustenance: problem is, the food banks don't have enough food to go around.

Were you aware of this?

According to Society for City Mayors, “Twenty cities (95 per cent) reported an increase in the demand for emergency food assistance over the past year, one city reported that demand stayed the same and four cities were not able to answer this question. All 21 cities with available data cited an increase in the number of persons requesting food assistance for the first-time. The increase was particularly notable among working families.”

Or this?

According to the International Herald Tribune,

"Overall, demand at food banks throughout the country increased by 30 percent in 2008 from the previous year, according to a survey by Feeding America, which distributes more than two billion pounds of food every year. While pantries usually see a drop in demand after the holiday season, many in upscale suburbs this year are experiencing the opposite."

In 2007, 3.4 percent of all U.S. households (3.9 million households) accessed emergency food from a food pantry one or more times.

But you can help.

Donate – Money if you can. But the food banks are in desperate need of food. Buy an extra can good or other food item and donate it to food banks, homeless shelters, churches, and retailers who gather food for the less fortunate.

Advocate – Join a hunger action center in your community.

Volunteer – Work in a local homeless shelter or food bank.

So, join me, donate now (please click link to go straight to their website) to Feeding America (formally Americans Second Harvest). You never know, you just might be feeding your neighbor.

Everyone has something to share. Please comment!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Perspective on President's Address To Congress: The Biggest Issue Facing "U.S." Is Working Together

Why, both before and after his address to Congress, did I hear the pundits ask if President Obama could accomplish all the things he outlined? Isn't this more than about the President? Isn't this more than about bi-partisanship? Don't we, the American public, have a stake in this? Isn't this still the United States of America?

After listening to the pundits I'm convinced of one thing; the BIGGEST issue facing "U.S." today is finding a way to work together: as individuals, families, communities, states, political parties, races, religions, and industries.

You know, this is our nation and the problems we face...they're all of ours too.

So you tell me; what were your impressions of President Obama's Congressional address?

  • What did you get from the President's address to Congress?

  • What did you think of the speech?

  • Do you feel more or less confident?

  • What should we all do now?

  • Was there anything you really disagreed with?

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Duke Ellington To Be Minted On US Coin - But Is He The "Best" Choice?

According to the AFP, “Jazz icon Duke Ellington has become the first African American to appear solo on a US coin intended for everyday use, officials at the US Mint said Tuesday after a celebration to mark the quarter-dollar's release. He's the first African American to feature solo and the second African American to feature on a circulating coin.” But is Ellington the most “deserving” choice?

Don’t get me wrong, having a coin featuring any prominent African-American is a great thing; yet, wouldn’t it have been more meaningful to mint someone who has made a fundamental impact on social change or justice in this country? What, with such prominent African-Americans as Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Jessie Jackson, Booker T. Washington, Andrew Young, Barbara Jordan, Maynard Jackson, Maya Angelou, Mary Mcleod Bethune, et. Al., was the best the US Mint could do was immortalize a jazz singer?

Do I have a point or am I way off base here?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Domestic Violence: Dumb, 'cause you can't solve problems with your fists

I originally included a recent Rihanna photo at the beginning of this blog. Because some felt it a bit much, I have removed it. And, although the photo is disconcerting, so is this issue.

Hitting anyone out of anger is not only wrong its wrongheaded. Know why? Because you can't solve your problems with your fists. Therefore, if you're trying to solve a problem or issue in this way, you're dumb.

Did you know that African-American women experience intimate partner violence at rates 35% higher than their White counterparts and 2.5 times the rate of men and other races? It's true. And, according to the Institute on Domestic Violence, "violence affects all Americans, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status. However, this threat has disproportionately dire consequences for African-American women." Did you also know that domestic violence is not just limited to men? Yeah, women hit too. But no matter which way the fists fly, the behavior is just plain wrong.

The way I see it, you've got two issues going on here: handling the explosive situation and managing your emotions. Following are tips on dong both:

If you're really trying to solve a problem or issue, you need to COMMUNICATE:

Women's offers advice on controlling one's anger:

1. Become Aware of what precipitates your anger--identify what "sets you off."

2. Monitor the feelings and bodily sensations you experience when you're becoming angry.Learn to use these sensations as cues to stop...

3. Change the thoughts that trigger anger, interpreting the situation from a different (less provocative) point of view. Often, this involves looking at the situation from the other person's perspective.

4. Write down angry thoughts. Once you have them on paper, challenge and reappraise them. Or write a letter to the person you're angry with and then tear it into a hundred pieces. But be careful: The longer you dwell on what made you angry, the more reasons and self-justifications you can find for being angry. Try not to fan your own fire.

5. Identify and express the feelings that precede anger. Anger is often a secondary emotion, erupting in the wake of other feelings, like frustration, resentment, humiliation, or fear. Try to become aware of the underlying emotion and express that feeling instead of anger.

6. Respond assertively.The goal isn't to suppress anger, but to express it in non-aggressive ways. Blaming, accusations, threats and name-calling are aggressive responses. Calmly and assertively stating your thoughts and feelings about a situation, without blaming, is a far more powerful way to respond in conflict.

7. Relax.Anger is a high-arousal state, so one of the most helpful things you can do is engage in an activity that lowers blood pressure and heart rate, like yoga, stretching, deep breathing, massage, visualization, guided imagery or meditation. Activities like gardening, painting, and woodworking may also be very helpful. Running, walking, dancing, swimming and other forms of aerobic exercise "work off" anger and leave you feeling relaxed.

8. Relinquish your anger.If angry feelings about a particular person or situation are eating at you and none of the above techniques proves helpful, try doing what may be the most courageous and difficult thing of all: Just let it go. If the anger is based on some old wound deep inside, letting go starts a healing process. Consider enlisting the support of a professional counselor or therapist.

A technique I've found helpful is keeping the conversation constructive and on the issue: no name calling. Remember, words can hit like a fist. My Mom has a saying, "you can withdraw your fist, but you can't withdraw a spoken word." Think about it.
But what if despite your best efforts, you're in a heated discussion?

Associated Content printed a great article on dealing with arguments and offer the following tips:

"...the only real ways to end an argument on good terms are walk away, let down your viewpoint or find a way to change the argument into a calm discussion." The best way to attempt [to get to a calm discussion] ...without conceding your viewpoint is to use repair attempts. Make the other person aware that you understand their concerns and assure them we will discuss this when we are both calm. Another option is to turn away from anger and towards love, use affection and say something like "we do not need to do this now, just come and hug me”. Talk about issues before they become real issues and discuss things calmly before they become arguments."

Remember, never hit or insult--those two actions just won't solve your problem.

How about you? Share your story, tell me what's worked for you.

Friday, February 20, 2009

If I React Negatively To NY Post Cartoon Am I Hypersensitve or Hyperaware?

On Wednesday, the New York Post released a cartoon likening the author of the stimulus bill, with a crazy chimpanzee.

Take a look and tell me; If I, as an African-American am offended by this cartoon, am I being Hypersensitive or Hyperaware?

There has been wide-spread negative reaction to the cartoon within the African-American community, including from such notables as the Reverend Al Sharpton and Roland S. Martin. Sharpton and Martin see the cartoon as a "not so subtle" way of insulting President Barack Obama and called for an apology from the NY Post. Sharpton said the Post should clarify the point it was trying to make with the cartoon, which was parody off Monday's rampage by a pet chimpanzee in Stamford, Conn., that left a woman severely mauled and police had to kill the chimp. Martin also said that the post should have done a better job editing this cartoon as the US has a history and legacy of racism. Martin had a particularly emotional exchange on CNN:

Others take the opposite view because, in their minds, the President didn't even write the stimulus package. They say the cartoon was aimed at the drafters of the Stimulus Bill, Speaker Pelosi and the Congress. They see Sharpton's criticism as an attempt to inject race.

Post Editor-in-Chief Col Allan said: "The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist."

Now, I don't know what was in the hearts of the NY Post when they released this cartoon. IMHO it showed VERY poor judgement. I remember, early on in my communications classes, that you should always make your presentation with your audience in mind. Perhaps they did.

But for me, the issue here is not what the NY Post meant by this piece. I think the real issue here is that race is still an issue in this country: whether real or contrived in a given situation. Americans still have a lot of healing to do and will have to talk through a lot of flack before we truly resolve our differences and solve our problems.

So, what do you think? Does this cartoon have racist overtones? I'm troubled by the use of violence in the cartoon. Many countries have accused the US of only taking this approach to solve our differences with them. Is there any validity to this claim?

IamRobert and I welcome your comments.

"Got An Issue? Say What's On Your Mind!"

Thursday, February 19, 2009

America: Racism = Dehumanization = Terrorism--i.e. people behaving terribly

This, just in from my girl Anji from across the pond. It's a documentary of an exercise conducted by a teacher in Riceville, Iowa to teach a lesson in discrimination: one I think we all could learn from.

For me, there are so many lessons and parallels to draw from this. But it's not only about me; it's about all of us. Please watch, listen, and share with us. As you do, think about the following:

  • Who introduced you to, taught you, your assumptions and fears?
  • Who put them in a position of authority to make and teach those assumptions?
  • Would you like to be treated in the same fashion?
  • Do you still hold some of the assumptions taught to you? If not, what brought about the change of mind?
  • Why is possible to make someone feel bad about a birth attribute (i.e. the color of their eyes)?
  • Do you need to view someone as inferior to feel good about yourself?
  • If you are aware of injustice and do nothing; are you guilty of the same injustice?

Thanks Anji: one love, one people, one world, one cause--that we all may be free.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Has The Black Church Gone Too Far To Fit In?

The church has been the bedrock of the black community since the first recorded black congregation organized on the plantation of William Byrd near Mecklenburg, Virginia. Indeed, the church has gotten us through some of our toughest times: slavery, segregation, the great depression, just to name a few. I would say it is the most fundamental institution in black society--then and now. But, just what are the limits one can go to inspire attendance?

I understand that the church has a calling to reach out and bring in followers. With that, I can understand the need to attract young people to the church as well as the need to keep congregations interested and motivated. However, the video today goes far beyond that. Now, I'm not saying that this church or pastor's heart weren't in the right place. I just think they crossed the line and failed to maintain the dignity and decorum of the church. But, you be the judge. Watch The Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church Anniversary Dance and let me know how you feel.

Did they cross the line? Were the youth congregation sent a mixed message? Will this dance come back to haunt the church in some form of youth rebellion? Or, was this simply an uplifting way to entertain the congregation and motivate young people to attend? Come on saints, it's time to testify.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Why Are American Taxpayers Eating So Much Pork? It's Not Even Labor Day

On Saturday, President Obama hailed congressional approval of a $787 billion economic stimulus bill, which the White House said he would sign on Tuesday. Only three Republicans voted for the measure in the Senate, and no Republicans broke ranks to support it the House, arguing it had too much spending and not enough tax breaks. The final plan was split into 36 percent for tax cuts and 64 percent in spending and other provisions.

According to The Centrist, the current Stimulus Plan will have 'A trillion dollars of pork barrel spending . Other sources put the amount closer to $25 billion in narrow provisions that Republicans deem "questionable or non-stimulative.

Here Are Some Of The “Non-Stimulative” Items

$355 million for education related to sexually transmitted diseases
$200 million to monitor earthquakes and volcanoes
$50 million for National Cemetery monument repairs
$200 million to repave the National Mall
$276 million for new computers at the State Department

Looking at this, I wonder, does anyone in Washington get it? The American public is being told that economy is in dire straights and that the US now has a record deficit of $250 billion--to which the Stimulus Plan will most certainly add. Now, I’m convinced our Government had to do something to help the failed economy, but to tack billions of dollars of pork-barrel pet spending projects onto an emergency bill meant to save Americans is simply incorrigible.

When President Obama went to office, he went with the mantra of “change.” Yet, here we have this bill laden with excess special interest spending that doesn't have a thing to do with stimulating the economy.

Shouldn't the President have threatened to veto this bill if it included any unnecessary spending? Shouldn't' he veto the Stimulus Bill until all the pork is taken out? I think he should--that would be true change, true courage, and most certainly not “politics as usual.”

Do you feel he should have vetoed this bill? Do you feel he did the right thing? What can be done now to account for this money?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Michael Steele's Acceptance Speech: S2D2

I listened to Michael Steele's acceptance speech quite closely and guess what? He didn't say anything, yet alone address many of the issues African-Americans have with the Republican Party.

For instance, what will the Republican Party do to confront their most disastrous modern legacy: a poor relationship with black Americans?

How will the Republican Party turn a social conservative agenda that seems obsessed with religion, guns and abortion?

How will the Republican Party address why most African-American Republicans feel isolated in a party that is overwhelmingly white, male, Southern, conservative and seemingly closed to ethnic minorities?

How will Republicans address alleged accusations of voter suppression in every major campaign?

I don't know about you, but it's going to take more than a smiling black face to convince me that the Republican Party has anything to offer a person of color--it's going to take an acknowledgment of who I am and deference for my issues.

How do you feel? Is the selection of a black man enough to make YOU trust the Republican Party? What must the Republican Party do now?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

News Flash! We Don't Live In A "Post-Race" World

Let me clarify something: we do not live in a post-race world.

Remember the election? Have you forgotten about all those red states? And what about conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh who has repeatedly said he wants President Obama to fail? And let's not mention the hate groups out there. In fact, the Los Angeles times just published a story about the racial tensions in Paris, Texas. Eye-catching was that the perspectives of the two sides couldn't be more different.

Some issues should be addressed from a racial perspective. For instance, did you know that HIV disproportionately affects African-Americans? What, are we going to not talk about this issue or not use the words African-Americans, or not try to get at the root causes of why? Of course not. African-Americans are also plagued by diabetes and high blood pressure. Many believe it's due to a diet high in fat from the fried foods many of us like. What, are we not going to talk about it because it's politically incorrect to focus on the victims--namely us?

My point is there are still folk out there who judge others based on the color of their skin. The election of Barack Obama as President and selection of Michael Steele as GOP Chair has not changed this. I also think that in order to solve some issues, we must look at the demographics of a particular group--sometimes this means race.

I'm growing concerned over the increasing amount of traffic I see in cyberspace declaring an end to race as an issue and some even questioning the need for African-American websites. While we've come a long way, we just haven't come that far.

That's my opinion, what's yours?

Friday, February 6, 2009

What If The Octuplet Mom Was Black?

She is broke.

She stays with her parents who are of modest means.

Her Grandmother declared bankruptcy.

She already has six kids. She gets in vitro (don't know how she paid for it) to have eight more.

The media and the American public greeted her with open arms.

Oh; she's also white.

Sometimes it's all about perceptions. In America, how much does race shape our perceptions?

Would reaction have been different if the Octuplet mom was black?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

No Daddy = Broken Child: On The Absence Of Black Fathers

Today was a day like any other day. Mom and I got up, got dressed, and prepared our children for school. Mornings are always special for me because spend a few moments alone with my little “Spud” before dropping her off to school. She came into my life at the ripe old age of, well, let’s just say ripe. Anyway, she has added a joy and meaning like nothing else ever has, or will. So, you can imagine my glee when someone asked that I write a post on black fatherhood.

Oh yes, there are lots of statistics out there that point out what black fathers aren’t doing and lots of theories as to why—but I’m not interested in them (safe to say that one missing dad is one too many). And, as practical people, I don’t believe you are either. What I think you really want to know is: How is this issue affecting our community; Why are some black fathers “missing in action”; What is the role of a black father; What makes a good dad; What can be done to help more black men assume their role as dads; and What’s being done to right this issue.

First, here’s a public service announcement: for those of you who don’t know, not all black men are absent from their kid’s lives. Second, not all absent dads are “deadbeat dads”. Finally, not all absent dads are poor. Hey, just thought you should know.

No Dad = Broken Child

Bill Cosby has said that the absence of black fathers in the house is the root cause of black America’s problems. But it’s not just him, so don’t hate. Thirty-five years ago, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D.-N.Y.)…called black fatherlessness, ``the fundamental weakness of the Negro community…" (which dispels one myth, that the “absence” of black fathers is a new phenomenon). President Barack Obama, having grown up without a father, said in an address to the Apostolic Church of Chicago:

The absence of fathers is important because "children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison."

William Raspberry agrees and also noted that in addition to poverty, crime, and school failure, “Father absence…predisposes our children to an intergenerational repetition of the grim cycle.”

It also takes two to tango, and there are many that feel children that grow up without a father figure in their life miss important socialization dynamics—discipline, role modeling, common male behavior, male female interaction, etc. Basically, the absence of a dad risks a child that is a little incomplete. Suffice it to say that the absence of a man in the house is not the only factor for poor school performance, poverty, or crime. It is also important to note that not every child growing up in a single parent household will suffer these maladies. Yet, the evidence is clear, two-parent families and their children often do better.

Why Don’t You Want To Be My Daddy?

Some blame fatherlessness and out-of-wedlock births on cultural breakdown and moral failure. Others believe the problem is caused by a poor father's inability to support a family—poor education, no jobs or low paying jobs. Many black men often site untrustworthy, or bossy, or disrespectful women as the reason for their absence. Religious leaders point out the demise of the family in general. Some call to question the role of the media. I accept and reject all of them. Like the folks at Morehouse (Turning the Corner on Father Absence in Black America, a recent conference paper on African-American fathers and families—American, I don’t think there is any one cause for black fathers' absence. But, if I had to pick one cause, I would say disdain for ones self and the mother of the child. Don’t agree? Why do you feel someone would abandon their own flesh and blood? Have any of you out there felt you have been put in a position to do so? If so, please let me know.

Who Am I?

What makes a good dad? Is it being able to buy your children the things they need? Is it being sure they have a roof over their heads? Providing food for them to eat? Is it paying for their college education? Is it listening to their thoughts? Is it guiding/disciplining them? Is it being a loving partner? Is it providing a stable, calm, drama-free environment? Perhaps being a good dad is about being a good role model. Or, maybe it’s being a friend. Possibly it might entail taking them to your local church, synagogue, or mosque. I say, it’s all of these things. To me being a good dad means GIVING WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO GIVE—ALL OF IT; ALL THE TIME. To render being a dad to any one, or several, of these things runs the risk of making all black men poor dads because we all have different gifts, abilities, and circumstances. That’s why the “bad dad” causal theories don’t work for me. By focusing on what the man doesn’t have, we [society] forget to nourish and praise him for what he can give.

Anyone can be a good dad. Not sure you're the father? Demand a paternity test. Divorced? Pay your child support, spend time with your kids, and respect their mother. Thug? Do your duty, don’t raise one: that’s “gangsta.” Jobless? Spend time with your kids, guide them, discipline them, support their mother, be their friend. Addicted? Seek help, and in the meantime, see your kids. Single? Protect yourself and avoid having kids out of wedlock. Fed up? Respect yourself and the mother of your kids, even if she doesn’t respect herself or you. Incarcerated? Call your kids, write to them, tell them to avoid what you have done, and think of them to gain strength to do right when you do get out. And when you get out, go see them. Got too many kids? Give each and every one of them as much time, money, and energy as you can spare. Got money? Got a good job? A house on the hill? Pay your child support, buy them the little extras (without being asked), and start them a college fund, spend time with them, teach them how you got where you are. Bottom line is you’ve got something to give! Black fathers the world ‘round, know this: you are a father by virtue of having functional sperm. You become a dad when you exhibit, teach, and share your virtue.

It’s Barack-o-Daddy!

My wife has taught my two year old daughter just about everything there is to know about President Obama. She screams his name each time she sees a picture of him and when asked who her President is, she screams, Barack Obama! Well, sometimes daddy gets just a little jealous and shouts, Barack-o-Daddy! But, upon reflection, there’s something to this. I don’t think the country has seen a more poised, dignified, hardworking, loving and intelligent public figure (who also appears to be a great dad) in some time. He makes you want to do better, brings out the best in others, works hard, tries his best, and learns from his mistakes. He gives whatever he has. That’s what makes a good dad. And guess what, you can be one too. We all have a God-given capacity—use it for your kids.

Helping Fathers Become Dads

The Center for Marriage and Family has ten recommendations.

1. Urge African American fathers and mothers to recognize their obligations to each other and to work to build stronger parenting partnerships for the benefit of their children.

2. Urge the Black church to help build a powerful new movement aimed at gender and family healing. This movement should include the following aspects: initiatives designed to improve the quality of relationships between Black men and Black women; and programs aimed at preparing men and women for marriage.

3. Churches and other organizations [should] support families by taking a much more active role in the education of Black children through the development of alternative community-based and values-oriented educational systems…

4. Civil rights organizations and professional, civic, fraternal and philanthropic groups within the African American community [should] make the issue of reuniting fathers and children a top priority for at least the next decade through programs of advocacy, family reconciliation, and community mobilization.

5. [The] media…especially Black media, to use their power for at least the next decade to promote positive images of men and fatherhood in Black America.

6. [The] United States Congress [should] pass, and the President sign, legislation this fiscal year authorizing at least $2 billion over the next five years to support community-based fatherhood programs aimed at reversing the trend of father absence in our nation.

7. Federal-state child support enforcement program to institute basic reforms to encourage fathers active participation in the lives in the lives of their children by promoting self-sufficiency for fathers, encouraging marriage, and engaging faith-based and other community organizations in promoting responsible fatherhood.

8. We urge government at all levels, the business community, and the entire civil society to take concerted action for at least the next decade to reverse inequities in the treatment of fathers in public and private sector policy and to improve the economic prospects and marriageability of poor men.

9. We urge the criminal justice system at all levels of government to develop creative strategies aimed at reconnecting fathers and children where there is a desire to do so on the part of family members.

10. We urge every governmental or community-based program that has a relationship with unwed parents to help connect interested parents with faith-based marriage education and marriage mentoring programs.

MSNBC — A Push For Positive Change

This Sunday, February 8 at 8:00 pm Eastern Time, MSNBC will air “A Father’s Promise,” which coincides with Black History Month. According to MSNBC, A Father’s Promise is an attempt to understand this issue through round-table discussion. Discussion panelist include a cross-section of African-Americans including Al Roker; Tiki Barber; Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey; Rev. Eugene Rivers, a Boston pastor and MSNBC analyst; Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Princeton University professor of Politics and African American Studies; and Marni McKoy, Heru’s Principal at Lind Community School in Newark. I've included the video trailer. You may also click the link below to see the clip.

Share Your Thoughts

Fathers, what do you need to get you involved in your child's life?

Mothers, what is your biggest frustration with your child's father?

Mothers, why do you feel your child's father is not in their lives?

Does anyone out there feel the other parent uses the child as a pawn?

If you could tell the other parent one thing, what would it be?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Wanna Speak To The President? Yes You Can!

I tell you, sometimes in life you find something that's just so right, so real, so timely, you just have to tell someone about it. I've found that something.

As you know, my main mission here at the African-American Pragmatist is to explore and hopefully find solutions to the issues that really affect the African-American community. One of the predominating issues of our time has been how to get young people plugged into the political system. Well, I believe Barack Obama got it right using the Internet and all of its technology and tools to get the word out to young people and get their feedback in return. But, he's not the only one!

So has Hip Hop. Hip Hop? Yes. As you probably know, Hip Hop was born as a medium for young people to express themselves and tell their experiences growing up in an Urban environment. Hip Hop has always been ground-breaking, if not always positive. Well, Hip Hop has taken a novel approach and stand on the issues with the Hip Hop Caucus. I must say, I am impressed. The site is chalked full of useful information on the issues, the politicians, the political scene and how it affects young people. But the one thing that really stood out on my visit to the site was a survey you can fill out electronically, to send to President Obama. The survey even includes background on the issues behind the questions--not only is that convenient: that's hip!

So please, black people, check it out, fill it out, and PASS IT ON.

Go on, do it. I did, and here's what they asked me to tell you:
"President Obama is creating a White House Office on Urban Policy and the Hip Hop Caucus will be working with this new office to ensure that our concerns and ideas are heard. President Obama has put together a 9 point Urban Policy agenda, and I just filled out a survey about these 9 points at, and gave my ideas on what policies and programs our cities need.

Go fill it out! It's only 10 questions. The Hip Hop Caucus will deliver the survey responses to the White House Office on Urban Policy and Members of Congress, and keep us informed on what is going on."

Thanks so much Dovescorner (a Twitter Tweet I follow), for pointing out this opportunity to me. And by the way, if you get a chance; visit her on Twitter!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Does An Illegal Immigrant Have Your Job?

In this economy, every job counts. Do you feel illegal aliens are hurting your prospects for finding a job? If so, you’re not alone.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, a watchdog group advocating tougher immigration reform, there are 6 or 7 million illegal aliens in the American workforce, concentrated in farm work, construction, hotels, and restaurants; and their presence was not, and is not, economically necessary.

Many people feel that “[the] illegal aliens…flood of low-skilled undocumented workers is depressing wages and causing greater unemployment for U.S. citizens” (Steve King, Republican Congressman, And, that employers in these industries use these workers to boost profit and skirt labor laws—they also do not pass these savings on to the consumer.

There are also questions of quality of work. My antidotal account on the matter is in my observation of construction, particularly of homes. I remember when I bought my first house, a trim carpenter took nearly a week to build all the cabinets, base boards, chair rails, etc. Seemed like a true craftsman. Today however, all that is gone. Even in the best of houses here in Atlanta, you find pre-fabricated materials being stuck up by undocumented workers—and you can readily see the mistakes.

Yet, others take a different view.

Immigration proponents argue that illegal workers are a necessary and beneficial component of the American economy. According to these supporters, illegal workers fill a void by taking on low-paying, often unpleasant, and physically demanding jobs, including many in the agricultural, construction and service industries that Americans are seemingly less willing to do. Some economists predict that, without the illegal-immigrant workforce, the American labor force would shrink by as much as 3 or 4 percent and that the overall economic growth rate would likewise suffer. (Hoover Institution, February 2, 2008)

Some argue that illegal’s fill skill sets that many Americans no longer have or fill jobs many Americans do not want.

So how do you feel? In these hard times, do you actually think there is a job out there someone would NOT do? Do you feel these workers have skills that the average American laborer does not have. How about the quality of their work: does it differ from that of a legal citizen?