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.