Sunday, November 29, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
The following is an excerpt from the book, "Black American Money."
I saw some random "expert" on a "60 Minutes" segment discussing the state of the education system. The man was attempting to argue that more resources won't make a difference in the quality of our schools. He went on to argue that many of the pathetic schools in the inner city are run by blacks, implying that not only do African-Americans not care about their own youth, they are shiftless buffoons when it comes to money management. I've heard similar arguments from members of oppressive groups around the world, as oppressor attitudes are shockingly consistent and universal. A friend of mine from India once explained to me that additional government resources being allocated to create opportunities for "the untouchables" were a waste of time, in large part due to the fact that the people were too lazy to efficiently use these opportunities.Stereotypes against historically oppressed groups are quite common, as the world has been trained to believe that when it comes to managing money, white men are gods and black people are idiots. But when it comes to poor money management, few institutions are worse than the Pentagon which has been known to spend $500 for a toilet seat. They also fail to look to the airline and automobile industries, the ultimate welfare queens of American capitalism. These industries consistently seek government bailouts in the form of tariffs and subsidies. I won't begin to discuss the Financial Crisis of 2008 – 2009, as we saw our entire global financial system artificially inflated and subsequently destroyed by individuals who are not black. Rather, people are usually quick to point to black administrators in inner city schools and historically black colleges and universities as the most wasteful individuals in American education and industry.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
The last five weeks of the year, the days beginning with Thanksgiving and moving through the New Year, are days when we all wind down. Some of us don't want to admit it, citing business as usual. But the fact is that from the first thanksgiving party to the last holiday gift exchange, we have collectively decided that the year is over and we can't do much about it.
This year is different from many others. One in six Americans does not have a job. One in four African Americans is unemployed. This means that our holiday parties must be muted by the challenge of acknowledging and supporting those who are impaired in our midst. It also means lifting up those who deserve the lift up, those who have done such phenomenal things this year that they need a shout out.
I will lift up my sister friend Susan Taylor for her National Mentoring Cares Movement ad for the phenomenal love she sows into African American people as we grow, develop, and learn to heal from our hurt. As she crosses the country, she infuses her gentle spirit into the many ways we can embrace our futures. She is a force that must be loved, respected and appreciated.
I will lift up Dr. Boyce Watkins for his embrace of Heather Ellis, the young sister from Missouri who faced 15 years in jail for cutting a line. Heather Ellis did what so many of us do - went to the store with a friend (cousin), took separate lines, and decided that whoever got up first would hook the other up. How did this turn into a racial farce of utter insanity? It would take the people in Kennett, Missouri to tell us. Here is what I know - Boyce Watkins spent time, effort, energy and money in rallying people around heather Ellis. I am grateful for his activism and lift him up for his work.
I will lift up Donna Richardson Joyner, who has both embraced Bennett College for women and black women around the globe in her positive and joyful commitment to healthy living. Thanks to Donna, we are doing work on growing a healthy garden and embracing healthy habits at Bennett, but more importantly, thanks to Donna, we all have a model of how to live and how to be.
I will lift up Blanche Williams and the National Black Women's Town Hall and the many ways that Blanche is into hooking sisters up. Blanche's mantra is "Embracing Greatness" and she is unselfish about that embrace. She is a blessing and a lesson, a joy and a leader. I am so very excited about their work.
There are so very many more that deserve the lift up. And, there are so many that must be acknowledged as they struggle through these times. I am especially concerned by those who are marginalized by the notion of these holiday celebrations, marginalized by the reality that they have not much to celebrate. What do we celebrate through the storm? Mostly we celebrate that we are still here. Still here? Still navigating, functioning, managing, holding it up. And we celebrate the fact that in the middle of the wind-down, we are indeed winding down.
I always find the end of the year poignant. We always have much to reflect on, much to celebrate. We lift up those who have assisted, accomplished, and moved us more aggressively to a better world. And, at the same time, we acknowledge those who have been tousled by our economy. We ask that all of us do the work we must do to provide analysis as we move forward. We wonder if we suffer from the paralysis of analysis.
At the end of the day, we know that the end-year act of winding down offer us an amazing possibility to lift up and respect our past and yet be challenged by our present. We know that there are those whose contribution has been stellar; we know we all want to do more. We inhale this moment called the end of the year, appreciating the opportunity to wind down, looking forward to the challenge of winding back up.
As long as there are racial economic gaps, there is cause to work, challenge, and focus. When the black unemployment rate is nearly twice the white rate, when black wealth is a tenth of white wealth, there is work to do. For many the end of the year should be nothing more than a momentary respite. There is, still, much work to do.
I received a call the today from CNN for an appearance on Headline News with the amazing Richelle Carey. The story happened a couple of weeks ago, but it took me aback and I thought I would quickly share it with the AOL BV family. During a field trip to a former plantation in Charlotte, NC, the tour guide wanted to show the kids what slavery was like. So, he asked the black children to pick cotton while their white classmates stood around and watched. When the CNN producer (a nice woman named Ebony) told me about the story, I had to do a Gary Coleman imitation: "What choo talking bout Ebony?"
Beyond the obvious, this case is disturbing on a multitude of levels. But CNN has asked me to help make this case into a teachable moment. I love finding life lessons in everything, so here are some quick thoughts:
1) The tour guide who did this clearly wasn't thinking: If you want the children to empathize with slavery, why not have them ALL pretend to be slaves? If you have the black children pretending to be slaves and the white kids pretending to be their masters, you are only teaching the white kids to be slave masters and the black kids to be their property.
2) Look at this through the mind of a child: I remember a child in elementary school saying to me, "I wish slavery was still around, because I could then tell you what to do." Those were the same words that Walter Currie's classmate said to him beforespraying him with gasoline and setting him on fire. Those were also the words that one child said to another on the bus ride home from the plantation that day in North Carolina. Do you see a trend here? While we as adults might see the educational value in our remarks, children might see it in an entirely different way.
Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III
Early on the campaign trail, presidential candidate Barack Obama said, "This country is ready for a transformative politics of the sort that John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Franklin Roosevelt represented." Socially, President Obama is beginning to move in such a positive transformative direction.
After 12 years of languishing in Congress, on Wednesday, October 28, President Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard / James Byrd Hate Crimes Bill. By signing this bill, the president expands the federal definition of hate crimes to include those motivated by gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. It also allows federal authorities to pursue hate-crimes cases when local authorities are either unable or unwilling to do so. This law was named after Matthew Shepard, a gay man murdered in Wyoming in 1998, and James Byrd, the African-American man dragged to his death behind a pickup truck in Texas that same year.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I am sitting in my hotel room in Memphis after the exhausting day I spent marching forHeather Ellis, the 24-year old college student now facing up to 15 years in prison after cutting in line at Walmart. If you were to be picky about it, you could argue that Heather is technically not being charged for cutting in line. But had the Walmart employee not mistreated Heather after accusing her of cutting in line, the entire incident would not have taken place.
When the black folks rolled into Kennett, Missouri for our rally, the entire town stopped, the police showed up in massive force and there were even snipers on the rooftops. I assume the snipers were there for our protection, but after visiting the Lorraine Hotel (where Dr. King was killed) just the day before, I was honestly a wee bit nervous. There were people standing on the side of the road, taking pictures and some holding up flags with swastikas and confederate flags on them. It was very interesting.
I've put together some random thoughts about the case, the rally and everything in between. I have to be blunt and honest, since you know that's how I operate:
1) The fight is not over: Heather's trial begins Wednesday and I am highly concerned about the outcome. The idea that this young woman's entire future can be stolen over such a tiny incident is simply unbelievable. The truth is that common sense tells us that this situation should have been squashed long ago, and Kennett, MO is becoming known as the racist town that destroys the lives of young black women.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
The latest brouhaha over President Obama’s whereabouts now includes his golf endeavors. A seemingly innocent respite away from the White House arrows and darts has turned into a diatribe over women’s equality, inclusion, and diversity. And you thought golf was a boring game for old men! Ha!
The story began with a news report, which is debatable in its own right of being news, that described Pres. Obama’s recent golf outing with one of his senior leaders, Melody Barnes. Ms. Barnes, the nation’s chief domestic policy adviser to the president, was pictured sharply dressed lugging her golf bag. Golf is generally played in groups of four so the interest increased when it was determined that she was joining or barging in on the president’s regular team of men. Oh my! Katy bar the door!
People play golf for one (or a combination) of three reasons: exercise, sport competition, and business. The days of ill dressed overweight men with tires around their waists, who huff and puff on cigars as they tee off are long gone. In fact, it is now a fashion faux pas to dress less than professional (gym clothes are not welcome) and to smoke during a round. Sir Tiger changed the game in many ways and one of the most important is his devotion to fitness. His workout regiment to be the best golfer in the world motivates all ages to get in shape to improve their game. Avid golfers and wanna-bees are seeking Pilates, yoga, stretching, strength and core training customized golf programs to reduce the number of swings to get that little white ball in the hole. And now walking the golf course is more popular, so a stop at the gym or a jog around the neighborhood is no longer necessary. Exercise by strolling through a meticulously manicured lawn decorated with exotic foliage and 18 tee boxes -- Yes!