Wednesday, October 31, 2007

54% of Southern Public School Students In Free Lunch Program

Report: Poor the majority in South's public schools

The number of low-income students in the South's public schools grew to 54 percent in the past school year, creating a "crisis of the first order of magnitude," an Atlanta-based education foundation says.

The percentage in the 15-state Southern region rose slightly from previous years and is the nation's highest, ahead of the West at 47 percent and the Midwest and Northeast at 36 percent each, according to the Southern Education Foundation's report issued Tuesday.

he report defines low-income students as those who qualify for free or reduced-cost public school meals and looks at the percentage they represent of total enrollment.

The findings highlight a steady increase in low-income student enrollment in Southern public schools since 1989, when the figure was 34 percent.

It reached 50 percent in 2004 and has continued to rise, a phenomenon researchers contribute to demographic changes, the economy and the South's history as a region with higher poverty rates.

Georgia, the report says, is among four Southern states where an increase in Latino children and a high birth rate among African-Americans has played a role.

Just "what if.....".

What IF we acknowledged that children born into poverty are going to be continuously challenged in their ability to achieve and compete in the world today BUT we took a different bias in our response to this challenge?

Where as today the standard response would be "This poverty is unacceptable.....we need new government programs to provide necessary resources to these children so that they won't have it so bad.". What if we took the reverse approach and communicated the message to young people that they should seek optimal environmental conditions in their lives BEFORE they have children and thus fewer children would be born into situations that compromise and threaten the child? I am fully aware of the situations under which a child is produced. By no means do I expect that "love children" will one day cease. However if there is in fact a greater goal for "Progressive People" then certainly getting more people to buy into behaviors that actually lead to "progression" is not unreasonable.

I am a married Black man. My wife and I have good jobs. We could easily support two more children without becoming "poor". Instead we have made the CONSCIOUS decision to not have any more children because of the time expense and our desire to invest the attention and resources that we do have in the two children that we already have. New borns are "expensive" beyond the monetary considerations. The massive change in lifestyle. The health concerns for them and the mother, the changes in daycare that are required make having another child a serious consideration.

How is it that society would demand that a middle class Black family like I have be RESPONSIBLE for the care and upkeep of my children and the associated reproductive choices but for some reason does not extend this same mandate and the resulting consequences to those who are far less able to care for one child let alone several?

It seems to me that some measure of reverse engineering is required. If indeed the great mandate for "HIGH, equal outcomes" is to be OPERATIONALIZED then the flow of expectations cannot only come from the government who makes up for the shortfalls in resources that private individuals need to live up to a common standard. It is clear to me that the people who indeed seek "SALVATION" need to play an active part in the attainment of these higher standards.

Simply put - some people are not in a position to offer a child a high quality and nurturing experience in their formative years. They can't even do so for themselves. How much of their own education, employability and social development is compromised because they have do all that is necessary to bring another life into this world? Worse yet - what of the confusing messages from society that support these choices but then feigns outrage when these children have not the resources to live up to the basic standards that we as a society expect to produce?

If you don't have an ideas of where you are going as a society - it is easy to get there over time.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The "Non-White White Supremacists"

(Originally posted in December 2006)

In listening to many people discuss current events they choose to pin the source of the problems plaguing people of color in both inner city America and on the global front upon the historical and present forces of "White Supremacy" and "White Racism".
Recently I took note of a conflict that was attributed as such which happened within the metro area that I live in. The proximity of the event allowed me to analyze the situation from a point of familiarity with many of the facts surrounding the incident and the context in which it played out.

Without going into great detail about the incident that many of you are familar with - the City of Atlanta, with a Black mayor, Black police chief and a majority Black command staff directing all of its officers on the street broke through the front door of a 92 year old Black woman in a botched drug raid, shooting and killing her. In listening to the local Black talk radio I witnessed as the masses attempted to "rationalize" this situation. This was not the classic "Bull Conner" versus the "Good Guys in the Civil Right Movement" the administration is a Black Democratic Progressive one, that many of the callers no doubt VOTED FOR TWICE. After I heard a string of callers bringing up the CONSPIRACY that "White Skin Heads" are now joining the police forces around the nation and killing Black people in which they asked the audience to note all of the "bald White cops" that are in abundance now AND after hearing a report in which the classic Civil Rights song "We Shall Over Come" was sung in the face of the Black mayor and Black police chief it was clear to me that some folks are stuck in the same rut. One caller said that he does not care about the RACE of the offender, if this person is acting in "WHITE RACIST WAYS then HE IS AN AGENT OF WHITE RACISM AND OPPRESSION upon Black people". Change most of the variables with respect to the race and motivations of the people in charge and THEIR RESPONSES are as what they know best - the classic White Racist versus Black Victim one. They discard the facts and develop a CT to allow their minds to return to a point of comfort as they know that the only reason why this happened to us is because of these RACISTS.

The responses to this event which played out with strict adherence to "racial-ist" dogma as well as other other notable recent events has lead me to the conclusion that one need not be "White" to be a "White Supremacist".

By definition a "White Supremacist" believes that the White Race is supreme over all others and that they leverage their power to order the world in a certain way that is favorable to them. Thus there is no genetic membership requirements to be a White Supremacist. One only need BELIEVE that this is the case to be one. This is the operating definition that I will adhere to as the basis for my argument.

Just as the White Supremacist believes that the white race has certain powers, regardless of the truth or falsehood of these claims, so do the non-White "White Supremacists".

So frequently the behavior of a given "non-White" person who is placed in certain situations is said by the White Supremacist to be the after-effects of centuries of White Colonialism and Oppression. This force, regardless of if the operator has directly experienced it first hand is said to be the reason why he "snapped" or acted violently. They will at this point typically "expand the police tape" and prove the individual's innocence by point to the pattern of other people of color who have similarly been incarcerated for acting out in such a way. Thus the person's innocence is proven by the commonality of the occurrence.

In taking this track, however, the person with the lifetime supply of "police tape" fail to note that very often a "fellow VICTIM" of this legacy oppression is also the VICTIM of this mal-actor. Thus this analysis has a neutralizing effect upon giving justice to the victim^2 (victim squared) - who is a victim both of history and his brother who has assaulted him while doing the bidding of the White man as he was set up to do as the proverbial "pawn in the chess game".

What does this say about the historical victim's ability to mentally rationalize? Does he not know that "the man" has ordered his environment in such a way that he will injure his own kind while "the man" profits from the Prison Industrial Complex to which he will be sent to? At this point the justice system which attempts to hold him accountable for his assault which is against the law has more respect for the victim^2 than does the victim who did the assault. This notion of course if TRUMPED if you believe that this same system had the goal of "placing the brother man where he belongs" jail to the tune of more money spent on incarceration per head than in college education. But again - if the victim KNOWS the scheme that he has been placed in why does he continue to act in accordance with what the man has laid out for him? What is it that "the man" as an individual has that he has not in the way of understanding and power over one's self and one's actions?

With the above scenario as a reference, by classic definition the "White Supremacist" has been the one who trampled over the rights of the person of color because he felt so little for the humanity of those he trampled over. I am raising the question of the thoughts of the VICTIM with respect to his own perceived power to order his environment via his own behavior and his relationship and actions toward people who look just like him and who's ancestors have experienced the very same thing. Does he believe that "the man" has more power over his own behavior than he does?

At this point in our exchange of ideas no doubt some of you reading this are asking the question "How can you BLAME THE VICTIM FOR WHAT HE IS DOING while allowing the historical perpetrator and engineer of the environment go free from condemnation? How can you not expect him to REPAIR this situation that he has caused?"

My response is - You are expecting your historical adversary, who now has a measure of power over you from his past deeds of assembling the world that you live in as such to ALSO be the force who "repairs you"? What were his motivations to order your world as such? Did these motivations die out? Why then would you expect in full faith that this will ever happen? Most importantly, why do you create this "out of body experience" in which you yield your repair to someone else?

So frequently those who are successful in life make the case that the "JOURNEY toward Success" was more important to them than the actual destination. In taking the journey they learned much about themselves and how other people work. Their formulas that they now operate by were formulated by trial and error. In my view the act of handing over one's repair is the abandonment of the very force of understanding that will one day be the bricks of the foundation from which all else is built.

Make no mistake about it - "Who did this to us" is a very different question and answer from "Who's ultimate responsibility is it to REPAIR or UNDO THIS so that we are for the better". The Non-White White Supremacist confuses these two points. He believes that in identifying "Who did this to us" he is going to keep throwing this up in their face for eternity and one day they will tire, put forth contrition as to how their world came to order and will satisfy the second and not necessarily related question, repairing the colored man and asking for his forgiveness.

Real world events and the notion of probability is not a strong point of consideration in the non-White White Supremacist's way of thinking. The bulk of his repair plans for the man of color is couched upon the White man coming through for him in such a manner. This has the effect of neutralizing any serious and comprehensive movement forward for the people of color because of this DEPENDENCY of action by this next man.

I recently saw the movie "The Last King Of Scotland" which starred Forrest Whitaker as former Ugandan leader Idi Amin. In the movie Amin created a bloodbath in his country, spilling African blood with reckless abandon. It is no doubt true that the Belgians had colonized the country for an extended period of time. It is no doubt true that Idi Amin was a member of the military that had been controlled by the Belgians. It is also true that when the Belgians felt pressured to depart from Uganda and needed to place someone into power - they chose Idi Amin. In a sense "Idi Amin was their man". HOWEVER, when I saw the government death squads killing African people - I SAW AN AFRICAN KILLING THEM. The detractors to my position will tell you that these Africans were trained and conditioned by the White man to do their deeds and thus we can't look at these actions on their own merit (ie: did they or did they not kill their fellow Africans). Instead we must look at their actions within the historical context of colonialism and White Supremacy.

To this obfuscation I ask - Why is it that you demote the actions of the Black man with a weapon in his hand, having killed thousands and thousands of his own people to that of an automaton, absent of any HUMAN skills of rationalization and reason as to what he is doing? This is WHITE SUPREMACY at work within you. If you cannot hold this individual man responsible for his own actions you will NEVER be able to grab a hold of any control in changing course WITHIN. You will always pursue the White Supremacist course of action by seeking change via the White man making it.

The open challenge that I have for the non-White White Supremacist is to answer for yourself - "At what point would you feel that the people of color have been healed and thus they are to be held fully accountable for their own actions"? Do you not see that just as the White man has no best interest in "healing you" that IT IS NOT IN YOUR BEST INTEREST "TO BE HEALED" lest your resources get cut off? Why not START OUT with the assumption of ACCOUNTABILITY and leverage this through out? It has no dependency on an unwilling partner in your salvation.

Both White Supremacy and Non-White White Supremacy are best addressed, but never cured by having SYSTEMS. On the one hand there must be a system of accountability for anyone who operates outside of the accepted principals of human rights. The complementary force to "rights" is "responsibilities". Where as "rights" flow from some universal agreement TOWARD the individual, "responsibilities" flow from the individual outward. Absent both of these in equal proportion resides the state of being a slave or an oppressor.

The challenge for the Non-White White Supremacist is to ASK OF the victim what he expects from the oppressor as a pathway toward an effective "repair". In his inability to enumerate the responsibilities that the victim has the non-White White Supremacist makes his views of "White Supremacy" public.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Words From The Great Fredrick Douglass

* In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us... I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! ... And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! ... your interference is doing him positive injury.
o "What the Black Man Wants" — speech in Boston, Massachusetts (1865-01-26)

Monday, October 22, 2007

My Dream All Too Real Dream

This is a true story of a dream that I had last night. The dream had actual people and places that are very familiar to me which increased the power of this dream to me and the underlying message.

In the dream I had traveled to Philadelphia, my home town. As usual I stayed at my parent’s house and called up my high school buddy Jeff to hang out with him on one of the nights that I was there. As usual we caught up on life, our wives and and I got an update on all of the high school and college friends in our network.

After a night of good conversation and a few beers we head home in his car. We are driving through West Philly. We get to the corner of 61st and Jefferson. I see all of the buildings clearly – the Simpson-Fletcher church on the right, the corner store across 61st street. Looking left – the houses going down the hill on 61st street and behind us all of the houses that I know on Jefferson Street going east. As we stop at the stop sign my friend Jeff slightly rear ends a car that is in front of us despite my shouts of “Watch it! Watch it! What are you doing man?”. He yells out “Oh Shit!”.

Just then things heat up because right behind us happens to be a Philadelphia police patrol car. My friend backs up as he attempts to flee the situation. I see that he is about to ram the cop. The cop backs up to avoid being hit. For some strange reason both cars back up one full block. Past “Poochies” house on the right, past Edgewood Street in the middle of the block, all the way back to 60th street. The cop still didn’t turn on his lights.

I am yelling to my friend Jeff “What are you doing man?!? That’s a cop!! What are you doing!?”. He stops the car as if he has come to his senses – right at the corner of 60th and Jefferson where I used to catch the #46 SEPTA bus to school sometimes. I jump out of the car thinking that everything will be resolved on the spot. I did not realize how wrong I was.

My friend Jeff speeds away down Jefferson Street fleeing the cop. I am standing in the street distraught and puzzled as to what is going on. The cop doesn’t chase my friend. He gets out of his car and arrests ME as I stand there. I protest saying that I didn’t do anything. I am visiting from Atlanta for a few days. I am as surprised that my friend has acted as he did in response to the cop being behind him.
The cop puts the handcuffs on me and puts me in the back of the patrol car, not believing what I told him. I did have a few beers that night but I can hold my liquor. I was buzzing but not drunk. As I sat in the back of the patrol car attempting to understand my friend Jeff’s actions as the police car drove me to the station – I remember that my friend Jeff told me a few months earlier that he had recently gotten a DUI and lost his drivers license for 60 days. The tough new rules that Pennsylvania had implemented shows little tolerance for drunk driving. During the time of his suspended driving privileges his wife drove him back and forth to work. I have no doubt that he caught a lot of grief during these few difficult days with her reminding him how much he had screwed up and inconvenienced her because of his irresponsible actions. I guess I did not know the breaking point of my lifelong friend when pressure upon him with the threat of this happening to him once again in less than a year. Unfortunately with his actions tonight he is digging a much deeper hole for himself than he had before.

When I get to the police station 3 White cops take me in to a holding room. The dialogue between me and them makes it clear to me how much I am in a different world than I am used to. My trip up to the modern day North turned out to be eerily similar to the experiences of those before me who traveled South and had a run in with the law during the days of Jim Crow.

I told the cops that I didn’t do anything wrong. I am visiting from Atlanta. I had a few drinks that evening. I am totally surprised with my friends actions. I told them that I have a good job, I am a married man. I have never been arrested before. As I continue talking about how much of a model citizen that I am and how “good I have it” in the South one of the cops say to me “I thought the South was all about bare floor boards and shotgun shacks?”. I realized that in their listening to me – my situation in Atlanta, my diction and my golf shirt, slacks and shoes that their detention of me has become increasingly about “breaking a Negro that thinks beyond his place” than it is about any crime that I may have committed.

There are three White cops. The arresting officer is the more arrogant, aggressive and jealous of them all. The second cop is the weak cop who is a follower of the first. All that he does is in laughing agreement of the first. The third cop is blond and overweight. He is more quiet and reasoning than the other two. They all go back and forth asking me about Atlanta. The arresting officer asks me “So have you had any run ins with the ‘Police down in Atlanta?” I tell him “I don’t live in Atlanta. I live in Fayetteville. We have more ‘Sheriffs’ patrolling our streets”. In response to the "verbal edge" that I put in my voice he and the others figured that I was sassing them. They all laughed at my correction of their friend.

I told them that I have no criminal record. Look into my wallet. I just got my gun owners permit renewed for the Sheriff's office. They took my finger prints and put them into an electronic database. I just had a background check done with the Fayette County Sheriff as a condition of me participating in a mentoring program. "I have nothing to hide", I said. The lead guy takes my wallet out of my pocket and throw my credit cards to the floor as he shuffles through the contents, looking for my gun owners permit that has my finger prints stamped on it. I get angered by the disrespect shown to my property. This is what he was intending to do - get a violent physical response from me even though I was still in handcuffs and leg irons.

The lead cop walks out of the room along with the flunky. The fat, blond cop remains behind and is sitting next to me. I try to reason with him telling him that I have never been in trouble with the law before. I have cooperated with everything that you all have asked. You have the wrong guy locked up.

I woke up at the point due to the power of the dream.

In thinking about it all – I realized that THEY saw me as yet another Black man on the streets of Philadelphia, possibly riding in a stolen car, trying to run away from the cops in the big ‘cat and mouse’ game that they play every day in West Philly in particular. They had allowed their personal insecurities and jealousies to get in the way of disciplined police conduct. Since they believed that I was better than them based on how good I have it in “Atlanta” it was their goal to break down this Black man in front of them who thought that he was better than the average Negro that they are used to dealing with day in and day out. It was not “me” the full fledged individual with his own unique history and qualifications that they were arresting. It was the stereotypical Black man on the streets that they were arresting. My outer shell allowed them to go on their preexisting biases.

Where as most of my people would ONLY go after the “racist” cops for stereotyping me it would be unrealistic to fail to note the behavior of the individuals that they deal with on a daily basis who work to make the “stereotype” TRUE. Certainly there is a two way set of violations that need to be addressed for the problem to be solved and thus reduce the chances of me and other Black males being entrapped in a snare that we don't belong in.

On that very same block about 25 years ago there was indeed a Black male in a stolen car that came speeding around the corner and crashed into several cars on the left hand side of the street thus causing monetary damage to at least 5 individuals who lived on the street that were also Black. He got out of the car and ran. The police had to chase after him. I recall the trail of blood that was on the ground leading to his trail down Edgewood Street because his mouth was bleeding having hit the steering wheel after the impact from the crash.

The saying "No matter how educated you are still a N_____ to some" might be true. But it is also true that those who wear the same uniform (skin color) that you do need to realize the responsibility that they have in upholding certain standards lest everyone else who wears the uniform bears the negative burden that they have created. A racist cop can be dealt with via departmental policy. What can we do to reform a rogue Black man? (Seems to me preventing him from becoming one in the first place is key).

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Evidence Of King's Dream: Picking Cotton Together As A Learning Experience Rather Than As Child Labor

A recent trip with my son's kindergarten class on a fall outing to a local farm proved to be eye opening to me about the subtle changes that have taken this society forward as compared to 100 years ago. Several parents tagged along to chaperone this active pack of kids.

After feeding three hungry donkeys some corn and terrorizing them as 20 kids attempted to pet them we moved over to a patch of land that was ladened with symbolism for me: the cotton patch.

The tour guide asked the kids a series of questions concerning cotton: "What do you have at home that is made of cotton?", "What do you have on right now that is made of cotton?", "What other things do we use cotton for?". I whispered in the ear of a little White boy who was part of the group of 3 kids that I was charged to look after "oil". He said "No. We don't get oil out of cotton". Then I asked my son to say "oil" and he dutifully complied with me. The tour guide said "That's right. You are pretty smart. We use cotton seed oil in a lot of food that we eat".

The tour guide then taught us the various parts of the cotton plant - the cotton fiber, the seeds, the flower that sprouts from the plant which has assorted colors and the "boll" which is the bloom of the cotton which has not yet cracked open to expose the fiber.

The tour guide then handed out little bags for each of the kids to go through the cotton patch and pick their own cotton for use later on the tour. At this point I could not help to note the symbolism of this entire episode. There was a swarm of White kids, Black kids, Hispanic kids, Asian kids and Indian kids going through a cotton patch, picking cotton as a recreational exercise rather than in an act of child labor as was the case in the past. Instead of being DENIED an education because they had to pick they picked cotton as part of their education.

The tour guide had showed us the difficulty in separating the seeds from the fiber. Prior to the advent of the cotton gin this was done by hand. Upon direct inspection of the plant I could see why so many of our ancestor's fingers grew calloused because of the hard, prickly shell of the boll that stuck them as they reached for the fiber. I commented as such to a White father who was making a piece of thread out of the cotton while removing the seeds as a means of provoking a conversation about the labor (ie: slave labor) that was used to harvest this rich crop from the South in the past but he did not bite.

At the end of the day - all of the people involved in the exercise - Black, White, Indian, Hispanic and Asian were too far removed from the legacy of when the cotton was turned pink by the pricked skin of the African slave who was forced to work the fields under the duress of physical violence.

I had to assume the role of "overseer" as I worked to round up all of the stray kids who were still in the field conducting their recreational exercise as the rest of the people began to walk over to feed the cows and the chickens.

(Preemptive Note - Please do not mangle my words to assume that I am saying that based on this one scene that I am saying that the injury and assault from centuries of slavery is now "water under the bridge". There is no such hidden message in these words. I am simply depicting one experience from one snapshot of America on one day. It is clear to me that our children have more upside potential in regards to being shaped by what we introduce them to today more than they are bound by our slave/sharecropper past. Our job is to expose them to the painful truths of the past but more importantly to equip them with what they will need to blossom into their future)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tyler Perry's Success Is Changing Minds About The Potential Of The Black Movie-Going Audience

Tyler Perry opens the door for black films
Hollywood is beginning to take notice of the black audience

The number of distributors and producers making movies that star and target blacks is climbing at an unprecedented clip. They’re reversing a pattern of studio indifference that for years allowed smaller players like Lionsgate, which has seen a box office gross of about $145 million from the three previous Perry films it has distributed, to enjoy a windfall.

I would love to see the strong return of the Black Independent films and the smaller theaters that they used to play within.

The best way to defeat those who refuse to give you the "green light" it to develop your own road and put your own traffic lights up.

There is a technological and communications revolution going on right now. We should not confine ourselves to the classical movie theater and DVD distribution system.

Good job Tyler Perry.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Painful Truth Said Behind Closed Door

At a recent gathering of a mentorship group that I am a part of I was amazed to hear the "painful truth" be said among those Black men who gathered. I consider myself to be one who doesn't mince words about the problems that we face as a people. I was stunned that in this, and other sessions those who would call themselves "Black Liberals" would come out and say what they would never say in public where ideological/political or face saving restraint in front of White folks would restrict them.

The focus was upon what we could expect in dealing with young boys who live in housing authority properties. We were given tactics regarding how to deal with them and the disruptive behavior among some of them. They were denied many of the academic foundation that is necessary for them to succeed in school. We were asked to reach them where they stand rather than expecting to engage them at the level that other children that we have interacted with, including our own.

The most stinging criticism, however, was reserved for the parents of these children. Most of them are young themselves and lack any sort of stability in their own lives to be a worthy guide for their children. We were told to drop any expectations that we would have our efforts to reach out to THEIR kids appreciated by the parents, at least many of them. Much of this reaction has to do with their own feelings of insecurity regarding their own education. We need to not look down upon them in any way but instead appreciate where they stand and their own perspective which is different than ours.

I am actually glad that many of these brothers said this (and more). It is plain to see that this is the case to the objective observer. What troubles me, however, is that many of these same bothers, when put into public discourse on the problems plaguing our people will go into denial over these very things if Bill O'Reilly, for example, made the same conclusion. I am not suggesting that any of these brothers are "Cosby Bashers" but I will say that many of them would not go strongly against those who are.

Why don't we start with what we know - stable homes, educated parents and at least two people working to take care of their own are the essential ingredients to address the cyclical problems that are present among segments of our population?

It is my personal view that as one man, or as part of a small group of Black men I am not going to be able to make universal change among these people. We need to promote THE MAN who produced these children to take prime responsibility for their care. There are literally MILLIONS of them compared with hundreds of thousands of us. We have our own children to consider as well. Left unattached - they have few responsibilities to ponder. This is not a 100% punitive proposal against them but it is a demand that they stand up and recognize their own "racial obligations" to "reach back" just as I am asked to do so as a Black man.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Black Ministers Congregate To Develop A Plan To Address AIDS/HIV In The Black Community

Link To Story

NEW YORK — In what organizers call a historic gathering of African-American clergy, dozens of ministers from across the USA will gather here today with medical professionals and lawmakers to map a plan to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic sweeping the black community.

The two-day meeting, convened by the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, will bring together some of the nation's most prominent pastors and representatives of the National Medical Association, Congressional Black Caucus and other organizations.

"Since the movement of the '60s, we haven't seen a gathering of African-American clergy persons like this around a specific issue," says the Rev. Calvin Butts III, senior pastor of Harlem's historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, who is co-chairing the meeting with Bishop T.D. Jakes of Dallas. "At that time, it was civil rights and human rights. Now it's a major health crisis which is impacting our community."

Although African-Americans make up only 13.5% of the U.S. population, blacks were 49% of the new HIV diagnoses in 2005, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some religious leaders and AIDS activists say that many black churches have not done enough to address the crisis.

"We have a time bomb on our hands," says Debra Fraser-Howze, the commission's president. "I think that the black church will openly admit that they have not done enough in regard to HIV and AIDS, and yes, there are still churches and pastors in the black community and white community who refuse to deal with this issue because of homophobia, because it deals with sex and because it deals with drug use. … This is the time for them to come together to use their collective influence to make a national statement on what needs to happen."

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"The Voice" from "The War"

The Ken Burns' series "The War" is an excellent documentary of the last "popular" war that the United States participated in - World War II. It provides graphic details about the experiences on the battlefield from the perspective of the various soldiers that are shown in their present form today and then as they were decades ago in the war.

The one consistent presence in the series if the powerful voice of the narrator of the series by the actor - Keith David. He does a great job with his commentary which sets up the various scenes on the screen.

The body counts that are posted indicates the scale of this war as compared with others. In some days the Americans lost 16,000 infantry men in ONE DAY as a result of a forward advance upon enemy territory. I can only wonder how this war would have been reported if they had the 24 hour news coverage that we have today. Where as a few of the fighting men were heard saying "we get to experience first hand what the generals strategize about from afar" there was no MSNBC television or "Huffington Post" blog around during those days to view the war from the perspective of discontented soldiers.

On the screen right now as I watch the "FUBAR" segment there is an American soldier shooting to death at point blank range a wounded enemy solider on the island of Peleliu who is laying on the ground. Despite having this video footage in hand for show decades later I doubt that the news media back in the 1940's used such footage to undercut the war effort as is the case today.