Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Night Party? Maybe Those "Bible Belt" Traditions Did Indeed Have Benefit Within Our Community

Remember The Sabbath Day And Keep It Holy.

Every Black child that was "forced" to go to church each Sunday by mom and dad because the parents wanted to instill some values that would endure life's challenges have learned this entry from the Ten Commandments of the Judeo-Christian system of religious indoctrination.

Increasingly I have seen various attempts at remaking Sunday into the second day of the weekend and thus a day where "anything goes". Where as in the past momma's threat of "God's gonna strike you down if you disrespect him" - which sometimes was followed by a slap upside the head to give you a taste what God might do to you - today the "Fear of God" per the Judeo-Christian framework that we have been indoctrinated in is being steadily eroded.

Indeed some would say that Christianity and the associated traditions are constructs that the slave master and the missionary hath taught us. It is important that we recast our culture to one that works for us. Certainly dance and musical talent are innate attributes to our culture and spirituality. In fact it could be argued that these "Sunday Night Party" promotions are an expression of this spirituality. Add to it that the Christian God said "be fruitful and multiply" and thus there is indeed justification to making Sunday into an extended Saturday.

Of course we have the "hypocrisy police" to deal with. They will ask the question "If you are "sin'in" on Monday thru Saturday already why fake and straighten up for God on Sunday - he is already seeing what you are doing the rest of the week. Interestingly enough I was listening to the radio show "Marketplace Money" in which they were interviewing a credit councilor. He stated that at a time where credit management is of the utmost importance there are people with the mindset of "I am already in debt at a high level, purchasing this extra gizmo on my credit card is NOT going to make matters to any great extent". He said that he realizes that he must work with their baseline relationship and assumptions regarding money and credit before he can do anything to help them change their course.

In a Black community that operates on the ethos of "Non-Judgmentalism" on an increasing basis - there is indeed a spirit of disregard for temperance and moderation. These are quasi-conservative values and you know what you can do with your conservatism within the Black community. Besides that I had a glass of red wine with my Sunday dinner and it was not in celebration of my 4th Sunday communion service. Thus my "stone" which I was going to throw first has been confiscated.

You see that this "morality" debate on the subject of what to do on Sunday is not the proper approach to take. My alternate strategy about using FUNCTIONALITY as a basis is more effective.

Thus it is off to Flambeaux Seafood and Steaks Restaurant near Stonecrest Mall in Metro Atlanta. After all - Rob Base will be in the house with DJ Red Alert who is a permanent fixture there on Sunday nights. (I am streaming the audio from 102.5 as I type this. They play good oldies music - Grown Folks Radio as they are called. They are pushing this Sunday night party seemingly ever 10 minutes.)

In recognizing Sunday as a special day the following benefit might be recognized by more Black folks:

1) A reduced opportunity to get a DUI violation after having "gotten your drink on" at the party.

2) My might spend time getting to know the girl or guy that you met at the party LAST NIGHT by doing something a bit more sedate where you are forced to TALK rather than DANCE AND DRINK with her or him. In doing so you might come to appreciate certain important values that will make the relationship a bit more enduring OR you might realize that you need to lose that number quick.

3) You can spend your time at home rather than spending your money and allowing someone else to profit. Those bills are piling up you know. With this "Bush economy" that you keep talking about - we can't be too careful with our money.

4) You could spend the afternoon and evening actually doing some of the community engagement projects that you say that people are not inclined to do as they get more individualistic and turn away the values that kept the Black community together. (You do remember saying this don't you?)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I Attended A Portion Of The "Confederate Memorial Day" Ceremony

Today Is "Confederate Memorial Day".
The White folks put the sign out about 3 weeks ago in the Fayetteville GA town square that there would be a commemorative ceremony on April 26 at 7pm. I have said for the past 5 years that I would attend one of these events JUST TO LISTEN.

Clearly and with no doubt these people have an interest remembering the past than that which is present inside of me. I was not coming to pay tribute to their fallen heroes. I came to listen in to what they said and for understanding of their point of reference.

I pulled up to the town square and saw a woman reading the Confederate history upon a podium. For me seeing that flag that drew terror in many a Black man's heart I packed my Keltec .38 in my pocket just in case. I for one am one Black man who is happy that this pro-gun state of Georgia is on the verge of passing a law allowing me to make use of my concealed weapons permit in public parks.

As I walked up to the crowd of about 50 people, a good portion of them Civil War re-enactors I only drew a few quick glances. There were no other Blacks present - understandably. This is not as popular as an NAACP rally to Black folks. I was surprised that a woman in front of me gave me her printed program so that I could read about the sequence of events.

The woman on stage talked about the DIVERSITY of those who fought on behalf of the Confederate Army. She said that certain Native American tribes took up arms against the Yankee invaders. She stated that there were several Black regiments that fought on behalf of the Confederacy. (Side note - I recently saw a woman that had a bumper sticker on her car that said "Any working person who votes for the Republicans are like chickens voting for Colonel Sanders". Where as I don't agree with this claim it is certainly the case with Black folks who fought on behalf of those who had them in bondage). She did note that they should be sensitive to the feelings that some might have about their legacy but not ashamed of it none the less. She closed out by saying that "yours is a heritage to be proud of".

I just it. We have people who are indoctrinated in the sensibilities of the modern day attempting to re-write history to make their side a bit more appealing. I would have had more respect for her if she EXPLICITLY addressed the slavery challenge and the fact that I was seen as PROPERTY by her people. Of course - her speech was not written for me but instead for her ideological cohorts. To attempt to make the Confederacy diverse and inclusive when it was not just seems very intellectually dishonest to me. Just be real!!! You all were the faction of slavery.

As the session wound down the lady invited the crowd to take a walk up the street to the city cemetery for the second part of the program where they would recognize their Confederate war dead. I am not going to lie to you - as the re-enactors assembled with their grey uniforms and their Confederate Battle flag in tow I realized that if the time was 150 years ago with all of the symbols being present with me as the ONLY BLACK MAN around - I would likely be the center of attention because they would be lynching me!!

I saw a bunch of White folks carrying the Confederate flag up Hwy 54 to the cemetary which was about a block and a half away. I started to join them just to listen to them pay tribute to their ancestors. Then I thought - imagine me being photographed WALKING WITH THESE CONFEDERATES DOWN THE STREET? This might not be too good for my personal record. (Are you listening Barack Obama?)

As the crowd had departed I pulled out my camera and began to take pictures of the setup for use in this blog. I was not about to take pictures of the White folks while they were there. I am already walking on pins and needles. I was not going to provoke them. The audio/visual guy was the only one who remained. I asked him if he minded me taking pictures of their set up. He said no.

Then HE DID IT AGAIN!! He commenced to tell me about the ONE BLACK GUY who is a member of the Sons of Confederate Soldiers. First he asked me if I had any ancestors who fought on behalf of the Confederacy? I told him no I just wanted to listen to what they had to say. The funny thing is - he said to me "Yeah we usually have 'one guy' who comes in from out of state to speak to us about his heritage". I asked him "when you say this he a Black guy?". He told me "yes he is". (Damn - why not just make the point specifically? If I were not Black you would not have brought him up. This episode mirrored my conversation as I was walking into a State of Georgia sponsored banquet and saw a guy with a Confederate license plate on the back of his car. He told me that the flag was a symbol of pride to him. Then he told me about THE ONE BLACK GUY. To him I thought as I did today "OK THAT'S ONE!!! What about the millions of others who wanted nothing to do with you all based on your assaults on them?"

To the Confederate I say - I can respect the homage you have for your relatives. I can admit that about 6 years ago in going to my ancestral home in South Carolina and seeing all of the tombstones with my family name upon them, many which went back to the 1840's it was indeed a change to express pride and honor them for their linkage. While I will never accept their treatment of my seed as property and beasts of burden I can only respect the fact that they seek to honor their own family. Just enough with the "ONE BLACK CONFEDERATE" STORIES!!!

Based on my research on the subject of Reconstruction and the importance of technology as a labor savings mechanism I would say that if the South had repelled the Union forces out of its land and continued on as a new "Slave Nation" that it would have attempted to recover from the war, still using enslaved Africans as its main source of farm labor. It would have taken until about 1935 for the system of slavery to go on the decline regarding field hands. The introduction of mechanization and chemical treatment during this time would have created an imbalance in the demand for labor and the requirements for it to run a newly mechanized farm. Indeed personal servants would have been in use.

Thus it is my opinion that the South as its own nation would not have eliminated slavery and made Blacks equal. Instead they would have attempted to purge the excess Blacks who were beyond their necessities as laborers. I believe that they would have deported Blacks into the "United States" as a condition of their freedom. Slavery itself would have died out in the "Confederate States of America" as late as 1955, again with incremental rights for the personal servants who remained.

I plan to take a personal tour of the cemetery so that I can make note of the dates related to the deceased. I am just happy that today - I live in a time where I can feel confident enough to walk up to a gathering of Confederates and not fear being strung up on the closest tree. At the same time I had no aspirations to join their clan or show my thankfulness for their providing housing to my people in the past.

Friday, April 25, 2008

My Terror Filled Dream - Rejection By My Own People

I had a terrorizing dream last night where I actually feared for my life and felt every emotion related to it.

As a set up the dream took place in the environment where I grew up. On 61st and Jefferson in Philadelphia there are duplex row homes. In the back of these two story units are steel fire escapes that also have a deck which the back doors of the two level unites open up to.

I recall starting the dream with me running for my life. As I turned around there were a pack of Klansmen dressed in white riding horses chasing after me. In the lead of these pack of klansmen, however was one lone horsemen who was dressed in all Black. In fact his skin was literally Black as well. He was more of a spirit than a human. He was doing all of the talking, leading his men on as they chased after me.

As I got to the end of the alley I ran up the metal stairs of the first building to seek the safety in the "Black Man's prison" that was housed there. As I came up the stairs I saw a few Black men scrambling for safety inside of the building at the sight of the klan coming after us all.

Just as I got to the door - they slammed the iron gate right in my face. They shut me out telling me that they can't let me in and risk the lives of everyone else. The klan started coming up the fire escape. They had their sights set on me - the only one without protection from the enclosed building at this point. This is where my heart was pounding out of my chest - in real life as well as in my dream.

I decided to jump off of the side of the deck and grab onto the side of the roof. The klansmen below me started throwing rocks and lobbing lit torches at me, attempting to knock me down. I kept moving to the side of the building while still danging. I made it to the side alley and then pulled myself up onto the roof. Since the duplexes are all connected together I ran for my life west bound up the block, on the rooftops. I saw the band of Klans men slowly mounting the roof coming after me but I had about a half of a block distance on them.

I reached the end of the duplexes once I got to 62nd and Jefferson. Then I jumped off and ran up the alley where I used to play as a child. I kept running until I got to 63rd street. I then hid under some pine trees in front of a house that I used to walk by everyday after school. Minutes later I saw a few of the Klansmen passing by still looking for me. I stayed there until that evening.

When the coast was clear I decided to carefully make my way back to the "Black man's prison" to confront those who slammed the door in my face when I needed them the most - when my life was at risk.

When I got to the corner of 61st and Jefferson my eyes could not believe what I saw. The Klansmen had BURNED THE ENTIRE BUILDING TO THE GROUND. Everyone who was in this sanctuary of protection from outside threats were actually TRAPPED INSIDE by the iron bars that protected them and which kept me out during my time of need.

I came to the conclusion that I was thankful that they slammed the door upon me because I would have been incinerated along with them.

This was a powerful dream in that I could actually feel the intense emotions as I was fearing for my life.

It appears that the moral of this dream is - The very fortress that you build up for protection against outside threats might be the container that is used by your enemies to round you up and destroy you in one fell swoop.

As for me - I had to think on my feet - turning the deadly swipe and repudiation by my own people at the time when I needed them the most into a self-preservation exercise, using my knowledge of the terrain of my own community to my advantage to elude capture and certain death.

Bill Cosby Teams With Judge Arrington To Speak To Black Youth

Cosby, Tucker join Fulton judge in message to black youths

Man - I guess Black people have not "lost their mind" as Cosby's nemesis had thought as he attempted to pimp the situation for profits in his book.

While I don't agree with Cosby that a sitting judge should ask everyone expect Blacks to leave the courtroom while he has his robe on - he should have taken the people needing to hear the message into his chambers - I do strongly agree with the efforts by Cosby to fight against the default mindset - which is to DO NOTHING about the problems that beset our community.

What are Cosby's critics doing again?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Which Of These Two Black Men Gets Invited To Speak @ Schools Without Protest?

This is indeed a perverted world around us.
After my recent experience in a public school I am now more attuned to the messages and agendas that are taking place within these places of learning. (Read: Indoctrination). I thought that the reports about "Earth Day" indoctrination where little kids are scared into believing that "Earth will be destroyed in their lifetime if they don't change the ways of their parents" was the biggest threat. Indeed maybe in some communities.

The latest conflict on the dashboard is about the list of invitees chosen to speak to our young people.

First up we have Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Thomas was chosen as the commencement speaker for the University of Georgia's spring graduation ceremony. Some crafty liberals had to find a way to repudiate Justice Thomas without going after the normal ideological angle and indeed not the racial one. "What can we do? Oh what can we do?".

"Got it!!
We'll make note that he was accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill during his confirmation process and then we will relate this to the recent sexual harassment situation that the university had just gone through with a new board in place to investigate such allegations.

"Certainly it sends the WRONG MESSAGE to 'reward' a 'sexual harasser' like Thomas to the vaulted role as commencement speaker?"

This is one of those times I wish I had the motivation of a extremist to drive up to Athens GA and ask these faux protesters if BILL CLINTON would be welcomed as a graduation speaker.

As contrast consider our next school speaker. None other than the famous rapper 'T.I.'. T.I. has been going around to various schools preaching about anti-violence and saying away from gangs, drugs and guns. This is great T.I. - I am proud of you. If only Justice Clarence Thomas could find it in his heart to do such a thing. But wait.......T.I. is doing this BECAUSE HE HAS TO WORK 1000 HOURS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE as part of his PLEA AGREEMENT!!!!!!!

(O.K. God - this is very funny. You can stop now.)

I fail to understand "my people" some times. I guess T.I. had the "Al Capone" like tommy guns that were displayed by the ATF for use to kill KLANSMEN who threatened the hood? Who other than BLACK MEN were likely to die as a result of T.I. arms?

You should have heard the local Black talk show right after the arrest which took place just prior to the "BET Hip Hop Awards" in Atlanta in which T.I. was scheduled to perform. Now think - if rival rappers are coming into town and T.I. is making an illegal gun purchase......might it be that he thought that some "mess" was going to go down that weekeend? He was making sure that someone else was going to be among the increase in Atlanta's homicide rate that weekend if it came to this rather than himself being added.

T.I. is a convicted felon. He also spent time in jail a few years ago for failing to pay child support and for a parole violation. Sadly, of course, some people will toss all of this aside with their theory that the American criminal justice system is just a snare, seeking to snatch up any brother that it can within its clutches.

They are able (in their own minds) to focus on the "good" that T.I. has done in the community while dismissing the fact that he might have put bullet holes into several properties in that same community had he used the guns that he was procuring.

But again - this particular blog is less about politics and more about culture and the impact there in upon our people.

I would love for someone to reconcile the differences between the reception of T.I. and Clarence Thomas into our schools?

Judge Marvin Arrington Get's It Right - Joins Forces With Bill Cosby

I believe that Judge Marvin Arrington is an honorable man. His choice to speak to the young Black people who frequented his court had the best intentions in mind. My key criticism is that he should not have done this racially specific action in the cloak of his duties as a sitting judge. Had he invited the offending parties to his court chambers and reamed them out - I would have unrestrained applause for him.

I believe in his actions after this initial shot across the bow has shown the great man that Judge Arrington is. He has teamed with Bill Cosby to speak at a local high school. It is my contention that anyone who is honest about the situation on the streets of many Black communities around America would see Bill Cosby's message and Judge Arrington's frustration as being in line with the message of "Enough Already!".

Judge Marvin Arrington had seen and heard enough.

The parade of black men and women — criminals and mothers of criminals — he saw every day frustrated him.

What he did to address it, some observers say, was classic Arrington. Others say it was arrogance.

"You guys are destroying your lives," he admonished — after asking the few whites present to leave his Atlanta courtroom. "Black people, please, turn your life around."

The scolding quickly became national news earlier this month. Arrington's "fireside chat," as he later called it, was being compared to the more public criticism first voiced four years ago by actor Bill Cosby, who criticized some African-American families for not raising their kids right, slammed black youth for wearing their clothes backward and berated them for failing to master the queen's English.

Their messages were so similar that the judge and the comedian agreed to combine forces for a presentation Thursday evening at Benjamin E. Mays High School in Atlanta.

The ticketed event, which is not open to the public, is for foundering youths recommended by school systems and juvenile courts. Parent are encouraged to attend with them.

Cosby and Arrington hope to convince them that they can improve their situations instead of being resigned to them.

Arrington should know.

On the fifth floor of the Fulton County Courthouse, he is a Superior Court judge. On the street, he is one of them, starting out as a poor kid from Grady Homes.

His story could easily be theirs and theirs his.

"I was an inner-city thug," Arrington said. "Wouldn't listen to anybody. Teachers turned me around."

Arrington grew up hustling and fighting his way through childhood.

He hung out at the pool hall, shot dice on the corner like everybody else.

"I could've easily went the other way," he said. " That's how I know these kids can do better, but it's up to us to help them."

Were it not for the people in his life, coaches, teachers and sometimes complete strangers, he said, his life might have turned out differently. He might have gotten in trouble with the law, too.

Arrington spent his energy on the football field and basketball and tennis courts. When he wasn't playing sports, he worked, rising at

4:30 a.m. to throw the Atlanta Constitution, hopping cars after school at the old Split T drive-in.

On Sundays, he was in Bible school at Lindsey Street Baptist Church.

He always had people, he said, who regularly told him to straighten up, to take his schoolwork seriously, to be somebody.

So Arrington grew up to be somebody. He married and raised two children, became active in a prosperous law firm, wielded political clout and commanded respect from the Atlanta business community.

In 2002, after losing a bid for mayor, he was appointed and later won election to the Fulton County Superior Court, a source of great pride and building frustration.

It was the latter that spoke from the bench that day, said Lou M. Beasley, a former dean of the School of Social Work at Clark Atlanta University, Arrington's alma mater.

"That is uniquely Marvin Arrington," Beasley said. "He's genuinely concerned about the plight of our young people. He'd want to intervene."

Beasley met Arrington when they worked together to bring computers and other programs to poor children living in the John Hope Homes in Atlanta.

Beasley said that Arrington, then a board member at CAU, drove that effort, which served 90 children annually.

"As a university sitting in the middle of the neighborhood, he believed we needed to reach out to the community," she said, "particularly the children."

Arrington always has championed black causes, donating money to social service agencies, advocating for youth programs and mentoring young attorneys, said Lyndon Wade, retired president of the Urban League of Atlanta. Arrington repeats those themes frequently in his just-released autobiography "Making My Mark: The Story of a Man Who Wouldn't Stay in His Place."

"He's always asking me: 'What can be done? How do we stop these young people from ruining their lives?' " Wade said.

But not everyone is enamored by the judge's legal or civic work.

Even giving him the benefit of the doubt, said State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), dismissing white people from the court "reflects poor judgment."

Fort conceded the judge's message is good, but, he said, it "is hypocritical."

"How can he criticize a kid from the projects that has had none of the opportunities he's had?" he asked. "I'd hope that in his road show with Cosby he would maintain the decorum that is not always reflected in his public life."

In the days following, Arrington expressed regret over his actions.

Whatever form Arrington's delivery takes, he's by no means alone.

"He's like a lot of African-Americans and probably some whites, too. He's sitting there seeing all the problems we talk about, black youth going to waste, the ruined lives," said Dr. Alvin Poussaint, a psychiatrist at the Judge Baker Children's Center and Harvard Medical School. "It's very painful to watch."

"People feel this embarrassment and shame when we talk about it in front of society," said Poussaint, who with Cosby co-authored "Come on People: On the Path from Victims to Victors." "But if the leading cause of death among black males is homicide by black males, you've got to talk about it."

Arrington was raised not to air dirty laundry in public, he said, explaining why he didn't want white people in the courtroom.

While others have criticized that move, Poussaint said, "I think what he did was pretty astute."

Had Arrington allowed them to stay, Poussaint said, "it would've been easier for blacks in the courtroom to dismiss what he said, to feel that he was only trying to bring them down in front of white people.

"If they felt that way, they would become more defensive and unwilling to change."

At 12:30 the other day, Arrington left the courthouse for lunch, headed to Sweet Auburn. He grew up not far from here in Grady homes, the public housing complex where he spent part of his youth.

Arrington does not need to make these trips back home. He has the resources to travel the world. He comes back because he must.

Inside, he stops at DiRienzo's Deli, orders a salad before crossing the aisle for six fried oysters, stopping to chat with vendors and their customers.

He carries his oysters back to the deli and takes a seat before launching once again into his story: the inner city kid doing all the wrong things until that light switch turned on in his head.

"I can't forget where I came from," he said.

Monday, April 21, 2008

My Experience In An "Urban Elementary School" - I Am They And They Are Me


I decided to 'simulcast' my recent experience at a local elementary school at which I gave a speech recently. I will run through my experiences twice because I don't want to give the appearance that I am being overly critical, negative or condescending regarding what I saw and felt. I was ready to leave the building and document my strong feelings. I instead decided to be a bit more strategic and diplomatic in my response though. So here I am.

Thus I will use my two distinct blogs to express my varied views.
On "Functional Culture" which is my "Love" site I will limit my commentary to the positive, constructive elements of what I had witnessed.
On my "Within The Black Community" site which is my "Tough Love" sister site I will focus my distinct criticism of what I saw on that blog entry". (

I hope that in reading the entirety of both accounts that anyone who is interested will see the complexity of the matter at hand regarding "Urban Education" and reaching children where they reside.......but also........MOVING THEM FORWARD rather than wading in the dysfunctional culture that is all around them.

Note: I'd prefer to be a bit generic and ambiguous in my account because I'd prefer to keep my personal life and my Blogger life as distinct as possible.)

Today I delivered upon a motivational speech in front of a public elementary school in Dekalb County Georgia. A 'friend of a friend' said that I was 'clean cut' enough to deliver a message to the young people on the verge of taking a big standardized test.

I arrived at the school and was greeted by the principal and taken to the gym where the assembly would take place. I had a good conversation with a substitute teacher who has been working in the Dekalb Public School system while he does some graduate work in psychology. He introduced me to the concept of "North Of Memorial Drive Schools" and "South Of Memorial Drive Schools". This is the divide in Dekalb counties between the schools of the north that are racially diverse and have a greater income position and the schools in the south of the county which are mostly poor, Black and inner city in character (with some exceptions to this rule to be noted). He told me about his thesis on the subject of "how to deal with discipline problems with inner city school children". It appears that he found the reasons why certain children act out in a given way but he needed a bit more of a comprehensive strategy regarding a fix. Indeed he mentioned that the parents must involve themselves in the management of their children's education and that they need external assistance to compensate for any shortcoming that they have in their abilities to do so.

As the students began to file in - I was sitting by the doorway. I couldn't help but to notice that they could all be "my own children". Some had their shoes untied, others has outgoing personalities and asked me what my name was. I replied "I'm Barney" to a 1st grader.

After the audio was setup the A/V technician played a song that was based on Snoop Dogg's "Sexual Attraction". This version said "Addition and Subtraction, you got it". In trying to be open minded - I personally would not play this type of music for elementary schools but clearly these kids had heard the song before and connected with it.

As the program started the principal took control of the room. It was clear that her authority was established. I was the first guest speaker and I told them that everything that they need to pass the test is already inside of them. I tried to keep them laughing but I also realized that the more interactive I was with them the more the opportunity to lose control of the audience as they screamed out to answers. Basically I gave them some key test taking advice and told them that they will never stop taking tests. As an employee and an adult I still take tests as a measure of my understanding. I believe that they "got" what I was saying to them but they had heard it all before.

The next speaker was more on their wave length. He was a local singer/rapper brought to the school as part of some Title 1, Communities In Schools initiative. He claimed to have a college degree and a master's degree. I did not get a chance to query his credentials. None the less he played the part of what they wanted to hear. After hearing that he was a part of "Young Joc's" crew the crowd cheered.

He made a passing reference to doing well on the test. One would argue that as a young, twenty-something Black male who they could relate to he was able to attract their attention most effectively.

After his brief talk he asked for 4 boys and 4 girls from the audience and he held a dance contest where 4 people won some prizes. Where as I would not have personally done this as part of an education forum - it was clear by the student's reactions that this was the proper balance between listening to an important message and fun. "Eductainment" some call it. Any way you cut it - the entire audience was shrieking with an ear piercing amount of yelling and screaming around this entire bit at the end of the session.

The students cleared out. I was thanked for my words and I departed for the day.

Again - these could have been "my kids". They have all of the mental capacity and abilities that my children were born with. I have to assume that a portion of them come from impoverished backgrounds and thus have the associated challenges.

I promised to check up on their school to see how they did on these standardized tests when they are released later this year.

In any event the principal and the Title I resource coach invited me back to assist them with the schools technology.

I am an outsider looking in. Where as I would not have exposed these children to some of the things that I did see - it would be naive of me to assume that they are not bombarded with many of these messages outside of the schools control. The popular theory is to attempt to redirect some of these potentially negative influences into more positive and productive engagements. That the theory at least.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Is Africa Like The "Wrong Side Of Town" From The Perspective Of White Folks?

(Please Note: For personal reasons I choose to be ambiguous and non-specific about certain details due to my interests to retain my employment and not breach the confidence of the clients that I support)

Today I was asked to do a presentation for a multi-national firm which has a major expansion plan for Africa and Asia. I was the only Black person in the room. There were about 3 people of Asian descent and the rest of the group was White. On the one hand I have a strong interest in the development that is taking place on the continent of Africa - especially in my area of expertise - telecommunications.

As I listened to one of the ladies that represented the customer - I could not help but to notice her continued negative references about Africa.

As we finished the formalities of introducing the account team to the customer and vice versa prior to the start of the meeting I learned a bunch about her experiences in Africa. She stated that she had recently traveled to Johannesburg on business. She left her hotel room to go to dinner, having stayed out for about 2 hours. Upon returning she noted that someone had entered her room and stolen all of her jewelry. To add insult to injury when she returned home to the states she received an e-mail stating that her valuables had been found. They asked her to forward her bank account information so that they could credit her account with the value of the jewels. Clearly, she figured, this all was an inside job. Who else would know when she departed her room and then know that she had filed a stolen property report with the hotel security BUT someone operating inside of hotel security? They would have cleaned her bank account out had she provided this information in response to the e-mail.

When we were in the meeting the customer detailed their expansion plans for their African presence (in addition to other parts of the world).

I noted that every time she mentioned Africa it was accompanied with comments such as:

"If I had my choice I would not go there but this is one of the last areas for growth"
"Who would want to go there if they didn't have to?"
"Certain parts of the continent are in the stone ages and it is impossible to connect into there".

Now to be clear - I realize the difference between having my own "personal opinions" and also interacting with "corporate assets". The very same instincts that give me the insight not to "mess with the help" (the ladies in the employ of the company) and also not to discriminate against some of the very effeminate male candidates that I have run across with regard to their equal access to job opportunities ALSO had me to make note of the comments from this woman but not "call her on it" in the conduct of the meeting.

It was interesting that when we talked about Asia and the difficulties in conducting business there on occasion the reasons were due to government road blocks not "backwardness" or underdevelopment as was the case in Africa.

What did I choose to do about the situation? RESEARCH and make additional contacts. I have a personal interest in having a more international presence in my field. I have given up my aspirations of going to Dubai for 2 years for now. At the same time it is clear to me that there is a bunch of untapped potential in Africa. Just as I made note of how beneficial the investments in Internet bandwidth has been to the Caribbean in my sister blog "Technological Reparation the same seems true and possible for Africa.

In my office I have a picture of the "Africa-One" fiber ring that is planned to make a loop around the perimeter of the continent with spurs jetting inland to connect the land locked nations accordingly. Interestingly enough where as in other parts of the world you'd have a big telecom conglomerate or partnership to put the funds together for the build out of a major network - in Africa there was a NGO type organization that advanced this project for the sake of providing essential communications services as a foundation for future growth.

For me - I will choose to work with this customer because their opportunity represents an opportunity in hand to focus my research on African telecommunications and obtain additional contacts in the process.

I sometimes wonder, however, if in seeing a Black person in their presence a White person who makes generalized critical comments about Africa ever temper their comments because a descendant of Africa is present? For some reason they make a distinction between me and them via nationalistic loyalties over racial binds.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"The Deindustrialization of the North Caused Black Families To Erode" Really???

In a debate regarding the Black family a content contributor argued that the loss of manufacturing jobs in what is now known as "the rust belt" triggered the erosion of the Black family. He pointed to the year 1965 in which the crisis - as documented by the Kerner Commission as well as the alarm raised by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

I will deploy my new found tactic for analyzing one's theories by playing them in reverse. Thus in order for this theory to be proven true we must be able to conclude that the rate of marriage for Black people INCREASED as they moved North into these factory jobs. Instead there is the reverse effect that is the case.

If I had to guess - and I am no sociologist - but the lack of mobility in the Southern towns that we came from meant that those African Americans who engaged in heterosexual relationships were bound by the local traditions of marriage, not 'shacking' and also were in range of the admonishment of the local preacher to stay in line as such. Upon moving to the "big city" in the North many of these social networks of cohesion were shredded and needed to be rebuilt. In fact the migration from the small town into the big city was an enabler for many of the 'players' who would otherwise be constrained by the existing framework in their towns of origin.

The mobility afforded by the big cities and the nightlife that they offered made it much easier for a broad cross section of men and women to be paired up and have more casual sexual relationships. In a few decades after the migration the real consequences of this new culture was registered.

What are my sources for this? Some excellent documentaries and books on the subject of the great migration Northward by Blacks. Chicago provides ample content of a city that was transformed by migration - mostly from Mississippi. The housing projects that are now the scorn of the city were once first rate residences that were built to address the need for housing in the rapidly expanding metropolis. Originally it was working class families in place - teachers, police men, laborers filled the corridors of these newly constructed tenements. Once housing policy changed - the fate of these places were sealed. Where as originally they were temporary until people got back on their feet - they became storerooms for the poor and dispossessed. In addition the backlash from the White residents seeking to prevent the racial tipping point of their own communities forced the policy makers to build the new projects upward - packing more people into one confined space. The new culture that was crafted began to feed on itself.

I do agree that there is a parallel between the relocation of the manufacturing sector out of the city limits, the exodus of the White population and the resulting erosion of the economic standing of the Blacks who were left behind. It is no sign of genius to make note that prior to this time the African American had no grounds to create wealth building entities in a large scale and thus the key engine components that caused this cities to roar forward - having moved away - also meant that the city deflated in proportion to the loss of its vital propulsion system.

In the wake of all of this, however, is the growing Black political and activist class. If indeed the "intact Black family" was a central goal of their agenda - you could have fooled me. In most cases a "Bronx Cheer" was given to the exiting White folks. Their departure meant that "THEIR PEOPLE" would now assume the reigns of power in the city. "Things were going to be different now that WE ARE IN CHARGE!!".

In the "Strategic Failure 101" that was committed the Black political activism machine went for POLITICAL POWER as a means of achieving ECONOMIC POWER. If we are to be intellectually honest - we would have to conclude that this was a tragic mistake and that we are living through it right now.

To be clear - the Black experience in America has been that of "Labor" and not "Ownership/Management". Thus it stands to reason that the newly crafted Black political class at the time were more "pro-labor" than they were "pro-owner" or even neutral - attempting to achieve a balance. As the environments became more hostile to business - the exodus of these businesses increased.

So what does this have to do with the conditions of "the Black family"? EASY! We can talk to nearly anyone who has grown up in an old Northern inner city and make note of the dramatic changes that have taken place within them over the past 40 years. I recall seeing a picture of my grandfather standing on a street in Philadelphia. He had a "57 Chevy" type car. The most interesting portion of the picture, however, was the cleanliness of the street and how well the gardens and houses were maintained in the backdrop. I had to ask my mom "Is this how the street used to look?" Indeed the block of 61st and Jefferson in Philly, despite being rental duplexes where also full of BLACK FAMILIES at the time. These "renters" had an "ownership" mentality when it came to the upkeep of their residences.

As you return to these areas today you will note that many of them are undercapitalized. The owners don't have the money to do a wholesale renovation of the property, improving the 'curb appeal' in the process. Much of this is from the fact that the tenants lack the financial resources to bear the increase in rent that would fund this capital expenditure. All of this is a cycle and flow. All of it stems from the availability of good paying jobs that initiate the 'dollar velocity' WITHIN our community.

So more to the point of the original question - yes the change in industrialization of the cities had an impact on the economic standing of the people living within. We can't conclude, however, that the Black family unit was eroded due to the degraded financial impact that job loss had created. Clearly there is a larger cultural basis for this change.

Beyond all of this - IF indeed we see the COST of low marriage rates within our community - the forward leaning question is "What are we going to do about it TODAY so that tomorrow is DIFFERENT"? Pointing to the past alone is not going to prove to be a fix.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Where Are Our "Zora Neale Hurstons" Of Today?

INTERESTING!!! This same Black woman who years ago was applauded for her criticisms of the World War II involvement of the United States with respect to imperialism in Africa and other areas that were colonized.........received SCORN when she questioned the "Brown v Board" decision with respect to its impact on the dignity of Black people.

Letter to the Orlando Sentinel

Zora Neale Hurston
August 11, 1955


I promised God and some other responsible characters, including a bench of bishops, that I was not going to part my lips concerning the U.S. Supreme Court decision on ending segregation in the public schools of the South. But since a lot of time has passed and no one seems to touch on what to me appears to be the most important point in the hassle, I break my silence just this once. Consider me as just thinking out loud.

The whole matter revolves around the self-respect of my people. How much satisfaction can I get from a court order for somebody to associate with me who does not wish me near them? The American Indian has never been spoken of as a minority and chiefly because there is no whine in the Indian. Certainly he fought, and valiantly for his lands, and rightfully so, but it is inconceivable of an Indian to seek forcible association with anyone. His well known pride and self-respect would save him from that. I take the Indian position.

Now a great clamor will arise in certain quarters that I seek to deny the Negro children of the South their rights, and therefore I am one of those "handkerchief-head niggers" who bow low before the white man and sell out my own people out of cowardice. However an analytical glance will show that that is not the case.

If there are not adequate Negro schools in Florida, and there is some residual, some inherent and unchangeable quality in white schools, impossible to duplicate anywhere else, then I am the first to insist that Negro children of Florida be allowed to share this boon. But if there are adequate Negro schools and prepared instructors and instructions, then there is nothing different except the presence of white people.

For this reason, I regard the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court as insulting rather than honoring my race. Since the days of the never-to-be-sufficiently deplored Reconstruction, there has been current the belief that there is no great[er] delight to Negroes than physical association with whites. The doctrine of the white mare. Those familiar with the habits of mules are aware that any mule, if not restrained, will automatically follow a white mare. Dishonest mule-traders made money out of this knowledge in the old days.

Lead a white mare along a country road and slyly open the gate and the mules in the lot would run out and follow this mare. This ruling being conceived and brought forth in a sly political medium with eyes on ’56, and brought forth in the same spirit and for the same purpose, it is clear that they have taken the old notion to heart and acted upon it. It is a cunning opening of the barnyard gate wit[h] the white mare ambling past. We are expected to hasten pell-mell after her.

It is most astonishing that this should be tried just when the nation is exerting itself to shake off the evils of Communist penetration. It is to be recalled that Moscow, being made aware of this folk belief, made it the main plank in their campaign to win the American Negro from the 1920’s on. It was the come-on stuff. Join the party and get yourself a white wife or husband. To supply the expected demand, the party had scraped up this-and-that off of park benches and skid rows and held them in stock for us. The highest types of Negroes were held to be just panting to get hold of one of these objects. Seeing how flat that program fell, it is astonishing that it would be so soon revived. Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.

But the South had better beware in another direction. While it is being frantic over the segregation ruling, it had better keep its eyes open for more important things. One instance of Govt by fiat has been rammed down its throat. It is possible that the end of segregation is not here and never meant to be here at present, but the attention of the South directed on what was calculated to keep us busy while more ominous things were brought to pass. The stubborn South and the Midwest kept this nation from being dragged farther to the left than it was during the New Deal.

But what if it is contemplated to do away with the two-party system and arrive at Govt by administrative decree? No questions allowed and no information given out from the administrative dept? We could get more rulings on the same subject and more far-reaching any day. It pays to weigh every saving and action, however trivial as indicating a trend.

In the ruling on segregation, the unsuspecting nation might have witnessed a trial-balloon. A relatively safe one, since it is sectional and on a matter not likely to arouse other sections of the nation to the sup-port of the South. If it goes off fairly well, a precedent has been established. Govt by fiat can replace the Constitution. You don’t have to credit me with too much intelligence and penetration, just so you watch carefully and think.

Meanwhile, personally, I am not delighted. I am not persuaded and elevated by the white mare technique. Negro schools in the state are in very good shape and on the improve. We are fortunate in having Dr. D.E. Williams as head and driving force of Negro instruction.’ Dr. Williams is relentless in his drive to improve both physical equipment and teacher-quality. He has accomplished wonder[s] in the 20 years past and it is to be expected that he will double that in the future.

It is well known that I have no sympathy nor respect for the `tragedy of color’ school of thought among us, whose fountain-head is the pressure group concerned in this court ruling. I can see no tragedy in being too dark to be invited to a white school social affair. The Supreme Court would have pleased me more if they had concerned themselves about enforcing the compulsory education provisions for Negroes in the South as is done for white children. The next 10 years would be better spent in appointing truant officers and looking after conditions in the homes from which the children come. Use to the limit what we already have.

Thems my sentiments and I am sticking by them. Growth from within. Ethical and cultural desegregation. It is a contradiction in terms to scream race pride and equality while at the same time spurning Negro teachers and self-association. That old white mare business can go racking on down the road for all I care.

Zora Neale Hurston
Eau Gallie

While admittedly I am not able to formulate an outright criticism of "Brown v Board" because of my reverence for it due to my status of having been a student of this historical ruling. Thus I am a beneficiary of the new policy but also I have been indoctrinated to not question the universal good of such a ruling.

I have, however, commented on the modern day "Brown v Boards" in such a critical manner. Indeed there is the presumption of White supremacy among some of the policy drives regarding school integration policies. Almost unwaveringly the valued asset in the exchange is the WHITE CHILD! His presence inside of the class room does wonder for the Black student. For some reason the reverse valuation is not so assured.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Flawed Strategy Of “Don't Blame The Victim”

The Flawed Strategy Of “Don't Blame The Victim”

Once again a debate about gun violence in the Black community and yet again a confrontation with an individual who wants me to see things his way. I must loyally abide by the popular narrative and its key points – there are no guns being manufactured WITHIN the Black community; these guns are being flooded into our community from external sources; those of us who are concerned about the VICTIMS who are being purposely destroyed by this arraignment of negative forces should not “blame the victims” who ultimately have no power – we should blame the SYSTEM and force the SYSTEM to change.

I am forced to recall my sentiments upon seeing the movie “The Last King Of Scotland” - the movie about the antics of Idi Amin in Uganda. You see though I saw BLACK MEN massacring other Black people – I should not actually “see” Black men – I should see the WHITE MEN who crafted the system upon which the killing of Blacks by other Blacks took place. Metaphorically I should have considered the excellent editing job down by Hollywood. They were able to remove all of the strings that were attached to Idi Amin's Black henchmen. These strings were dangling down with the hands of the White men that controlled them from above being just off screen. Indeed there were no guns manufactured in Uganda during this time either yet the country was full of guns that were used to slaughter Black people. The very same force who Rev Jeremiah Wright said created AIDS is also the same force who created the guns – both with the same deadly end in mind. Thus when I saw these Blacks in Uganda doing what they have been programmed by what King Leopold had taught them to do – I should see the White man's hands in the matter, not the Black man who pulls the trigger. He is an INFERIOR being in the matter. He is a vessel to carry out a mission. A mission of destruction of his own kind – in service to the SUPERIOR man with the SUPERIOR plan.

But wait – WHAT OF THE BLACK MAN? What of the community of BLACK PEOPLE? Are we so feeble that we are made to be unable to recognized this plan that is against us and not be made the victim of this other man's scheme? What can we do to ultimately protect our people from the ravages of what this other man has in store for us? If indeed this other man is innately interested in destroying us.....isn't it innately our responsibility to preserve ourselves? Is our desire for “genetic perpetuation” any different from his?

Does it make logical sense to express OUR perpetuation via lobbying HIM or should we express this via our own efforts? Just as a mother talks to her young son about the dangers that are on the street that he is to avoid – why is it that this same conversation is not used to make this young Black boy aware of what the WHITE MAN has in store for him – IF a person believes this particular conspiracy theory. Isn't the minimum request from the Black community that we DON'T PLAY A PART IN THIS OTHER MAN'S CONSPIRACY TO KILL US OFF?

If guns, drugs, HIV, inferior educational systems, economic isolation, the criminal justice system and other “Willie Lynch” type antics are used to destroy us – what can be done equally as SYSTEMETICALLY to thwart these conspiracies? Shouldn't our community work to reduce the “surfaces” by which certain infections are allowed to come into our communities? Wouldn't it more more strategically sound to seek to strengthen the infrastructure WITHIN the community so that the exposure to external forces are reduced IF it these external forces that are the biggest threat? I have long talked about the co-conspiracy that is taking place as we participate in American consumerism. This is particularly aimed at those who spit upon the founding of America and who have a narrative that tells of the unsavory means by which this country was created – all with its foot on the neck of Black people. If the truth of this scenario is accepted then why is it that the follow up actions point to increased dependency upon this same system rather than independence and self-sufficiency and then separation or at least engagement on your own terms? Where is any of this evident today?

It comes as no surprise that the bulk of the focus of the Black Liberation Movement and its various stages has been the EXTERNAL fight against threats from the outside. These forces worked to enslave, colonialized, suppress and imprison us. How is it that those who can tell us about this history are of the same ones who seek to win 'rights' for Black people with more programs, resources and special consideration FROM THIS SAME FORCE OF SUPPRESSION so that the Black man's fate can be settled? This is the ultimate in contradiction.

Today among some people there seems to be some measure of indignity at the thought that THE VICTIM THEMSELVES are most responsible for arranging the terms of their own salvation. Their thought is that those who 'DID THIS TO US' are responsible for fixing what they broke. They have the framework of “Intellectual and Moral Superiority” on their side. If this were a court – they would have the paperwork of the favorable ruling against the guilty defendant in their hands. Now if only they had the power to collect upon this judgment, forcing the guilty party to pay the debt.

If only the opposing party “played fair”. If only they came to grips with “what THEY have done to us”. Why don't they acknowledge what they are unwilling to talk about what THEY DID TO US and pay up in the process? WE won't reach our full potential as a people until THEY come to grips with what THEY have done to US and are willing to REPAIR US accordingly.

Until this time – we will wait, we will advocate for THEM to repair us. We will remind THEM of every racist slight that THEY do to us to harm us. We will show them how far short THEY are from upholding the constitution that THEY wrote.

Question – What will WE do within OUR OWN COMMUNITY to fortify it OURSELVES? Rarely has this question been entertained.

"Don't Blame The Victim" centrally assumes the INFERIORITY of the "victim" in ever being able to reorder his fate from WITHIN with the passage of time and new instantiations of himself in the form of offspring who can be indoctrinated with a consciousness that fortifies their strength rather than centrally focuses on their weak, exploited state.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Immigration and Integration At The Golden Arches

This morning during my visit to McDonalds I noted something very interesting. In the 10 years that I have been commuting to work and purchasing food from this particular location things have changed. Today I avoided the long drive through line by going inside. Where as 10 years ago the entire staff was Black today there were a mix of Black and Hispanic workers. All of the cashiers and drive through window attendants were Blacks. All of the food preparation people were Hispanic.

Most interesting of all, however, was the actions of the store manager who was a Black female. When she communicated with her Spanish speaking staff she used a combination of English and Spanish. She, for example, said "Did you make one of the McSkillet Burritos with Chicken?". Then she followed up with the commands in Spanish: "uno mas". (Meaning give me one more McSkillet burrito). She said a few other words in a similar manner.

The manager gave me my food. I said to her "I see you are going to learn Spanish by immersion". She laughed.

This is indeed an example of workforce diversity. Look for more of this to come. The need for Americans to be bi-lingual will increase as our population changes.