Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Boy Scouts of America - A System Of Character Development for Boys



My son's recent induction into the local Boy Scouts of America council caused me to bring up personal memories of my days as a scout, to do some background research on the organization and to think about some of the essential elements that are important within a community for inculcation of certain important values into the minds of its young people.

Scout Oath
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scout Law
A Scout is: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.


As I watched the badge ceremony the other day the clear value of the system was shown. Like any traditional "rite of passage" framework those walking the journey were required to perform specific tasks before they passed through another gate. The badge is used as a permanent record of such accomplishment. From what I saw the key requirements are to do something for community benefit or personal development.

The BSA was granted a federal charter in 1916, now codified as 36 U.S.C. Chapter 309, stating that their purpose is to:

promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues, using the methods that were in common use by boy scouts on June 15, 1916."


As I experience and/or reenact certain things that lead me to become the person that I am today upon my own children I am constantly thinking about the problems that are in existence today, particularly within the Black community. I make note that it is the void of such a framework that so frequently leads to the unleavened bread that so frequently occurs when the key ingredient that is required to have the children to rise is not added.

The Boy Scouts of America has a tried and true formula that has been in place for more than a century. It was crafted by "Progressives" who, get this, were concerned about the lack of character development for children as they moved into urban environments and faced the challenges of shifting from rural life which most likely centered around the tasks of subsistence living through farming over to a more industrialized environment and the high concentration of people that comes along with it. Doesn't this sound eerily similar to what is faced in our communities today within the urban core?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Going On Record: I Give Credit To Castro and Che For Their African Revolutionary Assistance




There you go - my friend - I said it publicly.

I rented the movie a few weeks ago after hearing that it was being shown at a local gathering that I was not able to attend in person. The movie is called "Cuba: An African Odyssey". I watched it in advance of my friend's first viewing of it yesterday when he came over to my house. This friend is a fan of Castro. He says that Fidel Castro is the greatest leader in the western hemisphere because he was able to keep the American imperialists out of his country as well as projecting his power into Africa and other nations for the sake of driving out colonialism. He is an equal fan of Che Guevara as well. Once I saw the movie I knew that he was going to sing both of their praises.

After kicking off the revolution in Cuba they both set out to fight against European imperialism. Che Guevara traveled to Africa and involved himself, along with the help of a boat load of Black Cubans, into the affairs of Congo, central Africa. After the assassination of Patrice Lamumba a band of "Lamumbites" formed a rebel factions to take up arms against the rule of Mobutu Sese Seko. Mobutu who had been appointed military leader by Lamumba had double crossed him, running to the Belgians and American CIA for support if he were to execute a coup. Upon getting the green light in assurance - Lamumba was killed.

Che Guevara assisted in several anti-colonial movements against European powers who were exploiting and oppressing the people, largely for the sake of having free reign at the valuable natural resources contained within, particularly the Kananga region of the country which installed a puppet government loyal to the Belgians.

As we viewed the movie, as expected, seeing the details of this narrative - my friend was more convinced than ever about his love for Che and Fidel. Then, of course, he worked to get me to admit that I had respect for Fidel. I tried to make the point that, as with everyone, there are good elements that need to be praised and negative elements that are worthy of condemnation. Fidel Castro is a perfect model of this point.

Thus my testimony.

I can objectively say that the courage that the Revolutionary operatives showed within Africa is note worth. I have to also make note before I forget that much of this happened in the context of the US/USSR Cold War battle. Where as the average "Anti-America American" will make note of the nefarious actions of the American government both against certain revolutionary actors and in support of the European colonizers, few of them would also make note of the impure motivations of the USSR. Cuba was not just a revolutionary ground - it was also closely proximate to the United States to be a painful thorn in their side.

It is also true that many of the newly liberated African nations splintered as factionalism which was partially fueled by the East/West global chess match vied for the hearts of the people on this fertile land.

Despite all of the added context to explain the real situation - I must give credit to Castro and Che because the forces arrayed against the Africans and their right to self determination. As revolutionary leaders they are to be applauded for their courage for going against the world powers.

I maintain my criticism of Fidel Castro's second act. The suppression of freedom in Cuba is unacceptable. Despite the applause for the free education and health care - the fact remains - Cuba is a totalitarian state and Fidel Castro was the architect.

Just as I can bring myself to compartmentalize the deeds of Thomas Jefferson, for example, which allows me to say that his Bill Of Rights was a net good thing - I must also make note of his slave holding compartment as well.

So often those who are Revolutionaries as they fight against a certain entity don't make good executors of their vision, providing the high level of human dignity that they fought as part of their original stance against the prior oppressor.

My History Lesson With Nub The Farmer



With the price of seedless watermelons in the local grocery stores down to $4.50 each I theoretically have no more reason to stop by "Nub's Produce" after church on Sunday's to purchase one from him. His price for seedless remains at $8.50 and the seeded ones are $8.00. I will continue purchasing two of them from him because the value that I receive from him as I listen to him tell me the history of our area is worth more than the $4.00 spread. This is not some squishy "common good" or "social contract" justification for me willing to pay the extra money rather than having the corporate owned super market chain receive my proceeds. This is because can extract tangible value from what I hear from him and apply it both to my own life and that of my views regarding what our community must do next to transform ourselves.

The session opened as usual. First he pointed to the fact that he has to sell his corn at $0.75 per ear. Then he says "Let me show you this" as he reaches for his brown paper bag of seed corn. (I never knew that the seed was red.) He says "See this? I paid $12.00 per pound for this when just a short time ago it was only $3. Its those oil companies using this corn for cars that is driving up the price that I have to pay. People don't understand why I have to charge $0.75". Like groundhog day he repeats this same message, as if this was the first time that he has told this story to me.

Today, however, I learned more about Nub's farming situation. I always assumed that he was the owner of the two fields that he plants on. He is not. There is a White family that owns several parcels of land. For more than 40 years the father allowed Nub to plant on this land.......and has NEVER ASKED HIM FOR A DIME to lease the property for his usage. I had always thought that the house up the hill was Nub's. It is not. He actually lives several miles to the west in Peachtree City he told me today.



He went on to tell me how things used to be in the area. Prior to the four lane divided highway there was only one road. He used to be able to plow right up to the road but when they built up the road the land was cut back to its current form. He told me that prior to having access to this specific plot of land he used to be a sharecropper for cotton for a variety of White men in the area. It was common practice that after sharecroppers had worked to harvest the crop for the entire season and then settle up with the land owner that he would come out behind. That balance is rolled over to next year. Thus he would not get a dime for all of his work. He told me that the rabbits, squirrels and deer that are still present in the area was a main part of their meal just to get by. Just think - as I look out of my back window I can see 3 rabbits sitting in my grass. These same creatures that I open my door to allow my dog to chase into the bushes for fun at one time was a key source of nutrition for them back in the day. These same brown rabbits and gray squirrels that are so often road kill today.

Despite this period of injustice and basic subsistence Nub was most proud of the fact that his 5 children are all successful in their own way. He is 82 and thus they are all nearing retirement age or have done so. Just think about that point. Where as today, seemingly, the prevailing sentiment among the popular Black political class is that we "can't do" or at least "we can't be expected to do as well" as others on tests that measure the same people across the board because we don't have equal access to resources. This mentality expands into being a cause for mental unemployment as those who are so charged set out to obtain the resources while seemingly not asking the people to fully maximize what they do have. Indeed Nub has much to be proud of in his children. Despite the raw state of economic justice that he faced over the lifetime - his bottom line end result speaks for itself.

We seemingly invest more stock into the "chase for justice" than the preparation of ourselves and our people for the day when "that last law is passed" or lawsuit is won where we now stand on that proverbial "equal playing field" that has the perfectly landscaped.........but we don't know how to operate the construction equipment that will allow us to build up any structures upon that land as someone else's Bobcat was used to do all of the grading.

There is a for sale/lease sign posted right in the land that he now farms on. Now that I know the details regarding his ownership - it is clear that when a developer chooses to make use of this land - Nub will have to find a new plot of land with an equally favorable agreement if he is going to continue to do what he does. On this strip of land off of GA Hwy 54 is an expanse of strip malls that seem to pop up like mushrooms, churches, and a large quantity of medical offices all hubbed around the hospital which is about a mile down the road to the east.

Nub told me that he already has his burial ground paid for for he and his wife who is also 82 years old. There is a strange alignment of progression between his moving on to a better place and a pending land transaction. I personally hope that he lives a much longer life AND the for sale sign fades just like the sign on his road side fruit and vegetable stand.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

CULTURE


# noun: the raising of plants or animals
# noun: the growing of microorganisms in a nutrient medium
# noun: the tastes in art and manners that are favored by a social group
# noun: the attitudes and behavior that are characteristic of a particular social group or organization
# noun: a particular society at a particular time and place
# noun: the product of cultivating micro-organisms in a nutrient medium
# noun: all the knowledge and values shared by a society



What is "culture"?

My own understanding of the word is that Culture is "the collection of thoughts, believes, accepted behaviors, art forms and disciplines that are settled upon over time by a group of people as they experience life in this world and adopt certain common standards as a means of accentuating certain desired outcomes or cope with certain forces that is either beyond their power to control or beyond their understanding during a specific period in time".

That's it.

My viewpoint that I express in my writings and in my personal relationships are projected from this understanding that I hold about culture.

As with a flower garden a culture must be MANAGED lest the defacto state of man starts to dominate and take over just as the weeds and crab grass who are more dominant in their propagation and resiliency take over and rob the manicured varieties of plants of their needed nutrients and sunlight. In mankind, civility is just as tenuous as is a flower garden. Only clarity in one's intended outcomes allows that prize winning garden to be expressed. The Earth, however, is more fully covered with the more hearty variety of vegetation that has less pruning and sculpting toward a more desired end.

This is not a statement of superiority or exclusivity - to be clear. It is my opinion that any patch of land on Earth can be made fertile except for the driest of desert or the coldest of environments. It is all a matter of having those specific plants on that specific patch of land being provided with the ideal conditions that they need to grow, bear fruit for consumption and reproduce themselves for the next growing season. The specific system shown on those specific plants make the difference rather than having the entire world having been brought to the idea temperature. Certainly an air conditioned greenhouse placed in the Antarctic could bear fruit as it is not exposed to the elements that would kill it. A child is like a plant or flower in this regard. If the forces bearing directly upon him are more powerful than the prevailing forces that reside just outside of his domain then yes he too can survive and thrive.

So how does all of this relate to the African-American - you might ask? I was motivated to write this entry because as I listen to certain operatives discuss our "Slave past" it is all too clear that they are clueless about how culture works and the powerful force that it proves to be. Indeed they are correct that the experience of slavery and colonization hijacked the African's culture from his own control. During this time interval in history he was converted from an independent practitioner over to a being that was in service to another man's goals for him. Into that of a basic laborer and chattel in many cases. It is also true that out of this long oppression a culture was developed as a means of allowing us to both cope with the situation and to protect our loved one's from "Doing something stupid" like daring to tell a White man that he cheated us out of money during the days of sharecropping. In showing that you know how to count - you could get killed. (As with some people within our community today - a Negro who asks too many questions and who challenges the prevailing authority could be subjected to an attack).

So where does all of this bring us concerning today's challenge? In my opinion those who are very knowledgeable about the history of how our culture was stolen are not necessarily the best people with the best mindset to tell us how to build a new culture. If the assumption is that a culture is amassed over time through trial and experiences that will accentuate certain positive things and repress others that prove harmful then their basic tendency to outsource our basic human needs over to the government in the name of RIGHTS seems to be a perversion of this entire collection of knowledge that we know about a healthy culture and how it is the product of centuries of experience. A culture is the proverbial "don't put your hand on that hot stove" that is communicated from one generation to the next because it will allow the proceeding generations to build atop the learning without fighting to settle upon the basics.

If you have benefits and resources rained down upon you per your national rights - and I must add - if history proves that the nation state is both a recent and temporary civil contract that is only as strong as its own inherent ability to both finance itself and have its individual members agree to the bond - why base your people's condition on the notion that this entity will be around for their benefit. This is the construction of one's house on sand rather than bedrock.

The cultural development bias that has the best chance of producing a certain benefit for the people and enduring over time is one that pays a premium toward "organicism". This is where the community has the mind that doing for self is superior to that of receiving from another. In doing for self the group itself must learn the technical skills, the economic trade offs and the human disciplinary elements necessary to express their own high order fate that they are attracted to. They know that their condition is a function of their own ability to express this rather than a function of having some outer government modified so that they can receive the same benefit that they see others having. This is turned inside out. The statement now becomes - If we desire what these others have then we will consider the elements of how they obtained what they have. We will accept that which is agreeable and repudiate that which was gotten via unsavory means. When we do obtain what they have - we will have obtained it from our own industriousness rather than from our ability to lobby them to "share" what they have.

Step back and consider all of the issues - resources, benefits, justice, civility, economics. Which of these items are more likely to be achieved by changing the bias of our culture?

The Onset of Blindness Caused by VICTIMIZATION


Over the past 48 hours I have consumed two independent pieces of information that, if tied together would introduce a whirlwind of change for the party that I will talk about in a few seconds.

The first bit of information was received from the venerable Bill Moyers. Moyers is a left leaning media activist who sees himself as a new style muckraker. He seeks to "speak truth to power" and fight for his version of societal change for the "commonwealth" rather that for the corporations. This all sounds good so far.

I watched him speak on "LinkTV", the "Progressive" satellite channel that can be seen on DirecTV or on the Internet. Mr. Moyers spoke in 2004 at the "Inequality Conference". He was the keynote speaker. In his speech he opened by given credit to Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of "Nickled and Dimed To Death", the story about how today's society works so much against the working poor, throwing up roadblocks at every turn.

Mr. Moyers opened with a Black poster child to put a face on the poverty and disconnectedness that he wanted to highlight. He talked of a poor Black public school in Mt Veronon, New York. He said that this was one of the poorest areas in the region and with our present school funding formula this school and every child in it gets shunted off to the edges of the society because they don't have the resources necessary to compete. Mr. Moyers told the story about a Black child who wanted to do a book report on a job that the child wants to do once he grows up. The only problem, according to Mr. Moyers was that the library only had books that were more than 30 years old. He used the example of a book which referenced a rotary dial phone with a notation that some day soon we will be able to push a button to dial. He made a few more references regarding how dated and unusable the content of the school were. Clearly he was seeking the most extreme example to make his case that we need to nationalize the public school system, and most importantly ITS FUNDING so that these pockets of isolation would not be present and the people will not be left behind. Of course the standard reference to how with school funding being tied to property taxes that poor communities are made to suffer. No doubt Mr. Moyers will join the crowd which prefers having funding be nationalized with it tied to progressive income taxes rather than as a function of that community's productivity. Far be it for Mr Moyers to have the people who stand to benefit the most from education to place it above other items that they choose to spend their money on.

(Place holder. I will edit the video clip and place it here later)


The second element that I heard from the media that allowed me to have my "Ah ha" moment were two reports heard on "On The Media" - a radio show, with a left bias heard on NPR. This weeks segment focused on the increasing presence of electronic books as well as on-demand printing which is having a drastic impact on the publishing and distribution business. With the technology of on-demand printing the power shifts back to the center. Where as in the pre-on-demand printing world those with the largest warehouses and distribution outlets - Amazon, Barnes & Noble as well as Borders had the advantage because they had more books in their inventory than did the independent book seller, this new technology is a seismic change. Any outlet that has the printing equipment and the communications link to the publisher's system has an equal playing field with the big guys regarding their ability to offer the widest of selections to the consuming masses. Not only that but a clear case for a "green footprint" can be made because now we only print the books that are ordered rather than preemptively printing and hoping that they sell.

The second story from "On The Media" focused upon the electronic book reader that was designed and then sold by Amazon.com.



This is an electronic database that can store hundreds of books in a portable format. The real innovation, however, resides in its use of "electric ink". The new display technology simulates the paper experience and is easier on the eyes than a traditional LCD video display. There has been a run on the purchase and use of the device. As I check - the device retails for $399. This is a bit too expensive for a general purpose device but I am sure that the price will come down as other manufacturers enter this space. Comparatively an Asus EEE PC which can display PDF files as well as do general computing is a better buy at this point.

Now lets tie these two major points together.

Mr Moyers showed a poor Black school in Mt Vernon NY who's "disconnectedness" from the mainstream of society has had a deletarious impact on the students who are trapped within. Moyers makes reference to the printed past. If you don't have the paper, ink and binding on yourself in physical form then the consumers of this resource are left ignorant, not having access to the words that deliver the knowledge into their brains. The blindness represented in this analysis done by Mr. Moyers is two fold. First he focuses on the POPULAR and TRADITIONAL communications media from which these students are to receive their knowledge from - the books versus more electronic media which are great equalizers. For a person so active in the battle over Net Neutrality and the ownership of the Internet I am fully convinced that Mr. Moyers and his team of researchers are very aware of this technology that could open up the school and have it "plugged in" to the reset of the world rather than remaining as a remote outpost, right next to the wealthiest city in the world - New York City.

Secondly Mr. Moyers does not speak to the financing element in which how the situation for these children can be overcome. He would argue that a nationalization of the public school system - akin to Jesse Jackson Jr's CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT is necessary to fix this problem. This "boil the ocean" approach chooses theory over making ground gains. The story heard on "On The Media" discussed that in their on-line form books might be given away for free in exchange for advertising to be published along side of the content. Possibly a commercial shown as the book loads into the electronic reader. I record and watch the Bill Moyers Journal each week. With his "Sole Corporate Sponsor" loudly notated I assure you that he would have his IDEOLOGY trump his notions of PRACTICALITY and would stand firmly against the idea of allowing advertising to eliminate or at least defray the costs of getting this technology into the hands of these children who remain ignorant as they WAIT for Moyers and others to bring the ocean up to 212 degrees and thus these children receive the benefit of having access to these needed resources.

I would also be remiss if I failed to make note of all of the African-Americans who saw fit to pull out their checkbook over the last year and send in a record quantity of donations into the Barack Obama campaign. As we abstract the essential element of what happened - this community saw something that they DESIRED and they chose to FUND IT accordingly and would have given even MORE if there were not caps on the amount that they could give. Now just imagine if we could convince these specific African Americans to get duly motivated to feed this massive quantity of birds that they have in their hands already rather than sending volumes of money to the big bird that is in the bush that seemed more attractive to them. In their mind - upon catching this big bird in the bush that they will change the system around and thus the little birds that they have dropped will have resources trickle down to them. From where I sit - what didn't work at the municipal level once you gained control is not likely to work at a more grand scale. Those who escaped your grasp (and kept their money) will likely do so the next time.

We need to travel overseas to make note of a project which had a similar challenge of placing technology into the hands of poor school children - the One Laptop Per Child initiative. Their original target of producing a $100 laptop was released as a $199 unit. They come up with the ingenious financing plan where Western charitable contributors seeking to make a difference can "buy one, give one". Pay about $400 and we'll send you a computer and then send another to a poor nation in Africa, Asia or South America. For the life of me upon hearing about the "Digital Divide" here in America for more than 10 years - why is it that no one came up with such a plan domestically? A reengineered machine where low cost is the primary design criteria and then an innovative financing plan to insure mass distribution. Instead they turned to the GOVERNMENT for programs and then to CORPORATIONS for donations. Certain operatives were shown at the various ribbon cutting ceremonies over time. Where are these computer labs today? Only God knows.

I have just laid about a rough framework of how we can introduce TECHNOLOGY that will allow written information to be placed into the hands of more students who are currently disconnected. Coupled with that is the financing plan. It is far past the time to discontinue the assumed inferiority and victim state of these displaced people. They are bigger victims of blind thinking and ideological constraints that have those who work on their behalf to follow the same old rut in the world rather than to innovate.

If we are indeed crafting the 21st Century class room then let us also use 21st century technology to communicate knowledge to the students and 21 century funding to insure that they receive it.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Major Accomplishment In Logic And Reasoning For My 7 Year Old



Anyone with a child can relate to this one.

The "Band-Aid" has magical powers in the mind of a child. Upon covering up both the gushing wound or the slightest scrape that drew no blood with a Band-Aid their mind is made content.

My young daughter just asked me for a "Band-Aid" because she had what I thought to be a scrape on her leg. I corrected her, saying "bandage". You want a "bandage". "Band-Aid" is a brand name of a bandage.

As soon as I asked to see it she quickly responded "Its bleeding a little bit" because she knew the next thing I was going to say - which I did. "Think about it X - that bandage is nothing more than a piece of tape with something that soaks up the blood. There is nothing in it that is magically going to cure your pain".

She then said "Band-Aids cover up the sore and keep it from getting infected". Good one. She knows me too well.

I showed her a bottle of "Band-Aid" brand antiseptic wash and said that this says that it will kill germs and keep her sore from becoming infected. "The fact that you don't have any blood - you don't need a bandage. Just use this."

She then told me that it was actually a bug bite and that she had another one. I told her that I had a bottle of anti-inch spray up stairs that she could use. I have about 3 ant bites on my arm from working in the garden. This has done a good job to stop the itching so I won't have to scratch.

I am happy that I get to interact with my children on a daily basis. For me one major task that I have is to disassemble many of the "Why is it that way?", "BECAUSE" type of challenges and responses that are often heard. In their minds it is that way "because" they say it is with no concept of how they have arrived at that conclusion. I want my children to be able to EXPLAIN their line of reasoning as much as possible or at least to keep in mind the tricks that others who attempt to impress upon them when they seek to gain their confidence. This will also condition them to ASK QUESTIONS. If indeed "Speaking Truth To Power" is as popular as claimed within the Black community - there needs to be a new round of it acculturated to empower us to ask questions INTERNALLY without having offense being taken for the question.

Update - she just came back over to me after applying the Band-Aid liquid. She told me that it doesn't work. It's still bleeding. I asked "Is it a bug bite?" "Yes". "So how is it bleeding? Look at the ant bites that I have on my arm. They are not bleeding".

She told me "They are bleeding BECAUSE I KEEP SCRATCHING THEM".
I told her "This is why I told you to go get the anti-itch spray. It will make the bites stop itching and you won't feel the need to scratch and the bleeding will stop".

I can't lie. My son's irrational fear of monsters upstairs which causes him to avoid being by himself up there hits home with me. When I was a child I feared the monsters in the basement that were hiding behind the walls and used to call my dog to come along with me to the basement for protection. I can fully relate to the constrains and imagination of their youthful minds.

My job as their father, however, is to get them beyond the thoughts of a child and instead to use their structured thinking ability to solve problems and redirect people who would have them to depend too much upon the "sight unseen" rather than constructing a logical path to actually get there.

I can tell that my girl is getting older. Two years ago I would have never been able to talk her out of using a Band-Air. She would have complained until she got the Sponge Bob Band-Aid on her skin. The fact that she was at least willing to try my suggestion is a major advancement and a sign of mental growth.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Introspective Challenge - Am I A "Jonathan Kozol" Hypocrite?




As I am flipping through my child's elementary school year book and making note of the hue of the children and teachers contained within I am forced to justify the choice of my wife and me to move to a racially integrated community. After all this type of integration is what White liberal educational activst Johnathan Kozol claimed was the only way for a Black child to be insured to receive a quality education. As a frequent critic of his views - am I in fact a living example of what he has prescribed?

We have been living in our Fayette County home for 10 years. Having gotten married and lived in Fulton County to the north we chose Fayette County because it had a reputation for strong schools and a traditional, family oriented environment. Where as Fulton and Clayton are Democratic strongholds, Fayette is a Republican stronghold. It is also the case that there is a higher average income for Black residents of Fayette than White. This is only because there is a smaller population of Black people who live here and the ones who do live here have a relatively high income. The White population is more economically diverse and thus when we talk pure averages alone - the Black people's income is greater. Indeed many Blacks move to Fayette to consume the good schools and solid management of the county.

But what about Jonathan Kozol? His primary focus was on the lack of RESOURCES that are seen in urban school districts as compared to suburban districts such as in Fayette.

For Clayton County, the county immediately to the north of Fayette their per pupil spending is $7,641. (73% Black, 7% White)
The State average for all of Georgia is $8,065 (38% Black, 48% White)
For Fayette County the per pupil spending rate is: $7,685 (20% Black, 68% White)

Clearly there is more to the differences between Fayette county and Clayton than the $44 gap in per pupil spending.

Just to throw in a few additional examples:
Dekalb County's per pupil spending is: $8,426 (76% Black, 10% White)
Fulton County's per pupil spending is: $9.58 (41% Black , 39% White)

(Source: http://www.greatschools.net/cgi-bin/ga/district_profile/39


Keep in mind that all of these systems listed above are in the "Metro Atlanta" area. Where as one could make the case that the cost of living is vastly different between "New York City" and "Upstate NY" and thus the higher rates of NYC is eaten away by higher relative costs of living.....this is not the case with these metro Atlanta districts. Salaries, energy costs to operate the schools and food costs, for example - should all be relatively equal in the metro area.

Indeed Mr. Kozol frequents the school buildings of New York and Boston where in some cases the buildings are nearing the century mark. Thus his tales of rickety wooden windows that could cut your finger off if they fall on you and the bathrooms that have a hole in the floor where there used to be a toilet are indeed commonplace in at least some of these schools. For Kozol and other activists seeking more money and reduced accountability for the results that they have been amassing the shift in focus to the PHYSICAL PLANT of the schools that they are working on behalf of is not surprising. If someone is gunning after me to improve my product why wouldn't I make the case that I need "X" BEFORE I can deliver to them a better outcome. Upon hearing this stated as the reason for the mediocre results they are bound to get some portion of what they want just because the money granting authority doesn't want to be said to be blocking the academic results that they have asked for. And, of course, in many cases THERE INDEED DOES NEED TO BE MORE MONEY SPENT ON THE PHYSICAL PLANT OF THE SCHOOLS.

Here is the rub though - Kozol and others use the soft science of how "environmental
forces" with regards to the physical plant and paint job have a depressive influence on the creation of an "high achieving academic environment". What do they have to lose in making such a redirection?

From my personal experience as both a parent as I observe my own childrens' school and then as an occasional visitor to other schools what Kozol and the other educational activists seek to put off as LACK OF FUNDING is really an issue of the PREVAILING CULTURE that is ALLOWED in many of these schools.

As I had pointed out in a previous blog entry: "My experiences at an urban elementary school" the culture within the school and the assumptions from the staff that crafted it - made all of the difference in the world between the offensive display that I saw and the more appropriate display that I saw at my child's recent end of year school play (pictured above).

More than any issue of school funding or even the prevailing race that is contained within the school is the issue of the CULTURE upon which the school is governed. Two elementary schools that teach students from K-5. Two schools that put on an assembly in which the students were the central actors within. Yet one was consistent with what we would know as traditional "child content" and the other was executed in the name of "reaching the child where he stands and what appeals to him". As I think about both occasions were an attempt to "reach the child where he now stands". It is the school administrators who perverted that location in the name of cultural indoctrination masked as "fun the way the kids like to have it".

I assure you that if the parents of my child's school had seen the assembly that I saw that they would have immediately put a stop to it and sought to have some of the administrators fired because of it. Clearly both schools are a product of the governing concepts and culture that is present within.

To be sure some people will call my focus on "culture" as being the same "soft science" as I have called the focus on the physical plant as being. The key point that negates such a challenge is the fact that the culture that is present in these same schools also dictates the content that is presented to these students, the way in which disciplinary issues are addressed by the staff and the peer pressure that is present with regard to pressuring "academic attainment" or "social status in conflict with academics". Indeed it is with culture upon which "Cultures of Success" are crafted.

To answer the Kozol Challenge - NO! My wife and I did not move to Fayette County Georgia to have our children sit next to White children. On an expanded note - the schools is "browning" with each passing year. What has remained consistent is the ACADEMIC CULTURE that is present within the school. This is what we "bought in to".

Think about the power of my conclusion. Where as Kozol and other Black Progressives make Black Academic Attainment a function of their proximity to WHITE KIDS....I distill the essential essence of what they are clamoring for and make note that it is the CULTURE that is more likely found within majority White schools not the WHITE PEOPLE themselves. Thus my viewpoint details the possibility that YES an all Black school that is properly administrated and which has the commensurate involvement of the parents can be a world class school regarding their academic performance.

The alternative to believing this? The inferiorization of Black people with our hopes toward academic success being pinned on our placement next to White kids and our lament over any ruling which outlaws racially based classroom allocations that pervert the notion of EQUALITY of each individual so.

Today's "segregated classroom" is not of the segregation of the past. My wife and I qualify for the diversity that we consume because we qualify as residents of the particular district. In the past, regardless of where an African-American lived - the "White school" was off limits. It is clear to me and all others using reason that the only way to proceed is to make note that the average Black student will more than likely be in a school that is upwards of 60%+ Black. We need to focus on enforcing all of the small points that aggregate into the culture that is predominate within the school. This effort, though tough and despite the fact that it will fall on the backs of the parents to express its final product - is the ONLY reasonable way to proceed forward. It places the burden upon the PEOPLE who stand to benefit the most from positive change to be the primary people in the conversion process so that their own children will have the benefit. It will also insure that the change is more permanently fused into the soul and character of each individual in the community.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Black America Needs A "Checkpoint" Along The Way In Our Journey To Insure We Are On The Right Course



We have heard the old saying "Absolute Power Is Absolutely Corrupt". Where as this is most commonly applied to some White European nation, the fact is that this is true among the largest corporation with at will workers and the smallest informal group of people who form a knitting club.

With all humans group dynamics come into play and is used by those who are very adept at it to gain influence over others. Sometimes their antics are for the best of the group. Other times they are self serving and will ultimately lead to the destruction of the group. In most cases this imbalance simply allows the group to operate in a sub-optimal holding pattern.

The concept of management science as a discipline is new compared to most of the other science programs that you might find at a university graduate school. The lessons learned in the reconstruction of Japan after WWII formed a significant portion of this body of science. Instead of just accounting which plots the position of the company - management science uses the information that is obtained from the accountants, store room clerks that do inventory and the cash register and provides these as inputs for the managers to make strategic decisions based on empirical data.

The other part of this entire scheme is the pre-existing plan that the group or organization is shooting for. How do you know where you are if you don't know where you are going? Clearly this is a concept of relativity. The goal of management is to see if the entity is indeed "between the two sets of lines" upon the road that is their plan of action. Since this concept is abstract, unlike that of driving a car on an actual road, the entire suite of management tools as detailed above are necessary.

Now as we consider a loose band such as a race of people in a country of course there is no absolute command and control apparatus in place to absolutely direct someone's actions lest their be consequences of termination or monetary penalty. This is an "at will" association at least. At the same time, in the past the conditions of the greater country forced the issue because if you forgot that you were a part of this group that unchecked great society reminded you with the quickness. If even for pure self-interests there were motivations to work on behalf of the group to destroy these strictures.

I argue that there must be a registration of the conditions of JUSTICE per the outer society that we live within as a means of reassessing that "blank check" that is offered up to the power when time and conditions call for it. As much as some operatives resist any war time yield upon our personal freedoms - they are necessary in regards to the "circle the wagons" response that draw the group together - regardless of their will to be in such close proximity.

As with any POWER - they want unchecked abilities and they want no time limit applied to their super-constitutional powers. Only with the presence of democratic infrastructure which ultimately represents the will of the people can this magnetic pull toward the circle of thoughts be ratcheted down to be placed in alignment with the prevailing conditions. In other words the Homeland Security threat level is now "guarded" rather than high or severe.



With respect to Black folks there are several instruments available - the National Urban League "State of Black America" annual report is one of them. It has several "key economic indicators" that they measure each year. One flaw in this, however, is that they place White folks as a perfect "1.0" on their index and then measure our standing to this reference. This is flawed for we define ourselves upon their RESULTS but this does not speak to the question of if we are willing to do all that they have done to achieve these results. For example if their wealth is a 1.0/0.80 to ours but they use capitalistic practices that are not acceptable to most Black folks - shouldn't we conclude that our current standing in reference to them is sufficient because we are not willing to lose our economic mores for such wealth aggregation? Secondly, from what I have read, the day that this report hits the streets and some Black inferior position is noted several representatives of this august group run to CONGRESS to ask them "so what are you going to do about this problem?". Even though they might indeed have each regional branch to hold a forum to discuss the findings......the average Black man is never asked "SO WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS PROBLEM" let alone communicating to him a plan of action for him to follow that is prescriptive in its ability to be corrective in nature. The GOVERNMENT is the central player in our salvation for too many people. Why aren't WE the government? Why must it be based out of DC?

All of the other components of this democratic infrastructure of checks and balances can reference this signal. Their rulings in the courts will be different, their "vigilance" in their personal conduct will be different as well. Clearly this threat level warning is crafted based on a long list of threat assessments that are analyzed by those know how those who threaten us work.

What of the operatives though? Indeed those in power will seek to take the smallest offender and make his offensive action to be seen as a threat to the whole. The "intelligence infrastructure" should evaluate the act and see if he is just "one lone operator" did an act on his own - relevant to THIS STORY: the proverbial "Toothless old White man in the mountain" who hates Black people and thus has a noose outside of his house - but no Blacks around to tighten the noose around. Or is he a part of a precipitating threat - if not dealt with they will soon establish a foothold for the injury of us all? Who among Black people is doing this TODAY?

The popular debate tactic is to attack the person who dares do this as having said "There Is No Racism Present In America Today". This is nothing more than Group Shunning 101. It is a tired and worthless action. Clearly the more logical evaluation is "Can a RACIST PERSON commit his offense and do it with IMPUNITY?" as they did back in the day when the rating was "Severe"? It is intellectual dishonest to put the measure on the presence of RACIST SENTIMENTS held by the individual who has equal standing under the law - just as you do. Instead the focus must be on the GOVERNMENT! Does this GOVERNMENT enforce its own law upon becoming aware that some has violated these laws? We will no more have a point of zero racism than we will have zero rapes and homicides in this nation. In fact I would fear the machinations that are used to attempt to zero out homicides, rapes and racist thought because they will prove to be more oppressive and preemptive and thus damaging than the act itself. Where are civil libertarians when you need them most?

Having established my argument on "environment" lets go back to the main line of the post. As the environmental conditions change and those who have power grow in their head count as they promise that their increased power will limit this external threat from having its way......when does the INFRASTRUCTURE within this group provide a CHECKPOINT to insure that the brute force that is yielded to these powers are justified as they call for "unity" lest we perish via our common trait? (Or as it was said in the past "either we 'hang together' or we 'hang together on the same tree having failed to stay together'".

How is it that a group that is so averse to be drawn into "nationalism" as the pretext of looking past the nation's flaws accept internal operatives who attempt to do the very same thing with regards to RACE? Their power is greater than ever - as our problems continue to be as well. Why does this group claim fragility as its reasons for being intolerant of criticism or inspection? One element of totalitarianism is that QUESTIONS are not taken too kindly. If there was ever a time at "speaking truth to power" look no further than that bloc that wields power over the group of African-Americans.

So lets get specific. What does a leader of a democratic group which reports to its "shareholders" fear in the way of reporting their results and receiving praise or correction there in? The spirit of "This ain't about ME" must be enforced. If there is criticism about superstar CEOs having their way in corporate America - they ain't seen anything with respect to the machinations within the political operatives within Black America. Most critical questioning is snuffed out by the response "So what have YOU DONE by comparison?". This otherwise important question in effect SILENCES the "Quarterly Reporting" of the progress that should be forthcoming from those who claim to be in the vaulted leadership.

There is clearly a need to have a means by which the NUL "State of Black America Report" is applied to the operating assumptions of Black America and not just to the US Congress which is only a part of the American Political system. There exists a Black system of interplay that is separate and distinct from the American political system - regardless of how much we attempt to fuse these two concepts together. This system dictates the popular sentiments which are then expressed in the representation that we seek in the American political system. As a long time analyst and critic of this internal system I both see the need and DEMAND that more openness and accountability be had within this system.

I don't have the power to make the popular mass do anything they are not popularly willing to do. This is why - instead of attempting to impose my more tried and true but not POPULAR suggestions upon this group........I attempt to get them to be more clear about THEIR GOALS and the ultimate reason for ALL OF THEIR POLITICAL ACTION. If they can't PROVE PROGRESS on the ultimate "nugget" that they are attempting to work on behalf of.....what exactly are they working on behalf of BUT for the benefit of both an ideology that they can't prove has IMPROVED THEIR SCHOOLS, MADE THEIR STREETS SAFER OR LIFTED THEIR GENERAL ECONOMIC CONDITION. Without such a check - only the entity that they use to express their POPULAR sentiments - the Democratic Party - benefits.

Thus the question is - What good is it to your community to have an array of favorable Democrats in office.....when you have missed all of your goals for putting them there?

Again I ask - As a Black person would you rather be assaulted by a racist White man because the government failed to protect you OR would you rather be assaulted because you are Black, living in a community where your Blackness increased the probability of your residency there but the lack of GOVERNANCE and civility in this same community had you to be assaulted? (But at least it was not for RACIST reasons.)

You may not like to hear this - but this is what we face as a people if we don't put MANAGEMENT TOWARD OUR OUTCOMES WITH PERIODIC CHECKS AND CORRECTIONS ahead of pursuit of what we POPULARLY desire while in our aggrieved state but never seeking evidence that it is indeed PROGRESSING us.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

PBS To Remake "The Electric Company" Show!!!


PBS News: New version of 1970s kids' `Electric Company' to air

This is the best news that I have heard all year regarding the improved chances that our children will enjoy wholesome and enriching entertainment to counter the foolishness that is out there already.

No commercials pushing the latest toys.
No songs made to a Snoop Dogg beat from an offensive song.

This is great news

I wonder if they will get Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno to do a return appearance?

LOS ANGELES — In an updated blast from the past, PBS will air a new version of the 1970s children's series "The Electric Company."

Production on the 21st century model of the PBS show for 6- to 9-year-olds was set to begin Tuesday on the streets of New York City and in a New Jersey studio, according to producer Sesame Workshop.

The series, aimed at reducing the literacy gap between low- and middle-income families, will promote the idea that "reading is cool" with help from online and community-based activities, Sesame Workshop said in an announcement Monday.

"The literacy crisis today is as pervasive and alarming as it was in 1971 when we created the first version of `The Electric Company,'" said Scott Cameron, director of education and research for Sesame Workshop (which is the nonprofit educational organization behind "Sesame Street").

Weekly episodes of "The Electric Company" are scheduled to air nationally in January 2009 on PBS Kids.

Segregation




Can I ask a question?
When does the results seen in "Segregation" point to the presence of strategies that produce certain unsavory results?

I can't help but notice that people with a certain agenda seek to conflate the segregation of today with the compulsory segregation of the past. They know that this is a lie.

In a democratic society where there is private property rights respected - people are going to live where in the place of their choosing. It is unavoidable that a certain group of people who are seeking to protect their own cultural and moral priorities are going to tend to live next to other people who fortify this view. Will there be some who do so off of their racist beliefs? Indeed. I fail to see, however, how a choice to vacate an area due to racial sentiments is the same as those who block other people from living where they choose due to race? At what point do you become the suppressor of free will and become totalitarian in nature?

I have a firm belief from my personal observations as a Black man that a growing portion of that which we are aggrieved about stems from our inability as a race to confront the void in our culture and our willingness to manage it among ourselves that is the root of the problems that are perpetuated within our own communities.

Segregation also means "ownership" and "all by yourself" - allowing your theories to be on display. To those who have attempted to shift the evidence of their equality upon the government to express rather than to the PEOPLE themselves to confirm this via their acumen in ordering themselves in line with their stated common goals and thus actually produce them.

For me there is a particular pain knowing that my people - the African-American people who are descendants from people who were free on this Earth for tens of thousands of years as they prospered instead make reference to their descendancy from SLAVES who were made that way for four hundred years. How might a person who indexes himself to slavery ever return to his previous form in which he was given instruction by God to manage the land and all of the wild animals that are upon it? The two are mutually exclusive, unable to occupy the same space at the same time. One thought must die so the other can live. Kunta Kente cannot be "Toby Kente-Moore" as he seeks to retain references to his past while paying homage to his new circumstances. One must die so that the other can be reborn.

Sadly much of the rhetoric that I have heard from the "Progressive Information Station" in my years of listening do not bear out. As you listen - FREEDOM AND INDEPENDENCE are their ultimate goal. If you go along with them then Fredrick Douglass' words to "let us alone" would be assumed to be their ultimate goal. They wear their hair naturally as a symbol of their connection to their unmolested ancestors who were free. As you inspect their product more carefully you see that they have no intention whatsoever to be "free" as their ancestors were. "Freedom" of choice also means the obligation to live in the bed as you have made it. This basic transference to this government that is said to be "for the people" is out of alignment because they don't apply the other portion which is "of the people" - an implicit reference to the obligations that come with it.

When is there enough evidence on the ground that forces a measure of INTROSPECTION? Such an inward view would be a time out from the "chase" that is thematic of their popular movement. As they take a break from their expansionary chase they would be confronted with the need to set up better management structures within the plateau upon which they now stand, that they currently control. No longer does their long term oppressor have proximate control over this turf.

The challenge is to force into consciousness that THEY NOW have enough control over this plot of land to put their inherent skills to work as a means of producing a better outcome for the people that they CLAIM to be working on behalf of.

Monday, May 12, 2008

"Killed Because You Are Black" Vs "Killed In A Community In Chaos Where You Are More Likely To Live Because You Are Black"

Is There A Difference Between Being "Killed Because You Are Black" Or "Killed In A Community In Chaos Where You Are More Likely To Live Because You Are Black"

I had a blog debate recently with a gay White male who is forthcoming about his sexual preferences. In that particular debate I asked him if he would rather be "Assaulted by someone because he is gay" or if he would prefer to be assaulted "in a city that is out of control and thus was a man, in the wrong place at the wrong time and his sexual preference was not the driving force behind his attack"? Equal opportunity indeed.

This is the conflict that the Black community faces as an increasing number of our communities are represented by "people we favor". Gone are the days where the "hate crime" motivated by race is the PREDOMINANT threat to Black people. (I assure you that some people seeking to malign what I just said will claim that I said that "Racism is gone". I did not just say that. It is my position that the "racist act that is met with IMPUNITY by the unwillingness of the government to enforce its own laws is no more). Today as we do the numbers - a Black person is far more likely to be killed by one of his own than by anyone one else.

Today the popular strategy that has been followed (for good reason up until recently) has rendered the community impotent in fundamentally addressing this problem from within. Most of our political activism has been centered around what I call "racism chasing". Indeed the greater proportional threat to us as a people and a community received the greater amount of our collective focus.

Fast forward to today. Things are considerably different. In the areas where Black folks have the highest concentrations there is also a "popularly elected" government in place of our own choosing after they promised to "represent our best interests" if they are voted for. As I make this evaluation it is important to note my critical mandate - I promote the full equality of a Black man to a White man. Thus a killing at the hand of a Black man is no different than being killed by a White man. You end up JUST AS DEAD in either case. If you logically think about this - instead of me "bringing the White man's murderous" act down to the level of "no big deal" instead I am PROMOTING the murderous act of a Black man against us up to a common level that would trigger a mass community response that would be the case if a White person was to take one of our lives! This imbalance, in my estimation, is the key reason why we have the carnage on our streets today but so much inaction from the community which also translates into relative inaction from the municipal governments who are charged with dealing with this situation.

THE TIME IS NOW TO CORRECT THIS SITUATION BY PROMOTING THE EQUALITY OF THE BLACK MAN'S OFFENSE WITH THAT OF THE WHITE MAN!

I must also be honest. So much of the "Civil Rights Industrial Complex's" strategy is based on the fact that INDEED, the White man's actions against Black people is more damaging that that of a lowly Black man who does the same thing. The argument used by many is that so-called "Hate Crimes" do more than just assault or murder the Black people who are direct victims. The Black community is placed in a state of "TERROR", knowing that they too might be next if they don't "stay in their places". Unfortunately as we remove the label "Interracial Hate Crime" and put in "Stop Snitching" the mechanisms and results are virtually indistinguishable. A few weeks ago two Black Denver area young people were gunned down in a "stop snitching" enforcement action. (Article: Stop Snitching Enforcement Action)

The truth of the matter is that the "Civil Rights Industrial Complex" is not going to "change" to adapt to the critical needs of the Black community today. The BLACK COMMUNITY MUST CHANGE within ourselves and then a new set of organizations and leaders will emerge from this expressed need.

Thus back to the original question of this blog post. Where as the first portion of the question is related to "hate crimes" where you are killed because you are Black - clearly the second portion of the question focuses upon the CHAOS AND DISORDER that is present within our community that results in bloodshed. For me the answer is "NEITHER".

The way we achieve this "neither" state is to have DYNAMIC MANAGEMENT that is responsive to the threat at hand. Sadly there is the litmus test that is heard so frequently against those who dare to change the script "He said that there is NO MORE RACISM in existence today". This is a STRAIGHT UP LIE that is told 95% of the time that it is stated by someone wishing to malign the person in question. Often the statement was that "racist assaults" that are unchecked are not the case any longer. Please note that the onus is not on the WHITE OFFENDER - it is on the GOVERNMENT and its enforcement of the laws. How else can we have a RATIONAL discussion unless we focus on the GOVERNMENT response instead of the feelings of hatred felt by some white folks? These individual White folks are not the purveys of justice nor the state of Black/White relations any more than the individual Black person who chooses to assault a White person. It is the GOVERNMENT via its enforcement of their own laws that must be the primary measure of the state of JUSTICE in America for Black people! Without this clarity people who are so inclined with continue to run amok with their lunatic rantings. They serve to nullify the Black community's response to our own problems more than they serve any particular benefit. They are the proverbial old man sitting in a chair with his shot gun pointed out of the window, seeking intruders onto his property from the enemy clan, while the INTERNAL TERMITES EAT HIS WOODEN SHACK TO BITS! While he is "on guard" that which he claims to be protecting is falling to pieces and losing relative value everyday. This old man is not guided by any practical sense of rationality. He is guided by his HATRED for the opposing forces. If there was one who can be said to "hate his enemies more than he loves himself" - this is that man.

WEB Dubois, Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X had all talked about the THREAT FROM WITHIN being more potent than the threat from without.

There is inherently a distinct difference between fighting an external threat and dealing with an internal one. One must assume that there is a partial "love" for one of your own to being with and thus there is no particular attempt to destroy him en masse. The external threat - however - mob rule dictates that we should "kill all of them indiscriminately and let God sort them out!!". Just think about the complexities of our relative demands from the government. With the White assailant we demand that they lock'em up and throw away the key. It is said that "there is no statute of limitations on the Civil Rights cold case murders". When it comes to Black on Black crime and violence, however - that "one more Black man" put in jail will be included in the statistics that are oft repeated regarding the number of Black men in jail versus in prison. Indeed those of us who have assaulted us also get covered in the veil of protection. When the numbers are out of kilter the tendency is to point to SYSTEM that has so many brothers locked up....rather than the INDIVIDUAL ACTIONS that they have done to put them there. Clearly when it comes to White assailants - there is more of a tendency to consider each late night visit from the Klan which is still burned into the memory of the Black victim as the primary reason that they should be in jail - and we need to add some more for good measure - as they were probably the unidentified accomplice who never took off his hood.

Clearly with the "internal" resources there is a greater tendency to extend to them the graces that come with "membership". Even if they DON'T GIVE A DAMN if you are Black, White or other - and would cut your throat without consideration - the group has a never ending reservoir of grace for this wayward cancer cell. There is an inclination to express their redemptive spirit even if it translates into more infected tissue that had been previously unmolested and cancer free.

Some of you will call my stance - hateful against those who are "without", those who SOCIETY has discarded. Let me challenge you then - How do you propose to deal with them so they do not commit assaults against our own community?

I have an answer! You see there is a COST that is associated with every move that we make. Just because a "cost" is not recognized on the dashboard of those in society who control the collective consciousness the COST is present none the less. Now these same people might MISLABEL this "cost" using the wild card of "SOCIETAL RACISM!" but there is a vast cavern between having a label being POPULARLY ACCEPTED as the cause and EFFECTIVELY implementing a cure. Too many of us are willing to accept the blanket coverage of RACISM as it does as a lecturer who I recently listened to argued about "Intelligent Design" versus Evolution. When the "creationists" get stuck and can't span a gap in their reasoning they point to GOD as the magical bridge that allows them to tie everything together. While indeed there is RACISM omnipresent - there are many results that are had today which are not based on inter-racial racism but instead on the void in leadership and direction WITHIN.

As far as I am concerned - we are in a new, yet popularly unrecognized phase in our transformation as a people. The balance of our work resides in the INTERNAL management of our human resources so that our common goals can be met. Thought it is popular to point to the few high stakes exceptions which may prove to some that the "same ole same" is upon us (Sean Bell, Philly Cop brutality) the fact is that as we apply all assaults upon Black folks on a list and then sort them all together - police brutality is but a small portion of those entries. Even if you accept the notion that the Police represent a more HIGH STAKES assailant because of their official sanction the QUANTITY of entries who have no official sanction should serve to snuff out that argument for anyone seeking a serious solution to the problem.

In summary, as we revert back to the original question - the second portion of the sentence resides in the INTERNAL CHAOS and lack of law and order that is in place within our communities today. The solution resides in our actions while this being is in the cradle through to his departure from the nest when he is 17-20 years old. Like any CPA we must adjust our model to recognize the COSTS which have formerly stayed off of the books, capturing them so better MANAGEMENT DECISIONS can be made with our people's best interests in mind.

We can no longer be tied to what is "popularly assumed" to be our best interests as a people. Instead we must commit that that which is PROVABLY DEMONSTRATED to be in our best interests. Indeed this might me popular acceptance of some components which are against our current sensibilities that are contained during our time of discontentment. The challenge is, however - are you shooting for satisfaction with your current mindset OR are you shooting for the attainment of your common goals, some of which will require a change in mindset in order to achieve them?

"What is the mission for your political advocacy?" This is the central question that must be answered.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The "Organic Black Conservative" - I Like That

Continued from the Atlantic Monthly article on Cosby

“There are things that we did not see coming,” Cosby told me over lunch in Manhattan last year. “Like, you could see the Klan, but because these things were not on a horse, because there was no white sheet, and the people doing the deed were not white, we saw things in the light of family and forgiveness … We didn’t pay attention to the dropout rate. We didn’t pay attention to the fathers, to the self-esteem of our boys.”

Given the state of black America, it is hard to quarrel with that analysis. Blacks are 13 percent of the population, yet black men account for 49 percent of America’s murder victims and 41 percent of the prison population. The teen birth rate for blacks is 63 per 1,000, more than double the rate for whites. In 2005, black families had the lowest median income of any ethnic group measured by the Census, making only 61 percent of the median income of white families.

Most troubling is a recent study released by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which concluded that the rate at which blacks born into the middle class in the 1960s backslid into poverty or near-poverty (45 percent) was three times that of whites—suggesting that the advances of even some of the most successful cohorts of black America remain tenuous at best. Another Pew survey, released last November, found that blacks were “less upbeat about the state of black progress now than at any time since 1983.”

The rise of the organic black conservative tradition is also a response to America’s retreat from its second attempt at Reconstruction. Blacks have watched as the courts have weakened affirmative action, arguably the country’s greatest symbol of state-sponsored inclusion. They’ve seen a fraudulent war on drugs that, judging by the casualties, looks like a war on black people. They’ve seen themselves bandied about as playthings in the presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan (with his 1980 invocation of states’ rights” in Mississippi), George Bush (Willie Horton), Bill Clinton (Sister Souljah), and George W. Bush (McCain’s fabled black love-child). They’ve seen the utter failures of school busing and housing desegregation, as well as the horrors of Katrina. The result is a broad distrust of government as the primary tool for black progress.


You lost me on this one bro:

What both visions share is a sense that black culture in its present form is bastardized and pathological. What they also share is a foundation in myth. Black people are not the descendants of kings. We are—and I say this with big pride—the progeny of slaves. If there’s any majesty in our struggle, it lies not in fairy tales but in those humble origins and the great distance we’ve traveled since. Ditto for the dreams of a separate but noble past. Cosby’s, and much of black America’s, conservative analysis flattens history and smooths over the wrinkles that have characterized black America since its inception.


Superior to the fact that THOSE OF US who have a family tree that spans back through American Slavery is the fact that we are PROGENY OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN ON THIS EARTH FOR TENS OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS AND HAD MANAGED TO PROPAGATE AND MAINTAIN A PRODUCTIVE ENVIRONMENT AND ECONOMY. I have a serious problem with promoting our "enslavement" beyond the proportion of time that this was the case.

Part of what drives Cosby’s activism, and reinforces his message, is the rage that lives in all African Americans, a collective feeling of disgrace that borders on self-hatred. As the comedian Chris Rock put it in one of his infamous routines, “Everything white people don’t like about black people, black people really don’t like about black people … It’s like a civil war going on with black people, and it’s two sides—there’s black people and there’s niggas, and niggas have got to go … Boy, I wish they’d let me join the Ku Klux Klan. Shit, I’d do a drive-by from here to Brooklyn.” (Rock stopped performing the routine when he noticed that his white fans were laughing a little too hard.) Liberalism, with its pat logic and focus on structural inequities, offers no balm for this sort of raw pain. Like the people he preaches to, Cosby has grown tired of hanging his head.

Bill Cosby - "This Is How We Lost To The White Man"




Article from The Atlantic Monthly

This is an article from a Cosby critic who has come around to his message.


“My problem,” Cosby told the audience, “is I’m tired of losing to white people. When I say I don’t care about white people, I mean let them say what they want to say. What can they say to me that’s worse than what their grandfather said?”


Cosby had come to Detroit aiming to grab the city’s black men by their collars and shake them out of the torpor that has left so many of them—like so many of their peers across the country—undereducated, over-incarcerated, and underrepresented in the ranks of active fathers. No women were in the audience. No reporters were allowed, for fear that their presence might frighten off fathers behind on their child-support payments. But I was there, trading on race, gender, and a promise not to interview any of the allegedly skittish participants.

“Men, if you want to win, we can win,” Cosby said. “We are not a pitiful race of people. We are a bright race, who can move with the best. But we are in a new time, where people are behaving in abnormal ways and calling it normal … When they used to come into our neighborhoods, we put the kids in the basement, grabbed a rifle, and said, ‘By any means necessary.’



Black America does not entirely share the euphoria, though. The civil-rights generation is exiting the American stage—not in a haze of nostalgia but in a cloud of gloom, troubled by the persistence of racism, the apparent weaknesses of the generation following in its wake, and the seeming indifference of much of the country to black America’s fate. In that climate, Cosby’s gospel of discipline, moral reform, and self-reliance offers a way out—a promise that one need not cure America of its original sin in order to succeed. Racism may not be extinguished, but it can be beaten.


The split between Cosby and critics such as Dyson mirrors not only America’s broader conservative/liberal split but black America’s own historic intellectual divide. Cosby’s most obvious antecedent is Booker T. Washington. At the turn of the 20th century, Washington married a defense of the white South with a call for black self-reliance and became the most prominent black leader of his day. He argued that southern whites should be given time to adjust to emancipation; in the meantime, blacks should advance themselves not by voting and running for office but by working, and ultimately owning, the land.

W. E. B. Du Bois, the integrationist model for the Dysons of our day, saw Washington as an apologist for white racism and thought that his willingness to sacrifice the black vote was heretical. History ultimately rendered half of Washington’s argument moot. His famous Atlanta Compromise—in which he endorsed segregation as a temporary means of making peace with southerners—was answered by lynchings, land theft, and general racial terrorism. But Washington’s appeal to black self-sufficiency endured.

After Washington’s death, in 1915, the black conservative tradition he had fathered found a permanent and natural home in the emerging ideology of Black Nationalism. Marcus Garvey, its patron saint, turned the Atlanta Compromise on its head, implicitly endorsing segregation not as an olive branch to whites but as a statement of black supremacy. Black Nationalists scorned the Du Boisian integrationists as stooges or traitors, content to beg for help from people who hated them.

Garvey argued that blacks had rendered themselves unworthy of the white man’s respect. “The greatest stumbling block in the way of progress in the race has invariably come from within the race itself,” wrote Garvey. “The monkey wrench of destruction as thrown into the cog of Negro Progress, is not thrown so much by the outsider as by the very fellow who is in our fold, and who should be the first to grease the wheel of progress rather than seeking to impede.” Decades later, Malcolm X echoed that sentiment, faulting blacks for failing to take charge of their destinies. “The white man is too intelligent to let someone else come and gain control of the economy of his community,” Malcolm said. “But you will let anybody come in and take control of the economy of your community, control the housing, control the education, control the jobs, control the businesses, under the pretext that you want to integrate. No, you’re out of your mind.”

Black conservatives like Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, have at times allied themselves with black liberals. But in general, they have upheld a core of beliefs laid out by Garvey almost a century ago: a skepticism of (white) government as a mediating force in the “Negro problem,” a strong belief in the singular will of black people, and a fixation on a supposedly glorious black past.

Clarence Thomas Has Some Nerve To Tell The Graduates of the University of Geogia These Things They Can Actually Use In Life!!!




Thomas tells grads of goal blocked by injustice
Thousands attended the University of Georgia's 2008 Spring Commencement at Sanford Stadium on Saturday.


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the fifth Georgian to serve on the high court, would have been the first black University of Georgia graduate if he'd had his way.

Thomas wanted to be a Bulldog, but segregation stopped him, he said Saturday during his commencement address at Sanford Stadium.

"Forty-one years ago, when I graduated from high school in Savannah, attending the University of Georgia was not an option," he said. "Thankfully, much has changed in my lifetime. Knowing what I know today, I would go to school here in a heartbeat. Georgia is home, and Georgia is where I belong."

Thomas graduated from the College of the Holy Cross and Yale Law School.

He credited his grandparents, relatives and friends - farmers, yard workers and maids, mostly - in his native Pin Point for raising him right.

"They went along with their lives doing their best with what they had, knowing all the while that this was not necessarily fair," he said. "They played the hand they were dealt, and through it all, they were unfailingly good, decent and kind people, whose unrequited love for our great country and hope for our future were shining examples for all of us to emulate in our own struggles."

The controversial justice spurned politics, jurisprudence and the usual lofty rhetoric of commencement speakers. Instead, he praised old-fashioned virtues like faith, gratitude, honesty, discipline, politeness, punctuality and sincerity.


"Look, many have been angry at me because I refuse to be angry, bitter or full of grievances, and some will be angry at you for not becoming agents of their most recent cynical causes," he said. "Don't worry about it. No monuments are ever built to cynics."

Thomas recalled when the socialist writer Michael Harrington spoke at his own commencement in 1971. But Thomas said he was more worried at the time about paying off his student loans and his upcoming wedding than about Harrington's message.

"He seemed to be exhorting us on to solve the problems of poverty and injustice," Thomas said. "As important as that was, I, like most people sitting here today, was focused on solving my own problems, so I would not become a problem for or a burden to others."

Some faculty and students criticized UGA President Michael Adams' selection of Thomas to deliver the commencement address. About 1,200 people signed an online petition opposing the choice. Thomas was accused of sexual harassment during his 1991 Senate confirmation hearings, and a rash of harassment scandals has plagued UGA lately.

But he received a standing ovation Saturday, and graduates said his speech's humor and homespun wisdom resonated with them.


"A lot of the things he said are the same things my mother and auntie say all the time," psychology and pre-med major LaKeithia Glover said.

Valedictorian Deep Shah, one of UGA's two Rhodes Scholars, reminded his classmates that education is a privilege not everyone is afforded, and poverty and inequality exist in America and around the world.

"The promising truth, though, is that we can change the fate of those less fortunate than us, if we work together," said Shah, a biology and international affairs major who will attend Harvard Medical School after a year at the University of Oxford.

Michael Bunch, senior vice president of the testing firm Measurements Inc., spoke to graduate students Saturday afternoon at Stegeman Coliseum.

About 3,500 undergraduates, 925 masters and specialist candidates and 174 doctoral candidates received degrees Saturday.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 051108


Nub's Fresh Fruit and Vegetables



On my way home from church this morning I saw that Mr Nub's food stand was open. I had to swing a U-turn on Hwy 54 in Fayette County Georgia and have a conversation with this "man on the street".

Over the years I have talked with him, learning a lot about the county that I now live in. One would assume that this suburban county has Black folks moving out of Atlanta and into the suburbs. You would be wrong to assume this. The fact is that Black folks have always resided in this county. In fact we left Fayette and surrounding counties and moved into Atlanta in order to get a dose of big city life decades ago. This is not an exodus out of Atlanta but instead a "return home". Just as I made a macro-exodus from the big city North I also made a micro-exodus from Atlanta into Fayette County.

Today's conversation was about the higher costs associated with nearly everything related to his farming operations. He told me that a bag of seed corn that used to cost him $0.50 per bag 'back in the day' now costs $12.00 per bag. I asked him how much he paid for the same item last year. He told me it was $9.00 last year and then $6.00 before that. He said that it was "the oil companies" that are causing all of this.

He then took me over to his field



He showed me his newly planted tomatoes, mustard greens, collard greens and peppers. In the far end of the field he is queuing up to plant corn and a few other crops.

On the one hand I empathize with the increases in production costs born by Mr. Nubs. Every extra dollar in costs both impacts his bottom line as well as impacts the prices that he must charge his customers. Where as I was originally hedging on purchasing a watermelon from him for $8.50 - I figured that it is not worth the haggling. That $2 extra dollars is not going to bankrupt me on this otherwise optional purchase. It would go a long way in supporting his operations.

He gave me some guidance in keeping the bugs off of the tomatoes that I usually grow in my back yard. He told me how the frost earlier this year nearly damaged his crops. Interestingly enough he sprayed water on his crops so that the freezing water would shield the buds from the outside cold. I recall that the orange farmers in Florida had to do this years ago to prevent crop damaged. I need to do more research on this tactic which seems backward - spraying water on the crops so that the water will freeze and in turn protect the crops from freeze damage? Pretty interesting.

We need more young people engaging in farm production so that this type of knowledge is not lost and they can have a more direct hand in addressing the imbalance between food demand and food supply.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Another Dream - Terrorist Plot Foiler



Yet another dream. This one had relevance in two areas which I will summarize at the end.

In the dream I was heading to the airport for an international flight. I had a suitcase and a duffel bag with me. I arrived at the airport with time to spare. I decided to get something to eat and work on my computer. I lost track of time and then I had to scramble to make my flight on time. I had problems finding the correct ticket counter for my flight. When I found the ticket counter the airline representative said that I was too late to check my bags. She summoned a baggage handler to take my bags directly to the plane.

I went to the end of the counter to hand my bags to the baggage handler. He was a foreigner with an accent. He asked me to open my bags. When I opened the duffel bag I saw that there were a bunch of wallets stuffed with cash in the bag. They weren't mine. When the handler saw the wallets he said something to the effect of "I see that you have come through for us, my friend. With these explosives we will bring down the infidels planes over the water". I was startled but I did not confront him. I walked away as if I was going to catch my flight.

I knew I had to warn someone at the airport about the plot. As I walked left I saw a bunch of people working but none particularly interested. I went over to a car rental counter that was close by and put my hand on the shoulder of an older White female worker who was working at her computer. I told her that there is a plot to blow up an airline and that she must call for help. She was more disturbed that I touched her and thought that I was crazy. I started to go back to the same airline's ticket counter but I wondered if they all were in on the plot. Instead I went to a second person and this person had a similar response as the first. They thought that I was crazy and they were not interested in facing the facts because it would cause them to move out of their comfort zone of their day to day life. They were more interested in working than in dealing with the threat at hand.

As I woke up I was walking to a police officer.

In my interpretation the dream was both about terrorism as a primary message but also about how people can tune out the threats that are communicated to them. Just because you choose to ignore a threat does not make the threat any less. I also am interested as to why the wallets were in the bag. Maybe our purchase of oil from our known enemies is funding our own destruction.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Drum And African Culture




I wanted to give a shout out to the drummers who greeted Dr. Maya Angelou at her reception last night in the celebration of her 80th birthday.

While my wife wanted me to take a picture of the celebrities walking down the red carpet I was more inclined to take a picture of the stars that are in my mind - these young people who were expressing their talents. I am not into celebrity worship. These kids are far more worthy.

In one dance routine from a local dance company two drummers (not from the group pictured) created all of the music to which the dancers performed to. With 4 drums and a cow bell they were able to create an enchanting audio backdrop to the creative dancing that was taking place on the stage.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The "Organicism Of The Solution" Must Be A Key Qualifier

Watching as someone else builds you a new house that someone else paid for in the expression of your societal RIGHT to decent and affordable housing. The government has let an RFP 'on your behalf' for your care and feeding. They do the planning, financing and construction of your residence. All that is left for you to do is to move in and put your feet up on the coffee table (which you have rented).


or

As part of expressing your need and preference to have quality and affordable housing you express this value by seeking to maximize the organic contribution to this effort by insisting that 'your people' take part in the planning and construction of these new residences. You insist that any tenant allowed to live within pay a certain rate that is commensurate with THEIR valuation of this resource and not just some arbitrary percentage that they can afford based on their current income. Instead the demand is flipped around "if you indeed value this quality standard of living....you make note of how important it is for you to develop labor skills in kind that a 'consumer of labor' is willing to pay for".



What is the key distinction between these two scenarios? In my view it is all a matter of the assumed equality or inferiority of the resident who stands as the beneficiary of these government service. I have said plenty of times before - there are some advocates who are fighting for the "receipt of" a certain benefit more than they are conscious of the importance of the process by which a certain standard of living is achieved. They are quite happy that their constituent's stomachs are full of fish that was handed to them. These advocates are able to sit back with pride and make note that indeed they have done God's work on behalf of his children.

For me as I take a step back and analyze the entire impact of such a system of advocacy it is clear that some of the key problems that plague us today as a community are amplified because so many of our leaders and our people are more interested in the "receipt of benefit" rather than having this benefit expressed upon our own backs. In fact some believe that it is indignant to expect the "victim" to contribute to his own salvation when in fact it was society that has trampled over him so. To them this is true for the 99 year old Black woman who actually lived through "Jim Crow" and the Black baby born to the world just yesterday for indeed his trajectory down the path that is laced with oppression has already been set for him by them. This is inescapable for the acceptance of this notion is central to the advocate's agenda.

I was in my home town of Philly, West Philly to be exact about 5 months ago. As I drove to my original neighborhood at 61st and Jefferson I witnessed about 3 young boys sitting on the stairs shooting the breeze. I used to do this with my friends when I was there age so I understood fully. I could not help but notice what did change in the old neighborhood, however. For every sidewalk and front garden (a little patch of dirt about 12' x 15') that was well kept there was 2 that was unraked, trash strewn and in need of some manual intervention. Where as when I was on the block we made a wad of money shoveling snow for our neighbors today the demand is equally as strong for these young men to make money by tending to the cleanliness of the community. Instead they were seemingly aloof to the general conditions that were around them. For me as an outsider with more worldly experience, having lived in different areas I saw this as evidence of unemployed minds. The very process of raising the standard of cleanliness in this specific community also directs the activities of those who are within and also provides some measure of economic velocity. At the end of the day the tenant or landlord seeking to express their value for the clean state of their property will pay these young boys money in exchange. Is there a better way to prime the pump than by expecting the people themselves to show their value for their environment?

Sadly much of the advocacy that takes place on behalf of these young boys in Philly and elsewhere is focused upon having external forces to express THEIR valuation of these people's lives by directing resources toward them (raining resources upon the unwashed) so that the society can express that indeed they are equal beings just as other groups are seen in the society. As their theory goes - if society shows that it is inclusive and accommodating then the bitterness of being "left outside" on the margins of society will be overcome. These young boys will then be motivated to try to fit in with this greater society.

OK buddy. If you say so.

In truth it is the reverse that has proven to be the more effective path toward prosperity. In having an ORGANIC set of expectations from the people by having them express their own self worth by starting with their community-mates, the property that they have control over and their schools the PROCESS and POLICIES that are in place to bring this to fruition will condition these formerly "unwashed masses" into a more fruitful conclusion. Don't get me wrong - there is indeed "conditioning" going on in the first example. The people are indoctrinated into having some external force to take up their cause and they follow. For me it is the sight of the aftereffects that show if and when individuals with a different set of policy priorities step into office and cut these programs. As a Black community we tend to damn those who change the POLICIES rather than to ask the more fundamental question - "Should we be outsources so much of the important elements of our local communities to the government which changes hands on occasion in the first place!?!?!". To look at the tepid results from these programs and then claim injury upon their loss of funding speaks to the need to evaluate all of these programs from the stand point of COMPREHENSIVENESS and ENDURANCE. They fail both of these AND the test of ORGANICISM. "Not your money thus you don't have ultimate control over what is done with it".

Let me now address the next commonly heard claim. "Yes it is OUR MONEY!! I paid TAXES and now I demand services!". To this I say - your actions are not consistent with a person who has given more resources out and been short changed in the benefit received back. In fact there are ample examples of how when there is a net negative in receipts the people will seek to STOP SENDING THEIR MONEY out of their domain of control and instead have it remain within their boundary. Thus clearly the average person who makes this statement instead have the expectations that they will pay "according to their means" but receive back "according to their needs". I beg anyone to argue any other logical foundation for their actions?

The importance of measuring the "organicism" of a solution cannot be taken for granted. It is the key distinction between having a perplexing problem of today remain that way for future generations or having implemented more effective processes upon the people and thus encultrating a new set of thoughts and actions which diminish this as a problem over time.

I repeat my view that those who are most able to identify the damage done with the loss of our culture during the time when our "self determination" was stolen from us are not necessarily the most qualified to REESTABLISH a functional culture where organicism, comprehensiveness, endurance and effectiveness of the solutions that are proposed is considered. In fact they are more likely to reconstruct a culture of DEPENDENCY. This must be rejected.