Monday, August 29, 2011

Baggage

Though this model was provided by a preacher to a multi-racial congregation the other day it is a perfect representation of the solutions framework that the Black community needs to adopt.


Baggage Item
Notes
1) Unfulfilled Expectations Proverbs 13 - Hope That Is Forced Into Deferral Makes The Heart Sick Because Of Longing
2) Untreated Pain Jeremiah 6 - The Need For Emotional Communications With Others To Form A Connection
3) Unresolved Yesterdays  Ephesians 4:26 - Guilt: A Tactic Of The Enemy To Prevent You From Living In The Present, Uncovering New Opportunity
4) Unhealthy View Of Self Romans 12:3 - Negative Images Received From Society That Are Accepted In As True.  Repetitive Messages Become Your Reality If You Don't Know Yourself
5) Checking In Your Baggage II Corinthians 10:3-4  - Acknowledging Your Issues Is The First Step To Recovery
6) Releasing Yourself From The Mental Prison II Corinthians 10:5 ; Proverbs 2:7  - Ochyroma- A Prisoner Locked Up By Deception.  Only Truth Will Change His Condition.  A Lie Is Only As Powerful As The Truth That Is Not Present To Confound It
7) God Still Loves You
8) God Can Free Me Romans 8:2

Not only is there "baggage" that was gathered through no fault of their own - there are also forces that make use of the baggage that we have, using this knowledge to manipulate our grievances for their benefit.

The question is - are they looking to cure us or merely to exploit us?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In Light Of Marriage Rates Below What Is Needed To Perpetuate Themselves - Mormons Engineer A Solution




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Like them or not the "Church Of The Latter Day Saints" are effective at engineering more favorable outcomes within their society. They are more effective than most at linking their religious dogma with key attributes for their community.

Their religion calls for them to create "storehouses" of goods for protection in the event of an emergency. In 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast - the Mormons agreed to tap into this storehouse and sent several tractor trailer loads of goods to the area for relief.

While some of their critics who reside in a "more legitimate" segment of Christianity condemn them as false prophets because of some of their rituals - they are able to project their mores among their people far better than does the mega-church baptist preacher, achieving the intended results among the community.


Are either of these collections of self-identified Christians "saved"?
I'll leave that to the judgement of Jesus.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Murder On Macon Drive In Southeast Atlanta

23 Year Old Mother Of Four Young Children Gunned Down In A Drive By Shooting In Southeast Atlanta

News of the senseless loss of life of this young mother compelled me to jump in my car this morning and actually drive to "Macon Drive" to see the conditions of this area for myself.

The site is near the intersection of "Macon Drive and Mt Zion Road" on the south side of Atlanta. It is to the north of the Atlanta airport. and about 2.5 miles from the Atlanta Metropolitan College where the CBC Jobs Fair was recently held.




I am not sure if the murder scene is actually in the "Popular Rock" section of Atlanta but it is close enough to qualify for the purposes of this article.

This community is full of contrasts.  As I drove the length of Macon Dr I started out at the newly reformed "Lakewood Fair Grounds" that have been converted into a movie and entertainment studio.  Drive southbound just a few short blocks and a residential community of small houses and moderate to low income people reside.  Each block has what appears to be dedicated home owners that keep their properties maintained.  Disbursed through these blocks is the occasional boarded up house.  The houses appear to have been "investment properties".

From my experience when you see brand new wood or vinyl siding and/or a fresh paint job but boards over the windows-some investor purchased the property, sunk money to bring it back up to code and then either rented or resold the property.  As the mortgage meltdown washed in - many of these houses were left abandoned.  The renters gone or no one on the market willing to purchase the house so the owners have walked away.

This is a vulnerable community.
It was vulnerable as various real estate investors came in and turned "residences" into "capital assets" that were put into play for their "appreciating values" in the "house flipping" that went on.  Despite the new coat of paint and interior furnishings the basic economic condition of the people within did not change.  Ultimately the owner still needed someone in the house to faithfully pay the monthly note.

Likewise this community is vulnerable to the violent actions of Street Pirates.  99% of the people in the community are honest, hard working people.  They want protection in their community instead of gun play.

As I got out of my car to take the pictures of the make-shift memorial a little girl on her bike asked me "Did you know that girl?" as she pointed to the memorial?   "No I heard about it on the news", I said.   "What happened to her?" I asked.    "She got shot right there."    "You want the people who did it to pay for what they did to her, right? " .  "Yes", she said as she sped down the street and into the apartment complex.

Sadly if this little girl had been on that same road at the wrong time - we might be reading about her in the paper as well.

In a community that seeks safety that same community must manage the thoughts and actions of those who have a proclivity to violate  the trust of the community.  The drive by shooter with the gun did not care who he hit - he was content that "any of them would do".

Directly across from the murder scene was yet another remodeled house that was a vacant trash dumping ground.  That little girl and other children and women in the community are potential victims to a cremudgeon who might drag them into the house and harm them.   The best thing that this community can do to honor Julian Jones is to protect the state of their community by managing these abandoned properties that pose a risk.  By placing more stable owners with skin in the game they will ensure that less foolishness transpires within.



Sunday, August 14, 2011

"You is kind. You is smart. You is important"

When I view movie dramas like "The Help" or historical footage that are used to show the past that this nation has doled out to Black people - I chose to look at the present day and how much unmitigated hatred that Black people do not have to deal with.

Some others choose to note how this period of oppression amounts to the theft of wealth and opportunity for Black people.

I saw:


  • Black woman providing child care and house cleaning to their oppressors - doing what was necessary to ultimately feed their own family
  • Black men actively working to provide for their families

Monday, August 08, 2011

My Own Family Reunion - Making Ends Meet For Grandma

After my "drinking buddy" uncle and I had left the wives and kids in order to talk, we got past talking about sports and instead began to talk about the financial situation for the local family members.


  • He talked about how his sister in law is being stressed by her daughter who is zapping her for money all of the time.  Despite being off on her own and living out of town to go to school - she is no longer in school and still looks to mom for support.  This despite being in her late 20's and having squandered her educational opportunities by hanging out and drug use.
  • He talked about his own children.  Both had kids in their teen-aged years, both dropped out of high school.  They have both elected to "shack up" with someone else because this was the ultimatum that was given to them lest they abide by the rules of his house. 
    • The daughter didnt' take care of her own car and the engine locked up due to lack of oil
    • Now she is always borrowing her mother's car - placing stress on him and her as they try to juggle the transportation obligations.
  • He talked about his own job.  Working at a recycling plant.  They call him "Pops".  At 52 years old and working around a lot of young people he is seen as the voice of reason and wisdom for the other young people.
    • He spoke about who he needed to set out to draw the lines of respect for the White plant manner who at times thinks that he can talk to him as if he was one of the young guys.
    • When he needed a pay raise to help ends meet - he called the manager into the office and spoke to him "man to man".   The fact that the manager knows his value as a key tempo setter for the young co-workers - he agreed to the $1 per hour raise to off-set the increasing cost of living
  • He showed me his asthma inhaler.   What was $15 per month a few years ago has jumped to $50 and is now $200.  It was hard to believe that that this little canister costs $200 per month.
The one group of people that he did not specifically talk about was my siblings.  
  • 5 Black males
  • All college graduates
  • All married
  • All gainfully employed
Our mother came from the very same environment yet - it appears- her departure to the North - along with some other values - made the difference.

When it came to the financing for her mother's care my mother said that she did not want to trouble her sons for money all of the time.  I told her that it was as much our responsibility to take care of her as it was her direct children.  It is a matter of communication.  We pitch in during the winter-time for the heating bill as this was the pattern that we all understood.  Up until about 2 years ago our suborn grand mother did not want natural gas coming into her house.  She feared the open flame in the natural gas stove of the people (White folks) who's houses she used to clean for so many years.   The old, inefficient base-board electric heaters drew an electrical bill for a small house that cost more than my house which is at least twice as large.   

Finally they took her for a visit to someone else's house as the work men came and installed the new forced air, natural gas heating and central air conditioning system.  She did not notice the difference.  Even still the heating bills are disproportionately high.  They probably need to add insulation to the attic. 

My job was to collect the information for dissemination to my siblings.  All of them have her bank account information and can deposit money directly into the account locally where they live.

My new strategy is to pay off the utility bills directly.  This frees up my uncle as he told me at times the money from his own struggling household is used to keep his mother in law's household going.  

The ideal situation is for my siblings to pay for the utilities, while those family members who are local providing direct care for our elderly matriarch.  For me it is a matter of awareness of the need and the reprioritization of my financial allocation.   There is no way that my grandmother should have a disconnection notice for her phone and electricity.  This is pure negligence.  

Grandma and Social Security

At no point in this saga did me of my siblings say "We need to advocate for a larger check from Social Security for my grandmother".   Though few of my siblings are as right of center as I am - they all realize that that particular stream is drying up and that this matter can be addressed via better communication and, most importantly, having those of us who have the resources to remove the financial stress off of those who are providing up close and personal care to do so.  We all have the common goal of taking care of our matriarch.

The unspoken story here as well is about the important of proper governance and development of one's children so that they have a greater chance of being net contributors to their parents long term care than they are dependents at a time of scarcity.  I am not taking anything away from my grandmother's direct children.  They have provided the financing and the in-home care as best as they could.  In this case the saga of their own children and their ability to stand on their own two feet (in their mid-twenties and beyond) versus the legacy of their past decisions being an anchor upon the extended family's ability to target the resources where they should be focused.

The family culture of competence in human resource development is the greatest "Intergenerational Wealth" that can be passed along.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

My Own Family Reunion - "She Don't Need The Internet"

(Note: This post was lingering in draft form since my impromptu family reunion.  I have made a second visit a few weeks later and will merge the two visits together.)

The title represents the statement that broke my heart after I arrived back home and worked to get an Internet connection in my grandmother's house.  

My two aunts rotate their weekly live-in car for my 100 year old grandmother. State Medicare only pays for an in-house guardian for 30 hours a week.  When she leaves in the afternoon one of my two aunts are there to take over for the evening.

One of these aunts (apparently) has assumed primary care of her own granddaughters.  (Let's call her Crystal).  When this one particular aunt is caring for my grandmother she also brings Crystal along to my grandmother's house.

On my first visit my parents drove down from Pennsylvania and carried along two surplus laptops from my younger brother's job.  They were still in very good shape and ran fast.  He knew that I was coming up from Atlanta and asked that I configure the laptops for them to use.

My grandmother's house does not have Internet access.   I pulled out my mobile phone and turned on the "WiFi Tethering" feature.  This allows the laptop to connect to my phone and then get on the Internet through the cellular network.  

As I was working to configure the laptop Crystal was sitting at the kitchen table with me.  She is a very brilliant 7 year old girl - very tall for her age.  She demanded that I ask her a series of questions to see if she could get the right answers.  She had me laughing as she sometimes said "OK, that's a hard one.  Ask me another question.".  My kids are older and now more independent.  Crystal make me miss the attention I used to get from them.

I admit that I am disappointed in her mother (my cousin) for dropping out of high school, getting pregnant as a teenager, and then letting herself go physically. Despite the push for her to get her GED - she nor her brother decided to pursue this course of action.  She is destined to struggle for the rest of her life - hoping from job to job - just as some of the people in this small town who surround her.  She is working at what appears to be a stable job.  This area is still feeling the effects of the loss of the textile and furniture manufacturing industry - to Asian nations.   Not having a college degree is hard enough.  Not having a high school diploma is even worse.

My interactions with Crystal motivated me to place my disappointments in her mother into ensuring that Crystal at least had access to the same resources on the Internet that my children have.  My son plays video games on the computer and watches YouTube videos of wrestling and Transformers.  My daughter syncs her MP3 player from my Rhapsody To Go subscription and goes on line to find recipes that she has discovered from "The Food Channel".   For them Internet access is an integral part of their lives.

I showed Crystal how to pull up a picture of the house on Google Maps Street View.  I had her tricked, thinking that it was a live picture.  I went to the window and asked her 'Don't you see me in the window on the computer?".  (It was a static picture from about 2 years ago when the Google Maps truck had driven down the street).  Later when her mother came by she showed her everything that I had taught her on the computer.  Clearly this bright light girl needs guidance from someone who can expose her to a bigger world than what she presently lives in.  Failing to do so - her intellectual diameter will be stunted.

The Monopoly 'Bama' Phone Company

After assuming payment responsibility for my grandmother's phone and electric bills I set up web access to her accounts.  I can monitor the bills and pay them on line without needing the physical bills which still go to her house.

I began researching the options for Internet access in this small Carolina city.   Even though AT&T services both North and South Carolina - I could not get my grandmother's address to come up on AT&T's web site. I had to wait until the offices opened on Monday to see what the problem was.

Turns out that the local phone company controls that particular region.   They have a lock on both DSL and Cable based Internet access.  There is no other choice (besides satellite).   Even though the wireless carries offer options for WiFi hotspots - these are price prohibitive for what I need them for.

I took a copy of my grandmother's phone bill back home with me and called the local monopoly phone company.  

Even though I had my grandmother's social security number they would not even tell me if Internet service was available at the house.  (They knew that I was not the account holder).  I told the lady that I am not asking to make any changes to the account.  I only want to know if Internet is available.   "Sorry sir.  You need to be an authorized person on the account.  You are going to get 'Power of Attorney' to be able to make any changes on your grandmother's behalf."

"With all due respect ma'am THIS IS RIDICULOUS.  I asked you for general information about your services, NOT to change anything about the account.  I can go to your competitor's web site and type in any address in America to see if they have service at that location.  Can I speak to your supervisor? ".  

She took my information.

I did research on switching them over to Vonage.  Instead of the variable phone bills - they would have a predictable $24.99 and then about $45 for the Internet access.  They would get voice and Internet for less than what they are paying for voice alone today.

Sorry - that monopoly phone company does not allow you to port the phone number to Vonage!!!  The primary mandate from my aunt is that the phone number of 40 years not change.  The monopoly phone company had me screwed again.

When the supervisor called back I missed the call.

I called the customer service line once again, hoping to get another operator.  I did.  This lady was far more helpful.  I told her that the phone bill was too high and that, admittedly, I was seeking to switch to Vonage.  She looked at the bill and told me that we needed to get Unlimited Local & Long Distance which would cut the phone bill in half.  They were charging my grandmother $9 per month for caller id service.  The new bundle plan would give this for free.

With the two options at hand - Vonage or the unlimited calling plan from the monopoly small town company - I decided that it would be a lesser risk to stick with what they've got.  We could add Internet to the account and still pay less than present.

I called my aunt and told her that she needs to call in to the account, pretending that she is my grandmother (a female voice will do) and request the change in service.  A month later they should call in and establish Internet service and then I would drive up and configure everything.

The Return Trip
A few weeks went by and then I had to drive with my family to a Tae Kwon Do tournament in the area.  We stopped by my grandmother's house so my children could see their great-grandmother one more time while she is still with us.

Crystal was there.  Still talkative as ever.  They said that she was asking about me after I had left.  She was sleeping when I left early in the morning and I didn't bother waking her.

My aunt told me that they tried to make a change to the phone service but the phone company demanded that she bring my grandmother to the office with her.  I am not sure what happened with the phone call but she must have used her own name rather than my grandmothers.  (This is some B.S.).  That monopoly phone company is content with my grandmother being in the wrong service plan. They are not going to do anything to save their customers money or allow them to switch to Vonage.

As my uncle (who is really my drinking buddy) went on a beer run and then back to their home so that we could talk - the sight that I saw was very disappointing.   Even though they have Internet over there.......that new laptop was sitting in a bag, under the desk where their desktop computer resides.

My aunt told me the last time "I need for you to look at our computer.  There is something wrong with it".
This told me that Crystal has not been on the laptop or the desktop computer since I left.

On our second visit - as my family and I exited - my aunt said to me again "I need for you to take a look at our computer the next time you are here".

It is clear that the only way we are going to get Crystal actively using the computer is to get her interacting with my kids and me - possibly using Skype and a web cam.   I need to get the laptop back over my grandmother's house and Internet access in.

Rebranding - The 5/5ths Equal Human Being Strategy Playbook

The "Functional Culture" blog is now "The 5/5ths Equal Human Being Strategy Playbook".

In the line up of the affiliated blogs that I manage:

"The 5/5ths Equal Human Being Strategy Playbook" is distinguished from these others as it has a goal of presenting frameworks for solutions to the issues that presently plague the Black community.  If "Within The Black Community" is "tough love", providing critical analysis of how policies and politics are hijacking our potential then "5/5ths" attempts to connect the Black community's thoughts & actions with our community based goals.

The common theme of these posts is the critical assumption that 'Black People Are 100% Equal'.
The use of Black Inferiority as a political bargaining strategy has had deliriousness impact upon our psyche and our organic efforts to stand tall as a community.

The real "struggle" for Black people in the diaspora is in the "inner space".  The ability to align our culture, our institutions and our resources in a way that lifts up our community based on the choice of the people who will benefit from the strategic investments and temporary "denials of self gratification" for long term prosperity.