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Banks Get Bailout to Hire Foreign Workers

February 3, 2009 Leave a comment

Banks collecting billions of dollars in federal bailout money sought government permission to bring thousands of foreign workers to the U.S. for high-paying jobs, according to an Associated Press review of visa applications.

The dozen banks receiving the biggest rescue packages, totaling more than $150 billion, requested visas for more than 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years for positions that included senior vice presidents, corporate lawyers, junior investment analysts and human resources specialists. The average annual salary for those jobs was $90,721, nearly twice the median income for all American households.

The figures are significant because they show that the bailed-out banks, being kept afloat with U.S. taxpayer money, actively sought to hire foreign workers instead of American workers. As the economic collapse worsened last year — with huge numbers of bank employees laid off — the numbers of visas sought by the dozen banks in AP’s analysis increased by nearly one-third, from 3,258 in fiscal 2007 to 4,163 in fiscal 2008.

 

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Your Black President: Eric Holder Gets Confirmed

February 3, 2009 Leave a comment

Eric Holder won Senate confirmation Monday as the nation’s first African-American attorney general, after supporters from both parties touted his dream resume and easily overcame Republican concerns over his commitment to fight terrorism and his unwillingness to back the right to keep and bear arms.

The vote was 75-21, with all the opposition coming from Republicans.

Holder’s chief supporter, Sen. Patrick Leahy, said the confirmation was a fulfillment of civil rights leader Martin Luther King’s dream that everyone would be judged by the content of their character.

“Come on the right side of history,” said Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Holder becomes the only black in the Obama administration in what has traditionally been known as the president’s Cabinet. Three other African-Americans have been chosen for top administration positions that hold the same rank.

Holder was a federal prosecutor, judge and the No. 2 Justice Department official in the Clinton administration. Even his critics agreed that Holder was well-qualified, but they questioned his positions and independence.

The debate turned partisan in its first moments, when Leahy, expressed anger that a few Republicans demanded a pledge from Holder that he wouldn’t prosecute intelligence agents who participated in harsh interrogations.

 

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Your Black Money: Black Hair Should Be a Black Business

February 2, 2009 Leave a comment


The Black Hair industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. This industry has created other revenue generating vessels such as, conferences, schools, distribution, competitions, marketing, and even research. With an industry that is so huge and driven by the black dollar, one would expect that this industry would be under the direct control of those that make it successful, the black race. However, it is not. Though blacks still control many of the hair salons and barbershops, there is still a major disparity in many of the other businesses within this industry. Plus, recent trends have begun to emerge in the marketplace that threatens the ownership of those two entities. There is a new business model for salons, Korean-Owned and Black-Operated. This new model is growing rapidly and becoming a success among the community. While customers can continue to receive services from a familiar black stylist, the dollar ultimately goes to the Korean community.

It’s absolutely not a bad thing that Koreans are becoming fierce competitors and business owners in this black industry, so standing on the sidelines boycotting these establishments or calling for them to discontinue is a way that further perpetuates the blacks’ “right to survivorship” thinking. Blacks should not expect to be able to merely sit on a golden egg that was handed to them and not expect others to want a piece of it. The golden egg must be protected and guarded like the lion guards its kill from the hyena. Since the system we live under a capitalist system, the way a person or group rises to great wealth and sustainability is through competitive edges. Is this true? The retail segment of the black hair business is another entity that works to cipher the dollar from black community and be sent elsewhere. After research of over 800 black served beauty supply stores, we uncovered an ownership base of less than 5%. Of these same stores during a 6-month evaluation we found more than 97% of black consumers.
Is this a huge snowballing problem that should be addressed? Do blacks have the resources and opportunities within their communities but are simply not harnessing these opportunities? The problem of a low number of retail stores does not begin there. It begins at the distribution level. There is still a significant amount of black manufacturers of products but once these products leave the black manufacturers, they are placed in the hands of Korean distributors then the problem begins. Once the Korean distributors get a hold of the products they do two things: 1. They selectively distribute the products to retailers and sometimes at different prices. 2. They study the black products and soon create prototypes and begin marketing these prototypes to their huge Korean retailer base. Lucky White, CEO of Kizure Products, has boasted this as being one of her major dilemmas in her business slowdown. She is not only being competed against by other equipment manufacturers, the distributors are acting as lobbyist for her competitor.

In an industry that resulted in billions due to pioneer, Madame C.J. Walker, a black woman born into poor conditions in the early 20th century, one would expect the blueprint to this industry to be studied and executed by blacks across America but sadly this has not been the case. Why? It is not as simple as setting up shop and waiting for high profits anymore. Retail storeowners are facing many competitive obstacles such as capital, a large selection of products, and pricing. In most cases, getting an account with a Korean distributor as a Black person means you face an uphill battle. First, the distributor must approve your location before agreeing to supply your store. If they agree, now payments must be made in cash upfront with no delayed terms of payment. This is perhaps the hugest obstacle a new black storeowner faces. Then, this is a rippling effect. If distributors are consuming the capital instantly, then there is less available for the new black owner to obtain an abundant variation of products. Lastly, the pricing advantage many Korean stores are able to provide for the black consumer keeps them coming back over and over again, showing very little regard to a black storeowner down the block. This pricing advantage is also a resource for the Koreans because of the relationship they have with the Korean distributors.

However, the nail has not yet been driven into the coffin of the black lockout of their stake in this industry. I am living proof. I emotionally entered into this industry when I was thrown out of a Korean-Owned beauty supply store while I was attempting to make a huge purchase for my salon. The owner felt uncomfortable with me browsing and being selective. His frustration grew to rage so he then threatened me with a golf club eventually throwing me out of his store. Like many black men, I didn’t know of the huge lockout that took place in this industry until I had already signed a $5,000 lease for a location. My uphill battle began as distributors wanted cash and many didn’t even return my phone calls. Little did many of them know my persistence is abnormal. I took daytrips on airlines to physically walk into locations in New York and Miami until I got what I wanted. My goal was to give our community options in shopping while receiving the respect they deserved. My one location turned into three in 18 short months. Trial and error was my ally. As I learned, I perfected. Here a few things that an aspiring owner can implement.

Communicate with other owners – Find other owners willing to communicate with you in your market and even throughout the country. They are more than willing to share valuable information with you and you should do the same.

Automate the Store – In this fast-paced era, do not rely on spreadsheets and manual inventory tracking. This can slowdown your customer fulfillment process and tie up valuable time that could be used elsewhere.

Be a competitive and creative owner – Do not do what the next guy is doing, do what he isn’t. Establish store niches.
Establish Non-Competitive Clauses – Secure your market share within your mall at the least. Do not leave the gate wide open.

Manage the Cash Effectively – From your gross, pre-allocate percentages for capital expenditures, marketing, taxes, procurement, payroll, etc and have different bank accounts for each one with the monies being deposited systematically. Do not rely on self to divvy up or disburse the funds as you receive revenue.

Form Alliances Outside the Black Hair Industry – I once went to a children’s theme park with my sons and discovered that a local pizza franchise provided the pizzas for the business at a discounted rate. These opportunities exist for beauty storeowners as well. I established plenty. One place is funeral homes.

Seek Consulting – Never think you know it all. I had two beauty storeowners that acted as my mentors for the first year. I compensated them for intense assistance but for quick advice they were glad to help. Expect nothing for free. Allocate funds for this too.
Location, Location, Location – Do not pick a convenient location for you, pick a convenient location for the customer. There are moneymaking opportunities even when there is an existing beauty store. Don’t be afraid of the competition. The way you operate may be the way the customers in that market prefer.

Though I have highlighted distribution as the component needed, it is not the way to launching strategic efforts, and neither is boycotting. Building up the amount of black-owned retail stores is the first step in a strategic plan like this. The demand must first be created if a black distribution plant is to be successful. The black hair business is a cash cow but in its current state the cow is jumping over the moon with the moneybag heading to other communities.

Devin Robinson is the author of Taking it Back: How to Become a Successful Black Beauty Supply Store Owner who resides in Atlanta, GA. Visit his website athttp://www.takingitbackblack.com/.

Jesse Jackson’s Education Stimulus Plan

February 2, 2009 Leave a comment

By Rev. Jesse L. Jackson

www.YourBlackWorld.com

One of the most impressive proposals advanced by President Barack Obama to aid college students is the creation of a new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth $4,000 in exchange for 100 hours of community service. While that program is still in the developmental stage, the Rainbow Coalition offers a plan that will immediately benefit students holding college loans.

We’re calling it “The Rainbow PUSH Education Stimulus Plan.” It is a simple-yet-sweeping plan to help families finance college costs that are steadily putting higher education out of the reach of most Americans. Our proposal is that students holding and applying for college loans should be offered interest rates that do not exceed 1 percent – the same favorable terms now being offered to large corporations under the federal bailout plan.

What we are seeking is fundamental fairness. Our nation’s largest banks and financial institutions – including Bank of America, Citigroup, and JP Morgan – are borrowing money from the federal government at a rate of less than 1 percent. However, students are generally forced to borrow for their education at rates in the range of 4 percent to 8 percent. Many are financing their education with credit cards that carry rates of 20 percent or higher

Before graduating seniors can launch their families and careers, they are already saddled with excessive debt. To make matters worse, if students miss payments in this fragile economy, their credit score declines, forcing them to pay the highest interest rates for cars, homes and other necessities — if they can qualify at all. Yet, financial institutions with what is tantamount to bad credit reports are being rewarded with tax-supported, low-interest loans.

Lowering student loan interest rates to 1 percent directly addresses affordability, one of the most pressing problems facing our country. According to a report issued by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, the cost of attending college has risen nearly three times the rate of the cost of living. After being adjusted for inflation, college tuition and fees rose 439 percent from 1982 to 2007, far outpacing increases for medical care, housing and food. During this same period, median family income rose 147 percent.

As financial aid shifted from direct grants to loans, borrowing for higher education has more than doubled over the past decade. Meanwhile, the U.S. is falling behind in the global economy. Approximately 34 percent of young American adults are enrolled in college, putting the U.S behind Korea – which has a 53 percent rate – Hungary, Belgium, Ireland, Poland and Greece.

Moreover, by the year 2020, the United States will need 14 million more college-trained workers than it will produce, according to the National Center on Education and the Economy. A report issued by the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education at New York University observed, “We are losing ground and jobs to other countries – for example, China and India. Our nation’s ability to sustain long-term economic success increasingly depends on the very children we are not educating now.”

And the children we are not educating are mostly people of color. Every year, 1.2 million children do not graduate from high school. Of those, 348,427 are African-American and 296,555 are Latino. College graduation rates are equally dismal. Only 31 percent of Latinos and 48 percent of African-Americans complete some college, compared to 62 percent of Whites and 80 percent of Asians.

If we are to increase the college graduation rate for African-Americans, we cannot ignore economic inequality:

* The total median income for a White family was $64,427 in 2007. The total for a Black family was $40,143, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

* The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 6.1 percent of the overall U.S. labor force was unemployed in the third quarter of 2008; 11.4 percent of the Black labor force was out of work. Those figures are considered conservative by most economists and do not include discouraged people who have quit looking for work;

* 10.6 percent of the White U.S. population in 2007 lived below the official poverty threshold ($21,000 for a family of four), compared to 24.4 percent of the Black population, the data said.

Affordability takes on larger significance when one considers that the average annual cost of attending an in-state public university is $17,336. The figure for private universities is $35,374 per year.

The report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education found: “On average, students from working and poor families must pay 40 percent of family income to enroll in public four-year colleges. Students from middle-income families and upper-income families must pay 25 percent and 13 percent of family income, respectively.”

As we can see from the foregoing data, the issues of college affordability and access to higher education are inextricably linked to the very future of our nation. Placing a 1 percent cap on college loans will remove a major obstacle for millions of students who want to attend college but can’t afford it.

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson is president and founder of Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

Your Black Money: Could there be a Good Side to this Recession?

February 2, 2009 Leave a comment

By Dr. Boyce Watkins

www.BoyceWatkins.com

I hate being the doctor who has to tell the patient he has cancer, but the truth usually sets you free (or so my mother told me): We are in the midst of an economic bloodbath. It’s tough to argue that an economy which shrinks by an annualized rate of 5% is still healthy. It’s hard to tell someone that 7.2% unemployment, with the most job losses since 1945, is a good thing. A 4,000 point drop in the Dow is nothing to sneeze at, even if you have plenty of tissue. Times are tough, we know that.

But if we focus hard enough, we might be able to find a few bright sides to all this. With hopes that no one chooses to kill the messenger, I am going to give it a shot.

1) It could always be much worse.

The United States has, according to some, the strongest economy in the world. Our economy could shrink like Rush Limbaugh’s body on drugs and still be disgustingly rich compared to the rest of the world. Don’t believe me? Consider the “fast-growing” Chinese economy, the one that everyone thinks is going to outpace the United States in the next few years. Our annual tax revenues are nearly 4 times greater than China’s ($2.5 Trillion vs. $670 Billion) and they have over 4 times more people than we do (300 million vs. 1.3 Billion). In other words, our per capita tax receipts are over 16 times greater than China’s. So, we’re far better off than most of the world, even when we’re broke.

2) If there were ever an argument for getting out of Iraq, this might be it.

It’s hard to declare war on random countries if you don’t have the money to do it. War is big business and attacking other countries is a huge financial investment. If you don’t think war is about money, then you may want to take a couple of Political Science and History classes. Perhaps these troubles at home will keep us from creating trouble abroad, since Americans have lost patience with irresponsible, arrogant war-mongering. The Obama stimulus plan is asking for over $800 Billion dollars to boost our economy. We’ve already spent nearly $600 Billion in Iraq. Rather than declaring War on Terror, President Obama has declared War on the Recession, which seems to be a far better investment.

3) If you want to buy cheap stocks or real estate, this is the time to do it.

When the market rises, everyone wants to buy stocks. People forget that you shouldn’t buy stocks when prices are high, you buy when the prices are low. Companies with plenty of cash are grabbing investment and real estate bargains that were hardly available a year ago. You should be doing the same if you can afford to do it. Investors who purchases stocks after major market declines tend to do much better than those who buy during booms. You hear me Warren Buffet?

4) Struggle makes us FOCUSED.

Although I tend to be a hardcore capitalist, a part of me misses the activism of the 1960s, when people cared about more than making a dollar. OK, I wasn’t around in the 1960s, but I’ve watched enough old movies. Going through tough times not only teaches one to pursue a higher purpose in life, it also leads individuals to more carefully scrutinize the state of affairs in our government. In fact, I dare to argue that the financial crisis was just what Barack Obama needed to secure his election over John McCain. Economic prosperity allows us the luxury of choosing our politicians based on silly issues, like gay marriage (as we did in 2004). When we are worried about putting food on the table, we look beyond the silliness and choose the most qualified and most intelligent person for the job (after ensuring that he knows Africa really is a continent). Finally, tough economic times make you more responsible in your own money management, as the threat of financial insecurity keeps us all on high alert.

Those are my points, so again, please don’t kill the messenger. I certainly do not celebrate a weak economy, but I am a firm believer that focusing too much on the door that shuts keeps us from appreciating the ones that just opened. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel, a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow, and….well, you get the point. It’s the toughness of tough times that make the good times good. Keep hanging in there, it’ll be ok.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of “Financial Lovemaking 101: Merging Assets with Your Partner in ways that Feel Good.” For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.com.

Tavis Smiley Catches Hell for Allegedly Bogus Blogging Contest

February 1, 2009 1 comment

tavis-state.jpg

The Black Blogosphere has taken issue with Tavis Smiley’s State of the Black Union 2009 symposium blog contest. The issue was brought to our attention by (who else) our fellow Texan Gina McCauley at What About Our Daughters. In her original post titled Black Bloggers Second Class Citizens Gina is one of the first to make us aware of Tavis’ intent.

Ironically on the day that we announce the second gathering of Black new media content creators in Chicago next June, Tavis Smiley made an announcement of his own. Y’all Tavis is getting with this century and in his own “special” way acknowledging the growing influence of Black bloggers.

Tavis is holding a “contest” to RANDOMLY select the next “Web Star”- His words not mine.

Gina then goes on to detail all that’s wrong with this contest; so does Black Web 2.0, so does Jack and Jill Politics, so does Global Grind. I agree with Jill Tubman who posts “The truth is that Tavis should be begging us to sit on stage with him not the other way around.”

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Your Black Health: HIV Infection Rates for Black Men are "Alarming"

February 1, 2009 Leave a comment

The rate of new HIV infections among young gay or bisexual black men is significantly higher than new infections among whites and Hispanics of the same age, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Thursday.

“The number of new HIV infections among young black men who have sex with men is alarming,” Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention said during a new teleconference.

Among black males aged 13 to 29, the incidence of HIV infection was 1.6 times higher than that of whites and 2.3 times higher than for Hispanics, according to findings published in the Sept. 12 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Forty-eight percent of new infections among black men were among those aged 13 to 29, compared with 31 percent for whites and 21 percent for Hispanics. This finding highlights the need to reach men at an early age and teach them about HIV prevention, Fenton said.

“There were more new HIV infections in black men who have sex with men between the ages of 13 and 29 than any other group of men who have sex with men, regardless of race or age,” Dr. Richard Wolitski, acting director of the CDC’s division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, added during Thursday’s teleconference.

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African Americans More Religious

February 1, 2009 Leave a comment

An analysis by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that blacks are considerably more religious than the overall U.S. population. You can see the whole report here.

While the U.S. is generally considered a highly religious nation, African-Americans are markedly more religious on a variety of measures than the U.S. population as a whole, including level of affiliation with a religion, attendance at religious services, frequency of prayer and religion’s importance in life,” the report says.

Its highlights include:

- Nearly eight in 10 blacks (79 percent) say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 56 percent among all U.S. adults.

- Blacks attend religious services and pray more frequently than the general population. While 39 percent of all Americans report attending religious services at least once a week, 53 percent of blacks report the same.

- Similarly, while 58 percent of all Americans report praying at least once a day, 76 percent of blacks report praying daily.

- The vast majority of blacks are Protestant (78 percent), compared with 51 percent of the U.S. adult population as a whole.

The findings, drawn mostly from data within  Pew’s Religious Landscape Survey conducted in 2007, have political as well as cultural implications.

 

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Jesse Jackson, Dr. Boyce Discuss Barack Obama Stimulus Plan

February 1, 2009 1 comment

Dr. Boyce Watkins, a Finance Professor at Syracuse University is planning to speak with Rev. Jesse Jackson on Keep Hope Alive Radio to discuss the stimulus plan recently released by President Barack Obama. The $819 Billion dollar plan just passed in Congress and is set to be presented to the Senate for final approval.

Dr. Watkins is a Financial expert, and will also appear with Dr. Julianne Malveaux, President of Bennett College for women, to discuss the plan.  Watkins has written extensively about the Obama economic plan and finding ways to ensure that African Americans can get their piece of the economic pie.

“Obama might be a Black President, but he honestly can’t say the word “black” within 100 feet of the White House,” says Dr. Watkins, who is authoring a book on African American Wealth Building.  “The truth of the matter is that Black people and poor people must ensure that they get a piece of this pie.”

President Obama Speaks on Strong Middle Class

January 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Busta Rhymes Gets Heat for Insulting Arabs

January 31, 2009 Leave a comment

The video for Busta Rhymes’ “Arab Money” is now officially available online.

Yes, I know it’s been on BET and YouTube for months.

Of course the BET version was always official. The other, not so much.

I raise this point because when I contacted Universal Records in November to get a copy of the video for Yahoo! Music, Busta was in the midst of controversy over the song which offended Muslims in the US and UK for misrepresenting the Middle Eastern culture, mixing sacred verses from the Holy Quran with secular hip-hop beats and rhetoric. I was told that the video was not being serviced at the time.

Over the last month, blogs addressed the controversy and Busta was even quoted in a few, expressing his sincere apology to those he offended.

There was so much outrage in the UK that popular Galaxy FM DJ Steve “Smooth” Sutherland was suspended after listeners complained about him playing the song.

A Dubai-based rapper Narcicyst got Busta’s attention when he released his explosive response record “Real Arab Money” that opens calling Busta’s version racist, claiming that the celebrated veteran rapper had not done his research and was even pronouncing Arab incorrectly.

In “Real Arab Money” the 26-year-old rapper said that pronouncing Arab as Ay-rab is the equivalent of calling an African-American the n-word. While Busta’s song compares his hip-hop lifestyle to that of Arabian royalty, Narcicyst stressed that the analogy is off base because all Arabs are not rich.

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Your Black Health: Black Women with HIV – The Psychological Side

January 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Managing the psychological and social aspects of HIV/AIDS is as important as medical treatment in helping black women cope with the disease, a new research report shows.

Black women who are supported by nonprofit organizations are more likely to think of themselves as “living with the disease” rather than dying from it, and live longer than those who don’t have that support, according to the Northwestern University study.

“So I am trying to think of HIV as not just a medical condition that needs to be managed, but a social condition that needs to be managed,” said Celeste Watkins-Hayes, an assistant professor at Northwestern.

Her research is to be published in “Sex, Power and Taboo: Gender and HIV in the Caribbean and Beyond.”

Black women are the largest racial/ethnic group diagnosed with HIV in Chicago, according to a report released in November by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Citywide 79 percent of 316 women diagnosed with the disease in 2006 were black. Total HIV cases diagnosed that year, the most recent for which data is available, were 1,557.

 

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Republicans Choose Michael Steele to lead them: Will any old Black Man Do?

January 30, 2009 1 comment

Michael Steele, a former Maryland lieutenant governor, was elected chairman of the Republican National Committee on Friday.

Michael Steele will be the next Republican National Committee chairman.

Michael Steele will be the next Republican National Committee chairman.

Steele, the first African-American to hold the post, defeated South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson, 91-77, in the final round of voting among the RNC’s 168 members.

“This is our opportunity. I cannot do this by myself,” he told the crowd at the annual RNC meeting Friday. “God bless you, and God bless our party.”

Earlier Friday, Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan, who was elected to lead the committee in 2007, dropped his re-election bid, telling committee members: “Obviously the winds of change are blowing here at the RNC.”

Two others also dropped out of the race Friday, leaving Steele and Dawson running against each other. After the sixth round of voting, Steele received 91 votes. Only 86 votes were needed.

Duncan rose to address the 168-member committee after three disappointing rounds of balloting in the chairman’s election. He bled votes on every successive ballot, his support trickling to the other candidates in the race.

Despite the sometimes contentious nature of the campaign and criticism that the party suffered with him at the helm, Duncan told the crowd the race had been worth it.

“I thought this would be good for the party,” he said. “And I think it has been.”

 

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Your Black President: Obama’s Team Filled with Too Many Egos

January 30, 2009 Leave a comment

President Barack Obama is building a White House staff so loaded with big names and overlapping duties that it could collapse into chaos unless managed with a juggler’s skill.

It’s an administration that seems “addicted to czars,” says one longtime observer of government organization.

Obama has installed a White House health czar who doubles as secretary of Health and Human Services. The State Department now has “special envoys” for the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and for climate change — areas already overseen by other officials.

Just for the environment, along with the new climate envoy Obama has an energy secretary, an Environmental Protection Agency director and a chief of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Hovering over them all is Carol Browner, a high-profile former EPA administrator in a newly created role some call “climate czarina.”

 

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Your Black Money: Dr Boyce on the Recession and African Americans with AOL Black Voices

January 29, 2009 Leave a comment

 


Smart Money Tips With Dr. Boyce Watkins
Posted Jan 27th 2009 6:34PM by Alexis Stodghill
Filed under: Money Talks
By Alexis Garrett Stodghill, BlackVoices.com

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a renowned scholar and speaker in the area of finance. As an African-American financial expert, Dr. Watkins has made it his personal mission to educate our community through writing books and essays, making media appearances, public speaking and more — so that we may become more empowered with knowledge when it comes to the all-mighty dollar. BlackVoices.com asked the doctor to share his wisdom and advice for folks seeking tips to successfully navigate the current economic storm. According to Dr. Watkins, it’s still possible to get your finances in order — in fact, it’s imperative.

As a black finance expert, what is the most common problem you see in the black community when it comes to personal finance management?

The most common problem is that historically, African Americans have been excluded from the opportunity to build wealth. Money was made from our labor, but we never got much of it. That led to a laborer mentality in African-Americans that taught us how to go out and get jobs rather than learning the art of CREATING jobs. This problem was further exacerbated by the fact that building a company requires capital, which we typically don’t have. Most African-Americans have far lower inheritance levels than whites, and this impacts your economic opportunities in life. Also, when you’ve never had much money, you are usually not very good at managing it, so we are as bad as the rest of America when it comes to our spending, saving, investing and borrowing habits.

How would you suggest that someone with little knowledge of personal finance get started on the road to financial stability?

First, get educated. Empower yourself with financial literacy. The greatest university in the world is called Google.com. You can research any topic you want. Secondly, start small. You don’t have to conquer the world in two steps. Just start by saving 10% of your income. You might say you don’t have money to save, but you actually do. If your boss came into your office and gave you a 10% paycut, you’d find a way to survive. Find a way to learn to save. Finally, get a “side hustle.” Challenge yourself to find small ways to supplement your income. The riskiest thing to do in this economy is to get all of your personal income from one source.

You have two college degrees, a master’s degree and a PhD. What would you say is the relationship between level of education and income?


Education not only gives you many opportunities to earn more money, you usually earn more money with less work, doing a job that you might actually like. Personally, education was the difference for me between being financially well off and living a life of poverty. Education also provides job security, which is often overlooked. Autoworkers, for example, were always able to make high wages with little education. But once the Big Three started to buckle, they were stuck with unskilled labor opportunities. Everyone should get as much education as they can get, since education can be a path to both a wealthy bank account and a wealthy life.
Would you share some tips for sound money management in 2009?

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 January 2009 20:53

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Your Black Attorneys: NCAA Needs a Rooney Rule

January 29, 2009 Leave a comment

By Leland C. Abraham, Esq.

While baseball may have once been America’s pastime, few can argue that football has quickly replaced baseball as America’s sport of choice. As a graduate from a South Eastern Conference school, I was able to see first hand how important football is to the American Psyche.

There is a disturbing trend within college football in which very few African-Americans are given the ultimate leadership position, head coach. Out of 119 Football Bowl Subdivision institutions, only 6 have black head football coaches. This is a disturbing trend as most of these schools that refuse to hire black football coaches have a majority black football team. This problem was once seen in the National Football League. Several black assistants and coordinators were not getting interviews for head coaching positions, so the NFL instituted the Rooney Rule in 2003. The Rooney Rule requires that when a head coaching vacancy becomes available, the team must interview at least one minority candidate. Many saw the Rooney rule as reverse discrimination, but a statistical analysis of the interviewees suggested that prior to the Rooney Rule, very few African American or Latino coaches were brought to the table for an interview. Since its inception, the number of minorities in coaching positions jumped from 6% prior to the Rooney Rule, to 22%. This rule does not apply, however, if an assistant has language in his contract that states he will be offered the head coaching position when there is an opening. In 2003, the NFL fined the Detroit Lions $200,000 for its failure to interview a minority candidate when the head coaching position became available.

In college football however, there is no such rule. In fact, some of the most qualified candidates are not getting viable opportunities. Of the 6 black coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division 1), only one, Randy Shannon, is at a school that competes in one of the 6 major conferences; Randy Shannon is the head coach at the University of Miami, Fl. One of the more interesting coaching scenarios to occur during this past bowl season was the job search of Buffalo coach Turner Gill. Gill is a former Nebraska Quarterback who currently coaches at the University of Buffalo, a program that is in the mire of college football. After posting 4 wins at a university that has never been much of a winner, Gill was not interviewed when the Nebraska coaching job came open in 2007. Gill remained at Buffalo the following year where he took Buffalo to its first ever MAC Championship after beating Ball State in the MAC Championship game. Opportunities came open at Syracuse and Auburn. Of the two, Auburn would have been the most attractive opportunity as it is in the SEC, a major conference. Gill was passed over for the Auburn job in favor of Iowa State coach Gene Chezick. This sparked a lot of media controversy as Gill has won 7 games this past season at Buffalo whereas Chezick had won 5 games combined in two seasons at Iowa State. While the comparison of the resume would lead one to choose Gill over Chezick, Gill at least got an interview. Gill decided to remain at Buffalo.

There is another highly qualified coach who did not receive an interview this football year, despite all the coaching vacancies. Charlie Strong has been a successful defensive coordinator at the University of Florida for several years. He has been a successful component of two national championship teams, but has not received an interview. In a secret meeting with the athletic directors from 3 SEC schools, an ESPN correspondent discovered that the reason that Charlie Strong has not received any interviews is the same reason Turner Gill would not be hired in the SEC; they are married to white women.

It is surprising that in 2009, on the precipice of the nation’s first black presidential inauguration, the color of skin is still an issue. In the case of Gill and Strong, it is the color of their wives’ skin. Could the Rooney Rule help in situation like these? It is hard to say, but in the NFL, Herm Edwards who coaches the Kansas City Chiefs and Lovey Smith who coaches the Chicago Bears are married to white women. It would appear that the capitalism of the NFL has led owners to only care about who can get the job done whereas the college game is still subject to a “Good Ole Boys Club.” It is time for college football to adopt the Rooney Rule.

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Your Black President: Obama’s Abortion Order Clashes with the Vatican

January 29, 2009 Leave a comment

The first sign of Vatican disappointment with the Obama administration came on Saturday, when Holy See officials reacted to the President’s executive order reversing the Mexico City policy, thus making federal money available to promote abortion internationally.

Obama signed the executive order canceling the eight-year-old restrictions on Friday, the third day of his presidency.

In an interview published Saturday in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Rino Fisichella said that “among the many good things that he could have done, Barack Obama instead has chosen the worst.”

“What is important is to know how to listen… without locking oneself into ideological visions with the arrogance of a person who, having the power, thinks they can decide on life and death,” he added.

“If this is one of the first acts of President Obama, with all due respect, it seems to me that the path towards disappointment will have been very short,” Archbishop Fisichella said.

 

Click to read.

Your Black President: Will Obama Have to Be Better Because He’s Black?

January 28, 2009 1 comment

Just days before he was sworn in, President Obama was giving his daughters a tour of the Lincoln Memorial when one of them pointed to a copy of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address carved into the wall.

President Obama strides into history as the nation's first black president.

President Obama strides into history as the nation’s first black president.

Obama’s 7-year-old daughter, Sasha, told her father that Lincoln’s speech was really long. Would he have to give a speech as long? Obama’s answer was completed by his older daughter, 10-year-old Malia.

“I said, ‘Actually, that one is pretty short. Mine may even be a little longer,’ ” Obama told CNN recently. “At which point, Malia turns to me and says, ‘First African-American president, better be good.’ ”

The story is light-hearted, but it touches on a delicate question: Will people hold Obama to a different standard because he is the first African-American president?

Americans appear split by race on that answer. According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, 53 percent of blacks say the American public will hold Obama to a higher standard than past presidents because he is black. Most whites — 61 percent — say Obama’s race will not matter in how he will be judged.

The question divided several people who were racial pioneers themselves.

Alexander Jefferson was one of the first blacks allowed to become a fighter pilot. He was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of black pilots who escorted bombers in World War II.

“We had to be twice as good to be average,” he says.

Obama won’t face the same pressures he did because his presidential predecessor was so inept, Jefferson says.

“No, the world is ready for him,” he says. “The [George W.] Bush debacle was so depressing.”

Jefferson was shot down by ground fire on his 19th mission and spent a year in German prison camps. He wrote about his POW experiences in “Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman and POW.”

Jefferson says he dealt with the pressures of being a racial pioneer by drawing on the strength of black leaders who opened doors for him.

 

Click to read.

Your Black President: Roland Martin Says 100 Days Is Not Enough for Obama

January 28, 2009 1 comment

The new president has been in office one week and already the clock is ticking as to whether or not he can get a lot accomplished in the first 100 days of his presidency.

Did I miss the memo? I thought the presidency is a four-year term.

If you turn on television or radio, commentators, correspondents and talk show hosts are speaking in breathless tones about the need for President Barack Obama to get off to a fast start and show all kinds of accomplishments in the first 100 days.

And we are given the sense that if he hasn’t signed a lot of major bills into law and issued a slew of important executive orders, then he will have failed.

Oh stop it.

Lest you think this is about Obama, it isn’t. I thought it was just as stupid to put Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush on some kind of silly shot clock.

This Washington, D.C., parlor game happens every four or eight years. It has gotten so silly that some folks actually analyzed Obama’s first 100 hours. It took that long to figure out the quickest path from the presidential sleeping quarters to the Oval Office!

The problem with so much emphasis being placed on the first 100 days is that a premium is placed on speed as opposed to thoughtfulness.

Take the president’s stimulus package.

Click to read.

Black Love Alert – Opposite Sex Friendships: Lying to Yourselves?

January 28, 2009 Leave a comment

When Suzanne Babb, a 34-year-old professional organizer from Gilbert, Arizona, is having a bad hair day, she does what many women do. She calls her best friend.

Psychologist says honest discussions with your spouse and their friend can help make the relationships work.

“I’ll be crying my eyes out and will say, ‘I’m fat and ugly, and I don’t have a boyfriend,'” she says. “Then Eric will come over and tell me I’m pretty, and we’ll watch ‘300.’ It’s like having all the benefits of a really great husband — without having to do the laundry.”

Babb is one of many adults whose platonic friendship contradicts the old “When Harry Met Sally” maxim about sex always getting in the way of men and women being buddies. Though they have been close since high school, Babb says she and Eric have never even kissed.

“It would be like kissing my brother,” she says. “Ewwwww.”

The ‘Harry Met Sally’ myth

Although opposite-sex friends inevitably hook up in movies and on TV (Chandler and Monica, anyone?), many people think that it is possible to be platonic pals.

Don’t Miss

Some 83 percent of the people surveyed think that cross-gender friendships can and do exist, according to a 2001 Match.com poll of more than 1,500 members. And a 2006 study by Canada’s Public Health Agency of nearly 10,000 Canadian children shows that they often start early, with 65 percent of boys and 60 percent of girls declaring three or more close opposite-sex friends by grade 10.

Eighth-grade math class was where Rob Shore, a 48-year-old social media consultant from Newport Beach, California, met Andrea.

Click to read.

Your Black Gospel: To Tithe or Not to Tithe

January 28, 2009 Leave a comment

In an article dated December 28, 2008 I wrote the first part of “To Tithe Or Not To Tithe?” In it I shared that tithing (donating 10% of our income to God’s work) is often taught as a biblical requirement. This teaching is based primarily on a portion of scripture from the book of Malachi, chapter 3, verses 8-12. Through Malachi, God challenges his people to “prove me now herewith, (by tithes and offerings) saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it…” (Mal. 3:10 parenthesis mine)
The full measure of this portion of scripture says that if we don’t tithe, we are “robbing God,” and that there is a curse on us, and of course, God will not open the windows of heaven and pour us out a blessing that there is not enough room to receive it.
As I had said in that first article, the problem with this teaching is that this is an attempt by man to “earn” the blessing of God through his own self effort. Like all law, this law was given to men to prove to us that we cannot keep it to God’s standard of perfection and can never attain his blessings by trying to keep it. It is intended to lead us to Christ who kept the whole law for us; and it is through faith in him that we can obtain ALL the blessings that God has for us including this one promised through tithing. All of God’s blessings are free through Jesus.
Attempting to “earn” God’s blessing through tithing is the same as trying to “earn” our salvation by doing enough good works. Neither is possible. The only way to receive either is through our faith in Christ.

It was in Christ that was given to us ALL that God is and ALL that God has. The truth of the matter is that God already opened the windows of heaven and poured us out a blessing that we have not enough room to receive it when he gave us Jesus. This blessing of God, along with any other is already purchased for us and is ours when we accept Jesus as our savior.
In order for you to get a larger picture of this whole idea, along with a New Testament understanding of the role of “giving” (as opposed to tithing), and its importance in our lives, I will refer you back to the 12/28/08 article.
The reason that I am writing this follow up article is for those of you who decide to stop tithing. If you decide to do this as I have, it will take trusting that God has already given you the blessing that Malachi promised, and it will take believing that the blessing is ALREADY yours in Christ instead of trusting in tithing. And that may not be an easy thing, especially if you have thought for years that tithing was a requirement and that you may be bringing a curse upon yourself if you don’t. It posed a problem for me and may also for you. The problem I faced was one of feeling guilty and struggling with fear of breaking a law of God and of not being blessed. But if you think about it, it is that sense of guilt you may experience that should be a red flag indicating that you are indeed living under the law. Under grace, there is no guilt.
Guilt and fear is the way the law keeps people bound to it. And yet, the law can never help us. We can never keep it well enough for it to do so. In fact I don’t know anyone who has received a blessing so large that they could not receive it, despite years of diligent tithing. On the contrary, most of those I know are still just getting by. And that is because this blessing cannot be earned by our own efforts anymore than salvation can be earned by our own efforts!

So what do you do if you want to break free from the law? What you are going to have to do is to resist guilt and receive grace and freedom AND like I said, you will have to receive the blessing of God by FAITH. That means you must rely on Jesus and what he did for you, rather than on what you can do yourself. And if you think about it, that is a good thing. And that is why Paul calls this fight you’re going to have to fight, the “good fight of faith.” In this fight, you will need to trust God, not your tithing. Think about what scripture says; that it is through Christ that we are joint heirs, already inheriting with Jesus all that he inherited, and the bible says that he inherited all things. It also says that we are complete in him and that through him have been given all things that pertain unto life and godliness. We do not have to tithe to obtain these immense blessings. They are already ours and obtainable through faith, the same as our salvation is. (Rom. 8:17, Col. 2:10, 2Pet. 1:3)
Now, if you fight this fight, faith will begin to grow in your heart, you will find a new rest in the Lord and the blessing of total provision will begin to manifest itself in your life. After all, that is what Jesus purchased for us. And I can vouch for this because ever since I stopped tithing, (nearly seven years now) my finances have steadily grown and so has my peace with God. I give now according as I purpose in my heart, and as God impresses me to give, and in all cases, my giving (not my tithing) has become sweet and joyous and fulfilling. It is no longer under compulsion or law or of necessity that I give. It is true freedom. Guilt and fear still try to get into my life, but I don’t let them in. Instead, I let the “blessing” in and ALL else that Jesus has purchased for me. I know now that I do not have to fulfill ANY law to be blessed by God except the law of faith because all of the blessings of God are a free gift. I know now that I am not under the law. I am under grace. And as long as I live by faith, the blessing will continue to grow in my life even to the point of not being able to have room enough to receive it. And as the blessing grows and my faith grows; so does my desire to give. That is how it works and it is FREEDOM! It is the goodness of God that leads us to any kind of repentance, not the law of God. (Rom. 2:4, 3:27, 6:14)
What I could never accomplish by tithing or any other works of my own, Jesus accomplished for me. And it is through my faith in him that I attain ANY blessing from God and ANY ability to do good for him.
It is now a much better life. In fact, it great. It is one of faith, not of works, it is one of rest and trust in God, not one of futile, tiring trying of my own, a life that was filled with guilt and fear when I didn’t “do enough,” (which was all of the time). And this way of life works. And it will work for anyone who lives it because it is the word of God and the word of God always works. It is our trying harder to please God and to fulfill his requirements that don’t work. (Gal. 3:10-14)
It was a Psalmist who aptly wrote, “O taste and see that the Lord is good. BLESSED is the man who trusteth in him.” (Ps. 34:8)
Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of: “Suffering (God’s Will?)”
More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www. jbagati.com


Posted By John B. Agati to Your Black Gospel at 1/25/2009 06:32:00 PM

Michelle Obama Takes Heat for Having No-Black Designers

January 27, 2009 1 comment

Michelle Obama is taking heat for not using any African American designers in her inauguration wardrobe.  On inauguration day, the First Lady wore a dress designed by Cuban designer Isabel Toledo and at night, she wore a gown by Taiwanese designer Jason Wu.  The Black Artist’s association founder Amnau Eele stated:

BAA’s founder Amnau Eele, a former model, told WWD:

“It’s fine and good if you want to be all ‘Kumbaya’ and ‘We Are the World’ by representing all different countries. But if you are going to have Isabel Toledo do the inauguration dress, and Jason Wu do the evening gown, why not have Kevan Hall, B Michael, Stephen Burrows or any of the other black designers do something too?” Eele said.

Your Black Education: Jesse Jackson Speaks on Obama Educational Plan

January 27, 2009 Leave a comment

By Rev. Jesse L. Jackson

One of the most impressive proposals advanced by President Barack Obama to aid college students is the creation of a new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth $4,000 in exchange for 100 hours of community service. While that program is still in the developmental stage, the Rainbow Coalition offers a plan that will immediately benefit students holding college loans.

We’re calling it “The Rainbow PUSH Education Stimulus Plan.” It is a simple-yet-sweeping plan to help families finance college costs that are steadily putting higher education out of the reach of most Americans. Our proposal is that students holding and applying for college loans should be offered interest rates that do not exceed 1 percent – the same favorable terms now being offered to large corporations under the federal bailout plan.

What we are seeking is fundamental fairness. Our nation’s largest banks and financial institutions – including Bank of America, Citigroup, and JP Morgan – are borrowing money from the federal government at a rate of less than 1 percent. However, students are generally forced to borrow for their education at rates in the range of 4 percent to 8 percent. Many are financing their education with credit cards that carry rates of 20 percent or higher.

Before graduating seniors can launch their families and careers, they are already saddled with excessive debt. To make matters worse, if students miss payments in this fragile economy, their credit score declines, forcing them to pay the highest interest rates for cars, homes and other necessities — if they can qualify at all. Yet, financial institutions with what is tantamount to bad credit reports are being rewarded with tax-supported, low-interest loans.

Lowering student loan interest rates to 1 percent directly addresses affordability, one of the most pressing problems facing our country. According to a report issued by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, the cost of attending college has risen nearly three times the rate of the cost of living. After being adjusted for inflation, college tuition and fees rose 439 percent from 1982 to 2007, far outpacing increases for medical care, housing and food. During this same period, median family income rose 147 percent.

As financial aid shifted from direct grants to loans, borrowing for higher education has more than doubled over the past decade. Meanwhile, the U.S. is falling behind in the global economy. Approximately 34 percent of young American adults are enrolled in college, putting the U.S behind Korea – which has a 53 percent rate – Hungary, Belgium, Ireland, Poland and Greece.

Moreover, by the year 2020, the United States will need 14 million more college-trained workers than it will produce, according to the National Center on Education and the Economy. A report issued by the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education at New York University observed, “We are losing ground and jobs to other countries – for example, China and India. Our nation’s ability to sustain long-term economic success increasingly depends on the very children we are not educating now.”

And the children we are not educating are mostly people of color. Every year, 1.2 million children do not graduate from high school. Of those, 348,427 are African-American and 296,555 are Latino. College graduation rates are equally dismal. Only 31 percent of Latinos and 48 percent of African-Americans complete some college, compared to 62 percent of Whites and 80 percent of Asians.

If we are to increase the college graduation rate for African-Americans, we cannot ignore economic inequality:

* The total median income for a White family was $64,427 in 2007. The total for a Black family was $40,143, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

* The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 6.1 percent of the overall U.S. labor force was unemployed in the third quarter of 2008; 11.4 percent of the Black labor force was out of work. Those figures are considered conservative by most economists and do not include discouraged people who have quit looking for work.

* 10.6 percent of the White U.S. population in 2007 lived below the official poverty threshold ($21,000 for a family of four), compared to 24.4 percent of the Black population, the data said.

Affordability takes on larger significance when one considers that the average annual cost of attending an in-state public university is $17,336. The figure for private universities is $35,374 per year.
The report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education found: “On average, students from working and poor families must pay 40 percent of family income to enroll in public four-year colleges. Students from middle-income families and upper-income families must pay 25 percent and 13 percent of family income, respectively.”

As we can see from the foregoing data, the issues of college affordability and access to higher education are inextricably linked to the very future of our nation. Placing a 1 percent cap on college loans will remove a major obstacle for millions of students who want to attend college but can’t afford it.

Your Black Money: Success is Manufactured

January 27, 2009 Leave a comment

by: Lawrence Watkins


I remember it like it was yesterday. I’m sitting in Perkins Restaurant as we finished our Friday morning bible study class in Louisville, KY. With me was Carl Brazley, my closest and most creative mentor. We were about to start one of our usual mentoring sessions that we had about once per month. This session was special as he shared his wisdom about success that has become fundamental in my life philosophy.

Mr. Brazley asked me two questions right off the bat: “What does success mean to me?” and “How will I go about achieving it?” I shared with him my personal mission statement that I had recently developed at the LeaderShape program in Champaign, IL. It states that “I want to become a tycoon politically, socially, and economically so that I may have a positive impact on my community.” Mr. Brazley then said, “That’s great! Now how are you going to ACHIEVE your mission?” This was the question that I was still trying to figure out. I had seen ultra-successful all around me in person or on TV, but I found the process mystifying at times.

Mr. Brazley continued, “Lawrence, don’t believe the hype that you see on TV when it comes to people who you view as successful. The media loves stories about self mad millionaires and billionaires, but rarely are they self made.” What he said next changed my perspective, “Here is what they [the media and often the individual in question] don’t want you to know: Success is manufactured! Many successful people have other hidden influential people in the background guiding them on the right path. Giving them the connections that they need to accelerate their success. This is what I am going to do with you Lawrence.” Whoa!! Talk about some heavy material!

The Real Secret Sauce of Success


I researched the statement that Mr. Brazley made further and I started to read more about individuals who I view to be successful. I was very surprised at the results/trends that I found. Let’s start with Donald Trump, the King of the Self Made…His father had over $100 million in real estate by the time he was born. Warren Buffett (a major influence in my thinking), the Sage of Omaha… His father was a stockbroker and four-term congressman from the state of Nebraska. What about Bill Gates? His mother sat on the board of directors of a bank and his father was a prominent Seattle attorney. The more people that I researched, the more surprised I became. Then I started to feel apprehensive, “What do I need to become successful?”

There are two things that I don’t want to happen by sharing this story with you:

1. I do not want to relegate or belittle the accomplishments of successful people just because they come from a well connected family. The people mentioned above are all extremely intelligent and have a strong work ethic. It’s also important not to hide facts about people’s environment as if that doesn’t play a critical role in success.

2. I do not want you to feel like the situation is hopeless if you don’t come from a rich and powerful family. Throughout this article, I’m going to teach you how to create your own “synthetic power family.”

Your Synthetic Family of Networks


If you don’t come from a rich and well connected family, do not worry about it. It is not the end all, be all. In fact, I know many people who come from well-to-do families, but their lives are in shambles. Money and entitlement can be hindrances to living a WEALTHY LIFE just as much as they can be assets. I come from a solidly middle class family where my father was a high-ranking police official and my mother was a high school guidance counselor. I was able to use this base to expand even further and broaden my experiences to study at Phillips Academy Andover, Carnegie Mellon University, and now Cornell. The most beautiful part is that I have paid very little for my educational experience and it’s because I created a synthetic family to help me achieve my goals.

A synthetic family is not the family you were born with, but one that you created that helps provide the resources you need to accomplish goals. I’m not just talking about money, but also advice and connections as well. Having a synthetic family is not a substitute for your real family, proper planning, or an intelligent work ethic (see my Pareto and Parkinson article). I view the synthetic family as an accelerator of the success process. The great thing about the synthetic family is that it is easy to start and replicate.

Be Your Own Barack Obama


After President Obama (wow, that sounds great) won the election for United States President in November, he had to move his actions from campaigning mode to governing mode. Immediately, Obama selected Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff and then dozens of other appointments were announced in the following weeks. President Obama surrounded himself with individuals who have a greater knowledge about different aspects of governance than he does. When President Obama and his advisors meet about the current economic situation, the advisors give their expert opinions about what Obama should do. After that, President Obama escorts them out of the room and then makes the decision he feels will be best for the country.

I ask, “What’s keeping you from being your own Barack Obama?” I urge you to assemble your own personal board of advisors to help you when you have a tough decision to make. There is not a human being on the face of the planet who knows everything. Seek out those individuals who have general wisdom as well as those who have specific expertise. Bring them into your family and achieve your goals more effectively.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm


One of the great myths of networking is that you start reaching out to others when you need something. The people who really succeed in building relationships know that you need to start building way BEFORE you need anything. This is especially true if you are thinking of opening your own business. Many people start the networking process too late in the game. Prospective entrepreneurs think about details like incorporating or the specific name of their company. Although those tasks are important, they have much less influence over your business success compared to relationship building.

Immediately after graduating from college I worked for my brother, Dr. Boyce Watkins. My job was to book him for speaking engagements and manage his growing national media profile. I knew long before I started to work for him that I wanted to start my own company and I took steps to achieve this goal. For example, when Boyce would appear on a national TV show, he was often on the show with other high profile guests. We would make sure to collect that person’s contact information and follow up with him/her right away. When I started Great Black Speakers Bureau, those were my first speakers. Make sure to always begin with an end in mind!

Overcome your Fear of Rejection


Bestselling author and networking guru Keith Ferrazzi calls this the “genius of audacity.” If you never ask for what you want, very rarely do you ever get what you want. The two major emotions that stop people from asking are the fear of rejection from the other person and a feeling that the other person is better than you. Question: What’s going to have a longer impact on your life? FEAR of rejection or FAILING to reach your goals? The answer to this question for me is not reaching the goals I set out to accomplish. In this scenario, rejection MIGHT happen but failure WILL happen.

Follow Up and Stay in Touch


If the yin is overcoming your fears and asking for what you want, then the yang is following up with your contacts. This is something that I have personally struggled with lately as my number of contacts has grown significantly. However, I have noticed a direct correlation between my rate of follow up and the amount of success I achieve over any period of time. It is funny how people spend so much time making new contacts and so little time following up with them. This reminds me of the local ladies man who is only interested in the chase of a woman. Once he gets her, he then loses interest. In business and in life, don’t be this person! It is much more expensive to attain a new client/contact/friend than to maintain the ones you already have. I am not telling you to not meet new people, just do right by them when you do meet them for long lasting business/personal relationships.

Your Black President: Obama vs. Limbaugh

January 25, 2009 1 comment

Matt Drudge would never overstate anything, of course. Histop headline right now is certainly an attention-grabber: “President takes on Rush Limbaugh in new media war.”

The story Matt is pointing to was put online last night by theNew York Post. It says a White House official confirms that during yesterday’s meeting with Congressional leaders from both parties, President Obama told the Republican lawmakers that “you can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.”

Does that sound like a “media war?”

Meanwhile, Rush spoke at length yesterday about what he meant when he said he hopes the president “fails”:

“Speaking honestly, I mean look, people are misunderstanding this, Snerdley got a couple calls from some of his buddies last night, ‘What did your boss mean, he wants the president to fail?’

 

Click to read.

Your Black Politics: With Barack Obama in Office, Is there a Need for "Black Leadership"?

January 24, 2009 Leave a comment

As the nation celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day and anticipated the inauguration of the nation’s first black president, civil rights leaders here cautioned that the fight for equality for African-Americans is still far from over.

“We are here because the struggle is not over — the struggle has just begun,” declared Rev. Charles Steele, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King was the first president of the group, which is based in Atlanta.

At its annual prayer breakfast here — part celebration, part gospel revival — conference leaders proclaimed to more than 450 guests that their organization is alive, well, and still necessary, even after Barack Obama takes office Tuesday.

Barack Obama has run the last lap of a 60-year race,” said Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was an aide to King and SCLC co-founder Ralph Abernathy.

“Like any great finisher, he ran a strong last lap,” Jackson said. “But this is not a four-year race. This is a tag team race.”

Elsewhere in Washington, organizers of a long-delayed memorial for Martin Luther King Jr. announced Monday they had received a $1 million donation from a Chicago energy company.

Exelon Corp.’s donation brings the total raised for the memorial to $104 million. Organizers, who have been working on the project for more than a decade, say they need $120 million to build the tribute on the National Mall, not far from the Lincoln Memorial where King gave his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech.

At the SCLC breakfast, Jackson pointed out that without the civil rights movement, there couldn’t be a black president.

In an emotional recount, Jackson — who unsuccessfully ran for president in 1984 and 1988 — described those who died in the movement as part of the lineage that led to a black president.

Click to read.

Your Black Hip Hop: The Source Will Take No More "Booty Ads"

January 24, 2009 Leave a comment

One thing magazine advertising and hip-hop music have always had in common is skin — images of models, usually women, in alluring poses and various states of undress. The Source, the hip-hop magazine, does not aim to do away with such images — there is a lot of money in them — but it wants to make the sex in its pages a lot less explicit.

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Ads for pornography and escorts had been a mainstay for The Source, more than half the ads at times.

To that end, the magazine announced recently that it would no longer take what the co-publisher, L. Londell McMillan, calls “booty ads,” for pornographic films, pornographic Web sites or escort services. But those have been a mainstay for The Source — more than half the ads in the magazine at times, he said.

The Source hopes to gain more than it loses by chasing mainstream advertisers that do not want their ads alongside the adults-only kind. That’s a serious gamble at a time when magazines are struggling, unable to hold onto the ads they have.

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Your Black Brothers: Roland Martin Writes about Obama’s Daughter

January 24, 2009 Leave a comment

 

Roland S. Martin says Sasha Obama is from a generation raised in a diverse world and open to possibility.

Roland S. Martin says Sasha Obama is from a generation raised in a diverse world and open to possibility.

There are so many things that we could take away and remember forever regarding the inauguration of the first African-American president in the history of the United States, but I’ll always remember the laughter of a little girl.

Shortly after President-elect Barack Obama finished the oath and became President Barack Obama, he joined hands with his family and waved to the cheering voices of 1.8 million people packed from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial.

People cried, others hugged, celebrities and everyday folks snapped photos to capture the moment.

There really was an amazing energy that permeated the crowd as we all witnessed a barrier come tumbling down before our eyes.

But what stood out for me was a moment when President Obama looked down at his 7-year-old daughter, Sasha, and she said something to him, and then let out this huge laugh.

I don’t know whether it was her statement or his response, but the bubbly child was having the time of her life. The sheer joy that was on her face as she grinned from ear to ear caused me to just start laughing as I watched her reaction.

I was shooting photos from the CNN platform just across from where he spoke, and one of the many images was of a beaming Sasha alongside her mom and 10-year-old sister, Malia.

Can you imagine what was going through this young girl’s mind, to see her father stand there and take the oath of office?

As I saw her that day, and later bouncing along a sidewalk as she walked with her father, my niece Anastacia came to mind. Their smiles and bouncy walk are so much alike, and both are the same age.

 

Click to read.

Tim Wise Releases a New Book

January 23, 2009 Leave a comment

According to The Wall Street Journal, Barack Obama’s presidential victory means we “can put to rest the myth of racism as a barrier to achievement in this splendid country.”

According to columnist Richard Cohen, Obama as President signifies that America is a “post-racial” nation, and that “we have overcome” the vestiges of racism and discrimination.

And according to the Atlantic Monthly, Obama’s ascent to the White House may well signify, “The End of White America,” or at least the extent to which whiteness remains a privileged “norm.”

Yet, beneath the proclamations of achieved color-blindness and race-neutral ecumenism, the evidence of racism in employment, education, housing, health care and the justice system remains substantial. And white racial attitudes–not about Obama and those who, like him, “transcend race,” but rather about the bulk of black and brown folks in the nation–continue to indicate substantial white racism at the personal level as well.

In Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama, author and activist, Tim Wise, explores what Obama’s success means, and importantly what it doesn’t mean for race and racism in the United States. Contrary to popular perception, Obama’s victory says little about racism as a larger institutional phenomenon, and may well make the fight against racism more difficult than ever, by reinforcing longstanding white denial, reinforcing the myth of meritocracy that has long served as a justification for profound racial disparities, and by creating a new and limiting archetype of acceptable blackness, which although met by those like Obama, would erect higher obstacles than ever in the path of non-Obama-like persons of color.

About the book, actor and human rights activist, Danny Glover says that Wise “provides an insightful and much-needed lens through which we can begin to navigate this current stage in our ongoing quest for a more inclusive definition of who we are as a nation. It’s definitely a book for these times.”

And Bill Fletcher, long time activist and Executive Editor of BlackCommentator.com says:

“Tim Wise has looked behind the curtain…His book debunks any notion that the United States has entered a post-racial period…With this book, Wise hits the bull’s eye.”

As we enter the Obama-era, it will be increasingly important to arm ourselves with the factual information and analysis needed to place the quest for racial justice in the forefront of public consciousness. With the media and the talking heads proclaiming that Obama signifies the virtual fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream, piercing the veil of denial and deflection will become more difficult, but also more critical than ever. Between Barack and a Hard Place can help to re-claim the race discourse from those who prefer to paper over the ongoing presence of racism as a potent social force.

Get your copy today from City Lights Books (the publisher), Amazon.com, or your local independent bookstore!

Your Black Scholar: A Moment to Be Proud

January 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

On January 11, 1989 in his formal goodbye to the nation, President Ronald Reagan said:

“The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the “shining city upon a hill.””

President Reagan was quoting John Winthrop, a pilgrim who in 1630 was seeking a homeland that would be free. Since America’s inception, Americans have struggled to build that “shining city”, a country that would live up to the principles and precepts that the founding fathers so eloquently articulated in the Declaration of Independence and later in the Constitution.

From the Three Fifths Compromise, Fugitive Slave Provision, and the allowance of slaves to be imported for twenty-one years after the adoption of the Constitution to the illegal occupation of Iraq, torture, warrantless wiretapping, and extraordinary renditions, America has endured numerous challenges to its principles, values, and ideals. The most recent examples of these ethical compromises or lapses have left many people wondering if that beacon of light would continue to shine.

On January 20, 2009 with the inauguration of America’s 44th President, its first African American President, America takes a giant step toward reclaiming its light. This is the moment for Americans to be proud and an invitation for this country to truly be great again.

President Obama gave his inaugural address from the steps of a Capitol built in 1793 by slaves who were kept in pens just yards from where he stood. He and his family will live in a house constructed in 1792 by slaves who toiled in Virginia quarries to dig and transport the stones and lumber used to build the residence. The irony is mind boggling; two hundred and nineteen years later an African American is sworn into the highest office in the land. Finally, the two disparate narratives have merged; truly a moment for all Americans to be proud.

From this moment has come the opportunity to reclaim greatness. President Obama has called upon Americans to face the “gathering clouds and raging storms” by remaining “faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.” He has called for the American collective “to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics…and to… choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”

President Obama has made it very clear that true greatness can only be achieved through commitment, sacrifice, and hard work by saying, “…we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.

Some view this historic event in the context of Dr. King and the fulfillment of The Dream. Never confuse a down payment with the balance being paid. The Dream was never about electing an African American President. The Dream was about brotherhood, freedom, and justice for the least of us so that the true meaning of the American creed can be enjoyed by all of us. As Dr. King said, “And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.”

The racial disparities and injustices that Dr. King fought against still exist in America today. The election and inauguration of President Obama does not negate the fact that he has received more death threats than any elected official in the history of this nation. The Dream can not be fulfilled when a candidate for President has to run a deracialized campaign in order to make the masses comfortable with the obvious aesthetic. The inauguration of President Obama does not negate the reality of Driving While Black, disproportionate rates of unemployment, high school dropouts, incarceration; death by hypertension, heart disease, and cancer in the African American community. This inauguration is a great step forward in America but remember, we have miles to go before we sleep.

As Dr. King the realist and prophet stated in his famous I Have a Dream speech, We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now… Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy… It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.” President Obama told the nation, “That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood… our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

So as American’s bask in this moment and celebrate the accomplishment they should never lose site of the challenges that lie before them. The greatness of this moment lies not in the moment itself but in the potential of what it can become. President Obama did not talk about his personal accomplishment; he spoke about the American collective, We the People. “At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.”

This democracy only works when We the People see to it that it does. If America is to be a great nation again, its creed, The Dream must become true. So it was at the founding of this great nation; so it will be going forward.

God Bless President Obama!

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “On With Leon,” a regular guest on CNN’s Lou Dobb’s Tonight, and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Go to http://www.wilmerleon.com or email: wjl3us@yahoo.com.

© 2009 InfoWave Communications, LLC.

Your Black Sports: NCAA Makes Another Rule to Hurt College Athletes

January 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Every spring, dozens of college basketball players grapple with an enormous, life-altering decision: Shoul d they stay in school, or turn pro? Given the high stakes, it’s understandable why many of these underclassmen wait until the last possible moment to make up their minds.

As you might imagine, this waiting game can be uncomfortable for coaches, since the NBA permits players to wait until just before the draft in June to withdraw their names from the eligibility pool. Yet, that discomfort seems to be a small price to pay for doing business. After all, most of the players in this situation come from the top programs where the coaches make seven-figure salaries, or at least high six-figure ones. The players, on the other hand, often come from underprivileged backgrounds and face enormous pressure from their family and friends to take the money and run. The situation is not ideal for anyone, but all things considered, it is pretty fair.

That’s why it’s so disheartening that the 12 coaches from one the nation’s preeminent basketball conferences, the ACC, are leading the charge to pass a new rule that would move the deadline on this decision to the day before the spring signing period for high school seniors. This year, that period begins on April 15, which means a player who competed in the national championship game would have all of nine days to make the most important decision of his life. When the NCAA’s Division-I Legislative Council took up the proposal last week, it decided to postpone a vote for 60 days so it could collect more feedback from the membership. They didn’t ask for my input, but I’ll give it to them anyway: Do the right thing by these kids, and vote this sucker down.

Click to read.

Hail to the Chief – By Dr. Boyce Watkins

January 22, 2009 Leave a comment

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Hail to the Chief

By Dr. Boyce Watkins

www.BoyceWatkins.com

During my recent trip to New York, I was stunned after watching US Airways passengers standing on the icy wings of an airplane floating on the Hudson River.  It was only after looking at my cancelled ticket that I realized I was scheduled to fly out of the same city, in the same airport, with the same airline on the same day, at the same time as the people on that flight.   They were going to Charlotte and I wasn’t, but that’s still too close for comfort.

In spite of invitations I have to speak and live in big cities, I stay isolated here in Syracuse so I can search for my personal perception of truth within the deepest components of my heart.  I seek ideology that is disconnected from hype, politics, financial compensation or other tools used for the tainting of souls and manipulation of minds.   I chose not to go to the inauguration and I’ve rarely watched television, all because I wanted to figure out how I feel about recent events without allowing CNN or anyone else to tell me how I should feel.

This morning I watched a Black man….a real brother, Barack Obama, stand and take the oath as President of the United States.  When I endorsed Barack long before he appeared to ever have a chance of winning, it was honestly just wishful thinking.  I supported the campaigns of Barack, Jesse and Al, mainly because I never believed Bill Clinton to be (as some called him) the First Black President.  I also saw something in Barack’s eyes and mannerisms that made me trust him.  My “brother radar” gave security clearance, and I knew that only a real Black man would marry an amazing woman like Michelle Obama (the woman I came closest to marrying is actually a beautiful attorney who reminds me of Michelle).  I also saw something in Obama’s poise and intelligence that made me believe that he would be good for our nation.  My only concern was that I was not sure if a nation willing to elect incompetent men like George Bush would have the vision necessary to choose the best man or woman for the job.

I don’t do media appearances on Fox News anymore mainly because I was disappointed by their attacks on Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright.  I was even more upset with Bill O’Reilly’s statements about having a “lynching party” against Michelle Obama, and the light-hearted death threats made by Fox News Analyst Liz Trotter, who stated that she would “take (Obama) out if she could”.   I love Barack Obama, and I was inspired by his ability to make the impossible possible.  Like all of us, I was happy to sacrifice to help get him into the White House.

But while I support Barack Obama, I never let myself get into Obama-mania. 

While I felt the need to show up and vote, I never chose to “Barack the Vote”.

My position has always been simple:  Falling in love with a politician can be a very dangerous thing, and I simply wasn’t going to do it.

Like Barack Obama, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was another President who took over our country during a tough economic time.  When Black leaders met with Roosevelt to discuss their justifiable indignation over Civil Rights abuses throughout the nation, Roosevelt simply told them, “I agree with you and I want to do it.  Now go out and make me do it.”

The interpretation of Roosevelt’s words is that after the celebrations are over and we’ve come back to reality, we must be sure to do what is necessary to effectively utilize this opportunity.  Barack Obama is a good man, I know this from speaking to my contacts on the South Side of Chicago.  But we must work hard to ensure that Barack THE MAN aligns squarely and firmly with Barack THE POLITICIAN.  We must always be aware of the difference between BARACK OBAMA and the OBAMA ADMINISTRATION.

BARACK OBAMA believes that public schools should get all the funding they need and that education is critically important. 

The OBAMA ADMINISTRATION knows that children don’t vote or pay taxes.

BARACK OBAMA knows that 30 – 40% Black male unemployment is an economic tragedy. 

The OBAMA ADMINISTRATION knows that being too closely aligned with issues effecting Black men is neither politically productive nor popular in a country that still doesn’t like Black people all that much, especially if they are poor.  

BARACK OBAMA knows that, in spite of having a Black President, institutionalized racism in wealth and income levels, health care disparities and other areas will take at least another 100 years to eradicate.   He is also intelligent enough to know that reparations are long overdue.

The OBAMA ADMINISTRATION knows that talking about racism using the same language as the United Nations (who states clearly that America continues to maintain a two-tiered society) is something that many Americans simply do not want to hear.

So, as we live in the bliss of “Obama-mania”, please consider this:

The dictionary defines “mania” as “A severe medical condition characterized by elevated moods, energy, unusual thought patterns and sometimes psychosis.  Some symptoms are fixation, madness, compulsion, craving, craze, delirium, dementia, derangement, disorder, fad, fancy, fascination, fetish, insanity, lunacy and obsession.”

Like bottles of strong liquor, mania feels good.  However, it should only be temporary. You also need designated drivers to keep the political house party under control and get everyone back home safely.  Those who remain “high” and detached from reality are easy targets for emotionally void and disturbingly rational political administrations.  Any good politician with constituents living in the midst of mania logically understands that there is very little work to do.  No one campaigns in the regions they already control.

So, as Roosevelt explained in the example above, we can best show our love for President Obama by being politically intelligent, diligently resourceful, well-organized and focused on the issues.  Political engines like the Obama Administration only understand those with the power to churn those engines.  The easiest trick in the world is to make us think that racism is over because we have a Black President.  Let’s keep our eyes on the prize.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University.  He does regular commentary in national media, including CNN, BET, ESPN and CBS.  For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.com.

Your Black Education: Obama’s Bad Choice for Education Secretary

January 21, 2009 Leave a comment

By Kevin K. Kumashiro

Duncan’s record is clear. Less court intervention to desegregate schools. Less parental and community involvement in school governance. Less support for teachers’ unions. Less breadth and depth in what and how students learn, as schools place more emphasis on narrow high-stakes testing. More opportunities to certify teachers without adequate preparation and training. More penalties for schools, but without adequate resources for those in high-poverty areas. And more profit for businesses, as school systems become increasingly privatized.>>

Hailed by some as a pioneer in education reform, Arne Duncan, the chief executive officer of the Chicago public schools, has been selected by President-elect Barack Obama to be our next U.S. secretary of education. But Duncan’s seven-year track record in Chicago gives evidence of why he is the wrong choice for America’s schools.

Behind the rhetoric of reform is the reality of Duncan’s accomplishments, particularly the problems behind his signature initiative, Renaissance 2010. Launched in 2004, Renaissance 2010 aims to open 100 new, smaller schools (and close about 60 “failing” schools) by 2010. To date, 75 of the new schools have opened.

Many of these schools, however, are charter schools that serve fewer low-income, limited-English-proficient, and disabled students than regular public schools. More than a third are in communities that are not in high-need areas. During Duncan’s tenure, districtwide high school test scores have not risen, and most of the lowest-performing high schools saw scores drop. Renaissance 2010 is not doing enough to support those students who struggle the most.

“Public education should aim for more than high test scores and a stronger business sector.”

This should not be surprising. The blueprint of Renaissance 2010 lies in a report titled “Left Behind,” Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader produced a year earlier by the Commercial Club of Chicago. The report mapped out a strategy for schools to more closely align with the goals of the business elite. Central to that strategy was the creation of 100 new charter schools, managed by for-profit businesses and freed of the city’s local school councils and teachers’ union—groups that historically have put the welfare of poor and minority students before that of the business sector.

Business leaders have long had influence over America’s schools. In the early 1900s, the business sector influenced how large school districts were consolidated and managed. In the late 1900s, and into the era of No Child Left Behind, the Business Roundtable (the top 300 business CEOs in America) influenced how policymakers narrowly defined “standards” and “accountability.” Today, public debates on education are too often framed by business principles, and certain assumptions go unquestioned as they gain dubious status as simply “common sense.” These include the assumption that improvement comes when schools are put into competition with one another, like businesses in a so-called free market.

“Duncan’s reforms are steeped in a free-market model of school reform, … but research does not support such initiatives.”

Duncan’s reforms are steeped in a free-market model of school reform, particularly the notion that school choice and 100 new charter and specialty schools will motivate educators to work harder to do better (as will penalties for not meeting standards). But research does not support such initiatives. There is evidence that opening new schools and encouraging choice and competition will not raise districtwide achievement, and that charter schools in particular are not outperforming regular schools. There is evidence, moreover, that choice programs actually exacerbate racial segregation. And, there is evidence that high-stakes testing increases the dropout rate.

Duncan’s record is clear. Less court intervention to desegregate schools. Less parental and community involvement in school governance. Less support for teachers’ unions. Less breadth and depth in what and how students learn, as schools place more emphasis on narrow high-stakes testing. More opportunities to certify teachers without adequate preparation and training. More penalties for schools, but without adequate resources for those in high-poverty areas. And more profit for businesses, as school systems become increasingly privatized.

Students do not benefit from these changes. Duncan’s accomplishments for Chicago’s public schools are not a model for the nation.

Yes, America’s schools are in dire need of reform. And in 2009, we have the opportunity to do just that—first by correcting the false assumptions and failed policies of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The research is clear: Students need to learn more, not less. Parents need to be involved more, not less. Teachers need to be trained more. Schools need to be resourced more. We need new ways to fund schools, to integrate schools, to evaluate learning, and to envision what we want schools to accomplish.

This will not happen by continuing to follow the perceived wisdom that is so blindly embraced by Arne Duncan and many other education leaders. Public education should aim for more than high test scores and a stronger business sector. Its goal should be to prepare every child to flourish in life.

We need a different leader, one with a rich knowledge of research, an unwavering commitment to educating our diverse population of children, and a vision big enough to make that happen.

Kevin K. Kumashiro is an associate professor and chair of educational policy studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the interim co-director of its Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy. He is also the author of The Seduction of Common Sense: How the Right Has Framed the Debate on America’s Schools (Teachers College Press, 2008).

Pareto and Parkinson’s: Old Laws for a New Year

January 21, 2009 Leave a comment

by Lawrence Watkins

CEO, The Great Black Speakers Bureau

The 2009 year is underway it it’s shaping up to be a great one. I’ve talked to many of my friends and I’ve heard THOUSANDS (Ok. I’m exaggerating) of New Year’s resolutions. Everything from losing 20 pounds, to being in bed by a certain time, to making straight A’s on their transcripts, to finding satisfying careers, to not eating meat, to etc… What is more surprising than this, is that a couple of people that I talked to have more than 10 resolutions. You may be wondering, “Lawrence, what are your New Year’s resolutions?” Is it to lose weight? (I have gained more than a couple of pounds since undergrad) Nope. Is it to make all A’s in school? Not this time.

My resolution is something much simpler, yet it is one of the most powerful forces known to human productivity. It is to implement Pareto’s Law and Parkinson’s Law into all facets of my life. Surely I need more goals than this to have a successful year, right? No, because of this ONE goal, I will have a MORE successful 2009 compared to any other year in my life!

Pareto’s Law states that a minority of causes, inputs, or efforts usually lead to a majority of the results, outputs, or rewards. Parkinson’s Law states that a task will swell up in perceived importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion. The Law’s are inverses of each other and when taken together, can drastically make you happier and more productive. This is a good time to give thanks to my friend Tim Ferris, author of “The 4-Hour Workweek.” I don’t actually know Tim, but I feel a Bromance going on between us since I’ve read his book 7 times. No other business book has influenced me as much as 4HWW and this is where I first learned of Pareto and Parkinson.

Pareto’s Law and my Life

Vilfredo Pareto was a controversial economist who lived from 1848 to 1943. He was an engineer by training and started his career managing coal mines. He later took a position at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and explored the income distribution of 19th century England. He found that 80 percent of the wealth in England was controlled by 20% of the population. When Pareto started to explore this phenomenon more, he noticed that this pattern of imbalance was repeated consistently whenever he looked at data referring to different time periods and different countries.

The critical thing is not to look at the specific 80/20 relationship, but to focus on the main concept. There is an inherent level of imbalance between inputs and outputs. I experienced this phenomena many times throughout my time as head honcho of Great Black Speakers Bureau, a company dedicated to spreading African American thought to the masses. I remember the early days in January of 2007 when I was working to elevate the company off of the ground. I would put in 10-12 hour days/6 days per week personally building the website, making sales calls, emailing potential clients, getting contracts signed, mailing thank you cards, and pretty much anything else you could think of for a starting entrepreneur. Even though the company was growing at an extremely fast rate, I was always exhausted at the end of the day.

Then a life changing event happened in my life. The Lord blessed me with a scholarship to earn my MBA at Cornell University. After a couple of weeks of pure elation, reality started to sink in that I REALLY won’t be able to run my company and go to school at the same time. By this time, we had grown by about 900% since we started the company the year before. The problem is that much of this growth was directly related to my personal inputs. How on earth was Great Black Speakers going to grow, or even maintain, if I wasn’t there to run it? True, I wrote a good B.S. answer to this question in my business school applications, but now I HAD to come up with real solutions.

I now had to do some soul searching and heavy prioritizing. There was NO WAY that I would leave my baby GBS to dwindle and die. Over the course of two days, I turned off all communication with the world and I spent hours of laying out and analyzing every facet of GBS with a single question in mind that I learned from Mr. Ferris. What inputs in GBS generated the majority of the outputs? After the analysis, I wasn’t very happy with myself and I noticed major ineffectiveness in my process. I then made an vital decision to revive my company; I would go through a business liposuction process and cut off the fat that would cause GBS to die in the transition.

The first thing that I did was to start searching for a new director of GBS. I was looking for a highly organized person who was excellent at selling. I found both of these traits and more in my friend Diana, who I’ve known for many years since my childhood in Louisville, KY. In fact, Diana is an improvement over me in both of these areas. The next thing that I did was to look at the mundane, but essential tasks that consumed most of my time. Some of these tasks included makings cold calls, working on the website, writing thank you letters, filling out contracts. One by one, I started outsourcing these tasks to other companies that specialize in one or more of these areas. It was actually much less expensive than I thought it was going to be. In my next article, I will talk more about outsourcing your life.

The results have been outstanding in the 8 months since I started this process. I have increased my personal income by 250%, while decreasing my GBS workload from 55 – 70 hours per week down to 8 – 10 hours/week. Furthermore, most of the gains have happened AFTER I started business school. From this situation, I learned a couple of lessons:

1) You don’t have to work like crazy to generate sufficient income for yourself.

2) If you surround yourself with the right people and implement the right process, you can accomplish a lot with very little.

Parkinson’s Law

As stated earlier, Parkinson’s Law states that a task will swell in importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion. There are two major truisms that I’ve learned that accompany this law:

1) Doing something unimportant well does not make it important.

2) Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important.

The definition of true productivity is simple: Productivity is doing activities that get you closer to your goals. Unproductivity is doing activities that keep you stagnant or take you further away from your goals.

Many people suffer from a common form of laziness: it is called busyness, which is also a disease. This disease is so prevalent that it has brainwashed people to believe that business = busyness. A paradigm shift occurred in my life for me to know that this isn’t true. Working 9 – 5 is an archaic way of doing business. It’s funny how ALL jobs in America take the exact same amount of time to complete. It’s funny because it isn’t true.

Time Compression

Time compression is an important fundamental to manipulate Parkinson’s Law. The law isn’t inherently a good or bad thing, it is just what it is. Parkinson’s Law is similar to fire. Fire can be good when you are cooking, but it would be a terrible thing if your house burns up in flames. Time compression to complete tasks is harnessing the Parkinson’s Law power to help productivity. What I do is think about an aggressive timeline for a task and then I cut that time by a ½ or 1/3. THAT is my deadline. By doing this, I am forced to focus on the bare essentials ( 20% inputs) of a task and avoid the minutiae that often clutters projects. Time compression has been one of the hardest concepts to implement into my life and one in which I fail to implement often. But when I do, the results of my improvements are amazing.

Synergies

Taking these two concepts together gives you one simple rule: Focus on the essentials of a task and work like crazy to get those tasks done as quick as possible. However, just because this rule is simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. People often interchange the words difficult and complex. These two words are NOT synonyms of each other. I struggle every day to avoid the laziness of business, and I often fail. I fail less when I ask one simple question: Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important? If I am, I immediately take self corrective measures to put me back on track.

Conclusion

I would like return to my opening statement on why this is my ONLY New Year’s resolution. The reason is that it would be contradictory for me to have 13 New Year’s resolutions and try to implement Pareto and Parkinson at the same time in my life. If I set my resolution as implementing The Law’s, other goals will follow as all encompassing improvements. I’m not against setting many goals for oneself; the exact opposite is true as I have many different personal and business goals. However, the point of The Law’s is to simplify and streamline life as much as possible, which is what I want to do for 2009. As Bruce Le once wrote, “One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not the daily increase, but the daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.” So with that, Happy and Fulfilled New Year’s!!!!

Your Black Woman: 107-year Old Woman Excited Over Obama Presidency

January 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Ann Nixon Cooper craned her neck and leaned her head forward. On the television set across the room, Barack Obama moved forward and put his hand on the Bible.

"I'm most excited."

Ann Nixon Cooper, 107, watched the inauguration from her Atlanta home: “I’m most excited.”

At 107 years old, Cooper said she always believed she might live to see a black man sworn in as president of the United States.

“I had that in mind all the time — all the time — hoping for a great change that would happen in my day,” she said, a charm necklace with a gold “107” around her neck.

“I was hoping that it would happen in my time.”

This moment in history, she said, marks one of the greatest days of her event-filled life.

“I’m most excited about it … just nothing but the greatest,” she said, a wide smile spread across her face. “Our new president means nothing but more freedom as a human being. That’s all. That’s all it could mean to us. You feel more like a real person.” Video Watch Cooper’s reaction »

She knew the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when he was just a boy in Atlanta. Today, she said, “he would be most happy.”

She added, “That’s all I looked forward to: better days, because we’ve never known any better days. But now, you see, we can live like real people.”

The African-American centenarian, three grandsons and her caretaker gathered in her quiet Atlanta home to watch the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president. When Obama began heading toward the ceremony, she asked not to be bothered. “I’ve got to be concentrating,” she said with a smile.

Click to read.

Your Black President: It’s Done

January 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Barack Obama delivered a sobering assessment of where America stands and a hopeful vision of what it can become as he gave his inaugural address as the nation’s 44th president.

President Barack Obama told a crowd at the National Mall that America's challenges are real.

President Barack Obama told a crowd at the National Mall that America’s challenges are real.

“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time,” Obama told those gathered on the National Mall in front of the Capitol.

“But know this, America — they will be met,” he said.

He also vowed to end the divisiveness and partisanship he said was rampant through Washington.

“We come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics,” he said. Video Watch Obama say Americans chose hope »

In another allusion to Washington’s shortcomings, Obama promised to hold accountable anyone who handles taxpayer dollars.

“And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.”

 

Click to read.

Your Black Education: Schools Benefit from Obama Stimulus Plan

January 20, 2009 Leave a comment

The USA’s public schools stand to be the biggest winners in Congress’ $825 billion economic stimulus plan unveiled last week. Schools are scheduled to receive nearly $142 billion over the next two years — more than health care, energy or infrastructure projects — and the stimulus could bring school advocates closer than ever to a long-sought dream: full funding of the No Child Left Behind law and other huge federal programs.

But tucked into the text of the proposal’s 328 pages are a few surprises: If they want the money — and they certainly do — schools must spend at least a portion of it on a few of education advocates’ long-sought dreams. In particular, they must develop:

• High-quality educational tests.

• Ways to recruit and retain top teachers in hard-to-staff schools.

• Longitudinal data systems that let schools track long-term progress.

“The new administration does not want to lose a year on the progress because of the downturn in the economy,” says Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who chairs the House Education Committee. “So I think these are all things that are clearly doable.”

Testing, a key part of the No Child law, has gotten short shrift from most states, says Thomas Toch of Education Sector, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

“Existing state tests are not as good as they could be,” he says. “Putting new money into building stronger state assessments is what’s needed.”

But he and others say a big challenge will be to ensure that states don’t simply cut their own education budgets in anticipation of massive federal increases. “That’s going to be a challenge because the states are all hurting,” Toch says.

 

Click to read.

Your Black News: Mentally Ill Man Kills Entire Family, Eats His Own Eye, Still Declared Competent to Stand Trial in Texas

January 20, 2009 Leave a comment

HOUSTON — A Texas death row inmate with a history of mental problems pulled out his only good eye, authorities said Friday.

Andre Thomas told officers he ate it.

Thomas, 25, was arrested for the fatal stabbings of his estranged wife, their young son and her 13-month-old daughter in March 2004. Their hearts also had been ripped out. He was convicted and condemned for the infant’s death.

While in the Grayson County Jail in Sherman, Thomas similarly had plucked out his right eye before his trial later in 2004. A judge subsequently ruled he was competent to stand trial.

TDCJ

Andre Thomas

A death-row officer at the Polunsky Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice found Thomas in his cell with blood on his face and had him taken to the unit infirmary.

“”Thomas said he pulled out his eye and subsequently ingested it,” agency spokesman Jason Clark said Friday.

Thomas was treated at East Texas Medical Center in Tyler after the Dec. 9 incident. Then he was transferred and remains at the Jester Unit, a prison psychiatric facility near Richmond southwest of Houston.

“He will finally be able to receive the mental health care that we had wanted and begged for from day 1,” Bobbie Peterson-Cate, Thomas’ trial attorney, told the Sherman Herald Democrat. “He is insane and mentally ill. It is exactly the same reason he pulled out the last one.”

At his trial, defense lawyers also argued he suffered from alcohol and drug abuse.

Thomas does not have an execution date.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in October upheld his conviction and death sentence for the death of 13-month-old Leyha Marie Hughes. Also killed March 27, 2004, were his wife, Laura Christine Boren, 20, and their son, 4-year-old Andre Lee.

Thomas, from Texoma, walked into the Sherman Police Department and told a dispatcher he had just murdered the three and had stabbed himself in the chest.

Thomas told police how he put his victims’ hearts in his pocket and left their apartment, took them home, put them in a plastic bag and threw them in the trash.

Court documents described the three victims as having “large, gaping wounds to their chests.”

Your Black President: Barack Obama as a Freshman in College

January 19, 2009 1 comment

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Your Black Brothers: Martin Luther King had an Economic Dream Too

January 19, 2009 Leave a comment

The focus of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 wasn’t what had been accomplished — but rather his view of what still needed to be done.

More than four decades later, King scholars say he would take the same approach at this historic moment — the inauguration of the first black president at a time when the nation is facing its greatesteconomic crisis since the Great Depression.

The crisis could widen the already large financial gaps between whites and blacks and make it more difficult to attain King’s dream ofeconomic equality in America.

“I believe that Dr. King would caution us not to rest on the election of a black president and say our work here is done,” said Kendra King, associate professor of politics at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.

Although King is best known for his civil rights work, he was a staunch advocate for economic justice. In the months before he was killed, he had been working on the Poor People’s Campaign and calling for an economic bill of rights. When he was assassinated in 1968, he was in Memphis supporting a sanitation workers’ strike.

“Economic empowerment and justice was always a part of Dr. King’s purpose,” professor King said. “Civil rights without economic parity is still imprisonment.”

Click to Read.

Your Black Scholars: MLK Paved the Way for Barack Obama

January 19, 2009 1 comment

Clarence Jones says America is indebted to Martin Luther King Jr. for breaking its addiction to segregation.

Next week, the day after our national holiday commemorating the 80th birthday of Dr. King, Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, the first African-American elected as president.

Obama’s election would not have been possible without the transformative effect of Dr. King’s struggle, leadership and legacy in dismantling segregation and institutional racism in the United States.

America owes a great debt to Dr. King. Prior to him, our nation was like a dysfunctional drug addict or alcoholic, hooked and addicted to segregation and institutional racism.

His “tough love” of nonviolent direct action civil disobedience forced America to confront its conscience and the immorality of racial injustice.

Dr. King enabled our country to embark on an extraordinary journey of recovery to reclaim its soul. He enabled us to reactivate those precepts enshrined in our Declaration of Independence: “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

In twelve years and four months, from 1956 to April 4, 1968 — except for President Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation — Martin Luther King Jr. may have done more to achieve racial, social and political justice and equality in America than any other person in our country’s history.

Dr. King had confidence in the democratic future of America. He believed that we, as a people, would be able to “transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”

 

Click to read.

Your Black Sports: Florida State Star Skips NFL Draft to Study at Oxford

January 19, 2009 Leave a comment

I wish I’d seen the Myron Rolle interview in which he expressed his desire to bring specialized medicine to underdeveloped countries as much as I’ve seen the grainy footage of Adam “Pacman” Jones frequenting yet another strip club.

I wish Rolle’s 3.75 grade point average at Florida State was considered as scintillating as the recent rumblings about Terrell Owens, who reportedly might be on his way out of Dallas.

It’s not easy to accept the fact that a 75-year-old grandmother in Elkhart, Ind., probably would recognize Jones but wouldn’t know Rolle — the most important story in college football — from a vacuum salesman.

 

Click to read.

Your Black Politics: Barack Obama Takes the Path of Abraham Lincoln

January 19, 2009 1 comment

Barack Obama’s historic train ride to Washington on Saturday drew large, cheering crowds of people who braved freezing weather and gathered along the tracks in cities and small towns along the way in hopeful anticipation of getting a glimpse of the nation’s next president.

The crowd cheers as President-elect Barack Obama takes the stage in Baltimore, Maryland.

The crowd cheers as President-elect Barack Obama takes the stage in Baltimore, Maryland.

In Baltimore, Maryland, alone, about 40,000 people stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the cold to greet Obama as he stopped on his way to his Tuesday inauguration.

His welcome was raucous and animated, as the sea of people cheered, waved and took pictures. Tears rolled down one woman’s face as Obama spoke. “We love you, Obama!” another yelled out. “I love you back,” Obama answered calmly, eliciting a roar from the crowd.

The same emotions were expressed up and down the tracks on the 137-mile journey, a trip that started in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and retraced the train ride Abraham Lincoln took on his way to becoming president in 1861. Video Watch Obama share the love »

Click to read.

Your Black News: Grandchild of Slave Fears for Obama

January 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Mary Dowden smiles when she thinks about this moment in history. At 80 years old, she’s the granddaughter of a slave who was born in a cotton field outside of Como, Mississippi.

Mary Dowden, 80, is the granddaughter of a slave. Barack Obama is bringing white and blacks together, she says.

Mary Dowden, 80, is the granddaughter of a slave. Barack Obama is bringing white and blacks together, she says.

It’s difficult to put into words how she feels about Barack Obama, the issues so complex for a black country girl who lost both her parents by the age of 18 and then had to work a hard-scrabble life as a sharecropper.

“I was really afraid for him, because I didn’t want nobody to kill him,” she says when asked about casting her ballot for Obama.

But she pauses and smiles. “I’m awfully proud of him, as a black person.” Video Watch “white and black is coming together” »

Did she ever think she would see this moment?

“No, I didn’t,” she says. “I always thought that, you know, the white was over the black, that they was the leading folks, that one nation is gonna be over another one, and that would be the white over the black. I never thought it would be a black president.”

With Obama’s election, CNN.com traveled to the town of Como to talk with African-Americans about their experience growing up black in Mississippi and what this moment in history means to them.

Click to read.

Your Black Brothers: The Shooting of Oscar Grant in Oakland

January 17, 2009 2 comments


I received this from ColorofChange.org, a group for whom I have tremendous respect:

On New Year’s Eve, Oscar Grant was shot execution-style by a transit police officer in Oakland, California. He was shot in the back while face-down on a subway platform, unarmed and posing no threat.1,2

Twelve days later–despite several videos showing what happened–the officer who killed Grant hasn’t been arrested, charged, or even questioned. He quit the force and has refused to speak. The District Attorney has done nothing.

It’s time to demand that California Attorney General Jerry Brown take over the case and arrest Grant’s killer, and to ask that the US Department of Justice launch an independent investigation into the conduct of the local authorities. Please join us and ask your friends and family to do the same:

http://www.colorofchange.org/oscar/?id=1903-259080

Oscar Grant is the third man murdered by BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police in the past 17 years. All three victims were Black and none posed a serious threat. In each case, BART and county authorities have failed to hold the officers accountable.3

In the previous cases, BART’s internal investigations concluded that the officers felt threatened by the victims and were justified in pulling the trigger. It’s unbelievable given the circumstances of the killings:

Click to read.

If She Were Black, Would Her Tragedy Still Be in the National Media?

January 17, 2009 11 comments

Federal prosecutors said Friday that they will seek the death penalty for a 22-year-old man accused in the shooting death last year of Eve Carson, student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Police said UNC student body President Eve Carson was taken from her home and killed.

A grand jury indicted Demario James Atwater on October 27 on federal charges of carjacking resulting in death, carrying and using firearms in relation to carjacking, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possessing a short-barreled shotgun not properly registered to him.

He also faces state first-degree murder charges in Orange County, North Carolina, along with 18-year-old Lawrence Alvin Lovette.

“Both federal and state law violations are implicated in the tragic events of March 5, 2008, and we will vigorously prosecute the violations of federal law committed in connection with the death of Eve Marie Carson,” said Anna Mills Wagoner, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, at the time of Atwater’s indictment.

An autopsy report showed that Carson, an honors student, had multiple gunshot wounds when she was found lying on a Chapel Hill street. The autopsy report listed six gunshot wounds but said two of the wounds were probably from the same bullet.

Court documents released in the North Carolina case said Carson was taken from her apartment and forced to provide her abductors with ATM access to her bank account before she was shot to death in the early hours of March 5.

Your Black Politics: Race Issue not Going Away

January 17, 2009 1 comment

Editor’s note: Susan Glisson is director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, based at the University of Mississippi. It helps communities cope with racial issues and promotes research on race. Glisson is co-author of “First Freedoms: A Documentary History of First Amendment Rights in America.”

Susan Glisson says it's a mistake to think charismatic leaders are the only source of social change.

Susan Glisson says it’s a mistake to think charismatic leaders are the only source of social change.

(CNN) — As the inauguration of the first African American president approaches, the national news is full of race-related stories.

Rioters have been arrested in Oakland, California, in protest of an police officer allegedly killing an unarmed black man; the Centers for Disease Control report that Mississippi has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the country, predominantly among black and Hispanic teens; and the journal Science reports that “many people unconsciously harbor racist attitudes.”

Combine these issues with continuing demonstrated disparities in health care, education, housing and criminal justice, and it would be productive to admit the obvious: the election of Barack Obama did not end the America’s problems with race.

It is important to note what has changed, due largely to the successes of the black struggle for freedom, especially during the 1950s and 1960s. Because of these hard-won gains, the narrative that “if you work hard, you can be anything you want to be, no matter how many obstacles racism and poverty might place in your way,” is now more appropriate than ever before.

A new generation of young people, for many of whom legal segregation is an almost unbelievable part of history, reached across racial and ethnic lines to help elect a president and even now work to engage in substantive community service wherever they live.

Challenges, however, remain.

 

Click to read.

Your Black Money: Lee Iacocca Dogs the Politicians About their Use of Our Money

January 17, 2009 Leave a comment


Remember Lee  Iacocca, the man who rescued Chrysler Corporation from its death throes?  He’s now 82 years old and has a new book, ‘Where Have All The Leaders Gone?’.

Lee Iacocca Says:

‘Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder! We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, ‘Stay the course.’

Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned, ‘Titanic’. I’ll give you a sound bite: ‘Throw all the bums out!’

You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore.

The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in  Iraq , the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving ‘pom-poms’ instead of asking hard questions. That’s not the promise of the ‘America’ my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?

I’ll go a step further. You can’t call yourself a patriot if you’re not outraged. This is a fight I’m ready and willing to have. The Biggest ‘C’ is Crisis! (Iacocca elaborates on nine C’s of leadership, with crisis being the first.)

Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It’s easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else’s kids off to war when you’ve never seen a battlefield yourself. It’s another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.

On September 11, 2001, we needed a  strong leader more than any other time in our history. We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the ashes. A hell of a mess, so here’s where we stand.

We’re immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving.

We’re running the biggest deficit in the history of the country.

We’re losing the manufacturing edge to Asia, while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs.

Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble.

Our borders are like sieves.

The middle class is being squeezed every which way.

These are times that cry out for leadership.

But when you look around, you’ve got to ask: ‘Where have all the leaders gone?’ Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, omnipotence, and common sense? I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the  point.

Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo?

We’ve spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened.

Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm.

Everyone’s hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn’t happen again. Now, that’s just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you’re going to do the next time.

Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when ‘The Big Three’ referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen, and more important, what are we going to do about it?

Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debit, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.

I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn’t elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bonehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don’t you guys show some spine for a change?

Had Enough? Hey, I’m not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here.  I’m trying to light a fire. I’m speaking out because I have hope – I believe in America. In my lifetime, I’ve had the privilege of living through some of  America ‘s greatest moments. I’ve also experienced some of our worst crises: The ‘Great Depression,’ ‘World War  II,’ the ‘Korean War,’ the ‘Kennedy Assassination,’ the ‘Vietnam War,’ the 1970’s oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years culminating with 9/11.

If I’ve learned one thing, it’s this: ‘You don’t get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it’s building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play. That’s the challenge I’m raising in this book. It’s a “Call to Action” for people who, like me, believe in America’. It’s not too late, but it’s getting pretty close. So let’s shake off the crap and go to work. Let’s tell ‘em all we’ve had ‘enough.’

Make your own contribution by sending this to everyone you know and care about. It’s our country, folks, and it’s our future. Our future is at stake!!

Your Black Money: Dr Boyce Discusses Financial Liposuction with "Free" from BET 106 & Park

January 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Your Black Politics: YBW Family Member Marc Lamont Hill Discusses Lebron James

January 17, 2009 Leave a comment
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