Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Interested in becoming a member of Black Staten Island Now?

If you have read some of the posts and you would like to let people see what you think (other than commenting on existing stories), then become a member of Black Staten Island Now. As a member you will be able to submit your own subjects for review by our community. To be considered, submit a short essay on your position on a topic of your choosing. Spelling, grammar, and sound logic will be considered. If your submission is recognized you will receive further instructions on what to do next. This offer is limited to Staten Island residents (or former residents) that care about the African-American community of Staten Island. Good luck and start writing!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Letter to AC360 Blog by Lynn Whitfield's Daughter Grace Gibson

see http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2008/07/25/i-am-neither-black-nor-white-im-both/
for full text .

Her words are moving, her intent is good, but I know many who will jump at the chance to tell her she is wrong. My opinion, of course, (since I am the father of two biracial children), is that she is right. I know there are many who feel that racial identity is important, so important to some, that they look down on those who mix the races as some kind of evil dilution. It is a good foundation for self esteem to have a strong positive view and connection to one's heritage. Those that prefer no mixing would say that it becomes to cumbersome and you lose flavor when you are mixed. There is no connection, they worry that their race will disappear. Well, it will. The day may come when the lines and features and tones that so easily allow us to be segregated into little boxes of black, white, other, etc. will disappear forever. No one will be able to trace their heritage to one race or one place. The human race will be the racial preference. How then will discrimination take place? How will police then decide who to stop and frisk? How will the HR representative choose which job applicant to hire? Who will get the 'black' scholarship, who will benefit (or be denied) based on affirmative action? Who will give great moving speeches on the state of race relations in America....No one will and everyone will. The sooner the things that separate us are no longer visible, the better. Likewise, learn your heritage, all of it. The black and the white. The Asian and the Indian. Embrace both, all three or all four of the cultures which embody your bloodstream. THEN use that connection to enhance the race we all belong to. The Human Race.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It is no longer a question of 'win or lose' in IRAQ, it is simply stay or go.

I received the following response to a request for what victory in Iraq entails (my comments follow each point);

1) A rebuilt infrastructure
That we destroyed by believing Bush's lies. If we are replacing what we destroyed...THAT IS NOT VICTORY, that is very close, however, to an apology.

2) A stable democracy that will/does not kill its own people.
An impossible feat, there are NO GUARANTEES that the democracy will stand 10, 20 or 100 years from now, without a large consistent military presence...surely you don't think that ALL of the opposition to peace and stability is gone?

3) A stable Iraq that does not work with any terrorist organization.
Another impossibility... the government may not officially support or harbor terrorists, but if they can't clamp down on what is going on in the country now, even with the surge and a somewhat stable government in power, then what will happen without the presence of the US military?

4) Create a professional military that is strong enough to defend itself from all threats both foreign and domestic
Something else we destroyed and would not have to replace, if we hadn't done such a bangup job.

5) The continued killing of terrorists
By who? And what if a terrorist backed regime takes over?....why would they kill themselves?

Listen it is no longer a question of win or lose and it never has been, the only reason that Iraq is the way it is now is due to our military presence (and that covers both the positives and the negatives). When we leave, whether anyone likes it or not nature will take its course. The only way to prevent that is to stay indefinitely. Staying indefinitely is neither a win nor a loss...there is NO WIN OR LOSE....only Stay OR GO! Get it?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Could an Obama presidency hurt black Americans?

I decided that using the exact headline is fitting in this case. As we rest on the cusp of one of the most exciting moments in African-American history....this question is asked. The linked article (http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/07/22/obama.hurt.blacks/index.html) from CNN goes on to explain that this is not just an issue raised by radical militant black leadership, but represents some mainstream fears as well.
The possibility that an African-American achieving the highest office in the land would 'turn-off' the race issue, or negate its power is a slight reality. But let's look at it this way....there have long been doctors, and lawyers, teachers, principals, mayors, and congressmen. Generals, Admirals, Professors, CEOs, COOs, CFOs, and Board members. There are any number of high paying, or high status jobs and occupations in which African-Americans have excelled. And yet with all this...there is still the ugly stories of Jena 6, the Katrina (lack of) response and Coal Run, Ohio where an entire black community was denied water service.
Don't think for even one minute that an African-American in the role of President stops the race clock. There still exists today the spectre of institutional racism. Its not going away with this election, its not going away with Obama's success. It will ONLY be gone when the people who hate, knowingly and unknowingly, decide that THEY no longer want to participate in a society of hatred and discrimination. Only then will racism be defeated.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Urban Prep - defying the odds

http://www.urbanprep.org/ is a Charter School in Chicago that is winning the war against lack of education. Their efforts even extend beyond the academic walls of the school into the homes and communities of their students. Their creed (included below) is a mantra for success and is recited daily by all students. The halls are lined with Ivy League and Historic Black College banners to further spur the initiative for higher learning. This formula is exhibiting success, if it is sustained, it should be replicated.

The Urban Prep Creed
We believe.
We are the young men of Urban Prep.
We are college bound.
We are exceptional -- not because we say it, but because we work hard at it.
We will not falter in the face of any obstacle placed before us.
We are dedicated, committed and focused.
We never succumb to mediocrity, uncertainty or fear.
We never fail because we never give up.
We make no excuses.
We choose to live honestly, nonviolently and honorably.
We respect ourselves and, in doing so, respect all people.
We have a future for which we are accountable.
We have a responsibility to our families, community and world.
We are our brothers' keepers.
We believe in ourselves.
We believe in each other.
We believe in Urban Prep.

CNN set to teach the world what it is like to be Black in America?

CNN, is set to present a two-night event that has been touted to end by revealing what it is like to be black in America. While I applaud the effort, I find it close to impossible to provide an accurate representation of the intricacies of the Black experience over a few hours. I;m certain Ms. O'Brien intends to touch as many subjects and issues as possible in the time allotted. Its just that so much of what we experience is so varied and colored by the lens of our own views and outlooks. What some see as oppression, others see as the necessary swift kick, what some see as a hand up, some see as a hand out. Our experiences are as varied as the shades of our skins. Still the conversation begins with education. It is my hope that everyone, whether they are interested in change or not, take the time to watch what promises to be an enlightening few hours. We all benefit when the level of understanding of our differences is raised. For more information on the upcoming show and to read some relevant stories associated with the show see - http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2008/black.in.america/

Friday, July 18, 2008

Jeff Harrell of the Staten Island Notebook recently 'called out' the father of Darren Rivera, the young man who was recently arrested at IS 49 for bringing a gun to school. His straightforward language and lambasting is a lesson to all fathers that let their children languish without guidance. Read the enitire story here:

But go beyond reading, take this opportunity to call or go see a child that needs you. Whether you are a biological father, a weekend father, a some-of-the-time father, a never father, or an always father. Let your child know today that you are there for them, and show them what it is to be a man. Ladies give him a break, let him be in his child's life...you can continue to not like the way you were treated and even not like him. But it is my hope that for the sake of the children you can find a nuetral location where he can be the father he needs to be in his child(ren)'s life.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Stop the Violence!

Just returned from a candlelight vigil to highlight the recent rash of violence plaguing the North Shore. The vigils were held simultaeneously across the North Shore at various locations. The one I attended, at St. Philips Baptist Church, was somber and heartening. There were prayers and hymns, scripture and fellowship. The only thing missing was the presence of people capable of the type of violence that has plagued our community. I'm not trying to discount the importance of our gathering, I do however question its effectiveness. Our goal should be to reach those who live on the other side of civility. The people that have trouble dealing with issues of day to day violence and infect the minds of those around them. This issue has moved beyond the combatants of this unholy war and has begun to touch the innocents. Our focus is to change what drives the violence, to teach acceptable ways of resolving conflict, and to focus our brothers and sisters efforts on something other than sneakers, rims, and clothes. The call has been repeated....parents KNOW your children, know their friends, know where they are and where they go, check their rooms, their myspace pages, and get to know your child. If your child is on the wrong side of the law, correct them!, if you need help, ASK....you will be surprised how many resources there are to help now....that prevent burial expenses later.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Obama is not a Muslim!!! Why are you yelling?

There are many issues swirling around this point. The primary issue, IMO, is the lack of education in regards to the words Muslim, Islam, and Arab. I won't bore you with an etymology lesson. Obama (fact) is not Muslim or a follower of Islam, BUT there would be nothing wrong with it if he were. Would he be the nominee? probably not, but that isn't the debate. The facts are the debate. Muslims are not ALL terrorists (fact). I don't get what is so hard to believe about the fact that even in Islamic religion there are varying factions. There are varying factions (including violent at times) of Christianity, Judaism, and many other religions. It is our own ignorance that continuously makes this an issue in this campaign. Christians have bombed buildings and killed thousands, Jews the same. Americans bombed an entire town, forcing a nation to surrender. That should not be the guideline to hate any group. There should be hatred for some groups though. But these groups are specific, numbered and their members have specific names. That is to say the guilty are the people we should hate for their crimes. We can no more hate an entire group based on the actions of a few....lest we begin a trend that leads back to ourselves.

Obama at the NAACP talked about more than responsibility

Obama's recent speech at the NAACP, did more than just give him an opportunity to call on African-Americans to accept more personal responsibility for themselves. Didn't hear about it? Thats because the political watchdogs were waiting to see if he would continue on that path and waiting for backlash from the audience. While they were satisfied that he did not mince words, as he should not have, they were somewhat 'disappointed' that he was so well received, especially as he was addressing that same issue. It is time that we, all of us, accept responsibility for the parts of our life situations that we inflict on ourselves. Is there establishment racism? Yes. Are there opportunities that we were denied that might have changed our futures? Of course. But anyone who is in touch with their true selves and accepting of their faults and shortcomings, is also capable of saying," some of it was me." If yuo are lucky enough to already be up, make it a part of your plan to give a hand'up' to someone else. Not a dollar, not a handout, not pity....someting tangible that makes a life difference not a days difference.

Who speaks for African Americans today?

While the below referenced poll does not settle the issue, it certainly bolsters my position that Sharpton is NOT the spokesperson for Black America...even if you discount Obama's presence, you can clearly see in these results that there is no overwhelmingly approved leader. This of course is both good and bad. Good that someone who is as volatile and self-serving as Sharpton can be is not the leader and bad that there is no single clearcut leader for issues that specifically face the african-american populace. The best position held here is by the 6% that say the address their own racial issues and trust themselves to lead themselves to the right conclusion. I can't help feeling that there are many more out there that if they found themselves in a racially charged situation that they would stand up and gather the necessary resources to solve their plight.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Walking for peace in our communities

300 marchers remember those lost to violence and to save others from the same senseless fate
Monday, July 14, 2008
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A village gathered yesterday afternoon on the asphalt basketball courts of Mahoney Park in New Brighton.
Setting off to walk together to a rally at Borough Hall, they were a show of strength -- a procession on the sidewalk of more than 300 pairs of watchful eyes, able hands and willing feet.
The Walk of Remembrance in Honor of Youth Lost to Senseless Violence -- organized by local organizations and clergy members in response to the recent, tragic deaths on Staten Island -- sought to shine light into those insular, hardscrabble neighborhoods where fighting is frequent and youth feel they have nowhere to escape, and anywhere else violence erupts.
Wearing T-shirts with the photos of Najea Smith, the 17-year-old Curtis High School nursing student fatally shot in May; William Rios, a 19-year-old Susan Wagner graduate slain in April in Meiers Corners, and 21-year-old Grant Fleming, a father with a tough streak, killed during a robbery in the Richmond Terrace Houses last weekend, marchers carried banners emblazoned with giant stop signs, and vowed to look within themselves for answers and become agents of change.
"We are certainly going to make an impact from this day forward," the Rev. Tony Baker of St. Phillip's Baptist Church told the crowd before they marched to Borough Hall for more speeches and bittersweet cheers.
"The only thing that matters is to bring hope back to our community."
It was a sentiment echoed even by those the group passed on the street:
"If it keeps up like this, we are going to be extinct," said a man who would only give his name as Brooklyn, nodding in support of the marchers after he unfolded himself from a flashy Porsche in front of the Richmond Terrace Houses. "Nobody else is looking out for us."
Family members of Najea Smith told the gathering that every day was a struggle, living in the New Brighton house where she was born and had nurtured great hope for the future and then was gunned down.
They said they do not want anybody else to suffer the pain of promise senselessly extinguished.
"It depends on ourselves," said Miss Smith's cousin, Eddie Lewis. "If we don't do it nobody will do it."
For Nelson Diaz, the father of William Rios, who will never remove a thick gold chain around his neck with his son's graduation photo in a cameo, the loss was too strong for words -- he just took crisp, short breaths to hold back his tears.
"I'm here to show guns have no boundaries, and they don't only know the ghetto," said Rios's mother, Charmelle Andrews.
"Stop the hurting and killing and heart breaking," read a sign 8-year-old Song Tucker had drawn in bubble lettering on poster board.
The West Brighton girl seemed to understand the urgency of the event with the clear-eyed wisdom of the innocents whose futures depend on its success.
"People get killed and they have families that love them," she said, explaining why she wrote what she did.
"Those people that got killed wanted to do good things."
Deborah Young is a news reporter for the Advance. She can be reached at young at siadvance.com.
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