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Hardy L. Brown

The Right to Bear Arms

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Due to the recent shootings of innocent people in Tucson and the shootings of two boys in Redlands, the “2nd Amendment” of the constitution has been on my mind about our sane and insane “right to bear arms”.

I grew up in the south where every household had some kind of gun and boys were expected to know how to use them for hunting for food and protecting the home. One thing boys could count on was Santa bringing a cap pistol or Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. There were no restrictions on keeping a gun under lock and key or unloaded if not in use. As a matter of fact most people would say to you why have guns if it is not loaded and ready to use. In the cities however, you could not find guns in every home because most people did not have to hunt for their own food.

Another weapon that was available at that time was the switchblade knife and every boy wanted one to carry in his pocket. It was legal and I remember I hadone. That too became the weapon of choice because it was easy to carry and conceal until you needed it for use. That weapon became a deadly tool for people who wanted to take someone’s life but later it had to be regulated by the federal government. For example it is illegal to carry a concealed knife in California if the blade is over two inches long. In Mississippi it is legal to carry any knife if it is not concealed or the carrier is not intoxicated. I take that to mean that lawmakers believed only drunks will use the knife to harm someone. Under the federal “weapons act” states and local governments get to regulate what kind of knives people can carry or own.

I believe we should let people have the right to bear arms while also giving local states and governments the right to regulate how guns can be carried and what kind can be owned.

Most cities that have gangs or high homicide rates would outlaw automatic or assault type guns in their cities, while shot guns and revolvers are acceptable. In this way if Arizona wanted to stay the “Tombstone” and “OK Coral” type of state then they could do so, while Tucson might want to say when you come into town leave your guns at home. That was the way Wyatt Earp was able to bring law and order in the towns that he served as Marshal. If police chiefs had their way they would say to citizens “help me make our community a safer place by putting certain requirements on what kinds of guns can be lawful in our city.” In this way the right of a citizen to bear arms would not be taken away but the kind ofgun would be regulated.

Then we have those who have a mental disorder that should deny them the privilege to have a weapon of any kind, gun, knife, ax handle, stick, or illegal drugs in their possession. This is another delicate area for our society to figure out. How can a society identify and treat those in our society with a mental condition that is on the brink of murder? During the eighties we had a rash of employees doing some horrible things to what they called overbearing managers. If you can recall it was called going “postal”. Employers put together training programs for managers and implemented “threats in the workplaces” policies. These actions were designed to prevent something drastic from happening in the workplace. It forced supervisors and co-workers to be aware of people’s demeanor and statements they made while at work. Procedures were given to all workers on what to do if they felt uncomfortable about another employee’s behavior or statements. I know because I had to investigate many of those complaints and confidentiality played a major role in the success of such reporting and investigating.

However, we currently have a large mentally ill outpatient population that needs serious attention, especially in the African American community. This illness is not one we like to talk about because of what we think it represents. Many of our boys and men act out in violence because of neglect in professional mental services and treatment.

When you mix an automatic weapon in the hands of a person who is unstable in their thinking, you are asking for trouble. Then you have a free society, and an atmosphere of fear and violence it becomes a recipe for something bad to happen to innocent people.

Congress must begin the discussion of the right to bear arms and the right for local government to regulate what kind of weapons citizens can own.

Budget Woes Should Not Have Disproportionate Impact on Blacks and Poor

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While I am an advocate for good and responsible government, I am a stronger advocate for those who have no voice or the means to defend themselves from those who control the policies we have to live under. By that I mean it is important to alert us of the impact our decisions have on people and the long-term impact it might have. I am referring to the proposed state budget offered to us with major cuts and araise in taxes.

I am in favor of cuts in the budget but the cuts will have a disproportionate impact on African Americans and the poor when it comes to programs under Medi-Cal, CalWorks, childcare, elderly care, students seeking to further their education at the community college level and at our universities.

Our seniors have already worked and paid for these programs and now through mismanagement, we want todeny them service and raise taxes as well. With young parents, we want them to work but make childcare services so expensive it will be impossible for them to do so. For our children we say go to college yet we raise the fees while providing no jobs for them to work andpay the extra fees. For those fortunate enough to enroll and graduate, in California they will have to leave if they are to find work. This applies to all who fall in these groups where African Americans are concentrated and will continue to suffer the most.

Then we have on the other side of the budget a proposed tax raise to pay for a continuation of what is wrong with good government. We have to take a serious look at where the money is spent and who is getting it. If the same people are going to get the new taxes that are already getting the old taxes then what incentive is there for me to vote for an extension of new taxes? What is the reason for African Americans in California to vote in favor to raise taxes? This is a major question for the Legislative Black Caucus members to ask their colleagues when the discussion starts in Sacramento. Will Black entrepreneurs get procurement opportunities and state contracts? Will our students get special programs in school to help close the achievement gap, reduce the dropout rate and improve the college going rate while preventing the prisons from sucking them in.

These are serious issues for all of us to discuss while seeking a solution to our budget woes.

Josie Gonzales the New Chair of Board of Supervisors

Congratulations to Josie Gonzales, Chairwoman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. I am confident she will serve with great dignity and fairness. Josie becomes the first Latina female to serve in this leadership position and the Black community is proud of this accomplishment.

Greater Control Needs to be Placed on Firearms

Words cannot express the horrible act of violence that took place in Tucson, Arizona last weekend. Everyone is looking for someone to blame other than the one who took it in his own hands to shoot, kill, and injure people.

To the families we send our prayers and offer words of condolences. To those in recovery from injuries, I want you to have faith because I know that sadness might be on you now but JOY is around the corner.

We as a society must reevaluate the way we treat and care for those with mental illnesses. We must make care more accessible to families and neighbors when confronted with a situation like this.

We have some people saying guns don’t kill, people do. While this is true, if some people did not have agun they would not kill. I am for the right to bear arms as a citizen but greater controls have to be put in place so automatic guns are not readily available to the general public. Our law enforcement community must step forward and speak out about how these weapons are destroying our freedom for life.

No elected official should be afraid to meet and greet citizens in public. Nor should an elected official yellin the halls of congress or yell to the president of the United States, “you are a liar”.

Let us all take this opportunity to call, write and meet with our elected officials to provide input on this topic and pray for America.

The Elected Officials Are In and Working

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As the announcer states at the horse races, “They are off and running.” The winners of November’s elections were all sworn in this week and now at work in Washington and Sacramento. They all took an oath to defend the constitution and do the business of all the people not just their friends. Their friends and supporters might have voted for them but as elected officials every citizen pays taxes for them to spend, so every one has some “skin” in the government financial game. That is important because once elected some people forget and claim to speak on behalf of the people while their actions and votes say otherwise.

I know they are facing some difficult times when it comes to money but the Black community has been without money even during the time of plenty. Our unemployment rate has always been double that of the White community and now the White community is where the Black community was during good financial times. Yet no one as elected officials are developing special bailouts to address that specific problem on the national level.

While we suffer the most with health issues brought on by lack of health care coverage and access, the Republicans have vowed to overturn the Health Care Act signed into law to help close the gap.

The Republicans and Tea Party people are saying the deficit is too high yet they vote to give the rich more tax breaks.

In California we have a new administration facing a $28 billion dollar hole to climb out of and the public has said no new taxes. In addition to that, the state unemployment rate is at 12.4% and Blacks at 14.8% and growing. Jerry Brown has stated he is going to seek the input of the citizens by taking trips around the state to meet with people to get advice. I will be watching to see how many in the groups are African Americans. We will also be watching to evaluate the recommended cuts in services and what impact that will have on our community.

Tom Torlakson is the new Superintendent of Public Instruction and he faces some difficult challenges (i.e. no money, over crowded classrooms, labor issues with teachers, low parent involvement in the classroom, wide achievement gap between students of different races, shortage of qualified teachers in urban schools, high drop out rates and low college going rate with college tuition rising).

With all of that going on the African American students are suffering at the bottom with a drop out rate of 36. 8% statewide and an academic achievement score at 685, the lowest of all students. If that is not bad enough, the longer our students stay in school the achievement score continues to drop to 638 for Black students who remain in school to the 12th grade. We also face a shortage of teachers from the Black community in our classrooms and while this is not a criticism it is something we must address. In some of our lowest achieving districts, we have the highest percentage of African American teachers and administrators so race is not the single factor.

Charter Schools are being looked at by many in our community as an alternative to educating our children but I caution us to evaluate those who wave this solution in our face because not everyone has the children’s interest at heart. In other words, know the people you are talking to. The same is true for those you elect to your school boards for they can help or work against the state department of education.

I want to remind all elected officials that we have fought and are fighting in the current wars to protect America so everyone can seek the American dream. But, when we approach lawmakers they are quick to say, don’t rush things, get to the back of the line or not now we are in bad financial times. Well I for one, don’t care about bad budgets because when I look at who is standing in line during good and bad times to receive consideration from the government they all look the same. In our community we say the Lord helps those who helps themselves, so we are going to help ourselves. The late Ray Charles sung a song that went something like this: them that got is them that gets but how did them that got get the first is the mystery to him. I know how they got it from our government by slave trade laws, by land grant give-a-ways, by tax breaks for corporations and land owners, by discrimination laws that worked against Black citizens and other legalized policies implemented by public elected officials.

So to the new government I cannot accept any reason other than this is what we can and must do to address the issues in the Black community. So now that you have taken the oath of office and are “off and running,” put together your plan that will address the many issues your office has responsibility for and include the African American citizens.

Happy New Year 2011

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The year 2010 is coming to a close while 2011 is fast approaching. As is our custom of reflection and setting new goals I hope everyone did most of the things they wanted to do this past year. It is also my hope that the New Year will become another chance to reach your dreams and goals.

Whatever you do to celebrate in bringing in the New Year, I pray that you do it in a safe and sane way so you will be able to see your goals and dreams come true. If you must drink please do not drive. If you feel the need to shoot your gun, blow into a paper bag and burst it for the noise. If you have a house party keep the noise level down in respect of your neighbors.

2011 has a bleak outlook in our community as we will be facing double digit unemployment while our governments face staggering budget problems and corporations hold on to extra cash they got from the government. We must find ways to reduce the unemployment rate especially for African Americans.

The rich will become richer from the tax break extension of the Bush tax cuts for the next two years and the poor will grow poorer. This is the new law signed into law by President Obama. The way the congress worked out this law is the way union contracts are negotiated by company leaders. If you agree that unions would get a 10% raise then the negotiator would get no less. The president and staff plus most congressional members will benefit from this tax extension. If they cared about the federal budget deficit they would all donate the extra money to fix it or give it to non-profit organizations to help the poor?

Our educational system will remain stagnant in California while the Black students lag behind unless we in the Black community raise the issue of their suffering. We must tell our story to Jerry Brown the new governor and Tom Torlarkson, Superintendent of Public Instruction. We must seek their support and cooperation for policies that will address our children’s needs in the classroom and in the community. We cannot let them hide behind the issue of not having any money. Our children suffered when money was flowing like milk and honey.

We must also demand of these children’s parents to become engaged with their children’s education by making education a top priority in our home and community. We have to set the height of the educational bar while pointing the child in that direction. We must also learn that not every child learns the same way and at the same speed. We should not give up on one kid because too many are going to prison or being killed by gangs.

Our prison facilities are overcrowded and the current financial crisis usually sends more to prison. This is an issue we all have to address in one way or another. Maybe newly elected Attorney General Kamala Harris, will address some of these issues with better crime intervention and prevention policies during her administration.

I know she did not receive the endorsements or support from the law enforcement community but now that she is the “top cop” in the state maybe they will help her as our attorney general.

With the Republicans seeking to dismantle the new Health Care Insurance Law maybe some of the current provisions that some people do not like will be corrected for the betterment of all of us. I read and hear more doctors speaking out on how medical care cost is out of control and something must be done.

Yes, last year was some year and 2011 will be better if you try and do your part.

Have a Happy and Safe New Year celebration and may God bless you all year long.

Just Because You Don't Believe It, Does Not Make It Not True Merry Christmas

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We have many people in our society that do not believe in Christ or that He ever existed. We have many who believe in Him but do not believe or celebrate Christmas. We have many who celebrate Christmas but not Christ. In America and around the world we have a mixture of beliefs in and celebration of this human being that walked the earth named Jesus Christ.

Have you ever experienced something in your life that you know happened to you and when you tell others you begin with... “you are not going to believe this but. Then you begin to share your experience with them. It really makes no difference whether they believe you or not because you know it is the truth because it happened to you or you were an eye witness.

A story is told of a young virgin girl named Mary, who was informed by an angel that she was going to be visited by the Holy Spirit and she will give birth to a child and his name would be Jesus. “You have found favor from God to receive this high honor. All of this will happen to you while remaining a virgin.”

By the way Mary the young man, Joseph, you are dating will marry you and act as his earthly father. I know this is a little strange way for God to do things but believe me because it true, as the angel reassures Mary. “Then after you conceive I want you to visit your cousin Elizabeth for confirmation of the baby you will carry because she is also with child who will bare witness of Him. Then when it is time for your delivery date you will return home and give birth in a livestock stable with animals to keep you warm, while the baby is laying in the manger.”

I know this is hard to believe because Mary did not want to believe it and certainly for Joseph it was even harder to digest. You know how men react when it comes to the words “I am pregnant or I am with child” and you are not married. It brings on one of those “What you talking about” moments. But this was the plan. Isaiah even wrote about the birth many hundred years before it happened.

So here we are thousands of years later celebrating this glorious birth whether you believe it or not. As a believer(s) in His entire existence and everything concerning Him, Christmas is that much more Joyous to me. The sharing of gifts represents the gift God gave to us. The gathering of close family is represented of Joseph and Mary together with close friends: the wise men. Christmas with its glowing lights represent the light of Jesus in our world and the carols represent the angels singing Joy to the World the night Jesus was born.

Yes I know some people have taken the celebration up a notch or two with all the drinking, buying gifts they cannot afford, and arguing with family members over things that do not matter, but it is still Christmas. We still have believers who attend worship service on Christmas morning. We still have families that come together in his name on Christmas day. We still have strangers giving to strangers during this time of year while others do it year round in Jesus name.

Yes while you might not believe it is about Jesus, I am here to tell you it is true. Have A Merry Christmas from me and the Black Voice News Family.

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