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Hardy L. Brown

Target's Celebration of Black History Month Called Dare-Dream-Do

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Target Stores or now Target Corporation, because of a recent name change, has been celebrating Black History Month since 2006 and they always notify the owners of Black newspapers to carry their message for free. The Target Corporation is one of the nation’s largest advertisers yet they fail to see us as advertising partners.

They see Black Americans and our news papers as customers and contributors to this great nation, in my opinion, but only as a means to get its message to our people.

The Target ad for this y ear shows four Blacks who are successful because they “Dare-Dream and Do.” If you s aw the ad it would say to you Target cares so come and spend your money with us so we can continue to care but share your money with other communities . Target donates over $3 million each week to community organizations but falls short when you look at what they give to Black-run organizations as benefactors o f this generosity. The other known reason for this type of ad with Black faces in them is it will attract us as loyal customers into their stores when it comes to spending money.

Target, like its competitors and other corporations in America, have policies on corporate responsibility, community outreach, and diversity in employment and supplier services. These are well meaning written policies but always come up short when it comes to the African American people. According to a statement on their website, they are proud of their diversity investment programs and opportunities but did not list those investments. They only listed one Black organization in Los Angeles that they contribute to which is the Afro American Museum. Locally, I have not seen nor heard of any efforts of the 31 Target Stores in the Inland Empire communities. Yes they have 31 stores in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Maybe you should inquire of the s tore manager the next time you visit the store in your community.

Like their ad implies I “Dare” you to ask them to give back to the community to help you fulfill your “Dream” of a good education from their scholarship program, or a job to help with their diversity employee opportunities o r better y et a contract for supplies or service. Then we can change the “Do” into a we Did it together.

Charter Schools: If You Build It, They Will Come

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times on February 4th, charter schools are returning to the past of racial separation or racial isolation according to a study completed at UCLA.

This was one of the drawbacks from some voices when charter schools were first put on the table as one of the solutions to improve public education. I have no doubt that the study is correct but there is more to educating our young people than what race is in the classroom with you. It is important but only if our children are improving their education.

I remember the nation saying integrate our schools with full deliberate s peed which is still our nation’s goal. Part of the problem is we have spent the last 50 years counting bodies instead of teaching our kids to count. So I hope we don’t get caught up in that distraction again especially Black Americans. While we were counting racial bodies Whites were leaving the inner cities to legally separate school districts in newly formed communities. We were hopping on buses to segregated class rooms on integrated campuses. I witnessed whites bused into minority community schools only to be taught by experienced teachers with no Blacks or Hispanics in that special, white-only, magnet class. I witnessed the suspension and expulsion rate of Black and Hispanic students go through the rooftop especially boys. I witnessed the dropout rate of this same population hit the 50 percent level in many districts. I witnessed the dumbing down of student curriculum to Black and Hispanic students implying we cannot l earn. I witnessed the closing down of schools in minority communities which s ends the signal, education is not important to us, yet studies have shown that Blacks and Hispanics vote at a higher rate for school bond funding than any other group of people.

While all of this was going on administrators and teachers salaries were on the rise with fewer Blacks going into education. The cost of books kept going up and up with les s diversity in them to reflect a diverse nation. And I might add the integration policies o f our public schools leaves a lot to be desired as our Black students fall further and further behind.

So now that more Blacks are saying put the money in our hands so we can have a greater say in the education of our children, UCLA wants to do what they did in the sixties put another topic in the mix. They told us in the sixties we could not l earn because of our income, while it has an impact it has nothing to do with a child’s l earning ability. Mom would say your job is to learn to read, write, and count while in the class. You can eat when you get home. Now I know some people will say that some don’t have it that well but I use to put sugar in a saucer with water then sop it with a biscuit after school, then go into the tobacco field and help before dark.

So now I see the value of well intended people that are committed to putting education at the top of the agenda for African American children and I am all for that. One thing I have l earned in my years of working in education, if you build a high achieving student body, people will come regardless of race.

Toyota Ignores Black Community Customers

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The Toyota automobile company has implemented a worldwide recall of many of its cars with the company reaching out to its customers saying stay with us. Bring your cars in for repair and be careful while driving until you can get it repaired. The executives have been on television, radio and even put paid advertising in major daily newspapers nationwide to inform their customers of the sticking gas pedal and to stay with them. General Motors and Ford have begun advertising the message, bring your Toyota product in for trade to our products. They are doing all of this while ignoring the owners of Black newspapers and radio stations which is an issue for me.

They are aware that we’re here because they have invited us to drive their cars so we could write about how they drive and the quality of their products. They even send us company press releases to publish for our readers.

So they know we are here as a viable business and credible resource to our communities. Yet, when it comes to spending money with any of us, they stop. The same is true with other companies but this article is focused on Toyota from my perspective.

Over the past decade, I would take a quick count of the makes of Toyota autos in the parking lot of St. Paul AME Church on any given Sunday morning. I was doing it because I had a Black owned Lincoln Mercury/Volkswagen dealer advertising in my paper.

(He had told my wife that 24% of all the cars he sold since he had been advertising with us was a result of his ad in our paper.) This was good news for us because it meant he was getting his money’s worth plus he supported our community in other ways from the money we spent with him buying cars. I asked you my readers when was the last time you went to a function or event held in the Black community that Toyota was a sponsor.

How many Toyota dealerships are owned by African Americans? How many Blacks do you know that supplies products or services to Toyota?

Now Toyota on the other hand was not spending any money with us nor were they supporting any groups or programs in the African American community locally.

Yet from my counting their cars in the parking lot, they occupied 35% to 40% of the parking spaces mostly because of price and so-called quality. Now comes the Toyota quality issue that has people afraid to move their cars and what does Toyota do; they are ignoring their most loyal customers by saying if you want information about what we are doing about the problem with your money get it they best way possible.

Let us take a look at where Toyota sells the most cars.

Toyota’s occupy nine of the top ten spots in California for selling cars with each dealer averaging at least 3,500 sales per year. These are the areas with the percentage of sales in the area: San Gabriel Valley 27.6%; San Fernando Valley; 26.6%; Oakland 26.3%; Inland Empire 25.3%; North San Diego 24.8%; Orange County 24.5%; Los Angeles South Bay 24.1% and Sacramento at 23.6% according to a report by Mr. Jim Lentz, Executive Vice President of Toyota to Auto Week. Blacks spent $3.8 billion on cars and related services according to Target Market News in 2006 in California. Toyota spent $2 billion in advertising in the same year and had a special department for the Hispanic population according to a report they submitted to advertising age.

So the question to Toyota is why do you ignore the African American community when it come to reallocating money back into the community that buys your products?

2010 Census: Time to Act Now

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African Americans in California will go undercounted based on the paid advertising program listed on a national 2010 Census Count web-site. The census has bought every language television station, radio station, newspaper, magazine, digital outlet, and billboard owned, operated or directed to the Asian and Hispanic population, while listing only KJLH, owned by Stevie Wonder, to reach the Black community.

Now they do list other white owned media to reach our people including billboards.

They list ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, BET (all corporate owned) as influencers’ of our community. They list the Los Angeles Times but not the Los Angeles Sentinel, LA Watts Times or the other 30 Black owned newspapers in California.

Now while we, watch, listen, read and look at billboards when it comes to action we read our Black newspapers for direction. Just to give some examples, when Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for re-election he garnered 31.9% of the Black vote by using the Black owned newspapers of California. When our people get abused by police: Tyisha Miller in Riverside, Barbershop owners in Moreno Valley, LA, Oakland or discriminated against by corporations they seek the Black press to tell their story. When churches want people to know where they are located they advertise in the Black press. When they want the community to know what they are doing they contact the Black press. When the NAACP conducts a membership drive they put it in the Black press. When community based organizations want the community to know what programs they offer, they seek out the Black press. When corporations promote African Americans to prominent positions they want us to put it in our papers. Everyday I get press releases from the White House, United States Senators, members of congress, governors, all government department heads, state, county and city elected officials. I even get them from a host of corporations that want it known in the Black community that they are our friend. Yes I even get press releases from the Census agency and all of them have one thing in common, they want it for free.

Why is this important? It is about money, elected representation, business, education, jobs, health care and other services. Our state gets money back from the federal government based on our population. We send so much to Washington with the expectation of getting a fair share back. Black people are expecting the same. Each political party wants political districts drawn up in a way that will give them political advantages. Blacks want the same. Currently we are at a disadvantage and with the newly formed Citizen Redistricting Commission we are looking a nightmare in the face. It is being reported now that 75% of the applications being received to serve and draw up our political lines are white. Now whites do not make up 75% of our population. The reason for so few Blacks or Hispanics applying is the confusing and narrowly drawn qualifications in addition to not reaching out to us.

So with the national census not significantly using the Black press we lose out on business, we lose out on money returning back to help us and we will lose out in Black political elected representation.

The time for us to act is now while other groups are angry over the possibility of an undercount and underrepresentation.

Hats off to Sandra Bullock for Donating $1 Million to Haiti Recovery

Two weeks ago I wrote about the NAACP Image Awards nominating Sandra Bullock for an outstanding actress award for her protrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy, a White female helping a Black man that is now in the professional football league in “The Blind Side”. Unlike Tuohy, Bullock’s social contributions were unclear but since then I have learned that Sandra Bullock has donated one million dollars of her own money to help the people of Haiti. I am sure that Sandra did not give the money to receive any accolades from anyone but this kind of contribution cannot go un-noticed by me even when you think of the parable where the widow gave her last penny, known as the widows mite because that was all she had. Surely this is not all Sandra has but it is a very healthy sum that makes a loud splash in the lake of generosity. When you compare this kind of money to a country where the average citizen earns two dollars a day in the best of times think of what that means now to a people with nothing. Since two weeks ago Sandra has racked up the Golden Globe Best Actress award from the Foreign Press Association therefore making her the top contender on the Image Award nomination list.

Ms. Bullock thanks for putting your pocket book where others only give lip service.

America: A "Good Samaritan" Nation

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Based on the televised reports coming out of Haiti of the suffering caused by the earthquake not much has been learned from past natural disasters including Katrina. As it was with Katrina the news media personnel was able to get in to cover the devastation for several days before rescuers and relief people could get on location not to mention provide water, food medicine or other basic services.

In my opinion the people in the rescue business should consult with our media people on how to get into these disaster areas in a timely manner. Now I know that news media people do not have to take equipment or services with them but the military could go in quickly to make surveillance of the disaster as quickly as our media people. Then security personnel could be dispatched as soon as possible with the coordination of any local authorities. By the third day water and food could be distributed along with rescue and proper medical providers and supplies. I use proper medical providers and supplies because we already know that crumbled buildings produce more broken and crushed bones than a flood. Several things are needed from all natural disasters: water, food, medical care, control of disease and if these things are done quickly it will save lives and prevent people from becoming unruly. When any people are trying to stay alive taking food is not looting it is called staying alive until normalization returns.

What we have witnessed in Haiti reminds us of the horrible days of people begging for water and food during the Katrina Hurricane aftermath. There was no excuse then and there is no excuse now. We can do better and we should demand more from those who are in the business of providing the services. As non United States citizens, Haitians who need access to care or temporary shelter should be granted quick access for entrance into America. We allow known terrorists access into America but squabble over children and people with major injuries from a disaster to enter. It does not make any sense to me. We allow persons seeking political asylum access quickly then we work out the paperwork. Another thing, in this country we have people like, Rev Pat Roberson and radio announcer Rush Limbaugh, who say they are Christians saying things like “God is punishing the people of Haiti because they made a pack with the devil many years ago”; Limbaugh said we give them enough from our federal taxes already and therefore should not contribute anything for relief. I am so happy that 99.99% of Americans do not believe in that nonsense.

I am so happy that Americans are like the biblical “Good Samaritan” from Luke 10 beginning at verse 33. “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road and he saw the man, he passed on the other side. So too a Levite, when he came to the place, saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was, and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave to the innkeeper. Look after him, he said, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.” If you notice there was no evaluation of how he got into this situation or asking if he had any financial means to repay he got, no color, race or religion was mentioned. The Samaritan saw a man in need and went into action and said to his caretakers if more money is needed, don’t worry, provide the service and I will pay the cost without out any questions of what you did. So even with our inability to respond in a way that I think we should to disasters I want to say we are still a “Good Samaritan” Nation.

Thanks America.

Is The NAACP "Image Award Committee" Losing Its Way?

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When I was growing up as a child I would sometimes do some silly things and my mom would ask, “Boy have you lost your mind?” To me the implication was that I was not stupid or anything but had temporarily deviated from the family and community norms and teachings. Of course I would think not until after the verbal and physical discipline with a “talking to” afterward that made things a little clearer to me.

While at the state training for NAACP branch officers this week, it was learned that some people wanted to nominate Michael Jackson’s televised funeral to get an award as a variety show.

After doing some investigating of other nominees, I learned that some of the Image Award nominees were not people of color. Being of color is not the sole criteria but my immediate reaction was “NAACP have you lost your way” and have you forgotten why the Image Awards were created in the first place? It was because Hollywood was not recognizing our African American actors nor our contributions to the entertainment industry. Even though they recognize us today in some ways, they still do not do business with Black owned entrepreneurs in numbers consistent with our population. That is another topic for another day.

In my humble opinion a funeral should never be put up for any kind of award because of the reverence of the event. There are long held traditions of how we celebrate the homegoing of our loved ones and giving out awards is not on the list. If you want to pay tribute to Michael, then present something to the family recognizing his contributions to the arts of which there are many. Michael was a singer, dancer, writer, actor and in the movie “This is it” of his practice sessions for his last tour he was a perfectionist and choreographer as well. I want to commend California NAACP State President Alice Huffman and the 62 other presidents for alerting the national office not to include the funeral of Michael Jackson in the Variety/Entertainment category.

The other issue is the nomination of Sandra Bullock as an outstanding actress in a motion picture from Warner Bros about a White female helping a Black man that is now in the professional football league. “The Blind Side,” is a wonderful story but if anyone is to get an award, it should be the lady, Leigh Anne Tuohy, who did it in real life. First let me say I am a fan of Sandra Bullock for her performance in Crash and A Time To Kill. Both of these pictures dealt with real racial issues that we face in America but I don’t see how her playing the role of a woman who helps an individual Black youth is rises to the level of social justice.

According to the NAACP website, the mission of “The NAACP Image Awards is the nation’s premier event celebrating the achievement and performance of people of color in the arts (motion picture, television, recording and literature), as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors.” Given that as its mission, to me promoting social justice would mean awarding major studios for hiring more Blacks behind the camera, advertising in Black-owned media, contracting with Black owned vendors, and encouraging the development of Black run production studios. To my knowledge Sandra Bullock has not reached that level of social activism, nor has Warner Bros., Columbia Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, Screen Gems, Overtures Films, Samuel Goldwyn Films, Twenty Century Fox and others that NAACP has on its list of awardees.

Now I don’t know how the nominations are made but the committee needs to take a closer look at the nomination process and the mission statement of the committee before they are released for voting. I don’t think that the National leadership has lost their mind but I do think the Image Award Committee is losing its way.

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