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In Arizona: What Would Dr. Height Do?

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By Nicole C. Lee, NNPA Columnist –

Dr. Dorothy Irene Height was a civil rights giant and we must be knowledgeable about her accomplishments in order to move forward. She received countless number of awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal for a lifetime of contributions to fight to eliminate humanity's burdens.

She was refused entry to Barnard College, because it had reached it’s quota for black students (which was two).

Nevertheless, Dr. Height went on to break barriers in national institutions and international arenas. In the early 1950s she became the head of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). In that role she so often found herself to be the "only woman in the room", a weight that she carried with assertiveness, poise and grace.

Dr. Height understood the connection of domestic and international struggles for liberation worldwide. Through NCNW, Dr. Height worked for solutions to the struggles women and their families face all over the world. Her tireless efforts is apparent in many African nations. Under Dr. Height's leadership the NCNW has worked with national women's organizations in Benin, Eritrea, and Senegal on programs which support the improvement of women's social and economic conditions, particularly in the rural areas.

She was a founding Board member of TransAfrica and remained a close advisor of the institution until her death. Our tribute to her reads, in part, "She stood on the front lines at TransAfrica's inception to fight apartheid in South Africa and human injustice in Haiti. Whether it was to support South Africans' struggle to attain freedom, or Nigerians' fight against the military regime of Abacha, or Haitians' opposition to the dictatorship of Duvalier, Dr. Height was there with her passionate, gentle counsel. She was, and is, one of the African World's most noted liberators." We all can see Dr. Height's accomplishments which include desegregation, federal civil rights legislation and a societal shift towards justice and freedom.

Like a charmed grandmother, she attended all the events in support of civil and human rights organizations. Because of her deep abiding commitment to the causes of today, she kept calendar that would have put us all to shame. The last time I saw Dr. Height I was at the NCNW building giving a report on the situation in Haiti post earthquake. Ever the organizer, she was so concerned that we not take our eye off of Haiti, even when the cameras moved on.

As I said, Dr. Height understood the connection of domestic and international struggles for liberation worldwide. As the immigration debate in Arizona is heating up, now in her bodily absence, I find myself using her work as an inspiration as I acknowledge the importance of unity within the black community on this issue. Undocumented immigrants aren't taking our jobs; corporations are.

The Latino and Black communities united could be a positive force for change in our country.

Yet, we have never supported one another the way we could.

Dr. Height spent a lifetime raising these tough issues with the powers that be. Her lesson to us is to take up the struggles even when they seem impossible.

Undoubtedly, Dr. Height would have been in the front for the fight for justice for the most vulnerable. The Arizona law targeting undocumented immigrants is a slap in the face to ALL that we as people of color have gained in this country. A law that allows people to be stopped and harassed by the police because they might "look illegal" is an abomination. The people of this country must condemn this type of measure and work twice as hard to ensure that there is a dignified path to citizenship for those that are undocumented and a new U.S. foreign policy that ensures that the causes of mass migrations are dealt with.

Human and civil rights leaders of all races must lead this fight.

Nicole C. Lee is the president of TransAfrica Forum

Connecting the Dots within the Black Diaspora

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(NNPA) There are more than a billion people of African descent living on this precious earth. There are 800 million in Africa; 140 million in South America; 40 million in the United States and the remaining spread amongst the rest of the globe. No matter which way you look at it, we are at the bottom rung of each economic ladder in each and every nation.

It is time to seriously address this matter and no one is going to do it sincerely but people of African descent themselves.

There are a lot of organizations such as the United Nations, NATO, World Bank, IMF, etc. that give token attention to the needs of the Black Diaspora. There will never be true progress from these groups because it is in their economic interest to exploit the Black Diaspora not nurture it.

Descendents of Africa must do for self.

First we need to get thoroughly organized. We cannot do this with social worker types forming committees and liaisons. The glue that can put us all together is COMMERCE. The best example is that of the Chinese Diaspora. The common thread and link to all people of Chinese descent is commercial interaction. Economic empowerment solidifies the population which is spread throughout the world. This is obviously successful and we, people of African descent, should use this as our new model.

As the nation of China is the center of the Chinese Diaspora commercial activity, the United States should become the commercial center for the Black Diaspora. Our economic status, educational levels and personal wealth are the greatest amongst the Diaspora. It is our destiny to lead this major project and set policy, trade routes, best practices for all of us to follow. It won’t be easy but anything of value never is. Let’s begin working on this. During the next few months I will be working furiously on setting exchange programs with Afro Latinos in the heavily Black populated nations of Colombia and Brazil. They possess the two largest Black populations in South America. We have had interaction in the past and now it is time to pick up the pace in a turbo fashion. African-Americans should get ready to learn a lot about these two nations and many of you should plan on traveling to and from and, also, seek business opportunities amongst all the players.

Both Colombia and Brazil have what we call Historically Black Colleges and Universities. We should develop a Sister Program between them and some of our HBCUs. The business and engineering schools should be in constant interaction and we, the United States, should provide good internship opportunities for students in the South American schools with major US corporations. This would develop capacity and valuable experience that the students can take back to their respective communities.

They could start entrepreneurial ventures that would create significant numbers of jobs and start them on a wealth building journey. My plan is to develop partnerships with at least two US schools and one Colombian campus and one from Brazil.

We will assemble a working group of African American entrepreneurs and go on fact finding missions to these two nations.

We will also host fact finding groups from Brazil and Colombia to likewise see how we do it in America. From there we will organize aggressive trade missions and seek to form joint ventures and other economic collaborations with our entrepreneurial counterparts. Perhaps we can get the World Bank to provide some token financing that could jump start our newly formed ventures. Some way; some how we will find the seed money (even if it comes from our own pockets) and start the long and glorious mission.

Of course, we will have to develop a good political strategy. Nothing gets Congress and the US State Department more nervous than a group of African American entrepreneurs visiting foreign nations on a business trip. This is a “game changer” and will revolutionize the economic order and the place where descendents of Africa will interact.

This will be the start. Soon we should have all of South America connected along with the Caribbean. From there we go for the grand prize – the wonderful continent of Africa. Africa, our motherland with all its treasures and natural resources that exceed any other geography in the world, is the final prize. What if the Black Diaspora had its act together like the Chinese Diaspora? What a wonderful world this would be.

Letter to Dr. Joseph Bailey

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Dr. Bailey,

I have been working with many other individuals and groups for the past 2 years to Abolish Physical/Corporal Punishment of children in Schools, already ILLEGAL in Schools in 30 States. I am unable to protect my own 3 children (whom we do not hit) from witnessing/overhearing teachers threaten/hit students with wooden paddles to deliberately inflict physical pain and suffering to Punish them for minor infractions such as not turning in homework, etc. Tennessee State Law does NOT require Parental Consent of Notification for children to by physically punished in Schools.

Federal and State Government officials have informed us that the very important matter of our children's health and safety in schools in left up to autonomous school district governing boards.

We made a written/verbal presentation in April 2008 to our school district board members during "National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month" to demand the Prohibit Physical/Corporal Punishment of Children in our Schools and they have not responded, they have IGNORED US!

I have collected several news articles of children suffering injuries due to paddling in school. One news headline reads "Nearly 60,000 Spanking in Miss. Schools last year" and Leflore County, Miss. was sued twice in one month for $500,000 each time by families of elementary school children injured by paddling. Our nation's most trusted Children's Health and Education Organizations have issued official positions statements Opposing Corporal Punishment of Children in Schools. Government Officials continue to IGNORE Research that indicates Corporal Punishment is harmful to children and contributes to social ills.

A federal lawsuit was filed 2/22/2010 in Miss. to ban paddling in schools which also seeks a declaration that Corporal Punishment of Children in Schools in Unconstitutional.

The Coalition Against School Paddling filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights against the 20 School Paddling States.

Recent news headlines read "Girls Spanked, Suspended for Skimpy Prom Dresses" at Oxford High School, Alabama and "Stopping bullying before it starts" related that elementary school children in Kennett, MO are punished for bullying by being hit with wooden paddles to deliberately inflict physical pain and suffering as Punishment known as Corporal Punishment or Paddling or by being suspended.

Hitting children in schools to Punish them is NOT the answer! U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) plans to introduce legislation in U.S. Congress to ban the use of physical discipline in public schools.

At a recent hearing by the Healthy Families and Communities Subcommittee, McCarthy said:

The federal government has outlawed physical punishment in prisons, jails and medical facilities. Yet our children sitting in a classroom are targets for hitting. We know safe, effective, evidence-based strategies are available to support children who display challenging behaviors in school settings.

Hitting children in school does not help them achieve academic success.

Hitting children in school is not an effective discipline tactic. Hitting children in school does not make them feel safe in school. Instead, they feel humiliated, helpless, depressed, and angry. Hitting children teaches them that it is a legitimate way to handle conflict.

We are adults. We shouldn’t be hitting kids in schools. Instead, we, as a nation, should move toward these positive strategies when it comes to our school children.

It has been a 150 years since the first state banned this practice in schools. Since then, 29 states have done the same. But it is still occurring every day in our nation and we still have hundreds of thousands of students being hit in our schools.

Julie Worley

Immigration, Drugs and Race

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(NNPA) The term Immigration is very broad and misunderstood. Recently, it is being applied to Mexicans crossing the formal US/Mexico border to settle or to temporarily work in the United States. This is quite a bit different than Europeans coming to the New World to settle and begin a new life. It is quite different than Asians coming to meet the work demand in a new and vibrant nation. Also, it pales in difference to Africans, South Americans and Caribbeans coming to start a new life.

We must look at the historical perspective when it comes to Mexicans (let’s not use the term Hispanic).

The states of California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas were a part of the sovereignty of Mexico until we, the United States, violently stole this gigantic piece of real estate from the nation. In two acts, Texas Revolution (1836) and the Mexican-American War (1848) we made, without provocation, one of the biggest land grabs in the history of the world.

There are more than a few Mexican Americans who can take their heritage back to the 1500’s. Yet, our press and common opinion want to think of them collectively as “immigrants”. A lot of the movement from one side of the border to the other is simply family interaction.

But our press and political dogma spews something quite different.

After stealing Texas via rebelling US settlers (immigrants), our nation quickly annexed it into our Republic. We then encouraged mass migration to populate and fortify the state.

After the Mexican-American War, we propped up the California Gold Rush in 1849 to stimulate mass migration into our newly stolen lands. So it is with great irony that we condemn Mexicans crossing over into land that was once theirs and where many of their relatives settled into centuries ago. This is more than about immigration.

Most Mexican immigrants, legal or illegal, are hard working, family oriented persons. Their mission is to make a living through the “sweat of their brows”. It is the Judeo-Christian Work Ethic at its best. Yet, we want to paint an ugly picture as though they are criminal and immoral.

Now, let’s get to the real problem.

What is happening in Arizona is the fact that many of the borders crossing pathways of the Southwestern US have been effectively sealed. For some reason the federal government has put up fences along the Mexican border everywhere but in Arizona. Thus, the flow of the migration is coming up through Arizona like the water flow of the Mississippi River. Federal policy makers know this but try to act “brain dead” on the matter and will not address strengthening the Arizona/Mexico border with fencing as they have done in California, New Mexico and Texas.

With the folks seeking work crossing over comes the myriad of drug traffickers.

The violence and pain is coming from the drug traffickers and the ignorant and/or racist pundants seem to mix them into one big bag with the immigrants seeking a better life.

The state legislature and Governor of Arizona have just passed a very unfortunate law that will fan the flames of racism and bigotry. However, I understand why this is happening. They are frustrated. Crime in Arizona caused by border crossings is skyrocketing.

Ranchers are being shot for apparently no reason other than inspecting their lands. Murders in Arizona cities is at an all time high and this is caused by warring drug gangs.

Phoenix has become the World Capital for Kidnapping. Imagine an American city with that distinction! The citizens of Arizona are frightened and demand action from government. The border is the responsibility of the federal government but it has been derelict of its precious duty. Thus, the state government of Arizona, in its frustration, has decided to do something even if it may be wrong. It will wake up the federal government and induce some kind of responsible action. The big problem here is not immigration but the lack of government policing drug trafficking. The lack of policing drug activity or the cooperation of it is what’s wrong here. In no way can you tell me that drugs can come into this nation like falling rain without government cooperation. Our justice authorities are the best in the world and they act incompetent when it comes to reducing the amount of drug importation into this nation.

There is an immense amount of money, hundreds of billions of dollars annually, and corruption is well settled in. So, the “thought police” want you to think that all the crime erupting in Arizona is because of impoverish immigrants flowing into the nation with the thought of committing crime as opposed to looking for work or uniting with their families. Those with racial animus are too quickly to buy this. Don’t you buy it.

Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO, of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.

Bill O’Reilly’s Obsession with "Playing the Race Card"

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By A. Peter Bailey, NNPA Commentary –

(NNPA) So-called conservatives in this country spend much of their time accusing Black folks of “playing the race card” when practically any comment is made about expressions of white supremacy. The leader of the conservative mantra on this subject is Fox “fair and balanced” Cable News’ reigning propagandist, Bill O’Reilly.

On his television program and in his newspaper column, O’Reilly regularly scolds those whom he considers “playing the race card.” In a recent column he pontificated about speaking to a gathering of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network during which he told the attendees that “…branding the tea party as a racist group would be a huge mistake that could actually create racism….”

Though calling the tea party gang and their supporters such as O’Reilly “racist” may be a mistake calling them White supremacists is right on target. A survey conducted at the University of Michigan on what Blacks and Whites consider to be “integration” backs up this description. Black, according to the survey, regards integration as 50 percent Black, 50 percent White with a Black or White person in charge.

For Whites, it is 15 percent Black, 85 percent White with a White person always in charge. That is a White supremacist position probably shared by most tea partiers and their journalistic supporters. That’s why they regard the Obamas being in the White House as an abomination, a serious violation of the natural order of the universe.

A Black person who points out this fact of life is “playing the race card,” according to O’Reilly, a charge, by the way, he never hurls at Whites. He didn’t accuse Newt Gingrich of “playing the race card” when, prior to passage of the health reform bill, Newt reportedly said the Democrats who voted for the bill “will have destroyed their party, such as Lyndon Johnson did for 40 years.”

Nor did he hurl race card playing accusations at Investor’s Business Daily for saying that the bill “is affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on the basis of skin color.” When his buddy and obnoxious side-kick Glenn Beck lied that “Obama hates White people” and when a tea partier’s sign proclaimed that “Obama Plans White Slavery,” there wasn’t a mumbling word from O’Reilly about “playing the race card.”

A knowledgeable Black person doesn’t expect any such response from O’Reilly and his fellow propagandists.

We just have to be aware of what such toxic flacks are saying, writing and doing so we won’t be caught off guard when one or more of their feverish followers make a move against us. Of course, in doing this we, not the Whites, in O’Reilly’s view will be “creating racism.”

Journalist/Lecturer A. Peter Bailey, a former associate editor of Ebony, is currently editor of Vital Issues: The Journal of African American Speeches. He can be reached at apeterb@verizon.net.

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