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Help Haiti Now

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My faith in the essential goodness of the American people and our government has been strengthened as I have witnessed the extraordinary mobilization of relief efforts on behalf of the nation of Haiti following the devastating January 12 earthquake that has taken the lives of perhaps as many as 100,000 or more of its citizens. As I watch the screaming, tearstained scenes of death and anguish unfolding on the nightly news, I cannot help but recall that only five years ago, my own hometown of New Orleans might have disappeared into the abyss of forgotten history were it not for the compassionate outreach of millions of people in this country and around the world. As President Obama said, it is times like these that remind us of our common humanity.

But, as governments, the United Nations, and relief organizations scramble to rescue an already distressed nation from a crisis of biblical proportions, there is still a desperate need for all of us to donate whatever dollars, supplies and expertise we can. As in New Orleans, this tragedy also challenges the United States and other countries to change long-standing policies that have contributed to Haiti’s status as the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. But, first things first.

As recovery and relief efforts intensify, we recommend the following:

It is clear that right now, cash donations are the best way to help. We are urging everyone to donate to the Haiti Support Project’s Haiti Relief Fund at www. ibw21.org. Headed by noted political scientist and scholar, Dr. Ron Daniels, IBW, or the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, is committed to an enhanced quality of life and the overall development of Black people and the Global Black Community. The group’s Haitian Support Project provides humanitarian and economic assistance to Haitian non-governmental organizations seeking to ameliorate the dire conditions of the Haitian people, most of whom live on less than $2 dollars a day. You can also go t o www.whitehouse.gov/HaitiEarthquake to choose another organization to contribute to.

While we applaud President Obama’s swift response and commitment of $100 million in immediate emergency relief, we urge the government to take further steps to rectify years of U.S. trade and immigration embargoes that have had adverse consequences for the people of Haiti. We are pleased that, in the wake of this disaster, the Obama Administration has halted deportations and has granted Temporary Protected status to 100,000 Haitian nationals who, prior to January 12, 2010, have been living in the United States illegally. This will allow them to continue living and working here for the next 18 months.

For years, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the IBW and others have been fighting for more aid and engagement with Haiti. CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee has made an impassioned plea that we take this opportunity to bring more of those efforts to fruition. We agree. In our view, the United States has both a moral and political obligation to lead a comprehensive plan for the reconstruction of Haiti, like the Marshall Plan, to ensure that the physical infrastructure and human lives are permanently rebuilt.

Marc Morial is president and CEO of the National Urban League.

Letter to the Editor: D.A. Kamala Harris

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This day is very personal for me. As many of you know, I am a child of the civil rights movement. My mother marched for racial justice and equality when my sister and I were young girls being raised in Oakland. What my mother had, she gave to us in abundance: love, education, inspiration and hope. In the optimism of her struggle, she taught us to fight for what is best about our state and our nation— that though we may stumble and sometimes fall, this is a place where more often than not, we are given the chance to rise again.

Both my sister and I dedicated our lives to work every day for the civil rights of Californians. I made this decision so that I could fight for our essential civil right to live free from crime and fear in every neighborhood. I believe that our children have a right to safe schools and a quality education and that women and seniors have a right to live free from abuse in their homes. Homeowners have a right to protection from predatory lending and mortgage fraud, and workers have a right to organize and to have access to quality health care and safe working conditions.

The brave career of Dr. King ensured that fundamental civil rights were guaranteed by the courts. But while those rights have largely been secured in the law, they have yet to be fully realized. In order to achieve true equality for all, it is up to us to see that those laws are enforced. It is our duty to make sure that Dr. King’s dream is ultimately achieved.

Dr. King’s tireless work also reminds us to never forget those that are suffering across the globe. Please consider helping relief efforts in Haiti by contributing to one of the charities on the White House Haiti Relief Page.

Coretta Scott King once said, “Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation.”

Our generation is fearless. We are tireless, and I am confident that we will work not only on this day, but every single day until the full promise of justice and opportunity is secured for our children and our children’s children.

Today we celebrate Dr. King in name, but we must also strive to honor him every day in action.

– Kamala Harris, San Francisco District Attorney

Weasel Moves of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Redlands

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The City of Redlands has a rich history and is affectionately known as the Jewel of the Inland Empire. It is blessed with a myriad of people who are warm and hospitable with the ability to make you feel welcome anytime you enter into their community. Redlands is a safe community filled with people who will seek to help you, not seek to harm you.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Redlands (BGCR) was established in this community in 1967. BGCR’s past leadership did well in emulating the fundamental nature of the city in which it was founded. Since their inception BGCR has expanded their operation into the surrounding communities of Loma Linda and Mentone, effectively bringing programs to communities that were previously underserved.

But, there have been some recent choices made by the present leadership of the BGCR that strays from the roots and values of the city in which it was launched. Also, these choices, I’m certain, are in opposition to the integrity of the organization they supposedly represent, the Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA).

The present leadership of BGCR embarked on some questionable decisions with little or no regards to the organization that exists directly to the west, the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Bernardino (BGCSB). BGCSB was also founded in 1967 by Jack Brown, C.E.O. of Stater Bros; Patrick Morris, Mayor of San Bernardino; the late Art Townsend, founder of the Precinct Reporter; and Bruce Varner, attorney and member of The Regents of the University of California.

Motivated by their desire to obtain funds at any cost, the BGCR decided to make a few weasel moves.

A weasel move by definition is an action that is treacherous, underhanded or sneaky in manner.

Weasel move #1. Because of the past association with the Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino (HACSB) through the Brockton site in the Redlands Public Housing area, the BGCR opened up a site in the Waterman Gardens with the assistance of the HACSB.

Why would an organization which serves three communities with a population of around 100,000 including 26,000 kids under 18 want to expand into a city that is already being served by another area club? Why would an organization which serves households with a median income of about $50,000.00 choose to expand into a neighboring locality without notifying the local area club of their intent to set up shop in their city? The answer is simple, greed. Weasel move #2. On the BGCR website homepage they display serving the communities of Loma Linda, Mentone, Redlands, and San Bernardino. If you go to the BGCA website and go to the ‘Find a Club’ page, then enter 92410, the zip code for Waterman Gardens, the nearest site will be the BGCSB. The Waterman Gardens site is not recognized as an official site of the BGCA. Yet they shout it out loud and clear on their homepage – very deceitful.

· Please note: During construction of the BGCSB webpage it mistakenly stated ‘serving the county’ instead of ‘city of San Bernardino’. BGCR was outraged and contacted BGCSB. Shortly thereafter, the word county was corrected to read city.

· Also note: The BGCSB was contacted to expand into the city of Riverside. The organization declined due to the natural county boundaries.

Weasel move #3. The Inland Empire is made up of numerous Boys & Girls Clubs in a multitude of cities. Yet if you go to www.bgcie.org, www.bgcie.net or www.bgcie.com all of these sites will refer you to the BGCR webpage. Some call this a shrewd move. In light of all the other weasel moves, I call it very underhanded. Weasel move #4. Boys & Girls Clubs count on the generosity of foundations, corporations, businesses, individuals and the community for their support. They also receive grants from various sources. The BGCR has the audacity to apply for a Community Development Block Grant from the City of San Bernardino. Where are they going to use this money? Not in San Bernardino! Waterman Gardens is wholly funded by HACSB!

The true reason the BGCR is in Waterman Gardens is to use the median income numbers from the low housing development to strengthen grant proposals that they intend to write. This is nothing but exploitation in its worst form.

The Boys & Girls Clubs mission is “To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.” What kind of example is the BGCR setting to its young people by seeking to obtain the all mighty dollar through any means necessary, no matter what person or group they use, step-on or abuse to get it?

Rikke Van Johnson
Chairman of the Board
Boys & Girls Club of San Bernardino

Criticism, Criticism, Criticism

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I think that the pundits and the public should face up to one fact. The mess that President Barack Obama inherited will not be fixed in one year, or two or possibly even during his entire term. That makes it exceedingly difficult to determine, in this time framework, especially through the screen of the constant criticism of him and his policies what the real nature of his presidential contribution will be.

The media works on a timeframe of instant results. While grudgingly admitting that the George Bush administration presided over the wars, the sorry state of the economy and the home foreclosure crisis, and passed it on to Obama, they nonetheless, constantly criticize Obama’s personal actions and proposals in his attempt to fix these problems. Those who come to his defense in the welter of attacks are rare, since it appears from surveying many media outlets that most of those who are allowed the privilege of participating in the public interpretation of events are opponents of this White House. The frequency of Republican and conservative Democratic voices invited to comment on every action of the White House has been overwhelming, something the Democratic party did not experience under George Bush.

So, what are we to make of the fact that Obama inherited the worst situation going into office of perhaps any president in American history and that his poll numbers are just below 50% at the end of one year in office? Are these good considering the problems, or do the pundits and the American people realistically expect that he would have resolved the problems they face in one year? Or is this merely a symbol of American discontent with the personal situation that that they impute to the president as the custodian of the problems? I think it is the latter.

Somewhere, reality must trump symbolism and it is my belief that this is not only the task of historians, but it is the responsibility of serious media as events occur.

Too often, unjustified criticisms of this Administration have been uttered on the talk shows, the internet and in other forums without opposition by hosts, commentators and other persons who influence public opinion. This means that the media has been influential in driving down Obama’s favorable ratings by doing things like trying to make him responsible for the high unemployment rate and the response by the “Tea Party” phenomenon as a legitimate sense of the American people, when it is little more than a carefully crafted and funded Right Wing mobilization.

Too often media commentators have not corrected or given balance to the criticisms such as: George Bush kept us safe during his tenure when no one knows whether that is true; or that Obama promised to put everything on C-SPAN; or that he waited too long to respond to the Detroit airline bomber; or that he hasn’t focused on job creation; and that the Stimulus Package has not worked at all.

If George Bush had been as criticized and interrogated as much as Obama, perhaps the edifice of problems that now challenge the very viability of America might have been stopped. In fact, in the context of the problems his administration faces, the personality and actions of Obama exist in a war of interpretation but I do not see them positioning their troops to fight it.

Besides the concrete accomplishments of any president, its legacy will often be determined by who wins the war over the interpretation of the actions of his administration at the time it is in office. Those interpretations will often exist for a long time because historians use media interpretations as well.

My sense of this was heightened by remarks by Richard Cohen of the Washington Post who recently wrote that given his low favorable numbers Obama has “failed” as president. How do you fail in one year and is that an accurate interpretation of how to read the polls?

Nevertheless, by stating that Obama has failed, Cohen has influenced the judgment of many people in that regard. The lack of reality that resides in such judgments is one of the reasons why some of us believe that the interpretations of Obama’s actions have much to do with race, at base a belief in the inferiority of black leadership (even if he doesn’t profess to be a black leader). Indeed, a new study by Stanford University researchers strongly correlates racial bias with negative attitudes toward Obama. That aside, I believe that the nature of the skewed interpretations of Obama’s administration have much more to do with the times, the severity of the crisis, the hegemonic power of the Right to influence opinion and the lack of a forceful set of voices to right the balance of opinion. Despite the criticisms, the reality is that the Obama administration has made a dent in the problems America faces. Someone must answer why has he not been given the credit he deserves?

Ron Walters is Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland and a Political Analysts. His latest book is, The Price of Racial Reconciliation (University of Michigan Press).

Keeping up Faith and Hope in Times of Struggle

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By Jaleesa Follens-Jones –

Since my years in high school and during my current years in college I have met many students and fellow peers who have expressed aspirations of becoming health professionals. However, during my four years of college I have met many fellow “aspiring medical students” who have decided to rethink their medical career plans-some become wearied by the heavy academic work load, others may not score well on the MCAT, and others may become discouraged by the rigorous and stressful application and interviewing process which is a required step toward becoming a student of medicine. Being that I am a current Biology major at Baylor University I have encountered many struggles during my academic career. I even thought about dismissing my dream of becoming an orthopedic surgeon due to an overwhelming schedule. But in the back of my mind I knew that I did not want to settle for less. I needed to push myself past my comfort zone and past my mistakes in order to elevate my capacity for learning and my capacity for enduring difficult circumstances. I was blessed to be able to receive wise counsel from Joseph A. Bailey, an orthopedic surgeon and advocate for the developing of youth life skills. Doctor Bailey, not only shared helpful information on how to be successful in medical school, but he also made a statement that I will never forget “Never give up” he said, “Never stop- If you get tired GO TO SLEEP, but don’t ever stop!”. This statement continues to encourage me past the late nights of studying and the mornings that I wish I could just stay in bed. As future medical professionals we should expect trials and uncomfortable situations to occur on our journey, but we should also expect to learn, grow, and adapt because of those situations, thus allowing us to be experienced, well-rounded, tested individuals with a conscious awareness of what is necessary to become great health care providers and to impact the lives of people in our communities in the most positive and uplifting ways.

I also believe that if we figure out why we are traveling this journey in medicine and constantly remind ourselves of that reason; it will maintain the drive and perseverance we need to be successful. My reason is my family and the people in my community. Being an African-American woman , I am underrepresented in the medical field especially that of orthopedic surgery. I feel that my journey (tripups included) will help my young nieces and nephews, children at my church home and just the youth that I may come across to help them see that their goals are not set too high and that they can become a surgeon even though no one in their immediate family finished college, or that they can become an astronaut even if their family cannot afford airline tickets at the present time. So you see, for me my success is not just about myself, or the potential large figure salary I may earn, but it is mainly about the passion that I have to help others medically and the desire I have to see other hopeful youth excel and succeed.

What is your passion? What is your motivation? It is clear that we lack an easy to follow guide to assist us in reaching our goals, and most learning comes by trial and error, but the key is that we do learn, grow, and adapt to become the most phenomenal individuals that we can possibly be and impact our communities as such. I pray peace and blessings as you travel your journey.

Things to consider and apply to your daily journey:

• Team up with people who are also goal oriented.
• Be Vocal
• Seek wise counsel
• Be deliberate with your life and your choices
• Most important-“Never give up!”

Follens-Jones is a biology student at Baylor University.

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