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Averting Passive/Aggressive Behavior Could Avert Violence

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Men fighting women is wrong and unacceptable. However, in some cases, women provoke men into violence but are exempt from culpability because of their gender. As a lad, I repeatedly heard, and dutifully accepted the unilateral rule of engagement, that a boy should never strike a girl. There were no such guidelines that taught girls that they should be careful not to provoke violence from a male. Many females will not hesitate to slap a male and feel protected by the rules of engagement given all males. There was a time in elementary school that I teased a girl for being skinny. I called her Olive Oyl. She sprung on me with her fingernails like a bobcat.  All I could do to protect myself was to cover up and yell because I knew that a boy was not supposed to hit a girl. A teacher rescued.

However, I got a one-day suspension from the principal, and two Band-Aids on my face from the school nurse. In later years, a jealous girlfriend verbally attacked me about looking at another woman. I tried to leave the scene but she blocked my exit. Finally, I pushed her aside and left her apartment. I eventually received a summons to appear before a district attorney arbitrator to determine if assault charges should be filed against me. The woman showed such a belligerent attitude at the hearings that the case was dismissed and I was free to leave without charges being filed.

The aforementioned events seem similar to two recent publicly reported physical altercations between romantically connected celebrities. Rihanna recently told TV host Diane Sawyer on national television the attacks started with an argument over a text message Brown received while they were driving home from an industry party. “I couldn’t take it that he kept lying to me. And he couldn’t take it that I wouldn’t drop it, and it was ugly,” she told Sawyer. Rihanna pretty much admitted that she verbally hounded and rode Brown until he snapped. That’s what I call passive/ aggressive behavior. Of course Brown was wrong to snap and needs anger management counseling.  However, Rihanna further said on the TV interview that she wants her experience to be a lesson to other young women. My advice to Rihanna is to tell young women when to back off and not push men into a combat zone.

Another case in point, approximately two years ago, the news broke about 50-year-old Rev. Juanita Bynum being savagely beat in a hotel parking lot by her estranged husband Bishop Thomas Weeks. According to an Atlanta Police Department report, Weeks allegedly attacked Bynum. In a statement to police, Bynum said Weeks, “choked her, pushed her down, kicked her and stomped her in a hotel parking lot.” The investigation uncovered that the two were separated and met to talk about their troubled marriage. The meeting reportedly did not go well and ended with Bishop Weeks leaving abruptly.  Reverend Bynum followed him to the parking lot where the two exchanged bitter words. Though Weeks was the physical aggressor, Bynum was first the passive aggressor because she shouldn’t have followed him, especially talking trash.

There are thousands, perhaps millions, of women that get beat annually all because nobody taught them when to let it go. Most males were taught not to hit females; however, statistics show that many men cannot control their tempters when verbally backed into a corner by a relentless confrontational female.  This would become a safer and happier society for both sexes if men would learn to keep their hands to themselves and women would learn to when to wisely retreat before they push a man, perhaps already on the edge, too far.

Better Off Than a Year Ago?

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By Julianne Malveaux, NNPA Columnist --

President Ronald Reagan had his flaws, but he certainly could turn a phrase. In the 1980 Presidential campaign he asked a question that has resonated in campaigns ever since. “Are you better off than you were four years ago,” the former California governor asked in his race against Democratic President Jimmy Carter. The people answered with a resounding “no”, and Ronald Reagan was elected.

The question has been asked in every election since, but President Barack Obama spun it cleverly in the 2008 election, when he said “At the rate you are going you will have to ask are you better off than you were four weeks ago.” And so, just one year ago, in a stunning moment of history, the former Illinois Senator Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States.

I remember that election night, November 4, 2008, as if it were yesterday, remember the tear trickling down the cheeks of Rev. Jesse Jackson at that cold park in Chicago, remember the exuberance of some of the commentators as the numbers came in. It wasn’t even close, really, and all of us who were afraid to believe in the possibility of an African American president were chastened and excited. And many of us remain excited at this Presidency, even as Obama’s ratings drop to something around 53 percent in late October (from a high of 62 percent in April). The drops are understandable.  President Obama presides over the worst economic conditions in seventy years, with unemployment rates at all time highs, and consumer confidence at all time lows. He has ambitiously tackled some of the most tractable policy challenges, including credit reform and health care reform, even as he has had to manage military action in Afghanistan and Iraq and the declining popularity of our nation in the world (Nobel Peace price notwithstanding). And, our President has had to manage the hostility of the tea party Republicans whose disrespectful and obnoxious behavior has changed the tone of civic discourse and introduced an acceptable racism into what might otherwise be reasonable criticism about policy matters.

Challenges notwithstanding, there is a question that must be answered. Are the American people better off now than we were a year ago? The answer is an ambiguous yes. We are better off for the possibility of health care reform. We are better off for the possibility of credit card and banking reform. We are better off thanks to a stimulus that has saved some jobs and pumped some money in the economy. We are better off to the extent that the federal government is attempting to help with the foreclosure situation.  In terms of the labor market we are emphatically not better off. The unemployment rate was 8.1 percent when President Obama was sworn in on January 20. It is 9.8 percent now. African Americans had official unemployment rates of 13.4 percent last January. Now the rate is 15.4.

Those are only the official rates.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that it estimates overall unemployment as high as 17 percent. Using the same formula, the African American unemployment rate is 26.7 percent, a Depressionera rate. If you are a renter who is also jobless, you probably have not seen any positive impact of the public policy that president Obama is attempting. Are you better off than you were a year ago? It depends on where you stand on the economic totem pole.

Is it too soon for us to have this conversation?  After all, President Obama absolutely inherited an untenable economic situation. He has approached it with energy and vigor, championing stimulus and counting on stimulus to trickle down to workers. My only criticism is that there are workers who would like to have the same priority that Wall Street and the bankers do.

A federal employment program would make all the difference in the world for people at the bottom. An unemployment rate of 9.8 percent is all too high, and the cost of living with it is way too much.  Indeed, it is not likely that our economy can recover without a jobs program.  People won’t spend until they feel secure about their economic futures. We are moving into the holiday spending season, and what people spend in the next two months will make the difference between profits and losses for millions of retailers.  On election night, a year ago, our nation might have gone in another direction.  Are we better off than we were a year ago? For sure. But we’d be even better still if we could put American back to work.

Julianne Malveaux is President of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Time to Declare "Peace" on Youth Violence

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Marc H. Morial
If you’re reading, this in your local urban newspaper, you probably encountered at least one story about youth violence in your community before finding your way to this column.  But wading through reports of violence in the news pales beside the daily real life experiences of many young people across this nation.  According to a recently released Justice Department report, “More than 60 percent of the nation’s youth have been exposed to violence within the last year. Nearly 1 in 2 was physically assaulted at least once, with more than 1 in 10 injured in an assault.”

While incidents like the 1999 Columbine massacre which caused the deaths of 13 people or the 2007 Virginia Tech rampage which took the lives of 32 make international headlines, we are in the grips of a largely silent epidemic of youth violence that is endangering the lives of hundreds of thousands of children across this country every year.

A few weeks ago, the nation was riveted by a YouTube video of the senseless beating death of Derrion Albert, a Chicago high school honor student.  Derrion was attacked on his way home from school as he innocently walked through a crowd of rival gang members.  According to the New York Times, “Close to 70 students have been murdered [in Chicago] since the beginning of the 2007 school year.” This level of violence is exceptional by any standard, but sadly, it is replicated at equally unacceptable levels in many of our major cities. As Attorney General Holder said during his recent visit to Chicago to address this issue, “Youth violence is not a Chicago problem any more than it is a Black problem, a white problem or a Hispanic problem. It is an American problem.”

A problem this big calls all of us to action. In recent years, we declared “war” on drugs and “war” on terrorism.

Today, I think it’s time we declare “peace” on youth violence. I was pleased that Holder and Education

Secretary, Arne Duncan went to Chicago to begin what they called “a sustained national conversation” about youth violence in response to the Derrion Albert murder. Holder also announced a request for $24 million in next year’s budget for community-based prevention programs such as Ceasefire and Project Safe Neighborhoods. But stopping and preventing youth violence will take more than money. And it is about more than violence.

While young people who commit violent acts must ultimately be held accountable for their crimes, we cannot ignore the role that poverty, parenting, poor schools, guns, drugs, gangs and the lack of opportunity play in this on-going tragedy. We must invest both more money and more of ourselves in solving these problems if we want to dig out the roots of youth violence. As someone said to me recently, if we can find the votes and the money for a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street, we ought to be able to summon the will and the resources to save our kids.

An Open Letter to a Confused Gregory Kane

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George E. Curry, NNPA Columnist
Dear Brother Greg,

You and I have had fun sparring over the years and judging by your recent column in the Washington Examiner attempting to take me to task for taking Juan Williams and Frances Rice to task for their support of Rush Limbaugh, that’s an exchange you’d like to continue. So, I’ll happily oblige you, my friend.

Interestingly, you chose to quote two Limbaugh comments that I stated up front were unproven and only one from the long list of documented derogatory comments made by him.  For example, you didn’t dare quote a comment that Limbaugh confirmed making to an African-American caller:

“Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”

You asserted that in the interest of what you called “full disclosure” that as editor of Emerge, I ran “two notorious covers of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on them. One depicted Thomas with a handkerchief around his head; the second had him shining the shoes of Justice Antonin Scalia.”

You wrote the same thing in at least three other columns (December 24, 2000; May 19, 2005 and May 1, 2009). Yes, we published a cover of Thomas [November 2003] with a handkerchief on his head – tied in an Aunt Jemima knot, to be specific – but we did not place him on the cover shinning Scalia’s shoes. The latter was an illustration inside the second issue [November 1996]. The cover was an illustration of Thomas as a lawn jockey for the Far Right. If you’re going to criticize me, Greg at least get the facts straight.

As for your comment that the two covers were “just as despicable as anything Limbaugh has said, been accused of saying or ever will say,” the cover and inside illustration speak for themselves – and evidently for most of Black America.

Writing in Time magazine – no bastion of American liberalism – Jack E. White observed: “No matter what George Curry accomplishes during the remainder of his journalistic career, he will be remembered for one thing: he was the editor who slapped a portrait of Clarence Thomas wearing an Aunt Jemima-style handkerchief on a 1993 cover of Emerge magazine. That shocking image outraged Thomas’ supporters, of course, but it crystallized the disgust that many African Americans had begun to feel about the ultraconservative legal philosophy of the U.S. Supreme Court’s only black member.”

I take it that you are still in the “outraged Thomas’ supporters” category.

By the way, the point that you continue to overlook is that the first Emerge cover image in 1993 was based primarily on the remarks of Thomas’ former supporters, not his usual critics.  We made a conscious decision to interview people who had initially supported Thomas for the Supreme Court seat, including former NAACP Board Chairwoman Margaret Bush Wilson, a Democrat, and former Secretary of Transportation William T.  Coleman, Jr., a Republican. Both were highly critical of Thomas. In addition, Royce Esthers, president of the Compton, Calif. NAACP branch, took the unusual step of defying her national office to support Thomas. She said in the second Emerge story: “I, along with 57 percent of other blacks in this nation were conned. Clarence Thomas has turned out to be a house Negro.” By then, everyone except you and a few others of your ilk had realized that Clarence Thomas has been a disaster for people of color. One progressive, William E. Nelson, a political science professor at Ohio State University, told the magazine that Clarence Thomas “has moved to the right of Justice Scalia, which makes him one of the most conservative and racist judges on the court. He makes Booker T. Washington seem like a member of the Black Panthers.”

You defended Thomas for what you described as “108 agonizing months” when he tried to rationalize his reluctance to ask questions of lawyers appearing before the Supreme Court. “I don’t want to give them a hard time,” he said to your chagrin. You finally concluded that Thomas was a “fool.” In your December 4, 2000 column in the Baltimore Sun – the same one in which you called Clarence Thomas a fool – you stated, “Black conservatives have had to defend Thomas against charges that he was hardly the most qualified black judge, let alone the most qualified [sic], to fill Marshall’s place when he retired. By his own words, Thomas might have proved his critics right.”

And by your own words, you have proven how confused you are. You criticized me for upbraiding Limbaugh.

Yet, you did the same thing in a BlackAmericaWeb.com column that appeared on March 12 of this year. You wrote, “I dismissed Limbaugh as a commentator completely when he whipped out the race card and played it when discussing Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.” You ended your column by saying, “If Republicans hope to make any headway with American voters, they can start by retiring Rush Limbaugh’s mouth.”

When describing you, people often use the C-word (for conservative).  Now, they can use another C-word –confused.

Obtaining Inner Peace When There is No Outer Peace

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Richard O. Jones
Many of the people I encounter in traffic and supermarkets seem to be stressed out or frustrated. These negative vibes seep into our personal relationships and gradually creates chaos or distance. Contrary to popular thinking, being at peace isn’t something you earn; it’s something you recognize. Your peacefulness is not established by your surroundings, it’s established by the God within you. Inner peace is the ultimate truce against past and present chaos. Sometimes in life we get so caught up in doing the daily tasks in the home and at work we stop noticing the most important thing, our connection with our self.

In everyday life it is so easy to get caught up in the ‘doing’ of things, the drive to the destination, the achievement of the goal or task. We are so busy doing tasks or thinking about the past or the future, we don’t enjoy the experience of now or the life we are spending getting to the outcome we have chosen.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in our thoughts that we miss the whole journey home from the office - we can’t remember driving through all the suburbs along the way, stopping at traffic lights or seeing people on the side of the road? In fact, we can’t remember anything at all!  It’s a wonder we even get there safely and sometimes we don’t.

The reality is we spend a great deal of our time thinking about the past or the future - planning, worrying about foreseeable problems in our minds and rehashing past regrets that we waste the present moment, the conversation with someone we love, our children showing us their painting or talking about something that is important to them. We miss the sunsets, the smell of the rain, the sound of the birds in the trees outside, the feel of a gentle breeze on our skin. We miss the joy in the journey of life because we are so absorbed in everything but the present moment.

One very simple way while driving to reconnect is to first turn off all the sound (radio, music, etc.) in your vehicle and take time to breathe focusing on your breath as thoughts come up just letting them go and refocusing just on your breath. To begin with, you may like to do this just for a few minutes at the beginning and end of your day, maybe just as you wake and as you drift off to sleep.

You will find that stillness and peace can be found in any moment and does not only exist when there is external quiet or calm. You need no props or special places to practice being present in the moment, connecting to your inner peace and stillness.  All that is required is a desire to rediscover that place. Give yourself the gift of living in the moment and you will truly discover that the joy is in the journey not the destination.

Website: www.richardojoneslive.com

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