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Commentary

Let The Stimulus Stimulate: The Gospel According to Carson

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By Lois Carson

The world of Community Action has been challenged to fish or cut bait; to receive and expend an amount that is triple its ordinary funding on exemplary program strategies in an environment that will allow no screw-ups. We are under the microscope like no one else—like no other time! But, I am convinced we can meet the challenge because we are the innovators; we think outside of box; we are the miracle workers. As Walter Cronkite said, “we do God’s work”.

Anything that happened in America prior to September, 2008 is irrelevant. The world has changed so drastically since the economic tsunami last fall that it is a totally new day in America. What an economics lesson I have received in the meantime.

Today my lesson is about the accounting rules change promulgated by the “little-known Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)”. Today I learned about “mark to market” which has amplified the mortgage finance and the banking crisis; according to writer, Kevin Hall, that is how the mortgage crisis begat the banking crisis which begat the US economic crisis which begat the global financial meltdown. Here is what my somewhat extensive readings and limited research have led me to think.

I think I am changing my mind about a focus on poverty and the poor. I still want to end poverty; however, I want to balance that vision with a focus the shrinking middle class. If we don’t stem the downturn of the middle class, the poor will have absolutely no hope of ever leaving poverty—no place to which to aspire.

Our community assessment will try to get a handle on the plight of the middle class and we will grapple with shoring up that segment of the population, especially those who are on the precipice of poverty. In the end we will gain more support for our work by collectively addressing the near poor, the laid off, the pushed out--- the people who are the backbone of society.

In fact, if the old poverty standards were replaced with more realistic ones that included food, shelter, transportation and other daily use measures, the middle-class would lose even more members. Maybe the stimulus will reveal the fallacy of the old measures.

The Stimulus will give us that opportunity to stimulate the fortunes of small business, 22,000 of whom are struggling in Riverside County by matching them with TANF participants and training and nurturing both; this gives us the opportunity to serve the poor and the middle class simultaneously. Our partners in this effort are the CSU Women’s Business Center, the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) and the Workforce Investment Board (WIB).

We will stimulate the construction industry and related industries by subcontracting with them in our weatherization programs. In addition we will partner with and financially support the Environmental Health agency with lead, asbestos and mold removal. With the City of Riverside, we are exploring means of insulating mobile homes. Riverside has one of the highest percentages of these units, occupied mainly by seniors, and we should lead the effort in insulation exploration. This stimulus would go a long way in freeing up more discretionary income for these seniors. Someone once said you can measure the quality of a society by the way it tends to its children and elderly.

We will stimulate the lives of our future leaders by increasing the investment in the Pre-Apprenticeship Program, a workplace mentoring initiative, and the investment in Project LEAD, an after- school mentoring program for middle school youth, the group most likely to get into trouble after school. The mentors receive a stipend and earn an educational award to the college of their choice. As you can see CAP Riverside will continue with its high impact strategies, but will attempt to gather more data on exactly what condition the middle class is in.

What will be our strategies for examining the plight of the middle class? We will poll service clubs like Rotary and Kiwanis, Optimists and Soroptimists, as well as chambers of commerce and churches; we will share with the poor our rationale for taking this direction and get their input. CAP will never abandon its commitment to the poor; however, expanding its vision to include the middle class can benefit both segments of the population. CAP will continue its pursuit of innovation to move our constituents from poverty to prosperity and assist the middle class in retaining its prosperity.

On Father’s Day: The Black Man – An American Hero

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By Hazel Trice Edney
NNPA Editor-in-Chief

He built America from the ground up with a few tools, his bare hands and by the sweat of his brow. While doing so, he was repeatedly whipped, lynched, falsely accused and castrated.

Even now, he braves America’s streets despite the fact that he is more often stopped, brutalized or shot by police, blamed for crimes he did not commit, and incarcerated at astronomical rates. He even dies earlier of natural causes than any other racial group in America – a statistic that some doctors speculate is partially due to the every day stresses of being Black.

Whether he’s wearing a necktie, a uniform, coveralls, or jeans, he braves the streets of America when he goes to work – or even to look for work. Most of the time, he makes it home. But, all too often he falls victim to this historic, undeclared war on Black males.

Still, he dares to believe in a nation where his unemployment rate exceeds all others – not just because of the economic downturn – but because of a history of race discrimination that has pressed him to rock bottom. His post traumatic stress is not from Iraq or Afghanistan, but from a lifetime of scaling the dangerous mine fields of American society.

This is about Joe Blow and John Qshon Citizen. One might call him “the average Black man”. But, given the list of daily atrocities he faces in this nation, there is actually no “average” Black man.

Rather, this is about “The Black Man – An American Hero”. Despite the odds against him, he has exceeded every bar that has ever been set.  What is an “American hero”?

Traditionally, the American hero is deemed as a Super Man type, someone with exceptional courage who performs a one-time gallant deed or a long time public service that warrants celebrity and perhaps even a medal. But, for the Black man, he is a quiet American hero, unsung, even unsuspecting, deserving of respect simply for the risks he takes every day.

The family of 25-year-old Black New York police officer Omar Edwards is familiar with this gallantry as they grieve their husband and father of 18-month-old and 7-month old children. Struck down in a hail of bullets from a White police officer who mistakenly thought him to be a criminal, Omar is an American hero.

The family of 38-year-old Stephen T. Johns also knows. When this husband and father of an 11-year-old son was felled by the bullet of a hate-crazed White supremacist at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, it was yet another shot that was “heard around the world”. “Big John” – as they called him - is indeed an American Hero.

From coast to coast they have fallen. Among them, Sean Bell, 23, of New York; Oscar Grant III, 22, of San Francisco; DeAuntae “Tae Tae” Farrow, 12, of West Memphis, Ark.; and Martin Lee Anderson, 14, of Bay County, Fla. They are among the sons and fathers who were all too early struck down amidst injustice.  Not to mention the thousands of Black men who have died at the hands of other Black men – a dubious “friendly fire” if you will.

Unlike other wars, there is no flag-draped casket or playing of “Taps”. Yet, the grieving hearts of loved ones are no less painful; the tears are no less real. And moreover the fortitude he displays in having to fight against the odds is no less worthy of honor.

The Black man – an American hero, we all know one as he refuses to cower. His swagger is emboldened as he defies statistics that constantly predict his demise. He daily swims upstream in the murky, unpredictable waters, daring to believe in himself and in the power of his God.  Despite the memories of his fallen brothers, he presses on for respect.  And on Father’s Day, we salute him for his raw courage.

The National Scene

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By Linnie Frank Bailey --

Health care reform continues to be front and center on the President’s radar screen, and this week he went to somewhat hostile territory—the annual conference of the American Medical Association—to pitch his ideas. The Administration continues to address America’s economic situation, while keeping abreast of troubling events abroad, particularly North Korea’s nuclear threats, and the disputed election in Iran.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Banks Return Bailout Funds: “A Positive Sign”

The Administration announced that several of the financial institutions, which received bailouts from the federal government, are ready to repay the funds. While acknowledging that the economic crisis is by no means over, the President applauded the return of the funds, saying, “Several financial institutions are set to pay back $68 billion to taxpayers. And while we know that we will not escape the worst financial crisis in decades without some losses to taxpayers, it’s worth noting that in the first round of repayments from these companies the government has actually turned a profit.” Obama went on to say, “This is not a sign that our troubles are over—far from it….But it is a positive sign. We’re seeing an initial return on a few of these investments.  We’re restoring funds to the Treasury where they’ll be available to safeguard against continuing risks to financial stability. And as this money is returned, we’ll see our national debt lessened by $68 billion—billions of dollars that this generation will not have to borrow and future generations will not have to repay.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

President Comments on Holocaust Museum Shooting

President Obama issued the following comment on the shooting at the National Holocaust Museum, where African-American security guard Stephen Johns was killed by an alleged white supremacist: “I am shocked and saddened by today’s shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms.  No American institution is more important to this effort than the Holocaust Museum, and no act of violence will diminish our determination to honor those who were lost by building a more peaceful and tolerant world. Today, we have lost a courageous security guard who stood watch at this place of solemn remembrance.  My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this painful time.”

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The President Hits the Road for Health Care Reform

President Obama spoke at a town hall meeting on health care reform at Southwest High School in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The President continued to drive home his vision for health care reform, which includes what the Administration calls three core principles:

Reduce costs — Rising health care costs are crushing the budgets of governments, businesses, individuals, and families, and they must be brought under control.  Guarantee choice — Every American must have the freedom to choose their plan and doctor – including the choice of a public insurance option.  Ensure quality care for all — All Americans must have quality and affordable health care.

Obama went outside the beltway to bring his position to the American people, however he has made it clear to lawmakers in Washington that he expects legislation on this issue to be on his desk this year.

Friday, June 12, 2009

United Nations Sanctions North Korea’s Nuclear Testing

UN Ambassador Susan Rice, (the first African-American female to hold the post), joined world leaders in condemning recent actions by North Korea and imposing sanctions against the country. She described the unanimous resolution as “a very robust, tough regime with teeth that will bite North Korea.” Secretary Rice continued, “It would be unwise for the United States or other members of the Security Council to fail to take strong action in response to a very provocative and illegal action on the part of North Korea out of concern that they may take strong action.  I mean, the point is that we needed to demonstrate—and today we have demonstrated -- that provocative, reckless actions come at a cost and that North Korea will pay a price for its actions.”

Obama Meets with Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister

President Obama met with the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, and discussed humanitarian aid to the country. Tsvangirai shares the leadership of Zimbabwe with President Robert Mugabe, who has been in power almost 30 years. Obama addressed human rights concerns over Mugabe’s leadership saying, “President Mugabe has not acted oftentimes in the best interest of the Zimbabwean people and has been resistant to the kinds of democratic changes that need to take place…I’ve committed $73 million in assistance to Zimbabwe. It will not be going to the government directly because we continue to be concerned about consolidating democracy, human rights, and rule of law, but it will be going directly to the people in Zimbabwe and I think can be of assistance to the Prime Minister in his efforts.”

Monday, June 15, 2009

Obama Addresses Doctor’s Group

President Obama took his health care vision directly to one of the special interest groups most associated with health care – the American Medical Association. The group warmly received the President although some bristled at his suggestion of not reducing malpractice payments to deserving beneficiaries. There was general agreement however on his description of what will happen if we fail to act on health care reform. Obama stated, “If we fail to act—and you know this because you see it in your own individual practices—if we fail to act, premiums will climb higher, benefits will erode further, the rolls of the uninsured will swell to include millions more Americans—all of which will affect your practice. If we fail to act, one out of every five dollars we earn will be spent on health care within a decade.  And if we fail to act, federal spending on Medicaid and Medicare will grow over the coming decades by an amount almost equal to the amount our government currently spends on our nation’s defense. It will, in fact, eventually grow larger than what our government spends on anything else today. So to say it as plainly as I can, health care is the single most important thing we can do for America’s longterm fiscal health. That is a fact. That’s a fact.”

The President suggested reforming the way doctors and hospitals are compensated, telling the doctors, “We need to bundle payments so you aren’t paid for every single treatment you offer a patient with a chronic condition like diabetes, but instead paid well for how you treat the overall disease. We need to create incentives for physicians to team up, because we know that when that happens, it results in a healthier patient. We need to give doctors bonuses for good health outcomes, so we’re not promoting just more treatment, but better care. So one thing we need to do is to figure out what works, and encourage rapid implementation of what works into your practices.  That’s why we’re making a major investment in research to identify the best treatments for a variety of ailments and conditions.” President Obama concluded by asking for unity in reforming the health care system, reminding the providers, “We are not a nation that accepts nearly 46 million uninsured men, women and children.”

The White House Jazz Studio

First Lady Michelle Obama, hosted both jazz greats and students of jazz at what was called, “The White House Jazz Studio.” Invited performers included jazz greats Paquito D’Rivera, Zach Brown, Kush Abadey, Elijah Easton, and child protégé Tony Madruga. Jazz students from across the country, many from New Orleans, participated in the event.

Election Violence in Iran

As the world watches the reaction to the election in Iran, America’s President reassured the nation by saying he is deeply troubled by the “violence perpetrated on people who are peacefully dissenting.” However, he made it clear, “It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be; we respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran….having said all that, I am deeply troubled by the violence that I’ve been seeing on television. I think that the democratic process—free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent—all those are universal values and need to be respected.  And whenever I see violence, and whenever the American people see that, I think they’re, rightfully, troubled.”

Obama said the United States will “continue to pursue a tough, direct dialogue between our two countries, and we’ll see where it takes us.”

Promises ... In Shades of Black

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Briana Boykin
Quiet as it’s kept, there’s a powerful spirit moving in the village these days, and I am continuously blessed to experience the glorious shades of leaders that are rising up from the spirit of the village.

Recently, I’ve had the privilege to brush shoulders with some of the Inland Empire’s most promising leaders, and I must say, many of them have come in the most unique, most unexpected packages. Several of them are thinkers and philosophers unrealized that will one day change the course of humanity. Others are quiet storms, who will enlighten the world around them through their gentle and pure kindness, humility, and perseverance.  Alexander Sterling and Shawn Hunt, owners and operators of Brothers & Christ T-Shirts, are two leaders of these types: I have come to better know the village through their work in the community and through their passion for life. Through entrepreneurial efforts, both young men are carefully crafting a space in the world that will allow them to effectively execute their goals of ministering to God’s people and impacting the universe.  Sterling, who is well on his way to becoming an educator and one day operating his own school, sheds light on issues pertaining to Black business.  “A lot of our people get caught up in the vision of their business and don’t focus on the practical aspect of having a business,” states Sterling. “You must have a short term goal and a long term goal. You must write your vision down and then execute it step by step.”

Sterling admits that this tactic is challenging, not only for those within the village, but for anyone being educated in today’s society. “This society breeds batteries for someone else’s flashlight , ” Sterling explains. “It teaches [its citizens] not to be self sufficient but to make someone else rich.”

Both Hunt and Sterling, who became business partners after realizing their shared potential in planning, working, and executing goals, recognize the issues concerning Black business and have been better able to navigate the issues that arise when creating a business. They also know that the key is paying themselves while working for themselves. They are currently operating as a small enterprise and working their magic to turn what was once just a blueprint into a real life story.

Under the primary umbrella of Brothers & Christ T-Shirts, the other entities of the business include: Lord Jesus Designs - a graphic arts component, and the Poet X - a spoken word and art component of the business that entails the selling and distribution of poetry and art by Alexander Sterling. A percentage of Bothers & Christ efforts go back into their ministries, which consist of: donations to African nations, homeless outreach, and evangelism efforts.

Brothers & Christ, which Hunt reveals is a professed belief in the power of brotherhood and their fervent belief that “without Christ [we] can do nothing,” sets the tone for what is to come. These young men are pieces of our quilt who reflect that we belong to each other, that we have done well in serving one another as a community, and that we will continue to do so each stitch of the way.

See you next week: same place, new shade.

promisesinblack@yahoo.com

The Streets: Earning a Ph.D. -- 5 of 6 parts

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Richard O. Jones
The popular culture of today is grooming our youth for prison. According to the Bureau of Justice

Statistics of 2001, two thirds of America’s prison population is African-American. In one study that the U.S. Federal Corrections Authorities held, of all Americas inmates between the ages of 18 and 25, 56% were African-American men, compared to a 6% of same aged white young men. From these statistics one would get the impression that African-Americans were more dangerous, unlawful, and corrupt people. But the reality is that we are not given the same advantages as others.

Wealthy people have higher percentages of not serving jail time.

For example if you can afford a high priced attorney you probably won’t get railroaded in court. In many cases it’s obvious that these individuals committed a crime, the evidence is present, but the difference is that they can afford good lawyers, where someone who is appointed a lawyer from the state is not going to get the same quality of service.

Today its vital to have a college degree to get well paying jobs.

About a third of America is not educated through the twelfth grade. In the 2003 National Adult Literacy Survey, conducted by the National Center for Educational Statistics, its been calculated that 30% of American adults have not finished high school. And our education system is not equal at different schools in the same city, let alone nation wide. Therefore people aren’t starting out with the same kind of knowledge or basic training. With our youth anxiously aspiring to a ‘Street Degree’ its no wonder the belly of the prison system continue to feast on African Americans. I recently saw a special on HBO or B.E.T. about Black pimps, among them was the celebrity Ice-T. In jest they were referring to a Ph.D. as a Pimping-Hoes-Degree. Therefore the ‘Street’ offer its graduates a Ph.D.

Many African Americans are uncomfortable taking unpopular positions. For instance we’ll march and protest with a raving passion if a white gang came to into a Black community and merely shook their fist at our children as they played basketball in the schoolyard. We would demand that the police catch those dangerous criminals, lock them up and throw away the key.  We’ll shown up in court in mass numbers to assure that the judge and media understood that we were serious about protecting our children.

However, when a group of Black youth are caught after a drive-by shooting where an innocent baby was shot nobody from the community shows up and demands the shooter is severely punished.

Nobody except the baby’s immediate family, that is. Black criminals know that Black people won’t hate them for selling drugs to schoolchildren.

That’s why no one is ashamed or fearful to boast that they are drug dealers. We must let Black criminals know that we’ll demand justice against them. The reason rapists, and child molesters don’t boast, to anyone, not even in jail, is because they realize the community won’t have it. We allow thugs to flaunt their gang affiliation then protest against the justice system when the police shoot one of them in the commission of a crime. We can’t have it both ways.

richardojones1@verizon.net

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