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The Streets: Only the Lost Survive -- 4 of 6 parts

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Richard O. Jones
Good self-esteem is essential for the healthy mental growth. Most of the youth who aspire to be gangsters, and other antisocial pursuits haven’t been given a healthy diet of good self-esteem. Unfortunately, too many parents are without parenting skills. Parenting skills are mostly passed along from one generation to the next. If a youth comes from a substandard environment, it is unlikely that they will automatically have good parenting skills. Most young single parents still want to party regularly, which includes getting high, being promiscuous and staying out late.  It’s an insult to a young inexperienced parent to suggest that they could benefit from parenting classes.  Therefore, the avalanche of children raising children continues to plummet down hill.

The youth refer to ‘The Street’ as a badge of honor tantamount to a Masters Degree from a prestigious university. It used to be an inner city thing, now however, youth in the country claim to have been brought up on ‘The Street’. I have a nephew that finished high school approximately ten years ago. He recently got into an argument with one of his younger cousins who’s in her last year of law school. The argument had nothing to do with education, it was a dispute over the price of a used washing machine and dryer that he offered to sell for one price then raised the price on the pick up day. The younger cousin argued that he must stick to the agreed price but he became belligerent claiming that she was ignorant because she was using ‘school sense’ but he was using ‘street sense’. And on the ‘street’ where he claimed to have been raised, such tactics are acceptable.

The term ‘hustling’ is ambiguous. It can be used to mean hard working. Or it can be used to refer to a smalltime crook. A person could be considered a hustler when he worked a fulltime job, went to school or had a part time job, plus operated his own small business on the side. This was also a hustler, not necessarily a criminal. The term from ‘the street’ is also misused by African American youth. In many foreign countries such as Mexico, Brazil and India there are real ‘street’ children in real ghettoes.  These street youth are homeless.  They eat straps from the dumpsters behind restaurants and panhandle pedestrians and tourists.  Our youth call themselves being from ‘the street’ because they choose being thugs and drug dealers versus securing an education and/or an experience compatible job.

African American youth make a foolish but willful decision to decline the free educational opportunities available, which will lead to a high paying profession. The ‘street’ they boast about is a game losers play when they fear the challenge in the real world of working for what you get.

As a reward for their life as a street kid all they have to look forward to is ultimately a low wage job because they failed to go forward in school when the light of opportunity was green. There’s a red light ahead for the so-called street youth.

We as mature adults must organize to teach the truth. Some of the celebrities we applaud are equal to

the Africans that sold other Africans into slavery. We must teach our youth not to be blinded by the lure of ill-gotten wealth. Any concerned mature adult can become a mentor to a youth. It doesn’t take money, just compassion.

Eyes & Ears of Moreno Valley

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Juanita Barnes
“The Happiest Place” author unknown: “The happiest place on Earth for me is where my Lord would have me be. The happiest thing that I can do is work my Lord has called me to. The happiest path my feet can make, is that I tread for Jesus’ sake.  The happiest sight my eyes can see is sight of Christ like purity. The happiest sound my ears can hear is that my Savior draweth near.

“Where Dreams Soar”

The Moreno Valley City Council has established a Local Vendor Preference. They approved a new purchasing ordinance with the intent of enhancing local vendor competitiveness when bidding on materials and supplies purchased by the City. The preference applies only to businesses located within Moreno Valley and equals one percent (1%), which represents the City’s portion of sales tax generated on sales transactions.

Purchases not subject to sales tax would not qualify for the local vendor preference. For further information contact Division Manager Rix Skonbery at (951) 413–3190 or rixs@moval.org .

Moreno Valley the “Music Festival” will come to our city June 13, 2009.  It’s the Inland Empire Jazz, Rhythm and Blues festival and will take place at the Moreno Valley Golf Club, 28095 John F. Kennedy Drive. The Festival runs from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.  Tickets for lawn seating are $10.00 and will be sold at the coffee house located at 25960 Iris Ave. General admission is $20.00 and VIP seating which includes stage/front seating and dinner, is $50.00. For information visit www.iejazzfest.com to buy general and VIP tickets.

Vendors can apply for the July 4th festival at the Moreno Valley Parks and Community Services Department. This year the festival will include a Moreno Valley Idol Competition. The festival will begin at 9:30 a.m. July 4th 2009.  For information call (951) 413–3280.  June 13, 2009, the Young Adults Ministry of Cathedral of Praise, 1521 S. Riverside Ave. Rialto, and the fasting growing ministry at COPIM.

B.A.S. I.C. is hosting a RAGS TO ROYALTY FASHION SHOW at 4:00 p.m. There will be live music, vendors, raffles and great prizes tickets at the door are $7.00. Please let us come out and support our young adults. For information e-mail youngadults@ copim.org or (909) 874–8676.

For the last month I have travelled quite a bit. For Mother’s Day, I was in Tucson, AZ. It was hot but very nice.  Met some very wonderful people. I travelled to San Diego, stayed at a hotel downtown, ate at the greatest restaurant, “Downtown Fish Joint” the service was off the hook, and the owner and his wife were wonderful people.  This past Saturday, I was invited to a play in Upland at the Grove Theatre to see “Church Basement Ladies.” This was going to be the final performance but because of popular demand it has been extended through July. If you want to have a great time and laugh yourself tired as I did, I encourage you to go see the “Church Basement Ladies” at the Grove Theatre. (909) 920–4343 or www.grovetheatre.com.  Next week, I will write about the “Apron” from this play. One of the cast members in the play is our very own Miss Sherri L. Jones. Sherri is one of the praise team singers and also directs the choir. She is a wonderful lead singer also at COPIM. Do go, you will enjoy yourself.

Be Blessed!

Promises… In Shades of Black

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Briana Boykin
By Briana Boykin --

Our most rewarding promises can be most unexpected.

Consequently, when I heard rumors that a young black alumnus of Riverside’s Martin Luther King, Jr. High School had just been accepted to the University of Southern California’s Rossier Graduate School of Education, I became delightfully and unexpectedly hopeful about a new shade of promise that had manifested itself in the fabric of the Inland Empire.

Twenty -year- old Mr. Jammie Lee Jelks of Riverside, California undeniably brings a new hue of promise to the Inland Empire: a youthful yet bold commitment to higher-education and community. Mr. Jelks, a young brother who has mastered the art of balancing social life with academics while overcoming common challenges facing young Black men, is fresh inspiration to our entire village.  A star athlete in high school and in his first semester at Cal State University Chico (CSU Chico), where an athletic injury helped to bring his basketball career to an end, Mr. Jelks, admits that it has always been important for him to be a star on and off of the court.

“Education has always come first,” states the young man who took Honors and Advanced Placement Courses throughout his entire high school career and is the first in his family to attend college.  “I have always had dreams of putting my education to good use: I used to tell myself that if for some reason I did not get the chance to play on the court with Shaq then I was going to be educated enough to work on Shaq’s big toe,” he jests, sharing a joke that he used to say to remind himself of the importance of going all the way with his education.

But after spending time away from the court, dreams of being an athlete or working on Shaq’s big toe soon faded as Mr. Jelks realized he could accomplish a greater legacy with what would become his four-year degree. When it was time for him to decide if he would return to life as a student-athlete, Jelks opted for another path.

As a result, Jelks transferred the energy and time he spent on the court into energy and time as a student, scholar, and campus leader. He soon became involved in a number of activities including: CSU Chico Student Government, The California Office of Governmental Relations, CSU Chico Success Center, CSSA Board of Directors, NASPA Undergraduate Fellowship Program, National Society of Leadership and Success, the Political Science Honor Society, and several other extra-curricular initiatives. His commitment to education and drive for success even landed him an out of state internship in the White House with the Commission on Remembrance.  Together, these efforts helped Jelks discover a true passion for the “student;” particularly the underrepresented student. With the close care of his mentor, Dr. Pedro Douglass, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs at CSU Chico, Jelks was able to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science in less than four years and is now on his way to USC where he will earn a Master’s of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs by the projected age of twenty-two.Jelks is aware that this dream has been made possible by the village of believers who saw within him a unique hunger for success and believed in his passion to uplift his community. Not only is Mr. Jelks thankful to his mother, Ms. Angela D. McDonald, for instilling within him the importance of education and a true passion for politics, but he is also grateful for the entire community that has fostered his development as a young leader. He credits his high school math teacher, Mr. Carlos Pile of Martin Luther King High School, his former AVID teacher Ms. Sally Griffin of Ramona High School, Dr. Gary McMahon of CSU Chico, and Dr. Pedro Douglass of CSU Chico as being strategic in his social and academic success.  At only twenty-years-old, Mr. Jelks promises to make our village proud. He is a young brother for whom we should give gratitude, for he leaves us with a hope that, if we continue to do our part as a community, we can be confident in our young men, our youth, and our future leaders … and in expecting the unexpected.  See you next week!

The Unbalanced Stool – Too Few Businesspeople

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In bringing change to a community it helps to have a clear visual picture of what is wrong with the current situation. A major issue facing the Black community is a lack of development of businesspeople and technologists. I like to refer to this issue as, “the unbalanced stool”.  A stool is essentially a chair without a back or arms. When a person sits on a stool, all of their weight is supported on the stool’s legs. For a stool to be steady, it is critical that all of the legs be even or level.

To bring this picture into focus, imagine that for any community the “stool” includes a business/economics leg, a science/technology leg, an entertainment/sports leg, and a political/

social activism leg. In the Black community, this stool is terribly out of balance – it has long political and sports legs, but very short business and science legs. This means that our stool falls over, again and again, in spite of all attempts to set it upright. This imbalance will continue to hinder the Black community’s economic progress.

This imbalance can be seen in raw numbers. The Black community creates far more politicians, activists and athletes than it does businesspeople, engineers or computer scientists.  There are numerous politicians and athletes that have reached the pinnacle of success. Yet, as far as I know, there are no Black founders (not to be confused with CEO’s) of any Fortune 1000 companies.

Starting up new businesses is of critical importance because new businesses that grow to become Fortune 1000 companies create employment and wealth.

More importantly, the Black community has produced politicians and activists in great numbers at a time when business opportunities have never been greater. This has been especially true in the areas of technology and computer science.

Technology has been area for entrepreneurs with little capital to grow and become successful. Also, for

every notable technology billionaire, such as Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, etc, there are hundreds of thousands more people who have  created key technology companies as well. By not developing technologists, or supporting those we have had, the Black community has missed key opportunities to capture some of this wealth.

Additionally, a lack of Black business and finance people means that there are no significant Black banks, finance companies, real estate companies or hedge funds. Many would point to racism as the reason for the lack of Black financial or technology firms. However, entrepreneurism is essentially a numbers game. Many have to try and fail in order for a few to succeed. In blinding contrast, the Black community clearly understands and accepts this numbers game when it comes to sports. We either encourage or seldom discourage the thousands of young men in our community who work consistently and tirelessly to become professional athletes. We accept their efforts in spite of the fact that they face odds far greater than those encountered by most entrepreneurs.  If we want more successful Black businesses, we have to follow the same formula and ensure that there are more Blacks trying to start businesses.

If we want more technologists, we have to have more people major in technical disciplines such as science and engineering. This will require that start early and begin encouraging our young people in elementary school!

The importance of business success in American society cannot be overstated. Asians in America have had few influential politicians, activists or athletes. Yet by starting businesses and majoring in technical fields, they have achieved the highest per capita income of any group in the United States. Based on their achievement, an excellent argument could be that in today’s world, if any legs of the stool should be short, it is the political and sports legs!

However, the affect of the unbalanced stool is more far-reaching than just a lack of Black business people or technologists. The success of Black activists, politicians and athletes has allowed people from these backgrounds to dominate the key discussions about the best way to move the Black community forward.  Yet in spite of their thirty years of dominance, many of the problems facing the community remain the same In future articles I will show how many activists and politicians are not just working to further their own agendas, but are often actively attempting to saw the other legs of our stool off!

Kevin Martin is a Black entrepreneur who grew up in Riverside and is interested in discussing specific actions for improving the Black community. Comments can be sent to “ by1989@pacificnet.net “.This account receives a great deal of spam so be sure to include this article’s title or Blackvoicenews in your subject line.

Why It Is Critical That The African American Community Unite Behind Sonia Sotomayor

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Kamala Harris

By Kamala Harris, District Attorney of San Francisco

As I watched the announcement of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s appointment to the United States Supreme Court, I, like many Americans, was struck by the historic picture on my television screen. The nation’s first African American president nominating the first Latina as a potential Supreme Court Justice.

Few things have made me prouder as an American than seeing our country put aside age-old prejudices and in choosing hope over fear, elect the first African American President.  We elected Barack Obama not because of his race, but because he was the best person to lead our country.

Today we face a similar choice as the Senate considers President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.

Opponents of Judge Sotomayor, such as Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and Ann Coulter, are calling her a “racist” for expressing view that we need judges with a diversity of life experiences.

There is something tragic in the transparent cynicism of this charge.  Do they also intend to condemn Abraham Lincoln for the pride he took in his hardscrabble roots on the western frontier? This is America, where people of all races are rightly proud of accomplishments in the face of adversity.

As Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall said while celebrating the bicentennial of our constitution

in 1987: “The men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787…could not have imagined, nor would they have accepted, that the document they were drafting would one day be construed by a Supreme Court to which had been appointed a woman and the descendent of an African slave.”

Yet today a Latina Judge has been nominated by an African American President for the job of construing our constitution. As the President noted during his announcement of her appointment, there are few presidential decisions as important as the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice. Over the coming years the Supreme Court will likely rule on such critical issues as voting rights, gun control and the regulation of Wall Street.

I intend to make it my mission to galvanize my community in support of Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation.  And I will make the same case for Judge Sotomayor that I made for then-Senator Barack Obama. It is very simple: Judge Sotomayor is the best qualified American for this job.  Judge Sotomayor has all of the legal and life experience to be an excellent Supreme Court Justice.

She grew up in a public housing project in the South Bronx and was raised by a single mom who also

found time to attend community college, work full-time and train to  become a registered nurse.

Judge Sotomayor worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, where she prosecuted dozens of serious criminal cases. As a former prosecutor, Judge Sotomayor has the courtroom experience necessary to make rulings based on a working knowledge of our courts.

Judge Sotomayor has a history of bipartisanship and a wealth of experience on the bench. She has been appointed to judicial positions by both President George H. W. Bush and President Clinton. Serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, one of the most demanding in the nation, she has participated in more than 3000 panel decisions and authored 400 opinions on a multitude of complex issues.  As the President noted, Judge Sotomayor would bring more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice in 100 years.

I strongly believe that all Americans benefit when we have leaders who represent the broad diversity of the American experience.  Too often, people have tried to create false divisions between the African-American and Latino communities.

Regardless of our differences, the truth is that we all share the same hopes and dreams. We should stand together against bigotry and narrow mindedness, and fight for the confirmation of Judge Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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BVN National News Wire