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Barbados to Dump the Queen

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Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News

Tiny Barbados is preparing to dump Britain’s Queen Elizabeth after centuries of imperial colonial rule. The nation has decided to replace her with a local head of state and, like Guyana, Trinidad and a few other Caribbean trade bloc states, soon proclaim itself a republic.

Long regarded as the world’s best organized and most well run Afro state, leading authorities on the tourism-dependent island of 300,000 people said this week that the time has long passed for it to become a republic and fully govern its own affairs.

At no other place in the region do British citizens feel as comfortable as in Barbados, where they are treated as mini royals, but the country’s current generation of leaders, surprisingly led by conservative Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, says there is no reason for the aging Queen of Britain to still loom large over the island as its head of state and, as is the case now, have the final say as to who is appointed as the island’s governor and representative of Buckingham Palace.

On the 166-square-mile island near Trinidad and just below the Windward Islands, nearly every village has a recognizable British name, be it Bridgetown the capital or districts bearing such titles as Dover or St. Lawrence or St. Phillip. British rock stars such as Sir Cliff Richard maintain homes on the island and a string of English celebrities such as ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair and entertainment mogul Simon Cowell usually holiday there in full public view. Barbados is also the birthplace of Rihanna. Tiger Woods had his wedding at a posh island west coast facility a few years ago, and Oprah Winfrey has investments there.

“We cannot pat ourselves on the shoulder at having gone into independence, having de-colonized our politics. We cannot pat ourselves on the shoulders at having decolonized our jurisprudence by delinking from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and explain to anybody why we continue to have a monarchical system,” Stuart said.

The Privy Council he speaks about is Britain’s highest judicial court, which also serves as the final appeals court for much of the bloc’s member states barring Guyana, Belize, Barbados and Dominica. Others have pledged to join the Trinidad-based court in the future.

Stuart did not name a date when a local would become the ceremonial head of state, as is the case in neighboring Trinidad and Dominica, but said the entire changeover and abandonment of centuries of a British monarch as the island’s chief representative will come shortly. Guyana, Suriname and Haiti have executive heads of state.

“We respect [the queen] very highly as head of the Commonwealth and accept that she and all of her successors will continue to be at the apex of our political understanding. But in terms of Barbados’ constitutional status, we have to move from a monarchical system to a republican form of government in the very near future,” Stuart told party supporters at a function.

“A republican form of government stipulates that those who run the people’s affairs should be chosen directly or indirectly by the people themselves. We already do that. We have been doing that continuously since 1951, when we got universal adult suffrage.”

In announcing plans to overhaul the system of governance, Stuart appears on course to trump Portia Simpson-Miller, his Jamaican prime ministerial colleague who had vowed at the start of her 2011 term that she would lead the charge for Jamaica to also go down that road. Debate about such plans have since died down, as various developments in local politics have become major distractions to such political ambitions.

Ben Crump: NNPA Newsmaker of the Year

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By Freddie Allen
NNPA Senior Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Benjamin Crump, the lawyer who skyrocketed to national prominence by representing the family of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teenager who was followed, confronted and shot to death by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., said that since the 4th grade, he always knew that he wanted to grow up and fight for the community.

“The measure of a man is defined by the impact that they make on the world,” said Crump. “Everyday we have to get up and ask, ‘What impact are we going to make on the world?’ and we have to do it, because our children are watching us.”

During the 2015 Black Press Week, the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) Foundation honored Crump as the Newsmaker of the Year for his service to the community, especially to the families of young people of color who had been brutalized or killed by law enforcement officials. The NNPA is a trade group that represents more than 200 Black newspapers published in the United States.

“I go on FOX News a lot and I have these intelligent debates with these Bill O’Reillys and these Meagan Kellys and I know that when, I leave they’re going to make it look bad and everything, but you gotta go, you gotta keep talking to them and not let them [create] the only narrative,” said Crump. “We’ll come on to talk about Trayvon, and we’ll come on to talk about Michael Brown and Eric Garner, because if don’t talk about it, it’s swept under the rug.”

Crump added: “So, I don’t care if you criticize me and say that we’re trying to be race baiters, because the greatest fear is to remain silent. Silence is almost like betrayal.”

Crump, 45, said that giving a voice to the voiceless has been the most important part of his career.

“Making people know the name of Trayvon Martin, the name of the Michael Brown, know the name of the Tamir Rice, know the name of Chavis Carter, know the name of Kendrick Johnson in Valdosta, Ga., know the name of Victor White III in New Iberia, La., know the name of Alesia Thomas in Los Angeles, Calif., Jesus Huerta in Durham, N.C., know the name of Leon Ford in Pittsburgh, Pa., know the name of Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Pasco, Wash., the list goes on and on,” said Crump. “If this was happening to White children, it would be a war.”

During his remarks at the dinner, Crump credited Black-owned news media for daring to write and talk about the phenomenon he called the ‘‘Houdini handcuffed suicide killings” of young people of color in the back of police cars.

One of those “Houdini” killings involved Chavis Carter. On July 28, 2012, following a traffic stop in Jonesboro, Ark., police pulled Carter, 21, out of the truck that he was riding in with two White men. After searching Carter twice, police said that they recovered a small amount of marijuana, then put him in the back of their police car, handcuffed behind his back, where he supposedly shot himself in the head with a hidden handgun.

In 2013, Theresa Rudd, Carter’s mother, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Jonesboro police department. The suit said that no fingerprints were found on the gun that police claimed Carter used to shoot himself in the head and that the police car was washed, destroying potential evidence that could be used in future investigations.

The arresting officers, Ronald Marsh and Keith Baggett, received one month paid administrative and returned to active duty following the shooting.

“Without the Black Press I don’t know where we would be in these campaigns of justice for all these unknown, unnamed people of color who are killed everyday all across the world and swept under the rug,” said Crump.

Jennifer S. Carroll, the former lieutenant governor of Florida, who was honored with a Torch Award for her successful political career, also thanked the Black press for sharing her story. Carroll was the first woman to be elected as lieutenant governor and the first African American of Caribbean descent to be elected statewide since Reconstruction.

“Had it not been for the Black press, my accomplishments would not have been told at all in mainstream media,” Carroll said. “We have an audience that needs to be informed and the Black press fills that vacuum that exists in mainstream press.”

Carroll continued: “For many of you, it’s been a struggle to keep the lights on, but you know the importance of the work that you do that your commitment is to not let down the journalists and the publishers that have come before you.”

Filmmaker Jeff Friday (Entertainment), B. Doyle Mitchell, Jr., president and CEO of the Industrial Bank (Business), and Grammy-award winning gospel singer Bishop Hezekiah Walker (Religion) were also honored with Torch Awards. Willie Myrick, was presented NNPA’s first “Junior Newsmaker of the Year” Award. Last year, at the age of 9, Myrick was kidnapped while playing near his Atlanta home. He sang Bishop Hezekiah Walker’s hit song, “Every Praise” for three hours until his abductor finally threw him on the street and drove away.

In a separate ceremony, the late Francis Page, Sr., founder and publisher of the Houston NewsPages, and Dr. Ludwaldo O. Perry, co-founder of the Tennessee Tribune with his wife, Rosetta Miller-Perry, were enshrined in the Gallery of Distinguished Black Publishers at Howard University.

At the awards dinner, Friday said that the more that he traveled around the world promoting Black films and culture, the more he realized that the perceptions of African Americans are being poisoned by the mainstream media.

“We’ve been talking about Black lives matter,” said Friday. “But Black images matter, too.”

Black Press Faces Challenging, but Hopeful Future

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By Freddie Allen
Senior Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Jordan Shanks, a sophomore English major at Howard University admitted that before Black Press Week, he didn’t know much about the Black Press or the Richmond Free Press, the Black newspaper published in the Virginia city where he grew up.

“The state of the Black Press is impacted by the generation gap between the older folks and the younger folks,” said Shanks.

Members of the Black community, young and old, believe that bridging that gap will be critical to the future of the Black Press.

Despite myriad challenges facing the Black Press, Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., president and CEO of the National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA), a federation of more that 200-Black owned newspapers, said that 188-year legacy of African American newspapers remains strategically important, insightful, indigenous and impactful.

“The challenge for us today, however, is to have a greater sense of economic accountability and economic equity and parity with those companies that are the profit beneficiaries of the trillion dollar consumer spending of [Black] people in the United States and throughout the world,” said Chavis.

“What is the state of the Black Press in America and in the world today? It is financial assessment time,” said Chavis. “The Black Press needs to be financially more sustainable and profitable.”

Chavis and others also echoed Shanks’ concerns about a generational and cultural gap preventing youth from engaging with the Black Press.

E.R. Shipp, an associate professor and journalist-in-residence at Morgan State University in Baltimore, said that shortly after she began teaching a course on Black media at the school, she showed her students the documentary “The Black Press: Soldiers without Swords,” then she tasked them to start tracking Black newspapers online.

“Oh, my God, my students didn’t find too much to be impressed with,” said Shipp. “After seeing all of this glorious past, they saw a very disappointing present,” said Shipp. “Too many people involved in the Black Press today think that they are living that glorious past and they are not being real about what’s happening now.”

Many students have never heard of the Black Press, said Shipp.

“The challenge is not just to celebrate what has gone before, to celebrate that legacy, but to actually do something to make sure that the Black Press is known by the younger generation, embraced by the next generation, and eventually taken over by the next generation,” said Shipp. “But right now, I say the state of the Black Press is shaky as far as reaching beyond those who have grown up in the Black Press.”

Jake Oliver former chairman of the NNPA and publisher of The Afro-American newspapers, said that there’s a demographic challenge that the Black Press needs to address.

“We seemed to get distracted by our quest to go after the dollars and we forget that we also have to go after readers,” said Oliver. He said that the playing field for newspapers has never been more level and that taking advantage of social media will be the key to capturing market share in the new digital news delivery space.

Oliver added that his staff at the Afro has grappled with social media for eight years, but saw a breakthrough about two years ago when Facebook started to allow users to “like” articles from their cell phones.

The number of “likes” on the Afro’s Facebook page jumped from 15,000 to 100,000 in a month, said Oliver. Now, the Afro’s Faeebook page is closing in on 430,000 “likes” Oliver said, adding that the Afro also has 11,000 Facebook followers in India.

“I’m excited about what we’re about to do,” said Oliver. “Within the next 3-5 years, if not sooner some startling innovations, not only technologically, but also as a result of some of the programs that the NNPA is about to promote and create will form a foundation so that we can reconnect all segments of the community in a way that has never been done before.”

Chavis recommended developing new revenue streams, including a leased photographic images service, similar to Getty Images, mounting regional polling services to take advantage of the upcoming 2016 election cycle, and launching a national public awareness campaign on criminal justice reform.

Shanks suggested that Black newspaper publishers show a greater willingness to engage in what’s going on with the younger generation through social media, especially through student government associations at Black colleges.

Shanks said that a negative experience with a reporter in the mainstream media influenced him to change his major from communications to English, but that he’s reconsidering a career in journalism after Black Press Week.

“[Black Press Week] taught me that you can be authentic in journalism and still tell the story,” said Shanks. “It’s about finding the audience that audience that wants to hear it and the publication that wants to put it out.”

The upcoming 75th NNPA annual convention in Detroit, Mich., will also feature “the first day totally dedicated to uplifting, mentoring, and encouraging our youth to prepare for leadership, entrepreneurship” in the Black Press, said Chavis.

He added, “We have come a mighty long way from Freedom’s Journal [the nation’s first Black newspaper] to today. We have made progress. But we still have a long journey ahead.”

NUL Report: Black America Remains in Crisis

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By Freddie Allen
NNPA Senior Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NPA) – When it comes to the equality in America, a new report by the National Urban League says that Blacks are missing nearly 30 percent of the pie.

The annual State of Black America (SOBA) report compared how well Blacks were doing in economics, health, education, social justice and civic engagement.

In the introduction to the report, Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, wrote that “on many fronts, Black America remains in crisis – and we see justice challenged at every turn.”

Morial added: “The world watched as non-indictments of the police officers responsible for the deaths of unarmed Black males including Eric Garner, Michael Brown and John Crawford signaled that police accountability for taking Black lives was reaching a modern-day low – and that the widespread and dangerous mistrust between law enforcement and too many communities of color in America was reaching a new high.”

Morial also expressed concerns about separate and unequal resources in schools, double-digit unemployment in the Black community and continued attacks on voting rights.

The Black equality index increased from revised score of 71.5 percent in 2014 to 72.2 percent in 2015. In 2005, the Black equality index was 72.9 percent.

Higher scores in social justice (56.9 percent reported in 2014 report vs. 60.6 percent in the 2015 report) and health (78.2 percent vs. 79.8 percent) fueled the rise in the index. The economic indicator also rose slightly from 55.4 percent to 55.8 percent.

“The education (from 76.7 percent to 76.1 percent) and civic engagement (from 104.7 percent to 104 percent) indexes both declined slightly,” stated the report.

The report said that fewer Blacks are falling victim to violent crimes and a lower number of Black high school students are carrying weapons, which had a positive affect on the social justice index. The report also credited the Affordable Care Act and a decline in binge drinking for helping to improve the health index.

However, the report found that gaps in unemployment and homeownership widened.

“With an index of 65 percent, the smallest Black–White unemployment gap was in the Providence–Warwick, RI–MA metro area, where the Black unemployment rate was 13 percent and the white rate was 8.5 percent. Last year’s most equal metro—Augusta–Richmond County, Ga.,–S.C.—fell to #13 this year as the Black unemployment rate increased from 13.3 percent to 16.5 percent and the White unemployment rate was essentially unchanged.”

Toledo, Ohio’s Black unemployment rate was 22.6 percent, the highest rate among the metro areas in the study.

The National Urban League also reported that the, “Black and white incomes were least equal in San Francisco–Oakland–Hayward, Calif., where the gap was 42 cents on the dollar.”

Morial wrote that 2014 was a catalytic year propelled by cataclysmic circumstances, “little accountability for law enforcement responsible for killing unarmed Black men, teenagers and children; a continual assault on voting rights; widening economic inequality gaps; and an increasingly partisan education debate far more rooted in political agendas than in putting our children first.”

Morial continued: “While we celebrate the tremendous progress and transformation of our nation, we have a continuing need to be vigilant, to persevere and to protect past gains. We must not allow the forces of division, intolerance and right-wing extremism to turn back the hands of time.”

Parents: Children will have it Harder than they Did

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By Jazelle Hunt
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – A majority of American parents believe their children will face a harsher coming-of-age than they did, according to a new survey – and no one feels this more acutely than Black parents.

In a recent NBC News State of Parenting Poll, 63 percent of parents felt their children would face more problems growing up than they did. For Black parents, the figure was 72 percent.

“That feeling is real…that children growing up today are growing up in a more complex society, with respect to issues like racism, institutional racism, structural racism, and the educational system, and growing inequality,” says George Garrow, executive director of Concerned Black Men National, which seeks to enrich the lives of Black children and parents through mentorship and community-building.

“We as adults are being affected by these things, and if we’re being affected then young people certainly are. Our kids are being raised in a time where…the kids are not going to have the opportunities that we had 25 years ago, 30 years ago.”

Parents who had little faith in today’s education system were likelier to foresee greater challenges for their children. These parents of little faith were in the minority, however. In the case of Black parents, 51 percent rated their child’s education as “good,” on a scale from “excellent” to “poor.”

Most of the parents who rated their children’s education experience as “fair” or “poor” also believed that their children would have a harder time growing up. Only 18 percent and 9 percent of Black parents gave “fair” and “poor” ratings, respectively, but Black parents made up the largest share of both ratings.

The outlook on growing up was bleak even among the satisfied parents, 57 percent of whom still felt their children would face more problems.

“I always thought…we’d be, now, in an era of better schools. But when you look at the terrain we’re not there yet…particularly with Black kids and the schools they are going to,” Garrow said. “While we may live in a society with greater options for some, those things haven’t necessarily materialized for Black children, and Black families.”

Interestingly, 51 percent of all parents felt that school would not prepare their children for the job market unless their child also went to college. Further, a sizeable 86 percent said their children would need more than a high school degree to achieve The American Dream.

Although many parents believed the journey to adulthood would be harder for their children, 53 percent also believed that their children would be the same or better off once they grew up. While Black parents were most likely to worry about their children’s present experiences, they were also more likely to be optimistic about their child’s future than White parents were—but not more optimistic than Hispanic parents. Additionally, younger, Democrat, and/or low-income parents were more optimistic than older, Republican, and/or higher-income parents; Black people tend to fall into the former categories. (Political independents are evenly split).

While the worry about modern childhood remains high, research suggests the sentiment is declining with each generation, as the standard of living gets better. In the 1998 results of this same survey, 78 percent of parents believed their children had more problems.

At the same time, outlook on the future of the next generation seems to have remained steady. Over the past few years the Pew Research Center has surveyed approximately 2,500 parents with similar questions. From 2008 to 2012, roughly half of parents believed their children would have it better off when they reached adulthood. Interestingly, roughly 60 percent of the same respondents believed that they had a better standard of living than their parents did at the same age.

At a time when the nation is rallying against unchecked police violence on Black people (among a host of chronic social and political problems), Garrow points out that Black families have to dig deep to find optimism for the future. But, he also believes that positive adult involvement and community building are the keys to helping children navigate an increasingly complex society.

“We can no longer live under the idyllic notion that kids—as long as they don’t get into trouble, as long as the ‘behave themselves’—that they’re going to grow up to be responsible citizens, be educated properly, and have opportunities in life. All of our kids are at risk,” Garrow says.

“[The finding] is really tragic because it should not be this way. Each society should be able to build upon the successes of the previous generation. …[W]e really need a reality check to determine what we need to do so we at least have a chance at offering our kids a better life.”

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BVN National News Wire