Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Tri-State Defender Opinion Stories


Tennessee lawmaker says Muhammad Ali not going to war is a ‘black Cloud’ on his character

By theGrio

After the death of Muhammad Ali, Tennessee State Representative Martin Daniel stirred up controversy with several ignorant tweets referring to the boxer by his birth name, Cassius Clay, as well as referring to charges brought against him for draft evasion. “In 5/67, Cassius Clay was indicted for refusal to be drafted into the armed forces. The S Ct reversed lower Ct conviction on technicality,” Daniel tweeted. “Dutiful, patriotic, brave black and white men died in jungles while Cassius sat warm and cozy in USA,” he added. Of course, Daniel has deleted his tweets. Some other gems he offered up: Liberals can dance with joy the day #JusticeScalia dies, but we can’t say one thing about Cassius Clay and his love of the Nation of Islam? — Rep. Martin Daniel (@RepMartinDaniel) June 5, 2016 Cassius Clay was a skilled, great boxer, but failure to to enlist in the US military when the call was made is black cloud on his character — Rep. Martin Daniel (@RepMartinDaniel) June 4, 2016 Daniel is ignorant. End scene.

5 ways parents pass down prejudice and racism

By Danielle Slaughter, Huffington Post

How many times have you seen a meme of a Black child embracing a White child with a caption about children being innocent and not seeing color, or reminding us that they aren’t born racist? These memes tend to come out in droves when discussions about racial bias are happening. A discussion that has been ongoing in the wake of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, John Crawford III, Renisha McBride, Sandra Bland, and the list goes on. People high-five one another in the comments section and talk about the next generation giving them hope, but we all skirt around the reality that one day those same two children will likely distrust one another. None of us want to talk about how children actually learn prejudices. Instead, we all sit around pretending that everything will be okay in the future. If we’re really honest with ourselves, we will admit that things are not going to be okay in the future and that we’re part of the problem. It’s a hard to pill to swallow, but we need to acknowledge how we continue to perpetuate prejudice and/or racism in our everyday lives. Prejudice is an unfavorable opinion of a person due to their race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, etc. Racism is what happens when you mix prejudice with power and use the two to discriminate against a group of people in a systematic manner.* While dismantling systematic racism is a daunting task, here are five ways parents pass down prejudice, which can lead to the perpetuation of racism: 1.) We Say One Thing, But Do Another We tell our children not to judge a book by its cover, yet how many of us actually follow through with this when it comes to people? We stereotype and judge other parents on the playground all the time. I’m not talking about shaking your head because a mom is on her phone or because they’re hovering over their children. Have you ever prevented your child from playing with certain kids at the playground because they have a single mom? Have you ever turned down a play date because you’re worried about their same-sex parents? It’s easy to think that they’re not paying attention, but we know that children are sponges and are always paying attention. We cross the street and lock our car doors when we see someone that we deem dangerous. Do you explain to your kids that you’re locking the car door because you’re in a parking lot alone at night? Or do you make a scared face and hurriedly lock the door with no explanation? You could do the latter because you’re in an urban city and two Black teenagers walked by with hoodies or there are a group of white teenagers dressed in Goth-like attire. If you did the former, you’d prevent your children from drawing their own conclusions about your fear and later doing something similar. 2.) We Blurt Out Offensive Things During Tense Moments I’ll admit that I’m guilty of this one. When they announced the no indictment for Darren Wilson after the death of Michael Brown, I was heartbroken and livid. I yelled at the television and openly discussed my disdain for “those white people,” while talking to my husband. My then two-and-a-half-year-old looked on as I cried and my husband tried to comfort me. The next morning, I felt an intense guilt and hoped I hadn’t passed down this form of prejudice to my child. I’ve since learned to change the channel and avoid those triggering moments when he’s present. My husband and I will give one another a look that signals needing to curb the conversation. While we know the realities of racial issues in America, we both are committed to providing our son with the information from a more neutral standpoint and allowing him to come up with his own ideas based on his experiences. 3.) We Whitewash History “Why is everything we learned in school a lie?” One of my college freshmen asked me this in class one day during a discussion about popular culture and social movements. His question was certainly an exaggeration, but also pretty true. When we whitewash or diminish aspects of history as a means of protecting our children, we’re not providing them with all the information they need to truly understand the systems of oppression that affect us all. We do our children a disservice when we pretend that racism and/or prejudice no longer exists. Instead, we must share the truth with them if we intend to dismantle the system in our lifetime. We can do this by finding age-appropriate books and movies that share the truth of these difficult moments in our history, and then answering our children honestly when they ask questions. We can expose our children to diverse cultural activities that expose them to both the good and bad parts of history. So, don’t just celebrate the Fourth of July, but celebrate Juneteenth as well. 4.) We Promote Respectability Politics When we tell Black children that they must wear button-ups instead of hoodies if they want to be respected. When we make comments about same-sex couples flaunting their love in public or these relationships being shown on television. When we focus on what young women wear that “tempt” men. When we promote laws that place gender non-conforming people in danger. We are teaching our children that only certain people deserve respect. We’re telling them it’s okay to show bias to someone who does not perform their roles in society the way we deem appropriate. We’re teaching them to stereotype groups and leading them down the road of prejudice even though we think we’re just protecting them. The dangers that we are concerned about are definitely real, but we must explain those dangers to them. Instead of saying that hoodie makes you look like a thug or those shorts make you look like a hooker, we must sit down and explain to them the ways they may be viewed by people who are racist, sexist and/or prejudiced. Put the shame on society instead of the victims. 5.) We Stay Silent During Uncomfortable Moments “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silences of our friends.” This famous quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. always comes to mind when I’m tempted to stay silent in an uncomfortable moment. If you stay silent when your family and/or friends discuss hot button issues and state their prejudice loud and clear in front of your children, you’re silently agreeing with the sentiments. Sure, you could talk to your children about it later to let them know that you disagree, but if you want to raise a social justice advocate, you need to model that behavior by speaking up in front of everyone. I remind my family and friends often that I will not allow them to express prejudice against any group in front of my child. It’s counter-productive to the person I want him to become. I recently found myself engaging in conversations about Target’s gender-neutral bathroom stance and despite wanting to just walk away because the situation became a bit hostile, I didn’t. I kept talking and providing facts about the issue because it’s what I would want my son to do as well. I also know that not so long ago people who looked like me weren’t allowed to use whatever bathroom they wanted, and I’m grateful to those who didn’t stay silent in those moments. Ask yourself if you want your child to be the one preventing a young girl from using the girl’s restroom at school because her hair is short and she’s not wearing a dress, or do you want them to be the child standing up for that little girl? Our prejudices can make the difference between our children being bullies or advocates. Raising children is hard. Raising children who are socially conscious and aware is even harder. Admitting that we are part of the problem is probably the hardest thing ever. If we can all work to remove these five things from our parenting, I think we’ll be further along on the journey towards acknowledging our privilege, checking our prejudice, and putting down our pride. The good thing is we don’t have to do this work alone, we can do it together. Join me and other parents for Raising an Advocate’s inaugural course, “Exposing The Three Ps: Privilege, Prejudice, and Pride.”

A budget that strengthens OUR communities

By Edmund Ford Jr., City Councilman, District 6

On Tuesday, June 7, the Memphis City Council will have its first opportunity to vote on the city budget. The city budget is Memphis’ most significant policy document, as it defines our values and commitment to creating a place where Memphians can live, work, and play. Mayor Jim Strickland presented a balanced budget on April 19th, and the City Council has held several hearings in order to accept, reject, or modify the Mayor’s budget. The Mayor has preached about being “brilliant at the basics” with his inaugural budget proposal, but there have been several items in his budget to where the brilliance has been questioned by the City Council for its lack of capacity or just existence. The City has endured 90 homicides in the first 5 months of the year, on a pace to break a record. Our youth are given limited opportunities to do things positive. Economic development in our communities is insufficient, where the U.S. Census Bureau stated that local black-owned businesses are receiving less than 1 percent of the revenue in Memphis. Lastly, those who keep our communities safe, clean, and sustainable are enduring salary disparities. The City Council, through its budget hearings, took the time and energy to tackle these major challenges. First, the Council voted to spend $1.8 million in the form of grants to nonprofit organizations, centering on three elements: (1) lowering our crime rate, (2) providing year-round opportunities for our youth, and (3) enhancing the quality of life for those in our communities who require special needs. Secondly, the City Council subsidized an additional $2.5 million in funding to neighborhood projects and the Office of Business Diversity and Compliance to give MWBEs and our communities a more reasonable playing field for prosperity. Finally, the City Council found money to dispel the salary disparities located in local government. In order to fund these initiatives, savings was found from reductions in the Mayor’s proposed spending budget. The result is a balanced budget with no property tax increase. Although our Mayor’s desire is to hire 400 more police officers, we, as a city, cannot arrest and police ourselves out of the crime and poverty problem. What we can do is provide resources to nonprofits that can help. The City Council has provided additional funding to 24 nonprofit organizations during our budget hearings. These organizations are located in all areas of Memphis; they have shown expertise in confronting issues that affect our communities, such as homelessness, domestic violence, and mental health. Likewise, some of these groups provide education, reading awareness, organized sports, youth entrepreneurship, and social development. The Mayor’s budget kept a campaign promise by affording raises for public safety employees, ranging from 2.7 percent to 3.7 percent, but he left out many of those individuals behind the scenes. Although many of those left out may not be police officers or firefighters, they contribute significantly to city government. They help tackle blight, pave roads, and maintain public vehicles and buildings. Moreover, they operate and sustain our parks, libraries, and community centers. Yes, public safety should be our first priority, and it would be understandable if there were no funds available to incentivize non-public safety employees. However, when one looks at the Mayor’s Executive budget closely, one will see that his personnel line item is grossly high compared to other governmental divisions. Using the City’s HR data and taking the Mayor’s full request for a complement of 99 employees into consideration and current Executive employee salaries, the Mayor can have a full complement of employees at a cost of $6.2 million (including benefits), not the $7.6 million request. So why ask for an extra $1.4 million for salaries? Simple calculations show that extra money would give the Mayor the capacity to give 30 of his current 99 employees an average salary of over $100,000/year. Currently, the Mayor’s office only has 9 employees at that threshold, and he’s recently increased the Deputy Director of Communications salary (new, created position by the Mayor) from $75,000 to $108,000 for 5 months of work. What makes more sense, a 44 percent raise for a Deputy Director or a small 1.5 percent raise for 2,400 non-public safety employees? On Tuesday, a budget that I support with its changes, will create a better Memphis for our communities. I hope it passes, only time will tell.

Why more black male teachers should be feminists

By Andre Perry, PhD, The Root

The National Interest: Once a month, this column is tackling broader questions about what the country should do about gaps in achievement and opportunity, especially for boys of color, in a partnership with The Root. I recently attended an all-black, all-male meeting focused on increasing the number of black men in teaching. It’s an accomplishment and a novelty to see a group of black men working together toward a common cause as critical as this one. We did some good work, but I realized that when it comes to improving education and teaching, there should never be a meeting, panel, think tank or photo-op that doesn’t prominently involve black women. Football huddles around education agendas increase the likelihood men will sidestep inequities created by sexism, which makes the teaching profession unattractive and unsustainable for everyone. Schools and students need more male teachers of color, but we certainly don’t need schools to be more paternalistic. A case for more male teachers of color is easy to make. According to 2012 National Center for Education Statistics data, black men represent approximately 2 percent of all teachers, which is the same percentage of Latino men. It’s not just students of color who would benefit from more exposure to more black and Latino men heading the classroom. White children need to see black men teachers as much as black kids if we are ever to change the conscious and unconscious bias that inflicts policy makers. The call to increase males in the teaching profession has been sounded across the country. Individual programs under President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative like the New York City Young Men’s Initiative set goals of significantly increasing the percentage of male teachers of color into teaching. Several other programs assemble and train specifically men as the solution to the gender gap in teaching. Call Me Mister, The Honore Center for Undergraduate Achievement, The Fellowship – Black Male Educators Convening (BMEC) and the Boston Teacher Residency Male Educator of Color Networking Group, and Brothers Empowered to Teach (BE2T) are all quality programs that we should want to see grow. But from preschool to college, if a black person teaches you, it’s very likely to be a woman. All but 2 percent of all black preschool teachers are women, according to an analysis 2014 Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) data. Women represent 80 percent among all black elementary teachers. In high schools, men are more representative of the entire black population at 48 percent. However, in the college ranks women represent 57 percent of all black instructors. If black men enter the teaching profession en masse, they will work in conditions shaped by sexism. Jobs dominated by women pay lower wages. Women teachers aren’t promoted like men. According to AASA, The School Superintendents Association only 14 percent of all superintendents are women – a far cry from the 72 percent of all K-12 educators in this country are women. Black men may see these stark inequities as opportunities – but advantages of white male privilege don’t carry over because of racism. “The experiences of black male teachers, in many ways, mirror the experiences of black female teachers,” says Travis Bristol, assistant professor of education at Boston University. “Often when I have shared findings from my previous study on the socio-emotional challenges black men face in the teaching profession – black women in the audience have reminded me, ‘We face similar challenges.’” Consequently, the best way for men of color to enter and stay in the teaching profession is to look more like feminist allies than members of the same fraternity. Corralling men into schools doesn’t address the conditions that lead to the deeper problem of attrition. Contrary to popular belief, more people of color are becoming teachers. According to the Albert Shanker Institute’s report, “The State of Teacher Diversity in American Education,” the overall share of minority teachers increased from 1987 to 2012, but the attrition rate for teachers of color negated those gains. Women and to a lesser extent men are entering the field, but they’re not staying. “The strongest complaints of minority teachers relate to a lack of collective voice in educational decisions and a lack of professional autonomy in the classroom,” the report states. Children need to see black men working alongside women in non-discriminatory environments, and joining together is the only way to improve the profession for everyone. The aforementioned programs need not feed old conventions about masculinity. That does a disservice to both women and men of color. We do need black men to practice working, learning and celebrating together. Many black male gatherings provide the space for healing to end the self-inflicted violence that literally kills us daily. But most of these assemblies don’t repudiate the problem black men have with masculinity, which is core to our problems. When it comes to women dominated education, the economic and social advancement of black men can and should come out of an agenda focused on women’s equity. We can end the black civil rights tradition of men being the storefront to women’s operational excellence by being pictured in anti-sexist movements to advance women teachers. This isn’t a photo-op. Attracting and retaining more black male teachers actually requires improving the conditions of black women in schools. This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.

OPINION: Killing Dylann Roof won’t kill white supremacy

By Julianne Malveaux, NNPA Columnist

Dylann Roof, the unrepentant racist who killed nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. is, without question, a monster. He prayed with people before reciting racist cants and annihilating people. After his heinous acts, it was discovered that he was a rabid racist who had wrapped himself in the Confederate flag. Does he deserve the death penalty? No. The death penalty is the kindest thing that could happen to Dylann Roof, and he does not deserve our kindness. The death penalty provides some of us with immediate satisfaction, a sense of revenge. And it lets him off the hook. Imagine, instead, that this slug is sentenced to life in prison and forced to live with the consequences of his action. Imagine that he is incarcerated with people who look just like the folks he killed. Imagine that, daily, he has to negotiate the racial realties of our nation’s prison system, a system that disproportionately incarcerates African American men. Imagine that he is vilified as a symbol of our nation’s ingrained racism. Imagine that he, perhaps, has a “come to Jesus” moment where he renounces the racism that caused him to act. Or, imagine that he simmers in his evil and reminds others how heinous he is. The death penalty is inhumane no matter how it is applied. African Americans are disproportionately sentenced to death more than others are, and that is part, but not all, of the point. The rest of the point is that “an eye for an eye” leaves us all blind. The good people of Mother Emanuel AME Church were overflowing in their forgiveness of Roof. Do these forgiving, God-fearing people now oppose the commandment that says, “thou shall not kill”? According to the Death Penalty Information Center, nearly 3000 people sit on death row. While African Americans are just 13 percent of the population, we are 43 percent of the death row inmates. Most people don’t believe that the death penalty deters crime, and many believe that enforcing the death penalty is a waste of taxpayer money. Most prefer alternatives – life sentences without parole, and perhaps with restitution. Dylann Roof can turn into a Confederate martyr if he is killed. Instead, imagine him as a decrepit old man living his life out in prison, constantly faced with his crimes, constantly reminded of his heinous acts. His life, not his death, will constantly remind us of the hate that hate produced. Because, make no mistake, Dylann Roof is not an isolated phenomenon. He is the product of the Confederate flag, the product of the Ku Klux Klan, the product of the ugly, repugnant, vicious hate that produces a flawed and crippled white supremacy. We don’t kill white supremacist hate by killing Dylann Roof. We don’t eliminate the ugly sentiments that propelled this extremely sick young man into a church with a gun by taking his life. Instead, it seems to me, the sole purpose of his life might be to serve as a symbol of hate, to remind us that there will be no peace without justice. Justice does not mean extracting a death penalty that is, inherently, unfair to African Americans. Justice means abolishing the death penalty that is still upheld in 31 states. The friends and relatives of the Emanuel AME Church murdered were exceptional in their rapid expressions of forgiveness for Dylann Roof. They understood the brokenness that caused him to kill and, even as they mourned their loss, they offered their forgiveness as evidence of their faith. Can we do anything less? I say that Dylann Roof ought to be put under somebody’s jail, allowed only a Bible and minimal bland food. I say that he needs to be deprived of every pleasure his victims have been deprived of. I say he needs to be surrounded by black folks just like the ones he killed. I’m not wishing him violence or harassment, just reflection. Killing Roof won’t kill white supremacy. Keeping him miserably alive may, in fact, deter others from imitating him. (NNPA News Wire Columnist Julianne Malveaux is an author and economist. Reach her at juliannemalveaux.com.)

OPINION: Racists prove they care more about gorillas than African-American children

By Kirsten West Savali, The Root

Debates about Harambe – a 450-pound, 17-year-old western lowland, silverback gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo that zoo officials were forced to shoot to death May 28 after a 4-year-old boy fell into his enclosure – have reached fever pitch as the hashtag #JusticeForHarambe continues to circulate online. Harambe – whose name is derived from harambee, which is Swahili for “all pull together” – has become the biggest martyr of the animal rights community since Cecil the Lion. For many people, his life and death not only have amplified awareness of the cruelty of animal captivity but also have placed a bright spotlight on the child’s parents in the ugliest of ways. People, black, white and all in between, have dragged the parents through the mud for what they believe to be complete negligence, and Sheila Hurt of Cincinnati has even gone so far as to create a Change.org petition to have them investigated by Ohio’s Child Protective Services – a petition that has 459,450 signatures to date. Of course, the child and his parents are black, which leads us to the blatant racism at the root of the attacks against them. It also provides further evidence, as if any were needed, of the utter lack of concern for black lives, including the lives of our children. The parallels are clear. Tamir Rice, 12, was fatally shot in under two seconds because officers allegedly believed that he had a gun. Many white people blamed him and his parents. Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, was fatally shot by police after they stormed into her house. Many white people blamed her parents. Michael Brown Jr. was fatally shot many feet away from a cop who claimed that he felt threatened. Many white people blamed Brown and his parents. Eric Garner was choked to death by cops on the corner. Many white people blamed him. Akai Gurley was walking in a dark stairwell and was fatally shot by a cop who was scared of the dark. Though people didn’t blame him, mainstream media still reported his criminal record as if grasping for ways to criminalize him in death, and members of the trigger-happy cop’s community took to the streets to support his fatal negligence. Rekia Boyd was in the park. She was fatally shot by a cop who fired over his shoulder because he could. Laquan McDonald … executed on a public street by cops. And … And … And … Where were the media’s tears then? Where were the mourners? Where were the strangers declaring their innocence? Where were all the white people pilgrimaging to Cincinnati when Sam Dubose was executed by a cop while trying to put his car in park? They were elsewhere, perhaps at a Donald Trump rally screaming #AllLivesMatter. But, now, zoo officials have shot a gorilla in the Cincinnati Zoo to protect a black child, and people are protesting. People are sobbing. Despite expert opinions, such as Jack Hanna’s below, and zookeepers informing the public that Harambe was clearly agitated and ignoring their “special calls” to leave the area, many people insist on blaming the child’s parents because, “Why, oh why, did this beautiful animal have to die?” People magazine has done several features on Harambe with no mention of the injured child’s condition (he’s fine, for those who care) – or that his family is reportedly receiving death threats. This is not surprising, but it is always telling. There are some white people who look at Harambe with his black coat and a child in his grasp and feel compassion for him; they look at that black child’s black mother’s brown skin and feel contempt. They look at his black father and see a criminal, thanks to a Daily Mail hit piece that I will not give them the satisfaction of linking to here. They do not see a child; they see a mistake, a hindrance and, along with his parents, an accessory to murder. And if this beautiful black child had died, many of these same people would have said he deserved it. Despite this, there are some black people joining in to cast stones, and for what? Points? Gold stars? Brownies? Pats on the head? News flash: The “bad black mother” trope that so dominates our society is at the center of this narrative, and no claims of #NotAllBlackParents will stop it. They put our black children in cages and throw away the key, if they don’t gun them down before they get there. But now we have some black people flailing about over the sanctity of life and crying that animals need to be free, as if that’s new information. Just as black people are expected to forgive those who murder us, we are now expected to add caveats about the gorilla not deserving to die in order to prove our humanity. We have to say his name, when these same people sobbing over him don’t even know the names of black women and girls who are killed and raped by police officers, and if they do, they don’t care enough to say them. So what is the “natural habitat” for black people? Clearly not the park, as Tamir’s family will attest; or driving in our cars, like Sandra Bland, or listening to music in them, like Jordan Davis; or in our homes, like Eleanor Bumpers; or in the supermarket, like John Crawford III; or walking in our gated communities, like Trayvon Martin – or anyplace where white fear of black bodies lives. Where can we go so that when we’re shot down by state-sanctioned terrorists and bigots through no fault of our own, it’s not our fault? It is more obvious than ever that some people will “all pull together” to protest the killing of African animals even though they give less than a damn about African-American children. They will violently oppose necessary actions to protect black children while justifying the violence done to black children. They will call their push to have a mother’s children taken away just, while they call the very idea of justice for black people slain by state violence unfair. They will cry and rage over a real gorilla while, throughout history and into the current day, they have called us gorillas, apes and monkeys at every turn and celebrate our deaths. Make no mistake: We see those people for the racist hypocrites that they are. We always have. (Kirsten West Savali is a cultural critic and senior writer for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.)

We need a damn fire drill!

By J. Boney

You know, it’s hard to take constructive criticism from somebody who has never actually constructed anything. I’ve worked for people in Corporate America, the private sector and in the non-profit arena. There have been times where I’ve had to deal with people who went out of their way to either criticize my execution of a project, my handling of an assigned task or my leadership related to running the organization. Being criticized doesn’t always feel good, but when you begin to take it personal, it can potentially stunt your growth and limit your ability to learn from the criticism and become better at what you do. Constructive criticism is not a bad thing, however. Yet, I’ve found it difficult to receive constructive criticism from people who have always sought to critique me and my performance without offering solutions to help me. And more importantly, they had no real track record of ever having done anything significant or productive that allowed me to receive their criticism as anything more than unconstructive. I grew up watching movies and television and I enjoyed “Siskel & Ebert & the Movies,” which featured film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel sharing their opinions about newly released films. Whether I agreed with them or not (and I often disagreed with one or both of them), it was always interesting to hear their arguments and to see them fight on camera concerning whether a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” should be given to a particular movie. I often would go see the movie myself to see if either analysis was on point. Many times, I concluded that they were not. Today, many people are providing unconstructive criticism of the way many African-American individuals and organizations are responding to the issues that Black people face in this country every day. I found them to be as wrong as I sometimes concluded Siskel & Ebert were. I want us to get out of our feelings and look at how we can offer some constructive criticism that can help Black people improve our current situation and address key issues. As I look at the overall state of Black America, and the numerous issues we are faced with, I give props to the many individuals and organizations actually doing something to make a difference when calamity strikes or when we are faced with attacks – internally and externally. We just experienced another epic flood here in the Greater Houston area, and if not for the herculean efforts of many grassroots individuals and organizations, many people would have experienced far greater problems. It was great to see the Black folks who chose to make a difference, but the question I have is this: why weren’t there thousands of other Black people out there to assist the flood victims on day one or beyond? I have similar questions about other issues that have been affecting the African American community. Why weren’t there over a 1,000 people at the rally or the various press conferences to get justice for Jordan Baker, an African-American young father killed because he was mistakenly identified as a criminal by an HPD (Houston Police Department) officer? Why weren’t there over a 1,000 people at the protest or at the courthouse for Ms. Doris Davis, an 87-year old African-American woman forced into the Harris County Guardianship Program? Why weren’t there over a 1,000 people protesting the closure and repurposing of countless schools in the African -American community? Why weren’t there over a 1,000 people standing up for Kathy Swilley, a former HPD officer who was falsely terminated based on trumped up charges? It is time for us to have a community-wide fire drill, like the ones we had in school, so that we can wake the hell up and get engaged. We will show up for concerts, sporting events, parties and even church functions, but won’t show up in numbers to display unity on the issues that impact us collectively. In school or at work, fire drills are conducted several times a year to make sure everyone in the building knows how to get outside quickly and efficiently. Everybody in the building has to participate and the drills must be taken seriously. There is a pre-planned exit strategy that everyone is made aware of and are instructed to follow. When I worked in the banking world, we would follow what were called “Morning Glory” procedures – a group of steps that at least two employees had been made aware of and that the rest of us were trained to follow in the event of an ambush or robbery. In the event of an emergency, not following those procedures could lead to a harmful or even deadly result. We are in a really bad situation here in America y’all. We need to challenge the Black church –one of our most respected institutions – to get back to its original position of social justice and change. There is no reason why, in advance of any major issue that the Black community needs to address, that the Black churches shouldn’t have a collective, pre-planned emergency preparedness plan to follow. Hell, I even believe that every Black church should establish a Crisis Response Ministry as a part of its overall ministry. Some of the Black churches in the Greater Houston area have at least 1,000 or more tithe-paying members; some have memberships to 10,000 to 15,000. Now, envision this: If Black pastors had a Crisis Response Ministry as a part of their overall ministry, and at least 1 percent of their tithe-paying church members were challenged and recruited to be a part of that ministry, can you imagine the impact they would have when called upon to show up for a protest, press conference, rally, court appearance, school board meeting, legislative hearing, city council meeting or major crisis? I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I know that 1 percent of 1,000 tithe-paying church members is 10 people and that 1 percent of 15,000 tithe-paying church members is 150 people. If at least 20 of the hundreds of Greater Houston area churches of each size would do this, you would potentially have anywhere from 200 to 3,000 city-wide volunteers, equipped and ready to go when called upon at a moment’s notice. When a house is burning down or a child is drowning, it’s time to move and act without having to have a meeting, three conference calls, a democratic vote and prayer. This can be done because it has already been pre-planned. I hope my constructive criticism is received in the spirit in which it was intended – with nothing but love. (Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Reach him at [email protected])

Old folks may hate the way young people use slang, but who are they to talk?

By Malaika Jabali, The Root

Thanks to the Internet and social media universalizing certain aspects of culture, our slang has become less regional and maddeningly uniform. So a black dude could trek from New York City to the Atlanta University Center in his Timbs and not be clowned for saying how long it took, “dead ass.” Because he probably won’t be saying that. Though he will be clowned for wearing his Timbs at the freshman-year pool party. Because he probably never took them off. But while this melding of regional slang and YouTube-driven colloquialisms should be celebrated, the use of words like “lit” and “fleek” and “dab” seems to upset many of our elders, who are mad because we’re not speaking the Queen’s English. Thing is ... many of them do the exact same thing. But unlike the innovations of their 14-year-old grandchildren, these words are just misuses of existing words. It doesn’t matter which part of the country they’re in; your moms, pops, auntie, uncle and dem are probably f--kin’ up some English in the following ways: 1.) Adding a gratuitous “s”: Red Lobster is singular. No one is being taken to Red Lobsters, unless you are indeed going to multiple Red Lobsters. In that case, tell me which one has the best cheddar biscuits. With that said, here’s a handy list of other not-actual things: Bella Noches Krispy Kremes wimmens mens chirrens the Internets For all you Atlantans, that means Essos, Visions and Krogers—the locales of all your late-night flirtations and aggressive “get this damn 2-for-1 ladies-night promo flier off my car windshield” actions—do not exist. And neither does “Ofras” (that’s Oprah, according to my grandma, everybody). 2.) Making plural words singular: In an odd stroke of genius, our elders’ capacity to pluralize words often does not extend to words that actually should be plural. This is especially so if you have family from the West Indies. In my kid days, I was instructed by the aforementioned grandma to pick up my foot (aka both feet), put on my pant (which, arguably, makes more sense) and stop smacking my lip. 3.) Taking away people’s possessives: In a similar twist, because black folks are unpredictable, except when we’re not, Dave and Buster’s and Chuck E. Cheese’s just lost all possession of their respective adult/child playgrounds, because we have universally determined that they will merely be known as Dave and Buster and Chuck E. Cheese. 4.) The gratuitous “r”: I don’t know what an “idear” is. Or an “Obamer.” Or a “‘mote controller” or “cotrolla,” if we want to get technical. I do know what an idea is, that Obama is our president and that a remote changes the TV channel ... or so I’m told. Because “nearest child” has been used interchangeably in our house even when the remote is sitting right there, Ma! 5.) On today; on yesterday; on tomorrow: Black people like to do the most. In this case, do less. If we just say “today,” “yesterday” and “tomorrow,” people will still know what we’re trying to say. I mean, I really don’t understand who started this. Was it the same New York City cat who, while standing behind the McDonald’s register to save up money the summer before his AUC trek, summoned the customer next “on line” instead of “in line.” (This is real ... and can only be found within the confines of New York City. Side note: Are New Yorkers so easily made fun of because they take themselves so seriously?) I can tolerate us being “on one,” though I still don’t know what this means, if we’re being honest. I can even get used to us being on C.P. Time. That’s the only time that exists to me, really. I can probably also get past you saying “quote on quote.” But I will not, under any circumstances, be OK with you making plans for “on today,” “on yesterday” or “on tomorrow.” 6.) “Valentime’s Day”: Just stop it. St. Valentine turns over in his grave every week preceding and postceding (see, that’s made up, but I’m consciously aware of this) his eponymous celebration. He also told me he wants you stop it. He hasn’t done either, but whatever. For all you black-name-having black folks (like me, my name is very black), it’s like that thing when a teacher sees all the letters in your name at roll call, but she gets confused and she is under a lot of pressure because it’s the first day and she is human, too, so she just says whatever and now you’re “Melissa” instead of “Malaika” for a semester and even past that, like when you apply for your first office job because #racism and that’s the only time you get calls back. Thanks, Obamer! 7.) The gratuitous “the”: Hey, Ma, yes I can log off “the Twitter” and “the Facebook.” Oooh, and guess what? I can also log off Twitter and Facebook in the same exact way.

Stay focused on a sustainable business and lifestyle

By Thomas C. Sheffield

It won’t be easy but it is possible The road may be tough to become sustainable, but the journey is worth it. There are so many distractions we all face. But we must keep our focus and not lose sight on the prize of a sustainable business and lifestyle. If you are in business, please do not forget millennials (People born between 1980-2000) are demanding more environmental and socially sound products. A Morgan Stanley report says that millennials are twice as likely to buy from brands with good management of environmental and social issues and are twice as likely to check packaging for sustainability performance. Here are some thoughts to allow you to become more attractive to millennials. We must always be mindful of the trends. More and more, consumers are choosing brands and are doing business with businesses that have a shared sense of purpose. Millennials are looking to do business with companies that exercise best environmental practices. These practices show in a company’s bottom line and they publish these plans on their web sites. There are plenty of examples of this. Companies such as Apple, Whole Foods, Walmart and Target continue to find value in sustainable initiatives. If they can do it, then shouldn’t you? Practicing these simple acts will save money and make your business more attractive to millennials. Millennials are also more aware of business transparency. Members of this tech-savvy group now have access to how you run your business. They have access to information on who you do business with and what is in the products you sell. Studies show millennials are more likely to purchase goods and services with good business practices than just price. Not only are there web sites, there are apps people use to decide where to spend their money. There are some easy fixes every company can make in order to become more sustainable. You may look for ways to eliminate waste. You may wish to look at options nature provides when it comes to lighting or heating/cooling your business. There may be products out there that you are not using that could save even more money and allow you to make more. The talent of your employees may not be used in the best way to gain a competitive advantage. These missed opportunities should be discovered to bring value to your company because they show investors that you are able to identify and take advantage of opportunities that are present. The road to a sustainable business is not an easy one but it is a rewarding journey. I challenge you to think differently about how you do business. I challenge you to leverage your assets to your advantage. I challenge you to look at the trends in your industry and adapt to them. (Thomas C. Sheffield owns Nashville-based Thom Sustainable Consultants. Contact him at [email protected] Visit thomsustainableconsulting.com. Follow @tcsheff.)

Why ‘make America great again’ is an insult (and a lie), explained

By Damon Young, The Root

Who is Krystal Lake? Krystal Lake is a 22-year-old New York City woman who recently received death threats after wearing a hat with the words “America was never great”—an obvious turn on Donald Trump’s “Make America great again” presidential campaign slogan. She’d also be my spirit animal if that position wasn’t already occupied by King T’Challa. Death threats? Really? Yes. She wore the hat while on a work shift at Home Depot. Someone took a picture of it, shared it to social media, and it apparently became another thing on the long list of “Things Trump Supporters Are Angry About.” Right behind “Muslims,” “science,” “logic,” “Obama,” “Frosted Mini-Wheats,” “actual explanations about why a border wall is an illogical, ridiculous and patently insane suggestion from a cat turd with a coconut’s comb-over,” and “Draymond Green.” I see. So, if Krystal Lake is your spirit animal, you must agree with her in some way. I didn’t say that. But I do appreciate the audacity of going to work in an area that’s apparently rife with Trump supporters and wearing that hat. That’s some high-level trolling there. And not the bad trolling, where a person inserts him- or herself into an argument to either derail the conversation or insult the people having the conversation. But the good trolling, where you do something that you know will anger idiots and expose the anger—and the thought process behind the anger—as fruitless and hypocritical. Well, how do you personally feel about America? Would you call it great? Not exactly. Referring to a place as large and complex and context-ridden as America as “great” is actually quite limiting. Because it’s much more than that. Can it be great at times? Of course! But can it suck at times? Definitely. It’s basically a big-ass Cheesecake Factory menu. Sure, there are some legitimately delectable and creative items in there. But there’s also some s--t that should have been left in 1933. I will say this, though: Perhaps it’s not “great” now, but it’s greater now, in 2016, than it ever has been. There’s never been a time when the country was more closely aligned with the ambitions of its creation. When our government was better positioned to protect the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of each of its citizens and not just straight, Christian men without much melanin. And this is why, for many of us, Trump’s “Make America great again” is both a lie and an insult. How so? It’s a lie for the reasons I just articulated. It suggests that a mythical greatness 1) actually existed and, 2) if it did exist, is aspirational. And it makes that suggestion despite the fact that today’s America is, by every objective measure, a better place to live than 1976 America. And 1956 America. And 1936 America. And 1916 America. And ... you get my point. And it’s an insult because it neglects to consider the fact that from, like, the first 400 years of America’s existence to maybe the last 40 minutes, if you were a black person or a woman or a queer person or a person who happened not to be Christian, your rights were severely limited. (And if you were a black person, you went the first couple hundred years or so without having any, and then the next hundred years after that with airplane-mode rights.) The insult becomes a legitimate threat when you consider that maybe that history isn’t being neglected. That maybe it’s the primary consideration. That maybe the latent impetus behind “Make America great again” is a want to return to that America. The Mad Men-era America, where white men could do whatever the hell they wanted. Or perhaps the Underground-era, where white men could own whomever the hell they wanted. Ironically, Trump and his supporters are actually in a prime position to make America as great as they think it used to be. Really? Yup! He could drop out of the race. And then they could all move to Canada.