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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Unemployment one indicator, but does not prove economic progress in African American communities

Just because you say you're not a racist means nothing.
Help people economically, spiritually, and psychologically to prove your point!
U.S. President Donald Trump is fast to answer critics who call him "racist" with indications that unemployment is down for African Americans during his Administration, but what is the real economic outlook for people of color in our country?

Let's first take a look at poverty and economic development in Mississipi, a state Trump recently called "The Great State of Mississippi."

Mississippi is the poorest state in the United States. According to the Clarion Ledger newspaper, "More than a third of Mississippi children are stranded in poverty — higher than during the Great Recession." (https://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/07/21/mississippi-children-living-poverty/30494287/)

"Mississippi’s Black population was 1,143,789 in 2014 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The actual percentage of African Americans in Mississippi was 38% which makes it the largest percent of African Americans of any state in the country," according to search engine BING.

Mississippi's flag still resembles the confederate flag.
I've traveled through this state, known for its brutality against black people, and realize it's a dangerous place for people of color.  My family inherited land there but quickly sold it because of its bloody history. It's a beautiful place, I kid you not, but I'm sure some communities could resemble "Shitholes" after suffering through many natural disasters.

If Trump wants to show that he's not racist or elitist, maybe he should start trying to help folks in Mississippi instead of spending weekends in Mar-a-Lago. I called the Grand Bear Golf Club in Saucier and talked to the manager and head pro. "Trump has never been here, not in the 12 years I've been here," said Ian Kahn. "I don't think we will be inviting him down here anytime soon," Kahn said. 

I contacted Kelly in Mississippi Republican Governor Phil Bryant's office and asked whether President Trump had ever visited the state. "Yes, he was just here at the opening of the Civil Rights Museum," she told me.

When I asked whether Pres. Trump talked with the governor or African Americans about economic development issues, she asked me to email Clay Chandler, communications director, to answer those questions. I am awaiting his reply and will update this post as soon as the information is received. She told me it may take a while for a reply since the legislature is in session.

Monday, January 15, 2018

MLK's daughter calls for revolution

Scene inside Ebenezer Baptist Church during MLK celebration

In a celebration commemorating the 89th birthday and 50th anniversary of MLK's death come April 4, his daughter, Bernice, stood at the podium in Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church. Her mission: to spawn a moral revolution based on her father's philosophy which was developed from his study of  Western and Eastern religions.

The Rev. Dr. Bernice King, a graduate of Spelman and Emory Universities and CEO of the King Center, pulled no punches and preached off script. "Our president does not represent the spirit of America," she said. King inaugurated a MLK 50 Forward Initiative, starting today until April 4, and asked her father's followers to perform 50 acts of kindness towards someone of another race.

"God's purpose has been revealed...you will reap if you fear not." King vowed that she and God's people must put an end to xenophobia, militarism, materialism, and racism.

She urged listeners to choose non-violence and condoned unity. "We have the same speeches each year...now we need a revolution of values." She said we must listen to those we don't agree with and come together to save humanity.

King said those who believe in her father's teachings must not hate others because hatred leads to bitterness. She shared that she used to hate all white people, especially all white men, but said she changed her mind when she was given a sincere hug one day by a white male interviewer.

Earlier, Rev. Wright Lee spoke about the failure of the "white" church. "We need another Letter From the Birmingham Jail." He said of the present political and religious climate, "Enough is enough. It's time to be different."

All speakers pretty much followed the same script that has been spoken since King's death. His daughter is convinced that collective voices will win in the end. Manifestation of God's love will save us, she said.  

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Suspicious Nabisco cracker packaging raises safety alarm

Piece of tape found on wrapper in Nabisco's Ritz Cracker box.
Yesterday, I took advantage of  Publix Supermarket's "Buy One, Get One Free" promotion at their Barrett Parkway store in Marietta. I purchased a box of Ritz Crackers.

When I opened what appeared to be a factory sealed box, one row of crackers had a piece of tape on it which looked odd.

"You can return it to the store for a full refund," said Allison who said she was in charge of community relations at the Publix headquarters on Delk Road where I went in person. After asking about the policy for food merchandising as far as this being a health/ safety concern, she said someone would call me back. I have also contacted Mondelez International, Nabisco's parent company, through their website and am awaiting an answer.

I requested that Allison take a picture of the box so they could possibly trace who had packaged the crackers. I am awaiting a call back as to what will be done on this matter.

Of course, I will not be eating Ritz Crackers for a while...

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Cyberjagzz robotic students get GoFundMe account

A GoFundMe.com link has been set up for robotics students in Huntsville, Alabama to offset costs to compete in upcoming events. (https://www.gofundme.com/cyberjagzz-robot-competition)
Dr. Cydale Smith, an expert in ion-matter interactions and nanoscale materials/device fabrication, has set up the account. "Through my interactions with the public schools here in Huntsville, I have developed a passion for providing students access to quality science education." His organization,
4SIGHT, INC., is dedicated to advocating for historically, under-represented minority students. 


Huntsville, Alabama is known as Rocket City and the adopted home of Wernher von Braun, aerospace engineer and space architect. Half of the German Rocket program was stationed in Huntsville to help the U.S. win the Space Race in the 1960's. Currently, $30-50 billion goes through the city via government contracts. 

"At 4 SIGHT INC, we have a community-based FIRST Robotics team with students from these low-income families known as the Cyberjaggz," says Dr. Smith. "Our robotics team is invited to the 2018 Rocket City Regional here. In order to participate, there is a huge financial bill that we cannot pay for on our own."

Smith says the GoFundMe page will help pay for parts, transportation, food, equipment, software, supplies, materials, and team spirit items. Donors will be continually updated on how the Cyberjaggz are doing throughout this process.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Unified Christians should celebrate Jesus' birth everyday, every season

Mosaic in lobby of Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation
Atlanta, Ga...Here is my take away from the Orthodox - Catholic Ecumenical Gathering held December 18 in Atlanta's Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation.

Jesus' birth should be celebrated not only on December 25, but on everyday of the year, in every season. The historical and spiritual Jesus is God's great gift to the world! He was a poor boy who is now recognized as God's son. There is evidence that Jesus was born, but the significance of His birth is more important that the date of His birth.

Archbishop Wilton Daniel Gregory and Metropolitan
Alexios Panagiotopoulos had unifying messages during event: Jesus is a gift!



Matthew 2: 1-12 in a nutshell: Wise men frightened the political leaders of the day. Herod wanted to know where the Savior was so he could destroy Him. Jesus was a rising star. A true ruler leads people to the light of truth. The biblical wise men gave Jesus all the material treasures they could carry but didn't give parents any words of advice which you would think they would do. If they did, it was not recorded in the bible.
Metropolitan Alexios: Christmas is the biggest event for the human race. We are participating through faith in this historical event. This gathering is a performance when we can open your hearts to feel the presence of Jesus. How do we prepare to celebrate the birth of a Savior?  Materialism has taken precedence over the historical celebration. Gift giving during Christmas should not over emphasize the material but should dwell on God's gift of Jesus, the Savior of our spirituality. Feel the presence of God during this time. 

Father Panayiotis (l) looks outward during ceremony.
Rev. Father Panayiotis Papageorgiou: December 25th is a unifying feast day for Christians. What actually happened on that day, and was Jesus actually born on that day? It's debatable. Refer to Luke 2:8. Some things to consider:
1. It was too cold for shepherds to be out at night tending their flocks. They were probably in caves resting from a hard day's work.
2. Pagans celebrated their SUN rituals on December 25. Christmas was actually first celebrated in 336 AD by Christians. 
3. There was a census being taken at the time of Jesus' birth which is in the public record.
The Annunciation
4. According to Jewish tradition, high priests would go into the Holy of Holies at a specific time. Zachariah was a high priest who went into the Holy of Holies. His wife, Elizabeth, was pregnant before Mary. Mary became pregnant in March... December is nine months later.
5. Early church leaders intentionally picked December 25 to celebrate Jesus' birth. Don't worry about the date because the early Christians made the decision... rejoice in that decision.

Church processional after event

Archbishop Wilton Gregory: Come together in prayer. Be gracious and grateful. Christ must be reborn everyday in your spirit, regardless of the date of December 25. Celebrate His sacrifice. I look forward to the day we can all worship at one altar. Christmas is a mystery. Draw close to the manger. Jesus was born a poor child. Keep alive faith, unity, and peace. Welcome God's Son made flesh. May God's blessing remain with us forever.
Jesus in dome of Atlanta's Orthodox Cathedral

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Mercedes-Benz teams with Super Heroes in JUSTICE LEAGUE

JUSTICE LEAGUE, one of the most anticipated superhero movies of all time, will hit U.S. theatres beginning November 17, 2017, and Mercedes-Benz vehicles will join the League alongside Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash as they race to save the planet from an alien assault of catastrophic proportions. 

Accompanying DC's most iconic heroes on the big screen, the new E-Class Cabriolet, the Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo with its new interior developed for this film, and the G-Class 4x42 will play an integral role in this epic action adventure. 

"With JUSTICE LEAGUE, we found the perfect partner to highlight our current vehicles as well as communicate the fascination of our brand. The E-Class Cabriolet is a natural fit for Wonder Woman," says Dr. Jens Thiemer, Vice President Marketing Mercedes-Benz Cars. "And who other than Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, would be more inclined to drive a car like the Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo? We are, therefore, very excited to partner with Warner Bros. Pictures on this much-anticipated movie as we reach out to as many people as possible with a creative and innovative campaign."

"As a designer you have to create fantasy, so we often get inspired by the film industry. I am excited that this time, the film industry was inspired by us and our Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo became the car for a super hero," says Gordon Wagener, Chief Design Officer Daimler AG. "Extreme proportions, sensual contours amd intelligently implemented high tech blend to form a breathtaking body and the perfect car for Bruce Wayne."

For more information, go to:  https://media.mbusa.com/releases/release-db8e07ab3dc1897e7df477d6b10037d1-mercedes-benz-launches-campaign-to-support-warner-bros-pictures-upcoming-epic-action-adventure-justice-league

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Puerto Rico in shambles after Hurricane Maria

San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico

is located in country's eastern central region


and has a population of 41,947 U.S. citizens.
(Photos submitted by Maritza Rodriguez)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Protesters and police: a volatile case in change management which can lead to good

A take off from "Black Lives Matter" slogan, this unoriginal message may be obstacle to bringing cops and protesters together.

When National Action Network leaders announced that they would be sending Al Sharpton to rally against Cobb County Lieutenant Greg Abbott's "We only kill black people" remark, Cobb County, Ga. Police Chief Michael Register recommended that Abbott be fired immediately.

That's the kind of change happening across the United States where communities have seen an uptick in "Killed by Cop" incidents, and the police themselves have become targets.

"Instead of implementing change by accident, lawsuit, or crisis, law enforcement professionals need to act deliberately — with confidence and purpose — to ensure the desired outcomes," say Deborah Lewis and Fredinal “Fred” Rogers of the United States Capitol Police. ( https://www.policeone.com/police-jobs-and-careers/articles/6969429-Overcoming-3-key-challenges-to-change-management-in-policing/ )

Recently, a Georgia Tech student armed with a knife, Scout Schultz, was killed by campus police who did not deploy non-lethal bean-bag rounds which could have saved his life. The result: violent protests erupted in Atlanta.

Yet, this is a moment when relationships between police officers and the public are under the microscope, ready for improvement on both sides. What will improve relations between the police and community members they serve?

Transparency. Sensitivity training. Reinforcement of positive behaviors. Breaking down stereotypes. Accountability. This is the responsibility of human resources, the union, training facilities, public relations administrators, review panelists, and community activists.

The police should not be at war with the citizens they serve. Ongoing and sustainable changes are keys to improving community policing.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Florida's Keys: what will happen now that Irma's gone?

Muddy waters left by Hurricane Irma
Do you think investors will go to the Florida Keys and grab up some cheap real estate, will insurance companies pay for rebuilding, or donations help individual homeowners recover? What about the U.S. government?

ABC News has reported that 90% of homes in the Keys have been damaged or destroyed. That's approximately 34,200 homes at a median price of $280k each. It would take $7.5 billion dollars to help rebuild them. And that doesn't include businesses, boats, cars and possessions.

During times like these, unscrupulous people with money hone in on victims. Only time will tell.






Thursday, August 31, 2017

Breaking news update... Abbott out after "We only kill black people" comment


Lt. Greg Abbott, a 28-year veteran, has been fired by Cobb County Police Chief Michael Register after the media released dash cam video of Abbott saying, "We only kill black people" at a traffic stop.

In a 3:30 press conference, termination was recommended by the Chief. The AJC has reported that Abbott resigned or retired at the same time the police chief said he recommended firing.

Another source informed Wingcom Watchdog that while processing Abbott's termination, he retired but may not receive his pension.

Abbott's firing comes after a lengthy report documenting dysfunction at Cobb County Police was completed by the International Association Chiefs of Police (IACP).

I think Register made the right move. Too bad it took the press to have an investigation opened and Abbott removed. We're hoping that proper training is focused on before the public is asked to pay higher taxes to hire more officers.


For more info., go to: http://www.myajc.com/news/local/cobb-officer-who-said-only-kill-black-people-says-retire/iwXaTAucCB4ZKIK7uvEbxO/
 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Breaking news... flood waters receding in Houston

8/30/2017
8/28/2017
Photos by Marcia Brown. "Finally it has stopped raining. Rain going to Louisiana. No more clothes needed at shelters."

HARP scam artists could be minor and major lenders


Be careful of HARP scams that say program "offer" ends August 31, 2017, and there are no closing costs. You may need to file a complaint with Feds... According to HARP's gov. website, program has been extended to Dec. 31, 2018 but only for certain loans closed on certain dates. https://www.fhfa.gov/Media/PublicAffairs/Pages/FHFA-Announces-Modifications-to-High-LTV-Streamlined-Refi-Program-and-Extension-of-HARP-Thru-12-2018.aspx

Don't take my word for it... call and find out! You may not even be eligible for HARP, but unscrupulous lenders may make you think you are until it's too late!!! They know they will be losing money because of Hurricane Harvey, so the snakes are striking while the iron is hot, in my opinion...

To learn more, go to: https://harp.gov/ .

Monday, August 28, 2017

Freeways resemble rivers in Houston, Texas

Photo by Marcia Brown, Houston, Texas





This photo was forwarded by my sorority sister who lives in Houston. It shows trees in the 288 Freeway/Binz Medium in front of Chase Building on Almeda.

"Bottom line, the freeway is a river," Brown said. "It's still raining. Crazy."

I talked to my friend, Dr. Steve Lyons with the National Weather Service. "Tell your friend to stay put as long as she has food and water." Lyons said driving out from her location is not an option. If she sees water coming in her immediate neighborhood or lawn, she should call for help, go onto roof (not attic), and wave towel to be rescued, Lyons said. 

My cousin, Evelyn Price, lives with her daughter in a two story home in Missouri City, Texas. "We're waiting to be rescued. There's already a mandatory evacuation called for at Sienna Plantation near here," she said.

Alt-right has created alt-christianity

Confederate flag with sign and christian symbols in private yard across from school bus stop
"If we don't provide emerging generations with genuine identity, community and purpose through robust and vibrant spiritual communities, somebody else will do so. If good religion slumbers and stagnates, bad religion is the alternative." ---Brian D. McLaren

As I struggle with the dichotomy of how so-called Christians, following a Jewish Jesus, could hate Jews, my husband sent me an article written by McLaren on alt-christianity (http://time.com/4915161/charlottesville-alt-right-alt-christianity/) Now it makes sense, that young white supremacists have been given a "community, identity and purpose," but it doesn't explain why older racists have morphed Bible teachings into their own twisted religion.



 What do you think Jesus would say about these conflicting messages?

It's ironic that these symbols are on the corner of Turner Lane, knowing that The Turner Diaries is a white supremacy book read by mass murder, Timothy McVeigh.

I think any "Christian" who would put these three symbols side by side in his yard is sending a message that he is in bed with Satan. I hope this guy's pastor or church members will talk to him and convince him to remove these conflicting symbols, because kids riding the bus see them everyday and could be turned into alt-righters. We need to do more than just pray about this one.

"All these things are inspired by the devil," said Father Moses Berry recently at a racial reconciliation conference in Atlanta. 

You be the judge!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Breaking News...

"Fake News" CNN reporter and crew are saving families waiting for the Coast Guard to rescue them from flood waters near Houston, Texas. President Trump has recently blasted the media, especially CNN, for bad reporting and for misleading the American public.

People are also being rescued by ordinary citizen volunteers with boats. CNN has shown pictures of military-style vehicles being readied to go into Houston area.

There are also reports of government high water vehicles and helicopters making rescues.

It is estimated that it may take 10-20 years for the area to fully recover from Hurricane Harvey.

Sharing heritage can lead to racial reconciliation

Fr. Berry talks to attendees at racial reconciliation conference.

While white supremacists are ranting about heritage not being hate in one breath and blood and soil (genocide) in the next exhalation, Father Moses Berry’s work is bridging the racial divide by preaching forgiveness and grace.

Berry was the guest speaker at St. John the Wonderworker Church on Cherokee Avenue in downtown Atlanta on August 26. Pastor of Unexpected Joy Church in Ash Grove, Missouri, Berry is President and Co-founder of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black. He is also curator of The Ozarks African American Heritage Museum.

Berry is the only black orthodox priest in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) whose mission is, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Berry explains the history of the drinking gourd and freedom.
When Berry shares his message on racial reconciliation, he delves into a space that, like the Underground Railroad’s drinking gourd, is pointed towards freedom - spiritual freedom.

“God is with us,” were Berry’s opening remarks before educating attendees on the spirituality of African Americans and the ancient orthodox Christian faith. Mahalia Jackson’s voice set the mood from a DVD slide show, singing “Move on Up a Little Higher.”

“I been climbing over hills and mountains
I'm gonna drink from the Christian fountain
You know all God, God's sons and daughters that mornin'
Will drink that ol' healing water.”

Berry said he was born between the dark and the daylight and wears sunglasses inside not to be cool, but because his eyes are light sensitive. He talked about his ancestors, family members who lived past 100 years old, and blacks he remembers from his childhood. From a three-generational lineage of ministers in the A.M.E. Zion Church, Berry said, “I went on this unending journey to find God until I really learned how to serve the Lord.”
Participant asks about positive messages depicted in black dolls.
He himself knows sharing between the races can happen. He is the recipient of a 85% match kidney from a Serbian, white female donor. “I think God delivered me through that person,” Berry said.

Slave "necklace" or collar
A poignant moment in Berry’s speech occurred when he donned an iron slave collar and held a ball and chain belonging to one of his ancestors. Then there was the display of a telling, 1863 Drunkard’s Quilt used at safe houses on the route to freedom in Canada.

Berry described his own direct knowledge of black heroes (saints) in his town. One was Olivia Murray. Murray, the granddaughter of a slave, Fannie Murray, “embarrassed me in 1950-60’s by walking around town looking like Aunt Jemima.

“I told my mother, ‘Mom, can you do something with her?’” His mother informed him that Murray carried a basket filled with eggs from her chickens, canned goods from vegetables in her garden, and she saved many families from starvation, including theirs.

“We dismiss people on flimsy evidence,” Berry said about our view of others. “We’re ashamed of ourselves…we think white men’s ice water is colder than ours…we have the same contributions to make.” 

"Just look how much time we have wasted on this subject, on racism, when we could have been solving other problems. Hatred of 'others' is a universal problem and is tied to power, not skin color."--- Tomi Johnson

Drunkard's Quilt once displayed outside safe house.
After the presentation, participants were treated to lunch featuring items from Ethiopia (curry Chicken, red spicy lentils, sponge bread), West Africa (meat pie and plantains), and soul food dishes from the United States (chicken livers, collards, watermelon, sweet potato pie).

In a question and answer session, one white male stunt actor asked how blacks can forgive whites after all the atrocities committed during slavery and the present day.

“Don’t judge lawless young people who are confused and lack proper guidance or deliberately refuse guidance. Acknowledge what has happened, and then move forward. Use Christ to set the example. Ask, ‘What would Jesus do?’ Go outside your comfort zone.”
Shared heritage might show hate, but forgiveness follows for those led by Jesus.
Berry said, “It would be shallow to think this is a new or racial problem. Christians should come back to true discipleship. This is a hard thing, to follow Christ - self-denial to the point that it hurts.”

"Don't fret over racism which could drive one crazy. We can never get to the bottom of it."---Fr. Moses Berry

Berry invites others to lean on God's grace and learn how to be an active, real "Christian" in thoughts and deeds.  “The problem is that when we think of our sins, it’s egotistical to try to repay the debt. Repent and try not to sin again,” he concluded.

For more information, contact Berry at abbamoses@yahoo.com. To view conference videos, go to: http://www.saintjohnwonderworker.org/parish-photos-events-1/st-moses-the-black-conference


Photos by Kurk Johnson, Tomi Johnson, and church photographer.