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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Civil disobedience in USA 2014

If someone from the younger generation asks you why people are protesting against the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case, and how marching down the street will help, you have to go back 50 years and view civil disobedience through a southern black lens.

Civil disobedience can work and move change forward.

It was just a few years ago that water fountains, bathrooms, classrooms, lunch counters, restaurants, sports teams and buses were separate, unequal, and segregated. If not for protest, access would still be unequal.

Fast forward to 2014. Now we have to concentrate on police brutality, the prison industrial complex, paying for private schools, keeping a job, and remaining sane while the world seems to be crashing down.

It's a damn shame, but somebody's got to do it!
 

Race relations on fire in America

One indicator of how we feel about each other is our communication. As I watched the grand jury's decision on the Michael Brown case unfold in Missouri, I noticed how the governor introduced community officials at an early evening news conference.

What struck me was how the state's chief executive referred to the white guy as if he was his buddy, and the two black men were just introduced without familiarity.

You respect and protect your friends. That's why race relations in the United States is broken, because most of "we the people" are divided, mistrusting, and scared of each other.

It boils down to Friends and Enemies.

In his testimony to the grand jury, Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed Michael Brown, said he felt he was battling Hulk Hogan, a legendary wrestler. He labeled and sized Brown up as "crazy." Imagine an armed man with a gun being threatened by a teenager's fist. Who should have been afraid?

Fast forward to Cleveland, Ohio where 12- year old Tamir Rice armed with a toy gun was killed by a police officer. Who had more reason to fear for his life?

Something doesn't seem quite right here...Who should have been afraid of whom, gun toting George Zimmerman or Skittle carrying Trayvon Martin?

'Lil David was not afraid of Goliath, the giant, because he had a superior weapon.

Humans who are afraid protect themselves by whatever means at their disposal. Whoever has the best technological defense wins. Unfortunately, a gun always wins in a fistfight, and that's why blacks in America are unarmed, outgunned, and in a losing battle in the legal system.

One last thought... No one should have to live in fear in the greatest nation on Earth, our country, the United States of America. This is not the case because our relationships are broken. Additionally, our legal system continues to condone the use of lethal weapons in the hands of fearful public servants. In some states, even teachers and administrators can carry guns... can you imagine what is going to happen next in that scenario?

Yes, Obama has declared that race relations have improved, and his being president is a testament to our elevated presence. While his job approval rating is at its lowest, our cities are becoming a place where racial relationships are in chaos.

No, the GRAND (Wizard/Cyclops) jury's verdict was no surprise to me, but I was at least hoping for justice. Instead, I have no peace.

AFTERTHOUGHT: While I was writing this post, a moth came into my room, flew around the light, and lit on the chair. I thought about how the moth could potentially eat my clothes, but I didn't want to kill him. I made a conscious decision to push the moth into a cup, open the back door, and let him fly away unscathed. I think Officer Wilson made a conscious decision to kill Michael Brown because he had the opportunity, means, and lacked compassion. This was a killing for a deed that didn't warrant death. May God have mercy on us all.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Race, offender, and incarceration figures tell us what???


U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, head of the Justice Dept., has resigned.
Statistics can be used to prove anything, but I was a little taken aback when I found the following report on a KKK website entitled "The Color of Crime" (http://kkk.bz/main/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/colorofcrime.pdf).

Seems like someone is insinuating that blacks are "bad," should be locked up, and should be housed in the prison industrial complex.

What do these numbers really mean, and are they accurate? I contacted the FBI, and their spokesperson said he couldn't log onto the KKK website from his FBI computer to tell if the numbers were correct. Instead, he referred me to the FBI's statistics. Unfortunately, they admit that of the 18,000 policing agencies which could report data, only 6,115 or 34% do so. A USA Today report claims  that only 750 agencies report race data into the FBI, or only 4% (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/14/police-killings-data/14060357/).

The synopsis of the FBI's response says researchers on this topic should review all the data sets. "The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program is a nationwide, cooperative statistical effort of more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies voluntarily reporting data on crimes brought to their attention. 

"Each month participating law enforcement agencies submit information on the number of Part I offenses that become known to them; those offenses cleared by arrest or exceptional means; and the age, sex, and race of persons arrested.  Contributors provide only arrest data for Part II offenses. 

"USA Today likely requested the Supplemental Homicide Report File List (Justifiable)...Justifiable homicide data are not received for the states of New York and Florida, only two agencies, Chicago and Rockford, report justifiable homicide data in Illinois."

What do crime statistics tell us about crime in the U.S. by race?

Here's a start...

Total U.S. population - 307,007,000 (2009 U.S. Census data)
White Population - 244,298,000 (80%)
Black Population - 39,641,000 (13%)

Criminal offenders (2012 - FBI data)
White - 55%
Black - 28%

Arrestees (2012 - FBI data)
White - 68%
Black - 28%

Incarceration rates (The Sentencing Project)
White - 33.1%
Black - 36%

For more information on this topic, go to the FBI's website at: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/nibrs/2012/data-tables. Media requests can be made to:
Stephen G. Fischer Jr., Chief - Multimedia Productions, FBI - CJIS Division, 304 625-5820.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Arnold "Woodie" Wright, 74, was MENSA member

Wright (r) with friend, Sherman Johnson, in 1984.
Arnold W. Wright, Jr., known as "Woodie" to his friends, passed away Thursday, October 2 in Langhorne, Pa.  It has been said that Wright succumbed after having trouble breathing.

"He was a child prodigy who was also my classmate at Lincoln Institute from which he graduated at a young age," said Sherman Johnson of Rancocas, N.J. "I hadn't seen him in years, but he was a lot of fun."

Wright was born in Shelbyville, Ky. and was the son of the late Arnold W. Wright, Sr., an educator, and Lillian Taylor Wright, a librarian. He was a graduate of Indiana University and Emory University School of Law.

A Vietnam vet, Wright was also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He was affiliated with CIGNA, the CIGNA Foundation, and he was also a lobbyist and attorney.

Wright is survived by his wife, Gloria; daughter, Jennifer; and son, Christopher.


Wright will be missed by friends, colleagues, and clients.
Funeral services will be held at Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton, N.J., Thursday, Oct. 9. at 11 a.m., handled by Hughes Funeral Home in Trenton and Rogers Funeral Home in Frankfort, Ky. Donations in lieu of flowers are asked to be made to the March of Dimes.

(Photos by Tomi Johnson)

Breaking news: Policeman violated Constitution

Friday, September 19, 2014

Black community needs legal education and decent representation

Attorney Shirley Allen Cunningham, Jr., star of American Greed, was convicted in fen-phen scam.  Cunningham wrote an article for my first magazine in 1981.
After what happened to Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, Jr., many people are finding new reasons to distrust the U.S. criminal justice system. They increasingly lack trust in the police, who are changing their motto from "To protect and serve" to "Duty, Honor, Community."

We also lack trust in lawyers. Attorneys are business people who get paid whether you win or lose your case, and according to one friend who is a lawyer, attorneys working pro bono (free) are rare. Attorneys are not like plumbers you hire to fix your toilet. If it backs up again, they rarely offer you a refund.

Julian Bond once told me that the legal profession is second to prostitution, and lawyers are best depending on how much money is involved!

Who can you trust? Are blacks suckers because they don't know how the Justice System works, or are all of us headed to jail, which is what author Neely Fuller, Jr. predicts?

According to the NAACP, here is one alarming fact about African Americans and the Justice system:
Blacks are 14.2% of the US population, or 43 million people. ( http://blackdemographics.com/), Can enough jails be built to house all of us in a system which uses prisoners for slave labor? Some crooks do need to be behind bars, but black incarceration rates are suspect...and all this while we have a Black President and Attorney General!

Corrupt lawyers
I have reverence for the legal profession and used to love watching Perry Mason. Two of my most beloved friends are lawyers living in California, but check this out...

In 1981, Attorney Shirley Cunningham, Jr. wrote an article for my premiere magazine, Reality World, entitled, "The Black Lawyer/Client Relationship."

In the article, Cunningham wrote, "Past experience has shown that some Blacks will take valuable time of Black lawyers to discuss problems. If Black lawyers do not charge fees for such discussions, they might lose money needed to support their own businesses."

Unfortunately, I handed over a small retainer to Cunningham to represent me in a discrimination case, and he didn't even show up for the hearing. Today, Cunningham is spending his time in federal prison in Mississippi after receiving a 20-year sentence for stealing $90 million from clients.

I also gave a $1000 retainer to a lawyer, and he left the state with my money and my file. Another lawyer was hired on a $2000 retainer, and after he did no work on my case, I demanded a refund and got it only after contacting the Georgia Bar. I fought the case in court pro se and won, but by then the defendant had gotten rid of all his assets, and I have not been able to collect my judgment. His lawyer was disbarred for insurance fraud.

Attorney General Eric Holder, President Barack Obama, and Former Secretary General Hillary Clinton are all lawyers.
From past experience, I know you have to take your time and be careful when choosing an attorney. "Buyer beware" should be your motto should you decide to hire ANY lawyer. No lawyer can guarantee you will get justice - it's a crap shoot. You may not win your case or be treated fairly, and the Code of Professional Conduct and Bar Associations can do little when it comes to complaints except revoke a license after damages have already been done.

(Holder's video message to citizens addressing racial bias in criminal justice system:   http://www.justice.gov/agwa.php?id=10)

We need to ask the question, "How can we guarantee that justice will prevail on our side?" Maybe the answer is that justice will never be a part of our legal system, so we have to look elsewhere for its attainment.

(Photo of Holder - This image was originally posted to Flickr by Obama-Biden Transition Project at http://flickr.com/photos/32284207@N05/3074325345. It was reviewed on 06:17, 31 October 2009 (UTC) by FlickreviewR, who found it to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0, which is compatible with the Commons.)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Time's up! A new book on how Black people can survive

Guess what?

Take it from firsthand experience. If you are a black person living in the United States, chances against you receiving equal treatment in the courtroom, hospital room, or bedroom room are high. More than likely, the score in this real game of life will come up eleven against, one of no consequence.

Time's up! African American's Guide to Surviving the 21st Century is now available for pre-orders. It will include the latest facts on how people of color will be able to excel in the areas of education, economics, religion, judicial, relationship and healthcare systems.

Books will cost $19.95. Pre-order by emailing Tomi Johnson at tomimot@gmail.com.

This life is a terrible thing to waste!
 ©2014 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sirleaf, Ebola, and corruption in Liberia


Will Ellen Johnson Sirleaf save Liberia?
Once again, the United States is receiving calls for aid and assistance from a country spiraling out of control - Liberia.

News sources, including Reuters, are reporting that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has fired almost a dozen high government officials for refusing to reenter Liberia since the recent Ebola epidemic has been deemed "out of control" by the World Health Organization (WHO).


Kilby
Possibly the thing Liberia needs most is a functioning health care system, including doctors, facilities, vaccines, and education.

The next thing is an anti-corruption campaign. According to former Liberian Auditor General Robert L. Kilby, who was also fired by Sirleaf, the present government still is corrupt and nepotism-laced. Kilby said that contrary to other reports, Liberia's illiteracy rate is 90%.

In a recent book, Kilby states that Sirleaf brought up graft charges against him when he didn't sell his firm, ISCI, to Sirleaf's relative. Kilby published a book to help clear his name.

To learn more, read the book which can be ordered online: http://www.amazon.com/Institutionalized-Corruption-Government-President-Johnson-Sirleaf-Dismisses/dp/1495112799

(Photos by Kurk D. Johnson)
 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Today's question...Quote for today...


"Who represents Black people, and how are they really doing in the world?"
---Tomi Johnson

"The Negro genius is imprisoned in the Negro problem."
---Gunnar Myrdal

 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Gutsy Obama speaks to world about plans for ISIL

Obama has been trying to negotiate from the White House and in Europe with U.S. Allies.. (official White House photo)
President Barack Obama gave an emboldened speech to the world tonight in front of a window lit up by helicopter lights, a view that put me on edge because of the stage. His speech fueled fears that something evil would come through the White House drapes. Thank God nothing bad happened.

This is the fear of terror we live in 13 years after an horrific homeland attack.

So much so was my fear that the worst would happen that I didn't concentrate on Obama's words.

One thing that came through was his idealism and resolve to live up to his responsibility of protecting citizens at home and friends in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen. This is happening while protesters are being arrested for trying to close Interstate 70 in Missouri, U.S.A..

At the end, we should still remember 911 and continue to investigate what really happened, an event that resulted in the death of 3,000 plus innocents, the advent of two wars and an economic collapse.

May God help us and have mercy on our attempts to control the world.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rice vs Smith: a tale of love and combat

Love ain't like it used to be because of million dollar relationships and professional sporting lifestyles, but  now everyone has an opinion because cameras are everywhere.
The recent Ray Rice/Janay Palmer Rice domestic violence case is similar to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, now Mr. And Mrs. Pitt, acting out in Mr. And Mrs. Smith, a blockbuster movie that started their romantic, enduring relationship.

Perhaps if you've ever been in love, you can remember bad times amidst good times. I remember my brother-in-law commenting that sometimes good sex results in a few bruises. I recall an ex-boyfriend giving me a spanking after a fight and how we made up afterwards, only to end it all later when I found someone who treated me better. Yes, Virginia, humans do fight in the bedroom and the war room and sometimes they shake hands, live to tell the story, kiss and makeup. It all depends if another significant love interest, lawyer or employer gets involved...

No, I don't like violence, but I do like football games which can be violent. I don't like war games, and I don't like mind games. I don't like feminists trying to tell me how to run my marriage or how I should be mad at my husband if he doesn't come home on time. I try to set insects outside if I can instead of swatting them because they've come into MY house! I know when to throw out the trash although some think I'm too emotional, too na├»ve, too infantile to separate garbage from recyclables. I can make the right decisions although sometimes I make the wrong ones which is part of being human.

My mom's advice was to make a decision and live with it! She was widowed at 39, remarried at 41, and divorced and living single when she died.

What is not cool is the way the NFL, the media, and some relationship counselors are judging Ray Rice and his wife, Janay, which could end up destroying the young family's livelihood and future happiness.  Even though the couple made up after the elevator incident, Ray's career and wallet have been hit hard, a severe punch to their bank account. How hard a hit has the NFL made?

What troubles me most is a white female, "relationship expert" response to this travesty in the Huffington Post. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/taylor-marsh/janay-palmers-instagram-a_b_5790770.html) In a blog, Taylor Marsh says that Janay's Instagram defending her husband is  "alarming and so tragically sad." She claims Janay and women like her are "grasping for love by trying to protect a man whose violence threatens her life every day she stays within his orbit."

She claims that Janay Palmer Rice is "dangerously delusional." Wonder if Janay had called Taylor for help the night she was punched by Ray would she have come to her aid? Would she provide a shoulder to cry on? Would she offer Janay and her daughter a room?  After working for the Huffington Post myself and being paid peanuts, I kinda know where this is going, and it doesn't look pretty for the woman faced with divorce, single parenthood, ostracism, and foreclosure.

Ray could end up in jail with other black men. Janay could prostitute herself to pay the rent. Too often, this is the scenario young black families are finding themselves playing out. Black men are demonized by the media (entertainment) and are daily targets. Obama is called a poor leader. Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, Jr. should not have walked on neighborhood streets and roadways. Ray Nagin should not have stolen the people's trust -  etc., etc., etc.

Taylor, next time try doing something which will truly help the Rice Family instead of calling victims names. I guess you are just taking the lead of Arianna Huffington who also targets saving the world while feathering her own nest!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thought for today...

"What has no effects can hardly terrify."
---Helen Schueman, A Course in Miracles

Saturday, August 30, 2014

DragonCon elicits peaceful, sci-fi creativy in Atlanta

Talk about positive energy bundled into entertainment...


Tomi Johnson meets The Penguin on Marta going to DragonCon Parade. (Photo by Kurk Johnson)
Some people think DragonCon attendees are kooks just trying to have fun, but it turns out that many of these cos-players are engineers, techies, and wardrobe experts showing that pleasure and science can be a positive mix.

Many there want to be noticed for exemplary work on their costume and acting abilities. Forget the troubles of the world...

Tomi Johnson poses with scantily clad cosplayer on Peachtree Street. (Photo by Ayron Johnson)

It also shows that folks in the U.S. can don handmade weapons and congregate peacefully regardless of racial, sexual, political, or economic differences and without killing each other... a welcome sign of peace! Why should police want to detain someone just because they're dancing in a costume in the hotel lobby?

Tomi Johnson and cosplayer with elaborate headdress on Peachtree Street (Photo by Ayron Johnson)
 Stay tuned for more DragonCon parade route and show pictures to come.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lest we forget the fallen

It took just two weeks for the mainstream media to de-focus on the killing of eighteen year old Michael Brown, Jr., an unarmed black teen killed by a cop in Ferguson, Mo., and re-focus on  the late Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego, Calif.

Again, this type of rhetoric objectifies young black men who cannot defend themselves because they have been silenced by death. I'm not being told anything about McCain other than he was a black American turned bad. There's that negative image again...

The latest picture of a black terrorist is a corpse who is still frightening, a poster child for ISIS violence labeled "One Dead Jihadist."

What about these American poster boys: Mark Zimmerman, Daniel Pantaleo, etc.... What can we do to stop this list from getting longer: http://www.splcenter.org/civil-rights-memorial/civil-rights-martyrs

Police mug shot of George Zimmerman
 
 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Quote for today...

A civilization that proves incapable of solving the problems it creates is a decadent civilization.
A civilization that chooses to close its eyes to its most crucial problems is a stricken civilization.
A civilization that uses its principles for trickery and deceit is a dying civilization.

---Aime Cesaire

Question for today:

Liberia was colonized in 1820 by African Americans who were former slaves..
Why are whites being cured of Ebola while 50,000 black Liberians are quarantined and left to die?
http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2024355394_liberiabarricadexml.html

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Global war on unarmed people needs to stop!

The African image is no longer exotic but is pathetic. Unarmed black people around the globe are suffering from homicide and incurable diseases. Who is willing to end racism?
The U.S. has been called the most powerful nation on Earth. It is fighting three wars that we know of in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Ferguson, USA.

In the former two countries, armed militants are fighting our armed forces on the ground and from the air. In Ferguson, armed troops are confronting protesters carrying bibles, protest signs, firecrackers, and bottle bombs. This seems really strange and highly unacceptable in a U.S. city - citizens fighting the military.

We are not disposable, but who do you think is gonna win? Obama, the Commander in Chief?

Let's get real. Black people and their friends are weaponless. They don't even have a mountaintop to climb up like the people of Iraq. They are out in the open, being killed by bullets instead of detained by Tasers. These protesters are up against trained killers.

Black men, women AND children are being mistreated, leaving a depression of heart that cannot be assuaged until racism is eliminated.

Our hope is that the first will be last, and the last will be first!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Chaos in Ferguson has been rigged!


The Last Poets warned in the '60s that the revolution would not be televised.

Before tear gas clouds appeared, I saw a woman crying on T.V. because her 18 year old son, Michael Brown, had been shot dead in the street by a police officer. “He didn’t deserve that,” she said.

Then, there was a peaceful march of demonstrators.  Marchers in the street wore sandals or tennis shoes. One elderly black woman rode in her wheelchair, pushed by an adult black male.  Another woman pushed her son in a stroller down the sidewalk in the same direction, toward the spot where Brown’s body was left to bloat for four hours. One more black woman walked around with multi-colored perm rods in her hair at the burned out QuickTrip, protesting another killing of an unarmed youth.

All these women had one thing in common with Mary, the mother of Jesus: they could not protect their sons from violence perpetrated by government employees. They did the only thing they could do – protest.

Despite a curfew being set by the governor, people were still on the streets with their hands up past midnight on the seventh night after the killing. They knew they would be arrested, beaten, tear gassed or killed. But they went into the streets anyway and were met with force.

Why were they willing to confront danger? Was it a desire to see a pyrotechnic display? Why were they willing to risk their lives just to steal a hub cap, bottles of beer, diapers, guns, or a loaf of bread? Why was it so important to display their dissatisfaction now?

I think people are fed up by systems which discriminate in the areas Dr. Frances Cress Welsing identifies as economic, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, sex, religion, health, and war. It’s about more than Michael Brown. It’s about oppression in the black side of town.

And as the Race War against black people in the U.S. continues, we are reminded that the out gunned CANNOT win battles unless a checkmate occurs.

Justice is demanded and must be realized before riots are quelled. Amen.

Check this out, though. This is all staged. Police, the Justice Department, the FBI all know the scenario. Riots are not new, and psychologists have experiments which suggest that people will get angry when they are mistreated. They will protest and risk their lives in Ferguson. The world knows that Michael Brown was cheated out of his life.  No more investigation is needed.

Are you serious?

The chaos has been rigged!!! Think about it. Something very bad is about to happen, and Ferguson is practice for what's to come!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Facts surrounding Brown shooting still emerging...

Tear gas smoke rising from Ferguson on Night 5 after Michael Brown's killing.

As information unfolds about the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, one has to ask themselves is this just another case of police and pseudo police (neighborhood watch) killing black men for nefarious reasons.

They used to kill blacks for stealing watermelons...or winking at white girls. Times have not changed. Trivial encounters with armed vigilantes lead to death of the powerless.

Trayvon Martin was killed for not answering properly and being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Eric Garner's breathing was halted because he didn't want to be arrested for allegedly selling a cigarette.

Maybe Michael Brown was killed for stealing cigars. He can't speak for himself because he is dead.

They are all dead.

Dead men tell no lies, cannot speak for themselves or amend their wrongs.

Was Michael Brown killed over a box of cigars?
What's compelling about these stories and the many other ones over the years is that we live in a country where death occurs and questions are answered later. People are targets, and the powerful possess war weapons. We have no power to admit our sins or try to rehabilitate ourselves, but are either thrown in jail or shot dead; no time to call a priest for forgiveness. No lawyers or deep pockets to keep us out of the prison industrial complex.

Justice is swift and elusive with citizens on the losing end. One strike and you're out!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Police "protect and serve" motto misleading in 21st century U.S.

Carrying a big stick is no defense against vigilante police with guns.
I needed to take some papers downtown yesterday but refrained because I didn't want to see the police who seem to be stationed everywhere. I decided to use USPS instead.

Didn't want to walk or drive pass officers with badges.

Didn't want them following me in patrol cars.

Didn't want an altercation.

Although I have not broken any laws, I feel intimidated just thinking about the police.

How many others feel this way? How many others are just staying inside their homes and peering out windows instead of enjoying leisurely walks in the sunshine?

How many feel freedom is under lock and key because they are afraid of brutality being inflicted for no reason by our protectors?

Is this the beloved community we have created?

You can't ask Brown or Garner, so ask Miller and Pinnock.

Respond.

Robin Williams' death not funny!

Sunset near Robin Williams' house in 1999
On one of my visits to California, a friend of mine drove us by expensive houses of the rich and famous. There, above street level, he pointed out the mansion of Robin Williams, a guy I said I would never like to interview because there was no telling what he would say or do.

Yesterday he did the unimaginable - took his own life which turned his comedic memory into a tragedy.

I wonder whether he left a note, a message to his wife and kids. What was he thinking, that his last moments would lead to his audience crying from sadness, not mirth?

I remember his house having a pink hue to it. I remember Robin Williams as part crazy, part angelic, part hilarious, part drugged.

What a loss of soul.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

U.S. - Africa Leaders Summit convenes August 4-6, four counties not included





President Obama will welcome leaders from across the African continent to the U.S. Capital for a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the first such event of its kind.

It has been reported by newspaper AllAfrica that leaders from Zimbabwe, Egypt, Sudan, and Madagascar have not been invited, all which have U.S. sanctions in place.

This Summit, the largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government, will build on the President’s trip to Africa in the summer of 2013 and it will strengthen ties between the United States and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing regions.

The August 4-6 Summit will advance the Administration’s focus on trade and investment in Africa and highlight America’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development, and its people.

The theme of the Summit is "Investing in the Next Generation." Focusing on the next generation is at the core of a government’s responsibility and work, and this Summit is an opportunity to discuss ways of stimulating growth, unlocking opportunities, and creating an enabling environment for the next generation.

Event topics will include:

            Faith Works: Honoring Contributions of Faith Community to Peace    and Prosperity in Africa

Civil Society Forum
Investing in Women, Peace, and Prosperity
Investing in Health: Investing in Africa's Future
Resilience and Food Security in a Changing Climate
Combating Wildlife Trafficking
AGOA Forum
 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Concern over unpeaceful world increases

As I watch news reports from around the world, I'm very concerned about the lack of compassion and hate rhetoric surrounding events.

HOLY WAR???

As a spiritual person and a believer in the teachings of Jesus Christ, I can't understand why Christians are backing Israel and spouting, "Death to the Palestinians... kill them all!"

I understand the Old Testament says that Jews should be protected, but "chosen people" rhetoric has been displaced by the belief that God is not a respecter of persons. Didn't Jesus teach that using the sword is not the way to end conflicts? Didn't he heal the soldier's ear which was cut off and tell his disciple's to refrain from fighting?

I don't understand why many Christians are espousing retaliation instead of reconciliation. Why are people who have killed a prisoner saying his two hour ordeal on the death gurney is what he deserved?

What message are we sending to our children?

I would like for the religious community to speak up and not remain silent during this time of chaos. We must ask ourselves, "What would Jesus do?"

Friday, July 18, 2014

Google's Nelson Mandela tribute is awesome!

Photo attribution: South Africa The Good News
Google has animated the words of Nelson Mandela on its website banner, and if you click on it you can read some of his inspiring words. Mandela would have celebrated his 96th birthday today, but he died last year.
.
Check out the inspiring banner at: https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl


 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lupita Nyong'o's Vogue cover shielded at Publix Supermarket

July issue of Vogue Magazine
While in the check out lane at my local Publix grocery store, I noticed that the July issue of Vogue Magazine featuring "12 Years A Slave" Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong'o on the cover was shielded with a white cover.

After unpacking my groceries, I decided to call the store manager and ask why the issue was shielded. He said it had nothing to do with having an African American female on the cover. I then called corporate headquarters in Atlanta and spoke to Brenda Reid, Community and Media Relations manager, who informed me that each store manager has the option of shielding magazines they feel customers may find offensive, and even though Vogue is not a tabloid, the cover has PUSSY RIOT listed on the cover which may be constructed as offensive.

Pussy Riot is a feminist punk rock protest group from Moscow, Russia featured in the magazine. I asked Ms. Reid if a magazine with "Pussycat" or "Pussy willow" would be considered offensive and shielded from public view, and she said, "I would not want to speculate on that."

Go figure...Publix Supermarket's motto is "Where shopping is a pleasure."  It is owned by Publix Super Markets, Inc., and operates over 1,000 stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee. Glad I got my copy of Vogue in the mail!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Thad Cochran's Mississippi ranks first in U.S. Poverty Areas

Photo 
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R) won last election with help of Black voters.
If you are a Black child living in French Camp, Mississippi, you are probably one of the poorest humans in the U.S., a place in the Deep South where kids under 18 will need special assistance to reach their fullest potentials. If you are living in Wyoming, Vermont, or New Hampshire, however, your chances of living in poverty are less likely.

Learn more about Mississippi poverty and politics at: http://thegrio.com/2011/08/25/why-is-mississippi-so-red-when-its-so-black/

Mississippi is where Republican Senator Thad Cochran won a recent election with the help of Black voters. (http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/it-looks-like-african-americans-really-did-help-thad-cochran-win/). Mississippi's Black voters have to ask themselves, "What have politicians done for us lately?" So do poor folks in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  where 30% of people live below the poverty line.

 
Alan Nunnelee, 112th Congress Official Portrait.jpg
U.S. Representative Patrick Alan Nunnelee (R) of Miss., 1st Congressional district

Wikipedia ranks French Camp, Mississippi one of the poorest places in the state, with per capita income of $5,047. French Camp is in Choctaw County and has a population of 393. About 17.1% of families and 64.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 70.5% of those under age 18. 
State Senator Gary Jackson (R), serving Choctaw County, is a minister and member of the National Rifle Association.

U.S. Census Bureau data from 2008 to 2012 cites one in four U.S. residents live in “poverty areas."  These areas of concentrated poverty refer to any census tract with a poverty rate of 20 percent of more. The number of people living in poverty areas increased from 49.5 million (18.0 percent) in 2000 to 77.4 million (25.7 percent) in 2008-2012. The 2012 American Community Survey five-year estimates show a U.S. poverty rate of 14.9 percent.


By state, according to the 2008-2012 figures, the percentage of people living in a poverty area ranged from 48.5 percent in Mississippi to 6.8 percent in New Hampshire.

While for most areas the percent of people living in poverty areas increased, some parts of the country moved in the opposite direction of the nation’s 7.6 percentage points increase. In Louisiana (-3.6 percentage points), West Virginia (-2.3), Alaska (-0.4), Hawaii (-1.0) and the District of Columbia (-6.7), the proportion of people living in poverty areas declined over the period. On the other hand, Arkansas (15.7 percentage points), North Carolina (17.9), Oregon (16.0) and Tennessee (16.0) had among the largest percentage point increases in the proportion of people living in poverty areas.
The report, Changes in Areas with Concentrated Poverty: 2000 to 2010, uses data from the 2000 Census and the American Community Survey to analyze changes in the spatial distribution and socio-economic characteristics of people living in such areas. More than half of people living in poverty lived in a poverty area, and about 30 percent of people living in poverty areas had incomes below the poverty level.
 
“Researchers have found that living in poor neighborhoods adds burdens to low-income families, such as poor housing conditions and fewer job opportunities,” said the report’s author, Alemayehu Bishaw of the Census Bureau’s Poverty Statistics Branch. “Many federal and local government agencies use the Census Bureau’s definition of poverty areas to provide much-needed resources to communities with a large concentration of people in poverty.”

Other highlights:
In the 2008-2012 period, in 14 states and the District of Columbia, 30 percent or more of the population lived in poverty areas. In 2000, this was true of four states and the District of Columbia.
Of the people living in poverty areas in the 2008-2012 period, 51.1 percent lived in central cities of metro areas, 28.6 percent in suburbs and 20.4 percent outside metro areas. (In the report, the term “suburbs” refers to areas that are inside metropolitan statistical areas but outside the central or principal cities.)
Many of the counties with 80 percent or more of the population living in poverty areas were clustered in and around American Indian reservations (in New Mexico, Arizona, South Dakota and North Dakota) or in the Mississippi delta region (which includes portions of Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas).
About 38 percent of all families headed by a female householder with no husband present lived in a poverty area, the largest proportion among all family types.
Blacks, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and those in the “some other race” category were the race groups most likely to live in poverty areas, at 50.4 percent, 47.8 percent and 48.3 percent, respectively. Whites, however, experienced the largest percentage point increase in the proportion living in poverty areas over the 2000 to 2008-2012 period. The percent of whites living in poverty areas increased from 11.3 percent in 2000 to 20.3 percent in 2008-2012.
Employed people saw a larger increase in the percentage of people living in poverty areas than the unemployed over this period — 8.0 percentage points versus 3.4 percentage points.
 
About the American Community Survey
The American Community Survey provides a wide range of important statistics about all communities in the country. The American Community Survey gives communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. Retailers, homebuilders, police departments, and town and city planners are among the many private- and public-sector decision makers who count on these annual results.
Ever since Thomas Jefferson directed the first census in 1790, the census has collected detailed characteristics about our nation’s people. Questions about jobs and the economy were added 20 years later under James Madison, who said such information would allow Congress to “adapt the public measures to the particular circumstances of the community,” and over the decades allow America “an opportunity of marking the progress of the society.”



 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Maya Angelou: a glorious life of sharing


Homage to Dr. Angelou

Maya Angelou was a relevant, sermonizing, power poet. Here are excerpts from my hour long interview with her in 1979 at the University of Cincinnati.

JOHNSON:  How are you able to write on universal themes?

ANGELOU: There's a statement that was made by Terence, a playwright, in 154 BC, ..."I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me." Now that means when somebody weeps, or someone laughs, or is cold, or happy, that is universal . Human beings do that. I write through the Black experience. That's what I know and love.

JOHNSON: When you write, do you take notes or just remember everything?

ANGELOU:  I had an assignment to cover George Jackson's funeral, and I stood in the street...your eyes are a camera. I just looked at everything. I try to make myself like blotting paper. I take it all in. Every sound. I absorb it. Then, when you go back to write, the selection of what you have absorbed is sometimes the difficult part. You've absorbed the entire thing, but then that old woman with that bag in that hot street filled with black people in West Oakland, that scene was just incredible. People upon the roofs, looking like black rifles upon those white roofs, just standing straight like that! It was a fantastic look.

I wrote "Rehearsal for a Funeral" for Harper's, and when they looked at it them said, "Oh no, we can't use this. Oh, no." So they said, "We can edit it," and I said, "Oh no, that won't happen. No, Jack. You'll pay me and that won't happen." So I took my piece back, and I took my money, too. Then I gave it to Black Scholar with the understanding that not one word be changed, because it's a prose poem to George and all the Georges, to Martin and Malcolm, to Medger, to our men and women. It's "Rehearsal for a Funeral" because it just keeps happening.

JOHNSON: How were you able to do that, to say, "Look, this is the way it's going to happen?" I know you're famous and all that, but how are you able to say, "Look, this is what's going to happen, this is how much money I'm going to get, and it's not going to be edited, period?"

ANGELOU: I'm not greedy. Every human being is worthy of his or her hire. Everybody should be paid and paid well, and I mean everybody. That's rule number one. Two, when I say I'm not greedy, I mean I will not live at any cost, even if my life is not worth everything to me. Do you see what I mean? Someone to tell me, "If you don't do this, I will kill you." I would have to say, "Do it. That's your next job. Do it!" There is some thing that I will not do. I will not live at any cost. If I have a piece of work, and it's going to be poorly done, then I'll take my work back.

Each person has his or her style, just as all the fingerprints are different. Each person has his or her own rhythm or series of rhythms. Sometimes you'll read one person's work and you'll say, "That sounds just like..." You don't even have to see who has written it. You'll say, "That James Baldwin, without a doubt."

I've never gotten anything the first time, hardly the fifth. When I write a poem, for instance, I wanted to write a poem about hopscotch. I write everything I know about hopscotch. And then I reach for the rhythm of the thing...it took me about six months to write "Harlem Hopscotch."

"Phenomenal Woman" took me about two months to write. It's really a song, too. My mother really inspired me for that poem, and all the sisters and friends encouraged me to write it.

I don't know if I was born with it, the ability to write. I think it's hard work learning the craft. I believe that every person in the world is talented, everybody's born with talent, every human being. I think that talent is like electricity...electricity makes no demands. It does not judge.

People, I believe, get often, not always, but often what they work for. What are you prepared to work for? Are you prepared to survive and be serious about it, really serious? I look at other races, and then I look at my own, and my own is an incredible race because we have a vitality, a spontaneity, we have something that we treat cheaply as if we had a contract on tomorrow. We have great love of life, and we don't sit around and talk about survival.

...Think. Think us out of this miasma. Think. This mental machine will do anything you will tell it to do...Use it. ...You can think, you really can. That machine in there is fantastic, phenomenal!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Wisdom from the NBA

Photo by Keagan Stromberg
TOMI JOHNSON:  Growing up, who was your role model?

TAYSHAUN PRINCE:  Besides my parents, Magic Johnson was always my role model.  Growing up in LA and watching him during the ‘80’s winning championships repeatedly, he was my role model.

---from 2003 interview in Compton, Calif.

Dick Parsons, CNN, and the NBA

If you're wondering how CNN got that Sterling interview and how the NBA will use it to help oust Donald Sterling, here are some facts about the Clippers' new CEO, Richard Parsons, who may be manipulating the hype surrounding this unfortunate story.

Parsons has deep pockets and heavy influence in financial and entertainment arenas.

He is former Chairman of banking giant Citigroup, former CEO of media giant Time Warner (Turner and CNN), and now interim CEO of embattled LA Clippers.

Parsons is a Republican.

There's more to this story...

It's all about the money and the media!

Sterling vs. Magic: Jewish/Black tinderglass

When my father died in 1969, the first person I remember coming to my house to pay his respects was a Jewish shopkeeper who sold seeds and art objects in downtown Huntsville, Ala. He told my 39 year old mother that if she ever needed anything, she could call on him.

I also fondly remember two pair of items my father purchased from this kindly Jewish man which were placed in my bedroom:  white and gold metal lamps with night light bottoms which distributed stars on the ceiling and blue and white porcelain angel wall plaques. I don't know if he paid for these items on credit or with cash which was his usual custom.

These are the first sensory perceptions I have of Jews besides Jesus, the God I was taught loved me.

With the new NBA controversy brewing, I think back to my childhood, that small shop, and the relationship my father had with that nice Jewish merchant. Was it all about money, trade, business? What did that Jewish man really think of my father and my family? Since both he and my father are dead, I will never know.

Donald Sterling's recent verbal attack on Magic Johnson, whether from a racist or jealousy viewpoint, leads me to think that there's been a history of Jewish/Black race friction which has now boiled over into the entertainment theater. It is bleeding into everyday power struggles between Blacks and Jews, players and owners, millionaires verses billionaires.

It's gone beyond Hymietown, to the  basketball court and NBA front office, to the examining room of public opinion. 

In a CNN interview, Sterling attacked basketball legend and entrepreneur Magic Johnson and ALL affluent African Americans who Sterling surmises are less philanthropic than Jews. Sterling also privately told his "silly rabbit" associate, V. Stiviano, that Blacks are treated like dogs in Israel. 

We should be concerned about these statements and the image the world is seeing in media manipulated by Jews who also control news broadcasts and today's Number 1 news story featuring Black Muslim terror rants in Nigeria, home to more black people than any other place on Earth. Nigeria also has huge oil reserves and a panoply of precious metals.

We are watching a volatile Jewish/Black public relations war unfold in real time.

Jewish political scientist Benjamin Ginzburg observes, "Jews cannot afford to engage in or tolerate political tactics or public rhetoric that seriously threatens to discredit blacks. This is one of the major reasons that Jewish racism, often expressed privately, seldom manifests itself publicly.

"African-Americans are simply too important to the legitimacy of the American domestic state. If Jews engage in attacks on blacks... Jews are, in effect, undermining a major moral prop supporting the institutions from which they themselves derive enormous benefits and through which they exercise considerable power."

The worst thing Sterling said was that the NBA could not force him to sell his "property."

Racism is no longer camouflaged, and it will be hard to massage the message because of the venue where it is being fought. This is a curiously painful lesson in Public Relations Race War 101.