Saturday, August 2, 2008

Shooting At So So Def Party In Atlanta

The Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting that a single gunshot sent partygoers fleeing at a party being held by music mogul Jermaine Dupri. Dupri is hosting his So So Def Summerfest 2008 this weekend in Atlanta. Reportedly Dupri, Sean Combs, Nelly and Usher were performing on stage at the time.

This perpetuates the stereotype of violence within the hip hop community, and while J.D. is attempting to bring the entertainment world together for a good time, one single act of recklessness ruins it for everyone.

Anthony David Featuring India.Arie "Words" Live

Singer and Musician, Anthony David is a breath of fresh air in a music climate bereft with quality music. Anthony, who is a protege of India.Arie, released his first cd on a major label on June 24th. The first single "Words", which features his mentor, can be interpreted in many different ways, but is simply a great song which showcases Anthony's vocal prowess. Unfortunately because of the state of black radio, you won't hear the song until late in the evening during "quiet storm" moments.

Anthony is a vocalist who will be a force in the business for many years.

Philadelphia's Department of Human Services In Ruins

Danieal Kelly who suffered from cerebral palsy, weighed only 42 pounds when she was found dead on August 4, 2006 in Philadelphia, PA, covered with bed sores. Danieal had been blatantly neglected by her mother in her last days and died from starvation. She was 14 years old.

In probably one of the most scathing examples of negligence by a City Department of Human Services, the top official for Philadelphia's department resigned, and 9 people have been indicted in the case of Danieal's death which occurred nearly 2 years ago. Danieal's mother has been charged with murder, and her father with child endangerment. Other social workers and officials received charges ranging from reckless endangerment to involuntary manslaughter for throwing away files, falsifying reports, and just simple neglect for failing to act promptly in an obviously dire situation for young Danieal. Obviously the Philadelphia newspapers are all over this story, and this article from the Philadelphia Inquirer summarizes the grisly details.

A sad story that needs to be told so that preventive measures can be put in place by city agencies.

Obama Heckled In Florida By Black Protesters

Barack Obama was heckled yesterday outside of a Florida Town Hall Meeting regarding his lack of attention to black issues, specifically the Jena Six prosecution and the Sean Bell shooting verdict.

I guess some black people are starting to realize the Obama needs to be held accountable for black issues just like any other candidate. Unfortunately for him, he has to play it "middle of the road" for fear of alienating mainstream voters. Obama is in a very tough position, but he realizes that despite the protests, he'll receive 90-95% of the black vote, so he does have to specifically address the needs and issues of all people if he's going to have a chance to be elected. Thanks to the New York Daily News for the story.

Black Family Tragedy

The Los Angeles Times reports a very sad story about little 8 year old Jasmine Sanders who was killed on July 23rd, allegedly by her 13 year old cousin. Within a 2 week period 2 of Jasmine's cousins have also been shot and killed. Jasmine was described as an intelligent young girl who was a "go getter."

Black family tragedy in the Los Angeles area is an a familiar refrain throughout our country. Young lives dying much to soon.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Is Obama Trying To Self Destruct?

Yesterday the hoopla on the political front was about presumed Democratic Nominee Barack Obama being accused of injecting race into the presidential campaign with the following quote:

"So nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they're going to try to do is make you scared of me," he told voters in Springfield. "You know, he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He's risky. That's essentially the argument they're making."

This is the second time that Obama has subtlety referenced race as a potential scare tactic for Republicans. This quote is simply irresponsible on his part, although Senator John McCain's campaign has become more "negative" in the last 2 weeks.

Obama has to realize that the presidential race is essentially a dead heat, and McCain has really run a lackluster campaign. While it's becoming clearer that he will not be choosing Hillary Clinton as his running mate, he may not have a choice if he really wants to become president. It pains me to watch arrogance self destruct such great potential.

Dan Gilbert Giving Back to Detroit Community

Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans and owner of the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers, has found a novel way to give back to his native Detroit. Gilbert developed the Bizdom U program 2 1/2 years ago in an effort to develop potential entrepreneurs in his hometown. The first wave of would be entrepreneurs just completed the rigorous program, and with between $25,000 and $50,000 in initial investment from Gilbert, they're ready to take on the world.

Many of the participants who are minorities fit Gilbert's PHd requirement of being, "poor, hungry and driven." Gilbert believes that the revitalization of Detroit will come from the successful entrepreneur providing opportunities that will reinvigorate the struggling city.

Hopefully would be entrepreneurs in the Detroit area will take heed of this tremendous opportunity. If only Gilbert could do something about the "hip hop" mayor. Thanks to the Detroit Free Press for story.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Young Blacks Males At Risk In Metro Atlanta

The Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting that young black males are at a higher risk for homicide than at anytime in recent memory in DeKalb County, part of Metro Atlanta, Georgia. The article cites a report from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, which references this phenomenon as part of "the hidden homicide increase."

Atlanta, is widely considered to be the "Black Mecca", but obviously it can't escape the alarming trends that are taking place nationally regarding young black males dying from homicide. While studies are great, solutions are needed. I wonder why the Rev. Jesse Jackson didn't focus on the plight of the black male instead of Barack Obama a few weeks ago. If he had, perhaps he would still be relevant instead of forced into retirement.

Ludacris The Consumate Businessman

Rapper Ludacris caused a major stir yesterday with the releasing of the song, "Politics (Obama is Here)." Ludacris, a staunch Barack Obama supporter openly criticizes President Bush, John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Rev. Jesse Jackson in the song. Even if you don't agree with the song, the artist is just exercising his right to free speech and he has a universal platform in which to express himself.

The other part of this story to focus on, is that Ludacris is at the end of the day a businessman. He has a new CD dropping in the next few months and this song will only build the anticipation. Below is a link to the song.

Politics (Obama Is Here)

Jill Scott Doing Just Fine

Singer Jill Scott performed to a sold out audience last night in Atlanta, GA.. She also gave a brief interview to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Jill confirms that she is engaged and that her new Butterfly Bra is doing so well that it's on back order.

Jill is one of the phenomenal singers in the music business, as well as an actress, poet, and philanthropist. Keep up the good work Ms. Scott.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Obama As A Law Professor

Beginning in 1991, Barack Obama was a law professor at the University of Chicago Law School. He spent 12 years there, carefully honing his skills in preparation for his political career. The New York Times has written an interesting article regarding Obama's tenure at the school. He's described as being very jovial with his students and enigmatic when dealing with his fellow faculty members. Below is a quote attributed to Obama concerning bipartisanship:

“On the national level, bipartisanship usually means Democrats ignore the needs of the poor and abandon the idea that government can play a role in issues of poverty, race discrimination, sex discrimination or environmental protection.”

An interesting read regarding Obama's thought processes at the time (he once turned down an offer of tenure at the law school). It's amazing where a vision can lead, with preparation.

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Sacramento Gang Tax Fails By One Vote

In an effort to increase police patrols and curb gang violence, the Sacramento City Council failed to pass a .25 percent tax increase by 1 vote yesterday. Opponents of the proposal stated that it didn't go far enough to address the shrinking police force and other areas of need for the city. If passed, voters would've had the opportunity to decide on the measure in November, and a $16 million cash infusion would've been used to increase the number of police and community service officers. Interestingly, Mayoral candidate, Kevin Johnson (pictured at left) opposed the measure.

Didn't the voters of Sacramento deserve a chance to vote on the proposal? This is a perfect example of why the trust of elected officials is so low. Thanks to the Sacramento Bee for supplying the link to the article.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fast Food Restaurants Banned In South Los Angeles

The Los Angeles City Council approved a one year moratorium on the opening of fast food restaurants in South Los Angeles today despite protests from major fast food restaurant chains. The law was initiated in an effort to curb obesity in the area, and affects a 32 mile radius including the LA suburb of Baldwin Hills while affecting at least 500,000 residents.

The other intent of the moratorium is to attract restaurants that serve healthier foods. The reality is that in these economic times, fast food is the cheaper option, although not the healthiest in terms of nutrition. This is still a noble gesture by the City Council of Los Angeles.

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AIDS Officially "A Black Disease"

According to a report from the Black AIDS Institute, blacks make up 47% of the total HIV cases in America, while comprising only 13% of the total population. The statistics become even more dire when segmented by specific geographical areas: 80% of the total HIV cases in Washington, D.C., and 84% of the total cases in Jackson, MS.

While the founder of the Institute, Phill Wilson, laments about the lack of government spending in AIDS prevention compared to the money spent abroad, the high incidence of the disease really comes downs to personal choice and responsibility. Can we really blame the government for this epidemic? There's more than enough information available concerning the behaviors that cause the disease, and yet we continue to ignore the risk factors. We're failing ourselves and future generations because of our ignorance to a disease that's the leading killer amongst black women age 25-34.

It's time to look in the mirror, see the reflection and act with pride and responsibility.

End Near For "Hip Hop" Mayor?

In a sign that the end may be near for Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm moved up the hearing date for possible removal proceedings against the embattled mayor.

The new date, set for Sept. 3, may be the beginning of the end of the "hip hop" mayors reign as mayor. Then the City of Detroit can move on to rebuild the city and it's reputation.

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East Baltimore Neighborhood Undergoes Renovation

The Oliver neighborhood of East Baltimore had the first series of homes built in an effort to renovate the blighted neighborhood. Mayor Sheila Dixon was on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday.

The project was initiated and assisted by local churches, the Jewish Fund for Justice along with city and state funds. This is a great blueprint for renovating blighted inner city neighborhoods throughout the country. Neighborhoods that have been abandoned as a result of crime , drug infestation and neglect.

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S.C. Judge Banned For Calling Crack Addiction "Black Man's Disease"

A South Carolina judge was ordered yesterday to be banned from the bench, and cannot seek a judicial position without receiving permission from the state's high court for calling crack addiction a "black man's disease".

At least we can thank former judge, George Peter Lamb for his honesty. It's amazing that an addiction to a drug that was allowed to infiltrate urban areas over 20 years ago, and nearly wipe out a generation of black people is a disease.

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20 Year Old Inmate Learns to Read In Memphis Area Jail

Carletha Caraway sits in a Memphis jail with a $500,00 bond after being charged with aggravated robbery 6 months ago. She entered jail unable to read, but with the assistance of a corrections officer, she's learning how to read, and at only 20, hopes to be on the road to turning her life around.
The incentive for Carletha to turn he life around are her 3 children who will be waiting for her when eventually transitions back into mainstream society. Thanks to the Memphis Commercial Appeal for the story.

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Killadelphia Mayhem

You know a city is in trouble when the local newspapers keep a tally of weekend shootings and injuries. The city of Philadelphia seems to be proud of it's reputation as one of the most dangerous cities in the country, with 4 people reported dead and 5 wounded over the weekend. Unfortunately the nickname "Killadelphia" is proving to be deserved.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

The Promise of Baldwin Hills

BET's reality show Baldwin Hills debuted it's second season a few weeks ago, as it continues to monitor the lives of black teenagers in the Los Angeles suburb of Baldwin Hills. On the surface the show can be described as showcasing the bourgeois aspect of black teen life as most of the teens live in middle to upper middle class households. Peering deeper into the respective personalities of the teens, we discover that all of them have distinct personalities that make their interactions coffee talk for even adults who watch the show.

This season's breakout personality appears to be Lor’Rena, who from the first episode made it clear that Moriah Johnson, son of former NBA star Marques Johnson, was the object of her desires. Only 17, Lor'Rena's aggressive motives can be questioned, but if she stays on the straight and narrow, her loquaciousness and quick wit will serve her well into adulthood.

Another newcomer, Justin is also an interesting personality. Having overcome some legal issues, Justin works as a youth pastor, and is part of a writing trio called BRW (Black Writers Bureau). The trio co-wrote the chart topping song, "Damaged" by pop group, Danity Kane.

A holdover from last season, Staci comes from the "other side" of the tracks. Instead of taking a job as an intern in the fashion industry, she's forced to take a job that pays because she simply needs the money. The dynamics of Staci's personal life are complicated, but watching her manage the myriad of issues is quite compelling.

The promise of Baldwin Hills is watching teenagers navigating the pressures of being young and black in America. Successfully handling these pressures will bode well for them as they move into young adulthood.

"K-Swift" Eulogized Over The Weekend

Groundbreaking Baltimore DJ, "K-Swift" was eulogized over the weekend at the Morgan State University Auditorium in Baltimore. "K-Swift", whose real name was Khia Egderton died last week from neck injuries sustained after jumping into an above ground pool during a party at her home. She was only 29.

The below link is from an article in the Baltimore Sun, which chronicled the funeral, and reflected on the life of a young woman who overcame many obstacles, including losing 170 lbs. during her young life. Rest in Peace, young sister.

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McCain Flip Flops On Arizona Affirmative Action Proposal

Yesterday, presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee, John McCain reversed previous declarations, stating that he openly supports an Arizona proposal to end affirmative action for public entities.

It's good to see, that McCain is also a politician. Like Obama, he is trying to hold on to his conservative base and also woo Independents. I wonder if the NAACP would cheer McCain today if he was speaking at their convention?

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Is Obama Our Acting President?

Frank Rich has written an interesting article about "How Barack Obama Became Our Acting President". Rich writes correcting that last week, Obama was constantly being questioned about the impact of the surge, when the reality is that there have been over 4,100 fatalities at a present cost of $10 billion dollars a month.

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Video Summary Of The Text Messaging Scandal

The above video is a summary of the case against embattled Detroit Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick. The video was originally posted on the Detroit Free Press web site. After last week's run in with police officers, many in Detroit are again calling for Kilpatrick to resign.

Although this case isn't getting much national press, political pundits are speculating that the "mess" in Detroit could have an impact on the fall elections, putting Michigan in play for Senator John McCain.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Does A Black Woman's Complexion Determine Success In The Music Business?

I had a brief discussion with a talent manager in the music business last week concerning female black singers, and it was her opinion that a black female's complexion is a driving force in determining major or moderate success in the music industry. The success of India Arie, was the example specifically used when compared to the success of a Jill Scott or Erykah Badu, two "fairer" complexioned singers. The recent success of Rihanna, and of course the continued success of Beyonce Knowles were also mentioned.

I have to admit, as much as I love music, I never thought that there was a correlation between a black woman's complexion and success in the music industry. My first thought has always been that talent, and perhaps supreme production were the major drivers. My personal litmus test for this debate will center around the successes of two prominent R&B/Pop singers who have CDs dropping in the fall, Jennifer Hudson and Keri Hilson, both of whom are on opposite ends of the black complexion scale.

Jennifer Hudson is an Oscar winner with a tremendous voice and a great song on the charts right now called, "Spotlight". I really don't want to get into a debate about complexion, but simply put, Jennifer is of a darker hue than Keri. Jennifer Hudson has the Clive Davis machine of J Records behind her, so I would assume that she'll have at least have platinum success.

Keri Hilson is a new comer to the music game, having earned her stripes primarily as a writer until she was introduced to us by the mega producers, Polow Da Don and Timberland. Like Hudson, Hilson has the machine of top flight producers helming her project, which should result in at least platinum success. Hilson's single, titled "Energy" displays her catchy lyrical style and pop versatility.

Jennifer Hudson and Keri Hilson are both tremendously talented singers, who deserve all of the success that their talent, not the complexion of their skin will earn them.

28 Black Soldiers Vindicated In 1944 Lynching

The longest and largest court martial of World War II, culminated with the conviction of 28 black soldiers on rioting charges, and 2 of the soldiers were convicted of manslaughter in the hanging of a Italian prisoner of war in 1944. Despite their protest to the contrary, the soldiers were dishonourably discharged, stripped of their military benefits, and served prioson time. Yesterday in Seattle, WA, the Army reversed the charges, and changed the discharges to honorable, admitting error. Unfortunately, only 2 of the soldiers are still living and neither one of them were able to attend the ceremony.

This is a perfect case where reparations would apply for the family of the accused. Lost military benefits, mental anguish, tarnished reputations. This is a story that will get very little coverage nationally, but this is one that the Sharpton's of the world should really publicize for the benefit of the fallen soldiers. Thanks to the Los Angeles Times for the article.

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The Urban Debate Camp In Houston, TX

Inspired by the movie, The Great Debaters, Houstonian, Rodney Mays organized the Urban Debate Camp, which just concluded this week at Prairie View A&M University. Most of the participants came from the poorest neighborhoods of Houston, TX and earned a scholarship to enroll in the camp.

The lack of federal funding has eliminated many extra-curricular activities in the inner city school systems around the country. The idea of countrywide inner city debate camps would be an awesome way to impact the critical thinking and confidence of students. This would also give at risk children exposure to conditions outside of their normal environment.

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