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Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

Very Uncomfortable, Indeed

In The Black Man on September 28, 2010 at 3:20 am

When we see people, we see them (in my point of view) from one of two perspectives: we see them as they present themselves to us or as we see through our own experiences (or we see them as we want them to be). Rarely, we see the experiences, pain, struggles, highs, joys, successes, failures that all help to make the individual unique. I believe we are a sum of our experiences, and it is up to us to decide how to allow those experiences to shape our lives.

For CNN anchor Don Lemon, being a victim of a pedophile, I would imagine, was a painful hurdle to conquer. Yet, he saw an opportunity to discuss a subject that is difficult and somewhat taboo: sexual abuse within the African American community. According to a 2004 JET article author Robin D. Stone discussed her book No Secrets, No Lies: How Black Families can Heal from Sexual Abuse. And in that article Stone revealed that “I learned from my own experience, and from interviewing more than 30 survivors, parents and partners, that we don’t talk about sexual violation when it happens in our families for a host of reasons, including wanting to keep ‘business’ to ourselves, and not wanting to get the police or social services involved.”

Lemon said that he did not admit to his mother that he was a victim until the age of 30; and he never admitted it on air prior to this weekend. Apparently, the anchor had no intentions of mentioning this on air until an interview with 3 Bishop Eddie Long supporters. Within the past week, mega preacher Eddie Long has been sued by four men “who claim in lawsuits that Long abused his clerical authority to lure and coerce them into having sex with him.”

While Bishop Long continues to fight these allegations, many questions still come to the surface: how prevalent is sexual abuse within the African American community? Moreover, what about abuse to African American boys? How does abuse impact sexual identity? Unfortunately, a scandal, four separate lawsuits are now forcing many within the African American community to discuss this very issue.

“…and a hundred percent reason to remember the name…”

In Uncategorized on September 20, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Fort Minor said it best, but I would like to borrow the line to reflect on the week that was. Politics, elections, and changes. I cannot hear that enough. Perhaps not since the Republican “take over” in 1994 has so much attention been paid to a midterm election. Theories abound, but we are not sure what will happen until November. Just last week, Mayor Adrian Fenty was fired by D.C. voters.

Just to be in D.C. the air was thick with politics and ripe for discussion. There was no better time, at least for me, to be selected as a participant of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA) mentoring program than now. I was privileged and honored to be in the presence of policy makers of all races, gender, and political orientation—for this year, unlike any other year that I can remember is contentious, thrilling, gut-wrenching, but very real. Real in the sense that frustrations are boiling over and now the streets are abuzz. Whether the talk will translate to the polls is another story.

And I must thank the members and staff of NFBPA for opening doors, but more importantly, for opening, challenging, and engaging minds as we seek ways and strategies to governing in the 21st century. So remember the name: John E. Saunders, III (NFBPA Executive Director), Yvette Harris, Jerry N. Johnson (NFBPA President), Kenyatta Uzzell, Dr. Troy Coleman, Major Riddick, Jr., Jonathan K. Allen, and so many other facilitators who have paved the way for me and those to come after. Last but not least, remember the name: Valerie Reed (NFBPA Mentor Program and Scholarship Coordinator).

The Fiery 8 Year Old Speaks

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2010 at 7:44 am

You do not have to know me very long to learn that my mother is my role model. I cannot thank her enough for instilling in me the value of service, commitment, and loyalty. She is a great teacher because she was mentored by an even better one: my grandmother. Both exemplified what it means to better one’s community, and before I realized it, I was infected with that same bug.

I have known I wanted to work in the public sector since I was 8. I was not the average child—I knew and accepted this calling no matter how daunting the challenge may be. I have been very fortunate to realize my goal, yet the work has only begun. I believe I am on a mission, a mission to educate, train, improve, empower, engage, learn, and study; essentially, continually improving the administration of public services.

I have been fortunate enough to be selected as a participant in the 2010-11 National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA) mentor program. The association’s mission is to “strengthen the position of Blacks within the field of public administration; to increase the number of Blacks appointed to executive positions in public service organizations; and, to groom and prepare younger, aspiring administrators for senior public management posts in the years ahead.” The program will pair me with a seasoned African American public administrator who will serve as my coach, sounding board, and guide as I navigate through the very public waters of service. Never has the quote “standing on the shoulders of giants” meant so much to me, for those public administrators have accepted and understand the significance of grooming the next generation of leaders.

The fiery 8 year old is still trapped inside; that burning passion to serve and help my community is not waning. Mentoring is a highly underutilized and undervalued tool, but NFBPA has seemingly tapped into the hidden value and treasures mentoring brings. And now, my goal is to soak in these opportunities for maturation and growth, so I can better serve the Mississippi I love.

“…we’ve only just begun…”

In Uncategorized on September 14, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Lyrics from the Carpenters song of the same title. To say I loved that song is a tremendous understatement. “Before the rising sun we fly; so many roads to choose…” We’ve only just begun the fight; and you can fill in the blank. If I had to put a label to a conference or meeting, “We’ve only just begun” would have been the theme to the 4th Annual Obesity Summit.

The Stennis Institute, in conjunction with the Mid-South Network of the Rural People, Rural Policy (funded through the Kellogg Foundation), presented at the Obesity Summit in Atlanta on yesterday. The title of the presentation was “Changing our Communities, Changing our Future.” By looking into the three states part of the Mid-South Network (Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi) obesity data, we did a little more than present the horrific statistics and consequences of obesity, we looked into how communities have addressed this issue in a multifaceted way.

Obesity is not a public health problem, it is everyone’s concern. Obesity does not only cost the individual, it costs the family, the community, the society. Many of the presenters at this year’s conference focused primarily on how best not to discuss the consequences of obesity, but what can we do??? Many of this year’s presenters focused on successes that many communities and states have achieved. For instance, in Marvell, Arkansas, the Boys, Girls, and Adults CDC over the course of 4 years have instituted a community-wide walking club and nutritional classes. The Center has also leveraged grants from a melting pot of resources–federal, local, state, and not-for-profit agencies–to fund a walking trail.

Addressing obesity is not simple; but the solutions are in the efforts, whether they be small or grand, we’re only just beginning to tackle this issue like Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens tackled Dustin Keller of the New York Jets.

History, only a matter of interpretation

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2010 at 10:19 am

As a kid, I loved watching the-then updated version of Name that Tune. I love music, all kinds and that show allowed me to explore the inner lounge singer in me. It doesn’t help that I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, however, that didn’t prevent me from singing my little heart out or playing that game. So in honor of one my favorite shows, let’s play a little trivial game, similar to Name that Tune.

Can you name who said this in 10 words? The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson says he can name that person in 5 words. Eugene, name that tune. “biggest load of revisionist nonsense.” Eugene’s answer: Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

According to Robinson, “Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who may seek the Republican nomination for president, is trying to sell the biggest load of revisionist nonsense about race, politics and the South that I’ve ever heard. Ever. He has the gall to try to portray Southern Republicans as having been enlightened supporters of the civil rights movement all along. I can’t decide whether this exercise in rewriting history should be described as cynical or sinister. Whichever it is, the record has to be set straight.” Robinson is referring to an interview Governor Barbour gave to Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson.

What does Robinson call revisionist??? For Governor Barbour, his interpretation of why many of the Old South Democrats switched parties had very little to do with race but because “…my generation, who went to integrated schools. I went to integrated college — never thought twice about it…by my time, people realized that was the past, it was indefensible, it wasn’t gonna be that way anymore. And so the people who really changed the South from Democrat to Republican was a different generation from those who fought integration.”

For Eugene Robinson, the reason why Governor Barbour would “revise” history has much to do with political purposes. “The Republican Party is trying to shake its image as hostile to African Americans and other minorities. It would be consistent with this attempted makeover to pretend that the party never sought, and won, the votes of die-hard segregationists. One problem, though: It did.”

“…run and tell that…”

In Uncategorized on September 1, 2010 at 9:29 am

That’s a line from Antoine Dodson’s passionate recollection of the “bedroom intruder” in his sister Kelly’s room. Apparently, I have been under a rock and was not aware of this story out of Huntsville, not until I picked up the local paper in Starkville. There’s a below-the-fold story about Antoine and his sister turning this somewhat frightening situation and alleged assault into a success. So if he’s making the front page in Starkville, MS, he must be a success, right?

Well what’s with this new found celebrity? According to Shira Lazar of CBSNEWS.com, “Dodson’s raw emotionality has had a lot of different interpretations. Some people were amused by the way he described what happened, some were drawn in by his intensity and his new fans – who he says are rape victims themselves – related to his reaction towards the circumstances. In their eyes, he became a sort of hero for speaking out and now making something positive of this situation for him and his family.”

There is no surprise that Dodson makes us uncomfortable for several reasons. As seen in the Today Show interview, many feel that Dodson’s rant now music video “perpetuates stereotypes of African Americans and makes light of a serious crime.”

For Errin Haines, “reactions were mixed. To many, it was a punchline forwarded to e-mail inboxes across the globe. Some were outraged that its popularity seemed to reinforce demeaning stereotypes of African-Americans. Still others saw someone standing up for himself and his community.” Haines quotes blogger Danielle Belton of the Black Snob what her characterization of the situation, to which she responded; “what I saw were two people who were very angry and frustrated because crime is so commonplace in poor communities. People got stuck on the humorous aspect of it. What happened to Kelly got pushed to the background.”

And when Belton discovered that the Dodsons were using this newfound celebrity to move out of their Huntsville project, Belton said that “so many people who have become Internet memes didn’t get anything out of it other than grief. They’re spreading awareness, raising money … taking advantage of this moment.”