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Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

Timing is Everything

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Whether you believe in God, Nature, a spirit, or whatever you so choose, at some point in time, we have asked to receive our heart’s desire. Seemingly, when we least expect it, our wildest dreams are fulfilled. The question is: when we do receive it, are we prepared to be the receiver of such gifts, information, talents, etc.? Tonight, the Charlotte Bobcats are hoping, that after a horrific (and may I remind, a lockout shortened) season, their time is now–getting the top pick in the 2012 draft (and with it may come Anthony Davis). Yesterday, the timing was right for Virginie Razzano, defeating Serena Williams in the first round of the French Open.

When the timing is right, there are no questions asked, you just know you are supposed to be at that place and time on that day. For Mississippi, the time is now; we are at a crossroads, where elected leaders, parents, teachers and administrators, health professionals, and communities are coming together to address the high teen pregnancy rate. For the timing is only right–school districts must decide whether to continue on with an abstinence-only program or abstinence-plus. Mississippi school districts are split over how to approach the subject, but what we do know is that the time is now–how will we capitalize on the opportunity, the moment, the instant that we have all asked for–how do we stop our children from having children?

For more information, please visit Mississippi First.

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Next…

In Uncategorized on May 21, 2012 at 8:37 am

I distinctly remember the day that my basketball idol, Magic Johnson, announced that he contracted the HIV virus. That was 1991. In my house, and I suspect many other homes, when I got “the talk,” it definitely did not include HIV or AIDS. But as time would illustrate, HIV and AIDS would take center stage as Ryan White put a uniquely different face to the disease–challenging the notion the disease was a gay disease. As unfortunate as Ryan’s circumstance was, I attribute Ryan White’s trials and struggles to opening that dialogue between my mother and me. And as did Ryan, Magic challenged that dialogue, and again changed the face of HIV and AIDS.

I can recall the television specials, Salt N Pepa’s song “Let’s Talk About Sex,” but it was one Hydeia Broadbent who left an indelible mark on me. I remember wanting to hold her to tell her, it will be “ok,” and that “life was not fair,” and then I got angry and cried my eyes out. But while I saw the pain in her face on that Nickelodeon special, Magic comforted her (and I thought she brought him some peace and comfort with his recent diagnosis) and there I saw the possibility of living and educating others.

Since then, the face of HIV is disproportionately Black. According to CDC’s November 2011 news release, “African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States (US). Despite representing only 14% of the US population in 2009, African Americans accounted for 44% of all new HIV infections in that year. Compared with members of other races and ethnicities, African Americans account for a higher proportion of HIV infections at all stages of disease—from new infections to deaths.” And while the statistics keep mounting, more generally, the statistics reflect that behavior is not changing. In an opinion piece, Stacey Latimer asks a very simple, yet poignant question: “The question remains, why does HIV/AIDS have such a stronghold in the African-American community?” His response: “The answer is as complex as the forces that fuel its spread. We live in one of the richest, most powerful countries in the free world, yet we have been absolutely powerless in ending poverty, illiteracy, classism, racism, oppression and ignorance…The weight of the evidence, from my perspective, suggests the virus is spreading due to the dehumanizing force of homophobia. I believe that homophobia is perpetuated by fundamentalist religions which refuse to operate in Agape – a divine, unconditional love…”

And so, for Blacks and Black clergy, where to go now? Is teaching abstinence the best way? Most recently, with President Obama’s announcement in support of same-sex marriage, only to be followed by the NAACP announcing same-sex marriage as a civil right, the dialogue became increasingly complex. At its core, fundamental religious views are brought front and center, from discussing homosexuality, premarital sex, children born out of wedlock, HIV and other STIs, the social and religious context converge to perhaps fuel the next great movement in the Black community, in the Black church in general, not too dissimilar from the Civil Rights Movement–instead march for education, empowerment, and embracing. Would Jesus do that?

Starting Over

In Uncategorized on May 14, 2012 at 11:10 am

Starting over sometimes require hard work; then again, it can be effortless. Starting over may come after a significant loss or unintended consequences or it can be carefully planned. Starting over inevitably suggests new beginnings and with these new beginnings come many emotions and even a few suitcases. Starting over for North Carolina’s Governor Beverly Perdue has come at a little expense: controversy. Following the passage of Amendment One, a ballot measure defining marriage between one man and one woman, Governor Perdue responded “It’s wrong for North Carolina, clearly, clearly and simply…People around the country are watching us, and they’re really confused. To have been such a progressive, forward-thinking, economically driven state that invested in education and that stood up for the civil rights of people, including the civil rights marches back in the ‘50s and ‘60s and ‘70s — folks are saying, ‘What in the world is going on in North Carolina?’ We look like Mississippi.”

Mississippi’s Governor Phil Bryant did not hesitate to stand up for his state: “To be able to use Mississippi in a disparaging way on a popular vote in her own state is, I think, something that’s certainly petty and something I think she will reflect on and hopefully apologize for those types of remarks.” Governor Perdue, a Democrat, is not seeking re-election. And so starting over in this instance means for many starting over with the fight to recognize same-sex marriage as a civil right. For North Carolina, Governor Perdue was correct, they were a bit more progressive, especially compared to such states as Mississippi. Starting over comes in many forms, shapes, and sizes…

Starting over…we all do it, the seasons change and for North Carolina starting over, many argue that there will be unintended consequences to such a law. In starting over, opponents to Amendment One also argue that they will continue to fight. In starting over, proponents of Amendment One see the preservation of morality and a fundamental religious right, and no matter where you sit on this issue, the proponents and opponents of same-sex marriage alike will start over with the campaigns and slogans. And so it continues: is same-sex marriage or providing gays and lesbians with civil liberties the next civil rights movement? And so it continues…in another state, I think Minnesota, you are next.

Remembering “Buddy”

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2012 at 1:57 am

I got a call from a dear friend yesterday afternoon. To understand our relationship, just think brother and sister; and for us to break bad news to the other, we simply blurt it out. That’s how we deal; that’s how we cope. A call from him during the afternoons is not surprising, he normally calls on his lunch break. So I was expecting the rundown of the day, a dialogue about the NBA playoffs and maybe discussion about the football players the NFL considered to be the primary leaders of the New Orleans Saints “bountygate.” Instead, he said, “So, Junior is dead.” Less of a question and more of a disheartened statement. And we both held the telephone momentarily until I could locate my remote to find a news outlet. And we both were hurt, disappointed, and at a loss of words. Both our hearts go out to his family, friends, and all who enjoyed watching him grace the field with dedication, passion, and will. He was 43.

Tiaina Baul “Junior” Seau, Jr. was one of my absolute favorite football players. Watching him play I saw his commitment, his love and care for his teammates, he was a student of the game. He was the textbook example of a professional football player. While the events surrounding Junior’s death are still developing, it appears he may have taken his own life. And for a man, a strong man as Junior, he too had hurt and pain. Immediately, I inquired of my friend, “do you think he was suffering from a potential brain injury from his days as a player?” He responded, “very well possible.” We both immediately thought of Dave Duerson, the former Chicago Bear, who took his own life in February of last year–he wanted scientists to study his brain to illustrate the damage caused by numerous hits to the head over his career. Largely because of former footballers, the NFL instituted several precautionary measures to better protect athletes against concussions.

Whether Junior was suffering from a brain trauma associated with his football career or a mental illness or depression, even a strong man as Junior needed another outlet to discuss what it was that was troubling him. Even the strongest of our men need to know that being a man does not mean that you shut your emotions off and that to show them is weakness. Quite the contrary. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in 2009, 79 percent of men committed suicide, compared to 21 percent of women. That same year, 29 percent of minorities (Black or African American, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaska Native) committed suicide compared to roughly 13.5 percent of whites.

Junior Seau left an indelible mark both on and off the field, including his charity work and being named the NFL’s Man of Year during the 1990s. By yesterday’s end, as I concluded my television rounds of watching former players reminisce, I learned that Seau called everyone “Buddy.” In turn, others began calling him Buddy. I can only pray that Buddy’s family finds the peace and strength to cherish the spirit that made up Junior.

And if you know someone who may have suicidal thoughts or someone suffering from depression, please reach out, assist, and encourage him or her to get help.