Five years ago, on May 2, 2006, all the headlines across the country were basically the same. A powerful new movement had occurred the day before. Those who participated in the movement basked in their glory from all the attention they had garnered.
Many people like me sat back insulted that it had even happened. I was especially taken back when a local activist came on the radio, and when asked if he had reached out to the black community for support, basically said no because they were trying to do it themselves. In others words, the support of black folks wasn't needed as part of the initial strategy. However, like a good card player, they reserved the right to play us if they thought it would be necessary.
What is most interesting is that the movement that occurred on that day had used the civil rights movement as its blueprint. The strategy was simple. Just as blacks had marched in record numbers on Washington and Selma, Ala., their numbers all over this country would march in major and minor cities to show their strength. The only problem with that show of force is that far too many carried flags of other nations representing the countries of their origins while they protested in America.
By now I am sure you know what the issue is? Illegal immigration, to be precise. Those who came into this country and are now here illegally wanted to force this country to abandon the current immigration policy and give citizenship and all the rights that come with it to millions of foreign nationals simply because they are here.
Their PR campaign was as slick as anything Madison Avenue could have put out. We are brainwashed into believing that those here illegally are the backbone of the country. That without them, we as a country would fall to shreds. The campaign to defend those here illegally tells us they pick our food, watch our children, mow our lawns and pay taxes. Yet, seldom is much credence given to the fact that a lot of those tax payments are via someone else's social security number. Also, it is rare for anyone to mention that illegal immigrants are not the majority in any work field. Thus, no matter the job category, the majority of the work is still done by Americans and not illegal immigrants.
One of the underlying efforts of the illegal immigration movement is to forge the gains made by blacks onto their movement. It is no coincidence that Dr. King is constantly portrayed as limited to his "I Have a Dream" speech. So what word do they come up with to try and give American citizenship to the millions of young illegal immigrants? The Dream Act. Coincidence? No.
And speaking of the Dream Act, the Illinois Senate has been sent a bill to give students who are here illegally money for school and driver's licenses. That's right. The same folks who tell us that we need to up the age for licenses for American young people are quick to want to legitimatize hundreds of thousands of folks who are here illegally with a driver's license. They also want to open up the state's limited coffers so that college saving programs and prepaid tuition programs are for all Illinois residents.
One has to only sit back and marvel at how in less than 30 years, the gains which took one segment of this country centuries are being rewarded to folks who not only just showed up at the table, but showed up uninvited.
I have been on a soap box lately when it comes to children, especially about how so many black adults seem to be in denial when it comes to what black children should and should not be exposed to. With both of my children now in their 20s and no grandchildren in sight (thank God!), I am seeing more clearly the kind of lifestyles that far too many children exist in today. Unfortunately from my vantage point, those children are subsisting in dysfunctional homes with corresponding dysfunctional adults.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have written about adults who seem to practice the "they'll be OK" method of childrearing. That method requires little or no involvement with their children. Rather those adults expect that children will learn via osmosis as opposed to the tutelage of a parent's guidance. It is very evident to me that far too many adults (and I am being kind in calling those grown folks "adults") don't have a clue as to what it takes to raise a child. They have no idea that there should be a clear-cut line on which adult behavior/discussions/actions should not take place in front of kids. Our children deserve a childhood, not a mini-adulthood. Yes, there are things that children will have to know when they grow up, but they aren't grown yet.
Why are so many adults in the black community willing to rob children of the innocence of childhood? Many of us grew up in an era where adults would spell and whisper code words so children would not be privy to adult conversations. But today, when audio pornography is disguised as current popular music, we have far too many adults buying into the hype and exposing children to it without realizing the real consequences of their actions.
After writing several columns lamenting the language in a lot of the music being played by deejays in front of children, I am not shocked that my mantra hasn't been taken up by others. Part of the reason we have ended up where we are is that far too many have accepted what is going on as par for the course. We don't have any "moral authorities" anymore. We lack individuals who stand on principle and morality. There is no outrage over lyrics that would make a sailor blush. In fact, it is standard fare to play in front of kids. That is both sad and sick and a reflection on those who speak God's name on one hand while serving the devil with the other.
I am not going to stop my tirade against those who should know better, yet choose not to do better.
I recently learned of an opportunity for us as a community to send a message to the children of Austin that we do support and care about them. Austin Town Hall is entered in a contest to win a $50,000 renovation from Maxwell House. All they have to do is get votes over the Internet. That's right. No stamps, no checking the box. Just a simple click of the mouse. Of the 10 organizations vying for the money, Austin Town Hall is 10th!
That is unacceptable. As the largest community in the city of Chicago, we can do better than that. We can show our children we are willing to do what all the other communities do for theirs.
Take the time to do "good in the 'hood." To vote for Austin Town Hall to get the money, just visit Facebook and "LIKE" the Maxwell House site. Then be a real Chicagoan and vote early and often. Let's see if we can get a million votes for our park and our children. Let us make the kind of news that is positive and puts us on the news showing that we care.
Working in a place where one gets to deal directly with the public is a real "eye-opener." Anecdotal stories about people's actions and behaviors are quickly replaced by firsthand knowledge. As such, I am now more firmly convinced than ever before that some black folks have lost their minds or are stuck in a Peter Pan tale of never growing up.
My ire? I was a worker at a wedding where I again was privy to the current generation of music played and danced to with no regard for young children being in the room. The lyrics? Well, let's just say that in just over 20 years, the music industry have managed to make pornographic lyrics a mainstay of popular music. Those lyrics, along with the current craze of booty poppin' and jukin', have put center stage on the dance floor what should be left in the bedroom.
I watched in disbelief as the adults shook their booties to the music. They even stood around and admired how clever and cute it was to see the young children do the same. My desire to speak out was tempered by my boss reminding me that these people had rented the place and it is not our job to be telling them the kind of music they can play. But shouldn't it be somebody's job to monitor the kind of music that is stereoed out to a room if children are present? Teachers would lose their job if they played this music in a classroom. I can't even quote the lyrics in this newspaper. Why is it any different if a deejay plays it?
The subconscious mind is a powerful organ, able to hear and see what the conscious mind overlooks. So those young children hearing those lyrics are being directed into that kind of behavior unconsciously. I know several songs I have heard over and over again are stuck in my mind. I have to purposely ignore the song. If I as an adult find myself battling the lyrics to certain songs, how are young children going to cope when such foul and filthy music is pumped at them over and over again? If we as a society don't permit young children to see pornographic movies, how can we defend those who put the pornography in a song? And if pornography is now the basis for dance music today, what will it be in 10-20 years?
In advance of writing this column, I put a question out on Facebook asking if the deejay should be held responsible. Many felt that it was the parent's job to give a thumb's down to certain songs. But how many parents really know the words to most of the popular songs? And just because a parent wants it to happen, doesn't mean it is OK. What about parents of children who don't want their children exposed to such language?
Perhaps it is time we started licensing deejays and putting more responsibility on what they can play and to whom. I remember being at a huge outdoor picnic and the deejay played a raunchy song. It seems to me that in their zeal to become a famous deejay, many are not concerned with the content of the music they play so long as they are given accolades for mixing the music well. At some point, our elected officials need to put the subject of X-rated lyrics and to whom they can be played on their legislative radar.
I normally don't have a problem writing this column. But tonight as I sit up past midnight, I have started and stopped writing so many times, I lost count. I am never at a loss for words. But this week I waivered and changed the subject so many times, if I were using a pen, I would have run out of paper and my pen would be empty of ink. I haven't ranted in a long time and since I can't seem to settle on a singular issue, I'll just let off steam on a variety of items.
I gotta start with the news that was late hitting the airwaves Tuesday night. The allegations, if true, should have every resident of the West Side up in arms and demanding a resignation. Fox Chicago News is alleging that newly appointed State Senator Annazette Collins doesn't live in the apartment she has used as an address to run for office. She owns a condo in Hyde Park, and it is there that she has claimed a homeowner's exemption. Say what? Here we have a prior state representative who gets appointed to fill the vacated seat of Rickey Hendon, and now we learn she doesn't even live in her district? Give me an expletive deleted break.
The West Side neighborhoods and residents suffer from a lack of so much, and now we hear that those who claim to have our best interests at heart don't live here? Well her immediate reward, if true, should be to lose her office, be stripped of her retirement fund and to be tried and incarcerated for having lied and stolen from the people of the 5th state senatorial district. There will never be any real improvement and changes on this side of town if we continue to tolerate those who want to be our elected representatives but don't want to live with us and therefore are not truly interested in changing the status quo.
Speaking of things involving this state, I have noticed that something strange is going on with the numbers on some license plates. At first, I thought people were doing something to their plates - like coating the numbers with reflective paint to throw off the red light cameras. But I looked at my own plates and they are rusting/corroding near where the numbers/letters were pressed and then painted onto the plate.
For the amount of money we have to pay for a renewal sticker and the cost of the plates, someone needs to investigate why the quality of this last set of plates seems to be deteriorating much faster than other plates. There is a tremendous danger if the plate can't be accurately read or if they can be easily altered.
And speaking of things that are easily altered, I swear there must only be about 10 of those temporary Illinois license plates, and they are being shared by everyone who gets a new/used car. I have never seen so many battered and old looking temporary plates as I am noticing mounted on vehicles driving around this city. I don't think those temporary plates are any better than the old "License Applied For" pieces of paper that used to dot the back windows of too many cars. It would seem to me that with current technology, we can have a better system of putting a plate on a new/used car. The abuses of the old system appear to still be occurring with this new one.
Lastly, we are not even into full-blown spring, and the shootings (especially the number of young children under 12 being shot) are an absolute disgrace. Our governor signed a bill to end the death penalty, but the criminals don't seem to have the same mindset, as murders occur like the rising and setting of the sun. Every day the number of people shot approaches double digits. Those killers/murderers walk among us and even when people know who did the killing, they are silent. It is time to write an anonymous note or buy a burner phone and use it to call the police and turn in the killers.
When Luelicious Yarbrough parked his car late Thursday night on the vacant lot in his West Side neighborhood, the 89-year-old retiree never expected that by morning it would be towed - especially since he's parked in that lot near Jackson and Kolmar for the last 18 years.
Yarbrough's 1996 Ford Windstar van was towed Friday morning, along with seven other vehicles parked in the same lot belonging to neighbors on the 4600 block of West Jackson. The vehicle belonging to Sandra Rowe, a community volunteer beat facilitator in the neighborhood, was also towed by the private company.
Rowe said she asked the tow truck drivers why the cars were being removed and was told that a complaint was made. Police were also on the scene to prevent neighbors from moving or retrieving items from their cars, according to Rowe. She and other upset neighbors spoke to local media Friday afternoon about the incident.
Some neighbors on the block, however, are casting suspicion toward outgoing Ald. Sharon Dixon, alleging that Friday morning's incident was retaliation against some on the block for their vocal support for Dixon's campaign opponent, Michael Chandler. A former 24th Ward alderman himself, Chandler defeated Dixon in Tuesday's run-off election to win the seat he lost four years ago.
Austin Weekly News called Dixon's West Side office Friday evening to inform her of the charges and to seek a response, but her office was closed.
Rowe said she didn't know who made the complaint or why. Concerning the accusation that Ald. Dixon was somehow involved, Rowe said she could not say if that was the case because she has no evidence. But she and other neighbors did note that several Chandler signs that were on their block were pulled out of the ground or torn down. About a half block away from Rowe's home, several Chandler signs were sprawled out in the street.
Other neighbors, though, were emphatic that Dixon was behind it.
"She lost and this is how she gets back at the people who didn't support her," one neighbor said.
According to Rowe, when she later called police to ask about the complaint she was told that none was on file. Yarbrough, who is disabled, said his walking cane and groceries were among the items in his van. According to Rowe, the police would not allow her or other neighbors to retrieve Yarbrough's belongings. More than a dozen neighbors stood on Rowe's porch answering questions from the media this afternoon, and asked a few questions of their own.
"Who filed the complaint? And why were the cars in this lot the only ones that were towed," she asked, pointing to the now-vacant lot just across the street from her home.
Neighbors said no other cars on their block were towed, including cars parked in other lots and on the street that haven't been driven for months. Rowe and her neighbors also want to know what the process is for towing cars, and if it was followed this morning.
"I came outside to see what was going on," Rowe said. "I'm trying to get information from the tow truck drivers and they were really rude and obnoxious, and they basically said that they couldn't talk to me and they weren't going to talk to me, that I should take it up with the police.
Rowe recalled that when she talked to police at the scene, they informed her that they were there to prevent neighbors from stopping their cars from being towed. All of the vehicles were taken to a facility at 701 N. Sacramento , neighbors said. Some neighbors went to retrieve their vehicles, according to Rowe, but she and others, including Yarbrough, have not yet. Rowe said that'll cost about $150 per car, not including a storage fee if the vehicles are not picked up.
Yarbrough said he's on a fixed income and wasn't sure how he'll come up with the money. At Friday's press conference, several neighbors collected money in a hat for the elder.
Austin Weekly News will have additional coverage in next Thursday's paper.
When I wrote last week's column, I admitted to finding myself in an unusual quandary. I found a situation where the "rightness" and "wrongness" of an issue wasn't as black or white as I wanted it to be. The issue of "statutory rape" in some instances is one where, depending on the circumstances, the "rapist" and the "victim" may not accurately describe the individuals involved in the act.
As an example, if an 18-year-old girl who is in love with a 15-year-old boy has sex with him, she has committed "statutory rape." In such a case, is the boy really the "victim" and is the girl a "rapist"? Legally, the response would be yes. But if she gets pregnant and subsequently gives birth, she and other parents like them are labeled "young mothers" and "fathers" and not "rapist" and "victim." Hospitals and law enforcement won't go after those mothers or fathers of the children born of such a relationship. And for the most part, when statutory rape is invoked, it is usually by the parent of the younger person who is upset that an 18-year-old (or older) had sex with their child. And rightly so.
Last week I also asked you all to put yourself in the shoes of the parents of a young man who has been charged with "statutory" rape. I created a phony background for that young man. I made him less than perfect, but still someone who tries to do the right thing. Some of you wrote some very eloquent responses (which can be viewed online) to my scenario. One person made an observation with which I must concur. The term "rape" may be the wrong verbiage to use to describe the encounter between two young people who are "dating." Just like there are degrees to murder, should we have a similar set of degrees in place for sexual encounters?
The law states that a child cannot agree to sex. But we do have young people engaging in sexual intercourse and one of the barometers by which we measure that act is the teen birthrate. How should we as a society address the sexual encounters that don't easily fit into the literal "rape" mode? Do we need degrees of accountability in judging the behavior of both individuals in the sex act or is the younger one automatically free from being held accountable?
As one commentator on my blog wrote: "There are certainly different degrees of culpability when men and older boys have sex with an underage child. Part of the difficulty in making distinctions is the use of the word rape to describe both non-consensual, forcible sex and consensual underage sex. Without making any excuses for those who have sex with an 11-year-old, however mature looking, willing, and whatever age they represent themselves to be, forcible rape is worse. Perhaps 'illegal sex with an underage person' rather than 'statutory rape' would be a better term for the sex where the illegality is solely based on the age of the younger participant, and force or threats are not used, would make the distinction clearer."
I thought that response was very insightful. It helps to ease the grayness of my dilemma. I could see supporting that fictitious child in his journey through the criminal justice system even though the charges against him were horrific. One of the reasons I wrote my last column in the method I did was because, over the Internet, so many people had vilified the parents, neighbors and relatives of those "accused" without even beginning to see it from their perspective. How can one seek justice when, at the core of the crime, there is a perceived injustice?
P.S.: Join me every Wednesday for the Blues at Chez Roue 5200 W. Chicago Ave.
Normally I see my social commentaries in terms of right or wrong, black or white, good or bad. Rarely do I ever see things in shades of gray until I had to read a number of articles involving a crime out of Cleveland, Texas.
The crime is one in which there shouldn't be a gray area. But I am finding it and I need the people who read this column to express their thoughts about that dilemma.
First off, I need to make you the parent of an 18-year-old male. He's not perfect. He may be in school or have dropped out. He may have sold drugs or smoked some reefer. He's been raised around younger relatives and you trust him implicitly with them, especially when his little 10-year-old cousin has a best friend who is crazy about him and he dismisses the girl because she is just a kid. He even blushes when you mention that the child has a crush on him. He dismisses even the potential of his interest in the girl, because it is not within his realm or reality.
One day your son and his friends pick up a girl they are acquainted with to go for a ride. In the world of bravado, all three boys and the girl end up having sex. Cellphone videos/pictures are taken, and the images of the activity are soon shared amongst their peers.
These are 1990s children and technology for them is like air. They live it and breathe it. Weeks later, the images of the encounter make their way around to all the other kids' phones.
Soon someone in the girl's class sees the pictures and turns it in to a teacher who calls the police. It turns out the girl is 11 years old and a student in middle school. Your son and his friends are arrested and charged with rape. The headlines in the paper call it a "gang rape."
You visit your son in jail to learn "what" happened. Your son admits to having sex, but says the girl didn't object and that they all thought she was 16 since she told them that. Worst, it wasn't the first time. Over a period of months he and others had had sex with the girl. You believe your son. So, now, do you support him as he fights the charges or do you abandon him?
Now, the scenario I just pointed out may or may not have been totally what happened in the Cleveland, Texas case. Statutory rape (meaning that the law makes the sex act a rape because a child under a certain age cannot give consent) for most people involves an "involuntary" aspect to it.
Yet what is a parent to do when all indicators point to a percentage of culpability on the part of the girl? Are we to do as some have suggested and shout from the rooftops that "it doesn't matter?" Do we say "it doesn't matter" that the girl lied about her age? Do we agree that "it doesn't matter" if the girl allowed the sex to happen by consenting personally, even though the law says she doesn't have the right to give consent? Do we totally disregard her Facebook pages where she brags about being able to "pull" older boys?
How do we honestly judge the "wrongness" when in the eyes of a loving parent we can see our son's side, that his actions were "poor judgment" and not that of a molester hitting someone over the head and dragging them into the bushes?
As parents, we will be labeled quite a few names for wanting to protect our son by finding fault with the girl. Are we wrong for worrying about our son's future if he is labeled a sexual predator and/or child molester?
Now a little girl jumping rope who is pulled off the street and molested is very clear-cut. But in our oversexed world, where young girls are being inundated day and night with sexually explicit content - where the music that is played at a young child's party includes phrases like "sex in the morning, sex at night," where Abercrombie and Fitch are offering a bikini for young girls with a push-up bra feature and the Maury Show loves to show young girls acting like they are grown - then when those children purposely engage in sex, how do we judge both the male and female participants in the act?
Is there a gray area or is it cut and dry? And what does this society need to do about it? Are the males, because they are 18 or older, always guilty when nothing in this society is preparing them for proper adulthood? There is not a standardized "right of passage" that each young person undergoes as they turn 18.
Is there any culpability on the part of a willing female, or is she always the innocent victim? As a society we confer "adultness" to certain criminal acts like murder. Can the same be said for sex acts?
When you respond, please do so as the imaginary parent of the boy. I am most interested in opinions from that side of the fence. It will be a refreshing read.
There is a saying in the black community, "You can't do what they do." It is usually applied when black folks attempt to do what others are doing and come to find out it doesn't work the same for us. No matter what the "what" is, as soon as black folks attempt to do it, the entire weight of the law comes to bear upon us.
As an example, take the case of Kelley Williams-Bolar. She is an Akron, Ohio, mom who lives in public housing and wanted better for her children. So she did what countless other folks have done. She used the address of the home where her father lives to enroll her children in a better school district.
The school district didn't believe Williams-Bolar and her girls were living within its boundaries. So the district hired a private investigator who followed her girls home to discover she didn't live in the district. The district tried to work out an agreement with Williams-Bolar, but she opted to fight back.
Now she's been found guilty, her children were removed from the school system, she's been sentenced to 10 days in jail (she served nine); she's got two years' worth of probation and is required to serve 80 hours of community service.
What was that old saying again? "You can't do what they do."
I found it quite interesting hearing and reading the commentaries regarding Williams-Bolar's situation. People posted about fairness to the taxpayers. People posted about her cheating the system. People posted about her wanting her children to have a better opportunity, so she did what she did. And through it all, I kept replacing Kelley's situation with the illegal immigration crowd and wondered why it is OK for Williams-Bolar to go to jail, but someone who is in this country illegally is supported, hand over heels.
I need someone to tell me the difference between young people protesting and asking for the Dream Act after being educated by taxpayers with no regards for whether their parents ever paid a dime in taxes, yet Williams-Bolar and her daughters are yearning for the same thing and they get jail time and expulsion. How and why is that?
Did I mention that Williams-Bolar now has a felony on her record? She was 12 hours away from getting her degree so that she could teach, and now she will have a felony that prevents her from teaching. I got a chance to hear the interview with Ms. Williams-Bolar. She stated that her children stayed with their grandfather quite a bit, and based on that information, she felt she could enroll the children in that school district. However in the end, that wasn't enough for the Ohio school system.
The Williams-Bolar case has brought up issues of race as the school district she enrolled her children in is predominantly white. Whatever the case, the old saying that we can't do what they do is ringing loud and clear.
Currently there is an interesting "debate" going on in some Congressional hearings between the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and the Republicans. As we all "know," the CBC are the "good guys" and the Republicans are "bad guys." So in an intensive debate between these two groups, the CBC, which represents the interests of black folks, and the Republicans, who represent the interests of other folks, which one do you think you would agree with without even knowing the subject? The CBC or the Republicans? Decide now.
I'll tell you the subject in a moment. It is a topic I have very strong opinions about. But rather than impose my beliefs and knowledge up front, I want you to form your own opinion based on your own observations, experiences and thoughts. Plus, I sure wish you folks would do more opinion writing on the Internet or pen a letter to the editor. That way my editors and I can get a better understanding of what the average person who reads this column is thinking. Anyway, I digress.
The subject causing a lot of consternation between the CBC and the Republicans? Illegal immigration and its impact on American minorities. One group's stance is that illegal immigration has had a devastating effect on the employment options of black folks (especially those who are unskilled, like teenagers, drop-outs and ex-offenders) while the others say there is no conclusive evidence that illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from African Americans. OK. Which side are you on? Pick now because try as I might to resist, I am going to give an opinion.
I still remember the 1996 election and Bill Clinton talking about McJobs with a black guy who was the head of a major fast food chain. I still remember those huge yellow HELP WANTED signs that would hang outside of McDonald's. I may be wrong, but it sure seems like the more folks we have in this country illegally, the more those signs no longer appear. And just how does a teenager trying to get his/her first job compete against grown men and women who are now the majority of the work force at many fast food restaurants? And if the restaurant is right in the middle of the black community and nobody black works there, well ...
Who remembers all the fights to get black folks on construction jobs? We were told we had to have union cards and journeymen training. There were groups like C-BUC and Workshop Coalition. Well, we're still not on the construction job sites. So how is it that those sites are now filled with people who cannot speak English yet are working while black folks stand on the sidelines?
If you haven't guessed it by now, the CBC is the one saying there is no proof that illegal immigration is hurting the black community. The Republicans, on the other hand, are stating that they want every U.S. citizen who wants a job to have one instead of pandering to foreign laborers.
I was listening to the radio the other night and they were talking about illegal immigration - why so many black politicians seem to be in a disconnect with their constituents on this issue. The man on the radio made an excellent point. Politicians in Washington get lobbied on issues all the time by both sides. When it comes to immigration, only those on the side of illegal immigration are lobbying. It will be up to the average citizen to tell their elected representatives how they feel. Plus, ask them if those same illegal aliens are paying state income taxes? Many who are here illegally will file a federal return to hedge their bets against the day that "reform" may become available, and they can prove they paid their federal taxes. But the state, which provides tons of services to them, isn't getting them to file because generally they will owe money.
Some of the CBC members accused the Republicans of trying to create black-brown tensions. But when the browns are working and the blacks aren't, there isn't much of a coalition to begin with. Even Cesar Chavez marched on the southern border because he understood better than most what uncontrolled illegal immigration will do to this country.
I don't think any of us are naïve enough to believe that Republicans are suddenly concerned about black folks and unemployment. But a broke clock can be right twice a day, and on this one I am standing with the Republicans. For me the issue is simple. Both the CBC and Republicans should place U.S. citizens and their needs, wants, desires and problems at the forefront before they concern themselves with foreign nationals.
We only get one chance at childhood. That is a time when children's imagination can blossom and they can grow to become adults with vision. Their unencumbered minds could hold the secret to cures for anything if we as adults allow them a childhood and the creativity to be a kid.
When an adult steals a childhood, it messes up some people for life-the most famous example being Michael Jackson. I thought of him the other day when I had the misfortune to be at a children's birthday party. I wasn't a guest, but a worker. And the party was for three children ages 6, 7, and 8.
When I first arrived, the Toy Story jumping jack was in the middle of the room. There was a clown painting the children's faces; making hats and animals out of those long slinky balloons; and entertaining the children. The kids-ranging from around 5 to 10 years old-were screaming, running and having a good time. But what caught my attention was the music. The deejay appeared to be barely 18 years olds. But the music coming out of his speakers would make someone 80 years old blush.
One of the first songs had lyrics that talked about "Sex in the morning." At first I didn't think I heard what I heard. I have become so accustomed to hearing that song at night that I never paid much attention to the lyrics. But at a children's party with less noise, the lyrics were clear and disturbing to say the least.
I asked one of the men who was throwing the party about the music lineup. I asked did he approve of the lyrics to the songs that were being played. With a straight face the man told me "his kids knew better than to say those words." Yeah, right.
I then went and asked the deejay why he was playing so much filth. "The mom requested it," he told me. Even more amazing: she specifically asked for a song by Wacka Flocka called "No Hands." Now, I've heard, but not paid attention to, that song for weeks. It has always been a part of adult parties and I must admit that I can't understand many rap song's lyrics because they all sound the same to me. But every now and then I can pick up a chorus, and Flocka's song was one of them.
I had three adults-one man and two women-come and ask me to exchange large bills for singles. I didn't have a lot of money in the cash register, so I couldn't give up all my ones. Later, I learned why they wanted the change. The adults gathered in a circle while the young girls did "booty pop" dances. Each little girl danced with her legs gapped wide open and imitated what a lot of adults and strippers do.
They shook their behinds to the beat with one young girl holding her shirt in her mouth as she gyrated. Then the man threw dollars at the little girls to the Wacka Flocka song. I don't know where the fine line exists for kiddie porn, but a sexually-suggestive dance by young children is sick. We already have men over the age of 21 who father children by girls barely into their teens. So how easy is it for those types of predators to move to younger children when the parents are the ones encouraging that type of dancing?
Here are a few lyrics to "No Hands":
Girl the way you're movin' Got me in a trance DJ turn me up Ladies dis yo jam I'ma sip Moscato And you 'gon lose dem pants Then I'ma throw this money While you do it with no hands Girl drop it to the flo' I love the way your booty go
And folks, that is the cleaner part of that song. Many of the records that were played talked about "pussy," "dick" and lots of "oral sex." When I mentioned the content to the grandmother, she said that wasn't supposed to be played. But it was; and it went on for more than four hours. When we asked the deejay if he had Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair"-a more appropriate record for children-the response was, "no." Heck the deejay didn't even play a Michael Jackson song.
I watched while one young boy looked confused by it all. He was at a party for his age group and yet the adults were the majority on the dance floor. There is something extremely sick when adults don't have core values-or a clue! If a teacher had played that song at school, the parents would be irate. But I guess because they gave the party, everything was OK. It's not.
There is no joy is seeing young girls behave like bar room strippers. It is not cute to throw money at children while they gyrate to that kind of music.
If parents can't grow up and recognize that there is a bold line between music for children and music for adults-they shouldn't be parents.
Congratulations to Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel. I don't have a problem congratulating him on his win, even though he wasn't my candidate of choice.
The 2011 Chicago mayoral election should be required study for everyone. If you want to know why our young black people are so disenchanted with black leadership, all one has to do is review the lies, deceit, backstabbing and sell-outs that occurred within both the established black political community and the activist community.
Most people who followed politics could read their tea leaves and know that losing the Olympics was the signal that it was time for Mayor Daley to go. The only one who initially planned to take on Daley was Bill "Dock" Walls, who didn't excite the imagination of the voting public. A lot of that had to do with his being labeled a "perennial" candidate - plus he didn't have the money to turn what was perceived to be a negative into a positive. Walls ran too much of his own campaign and thus made decisions that proved to be flawed. But this column isn't about him.
Years ago, Lu Palmer, known as the Godfather of Political Activism, coined the phrase, "It's enough to make a Negro turn Black." That phrase was, and continues to be, used to describe situations where descendants of enslaved Africans would get so angry or see such an injustice that they would start to see themselves as Black (willing to fight the powers that be) as opposed to being a Negro (going along to get along).
The recent elections had me thinking of Lu's signature signoff. And after watching what went on in the black community during this mayoral debacle, the phrase can be updated to: "It turned Blacks into Negroes." I was going to initially go into the entire history of what went on, but to review the entire escapade would create something I could name the "Consensus Black Candidate Comedy Show." To review it in its entirety is to see buffoonery, bamboozling and chicanery all in one. So I'll just do the "highlights."
It started with a "call" meeting, held at Bethel AMC Church on Oct. 16, 2010. When the meeting got started, Eddie Read a protégé of Lu Palmer, asked if there were any journalists in the room. When those folks raised their hands (I didn't), they were gathered together and led out of the room. For some reason, Read didn't want any reporters in the room. To top it off, he didn't want the meeting videotaped. A number of speakers spoke, and then two months later in December (yeah you can tell that they were finding a candidate on CPT Time), the committee announced a consensus candidate in Danny Davis. When a news story did emerge about that meeting, the story labeled them the "The Grass Root Guys." But as I see it, their actual name should have been "The Grass Root Lies."
Now Davis was supposed to be the consensus choice. But during a "historic" radio broadcast (now only historic in that none of them won), the question came up suggesting that two of the three black candidates should drop out of the race so that one could win. Meeks asked the question, Davis didn't have a problem with doing it, and Braun declared she was "in it to win it."
By the end of December 2010, both Meeks and Davis had dropped out the race and Braun was the "consensus" candidate. Thus began a campaign that claimed she had "experience" while acting like an "amateur." Most notably, there was the infamous "crackhead" video exchange. Rewatching the exchange as it was reported by Fox News, the report said TV coverage of the debate wasn't allowed. Yet they got the footage of the ugly exchange via Trinity UCC. Why?
One additional piece of footage I watched showed Braun trying to go to a forum at Rev. Hatch's church while grown men carrying Patricia Watkins signs blocked her entrance. Such poor behavior from people wearing coats that said, "Save Our Sons," while they acted like the very reason our sons need saving. Sad!
I got a number of requests to check out the Soul Slate when they announced their choices. Looking at the people who continue to be selected by that group, it has become obvious that the better terminology is "Sold Slate." If the purpose of that recommendation is to tell black folks who to vote for, why was the consensus candidate (Braun) not the recommendation for mayor? Rather they went with Patricia Watkins. How come? Is it really just money involved in that process?
But what had me almost drive my car off the road was listening to Eddie Read's commentary on WVON 1690-AM. The man who had stood in the pulpit at Bethel AME Church back in October 2010, the man who was hosting meetings all over town to get the community to settle on a single candidate, the man who was tutored in activism by Lu Palmer, announced that he was supporting not the consensus candidate Braun, but newcomer and amateur Patricia Watkins. WTF? After all their talk of Blackness, their Negro came out. I am sure Lu Palmer is reeling in his grave.
The countdown to Municipal Election Day is finally here. Much is being done to suppress the "black vote," for though we may not be the majority when it comes to residency, we are the majority when it comes to being registered voters.
Many people already believe Rahm Emanuel will win the election. He has the biggest war chest and has spent the most on ads. Money is always the defining factor in elections, they say. Yet if that is the truth, then Meg Whitman who spent $178.5 million in her attempt to become California's governor shouldn't have lost to Jerry Brown, who spent a paltry $36.5 million. But don't tell that to Rahm. Let him continue to spend and spend. In the end, it's voters that vote. Ads don't.
There are only four offices to vote for in this year's election. Mayor, City Clerk, City Treasurer and Alderman. Let's start with mayor.
I continue to support William "Dock" Walls. He may not have the money of the other candidates, but when it comes to addressing solutions to the issues, none have been able to hold a candle to him. His parking meter solution of paying for an "enhanced" city sticker would allow people to park at any meter for up to two hours without getting a ticket. Plus it would allow Chicago to again earn money from those meters. His promotion of "nanotechnology" as the next major industry for Chicago would again put us on the map for manufacturing. His idea to limit the amount of profits that large construction companies make off the city is admirable. And most of all, his idea to give a million dollars to 200 businesses all around the city would have them creating self-perpetuating jobs that would begin to cut into the unemployment rate. His election, as his campaign slogan states, would be: "A Clean Break from the Past." Visit his website at wallsformayor.com.
Since I am not one to believe all those phony poll results that have been making their way into the news, I would love to see a runoff election between Walls and anyone else. There are too many real issues going on in this city to allow the next mayor to just slide into office because he had so much money from outside interests that we bought into the hype. When people try to tell you that, just remind them of that California governor's race. It's not who spends the most money. It is who garners the most votes. And we can make it happen by getting everyone we know to come out and vote on Feb. 22. Punch 11. Punch eleven. Punch 11.
The next most important office to vote for is City Clerk. That is a no-brainer. Punch 21 and elect Patricia Horton. Since the City Treasurer doesn't have any opposition, all she has to do is have two people vote for her and she wins. Punch 31 to elect Stephanie Neely.
Lastly, there is that election for alderman. I've been to a number of candidate forums and have been impressed by some and disappointed by others. But I will say this about those running against the incumbents. If bringing business to the ward were as easy as your challengers make it sound, all the wards would have new business. If building a community center were as simplistic as you want to make it, every community would have them. Those are the kinds of things incumbents would do just to have notches on their belts. But when the city doesn't have money to keep the park district buildings open and functioning, it doesn't have money for additional centers that need to be funded. And if Jewel and Dominick's wanted to be anywhere in this city, they would be.
When candidates talk about empowering those already in business over trying to put their constituents into business, it shows who is worth voting for and who is worth ignoring. And any candidate not willing, front and center, to tell you who they are supporting for mayor doesn't deserve your vote either.
The elections will again be on the table this Sunday on WRLL 1450-AM from 10 until midnight. Tune in. Call in. 773-591-6777.
As much as I love discussing politics, I can't wait for the mayoral elections to be over. I am tired of learning of brainwash-after-brainwash commercials from Rahm Emanuel that insult anyone who thinks.
Yes, this city is an employment agency. It constantly taxes us to pay for employees, so in my mind, people should look to the city to not only hire but find jobs for those that don't have one. Yes, the city is an employment agency in that it controls the education of all the children in the Chicago Public Schools. Educate them well and they will have employers looking to hire them. Mis-educate them and you will continue the cycle of illiteracy that permeates too many individuals. And with a budget of over $12 billion annually for just the city and the schools, I don't want a mayor who is telling me what the city "ain't." I want a mayor who will tell me what the city "is."
I am not a big television watcher. So I have been spared the Rahm "assault of brainwash" commercials that have been playing on all the local stations morning, noon and night. But as I do love to be on Facebook, people have sent me links to people who have rebutted things that have been shown in Rahm's commercials. My favorite thus far is a short YouTube video done by a group of Sullivan High School students.
Those young people were following politics and saw the WGN debate that featured four of the six candidates for mayor. The fact that many in the media overlook the fact that there are six candidates is an additional reflection on the dumbing down of this city. But I digress. At the WGN forum, Rahm said: "When you take out Northside, and when you take out Walter Payton, the seven best performing high schools are all charters."
Well, those young people went and did their homework. The top seven schools beside Northside Prep and Walter Payton are; Lane Tech, Whitney Young, Jones College Prep, Gwendolyn Brooks and Lincoln Park High School. How could Rahm have made such an error regarding the Chicago Public Schools? Very simple. The man hasn't been living here. He has had no real interest in what has been going on here and if Daley hadn't decided to retire, Rahm wouldn't be anywhere near here.
What that short video clip did is highlight children who go to their neighborhood schools. They are just as bright, concerned and inventive as any child who is enrolled in a selective or charter school. Every time I see that video, I think of a young man named DeAndre Robinson from Douglas Academy here in the Austin community who has been basically saying the exact same thing. We can have all the "selective" enrollment and charter schools that the world will allow. But invest in neighborhood schools.
Maybe if Rahm came to the neighborhoods and attended forums where people talk about local issues, he would have known about those other schools. But when one has to be "schooled" on what has been going on in this city while he lived in Wash., D.C., then it comes as no shock that he's not familiar with those schools.
I remember a while back, Robinson came to the radio show and was talking about education. When the subject of a new high school for Austin came up, he made a very salient point. We as adults can run around planning on a new high school. But there are children like him who are trying to get the best education they can based on what they are working with. So, until that new school comes along, don't denigrate what he is dealing with as we make plans for a future high school.
There are barely two weeks left until Election Day. If the black community comes out and votes their best interest, we should have a run-off. And it is important to make sure that we have a run-off so that Rahm doesn't ease into office without answering all the fundamental questions he is so fond of spewing without giving us details as to what they are.
There are still a number of debates scheduled. If you miss them and have access to the internet, you can catch them online. On Feb. 16, there will be a forum at Westinghouse High School, 3223 W. Franklin from 6:30 - 8 p.m. As West Siders, we need to pack that auditorium to hear the plans those candidates have for our side of town.
I was just getting a handle on my euphoria over Rahm Emanuel getting kicked off the ballot for the upcoming mayoral election when I got hit by a ton of bricks. The Illinois Supreme court voted in favor of allowing Rahm Emanuel back on the ballot. "Oh %!" was my response. I could take the news that Rahm was back on the ballot. What I dreaded was having to listen to my friend in her smugness mouth the I-told-you-so happy dance.
When I finally got the chance to speak with her, I was surprised to learn she too had jumped ship. She had seen some things while working Rahm Emanuel's campaign and now was put off by him. We both have concluded that Rahm has "issues" when it comes to the black community.
Sure, he worked - or perhaps better to say "sabotaged" - at the White House. And if you've been paying attention to news reports, when Gery Chico attempted to hold a press conference at some local health clubs with the owners to speak out against Rahm's proposed luxury tax, those owners were intimidated. Already the Emanuel machine is at play and the results don't bode well for Chicago - or for those who feel the need to stand up to it.
As we chatted about the latest mayoral forum held at Trinity United Church of Christ, a forum which Rahm had politely turned down, it dawned on me. Is he avoiding those forums because they are in the black community or he is avoiding them because they are held in black churches? In an era when the average politician bites at the bit to get into black churches to speak with those parishioners/voters, Emanuel has shaken his head "no" to almost every invite. How come?
Even more interesting, how come the ministers, preachers, reverends and so forth in this city haven't stood up and said anything about it? The silence of the black church has been noteworthy, or perhaps better to say, "Bought and paid for."
Speaking of Trinity, I didn't have the pleasure of attending this past Sunday to witness firsthand the diatribe that went on between Carol Mosley Braun and Patricia Van Pelt Watkins. But having seen them interact at a number of forums without rancor, I found the sudden attack of one on the other to be a less-than-skillful, staged performance. Why? Because anyone looking at the numbers knows if blacks all go for one candidate, Rahm cannot win without a serious runoff. So scenarios must be manufactured to turn off black voters. Otherwise, just by our numbers alone we can control who gets into the mayoral seat.
Braun is a "seasoned" politician. She's been a state representative, the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, a U.S. senator and ambassador. How does a woman with over 20 years in elected offices allow herself to be upstaged by a rank amateur? Unless... yeah, I'll say it, the entire debacle was staged!
Watkins acknowledged struggling with cocaine and marijuana use. So her bristling at being labeled a "crackhead" is interesting. Do we now have a social hierarchy so that those who snort cocaine are better than someone who smokes it?
Heck, at the time didn't we label all children born with drugs in their system as "crack" babies?
Emphasizing subjects that don't address the serious issues facing this city must be meant to distract. How come those same mayoral candidates aren't addressing issues like the Garda robbery that occurred on Chicago and Homan avenues? What level of desperation would motivate two middle-age fools to use some black pipes taped together to look like a sawed off shotgun in order to rob an armored truck? What is going on that those candidates who claim they want to be mayor aren't front and center, addressing the crime and lack of employment here on the West Side?
Brainwashed, Bamboozled, and the Okey-Doke - that's what we are being served. We don't have to swallow it, nor do we have to like it.
It's not often that the citizens of Chicago can see justice served up twice in a week. The first helping came with the sentencing of John Burge-Torturer on Friday Jan. 21. His sentence of 4 1/2 years in prison is miniscule in relation to the havoc he created, but after years of fighting to have some sort of justice meted out, most folks are just glad that he got something.
As I write this column on Monday night, I have been jumping for joy ever since learning that Rob'em Manually won't be on the ballot. If there ever was a case where it appeared that the law was going to be shaped and manipulated to accommodate someone, this was it. Yes, at one time Rahm did live here. But packing up all his stuff, renting out his house and filing an income tax form that stated that he considered himself a part-time resident all combined to turn a ruling that should have been a cakewalk into a huge debacle.
When people talk about "why" Rahm rented out his house, I can answer it with one simple word. Actually I have a couple of words. Cheapskate and greed. After looking at the salary ($172,000) he would be making as White House Chief of Staff, Rahm figured out a way to make even more money. Renting out the house ($60,000). Then to add insult to injury, rather than pay a few dollars to have valuables stored in a heat-controlled storage locker, Rahm had the stuff stored in a crawlspace in the family's basement. I told you, "cheap" should be Rahm's codename.
It is also interesting that in April, 2010, Rahm stated he wanted to run for mayor. The lease on his house was expiring at the end of August, 2010 and he could have claimed his house and not gone through the headaches he just went through. But no, even though a mayoral election was looming, Rahm went ahead and renewed the lease and then ... Daley announces his retirement. Now that sends Rahm into a tizzy as he tried to terminate the lease on his house and return to Chicago to become our anointed next mayor. But fate intervened and two judges of the Appellate Court have ruled that Rahm isn't eligible to be on the ballot.
Last week, I told how Rahm bypassed the NAACP Mayoral Candidate forum. It was held at Friendship Baptist, 5200 W. Jackson. That church was founded by Sheldon Hall and in a case of pure irony, one of the presiding judges making the decision regarding Rahm was Shelvin Louise Marie Hall - the founder's daughter. I was hoping that in the back of her mind, Rahm's insult to her father's church would play a role. Can't say that it did, but the irony is still pure "payback."
I also had gotten a call from several activists because, with the exception of Bill Dock Walls, all the candidates had ignored the forum put on by the Montford Point Marines Association. These are all men who have served this country while none of the candidates have any military service. Just another insult to a black organization by those who will do commercials claiming they want to serve you. But what we end up getting is a kick in the behind.
For the next couple of days, until the Illinois Supreme Court rules on the case, we can expect Rahm to be off the ballot. The Supreme Court ruling, I expect, will just reaffirm the lower court's decision. But what it all comes down to is each voter doing his or her homework about who will best represent their interests as this city moves forward.
And in the back of my mind, as always, is the future of the black West Side. Our land has been valuable for years and political games have kept those valuations low.
So pay attention, Westsiders, pay attention! And on Election Day, come out and vote like you did in November 2008.
Lastly, several of the candidates for alderman of the 28th Ward have been coming on Garfield's show on Sunday night as well as those from the 24th Ward. These are two of the hottest contests around. Tune in Sunday nights from 10 until midnight on WRLL 1450AM.
In last week's column, I inadvertently stated that Harold Washington ran against Bernard Stone. I should have said Bernard Epton. I do apologize to Alderman Stone for the error.
Now with that out of the way, you know I have to talk about the Westside NAACP's candidate forum. I see that we have a two-tiered mayoral race going on. If the event involves television and non-political black folks, then Gery Chico and Rahm Emanuel are front and center. But if the audience consists of politically astute black folks asking hard questions and wanting answers, then the two aren't to be found.
I had been forewarned that Rahm, although in town, didn't consider the NAACP forum to be worth his time. My friend, who is working his campaign, wasn't as enthusiastic as she had been as she made excuses for why he didn't feel the need to come before the audience at Friendship Baptist Church last week. So I'll say it for her and him: "Hell, we're just Westsiders. We don't count or matter. We get the last and worst of everything. We don't complain. And when we do, it is just amongst ourselves. As rumor has it, we don't even half vote. So there's no need for the so-called front-runners (Emanuel and Chico) to waste their gasoline on us unless they have a minister or two at their side."
That's just my opinion, but before I continue on my tirade, I need each and every one of you to understand exactly what is at stake in the quest to be the next mayor. Thanks to Dwayne Truss of the Westside NAACP, we started the forum off with a PowerPoint presentation as to what kind of funding the current mayor has under his belt.
The mayor controls, first and foremost, the city of Chicago's budget: $6.15B. Yup, that "B" is for billion. Add in the CPS budget of $6.6B; CTA, $2.6B; CHA, $1.6B; City Colleges, $582M, McPier, $480M; Park district, $398M; O'Hare expansion $6.6 to 15B; Tax Increment Financing (TIF), $1.2B; and as head of the Public Building Commission, the mayor controls contracts worth tens of millions, totaling billions, depending on the project. And folks, that is each year. So there is a lot at stake as to who gets their hands on that money in the next election and how it is spent in our community.
When Mayor Washington got into office, he issued an executive order that began to redistribute that money to black folks. But few politicians want black voters to be knowledgeable, so they don't talk about what is at stake. Rather, they offer us scare tactics of the monster "Republicans" and what will happen if they get in office. But the mayoral primary election is non-partisan. It's simple: Whoever gets 50 percent of the vote, plus one, wins.
So hell yeah, the so-called front-runners aren't willing to come to the West Side and tell you what they plan on doing with all that money. Instead, they view us as being so stupid that all they have to do is run a few commercials or appear with Pastor This, Bishop That or Reverend Whomever, and we'll rush to the polls and give them our vote.
Well, I know my people and we ain't falling for the okey-dokey this time. We saw thru Alexi Giannoulias when he campaigned and expected that the Obama effect would glide him into the U.S. Senate, and the same is true for Emanuel. Plus, he still has to survive the court challenge to his candidacy, which I hear isn't looking so good.
The four candidates who did come to the NAACP forum were Carol Mosley Braun, Patricia Van Pelt Watkins, Miguel Del Valle and William "Dock" Walls. They answered questions about their priorities when they become mayor, what they will do regarding the huge ex-offender population on the West Side, if they had ever attended a budget hearing, and questions regarding education.
To be fair, I won't write about any of their answers so that I won't be accused of favoring my candidate over the others. But if you visit my blog, I did tape a lot of the forum and you can see what they had to say.
The Feb. 22 primary election is more important that the 2008 one in which we elected President Obama. Why? Because whoever leads us through the next four years will have to be creative, resourceful, innovative and technologically savvy to put Chicago back in the running as a major player in the world economy. That is why the president of China, Hu Jintao, is making this city the only other place he visits besides Washington. He sees Chicago as a Chinese economic gateway to America, the same way my candidate sees Chicago becoming the nano-technology capital of the world.
We are still talking politics every Sunday night on WRLL 1450AM from 10 until midnight on the Garfield Major Show. Call-in number is 773-591-8000. Share this with everyone you know
I voted for Mayor Harold Washington each time he ran. I was young - in my early 20s - and not really into politics during his first run. I got on the Harold Washington bandwagon because my boyfriend at the time was wearing Washington's button, so Harold became my candidate too.
Many of Mayor Washington's accomplishments didn't resonate immediately with me because politics wasn't my priority at the time. I was single, living on my own and in my view, I had the world at my door. Growing older, having children, and buying a house all contributed to my getting into politics.
My political views have always been jaded. I tend to see things in a very realistic vein. I don't believe any candidate will come along and "save us." But what I do subscribe to is that some candidates who get elected will do a better job of making sure the black community is treated fairly. That is what happened when Harold Washington won the election over Bernie Epton. For the first time in over 200 years, a black man was again at the helm of this city and being fair to all of its inhabitants was his number-one priority.
With Washington's death and the upheavals that came after it, many of the gains we had made as a people slowly eroded. City jobs, access to affordable housing, fairness in the allocation of resources to all of the residents of Chicago had been a trademark of the Washington administration. I can still remember when one of my friends with a vacant lot next door to her house finally got it cleaned up. It was only under a Washington administration that she was able to get the city to come address the issue. She could never get any type of response to her requests under any of the previous administrations. I can still remember her joy at feeling like she mattered for being a part of this city.
Remembering vividly such a small detail is a testament to just how well Mayor Washington delivered and distributed city services to everyone. There was a lot of hope in this city and many residents who never bought into the idea of a black mayor (and these were black people as well) soon found themselves believing because they were seeing it with their own eyes.
We now have the opportunity to again have the kind of city that offers fairness to all. I know some folks think a certain mayoral candidate was sent here by the White House to be anointed our new mayor. Many heard President Obama say that person could be a good mayor. But when I heard it, I heard a boss bidding an employee farewell and saying kind words just to get him out the door. I didn't hear a ringing endorsement. For what it's worth, I think the words the president said were spoken by someone glad to see an interloper leave rather than someone who was saddened and would truly miss that person upon departure.
I have been having wonderful debates with a friend who is a supporter of Emanuel. She knows that I support Bill "Dock" Walls. So as we banter back and forth with the politics, I had to ask her a question. Will her candidate, who has spent his time campaigning at el stops ever come into the actual community and talk with people who don't ride the CTA (like myself), who won't ever see his commercials on television because they don't watch it (like myself), but who, like myself, have lots of questions and want answers?
I go and listen at mayoral forums because I want to hear the issues being discussed. I want to know how the next mayor of the city of Chicago will solve our financial problems. I want to know how they will deal with the parking meters issue, in light of the fact that they are now $5 an hour downtown. I want to hear the next mayor's plan for Austin, for the West Side, for ex-offenders, for schools, for policing issues, for the ever expanding issue of guns and violence. I want the next mayor to not follow the pattern of the existing mayor who made this side of town a seldom-to-never visit.
So I challenged my friend. This Sunday Jan. 16, at Friendship Baptist, 5200 W. Jackson Street from 5 to 8 p.m., there will be a mayoral candidates forum, sponsored by the Westside NAACP. After my last column, the NAACP quickly reached out and invited Dock Walls to participate. All the other major candidates have been invited too. So let's see if her candidate has the "balls" to come out and answer questions from people who aren't in a hurry trying to get on and off a train.
Later that same night, we'll talk politics like we do each and every Sunday night on the Garfield Show. Tune in to WRLL 1450-AM from 10 until midnight.
There is an old saying that "politics is theatre." And during the entire month of December 2010, we saw performances worthy of the Academy Awards by several candidates for mayor.
One of the first things to remember in looking at politicians is that their motto is thus; "we have no permanent enemies, just permanent interest." Those interests, for the most part, involve themselves and not what is good for the citizenry.
For weeks I had been hearing via the political grapevine that both State Sen. Meeks and Congressman Davis would be dropping out of the race. The stage for it to occur was during the so-called "historic" WVON 1690 AM radio show forum held on Dec. 15, with the three "leading" black candidates. During the course of the talk, Meeks conveniently asked if the others would be willing to dropout of the race to have a single consensus candidate. Carol Moseley Braun said she was "In it to win it," while Davis gave his usual conciliatory speech on unity.
Then just over a week later on Christmas Eve, Meeks announced he was dropping out. That left both Braun and Davis. Davis gave a good performance when he stood up to tell his "homeboy" Bill Clinton not to get involved in the political race here. It almost had me believing that Davis was going to be a serious candidate until I got a gander at his political campaign posters for mayor. They looked like the ones he had just used to run for congress.
On New Year's Eve, Davis dropped out of the race. What is very interesting is that as a seasoned politician, Davis knows full well that there are dates one needs to respect to withdraw from the race. Dropping out in a timely fashion means it keeps their name from appearing on the ballot. Davis missed that deadline. His name may still be on the ballot and any votes that go to him will not be counted. Thus the votes for him won't be looked at as part of the 50 percent plus one that a candidate needs to win to garner the office. I'll let you all judge whether that was a political oops or a calculated action.
What makes me sick of the political games I see being played is that it is done with no regards for the lives of the people who are affected by it. Politicians are cutting deals and conveniently dropping out of the race. Rumors are spreading like wildfire that Braun is going to dropout next. If her "I'm in it to win it" speech is repeatedly met with her other new retort, "Because I don't want to" we are in trouble. Gaffes like that shouldn't be done by a seasoned politician. Plus it makes me wonder the seriousness of a candidate who even before taking office is giving us the finger and expecting the voters of this city to take whatever mess they have to dole out.
My advice is for everyone to begin to seriously follow who is running for mayor and their position. The race for mayor needs to be about issues and not celebrity - especially when the so-called leading candidate spent Christmas not only outside this city but the country to boot. I guess we know where Rahm Emanuel's priorities lie and it isn't among the average citizenry.
We need to hear solutions and not excuses. How will the next mayor solve the huge unemployment rate here on the West Side amongst so many young black men? What are the plans for all the vacant land on the West Side? Can the Brach site become a Black Entertainment Complex to offer thousands of jobs to local residents if Chicago is to get a land based casino? The questions we need to ask are staggering.
I recently got a flyer about the West Side NAACP candidate forum and it didn't include either William "Dock" Walls or Patricia Van Pelt Watkins, both candidates for mayor. Both are West Siders and it is sickening to know that an organization that is representing this side of town doesn't include everyone in a debate that is so important to our future. The race for mayor is for an open seat just like your vote can be given to whomever you please. Demand to hear from all the candidates. Our future depends on knowing who has the plans and solutions for the future of this city, and who is just a figurehead likely to lead it down the same tired path.
Lastly, it is again time to focus on politics every Sunday night. Tune in to the Garfield Major Show on 1450 AM from 10 p.m. until midnight. There you will hear from many of the candidates for both mayor and alderman. Call 773-591-8000 and be heard.
Coming to an end is 2010, and I'm just glad I "made it." I'm still living and breathing. The struggle to hold on this past year has been immeasurable. But I did it by putting my pride to the side and taking on jobs that helped me keep my head above water. So I am grateful for what I have and optimistic about what will come in 2011.
As always, it is time for me to review my year of columns. No issue was of greater importance than the loss of my colleague Delores McCain. The stilling of her voice has had a major impact on this paper. Delores and I traveled in many of the same circles, and it is still strange to go places and not see her there. I do enjoy seeing the previously published Streetbeat columns. But with so many pressing issues out here for people to voice their opinions on, it leaves a huge void as to what people are currently thinking.
Politics as usual played a major role in many of my writings. From the race to become the new president of the Cook County Board to the governor's race, we saw the fall of Stroger while Quinn was able to hold onto his seat by the slimmest of margins. We even had Tavis Smiley show up with his symposium on the "Black Agenda." Yet months later, nothing has truly come of it as it was just another opportunity for people to posture without purpose.
One of the continuous themes of my columns was what is good about living on this side of town. Over the course of the year, I wrote about Douglas High School. The children there want a future and a good education and are seeking it in spite of it not being a proper high school. I got to meet DeAndre Robinson, a young man whose future is bright and who has already declared he will one day be mayor of this city. DeAndre represents the young people of Chicago who, rather than bemoan what they don't have, takes a look at what is available and sees how to make it work. That kind of ingenuity has always been at the forefront of the black experience in this country.
Two other hidden gems are hospitals. Loretto Hospital specializes in the treatment of addiction while Hartgrove Hospital does the same for mental illness. Both diseases are plagues that we don't often speak about within the black community. Thankfully, we have a place and specialists to help heal those problems.
We had several of what I call "stunt" events. State Rep. LaShawn Ford's call to bring out the National Guard garnered headlines, led him to host a huge meeting, but the issue fizzled after that. The shootings and mayhem continue. A study published by some "deep thinkers" claimed that the West Side Wal-Mart caused businesses as far away as Roosevelt and Western to Harlem and Irving to shut down. To believe that people would drive past the HIP shopping plaza to come to Wal-Mart on our side of town is farfetched to say the least. Plus, they could easily zip further north to go to the one in Niles.
Is there anyone who believes that Supt. Weis' decision to call in "gang leaders" and threaten to arrest them for the crimes of their members was anything more than a stunt? Months later, the killings are still occurring, and I'm not seeing headlines about those so-called leaders going to jail. If our society doesn't hold parents responsible for their children's actions, how are we going to hold their so-called gang leaders' feet to the fire?
I spent over a month letting everyone know about how Bethel New Life fired local workers who were doing a good job in exchange for hiring new workers. Then there was the flood that brought as much as 6 feet of water into some people's basements. Many of us are still recovering from that event. One local homeowner had a minor fire, then watched her entire house flattened by the authorities, which should make all of us leery because if it happened to her, it can happen to the rest of us.
The final quarter of the year has brought the news that will dominate the first quarter of 2011. That was the decision by Daley not to seek re-election. That brought candidates, whom we haven't seen or heard from in ages, out the woodwork, all wanting to be the next mayor of Chicago. The new year will have all of them going full force and I can't wait for it.
If you've ever gotten an e-mail from me, I end it with an African Proverb: On the day of victory, no one will be tired. That proverb has served me well in terms of hoping for/expecting/wanting a victory so some of our social ills can be solved and have a definitive end.
Until that day comes, there are agencies that have committed themselves to the process of helping us one day arrive at that "victory." Last week Tuesday, I got a chance to attend the 10th annual meeting to hear a report on Sankofa Safe Child Initiative (SSCI). They are located at 1500 S. Keeler in the North Lawndale community. The meeting was held at the brand new Hartgrove Hospital, 5730 W. Roosevelt Road.
The partnership between those two agencies is a perfect fit. Sankofa, which means "looking back to go forward," has taken on several areas of social need. One of their biggest initiatives is focusing on grandparents/kinship caregivers raising children and youth who have aged out of foster care. To accommodate those families, they built Sankofa House, a five-story, 58-unit residential facility at 4041 W. Roosevelt Road. SSCI also offers services in job training, life skill, parenting classes, GED, expungement, child care and counseling/mentoring, just to name a few. They also offer a wonderful boutique, It's In The Bag, at 2413 W. Madison.
SSCI is the brainchild of Executive Director Annetta Wilson, who is barely 5 feet tall, but what she lacks in physical height she makes up for in energy put forth. She has given her best to SSCI and demands the same of her staff.
One of the questions I posed to Mrs. Wilson was how SSCI ended up partnering with Hartgrove Hospital. For years she had known Chuck Levy the Community Relations representative from the hospital. Because of their mutual concern about issues on the West Side, they developed a personal relationship which led to a business arrangement as well.
For years, I have driven by Hartgrove Hospital's site at 520 N. Ridgeway. I knew they dealt with mental health issues, but that issue wasn't on my immediate radar. About three years ago, the hospital moved to the new location on Roosevelt Road. Attending the annual report meeting was the first time I had been at the new facility, and I admit I didn't know it was there. I do remember when the land was vacant and plans had been announced for the new development that would occur on it. But I also have to admit the furthest I had ventured was into the new Aldi's on south Central Avenue.
Hartgrove Hospital's new building is beautiful and the staff was very pleasant. They offer services for all age groups who have behavioral issues. They are especially concerned about children and adolescents who display sexually problematic behavior. Other services include substance abuse, neuropsychiatric inpatient services, self-injury services, and corresponding services in Spanish.
I want to keep highlighting the little-known-but-positive forces at work here on the West Side. When places such as SSCI and Hartgrove Hospital are put on people's radar, then we know where we can go or send our love ones for treatment. And when those persons have been treated and are "cured," that is a victory we all can celebrate.
Merry Christmas and Celebrate Kwanzaa. I'll be at Malcolm X every day, beginning the day after Christmas, as part of the Chicago Black Author's Network. It goes on each day through New Year's Day, and there is plenty of free parking. Come out and join in the activities.
LISTEN TO LIVE EVERY SUNDAY WRLL 1450 AM - 10pm UNTIL 12am
Sunday, Garfield Major's show, “Talking To The People” on WRLL 1450 AM from ten until midnight. Call 773-591-6777. To reach Garfield Major, call 773-638-8462 or 8463.
Also visit ONIXLINK.COM to see my postings under the Writer's Block section.
EMAIL ME: WESTSIDE2DAY@YAHOO.COM
Arlene Jones' Biography
I was born in Chicago. I grew up in Cabrini Green. I attended Wells Sr High, the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle where I majored in Spanish and minored in Education. I have a diploma in Computer Programming.
I moved to Austin when I purchased a home here. I have two children.
I have been active in the community since moving here. I started with my blockclub. In the early 1990s, I worked with several people to try and form the North Austin Homeowners Association. I even went on patrol with a group of people who had a walkie talkie car patrol of the neighborhood.
As with most programs in the AA community, many factors led to the demise of those groups. Lack of support from elected officials was at the top of the list.
There were several people who had a group and we met out of DaVinci Manor. DaVinci Manor was at the corner of North Ave and Central where Walgreen now stands. Again there was very little interest in saving that building and our community lost a beautiful hall.
I have protested the state of the Central Ave bridge. I worked with Leola Spann and did many a smoke out including one in the 1500 block of North Lorel where drug paraphenalia layed on the ground. I have over the years here in Austin worked with the following groups at one point or another:
Northeast Austin Organization (Mary Volpe, Tom Hosea);
Northwest Austin Council;
Brotherhood of Black Men;
Westside Health Authority;
Every Block A Village;
25th District Housing Committee;
African American Employees at the Merchandise Mart (AAEMM);
Lafollette Park Advisory Council;
Garfield Park Conservatory Advisory Council;
Westside Executive Advisory Council;
Austin Landmark Cultural Center;
Concerned Citizens of East Garfield Park
and so many others that it gets hard to remember.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. -- Malcolm X