Thursday, November 08, 2007

Where's the Outrage? Where's the Anger?

I just got the second installment on my tax bill and the amount went up over 75 percent. That was after I had gone to the Board of Review and appealed my taxes. Otherwise my taxes would have gone up over 100 percent. As our elected officials continue to spend tax dollars as if we are supposed to work for them, I have a question: Where is the anger and where is the outrage?
One of my best friends called me up. She's selling her house and moving to the southern suburbs. She can no longer take the filth and drug dealers on every corner. She's been very active in the community but can't take it here anymore. As Austin continues to lose good people like her every day, I have a question: Where is the anger and where is the outrage?
We have had a number of young black men shot and killed in Chicago for who knows what reasons. Earl "Tony" Hughes was the latest to die. He was shot and killed a block from my house. When there is a fire in the community and people die, firemen go door-to-door passing out fliers and smoke detectors. Yet when a young man is murdered, why haven't we seen an initiative from the CPD to go door-to-door, passing out fliers, and asking people to report anything they might have seen? We have a cold-blooded murderer running loose on the streets of Austin. I have a question: Where is the anger and where is the outrage?
In 1988, people in the North Austin community marched at the corner of North and Cicero avenues, demanding that the CTA move their bus barn from that location so we could get a grocery store and shopping center on that corner. It took 14 years to get Washington Square Plaza. After losing Cub foods, we went through the holiday season last year without a grocery store. Now a year later, the shuttered location which was home to that crappy Grand Mart International (ha ha, now that's a joke!) food store is gone, and we again will go through a holiday season without a grocery store. I have a question: Where is the anger and where is the outrage?
Mayor Daley recently announced he was going to cut back on the amount of property tax increases he was requesting in his 2008 city budget. First he asked for a huge increase and proclaimed the money was needed, then he backtracks and claims the city can function on less. It makes me wonder if the initial increase was just pure greed for all his pet projects and to make us pay for all the cost overruns (just think Millennium Park and O'Hare Airport) and lawsuit damages paid out for the behavior of rogue cops. I have a question: Where is the anger and where is the outrage?
The CTA just put many of its riders through mental hell-twice. In proclaiming that the agency didn't have money and was about to shut down a number of bus lines, the CTA also managed to place on every bus stop a colored notice. The CTA also took out a full color ad in a number of newspapers telling us about their pending financial crisis. It's amazing-the CTA could on one hand threaten the safety and livelihoods of the people who need it the most while spending money for color posters and ads. I have a question: Where is the anger and where is the outrage?
Every year about now we get reports about the lack of city contracts to black people. Every year our black aldermen act like it is a surprise to see that we get so little of the money we pay in taxes coming back to our community. Every year the aldermen puff up their chests and act outraged while every other ethnic group in this city reaps the reward of city contracts and we who represent almost 50 percent of the city population receive a paltry 9 percent of the contracts. I have a question: Where is the anger and where is the outrage?
Sadly, I have an answer to my own question about the anger and outrage.
There isn't any!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Are you Joshua or are you Moses?

I offer sympathy to the family of Blair Holt. He was the young honor student killed last week on the bus at 103rd and Ada.

Since his murder, I've been seeing many of the usual suspects. The mayor harps on gun control-but not on unemployment issues, inflation, misuse of monies by the public schools for security, lack of after-school activities as well as poor funding for the park district-as the main factor. To him, it's just gun control.

Once the mayor speaks, we can be assured that 99 percent of our black elected officials will say nothing. The ministers got on the bus, prayed and sang. Yet the average business district block in the black community filled with storefront churches that employ no one and that are closed more than they are open. Do those churches really grasp the community needs or are they just part-time visitors to it?

Callers to WVON 1690-AM spewed forth opinions and solutions. One caller wants "them" all shipped off to an Alcatraz-type island, another blames the white man, and even more just call on God.

Truthfully, I don't think those in the "status quo" of authority are interested in doing or changing anything. Why? Let's go back to the case of Robert "Yummy" Sandifer. Many have forgotten what happened in August and September 1994. So allow me refresh your memories.
In August of 1994, a beautiful 14-year-old black girl named Shavon Dean was shot and killed. Just like Blair Holt, she was the innocent victim when some gang members got to shooting. Her murder sent shivers through Roseland, and the police came down hard looking for the shooter.

The heat was on because of her murder and many criminal activities had to be curtailed.
The police began to focus on a suspect. Robert "Yummy" Sandifer. He was called Yummy because of his love of cookies and junk food. He was well known throughout the Roseland community and because of his association with the Black Disciples. He and his "crew" were known to sell drugs, steal, and set fires. When news got around to the rest of his gang members that the police were looking for Yummy, others members of his gang got nervous. If Yummy was caught and started talking, a lot of them would be in trouble. So the word was put out on the street to take Yummy out.

Two of his fellow gang members, Derrick Hardaway, 16, and his brother Cragg, 14, both honor students, lured Yummy into a viaduct. He was found days later shot twice in the back of the head-execution style!

By the way, for those who have long forgotten, Yummy was 11 years old at the time of his death.
Derrick was sentenced to 45 years in jail and Cragg to 60.

After the murder of Yummy and the incarceration of the Hardaway brothers, there was outrage-outrage that lasted a while. But then it faded, and now here we are, 13 years later and the same-o-same-o has again happened. Children with a gun killing another child. Many of the same folks who were outraged 13 years ago are outraged today. But 13 years after the deaths of Shavon and Yummy, can anyone tell me anything what has been put into place so a senseless murder of one child by another won't ever happen again?

Well, truthfully and sadly, not much has changed.

As we look at the black community, where are the jobs for our teenagers? Had there been after-school activities, would Blair still have ended up dead? The city constantly cries broke while having money for Olympics bids, for Looptopia and for every whim the mayor fancies. That's how the mayor can give Loyola, a private institution, up to $46 million in TIF funds even though it doesn't pay taxes. We can have, as the Chicago Reader pointed out last week, young black kids who are hurdlers practicing in the hallways at Lane Tech because we don't have a single indoor fieldhouse for any of the public schools. Worst, the city is getting ready to give Ziegler Financial, a $3.2 billion investment company, $2.7 million to consolidate its offices in downtown Chicago.

As adults, we permit, tolerate, and, basically by doing nothing, encourage what has been going on to keep going on. We are not mad. We are not angry. We aren't even sick and tired of being sick and tired. Instead we've given up. We sit transfixed by the television and await the riches the prosperity ministries say we're due.

There's a popular sermon that many progressive ministers are giving. It's called the Joshua/Moses Syndrome. The premise of that sermon is that although Moses was used to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land, it was Joshua who was destined to lead them to possess the land. It's the same thing when it comes to ending violence by young people against young people.

So my heart and soul were lifted as I looked at the front pages of the papers and saw the young students from Julian High School walking out and marching to end the violence. March on you young Joshuas! And to the Moses, please just go somewhere and sit down! Your job is done!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Power of Words

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Disclaimer: The following story is entirely a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely co-incidental.

Carmen woke up upon hearing the loud bang on the door. As she crawled out of bed and peeked through her bedroom door, she could hear the loud male voices. She saw guns. Really big guns! She heard the men screaming to her mother, "Where is Cortez?" "We want Cortez!"

Her father was hiding by the side of her bed. As her mother pointed to the bedroom door, Carmen saw the word ICE on the back of their coats. She had seen that word on the TV news. She had seen men taken away in handcuffs and now they were here at her house. Even though Carmen was only 6 years old, her eyes grew wide as she read that word again and looked at her father.

Suddenly the door flew open. The men dressed in black grabbed her daddy and threw him across the bed. Her father shouted, "I know what I did was wrong. It was illegal. But I had to feed my family." Cortez pointed to Carmen and then to the baby sleeping in his crib. The men in the black jackets didn't care. "Come with us," they shouted as they handcuffed him and took him from the house.

Carmen ran from the room and found her mother. "Why are they doing that to my daddy?" she cried. Carmen looked at her father and thought of how much she loved playing with him before he went to work. Every day, Carmen would watch from her bedroom window as her father and the other men would gather on the corner. As a car pulled up, the men would surge toward it. Each of the men, just like her daddy, had children and the money they made would go toward feeding those children.

Carmen and her daddy had a special routine. Every day as he got to the corner, he would pretend to search the sky for her. Carmen would jump up and down and wave until finally her daddy waved back. No matter the weather, they played the same game. When it was cold, Cortez would take off his cap and wave it. When it was raining, he would lift the hood of his jacket back and give her the biggest grin.

Every day they did this and now Carmen's daddy was gone!
Carmen threw herself upon her bed. She grabbed the covers tightly and pulled them close to her nose so she could smell the cologne her daddy always wore. She thought back to the night before when she had snuck out of bed to listen to her mommy and daddy talk. Carmen wasn't able to hear the entire conversation, but what she did hear were words like "illegal," "trouble," and "if they come for me." She even heard her father tell her mother what to do in case he didn't come home. Her mother had cried and begged her father not to go. Cortez told his wife he had to take the risk. He had to work. Years ago he had wanted to be a roofing contractor or maybe even involved in lawn care by doing professional landscape architecture. But he didn't have his papers to do it.

Now as Carmen and her mother watched, the men in the black vests escorted her father to the car in the street. Carmen could see her father's head hanging low. Tears ran down Carmen's face as her father was placed into the back of the car. Her father looked up one last time at the window. This time he didn't wave. He couldn't. His hands were cuffed and as the car prepared to drive off, Carmen could see tears rolling down her father's face. Cortez had never wanted his children to see him like this. As he mumbled to the men getting in the car about just wanting to feed his kids, they told him they didn't care.

"We are a nation of laws and you have broken the law. Whatever your reasons, our job is to uphold the law. If you don't like the law, why didn't you and all your friends do something about it? You should have marched. You should have protested. You should have held a rally and gotten the mayor and all the politicians to come to it and speak about how they could help you. You should have had the Cook County board declare the county a sanctuary for you. How come with three congressmen in this city, all three of them don't use their position to always call attention to your issues? Why don't they tie your issues to any legislation pending that gives amnesty to those who immigrated here illegally?"

Oh, by the way, Cortez's last name is Johnson. And no, he's not an illegal immigrant. He is a previously incarcerated individual and a street pharmacist (ex-offender & drug dealer). The men in black coats were the POLICE and in Illinois, ex-offenders cannot be a roofing contractor or do professional landscape architecture or even become a barber without a license. To get a license, they have to be granted "a waiver based on internal criteria as well as the type of conviction (non-violent, misdemeanor or felony). A waiver is determined on a case-by-case basis by each occupational licensing committee."
This story doesn't have an ending "moral" like in most fairy tales, but it is a reminder of the power that words have. Those words can paint a picture. They can make you think one way or have the exact opposite meaning. If I had you believing that the story was about an illegal alien, read it again.

Words do have power. Our constitution is made up of words. The Ten Commandments are words. Every human being on this planet has developed language which is nothing more than words. That's why terms such as "previously incarcerated individual" sound better than "ex-offender" or "ex-convict" and "street pharmacist" is more palatable than "drug dealer."
As our politicians sit down to discuss what to do about illegal immigrants, let us remind them that we have ex-felons who need their help first and foremost. Any path to citizenship/legalization for illegals must include a path to expungement/restitution for ex-offenders. With 25,000 ex-offenders returning to Chicago annually, prisons should be about reform and offer them real opportunities so that we are not the victims of their recidivism. They are U.S. citizens and, most importantly, they have paid the jail time price that this society has placed on them. Their issues should be placed before legalizing those whose mere presence is breaking the law.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Rap Mogel Russel Simmons wants to ban some words finally

Is this real or just a stunt?


Hip-hop's Simmons wants to remove offensive words
By Daniel TrottaMon Apr 23, 2:27 PM ET
Prominent U.S. hip-hop executive Russell Simmons on Monday recommended eliminating the words "bitch," "ho" and "nigger" from the recording industry, considering them "extreme curse words."
The call comes less than two weeks after radio personality Don Imus' nationally syndicated and televised radio show was canceled amid public outcry over Imus calling a women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos."
Simmons, co-founder of the Def Jam label and a driving force behind hip-hop's huge commercial success, called for voluntary restrictions on the words and setting up an industry watchdog to recommend guidelines for lyrical and visual standards.
"We recommend that the recording and broadcast industries voluntarily remove/bleep/delete the misogynistic words 'bitch' and 'ho' and the racially offensive word 'nigger'," Simmons and Benjamin Chavis, co-chairmen of the advocacy group Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, said in a statement.
"These three words should be considered with the same objections to obscenity as 'extreme curse words'," it said.
Ho is slang for whore and commonly used in hip-hop music while nigger, a derogatory term for blacks, is among the most highly charged insults in American culture. The slur "nappy," used by Imus, describes the tightly curled hair of many African Americans.
Monday's statement changed course from another one by Simmons and Chavis dated April 13, a day after Imus' show was canceled, in which they said offensive references in hip-hop "may be uncomfortable for some to hear, but our job is not to silence or censor that expression."
The Imus controversy stoked a debate in the United States about how to deal with inflammatory words that are widely considered highly offensive but at the same time commonly and casually used in youth culture.
U.S. black leaders such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have led the charge to suppress offensive words while many artists have argued for freedom of expression. New York City declared a symbolic moratorium on the so-called N-word in February.
"Our internal discussions with industry leaders are not about censorship. Our discussions are about the corporate social responsibility of the industry to voluntarily show respect to African Americans and other people of color, African American women and to all women in lyrics and images," the statement from Simmons and Chavis said on Monday.
The network recommended the formation of a Coalition on Broadcast Standards that would consist of leading executives from music, radio and television.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Is there anyone in Austin planning a Kitchen Remodel?

I want to do a series in the paper about a remodeling project. I prefer it to be a kitchen. If you know of anyone who is looking at getting this done and is willing to have their kitchen featured in the paper, let me know. Post a message out here or call me at 773.622.3863 and let me know.

Predictions on the New City Council

Wow! So many new people going into the city council. What will the new faces bring? Will Daley ride all over them, or will there actually be some questions and discussions going on? Let's watch and see!

Nappy Headed Hoes - Don Imus

Of course I had to write about Don Imus' ignorant comment. But as usual, it is always from a different perspective. So if you're brave, walk up to a black woman and ask her what would happen if you called her a "nappy headed hoe". But be careful, the physical reaction may be swifter than the verbal response!

Congratulations Alderman Elect Sharon Denise Dixon

Micheal Chandler was defeated. The 24th ward now has a bright, young and articulate alderman in Sharon Denise Dixon. I heard her on WVON and she had the correct message. Reaching out to the community. None of the 'I did this all by myself" routine.

I hope all the candidates who didn't win in the 24th ward will reach out to this sista and help her address and resolve all the issues going on in the ward.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Yup, while the average property owner and taxpayer will be at work on Tuesday April 24, 2007 at 9:00 am, Alderman Emma Mitts will host a meeting about the TIF for this neighborhood. Guess she'll get the seniors and the unemployed. The majoirity of taxpayers will be working to pay all the new taxes that we will get hit with come this fall.

Death of Two Traffic Aides in under 2 months

We had had two traffic aides killed in the past month. What they both had in common was the drivers were Hispanic and neither driver had a license. Who is buying (other than our State Rep like Deborah Graham, LaShawn Ford, Art Turner) that giving Illegal Aliens licenses will make our streets safer? I hope to not see the day where one gets the special Drivers Certificate and commits a Drive By shooting. In fact if you check out the Houston Chronical, you will see where Mexicans are shooting up and down the expressways as they fight over who gets to bring groups of illegals into the country.

Virginia Tech Shooter

That young man was a genuine nut case. His innocent pictures that were posted all over the web are now being replaced by the tape he sent NBC where he rants about a whole bunch of mess. The saddest part in all of this was the lost of Ryan Clark a young African American who had so much potential.

It is amazing that in the black community we don't have a lot of mental cases just shooting for no reason. Perhaps the reason for that is that we have enough folks with guns to shoot back?

Aldermanic Special Elections

I was very sorry to see that Dorothy Tillman lost. Let us be perfectly clear. Those who are now hooping and hollering in support of Pat Dowell had better make sure that the BLACK COMMUNITY will benefit from the change of leadership.

It was very interesting to see on the news reports how the 3rd Ward has some of the most VALUABLE LAND IN TOWN. I was reading on another web site that the University of Chicago may now do their thing and begin to take the land.

We as a people must remember that our community doesn't receive a lot of investment that will benefit us. If there are those investing in our communit, you can be guaranteed that they are planning on making lots of money off of us and giving us little to nothing in return.

So let's keep a close eye on the 3rd wall for the next four years to see who the real winners and losers are.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Why are some parts of Austin so filthy? Why is garbage and trash on so many side streets? When do we take ownership of not just our homes, but this community?
What needs to be done to start a campaign to end the litter too many people place on our streets?

Read my column at:

Sunday, March 11, 2007

When "Being Right" is the Worst Thing to Be.....

Here is my column from November 22, 2006. Followed by the news report of the death of Julian "Jay" Alamillo.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006Ever wondered why there's no traffic light at Wal-Mart?

Arlene JonesWednesday, November 22, 2006

I have a confession. I'm a conspiracy theorist to the "nth" degree. Now I am not paranoid. Nor am I jaded. But some things do strike me as curious and make me wonder, "Is it just me?" Let me give you a couple of examples.
I normally don't ride the "el" to work. But I got a couple of chances last month to do so. When the Lake Street "el" arrived at Laramie, it was crowded. There was only one seat empty and a woman had all of her bags and books sitting on it. I didn't want to stand the entire way downtown, so I walked up to her and told her she had to move her stuff so I could sit down.
She eyed me and then decided perhaps it was better to move her stuff than to pretend she didn't hear or understand me. As the "el" went downtown, I listened to every message announcement that went over the air. No music playing. No eating or drinking. Look out for strange or abandoned packages. By the time the "el" made it to Ashland, I heard a message I hadn't heard before. That message told passengers to keep their stuff off of the seats so that others can sit down. Hmmm, I thought. We went through the entire black West Side and not once did the message play to remind passengers to move their stuff from the seat. But as soon as the neighborhood changed at Ashland, all of a sudden the message is given out.
I didn't notice it just that first time. I noticed it again the next week when I again had to take the train downtown. This time a young man had all of his gear on the seat, and I had to ask him to move it so that I could sit down. If you ride the Green Line, listen to those messages and let me know if you notice the same thing. Especially those who get on the train before Laramie. It would be interesting to note just what kind of messages play between Austin and Laramie.
I heard a caller on the radio take offense at researchers and others who claim that "soul food" is bad for you. She pointed out that the food sustained our ancestors through the worst of time, and now it's supposed to be bad for you? Her comparison of a pot of greens with a little smoked pork meat in it to a pizza loaded with pork and cheese made me wonder. Is the attack on soul fool real concern for the diet of African Americans or is it a ploy to get us to give up eating the foods that sustained us for 400 years? Pig is pig and fat is fat.
I was looking up an e-mail address at my job. As I read some of the names of the programmers from India, I must question how "black" names (you know the ones we like to name our children; LaTonya, Shenice, Ebony, etc) can be any different from the other ethnic names like Sandeep, Manpreet or Mukesh? Those are some common names in India where many American companies have moved their data processing facilities. They have no problem hiring people with strange sounding names until it comes to black folks.
Lastly, I have noticed that the new Wal-Mart has several young people out front wearing yellow vests and directing traffic. North Avenue doesn't have a single stop light from Cicero to Kostner. Those drivers driving westbound go underneath the railroad tracks where the street dips below street level and then come back up. I hope and pray that before a major accident (there has already been one bad accident in front of Wal-Mart since it opened) a real stop light is installed so those young people do not have to risk their lives attempting to direct traffic.
I predicted months ago that the traffic on North, Cicero, and Grand avenues will be a mess from the day after Thanksgiving thru Jan. 2, 2007. Let's hope I'm wrong. But with bad winter weather coming and those young people standing in the middle of the street, that is the prefect recipe for disaster. Let's hope the city installs traffic signals before a major catastrophe happens.


Traffic aide dies 3 days after hit by vehicle

Tribune staff reportMarch 10, 2007, 9:56 PM CSTA Chicago traffic control aide died Saturday of injuries he suffered earlier this week when he was struck by a motorist, officials said.Julian "Jay" Alamillo, 44, is the first Traffic Management Authority aide ever to die in line of duty, said Andrew Velasquez III, executive director of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.Alamillo was directing traffic Wednesday on the West Side when a "reckless and impatient" motorist struck him, Velasquez said. Details were unavailable Saturday, but Chicago police said the accident was not a hit-and-run."His loss will echo in the minds of his colleagues, but his death should resonate even louder of the minds of motorists," Velasquez said.In addition to working for the city, Alamillo worked at O'Hare International Airport for Continental Airlines, according to family members who recalled Alamillo as an outgoing man "with a deep love of food and family," according to OEMC.Funeral arrangements for Alamillo are scheduled for next Saturday at Mount Auburn Funeral Home in Stickney.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Where Do We Go From Here?

Losing an election is an eye opening experience. But meeting new people that live in the ward is always fantastic.

As we move forward, what do you want to see in the community?