Thursday, December 31, 2009


I can't believe it! Another year is coming to an end, and it's time to write a recap for 2009. Sadly, I can take what I wrote at the end of 2008, just update the year and the same column would be as accurate for this year as it was for last year. I have a constant theme that flows throughout the 52 columns I write each year. For 2009, the theme was "Pay Attention." And many of you did just that.

One of the biggest benefactors of that theme was President Obama. He has many defenders who have taken to the Internet and airwaves to refute the many unfair attacks against him. From the sick cartoon of a dead monkey shot by two police officers to the "Pray for Obama T-shirt," his defenders have been out there defraying the attacks.

Youth violence continues to be a subject the black community cannot ignore. The brutal murder of Derrion Albert wasn't just "caught on tape;" it was filmed by those I call "spectator participants." The person holding the cellphone camera never attempted to call 911. From the ignorance of those who used planks and boards to kill Derrion to the ones who stood around and watched, the black community has been forced to "pay attention" because we were forced to finally look at what some of our young people are capable of doing.

But Derrion's murder isn't the only crime going on. We still have too many shootings, robberies, and crimes in general being perpetrated by those who can't even buy a drink. I am waiting to see if we can get a black candidate to run for any office on a "law and order" ticket. I went to Cook County Jail this Christmas with Rainbow Push to see the number of jail inmates in there who are African-American, and it wasn't a happy sight. Out of the 600 or so inmates who came to the service, about 100 were women and 90 percent of those were black.

I am very proud when I see all of Chicago finally paying attention to what is going on in this city. Last winter, I watched with a smile as Northsiders got irate when the mayor claimed that shoveling snow from the side streets wasn't in the budget. We also had the entire city up in arms because of the parking meter fiasco. And if we really want to show that we're paying attention, we need to have our state or federal legislators overturn the parking contract because no mayor or city council should have the right to place a 75-year burden that digs into the pockets of city residents. It's outrageous to lease out existing meters, then add additional meters in areas that didn't have a meter before.

Chicagoans also paid attention so much that the IOC saw through the smoke-and-mirror screen and awarded the Olympics to Brazil. No one did a happier dance than I because the Olympics would have been the excuse to eradicate a lot of black neighborhoods.

I won't keep going on and on because I've already done that with the columns I wrote. So as I say goodbye to 2009, I ask each of you to continue to "Pay Attention" to what is going on.

Happy New Year and keep reading this column and supporting this newspaper in 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Celebrate Kwanzaa

'Twas the night before Kwanzaa and all through the land,

The Seven Principles of that week were scheduled to go on as planned.

From the very first day, Umoja, which means Unity,

It's a time for all to come together,

For an event that's always free.

The second day, Kujichagulia, espouses Self-Determination,

It says your future isn't happenstance,

But can be controlled by your education.

The third day, Ujima, stands for Collective Work and Responsibility,

No more "you" or "I" but coming together

To form the combined strength of "we."

The fourth day, Ujama, means Cooperative Economics,

Pool our resources together

And make believers out of cynics.

The fifth day, Nia, tells us we have a Purpose,

To those who work to defeat our goals

Their actions should be called Judas.

The sixth day, Kuumba, celebrates Creativity,

That our talents, gifts and ingenuity

Have never had a set limit or boundary.

The seventh and final day, Imani, is about our Faith,

For we exist in this universe

As a small part of God's estate.

If you have never taken the opportunity to celebrate Kwanzaa, give it a try this year. The seven principles are ones that everybody in the entire world can embrace. Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Van Buren will host its 15th Annual Kwanzaa Celebration this year for the entire seven days. This year's event is titled, "Honoring our Elders for Preserving our Cultural Heritage." The event is free and open to the public with plenty of free parking. I'll be there for all seven days so come out and meet me, pick up a copy of my book and celebrate the season.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Some good deeds are probably getting punished

I thought I could get through the month of December without doing any heavy-hitting columns. I wanted to keep things "light" because this is the Christmas season. But the reality is that this is a far different holiday season from any in recent memory. This is a season that lacks good tidings and there is very little comfort and joy. But what this seasons seems to have plenty of is the "bah, humbug" dispositions from so many individuals.

Perhaps because this year has been so rough, what is still true for the season is that we can hear the hark. And the hark this year came in the form of Rev. Al Sharpton. He was the keynote speaker at last Saturday's Pre-Kwanzaa Festival sponsored by WVON 1690-AM and held at the UIC forum.

Rev. Sharpton is carried on the station as the midday talk show host. I was skeptical about him, when he first came on the air, because I had been influenced by the media's portrayal of him. But after listening to him for the past couple of years, I, along with a lot of other people, have been converted into supporters. His ability to analyze a situation and hit the nail on the head was even more evident when he spoke before a room filled to capacity. From his never once needing to use a note as he addressed the crowd (for at least 45 minutes) to his "keep it real and call it like he sees it" speech, he brought many in the crowd to their feet more than once.

The crowd was very interesting, too. Because of the university setting, there were more young people in the room than I normally see at such an event. They, too, were applauding and cheering in agreement with Rev. Al - until Sharpton spoke on the subject that hit a little too close to home. When he spoke about why we are the only race to use a notorious pejorative term about ourselves and try to validate it by claiming we do it out of love, the young people in the crowed grew silent. Suddenly, it wasn't funny when they were on the receiving end.

Rev. Al didn't stop with critiquing the young. He got on black Chicagoans for having once had the mayoral seat, only to lose it to the son of the man who did us the most harm. He used a wonderful analogy as it applied to Tiger Woods, reminding us that it's no good to be an airplane if we don't have a place to land and without an airport, our only option is to crash and burn.

Now for a change of subject: I have, over the past couple of weeks, watched the race for Cook County Board president continue to take center stage. As I paid attention to all the shenanigans going on regarding that race, I have concluded one thing. When it comes to Todd Stroger, the old adage that "no good deed goes unpunished" soon came to mind.

Watching how he has been attacked by so many in the media has led me to use what my granny would call "convoluted black folks logic." What do I mean by that? Well if so many in the media, including the Better Government Association, have made it their business to dog out the County Board president, then he must be doing something very right in order to elicit so much criticism.

If so many are upset with what he's doing, then he must be helping black folks; otherwise they wouldn't care. He must be doing something very right and doing a very good deed in order to reap the punishment of criticism he's been getting. Because if you believe Daley is doing badly and no one says a word about him, then it's obvious that Stroger must be doing good in order to generate so much negative press.

And, yes, I know that the half-penny sales tax increase did put many in the collar areas near the border of this county in a catch-22. But is the issue that many have with Stroger really about half a penny or the billions of dollars he controls as part of the Cook County budget?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

There Is Still Much To Be Grateful For

From Thanksgiving Day through Imani (Jan. 1, the last day of Kwanzaa) is the season of giving thanks. And even during this rough - and it is very rough - economic time, there is still plenty to give thanks for.

I am most grateful for just being, as I like to say, "living and breathing." There are so many people who didn't live to see this holiday season. Some died naturally. Too many met their end because of gun, street and/or domestic violence. Still others took their own lives, unable to cope with the pressures this society placed on them (or that they placed on themselves).

I have been blessed with relatively good health. Last Friday I attended the annual Seniors on the Move Christmas party and was pleased to see so many of them in attendance, laughing, dancing and having a good time. To me, there is nothing more inspirational than to see our elders enjoying life. Theirs are the footsteps I want to walk in as I, too, traverse the road to getting old.

I am grateful for my children. They both have turned out to be fine adults. I am especially grateful that my son is beginning to reflect all of the hard work I put into raising him. He has strayed off the right path a few times, but has always veered back onto it. He is also demonstrating that all those lectures I put him through, when he didn't want to listen, did pay off. I highly recommend that parents drive their children to the places they want to go. It's the best time in the world to give them those lectures, plus they can't so easily avoid listening when you're in the car together. As my son recognized that car time was talk time, he began to prefer catching the bus rather than having to listen to me. That didn't hurt my feelings because it caused him to grow up and eliminated me from the role of chauffeur.

I am grateful for this newspaper. I always pick up free community newspapers all over the city and this small paper with limited resources does a fantastic job of keeping this community informed. I am not an employee but rather a freelance journalist for it. However, even I am amazed at how many times this paper puts together so many different sources into a comprehensive and fluid piece of journalism, rivaling what the daily newspapers put out.

I am grateful for the Austin community. I've lived here for 20 years, and this community has some of the best people in the world living and working here. As a community, we still need to do better when it comes to our main thoroughfares. There is still too much littering, especially near the bus stop by Save-A-Lot at North and Central avenues. Our redevelopment of a viable black-owned commercial district is processing slowly but steadily. It is a pleasure to hear that the 5800 block of West Chicago Avenue is still going ahead and working on becoming a stronger commercial hub, with a planned mural celebrating our heritage along with several new businesses that will be relocating there.

I'm grateful to a number of friends who have been my biggest supporters when it comes to my book, Billion Dollar Winner. I recently had the opportunity to present a copy to Rev. Jesse Jackson and got invited to promote the book at Rainbow PUSH. I have also gotten a four-star review on by a professional reviewer for, the largest Web site for African-American literature on the Internet. I have gotten tremendous support for the book from elected officials, including Cong. Danny K. Davis, state Rep. La Shawn Ford and Ald. Ed Smith.

I am especially grateful to Garfield Majors. For the past few months, I've been a guest on his radio show (1450 AM on Sundays, 10 p.m. to Midnight) to talk about any and all issues. Mr. Majors has, for over 20 years, been providing information to our side of town when others have overlooked us. From the current horrific problems at the Juvenile Detention Center to learning last week that the deacons at Greater Whitestone Church, 3819 W. Ogden, changed the locks on the door and locked both the parishioners and pastor out of the church, his show is a vital source of news and information.

If you've never listened and heard Majors, Rev. Bowers and Cong. Davis when they quote scripture as a retort to something the other has said, then you've missed a treat. The three of them are such biblical scholars, they can "play the dozens," using scriptural teachings without having to denigrate themselves or stoop to the low level of behavior that so often characterizes black men. The love, respect and honor they have for each other and the black community represents what we still have.

In addition, if you want to hear some powerful preaching at least once in your life, you have only to listen to Rev. Bowers to be taken back to the time when he was the standard for black preachers, as opposed to some of the jack-legged ministers we have nowadays who impersonate being pastors when they are little more than devils incarnate.

Lastly, I am grateful to you, my readers. Whether it's out in public and you tell me about remembering a column I wrote or you send me an e-mail about one I wrote years ago (I'm still getting e-mails about the red light cameras), you are the reason I write.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Psalm 109: 8-13

8 Let his years be few; let someone else take his position
9 May his children become fatherless, and his wife a widow
10 May his children wander as beggars and be driven from their ruined
11 May creditors seize his entire estate, and strangers take all he has
12 Let no one be kind to him; let no one pity his fatherless children.
13 May all his offspring die. May his family name be blotted out in a
single generation.

King James Version
8Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
9Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
10Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek
their bread also out of their desolate places.
11Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers
spoil his labour.
12Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any
to favour his fatherless children.
13Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let
their name be blotted out.

Monday, December 07, 2009

What Do White People Think About This Article?

In Job Hunt, College Degree Can’t Close Racial Gap
Johnny R. Williams, 30, would appear to be an unlikely person to have to fret about the impact of race on his job search, with companies like JPMorgan Chase and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago on his résumé.

But after graduating from business school last year and not having much success garnering interviews, he decided to retool his résumé, scrubbing it of any details that might tip off his skin color. His membership, for instance, in the African-American business students association? Deleted.

“If they’re going to X me,” Mr. Williams said, “I’d like to at least get in the door first.”

Similarly, Barry Jabbar Sykes, 37, who has a degree in mathematics from Morehouse College, a historically black college in Atlanta, now uses Barry J. Sykes in his continuing search for an information technology position, even though he has gone by Jabbar his whole life.

“Barry sounds like I could be from Ireland,” he said.

That race remains a serious obstacle in the job market for African-Americans, even those with degrees from respected colleges, may seem to some people a jarring contrast to decades of progress by blacks, culminating in President Obama’s election.

But there is ample evidence that racial inequities remain when it comes to employment. Black joblessness has long far outstripped that of whites. And strikingly, the disparity for the first 10 months of this year, as the recession has dragged on, has been even more pronounced for those with college degrees, compared with those without. Education, it seems, does not level the playing field — in fact, it appears to have made it more uneven.

College-educated black men, especially, have struggled relative to their white counterparts in this downturn, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate for black male college graduates 25 and older in 2009 has been nearly twice that of white male college graduates — 8.4 percent compared with 4.4 percent.

Various academic studies have confirmed that black job seekers have a harder time than whites. A study published several years ago in The American Economic Review titled “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal?” found that applicants with black-sounding names received 50 percent fewer callbacks than those with white-sounding names.

A more recent study, published this year in The Journal of Labor Economics found white, Asian and Hispanic managers tended to hire more whites and fewer blacks than black managers did.

The discrimination is rarely overt, according to interviews with more than two dozen college-educated black job seekers around the country, many of them out of work for months. Instead, those interviewed told subtler stories, referring to surprised looks and offhand comments, interviews that fell apart almost as soon as they began, and the sudden loss of interest from companies after meetings.

Whether or not each case actually involved bias, the possibility has furnished an additional agonizing layer of second-guessing for many as their job searches have dragged on.

“It does weigh on you in the search because you’re wondering, how much is race playing a factor in whether I’m even getting a first call, or whether I’m even getting an in-person interview once they hear my voice and they know I’m probably African-American?” said Terelle Hairston, 25, a graduate of Yale University who has been looking for work since the summer while also trying to get a marketing consulting start-up off the ground. “You even worry that the hiring manager may not be as interested in diversity as the H.R. manager or upper management.”

Mr. Williams recently applied to a Dallas money management firm that had posted a position with top business schools. The hiring manager had seemed ecstatic to hear from him, telling him they had trouble getting people from prestigious business schools to move to the area. Mr. Williams had left New York and moved back in with his parents in Dallas to save money.

But when Mr. Williams later met two men from the firm for lunch, he said they appeared stunned when he strolled up to introduce himself.

“Their eyes kind of hit the ceiling a bit,” he said. “It was kind of quiet for about 45 seconds.”

The company’s interest in him quickly cooled, setting off the inevitable questions in his mind.

Discrimination in many cases may not even be intentional, some job seekers pointed out, but simply a matter of people gravitating toward similar people, casting about for the right “cultural fit,” a buzzword often heard in corporate circles.

There is also the matter of how many jobs, especially higher-level ones, are never even posted and depend on word-of-mouth and informal networks, in many cases leaving blacks at a disadvantage. A recent study published in the academic journal Social Problems found that white males receive substantially more job leads for high-level supervisory positions than women and members of minorities.

Many interviewed, however, wrestled with “pulling the race card,” groping between their cynicism and desire to avoid the stigma that blacks are too quick to claim victimhood. After all, many had gone to good schools and had accomplished résumés. Some had grown up in well-to-do settings, with parents who had raised them never to doubt how high they could climb. Moreover, there is President Obama, perhaps the ultimate embodiment of that belief.

Certainly, they conceded, there are times when their race can be beneficial, particularly with companies that have diversity programs. But many said they sensed that such opportunities had been cut back over the years and even more during the downturn. Others speculated there was now more of a tendency to deem diversity unnecessary after Mr. Obama’s triumph.

In fact, whether Mr. Obama’s election has been good or bad for their job prospects is hotly debated. Several interviewed went so far as to say that they believed there was only so much progress that many in the country could take, and that there was now a backlash against blacks.

“There is resentment toward his presidency among some because of his race,” said Edward Verner, a Morehouse alumnus from New Jersey who was laid off as a regional sales manager and has been able to find only part-time work. “This has affected well-educated, African-American job seekers.”

It is difficult to overstate the degree that they say race permeates nearly every aspect of their job searches, from how early they show up to interviews to the kinds of anecdotes they try to come up with.

“You want to be a nonthreatening, professional black guy,” said Winston Bell, 40, of Cleveland, who has been looking for a job in business development.

He drew an analogy to several prominent black sports broadcasters. “You don’t want to be Stephen A. Smith. You want to be Bryant Gumbel. You don’t even want to be Stuart Scott. You don’t want to be, ‘Booyah.’ ”

Nearly all said they agonized over job applications that asked them whether they would like to identify their race. Most said they usually did not.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Food 4 Less' Response

I wonder how many of you will take the time to write Food 4 Less and express your concern. If you don't, it wil happen over and over again.


Dear Ms. Jones:

Thank you for contacting Food 4 Less! I do apologize for the situation you encountered at your local Food 4 Less. I will certainly forward your comments over to the appropriate parties for review.

Again, thank you for contacting Food 4 Less!

Amy Rinner
Consumer Affairs

Friday, December 04, 2009

Where were the Greens?

For those people who don't understand the EE that the Andersons are advocating, this is another classic example of how we as black people allow our needs to be put into the hands of others. Unlike every other group, which works to ensure that the needs of that group are met, when it comes to black people, we are always expected to go along with whatever garbage is thrown our way. The Greens issue is a part of a larger issue of those who serve the black community doing so with disdain. There is a reason we eat chitterlings. That is what the slave masters thought of us. Feed us the bowels that the PIG excremented out of. Yes black people,we were told to literally eat shit. And to now adays believe that every other ethnic group will serve you better is the epitome of stupidity.


It was 5 p.m. the night before Thanksgiving when I went to the Food 4 Less at North and Cicero avenues. The parking lot was full and I could tell a lot of the people shopping had just gotten paid. They looked tired and haggard and many appeared grateful that a store was available right in the midst of their community where they could purchase all the trimmings they needed to go with their Thanksgiving dinner.

Well, let me amend that statement. "All the trimmings" is an overstatement. Why? Because the main item most every black person asked for when they went into the produce department was missing from the shelves. There wasn't even an empty bin in the middle of the produce section to indicate that the item had at one time been in stock and was now sold out. Nor was there a single sign posted alerting harried shoppers that one of the main Thanksgiving staples they wanted to have on their table for dinner was now sold out. So many had to spend their limited time looking around the produce section trying to find someone to answer the never-ending question: "Where are the Greens?"

Yes, it's true. In a neighborhood that is 90-percent African-American, not a single fresh collard, mustard, or turnip green was to be found in the store. Now if the West Side and the Austin community were full of grocery stores, then, yes, I can accept that an item might be sold out. But Food 4 Less is the only game in town. To have a staple item, which is a main side dish of the black community's Thanksgiving table, completely absent from the shelves sends a message. For me, that message is: What this community eats is not a priority on the produce manager's list.

Guess what other item also was not available? Yup, along with the missing-in-action greens, not a single green pepper could be found - another staple ingredient in many of the side dishes that people prepare to go along with their roasted, fried or smoked turkey. As I scratched my head in wonderment, I noticed tons of other vegetables available, but not the ones black folks wanted.

One only has to go back in time to when Pete's Produce occupied the corner of North and Central avenues. This time of year, the bins would be filled to the ceiling with every type of greens - collard, mustard, turnip, slick mustard, kale and spinach. The produce workers would layer ice between the greens to keep them fresh, and the greens would be replenished as fast as they were plucked out of the bins and stuffed into plastic bags.

My favorite greens to cook are collard, and I know that to feed a family of three, I have to buy, at minimum, nine bunches of greens. For people cooking for large groups of family and friends, the amount of greens consumed is humongous. So I found it very "interesting" that a much larger grocer like Food 4 Less found it impossible to keep up with the demand - unless there wasn't any interest in doing so.

When I asked the guys working the produce department where the greens were, I was given the excuse that they had ordered 100 cases and only 10 came in. But seeing that greens are something that one can cook a day in advance and they taste even better a day later, that answer wasn't acceptable. It sounded to me like the produce manager made a poor decision about the amount of greens the store would need to meet the demands of this community. Plus, the store was scheduled to be open on Thanksgiving Day. I know many people who, even if they eat at other people's houses, still tend to cook their dinner at home up to a day later.

I went home and sent Food 4 Less a complaint via e-mail. I let them know my displeasure at going to their store and watching while my community reacted to not being able to find something that should have been stocked to the ceiling. I would encourage others who also encountered the same scenario to let Food 4 Less know that the situation is unacceptable. Until we express our dissatisfaction via the proper channels, this won't be the last time situations like this happen. And until we begin to open up stores of our own and patronize them, this community will forever be at the mercy of those who don't care.

Pay attention, Austin. Pay attention!

4-year-old survives being hit by train

Of course this 30-yr-old mother who was allowing 4-yr-old twins to be monitored by ther 13-yr-old should first be visted by the DCFS to see what the mom was doing. Oh wait, the mom is one of those 16 yr-olds who got pregnant before getting a high school diploma and wanted to grow up with her child and now when God has let her child live, she's looking into suing?

By Megan Matteucci

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

9:02 p.m. Thursday, December 3, 2009

Doctors call this 4-year-old Atlanta boy Superman.

He either has to be made of steel or truly is blessed to have survived getting hit by a train, doctors told the boy’s mom.

Elijah Anderson was playing outside his northwest Atlanta home on Nov. 5 when his dog Poochy ran off.

Elijah chased after the Jack Russell Terrier as it ran behind his Lamar Avenue home toward the train tracks on Wilson Boulevard.

Like most 4-year-olds, the boy was more focused on the dog than his surroundings and didn’t see the train coming, his mom Shantinerri Anderson said.

The conductor of the CSX train told police he saw the boy, but couldn’t stop the train in time. The 5,229-foot long train was travelling west at about 30 mph when it struck Elijah, throwing him from the tracks, police said.

“He couldn’t even cry because it hurt so bad,” his mom told the AJC on Thursday. “His eyes were closed and he couldn’t move.”

Poochy was not hurt.

Paramedics rushed Elijah to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston in critical condition. He was treated for a concussion and received several stitches in his head, according to an Atlanta Police report.

Within 24 hours, his condition was upgraded to good, police said.

And two days later, Elijah was back home, begging his mom to let him go outside with Poochy, Anderson said.

Elijah’s 13-year-old sister was babysitting the twins when the accident occurred, according to the police report.

“It was numerous things going through my head,” Anderson said. “His [twin] sister was more scared than he was. She wouldn’t move. She was very frightened.”

On Thursday, Elijah and his twin sister, Eliesha, ran around, yelling about Sponge Bob.

“He’s able to run and play,” his mom said. “He’s being a normal child now.”

The only sign of the accident is a large scar on his forehead.

Police said CSX was not at fault and did not file any charges.

It takes a mile for the average freight train traveling 55 mph to stop, according to Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit that promotes train safety.

“There was no way they could have stopped for that little boy,” said Jennie Glasgow, the Georgia coordinator for Operation Lifesaver. “People don’t have the right of way on the tracks. They are breaking the law and risking their lives.”

Despite investigators’ findings, Anderson said she plans to file a lawsuit. She and her attorney, Fred Lerner, declined to discuss the suit.

“There’s no fence and I’m very scared about that,” she said. “I want them to put up a fence and I want them to apologize.”

CSX spokesman Gary Sease said he could not comment on the fence because of the threat of litigation, but said that most railroads don’t install fences.

“We have 21,000 miles of track in 23 states. It’s not practical to fence all of it,” he told the AJC on Thursday. “We’re just so thrilled the little boy was not seriously injured.”

Elijah and Eliesha are no longer allowed outside without mom. Anderson said she tries to take the children to nearby Anderson Park more, but mostly the twins stay inside.

“He can play, but he can’t hit his head,” the 30-year-old mother said.

Last year, 452 pedestrians died after being hit by trains. Georgia ranked tenth in the U.S. for the highest number of pedestrian fatalities by train with 15 deaths, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Another eight pedestrians were injured in 2008 after being struck by a train.

On Thursday, Anderson was preparing to take the twins Christmas shopping.

“I’m so blessed. He’s so blessed,” the mom said. “We have all the presents we need.”

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