Thursday, March 18, 2010

Parents Are Responsible For Their Children's Education!

The Five E's - Economics, Education, Employment, Ex-Offenders and Excuses (none accepted) - are still the major forces facing the black community. Last week I discussed what is going on in this city and on the West Side when it comes to economics. It is a slow process, but there are changes taking place because of Chicago's Black Wall Street.

There are also changes taking place in education, but it is not being done to really give our children the best opportunities in life. Rather, many business people have looked at education and the money that flows to it and have made our children products that they process.

When Renaissance 2010 was first announced in June 2004 it seemed like the year 2010 was a long way down the road. But time is moving swiftly and the year 2010 is here. All Renaissance 2010 has done is replaced many experienced African-American educators with young white college graduates hired at a lower salary.

It is another attack on our community. When a child is properly educated, the entire world is open to him or her. But the continuous "Mis-education of the Negro" is a guaranteed source of individuals to fuel the prison-industrial complex. And even sadder, once they are incarcerated for life, many prisoners finally learn to read, write and critically think but are forever prevented from turning that knowledge into something productive.

When all our children attend local public schools, they benefit equally from all the forces involved in it. Within the schools I attended while growing up, there were activist parents, trifling parents, working parents and contributing-when-they-could parents.

When activist parents got something done for our school, we all benefited. Working parents sent money and other parents did when they could. And the trifling parents? Well they never added anything into the betterment of the school. But their children benefited from all the other forces, so there was equality for all of us.

Now charter schools are also public schools. But they can have rules that every parent must agree to in order for their children to attend. If the school requires parents to participate X number of times per year, activist parents will always be there to make sure their children get every benefit out of their school years.

Working parents will do what they can, especially if it means giving money more than time. So will the when-they-can parents. But the trifling parents are not going to change. And, therefore, their children are being left to fend for themselves and become the bottom rung of the educational ladder.

Why should we care when Pookie and Nay-nay don't get involved? Because more than likely, it will be their children who will create the havoc in the community, pull the trigger and leave children with so much potential dead.

We must also pay attention to business people who are using education as their manner of income. These individuals are not educators. They look at our children as something they process and are not involved into how and why a child learns.

Our children learn something everyday. They retain certain things and can do an instant recall on the latest rap record while not being able to recite the multiplication table. Our boys are enthusiastic about school until the third grade and then lose interest.

Years ago it was stated that many black parents went overboard on the eighth-grade graduation because high school graduation rates were so dismal. We need to reverse that trend to make eighth-grade graduation a "clap," high school graduation an "applause" and college graduation a "standing ovation." Parents, your child's education is your job.

Do it!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Black Wall Street Comes To Austin

Several years ago, I wrote a series of five articles. Each of those articles contained what I professed to be the solutions to the majority of "ills" that have befallen the black community. To refresh your memories, my articles were on the five E's: Economics, Education, Employment and Ex-offenders. The fifth "E" was Excuses (none allowed).

So when I attended the Black Wall Street Summit (BWSS), held on Feb. 27, at 3333 W. Arthington, it was a pleasure. During the course of the day, over 150 people came by to pledge their commitment to the agenda. The primary focus of the BWSS is economics, and if you're not familiar with the origins of the Black Wall Street concept, let me give you a brief history lesson.

In 1921, the Greenwood community in Tulsa, Okla., was a thriving center for business. As with most black communities during that time, the main business strip of Greenwood Avenue was racially segregated. Segregation, however, was not an obstacle but an impetus for the people of Greenwood to build an economic base that rivaled what was occurring in Tulsa proper.

Most every business that the community of Greenwood needed was supplied by the people living there. A dollar circulated in Greenwood from 36 to 1,000 times before that dollar left the community (compare that with Austin today where a dollar leaves faster than it comes in and so few of our businesses are owned by people who live here). The community had millionaires and bank deposits and assets totaling millions of dollars. Booker T. Washington, upon learning of the industriousness of the community, dubbed it "Black Wall Street."

Then an incident occurred on the evening of May 30, 1921 between a black shoe shine "boy," Dick Rowland, and a white elevator operator, Sarah Page. Although rumors had long circulated in the black community that these two were involved in a relationship, the racist Tulsa Tribune (fair to call them that, as they used the word, "Nigger," in writing about the black community) reported that a rape had occurred. The newspaper's incendiary editorial was used to inflame already tense race relations.

What happened afterwards was one of the worst race riots ever. The white community descended on the Greenwood black community, looting, killing and burning homes and businesses to the ground. The riot lasted from May 31 through June 1. It was the first documented episode of an American community being bombed. So many black people were killed and their bodies unceremoniously destroyed that the actual death toll is not known, but estimates range as high as 3,000.

The BWSS I attended is committed to re-establishing within the black community the same sort of business district that once thrived in Greenwood. Our communities can only survive if the residents are committed to supporting the quality businesses in it. And if you are one who readily dismisses local businesses, how do you ever expect to see North, Chicago avenues and Madison Street become the business Mecca we need?

This past Saturday, I helped out a friend at a comedy night, held at the recently at the remodeled Potpourri Banquet Hall located in the Laramie State Bank building at the corner of Chicago and Laramie. The crowd's age ranged from mid-20s to early 40s. The primarily black audience was a testament to the concept that black people can support a black business operating in a black-owned facility with food supplied by a black-owned restaurant with a black wait staff.

It was, in essence, the basic premise of the BWSS mission. The dollars earned were first spent in our community, and the quality of the services, entertainments and all else rivaled anything Rush Street could offer, except that it was located right here in the heart of the Austin community.

Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to revisit my contention that the 5 E's are the only viable solution to the ills that plague us. Whether you agree or disagree, voice your opinions - because when it comes to our community, there should be no silent voices.

Friday, March 05, 2010


I suspected as much! My column demanding that Comm Ed not add additional meters on to houses should become law!

Those seven people didn't have to die!

Why Quinn Ain't Our Friend

In last week’s column, I was highly critical of those who were dismissive regarding Black History Month. In the time since that column was published, I’ve heard from a number of others who agreed with what I wrote. While every other group’s ethnic heritage is celebrated, when it comes to black folks, we are being told to disregard ours. Amazing!

As many of you who read this column are aware, I try and pick a constant underlying theme for them. Last year, my mantra was “Pay Attention Chicago.” This year’s theme was supposed to be “Take No Prisoners.” But I am forced to amend it. So I will alternate that theme with “Every Day is Black History.”

Now anyone reading this column has lived through one of the greatest historical moments in Black History, American History and our lifetime. And that was the election and inauguration of President Barack Obama into office. But if you haven’t been paying close attention to local politics lately, another historical event is occurring. And that is the complete disregard of the first runner up in the Lt. Governor’s race; Art Turner.

Now there is not any hard and fast rule that Turner should automatically becomes the nominee after coming in second place to Scott Lee Cohen. In truth, I liked the idea that the position was first offered to Dan Hynes seeing that he and Quinn had a neck-in-neck photo finish to their race. But once Hynes turned down the opportunity, I expected the next name to flow out of Quinn’s mouth to be Turner. The reasons; Turner did come in second place for the position; Quinn use of every black politician in town to robocall my house to get the “black vote;” and an immediate, decisive decision would help allay those words that Harold Washington had said and which still lingered in the forefront of my mind regarding Pat Quinn.

Is there anyone who can forget that commercial that had run on television featuring a vintage interview with the late Mayor Washington? The reaction to that commercial quickly brought every black politician from out the woodwork to call my home and urge me to vote for Quinn. I didn’t. But as I watched the debacle going on after Cohen’s resignation from running, Washington’s words rang in my head like an omen; “"Pat Quinn is a totally and completely undisciplined individual who thinks this government is nothing but a large easel by which he can do his (public relations) work. He almost created a shambles in that department."

No truer words could have ever been stated. After getting turned down by Hynes to be his running mate, Quinn then goes after Tammy Duckworth to be his running mate, completely disregarding Turner. Huh? What is Art Turner? The “Invisible Negro?”

Now admittedly Quinn’s running mate selection will be made by the Democratic Central State Committee. But Quinn does have influence in letting them know who he would like to see on the ticket with him. Had Turner come in first, the decision would have been a given and no further discussion needed. But he didn’t and now we have to watch as Governor Quinn-Ain’t-Our-Friend turns the process into a shambles by mulling over which person gets to be the next candidate for the office. His finger pointing at first this one and now that one leads me to conclude that his political astuteness is lacking. Without the black vote, and our vote shouldn’t be a guaranteed “given,” Quinn can’t win. As someone else stated to me this week, “If Quinn’s running mate ain’t black, he can’t go back!”

It is also interesting to hear that several black elected officials are willing to support a white candidate from downstate to “balance the ticket.” Yet where is the reciprocity to support a black candidate to also “balance the ticket.” And although Turner is from the Chicago area, he does own a home in Springfield. Doesn’t that count?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Why Changing the Face of Urban Literature Is My Passion

I got the following list of the top five books for 2009 from the African American Black Literature Book Club. They are:

1 - Total Eclipse of the Heart by Zane
2 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Zane (Editor)
3 - Missionary No More: Purple Panties 2 by Zane (Editor)
4 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
5 - Push: A Novel by Sapphire

I do congratulate them on their success, but at what cost to the Black community? This is the reason I wrote what I wrote. I want to be the catalyst for changing the face of Urban Literature the way Terry McMillian did when she had her breakthrough with "Waiting to Exhale."