Monthly Archives: July 2013

Time to Expose Myths

  I attended a rally last Saturday in downtown Youngstown concerning the death of Trayvon Martin. He was a seventeen year-old African-American male who was racially profile and killed by George Zimmerman in Florida. Zimmerman a block watch person, stalked Martin after being told by a 9/11 operator to stay in his car. When a fight occurred and Zimmerman was losing the fight he used the gun he was carrying to shoot Martin. Zimmerman was not even going to be prosecuted until outcry about the incident could not be ignored. Zimmerman ended up being found not guilty at a trial. The concern by people at the rally in Youngstown (and 100 other cities around the U.S. having similar rallies) was that with Zimmerman being freed there was no justice for Martin. Parents spoke at the rally that they worry about their children being racially profiled and threatened simply for walking down the street. The Youngstown Vindicator counted about 300 people at the rally and I’d say they were pretty accurate. More than one commentator on Vindy.com (who did not attend the rally but caught a camera angle of it on the news) said there were less than 50 people there. I note these same folks who have no math skills also added racist comments. I was going to print some of the most racist of those 112 comments but oddly enough those comments will not come up at all (unlike comments on all the other articles). Click on the 112 comments section and see if it is frozen up for you.

 I was discussing the Trayvon Martin shooting with some family members who tend to have some racist views. One said, “Black kids with hoodies over their heads are trying to be menacing and if I cross the street to avoid them I shouldn’t be considered a racist.” He added, “An elderly woman in downtown Sharon on State Street decided not to be considered a racist when she saw two black kids wearing hoodies coming her way on the sidewalk. She didn’t flee and cross the street and ended up paying a high price. It happened on an afternoon recently and she was beaten badly and had her all money stolen as the two young black men in hoodies fled.” I was thinking that was a horrible event but that I’d look further into the incident. Checking the Sharon Herald this is what I found, “Police are looking for two men who held up a couple as they were walking at about 1:30 a.m. Monday in the 200 block of Florence Street. The victims told police two young black men with T-shirts over their faces threatened them with guns that appeared to have laser sights and demanded money which they didn’t have. The robbers took keys and a cell phone from the victims, shoved them both to the street and ran east on Florence. One robber was wearing blue denim shorts and a gray tank top.”

  My relative was a little off with much of the info. Florence Street is not exactly downtown Sharon. The elderly woman was actually a couple. The afternoon robbery really happened at 1:30 a.m. The victims were not beaten but pushed to the street.  No money was taken in the robbery. The robbers were not wearing hoodies but had a t-shirt and tank top pulled over their face. I am certainly not diminishing the crime as no one should ever be threatened with a gun but I am pointing out the exaggerations. When the couple becomes an elderly woman, when 1:30 a.m. becomes the afternoon, when being pushed becomes a beating, and a t-shirt over the head of black men becomes a hoodie these lies about the robbery are added to elevate racism. I didn’t need an exaggerated story to show me people’s fear of young black men doing criminal acts. I still remember Bill Basilone Jr. being killed outside of his Farrell, PA bar Dec. 11, 2011. He was shot five times and robbed of a small amount of cash by a pair of black teenagers who were 17 and 18 years-old. They both lived nearby in Farrell and were arrested within hours. Bill Basilone was a much beloved area businessman who did much for his community.  On the other hand here is the case of a racist young white man killing a pregnant black woman. Racism is such an ugly and deadly two way street that has to end for everyone’s sake.

  I feel terrible for the Basilone family but I also feel terrible for Trayvon Martin’s family. No one white or black should have to deal with the devastation of having someone in your family murdered. I want a world where there is no color on any kind of color crime. I have been hoping that something like the Occupy Movement could bring all races together to realize we shouldn’t be divided by race but united in a class struggle.

  The media owned by the top 1% don’t want to see the 99% united. That is why conservative magazines like the National Review keep writing articles warning white people about black people. Then we have the likes of racists; Geraldo Rivera, Pat Buchanan, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Ted Nugent and Rush Limbaugh telling the black community what is wrong with them and how to change it. They spout off about how teen pregnancy is an epidemic among young Black girls. The real truth is that, according to the Center for Disease Control, Black Teenage Pregnancy rates have been reduced by 56.42% from 1991-2009. White conservative commentators say there is a 50% high school dropout rate for black males. According to the US Census, 83.43% of Black men over the age of 18 have a high school diploma, but when stats are negatively manipulated, we see that Black men who switch schools before graduating (from another school), or who miss a semester but finishes, or who test out before their class are not included because the focus of the negative statement is on Black men who graduate from 12th grade with their 9th grade class. The dropout rate for Black males is 9.5%.

  Black author and filmmaker Janks Morton has been exposing these lies and myths in his books and his film, “Hoodwinked.” He is tired of seeing Blacks lacking self-esteem because of myths they have come to believe. Here are some of the statistics that Morton presents as an alternative to prevailing perceptions:

There are more Black Males in College# than in Jails, Prisons, Private Corrections, Military Jails and Institutions for the Criminally Insane combined#

The facts show (1,236,443 in College/841,000 Incarcerates – regardless of age)

Some more facts: 4 to 1: The ratio of 18-24 year old Black Males in College# vs. Jails, Prisons, Private Corrections, Military Jails and Institutions for the Criminally Insane#.

(674,000 in College/164,400 Incarcerates)

32.3% (1 in 3) Black Males ages 18-24 are enrolled in College#

(674,000 in College/2,082,000 Total)

1.37 to 1: The ratio of 18-24 year old Black Females enrolled in College to Black Males#.

(930,000 Black Females Enrolled/674,000 Black Males Enrolled)

25.1% of Black Males (age 25 or over) have either an Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Professional, or Doctoral Degree#.

(2,519,000 with Degrees/10,018,000 Total)

82.1% of Black Males (age 18 or over) have at least a High School Diploma or GED#.

(9,897,000 with HS Diploma or GED/12,044,000 Total)

12.1%: The Black Male Dropout Rate# (ages 16-24) for 2008.

(301,000 Dropouts/2,583,000 Total)#

88.8%: Percent of Black Males earning income# ages 25-64 (employment)

(7,899,000 Employed/8,893,000 Total)

$23,738: Average Income for Black Males# 15 and older

$19,470 Average Income Black Females

1,812,000 The number of Black Men making $50,000/year or more#

71.6% of Black Men pay their agreed to or Court Awarded Child Support#

(855,000 Payers/1,194,000 Recipients)

$253 Billion: Total Income earned by Black Males# (15 and over)

($262 Billion earned by Black Females)

  I do believe that if more young African-Americans see “Hoodwinked” and read Jank Martin’s books they will learn facts about their own race that will make them feel more optimistic about their future. Jank’s facts are something that is much-needed when black kids look around their own neighborhoods and see violence and poverty. At the rally last Saturday many people expressed that the outcry over Trayvon’s death was not a moment but a movement. I hope that is true and I think that teaching Jank Martin’s findings could go a long way to giving hope to young black children. It surely is time for blacks and whites to stand together and realize we are all in the same struggle as we are brothers and sisters. You’ve got to remember the media wasn’t interested in Trayvon Martin being killed. It was the people who were outraged and demanded justice. Justice didn’t come but that should only strengthen our resolve to keep fighting for it.

  An interview with Janks Martin about the film, “Hoodwinked” which exposes lies about African Americans.

Joe & Eddie: “Children Go”

“There’s a Meetin’ Here Tonight”

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public” ― Cornel West

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The “We Party”

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  Last week I attended the funeral service for Mrs. E’s Aunt Margaret. She was able to use her gift of baking and cooking to be an asset to her church and community. She was a caterer who also ran the kitchen at her church and took baked good with her as a volunteer visitor to nursing homes. Ironically after a stroke she ended up in one of the nursing homes she visited. She was a warm, friendly, woman who quietly did for others. When she physically couldn’t run the church kitchen she stepped down from the job. The church threw her a party to honor her for her years of volunteer work. I attended and noticed she was quite embarrassed by the attention. Her late husband, John was a steelworker, a farmer and a carpenter. He shared many of the vegetables he grew with relatives and friends and built things he gave away as gifts. I still have a porch swing he built as a wedding gift for Mrs. E and I 30 years ago. These Aunt Margarets and Uncle Johns who go about quietly helping others are the backbone of communities. They don’t want any trumpets blown for them they just have decided they can’t be spectators in life.

  Margaret and John were anything but the greedy Tea Party seniors I talked about in my last blog.  They weren’t in the streets with signs wanting to protect their Medicare but deny health care to others. They remembered how their parents had come here from Serbia and Estonia and worked hard to build a better life in the USA for their families. Remembering that made people like Margaret and John not be bigoted against illegal aliens here to make a better life. Margaret and John were not Tea Party members but “We Party” members. The philosophy of the We Party is that we are all brothers and sisters and in this together. The We Party doesn’t do noisy rallies they just set about making the world better one good deed at a time. It is a silent revolution that more and more of us will join when we realize that “things” just don’t make us happy. You’ve probably heard the expression, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” The We Party would point out that there are no pockets in a shroud. They live by the creed that “He who has given the most joys wins.”

  The priest at Aunt Margaret’s service said something that got me thinking. He said a tombstone only has a person’s birth date and date of death. He went on to say life is all about the time in between and that is never on the funeral marker but it is in our hearts and minds. I have reached that age where I read the obituaries. I know the newspapers today charge by the word for obituaries so some of the deceased families are cheap and don’t pay to print any of the good that the deceased did in their lifetime. Sadder yet might be the fact the person isn’t in your heart and mind because they really didn’t do much with their life. I wince at those obituaries that can find nothing more to say than he/she was a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan and loved his/her cat Ralph. How’d you like to face St. Peter at the gates of Heaven with that resume? Heck, God might be a Cleveland Browns fan (though he hasn’t blessed them with any miracles) and maybe he’s a deity that likes dogs not cats. After thinking about these things I’ve come to some conclusions. One is that you should do the best for others that you can with your life. Also, you should never expect to hear praise for any good you’ve done. Another thing is that sometimes you’re going to be misunderstood and sometimes you’re going to fail and fall short of your goal. I believe that life much like love can hurt and that is OK because in the end God will judge us by our scars visible and invisible.

   Mrs. E’s mother has been in a nursing home for a few months. I noted the names of the elderly residents on their doors. My mother-in-law’s floor has three Margaret, two Dorothys, a Lois and an Irma. Those are pretty typical names for women who are in their 80’s and 90’s today. Mrs. E and I started thinking about the names on those doors 50 years from now. There will be three Brittanys, two Kaylas, a Brooke, a Bambi, a Paris and an Apple. The kid who wants to show his uniqueness today is that rare 18-35 year-old person who doesn’t have a tattoo.  I imagine these tattooed kids today in a nursing home 50 years from now. An elderly senile woman named, Brianna in her wheelchair will look down at the rose tattoo on he calf and say, “What the Hell is that thing on my calf? Is that varicose veins?” I imagine in 50 years a nurses aid will get tired of helping 92 year-old Chloe go to the bathroom. That is because when she is helping Chloe get her diaper on she will be sick of looking at that Harley Davidson spread wing tramp stamp across the top of her ass crack. In 50 years from now Chloe will probably be driving one of Harley’s newest senior citizen rascal scooters down the nursing room halls. Before senior women get x-rays they will be asked to remove the 9 earrings in each ear and belly button and nipple rings. That butterfly tattoo on an elderly lady’s floppy arms will now look so large people will think it is a pterodactyl. I’m sure many of the elderly will have serious carpal tunnel syndrome from years of texting.

  I have been feeling every year of my age and it is not fun aging. I feel very sad remembering that I use to buy killer weed and now at my current age I buy weed killer. 6:00 AM was when I came home from a night out and now it is when I get up. A night out now means sitting on the patio. Happy hour to me means a nap. I really hate technology. I have reached that point in life where most of the items in my shopping cart says, “For fast pain relief. ” On the bright side I don’t watch game shows and I haven’t turned into a gardener or yard Nazi. I got to go as my rotary phone is ringing.

  Local hero of the week is community asset Aunt Margaret and the Aunt Margaret in your life. I also want to salute nurses, assistants and staff who work at nursing homes. They see a lot of sadness on a daily basis and also have to work with some very difficult and demanding patients. It is a job that takes some very special folks to do.

Family of the Year (band): “Hero”

Come on dance with me to: “Saint Croix”

Local Band: Glitter Pig

“The problem with aging is not that it’s one damn thing after another—it’s every damn thing, all at once, all the time.” ~ John Scalzi

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“Greeditis”

  I got no comments or e-mails from Walmart shoppers and Sam’s Club members telling me why they don’t think they are soulless for shopping at Walmart/Sam’s Club. That just tells me that they agree with me they are soulless and that a bargain is worth more to them than humanity. Good to know where we stand.

  I love the concept of pay it forward which means that when you benefit by a good deed you do a good deed for someone else instead of the person who helped you. This concept would make for a better world but it’s pretty hard to do in these times of what’s in it for me teabagger mentality. Last week in the Warren Tribune was an article on how the state of Ohio’s new budget will affect school levies. The two-year budget will eliminate a state property rollback on new and replacement levies passed in November 2013 and beyond.  What this means is that there will be a 37 cent per month increase for owners of a $100,000 house which would total $4.38 a year. Sherry Champion, a longtime Champion, Ohio resident said, “We have a lot of folks in Champion, they’re older … and when things like this happen, we have to figure out some way to cut so that we can pay for something that, really, we’re not getting any benefit from.” she added, “My husband and I have talked about moving to get out of Champion. I’ve lived here my whole life … It’s going to be hard to do, but in order to be able for me to enjoy the lifestyle that I’m used to, I have to go someplace else.”

  I’d say Sherry Champion has a teabagger mentality. She thinks educating students is something she doesn’t benefit from. Perhaps she’d rather pay to house them in prison when they drop out of school and have no option but a life of crime. Someone paid for her to go to school now she needs to pay for someone else to go. That’s paying it forward. Sherry would rather move than pay $4.38 more a year. Her budget is so tight that 37 cents a month is going to wreck her lifestyle? Sherry I say move out of the valley as we need people to help the next generation and this community is really not getting any benefits from having you self-interested types here. If you decide to stay contact me and I’ll send you $4.38 to keep you out of the poorhouse.

  These are the greedy times we live in where people don’t use common sense and care about anyone. I’ve seen union workers shop at stores that bust unions. I’ve seen union workers drink beer from companies that have busted their unions. I’ve seen people in public education have their job depend on the passage of a school levy in the district they work and vote against the school levy in the district where they live. I’ve met teachers that really care about kids and yet I heard a very greedy retired one just the other day. She is a leader in the area Tea Party and was on the “Tracey and Friends” radio show. She was bashing taxes and public sector workers. She has time to spread her hate as she is retired with a good pension from being a public sector worker. She just doesn’t want any other public sector worker to be able to afford to retire. She’s like these union workers who at contract time look out for their own benefits and vote for newer workers to have second and third tier wages and benefits. Let’s spell those tiers “tears” because that is what they are for fellow workers that pay the same prices for living expenses.

  The middle-class is disappearing because we have allowed ourselves to be divided by region, religion, race, gender, private vs. public sector, skilled vs. unskilled labor etc. People in the right-wing media are paid big dollars to divide the middle-class. Why do you think the 1%ers pay Rush Limbaugh $37.5 million a year for a mere 15 hour work week. He is paid to be a sheep herder and lead the middle-class to further slaughter. Rush drives a car that costs $450,000 and lives in a compound of five homes he owns worth  $65 million. He is the world’s richest drug addict and yet I hear average people who believe Rush has their best interest at heart. Has there ever been a more successful snake oil salesman?  The 1% is bottling the snake oil and hoping their top salesman can keep delivering. Rush’s snake oil hardens the heart, rots the mind and gives you “greeditis”.

  Every year the Warren Tribune Chronicle hires a few “community columnists.” They have even hired some of the same ones two or three times. I have criticized these columnists because they don’t write about the community. Instead they just echo the editor’s far right-wing agenda. They finally have a community columnist that has been writing about the community and is worth reading. His name is Andrew Herman and here is his most recent column. Keep up the great work Andrew it’s refreshing. I give Andrew this week’s award for best local community builder. For the betterment of our local community and my children’s future we need more Andrews and fewer Sherrys.

Badly Drawn Boy: “Year of the Rat”

“Too Many Miracles”

Local Band: The Rage

“A motto of many politicians, public servants and money bags: Ask not ‘What can I do for you?’ but ‘What can I do you for?”

~ H. M. Forester

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What Would It Take?

  I ran into someone I know who took me to task I’ll call MC. He complained that I had called people like him soulless in my last post because they like to shop at Walmart or are a Sam’s Club member. MC is a union officer I respect so I was surprised he shops at these two dens of iniquity. I have preached the gospel of the evils of Walmart/Sam’s Club for years and I’m sure many people are tired of my spiel. Truth is I have convinced very few people not to shop at either no matter how many facts I show them. Most of these people are the nicest most caring folks you will find just like MC. They know many of the facts about Walmart’s evil and don’t care. It seems the pursuit of a bargain trumps the environment of our planet or anyone’s blood or death at Walmart’s hands. I didn’t have a lot of time to talk to MC so I asked him to think about one question and send me an e-mail when he has an answer. I asked him and I ask you what would it actually take for you to quit shopping at Walmart/Sam’s Club?

  I’d like to know that from anyone reading this. Send me a comment or e-mail as I am baffled given the wealth of information available about this corporation why anyone would enter their doors. They have discriminated against promoting women so why do women shop there? Why do people who bash folks on welfare shop at this corporation that is the biggest welfare queen on the planet? If you are in a union why would you shop at a corporation that has actually closed stores that unionized? If you work in public education why would you shop at a store that is pushing voucher programs and wants to wipe out public schools and get into the private school business? If you mourn the passing of jobs and the disappearance of the middle-class why would you shop in a store full of Third World sweatshop made goods? If you believe in social justice and saving the planet why would you shop at a store that violates human rights and pollutes our planet?

  On June 29, 2013 the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) took direct action about those killed in Bangladesh sweatshops. They decide to lie down outside of Gap stores in 36 U.S. cities. Their dozen bodies were to represent the 1127 bodies of workers who died in the collapse of Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza sweatshop. The sweatshop made clothes for the Gap, Sean John, Abercrombie & Fitch, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Walmart. Would these students action deter you from shopping at the Gap?

  If I stood outside of an area Walmart/Sam’s Club with the photos of the 1127 crushed bodies at the Bangladesh Walmart sweatshop that collapsed on the workers in April 2013 would that stop you from entering? How about photos of the 112 burnt bodies of Bangladesh Walmart workers who died in a fire in November of 2012? Let me know if this photo would make you stay out of Walmart or rip up your Sam’s Club card. That probably is no competition for the Walmart bargain of the week a 3 pack of Clorox Wipes for $9.97 rolled back from $10.72. Would it actually take the blood of the workers killed in Bangladesh poured all over the floor of Walmart/Sam’s to keep you out? If not what about the 112 dead burnt bodies stacked at the entrance? Would that be enough to keep you away from the bargain of a 46oz. jar of Baker & Chef’s Kosher Petite Pickles at Sam’s Club for $3.97? Does anyone need a 46oz. jar of pickles? In April 2011, Walmart officials at a meeting of retailers refused to join an industry agreement to pay Bangladeshi factories a higher price so they could afford safety upgrades. Walmart doesn’t care for the safety of people who make their products. Do you think they care one bit about the safety of the people who buy their products? They only care about the lead paint in Chinese toys they import when they get caught selling such items.

  Despite Walmart/Sam’s Club being on the wrong side of every social justice issue the average U.S. family of four spends over $4,000 a year at Walmart. Many activists boycott Walmart/Sam’s Club. They don’t understand why given all the facts people still shop in these stores. They are fighting a losing battle until they know why people feel compelled to shop in these stores. Come on Walmart shoppers and Sam’s Club members tell us why you shop there and what would it take to keep you from shopping at these stores? MC I am still waiting to hear from you. I have a hard time believing that anyone could not know of at least some of the evil Walmart/Sam’s Club does in the world. Given that I’m sorry MC but people who shop in these stores knowing their history are soulless because they have chosen to be disconnected from humanity.

  This week I have an award for the best local media person who values the truth and stands for social justice. That award goes to WKBN 57 am radio morning host, Mike Romigh on weekdays 6am-9am!

Maher Zain: “Hold My Hand”

“The Chosen One”

Local band: Edison’s Medicine

The more freedom we enjoy, the greater the responsibility we bear, toward others as well as ourselves.” ~ Oscar Arias Sanchez

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