Archive for the ‘Race’ Category

Posted: March 15, 2012 in Education, Justice, Legal, Race, Social

Like President Obama, I too believe education is the most important civil rights issue of our generation. I totally agree, as he stated at the 2009 NAACP convention, “there’s a reason the story of the civil rights movement was written in our schools….It’s because there is no stronger weapon against inequality and no better path to opportunity than an education that can unlock a child’s God-given potential.” It is especially important that members of our African-American communities receive and clearly understand this important information.

What is so refreshing is that under the direction President Obama’s and Education Sec. Arnie Duncan, Attorney Russlynn Ali as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education has substantially increased the enforcement of all anti-discrimination laws that relate to education — including the unprecedented step of proactively opening 60 investigations based on the agency’s own research, utilized and made accessible specific data to highlight areas of concern, and allowed individual states to be rewarded for innovation and accountability by receiving federal grants through the President’s Race to the Top program.

In other words, President Obama put his “money where his mouth was.” I applaud him and his staff, including Russlynn Ali and do not believe this administration is getting enough positive attention for their steadfast protection of the right to quality education in this nation.

In America

Editor’s note: Russlynn Ali is the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education.  She was a teacher, an attorney and worked at the Children’s Defense Fund, and she has also taught law at the University of Southern California Law Center.  Ali was appointed to the Department of Education by President Barack Obama in 2009.

By Russlynn Ali, Special to CNN

(CNN) — If a society based on the ideal of fundamental equality is to fulfill its promise, it cannot afford to look away when confronted with stark inequity.  Last week, the Department of Education released a trove of data from Part II of the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), a self-reported survey of more than 72,000 schools that serve 85 percent of the nation’s students.

The findings demand our attention.

This survey quantified how school resources are distributed in schools and districts; whether in…

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Greatly enjoyed attending the planning meeting  for 19th Annual Omega Psi Phi Youth Leadership Conference and Mentoring Program (“YLC”) scheduled for 10-27-12 on the campus of the University of Southern California.
The meeting hosted by the mighty men on Tau Tau (Los Angles, CA) chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and the Omega Educational Foundation.

The conference started by Omega Man  Ricky Lewis (I met
Brother Lewis last year while working  the Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend  ) has provided information and mentorship to over 3400 Black male Youth between the ages of 8-18 in the greater Los Angeles area.

I was throughly impressed with the Tau Tau brother’s deep Enthusiasm for such a Noble Endeavor to love on and encourage  young Black males! 

Tonight the steering committee group including about 20 professional, college educated Omega Black men who all share two great passions: 1) unwavering love for young Black males; 2) service to their community. It is their love and commitment to service and understanding of their  responsibility that prompts these successful men to sacrifice their evenings (the brothers meet twice a month), away from their own families, after a long day at the office to work  towards the development of an organized, powerful, and memorable conference for America’s most vulnerable segment of society–Young Black Males.

 Additionally, as proof of how serious these Omega’s are about the success of the YLC, the meetings are even open to non members of Omega Psi Phi who are interested the mission of the YLC to instill the principles of manhood, critical thinking, and personal and social responsibilities into young African American males and provide them with tools necessary for self respect, health, and wellness, community leadership and conflict resolution.

Tonight’s group included 86 year old WWII veteran brother Robert S. Hammond who has been actively pursuing Omega’s four cardinal principles of Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance, and Uplift for over 63 years!

In closing, I’m looking forward to an opportunity to present a message that will inform, inspire, and empower the YLC attendees to seek, find, and maximize their educational, social, and economic opportunities.  Further, I look forward to doing all I can to help publicize the YLC’s important and necessary work to save young Black men.

For more information, become a sponsor, or volunteer please visit or Ricky Lewis at

 Founded in 1915 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson (Omega Psi Phi Man), the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (originally called the Study of Negro Life and History) was a ground breaking Black Think Tank of the world’s most prominent Black scholars.  The Association worked tirelessly to refute racist and incorrect ideas about African-American culture, life, and history through scholarly research, presentations, and publications.  By the way, did you know that Dr. Woodson was also the founder of Black History Month and the bestseller Mis-Education of The Negro. Thank you Bro. Woodson!

Had a blessed time last night giving the keynote for Oklahoma City University’s annual MLK Celebration.  The lively crowd included former United States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge and current Oklahoma City University president Robert Henry, hip-hop star Kanye West’s grandfather (pictured right and who participated in the nation’s first ever sit-in), and prominent Oklahoma City attorney/CPA Jeff Trevillion.

I was especially blessed with the impressive young people that performed and attended.   Without a doubt, they were extremely talented, but it was their sincere humility and willingness to serve the community and their passion for seeing the true legacy of Dr. King that pleased me most.    I truly believe that for many of them they will move truly move “Beyond the Dream” and truly get to know and work toward Dr. King’s vision and desire for a nation that has a “radical redistribution of wealth and economic power” so that everyone has access to adequate food, water, shelter, education, health, and opportunities!

Last night I   while preparing for my MLK speech at Oklahoma City University Tuesday night, I was in the room with my wife who was watching Bravo’s Housewives of Atlanta.  I am not a fan of the show, but became interested in the episode after overhearing the cast members talking about taking a trip to South Africa, which got my attention because I have family there, really enjoyed my time visiting there, and generally excited anytime mainstream TV promotes Africa.   Yet, my excitement was short-lived. See, just when I thought this show could not get any more demeaning since it already   exploits almost every negative stereotype Black women face in this country; the Bravo Network, the show, cast members, and producers sunk to an all-time low by making a mockery of the enslavement of our (and their) ancestors. Wow, I can’t believe that while looking at an enslavement exhibit scene at an African-American museum that showed a Black male mannequin in chains, two of the cast members, (one who is actually a practicing attorney)  were making jokes about the mannequin’s “genitals” and even (the lawyer!) physically looked under the loin cloth of the  exhibit to see “what he was packing” which further plays into the “hyper sexuality” of the African-American community.

This is an outrage and I am disgusted. Exploiting stereotypes is one thing, and while I do not expect positive and uplifting content from these shows, I certainly do NOT expect to have the deadly and brutal chattel slavery era—that saw upwards of 100 million Africans forcefully snatched husband from wife, mother from daughter, father from son…forced to endure the horrendous middle passage…forced to suffer the humiliation of being sold at auction blocks like chattel…forced to work from “can’t see morning, to can’t see dusk” for the total enrichment and empowerment of others…forced to work under the consistent threat if death, rape, beating, or kidnapping…forced to breed with each other like beasts of the field— mocked by “educated” African-Americans on national TV!

In closing, can you imagine a Jew or (anyone for that matter) going to a Jewish Holocaust exhibit or museum, laughing and making sexual jokes about the topless exhibits? No you can’t because it would NEVER happen, and if it did it would be national news and the person/s responsible would be immediately escorted (rightfully so) out of the facility. As I reflect on all that the Civil rights generation went through, the beatings, the lynching, the jailing, the marching, and the killings, I am saddened to have to think: is THIS what Dr. King and others fought and died for?!? So, we could have the freedom to trivialize our plight and struggle for TV ratings and a few dollars. I guess Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of Black History Month and author of Mis-Education of the Negro  put it best by stating in 1933 “when you control a man’s mind, you don’t have to worry about his actions… [he] will find [his] proper place and will stay in it…you do not need to send him to the back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.” For whatever reason, the Atlanta Housewives felt that their proper place was to make it ok for the nation to find humor in the enslavement and oppression of Black people, their people; I can only pray that they find a way to become educated on why this is not the proper actions for such beautiful “southern belles.” Lastly, I’m sure the former enslaved African below would find no humor in their actions.

Love to see stories like this where someone’s hard work and dedication is being rewarded with tangible resources to assist towards their ultimate goal.  Without a doubt, our nation will be a better place if we continue to support the Mauri Miller’s of the nation.  This is whats possible for our young brothers, and I love it!

Q. What is Kwanzaa?  Kwanzaa is a unique Afrikan-American celebration that focuses on traditional African values of family, community responsibility, commerce, and self-improvement.

Q. Do you have to be of a certain belief to practice Kwanzaa?   No. Kwanzaa is neither political nor religious and despite some grave mis-conceptions Kwanzaa is not a substitute for Christmas. Kwanzaa is simply a time of reaffirming African people, our ancestors, and our culture.  All you have to do is believe in the seven guiding African principles that make up Kwanzaa.

Q. What are the seven guiding principles or Nguzo Saba of Kwanzaa?

  1. Umoja/Unity      (OO-MO-JAH).      Umoja stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, “I am We,”   or “I am because We are.”
  2. Kujichagulia/Self-Determination      (KOO-GEE-CHA-GOO-LEE-YAH). Kujichagulia requires that we   define our common interests and make decisions that are in the best   interest of our family and community.
  3. Ujima/Collective      Work and Responsibility (OO-GEE-MAH). Ujima reminds us of our   obligation to the past, present and future, and that we have a role to      play in the community, society, and world.
  4. Ujamaa/Cooperative      Economics (OO-JAH-MAH). Ujamaa economics emphasizes our   collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs      through mutual support.
  5. Nia/Purpose      (NEE-YAH). Nia      encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are      beneficial to the community.
  6. Kuumba      (KOO-OOM-BAH).      Kuumba makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong      and vibrant community.
  7. Imani      (EE-MAH-NEE).      Imani focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best   in ourselves, and helps us   strive   for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and      confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.

Q. Where does the word Kwanzaa from? The word Kwanzaa comes from the African language Kiswahili.  Kwanzaa literally means “first fruits of the harvest.”

 Q. When did Kwanzaa start?    Founded in 1966 by Dr.  Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa has come to be observed by more than 28 million people worldwide.

Q. When is Kwanzaa Celebrated?   Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26th to January 1st, and is based on Seven Guiding Principles called the Nguzo Saba.

 Q. What symbols are associated with Kwanzaa?  Kwanzaa has seven basic symbols and two supplemental ones. Each represents values and concepts reflective of African culture and contributive to community building and reinforcement.  The basic symbols are:

  1. Mazao/The Crops. These are symbolic of African harvest celebrations and of the rewards of productive and collective labor.
  2. Mkeka/The Mat. This is symbolic of our tradition and history and therefore, the foundation on which we build.
  3. Kinara/The Candle Holder.  This is symbolic of our roots, our parents, and our  people..
  4. Muhindi/The Corn. This is symbolic of our children and our future which they embody.
  5. Mishumaa Saba/The Seven Candles. These are symbolic of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, which African people are urged to live by in order  live our lives in their own image and according to their own needs.
  6. Kikombe cha Umoja/The Unity Cup.   This is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible.
  7. Zawadi/The Gifts. These are symbolic of the labor and love of parents and the commitments made and kept by the children.
  8.  Bendera/The Flag. The colors of the Kwanzaa flag are black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle. It is based on the colors given by the Hon. Marcus Garvey as national colors for African people throughout the world.
  9. Nguzo Saba Poster (Poster of The Seven Principles)
In closing, if you like me then you also agree that if we were to live these priniciples everyday all of our families and communities would be much more happier, healthy, and properous.  Happy Kwanzaa!!!