Monday, September 24, 2007

Jena 6: The New Surge For Justice

It’s been a little while since I felt the urge, rather the need to write. So, I have been silent on a number of important issues that touch our lives in profound ways: the war, inadequacies of educational institutions, the continued disrespect of black women, global warming, presidential politics, and the gripping violence in communities of color.

However, today, I can not sit silent on the issues raised by the Jena 6 students: racism, criminal injustice and socio-economic inequities that many black and brown skinned persons endure everyday in America. When will it all end?

The Jena 6, as we have come to know these students, acted bravely, courageously and defiantly on behalf of all oppressed, poor and marginalized people in America, not just Louisiana and not just the Jena High School. Their actions have sparked a social revival and moved us out of our complacency and self-interest to a place of change and national-global focused-interests. They have fueled the flames of justice, liberty, and equality for all God’s creation.

We must applaud Louisiana for being the state that challenges everything America supposedly stands for: equality for all, justice for all and liberty for all. It is the state that shows how repression of civil rights and social justice is the real reality of life for so many hidden and unseen faces. Rights and privileges afforded to its more wealthy citizens are God-given and deeply protected. On the other hand, the rights and privilege of its poor, disadvantaged, and communities of color remain a dream deferred.

I join the many activists, preachers, civil rights leaders, students, community and national organizations, church groups, policy makers,alternative media, main street media, bloggers, sororities and fraternities, entertainers, members of the hip hop community in coming together to bridge age, gender, sexual orientation, beliefs, and class to heal the emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical pain caused by racist laws and a racist justice system.

Can we bridge egos, big heads and perceived vested interests to launch the next “civil rights” movement that truly liberates the soul of America by looking racism in all of its ugly forms of expression-explicit and implicit at its core? Can we bridge generational gaps and invite the young in spirit, in age, in experience to the table with the tested and tried veterans: bruised from the battle, skilled in the art of war, and the keepers of the truth.

It is my hope that we remain vigilant and determined in our pursuit of justice, of liberation, and prosperity for all. I call for a new surge of justice, in economic parity, educational reforms, and job renewal-living wages. Let us double our local, state, and national resources to wage war on poverty, ignorance, and racism: a surge for justice.

In the weeks ahead, let's mark our ground breaking social revival by wearing black every Thursday (Black Thursday) until all of the Jena 6 are safe, free, and home. And, let us pray too, for our enemies: those opposed to justice.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

War, What is it Good For?

Saturday, January 27, was a historic and inspiring day for the US peace movement. A coalition of peace, social justice, community groups, private citizens, Hollywood stars, university students, houses of worships, national organizations all came together at the Mall in Washington DC, under one umbrella and united against President Bush’s ill-conceived war and his "new way forward strategy."

While, their were many voices and cries of "end the war…peace now, bring our troops home," some wondered if Mr. Bush would continue to ignore the wishes of the American electorate and stubbornly press on with the "surge." Some hoped the billions of US dollars designated to the war effort would be earmarked for our failing public schools, a US job creation program for our urban poor, an universal health care program, and restoration of the Gulf Coast, among a forgotten domestic policy agenda.

If you wondered where the old hippies of yesterday have been, well they have been reincarnated into today’s peace makers. We saw the old, the young, white, brown, yellow, black, toddlers, tweens, teenagers, rich, middle-class, and the poor.

January 27th lays a new foundation for the US Pease movement as it fights to reclaimed its will to engage in the business of democracy…expressing the voice of its citizens in a peaceful protest against militarism, unilateralism, and imperialism. Let democracy ring. Let us be vigilant for peace. And, long after the last placard has been read.... let us stay the course for an end to war forever.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Truth or Dare- Jimmy Carter In the Hot Seat

President Carter has been harshly criticized for his recent book, entitled, “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.” It is alleged, that he had faulty research, mischaracterized the facts, and stole the story ideas of colleagues. This seems a little far-fetched for me to believe.

He is a former President of the United States, Nobel Peace Prize Awardee, New York Times best selling author, a prolific writer, Founder of the Carter Center, World Statesman, Negotiator and Peace Mediator, and well respected American Citizen. Why, in the prime of his life and career, would he write a “bad” book now? A book that does not represent who he is as a credible observer of the forces, factors, and players in the Middle East and an active participant in the regional affairs.

I traveled to Israel / Palestine on two occasions.: first in 2004 and again in 2005. My life was profoundly and radically changed from my journey there. The issues are complex, interconnected, long-standing and clouded in ancient tribal intricacies. The Israel / Palestine story needs to be told and told over and over until the international community, including the United States get it: the occupation must end.

Perhaps, more to the point, I do not want to believe these allegations. He represents to me the last of the great statesman of our times. The thought of him writing a book of falsities and inaccuracies, troubles my soul and disturbs my spirit.

Not even the best of men, like President Carter, with all their passions and actions can resolve this conflict. I believe that Mr. Carter is one of the best Ambassadors of Peace on the planet. However, the ripple in my spirit, reminds me that I can not believe in anything outside of my own inner being. I must hold firm to my faith and belief in God. God, help me to be still and hear your voice clearly in the midst of all the chaos and death. Even my own voice must be silent to hear God’s voice. Reveal the truth in this conflict-occupation, so we may all be set free.

I would like to share with you some of my photos from my past visits. (This may take a few moments to load)

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Powell and Rice … A New kind of Black Leadership

On my radio show, Spirit in Action-3rd Tuesdays, January 16th, 2007, I had the pleasure of interviewing distinguished Professor Clarence Lusane, one of the most prolific writers and thinkers of our times. He is an author, activist, scholar, lecturer and journalist. Currently, he is the professor of Political Science at the School of International Service, American University in Washington DC.

On the heels of the nation’s celebration and remembrance of one of its greatest Americans, Martin Luther King, we are challenged with new paradigms of black leadership. Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, these two highly visible black appointees have shaped US foreign policy for the last six years. How would Martin Luther King evaluate their records on promoting policies of peace, human rights, and economic parity around the world?

My show offered our listeners a candid and frank “conversation” on Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as the top diplomats of US Foreign Policy. Professor Lusane’s recent book, “Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice: Foreign Policy, Race, and Gender The New American Century," provided the back drop for a heated and often times intense dialogue with our listeners. His book represents a scholarly work of modern-day foreign policy. It is a most read for activists, advocates, historians, social and political scientists.

Professor Luanne argues that Powell and Rice, while both supporting the ideology of the Bush Administration, are both different in the tactical approaches each take in executing the Bush’s doctrines’ of militarism, unilateralism, and power. He reports they both use race when it advances the Administration’s political goals.

Conversely, they do not use race to advance racial, class or civil rights objectives.
Ten to one, the listening audience felt that Powell and Rice had preformed their jobs badly. Some even felt “shamed” by them as agents of Bush and his ill-conceived Iraq war plans. The comments reflect the disappointment and desperation members of the community feel toward Powell, Rice, and Bush. They hope and long for progressive black leadership that connects race, gender and class with the broader struggles of all oppressed and impoverished people.

Professor Lusane states, “While some black Americans and many in Africa and the diaspora celebrated the Powell and Rice appointments through the prism of collective racial achievements, others worried that a Clarence Thomas-like Trojan Horse scenario of racial “betrayal” was unfolding.”

As I reflect on the life and mission of Martin Luther King, I think he would remind us that our leadership has a responsibility to create and implement policies and programs that uplift the poor, disadvantage, and the oppressed. And, when we fail to do this, we usher in the destruction of what is good and great about our nation and the role we play in the world. He too, might offer a failing grade to Powell and Rice.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I Do?

In an interesting article entitled, “Brookings panel encourages African-American marriage,” by James Wright, a journalist for The Washington Afro American Newspaper ,we learn a starling fact: between 1950 and 1996, the percentage of African-American families headed by married couples declined from 78 percent to 34 percent.

Even more alarming is the increase in the number of both African-American men and women who have never been married. Nearly 45 percent of African-American men have never married and 42 percent of African-American women have never married. Also there is an increasing number of African-American women who will never get married. The percentage of African-American women who are married declined from 62 percent to 31 percent between 1950 and 2002.

African-Americans are not only marrying at a lower rate, they are also marrying at a later age. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies reports that the age of 30, 81 percent of White women and 77 percent of Hispanics and Asians will marry, but that only 52 percent of African –America women will marry by that age. African-American women are also the least likely to re-marry following divorce. Only 32 percent of African-American women will get married again within five years of divorce; that figure is 58 percent for White women and 44 percent for Hispanic women.

Although, I am reluctant to attribute the declining marriage rate to the lack of available men because I like to think that the universe is filled with every thing we need to fulfill our purposes on the earth.

The relative truth here, is that there are real concrete reasons why African-American men and African-American women are increasingly finding it difficult to come together and stay with each other. Even back in the 50’s African-American men were disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system with high rates of incarceration. We still had the psychological scars of slavery then but somehow we managed to protect and cherish the family. What is different now?

What can we do to turn the corner on these statistics? Is the heart of the problem the issue of commitment? Check out our discussions on I would love to hear your thoughts on these alarming statistics. How can we nurture our children to give them a better chance at successful marriage?

Also, if you are experincing issues with your marriage or relationship and might be considering counseling, please refer to for further information

Friday, January 05, 2007

Gerald Ford-A Really Tall Man

As the nation mourns the loss and death of Gerald Ford, a truly great American, we provide ourselves with a wonderful opportunity to re-shape and re-design our current course of Presidential and Congressional interactions. For that matter, our personal, family and community exchanges.

President Ford’s death is a stark reminder of what it takes to be a citizen of the world and not just a citizen of the United States. He portrayed the kinder more gentle style of leadership that is able to bend and bow without breaking himself or the interest of the nation.

As I reflect on his death, I am reminded that all life and death are timed so perfectly. We are never really ready for death and some may wish it never comes. Even in President Ford’s death he teaches a generation of politicians, pundits, neoconservatives, liberals, and independents that integrity in actions, decency in interpersonal and professional relationships and putting the interests of the nation before one’s own self-interests are all relevant and necessary character traits for governance in the 21st century.

Thank you President Ford for all you did in life and for all you will do in death. You make me proud to be American again.

When will we will get the lessons that President Ford so admirably demonstrated can be achieved? Is it possible to lay down our weapons of partisan politics, our culture of corruption, and imperialist tendencies? Can we birth a new generation of “Fordian” leaders?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Wild, Wild West

Kill him, execute him, and cut off his head: all outcries for justice for an evil and brutal dictator, Saddam Hussein. I watch the news coverage of what was often described as the "biggest" news story of the weekend, Saddam’s execution.

At first, I wasn’t particularly interested in following the story. Mostly, I was not interested because I was ashamed that anyone; person or institution would be so interested in reporting and glorifying an execution no matter whom the victim. It reminded me that we have not progressed beyond brute force as a way of settling our differences.

Secondly, I was embarrassed that the United States, Saddam’s creator and benefactor while causing the destruction of Iraq, wants us to believe that its hands are innocent in the sentencing and execution phases of the trail process. How would that be even likely? Especially, since the United States is the architect of the war.

Thirdly, I was horrified that such an action was carried out in the midst of a sacred and holy time for Muslims around the world. I equate this action with the West’s holy observance of Christmas and its sentencing and killing Donald Rumford for war crimes on December 25, Christmas Day. I am pretty sure this would not sit so well with the entire civilized world.

Lastly, I am sadden by the primitive practice of death by execution. It is never right to kill another. Who are we to judge the actions and deeds of anyone? In doing so, we give permission for others to equally judge us. There will come a day when the United States will be judged and our leadership may be found guilty of crimes against humanity.