Archive for June, 2010

The Bridge: Welfare Is Not The Daddy!

Posted in Black Men, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags on June 30, 2010 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

If we were truly concerned about the future of our children, then we would focus on the benefits, not the costs of amending the Welfare system, because as study after study has shown, our children are doing worse with fewer fathers in the home.

An early study from the Journal of Genetic Psychology found that the differences in development between children were connected more to the amount of interaction with the father as opposed to the socio-economic status of either parent or even the number of adults in the household.

Current studies prove that children without fathers in the home are more prone to an assortment of difficulties.

Yet, society focuses on jailing fathers who do not pay, which has not proven to make them pay or make them show up.

The problem is not that fathers just want to have children and walk away, as we have been told.  The problem is that Welfare, in many ways, supplants the father, and in other ways, the courts simply ignore or impede fathers who desire to be present.

Nearly 40 percent of unwed mothers are living with a man and are already mothers to one or more additional children., but the “income-tested” Welfare System creates blockages to marriage.

Governmental assistance programs often root out males who may be dating single mothers prior to deciding to marry and attempt to assign financial responsibility to them, often resulting in a breakup.

For example, if a mother who is living with her boyfriend applies for benefits as a single head of household, she will have support from the system, while her mate ostensibly will have his own income, even if it’s minimum wage.

But if the two do decide to marry, the system will immediately count the man’s income against the woman’s Welfare eligibility, reducing or ending her benefits.

What this means, as dramatized in the ‘Seventies movie Claudine, is that benefits are maximized when a single mother remains single, and slashed if she marries. The two incomes represented by the man’s income and Welfare benefits, are reduced to solely the man’s income—a huge burden delivered with no preparation.

In this manner, the Welfare System forces impoverished couples to choose to remain unmarried over combining incomes in a marriage.  While the popular concept of single Black mothers is of Welfare Queens, that concept is neither based on truth or intelligence.  Welfare benefits are scarcely enough for a family to survive on and most of the Welfare fraud is actually committed by white women.

Welfare case workers will even deduct gifts from a man from the amount of monthly assistance provided to the single mother.

What must be stated and underscored is that these solutions are designed to create financial responsibility, not to place fathers in the lives of children.

And, in reality, there is no huge single parent Welfare drain on the economy.  Total Welfare program costs in the United States are just over $400 billion per year, which is only FIVE PER CENT of the Gross Domestic Product.  And only half of this goes to households with children.

But, even as America’s president seeks more billions for a failing war effort overseas, many Americans fly into a rage over the possibility of Welfare’s five percent of the GDP growing to a whopping six percent.

The total arrearages in child support is just under $100 billion dollars, while the cost of the Iraq War will be over $1 trillion by the time things are all said and done.

If we acknowledge the fact that 70 percent of men in arrears earn less than $10,000 annually, then forcing a single woman off of Welfare benefits if she marries, tacitly creates fewer marriages and more single parent households. It also makes for fewer fathers in the lives of children, when the man is pursued for repayment of Welfare benefits.

Can the Welfare and Child Support System be revamped to make more fathers present in the lives of more children?

The easy answer is yes.

First, since the focus on making him pay has failed (arrears have actually risen despite arrests), more efforts to make him present should be pursued, which will benefit everyone.

Instead of continuing to penalize parents, society would fare better to actually reward couples who marry and combine incomes while improving their standing.

For example, instead of slashing Welfare benefits when a man is in the home, the system would be pragmatic to provide assistance for education or the acquisition of trades, in addition to time-limited extension of daycare support and transportation costs for both parents.

The net result will be fewer families languishing in poverty and on Welfare.

Additionally, a single father who is present in the home and taking full advantage of those incentives should also have his debt to the Welfare system reduced substantially.  Largely, impoverished men are being jailed and their licenses are being revoked for being unable to reimburse the Welfare system, not for refusing to pay into a single mother headed household.

A great many fathers hit the road when facing a loss of license and/or jail.

If we wish to have more fathers in the lives of children, then we must stop viewing them as responsible for repaying the government.  If a single mother’s benefits were to be unaffected by marriage, particularly to an already impoverished father, no one would have to make choices between marriage and Welfare benefits.

The net benefit here would be mostly for single Welfare mothers and the low-wage earning, fathers with low or no skills, who are the overwhelming majority of so-called “Deadbeat Dads.” Both groups are also among those for whom marriage is most elusive.

Funny, but with all the current hoopla over same sex marriages, there are no huge outreach programs by either church or state to urge single parents to set marriage as a goal to better the lives of their children.

Political and social leaders would do their communities justice by providing the positive message that marriage will improve the lives of all involved, as opposed to the negative message that fathers desire to be absent, which has generally been proven to be a lie.

And, both church and state must stop delivering confusing messages about sex, while allowing the media and entertainment to deliver sex and sexuality.  The battle is against sex education in the schools, with little other education suggested. We know that people will learn from somewhere, so the decision is whether they will learn in the schools or in the streets.  Some adults have yet to learn.

Finally, the Welfare System must stop competing with fathers as the breadwinner in the lives of single mothers and children.

The bottom line to all of this is that single fathers, especially single Black fathers, have gotten a bad rap. Most of the negative views are based on mythology and personal biases, not fact.

The sad reality is that even though I have presented research and statistics in this book, many ignorant people have still responded with their same old, tired stereotypes, ignoring everything except their silly misconceptions, which they have allowed to pose as truth.

If we truly desire to improve the lot of those at the bottom, then those above had better be about the business of creating pragmatic solutions

We can continue to chase after men who have little money, and we can continue to crow about how fathers “just need to pay,” but at the end of the day, that campaign has failed.

Perhaps it’s time for something new.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames every Monday from 7-9pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.

MEMO: FROM BOYS INTO–GIRLS?

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men with tags , on June 27, 2010 by Gary Johnson


BY MIKE RAMEY

One of the things that I have come to notice over the last few years is the uplifting of the effeminate and the downgrading of the masculine among our young men by their mothers–and others.

Case in point: the remake of ‘The Karate Kid.’

Why is the Black male lead in cornrows–which makes him look like a girl?

Now, there will be some who think that I am making much to do about nothing, but hear me out.  In our media-driven age, image IS everything.  From You Tube to Facebook, to the Blackberry, we are consciously driven by what we see.  Furthermore, since many of our Black actors and actresses are not in charge of their own production houses or distribution networks, image matters even more.

From time to time, I’ve had the discussion about ‘…how Black folk look in the media…’ with various individuals.  I find it quite tragic that Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won Oscars for roles that degrade our people.  For some, the check may be more important than the image–but how Black folk are viewed in the mainstream is how other races WILL see us.  Until those Black folk IN the entertainment and political ranks get some guts and STOP becoming ‘working props’ for institutional idiocy, the stigma of degrading our people will continue.

The clean up must start among ourselves.

BLACK USED TO BE BEAUTIFUL AND PROUD:

While in the classroom, once upon a time, I had a male student ‘yell out’ that he was ‘Black and proud’.  Of course, his GPA was somewhere below a D level, and he had disciplinary record as long as my leg.  I just HAD to smile at his sheer ignorance.

Long ago, a local doctor in my town commented on the youth of the eighties.  To paraphrase:  “It’s not enough to be ‘Black and proud’.  You have to live an upright life and have your individual actions ‘back up’ your words.”

His wisdom seems to have bypassed some in our current decade.

Now, I have never been a fan of cornrows for boys.  I am less of a fan for the diamond earring (a.k.a. ‘stud’ or ‘studs’) in the earlobe for boys.  I am least of all enamored with a young man who has cornrows AND earrings.  Then, there are the associated ‘sagging’ pants, tats, and color scheme associated with gang life.  There’s just something creepy about stuff like that.  Nuff said.

The sad thing?  Parents who think that it is ‘cool’ to let their sons go about the town looking like throwbacks to preschool–with the emotional stability to match.  Of course, you can’t correct young people today, let alone their parents, because feelings are so ‘easily’ hurt.

Let me clue you to something, parents:  If you won’t correct your own sons (and daughters), don’t expect those of us in positions of authority to do your job.  We’ll just let your son slide on down the tubes and give our wisdom to those young men who not only want it…they’ll do something with it once they receive it.

Is that Black enough for you?

LOCKING IN STEREOTYPES:

I realize that we are only talking about a small universe of knuckleheads that won’t get with the program.  Unfortunately, the mainstream press uses that ‘small’ universe to represent ‘us’ to the larger universe, further locking in a stereotype.  Many parents haven’t learned the lesson about ‘Black pride’ that our elders tried to get through to them:  Lessons which other races have not only learned, but capitalized upon.

Let me give you a ‘for instance.’

Modern Latino music, when it first burst upon the scene in the mid-eighties, could not gain acceptance into the mainstream.  Did the Latinos stage a ‘sit in’?  No.  They understood basic economic thought.  The worked with EACH OTHER.  They pooled their money and talent and did their OWN music awards in their OWN electronic and written media.  The result?  Eventually, the established music hierarchy ‘discovered’ Latino music.  Soon, all Latino music was held to be ‘cool’.  Now you have ALL actors and actresses (who want to make a buck) learning how to speak Spanish, because the Latino culture OWNS its image!

Say what you may about my example; many of us will have to admit–thanks to Latinos being; a) proud of who they are, and; b) stressing an education to their young men–more of them are going to college and know how to carry themselves in public.

They have mastered how to keep their own image in a sea of stereotyping.  More importantly, their young men are STILL represented as being young men.

GETTING THE SKILLS FOR MANHOOD:

To my young brothers:  It’s not who can yell the loudest or waive a gun in the streets who is counted a man; it’s the brother who has the skills AND the wisdom to W-O-R-K!  Your Mama may think that you are ‘cute’ at 3-4 or 5 with those cornrows in your hair.  Maybe you were.  But, at 13-14-15?  Nope…not cute but pathetic!  Among the brotherhood, you won’t get much training or sympathy because you haven’t be emotionally strengthened to deal with the ‘knocks’ that life has in store for young Black men in general, and MEN in particular.  When an employer sees you coming in the door with cornrows, no matter how many brothers who are ‘on’ the job with them–they have stopped their financial progress.

Cornrows spell out ‘Do Not Promote Me’ in big, loud letters, no matter how cute they may look on a screen or a video. You don’t look like the work culture, and you won’t be given the respect that you are due.  Economics and respect go hand-in-glove.

The style of Black hair used to be the fro.  Now, it’s low, lean and clean.  On the campus, the classroom or the job, MEN dress to impress, period.  MEN have the skills to ‘back up’ their work record with their style and pride.  No wannabes need apply for a man’s job in a depression–until they grow up, take a good look in a mirror and determine who they are–and whom they want to represent:  Adulthood–or adolescence.

Young brothers: your economic future hinges upon the answer you choose.

RAMEY is the Pastor of The Forward Church, Indianapolis, Indiana. THE MANHOOD LINE appears on fine websites and gracious blogs around the world.  To correspond, email  manhoodline@yahoo.com.  © 2010 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications.

The Bridge: When Daddy’s Not Home

Posted in Black Interests, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags on June 22, 2010 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

Yesterday’s single mother household had support from the village consisting of their own fathers, uncles, brothers and other male family members.

Today, more single mothers are disconnected from extended family members and typically from their own fathers, which means that if the fathers of their children are not on the scene, there more than likely will be no male figure in the children’s lives.

There are very few cases of men simply fathering children and willfully shirking parental obligations.

Studies show that even among men who use fatherhood to “express their manhood,” there is a desire to remain involved in the lives of the resulting offspring.

Yet, the overwhelming concept of the Absentee Father is of a man who “donates his DNA,” and abandons the child along with all responsibilities.

The notion of Black fathers abandoning their children is typically the stereotype that many Americans are comfortable with.  And this comfort generally comes without any attention to research.

For example, how many people with that comfort would remain comfortable with the fact that there are actually a growing number of single parent households headed by Black fathers?

But the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of children in single parent households are being raised by mothers, frequently in the absence of a father or father figure.

There are a number of reasons why fathers are absent from their children’s lives, even though the one that garners the most focus is the man being a proverbial “Deadbeat Dad,” the father who willfully neglects to pay his financial obligations.

Some fathers may be absent because they were unprepared for fatherhood and are often unwilling, but have little say once the woman is pregnant.  Some fathers may be absent because the mother may not actually know who impregnated her, and other fathers may be absent because their assigned financial responsibility is far above their financial capability.

While society seeks to imprison men who fail to pay child support, few focus on the fact that 70% of fathers who are in arrears on child support earn $10,000 a year or less.

In short, the majority of men who are being prosecuted for failure to pay often can not pay.

And, even if there are attempts to be involved, including sharing the care of the child, purchasing groceries, diapers or other necessities, those attempts are discounted if the assigned financial responsibilities are unmet.

The net result when a father is unable to pay, is that he will probably disappear from the child’s life, after either running from the financial burden that he can not carry, or after being jailed for being unable to shoulder the financial burden.

These are the two most prominent results when Daddy can not pay, and while a great portion of society is comfortable with these results, there are some dire consequences of not having fathers in the lives of children.

There are a more than a handful of pieces written about the consequences of absentee fathers, but generally the focus is on the male child.  However, there are some very serious issues faced by fatherless females today, which stem from low self-esteem and very poor socialization with positive male role models in their lives as young girls.

These issues include fleeting and unstable love relationships with men, early experimentation with sex, increased out of wedlock childbirth and lower self-esteem.  These issues must be addressed.

Increased absentee fathers result in increased poverty for the children. Fifty-one percent of the children raised by unmarried mothers are raised in poverty, while only seven percent of children in a marriage are poor.  Even marriage after the child is born decreases poverty for the child by more than half.

That poverty, which typically includes Welfare dependence, has that dependence sustained through the child’s minority years in 50% of the cases, while children in married households are only on Welfare 3% of the time until adulthood. Again, marriage after the child is born decreases Welfare dependence by more than half, while divorce will only increase Welfare dependence to 13%.

Children raised in single parent homes are more likely to have retarded cognitive development, lower educational achievement, increased behavioral problems, lowered impulse control and increased emotional disturbances.  Those children are also more likely to engage in criminal activity.

A summary from the National Institute of Child Health and Development found that inner city Black male children in households at or below poverty with little or no fatherhood involvement had lower mental development and decreased cognitive development.  They also were more prone to difficulties with self control, impulse control and Attention Deficit Disorder.

Project TALENT, a federal survey, found that children born outside of marriage were more likely to become unwed parents themselves.

Those children have a higher likelihood of becoming single parents because they are experiencing earlier sexual activity and few, if any models of parenting partnerships and/or marriage.  They are also more likely to end up on Welfare as single parents.

According to The National Health Interview Survey of Child Health, children of unwed parents have greater behavioral and emotional problems than children of married parents.

A 1988 study by the University of Illinois showed that a boy’s educational achievements are diminished the longer he spends in a single parent home.

In 1988, a study of eleven thousand people showed a dramatic association between rates of violent crime and children from single parent households between the ages of 12 and 20. The study underscored the fact that neither poverty alone, nor race alone can be associated with high crime rates.

And, data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, reveals that young Black men raised in homes lead by a single mother are twice as likely to engage in criminal activities as those from two parent homes.

Society at large and the Black community in specific would do well to understand the importance of the father’s role in child rearing, focusing on more important aspects such as time spent on a regular basis than simple assignment of financial responsibility.

Even if all the fathers pay, who will be there to provide male role models for the children?

Am I making excuses for Absentee Fathers?

Not hardly.

What I am doing is underscoring the very real fact that focusing on financial child support has done little to increase the quality of life for the throngs of young boys and girls who are growing up without male influence.

More men have been jailed for child support, but that has not resulted in more men in the lives of those children or even more non-welfare support for the children, which means, quite frankly, that the Child Support Industry has failed.

Single mothers who do not garner positive male models for their children are failing.

Absentee fathers are not the only deadbeats.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames every Monday from 7-9pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.

The Bridge: Making Daddy Pay

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men, Fatherhood, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags , , on June 18, 2010 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

In this nation, violent crimes typically work their way through the underclass, who are both the majority of victims and perpetrators.

Over the past forty years, more and more youth who are born into underclass families tumble further away from upward mobility.  These fallen youth have little motivation to become productive members of society, leaning more toward gangs, violent crime and drugs than education and participation in the workforce.

In study after study, this trend has been linked directly to the decline in the number of fathers present in the lives of underclass children.

When fathers are in the home, boys are taught self control, which is crucial in their teen years. Without limits set by a stable male figure, many young boys have difficulty determining where the world begins and where they end.

And, having fathers around provides healthy role models for boys who are able to imagine what their future lives can be like based upon a stable adult male figure. A young man is able to make the transition to husband, father and productive member of society when an example is in his life.

Without such examples, negative role models become the standard bearers, including gang members, pimps, thugs and other scourges from the bottom of society.

What does this mean?

It’s simple: Even if a man can not pay child support, his presence in the lives of his children is better for society overall.

At some point we must ask ourselves why the child support system focuses on the idea that a father’s best contribution is financial.  Very little effort is spent toward assuring that children have emotional and/or physical connections to fathers whether they are paying child support or not.

Sadly, the goal for most existing laws and efforts are simply to “make him pay,” including laws suspending driver’s licenses and providing access to bank accounts.  But making him pay does very little for making him present.  In fact, focusing on making him pay may actually assure that he won’t be present.

Focusing on making him pay has failed.

Ten years ago, $31 billion was in arrears on child support, according to the federal government.  By 2003, that number had soared to $96 billion, along with the number of fathers in jail and/or out of the workforce.

Further evidence that the “make him pay” focus has failed was found by the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank.  According to the Urban Institute, current measures designed to coerce fathers to pay child support has played a “crucial role” in forcing low-income Black men from 25 to 34 out of the workforce altogether.

The end result of aggressive child support collection is often the flight of fathers from financial burden that may be overwhelming and/or insurmountable.

The system is so anxious to make him pay, that it often holds men financially responsible without their knowledge and without them actually being fathers.

A bill named for Senator Bill Bradley (D-New Jersey), dictates that once a man is assigned financial responsibility, he can not even go to court to have it reduced or erased.

The amendment keeps fathers up under child support even if it is determined that they are not the biological parent.  This is really disturbing, when according to a report by the Los Angeles Times, roughly 70% of fathers are not in court when paternity is established and their monthly obligations are determined.

Fathers who are not present may not even know that they owe child support, and worse, according to that same LA Times report, “on average, more than 350 men every month are incorrectly named as fathers.”

Going back to the Bradley Amendment, those fathers are still held under retroactive child support orders, even after being determined not to be fathers.

There are no legal measures to seek the actual father, or to garner the physical presence of either the biological father, or the father who is being forced to pay child support.

And, in many cases, the mother has no idea who the father is.  This situation has lead to alarming “solutions” within the law.  In some states, financial responsibility is assigned to men who just happen to be around when the woman gets pregnant, whether it is his biological child or not.

The best example of this case is when a couple is married, but the wife has sex with someone other than the husband and produces a child.  Even after the couple divorces and even if DNA tests prove that someone else is the father, the ex-husband can still be assigned fatherhood and child support. And, in most cases, judges will refuse to end established child support, claiming that responsibility must remain with the only father the child has ever known.

We know that there are plentiful measures designed to make him pay, but where are the measures designed to make him present?

Sadly, there are few.

This is not only in reference to measures which would urge fathers to be present in the lives of their children, but also measures designed to enforce custody rights of non-custodial fathers.

Governments provide custodial parents with free assistance in locating the so-called “Deadbeat Dad,” to make him pay, but no state will assist a non-custodial father with locating a mother who has skipped town with the child.

Can society assure that more fathers will be present in the lives of children?

Yes.  But that will require that we change our minds about the propaganda disseminated about the so-called “Deadbeat Dad.”  Even though we can prove that the system allows fraudulent assignment of child support, and that very few men actually want to walk away from their children, some people will continue to babble on with their negative views of single fathers-based on rumors and innuendo, not fact.

Securing more fathers in the lives of children will also require that society’s focus actually be placed on making fathers present as opposed to making them pay.  Even though it has been proven that making him pay has failed, society dredges on with the prosecution of impoverished fathers for debts which continue to go uncollected.

And, finally, if we wish to see more fathers in the lives of children, we must stop the Welfare System from supplanting the father as breadwinner of the family.

In some ways, society is waking up to the fact that making him pay has not made him present and that the system needs to be changed.

The times, they are a’ changin’.  Proof comes from mothers who not only care about their children, but about the relationships those children have with their fathers.

For example, Jacqueline Kennedy, an unwed mother from Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times that she prefers personal involvement to child support from her child’s father.

“He calls. He sends cards. He’s an excellent father,” said Kennedy, who supports her family with her job as a child-care worker. “You don’t have to be together to raise a child. Women need to get off Aid to Families With Dependent Children and stop thinking about fathers paying child support. What makes a good father is whether he gets involved.”

Children have needs.

Fathers should pay when they can.  So should mothers. So should society.

Fathers can’t carry children in a womb, but once a child is in the world, fathers can provide nurturing and support to children in a way that is as necessary as the nurturing and support a mother provides.

That is more about being around than being a cash machine.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames every Monday from 7-9pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.

STEPHEN STRASBURG: THE NEW WASHINGTON MONUMENT?

Posted in Sports News with tags on June 11, 2010 by Gary Johnson

By Harold Bell

Washington D.C. is home to some of the world’s most visited landmarks. The Lincoln Memorial, Smithsonian and Vietnam Wall are heralded across the globe and attract millions annually.

We can now add another monument: National’s Park, the new home of Stephen Strasburg.

Strasburg made his long awaited debut at home Tuesday evening. Nobody left disappointed.

The pitching phenomenon struck out 14 Pittsburgh Pirates in seven innings. Washington walked away with a 5-2 win while Strasburg strolled off the mound with the hearts and minds of the city.

Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn was one of the most feared hitters in the history of Major League Baseball.  He played 20 years for the San Diego Padres and retired in 2001 with a career batting average of 338. He now serves as the baseball coach at San Diego State.  Strasburg was the pitching ace on his staff before leaving for the baseball draft last year.

It is anybody’s guess how many times the teacher (Gwynn) took the student (Strasburg) to school during his stay on campus.  I can see Gwynn getting in the batting cage and saying “Let me see what you got kid.”  Gwynn was in attendance with forty thousand plus (a sell out) to see his prize pupil make his Major League debut.

One Washington Post columnist Tom Boswell said “There are shutouts, high strikeout games and, almost certainly, no-hitters ahead of this man.”  I think that is setting sights a little high for the young man.  He has enough pressure on him as is and now he reads or hears some columnist is setting his goals for him.

It is no surprise everyone is jumping on “The Strasburg Band Wagon” trying to figure out a way to make a buck or improve their ratings.  From all indications Strasburg memorabilia will run off the shelves if he wins his next two outings.

Major League Baseball is looking for a savior after the gambling antics of Pete Rose, steroids use by Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and a host of others who have given the game a bad name. Baseball needs Strasburg.

There are some DC restaurants who have already gone overboard and are selling a sandwich called the Strasburg-burger that includes a hot dog and two beef patties on a bun and your choice of Tums or Pepto-Bismol for $10.99.

Major league baseball players who hit for a living are some pretty smart guys and will be watching as much tape on Strasburg as possible.  What makes Strasburg the possible next coming of Walter Johnson?  He has a fastball that tops 100 miles per hour and a slider that looks like it just fell off the table when it come out of his hand.

We must remember he is just 21 years old and the new kid on the block. I think the ace he has in the hole is veteran catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez behind the plate as his guiding light.

The Nationals are just getting started. They recently drafted this year’s number one player in the country, taking 17 year old power hitting Bryce Harper. This young man is also a special kind of player.

I think Washington Post columnist Mike Wise summed up it up best when he said, “Something about boy kings fixing franchises really gets us going in Washington.  And when we can’t find a golden child, a retired legend like Mike Shanahan is coaxed out of retirement and he becomes hope.  Until we turn on him, like we have turned on others.”

Wise forgot to mention the Redskin’s new savior ex-Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb. The fans and news media turned on him his entire NFL career in the City of Brotherly Love. McNabb is a little long in the tooth to be considered a whiz kid, but a savior never the less.

Strasburg is must see baseball in D.C. from this day forth but McNabb versus the Eagles will be the must see game in the NFL.

How can we forget Kwame Brown drafted right out of high school by Michael Jordan and the NBA Washington Wizards?  They failed to meet expectations of an NBA Championship and they both were run out of town.

Wise also said, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”  Strasburg was paid more than $15 million dollars and Harper will probably break the bank with his asking price.  Strasburg has already set the table for him.

We may have another whiz kid who will be making his pro debut within the Beltway in a few months, John Wall. Wall is a guard out of the University of Kentucky.  He is expected to be taken by the Washington Wizards who have the number one pick in the NBA draft.

Someone once said “Youth is wasted on the young.”  Please don’t try telling that to the Washington Nationals and the Washington Wizards.

Misreading the Tea (Party) Leaves

Posted in Barack Obama, Black Interests, Politics with tags , , on June 10, 2010 by Gary Johnson

By Raynard Jackson

I was stunned by Tuesday night’s election comments from all the talking heads.   In listening to many political pundits (both Democrats and Republicans), you would have thought Sarah Palin had just become God!

How can anyone with the least bit of a brain credit Palin with many of the Republican victories last night, especially among the female victors?

Only once in recent history can one credibly argue that an endorsement by an individual had any measureable effect on an election—and that election was in 2008.

When Colin Powell endorsed then Senator Barack Obama for president, there was a noticeable change in the trajectory of Obama’s campaign.  Powell’s words validated Obama within the Black community.  Powell is the E.F. Hutton of America—when he speaks, people listen.

Powell’s stature is so much revered, his blessing was received as imprimatur for the military to believe that “the kid’s ok.”  White America, who was not very familiar with Obama, was reassured by Powell’s words.  The fact that Powell chose Obama over Senator McCain (a very close personal friend of Powell) sent shock waves throughout America.  Powell’s endorsement was measureable, newsworthy, and game changing.

Because of Powell’s stature, he was able to impact a national election by sheer force of his person and his accomplishments.  Sarah Palin, nor the Tea Party, is nowhere close to having this type of gravitas.

Palin and the Tea Party are like empty vessels—everyone fills them with whatever they want.  This will prove to be the Achilles Heel for the Republican Party.  Palin constantly issues “bumper sticker” slogans that have very little practical meaning and no substance.

The four people Palin endorsed were:  Carly Fiorina (former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and candidate for the U.S. Senate in California), Nikki Haley (South Carolina state representative who is running for governor), Terry Branstad (former four time governor of Iowa), and Cecile Bledson (Arkansas state senator who lost during yesterday’s Republican primary for U.S. Congress).

Palin’s endorsing these candidates and claiming to have helped them win (Bledson was the only one to lose) is like Ron Artest claiming to have helped Michael Jordan win his titles with the Chicago Bulls because they both played basketball; or Al Sharpton taking claim for Obama’s presidential win because he is a supposed civil rights leader.  Saying it’s so doesn’t make it so.

There is absolutely no causation between Palin or the Tea Party and these candidates victory.   Fiorina had proven success in the corporate world, Haley, Brandstad, and Bledson all had proven track records in the political arena.  But, as is typical in politics, if you can’t explain why something happens, then make something up.  In the immortal words of the Doobie Brothers, “What a fool believes, no wise man has the power to reason away; what seems to be is always better than nothing at all.”

The days of individual “power brokers” are over.  The above candidates won, not because of Palin, but because they were good candidates who had a message that resonated with the electorate.

The political pundits can’t fathom the possibility that these candidates won on the merits of their campaigns—what a novel thought!  For all the talk about Palin, can someone explain to me why she has not contributed any money to these candidates?  If she so believes in them, why is she not putting her money where her lipstick is?

She and her sycophants have deluded themselves into believing that if Palin just speaks the word—candidates will win.

Republicans should do well at the polls come November, but my biggest fear is the party’s penchant for never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.  This is the only thing that can save the Democrats.  You can count on members of the Tea Party to make some incendiary, racial statements between now and November.

The lesson to be learned from Tuesday’s election results is that Americans want common sense solutions to the problems facing America.  They are not looking for candidates to pass litmus tests of political purity.  They want people with clear records of success outside of politics—no more career politicians!  They want civil discourse.

To have Sarah Palin  or the Tea Party as the storyline from the election is a total misreading of the tea leaves.

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm.  He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com).

Don’t forget to register to listen to my radio show every Saturday evening from 7-9:00 p.m.  Go to www.ustalknetwork.com to register and then click on host, and then click on my photo to join my group.

Raynard Jackson has been named to Talkers Magazine’s “Frontier Fifty.” The “Frontier Fifty” is a selection of Outstanding Talk Media Web casters.

REMEMBERING COACH JOHN WOODEN: THE REAL DEAL!

Posted in Sports News with tags , on June 8, 2010 by Gary Johnson

By Harold Bell

When I heard that Coach John Wooden had died last week, it was like I had just lost my coach, and I never had the pleasure of playing for him.

I would guess I had plenty of company.

Coach Wooden was a better human being than he was a coach. I would think most of us would want to be associated with a man who epitomized the human spirit.

He cared more about winning lives than winning games. But games he did win; he won 10 national championships in a span of 12 seasons at UCLA. He won 885 games, including 218 in high school and 47 at Indiana State. In 27 seasons at UCLA he won 620 games, losing only 147, for a winning percentage of .808.

Among those 10 national championships he won seven consecutive titles. Coach Wooden had 38 consecutive NCAA tournament victories that included back-to-back consecutive 30-game winning seasons in 1971-72 and 1972-73.

He is the only men’s coach to have four 30-0 seasons, but it was the 19 conference championships he said “I am most proud of.”

Coach Wooden was born in Halls, Indiana, but he never played by the discrimination laws of the state. In 1947 his Indiana State basketball team was invited to play in a tournament in Kansas, but he turned down the invitation when he discovered the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB), the conference sponsor, would not allow his only black player, Clarence Walker, to participate.

Remember, this was before Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers kicked down the doors of discrimination in Major League Baseball. This was also before the late Red Auerbach and owner Walter Brown of the Boston Celtics drafted the first black player to play in the NBA. This was a bold act by Coach Wooden; the State of Indiana was the stronghold of the Ku Klux Klan.

He was not only a stand-up human being with integrity; he also understood the definition of loyalty. That same year, Wooden’s alma mater Purdue University wanted him to return to campus and serve as an assistant to then head coach Mel Taube until Taube’s contract expired. Wooden would then take over the program.

Citing his loyalty to Taube, he declined the school’s offer. Taking the job as Taube’s assistant would have effectively made Taube a “lame duck” coach.

The following year (1948), Coach Wooden would again lead his team to the conference title. The NAIB reversed its policy banning African-American players, and he coached his team to the NAIB National Tournament final, losing to Louisville. In losing, he really won; he looked racism square in its unfocused eyes and walked away with a victory. This was the only championship game a Wooden-coached team ever lost.

That year, Walker became the first African-American to play in any postseason intercollegiate basketball tournament.

John Wooden was inducted into the Indiana State University Athletic Hall of Fame on Feb. 3, 1984. Wooden was “The Real Deal” before he arrived on the UCLA campus.

In the 1947-48 season, another characteristic of this great man came to the surface—he was a man of his word.

Before he took over as the head coach at UCLA, Coach Wooden had negotiated for a three-year contract with the University of Minnesota. UCLA had actually been his second choice. His wife Nell wanted to remain in the Midwest.

The inclement weather in Minnesota prevented him from receiving the scheduled phone offer from the Golden Gophers. He thought that they had lost interest, so Coach Wooden accepted the head coaching job with the Bruins instead.

Officials from the University of Minnesota contacted Wooden right after he accepted the position at UCLA, but he declined their offer because he had given his word to the Bruins.

Despite his success, Coach Wooden reportedly did not initially enjoy his position at UCLA, and his wife did not favor living in Los Angeles. As fate would have it, Mel Taube left Purdue in 1950. Wooden’s inclination was to return and finally accept the head coaching job there.

He was ultimately dissuaded when UCLA officials reminded him that it was he who insisted upon a three-year commitment during negotiations in 1948. With that in mind, Wooden felt that leaving UCLA prior to the expiration of his contract would be tantamount to breaking his word and thus decided to again pass on the job at Purdue.

Today’s coaches and athletes who are only devoted to a dollar bill could learn from Coach Wooden as it relates to the definition of Man. He was devoted to One Woman and One School, and his word was his bond. This is unheard of today in the world of sports.

His wife Nell was the love of his life. They were married in 1932, and she died of cancer in 1985. He remained devoted to her even decades after her death.

Since her death, he had kept a monthly ritual (health permitting)—on the 21st, he visited her grave and then wrote a love letter to her. After completing the letter, he placed it in an envelope and added it to a stack of similar letters that accumulated over the years on the pillow she slept on during their life together.

In mourning Nell’s death, Wooden was comforted by his faith. He was a Christian for many years, and his beliefs were more important to him than basketball: “I have always tried to make it clear that basketball is not the ultimate.” There is only one kind of life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior.

Wooden’s faith strongly influenced his life. He read the Bible daily and attended the First Christian Church. He said that he hopes his faith is apparent to others: “If I were ever prosecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me.”

I met Coach Wooden somewhere in the ’80s and was introduced to him by playground basketball and broadcast legend Sonny Hill. When I met Coach Wooden at the Capitol Center in Landover, Maryland, he was a member of the Board for the annual McDonald’s High School Basketball Classic.

Sonny introduced me as a sports talk show host and youth advocate. Coach Wooden seem more impressed with my work with at-risk children than my duties as a sports talk show host. Our conversation was centered on my work with children. I found him to be an “Officer and a Gentleman.” He was very humble and not full of himself.

I invited him to be my guest on Inside Sports, and he gave me his home number to contact him directly. The next weekend Coach Wooden was my guest.

I remember the show had a rough start because I had to cut NFL legend Jim Brown’s interview short. When I called Coach Wooden, he was not ready to come on and he promised to call back in 15 minutes.

I had already scheduled Jim to come on after Coach Wooden, but now I had to bring Jim on first. Five minutes into the Jim Brown interview Coach Wooden calls ready to go on the air. On one line I have a temperamental superstar and a gentle giant on another line.

I took a deep breath and went to a commercial break and explained my dilemma to Jim, and to my surprise he said, “No problem, we can do this next week.” It was evident that Jim also had a lot of respect for Coach Wooden.

Coach Wooden and I talked for 30 minutes, and there was little talk about the game of basketball. The conversation was about the “Game Called Life.”

I called Sonny Hill that night and thanked him for making the connection and told him about the mix-up with Jim Brown.

He said, “Coach would have understood and re-scheduled for the following weekend if his schedule permitted. He is that type of human being.”

The media called him “The Wizard of Westwood,” a name he disliked with a passion.

When I look back and think of all Coach Wooden’s qualities—integrity, loyalty, keeping his word, and a one-woman man, I would call him “The Saint of Westwood.”

HTML clipboard Terrance Dean Has An “Advisory” for Women

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,735 other followers

%d bloggers like this: