Archive for November, 2009

An Open Letter to President Obama from Michael Moore

Posted in Barack Obama, Black Interests, Black Men, Guest Columnists with tags , , on November 30, 2009 by Gary Johnson

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Dear President Obama,

Do you really want to be the new “war president”? If you go to West Point tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8pm) and announce that you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, you are the new war president. Pure and simple. And with that you will do the worst possible thing you could do — destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you. With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics. You will teach them what they’ve always heard is true — that all politicians are alike. I simply can’t believe you’re about to do what they say you are going to do. Please say it isn’t so.

It is not your job to do what the generals tell you to do. We are a civilian-run government. WE tell the Joint Chiefs what to do, not the other way around. That’s the way General Washington insisted it must be. That’s what President Truman told General MacArthur when MacArthur wanted to invade China. “You’re fired!,” said Truman, and that was that. And you should have fired Gen. McChrystal when he went to the press to preempt you, telling the press what YOU had to do. Let me be blunt: We love our kids in the armed services, but we f*#&in’ hate these generals, from Westmoreland in Vietnam to, yes, even Colin Powell for lying to the UN with his made-up drawings of WMD (he has since sought redemption).

So now you feel backed into a corner. 30 years ago this past Thursday (Thanksgiving) the Soviet generals had a cool idea — “Let’s invade Afghanistan!” Well, that turned out to be the final nail in the USSR coffin.

There’s a reason they don’t call Afghanistan the “Garden State” (though they probably should, seeing how the corrupt President Karzai, whom we back, has his brother in the heroin trade raising poppies). Afghanistan’s nickname is the “Graveyard of Empires.” If you don’t believe it, give the British a call. I’d have you call Genghis Khan but I lost his number. I do have Gorbachev’s number though. It’s + 41 22 789 1662. I’m sure he could give you an earful about the historic blunder you’re about to commit.

With our economic collapse still in full swing and our precious young men and women being sacrificed on the altar of arrogance and greed, the breakdown of this great civilization we call America will head, full throttle, into oblivion if you become the “war president.” Empires never think the end is near, until the end is here. Empires think that more evil will force the heathens to toe the line — and yet it never works. The heathens usually tear them to shreds.

Choose carefully, President Obama. You of all people know that it doesn’t have to be this way. You still have a few hours to listen to your heart, and your own clear thinking. You know that nothing good can come from sending more troops halfway around the world to a place neither you nor they understand, to achieve an objective that neither you nor they understand, in a country that does not want us there. You can feel it in your bones.

I know you know that there are LESS than a hundred al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan! A hundred thousand troops trying to crush a hundred guys living in caves? Are you serious? Have you drunk Bush’s Kool-Aid? I refuse to believe it.

Your potential decision to expand the war (while saying that you’re doing it so you can “end the war”) will do more to set your legacy in stone than any of the great things you’ve said and done in your first year. One more throwing a bone from you to the Republicans and the coalition of the hopeful and the hopeless may be gone — and this nation will be back in the hands of the haters quicker than you can shout “tea bag!”

Choose carefully, Mr. President. Your corporate backers are going to abandon you as soon as it is clear you are a one-term president and that the nation will be safely back in the hands of the usual idiots who do their bidding. That could be Wednesday morning.

We the people still love you. We the people still have a sliver of hope. But we the people can’t take it anymore. We can’t take your caving in, over and over, when we elected you by a big, wide margin of millions to get in there and get the job done. What part of “landslide victory” don’t you understand?

Don’t be deceived into thinking that sending a few more troops into Afghanistan will make a difference, or earn you the respect of the haters. They will not stop until this country is torn asunder and every last dollar is extracted from the poor and soon-to-be poor. You could send a million troops over there and the crazy Right still wouldn’t be happy. You would still be the victim of their incessant venom on hate radio and television because no matter what you do, you can’t change the one thing about yourself that sends them over the edge.

The haters were not the ones who elected you, and they can’t be won over by abandoning the rest of us.

President Obama, it’s time to come home. Ask your neighbors in Chicago and the parents of the young men and women doing the fighting and dying if they want more billions and more troops sent to Afghanistan. Do you think they will say, “No, we don’t need health care, we don’t need jobs, we don’t need homes. You go on ahead, Mr. President, and send our wealth and our sons and daughters overseas, ’cause we don’t need them, either.”

What would Martin Luther King, Jr. do? What would your grandmother do? Not send more poor people to kill other poor people who pose no threat to them, that’s what they’d do. Not spend billions and trillions to wage war while American children are sleeping on the streets and standing in bread lines.

All of us that voted and prayed for you and cried the night of your victory have endured an Orwellian hell of eight years of crimes committed in our name: torture, rendition, suspension of the bill of rights, invading nations who had not attacked us, blowing up neighborhoods that Saddam “might” be in (but never was), slaughtering wedding parties in Afghanistan. We watched as hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were slaughtered and tens of thousands of our brave young men and women were killed, maimed, or endured mental anguish — the full terror of which we scarcely know.

When we elected you we didn’t expect miracles. We didn’t even expect much change. But we expected some. We thought you would stop the madness. Stop the killing. Stop the insane idea that men with guns can reorganize a nation that doesn’t even function as a nation and never, ever has.

Stop, stop, stop! For the sake of the lives of young Americans and Afghan civilians, stop. For the sake of your presidency, hope, and the future of our nation, stop. For God’s sake, stop.

Tonight we still have hope.

Tomorrow, we shall see. The ball is in your court. You DON’T have to do this. You can be a profile in courage. You can be your mother’s son.

We’re counting on you.

Michael Moore

P.S. There’s still time to have your voice heard. Call the White House at 202-456-1111 or email the President.

What do you think?  Please leave your comments below.

The Tiger Woods Accident–Something’s Not Right About This Story

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men, Sports News with tags , , , , on November 29, 2009 by Gary Johnson

By Black Men In Staff

WINDERMERE, Fla., November 29

Tiger Woods issued a statement on his web site accepting responsibility for the car accident that took place outside his Florida home.  Woods reportedly canceled his third scheduled interview with police who want to question the golf pro regarding the incident.  In his statement, Woods said he wanted to keep the details about the accident private but a Florida Highway Patrol officer said charges still were pending.

Rumors have been swirling around the Internet and on blogs spurred by an article in the National Enquirer that Woods was having an affair with Rachel Uchitel, a party maven and socialite from New York.

Some have suggested that Woods was confronted by his wife,  Elin Nordegren, about the affair and that the two got into some type of domestic squabble and the situation escalated as Tiger was leaving the house.

Comedian and talk show host Wanda Sykes discussed the accident on her talk show the day after the incident and detailed what she thinks really happened that night.  Check out Wanda’s account in the video below.

Although Woods and his people deny the affair, they have confirmed that Woods and Uchitel have met before. There were also reports that Uchitel checked into the same hotel as Woods when he was playing at a tournament in Australia.

Woods hit a fire hydrant and tree as he pulled his Cadillac Escalade out of the driveway of his house at about 2:25 a.m. last Friday on Friday, the Florida Highway Patrol said.  He was taken to the hospital with injuries and released.

“I’m human and I’m not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn’t happen again.  “This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.”

Woods’ lawyer said on Sunday that a scheduled interview at the golfer’s home with Florida troopers had been canceled.  It was the third day in a row that the Florida Highway Patrol had been denied the chance to question Woods on how his SUV had struck a fire hydrant and a neighbor’s tree.

Let me get this straight.  The police are investigating an incident and charges are possibly pending.  They schedule at least three interviews with you and you cancel.  How many times are you allowed to cancel the interview with authorities before they “strongly encourage” you and your attorney to come to the station?  As we understand it, Tiger has no legal obligation to make himself available to the police.  So perhaps it is in his best interest not to discuss the details of this incident.  However, he runs the risk of tarnishing his squeaky clean public image.

According to reports, when police arrived at Woods’ home on Friday shortly after the accident, the golfer was bleeding from the mouth and was “in and out of it for several minutes,” Windermere Police Chief Daniel Saylor told CNN on Friday.  Woods’ wife, Elin Nordegren, used a golf club to smash a window of his SUV to get him out, Saylor said.

OK.  Something seems odd about this sequence of reported events.  The wife smashed the window of the SUV to get him out?  Hmmmmm.  Media reports say the rear window of the SUV was smashed with the club.  If Tiger was behind the wheel of the vehicle in the front, why would she smash the rear window to rescue him.  We’re just asking.

The web site TMZ has posted exclusive crash photos on their web site.  Click here to see the photos.

Here is the official statement released by Tiger Woods regarding this incident.

As you all know, I had a single-car accident earlier this week, and sustained some injuries. I have some cuts, bruising and right now I’m pretty sore.

This situation is my fault, and it’s obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I’m human and I’m not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn’t happen again.

This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.

The only person responsible for the accident is me. My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false.

This incident has been stressful and very difficult for Elin, our family and me. I appreciate all the concern and well wishes that we have received. But, I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be.

What do you think?  Please leave your comments at the end of this article.

The Two Faces Of Abe

Posted in Sports News with tags , , , on November 28, 2009 by Gary Johnson

By Harold Bell

In Washington, DC on Tuesday November 24, 2009, the sports world lost a sports superstar who never hit a game winning basket at the buzzer, kicked a winning field goal as time expired or hit a walk off homerun to win the World Series.  His name was Abe Pollin and his uniform number was No. 1.  He was the owner of the NBA Washington Wizards.

I became familiar with the name Abe Pollin when he brought a struggling Baltimore Bullets franchise in 1964.  One of the NBA’s superstars during that era was a young athlete out of Spingarn High School in Washington, DC.  His name was Elgin Baylor, he was known to Washingtonians as “Rabbit.”  He was the only excuse we needed to travel to Baltimore to watch a losing Bullets team.

The one-on-one battle between Elgin and Gus Johnson of the Bullets made the ride from DC up the Baltimore/Washington Parkway worthwhile.

My co-worker at the United Planning Organization and later legendary radio personality Petey Green and I could not wait for the next home game.  The games were classics, especially after the arrival of Earl Monroe.

Abe Pollin and Wes Unseld

When Mr. Pollin signed “The Pearl” in 1967 and Wes Unseld in 1968 to play along side Gus Johnson, the Bullets became The Original Show Time of the NBA.  The Lakers’ show time with Magic, Kareem and Worthy were “Second Banana” to these guys.

Dave Bing (Detroit Pistons) and Earl arrived on the scene at the same time.  I was in NBA Basketball heaven.  They completed my NBA connection.

The “Triangle” of Elgin, Earl and Dave made destination Baltimore an Easy Rider.  Elgin and Dave were Spingarn alumnus and we shared a special kinship (we were coached by the same coaches).  Earl and I were alumnus of Winston-Salem State College in North Carolina.  It was there I met him on one his visits to the campus in 1963.  We both played for the late legendary basketball Hall of Fame coach Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines.

If there was any doubt that Mr. Pollin created The Original NBA Show Time all one has to see is a video of Wes Unseld retrieving a rebound and tossing one of his patent outlet passes to Earl and then join Gus on a fast break to the basket.  The fans would be standing on their feet holding their breath expecting the unexpected.  Would it be a rim shattering dunk by Gus or a no-look pass from The Pearl?  They were a sight to behold.

When Mr. Pollin moved the team to Landover, Maryland in 1974 I was just entering the world of media as a sports talk show host with “The Original Inside Sports.”

In many of the stories written in newspapers and the repeated discussions of Mr. Pollin’s legacy on talk shows, the one word that seems to dominate the stories and those discussions—is loyalty.

When I think of loyalty and Mr. Pollin’s, I think of Landover, Maryland in 1974.  The move started a divorce that was heard around the NBA, Pollin vs. Monroe.  There would be no out of court or on the court settlement.  Earl would take his ball to New York and Mr. Pollin would take his team to Landover.

Mr. Pollin’s boyhood and close friend Hymie Perlo once said to me “That was the worst basketball decision Abe ever made.”

Earl Monroe revolutionized how the guard position was played in the NBA.  He brought showmanship and moves to the basket never before seen in pro basketball.  When we talk about “Great Athletes” I define their greatness by how they changed the rules and the way the game is played.  Earl changed the rules and the game.

Their split was about money, Earl’s contract was up and he was looking for a long term deal and a raise.  Abe Pollin didn’t think Earl was worth the time or the money he was asking for and they went their separate ways.

Earl left for the New York Knickerbockers and got the money he thought he deserved and a NBA Championship.  In discussions with Earl about his Bullet departure, loyalty was not one his favorite words.  He would often say, “Going to New York was the best decision I have ever made.”

The divorced left a bitter taste in Earl’s mouth for many years.  He is still the most popular player in the history of the franchise.

Mr. Pollin realized he had made a mistake and that was one of the reasons he summoned him back to Verizon Center last season.  It was there Earl and Mr. Pollin renewed their vows kissed and made up.  The Wizards retired Earl’s number during a welcome back home ceremony.

When Mr. Pollin moved the Bullets to Landover in 1974 there was a double standard established at the media press table.  There were some who ignored it and others who only dared to whisper about it.

When I took my seat at the press table the seating arrangement made me wonder why was there Brown vs Board of Education, marches on Washington and Selma Alabama, assassinations of Martin Luther King and the Kennedy brothers, three little girls blown up in their church.  Why black and white civil rights workers were lynched fighting for the civil rights of us all?

I refuse to allow myself to feel like a second class citizen all over again. 

I thought of putting my own life on the line during the 1968 riots.  Here we are in 1974 and white media was seated to the left of midcourt and black media was seated to the right of midcourt.  Something was wrong with this picture!

During the 1974 NBA season I established the first monthly Media Roundtable at WOOK radio where my sports talk show Inside Sports was aired.  The participants included Dave Dupree, Bill McCaffrey, Ed Frankovich, George Solomon, Ed Brown, Sonny Hill, Elmer Smith, Bill Rhoden and a host of other contributors.

It was on one of my shows where the idea was hatched that Ed Frankovich and I would change seats at the next Bullets home game.

The next home game was against the Golden State Warriors.  I remember Warrior Coach Al Attles and I meeting under the basket just before the game started.  I told him what was about to transpire and he said, “Be careful” and he went back to his seat on the bench.

The sit-in took place quietly and without fanfare.  A new seating chart was posted a week later and a new era in media relations had emerged at the Capitol Centre.

Mr. Pollin’s loyalty was tested again in 1975.  Boston Celtic great K. C. Jones was fired after he coached and led the Washington Bullets into the NBA finals against The Golden State Warriors.  The Warriors were coached by Al Attles, making this the first time in NBA history two black coaches had met in a Championship game.  The Warriors swept the Bullets in four straight games and K C Jones was later fired.  All the blamed should not be laid at the door of Mr. Pollin.  Several of K. C.’s closest backstabbing friends helped expedite his exit.

I remember former player Carlos Terry who was destined to be an impact player for the Wizards before a knee injury ended his career.  Carlos was a Winston-Salem State University grad and played for Bighouse Gaines.  Coach Gaines asked me to keep an eye on the big fellow and help him navigate the deep water in DC.

Carlos and I became good friends and he joined the team of Kids In Trouble, Inc to work with at-risk children.  He was a great young man with a big heart.  His teammate Rick Mahorn was a bad influence.  Mahorn was a country boy who got blinded by the bright lights and big city and became a NBA bully and a “City Slicker.”

DC is a small town and my community is even smaller.  It is hard to keep a secret if more then two people know the secret.

Carlos picked up a couple of bad habits hanging out with Mahorn, I diplomatically pulled him aside one night after a game and told him to be careful of his after hour hangouts.  He said “thanks, no problem.”

After his knee injury and cutting his ties with the Bullets, Carlos became depress and drifted off.  I would wake up one morning to hear the news via radio that he had been killed in an automobile accident on the beltway.  Reports were that he had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Coach Gaines called me several days later saying “Carlos’ family don’t have the money to bury him.” I asked Coach to let me check around for some resources.  My first call was to the Wizards’ GM Bob Ferry and explained the family’s dilemma; he said “Harold let me get back to you.” I am still waiting for him to get back to me.

Thanks to Coach Gaines and Carlos’ college family and friends, the funeral proceeded.  I traveled to his hometown, in Lexington, North Carolina to speak on behalf of Kids In Trouble, Inc., at his home-going.  I don’t recall seeing anyone from the Bullet’s organization in attendance—loyalty.

Mr. Pollin hired native Washingtonian Eddie Jordan to coach the Wizards on a handshake.  Eddie rescued the franchise and took them back to what had become Never-Never Land, the NBA playoffs.  The team excelled for 4 straight seasons.  His reward, he was fired last season–loyalty.

Ironically, Eddie Jordan is now the coach of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and they were in town to play the Wizard’s on the eve of Mr. Pollin’s death.  Eddie always a class-act said, “I am appreciative of the opportunity Mr. Pollin gave me to coach in my hometown, it has been the highlight of my basketball career.”

One year ago Tuesday on the eve of his death Mr. Pollin raised eyebrows when he sent MJ the man known as Michael Jordan packing back to North Carolina.  He fired MJ from his duties as Vice-President of basketball operations.  MJ helped turn a financially down and out franchise into a money making Cash-Cow.

He returned to his “Comfort Zone” the basketball courts of the NBA to sell out crowds making ticket scalpers some of the most sought after guys in Chinatown.  On game nights the restaurants were suddenly full before and after Wizard’s games.  Mr. Pollin an astute businessman and suddenly a magician pulled a rabbit out of the hat.  The rabbit was Michael Jordan.  He later did a Bugs Bunny and said to MJ and his fans “That’s all folks.”

It is here that I think Mr. Pollin gets a bum rap as it relates to the dismissal of Michael Jordan.  I blame MJ and his agent David Falk for allowing Michael to make a business decision with a businessman without having anything in writing!  This was business and it had nothing to do with friendship.

Mr. Pollin never forgot the put down by Michael at an owner’s meeting before a threaten strike by the NBA players.  Mr. Pollin questioned the selfish and greedy motives of the players, Michael’s response, “Mr. Pollin if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.”

I have read the stories and heard the so-called experts talk and discus the legacy of Mr. Abe Pollin.  The only one that made any sense was Michael Wilbon.  His column in the Washington Post “A man who reached out to others” was very compelling.

Michael’s column taught me two lessons in one.  His column gave me an inside look of a very complicated man who reached back and gave unselfishly to others.  Whether, he gave back because of family pain or a guilty conscience, only he knows.  The second lesson was when Michael challenged this giant of a businessman on two business decisions that he thought the columnist knew nothing about.  Mr. Pollin thought the columnist should concentrate on keeping scores of games and batting averages of athletes—-because business was out of his league.

Mr. Pollin, the multi-millionaire and giant businessman took out an ad in the local newspapers including the columnist’s paper saying in so many words “Mind your damn business.”

Several years later the columnist’s advice would prove him to be right, the story could have ended right there, but Mr. Pollin swallowed his pride and invited the columnist to the groundbreaking ceremony for the new MCI Center.  This was the same downtown location that the columnist had advised Mr. Pollin, “If the Bullets are going to remain viable they need to move to downtown DC.”

This gesture along with the move to bring Earl Monroe back home told me lot about Mr. Pollin.  He was man enough to say “I was wrong.” This is a lesson that we all can learn from, never be too tall to say ‘I made a mistake.’

Mr. Pollin made his share of mistakes that included, Earl Monroe, Red Auerbach, Arnold Heft and others that we will never know.  But he was human and we all make mistakes.

Winning or losing I must admit Mr. Pollin and I were like ships passing in the night.  We would sometimes nod our heads at each other and sometimes we would look right through each other.

I was holding Mr. Pollin responsible for the inconsiderate acts of a few when he had a full plate.

In the final analyst, Mr. Pollin’s cup was half full and half empty.  We all should live to be so lucky.

I was especially proud to see three young men in attendance at Tuesday night’s game who have been touched by Kids In Trouble, Inc. and Inside Sports.  The three are now making their mark and making a difference as sports journalist on the national scene, Michael Wilbon, David Aldridge and Kevin Blackistone.

I discovered that I can still learn from them.  Through them I learned a lesson taught in a great man’s death that he cared long before Harold Bell and the NBA.

Mr. Abe Pollin——1923-2009 when two faces in Washington, DC, was better then one.

Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television. Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–sports talk radio with classic interviews with athletes and sports celebrities.  The show and format became wildly popular and has been copied over the years by others in the mainstream media.

34.5% Of Young Black Men Are Unemployed

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Men with tags , on November 25, 2009 by Gary Johnson

The Washington Post printed an article on the high unemployment statistics for black men.  In case you missed, read the article below.

By V. Dion Haynes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 24, 2009

These days, 24-year-old Delonta Spriggs spends much of his time cooped up in his mother’s one-bedroom apartment in Southwest Washington, the TV blaring soap operas hour after hour, trying to stay out of the streets and out of trouble, held captive by the economy. As a young black man, Spriggs belongs to a group that has been hit much harder than any other by unemployment.

Joblessness for 16-to-24-year-old black men has reached Great Depression proportions — 34.5 percent in October, more than three times the rate for the general U.S. population. And last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment in the District, home to many young black men, rose to 11.9 percent from 11.4 percent, even as it stayed relatively stable in Virginia and Maryland.

His work history, Spriggs says, has consisted of dead-end jobs. About a year ago, he lost his job moving office furniture, and he hasn’t been able to find steady work since. This summer he completed a construction apprenticeship program, he says, seeking a career so he could avoid repeating the mistake of selling drugs to support his 3-year-old daughter. So far the most the training program has yielded was a temporary flagger job that lasted a few days.

“I think we’re labeled for not wanting to do nothing — knuckleheads or hardheads,” said Spriggs, whose first name is pronounced Dee-lon-tay. “But all of us ain’t bad.”

Construction, manufacturing and retail experienced the most severe job losses in this down economy, losses that are disproportionately affecting men and young people who populated those sectors. That is especially playing out in the District, where unemployment has risen despite the abundance of jobs in the federal government.

Traditionally the last hired and first fired, workers in Spriggs’s age group have taken the brunt of the difficult economy, with cost-conscious employers wiping out the very apprenticeship, internship and on-the-job-training programs that for generations gave young people a leg up in the work world or a second chance when they made mistakes. Moreover, this generation is being elbowed out of entry-level positions by older, more experienced job seekers on the unemployment rolls who willingly trade down just to put food on the table.

The jobless rate for young black men and women is 30.5 percent. For young blacks — who experts say are more likely to grow up in impoverished racially isolated neighborhoods, attend subpar public schools and experience discrimination — race statistically appears to be a bigger factor in their unemployment than age, income or even education. Lower-income white teens were more likely to find work than upper-income black teens, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, and even blacks who graduate from college suffer from joblessness at twice the rate of their white peers.

Young black women have an unemployment rate of 26.5 percent, while the rate for all 16-to-24-year-old women is 15.4 percent.

Victoria Kirby, 22, has been among that number. In the summer of 2008, a D.C. publishing company where Kirby was interning offered her a job that would start upon her graduation in May 2009 from Howard University. But the company withdrew the offer in the fall of 2008 when the economy collapsed.

Kirby said she applied for administrative jobs on Capitol Hill but was told she was overqualified. She sought a teaching position in the D.C. public schools through the Teach for America program but said she was rejected because of a flood of four times the usual number of applicants.

Finally, she went back to school, enrolling in a master’s of public policy program at Howard. “I decided to stay in school two more years and wait out the recession,” Kirby said.

On a tightrope

The Obama administration is on a tightrope, balancing the desire to spend billions more dollars to create jobs without adding to the $1.4 trillion national deficit. Yet some policy experts say more attention needs to be paid to the intractable problems of underemployed workers — those who like Spriggs may lack a high school diploma, a steady work history, job-readiness skills or a squeaky-clean background.

“Increased involvement in the underground economy, criminal activity, increased poverty, homelessness and teen pregnancy are the things I worry about if we continue to see more years of high unemployment,” said Algernon Austin, a sociologist and director of the race, ethnicity and economy program at the Economic Policy Institute, which studies issues involving low- and middle-income wage earners.

Earlier this month, District officials said they will use $3.9 million in federal stimulus funds to provide 19 weeks of on-the-job training to 500 18-to-24-year-olds. But even those who receive training often don’t get jobs.

“I thought after I finished the [training] program, I’d be working. I only had three jobs with the union and only one of them was longer than a week,” Spriggs, a tall slender man wearing a black Nationals cap, said one afternoon while sitting at the table in the living room/dining room in his mother’s apartment. “It has you wanting to go out and find other ways to make money. . . . [Lack of jobs is why] people go out hustling and doing what they can to get by.”

“Give me a chance to show that I can work. Just give me a chance,” added Spriggs, who is on probation for drug possession. “I don’t want to think negative. I know the economy is slow. You got to crawl before you walk. I got to be patient. My biggest problem [which prompted the effort to sell drugs] is not being patient.”

The economy’s seismic shift has been an equal-opportunity offender, hurting various racial and ethnic groups, economic classes, ages, and white- and blue-collar job categories. Nevertheless, 16-to-24-year-olds face heavier losses, with a 19.1 percent unemployment rate, about nine points higher than the national average for the general population.

Their rate of employment in October was 44.9 percent, the lowest level in 61 years of record keeping, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment for men in their 20s and early 30s is at its lowest level since the Great Depression, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies.

Troubling consequences

Unemployment among young people is particularly troubling, economists say, because the consequences can be long-lasting. This might be the first generation that does not keep up with its parents’ standard of living. Jobless teens are more likely to be jobless twenty-somethings. Once forced onto the sidelines, they likely will not catch up financially for many years. That is the case even for young people of all ethnic groups who graduate from college.

Lisa B. Kahn, an economics professor at Yale University who studied graduates during recessions in the 1980s, determined that the young workers hired during a down economy generally start off with lower wages than they otherwise would have and don’t recover for at least a decade.

“In your first job, you’re accumulating skills on how to do the job, learning by doing and getting training. If you graduate in a recession, you’re in a [lesser] job, wasting your time,” she said. “Once you switch into the job you should be in, you don’t have the skills for that job.”

Some studies examining how employers review black and white job applicants suggest that discrimination may be at play.

“Black men were less likely to receive a call back or job offer than equally qualified white men,” said Devah Pager, a sociology professor at Princeton University, referring to her studies a few years ago of white and black male job applicants in their 20s in Milwaukee and New York. “Black men with a clean record fare no better than white men just released from prison.”

Jesse Jackson: ‘You can’t vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man’

Posted in Black Interests, Politics with tags , , on November 19, 2009 by Gary Johnson

By Mike Soraghan – 11/18/09 05:42 PM ET

The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Wednesday night criticized Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) for voting against the Democrats’ signature healthcare bill.

“We even have blacks voting against the healthcare bill,” Jackson said at a reception Wednesday night. “You can’t vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man.”

The remark stirred a murmur at the reception, held by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Foundation as part of a series of events revolving around the 25th anniversary of Jackson’s run for president. Several CBC members were in attendance, including Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who’d introduced Jackson.

Davis, who is running for governor, is the only black member of Congress from Alabama.

He is also the only member of the CBC to have voted against the healthcare bill earlier this month.

Davis referred to Jackson’s 1988 run for president in a statement, issued through his office, that said he would not engage Jackson on his criticism.

“One of the reasons that I like and admire Rev. Jesse Jackson is that 21 years ago he inspired the idea that a black politician would not be judged simply as a black leader,” Davis’s statement said. “The best way to honor Rev. Jackson’s legacy is to decline to engage in an argument with him that begins and ends with race.”

Jackson said later that he “didn’t call anybody by name and I won’t.”

He added that he wasn’t saying that black lawmakers must vote a certain way. Instead, they should vote the interests of the people in their districts, and he said the healthcare bill would help Alabama because it’s one of the poorest states in the country.

“The poorest people need healthcare protection,” Jackson said. “They have the highest infant mortality and the lowest life expectancy. They’re dying from lack of access.”

Other members of the CBC found no fault in Jackson’s words. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) was in the audience. He called Jackson’s criticism of Davis “accurate,” but said he did not hear Jackson say “You can’t vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man.”

“If it is an issue that disproportionately impacts black folks, race has to be considered,” Cleaver said. Jackson, he added, “is expected by his constituency to call balls and strikes.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) called the remarks “vintage Jesse Jackson,” but said Davis’s vote against healthcare was consistent with a voting record more conservative than many CBC members.

“Artur Davis has a more conservative constituency,” Waters said. “Since he’s running for governor of Alabama, he reflects an even more conservative constituency.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) said each man was doing what he considered the right thing.

“People have a right to vote their constituency, and people have a right to speak their conscience,” Jackson-Lee said. “Both happened.”

Davis’s Democratic primary opponent, Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, highlighted Davis’s status as the lone African-American vote against the bill.

“He was the only Black Caucus member to vote against it. I don’t get it,” Sparks said last week, according to The Associated Press. Sparks is white.

Davis said he voted against the healthcare bill because “House leadership’s approach is not the best we can do.” He said he preferred a version passed by the Senate Finance Committee because it reduces subsidization of the healthcare industry, taxes high-value health plans instead of wealthy people, and is more effective in getting employers to help with health coverage.

Davis has countered that Sparks’s position on healthcare has changed over time, saying he’s being “deliberately dishonest.”

The primary will be June 1. All of the GOP candidates for governor have been critical of the healthcare legislation, according to the AP.

This article courtesy The Hill.

Congress William Jefferson Sentenced To 13 Years

Posted in Black Men, Politics with tags on November 14, 2009 by Gary Johnson

William Jefferson

Former Democratic Congressman William Jefferson (Louisiana) was sentenced on Friday, November 13, 2009, to 13 years in prison following his conviction in a corruption case that was best known for the $90,000 federal agents found hidden in boxes of veggie burgers in the freezer of Jefferson’s home in Washington, D.C.

A federal judge in Alexandria, Va., handed down the sentence to the 62-year-old nine-term Congressman who was ousted by voters last year. He had been convicted by a jury of bribery, money laundering and racketeering in schemes that prosecutors said he devised to enrich himself and his family.

Some media outlets have referred to Jefferson as William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson.  I have vivid memories of Jefferson proclaiming his innocence on numerous radio and television shows.  It appears Jefferson was another man who asked the public to trust him and turned out to be another greedy and crooked politician “on the take.”

Jefferson’s attorneys portrayed him as “possibly unethical” but not a criminal, and said he was a victim of an over-aggressive prosecution aimed at “bagging a congressman.” They said Mr. Jefferson was entrapped by investigators who wired the informant to try to nab him.

Give me a break.  Jefferson reportedly demanded millions of dollars in payments and stock to family-owned businesses in return for his help winning potentially lucrative contracts in Western Africa.

What do you think?  Do you care?



Posted in Black America, Sports News with tags , , on November 8, 2009 by Gary Johnson

Harold Bell

By Harold Bell

In Washington, DC in 1954 there were two important Supreme Court decisions reached on the same day in May.  The decisions were Bolling vs. Sharpe and Brown vs. Board of Education. The two decisions changed how public school education was practiced in America.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was the President of the United States and Earl Warren was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The lead plaintiff attorney on Bolling vs.  Sharpe was George Edward Hayes.  The case was argued on the 5th Amendment (Equal Protection Clause), thus setting up the theory of “reverse incorporation.”

The lead attorney for the plaintiffs in Brown v Board of Education was future Supreme Court Justice, the great Thurgood Marshall.  Mr. Marshall graduated first in his class from Howard Law School in 1933.  In 1934 he became the lawyer for the Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP.

The Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” public school education was unconstitutional.  The court ruled that public schools could never be truly equal with blacks attending one school and whites attending another.  This would be Mr. Marshall’s battle ground and field of play.

If attorney Thurgood Marshall had been a NFL quarterback, a three-point shooter in the NBA or a Designated Hitter in Major League Baseball he would have no peers.  He won 29 of the 32 cases he argued before the Supreme Court.  Mr. Marshall was a Superstar in “The Game Called Life.” It is the only game being played in today’s America where the title of Superstar really counts.

If Black America is looking for a hero and role model we have to look no further than Thurgood Marshall, He literally set the bar of how we should measure our heroes and role models in our community.  We should be able to go to Webster’s Dictionary and look up the definition of “unselfishness” and see his picture.

When the Supreme Court finally rendered a decision in 1954 declaring segregation in America’s schools unconstitutional, Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle picked up the ball and ran with it.

The Archbishop played a significant role leading up to the decision that would set the stage for the 1954 All-Star game.  He implemented a follow-up action plan.  He authorized a scrimmage between all black Armstrong Technical High School and integrated Archbishop John Carroll High School.  Carroll had ONE black player, but had several black students enrolled at the school.

The scrimmage took place in August, 1953.  The Coach for Carroll was George Washington University legend and NFL Hall of Famer Tuffy Leesmans.  The Armstrong High School football coach was the equally talented Ted McIntyeWillie Wood was only a sophomore but he was all over the field.  His greatness could not be denied.  He would go on to become an NFL Hall of Fame player for the Green Bay Packers.

The real star of the scrimmage, however, was “Red Mike” Hagler who went on to become a star running back at Iowa.  He played in two Rose Bowls (1956-1958) for legendary Iowa Coach, Forrest Evashevski. In the second Rose Bowl he scored two TDs.  The second TD was a spectacular weaving 66 yard inside reverse.  Mike would end his football career playing semi-pro football in New Jersey.  He was definitely a legend in his own time.


In 1954 the two All-Star football teams met at old Griffith Stadium in Washington, DC.   The number one ranked, undefeated and favorite was St. John’s.  The DC Public High School All-Stars were a collection of black and white players.  The white players were from Division One (Anacostia, Coolidge, McKinley Tech, Western and Wilson ) and had 22 players named to the team.  The black players were from Division Two (Armstrong, Cardozo, Phelps and Spingarn) were represented by 11 players.

There was a joke going around during preparations for the game that Division One coach Stewart thought it best to select twice the number of white players in case trouble broke out.  The fight odds would be 2-1 (separate but equal).

This was the first ever integrated high school athletic contest played in Washington, DC.  There were close to 9,000 fans in the stadium to witness this history making athletic event.

Dave Kane is a native Washingtonian and a 1960 graduate of DeMatha High School.  Dave played wide receiver and safety for the stags.  He was in town recently to meet with players who played in that game.  His brother John was a running back and scored the only TD for St. Johns in the 1954 All-Star game.  His father was the team doctor.

Mr. Kane is exploring the possibilities of making a documentary film of the historical event.  During his visit to DC from his now hometown in Phoenix, Arizona he met with several players who participated in that game.

The interested parties met at the home of Chink and Gladys Hawkins in Upper Marlboro, Maryland a DC suburb.  Gladys is the sister of former Armstrong High School and NFL Green Bay Packer hall of fame player Willie Wood.

The DC Public High School All-Stars in attendance were George Carlos, Olin Robinson and Charlie Queen (Spingarn), Willie Wood, and Lowell Wheeler (Armstrong), Frank Sullivan and Alphonso Brooks and John Simms (Dunbar), Kenny Dunlop (Cardozo) Willie’s close friend and jump shooting basketball teammate Frank Smith was also in attendance.

There are so many stories and twist and turns that came out of this game there is not enough time and space to list them all.

For example, the lead plaintiff in the 1954 Bolling v Sharpe was Spotswood Bolling.  He was my high school basketball teammate at Spingarn.  The legendary DeMatha High School basketball Hall of Fame coach Morgan Wooten was an assistant football coach at St. John’s.

Coaches Sal Hall and Biff Carter, Cardozo and Phelps respectively, were assistant coaches for the DC Public Schools.  Mr. Hall was one of the greatest football minds to ever come out of DC.  Kermit “Zu Zu” Stewart of Anacostia was chosen to be the Head Coach (separate but equal).

The offense installed for that game was the Single Wing the same offense run by the Anacostia High School football team.  The best way to describe the Single Wing offense is to watch today’s NFL’s version of “The Wild Cat Formation.” It is used by several NFL teams.  The quarterback is missing in action.

The best player on the field that day was Armstrong QB Willie Wood.  He never got a chance to take a snap from under the center, but his presence was felt that day.  He was all over the field again.  He played defensive back, ran back punts and kick-offs.  The final score 12-7 was misleading.

Everyone to a man (player) says “If Willie had been the quarterback that day it would have been no-contest.”

Enter Dan Droze and Dave Harris forever linked together in Washington, DC sports history.

Dan grew up in SE and Dave in upper NW, Shaw/Cardozo (inner-city), they were two players from two completely different worlds only separated by the color of their skin (separate but equal).  The All-Star game practices were held at Western High School in upper NW, DC (Georgetown).  They had exactly one week to install an offense and defense for their opponent St. John’s.

I recently met with Dan Droze and Dave Harris the two heroes of the game at DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Maryland.  This was the first meeting between the two All-Star teammates since the game 55 years ago.

Dan and Dave agreed that things went pretty smoothly and there were no signs of racial tension or envy and jealousy among the players (Player Hating).  When they walked on the playing field at Griffin Stadium on December 4, 1954 everyone was on the same page and they had one goal—-beat St. John’s.

The game was a hard fought contest and the outcome was not decided until the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.  St. John’s had the proverbial “Home Field Advantage.” The DC All-Stars were penalized 7 times for 35 yards and according to the game officials St. John’s played a perfect game resulting in no penalties (separate but equal).

Dan (first team All-Met) was a starting running back in the Single Wing offense and Dave (first team All-Met) was a starter at end.  Dave played both ways on offense and defense.  Dave was also a track star at Cardozo with lightning speed.

There was less then 5 minutes left in the game when Coach Stewart got smart.  He decided to throw the ball to someone other than his Anacostia receiver Ed Vincent who had dropped and early TD pass from Droze.

December 4th was Dave Harris’s birthday.  Little did Dave and his teammates know it would a birthday long remembered in the annals DC high school sports.

With less then 5 minutes left in the game St. John was leading 7-6.  Dan got the play in from Coach Stewart to throw a “Down and Out” pass to Dave Harris.  Dan took the snap from center and 30 yards down field he spotted Dave cutting to the left corner of the end zone.  He threw a perfect pass and with two defenders draped all over him, Dave made the catch to remember.  The final score was 12-7 and the rest is history.

The black and white players would leave the field and return to their own little worlds.  It would take 55 years for the stars of the game to meet and cherish a memory that would be etched forever in their minds.

Dan would travel down infamous “Tobacco Road” to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to play for the legendary football coach Jim Tatum.  Dave would travel to the University of Kansas for a culture shock.  Dave’s first day in class he looked like a fly in a cup of milk.  He would make the adjustment when he met another Jay Hawk student/athlete ‘The Greatest’ basketball player ever, Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt and Dave would go on to become great friends.

Dan would later become my teammate with the Virginia Sailors (minor league team for the Washington Redskins).  Dave Harris has been my hero since “The Catch.” I would follow him to Griffin Stadium the next year as a freshman receiver for Spingarn High School.  Ironically, we would meet Cardozo High School for the DC Public High School Championship.  We had upset a great Armstrong team 13-7 with their legendary QB Willie Wood to earn the right to play in the game.

There would be no fairytale ending for me, because I was benched for discipline reasons (academic).  I was lucky to be in uniform.  My savior Coach Dave Brown taught me an early lesson, no one is indispensable.

I watched my teammates tie Cardozo 0-0.  Cardozo was chosen to play in the City Championship game because of a ruling based on something called “Penetration.” The Cardozo team crossed our 50 yard line more times than we crossed theirs.

The great players who participated in that that 1954 All-Star game played a role in my spiritual and mental development as a young athlete.  Names like, Olin Robinson, George Carlos, Bill Mayor, George ‘Nochie’ Green, Jessie Saunders, Charlie Queen all played for Spingarn.  William Peasy Jordan and Thomas Sumlin played for Phelps.

1954 All-Met All-Interhigh Meeting 10.17.09 028

I would sit on “The Hill” after school and watch them practice.  I attended Brown Middle School located on the same block as Spingarn and Phelps High school.  These guys were athletes from my own neighborhood and school community.  I grew up in the same NE housing project (Parkside) as Sumblin and Saunders.  They treated me like a little brother and they led by example.

I admired Willie Wood, Dave Harris, Frank Sullivan, Alphonso Brooks, John Simms, Lowell Wheeler and Kenny Dunlop from the stands.  Dave and Willie would later become loyal friends and mentors.

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Dan went on to have a successful career as a Financial Investment Banker, and has been married to his wife Rose Mary for 44 years they are the proud parents of four, two daughters and two boys.  The daughters are housewives Stasia and Desma and the boys are Drew (Computer Programmer) and Derk who graduated from GWU and played pro soccer in Chile and Denmark.

Dave had a successful career in Pharmaceutical Sales.  He has been married for 50 years to his lovely wife Theresa and from that union they have 3 boys and a girl and 4 grandchildren.  His son Erik is a graduate of the Naval Academy, David Jr. is a West Point graduate, Dr. Keith Harris is a graduate of Brown University and his twin sister Kim is graduate of Maryland University.

If there are two families in who should write a book on successfully raising children in America, meet Mr. and Mrs. Danny Droze and Mr. and Mrs. Dave Harris.

Despite segregation, the DC Public Schools made a unique mark in American public high school sports history.  Armstrong and Spingarn High Schools are the only public school system with bragging rights of having 4 athletes in the NFL and NBA Hall of Fames.  Armstrong NFL inductees are Len Ford and Willie Wood and Spingarn NBA inductees are Elgin Baylor and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. This story makes it hard to tell who was black and who was white, but Dan and Dave proved we might have been separate but we were equal.

Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Women's Interests with tags , , , on November 4, 2009 by Gary Johnson

From the creators of the award winning web site Black and Married With comes a ground breaking documentary set to challenge negative stereotypes surrounding marriage and parenting in the black community.

Couples and experts discuss topics such as the image and portrayal of black marriages and families, the effect the Obamas will have on marriage in the black community and the importance of parenting.

Click here to purchase your copy now.

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