Archive for October, 2011

Jimmy Graham– A True Baller

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men with tags , , on October 28, 2011 by Gary Johnson

Raynard Jackson

That’s right, Jimmy Graham!  Most of the public is only recently becoming aware of the story of Jimmy Graham.  I find this very unfortunate, but true.

Jimmy Graham is a tight end for the New Orleans Saints football team.  As of this writing, he is the leading tight end in the N.F.L. in terms of receptions and touchdowns.  But most importantly, he is proving to be a true “baller” in the game of life!

He was born and raised in Goldsboro, North Carolina.  This 24 year old has scored big both on and off the field.  Just imagine, at the age of 11, being put in a parent’s car and then being dropped off at an orphanage.

Well, unfortunately for Graham, he doesn’t have to imagine this—this was his life.  Graham recounts the story of him being in the back seat of a van with his housemates from the orphanage and being beaten until his eyes were swollen shut.  He called his mother and asked her to pick him up and she simply hung up the phone.  Ouch!

After bouncing around from house to house, he was eventually taken into the home of his future adoptive mother, Becky Vinson during his high school years.

According to Graham, he and his biological mother are “slowly rebuilding a relationship, but it’s moving very slowly…I told her that I forgive her, but I won’t forget.”

Graham is a better man than I am.  I am very impressed with the way he presents himself on TV.  But, his attitude towards his mother goes to the type of character he has.  Isn’t it a shame that more people are aware of Beyonce’s pregnancy than Graham’s story?

Graham, who now stands 6’6” and 260 pounds, earned a basketball scholarship to attend the University of Miami (commonly referred to as “The U”).  He played football in his last year of school (along with four years of basketball).

He graduated in 2009 with a double major in marketing and management.  He then enrolled in graduate school so he could play one year of football.  During the 2010 NFL Draft, Graham was picked by the New Orleans Saints in the third round (95th overall pick).  He was signed to a four year, $ 2.5 million contract.

There is a lot more to this story, but because of space constraints, there is not enough room to write about everything; but just Google his name and you can read all the details of this fascinating person.

So, the next time you hear or read a negative story about a professional athlete, just think about Michael Vick or Jimmy Graham.

Most professional athletes are good, upstanding citizens.  Don’t allow the media to cloud your views because of a few bad apples.

Jimmy Graham’s story makes you cry, makes you angry, and makes you joyful.

You can’t help but cry when you think of the traumatic experience he suffered at the age of 11.  You can’t help but be angry at how an adult and a mother could subject her own child to such a life altering situation.  But, you can’t help but be joyful about how an 11 year old, traumatized kid could develop into such a wonderful, marvelous person!

This story is not about sports, it’s about life.  We all have faced or will face our own traumatic situation(s) in our life.  How we respond will determine the quality of our life.

There are not many people who I really want to meet in life, but Jimmy Graham is definitely one.  I want to know how he went from failing grades, to a basketball scholarship to a very prominent university (with a double major in marketing and management), finished in four years, then enrolled in graduate school so he could play one year of football, and then to excel on the professional level in football.  All this while overcoming the trauma of his youth.

Jimmy Graham, your life is truly a touchdown.  Whether you know it or not, you have already won the Super Bowl of life!

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 (, Freedom’s Journal Magazine (, and U.S. Africa Magazine (

First There Was Tavis, Then There Was Tom

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Gary A. Johnson, Politics, President Barack Obama, Racism with tags , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Gary A. Johnson

I don’t know what to make of nationally syndicated radio show personality Tom Joyner.  I don’t consider Joyner an intellectual lightning rod, however, the morning deejay also known as “The Fly Jock,” reportedly has approximately 8 million listeners to his radio show.  If those numbers are correct, then Joyner’s radio show reaches one in four black American adults.  This commentary is about Joyner’s blog post a few months ago that has recently been getting mainstream media attention.

I have decided to separate Joyner’s philanthropic and fundraising efforts for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) from this commentary.  His work in that area is unparalleled.

Joyner’s syndicated radio show is part news and a lot more entertainment in my view.  That being said, Joyner continues to make news headlines with an old blog posting (July 2011) where he essentially told Black America to vote for President Obama simply because he is black.  Whoa!  Joyner’s position does raise some political and philosophical issues.

In 2008, the election of a black President of the United States of America changed the political landscape.  What happened to evaluating a candidate based on his or her record of performance and how the issues outlined in the campaign impact you and your family?  To his credit, Joyner stated that we are all not “like-minded,” but went to write that we need to have a common goal in this election and that goal is to make sure that President Obama is re-elected.  Joyner understands that we have the right to vote for whomever we want; he just thinks that not voting for President Obama is not a good use of your vote.

There is something about Joyner’s stance that doesn’t sit well with me.  Joyner is not alone.  Former syndicated radio host Bev Smith, reportedly has urged listeners to vote for President Obama based on his race.

Does Joyner and company realize that President Obama did not win the 2008 election based on the black vote alone?  Blacks voted in record numbers, but a whole lot of independent voters of all races, cast their vote for him too.  Voting for President Obama just because he is black is a very dangerous and slippery slope.  Some of my colleagues are ready to throw Joyner under the bus for this position.  I have him resting comfortably in front of the rear wheels of the bus while the the motor is running.  My foot is on the brake and the transmission in 1st gear.

What would the Freedom Riders and the hundreds of other black and white civil rights leaders of the past have to say to Joyner if they had the chance?  I wonder if they would agree with his position.

The reality is President Obama was able to win the historic election in 2008, not solely because blacks turned out in huge numbers, but because many whites, Latinos and other races supported him as well. To suggest that blacks support him just because of the color of his skin is just wrong. It’s dangerous. Tom Joyner has done a lot for the black community and I won’t throw him under a bus, but I am very disappointed by his comments rallying blacks to support President Obama on the basis of his race. Blacks should support Obama because they agree with his stance on the issues and that he best personifies their needs. I would urge each voter to take the time to do some research on where all the candidates stand on the issues that affect you the most. If President Obama is the one whose views are similar to yours, then vote for him come November 2012.

If you look down the proverbial “re-election bench” you will see the Rev. Al Sharpton (who has a television show on the MSNBC network) suited up and echoing the same message.  During the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington, DC in October 2011, Joyner and Sharpton were saying that President Obama should be judged not on the content of his character and policies but rather on the color of his skin.  WTF?  When you vote for President Obama because he is black, doesn’t that fly in the face of those in the civil rights movement who marched and died for us to have choices and the right to vote?

My very unscientific poll reflects that not everyone is on the Tom Joyner bandwagon.  If you injected President Obama with truth serum I’m not sure he would say, “Vote for me just because I’m Black.”

In his blog Joyner writes:  “Let’s not even deal with the facts right now.  Let’s deal with just our blackness and pride – and loyalty.  We have the chance to re-elect the first African-American president, and that’s what we ought to be doing. And I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as black people, we should do it because he’s a black man. There are a great number of people who are against him because he’s a black man. That should be enough motivation for us to band together and get it done. We have the chance to re-elect the first African-American president, and that’s what we ought to be doing. And I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as black people, we should do it because he’s a black man. There are a great number of people who are against him because he’s a black man. That should be enough motivation for us to band together and get it done.”

How about assessing this President based on what he inherited coming into office and how he has performed for example in the areas of foreign policy, the economy, health care, managing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while in office?  As adults our assessments will differ but at least we have the chance to consider a number of situations.  I would suggest that all citizens ask themselves the following question:  “Am I better off now than when President Barack Obama took office?”  Some will say, “Yes” and others will say “No.”  If you answered, “No” to this question, and you believe that President Obama has underperformed, there is nothing wrong with evaluating the President’s performance and deciding that in order to improve your circumstances you might vote for someone else.

Black unemployment is 16.7 percent, the highest it’s been in almost 30 years.  You may determine that voting for President Obama is in the best interest of you and your family and cast your vote for him in 2012.  The point I’m trying to make is that all of us should take the time to think and evaluate all the factors that matter to us and cast your vote accordingly.

Click here to read Tom Joyner’s commentary.

Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In Blog. Gary is also the author of the new book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.” 

The Bridge: The Circle Of Life

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags , , on October 25, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

I’ve dealt with death before.

But as I grow older and acquire more experiences and more wisdom to place those experiences in perspective, death takes on new meaning.

Death takes on a new feeling—a passing sadness for those who I do not know and gut-wrenching sorrow for those I love and have to bid farewell.

This past weekend, I was literally knocked to the ground with news of my older brother’s passing.

My brother, Dwight Leron Madison, was not just a big brother. He was a friend and the standard bearer for what I realized through him that I could become—a stellar father, a wise counsel for family and a loving friend.

Dwight Leron, or “Ronnie,” as he was known to family and friends always tried to find something good about somebody and took time to point out the goodness if you were willing to listen. Willing to listen was important because he never pushed his views on you.

And he didn’t have to push anything on me. I wanted to be like him, so I listened and as I grew older, I discovered that I was very much like him.

Ronnie was the standard of cool for me. As I grew older, I adopted many of his mannerisms, his expressions and even his manner of speaking. I can recall one time I was staying at his house and his daughter, Ronnette thought she was speaking to her father instead of her uncle when I answered the phone.

Ronnie became my very close friend as I matured. We shared a love for music and even made a few songs together. But we also shared many views, particularly when it came to family and family values.

Ronnie was a proud husband and a proud father, even when things went differently from his plans. He was a teen father and his first daughter, Antoinette was born out of wedlock. But he fought life and all of its twists and turns to keep himself ever present in his firstborn’s life and to keep her connected with Ronnette as well as his youngest daughter, Jeannette.

I needed his views on fatherhood when I became a single father. I’m glad that he was around long enough to be proud of his baby brother for changing his life to become an ever-present father.

But I’m also glad that I had him around to share some very great times, including the male bonding trips with our brother Preston and my youngest brother Martez.

I’ll hold such memories as I work through the pain of losing him. A loss I could not have seen coming and so was laid low by the shock.

But it’s not as if a departure ever comes at a good time.

And if we don’t see it coming, the pain and anguish that it brings can lay us lower and render it harder to move on with the daily grind of life than if we prepared for it.

We can act as stoic as we think people will expect or believe, but in the midnight hour, or during the most inopportune time, reality will come crashing down upon us and force us to deal with the harsh and cruel reality of a disconnection from a portion of humanity.

You see, part of the beauty of the human experience is that we can be connected to other humans in a variety of ways–physically, emotionally or mentally.

Those connections are part of what makes life worth living.

The thing is that the act of living can be a voluntary experience to be cherished as it is experienced, as well as in retrospect.  But when life is filled with trauma and madness and mayhem, it can become an involuntary act, filled with numbness and darkness, and only the faint hope of reaching a piece of light at some corner of the darkness.

I’m sad, and selfishly so, for no longer having my brother and friend to talk to and laugh with. And I’m sad that his daughters have to say farewell to a father who was also their friend. And for my other siblings who are dealing with the ugly shit that has been tearing at the core of my being.

But I’m also sad that Ronnie will no longer be able to enjoy a life he worked hard at enjoying, even though I keep reminding myself that I believe he is now in a better place.

For many of us, our lives are so filled with traumatic experiences–poverty, relationship turmoil and disconnection from the milk of human kindness–that we sometimes find that life isn’t really worth living at all.

Ronnie didn’t have that. He enjoyed his life, even through all of the pain and turmoil that he had lived through and overcome, including the Vietnam War, the death of our mother and the death of his wife.

He had turned his pain into lessons and his darkness into light.

We all have darkness at some point(s) in our lives.

Ronnie had his and I certainly had my own.

My childhood had been filled with the traumatic experiences of poverty. To add to that trauma, I lost several loved ones within a small span of time.

In the seventh grade, my best friend was taken by Leukemia.

Within a one-year time period, lasting from the end of ninth grade to the end of tenth grade, I lost my oldest brother, my grandmother and my stepfather, who had raised me as his son.

As a selfish and short-sighted teen, I never imagined the heartache and blinding pain my mother must have felt to lose her own mother, as well as her first born son and husband within one year.

But how could I imagine her pain when I began to close my own pain out of my life?

Darkness began to surround me and threatened to engulf me several times over the next two years.  By the time I graduated from high school and had to face more loss, I was prepared to face it with the only coping mechanism I had–disconnection.

And for a while, I was disconnected from everything.

But, eventually, I began to climb out of my darkness and make connections to warm, living human beings who would help me to shape and develop an understanding of life.

My big brother Ronnie was one of those.

He helped me to find an understanding that nothing is forever.

We can keep alive those with whom we are connected, if we keep them in our hearts and minds.  Even if those places are the only places where the connection thrived in the first place.

We hold on to memories, to photos and to other mementos which trigger memories of the connections we made.  And in doing so, bits and pieces of those people live on us.

Many of us are still maintaining the connection to loved ones long gone, but still alive in our hearts and minds.  Some of us are still holding on to friends, spouses and lovers long gone from our lives but not this world.

At some point in life, you will find yourself saying goodbye.  You will have to say goodbye to lovers, to friends and to family, as they leave you alone in this world with disconnection or when they move into death.

It’s difficult to say goodbye, but the end of each relationship is a natural part of life.

I am reminded of the film Lion King which I have now seen at least one hundred times with my four-year-old son.

The father, Mufasa, who eventually dies, explains life and death to his son Simba, with the metaphor “circle of life.” Essentially, we all live and we all must die in order for the world to make sense.

I know that Ronnie’s passing has a greater meaning. I can’t identify that greater meaning now, because the pain of losing him is too fresh.

But I will eventually find it, embrace it and find strength in his existence, even as he makes the transition into memories and a spiritual presence.

And I’ll do it with the words to a song I loved to hear him sing, GC Cameron’s “How Do I Say Goodbye,” originally from the film, Cooley High: “And I’ll take with me the memories, to be my sunshine after the rain.”

Farewell big brother. Long live your memory as you complete your journey in the circle of life.

It’s Hamer Time

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 21, 2011 by Gary Johnson

Raynard Jackson

Fannie Lou Hamer (pronounced hay-mer) was one of the unsung pillars of the civil rights movement in the U.S.  She was a phenomenal woman—a woman of great determination and great purpose.  She was not one to hold back her feelings, especially when fighting for equality.

In 1964 she was elected Vice-Chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP).  Their stated purpose was to challenge Mississippi’s all-white delegation to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) which was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Democratic President, Lyndon Johnson was furious that a group of Blacks would challenge the Democratic Party and interfere with his reelections plans.  Johnson often referred to Hamer as “that illiterate woman.”

Out of desperation, Johnson sent top Democratic Party officials to negotiate with the MFDP, most notably, Senator Hubert Humphrey from Minnesota (he was lobbying very hard for Johnson to choose him as his running mate for Vice President).

Johnson offered to give the MFDP two non-voting seats at the upcoming convention in exchange for their silence and had secured the endorsement of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Humphrey had indicated to the group that if the group didn’t agree to this deal, Johnson would not choose him as his running mate.  Hamer was always considered the moral conscious of the group and here is her response to Humphrey: “Do you mean to tell me that your position is more important than four hundred thousand black people’s lives? Senator Humphrey, I know lots of people in Mississippi who have lost their jobs trying to register to vote. I had to leave the plantation where I worked in Sunflower County, Mississippi. Now if you lose this job of Vice-President because you do what is right, because you help the MFDP, everything will be all right. God will take care of you. But if you take [the nomination] this way, why, you will never be able to do any good for civil rights, for poor people, for peace, or any of those things you talk about. Senator Humphrey, I’m going to pray to Jesus for you.”

As a result of her principled stand, Hamer was excluded from future negotiations.  Johnson was so afraid of Hamer that he pressured the MFDP to agree to allow the DNC to select the two delegates to be seated in order to prevent Hamer from being chosen.  The MFDP ultimately rejected the proposed deal.

But what does that say about the rest of the leadership of the MFDP—that they would allow their “moral conscious” from attending future meetings?

Black leadership, those sanctioned by whites, have always been easy to silence because they have no conscious.  They want to be liked.   They want to seen in photographs.

Of all of her many accomplishments, she was best known for what would eventually be the epitaph that would be written on the tombstone on her grave:  “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Where are the Fannie Lou Hamers of today?  I cannot imagine Hamer allowing Obama, Pelosi and Reid to get away with their total disregard of issues of concern to the Black community.  I can’t imagine her “cutting a deal” just to get an invitation to the White House are to be seen standing next to someone in power.  She never lost sight of the goal.

Hamer had very little leverage, other than moral suasion, to use against Johnson and the Democrats; but yet forced the DNC to change their platform for the 1968 election.  Today, Blacks have money, votes, and media; but lack the will to use moral suasion or any other means to affect change.

The supposed Black leaders of today seem only to be concerned about being invited to the White House for a photo opportunity.  Black Elected officials are too afraid of criticizing Obama.  But what are they afraid of?  Obama hasn’t given them anything that he could take away from them!  Yet, in my private conversations with many of these people, they constantly complain about how Obama is ignoring them and their issues.

Are they not “sick and tired of being sick and tired?”

California representative Maxine Waters is one of the few elected officials to publically criticize Obama, but she also apologizes to him in the same sentence.

So, to all my Black Democratic friends, I challenge you to get on the phone to your Black leaders and all the Democratic Party officials and let them know in no uncertain terms that “it’s Hamer time!”

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 (, Freedom’s Journal Magazine (, and U.S. Africa Magazine (

Get The Latest Health News and Information From Black (BDO)

Posted in African Americans, Health & Fitness with tags , , , on October 19, 2011 by Gary Johnson

Black Men In has been in partnership with Black (BDO) for years in an effort to bring you live a happier and healthier life.  Black is the world’s largest and most comprehensive online health resource specifically targeted to African Americans. As much as we’d love for healthcare to be one-size-fits-all, the reality is that this is not the case – today’s Black community has higher incidences of just about every major disease and condition out there, as well as shorter life spans.  BDO understands that the uniqueness of Black culture – our heritage and our traditions – plays a role in our health.  BDO also understand that there’s a lot of mistrust of the healthcare system. That mistrust, combined with all the contradictory information in the media today, makes it difficult to truly feel in control of your health, and your life.

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Click here to read the latest articles from Black


Posted in African Americans, Black Men, Black Men In America, Guest Columnists with tags on October 14, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Harold Bell

In September 2011, I was pulling into the parking lot of JB Jenkins Funeral Home in Landover, MD, for the wake of Charles “Tommy” Branch Jr., playing on my car radio was the Earth, Wind and Fire classic ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone? : A long time passing, when will we ever learn?’

The song and words made me reflect on the early deaths of Tommy and Lionel Harris two young men associated with Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports.  Their early demise left me asking the question, how and why?

In too many cases in Washington, DC they have died or are in jail!

The student/athletes who came through Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports are on a long list and short time in passing!

Charles Branch, Jr. was 51 years old the oldest son of Carolyn and Charles Branch, Sr.  The father was a football teammate of mine at Spingarn High School in DC.  Charles Jr., was known as “Big Tom” to family and friends.  In 1978 he was a first team All-Met basketball and football player for DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, MD.

“Big Tom” played for Morgan Wooten the legendary Hall of Fame basketball coach.  He was the anchor for Coach Wooten’s first undefeated basketball team in 1978 (28-0).

He was also the best athlete in the family of the four boys I called him the gentle giant, but the hero and role model in this family never caught a touchdown pass, hit a walk-off home run, or dunked a basketball, the Shero’s name is Carolyn Branch.

When “Big Tom” had to drop out of college because of ill health his mother picked up the ball and ran with it for him.  For the next three decades as a single mom she took care of her “First” and encouraged the other three to be all that they could be!

Carolyn (Adrian Branch NBA) even found time to give back to the community.  She worked with and supported Kids In Trouble, Inc and Inside Sports and whom ever else needed a helping hand.  She took it to the next level by encouraging her friends, Currie Lowe (Sidney Lowe NBA), Rita Bailey (Thurl Bailey NBA), and Grace Paige (Tony Paige NFL) to join the KIT Team and reach back to help others!  When hard times hit me she was there encouraging and trying to help me.  I was honored when I was able to say thank you in 2006 by presenting her with a Kids In Trouble, Inc Life Time Achievement Award (Currie, Grace and Rita were also honored).  Thank you my sister!

I attended Tommy’s wake on Thursday and attended Lionel Harris’ wake the next day.  Lionel was also a first team All-Met basketball player at Cardozo High School in 1969-70.

I first met Lionel in 1968 when I became the assistant coach (wide receivers) for the Cardozo football team as a favor to my teammate, head coach, Bob Headen.   Bob and I played against each other in high school and college and became teammates on the Virginia Sailors (a minor league team for the NFL Washington Redskins).  Bob talked a half-dozen other Sailor teammates into volunteering their services.  Cardozo football and basketball teams were top contenders in the West in the late 60s.

The classy Harold Dean was the head basketball coach during that era and Lionel Harris and Big Michael Jackson were the glue that held the “Clerks” together.  They went into every game thinking that they could win and most times they did.

Lionel’s friend and classmate Earl Boone made sure his home going did not go unnoticed.  During the wake he read letters from former DC Public Schools student/athlete (Dunbar) DC Mayor Vincent Gray and a basketball player wanna-be, President Barack Obama.  We all should be so lucky to have the two leaders of the Nation’s Capitol say “Great Game!”

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television in Washington, DC.  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. Harold has been an active force fighting for the rights of children for over 40 years with the help of his wife through their charity Kids In Trouble, Inc.   To learn more about Harold Bell visit his official web site H. B. Sports

David Miller and The Power Down Campaign: Technology Fast

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, Guest Columnists with tags , , , , , , on October 12, 2011 by Gary Johnson

(Baltimore, MD)  The Raising Him Alone Campaign and Urban Leadership Institute have officially launched the Power Down Campaign!  Power Down is a campaign focused on teaching parents strategies and coaching them to become better monitors of the technology used by their children.  Parents who closely monitor and limit the time their child/teen spends playing video games, watching TV and surfing the Internet increase the likelihood that their child/teen will spend more time engaged in socially redeeming activities.  Those activities will likely include arts and crafts, homework and other educational exercises.

With the rapidly increasing popularity of reality television, millions of children and teens are exposed daily to a new brand of television that highlights a variety of anti-social behaviors including fighting, excessive cursing, drug use, underage drinking and sexually illicit escapades. While some reality shows promote real competition and chances to win everything from recording contracts to chef positions at exclusive restaurants, the majority of them distort images of healthy lifestyles.

The Power Down Campaign, through its Parents’ Responsible Media Guide developed by David Miller, co-founder of Urban Leadership Institute, is asking families to participate in a “Technology Fast”. The goal of the “Technology Fast” is to get parents to turn off the TV and not allow their children to participate in technology over the weekend. In other words, during the “Technology Fast” parents should not allow their children to surf the Internet, use their cell phones, watch television, play video games, send text messages or engage in social media including Facebook and Twitter.  Within the Parents Guide are suggested activities to help parents plan a technology-free weekend.  The “Technology Fast” is not intended to punish children or force them to have a boring weekend.  Instead, it’s designed to bring families together encouraging children to do without technology for a weekend while the family participates in other fun, educational activities.

Officials of Raising Him Alone and Urban Leadership Institute ask parents to support our effort by participating in a “Technology Fast” during the following four weekends:

November 4-6, 2011

March 2-4, 2012

June 1-3, 2012

September 7-9, 2012

For more information on the Power Down Campaign, please visit us on Facebook!/pages/Power-Down-Technology-Fast/271325816222244?sk=wall.

To download information about the Power Down Campaign, please visit or

The Bridge: Dumb Ass Columbus

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, The Bridge - Darryl James on October 11, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

Each year this time, the nation celebrates one of the dumbest explorers in the history of exploring.

Good old Christopher Columbus (born Cristobol Colon) is given credit for “discovering” the “New World,” and set up as some master explorer when such was really not the case.

Dumb Ass Columbus was actually commissioned to find a shorter route from Europe to the East Indies, by sailing West, no less.  And Spain was dumb enough to fund his goofball mission in hopes of gaining some leverage in the European spice trade with Asia.

In addition to being dumb, Columbus was a liar.

He landed first on an island that is now Haiti and the Dominica Republic and named that location San Salvador. He called the people he encountered “Indios,” Spanish for Indians, since he thought he was in the East Indies.

Even when the bonehead realized (after subsequent voyages) that he had in fact come upon a continent that Europeans had no knowledge of, he still refused to admit it. He insisted until his death that he had landed in Asia and eventually turned his focus from one of discovery to a mission of spreading Christianity.

Culumbus did spread a few things, though, including syphilis, scurvy, death and destruction.

The Spanish crown knew he was a moron and a liar and eventually had him arrested and stripped of political power given to him over the settlements in the Americas.

But that didn’t stop other ignorant, lying Europeans who continued to support his bullcrap, even going so far as to credit him with “discovering” a land that was filled with people staring at his dumb ass when he arrived.

The fact of the matter is that the “great” explorer, Christopher Columbus grossly underestimated the size of the earth, grossly overestimated the size of Europe and was completely ignorant as to the true location of Japan and other islands of Asia.

And, the credit given to him of “discovering” America is a travesty indeed.

In They Came Before Columbus, author Dr. Ivan Van Sertima uses Carbon-14 dated sculptures, Arabic documents and maps as well as diaries of the actual explorers to demonstrate African contact with Native Americans. He carefully outlines cultural links between the two and the African impact on the Native American civilization that was in existence long before Columbus was ever born.

The most ironic piece of evidence that Dr. Van Sertima presents is from the Native Americans themselves. They actually told the Spanish invaders that they had been trading with Black people. And, bananas, yams, beans and gourds—all from Africa–were in the Americas before dumb ass Columbus.

The shame in believing that Columbus “discovered” a land where people were thriving is the blemish on the face of the indigenous people; but also to African people, who are, according to the Columbus mythology, only seen as arriving to America in chains as slaves, as opposed to arriving before the Europeans as explorers.

What Dumb Ass Columbus represents to both Native Americans and African descendants in America is the insertion of the European into America, which meant centuries of brutality, death and mayhem at the hands of the European.

Europeans prior to Columbus’ “discovery” of America had no particular growth in no particular area. However, once the Americas were taken over by Europeans and once the Native American population had been mostly killed off, exploited and/or otherwise dominated, the new settlers began to explore the world for someone to do the work necessary for building a new world.

The European found the African and thus the African Holocaust, also known more mildly as the slave trade was ignited, along with centuries of brutality for the African in the Americas.

Thanks Chris!

Columbus’ bumbling would have perhaps been replaced by the eventuality of some other European “explorer,” but since it was Columbus who set things off, then the dishonor becomes his legacy.

The legacy of many Africans in America is sadly, stunted in their minds and limited to their time in America, which means that they simply accept that their own time on earth began in chains.

With such a stunted view of their own past, it is easy, although painful to see how some American Blacks are comfortable with self-hatred, the likes of Herman Cain.

But that’s another story for another column.

The celebration in holiday of a bumbling explorer, who lied about his misadventures is a joke.

Christopher Columbus was no more a discoverer of anything that I was when I visited my friend’s home last month. I could have easily have declared that I discovered his home, even though he and his family were living there before I arrived.

Isn’t that what Columbus did?

Millions of people in a vital civilization were in the Americas when Columbus “sailed the ocean blue,” yet racist liars who reconstruct history persist with the myth that one dumb ass European “discovered” a land that was only unknown to Europe.

So, while America spends this week celebrating the life and legacy of old Dumb Ass Columbus, I have chosen to spend it damning his existence, cursing European exploration and colonization and weeping for the stunted American legacy handed to the African in America.

And I’ll continue to recommend that every Black person read They Came Before Columbus.

Then they’ll realize how dumb Christopher really was.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.”  James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opened in Los Angeles this Spring and will be running throughout 2011. View previous installments of this column at Reach James at



Posted in Black America, Black Men, Black Men In America with tags , , , on October 9, 2011 by Gary Johnson

Raynard Jackson

Howard University, in Washington, DC, is one of the elite Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the U.S.  Howard students are quick to call their school the “real H U!”  The reason is so they won’t be confused with another well know HBCU—Hampton University.

But after years of frustrating experiences with Howard University, I have come to the conclusion that they are truly the “real H U.”  But, in this case, the H U stands for “Horrible University.”

Over the years, I have regularly presented Howard and its student’s opportunities to make money and to further the mission of their school—to educate Black students.

Last week, I was called by a friend and asked to find 2 law students she could interview for internships in her government agency.  I told her I would call Howard’s law school and have them call her.  I talked with a woman in their career placement office and she said she would call my friend.  A week later and my friend still has not heard from the school.

So, 2 days ago, I decided to call George Washington University’s Law School (GW)—a predominantly white school in Washington, DC.  I told them I needed two Black law students to consider for internships.  Less than an hour later, my friend was contacted by GW and 2 lucky students are on the verge of getting an internship!

If my negative experience with Howard was an isolated incident, then I could shrug it off to a thing called life—sometimes things happen.  But, this is not the case.

Earlier this year, I called the president of Howard University and offered the school a chance to be the venue for a series of Republican presidential candidates town hall forums.  I am still waiting for them to give me an answer.

Several years ago, a friend of mine who owned all the Dominoes Pizzas in this area, offered to give the school a free franchise that the students could run.  The only stipulation was that the school donates the space.  According to our calculations, each student would have earned about   $ 10,000 per year.  I have yet to get a response from the school, almost 10 years later!

So, yes Howard, you are the “real H U–” horrible university!  So, Howard, you win.  I will not attempt to provide any further opportunities to the school, nor its students.

Howard University has a storied past, but not such a storied present.  Howard has got to be the worst run HBCU in the country.  I had this conversation with a current student at Howard yesterday at a restaurant and she agreed with me 100%.

To Howard and its students, why can I never seem to get a simple response when I try to present opportunities to you?  Even if you are not interested, a definitive response would have been appreciated.  But that seems too much to ask.  Yet, white institutions seem to respond immediately to any offer I present to them.

God has blessed me in many ways, so my only obligation is to reach out my hand, not attempt to make someone take my hand.

In the immortal words of Sir Winston Churchill, “To everyman (or organization) there comes a time when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a great and might work; unique to him and fitted to his talents; what a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the moment that could be his finest hour.”  Unfortunately, Howard University has been found both unprepared and unqualified!

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 (, Freedom’s Journal Magazine (, and U.S. Africa Magazine (

The Bridge: Extension of Slavery

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black Interests, Black Men, Guest Columnists, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags , on October 4, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

No other people in the world have the ugly history with a nation as African descendants with America.

We were once property and instead of becoming truly free, we allowed ourselves to be duped into a game of make believe, pretending to be free, but having none of the intrinsic mobility as a group that would come with freedom.

Instead of making our ancestors proud by achieving freedom as a group, far too many of us seek freedom as individuals, even if that freedom is merely freedom from the burden of being Black. A burden that may be masked, but that can not be eradicated for any of us until most of us have truly become free.

But how can we become free when many of us deny that we were ever enslaved?

Just as there are morons who claim that the Holocaust never happened for the Jews, there are ignominious idiots who claim that slavery was merely a business arrangement, instead of the evil peculiar institution that it was.

We hear about how slavery wasn’t as bad as people say it was, how it wasn’t really evil because it was pure commerce and how Blacks only came here to “help” the slave masters.

Here’s the simple truth: whites enslaved us for hundreds of years and oppressed us in Jim Crow for scores more.  Now even many of us say that we should stop talking about white people and racism, even though the ugly institution and its aftereffects linger on like a ghost clinging to the corporeal world, long after the body is dead.

I want to shoot fools right in the face when they claim that racism is over and that we should stop talking about it. They claim that slavery was so long ago that it no longer matters.

Want me to stop talking about racism?  Then stop talking about God and the sun, because they came into existence so long ago.

But there is clearly a dichotomy of thought surrounding slavery and the Black existence in America in the Black community.

In the Black community, those African descendants who claim that there is no racism or that our experience in this nation was beautiful are trying too hard to move away from Black reality and trying too hard to be white.

Yes, I said it. In 2011, there are African Americans who want nothing more than to be white and lying about the Black existence in this nation is the first step.

It is also a clear sign of the insanity resulting from unresolved issues that are often ignored, or pretended away.

In America, people of African descent were never given the opportunity to fully process and resolve issues stemming from slavery and the lingering Jim Crow era, nor institutionalized racism and racial preference.

The nation tells us we are healed, currently touting Barack Obama’s ascension to the presidency as evidence. And while this is clearly a great start, there has been no intrinsic healing. Neither the election of a Black president, the end of slavery nor the Sixties have caused healing to occur.

Unarguably, the pervasiveness of the dominant white American culture has delivered issues of self-esteem and cultural confusion to the descendants of Africans in America.

Conversely, people of German Jewish descent were given multiple opportunities to fully process and resolve issues stemming from the Holocaust and the lingering negative psychological effects.

Mighty nations across the globe, including the United States came to the aid of German Jewish people, helping in the restoration of the culture and standing of those people.

Without the same opportunities and assistance, African descendants of slavery in The US have taken schizophrenic avenues following the end of slavery.

Unlike the descendants of German Jews, descendants of Africans in America have little usable cultural wealth, continuously diminishing cultural cohesion and as a result, cultural confusion.

Just as the effects of slavery are indelibly stamped on the souls of Black folk in America, so is the influence of white existence in America.

In many ways, some Blacks in America are living lives designed to imitate whites.

This wouldn’t be a huge problem if we could simply imitate whites and accordingly, garner the privileges of white preference. We don’t, but many of us continue to imitate whites as though we don’t understand that we can never be white.

We take the icing and pretend that it is the cake. But it always turns out the same way.

It’s like kids mimicking their parents. Junior can walk big in my shoes and jacket, but he can’t go to work and get a check.

We’re so quick to abandon what we are in order to become something else, that we forget to be ourselves, and forget that we have value.

Even when we are acting Black, we are acting the way that the dominant culture sees us, doing what’s acceptable to them.  Our literature, comedy, music and even our public behavior plays this out. Our very existence is pimped out for white entertainment and then sold back to us as a guide for what is “authentically” Black.

Rap music and comedy are full of stupid, laughing Negroes, pandering to whites by playing Niggers, all the while claiming to be revolutionary because they are making money.  In their make-believe rebellion, they are playing to the favor of white folks.  Instead of sustaining Public Enemy, we have sustained P-Diddy.

What was revolutionary was when Blacks were talking about something real and didn’t care. Now Negroes talk about whatever is supposed to be cool according to the mainstream, because they care too much what whites think and so imitate whites or parody what whites think we should be.

We are caricatures of caricatures.

Far too many Black men are caught up in a dichotomy demonstrated by either playing dress up with stupid hip hop gear at age 40 or business suits and “Malcolm X” glasses while doing nothing productive. And some of them who shouldn’t even be having sex, have babies they don’t take care of, giving the world the impression that they are the majority of us.

On the other side, far too many Black women are having children alone on purpose, after having too much sex and then turning around and calling themselves strong Black women for such behavior. No one seemed to understand how ignorant and counterproductive the song “Baby Mama” was…

All of the above is behavior indicative of attempts to be white, who have no image problem, so bad behavior is clearly assigned to the groups of whites who, well, behave badly.

Blacks have never had that luxury, because our worst behavior is assigned to all of us, even if the behavior is only exhibited by a small number of us.

Yet, we stick our chests out and pretend that we have arrived, and most of us aren’t even aware of the destination.  Barack Obama is president and too many of us are still acting like the Niggers that racists think we are, while pretending that we are dignified.

The problem is that we don’t even realize that we are not guests at the party. We’re like the waiter who went into the kitchen, took his white coat off and pretended that he was a guest. Eventually, he is discovered and expelled from the party, after losing his job.

The challenge that lies before us as we turn from celebrating the first African American President to chastising him harder than any white racist is to identify our own cultural path and then follow it for our own benefit, no matter who says what about it.

We will finally overcome when we begin to be ourselves.

That will be our final journey to freedom.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.”  James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opened in Los Angeles this Spring and will be running throughout 2011.  View previous installments of this column at  Reach James at

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