Archive for David Miller

10 Rules of Survival If Stopped By The Police

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Black Men In America with tags , , on November 27, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Several months ago, The Dare To Be King Project founder David Miller created a flyer with 10 Rules of Survival If Stopped By Police that has gone viral.  The Dare To Be King Project inspires, supports and strengthens organizations that provide services to boys of color.

Given the recent developments with police officers and black males in America, this is a timely reminder of the reality for many citizens in America.

10 Rules of Survival If Stopped By The PoliceDavid Miller 2 David Miller is the author of several books, which include Growing Up In a Notorious World (2002), Lessons I Learned from My Father: A Collection of Quotes from Men of African Descent (2004), Dare To Be Queen: Wholistic Curriculum for Working with Girls (2005) and Rhyme & Reason  a Hip Hop Curriculum for professionals who work with teens (2005), Daddy’s Girl: Remembering Advice From My Father  (2006) Where’s Mommy & Daddy?: A Workbook for Facilitating Groups with Youth Who Have a Parent in Prison (2014).  He’s also a graduate of the University of Baltimore with a B.S. Political Science and Goucher College with a Master’s Degree in Education.

 

 

Reflections on My Trip to the Motherland

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Black Men In America, Guest Columnists with tags , , on November 26, 2012 by Gary Johnson

By David Miller

I have vivid childhood memories of learning about life in Africa by reading National Geographic. As I’d leaf through the magazine seeing pictures of beautiful people, an amazing landscape and wild animals roaming the plains, I got a chance to learn about my ancestral homeland while escaping the harsh realities of urban life in the 70s and 80s.

Some 30 years later, in what can best be described as the trip-of-my-lifetime, I was blessed with a chance to visit the Africa I’d known only from National Geographic pages as well as TV and newspaper accounts. In September, I joined a small cohort of writers and professionals on a mission to sow seeds in the lives of children and families in the Eastern Region of Ghana. A West African nation most known for its first President, Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana borders Cote d’Ivoire (The Ivory Coast) to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east and The Gulf of Guinea o the south. Its population exceeds 24 million.

I was in The Motherland to participate in LEAP for Ghana, a multi-phase educational sustainability project founded by Virginia-based poet and writer Kwame Alexander. My group worked primarily with Juanita Britton of Washington, D.C., who has been installed as Queen Mother Nana Botwe Adobe II of the Konko Village. Our work included literacy training for teachers, literacy activities for children in kindergarten through eighth grades, donating school supplies and organizing and running a girl’s leadership conference.

Suffice it to say our work in Ghana was simultaneously difficult and rewarding. Most importantly to me, it shed light on just how much Africans need the skills, innovation and resources of African-Americans. Our comrades in Ghana are resilient, smart and possess a tremendous work ethic; however, the country as a whole struggles with condensed poverty, inadequate infrastructure and a dearth of resources. In Ghana, we worked daily with about 200 children ages 3 to 14. We engaged them in story time, mostly with the younger children, and worked on writing poetry and short stories with the older children. The challenges I witnessed firsthand in Ghana mirror, in some respects, the challenges plaguing many urban centers in the United States. The difference however, as I see it, is in Ghana there is an unyielding sense of personal responsibility to rise above dismal circumstances, including poverty and scarce educational resources. In Ghana, the children are eager to learn and want to be in school. Here in the U.S., particularly in urban areas, many U.S. children are chomping at the bit to reach 16 so they can drop out of high school, though they have absolutely no clue what they’ll do and sadly fail to realize there’s just no way they’ll make it in today’s global society without education.

The illiteracy rate in Ghana is 60 percent, and most children, especially females, don’t get past the ninth grade. Needless to say, Ghana, like many African countries, is experiencing enormous academic challenges. In the village of Konko, where most of our work was focused, not one student had reached high school in the past 10 years – attributable, in part, to students’ inability to pass a comprehensive examination and to cover annual tuition costs.

I was amazed by the high level of resiliency among Ghana’s school children, despite the numerous challenges they faced. I witnessed a thirst for education and knowledge that I reluctantly admit I have not seen, consistently, in school children in the Western World. It was refreshing to see children, particularly young children, so eager to learn. Likewise, I was impressed by their awareness that knowledge is power.

Each morning we had the opportunity to teach children and to learn from them, their parents and their Ghanaian instructors. Spending time with children who exhibited an unparalleled work ethic and drive to master academic principles was a rich and profound experience for me. I was also struck by how their teachers created engaging learning opportunities without the resources enjoyed by teachers in Western classrooms. Trust me when I tell you there were no computers or microscopes. And while U.S. teachers complain about overcrowded classrooms – justifiably so in most instances – try three children to a desk! Even so, the level of excitement and curiosity over teaching and learning was touching to watch.

Now that I’m back in my native Baltimore, I realize just how deeply I long to return to The Motherland to continue trying to help improve academic resources for Ghana’s children. Since returning from Africa, I’ve walked school hallways and seen African-American males with sagging pants and no books in their hands. I’ve also driven throughout the city and noticed far too many brothers selling or using drugs on street corners. Before going to Africa those scenes were hard to take. Now they make me nauseous.

My pilgrimage to Ghana heightened my global awareness of the plight of children. While I recognize the historical challenges in black and brown communities in the United States, my passion has compelled me to focus more globally. Early next year I plan to return to Ghana to continue the work I and my colleagues started. It is not just something about which I’m thinking. It is something I will do.

Spending more than 20 years fighting to support poor families and to improve failing schools in the United States has taken an emotional toll on me. I haven’t given up on our children or U.S. schools, but I know it will be good for me to concentrate my energies in another region of the world for a change. African-American children in the U.S. need a lot of help. No doubt. And the neighborhoods in some of our inner cities, where many of our children are reared in single-parent homes, often resemble war zones. But even a U.S. child living in the most dire circumstances is a gazillion times better off than the average African child. For that reason, I pledge to continue trying to support my African brothers and sisters. And I sincerely hope this commentary will inspire at least one person reading it to also make a pledge to invest in The Motherland.

David Miller is an author and social entrepreneur who focuses on youth development. Miller is also a member of LEAP for Ghana, an effort to build sustainable educational efforts for school-age children in that West African nation. Visit www.urbanyouth.org for more information on my work.

 

Calling All Fathers: Sober, Responsible & Spiritually Guided – You Are Needed!!

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Fatherhood, Sports News with tags , , , , on November 15, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By David Miller

The deviance at Penn State should be another glaring example that we no longer live in a child-friendly society. Anytime there are people more concerned about a football coach than the hearts and minds of children, it sends a clear message about the state of our society.

Now more than ever, we need fathers to make their children a priority! Children with disengaged parents are far more likely to become victims of abuse.

The issue at Penn State should be a wake-up call to all parents. It is time that we realize that we are 100% responsible for education and salvation of our children. All too often, we want to send our sons to programs when as parents we must do more. For the last few days, my emotions have ranged from angry to empty. These kinds of things are happening to our sons on our watch.

Formula for building your own “Village” to protect your son:

1. Be flexible but firm.

2. Realize that raising a healthy child is possible regardless of your situation.

3. Create rituals in your house that promote success.

4. Make sure your home is your child’s first classroom (Turn the damn television off!).

5. Make sure your children have access to plenty of books as literacy is critically important! Be sure to have your son read books written by black and brown people to help your son understand his history and culture.

6. Carefully surround your children around sober, responsible father figures (if their father is not engaged in ther life).

7. Special Note to Single Moms: Don’t be so desperate to find men to connect with your son that you miss obvious warning signs!

8. Connect with other responsible adults and parents to help you with the journey of parenting and raising successful and productive boys.

9. Always be careful who you leave your children with.– This includes family!

10. Wake up! No one is coming to save us. You have to secure and protect your own family!

David Miller is Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Urban Leadership Institute, a social enterprise based in Baltimore.

Miller is also the Co-Founder of the Raising Him Alone Campaign, an effort to support single mothers who are raising male children.

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 http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?id=506411249&story_fbid=10150340527471250#!/pages/Power-Down-Technology-Fast/271325816222244?sk=wall.

To download information about the Power Down Campaign, please visit www.raisinghimalone.com/powerdown or www.urbanleadershipinstitute.com/powerdown.

A Day of Amnesty for Dads

Posted in African Americans, Black Men, Black Men In America, Fatherhood with tags , , on June 4, 2011 by Gary Johnson


Rebuilding Families One Father at a Time

NATIONAL – On Father’s Day, June 19, David Miller (The Urban Leadership Institute & Raising Him Alone – Baltimore) and Kenneth Braswell (Fathers Incorporated & Year of Responsible Men – New York) are asking men who are estranged from their children to summon the courage to take steps to reconnect with their children. By using social media and leveraging partnerships with community based organizations, this groundbreaking initiative seeks to mobilize 100,000 fathers to do one of the following:

1.   Pick up the phone and make contact with your son or daughter

2.   Write a letter to your son or daughter as an icebreaker

3.   Contact your child’s mother or guardian to arrange a visit

4.   Sign up for President Barack Obama’s Fatherhood Initiative via

www.fatherhood.gov/initiative

Additionally, the initiative is calling on mothers and grandmothers to be supportive of dads who are willing to initiate contact with their children.  “We believe helping mothers and grandmothers understand the power of forgiveness can be the first step toward healing families.”

Through a host of national partners, A Day of Amnesty for Dads aims to reconnect fathers with their families.

David Miller, Co-Founder of the Urban Leadership Institute, a Baltimore-based advocacy group that works nationally to support fathers and families through programmatic innovation and to develop strategies to work with fathers in some of the country’s toughest communities across the country states, “The issue of absent fathers has become a matter of public health. We can all identify fatherless youth in our community who struggle to cope with the realities of life.”

Studies show 72% of African-American children are born to unwed mothers, numbers that paint a grim forecast for many children growing up in communities already ravaged by crime, drugs and apathy.

Kenneth Braswell, Author and Executive Director of Father’s Incorporated, added: “It will be impossible to reduce crime and improve communities unless responsible fatherhood becomes a focus in those communities.

Are We Bold Enough To Protect Our Children?

Posted in Black Interests, Fatherhood, Women's Interests with tags , on February 16, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By David Miller

In the past few months, bullying or the victimization of some of our youngest citizens, has dominated national headlines.  You can hardly pick up a newspaper or turn on the evening news without hearing about a bullying incident. Interpersonal violence perpetrated by school-age children and youth has led to a rash of suicides, homicides and non-fatal injuries. The phenomenon of bullying supersedes race, class, and religion and has become a pervasive issue in the lives of children, families, teachers, and school administrators. For many children and their parents, bullying is a nightmare — one that forces many families to seek legal action, relocate to a new school district, or move to another state in extreme cases. In many situations, parents exhaust all avenues to protect their children; however, there is a great need for schools to become more accountable for the bullying that occurs in their hallways and classrooms.

Just last month 13-year-old Nadin Khoury was hung from a fence in Upper Darby, a Philadelphia suburb, after being savagely beaten and kicked. Khoury, a young man from Liberia, was thrust among the ranks of thousands of children who are bullied and assaulted daily in public and private schools across the United States. In all, seven boys ranging in ages 13 – 17 were arrested and charged with kidnapping and a host of other offenses as a result of the incident. To add insult to injury, the boys videotaped their heinous exploits.

While the incident didn’t happen on school grounds, it is essential that schools play a larger role in creating safe environments in and outside their buildings. Many would argue over the issue of whether a school can be held liable for incidents involving children that don’t occur on school grounds. While this is certainly debatable, the reality is parents expect a much higher degree of safety for their children.

Bullying and the senseless loss of precious life has become a national epidemic. Many kids who are bullied eventually stand up for themselves, fight back, and the bullying stops. Some bullied kids involve their parents and school officials to get the problem resolved. Sadly, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an impressionable 11-year-old student at New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, Mass, hung himself in 2009 after enduring repeated bullying at school. Despite his mother’s gallant efforts to intervene, young Carl was verbally abused on a daily basis. He was subjected to sexual slurs, taunted and called derogatory names. Seeing no relief in sight, Carl tragically took his own life.

Whether you are a young child who’s now attending a public or private school in the United States, or whether you are an adult who finished school years ago, can you even begin to imagine what life was like for Carl? And can you imagine how Nadin must feel now that his savage beating has thrust him into the center of a national crisis in this country?

Conservative estimates and self-reporting data from youth suggest that nearly two out of three bully victims, or 66 percent, were bullied once or twice during the school year, while one in five, or 20 percent, were bullied once or twice a month. Likewise, that same data suggests that one in 10 were bullied daily or at least several times a week. That is unconscionable in a society that prides itself on Democracy and whose Declaration of Independence states, in part, “…All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The above-mentioned estimates underscore the critical need for greater partnerships among schools, parents, law enforcement and mental health professionals to address the emotional and physical impact of interpersonal violence.

So I go back to Carl and Nadin. What could the schools and the larger community have done to ensure those two young men were safe in and out of school?

That question lies at the heart of any meaningful discussion about addressing school bullying. The nation has held endless Congressional hearings and policy briefings on bullying, but I maintain that is hardly enough. A new conversation that places children’s safety at the forefront must emerge. It must emerge now!

The incidents involving Nadin and Carl should awaken the consciousness of our nation and prompt us to begin raising critical concerns about schools, communities, and the safety of our children. It is amazing to me that in 2011 a large percentage of our children are often victimized in and around the one place – outside of their homes – that should be their oasis. While many schools are doing exemplary work to address bullying and the problems it spawns, and while some of those same schools are also addressing anti-social behaviors, the sad reality is many schools are failing to provide adequate protection for our children.

Finally, at the end of the day, parents must continue to be their children’s first line of defense. Greater communication between parents and children is needed to attack the vicious problem of bullying. We also need a better system to monitor the daily challenges our children face in school. There’s no doubt the statistics I cited earlier in this commentary are alarming; however, the unfortunate truth is many more bullying incidents go unreported because children are too ashamed or afraid to disclose them. They don’t report these egregious incidents because, in some cases, they don’t have sober, responsible adults in their lives in whom they can confide in and who  will know how to immediately step in to help rectify the problem. This speaks volumes about the need for adults to “step up” and become better parents and better advocates for children.

If we don’t wrap our arms around this problem and truly begin to address bullying today, then the vulnerable children we are failing to protect now will be vulnerable adults within the next 20 years..It’s time to wake up, America. Bullying has gotten out of control. The time for action – whether you’re a parent or not – is now.

David Miller is Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Urban Leadership Institute, a social enterprise based in Baltimore.

Miller is also the Co-Founder of the Raising Him Alone Campaign, an effort to support single mothers who are raising male children.

Parent Fights for School Equity

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Guest Columnists, Women's Interests with tags , , on February 1, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By David Miller

While the story about Kelly Williams-Bolar, an Akron, Ohio single mother has created a fire storm in the media, many accounts seem to minimize the daily challenges that parents face seeking a quality education. Williams-Bolar’s dilemma is a glimpse into an American nightmare — a parent of four who lives in a district where the public elementary school has been deemed one of the worst academically performing schools in the county. Williams-Bolar decided to be proactive like so many parents in identical situations.

Ms. William-Bolar’s action has become a trend in many communities. Parents who live in crime ridden communities and who are forced to send their children to low performing schools find themselves in a troubling predicament. It’s a battle that parents are faced with daily. Often debates about school reform and educational equity fail to understand how the magnitude of the fragmentation of many school districts.

Williams-Bolar did what she had to do as a parent. She made the conscious decision to falsify records to indicate that her daughters lived in their grandfather’s district so that they could attend a school with a better academic track record.

She is a single mother, who by all accounts, is on a quest to better her circumstance and improve the life chances of her children. Currently, working as a teaching assistant in Akron, while also being enrolled in college to receive the academic credentials to become a full time teacher, Williams-Bolar was sent to jail for 10 days for attempting to provide her children with the best that society has to offer.

Placed on probation for two years, Williams-Bolar has been ordered to complete 80 hours of community service. This conviction may threaten her ability to get a teacher’s license in the state of Ohio.

Williams-Bolar wanted what we all want for our children — a quality education in a safe learning environment that ultimately produces children who love learning and want to contribute to society.

How many of us have not told the complete truth to benefit our family?

Fighting for our children is a right!

We applaud Ms. Williams-Bolar for making her children a priority. Too many parents are allowing secondary institutions (courts, social services, parole & probation, prison/jails and the police) to raise their sons. Fundamentally, this is historically and will always be a role for primary institutions (family, church, school and the larger community).

David Miller is the co-founder of the Urban Leadership Institute a social enterprise based in Baltimore, MD. Miller is also the co-founder of the Raising Him Alone Campaign (www.raisinghimalone.com) an effort to support single mothers raising male children.

Interview Request: Lee McDonald, 678.778.3955 (cell) — therenaissancegrouplm@gmail.com.

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