Archive for Gary A. Johnson

How to “Take Flight” and Make 2019 a Great Year

Posted in Black Interests, Motivational Moments with tags , on January 1, 2019 by Gary Johnson

Welcome to 2019!  Black Men In Airlines welcomes you to our First Class Travel Program, where we will travel through 2019 with our final destination being the year 2020.  Before you start this journey you must read and acknowledge our “mandatory” pre-flight agreement.  This agreement is written in the form of a pre-flight announcement to make it easy for you to comprehend.

My name is Gary Johnson.  I am the Co-Pilot for this flight.  On behalf of our flight crew let me welcome you to Flight #2020.  Flight #2020 is a direct flight to being the best that you can be in 2019.  Here at Black Men In Airlines we always looking toward the future.

We are concerned about your continued safety and care.  To ensure that we have a comfortable trip, no “baggage” will be allowed on this flight.  We ask that you bring only positive mental energy.  You may use your imagination and follow along as we perform our safety demonstration.

Please make sure that your thoughts and energies are in the secured and upright position at all times.  All self-destructive and self-defeating thoughts and negative behaviors should be turned OFF at this time.

To fasten your seat belt, insert the metal fitting into the buckle and adjust to fit snugly across your lap.  Should you be called to get up and assist others simply lift the buckle release and you will be free to provide assistance.

There are 10 emergency exits, five doors on the left and five doors on right, each marked with a red DO THE RIGHT THING sign overhead.  All doors are equipped with slide rafts. These rafts may be detached in the event that you lose patience or forget how to treat people with dignity and respect.  Please locate the two exits nearest you, keeping in mind that the closest exit may act as your conscious if you haven’t been living “right.”

Please observe the lighted signs until they have been turned off by the Captain. The NO WHINING sign will remain illuminated for the duration of the flight and complaining is prohibited throughout the cabin.

Should we lose altitude during this flight, reach up and pull down a prayer. Prayers will automatically be answered as they are activated by faith.  This means that some prayers will be answered faster than others based on how you’ve exercised your faith, but rest assured, your prayers will be answered.

In the event that we lose altitude or sustain an emergency, this aircraft is equipped with aisle path lighting which is located on the floor in the left and right aisles. Should cabin visibility be impaired, the exit path will be illuminated.  Follow the white lights which will lead you to a pearly gate.  Your name should be on the “Guest List.”  If your name is not on the list, perhaps you have some additional work to do and this incident should serve as a reminder that you need to make better choices or some changes in your life.

The beauty of this flight is that you still have time to take the steps necessary to get your life together and get your name on the “right” list.  You still have to be kind, patient, caring and respectful.  If you are kind, caring and respectful, there’s room for you on this flight.  Kindness and goodness are renewable resources and we will use these resources throughout this flight.

If you choose to behave otherwise, you will see red lights which indicate you have reached your final destination.  You will not have access to an oxygen mask or a life vest.  In other words, you’re DONE!

The Captain (GOD) has cleared us for takeoff.  The choice is yours.  This may be your last chance to decide which direction you’re going to take in your life for 2019 before the cabin doors close.

Thank you for flying with us—destination GREATNESS!

Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In, a popular online magazine and the Black Men In Blog. Gary is also a management consultant for the federal government and many Fortune 500 companies.  He is the author of the book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.”  To learn more about Gary click here.

Publisher’s Note:  Thanks to Staceé Lang for planting this idea in my head.

Are We More Accepting Of Obesity In The Black Community?

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Health & Fitness, Women's Interests with tags , , , , , , , on November 2, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Obese Man

By Gary A. Johnson  (This is not my waistline)

Americans are getting fatter and fatter by the year.  There’s no other way to put it.  Health and weight statistics for black Americans is even worse.

According to the publication Health, United States, 2013, 38% of black men in America are considered to be obese compared to 50.8 percent of African-American women.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, overweight or obese is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 pounds or more.

A 2013 study from the American Psychological Association reported that about 60 percent of black women are obese compared to 32 percent white women and 41 percent Latino women.

Carrying around those extra pounds increases the likelihood of developing Type II Diabetes and High Blood Pressure – two diseases that disproportionately affect the black community.

Being overweight also increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, arthritis and certain cancers. In fact, obesity could become more dangerous for your health than smoking cigarettes.

Yet, in the black community, many folks believe or have convinced themselves that being “big boned” is more acceptable.  We need to STOP that thinking now.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you have read about my struggle to lose weight.  If you’ve ever visited my Instagram page, most of the pictures are of food that I cooked and then ate.  I’m a damn good cook.  I suffer for my food.

I am putting myself out there.  I am obese and my condition developed as a result of making a series of poor choices over the past 20 years.  I went from weighing 195 lbs to my current weight of 310 lbs.

At one point I was carrying 324 lbs on this 6′ 4″ frame.  Fortunately for me, my body has been good to me.  I never smoked, used alcohol or drugs and I don’t drink sodas.  My weakness is food.  I am an emotional eater and I love to cook and eat.

Gary J.

Here I am “walking the trail” on top of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge at National Harbor on the DC side.

Lately, I’ve been able to reverse some of these negative health effects.  Two years ago I gave up sugary fruit juice drinks.  I drink mostly water, green smoothies or a combination of Braggs Organic Vinegar and water.  If I drink tea, I don’t use sugar.  I will start my day with low-sodium vegetable juice in place of Orange juice.  These simple choices have made a difference in my health.  My last blood pressure reading was 116/78.  Not bad for a 300+ pound guy.  I started exercising (cycling, walking and weights) consistently and stopped eating at fast food restaurants.  I also started buying healthier and organic foods.  This costs more but I think it’s worth it.

Make no mistake.  I have a long way to go and need support.  I have lost over 30 lbs 4 times over the last 15 years.  The difference this time is that I am doing it sensibly (slow and steady).  No fad or crash diets. Is it easy?  No!  Is it worth the pain and effort?  Yes!

“Many African-American women view being obese as part of their culture,” says Thaddeus Bell, M.D., a family practitioner in South Carolina, in an online interview for It is understood within the African-American community that curvy, overweight women are considered more appealing to black men than normal- or under-weight women. There is almost a reverse distortion of body image – with thicker women fighting weight-loss and slender women wanting to gain weight in order to be accepted.

Obese Woman

This may account for the staggering statistic that 4 out of 5 African-American women are overweight or obese. It is even more alarming that some of these women are making a choice to live at an unhealthy weight. African-American women of all ages report less exercise than their white counterparts. “Many of them feel that it’s not feminine or they’re afraid to sweat because it will ruin their hairstyle,” adds Dr. Bell.

Other hindrances include not having child care, not having enough time to be physically active, and not feeling safe being active in their neighborhoods.  African-American men aren’t off the hook either.  African-American men also exercise less than white women, and have the highest prevalence of obesity among all male ethnic groups.

However, African-American men are more active than their female counterparts, which may be the reason that only 28.8 percent are obese, compared to 50.8 percent of African-American women.

There is an interesting video called “Dealing with Obesity in the Black Community” on YouTube by Walter Lee Hampton II.  This is a no non-sense video about exercise, eating and living a healthier life.

I would also recommend reading Obesity and the Black American:  Causes, Culture, Consequences, and Costs.”

GJohnson 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 book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.To learn more about Gary click here.

New Film Shows That “Soul Food” and Black Folks Aren’t Always a Healthy Match

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Gary A. Johnson, Health & Fitness, Women's Interests with tags , , , , , , , on December 28, 2012 by Gary Johnson

Soul Food2

By Gary A. Johnson

  • Fact:  Soul food and southern style cooking is high in saturated fat.
  • Fact:  Fat tastes good.
  • Fact:  Black people are twice as likely to die of stroke before age 75 than other population groups.  

“Soul Food Junkies,” is a new film by Byron Hurt which will air January 14, 2013 on PBS.  In the documentary Hurt explores the addiction that black people have with “soul food.”

Hurt also explores the health advantages and disadvantages of “soul food” and peers inside the unhealthy side of the food industry and the growing food justice movement.

Hurt interviewed a wide variety of people including chefs and health experts and concluded that black folks’ addiction to soul food is killing them.

I’m not sure that we needed a documentary to confirm that, but if a film helps to spread the word that people need to adopt healthier eating habits, then let’s get everyone we know to watch this film.

Growing up I was raised on fried and fatty foods.  My father would cook grits, bacon, pork sausage and fried eggs for breakfast and pour the grease from the pan on top of the grits for extra flavor.  That leftover grease would then be poured in a jar on the stove to be used for the next meal.

There was no thing as “turkey sausage” in my house.  I didn’t learn about “turkey sausage” until I was in my late twenties.  Turkey sausage is an insult to pigs everywhere.  There is no substitute for the taste of bacon.  If I was running the pork industry; I would move to legally prevent the turkey industry from using the term “bacon.”  At best, they should call it “turkey breakfast meat.”  I know that I have offended turkey lovers with those comments about turkey bacon.  What can I say?  I told you that I still struggle.

As I learned more about healthy cooking, I had to break some of my “cultural conditioning” when it came to food.  It was not an easy transition to rid myself of those unhealthy cooking habits.

Today, I still struggle.  I do the majority of the cooking and grocery shopping in my household.  I have an emotional connection with my food.  I struggle every day to eat healthy.  I win the battle most days and offset my weak days with regular exercise.  I don’t recycle cooking oil, I buy fresh vegetables, I bake much more than I fry and I get regular exercise.  Despite this effort, I still struggle with my weight and battle my predisposed genetics.

Thank goodness my children are healthy and health conscious.  “Soul food” can be healthy.  We have to make better choices in our cooking and eating habits.

Watch a preview of the documentary below.

Byron Hurt Byron Hurt is an anti-sexist activist who provides cutting-edge male leadership, expert analysis, keynote addresses, and workshop facilitation in the field of sexual and gender violence prevention and education.  You can learn more about him by visiting his web site at

Gabby Douglas Wins 2 Gold Medals and People Are Talking About Her Hair?

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Men In America, Gary A. Johnson, Music, Sports News with tags , , , , , on August 5, 2012 by Gary Johnson


By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In

Let me get this straight.  Gabby Douglas puts on a spectacular athletic display in front of the entire world, wins 2 gold medals and some people are publicly criticizing her hair.  WTF?

Kellogg’s Corn Flakes will feature 2012 Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas on its cereal boxes.  The 16-year-old gymnast, outside of Michael Phelps, is arguably the Olympic’s breakout star for companies who want to use her image to sell their products and services.

In an era where marketing studies reflect that female athletes don’t sell products as well as their male counterparts, I see Gabby’s Olympic success as a “golden” opportunity to cash in on fame and fortune and reward herself and her family for the sacrifices made to get her to this point.

Gabby Douglas, from my point of view has everything that advertisers need and want in a product endorser.  She is an American who represented her country with poise and pride.  Her athletic accomplishments dazzled the world.  Gabby appears to be a likeable and clean cut teenager, who comes from a family that connects to the “American dream” of hard work and sacrifice.

This is from my point of view.

With the help of social media, mostly Twitter and Facebook, other people saw “a black girl with bad hair.”

One woman tweeted:  “Gabby Douglas gotta do something with this hair!  These clips and this brown gel aint it!”  Another tweet simply stated:  “Why?”

My first reaction when hearing of these tweets was to reply to the “haters” to “Shut The F#@k Up.” Then I took a deep breath and thought that I was wrong to label all of the tweeters as” haters.”

There is a phenomenon in the black community where many black folks feel that when one black person does something, they are representing the entire village or community.  For example, if you are watching the news on television and a horrific crime is being reported, many black folks cross their fingers and pray (often out loud) and say:  “Lord, I hope it wasn’t a black person.”

This thinking reflects that if a black person commits a crime or does something horrific, people of other races are likely to attribute the negative behavior by that one black person to everyone in the black race.  This logic is not rational, but it is real to many people in our community.

The focus on Gabby Douglas should be on her incredible accomplishments and not on her damn hair.  She’s a world class athlete.  She sweats.  I want Gabby’s focus to be on winning events.  Gabby should not be distracted worrying about what other black women will think about her hair.  This is an ignorant argument.  Some of these same “hair tweeters” would be sending negative tweets if Gabby was shown on television with a home perm kit and a hot comb in her hair.

Gabby Douglas’ performance at this years summer Olympics game will inspire young girls and young black girls for the next decade.  Gabby appears to be a great role model.  Why not celebrate the positive aspects of this young girl’s life?

I’ve learned my lessons when it comes to black women and their hair.  I keep my mouth shut.  In past years, I said some stupid and hurtful things to the black women in my life about their hair.  I said it because I didn’t know any better.  I was ignorant about the maintenance of black hair.  I just didn’t know.  Now that I have insights and new knowledge about the challenges associated with black women and the maintenance of their hair, I’m a better man by keeping my mouth shut.  A hairstyle doesn’t make the woman.  If you think it does, you’re an idiot!

As far as I’m concerned, black women can do whatever they want with their hair.  I think we should celebrate our women and not put a lot of energy on how they choose to style their hair.

 Go Gabby and the rest of the U.S. Olympic Team!

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.” 

To learn more about Gary click here.

The Christmas Bells’ Story and Beyond

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America with tags , , , , on December 5, 2011 by Gary Johnson

Harold and Hattie Bell just recently celebrated 43 years of marriage and are coordinating their 43rdAnnual Christmas Toy Party for needy children.  Their party is the longest on-going community based toy party drive in America.

The party gave birth to Kids In Trouble in December 1968 shortly after the riots in DC and other inner-cities in America.  There have never been grants or loans to sustain the project.  The two have truly walked by faith and not by sight.

For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts about this unique and one of a kind community involvement of the Bells.  Their lives are rich because of their love for children and society’s underdog regardless of race, creed, color or religion.

I think the “battle of the balance” between Harold’s good works and intentions vs. the controversy that often surrounds him are what make their relationship work.

Hattie is a former DC teacher and her father Dr. Charles H. Thomas Jr. is a legendary Civil Rights advocate who marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King. The family hails from Orangeburg, South Carolina.

In the late 50s Dr. Thomas and his wife Elease had their children marching on the picket lines and on many occasions were marched off to jail as a result of their strong belief in equal rights for all.  Hattie was among the jailbirds!

Dr. Thomas was a professor on the campus of South Carolina State University and President of the local chapter of the NAACP.  He founded and started voter registration in the state of South Carolina.  He was inducted into the Black South Carolina Hall of Fame in 2007.  Hattie is just a bump off the log when it comes to fighting for the civil rights of others.

Their stories and life experiences range from heartwarming, to jaw dropping to “know he didn’t…”  Harold is a 6th generation Washingtonian.  He has lived through and can recall historic moments in sports, DC politics, Black American and in US History.  His association with sports figures, politicians, entertainers and every day people are unique.  As a community advocate and personality he has been cited in the Congressional Record on three different occasions.  He was the first sports media personality named “Washingtonian of the Year” by Washingtonian Magazine.

Harold has stood heads and shoulders above everyone else in the community and media.  The reason, he was an athletic and community personality long before he became a media personality!  He didn’t wait to become an expert on the black community after he became a pioneering radio personality.  He had already been there and done that.

He was an all-around athlete at Spingarn High School in NE DC where he stayed in hot water with his teammates and coaches.  The reason, he wanted the ball in his hands when the game was on the line.  This was seen as selfish by his teammates.  His mentor and savior Coach Dave Brown saw it an endearing quality and made sure he had the ball, but those same qualities got him kicked off the baseball and basketball teams.

Those are the same selfish qualities that have helped make him a success in the Game Called life when it comes to children.  He has a no cut-card and no patient with politicians, community personalities and Pimps in the Pulpit who claim “Children First” and steal in the name of the lord and our children!

He caddied for President Richard M. Nixon and has broken bread with Congressman Lou Stokes, Senators Bob Dole and Strom Thurmond and some of the greatest athletes of our time including, Muhammad Ali, Red Auerbach, Jim Brown and Hank Aaron.

Ali’s business partner Gene Kilroy once said to him, “Harold you would be a millionaire if you were white.” 

He took it as a compliment but it has never been about “Show me the money but more like show me someone in need!”    

His feuds are legendary.  There is no shortage of people willing to criticize and take pot shots at him behind his back.  Why so many?  Who starts them?  Who fuels them?  Are they true?  Why have they lasted so long?  The names are legendary.  Don King (he returned a $10,000 check to King based on principles and he was dead broke), Jim Brown, Larry Brown, James Brown, Jim Vance, John Thompson, Dave Bing, Sugar Ray Leonard.  The list goes on and on.

He says,  “When you have been to the mountain top with Muhammad Ali, had Red Auerbach co-host a sports talk show with you and helped get the great Jim Brown out of jail, where do you think they rate on my measuring stick?

Why do folks fall out with him?  Is there something about Harold Bell that causes these blow ups?  If so, what is it?  Inquiring minds want to know.  People want to know!

Earl Lloyd the first black to play in the NBA summed it up best, he was heard on the John Thompson ESPN radio show saying, “Harold Bell maybe controversial but I have yet to hear anyone call him a liar.”  That statement speaks volumes.

His honesty and adherence to his principles are unparalleled in media and a political oriented Washington, DC where almost everyone goes along to get along.

He has his share of “Haters” because he speaks the TRUTH as he sees it.

Harold Bell grew up in a single parent home and housing project in the northeast section of Washington, DC.  The lessons he learned where mental illness was present helped shaped how he viewed the world.  His late mother was his hero and continues to be a HUGE influence in his life along with his late grandmother Amy Tyler Bell.

He watched his mother battle her demons and that continues to shape how he views portions of the world today.  He is dedicated to his brother Earl a former DC cop who now resides in a nursing home is another example.  For all the toughness that people see in Harold Bell, many disengage early and don’t get to see the other side him and he could careless.

They miss his huge heart, his love for children his willingness to help anyone who needs help.  He is a tough guy in regard to his principles, but he is a “softie” for children and those who need help.

Harold and Hattie are role models for relationships.  People don’t stay together like them for over four decades.  Their love is a Ossie Davis-Ruby Dee kind of love.

Then there are the battles of balance.  Harold Bell has walked the tear gas mean streets of DC trying to keep the peace during the 1968 riots.  He has quietly walked into homes in Potomac Gardens and Barry Farms at Christmas bearing gifts.

How many people you know do this?  This is the story of legends in our community.  You know you are a legend when folks start to write poems about you as like family friend Earl Tildon did in honor of Harold Bell in August 1993.  The poem was titled “A Grieving Mother’s Tears.”

Nationally syndicated talk show host Tom Joyner cited Harold on his morning drive show recently as a “Little known Black History Fact.” 

Like it or not, their story is credible and there are thousands of benefactors to verify it.

Let me give you a list of the Who’s Who of benefactors who came through Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports before their 15 minutes of fame and too many who have yet to look back or come back;



His one of a kind Inside Sports radio show talk format is now copied around the world.

Harold Bell sometimes suffers from self-inflicted wounds.  He also is a self-reflective man who has no problem apologizing when he is wrong or when an apology is warranted.

Hattie and Harold’s story devotes some time exploring the logic that drives Harold Bell’s behavior it will answer a lot of questions and will put his legacy in its proper perspective.

I’ll tell you another part of the story as I see it.  Harold Bell is human.  He is stubborn.  He is demanding and he will hold you accountable for what you say.  When did that become a crime?  He grew up in an era of where high expectations were required of us.  A handshake and a man’s word would once carry you to the bank those character traits are now bankrupt.  Honesty, loyalty and integrity are a lost art in our community!

The bar has been lowered for many, but not for Harold Bell.  He has never lowered his standards for himself and expects to be treated as he has treated others. That might be the source of much of his conflict with others—they have forgotten and he has not.

That’s my two cents for now on the Christmas Bells.   Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Footnote: On Saturday December 17, 2011 the 43rd annual Kids In Trouble Toy Drive for needy children will be held at the Giant Food Store located at 5500 Silver Hill Road, District Heights, Md. 20746.  You can drop off new toys, clothing or educational tools from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm for elementary school children.  You can also make a donation payable to Kids In Trouble by mailing it to 16010 Excalibur Road #C 407, Bowie, Md. 20716.

Source: Adapted from an article written by Gary A. Johnson about Harold Bell.  Gary 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.

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

President Obama, the Congressional Black Caucus and Rising Unemployment Equals One Big Mess for America

Posted in Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Politics, President Barack Obama with tags , , , , on August 17, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Gary A. Johnson

(August 17, 2011) As he seeks re-election in a submarine deep recession and a terrible economy, President Barack Obama announced today that he will introduce an economic plan next month.  The last report that I read had the nation’s unemployment rate at 9.1%.  The unemployment rate for blacks is 16.2%.  For black males it’s 17.5%; for black teens the unemployment rate is a whopping 41%. 

No President in recent history has been re-elected with a jobless rate that high.  The President also announced that the housing market may not improve for a year.  Speaking of housing, if the President and his economic team don’t improve jobs and housing, the President will be looking for a new home.

I am on the record for not being impressed with the President’s economic team of advisers.  I think the collective body does not have enough of a connection with the black community and has given the President terrible advice.  I know he is President of the United States.  I know the political ramifications of “appearing” to give black folks any kind of preferential treatment. 

That being said, no one can ignore the fact that nearly 14 million people are unemployed and millions more have given up looking for jobs or haven’t found a way to move from part-time to full-time work.

According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, in Charlotte, N.C., the unemployment rate for blacks is 19.2%.  If you factor in people who have given up looking for jobs, that number exceeds 20%.  Folks, these are Great Depression numbers.

It is a fact that President Obama inherited this economic mess from the Bush administration.  It is also a fact that statistically the economy has been weaker under President Obama than it was under President Bush, which is probably why President Obama’s disapproval rating on the economy is low (around 60%).

This series of events begs the following questions:  How much criticism should President Obama get for his administration’s management of the economy?  Is President Obama responsible for the soaring black unemployment rate?

It’s no coincidence, (at least in my mind) that the White House has serious concerns about President Obama’s popularity in the black community.  A few months ago the White House launched a dedicated web page for black folks (President Obama and the African American Community).

In recent weeks, President Obama has been harshly criticized by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West.  These two men are on The Poverty Tour:  A Call To Conscience.  While Smiley and West have been scorned by many in the black community for criticizing the President.  I believe they have a right to challenge him on the issues.  The problem for many, (myself included), is Tavis’ reputation for being petty and self-serving precedes him.  In addition, the attacks from Smiley and West on the President are perceived by many as “personal cheap shots.”

Yesterday during the Congressional Black Caucus “For the People Jobs Tour” town hall in Detroit, MI, Black Caucus members told the mostly black audience to “unleash” them to confront President Barack Obama on the issue of jobs.  WTF?

According to report filed by Correspondent Jeff Johnson posted on The, California Rep. Maxine Waters a leading participant on the five-city Congressional Black Caucus “For The People” Jobs Tour, expressed her and other Black Caucus members’ dilemma of having to walk a line.  Who is forcing the elected officials to “walk a line?”

Waters was quoted saying that the Congressional Black Caucus does not put pressure on the President.  She explained, “Let me tell you why. We don’t put pressure on the President because ya’ll love the President.  You love the President.  You’re very proud…to have a black man [in the White House] …First time in the history of the United States of America. If we go after the President too hard, you’re going after us.”

Whoa.  Let me step back and digest this.  My first reaction to reading this story was that the Congressional Black Caucus members who feel that they cannot put pressure on the President during this period of Great Depression era unemployment are weak-kneed, gutless and spineless.  Don’t get me started.  I’m trying to trim down on my cussing.

What a bunch of inept elected officials.  In my mind, the facts reflect that this is a crisis.  Courageous people take action during a crisis.  They don’t stand around waiting for permission to take action.

Detroit’s unemployment may be the worse for a major city in America.  According to folks in the audience, President Obama has not come to Detroit during the worst days of the recession.   With unemployment in the city at almost 50 percent that’s justifies asking:  Why hasn’t the President visited our city to address this issue?  If he can visit Iowa and other places in rural America, he should be able to find time on his schedule to visit the Motor City.

There is growing concern, even among hardcore supporters that President Obama is allowing himself to be detached from the “urban poor”—translation “poor black people.”  President’s Obama’s approval rating is reportedly 80% among Black America.

I don’t care if the President’s approval rating is 100% among black folks.  Given this economy he needs to be questioned and pressured to force his administration to provide a plan for how they will address this issue for black, poor and working Americans.  His ass should be in Detroit, Los Angeles and other cities that are suffering with double-digit unemployment.

Something is terribly wrong when black elected officials are afraid to challenge the President because he’s black.  Has politics trumped common sense and doing the right thing?  It appears that some members of Congress are more concerned with keeping their job, than doing their job.  That’s some terribly “flawed logic.”  Another way of saying it is:  “That’s some bullshit!”

If I am one of the President’s advisers, one of my primary concerns for the 2012 Presidential election would be voter apathy, especially in the black community.  Capturing and killing Osama Bid Laden will not be enough to secure this election.  This election is about the economy– specifically, JOBS and curtailing rising unemployment.  If things don’t improve for black people, and the President is perceived as being disconnected and not having addressed the issues–black people will not show up at the polls to vote.   CTRL + ALT + DEL  = Game Over!

As for the Congressional Black Caucus, here’s a piece of advice:  How about doing what you were elected to do and represent the best interest of your constituents and not yourselves.  If that means criticizing the President of the United States to get him to address one of the most important issue of our time, then do it.  I would like to know what the Congressional Black Caucus is doing to help create jobs and solve the soaring black unemployment rate in the black community.  One would think that this would be the number one action item for this group of black elected officials.  Has the Congressional Black Caucus put forth any recommendations or solutions to help the President solve this issue?  Hey, I’m just asking?  Hopefully, if Caucus members have been working on helping to create jobs in the communities in which they serve this will come to light.

One can always hope.

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 book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.

Source:  Unemployment statistics courtesy Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Tavis Smiley: Obama Is The First President Who Hasn’t Invited Me To White House

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Gary A. Johnson with tags , , , , , on August 12, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Gary A. Johnson

Earlier this week Princeton Professor Cornel West recently spoke to The Huffington Post about media coverage of black issues.  West made the point that President Obama is avoiding journalists who’ve offered tough critiques of his administration, such West’s friend and business partner Tavis Smiley.  “Obama won’t touch him with a 10-foot pole,” West said.

On Wednesday, Smiley backed up West’s viewpoint during a C-SPAN sit-down with him to discuss their 16-city poverty tour.

“Prior to his being elected, he came on my radio programs and TV programs with regularity,” Smiley said. “Once he got elected and my critique of him — about holding him accountable to various things didn’t sit so well with him or the people around him — he has not, at this point, come on my TV or radio programs one time since he’s been in this White House.”

Smiley said that Obama, whom he’s known for years, “is the first president in my professional career that hasn’t invited me to the White House.”

Is this a case of Tavis and West being Obama haters?  Or does this unlikely duo make a valid point?  Tavis comes off as such a self absorbed and pretentious crybaby.  This often gets in the way when he levels valid criticism against the President.

Comedian and radio host Steve Harvey has an opinion.  Here’s what Harvey had to say:

“I was a huge fan of Cornel West,” he said. “[But] Tavis, I seen him coming a mile away. His anger started when he had a town hall meeting, President Obama couldn’t come because of the campaign trail and he sent Mrs. Obama.  He has held that grudge every since.”

He continued, “You don’t have any real basis behind your dislike for this man…you keep masking it saying it’s not about hate. Then what is it about? Poverty existed before January 20, 2008. Where was your damn bus then?”

“Who in the hell got 2-3 days for your ass?  I ain’t got time to sit down with your monkey behind for two, three days, let alone the President of the United States.  We got three wars going on, the economy crashing and we going to sit down with Tavis ass for three days?”

Harvey then speculated that Smiley is being funded by someone to say these things and produce the poverty tour.  Harvey continued his rant by referring to Smiley and West as being affiliated with (which stands out for “Uncle Tom Look Out”).

Despite the criticism, Smiley remains focused.  In an interview with the Associated Press, Smiley said that the Poverty tour has gone exactly the way he and West planned.  “I am very clear on who I am and who I am not, what I can do and what I can not.”  “I have a platform that I can use to bring awareness, to draw attention and create a conversation.”

He went on to add that, “and its not just about raising awareness, it’s about starting a dialogue about poverty and the poor in this country.  I don’t get intimidated by haters. . . The question that I would pose to the critics is not why are we doing what we are doing or saying, it’s ‘if you care about poor people why aren’t you doing anything?'”

Let me be as clear as I can be about my position.  President Obama should be held accountable and criticized.  To say that he should not be held accountable and criticized would be a ridiculous position to hold.  Personally, I don’t like the President’s economic advisers as a collective body.  I don’t think they have served him well.  I would also like to see a little more fight in the President, especially, when addressing critical issues to the American people.  The Republicans and Tea Party members don’t seem to have suffered from taking hardline positions on issues.

It is still very early in the election campaign for President and anything can happen at anytime.

Now back to Tavis, Cornel West and Steve Harvey.  Last month we were talking about Tavis, Cornel West, Tom Joyner and Al Sharpton.  Is Tavis turning into an Obama-hater?  Or is he simply following his conscious and doing what he believes needs to be done and said?

What do you think?

Click here to visit the Poverty Tour web site.


Update:  On August 16, 2011, approximately three days after referring to Tavis Smiley and Cornel West as Uncle Toms, Comedian and Radio Host Steve Harvey apologized on the air to Messrs West and Smiley for referring to them as Uncle Toms.  Harvey stated that he respected both men and claimed that the Uncle Tom portion of his remarks were part of a radio bit meant to be funny.  Harvey was clear that he was only apologizing for the Uncle Tom reference and that he still vehemently disagreed with the position of the two and that he (Harvey) stands by his other remarks.

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 book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.

Dez Bryant: Fool or Victim?

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men, Gary A. Johnson, Guest Columnists, Sports News with tags , , on March 25, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Gary A. Johnson

Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Dez Bryant is the talk of Big D and that is not a good thing.  Bryant is beginning to become more famous for his off the field activities than for his moves on the football field.  Earlier this week it was reported that Bryant was kicked out of a Dallas area mall for having his pant sag so low that you could see his underwear.  You would think that a grown man would know better, but age nor the money you make is no guarantee for common sense.  Bryant is walking proof that common sense, “ain’t that common.”

Bryant was also given a criminal trespass warning and told to leave the mall.  Reportedly Dez and his boys got a little rowdy and started to argue with the police and were issued warnings by the police.  Dez and crew decided to launch a series of profanity lace tirades in a public mall for being asked to pull their pants up.  Bryant has alleged that he was a victim of “profiling.”  Unbelievable.

What the hell is wrong with these “man-child” breed of men who just don’t get it?  Chris Brown doesn’t get it.  Dez Bryant doesn’t get it.  I could go on and make a long list of brothers who just don’t seem to get it.  And I’m not just talking about young brothers.  Lawrence Taylor doesn’t get it either.

Back to Bryant. columnist Stephen A. Smith has an interesting perspective on this situation.  Never short of an opinion, Smith says Bryant is a fool.  Some blogger have criticized Stephen A. saying the columnist is being too hard on the Cowboys Wide Receiver.

Read Stephen A. Smith’s commentary below.

Ignorance is ignorance. It’s never bliss. Whether you’re with your honey, or driving a nice ride, living in affluence or, in the latest case, being a member of the Dallas Cowboys, it is simply never, ever a good idea to become conspicuous for being clueless. Naturally, most of us have better things to do with our time than to develop the insatiable need to tell this to Dez Bryant. But since his evident stupidity seems to be a bit contagious, perhaps it’s time to tell it like it is.

Bryant’s not an idiot. He just appears to be one. And if he continues to behave the way he reportedly behaved at the NorthPark Center mall in Dallas this past weekend, that stigma will be the kind of permanent fixture on his profile destined to cost him big-time dollars, and possibly his burgeoning career with the Cowboys.

And rightfully so.

You do not get into arguments with a police officer. Especially when it appears that police officer actually had a point and, quite honestly, you don’t. While we’re still unsure as to whether it may have been a crime for Bryant or his friends to be walking around a public mall with their pants hanging below their backsides, being asked to pull his pants up doesn’t fall under the category of “profiling.”

There would be no need to even address subjects like this, of course, had it not been for Bryant getting flagged with a criminal trespass warning by off-duty officers after exposing his underwear and buttocks to patrons at the mall over the weekend, according to police.

But now we need to address it because Bryant, essentially, asked us to by getting into yet another incident at a public mall.

“The outcome could have been avoided if the parties involved had simply complied with instructions given by the involved officers,” Dallas Police said via a statement.

The statement almost comes across as sounding sensitive toward what was not Bryant’s first incident at the mall where police said he had previously been involved in a “major disturbance” at a restaurant involving a woman, a parking violation and also cutting a line in a store. Perhaps, however, it’s time that we leave sensitivity out of the equation.

Nobody wants to see someone walking around in their drawers in a mall. Since when does education need to be provided on this issue?

Two-year-olds kick their legs up for their parents to put their pants on over their diapers. Kids learn to pull up their pants before they can speak in full sentences. Children can’t go out in public without being dressed, yet suddenly grown adults don’t know the difference?

Dez Bryant’s latest foray wasn’t a venture into lawlessness, just continued prancing toward rebelliousness and belligerence. There’s no excuse for it so there shouldn’t be any explanation for it, either. But since he tried, the rest of us might as well stop avoiding doing so ourselves.

“It really wasn’t me in the wrong,” Bryant told, evidently, diming out his boys.

What Bryant doesn’t realize is that by saying so, he’s basically acknowledging they were wrong. Which means he knew it was the wrong thing to do. Which explains why he’s distancing himself.

So much for justifying his mouthing off to law-enforcement officials.

What there is absolutely no justification for is Bryant, his boys or anyone else wearing their pants below their backsides. Nobody needed President Barack Obama to say so over a year ago. We all knew it anyway.

This need to create fashion statements, using prison garb, tendencies, etc., to do it, is not just an act of stupidity but futility.

What do you think?

NFL Great Jim Brown and the Cleveland Browns At Odds

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men, Gary A. Johnson, Sports News with tags , , , , on September 3, 2010 by Gary Johnson

By Gary Johnson

In 1989, I was on a business trip in Biloxi, Mississippi.  I remember walking into a book store and seeing a hardback book on the shelf with NFL great Jim Brown on the cover.  The name of the book was “Out of Bounds,” written by Jim Brown with Steve Delsohn (Zebra Books/Kensington Publishing).  Good luck finding a copy of the book now.  I searched for the book on and discovered that the book was a collector’s item.  I paid $15.00 for the book.  The book is selling on for between $37.00 and $235.00.  Glad I still have my copy.  You may want to check the value of your books before you toss them in the trash or donate them.

I bought the book and read it during my trip.  Before I read the book, I believed that Jim Brown was one of the greatest running backs who ever played the game.  After reading the book, I was moved to believe that Jim Brown was THE greatest football player to have ever played the game.  Jim Brown quit at the top of his game.  Legend has it that Brown was also the greatest LaCrosse player who ever lived.  (Don’t take my word for it, check with people who know the sport).

If you look up “proud man in the dictionary,” you will likely see a picture of Jim Brown.  Which brings me to the reported rift this week between Brown and Cleveland Brown’s new President, Mike Holmgren.  Jayson Whitlock of FOX wrote a great article about the rift supplying what I believe is the proper cultural and historical context for the reader who may not be familiar with Jim Brown and his body of work.

In January of this year, shortly after taking control of the Cleveland Browns, NFL long timer Mike Holmgren stripped Brown of his “Executive Advisor” title and $500,000 salary and offered him a $100,000 salary and ceremonial role with the club.  (This reminds me of the job former heavyweight champion Joe Louis held as a casino greeter in Las Vegas).  Brown declined the “job” and left the organization quietly.  Here it is, seven months later.  The team has decided to add Brown to the club’s “Ring of Honor” and Brown has released a letter he wrote to Holmgren that revealed his thoughts about the move complete with some racially charged and incendiary comments.

A portion of the letter to Holmgren reads as follows:

“After that 10-minute meeting, I went to my office with a feeling that I was just fired by the Cleveland Browns, because in my mind, there would be no way on this earth that you would expect me to go against everything that I’ve ever stood for in my whole life.”

Brown ended the letter writing:

“Mike, there’s only one thing that I control in life, and that’s being a man. So let me end with a little humor, because as you say, one monkey don’t stop the show, and as I say ‘Willie Lynch missed a few of us,’ and there will be no Buck Dancing.”

For the record, Mike Holmgren did not infer or insinuate that Jim Brown was a monkey.  For whatever reason, Brown decided to let that firecracker and throw it in the mix.

Let me tell you what I’ve learned about Jim Brown over the last 4 decades of following his life off the football field.  Jim Brown is a very proud and often stubborn man.  He and Muhammad Ali are probably two of the most principled athletes of my lifetime.  (Jim Brown chose jail time rather than pick up litter along the highway). His run-ins with the law, particularly as it pertains to domestic violence are well documented.  At 74 years of age, Jim Brown’s life’s work is not about money.  His work with gang members through his AMER-I-CAN organization is legendary.

Mike Holmgren is President of the Cleveland Brown football team.  Like any top executive he has every right to make personnel changes.  He knows about Jim Brown the NFL Hall of Famer, but apparently is not as familiar with Jim Brown the MAN!

Had he done his homework on Jim Brown the MAN, Holmgren would have learned that Jim Brown is Outspoken, Direct and Unafraid! Jim Brown is not into ceremony and pageantry.  Jim Brown is into changing and molding for the better young men’s lives, the same generation of men who play for the Cleveland Browns.  Jim Brown has his hand on the pulse of these young men and therefore ads value to the team.  Brown played for Cleveland and gave that city some of the best football in the history of the franchise.

This is Jim Brown.  Mike Holmgren and the Cleveland Browns organization have to find a way to resolve this matter.  I can see both sides of this situation.  You don’t want to start the 2010-2011 football season in Cleveland with this controversy.  Get this shit fixed.

We have a guy in this town (Washington, DC) who tells the truth and stands up for what he believes.  His name is Harold Bell.  Harold has spent over 40 years working with youth in under-served communities.  He’s used his radio and television shows to expose listeners and viewers to a world outside of the negative things going on in their neighborhood.  In the process, Harold, his wife Hattie and their organization Kids In Trouble, Inc., have change the lives of thousands of young men and women.  (Harold and Hattie will be celebrated on September 5, 2010, in District Heights, MD).  In fact, Harold and Jim Brown go way back, but I digress.

Jim Brown and Harold Bell at Hogates Restaurant in Washington, DC

Regarding the Mike Holmgreen-Jim Brown rift, mistakes were made on both sides.  The two men should acknowledge this, apologize and find a solution that is in the best interest of the team, the fans and the city.  Work it out guys.  Get in a room and work it out.

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.

DEA Seeks Ebonics Experts To Help With Cases

Posted in Black America, Black Interests with tags , , , , on August 26, 2010 by Gary Johnson

By Gary A. Johnson
Aug. 23, 2010

According to a report from the Associated Press out of Atlanta, federal agents are seeking to hire Ebonics translators to help interpret wiretapped conversations involving targets of undercover drug investigations. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently sent memos asking companies that provide translation services to help it find nine translators in the Southeast who are fluent in Ebonics. WTF? How many of you are old enough to remember the debates held inside and outside of the black community about the necessity of speaking “proper” English in America?

Ebonics translators. Is a precedent about to be set? How do you know if you are getting the best Ebonics translator? Are you required to be a certified Ebonics translator? If so, where do you get certified and what are the competency levels? Are there established “Ebonic” language schools? Is this a skill that will be added to resumes under language skills? How do you determine fluency levels? What’s a passing score on the test? I’m not aware of any standardized Ebonics placement exams. Help me people. Help me!

Let me see if I understand this situation. The system that educates our children does not recognize Ebonics. However, the system that incarcerates our children recognizes Ebonics. Hmmmm.

Ebonics is defined as “Black English” or a vernacular of English. The psychologist who coined the term defined it as a combination of English vocabulary with African language structure. According to the AP report, some DEA agents already help translate Ebonics, but this may be the first time DEA has ever sought to hire outside Ebonics experts as contractors.

This is a tight job market. What’s the starting salary of an Ebonics translator?

What do you think about the DEA effort to seek Ebonics translators to help solve drug cases?

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