Archive for Gary Johnson

The Ray Rice Apology: Two Points of View

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Men, Black Men In America, Women's Interests with tags , , , , on August 5, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Ray Rice, Janay Rice

August 4, 2014
By Gary A. Johnson with contributions from Mildred Muhammad

In today’s 24-hour news cycle, this topic is considered to be “old news.” 4 days ago Baltimore Ravens Running Back Ray Rice, the modern day poster child for domestic violence held a press conference where he spoke for the first time since being arrested for knocking his fiancé unconscious at an Atlantic City casino in February. The NFL “punished” Rice with a two game suspension, which was widely regarded by most sports media observers as insufficient. The length of the suspension, compared with others handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell caused a firestorm of debate. The suspension was so controversial that at least one sports/media broadcaster (Keith Olberman) has called for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to resign his position immediately.

Most of you have probably seen the TMZ video of Ray Rice dragging his then unconscious girlfriend out of an elevator at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City on Valentine’s Day. Rice is seen holding up a motionless Palmer from behind — his arms hooked under her arms and shoulders — dragging her out of the elevator before plopping her down in front of the elevator doors and at one point kicking at her feet. I found that footage to be troubling and disturbing.

I watched the press conference live. I listened attentively in an effort to determine if this guy understands what he did and is truly sorry for his actions. Or was this Ray Rice’s attempt at damage control in an effort to keep his sponsors on-board and save his public image?

Here are two takes (opinions) on this topic. My take and the expert take or opinion of my friend and domestic violence expert Mildred Muhammad. I specifically asked Mildred to share any opinions or insights that she had about the Ray Rice apology. I want to educate myself and others about domestic violence and I want to learn from those who know more about this topic than I do.

Gary’s Take: I have never been a victim of domestic violence, but I have witnessed incidents with family and friends. After watching Ray Rice’s press conference I thought he came off as an individual who is on the right path. He is seeking counseling and it appears to get “it.” I base my assessment on the following observations:

  • Ray Rice had some prepared notes and folded them up and spoke extemporaneously from his heart.
  • He apologized to his wife, his daughter, his wife’s parents, the community, etc.
  • He consistently used the phrase “domestic violence.”
  • He said he took responsibility for his actions and noted that he is in therapy/counseling for what he described as the worst action of his life.
  • He said that when he gets right, that he will commit his life to helping victims of domestic violence.

And yet, there were aspects of that press conference that made me feel uncomfortable. At one point during his press conference Ray Rice said the following: “My actions that night were totally inexcusable. That’s not me. That’s something I have to live with the rest of my life.” That’s not me? 

Ray, that was you.  The video does not lie.  Hopefully, continued counseling will help you come to terms that that was you.

Mildred

Mildred’s Take: First off, Ray Rice has been going through counseling. It’s a positive step that he apologized to his wife, (which he forgot to do in their joint press conference a few weeks earlier). It’s good that Ray apologized for his actions and took responsibility for what he did.

However, he’s positioning himself as a victim as well. He’s connecting his pain with his wife’s’ pain and her pain with his pain when the two are not the same. He knocked her out; she didn’t do that to him. Whatever she did to him in that elevator did not warrant him knocking her out. There are ways you can defend yourself without brutal force. We are talking about a running back who is tackled by 300 or so pound men. He’s hit all the time. A man has to realize that the power behind his punch, shove or hit is so much more than a woman.

His pain is associated with the shame of being captured on tape and how he let everyone down (his mother, her parents, coaches, teammates, etc). Had this not been publicized, we would not be having this discussion.

Ray Rice said his pain is associated with his daughter and how he will have to explain what he did to her mother. He did not speak to or discuss his wife’s pain or what she must be feeling and how this has affected her. On the other hand perhaps he shouldn’t. She is the only one who can speak to this and I don’t believe we will hear from her. She is being counseled and protected during this time, as she should be. I know she is in a lot of pain and probably blaming herself.

He did speak for his wife when he promised that “when the time is right” he and his wife would become active in raising awareness about domestic violence. Everything he says, he includes her instead of just speaking for himself. He speaks like he was the one assaulted and he is going to go out and speak to the world about domestic violence. I don’t think Ray Rice understands that he will be speaking as an abuser.

He doesn’t want to talk about what happened in the elevator because, during his counseling, he was made aware that he was wrong. If he says in public what happened in that elevator, he will make his situation worse. Right now, it sounds like he feels he was wronged. He’s speaking to two different things in one interview.

I hope Ray Rice continues his counseling so he can come to accept what he did and will be able to separate his pain from his wife’s pain.

What do you think?

Mildred D. Muhammad is the ex-wife of John Allen Muhammad – the convicted and executed DC sniper who terrorized the Washington DC metropolitan area in late 2002. To learn more about Mildred and her work via her website Mildred Muhammad.com and through our main website at Black Men In America.com.

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

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This Ross Is The Boss Too!

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Gary A. Johnson, Music, Women's Interests with tags , , , , , on March 14, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Rhonda Ross Pic

Rhonda Ross Logo

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com

Last night, I had the pleasure of having front row seats to see singer Rhonda Ross perform at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, located just across the Washington, DC line in Bethesda, MD.  I also met Ms. Ross after the show.  Rhonda Ross is the daughter of singing legend Diana Ross and Motown-Founder, Berry Gordy, Jr.  This Ms. Ross proved that she too can be the BOSS and in a very different kind of way. 

Rhonda Ross is a singer, songwriter, actress and writer.  One of the things I learned about Rhonda is that she is most proud of being a mother and co-parent with her husband of 15 years Rodney Kendrick.

Make no mistake, Rhonda Ross is NOT trying to be her mother.  She is carving out her own path and establishing her own musical identity.  Rhonda holds her mother in the highest regard–as a mother, but she is not trying to emulate Diana Ross the singer.  I’ve seen Diana Ross perform live and there are some similarities.  Rhonda Ross has stage presence like her mother.  When Rhonda stood center stage in that long flowing dress with her arms outstretched, she reminded me of Diana Ross.  That’s where the comparisons end.  Rhonda sings in a slightly lower register and has a stronger voice.

Rhonda Ross

I would describe Rhonda Ross’ as a Neo-Soul and jazz song stylist.  In my view, Rhonda Ross’ music is purposeful and inspiring, largely due to the fact that she writes a lot of her music.  Last night Rhonda spoke with the audience between songs.  It was clear to me that she is a spiritual and religious woman with a lot of inner strength.  When she sang the song “Nobody’s Business,” she explained that “your joy comes from the inside and that it’s nobody else’s job to make you happy.”

Ross’ live performance moved her and some in the audience to tears when she sang a song that she wrote that pays tribute to her mother.  Other songs were motivating and inspiring.  There were probably more women in the audience than men.  The Masters of Ceremony (MC) was Dr. Jeff Gardere aka “America’s Psychologist.”  Dr. Jeff reminded the men that we should take heed and listen to the lyrics too.

If you get a chance to see Rhonda Ross perform, do it!  Treat yourself to some nourishing and fulfilling entertainment.  To learn more about Rhonda Ross click here to visit her official website.

I would personally like to thank Miriam Machado-Luces of TVA Media Productions, Ltd and Elva Mason of Mason Management for the royal treatment afforded me.  Ladies you are the best!

I have one last and deserving shout out that goes to Rick Brown, the Proprietor of the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.  Rick you have done a great job.  Everything was great from start to finish including the Coat Check personnel, Wait Staff, Ushers, Bartenders and Chefs.  Your establishment is one of the best kept secrets in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.  I will be returning to your supper club soon.

Gary J. & Rhonda Ross

Gary Johnson and Rhonda Ross after the show.

Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In America.com a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In America.com Blog.  Gary is also the author of the book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.To learn more about Gary click here.

The Fall Of Detroit: A Story Told In Pictures and Words

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Gary A. Johnson, Money/Economics, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2013 by Gary Johnson

detroit-carries-sign-2012.si

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com (July 27, 2013)

The city of filed for bankruptcy last week.  The Motor City is reportedly $18.5 billion dollars in debt.  This is the the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.  Looking back it was pretty clear that the city was mismanaged for decades and that led to a steady population drop over the years and a staggering loss of tax revenue.  I’m not an economist, but I don’t think you need to be one to know that there will be staggering aftershocks as a result of this filing.

Detroit is not alone.  They just got here first.  The Wall Street Journal recently cited Oakland, Philadelphia and Chicago as other big cities with the potential to follow Detroit’s lead and file bankruptcy.

How did this happen?  I don’t have enough time or space to tell you, but the keyword here is “decline.”  Here are the highlights.

  • In 1960, the richest per capita city in America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, was Detroit.
  • Sixty percent (60%) of all of Detroit’s children are living in poverty.
  • Fifty percent of the population has been reported to be functionally illiterate.
  • Thirty-three percent (33%) of Detroit’s 140 square miles is vacant or derelict.
  • Eighteen percent (18%) of the population is unemployed.
  • And 10.6% of Detroit’s 713,777 residents, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, considered themselves white.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Detroit had five decades of fiscal mismanagement, corruption and cronyism.

From all of my research I would say that the main reason for Detroit’s economic problems was the loss of jobs.  According to the U.S. 2010 Census data, Michigan lost 48% of all its manufacturing jobs from 2000-2010 with Detroit being impacted the hardest.  This led to massive “white flight” and exits by rich folks (including Blacks) and others people of means leaving the city with a shrinking tax base.  In other words, those who could afford to leave for greater opportunity elsewhere did just that leaving the city with a poorly qualified workforce and few job opportunities.

Given the economic environment around the country and the world, I hope and pray that a solution can be found to stop this economic decline and that we don’t see a spread of bankruptcies in other major U.S cities.   As I read through pages of Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and newspapers and economic journals and articles, I felt compelled to tell this story in pictures and song for people who don’t have the time to do research and get the facts.  Click on the video to view.

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

To learn more about Gary click here.

Tavis Smiley: Shrewd, Misguided and One of the Biggest Whiners In The Business

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Gary A. Johnson, Politics, President Barack Obama with tags , , , , , , on December 15, 2012 by Gary Johnson

TavisSmileyMo' Kelly

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com

One can be very smart and yet be terribly misguided.  That appears to be the case with media commentator, frequent Obama critic, “poverty tourist,” and longtime crybaby Tavis Smiley.

I’ve been saying for years, that Tavis is one of the biggest whiners and crybabies in media.  If you look at the body of Smiley’s work over the years, he has evolved into the “King of Smoke and Mirrors.”  Tavis gives the appearance that he’s in the trenches with you for a good cause.  Tavis can identify an issue and create a grand infrastructure that he believes is the solution to the problem.  That grand infrastructure always seems to benefit Smiley financially.

Over the years, Tavis Smiley has leveraged his platform into a media empire via The Smiley Group, Inc., (radio, television, publishing, philanthropy) and has been able to extract what he needs from corporate donors in exchange for steering people back to the stores, banks and institutions that support him.  This is not to say that he has not done good things in the community.  Smiley has done some good things to help those in need.  However, he’s also made millions off of his initiatives to help the poor and downtrodden.  Is that a crime?  No.  Do I think that he would prefer that people not know about that?  Yes.

Last month Tavis was a guest on the “Mo’ Kelly in the Morning,” radio show in Los Angeles.  Mo’ whose real name is Morris W. O’Kelly, in addition to being a radio host is a noted opinion blogger.  Mo’ has been just as critical of Tavis and Dr. Cornel West’s national anti-poverty campaign, as Tavis has been of President Obama and his administration’s policies.  Mo’ used to work for as a producer years ago for Smiley’s TV show.  Kelly claims to know Smiley very well both professionally and personally.

Kelly recently received a press release from the Smiley Group, Inc., advising him and the rest of the local media which received the release, that Smiley and Dr. Cornel West have scheduled another “poverty tour,” to begin in January 2013.  The name of this tour is the “Poverty Manifesto Lecture Series.” The purpose of this series, which is slated to occur on college campuses, is to press President Obama into convening a White House conference on the eradication of poverty in America.

After receiving this press release, Kelly invited Smiley to be a guest on his radio show to discuss the tour.

In an article article by columnist Betty Pleasant in the Los Angeles Wave newspaper Kelly was quoted saying, “I took issue with his process. We all have a moral imperative to reduce poverty and I accept that. But Tavis has no plan, no program, no would-be law that he’s pushing. His premise does not validate his process and that’s what I was arguing about.  “He’s just trying to trick people into believing he has a process; but he does not and I have the right to say so.”

Boom goes the dynamite!  Score one for Mo’.

During the interview which one could describe as “blistering,” Mo’ reminded Tavis that he has called President Obama ‘a Black corporate plutocrat’ and ‘a Republican Rockefeller in black face,’ among other things he and West have said about the president.”

Apparently Tavis didn’t like the interview.  Several days following the interview Kelly received a letter from Smiley’s lawyers advising him to cease and desist, or in other words, “stop talking bad about me,” on the radio, on your blog and on social media.  (If you listen carefully, you might be able to hear some sniffling).  The letter from the law office also reminded Kelly that he signed a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement with Smiley when he left his employ in 2010, and if he did not stop, all manner of bad legal things will happen to him.

Mo’Kelly does not appear to be scared.  In fact, he says Smiley is “supersensitive.”

“He can’t stand to be criticized,” Mo’Kelly said. “He’s made some kind of stink about everything I’ve written or said about him.

Kelly’s official response to Smiley’s “lawyer letter” is: “I have a podcast available to everyone to hear and review. There was no privileged or proprietary information divulged and everything discussed on the air was factually accurate and readily available to the public.

Wow.  Smiley has made a very comfortable living criticizing and talking about people.  Now that people are “holding him accountable” and scrutinizing his work, he doesn’t seem to like it.

Game recognizes game.  This dude will be getting rich on the poverty tour.  Go figure.

Najee Ali, Director of Project Islamic HOPE and author of the critically acclaimed book “Raising Hell” has published an open letter to Tavis.  You can read his advice to Tavis by clicking on the link below:

Read more at http://www.eurweb.com/2012/12/najee-alis-open-letter-to-tavis-smiley-regarding-mokelly-poverty-more/#RrGKFBqVAfYzFrYk.99

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

To learn more about Gary click here.

Black In Reality: The Success of Black and Missing Foundation, Inc.

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Gary A. Johnson with tags , , , , , on March 3, 2012 by Gary Johnson

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com Staff Writer

Let’s start this feature by looking at the numbers.

  • According to the FBI, about 270,000 people of color went missing last year.
  • Blacks are approximately 13 percent of the country’s population, yet they make up more than 33 percent of those reported missing in the FBI’s database.
  • According to the National Crime Information Center, there were almost 30,000 active missing persons cases in the country.
  • Blacks make up almost 12,000 of those cases or about 40 percent.
  • Of the 173 Amber alerts in 2010, 30 percent were for black children.
  • 40 percent of all persons missing in the United States are of color.

This data and the obvious disparity in media coverage between black and white missing persons served as motivation for Derrica and Natalie Wilson to establish the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc., (BAM FI) in 2008.  The non-profit foundation’s mission is to bring awareness to missing persons of color; provide vital resources and tools to missing person’s families and friends and to educate the minority community on personal safety.

This is where “we” come in.  That’s right, “we.”  “We” have resources.  “We” talk to each other.  “We” have access to a variety of media including print, television and the Internet.  One person can make a difference in the recovery of a missing person.  To date, Black and Missing Foundation has played a role in over 70 reunifications or closures for families.

The most recent example of success in this area came last week (February 27, 2012).  If you watch ABC TV’s daytime talk show “The View,” you saw Derrica Wilson and 16 year-old missing teen Mishell Green’s family talk about Mishell being found and reunited with her family after having her case featured on the popular talk show.

Green disappeared more than five months ago heading to an after-school program in Manhattan, New York.  An anonymous viewer who recognized Green’s profile from the segment on “The View” immediately called Black and Missing Foundation to report Green’s whereabouts, which led to her recovery.  That call that led to the recovery of Mishell Green reportedly happened 15 minutes after the segment aired on the show.  Mishell was recovered a few hours later.  This reunion is a clear example of why “we” need to be involved in the recovery of missing people in our community.

 

Natalie and Derrica Wilson

Click here to visit Black and Mission Foundation to learn more about this organization and how you can get involved.

Earl Anthony Cooper: A Proud and Accomplished Young Man Dreaming Big

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Book Reviews and More, Feature Interviews, Gary A. Johnson, Sports News with tags , , , on January 8, 2012 by Gary Johnson

Exclusive Interview by Black Men In America.com

Earl Anthony Cooper is an impressive young man.  Raised in Wilmington, Delaware, Cooper came to my attention through my friend Mike Stewart, Sr.  Cooper is a graduate of Morehouse College, (Class of 2011), where he earned a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Political Science with a concentration in Philosophy.  In addition, Cooper was Vice–President of The Next American Great Poet, where he was involved in mentoring local Atlanta high school students on the importance of literature and poetry–all at the tender age of 22.

Cooper was the first black All-State golfer for the state of Delaware.  He was awarded a golf scholarship to play for Morehouse College’s golf team where he led the college to their first Division II National Championship in 2010.

Cooper wrote a children’s book called “Hello, Maroon Tiger! The book is available at all major online retailers.

We caught up with Earl Cooper over the holidays where he joined us for lunch at a local Washington, DC area restaurant.  You can watch our exclusive interview with Earl below.

You can contact Earl directly at eac5469@gmail.com.  You can also visit his official web site at www.earldreambig.com.

Broadway Theaters Educate Starts The Season with “Sister Act”

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Comedy, Events and Annoucements with tags , , , , on April 3, 2011 by Gary Johnson

Broadway Theaters Educate (BTE) in partnership with Group Sales Box Office, was originally established to keep the arts and cultural events alive by taking first time theater goers, African-American youth, senior citizens and veterans of the theater from the Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia areas to Broadway.  Due to overwhelming success, we are now taking groups from Philadelphia and Delaware to Broadway to capture the BTE experience.

Come join us and see “Sister Act” on Broadway, produced by Whoopi Goldberg.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Broadway production of “Sister Act” on Broadway and see some of the changes made for this Broadway production.  “Sister Act,” is a funny and musically enchanting play that is appropriate for all age groups.  Check out the video below to learn more.

Experience live theater with us! 

Click here to see our schedule and learn more about Broadway Theaters Educate (BTE).  Or visit our official web site at www.broadwaytheaterseducate.com.

 

“Sister Act” Review

By Gary A. Johnson

You probably know the story.  For those of you who are not familiar with Sister Act, here’s the story.

When disco diva Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder, she is put in protective custody in one place the cops are sure she won’t be a found: a convent! Disguised as a nun, she finds herself at odds with the with both the rigid lifestyle and uptight Mother Superior. Using her unique disco moves and singing talent to inspire the choir, Deloris breathes new life into the church and community but in doing so, blows her cover. Soon, the gang is giving chase only to find them up against Deloris and the power of her newly found sisterhood.

I went to the premiere of the preview of “Sister Act” on Broadway. I did not think I would like the show. Boy was I wrong. This is a GREAT show that will run for years. The cast was great and the music had me toe-tapping throughout the entire play.

Before the play, we had dinner at B. Smith’s of New York and had the opportunity to meet the fabulous B. Smith herself.

See you at the theater!

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