The State of Black America

Kudos are sent to Tavis Smiley for once again gathering a stellar group of Black folk to sit down and discuss the issues plaguing our communities as well as offer some good advice on how to swing the pendulum back up.

The most uplifting segment in my opinion was the morning session which focused on Economic Empowerment. This is the Civil Right that we have just not been able to grasp as a group. Too many of our people continue to live paycheck to paycheck — that is if they are getting a check and we have not fully grasped the concept investing and wealth-building.

Down home advise on prioritizing our goals in life were offered by columnist Michelle Singletary, and one of them that stuck out to me was her sage advise from Big Mama “If it’s on your ass, it ain’t an asset!” If that isn’t the truth and something more of my brothers and sisters should take heed in. If you’re looking for good info on economic empowerment and handling your finances check out Singletary’s site.

Another sister waxing financial was Lynette Khalfani. Khalfani found her self in deep credit card debt and turned it around without filing for bancruptcy. The catch to the average joe is that she was making six figures and didn’t have the bill collectors hounding her, but I’m sure you’ll find sound advice on her site as well.

Rev. Floyd Flake was profound as ever when he encouraged us to take a good look at wealth building and supporting black businesses.

The afternoon session was uplifting in part because of the stellar group of individuals gathered from Harry Bellafonte to Minister Louis Farrakhan. I tell you every time I hear the Minister speak I am moved by his biblical knowledge. Saturday he really got a charge out of the audience when he stated the Bush administration lacked “testicular fortitude.”

This year’s symposium also served as the backdrop for the release of The Covenant with Black America, which outlines the “state” of Black America and how each individual in the black community can begin to play his part in rectifying the problems.

If you didn’t catch it on C-Span Saturday, ask somebody about it and see if they taped it. It is well worth the time. Also check the Covenant site to see if the tour is coming to your community.


Getting Down to Business

Boy, I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, but not nearly enough writing! That doesn’t mean the thoughts or ideas have not been racing through my mind, so I’m going to make a commitment to myself to stay on task and at least post something every day. No matter how short I’m going to post!

The Color of Residency Laws

The Ohio Senate recently adopted a bill which prohibits municipalities, like Cleveland, from requiring their employees to reside within the city boundaries. This action has been met with opposition from Mayor Frank Jackson and many of the 21 Council members that represent the city. Mayor Jackson believes the Senate action to be unconstitutional because Ohio is a “Home Rule” state, which is supposed to mean that cities which operate under home rule are exempt from these statewide sanctions.

Others look at this as a slap in the face of Cleveland voters who overwhelmingly voted for a residency requirement more than 20 years ago. At the forefront of this debate are the City of Cleveland safety forces, particularly firefighters who have been fighting to have the requirement removed for a number of years.

My dander was raised when a press conference was held on the steps of Cleveland City Hall by the firefighters and I did not see a minority in the bunch. Not an African American, Hispanic, Asian American, just white men and women who it appears are turning their backs on the residents who pay their salaries.

They will argue that the City has turned its back on them because the school system is in deplorable shape and allegedly services are mediocre. I will not fight them on the issue of the schools, but this is a problem that has existed for more than 20 years and they were well aware of the conditions when they signed on for the job. As far as services, it has been documented that the firefighters and police officers for the most part live in the same neighborhoods. These happen to be the safest and have some of the nicest homes, because they can afford the nicest homes.

I believe that the underlying problem here is race and class. The city is becoming darker and darker every year as “white flight” has escalated leaving behind a struggling population.

I work for the City of Cleveland and had to make the choice to move into the city five years ago. It wasn’t a hard choice. I wanted my job so I found a nice house on a nice street in a neighborhood teeming with police and fire fighters.

It is my hope that the men and women in the safety forces will begin to work in the neighborhoods and with the school system to try and improve the situation for themselves and for those who do not have the ability to run.

Farewell to CoCo

My posts have been few and far between and I really hope to change that with this posting and those from here on out. There has been a lot going on lately to spark my curiosity and raise my dander, but first I must say farewell to my sweet pup Coco.
My precious CoCo went to sleep February 1, 2006 and although she was 10 years old, she will always be remembered as my puppy. She joined the family as a wee little pup only 5 mounths old and she grabbed a piece of my heart from the moment I saw her.

Always full of energy you would never have guessed she was 10 until about 2 weeks before she went to sleep that final night. It had been a grueling week for her as she stopped eating and would only wag her tail from beneath my bed when I came home.

On January 31st I knew that something was terribly wrong and that she was really suffering. That night she moaned and whined all night and I’ll never forget sitting in front of the firepalce with her head on my lap trying to comfort her until morning.

That morning we went to the Vet’s office and if I didn’t know it before we arrived I was certain that she was desperately ill when she took her place on the steel examining table and did not shiver. She didn’t mind that the doctor was drawing blood, she just lay there with sad eyes asking for help.

Not able to have her admitted we took her home with meds to await the call from the Vet that would tell us what was wrong. The call never came. I awoke that morning to find my precious puppy had gone to sleep permanently at the foot of my bed.

The pain of losing a pet is unbearable, but with each day it has gotten a little easier.

Farewell my sweet pet, I hope you’re enjoying yourself in the doggie here after and that you and Abby are romping through the greener pastures on the other side.

What would God say?

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been taken to task for asserting that New Orleans would once again be the “chocolate city” and for proclaiming that God is “made at the United States.” What would God say? Would He agree that He has ravaged the United States with every conceivable natural disaster in the last year because we misbehaved? I’m not sure if that is the case, but if you are spiritual in nature and have read the Bible I am sure that you have questioned over the last several months if we had reached Armageddon and that the end was near.
Mayor Nagin’s comments were questionable however, due to earlier assertions by Funadamentalist preachers and followers who suggested the destruction in New Orleans was a result of the city’s history of a place of ill-repute – be it true or false both comments should have been well thought out before being uttered.

Unseasonably Warm

Today I am marveling at the weather. The official high I believe was 56 degrees which is very uncharacteristic for Cleveland. Although scientists and doctors purport that going without a coat and dramatic changes in temperature do not cause cold and flu symptoms, I would bet a large number of northeast Ohioans will be suffering in the days and weeks to come.

Oprah Hoodwinked!

Yesterday my “inbox” was crawling with emails about the Queen of Talk being duped by James Frey, author of the memoir A Million Little Pieces, which the Website The Smoking Gun is calling a fabrication. The tales Frey has allegedly concocted would not even make for a good novel.
If the claims are true, it begs the question “How did he get this book into print?” And at a major publishing house like Doubleday to say the least. I’m sure there are a number of writers who have struggled to get legitimate fiction published due to a myriad of reasons, but a work of alleged embellishments soars to the top of the Bestsellers list, and no one seems to be backing down from their role in creating this monster!
Well I’m signing off now, I must go read up on the Confirmation hearings and Mrs. Alito’s breakdown yesterday.

Off to a Bad Start

Well the holidays are history! Although this is stated as an exclamation, it is one of sadness and relief. You see, the holidays, particularly Thanksgiving through Christmas, are my favorite time of the year. This year just happened to be an exceptionally challenging season for a number of reasons from family dysfunction to financial embarrassment, but I am happy to say I got through them and “this too shall pass”.

The New Year – 2006

Over the last couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to read a few blogs with great interest, especially when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions. I am not big on resolutions, or should I say on making a list of the things I am going to do. The approach I tend to take is to try and make some changes, but not to really broadcast them. After reading Tayari Jones’s blog with her list of Resolutions I began to wonder, “If you put them in writing does that add a level of accountability to your resolutions?” If you are a task oriented person and you know that there are still things on your “To Do List”, which is down on paper or screen I would suppose the answer would be yes. Also, if you are like me and just want to achieve some things, having them in writing would prompt you to at least attempt to get them done.

I’m not going to take this time to compose a long list of “to do’s”, but I will briefly state that the goals I set for this year included organizing my home and work offices, becoming more fiscally responsible and kicking the ultimate of bad habits – smoking.

The home office is coming along, you can now see the floor and many of the surfaces but I have found that I just have a ton of paper and books. There are some things that I just have a problem getting rid of – first and foremost books and secondly notes and files on articles I have written in the past. As I begin to seriously try and get back to writing I’m afraid that I might throw out some good research, but on the other hand I begin to think that I’ll look at any old topics from a new vantage point sans previous notes.

Books on the other hand are everywhere. They are in my office, in my bedroom and in my craft room. For a number of years I have said that I needed to take an inventory of what I actually have, but I’ve never gotten around to it. Instead I just continue to add to the numbers. Today I decided to just take a quick count of the books I could see in my office and I counted 190 titles. That’s a lot of books, and it does not include the four bookcases in my craft room.

I’m going to add to my list and make a concerted effort to purge some of the books in my collection, mainly the paperbacks that I know I will not read, or have read and will never reread.

Signing off to continue my task of decluttering my life!

Where should I begin

Well I’ll complete the line of discussion from my first posting, and then move on to a number of items that have caught my eye in the news. As I stated in my earlier posting I am new to the world of blogging so I’ve been researching how to add links and what not to make my space a little more interesting. With this session we will see if I have learned anything!
Annual Holiday Gathering of the Literay Sistas

The Sistas and I had a grand time this weekend! Rave reviews were offered for the offerings to which I reply a very humble “thank you”. After a meal of Cornish Hens, Wild Rice and Sweet Potato Souffle we had one of our liveliest discussions in a number of months. The book of the month was “Raising Fences: A Black Man’s Love Story”

One of the major points of contention was whether or not this was a love story and that debate went back and forth with the final conclusion being it was about one man’s search for love on a number of levels – familial, intimate and community. There was a strong undercurrent of dislike for the main character, Michael Datcher, who was seen as one filled with a great deal of arrogance by one of the Sistas, but in general the other Sistas sent props to Datcher.

Another interesting line of discussion involved when should one feel they have lived long enough to publish a Memoir? Is this something based on age, or is the level of measurement your accomplishments? The response among the Sistas was mixed, but I am curious as to what others think.
Why has East Cleveland been left out of regionalism discussions?

Anyone familiar with northeast Ohio is familiar with the many woes that have plagued the Cleveland suburb of East Cleveland for the last 20 years or so. Once the summer retreat of John D. Rockefeller, East Cleveland has fallen victim over the years to white flight and the greed and mismanagement of politicians. With the coffers empty and businesses flocking to greener and whiter pastures this once beloved home of Rockefeller hit hard times that have clung to this suburb like the 26-year-old who refuses to leave the nest. In January a new administration will take the helm just as many communities in northeast Ohio grapple with the proverbial political “hot potato” of regionalism. Some communities have already begun the regionalization of some services particularly emergency dispatch centers as recently chronicled in the Plain Dealer. One of the cities regionalizing dispatch centers is Cleveland Heights, which neighbors East Cleveland yet denied this kissing cousin access to the regionalized dispatch center. Curtis Jackson, a lieutenant in the East Cleveland Fire Department questioned the reasoning behind this snub in a December 1st letter. Jackson questions whether race played a role in the decision, which I agree to some extent, but on a larger scale I believe it was economics albeit myopic economics. The purpose of governments sharing resources is to eliminate much of the repetitious services ofcommunitiesommunites that in many instances share streets, but because of an invisible boundary one prospers while the other fails. Cleveland Heights sits on its laurels looking down at East Cleveland while many of the problems that placed the black sheep of the family in its present predicament are knocking loudly on their door. The poor and disenfranchised citizens who fled Cleveland in the 70’s and found East Cleveland as a welcoming community have now flown further east to Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights and beyond. When communities join forces they accept the benefits along with the risks, but many of the elitist politicians in the suburbs don’t seem to get that just yet. It would really behoove them to sit down with their counterparts in less fortunate communities to offer advice and maybe just listen so that they aren’t in the same predicament 5-10 years from now.
Travel through Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights and you will see that in some sections of these communities that reality is not far off. You can see the areas that have been neglected – where the housing codes are not being enforced and officials are turning a blind eye to the needs of their constituents.
It was interesting to note that just days after Jackson’s letter was published the Plain Dealer published a story on this same issue, but neglected to mention East Cleveland, the snub or the letter printed in their own publication.
Jackson’s letter did interest a North Olmsted resident who denounced race as an issue, but also stated to regionalize is to share the good and the bad. It’s interesting how the average citizen gets the picture, but those elected to serve and guide continue to remain clueless.