Race: The Power of Illusion -The House We Live In

I open my year with race and its impact on the person, community, and country.  I find it difficult to talk about race to some people, both Whites and Blacks find the subject a lesser evil.  It seems to these individuals that speaking about it is bad taboo.  I do not.

After-school tutoring likely to end as dozens of states pursue No Child Left Behind waivers

By Associated Press, Published: October 30

MINNEAPOLIS — Dozens of states intend to apply for waivers that would free their schools from a federal requirement that they set aside hundreds of millions of dollars a year for after-school tutoring, a program many researchers say has been ineffective.

The 2002 No Child Left Behind law requires school districts that repeatedly fail to meet its benchmarks to set aside federal money to pay for outside tutors. But studies released in the past five years have found mixed results, at best, from the program.

They say it has suffered from participation rates as low as 20 percent, uneven quality among tutors, a lack of coordination between tutors and teachers, poor oversight by the states and a prohibition against giving the lowest achieving students priority. Also, they say, there has been no connection between students’ success and tutors’ paychecks.

Read Complete Story: Here

Jezebels, Welfare Queens—And Now, Criminally Bad Black Moms

Written by Julianne Hing: “Nelson’s 4-year-old son A.J. was killed in front of her eyes last April. Nelson and her two kids had just gotten off at a bus stop across the street from their apartment in Marietta and the nearest crosswalk was more than a quarter mile away. So they, like other passengers that evening, jaywalked across the four-lane street. At the street’s divider, A.J. slipped out of Nelson’s hand and ran into the street. Nelson was chasing after him with her 2-year-old daughter in her arms when the family was hit by a driver with two prior drunk driving and hit-and-run convictions on his record. He was again drunk that night, and later served six months in jail for his crime.

For her loss, the Cobb County solicitor general charged Nelson, who didn’t even own a car, with vehicular manslaughter. When an all-white jury found her guilty in July, news of Nelson’s conviction and the possible three-year prison sentence she faced led to a national outcry and an online campaign for leniency…”

Read the full story: Colorlines: News for Action

The Black Athlete, A Shameful Story

This is my cat “Africa,” the picture was taken by my daughter Ariel.  Africa is sitting atop my desk alone side two books of tremendous magnitude.  The first book, The Black Athlete a Shameful Story: “The Myth of Integration in American Sport.” (1968) by Jack Olsen is about college and professional sport and the Negro athlete. In his book, Mr. Olsen, suggest the Black athlete was but a pawn in the system of collegiate and professional sports.  He suggested that although the negro athlete appeared content and appreciative in front of the lights, a caste system maintain racist classifications behind the cameras.

“Every morning the world of sport wakes up and congratulate itself on its contributions to race relations…It goes: Look what sports has done for the negro.” Jack Olsen,  (1968) “The Black Athlete a Shame Story”

Olsen illustrates that although sport often received praised for its integration efforts, he however clarifies through numerous narratives from Black athletes and white coaches whom indicated nothing was further from the truth.  Olsen warns the Black athlete was celebrated on the field or basketball court but received second-class citizenship off.  For instance, the Negro athlete were warned not to date white women by white college coaches numerous times at different universities.  The Black athlete that disobeyed this mantra found himself back in the ghettos by sundown. Thus, the professional Negro athlete fared none better as he was called ‘nigger’ in the locker rooms and on the field.

“What they did not realize was that the white american was able to compartmentalize his attitude about the Negro, to admire his exploits on the field but put him in the back of the bus on the way home.”  Jack Olsen, (1968)

In such cases, the negro athlete remained silent as described by Olsen because he vision professional sports as the only opportunities to his upward social mobility.  In Olsen’s view, not only was the Black athlete used only for his physical talents but after his college eligibility expired: he was shown the door without a degree and woefully unprepared for life.

It could be suggested the integration into collegiate and professional sport was but a small step up from cattle slavery for the Negro athlete then and now.  I highly recommend you read this classic by Jack Olsen.  You will effortlessly draw parallels to present day college and professional sport issues concerning the Black athlete.

We’ll take a look at the second book tomorrow:  Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave

The Invisible Dragon




My Bad-Ass Mother…


All photo Google images

Something about my Mother…

My life consists of a set of wishes. (1) Unity of Family, (2) Never Quit, Never Give up, (3) Be Honest with Yourself, and (4) Accept Yourself. These are not all the wishes I have but they are at the core of my human existence. Every facet of my life begins with this framework and the credit of this paradigm goes to my Mother.

My desire of a close-knit family comes directly from childhood. Growing up poor on Chicago’s south side in the 60’s and 70’s, my memories are similar to thousands like myself who was part of the ‘Great Migration.” As Latino immigrants flood America today in search of a better life so too did Blacks in the 50’s.

Their mass exodus from the swelter heat of Jim Crowism, racism, discrimination, and lack of decent employment opportunities drove herds of them to cities like Chicago, Detroit, and New York.  As African wildebeest and zebras travel the Serengeti for water and grazing annually, so too Blacks went north for respite and redemption. Thousands in search of the America dream flooded the South and West side of Chicago changing the demography overnight.

Chicago, Sweet Old Chicago

2D2577BCDC834AD8A6684F7037B2CA3D Some found their dreams and some like my Mother continued their nightmare, as a single pregnant teen she left the south as to disguise family shame and not for greener pastures.  The shame of teen pregnancy was deeper then grown Black men being called, “Boy” or chronic physical beatings Black women suffered from Black husbands, boyfriends and fathers in the south.  A pregnant teen was considered an obtuse figure and given a train ride with their “mistake” out of town.

In this tiny apartment lived a single Mother of 6, a dog, mice on occasions, monthly visits from welfare social workers reminding her how detrimental a husband would be to her receiving benefits and a big white-book with a big white Jesus on her dresser. We were pathologically dysfunctional from the beginning.

My Mother was 13, uneducated, single and thrust into one of the many fiercely-segregated neighborhoods of Chicago (Englewood) to fend for herself. She had no role models that I knew, her Mother, my grandmother (Dorthy) a chronic alcoholic did not give much hope to life.

An All-American Bad Ass,

Oh, she was in the “shit” no doubt; her daily anthem, how do I feed and clothe my children.  A miserable view from the eyes of a child.  It however was there I understood family unity; although admittedly by the dysfunctions; I learned what unity can prevailed against.

She was the All-American 60’s Black Ghetto woman, five children hanging on her tities wherever she went, (My last sibling would come later when she married) she had amazing personal and physical strength as a young Mother. I realized early her physical strength; one of her pet peeves was for us to always call her mommy, never by her first name, “Ann.”  I was quickly enrolled in a apprentice program of Black cultural Do’s and Don’t,s by my teacher, “Ann.” praise woman

In 1967, I learned that not only was it a cultural taboo to call her by “Ann,” but unforgivable to do it in front of her friends. One night in our tiny apartment we shared with her two sisters and my cousins, I somehow wondered into a “grown folks” conversation (another cultural no-no) and somehow injected the word “Ann” into the open atmosphere.

Do What I Say

I did not know there was a different in hand preference as a child, you do not notice which hand a person uses most it’s not important as a child.  Well I discovered my Mother was left-handed, a southpaw, and after the unforgettable stinging stop in my mouth I never lost that knowledge. She slapped the “Shit” out of me, I feel it like it happened yesterday; her hands were liken to a champion boxer, fast, strong;  I never saw it coming.  As I staggered away dizzy and discombobulated, I never called my mother “Ann” again, or at least where she could hear me.  (I was a rascal.)

On occasions her instructions were met with a slow response or a disrespectful non-verbal gesture, her radar picked up the activity, her missile disguised as a left-hand was launched before the combatant took another step. Man down! Medic!

As my wounded sibling or me raced for cover, for you learned not to retreat was also a form of disrespect, she then would unleash “Hell.” Whatever object at her nearest disposal was applied to your disrespectful “Black Ass” as she would shout angrily…usually my aunt or grandmother would administrated respite to us soon after however.

comment from the author…

…I loved my Mother’s strength…no matter how dysfunctional it looked to the outside…inside of it was my salvation.

Robert Williams