Saturday, October 10, 2009
Therefore, urban conservatives must lead the way when it comes to holding urban communities accountable when linking up with the rest of the world. We have to become more in tune with digital technology. For example, developing an urban regional wireless network in areas such as Benton Harbor and Muskegon will deliver affordable broadband wireless services to citizens in all areas of the region. If implemented it will be the largest project of its kind in the world and may transform the urban landscape region by enhancing the lives of community neighborhoods and overcoming the digital divide. Universities such as Western Michigan and Grand Valley State can partner with the urban municipalities to envision how a broadband wireless network can transform the lives and experiences of its citizens and visitors alike. The urban regional wireless network could provide a source of inspiration for novel ideas as well as a living laboratory for examining new applications.
Urban communities in Michigan have become mired in problems like accidents, crime, poverty, traffic and failing education. Despite the advancements in society at large, a significant portion of urban residents have been left behind. The emergence of digital technology in urban communities in Michigan will give us a chance to re-shape the landscape of the urban community. We have the opportunity, as well as responsibility, to design this emerging digital urban environment right, so that it benefits people in all walks of life.
It will require the creation of both a large-scale information infrastructure that will cut through existing physical and social infrastructures in the city and the design of new services and applications. It also requires new media both in form and function that can take advantage of the mobility and the ubiquity of information. By designing new digital urban communities and networks it will help us to re-think the meanings of familiar activities, while at the same time it allows us to envision novel forms of social interactions. Also, it will demand new forms of partnership between public and private sectors, researchers and practice, and the social and technical realms. The digital urban community, then, is a socio-technical innovation space where new forms of digitally mediated social interactions are designed and the meanings of old social interactions are re-shaped and mediated through new technologies.
Like water, gas, and electricity, access to the Internet and other information technologies can no longer be viewed as a privilege, yet it remains out of reach to the disabled, communities of color, new immigrants, non-English speakers, the homeless, and low-income families. The struggle to control broadband technology and the infrastructure that facilitates Internet connectivity is contested by public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Broadband access involves a digital landscape that few city officials are willing to take direct responsibility for.
One group that is connecting large urban areas digitally through wireless networking is the City of Philadelphia. A nonprofit organization called Digital Impact Group is leading the way in the city of Brotherly Love. A long-term vision is for Philadelphia - now among the least connected cities nationwide - to become the nation's most connected city. Our focus on developing programs to connect all of our citizens to the Internet is leading the way toward universal digital inclusion through creative collaboration with small business, large corporations, community organizations and the public sector.
As a result of Philadelphia's bold leadership on this issue, low-wealth families across the city are gaining access to computers and broadband service, enabling them to take advantage of opportunities that before were closed to them. Philadelphia stands alone among major cities in the development of a collaborative, comprehensive, community-based strategy to provide low-wealth families the tools they need to connect to the Internet.
Building research and technology parks in Benton Harbor that will bring in information and digital research companies will bring in much needed revenue as well as a tax base for an area that is desperate for job growth.
Urban conservatives in Flint, Saginaw, Detroit, Lansing, Muskegon and Benton Harbor should lead the way in innovation and digital technology by supporting smart policies that will benefit urban areas in Michigan.
This past week we saw how truly depressed and distressed came out in droves seeking housing and utility assistance payment from the City of Detroit as part of the "Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program," a federal stimulus fund designed to help residents pay rent and utility bills. 35,000 people were so desperate for help with mortgage and utility bills that threats were made, fights broke out and people were nearly trampled.
Keep in mind that our city's official unemployment rate is 28.9 percent.
Officials said a total of about 65,000 people over the past few days have gotten applications for a share of $15.2 million in federal stimulus money to help people avoid foreclosure or quickly rebound from homelessness. Only 3,500 people may receive the help. The sad thing was how people lined up thinking that they were going to receive a check or debit card. A mythical check was waiting for them.
It looked like scene from Hurricane Katrina.
The reality is that poverty exists for several reasons. One major reason is the lack of education. The other is that black people in this city will not hire one another in terms of employment. A third reason is the 100% dependency and victimization mentality that has paralyzed the city through racial paranoia and fear.
We cannot begin to even heal with this type of mentality. Let alone we have city officials who think like this and love to fan the flames of ignorance from community to community.
While Detroit struggles to come into the 21st century it will also struggle to come into the global picture. The automotive industry is dead and along with it the unions who have controlled the politics of the city for over 5 decades.
When I speak to urban conservatives on the future of our city and other urban areas across America I often tell them to have vision. We have moved past those who want to continue to keep the status quo.
One thing that no one running for any political office in this city (or any urban area) is the need for micro-insurance. This is a term increasingly used to refer to insurance characterized by low premium and low caps or low coverage limits, sold as part of atypical risk-pooling and marketing arrangements, and designed to service low-income people and businesses not served by typical social or commercial insurance schemes.
It's a financial arrangement to protect low-income people against specific perils in exchange for regular premium payments proportionate to the likelihood and cost of the risk involved.
Sharing risk through micro-insurance could help communities rebuild after natural disasters. The United States poorest people often live in the places most likely to be struck by disasters and they are the least likely to have insurance. If we allowed Detroiters to turn to micro-insurance programs it will allow participants in a community to pool their risk and hence lower their premiums to as little as $2 per year.
While we are talking about urban agriculture in Detroit how come no one is discussing the need to develop biobutanol? This is an advanced biofuel made from wheat, corn, sugarcane, and other agricultural feedstocks. Biobutanol’s advantages over ethanol will become more obvious in the years ahead: Its energy content is closer to that of gasoline, it is less corrosive, and it can be delivered and dispensed using current infrastructure.
Building an biobutanol plant here in Detroit can put people back to work. This project is tied in with building research parks in our city. The same for tactical bio-refineries that can turn garbage into fuel. A portable generator developed for military applications can turn food, paper, plastic, and other trash into electricity. Not only will this help troops stay mobile, but it will also increase their security by eliminating telltale information in a unit’s waste. Detroit should lead in this industry.
While building our research parks it should house the world's most innovative information technology companies. While we are transforming Detroit from an automotive market to a financial market we should also train and innovate a new generation of career-path information technology workers who will help design and market new high tech computers such as the quantum computers. These are computers that use spinning electrons rather than silicon-based chips to process data could do in seconds what would take a modern computer billions of years, raising the prospect of infinite processing power by the year 2020.
Already most security systems use what is called biometrics. Governments and corporations are using fingerprints, hand geometry, the iris, voice, and facial features in a growing number of identity verification systems, with fingerprints making up 67% of these applications. The question is where are the firms in our city and other urban areas across Michigan to build and program this level of technology. Again, putting people to work.
If you think what you saw at Cobo Hall is a sign of mass breakdown of social services wait until we evolve where electronically enabled teams in networks, robots with artificial intelligence, and other noncarbon life-forms will make financial, health, educational, and even political decisions for us. The reason for this is because technologies are increasing the complexity of our lives and human workers’ competency is not keeping pace well enough to avoid disasters due to human error.
So while we are still fighting over things that should have been solved in the 20th century we must look ahead to our immediate future if we do not want to fall further behind the wheel. Detroit must be able to diversify its economy if it wants to stop shrinking as a city. However, I see Grand Rapids surpassing Detroit as the largest city in Michigan by 2020 because Grand Rapids's infrastructure is ready for what is outlined in this article. Detroit's future looks bleak unless we embrace silver rights, 21st century strategies and begin to think ahead instead of playing race games and staying in poverty.
Monday, October 05, 2009
Oftentimes, I hear some far left wing liberals discuss how social conservatism is dead in the water. They point to people like President Obama and how people did not use the Bible to make a vote. Well here is the reality. Social conservatism is not dead. It simply needs to be retooled.
It is being retooled as we speak and this time black social conservatives are truly leading the way.
One such leader is Star Parker (pictured here). But I would like to discuss about someone local who I think many need to get to know. His name is Ron Edwards and the brother is no joke. If we want to seriously look at how to revitalize social conservatism then simply look at Ron Edwards.
If you ever get a chance to hear him on Joshua's Trail like I have (and also shared the mic with him many times on WDTK 1400 AM on Saturdays) all you would hear is things that are uncomfortable coming out of his mouth.
That means he is telling the truth or as he put it "simply blowing the myths away."
The Edwards Notebook is his signature editorial that he gives during the broadcast and also at the top and bottom half of the hour anywhere between 11AM and 7PM during the week. This notebook is designed to do two things. (1) To remind you that there is no God but God and (2) to remind you that America is the best thing since slice bread. His no nonsense approach to politics often teaches us a lesson on why the United States must continue to function as the greatest country in the world.
What kills me is how black people try to deny the fact that they are social conservative. This is nothing new as we have shown time after time that blacks support marriage between man and woman, frown upon abortion and support prayer in schools. Ron Edwards understands the needs for not just blacks but all Americans who worship under one God.
For 20 years Ron has been a forced to be reckoned with, educating people on issues that the regular mainstream media would not do. and now From WJMO, WCPN & WGAR in Cleveland to WWJ and now WDTK-AM here in Detroit here is a man who will not bend his Christian values for no one.
He sounds like my kind of guy. A man who will stand up for what's right. If Ron understands that America is caught up in a cultural war how come most of us are on the sidelines silent?
For those who feel that social conservatism is long dead in a post-Obama world is highly mistaken. As long as people like Ron Edwards is here to help spread that gospel of truth and victory around the social conservative movement is not going anywhere.
Continue to support Ron Edwards by listening to the Edwards Notebook online at http://www.edwardsnotebook.com
In the City of Detroit you will find almost on every corner a hair and cosmetics business. The major problem is most of these stores are not owned and operated by people of color but our Asian counterparts. Now I do not have a problem with diversity, however, I often ask myself would Asian support a Chinese buffet owned and operated by blacks in an Asian community? The answer to that is no. So why do we allow people to come in and control 90% of the economy in our community?
According to Target Market News blacks spend over $18 billion annually on hair care products. Black women use five times more hair products than their white counterparts and spend close to $23 billion annually on hair and beauty supplies.
This opens the door to a new economy in areas like Detroit called hair manufacturing and distribution.
The purpose of this is to help existing black producers who already produce black hair products. One generation after blacks fought in the civil rights movement whites and Asians took control of the nation's black hair care and beauty supply businesses. Today, they own 82% of Black hair care and beauty supply dollars. Asians have built a monopoly because of the wig industry from China, to the manufacturing of hair and beauty products and now have manicure and pedicure booths and stores in urban areas across the country. These types of monopolies aimed at black people in America helps produce wealth, income, and recession-proof jobs for Asians.
One can look into history to see how Madame C.J. Walker developed and dominated the black hair care and beauty industry that helped generate income and wealth for people of color. Because blacks never developed a true distribution system others were able to squeeze out those black producers who could not buy them out.
In a silver rights era we must open the doors of competition in urban areas to help develop new economies to keep a certain level of sustainability in urban communities. We often look to government to give us our fare share of revenue sharing when people right here in Detroit can produce revenue sharing by building hair distribution systems to (1) keep competition going against stores like Lee Beauty Supply and (2) reduce the unemployment rate by hiring people who are qualified for the job.
One thing that I keep on telling people is that the city needs to reproduce what is recession proof. Barber shops and beauty salons are recession proof jobs that can be strengthened by connecting the products they use in their shops with both production and distribution companies right here in the City of Detroit. We have to be in the business of building careers not building hustlers on the side. Detroit is engaged in a hustling mentality and we must convert this into building careers and wealth.
Once again, urban conservatives need to reach out to the hidden constituency called the Diaspora. This is something we must not ignore. We have a number of Africans who reside here in Metro Detroit who have a unlimited number of braid shops and lockticians. These women help generate wealth and in many cases send money back home to places like Senegal and Ghana. Building bridges with this group can also turn a domestic revenue generator into an international market by building distribution centers in both Detroit and Senegal.
When we marry education with silver rights we will not have to rely on Lansing to give us our fare share of revenue sharing or cut jobs. We will be in a position to produce a legacy.
While urban planners here in Detroit are trying to "rightsize" the city by implementing urban agriculture one thing we have not discussed fully is urban aquaculture. The City of Detroit, Benton Harbor and Muskegon are ripe for urban aquaculture to help generate revenue into these cities.
Aquaculture is fish farming. This is where people can cultivate fish for food in a controlled environment, such as a tank or pond, and harvesting them when they reach preferred size. Some may be interested in raising an easy-to-breed species that is fairly inexpensive to feed and relatively free of parasites and diseases. In a time of over-fishing and degradation of wetland habitats, aquaculture presents itself as an environmentally and socially sound alternative. Urban conservatives can help develop programs that will provide fresh, high-quality fish at a fair price to local ethnic markets, along with potential jobs for vendors.
This industry can be built due to the high consumption of seafood by blacks. Blacks consume 3-4 times more seafood than other races of people in the United States as well as spend nine dollars for every one dollar that whites spend on seafood. A seafood factory will meet that growing need. However, what are we doing to produce an industry that will help generate revenue as well as investment opportunities for areas such as Detroit, Benton Harbor or Muskegon?
Fish farming sounds a lot easier than it is. It involves close monitoring of the water chemistry and fish health, along with the daily work of feeding the fish, transporting them, and finding a viable market. Besides the challenge of physical labor, aquaculture systems are also expensive. The controlled environment required to grow fish in tanks includes an aerated water circulating system, carbon filters to clean water, fish feed, transporting tanks, and equipment for monitoring the water's chemical composition.
Examples of this can be found in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with Growing Power. This is a two-acre urban farm that was founded by Will Allen in 1993. Growing Power inspires school kids and entrepreneurs alike with the fresh produce, meat, and fish it grows in the heart of the city. Growing Power now has satellite farms and community gardens around Milwaukee and Chicago.
Others are following Allen’s lead, growing fish and plants in a three-tiered aquaponic system. In aquaponics, fish and plants are grown in one integrated structure. Fish waste fertilizes the plants, and plants and bacteria clean the water for the fish. Aquaponic systems mimic the natural water purification that takes place in streams and wetlands.
Milwaukee is emerging as a leader in the urban farming revolution, especially in aquaculture. Local organizations are recruiting more urban agrarians through education. Growing Power has regular workshops, and a nonprofit Urban Aquaculture Center that includes an education center as well as a production facility that is in development.
Aquaculture has been increasing around the country, and urban fish farms like Sweet Water are on the cutting edge. Purdue University’s Kwamena Quagrainie, who specializes in aquaculture marketing, does not know of any other commercial urban fish farms.
Detroit, Benton Harbor and Muskegon can benefit from urban aquaculture. Urban fish farms may help fill these gaps, with Detroit and other cities reaping economic, health, and environmental benefits. Urban agriculture and aquaculture provide jobs near a ready workforce, fresh foods for underserved populations, reductions in fossil fuels for food transport, and an use for empty industrial buildings.
If urban conservatives can lead the way to help other succeed it will provide a valuable business model for entrepreneurs in Detroit and other urban cities in Michigan. It will also strengthen the current of change that is reshaping how we grow our food.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Everytime I go to Mackinac City and Mackinac Island I am fascinated by the Jamaicans who work on the island. Their hard work and determination to do what's right should inspire all urban conservatives. However. when I come back to my community we have blacks who simply hate on our West Indies community.
our Of course, for some who live in Detroit who have fallen for the cultural stereotypes of Jamaicans simply are ignorant. This is why I push for education because it is a tool that helps eradicate ignorance and stereotypes. While I was on I-75 coming back from Mackinac City I was in a intense discussion with some of my female friends on the phone from Detroit. They lambasted me because they felt that I was seeking a weaker woman in the Jamaican. They feel that Jamaican women will work for the crumbs that fall from the table instead of fighting for what is right. I could not believe that these women from Detroit were ridiculing their Jamaican sisters because they work in the service industry.
Then more stereotypes followed. "How many jobs do they have? 3 or 6? How many babies they have 10?" The other sister on the phone cried about how Africans and Jamaicans take jobs away from African Americans. They clowned about how Jamaicans cannot speak proper English. They both agreed to think that Jamaicans are better than African Americans and felt that I was a traitor to our sisters here in Detroit if I was to date one of them.
What they did not know that all of the Jamaican women I spoke to were married. The two sisters on the phone from Detroit were divorced.
It always depresses me when black people hold ignorant views of other black people across the Diaspora. No wonder our community is a joke here in Detroit. Being bi-cultural myself I have been targeted by other African Americans in this community as being better and not being in the in-crowd in terms of following the status quo. We practice so much cultural oppression in this community it is not funny. We clown the Senegalese women for braiding hair, and if that family is a Muslim them they must be terrorists. Nigerians are looked upon as scam artists and not wanting to help African Americans (which is false). Where are they getting this nonsense from?
What’s REALLY depressing about it all that essentially all black and African people have the exact same negative stereotypes for each other, the same stereotypes western Whites and Europeans gave us. You think people would listen to themselves. We’re all unceremoniously labeled as shiftless, lazy, morally loose, repugnant, violent, prurient beasts with animal-like behaviors who love sex and sensibility.
To show you how ignorant these sisters were they forgot that both groups suffered the traumatic experience of slavery (slaves were often shipped back and forth between the Caribbean and the United States), were cut off from our African homelands (forcing us to create a new identity in the new world), and both of us have black skin in a racist society. However, people from the Caribbean do not complain and use race as a crutch. Even after fighting wars, AIDS and malaria Africans come over to the United States and prosper. Meanwhile, some African Americans have a belief that government is supposed to take care of us instead of providing us the services that we need. Everyone else understands the role of government but we still think the white man who runs the government is against us. That sound like some who do not want government involved in anything.
Anyway, when I was talking to our Jamaican sisters on Mackinac Island they wondered why our women complained about everything. However, one Jamaican woman said something that struck a serious nerve in me. She said how come black people in this country blame racism for their condition when it was clear all they really needed to do was sacrifice and work hard for what they wanted. Pull themselves up by their bootstraps by working hard and invest in our communities. She said African Americans were too sensitive to the subject of race and politics.
It sounds like urban conservatives have been going after the wrong constituency all these years. I walked away from that conversation thinking that maybe we need to rethink our strategy in terms of outreach to black folks in urban communities and look towards something greater and something more international. Jamaicans, who come from intact households, appreciate hard work, love God like no other, and will support their men at all costs. I have noticed similar behavior traits with Nigerians and other people globally.
Black people in America will continue to vote Democratic in large numbers for whatever reasons. That will not change. However, I think Republicans, especially urban conservatives, need to reach out to other people in the Diaspora. They lean towards our values. The women are easier to get along with, the men are serious about family building and the children are serious about education. We do not need to keep reminding blacks in urban communities about what we did as Republicans in the 20th century. We need to reach out and communicate with people that look like us who come from other parts of the world who have come to America to seek opportunities.
My conversation continued with our Jamaican women in Mackinaw City. Another woman asked me "how come African-Americans could not simply “get over race”. We are operating in a new age where opportunity was abundant. Instead of complaining, African-Americans needed to apply their energy towards a career or an education and stop using race as a crutch."
That was MINDBLOWING.
It’s sad when people try to place their prejudices on others. I do not have anything against our people in Detroit or other places. I simply want to deal with people who are not afraid of commitment, afraid to speak their mind in a peaceful manner and think global. Some blacks here think too local and that leads to other issues that are counterproductive. We should not have to make our Jamaican brothers or sisters (as well as others) Americanized. We should allow them to keep their values. In fact, I like it when Jamaican women keep their values instead of trading them in for something corrupt. It shows me that they are serious about their culture and God.
The real problem is we are so far removed from our roots that we no longer realize how much we have in common. We don’t realize that our language, our food, and our traditions are similar even though we are thousands of miles apart. The more we learn these commonalities the easier it will be for us to unite.
This is why urban conservatives must create a new path of distinction in our community by connecting with those across the Diaspora. We have the same issues (none of us want higher taxes), are concerned about global education and want to improve the quality of life. Also keep in mind that we have African Caribbeans in the United Kingdom and African Canadians who are conservative and share some of our concerns. The same with our British counterparts. Urban conservatives do not make any distinction between Christians, Muslims and Jews because we come from our father Abraham.
Regardless of how confusing the media tries to portray people we are one family. Its time to stop playing politics and play policies that will work in urban communities. Reaching out to Jamaicans are no different. Urban conservatives both respect Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey the same way mainstream conservatives respect Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater.
I am not excluding our Hispanic brothers and sisters nor our Arab, Jewish, Asian and Indian families. They too are urban conservatives. We all need to kill the stereotypes about one another. I met a Puerto Rican woman at a store recently who wanted to teach me Spanish while she wanted me to teach her about the Yoruba in education. The point here is when we reach out to new people you will realize how much we have in common.
It's time for our community to expand our horizon in relationship building. Maybe the woman you are looking for is Jamaican or the man you looking for is Senegalese. Either way it goes open the door to kill the stereotypes. We may even begin rebuilding our families if we look past the stereotypes.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I was amazed of how 2100 Republicans registered for the Michigan GOP Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island. Unfortunately, only a few minorities were at this conference. In fact, it was so noticeable that people started asking me questions as soon as I got off the ferry boat Friday evening.
The question? Where are the minorities at the conference and where are they in the party?
Therefore, a small group of us had an impromptu discussion on this issue Saturday at the Grand Hotel.
I got a chance to hear some of the debate between the gubernatorial candidates early Saturday morning. While they discussed the economy one thing people always forget is how urban communities are instrumental to the advancement of the State of Michigan. They talk about Detroit and bringing Detroit back but there are other communities that need to be bright back as well. However, it seems like the biggest challenge is how Republicans can approach urban areas.
The answer is simple. Just talk about issues that are relevant. I think I brought this up several times in our discussion. Instead of template talking points and foreign platforms I stressed the need for discussions on mental health, family building, global education, and even participating in race relation discussions. The key here is relationship building. You simply cannot just come into the black community hoping to find some votes during election time. It's impossible.
A big point that I stressed is how the GOP must understand the demographics of where they are targeting voters. You cannot take a boiler point platform into the Brightmoor section of Detroit. You will get shot. Instead, find out what community groups and neighborhood associations are over there and build relationships with them first. We wait too long to do this. Not just in Detroit but find out the landscape in all urban areas across Michigan. Find out why their schools are failing. Don't just say the teacher unions are blocking progress. There are other ways to go around the teacher unions.
How many people in the GOP are connected to groups like the Skillman Foundation or Detroit Parent Network? The NAACP? The Urban League? We know the GOP has ties with various Chamber of Commerces across the State of Michigan but are we partnering with other community based groups who have direct access to people in our community? When was the last time the GOP connected with Focus Hope? The North Oakland Republican Club volunteered to work in a soup kitchen in Pontiac not too long ago. Most GOP clubs will not even conduct meetings in urban communities. That alone shows the disconnect.
Have we viewed ourselves as a party that want to cross barriers with other people or are we just simply talking? For example, how many Republicans who were on Mackinac Island talked to our Jamaican brothers and sisters while they were there? I have said repeatedly that we are forgetting about a hidden constituency that we have not tapped into. I got a chance to speak to several Jamaican women on the island. These women had ONE THING IN COMMON. God, hard work, not seeking a handout, honoring the man in the house through God, family oriented, not allowing anger to blindside them, valued educational values, not blaming other races for holding them down and loving life to the fullest. One even expressed the fact that she does not wear skirts to church but long dresses. Out of the 12 women I spoke to 11 of them were married.
That sounds a lot like the GOP to me. Yet, most of us looked at them as just servants and not stakeholders in this party. I can say the same for Nigerians, Ghanaians, Senegalese and others across the globe. If we want to attract conservatives of color into the party then you have to give them a serious reason to consider. We also have to realize that every black or Hispanic that want to participate in our party may not be Christian. Do we alienate them or do we open our arms and agree to disagree and move on?
Civic education forums are needed to inform constituents on the issues as well as creating solutions. I said nothing about bashing elected officials. I said solutions. If the GOP becomes more solution-oriented we will see a positive outcome in urban communities. If we keep up this tirade of bashing people we will not win in 2010.
You cannot neglect urban communities because they are the very instrument that can help revitalize Michigan. Even Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty stated in a luncheon I was at on how poor urban areas are recruiting grounds for new Republicans. Creating jobs and improving schools are goals that resonate with all parents. The message has to be consistent.
But our dialogue was awesome. I enjoyed meeting with the stakeholders in this meeting. We need to have more and actually conquer our fear of one another.
The Michigan Republican Party has just completed its 28th annual Biennial Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference and trust me it was worth the 4.5 hours getting there. As usual, the stakeholders in the party are here for one thing.
Yes, while our state is suffering massive unemployment and Lansing's lack of ability to lead many grassroots, business, educators and state party leadership came together to find solutions and ways on how to Fix Michigan. What caught my attention is how John Rakolta simply told the audience in the first Fix Michigan panel that race still plays a role in blocking regional cooperation.
This is true.
However, with Michigan's general election next year we need to prepare ourselves to move forward. But we cannot fix Michigan if we still think going back to a security blanket of ideas will work. We live in a different America now as opposed to 1994 when we had the Contract on America.
What I heard from some of the people attending the conference was how the party must go on offense if we want to win in '10. We cannot get arrogant and lazy this time around. We assumed in 2006 that we had Gov. Granholm and the rest of the Michigan Democrats on the ropes. Instead, Michigan Democrats reloaded quickly with Jon Stryker and the Coalition for Progress. They got a whiff of smelling salts in the corner, had their eyes cut, was splashed in the face with some water, and charged out like a bull, knocking the GOP back on its heels. We did not recover in 2008 either but things will change.
It's time to get personal and get specific. I have been saying all along how we need to touch every demographic without fear.
Finally, we need to stop wasting time on insane, utterly ridiculous goose-chases such as MLB steroids, or televangelists. How completely ridiculous. People are sickened of the fact that our Senators have nothing better to do than to investigate Benny Hinn. This convinces people, more than ever, that the Republicans are out of touch.
I am approaching Mackinac City off I-75. After ducking state troopers and sheriffs I finally made it.
We are getting on Shelper's Ferry to cross over from Mackinac City to Mackinac Island.
I love the Mackinac Bridge. I crossed the bridge to see the Upper Peninsula. What a different world.
The Straits of Mackinac. The water is beautiful.
Congressman Eric Cantor from Virginia speaking to us at breakfast.
Congressman Eric Cantor takes a picture with the urban conservative.
Nick DeLeeuw from Right Michigan doing God knows what.
State Senator Mike Bishop throws a party at the Pink Pony on Mackinac Island. People could barely get in the party because so many people were there.
State Representative Paul Scott has his supporters. Many wonder if Rep. Scott will run for Secretary of State of Michigan. We shall see after the budget crisis.
More supporters for Paul Scott.
9th District GOP Chairman of Oakland County Glen Clark pumping up the crowd for State Rep. Paul Scott.
5th District GOP chairman Lutullus S. Penton of Genessee County pumps up the volume for Rep. Scott.
State Rep. Gail Haines, Sheriff Mike Bouchard's daughter and State Rep. Sharon Tyler making their presence known at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Dr. Tom George speaks to Kelly Mitchell.
Ingham County GOP Chair Linda Lee Tarver is on her way to the evening reception with her husband Clint. Both of them are always stylish as usual.
Finally, it's silly to chide donors for not "opening their wallets" when as of now, they have nothing or no one to open them for. Stryker was important, not because he poured money into the moribund Democrat Party, but because they gleefully used the money to attack Republicans. Something to think about.
History shows us that since the end of the Whigs (who never had a chance, hence they were called "stillborn" by one historian), we have had two viable parties and only two viable parties. That won't change. Change must come within the GOP. We did it before, we can do it again. But a major purge is in order, and I fear some black times are ahead for the state until we get our act together.
But the conference was awesome as usual.
Here are the straw poll results from the weekend:
Votes cast: 1,244
Mike Bouchard: 298 votes (23.95 percent)
Mike Cox: 300 votes (24.12 percent)
Tom George: 41 votes (3.30 percent)
Pete Hoekstra: 219 votes (17.60 percent)
Rick Snyder: 386 votes (31.03 percent)
Votes cast: 1,212
Mike Bishop: 446 votes (36.80 percent)
Bruce Patterson: 69 votes (5.69 percent)
Bill Schuette: 697 votes (57.51 percent)
Secretary of State
Total votes: 1,186
Cameron Brown: 311 votes (26.22 percent)
Judy Emmons: 11 votes (0.93 percent)
Michelle McManus: 404 votes (34.06 percent)
Anne Norlander: 248 votes (20.91 percent)
Paul Scott: 212 votes (17.88 percent)
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Since President and CEO of the International Women's Forum Michelle Bernard has given educational activists the green light for us to push for an educational revolution tonight on her nationally televised town hall meeting on MSNBC with Dr. Bill Cosby we need to transform the way we view education in urban areas. Between watching the town hall meeting, called About Our Children and the educational documentary 2 Million Minutes, I am fully convinced that we need to change the culture immediately in our urban centers to compete in a 21st global educational and economic model.
The real war is not between Democrats and Republicans or liberal or conservative. The media has done such a great job in confusing people with these labels. The real war is the lack of education in our communities whether those communities are black, white or Hispanic. While countries like India and China are becoming the center of attraction globally academically the United States continue to fall behind the global standards. We can no longer look at this as a race or political problem. It is a threat to national security.
In the documentary 2 Million Minutes it shows when a student completes the 8th grade, the clock starts ticking. From that very moment the child has approximately Two Million Minutes until high school graduation, to build their intellectual foundation and to prepare for college and ultimately career.
How a student spends their academic career from 8th grade to 12th grade in class, at home studying, playing sports, working, sleeping, socializing or just goofing off will affect their economic prospects for the rest of their lives.Statistics for American high school students give rise to concern for our student's education in math and science. Less than 40 percent of U.S. students take a science course more rigorous than general biology, and a mere 18 percent take advanced classes in physics, chemistry or biology. Only 45 percent of U.S. students take math coursework beyond two years of algebra and one year of geometry. And 50 percent of all college freshmen require remedial coursework.
This fall at Michigan's colleges, thousands of students are arriving with great expectations -- only to find themselves relegated to paying for high school courses without even receiving college credit. Those courses are called remedial classes, which students have to take because they were so poorly prepared in their K-12 schools.
At Michigan State University, the proportion of incoming freshmen who need remedial classes jumped to 28 percent today from 25 percent last year. At Delta College north of Saginaw, 81 percent of incoming students need remedial classes. That number has grown 3 percent in recent years.The growth is a sign, some experts say, that Michigan school districts are not taking seriously the implementation of the new high school curriculum that state leaders adopted in 2006 to better prepare students to succeed in the knowledge economy.
It;s not just hitting urban communities like Detroit and Flint but also upscale areas like Rockford, Michigan. The upscale suburban city outside of Grand Rapids, where most families send their children to four-year universities. What most parents in Rockford don't know: The district's latest state test scores show only 24 percent of its kids are college-ready in all subjects based on ACT indicators, which colleges use for admissions.That suggests most of those students will have to take remedial classes, a predictor of college failure.
Now it is true that more Michigan schools are meeting federal education standards, helping them avoid costly sanctions, but they are graduating with the skills to compete in Michigan and America but are nowhere close to global standards.
An estimated 80,000 jobs go unfilled in Michigan and an additional 30,940 jobs could go unfilled in the near future, according to a 2008 EPIC/MRA future business study. This indicates Michigan's high rate of unemployment has more to do with a lack of necessary education and training among residents than a lack of employment opportunities. Studies indicate there is a strong correlation between increases in average test scores and national economic growth. In country after country, a boost in test performance was linked to a distinct rise in annual per capita gross domestic product growth, according to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.
Even students going directly to entry-level jobs or entering technical schools need higher-level thinking and math skills, researchers have found across the country.
The more math Americans learn, research shows, the more money they earn. Students who take challenging high school courses, especially in math and science, will earn $1 million more than students who do not.
Algebra II, in particular, is a predictor of success in college and in getting a good job in the knowledge economy -- more than race, socioeconomic status or family income.
While many of us are playing partisan politics and discussing how each party is racist have anyone payed attention to our students scored next to last, world-wide in advanced math? In Physics the U.S. scored at the very bottom of the heap.American 15 year olds came in below average, at country ranking #29 in science and rank position #35 in math according to Program for International Student Assessment based in Paris, France.
The international 'Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)' reported, : "the effectiveness of the U.S. primary and secondary education system can be characterized as mediocre at best."
Mediocre?What about in June 2006 when Achieve, Inc., a bipartisan, nonprofit education organization formed by governors and prominent business leaders, found that math and English tests for high school diplomas require only middle school knowledge, and that those math graduation tests measure only what students in other countries learn in the seventh grade?
What about reading numerous reports that home-schoolers scored 70% higher than public school students on standardized national achievement tests, regardless of race, economic status, or regulation levels?
Or the decline in the number of U.S. citizen science graduate students still continues, and that the growth of business administration Ph.D's lags so far behind population growth that major business schools now employ professors to teach graduate level business courses that, according to the dean of MIT's Sloan School of Management "don't know a lot about business?"
Or found out in February 2005 to read that China produced 4 times more BS engineering degrees than the U.S., and Japan twice as many. Nobel Prize-winning scientist R.E.Smalley of Rice University reported "by 2010, 90% of all Ph.D. physical scientists and engineers in the world will be Asian living in Asia." The International Math & Science Study reported U.S. 12th graders were out-performed by 90% of other nations in math and 76% in science. In advanced math the US was out performed by 94% and in science by 100% of other nations. The American Association for the Advancement of Science reported 90% of math books and 100% of science text books are unacceptable.
Or found out in 2005 when the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reported that the testing of 300,000 students nation-wide showed that 82% of 12th grade students were not proficient in math and science - - even worse than 10 years earlier. 73% of 4th graders failed to gain proficiency scores. 8th graders showed no improvement in the past 10 years. When the test was taken again in 2006 over 65% of 12-graders were not proficient in reading, a worse result than 1992 when the test was initiated.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the information age not the industrial revolution. While we sit and play partisan politics the global experience will pass us up. Camden, New Jersey spends $27,000 per pupil and still have a failing school district. While it is true that American schools do a particularly poor job of educating blacks and Hispanics, one should not conclude that white students in middle-class suburbs are uniformly well served. In mathematics and science, the nation's top high school students rank far behind much less elite samples of students in other countries.
China, is likely to become a major center of global technological innovation, as it joins Japan as a scientific and technological power. The United States graduates about 60,000 engineers each year; Japan 70,000. China is now graduating about 325,000 engineers annually. Think about it.What is worse is that our students fall further behind those from other nations the longer ours are in school. For example: our 4th graders performed mediocre since 46% of other nations outscored them in math. But it gets worse. By the time they were in the 8th grade they were outperformed by 68% of the other nations. And, lastly as mentioned above, by the time they were in the 12th grade they were outperformed by 90% of other foreign nations. This is indeed shocking, signaling that an education gap opens up wider and wider vs. other nations as ours progress from one grade to another.
Our children do not appreciate educational values. It's time that they do. Parents and stakeholders must begin to transform their thinking in terms of thinking global. This is part of the silver rights movement. Again, we do not need political parties to give us our marching orders. Stakeholders like Michelle Bernard has already given us that challenge. It's time for us to move away from meaningless debates and start concentrating on our future.
Lastly, its time to increase our educational output to attract diversity into our community. We do not need race baiting or fighting against regional cooperation to create a new educational incubator that will help our students prepare to become global citizens.
We must change the culture of education if we want to promote global education. We start NOW.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
The founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Operation HOPE, John Hope Bryant, has a mission statement that makes total sense.
"There is a difference between broke and being poor. Being broke is a temporary economic condition, but being poor is a disabling frame of mind and a depressed condition of your spirit, and you must vow to never, ever be poor again."
His vision for the poor, the under-served, and the wealthless of the world is to help them see themselves -- differently. We can do this by helping to expose, to educate, to empower, and ultimately to inspire them.
This is deeply rooted in what we call silver rights. This is a concept that documents and validates the next phase of civil rights: the empowerment movement not only of American minorities, but of majorities as well. That is, we transition beyond giving a fish, beyond teaching to fish, to owning the pond itself.
Yesterday, I was part of a quality education tour sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber. The group that made up the tour were both stakeholders in the policy, educational and business sectors.
The first school we attended was the Detroit Edison Public School Academy (DEPSA). DEPSA is the FIRST CHARTER school in the state of Michigan to be honored with the prestigious Blue Ribbon Award bestowed by the Department of Education. It is also accredited through the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement.
The school has an excellent curriculum, clean and modern facilities, tons of extracurricular activities, a dynamic superintendent who is always striving for higher levels of achievement, caring and involved principals, and great teachers. I was amazed by some of the things that they are learning. I love the attitudes of the teachers and administration as far as learning and raising the bar.
The vision of DEPSA's Superintendent Ralph Bland is current, appropriate, solid and well disciplined. The children are being challenged as we were parents to excel in studies. It was great to see our children study like we did in college. You won't find anything like it in the City of Detroit. The quality of education your child receives all comes down to the teachers, the students and parental involvement.
After we left DEPSA we went to the Foreign Language Immersion Cultural Studies (FLICS). FLICS is one of the best kept secrets in the Detroit Public Schools. In fact, it is probably the most important school in DPS because language immersion programs have grown for a number of reasons: competition in a global economy, a growing population of second language learners, and the successes of previous programs.
This school offers a rigorous core curriculum that includes total immersion in French, Spanish and Japanese languages as well comprehensive study of English language arts with Open Court Reading. Beginning in kindergarten, students receive instruction in the target language from native-speaking teachers and highly qualified instructors. An appreciation of ethnic and cultural diversity is stressed.
One of the key principles of immersion education is that linguistic and cultural knowledge is a resource—the more you know, the better off you are. Immersion education adds knowledge about a new language and culture while building on a child’s English language skills and knowledge of U.S. culture.
Students from the French program have won first place in the National French Contest for two years in a row.
This teacher was teaching a Japanese language course at FLICS. How many black men do you see teaching Japanese on any given basis to children? Despite having no Japanese heritage, the students can rattle off the hiragana characters of the Japanese language. No one in the class was speaking English.
This teacher was teaching Chinese to a group of children. Again, no English in the classroom. Keep this in mind. FLICS is located right here in Detroit at the old Renaissance High School (which moved next door). Some of these children can speak Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and French better than their suburban counterparts.
More Chinese instructional learning going on at FLICS.
The challenge for Detroit Public Schools or charter schools is to develop at foreign immersion cultural high school at the high school level. As we move into a global society these types of schools will be needed.
The afternoon session of the Quality Schools Tour included testimony from various educational stakeholders in the community on the needs to improve quality education in Michigan. The House GOP Educational Committee met with us to hear our concerns. We testified the need for alternative teacher certification, quality charters, and I even gave a testimony for allowing Wayne RESA to control failing school districts that are operating financially in a deficit like Detroit Public Schools. This is a better alternative as to allowing the Office of the Mayor to run Detroit Public Schools.
The quality schools tour that was sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber is part of a growing silver rights movement. This movement is rightly focused on an inclusive policy, aimed at empowering the wealthless of America. Because we believe that education is the ultimate poverty eradication tool it is necessary for us to put our differences aside and come together on educational policies that makes sense.
This includes creating a curriculum that links students to the jobs and careers of the 21st century in Michigan by building learning partnerships between businesses and schools to develop in-demand job skills and talents as well as expanding mentoring and internship
opportunities, especially for minority students.
Our K-16 curriculum needs to focus on critical thinking and problem solving as well as global perspectives and languages. This, including the core courses that children needs to compete, will help create a new well balanced student.
There is no way we can improve our economic conditions in the State of Michigan without addressing the needs of education FIRST. There is no way we can reinvigorate and diversify our
economy by forging unique niches that draw on established and emerging assets without realizing that global education needs to be paramount. This includes treating the arts and culture as both educational and economic tools of regional growth as well as improving core infrastructure. Also, encourage businesses to partner with school districts to develop an entrepreneurial curriculum.
Educational reform fits into the platform of the silver rights movement because we believe in giving individuals "a hand up to a hand out," and actively promote programs aimed at helping people, people help themselves. Whether those programs are financial literacy or public health we need a proactive and coordinated partnership between the private sector, government, technology and the community.
Through global education we can begin to convert the economically uneducated to the economically literate, and empowered. Showing people how to help themselves and creating more stakeholders in Michigan. Our movement is reflective of all people and all races, because without strong, consistent and positive intervention, all the major trend lines suggest a large and growing educational disparity gap; and "any nation is at its greatest risk by those who have no stake in it." But with positive intervention, consistency we can realize the rebirth of the American dream of equality for all.
We have to create an era of educational prosperity that will lead to family building and wealth in Michigan. An educational era where selfishness is replaced with enlightened self-interest. This will in turn lead to an economic era giving birth to the stakeholder class. Lodged between the working class and the middle class, the stakeholder class doesn't necessarily make more money, but makes better decisions with the money they make. All deeply rooted in education. There would have been no financial crisis if people would have been smarter about their money instead of making it a political issue. If we need a tea party we need one for financial literacy. It's easy to point the fingers at someone else but hard to point it at yourself.
If we continue to support organizations like the Detroit Regional Chamber, Skillman Foundation, MAPSA, the Hannibal Public Policy Group, Emerging Leaders Think Tank, Detroit Parent Network, and others who are in the mix in terms of building educational and regional power here in the State of Michigan we will begin to see a transformation in our region. These groups I mentioned not just have a vision for Detroit but all of Michigan. This is why I travel across the State of Michigan talking about educational reform efforts.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Presently, I am reading this document entitled, "RNC MINORITY OUTREACH:
SAY ONE THING, DO ANOTHER." After reading the document I simply said to myself people still have work to do.
To me, the document, written by the Democratic National Committee, speaks in volumes. Some may write it off as a way to divide the party but if you actually read the content of the message one can only wonder why the RNC keeps going over this minority outreach thing and blacks still vote 90% Democrat.
I do not think the issue with Black Republicans being elected or even being respected in local and national communities is an issue. That is not the problem. The issue is connecting a message with your constituents.
If you take a look at the present day National Republican Party it's broken up into three distinct factions.
1. The Social Conservatives. These are the people who are mostly Christian and exercise their Christian values in politics.
2. The Libertarians. This is another group who stresses limited government (some stress NO government at all), adhere to the Constitution of the United States and have a disdain for social conservatives.
3. The Fiscal Conservatives. This group pushes for fiscal policies that advocates a reduction in overall government spending. They believe in free trade, deregulation of the economy, lower taxes. Most of this group are strong followers of former President Ronald Reagan through his "Reaganomics" platform.
Then you have those paleoconservatives who have left the Republican Party and are now part of the Constitution Party. This party is deeply rooted in Christian nationalism and have a splinter group called the American Independent Party.
When you look at the present day plight of Black Republicans where do they fall under? While the three groups have an identification and can expound on their platform politically Black Republicans today do not have a clear platform. That alone is a serious core problem. Present day Black Republicans discuss patriotism, independence and cultural conservatism that is connected to the Black church.
However, the last 40 years in the United States Black people in our country have voted Democratic. So what is really going on here?
The way I see this is the lack of REAL identity with our Black Republicans. There is no real contrast between Black Republicans and the three groups I just mentioned. Black Republicans actually fall in one of the three groups. Which can be a good thing our bad thing depending on where you live.
Most Black Republicans who I know personally often tell me that they cannot gain real ground in the Black community because so many blacks are Democrats or liberals. I then ask what message are they telling black people in the urban areas. They tell me that they talk to blacks about limited government, free enterprise and tax cuts.
That's the main problem. The message and not understanding your audience. No one understands this message in certain parts of Detroit or Pontiac. So you have lost your potential voter.
Again, Black Republicans have to begin to create an identity that sets them apart from the rest of the crowd. The most basic fundamental issue here is crafting a message that is going to make sense. Too many of our young Black Republicans I have noticed are using terms from people like Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater. Rarely, I ever hear anyone discuss the efforts of Booker T. Washington, Ida. B Wells or Marcus Garvey. The reason for this is because most have never been exposed to real African and African American History as it pertains to Black Republicans and blacks in general. It's one thing to master American History but its another to fully understand your past to move into the future.
On the flip side of things most Black Republicans STILL dwell on the past and what Black Republicans did for blacks. This level of history is important but it cannot be used to craft public policy and solutions in 2009. It also does not show how this history is relevant to other blacks across the Diaspora in 2009 when it pertains to global trade and development in cities like Muskegon, Detroit and New York. Black Republicans have to stay current not dwell in the past.
We also need to do our homework and stop mimicking others when they talk about the war on poverty. Yes, we know that Lyndon Johnson created the welfare state but what is never discussed from any Black Republican (or Republican in general) is how the Vietnam War created division in black families nationally. There are never any discussions on how black men came home, affected with Agent Orange, only to come home to poverty and eventually drug use or selling drugs because they could not find a job. Some committed suicide after fighting for their country. There are more to the destruction of the black family than playing politics. Black Republicans must be able to articulate these issues in a honest and truthful manner.
One thing that bothers me is how we have become silent on the education issue. Black Republicans cannot get caught up on being loyal to the Republican Party when we have some Republicans who support teacher unions. Education is an issue that needs repairing in all urban school districts across the country. Some have taken the argument of using school vouchers. That's nice, however, how do you translate that into educational policy? Even though I support vouchers is it an issue right now in Detroit? How many libertarians have submitted signatures to get vouchers on the 2010 ballot? We are seeking REAL educational reform not talking points. Black Republicans should be right on top of this issue along with charter schools.
How many Black Republicans have designed educational or non-partisan think tanks to improve education as well as working with elected officials to make this a reality? What's our position of Mayoral controlled public school districts? These are discussions we need to be taking leadership on in our organizations. Stay away from extreme discussions on education that will not make sense.
It's easy for Black Republicans to call President Obama names day in and day out but it makes our case even harder when its time to go into the black community and expound on our message. Our excuse is black people are so brainwashed that they will not listen to us. They should not listen to us because we are parroting a platform that simply does not talk to our people. That's just the truth.
A quick history lesson here. When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 the entire country mourned his death. The leader of the Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad, told the NOI not to come out and make a comment about JFK because not only people loved him but it would bring serious repercussions on the NOI in general. In other words, they would be looked upon as lunatics and anti-American. Who made the statement about the "chickens have come home to roost?" Minister Malcolm X. He made this statement because of the United States involvement with world affairs and the CIA murder of Patrice Lumuba in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1961.
Malcolm X was silenced for 90 days and excommunicated. We know what happened next.
Today, we face a similar situation. Blacks (and Americans in general) love President Barack Obama regardless of what people think of his policies. Regardless of what his approval rating is nationally 1 out of 3 Americans prefer Obama over Bush (or ANY Republican) to be President. So when Black Republicans go on this "temper tantrum" of character assassinating the President and has not even crafted an urban agenda that will be an alternative to what President Obama is proposing to urban communities then we make ourselves look bad. Does that mean we should not critique the President? Absolutely not, we should but be ready to have an answer that do not fall in one of the three categories above. That means we need to study and analyze information to create a platform that makes sense. We cannot allow room for distractions at this point. To continue character assassinating the President will not only make our job harder but people will not take Black Republicans seriously. Making excuses for why our community is in the situation its in will simply not work. SOLUTIONS not WHINING win results.
A full blown libertarian message will not work in our community no matter how many libertarians tell you it will. Neither will a full blown social conservative message. What I have learned through my personal experiences is talking to people about crime, lack of quick police response time, failing schools, and even discussing health care and mass transit are issues that people want to discuss and want serious solutions. I also tell residents that government is not supposed to babysit you. You have to get up off your ass and make a living.
Black people are seeking solutions not bashing. Black Republicans should discuss high speed rail, green jobs, social entrepreneurship through micro financing, and most importantly defusing the war on poverty by showing compassion by both helping and educating the poor so they can pull themselves out of poverty. Again, K-16 education should be our TOP priority. Period.
Do not be afraid to connect with other Africans from across the globe. This puzzles the hell out of me. Studies how that 19.4 percent of all adult African immigrants in the United States held a graduate degree, compared to 8.1 percent of adult white Americans and 3.8 percent of adult black Americans in the United States, respectively. Of the African-born population in the United States, age 25 and older, 86.4% reported having a high school diploma or higher, compared with 78. 9% of Asian born immigrants and 76.5% of European born immigrants.
African immigrants to the United States are the largest immigrant group that has the lowest percentage of people not fluent in English. This is likely due to the fact that English is one of the most spoken languages in Africa.
The goals of Africans vary tremendously. While some look to create new lives in the U.S., some plan on using the resources and skills gained to go back and help their countries of origin. Either way, African communities contribute billions to the economies of Africa through remittances.
My point is while Black Republicans are trying to seek alliances with everyone else how come there has not been any mass push to connect with Africans or people of Caribbean descent? This is strange to me. I can see why most Africans in this country vote Democrat (except the ones in places like Texas). They simply adopt to their environment. How can we continue to ignore people in this country from across the Diaspora?
I recently interviewed two couples who were Black Republicans from the South about two months ago. One couple were in their last 80s and another were in their mid-70s. Both couples admitted to me that Black Republicans today are lost. They are not the Black Republicans of Frederick Douglass or even Booker T.Washington. These were pioneers in their craft. But the next thing they told me was interesting.
They wanted to know why so many Black Republicans have become so individualistic in their approach and thinking when it came to the black community. They explained to me how traditionally, blacks in the community were more community-oriented than individualistic. They told me that was a trait of the old Southern Democrats who fought against civil rights, voting rights for blacks, and high taxation. They said that Black Republicans of the 20th century would have never participated in "tea parties" but would have fought for quality education, fought against racism, helped improved as well as helped sustained the quality of life. Most of the Civil Rights workers were Black Republicans. They told that there have always been intellectual differences between blacks (they used W.E.B DuBois and Booker T. Washington for example and DuBois and Garvey) but not at the level we are witnessing.
To add on to what they are saying many have forgotten that the NAACP was OUR organization upon its inception in 1909. Same with the National Urban League in 1911. Black Greek Organizations as well as Historically Black Colleges and Universities. All of what I just named here can STILL be relevant to Black Republicans IF we have a CURRENT message that resonates with people. The conservative foundation does not have to change. The strategies MUST adapt to the times if we are to be taken seriously. To abandon OUR own traditional foundations that we started in the early 20th century and then want to earn respect is absurd.
Again, do not make excuses on how the liberals have taken over higher education. How many of us are creating the balance in education to begin with? You cannot complain about higher education if you are not in the mix yourself on any level.
Another issue that the elders brought up is the fact that Black Republicans today are very anti-government. They think it is very foreign to them because blacks have always had a relationship with government dating back to the end of the Civil War. The elders challenged me to take a look at how government helped free blacks with the 13th, 14th and 15th amendment. They could not fully understand how the very same government that helped us become free are now the enemy. They concluded by saying instead of protesting government you need to lobby for better solutions and run on a platform that makes sense.
The point of them saying this is that Black Republicans lack an identity that people can respect. We follow more than we lead. If we bash anyone that is a Black Democrat then we get a pat on the back. If we work with Black Democrats to create legislation that will help fight against child poverty then we have sold the "party" out. It's these types of divisions that will kill our community while the conservatives in the suburbs flourish and continue to prosper.
Therefore, Black Republicans cannot wait for the RNC to developed a clear approach to attract the Black vote. Even with Michael Steele and Angela Sailor in charge that is not going to happen. It will take grassroots Black Republicans, who are not afraid to disagree with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck or even our libertarian brothers and sisters, to move an agenda forward. Who said Black Republicans had to follow? Just lead for once. Have others support our causes.
It's the responsibility of those who are passionate to first study their history, their culture, and fully understand the plight of the black experience in the United States. We have to begin to think for ourselves, talk about the issues that are relevant to everyday people in our community and engaging and debating in policy solutions that will help forge a new reality for urban communities globally. Then we will be in a position to win elections, gain respect and connect with others who have been afraid for so long to speak out. Most Black Republicans are afraid to speak out in fear of those white conservatives who may call them names and try to break their spirit the same way they tried to break Colin Powell and Michael Steele. At some point you have to step out on faith and let go and let God guide you to what makes you feel passionate.
To my young Black Republicans I urge you to travel, study how other people are living globally, watch international channels such as the Travel Channel, BBC, Africa Channel and others that will be a window to the world. Read books that will stimulate your intellect. Don't just read Michael Medved, Glenn Beck or Larry Elder. Study the works of Dr. Dambisa Moyo, who has an international perspective on things. Stay away from conspiracy theories because it leads to confusion.
When you disagree with ANY elected official present your policy statement and explain intelligently why I disagree or AGREE with the official. Learn to be civil in discussions. Do not be anti-intellectual or no one will pay attention to you or your platform. Learn to be engaged in race relation dialogues in your community and in both Democratic and Republican Parties. If you choose to be active in the Republican Party as an officer do not let your urban agenda be buried under the talking points of the party. An urban agenda is just as important as lowering taxes or supporting a national defense for our country.
Discuss the importance of regional cooperation and link in with organizations that is about bridging our region together. If you live in an urban community like me get to know all of your state representatives and state senators. In fact, get to know all of your elected officials, read up on them, their background and who they are connected to. Research their bills and what they have introduced legislatively. You should do the same with local, county and federal lawmakers. Study the City Charter of your city, county charter (if you have one) and both the State and Federal Constitution so you can be familiar with the laws. Black Republicans have to think higher and be consistent with messages if they want to attract black people into the circle. There is no room to be anti-intellectual in this day and time with so much information available through the Internet to help our community.
Instead of walking in the door pissed off at them because they are a Democrat listen to what they are saying FIRST. You might agree on what is being said in the room. Then present your point in a way that will bring the both of you together. Always be the solution maker not the problem creator.
Help and encourage young people to do community service. There is nothing wrong with it. Community service can help students graduate. This can include working in a soup kitchen or mentoring young black men who were released from jail. We do not need the government helping us with this when there are numerous non-profit agencies who are already doing this.
Address how HIV/AIDS is killing our community. Even some of the most conservative black churches I have visited will not address this issue. They are quick to address abortion but not HIV/AIDS. Both are a cycle of death why not address both of them and come up with ways of prevention?
Address the issue of broken marriages in our community. Find out why young people are practicing same sex relationships. Black Republicans, like urban conservatives, must be serious about solutions instead of using social conservative talking points.
Lastly, stop getting involved in things that are just counterproductive. Black Republicans were traditionally freedom fighters, has helped set the course of the country coming out of the Civil War, supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities, kept our neighborhoods intact and loved their country, culture, education and history. Many still do but are caught up on anti-intellectual things that is dumbing down America instead of building it up.
The Republican Party was stared in 1854 as an anti-slavery group for blacks. This party was founded to help blacks but has been hijacked by anti-intellectuals who is bathing in fear and paranoia. Today, Black Republicans must take the lead once again IN THIS PARTY, without fear and intimidation, to set this party back on course to make it relevant not just to all Americans but globally. If that means becoming State Chair of the GOP, Congressional or County chairs, vice-chairs, urban outreach directors, etc, so be it but do it in a manner that will bring about change.
If Black Republicans can simply engage our community, redefine ourselves nationally, and reach out to those who want to support our cause I guarantee you we can win elections locally, county, state and nationally. There is no one stopping us from sending Black Republicans to Congress except us.