Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Black Cotton: The Harvesting of Our Youth

"Black Cotton: The Harvesting of Our Youth" is intended to shine a bright light on the suffering of young black males involved in the criminal justice system. Because this problem has many different roots, it is impossible to simply write about crime and incarceration rates, so I discuss various issues contributing to the weakening of the black community as a whole, which results in higher incarceration rates among black males.
Vincent Lewis writes and lectures about the injustice within the criminal justice system. A product of Chicago's Southside, he grew up seeing the devastating effects that drugs and crime had on his community. He has worked as an alcohol and drug counselor in Chicago's Cook County Jail, Mississippi State Penitentiary, the Arkansas State Prison system and for several nonprofit social services agencies targeting ex-offenders and substance abusers. He has now dedicated his life to living his Christian faith through action. He believes in teaching others the truth about issues of injustice and empowering them with the tools to become agents of hope and change. Vincent earned his master's of science in community economic development from Southern New Hampshire University. Contact him at vlewis@blackcotton.org.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Recap:" The Imagery of Black People in Media"

Another powerful show last night on State of the Black Union! Last night we tackled the topic of how Black people are portrayed in media, television, music, and movies. First on our list was Tyler Perry and the impact his productions have made on the perception of Black People. I argued that his desire to do well with his predominantly female audience causes him to demonize black men in his scripts. Tyler Perry is one of the hottest directors in the business and certainly the biggest black director, I feel he does Black people a great disservice by perpetuating the age old stereotypes that plague our community. Though I admire his testimony as a self made businessman, I feel he must take serious the other cultures of the world who will see his movies and view his take as the all end on Black Culture verses the script writing on one man.


Charles Johnson agreed and shared his experience of attending law school with other cultures who had never been around Black People. He talked about their curiosity with his diction, intelligence, and mannerisms  expressing to him that he didn't match the perception they had gained of "Normal Black People" from media. Lashunda Campbell disagreed and expressed her support of Perry's connection with woman's stories. She shed light of Perry's social efforts to bring attention to causes like child and sexual abuse. Lashunda also talked about Perry's commitment to employ black people and the achievement of being the only Black owned Movies Studio in the business.


We also talked about the success of shows like "House Wives of Atlanta" and Basketball Wives". I expressed my sincere hate for these shows and the horrible imagery they portray. I discussed how tragic it is these shows are produced by other cultures, broadcast to millions around the world, and show Black Woman in such a classless and ignorant light. Charles and Lashunda agreed, expressing the insult shows like this are to the many hard working, intelligent Black People who go out into society facing these perceptions and stereotypes everyday. We agreed that Black People should care more about the way they are portrayed in media. We should not allow these Movie, Music, and TV shows to paint a picture to the world of us that is partially true. There should be more balance to show the intellectual, cultural, and professional realities in our culture and Black people must make an effort to support these shows.


During the golden age of  television in the sixties, Black People on TV was rare. The only black characters you saw were people like Diane Carroll, Bill Cosby, Motown Artist, Sammy Davis Jr., and Civil Rights Leaders. These figures were portrayed as accomplished nurses, secret agents, leaders of change, and polished entertainers. The streets kings of the day were Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, The Black Panthers and leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. These images fueled the change of the sixties as Black People begin to SEE themselves as more than porters, maids, and second class citizens. All the boys wanted to be leaders and all the girls wanted to be in the Supremes, a direct result of the way they saw themselves in media.


After the sixties, the Blaxploitation era swept over our communities portraying images of pimps, drug addiction, prostitution, and dope dealers. These images were mirrored in every urban city in the country, the leaders became pimps and the Supremes became street walkers. As a result, the Black Leaders of the day called for an end to the genre. The NAACP, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and The National Urban League joined together to form the Coalition Against Blaxploitation. Supported by many black film professionals and heavy media coverage, they were instrumental in bringing the genre to an end. The Black community must regain social pride in not only how we see ourselves, but more importantly how the rest of the world sees us. We must realize the effect these images and music have on our people. We MUST stand together to bring an end to the genre once again.



Ludacris Launches New Website For Children

Atlanta rap star Ludcris recently launched a new website called Karma's Worlds dedicated to his 10yr old daughter, Karma Bridges. The website is an interactive world for kids, featuring original pop songs with educational lyrics, games, and stories that kids can play. Karmasworld.com  teaches children 1 to 3 and 4 to 6 academic lessons about math, science, and geography, as well ethical and social responsibilities like manners, honesty and kindness.


"We wanted the site to be educational, fun, and full of music that all kids would enjoy, but we also wanted it to teach kids more than just academics," said Ludacris in a statement released Dec. 6


"The site touches on subjects like, the rewards of hard work and importance of learning manners as well as the idea that doing good deeds for others will bring good into your life- which is the meaning of the word Karma," said Ludacris of the site. "The music and lyrics, games and stories on the site are all original and were created by Karma, my creative team, and myself."


The games on the site range from easy to challenging, while some of the more popular games include, "Karma's Crosswords", "Mega Match", "Smartacus Asks", "Who Knows", and the geography game "Scrambled Continents".

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Herman Cain's Slow Painful Political Death

To be fair, I admire the ambition of Morehouse Man Herman Cain, why not try to be President?....I didn't agree with his approach, playing the tambourine for the "We Hate Obama" mass choir. It was foolish of him to assume he could alienate the black voter base with racial rhetoric and survive in the polls. Every politician in the country knows, even if you don't push their agendas, you can't survive an election without the minority vote. You certainly don't want to insult them by down playing the racism and bigotry they've endured in America as no big deal. It was foolish of him to KNOW he had loose ends with these woman and still move forward with the campaign. Considering his love of racial symbolism, he had to know the GOP's base of predominately white men would not view his extramarital affairs with white woman  favorably.  The alleged adultery with white women against a black wife puts him between a rock and a hard place with  both white and black female voters, an obstacle no politician can surpass. Herman Cain is obviously a smart man with great administrative skill, I feel confident he would've given his best effort if elected. Though his Presidential hopes are lost to his freaky tales, his political career is far from over. Cain comes back to Georgia with a boat load of campaign money , a national following, making him a rock star on the state and local level. Once the headlines die down and the waters have calmed, Cain should get to work in his community. Put aside the negro spirituals, distance himself  from the GOP tea bags, and embrace the Black and Minority community who are crucial to all elections. Despite his troubles, he has built an effective soap box which I'm sure is filled with book deals, business ventures, and money after he withdraws from the race. I expect him to pull out this weekend after he goes home to start his "dog house" duty with the wife, talk about 99 problems.....being President ain't 1



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Al Sharpton's New Show A Smash! MSNBC #1 Among Black Viewers

After much controversy about the hiring of the Rev. Al Sharpton to fill the MSNBC time slot vacated by liberal pundit Cenk Uygur, the new TV ratings are in, and Sharpton’s show is a smash.


While MSNBC has never been able to trump the conservative juggernaut of Fox News, MSNBC resoundingly beat CNN in all “dayparts,” according to the latest Neilsen ratings. 

"MSNBC pulled back ahead of CNN this month, reclaiming the #2 spot among the cable news networks across the board: in primetime and in Total Day."
Sharpton’s show, “PoliticsNation,” is a part of that success. According to the network, the show is 50 percent ahead of CNN’s “John King USA” in the 6 p.m. weekday time slot. According to the network:
"At 6 p.m., “PoliticsNation” hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton beat CNN’s “John King USA” by 50% among total viewers (767,000 vs. 512,000) and by 41% in the demo of A25-54 (171,000 vs. 121,000). This is MSNBC’s best A25-54 6p program delivery since Dec. 2010 and the lowest 6p delivery for CNN since August 2010."
MSNBC has been rated first among African-American viewers for almost two years straight.



Recap: "Drug Laws Impact on Black Community"

    Tuesday night's show on "American Drug Laws" was one of our best yet! It was filled with useful information on the crisis of American Drug Policy in the Black Community and what we need to do about it. Last night we had Revered Peggie Russell JD, the Defending Childhood Initiative Project Coordinator at Shelby County Office of Early Childhood & Youth. She is an associate faculty at University of Phoenix. Mrs. Russell served as the project manager for the Drug Market Intervention Initiative; community coordinator for the BJA Smart Policing Initiative Grant; & co-chair of the Gang Resistance to Assist Society Youth (GRASSY) pilot. She has received numerous local & national awards including a Daily Point of Light. She is an ordained minister actively involved in several community partnerships promoting faith based engagement. She earned her Juris Doctorate in 1995 at the University of Memphis. She shed great light on the social impact, the children and families who suffer the weight of the criminal justice system in America. Reverend Russell explained how Ronald Reagan's "War on Drugs" only created a revolving door of drug addicts and low level drug dealers, making no real impact in the flow of drugs in our communities. She talked about dysfunctional prisons that offer no rehabilitation for addicts who continue to use while incarcerated, then get released into a society that will prejudice and alienate them from opportunity. Reverend Russell shared her experience as a defense attorney during the height of the "War on Drugs". She dealt with the business of criminal justice like lobbyist, congressman, and corporations who spend billions of dollars in Washington to keep this unjust system in place. Reverend Russell introduced us to the "Cradle to Prison Pipeline Campaign", an initiative that advances policies and youth programs to combat the criminalization of poor and minority children. She explained how corporations project how many prisons to build based off the reading level of black male 4th graders, we discussed the need for parents to be aware and seek out the information on how to protect your children from a system that preys on them. Reverend Russell encouraged us to seek out grants and private funding to start initiatives in our community, she was an inspiring guest and we look forward to having her again. 

    Charles Johnson talked on the story of Green Bay Packers player Johnny Jolly who was sentenced to 6 years in prison for codeine related arrest. He debated the fairness of the sentence considering the circumstances around the arrest. Should non-violent drug addicts be imprisoned without treatment. In the show we talked about the corporate fuel behind this crisis, exposing the major Fortune 500 companies who are making billions off the labor of Prisoners. We explained how companies lobby and buy off politicians to increase what is now the largets incarceration of its citizens in the world. During the show I talked about the government's involvement, covering declassified documents that prove the CIA was actively involved in Cartel Level Drug Smuggling in the US and around the world since the sixties. I put emphasis on the need to know what we're up against in our fight for Judicial Equality. The condition of our community is not due to our inability to live as a functioning people, but rather the result of a malicious and inhumane American Policy. Post Civil Rights movement, the drug laws became the way to enforce a system of bigotry and exclusion that whites have  maintained for 500 years. The extraordinary disparities in the incarceration of Black People is not a new phenomenon in America, but a cancerous component that has grown untreated since 1619. With the corporate interest in prison labor rising, we must  wake up to the reality of how our communities are being targeted.  If you'd like more information on how to reach Reverend Peggy Russell contact her on Facebook or Twitter  


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Music Feature:
 Last night we featured the hot sounds of guitarist Ced Hawkins. His hot new single "The Last" talks about the importance of living life to the fullest while you have the time. This rock inspired record is funky and full of energy as Ced delivers a well written message over the dope guitars. His album "Alcohol Follows the Water" is available in all major online outlets and is a great addition to your music collection. Listen Here => "The Last"

Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Ass Friday....

Throughout American history Black People have always been associated with foolishness and buffoonery. Some of this association was do to ignorance, being denied access to class and culture for centuries. Most of it due to imagery, myths, and bigotry played out in American culture. As the years have gone on, Black People have certainly showed the world our class and dignity both in struggle and suffering. In generations past, pride in family and reputation was the glue to our communities. Proud Black Men and Women endured brutal slavery, jim crow, segregation, and murder, determined not to relinquish their pride to a society who ONLY wanted to use and manipulate them for financial gain. I wonder what those ancestors would think about their descendants who acted a damn fool in support of Black Friday? Would they be embarrassed by the fighting, rioting, and ignorance of waiting in line to pay 200 percent mark up on an item normally 300 percent? Reports show that 152 million Americans spent a record 52.4 billion dollars on Black Friday. 7.4 billion dollars more than last year as people put aside fears of an unstable economy and went shopping. Here's my biggest problem, unemployment is at a all time high in this country with double digits for Black People. These same companies who benefited from record sales are the same companies who grid locked job growth in this country for the last 6 years. Multi-Billion dollar companies who laid off and refused to hire, not because of company distress or fear of  bankruptcy, but saving money, outsourcing, not paying health and unemployment insurance. It seems foolish for Black People to reward their behavior with record retail sales in a time when we have so little. Our elected officials used social media to encourage their Black constituents to support Black Friday and Cybor Monday but won't support Black Business. Its extremely foolish for Black People, who are already burdened with expensive debt, to fight and pepper spray each other over material goods they really can't afford. Its time that Black People get off the gerbil wheel and STOP being the laughing stock of global economics. We can no longer play the fool as it pertains to our dollars? Its time that we use our trillion dollar spending power in ways that benefit us. Its time to STOP investing our dollars in companies that won't invest or hire in our communities.