"The world is moving so fast these days that the one who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it."
Saturday, January 31, 2009
"The world is moving so fast these days that the one who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it."
Friday, January 30, 2009
The Dallas City Council approved a special use permit (SUP), for another liquor related business in South Dallas.
For those who don't know Dallas, it is a 5800 acre area south of the Trinity River - the dividing line between more affluent area in northern section. It's communities tend to be mostly minority, they tend to be areas of concentrated poverty and declining schools. It is the area which surrounds the State Fair Park. The eastern most neighborhood has been judged poorer than the lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, pre-Katrina.
And it contains a 13 square mile area saturated with more than 300 liquor related businesses! And Dallas' City Council unanimously granted a liquor license for another business that serves alcohol.
The area where the the establishment is located is called by its owner, a 'sports bar'. It is, he says, akin to a 'Dave and Busters'. But it is in an area that is littered with clubs that sell liquor, dives, liquor stores (in fact there is one right next door to the 'sports bar'). There are not only liquor stores, but three scrap metal yards - all across the street - literally, from scrap metal yards.
As I mentioned in my Dallas Morning News column, residents in this area have met for more than a year, acquiring the services of technical advisers, a city planner and have worked with city staff to develop a proposal for the redevelopment of the area. And the city council decides in its wisdom, that one more liquor store won't hurt.
What's worse is the decision to disregard and disrespect of the desires of citizens. Citizens who believe that their lifelong investments, and indeed their lives, are only deserving of economic development surrounding their neighborhood which in the aggregate attracts that which degrades and devalues the place they call home.
They deserve better representation
Their hard work deserve more respect
The deserve to be regarded in with dignity and self worth
Those are all pretty naive notions in politics these days. There's a place for the market, but that place should never trump the best interests of families and neighborhoods and their dreams for their future.
This just makes me want to work with them more...
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Mark Davis is a columnist with the Dallas Morning News and a local conservative radio talk show host. His views are not just conservative in that they present an alternative oppositional view. And I don't believe that he is wrong, simply because he doesn't think like me. Its that his viewpoints are often so - well - illogical. And often insulting. There seems to be this idea that there is a 'mainstream' point of view that is often Republican (not necessarily conservative), and Anglo-Saxon in its orientation and which disregards the validity and the reality of life experiences that are not his own. So that often leads to generalizations that are indefensible on their face.
Take, for instance, a current offering, in which he suggests that the Inauguration of Barack Obama was at least as political as it was historical (duh!). No problem there.
Then he makes a few assertions that undermine what could have been a fairly benign, but plausible perspective on how this presidency is more about the ascendency of an anti-Bush fervor, so much so that the country was willing to elect a black man to sweep Republicans out of the White House. I don't believe that, but I could see how one could think it.
But Davis goes off on the deep end: "I met a man from the same part of rural North Carolina as my father. When I was born, they would not have been able to drink from the same water fountain. While I always expected to see a black president, he never did."
Are you kidding me?!
I white man from roots in North Carolina, 'always expected to see a black president'? Davis had much more faith in this country than the most staunch patriot, black or white. No one I know 'always' expected to see this! No matter how liberal! It became cliche' throughout the period between November 4 of last year, to this January 20 to say, '...not in my lifetime!' What about America's treatment of African-Americans, their place in society and electoral politics (Democratic, Republican or Independent, for that matter), made him think that he would live to see. Obama is the first black president, not the first qualified to run.
The incredulity of his argument doesn't end there.
"While the obliteration of a racial barrier is always good, the inauguration love-fest was first about politics. If you doubt this, imagine how the crowd, and the coverage, would have differed starkly if our first black president had been a Republican.
"A President Michael Steele or President J.C. Watts would have been pilloried in black America and viewed as some kind of space alien by the media.
"There would have been no tidal wave of joyous blacks pouring onto the Mall to celebrate the milestone. There would have been no breathless CNN analysis suggesting that the new president makes us 'look like America again.'
"Barack Obama's blackness makes his ascendancy historic. But it is his politics that ignite the celebrations. Gather a mixture of jubilant inauguration attendees and worshipful TV talking heads; ask them about the most historic black achievements before Jan. 20, 2009, namely the service of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Instructive silence will follow.
"Their remarkable accomplishments are muted because they are guilty of the sin of rejecting liberalism. Colin Powell, the first African-American secretary of state, has shed his scarlet letter by shedding conservatism. Now that he is a Bush critic, and an Obama voter, he is black again.
There is something for all Americans to celebrate on this occasion. But truth requires the acknowledgment that much of the celebration was very conditional."
The idea that Black people wouldn't have been able to celebrate just any black president is absolutely correct. But that is true of a Democrat or a Republican. People act as if Obama was the first African-American to ever run for president. Doesn't anyone remember Shirley Chisholm? Carol Mosely Braun? Jesse Jackson? Al Sharpton? Alan Keyes?
Davis posits an argument which suggests that it was politics that excited the African-American population, and on that score he is entirely right! Inclusive politics. In other words Obama, as others before him, was allowed to run as a serious candidate. If former Massachussets, Leiutenant Governor Michael Steele was a plausible candidate for the Republican nomination, then why didn't Republicans put up the money for him to run? The Republican Convention was the perfect time to showcase the diversity of African-American participation in the party platform - three, count 'em, THREE speakers of ebony hue, graced the state at their convention! Perhaps looking like America again, means a politics not predominated by older white males (although, the again part is bit of a reach).
Generally speaking Republicans are galled that African-Americans stick with Democrats after having been 'duped' so many years when it comes to their interests. Kinda like the way right-to-life supporters, and fiscal conservatives have found themselves 'played' by their party when it comes to their issues. Maybe African-Americans are sophisticated enough to be able to choose politically how they get used, understanding that in some sense none of us get all we want out of a political process.
Usually when people try to make the argument that Davis is trying to make, they trot out the warmed over examples of Colin Powell and Dr. Condoleeza Rice (whom I really think voted for Obama!). They don't get it! Black people would have voted for Colin Powell. His story, his service are compelling. They would have voted for him over against Barack Obama had he been nominated. If Hillary Clinton had gotten the Democratic nomination and Condoleeza Rice the Republican nomination, I don't know, given the twists in the economy and the war, if she would have won, but among African-Americans, it would have been a contest. Dr. Rice's problem was she was too closely identified with the Bush Administration, not that she was Republican.
And no, in general Black people are not fond of Clarence Thomas! He is viewed, rightly or wrongly, as one who has distanced himself from the experience of his people while benefitting from and denying the significance of the gains made both legislatively and judicially that helped get him where he is. It has almost nothing to do with him being Republican. And no, black people were never impressed with J.C. Watts. Watts articulately presents issues that tend to run counter to the aspirations of the African-American populace. Sorry, African-Americans have the right to have issues that are important to them, just as the gun lobby does.
Yes, there are black people who voted for Obama because he was black (just as, I might add, there have been white people who have voted for candidates simply because they were white).
But many more voted for him because he was qualified and able to reach a diverse constituency with a message that resonated with them all. His story was meaningful and spoke to the dreams and aspirations of a majority of the country, especially against the backdrop of perceived national failure and near economic collapse.
He was deemed qualified because of his background as a community organizer, Columbia Universty graduate, constitutional law professor, Harvard Law School graduate and president of the Harvard Law Review. He was elected to his state's legislature and senate bodies. And he won the election to the Senate of the United States from that same state.
He ran the gauntlet of the Democratic Primary and raised more money (and yes spent more), than virtually any other presidential candidate in history and defeated probably one of the most effective political machines in the history of American politics (the Clintons). And he showed himself a viable alternative when viewed against the duly nominated Republican Party candidate. Asking that he prove himself more qualified is asking a little much, don't you think?
He is not president because he is black. And the country is not just excited because he is a Democrat. All arguments to the contrary are insulting and wrong.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
The U.S. lost more than 2.5 million jobs in 2008, Texas on the other hand gained more than 150,000 jobs. However job losses began reflecting the nation's woes later in the year, when the state lost 11,300 jobs in November of last year.
At a job fair in Richardson, Texas, people waited an hour just to park. Lisa Truett, Avon, district sales manager, said, "Employers were overwhelmed with the response. It took us back a little bit. It was so humbling."
I don't share this with you simply to report bad news. But while we stare this challenge in the face, its equally important to remember that those of us who are involved in job training, have to focuse on recession proof (or near recession proof), areas of employment (health care and the collateral areas associated with logistics, and construction). We also have to pay strict attention to the focii of the proposed stimulus package.
It will really be important to get the right mix of tax cuts and also public works programs to be found in low income neighborhoods. This is a program that cannot just emphasis the rescue of the middle class. Low income citizens will suffer far worse than ever if what finally comes out of doesn't help every strata of our society.
Angela Glover-Blackwell of Policy Link, a public policy resource organization, cautions that whatever recovery effort proposed by the new administration, must include help for the poor.
"Foremost, we need to invest in the American people. Job training and retraining programs in community colleges are among the greatest ways to reconfigure the nation's workforce and give low-income people a path to prosperity. A whole new skill-set is required to compete in this modern economy. We have to get the American people ready. Safeguarding the funding for state-level education, health and public safety programs remain funded is also key to ensuring all people are kept safe through this crisis.
"Not much will change in the long-run if this stimulus is put together like every other recent Washington infrastructure and spending bill - laden with heavy on the highways and light on green public transit and other projects that actually help working families. We would still have a deeply inequitable America competing in the 21st Century global economy with a 20th Century infrastructure."
Few doubt there will be economic recovery for our country. How we recover and who recovers, is an important question that we must be intentional in answering. That's true for the entire country and Texas as well.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, of the Interfaith Alliance, speaks to this in a way that is both plain and profound.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Here is a thumbnail of the significance of those names and places.
Emmitt Till - a fourteen year old Chicago youth, who, while visiting his great-uncle in Money, Mississippi is beaten to death for allegedly whistling at a white woman. After being killed, his two white murderers, tie him to a cotton gin and throw him in a nearby river. Till's grotesquely disfigured remains are sent back to Chicago where his mother refuses a closed coffin funeral. Rather, she declared, "I want the world to see what they did to my son." The two men stood trial for the murder of young Emmit and were acquitted by an all white jury. Later in a LOOK magazine article for which they were paid, the two men confessed to the murder.
Emmitt Till's murder was said to have ignited the spark of indignation in black communities throughout the south.
Jimmie Lee Jackson - In 1965, during a late night mass march to the city jail in Marion, Alabama, Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot and killed when nearly 10 state troopers chased marchers into a cafe behind Zion United Methodist Church. Jackson was shot as he attempted to help his mother while she was trying to protect her 82 year old father who was being beaten by the troopers. It was the Jackson beating that ultimately led to the Selma to Montgomery March which convinced President Lyndon Johnson to push Congress to pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Medgar Evers - Medgar Evars, a Mississippi NAACP officer, was shot and killed in the driveway of his home in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1965. Evers was a courageous civil rights worker who worked tirelessly for voting rights in Mississippi.
Goodman, Chaney, Schwerner - three Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) voting registration workers who were killed and buried in an earthen dam for trying to register Mississippians to vote. Most of those accused of the murders, were only convicted on civil rights violations.
Viola Liuzzo - a white woman from Detroit, who participated in the Selma to Montgomery March. Killed by the Ku Klux Klan as she gave a ride to a black fellow marcher when leaving Montgomery.
James Reeb - white clergyman who was killed on 'Bloody Sunday' in the first attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery.
Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carol Robertson, Addie Mae Collins - the four girls who were killed on the September Sunday morning, when a bomb ripped through the 16th Street Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
Birmingham - Perhaps the most famous civil rights battleground. African-Americans filled the jails in Birmingham, protesting for the citizenship rights. When it was no longer practical for adults to make an impact through marches and arrests, the children marched.
The pictures of fire hoses blasting children against brick walls and being attacked by vicious police dogs drew the attention of the world to the treatment of black people in America.
Montgomery - the site of one of the most effective boycotts in the nation's history. For 381 days, African-Americans protested inhumane treatment on city buses. The boycott was sparked when Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white man. It was this boycott that propelled Martin Luther King, Jr. to prominence as a leader in the battle for human rights.
Ten years later, King would return leading a march for voting rights from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol in Montgomery.
Selma - Selma, Alabama was the starting point for the march to Montgomery, Alabama. On what became known as 'Bloody Sunday', protesters are trampled by horses hooves, beaten and shocked with cattle prods, when they try and cross the Edmun Pettus Bridge. Among those beaten on that day, James Lewis, leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee(SNCC), and currently U.S. Representative from the state of Georgia.
St. Augustine - the night before the United States Senate passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, black and white protesters jumped into the swimming pool of the Munson Hotel, the motel owner pours muriatic acid into the pool.
Memphis - The city where Martin Luther King led his final march. King went to Memphis to help striking garbage workers. Men whose wages and working conditions were just barely better than slavery. Two men died, crushed in a garbage truck because, as black garbage collectors, they were not allowed inside the building used as a break lounge during a rain storm. King's first march degenerated into violence, primarily due to FBI plants in the crowd of protesters. King came back to lead a peaceful march but was killed on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, April 4, 1968.
These are just thumbnails. Landmarks if you will, on the road that Joseph Lowery took to Inaugural of Barack Obama. He could have taken the occasion to relate all of this and reminded us, through his blessing, that while grateful for a monumental occasion - we've not reached the Promised Land yet. Those who persecute and discriminate as a majority, today, carry out the cruel and criminal legacy of the violent oppressors of the past. Those who practice the soft bigotry of willful ignorance and naivete, contribute to the atmosphere which make the expressions of hate possible.
Until they embrace what is right the occasion which he blessed, can only be considered another installment on total victory.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
During the campaign, when Michelle Obama said that she was finally ‘really proud’ of her country, reaction was swift and critical. How could she, an American, imply that it was only when her husband was taken seriously as a prospective candidate for the nation's highest office, that she was really proud? But just about every American of color knew what she meant: for the most part, an American of color was being considered – or not – on the merits of his arguments and in contrast to what was being offered by other candidates, not rejected outright, simply because he was black. And yes, that made all of us really proud.
The excitement generated by Obama’s campaign and the presidency, frightens some, because its magnitude is unprecedented. The nearly 2 million people who gathered in Washington D.C. and the numberless people who watched all over the world, is politically and culturally intimidating. But it represents a country celebrating significant hurdles overcome. Obama’s campaign became a movement of inclusion on the order that most of us have never thought we would see in our lifetimes. It is nothing less than the legitimate recognition of the story of oppressed people, by this country. It is a recognition which provides hope for people of color, three-fourths of the planet's population, all over the world.
The history of African-Americans has always seemed to run parallel to the history of our country. It is a story we had to teach ourselves, because it was told marginally and inaccurately to us by others. We had to teach the country our story because they didn’t know it. The names familiar to us: Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois and others, did not seem a part of the same history of a nation reverently remembered names like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, or John Adams.
Even now, we have to remind our country of the parallels and ironies of this historic moment: the first African-American president, elected 45 years after the Civil Rights Act and 145 years after the Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation. Three hundred and ninety years, after the first African got off of the first ship to be sold to a white man and to work for him in chattel slavery, the son of an African and an American born white woman, has become president of this country.
All Americans don’t celebrate this moment, however. It’s not fashionable to express racism and for others, honest doubt may feel unpatriotic. But we are now being called to a citizenship which demands more than fear based rejection or sideline criticisms. This is a citizenship at the heart of authentic democracy, a citizenship in which all of us are solutions to this country’s great problems.
And we’ve been called to that patriotism by the progeny of a people who were once considered a problem.
For that too, we are really, really proud.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
There are many who have tried to pick apart and parse the significance of this moment. But this historic moment speaks volumes regarding how far we have come as a country. Obama legitimately claims a place in the pantheon of African-American history, by making an indelible mark on American history. Only abysmal failure can cause him to lose that place - and even then, all of us would share the blame.
But the legacy of King spreads even further than Obama's election and inauguration tomorrow.
King's work and the Obama presidency are both celebratory and challenging. The nation celebrates, and every segment and subset of our nation is challenged. The challenge for every American, is the positive and authentic contribution to this country's good. The celebration and challenge has meaning to African-Americans especially, but not exclusively. Yet the acceptance of that challenge places a fairly unique responsibility on the shoulders of the African-American community.
Dr. William Turner, Jr., professor of homiletics at Duke University, and African-American pastor, assesses this connection between King, Obama, the responsibility of predominately black churches, the continued need for prophetic preaching and what we owe one another relative to passing on a torch of hope.
And yet what William Turner says, is, like the truth that King spoke and the hope that Barack Obama represents, good for us all.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
More significant than her resignation was Mrs. Roosevelt's arrangement for Marian Anderson to give her concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday morning..
On those steps Anderson's first offering spoke to the longings for brotherhood, peace and an end to the shameful oppression of the sons of former slaves by the sons of former slave owners. It was a dream of American justice and unity and the desire to realize those ideals before the entire world.
Seventy years later, the ideals of that song are being realized in a way that amazes the world, and makes all of America proud...
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
To the degree that anyone has figured out what this means, it is generally accepted that equity is the ability of minorities to have shares in a venture, or in the company initiating the venture.'How many minority partners are associated with this firm', is a fair question. But this type of 'equity' requires capital. Capital is usually a problem with minorities. And an equity stake in a company like the Allen Group, or a project like the logistics hub, calls for cash and quite a bit of it.
That's important because this is a very serious economic development opportunity. While it is proper to make sure that percentages of contracts and business opportunities related to trade and distribution, equitable stakes in the business venture itself, means coming to the table qualified with capital. To whatever degree its happened in the past, this calls for something more authentic than 'straw' partnerships. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, whose District 30 includes the area in which the logistics hub is located, told me, "I don't have a problem asking businesses coming into the community to be a part of it, and to support activities and that sort of thing. And I don't have a problem with them asking for them to be included, in some of the work. The question is whether or not we should insist upon them being arbitrarily included without income...we've lost so many good projects from having that kind of obstacle in front of these companies. Nothing is going to help our area until something is in that area to draw people and interest and investment."
But to be honest, the inland port can be something of a cash cow for the area. Trade and distribution businesses make up about 20.4% of the Dallas commerce. Employment opportunities, directly or indirectly related to businesses connected to a logistics hub (including transportation, material moving, building and ground maintenance, but also including protection services, and computer support just to name a few) range from anywhere between almost $10 to $21 per hour.
Millionaire businessmen and women with the capacity to invest in something like the Dallas Logistics Hub, mean a great deal to the southern Dallas economy. There are minority members of Dallas' millionaires club. I hope they step up and I hope they make lots and lots of money. But I am more concerned about those in this current economy who have lost good paying jobs. Who have to put food on the table for their children, or who have mortgages and rent to pay. They pay taxes, put children through school, attend churches, buy groceries and all the things that make our economy hung. Lifting people out of poverty and strengthening communities begin with opportunities for education and living wage jobs.
The Alliance Texas Logistics Hub employs 24,000, has 24 million square feet of office space and has contributed $26 billion to the local economy (isn't that enough study?!). The Dallas Logistics Hub projects employing 7000 jobs in the short term and 30,000 jobs over the next 20 years.
The prospects for these many jobs also has an impact on education in the region. Dallas County Community College Districts Cedar Valley Community College, the University of North Texas Dallas, and Paul Quinn College, Dallas' HCBU, all have the opportunity to add to their curriculum and research study related to trade, distribution and logistics. Non-profits (like Central Dallas Ministries), can recruit, provide pre-employment training and craft accelerated job training programs, developing a near bottomless pool of potential employees for logistic related commerce. There are a variety of related benefits for workers in the southern communities of Dallas. "We need workforce training, says Representative Johnson, there's going to be such a variety of things out there. People can work without leaving their area....I just feel that whatever we can do to facilitate jobs in that area we need to do that. Those are good jobs, these are needed jobs."
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
"The Dallas Logistics Hub ("The Hub") is the largest new logistics park under development in North America, with over 6,000 acres master-planned for the development of 60 million square feet of distribution, manufacturing, office and retail uses. Given its unmatched intermodal rail and highway access, The Hub positions Dallas as the premier trade hub in the Southwestern United States and will serve as the primary gateway for the distribution of goods to the major population centers throughout the Central and Eastern United States." so reads an article on the grand opening of the Dallas Logistics Hub.
"...over 6,000 acres master-planned for the development of 60 million square feet of distribution, manufacturing, office and retail uses."
In 2006, the Urban Land Institute produced what apparently was a report commissioned by the city of Dallas, "The city of Dallas asked the ULI Advisory Services panel to clarify and explore the city’s options as it moves forward with participating municipalities in developing an “inland port” to exploit the influx of trade. The panel was asked to review progress to date and provide direction for future development."
In my conversation with Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who helped bring the Allen Group to Dallas, said, "I've really thought that this was the best thing to happen to southern Dallas in history...the potential of this is that it will be the largest business in the entire North Texas area."
Read one of the conclusions of the ULI in its report, "...the panel believes that southern Dallas County is a highly desirable location for expansion of the metroplex’s inland port capabilities. The entire metroplex has both a strong, established logistics industry sector and exceptional potential for sustained future growth. Southern Dallas County is unique in the metoplex because of its abundance of large greenfield development sites which, the panel notes, already have been targeted by private development firms...Southern Dallas County is poised to benefit from a major influx of trade stemming from container shipments emanating from Asia. The Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex is a terminus for a southern road and rail corridor leading from the major cargo terminal in Los Angeles/Long Beach, California, which is the entry port for an estimated 70 percent of containers entering the United States from Asia."
The Master Plan that the county wanted at one point, and that the City still wants, would take an additional year and a half to two years to complete, according to the Allen Group and Congresswoman Johnson.
Throwing in it's support for a Master Plan study, after the majority of Dallas County commissioners voted against funding its share of the costs, the Dallas Morning News editorialized, "If planned and executed properly, this public-private partnership should swell the tax base for a part of the county that sorely needs swelling. It only makes sense that something this complex — in effect, an international “port” at the nexus of rail lines, highways and, importantly, developable land — should have a comprehensive plan for the needed infrastructure, specifically roads, water and sewer."
But the ULI, commissioned by the city of Dallas, calls for 'ample, affordable water sources', 'the creation of wastewater and stormwater management systems', 'cooperation on overarching jurisdictional issues', arterial and local road systems' and 'environmental precautions.' So what else needs to be studied? Obviously cost projections, minority participation, etc. have to be a part of any work on this scale. The ULI's report, as well as the Allen Group's own study must be examined to determine validity. How the pie is divided between all jurisdictions and municipalities, all must be worked out, but does that call for a new, longer 'master plan'?
"Our economy, in the Dallas area", says Congresswoman Johnson, "depends on trade."
This harmonizes with other conclusions of the Urban Land Institute stud:"The southern Dallas County trade hub must be viewed as an extension of regional leadership that will further enhance the region’s competitive advantage. Although recognized as a national trade hub, the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex is also part of a national system of trade centers."
The Morning News editorial rightly concludes, "It would make no sense now to injure a major private investor and blow that investment." I agree. So again, what's to gain from an additional study? What's changed since the Allen Group did it's homework before making the investment?
By the way, the Allen Group is making an even deeper financial investment: they're moving they're headquarters from San Diego to Dallas. I'm no expert, but that doesn't sound like a move made by someone who hasn't studied whether or not this inland port thing is or isn't a good idea.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Investors (the Allen Group is the principal, but not the only investor), who are willing to spend their own dime, come into an vacant area but within proximity to working class, low and moderate income neighborhoods, offering the opportunity for living wage jobs in a near recession proof industry. Sounds like a no brainer right?
Monday, January 12, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
The 73 year old religious and civil rights leader, is one of the most venerated clergymen in the African-American church and, led one of the great servant churches in our nation. O.M. Hoover, Moss' predecessor, was also a tireless preacher, civic leader and progressive pastor. I remember listening to Dr. Hoover's sermons, but also of sermons that Martin Luther King, Jr. preached at Olivet during the Civil Rights Era.
Moss' career led from Georgia, where he co-pastored Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Atlanta with Martin Luther King, Sr., prior to assuming the pastorate at Olivet.
I mention Dr. Moss' retirement for two reasons: first, his was yet another prophetic voice and ministry, without whom black circumstances in this country would be much worse. As a pastor he has been an example and an inspiration throughout the U.S. for young preachers and pastors, laying the groundwork for ministries that we see in many of the 'mega-churches' we see today.
At his retirement party, congratulations poured in from across the nations, and recognition of his service wasn't just limited to the church world. "[Former Congressman Louis] Stokes read a congratulatory letter from President-elect Barack Obama: "You've left an indelible mark on all that you've touched," Obama wrote. "The Lord has used you mightily.""We are all here today, tonight, to say thank you for your generosity," said [Oprah] Winfrey, who considers Moss her pastor. "It means the world to us", reported the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Secondly, his name might sound familiar to some of you. That's because his son, Otis Moss III, succeeded Jeremiah Wright at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. It is exciting to see this young man continue this legacy of service and ministry.
Otis Moss' 'retirement', won't mean a period of inactivity. Like so many of his generation, as they leave that phase of ministry, they become even more valuable assets to churches and preachers throughout the country, reminding them of the authentic nature of our faith and subsequently our responsibility to witness with our words and works. Those of us who have been blessed by his profound intellect; his tremendous insight into the application of scripture to the work of making our country, our culture and our world a more just place to live; his graceful bearing and rich voice, will hopefully hear much, much more from him. I know he's been an incredible inspiration to me when I've had the opportunity to be in his presence.
Otis Moss' leaving the pastoral ministry, will join a number of others who become examples of the old axiom, 'The reward for work well done, is more work to do."
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009
I'm glad we've got a president-elect who wants the ball this time! And we have all got to be pulling for him. The recession which we weren't in (but really were), in late 2007, is here...
With a vengeance!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
I have to give the Dallas city council credit for getting this one right. Sharon Grigsby of the Dallas Morning News, points out the imaginative initiative by the council, which plans to use the tax revenue of an area in north Dallas (around SMU), to redevelop areas of southern Dallas, including a business corridor in southern Dallas known as Lancaster-Kiest. By linking several developments along the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) line and making them one TIF (Tax Increment Finance)district, it becomes possible to subsidize the redevelopment of an economically depressed area of the city, with the tax revenue of a more prosperous district.
Dwaine Caraway, the council representative for the Lancaster-Kiest area, said, "The corridor is in such dire straits, where was investment going to come from? Where were those dollars going to come from? This is an opportunity to get it kicked off. Hopefully, it will become self-sustaining; that is the goal."
This is a great move. A 'can-do' move. Councilman Caraway, who is also Mayor pro-tem of the council, has shown himself to a most able representative, Mayor Tom Leppert and the council members who had the courage and the creativity to work with him on getting this done, deserve to be recognized for understanding that the redevelopment of our poorest, most neglected areas of Dallas benefits the entire city.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The anticipation of the swearing in of America's first African-American president, should not let us off the hook.
Our country still needs to engage in a very important conversation regarding the issue of race.
These conversations can be painful. One of my mentors, who happens to be Mexican-American, has always complained that such conversations never 'go anywhere'. To which I would usually reply, "The conversation doesn't need to 'go anywhere'. We need to have them because we need to understand one another." I firmly believe that much of what we saw early in the presidential campaign: the Jeremiah Wright episode, accusations of racism on the part of Bill Clinton, skepticism of Hispanic support for a black candidate, all stem, from a narrow perspective of race on the part of most of this country.
Bob Ray Sanders, a columnist and long time journalist in print and electronic media in the DFW area, calls for such a conversation in the Fort Worth-Star Telegram. Sanders rightly calls the race issue, "...a musty heavy cloak we in the United States of America simply can’t seem to shed." To stretch the metaphor a little further, we all smell the coat, and the ones we consider to be 'sophisticated' or 'enlightened' tend to be the ones who pretend not to notice the stench.
As long as we don't have this conversation, we are all exploitable.
Governor Rod Blagojevitch's appointment of former Illinois attorney general Roland Burris is a case in point. It's no question that he is qualified to hold the president-elect's senate seat. It is a question of a white governor using African-American race pride to provide him political cover in the midst of a scandal. The governor has effectively muddied the waters as a distraction. The move was cynical, and it places Burris in an unnecessarily uncomfortable position. It places African-American leaders who call for the senate to seat Burris, in the position of looking as if they support race above the common good. It puts Democrats in an terrible position and it extends the appearance of corruption.
If the Illinois governor wanted to demonstrate his magnanimity, he could have asked the state legislature to call for a special election. But of the celebration for Burris, is clouded by the governor's cynical and self-centered act. Instead of enlarging the victory for progress in race relations in the country, Blagojevitch, succeeded in an exploitative game of chicken with his own party.
But its possible for honorable citizens to be used this way, as long as talk about race makes us too uncomfortable, or feel that we have a handle on the issue because we have a black, white or Hispanic friend. We are indeed challenged and chastened because true conversations call for dialogue which forces us to 'get in the skin' of another human being. There's a line from a movie about the first Gulf War, where the American says to an Iraqi official, '...as long as we're talking, we're not killing each other.'
As long as we don't talk, and avoid talking, it's not a question of who will be exploited - its a question of whose next.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Perhaps the best way to separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were, is to remember what finally became germane and what eventually became inane and irrelevant by the time we got to November 4th. In other words the 'non controversies'.
Of course non-controversies weren't merely confined to politics. The mainstream media provided us plenty of stories that left the majority of us shrugging our shoulders and shaking our heads in utter dismay. The utter dismay that someone actually thought that a particular story was 'news worthy'!
John Ridley, writer and columnist for the Huffington Post gives a pretty fair list of 'Top Non-Controversies of 2008'.
What does he mean? Things like:
"The New Yorker runs a cover caricature of Barack and Michelle Obama as dangerous radicals. An attempt at satire which displayed the wit and sophistication of an Ivy League Sorority pledge at an all-you-can-drink Cosmopolitan bar. Some readers said the drawing was offensive, some said it too clever for its own good. And 99 percent of America said: 'What's the New Yorker?'"
"Annie Liebowitz takes some racy photos of Miley Cyrus. "Oh, my God, you can almost see part of her bare back," says Amy Winehouse as she runs naked through London after taking another hit of coke off her boyfriend's stomach."
There's more and wait till you see Ridley's number one 'non-controversy'!
Do you agree? Got any of your own? Feel free to share them here.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Americans can handle imperfections in their leaders. I think we've long since gotten used to the idea that, generally speaking, paragons of puritanical virtue are found in very few of leaders. This is not cynicism, it is a fact. While held to a higher standard, we also know, or suspect, their imperfections. Our leaders come from among us. And often they are the ones who are left out front when the rest of us retreat when challenges arise.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Saturday, January 3, 2009
"To be free . . . to walk the good American earth as equal citizens, to live without fear, to enjoy the fruits of our toil, to give our children every opportunity in life--that dream which we have held so long in our hearts is today the destiny that we hold in our hands."
Friday, January 2, 2009
While we're all gorging on college football, there's an excellent HBO Sports documentary no fan ought to miss.
"Breaking the Huddle: The Integration of College Football", tells the story of what it took to make the college game something all of us enjoy today. HBO does an excellent job of helping the viewer understand the intersection of the Civil Rights Movement with the sport.
I started watching football around 1969-70, after the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Vikings in the Super Bowl. It was a very long time, however, before I watched college football. Mainly because there just weren't a lot of players with whom I could identify (even then, it wasn't like there the pro game was overflowing with black players, but there were more). Good reason - the college game wasn't really integrated until the '70's!
It's quite revealing that it took a loss by the storied (and all white) Alabama Crimson Tide and the legendary Paul 'Bear' Bryant, to the University of Southern California (with a black quarterback, no less), to give Bryant the cover he needed to start recruiting African-American players! And particularly moving is the story of Jerry Levias (Southern Methodist University), the first black player in the old Southwest Conference.
Even if you don't particularly like football, you'll enjoy this!
So watch the promo and check the broadcast of this documentary in your area.
In the meantime: "Go 'bama! Roll Tide!" And will someone please come up with a play-off system to determine the national champion? Soon? Please?!
Thursday, January 1, 2009
I've seen Star Parker a few times on television and have never been persuaded by her arguments. I am particularly unconvinced by her recent column in the Dallas Morning News, "How Do Dems Connect with Black America?".
Hers is the common conservative argument: the Democratic Party has failed African-Americans, exploited them and yet, amazingly, Blacks have remained unfailingly loyal to the party in spite of its failures to deliver on many (if any of its promises).
Parker ticks off a number of stats to prove her point:
African-Americans remain wedded to the Party, in spite of the fact that it continues to promote leaders who are a members of a wealthy elite who have nothing in common with their condition (i.e. the recent flap over Caroline Kennedy's pursuit of an appointment to Hillary Clinton's senate seat);
Sixty-percent of those making less than $30,000 a year voted for Barack Obama, along with 52% of those who make more than $200,000 a year;
Two Democrats (John Kerry and Jane Harmon) are the wealthiest Senator and Congressperson, respectively. And the two wealthiest supporters of the Democratic agenda? Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
Star further promulgates that Democratic values are in conflict with the traditional values of church going blacks: 67% of black people attend church at least monthly as do 67% percent of Republicans and 50% of whites (the logic it takes to arrive at this conclusion is pretty frightening if you ask me!).
Education? "Wealthy liberals, despite having their own kids in private schools, oppose school choice. When a black family is given the opportunity to pull its child out of a failing public school and send him or her to a church school or another alternative, they are grateful."
What do African-American and democrats have in common? "A recent Zogby poll shows 80 percent of Democrats, 90 percent of liberals, and 76 percent of blacks supporting taxing the wealthy to give money back to low-income Americans."
You can read the column in it's entirety here.
At the end of the day, I'm not quite sure what Star Parker is talking about.
Were there some poor or working class Republicans running for President that I missed? Do white people and black people hold the same values, simply because they go to church at the same rate? Is there any difference in what's being taught in those churches (and yes, I know the Rev. Wright haters will jump on this - but as I told a Sunday School class in a white church recently: black people spend precious little worship time talking about white people).
And as far as 'income redistribution' is concerned - we've been redistributing income from the poorest to the most wealthy for decades. I missed the outrage from the right while this was happening.
Parker concludes her argument with advice for the Republican Party, "They need to help blacks understand that limited government provides the economic mobility and opportunity they need and that the welfare, redistribution state does the opposite. They must help blacks gain self-confidence so that they can enjoy the benefits that can only come from freedom."
I'm not quite sure where Ms. Parker has been the past few months. But what I've seen was corporate leaders who have been asking the government to expand its role. AIG, General Motors, Chrysler, and financial institutions, are not asking for 'limited government'.
And our country is where it is, not just because of legislation passed by the 'liberal elite', but by some of the wealthiest Americans in and outside of government, exploiting legislation (in housing, and finance, for example) meant to help the working poor. The idea that there is a 'self correcting' mechanism in free market capitalism, is, evidently, not believed by very many free market capitalists.
Since November's election, the Republican Party in particular and conservatives in general, have been looking for a new raison de'tre. Here it is: in 2009, it's the time to discover, promote and do, what really works for everyone. It is not enough to simply shout the old ideological dogmas of the past louder.
We now have the opportunity to show that capitalism doesn't have to be predatory. That business can be a tool to provide educational opportunities, jobs and careers, neighborhood redevelopment and revitalization and healthy productive communities for everyone.
We have an opportunity to rediscover an era of corporate citizenship which recognizes a responsibility to workers and the communities in which they were located, not just stock holders. It's time to show that citizens and business interests can be just as interested in legislation that invests in people as in corporate interests.
Both Democrats and Republicans have been let down by their parties. Probably because we've either expected too much, or expected the wrong things. The old tired arguments help lead to the present collapse. Now is the time for new strategies and new outlooks.
It's 2009. Let's see if we can help bring in a new day.