From June 2009

Saving Our Daughters (Book Review)

From a Man’s Point of View, Volume 2

by Curtis J. Benjamin

ICTBS Publishing

Paperback, $22.97

216 pages, illustrated

ISBN: 978-0-615-29264-9

Book Review by Kam Williams

<br />

“Where do we begin with this delicate subject of color and racism within a race — I call it intra-racial profiling – and how it affects our decisions about all relationships, including how we choose our partners? We must first stop judging each other based on the color of our skin…

These color distinctions are damaging our children, our people. As a dark-skinned male, I occasionally still have to deal with this sensitive topic myself. As a young man, I was scarred by the senseless jokes born out of stereotypes based on the shade of my skin.

Through each of the men’s interviews featured in this book, I grew and began to understand and heal. I became more empowered by the pride I have in my skin color. I want our children, regardless of their skin tone or racial makeup, to feel that same empowerment and pride.”

n Excerpted from the Opening Monologue (page 11)

Curtis Benjamin had a stroke of genius when he decided to make

discrimination among African-Americans based on skin color the subject of the second in his Saving Our Daughters series of books. It’s an issue deserving of serious consideration. Like the author, when I reflect upon my childhood, I can’t help but recall how my friends and I gave each other cruel, often color-coded nicknames which had to do with your physical appearance.

Subconsciously, we were so heavily influenced by TV that the kid with no neck was called “Head and Shoulders” like the shampoo, while a brown-hued pal was referred to as “Yuban,” because of a popular commercial promoting a “deep, dark, delicious” brand of coffee. Personally, I was saddled with the moniker “Kraut” since my red hair reminded my buddies of the German soldiers in WWII movies. Back then, everybody had to have a thick skin, whatever its shade, otherwise the teasing would escalate into playing the dozens.

In retrospect, it’s easier to excuse such thoughtless behavior among youngsters than the deliberate mean-spiritedness which I would subsequently encounter during my college career. For instance, I’ll never forget the time I attended a party thrown by a black fraternal organization to which only light-skinned sisters were invited. That was my introduction to a pernicious form of self-hatred which I was expecting to be addressed by Saving Our Daughters, Volume 2.

Unfortunately, something must have transpired between Mr. Benjamin’s coming up with his brilliant idea and its execution, for his book devotes precious little attention to the question of black-on-black racism. So, what happened? My guess is that the author is the very creative type, given the unusual price of his book, $22.97, and his calling his Introduction an Opening Monologue.

The content of Saving Our Daughters is worthwhile reading, the only problem is that anyone buying it is likely to feel like the victim of a bait-and switch scam. For its pages actually address an array of different topics. First, there are interviews about raising daughters conducted by Benjamin with celebrities like Bris Kodjoe, Idris Elba and Columbus Short. And while these revealing tete-a-tetes might touch on the main theme, by no means is that the only one.

Secondly, the opus includes lots of letters sent in by people with personal problems, each of which is answered by some sound advice from Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, a psychologist in private practice in Long Branch, NJ. Again, I have no quarrel with the quality of what the shrink has to say, but it’s bizarre when the book cover specifically claims to be “From a Man’s Point of View.”

In fact, in a section entitled Intermission, plenty of female celebrities weigh-in with pearls of wisdom, and the author has the good sense to accompany each of these beauty’s entry with an attractive, full-page color photo. Among the contributors there are Keshia Knight Pulliam, Sanaa Lathan, Taraji P. Henson, Keke Pamer and Nia Long, to name a few.

That chapter closes with empty worksheets for the reader to fill-in after pondering a question posed at the top of each page, such as: “If I am attracted to the opposite race, am I selling out my heritage?” or “If my daughter is involved in an interracial relationship and I don’t agree with whom they are dating, should I interfere?” or “My mother has been hurt by black men so many times that now she chooses to date outside her race. Should that concern me?” or “Should I continue to be friends with girls that made me feel less attractive because of my skin tone?”

A faith-based potpourri of sage insights which would have benefited immeasurably from a good editor capable of forcing the author to narrow his focus down to his stated agenda.

Eddie Murphy Upstaged in Kiddie Comedy

Imagine That

Film Review by Kam Williams

When was the last time you saw an Eddie Murphy comedy where he was upstaged by anybody? I can’t think of a single instance of his being overshadowed over the course of his illustrious career, from 48 Hours to Beverly Hills Cop to Trading Places to Nutty Professor to Dr. Dolittle to Daddy Day Care to Norbit.

However, in Imagine That, there are actually a couple of characters who steal nearly every scene from him. One is the adorable Yara Shahidi, who plays his young daughter; the other, Thomas Haden Church, who appears in red face, as his conniving, Native-American colleague.

This kiddie-oriented adventure relies on a familiar theme, that of the workaholic dad whose personal life is a mess because he’s neglected his family. At the point of departure we learn that Evan Danielsen (Murphy) is already separated from his wife, Trish (Nicole Ari Parker), with whom he now shares custody of their seemingly, emotionally-stunted daughter.

Trish, who is very busy between pledge season at her charity and dating her new boyfriend (Charlie Koznick), asks Evan to take care of Olivia (Shahidi) 24/7 for the next week. He grudgingly agrees, and immediately becomes impatient with his little girl’s signs of regression. She’s seven, yet still having trouble letting go of her security blanket before entering her school. In addition, she ducks under the magical comforter to retreat into a world of make believe where she talks to princesses and queens.

Exasperated, financial analyst Evan reluctantly resigns himself to an impromptu “Take Your Daughter to Work Day.” Thank God Olivia’s imaginary friends have accurate investment advice to share. For their uncanny knack for predicting the stock market soon conveniently dovetails with his need for help on the job where he’s currently caught up in a cutthroat competition for a top position with Johnny Whitefeather (Church).

While “Man-whisperer” Whitefeather tries to impress their new boss (Martin Sheen) by speaking in inscrutable Indianisms involving “dreamcatchers” and “The Great Spirit” Evan ends up countering with equally-odd phrases culled from Olivia’s childlike lexicon, such as “icky” and “crybaby.” Along the way, daddy bonds with his daughter by playing along with her parallel universe.

But the pivotal question is does he suddenly care about spending quality time with her only because she’s making him money, or will he also remember to attend her Fall Sing recital at school where she’ll be soloing during the big finale, The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love.” Hint: you don’t need to be a clairvoyant fairy to forecast where this heartwarming family affair is headed.

Worthwhile, as long as you’re willing to watch Eddie Murphy play the straight man.

Very Good (3 stars)

Rated PG for mild epithets and rebellious behavior.

Running time: 107 minutes

Studio: Paramount Pictures

To see a trailer for Imagine That, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70U393tWjrw

Spike Lee’s Favorite TV Show Comes to DVD

House of Payne, Volume 4

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Spike Lee’s Favorite TV Show Comes to DVD

In a recent TV interview with Ed Gordon, Spike Lee blasted fellow director Tyler Perry, comparing his TV shows to Amos n’ Andy and other demeaning programs from less-enlightened times. Is that criticism far? You can judge for yourself by checking out this 3-Disc DVD containing episodes 61-80 of House of Payne.

Mr. Lee notwithstanding, the sitcom has met with both critical and popular acclaim, between winning four NAACP Image Awards (including best comedy series) and being the highest-rated cable sitcom of all time. So, is this just a case of sour grapes, or does Spike have a legitimate complaint?

Here’s my take. Yes, some of the characters certainly behave in a buffoonish fashion which would be embarrassing if they were the only examples of African-Americans to be found on television. But we’re not still in the Fifties when the handful of black faces included the likes of Beulah the maid, Rochester the chauffeur, Little Rascals Buckwheat and Stymie, and the aforementioned Amos and Andy. It’s not even the Seventies when the insulting Good Times with its racist theme song suggested that black people are docile and happy about the host of woes visited upon those unfortunate enough to be stuck living in the projects.

“Keepin’ your head above water…
Making a wave when you can.

Temporary lay offs… Good Times!
Easy credit rip offs… Good Times!
Scratchin’ and surviving… Good Times!
Hangin’ in a chow line… Good Times!
Ain’t we lucky we got ‘em… Good Times!”

We’ve come a long way from such minstrel shows. Over the intervening years, we’ve not only had Bill Cosby, but witnessed a plethora of other African-American actors playing an array of respectable roles on TV and in film. Listen, when a black man has become president of the United States, it’s obvious that kids now have a host of positive role models to emulate. So, I’d say it’s okay to laugh with your children at Curtis Payne, so long as they understand not to mimic any of the antics of that jive character.

Very Good (3 stars)

Unrated

Running time: 440 minutes

Studio: Lionsgate Home Entertainment

3-Disc DVD Extras: Bloopers, “CJ” character profile and “Welcome to My House” featurette.

To see a clip of Tyler Perry appearing as Madea on House of Payne, visit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNvJUwAbkPQ

Kevin and His Dad (BOOK REVIEW)

Kevin and His Dad

By Irene Smalls

Illustrated by Michael Hays

Little Brown Young Readers

Hardcover, $16.99

32 pages

ISBN: 978-0-316-79899-0

Author Irene Smalls

What could be better for a young boy than to spend a whole day with his father! With mom away on a Saturday, that’s exactly what Kevin gets to do. First, he and his dad clean the house together, and then it’s time for some baseball and even a movie. Told in Kevin’s words, this lovely picture book evokes the excitement, pride, pleasure and love a boy can experience with a father who includes him in both the work and play of a weekend day.”

Excerpted from synopsis

With Father’s Day looming on the horizon, I’m sure plenty of folks are

starting to think about buying a meaningful gift for the man in their life. Well, any dad with a young son would undoubtedly appreciate this timeless classic, first published a decade ago, by Irene Smalls, the award-winning author of 15 children’s books and 3 interactive storytelling CDs designed with African-American youngsters in mind.

Over the years, Kevin and His Dad has proven to be increasingly invaluable given the unfortunate statistics on the state of the black family. For this reason, I heartily recommend this socially-relevant book which nourishes the notion of black boys bonding with their fathers. Neither sensational nor fanciful in tone, it rather relates a simple day-in-the-life of a father and son content just to be in each other’s company.

Title: Kevin and his Dad

Title: Kevin and his Dad

Delightfully-illustrated by Michael Hays, the matter-of-fact narrative unfolds in a way which suggests that Kevin takes all the pleasure in the world in such seemingly-mundane experiences as doing household chores, playing catch, or going to see a movie, at least when he’s next to his dad. Credit must go to the insightful author for subtly driving home such a salient point, for besides simply having a natural way with words, she’s a cultural historian with degrees from Cornell and NYU on her impressive resume’.

Ever so subtly, she weaves a richness right into the fabric of her carefully-crafted tale which reflects a deep understanding of how to touch on the African-American condition in an understated fashion while simultaneously exploring a very universal theme to which people of any ethnicity can readily relate. Ms. Smalls has dedicated Kevin and His Dad to the source of her inspiration, namely, her dear nephew Kevin who was adopted by his altruistic Aunt Irene at the age of 7.

I couldn’t think of a better Father’s Day gift than this truly touching tome.

To order a copy of Kevin and His Dad, visit: http://www.irenesmalls.com/

To hire Ms. Smalls to stage a storytelling presentation at your school, church or library, email: ISmalls107@aol.com or call (617) 266-0262.

Shut Out in Battle of the Bay

San Francisco, CA– It’s the first time these teams meet during the season. Fans from both sides of the Bay Area are here to watch who takes the crown of the “Battle of the Bay Series”!  In front of a sell out crowd, the San Francisco Giants shut out the Oakland A’s 3-0.  The anticipation of this rivalry is no surprise to anyone especially those who remember the 1989 World Series where the Oakland A’s came away with the victory.  Almost 20 years later new faces have emerged and the fans have returned to watch a series in which one team will take victory.

Tim Lincecum pitched a stellar game leaving Oakland baffled after coming off a seven game winning streak.  The Giants scored all three of their runs in the bottom of the fifth inning when Tim Lincecum singled to center to put the Giants up 1-0.  He had plenty to celebrate as he recorded the second shutout and third complete game of his brief career.

In his own words about how well he did, Tim had this to say, “with me it’s a matter of rhythm and adjustment.  And today is was just more second nature.  It went the way I wanted it too, it was a little bit of luck.”  A modest Linceman feels he can get better over time but remains focused for each game as they look to improve their record from last year. “We just want to win games and worry about the division lead later” said Lincecum.

How big is the Battle of the Bay series?  Giants manager Bruce Bochy explains, “it’s a big series, we talked about this, the players and fans are into it.  We haven’t faired to well in the last couple of games against Oakland.  Our bottom line is that we need to win ball games and play good baseball.  So, playing Oakland turns up the intensity a little bit.”.

The Giants definitely faired well in the first matchup in the series.  Pablo Sandoval hit a bunt single to open up the bottom of the fifth, then Nate Schierholtz hit a single with one out.  A’s pitcher Vin Mazzaro’s walked Emmanuel Burris to the load the bases before Lincecum’s at bat.  Despite Mazzarro loss, he won his first two starts after being called up from the Triple-A Sacramento on June 2.

Outfielder Aaron Rowand was very pleased with the Giants win and had a few kind words for their pitcher.  “He’s deceptive and has good movement on his fastball.  He threw the heck out of that ball.  Hats of to Tim he did a good job and we provided good defense behind him.”

The rivalry will return across the Bay bridge in Oakland June 22nd-24th.

Written by: Malaika Bobino

Alameda County, Berkeley, Oakland, to Receive Recovery Zone Bonds

 

The U.S. Treasury Department has  announced that the Cities of Berkeley and Oakland and Alameda County will receive over $63 million in recovery zone bonds, which allow local government to finance job-creating economic development projects at reduced borrowing costs.

The  City of Berkeley will receive $13,774,000 in Recovery Zone Development Bonds and $20,662,000 in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.

Barbara Lee

Barbara Lee

 

 

The City of Oakland will receive  $2,970,000 in Recovery Zone Development Bonds and  $4,456,000  in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.

Alameda County will receive $8,644,000 in Recovery Zone Development Bond and  $12,966,000 in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.

“With the state of California facing tremendous economic challenges and recent cutbacks in local services, the infusion of these recovery zone funds will provide the financing needed to revitalize our communities,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. 

“The Obama Administration has once again demonstrated their commitment to provide much needed economic support for our state and local governments,” she said.

Recovery Zone Bonds are targeted to areas particularly affected by job loss and will help local governments obtain financing for much needed economic development projects, such as public infrastructure development, at lower borrowing costs. 

The Recovery Act included two new types of Recovery Zone Bonds – Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds and Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.  Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds are another type of taxable Build America Bond that allow state and local governments to obtain lower borrowing costs through a new direct federal payment subsidy, for 45 percent of the interest, to finance a broad range of qualified economic development projects, such as job training and educational programs. 

Recovery Zone Facility Bonds are a type of traditional tax-exempt private activity bond that may be used by private businesses in designated recovery zones to finance a broad range of depreciable capital projects.

To learn more about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, go to www.recovery.gov.

Lee Pushes for U.S. to Host AIDS Conference

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) is pushing for the International AIDS Society’s 2012 world conference to be held in Washington D.C., after the organization expressed interest in holding the conference in the United States.

 “I’m pleased that the International AIDS Society has decided to move ahead and explore the possibility of bringing the International AIDS Conference back to the United States, pending the removal of the 22-year old ban on the entry of foreigners living with HIV into the United States,” said Congresswoman Lee. 

“As the original author of legislation to remove the travel and immigration ban, I have long argued that we must remove the ban so that the conference can come back to the United States.”

The statutory ban was finally removed upon passage of landmark global AIDS legislation last July in Congress. Following its passage, Congresswoman Lee attended the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City last August and forcefully made the case to the IAS that they bring the conference back to the United States now that that statutory ban had been lifted.

“I applaud this first step by the IAS and I look forward to working with the Administration to ensure the full regulatory reversal of the travel and immigration ban in the coming months.”

The IAS is the world’s leading independent association of HIV professionals, with over 13,000 members in 188 countries working at all levels of the global response to HIV/AIDS. IAS members represent scientists, clinicians, public health, policy experts and community practitioners on the frontlines of the epidemic. The IAS is the lead organizer of the International AIDS Conference and the IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention.

California Legislators Urge Washington to Prevent Persecution of LGBT Iraqis

 

Forty-five members of the California Legislature, led by Senator Mark Leno and the LGBT Legislative Caucus, have called on the Obama Administration to prevent the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Iraq. 

The lawmakers sent a letter to the Administration late last week encouraging the U.S. to take immediate action to stop the violence against LGBT Iraqis.

SF District Attorney Kamala Harris, who is running for State Attorney General, is seen here at a recent campaign fundraiser at Pican Restaurant in Oakland. Shown are Harris  (left); Michael LaBlanc, owner of Pican; event planner Shonda Scott; and former S.F. Mayor Willie Brown. Photo by Gene Hazzard.

SF District Attorney Kamala Harris, who is running for State Attorney General, is seen here at a recent campaign fundraiser at Pican Restaurant in Oakland. Shown are Harris (left); Michael LaBlanc, owner of Pican; event planner Shonda Scott; and former S.F. Mayor Willie Brown. Photo by Gene Hazzard.

 

 

Disturbing reports of the torture, beating and killing of LGBT Iraqis have surfaced in recent months as part of an effort led by police officers to “clean up” Iraq by getting both beggars and gays and lesbians off the streets. This year alone, 63 people, most of them men and boys suspected of being gay, have been tortured or killed as a result of religious decrees against LGBT people in Iraq.

“The unspeakable violence by religious zealots against gay and lesbian Iraqis, financed by our tax dollars, violates basic human rights and goes against our purpose of being in that country – to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people,” said Senator Leno. 

“We have called on President Obama to condemn these actions and encourage national and international leaders to apply immediate and necessary pressure on the Iraqi government to prevent these atrocities and protect the life and liberty of all Iraqi people.”

The letter, which was sent to the Obama Administration on June 5, explains that the Iraqi government is violating its obligations as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The covenant states that the Iraqi government has an obligation to protect the right to life and the right of all its citizens “to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”

State Cuts "A Death Sentence," Say HIV/AIDS Prostesers

adap-rally

Senator Mark Leno (left) and Jesse Brooks.

Senator Mark Leno (left) and Jesse Brooks.

Hundreds of activists from throughout the state converged on the State Capitol last week to protest Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposed elimination of state HIV/AIDS programs.
Eliminating these programs would save the state approximately $80 million, barely denting the nearly $24 billion shortfall.
Joined by actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, Assemblymember Sandré R. Swanson and other legislative leaders to condemn the proposed cuts.
“Eliminating these programs would be a death sentence for thousands of Californians statewide.  These are morally objectionable proposals, and I will not vote for these cuts,” said Swanson.
“People throughout the state should make it absolutely clear to their elected representatives that this proposal is unacceptable, immoral, and completely ineffective in addressing our budget crisis.  Health care should not be sold like a loaf of bread, and those who need it most should not be placed on the chopping block. Period,” he said.
Swanson urged supporters of HIV/AIDS funding to contact the Governor’s office at (916) 445-2841.


Lee Pushes for U.S. to Host AIDS Conference

 

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) is pushing for the International AIDS Society’s 2012 world conference to be held in Washington D.C., after the organization expressed interest in holding the conference in the United States.

 “I’m pleased that the International AIDS Society has decided to move ahead and explore the possibility of bringing the International AIDS Conference back to the United States, pending the removal of the 22-year old ban on the entry of foreigners living with HIV into the United States,” said Congresswoman Lee. 

Barbara Lee

Barbara Lee

 

 

“As the original author of legislation to remove the travel and immigration ban, I have long argued that we must remove the ban so that the conference can come back to the United States.”

The statutory ban was finally removed upon passage of landmark global AIDS legislation last July in Congress. Following its passage, Congresswoman Lee attended the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City last August and forcefully made the case to the IAS that they bring the conference back to the United States now that that statutory ban had been lifted.

“I applaud this first step by the IAS and I look forward to working with the Administration to ensure the full regulatory reversal of the travel and immigration ban in the coming months.”

The IAS is the world’s leading independent association of HIV professionals, with over 13,000 members in 188 countries working at all levels of the global response to HIV/AIDS. IAS members represent scientists, clinicians, public health, policy experts and community practitioners on the frontlines of the epidemic. The IAS is the lead organizer of the International AIDS Conference and the IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention.

Who Decides if Corporations Can Pollute or Drive Out Local Business?

 

By Shannon Biggs,

Global Exchange

 

The biggest threat posed by corporations is not the illegal stuff of headlines. The real danger is what they are empowered to do legally, every day, in every community across the country. 

From water withdrawal to polluting refineries, toxic sludge spreading, Genetically Modified Organisms and more, the corporate few wield the law against our communities, endangering our health, safety and the environment.  

Citizens learn about rights-based organizing at intensive 3-day trainings called "Democracy Schools" California lecturers Pennie Opal Plant and Shannon Biggs pictured.

Citizens learn about rights-based organizing at intensive 3-day trainings called "Democracy Schools" California lecturers Pennie Opal Plant and Shannon Biggs pictured.

 

 

State and federal law says that corporations don’t need community permission to drop pesticides overhead, or to site a toxic dump next to the school grounds.  So who does decide?

State agencies issue corporations “permits” and state legislatures routinely “preempt” (usurp) community lawmaking authority on behalf of those corporations.  When corporate executives decide to site an unwanted project in our communities, we are told we cannot say “no,” because that would be a violation of the corporation’s Constitutional rights.  

So what do we do instead? For nearly two generations, community organizing has taken a detour.  Instead of rallying people to assert our rights to truly govern in the places where we live—and demanding what we really want—we settle for “mitigating”—or regulating—the corporate assaults that enter our communities.  

Ostensibly, the regulatory system is supposed to protect people and the planet from destruction, but typically it is the industry to be regulated that sets the standards. Like gambling in a casino, we’re playing by the House’s rules.  Even when we “win” we don’t get what we want, we can only hope to lessen the damage.  

It is time to change the rules to ensure that the people who must bear the effects of policy decisions are the only ones who make them.  It is time to assert our rights as communities to define the kinds of places we want to live.    

People in Santa Cruz contacted us to see what could be done to stop the State’s plan to drop pesticides from airplanes to eradicate the Light Brown Apple Moth. 

We had some surprising answers for them. “Stop begging the legislature,” we said. “And stop demanding the enforcement of regulatory laws. You don’t want to limit the damage, you want to stop it—so stop it!” 

Global Exchange helped draft a cutting-edge local ordinance that asserts the rights of the community to make the decisions about pesticide spraying, and protects residents from chemical trespass. It also strips corporations of Constitutional protections that had allowed the forced spraying of the community.  

In Mt. Shasta citizens want to stop corporate weather manipulation (cloud seeding) and they don’t want their aquifer drained by water bottlers either. We helped them craft an ordinance to protect natural water cycles and the community’s right to water that they hope to pass into law this year—making them the first municipality in California to pass a rights based ordinance.   

But they are not alone.   In Ukiah, citizens are looking to assert their rights to keep corporations out of their local elections process.  In Nevada City, folks are asking us to help them protect their fragile watershed from various assaults.  And more calls come in every day.  

All of these communities are seeking to take control of their local destinies and to subordinate corporations to local democratic control. In so doing they link arms with over 120 communities in four states that have stopped working defensively against corporate harms and taken courageous action to assert their rights where they live. 
 

For information contact Global Exchange at (415) 575.5540 or Shannon@globalexchange.org

Alyce Rebecca Williams Henderson Celebrates 96th in Richmond

 

 

Alyce Rebecca Williams Henderson

Alyce Rebecca Williams Henderson

 

 

Alyce Rebecca Williams Henderson, born in 1913 in Pensacola, Florida, is turning 96.

“I was so small they didn’t expect me to survive.  They carried me around on a small pillow; they tell me they heated a brick in the oven, wrapped it and placed it in a shoebox, placed towels around it, and that was my incubator and bed,” she said.

Her daughter Kay Adams and granddaughter Alyssa Gordon of Richmond hosted the party. Henderson has two children, seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren

Drummer Gerald Stroud Performs in Berkeley

 

berkeley1

As  Berkeley schools prepared for the end of another academic year, 8th-grader Gerald Stroud found himself in great demand as a drummer in many of the schools’ closing ceremonies.

Stroud, who is shown here playing drums with the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School Jazz Band, has already played in 10 concerts this year.

His future goals are to play in more bands and also to play football. “I want to be an NFL player, and I like playing percussion. I like James Brown and Ray Charles; I mainly like jazz,” he said.

Lee Pushes for U.S. to Host AIDS Conference

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) is pushing for the International AIDS Society’s 2012 world conference to be held in Washington D.C., after the organization expressed interest in holding the conference in the United States.

 “I’m pleased that the International AIDS Society has decided to move ahead and explore the possibility of bringing the International AIDS Conference back to the United States, pending the removal of the 22-year old ban on the entry of foreigners living with HIV into the United States,” said Congresswoman Lee. 

“As the original author of legislation to remove the travel and immigration ban, I have long argued that we must remove the ban so that the conference can come back to the United States.”

The statutory ban was finally removed upon passage of landmark global AIDS legislation last July in Congress. Following its passage, Congresswoman Lee attended the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City last August and forcefully made the case to the IAS that they bring the conference back to the United States now that that statutory ban had been lifted.

“I applaud this first step by the IAS and I look forward to working with the Administration to ensure the full regulatory reversal of the travel and immigration ban in the coming months.”

The IAS is the world’s leading independent association of HIV professionals, with over 13,000 members in 188 countries working at all levels of the global response to HIV/AIDS. IAS members represent scientists, clinicians, public health, policy experts and community practitioners on the frontlines of the epidemic.

Fears for Fate of Journalists in Somalia

 

Reporters Without Borders has voiced serious anxiety about the plight of Canadian reporter Amanda Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan, who were kidnapped by an armed militia nearly 10 months ago and are still being held hostage in Mogadishu.

Nigel Brennan

Nigel Brennan

 

 

A woman saying she was Lindhout phoned Canadian television CTV on June 10, and imploring the Canadian government to secure her release. She tearfully described the appalling conditions in which she is held captive: “I am kept in a dark, windowless room in chains without any clean drinking water and little food or no food. I’ve been very sick for months without any medicine,” she said.

The two journalists were abducted on Aug. 23, 2008, while visiting a refugee camp in Afgoye, about 20 kilometers west of the capital.

Amanda  Lindhout

Amanda Lindhout

Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda County to Receive Recovery Zone Bonds

 

The U.S. Treasury Department has  announced that the Cities of Berkeley and Oakland and Alameda County will receive over $63 million in recovery zone bonds, which allow local government to finance job-creating economic development projects at reduced borrowing costs.

The  City of Berkeley will receive $13,774,000 in Recovery Zone Development Bonds and $20,662,000 in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.

Citizens learn about rights-based organizing at intensive 3-day trainings called "Democracy Schools" California lecturers Pennie Opal Plant and Shannon Biggs pictured.

Citizens learn about rights-based organizing at intensive 3-day trainings called "Democracy Schools" California lecturers Pennie Opal Plant and Shannon Biggs pictured.

 

 

The City of Oakland will receive  $2,970,000 in Recovery Zone Development Bonds and  $4,456,000  in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.

Alameda County will receive $8,644,000 in Recovery Zone Development Bond and  $12,966,000 in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.

“With the state of California facing tremendous economic challenges and recent cutbacks in local services, the infusion of these recovery zone funds will provide the financing needed to revitalize our communities,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. 

“The Obama Administration has once again demonstrated their commitment to provide much needed economic support for our state and local governments,” she said.

Recovery Zone Bonds are targeted to areas particularly affected by job loss and will help local governments obtain financing for much needed economic development projects, such as public infrastructure development, at lower borrowing costs. 

The Recovery Act included two new types of Recovery Zone Bonds – Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds and Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.  Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds are another type of taxable Build America Bond that allow state and local governments to obtain lower borrowing costs through a new direct federal payment subsidy, for 45 percent of the interest, to finance a broad range of qualified economic development projects, such as job training and educational programs. 

Recovery Zone Facility Bonds are a type of traditional tax-exempt private activity bond that may be used by private businesses in designated recovery zones to finance a broad range of depreciable capital projects.

To learn more about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, go to www.recovery.gov.

Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda County to Receive Recovery Zone Bonds

The U.S. Treasury Department has  announced that the Cities of Berkeley and Oakland and Alameda County will receive over $63 million in recovery zone bonds, which allow local government to finance job-creating economic development projects at reduced borrowing costs.

The  City of Berkeley will receive $13,774,000 in Recovery Zone Development Bonds and $20,662,000 in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.

The City of Oakland will receive  $2,970,000 in Recovery Zone Development Bonds and  $4,456,000  in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.

Alameda County will receive $8,644,000 in Recovery Zone Development Bond and  $12,966,000 in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.

“With the state of California facing tremendous economic challenges and recent cutbacks in local services, the infusion of these recovery zone funds will provide the financing needed to revitalize our communities,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. 

“The Obama Administration has once again demonstrated their commitment to provide much needed economic support for our state and local governments,” she said.

Recovery Zone Bonds are targeted to areas particularly affected by job loss and will help local governments obtain financing for much needed economic development projects, such as public infrastructure development, at lower borrowing costs. 

The Recovery Act included two new types of Recovery Zone Bonds – Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds and Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.  Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds are another type of taxable Build America Bond that allow state and local governments to obtain lower borrowing costs through a new direct federal payment subsidy, for 45 percent of the interest, to finance a broad range of qualified economic development projects, such as job training and educational programs. 

Recovery Zone Facility Bonds are a type of traditional tax-exempt private activity bond that may be used by private businesses in designated recovery zones to finance a broad range of depreciable capital projects.

To learn more about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, go to www.recovery.gov.

East Bay Black Pilots Host Open House

 

By Barbara Fluhrer

 

Some people may be surprised to learn that there is an active organization of African American flyers here in the East Bay –  the Bay Area Black Pilots Association. 

Even some local flyers, like Charles Middlebrook, were pleasantly surprised to learn about the group.

Ben Henderson, 30-year member of Black Pilots Association and his Single Engine Four Place Piper Cherokee.

Ben Henderson, 30-year member of Black Pilots Association and his Single Engine Four Place Piper Cherokee.

 

 

“No one ever told me about this organization or that such a thing existed.  I had heard of the Tuskegee Airman, but here is a well-organized organization of Black pilots that has been going on for over 30 years, “ said Middlebrook, a Hayward resident and retired retail clerk who is training to be a pilot and an inspector. 

The Bay Area Black Pilots is made up flyers from around the region. Most of their planes are privately owned and stationed in hangars at the Hayward Air Strip.

Ben Henderson, a 30-year veteran of the group,  explains that its primary goal is to “motivate young African Americans to get involved in aviation or even to use it as a departure point for other things.  

“Many don’t know that there are  African American aviation leaders as far back as 1917,  Eugene Bullard, and  then in 1921, Bessie Coleman.  She was a woman who went to France to learn to fly because no one would teach her here. Then there was Charles Anderson in 1931 or 2.”

The Bay Area Black Pilots Association  will be holding an open house, featuring free plane rides for children, at the Hayward Airport Control Tower Lawn on Saturday, June 27, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The open house will offer refreshments, memorabilia, and flight simulator experience. Three World War II Tuskegee Airmen will be available to sign autographs and pose for photos. For information about the Bay Area Black Pilots Association, Tuskegee Airman, Inc. or East Bay Aviators, Inc., call (510) 259-1062, or (510) 919-2721.

Four Oakland Measures Decided on Mail Ballot

In the coming week, Oakland voters will receive mail-in ballots for this summer’s special election – “What election?” you might say.

Four measures will appear on the ballot that will help the City close its enormous funding gap if passed.

“It’s really important that all four pass to put together the pieces of the puzzle we need to solve the budget crisis we are in,” said Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan in an interview last week with the Post.

“In this election we have the opportunity to strengthen our city and protect senior services, the library and fire fighters,” she said.

The four measures together would raise $8 -10 million but would not affect tax rates for most city residents.

Measure C would raise the hotel tax rate by 3 percent, and funds would be divided between the Oakland Zoo, the Oakland Museum of California, the Chabot Space and Science Center, cultural arts programs and festivals and the Oakland Convention and Visitor Bureau. 

Measure D would change the formula for “Kids First” funding to protect vital city services like police and fire, libraries, and senior services and provide predictable funding for youth programs. It is supported by the Kids First Coalition and the League of Women Voters.

Measure F would raise the business tax on medical cannabis dispensaries to $18 per $1,000 of gross receipts. It is supported by Oakland’s medical cannabis dispensaries.

Finally, Measure H would clarify the city’s real estate transfer tax to apply to changes in ownership that are a result of corporate mergers and acquisitions. It does not raise the tax rate but ensures that corporations pay the same rate as homeowners and local businesses.

Ballots will be mailed out on June 22 and must be received by July 21. Mailed ballots will require a stamp. They can also be returned to the Registrar of Voter’s office at 1225 Fallon St. Measure C will require 2/3 vote for passage, the others a simple majority.

Council Member Kaplan, one of the leaders of the campaign to approve the measures, has created a website at yes4oakland.org that has more information.

“There is a very broad community coalition coming together to support” the measures, Kaplan said. Endorsers so far include the Democratic Party, the Alameda Labor Council, Assemblymember Sandre Swanson, County Supervisor Nate Miley, State Senator Loni Hancock, the California Nurses Association, business leader George Zimmer and the Oakland Builders’ Alliance.

Free Lunch for Youth; Call 2-1-1

Help is here for thousands of youth in the Oakland community who depend on the free lunch program during the school year.  

When school is not in session, meals for children and teenagers who receive free or reduced lunch are not available and not easily replaced.  

With the support of the Alameda County Community Food Bank’s 800 number and Eden I&R’s 2-1-1, finding the closest summer lunch site is only a phone call away.

 “Good nutrition is essential for effective learning every single day,” said Mayor Ron Dellums.  “Children with proper nutrition learn better, act better, and feel better.  I encourage Oakland residents to take advantage of the tremendous program.”

The City of Oakland’s Summer Lunch Program delivers free nutritious meals to children in Oakland neighborhoods during the summer months when school is out of session.  Last year, the city’s program provided over 75,000 free lunches throughout the summer to children under the age of 18.   

This summer there are over 50 participating sites located within Oakland and new sites are added each day. To find the closest location, call 2-1-1 to talk to a live person 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Or contact the Food Bank’s referral hotline at 1-800-870-FOOD.summerfoodprogram.

Mayors: Stronger Laws Against Foreclosures

Mayor Ron Dellums and other big city mayors across the country are urging states to enact stronger laws requiring mandatory settlement conferences or mediations between lenders and borrowers prior to foreclosure sales. 

Oakland is among the top 10 cities in California with the highest foreclosure rates.

Joining the effort, in addition to Dellums, are U.S. Conference of Mayors President Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

 “Oakland has been hard hit by the foreclosure crisis,” said Dellums. “Mandatory mediation appears to be an effective vehicle for bringing borrowers and lenders to the table to reach a win-win solution, and I applaud my colleagues for their leadership in seeking solutions to prevent foreclosures.

“My administration has partnered with ACORN, Urban Strategies Council, One California Foundation, and other organizations on addressing the crisis through strategies such as loan modification sessions between banks and homeowners, providing financial literacy counseling and access to credit, and developing a community land trust to bring foreclosed properties quickly back into productive use.”

Dellums said he is working with Mayor Villaraigosa to call on the State of California to consider mandatory mediation as a foreclosure prevention solution and also work on a coordinated approach to local solutions that can be implemented now.

City leaders are urging state governments to consider mandatory mediation as a solution to preventing foreclosures. Dellums is calling for lenders and borrowers to sit down to engage in loan modifications. 

President Obama’s plan, “Making Home Affordable” provides concrete incentives for lenders and resources for borrowers. However, because of the non-judicial nature of many foreclosures in California, key implementation details need to be worked out, including adequate program funding, the supervision and implementation system and competent and adequate representation.

200 Oakland Seniors Win College Scholarships

 

More than 200 OUSD seniors received college scholarships at a recent ceremony hosted by The Marcus Foster Education Fund and the East Bay Consortium/Cal-SOAP. 

Held June 4 at Acts Full Gospel Church in Oakland, more than 900 attendees witnessed 270 East Bay students accept scholarship awards from major donors such the Clorox Foundation and the College Access Foundation of California.

Dr. Kristal Chin

Dr. Kristal Chin

 

 

This year’s winners, many of them graduates of Oakland Public Schools, will attend some of the country’s most notable universities including UC Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford, Columbia and Harvard University. Scholarship recipients received awards ranging from $1,000 to $15,000. This year, the combined scholarship contributions of MFEF and EBC total more than $740,000.

One of those award-winning students is Elizabeth Rodriguez, a 12th grade student from OUSD’s Media College Preparatory High School and the first recipient of the Kristal Chin Memorial Scholarship.

Elizabeth Rodriguez

Elizabeth Rodriguez

 

 

Rodriguez was editor of the award-winning school newspaper at her high school. She will attend Chico State University in the fall, majoring in journalism.

The memorial scholarship is named after Chin, a career educator who grew-up in Oakland and attended Lincoln Elementary, Westlake Middle and Oakland Technical High School in the Oakland Unified School District. 

After graduating from UC Berkeley, Chin earned her teaching credential and eventually returned to work in OUSD. She served as a Teacher at Bella Vista Elementary School, as Teacher on Special Assignment at the Office of Bilingual Education, as Assistant Principal at Garfield Elementary School and as Principal of La Escuelita Elementary School, until she was forced by illness to take a leave of absence in 2007.

The East Bay Consortium/Cal-SOAP is a non-profit organization established in Oakland in 1978 as part of the California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP).

The Consortium, with the support of the College Access Foundation of California, California Cash for College, and other private donors awarded 212 scholarships to Oakland and East Bay students.

The Marcus Foster Education Fund (MFEF), a non-profit education fund serving Oakland for 35 years, is dedicated to promoting educational equity and excellence in the city’s public schools. One of the many Marcus Foster programs supporting Oakland youth is its College Scholarship Program.

Holocaust Museum Murder a Call to Action

 

Marc H. Morial

Marc H. Morial

By Marc H. Morial,  

President and CEO

National Urban League

 

Since the  election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first Black President, some have erroneously concluded that on November 4, 2008, racism  and hate in America suffered a final, crushing defeat.  

But the murder of  Holocaust Museum security guard Stephen T. Johns last week was  only the latest in a rising tide of racially and politically  motivated crimes revealing that the battle between hope and hate  not only continues, it is actually intensifying.

In addition to  the Holocaust Museum murder, in recent weeks we have seen the  fatal shooting of George Tiller, the medical director of a women’s health clinic in Wichita, Kansas by a pro-life zealot.   We have been shocked by the brazen drive-by killing of an army recruiter in Little Rock,  Arkansas by an American jihadist. 

The FBI recently arrested four  men for planning to blow up a synagogue in the Bronx.   And last November, I  stood with the leaders of seven other national civil rights  organizations to condemn the murder of Marcelo Lucero, a Long  Island man of Ecuadorian descent who was beaten to death by a group  of teenagers simply for being Hispanic.

Stephen T. Johns

Stephen T. Johns

 

 

The fact is,  hate crimes, fueled by the struggling economy, anti-immigrant hysteria and the election of America’s first Black President, are  on the rise.   In  April, the Department of Homeland Security released a report claiming that “Right-wing extremists have capitalized on the  election of the first African American President, and are focusing  their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing  supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through  propaganda.” 

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there  are now 926 documented hate groups in America, a 54 percent increase  since 2000.   Attacks  against immigrants have risen by 40 percent in the last four years.

This must be a  call to action.   Even  as we continue to lead the fight against terrorism throughout the  world, we must also focus our efforts on combating the rise of  terrorism in our own back yard.

First, we must  step up the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes and pass  the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which is now before the Congress. We need to pass along the values of unity, equality and  non-violence to our children and reinforce those values in our schools.   

We must  heed the call of groups like the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence to  close gun-show loopholes, ban assault weapons and do all we can to make our streets free of gun violence.

Finally, we  cannot allow the only voices heard on this issue to be those of  elected officials and talk radio hosts whose extremist views  contribute to an atmosphere where these crimes are somehow  justified.

In  a recent article on salon.com, Leonard Zeskind, a long-time  researcher and author on the subject of extremist violence said,  “The reason we’re talking about this [latest] incident is because  it happened in Washington, D.C., at the Holocaust Museum, instead  of somewhere in the backwoods of Montana.”

Hate crimes  must be confronted whenever and wherever they occur.   As  Dr. King reminded us,  the good people must not remain silent.

Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda County to Receive Recovery Zone Bonds

 

The U.S. Treasury Department has  announced that the Cities of Berkeley and Oakland and Alameda County will receive over $63 million in recovery zone bonds, which allow local government to finance job-creating economic development projects at reduced borrowing costs.

The  City of Berkeley will receive $13,774,000 in Recovery Zone Development Bonds and $20,662,000 in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.

Barbara Lee

Barbara Lee

 

 

The City of Oakland will receive  $2,970,000 in Recovery Zone Development Bonds and  $4,456,000  in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.

Alameda County will receive $8,644,000 in Recovery Zone Development Bond and  $12,966,000 in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.

“With the state of California facing tremendous economic challenges and recent cutbacks in local services, the infusion of these recovery zone funds will provide the financing needed to revitalize our communities,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. 

“The Obama Administration has once again demonstrated their commitment to provide much needed economic support for our state and local governments,” she said.

Recovery Zone Bonds are targeted to areas particularly affected by job loss and will help local governments obtain financing for much needed economic development projects, such as public infrastructure development, at lower borrowing costs. 

The Recovery Act included two new types of Recovery Zone Bonds – Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds and Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.  Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds are another type of taxable Build America Bond that allow state and local governments to obtain lower borrowing costs through a new direct federal payment subsidy, for 45 percent of the interest, to finance a broad range of qualified economic development projects, such as job training and educational programs. 

Recovery Zone Facility Bonds are a type of traditional tax-exempt private activity bond that may be used by private businesses in designated recovery zones to finance a broad range of depreciable capital projects.

To learn more about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, go to www.recovery.gov.

Local Leaders Call Cuts “Unacceptable”

 

By Ken A. Epstein

 

Vivian Hain, a Berkeley parent with three children, is uncertain what will happen to her and her family if Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal to end CalWorks goes into effect.

“They are taking the food out of my children’s mouths, (and) I need the support for transportation and training to get a job,” said Hains, who survives on $723 a month from the state.

Vivian Hain (left) and her daughter Jasmine.

Vivian Hain (left) and her daughter Jasmine.

 

 

Hains and her daughters were among impacted East Bay residents and community leaders who appeared at a press conference Friday in front of the state building in downtown Oakland to oppose unprecedented program cuts being considered in order to stabilize the state’s precarious financial condition.

“I pray for them today, those who have lost jobs and who have lost homes,” said Pastor Brondon Reems, a speaker at the press conference from the Center of Hope Community Church in Oakland. “We see the violence in the community, and they (the legislators) are cutting education,” he said.

Pastor Brondon Reems

Pastor Brondon Reems

 

 

Assembly Member Sandre Swanson, Asian Health Services (AHS) and religious and community leaders are calling on East Bay residents to demand budget solutions that protect seniors, children and people with disabilities.  

  “I did not come to Sacramento to enact an agenda that would strip 1 million children of access to health care, or force low-income seniors to pay as much as $350 from an $850 monthly income for Medi-Cal, or slash $1,300 per student from our schools,” said Swanson.

Yvonne Thompson, student trustee on the board of the Peralta Community College District, urged community members to revive the spirit of  “We Ain’t Gonna to Let Nobody Turn Us Around,” a song from the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

“A closed mouth does not get fed.  It’s not going to take thousands – it’s going to take millions,” said Thompson.

Sherry Hirota, CEO of Asian Health Services focused on proposed Medi-Cal cuts for legal immigrants. “This is a critical community issue since two out of three Asians are foreign born and one out of three Asians are not yet citizens.  Barring legal immigrants from Medi-Cal (for five years) is unacceptable,” she said.

Over the past year, more than $26 billion in budget cuts have hit California communities.  The Legislature is now considering Governor’s proposals for another $15 billion in cuts to health programs, schools and other programs that serve California’s most vulnerable.