Saturday, June 15, 2013

What Happened to Brenda Sykes?

Back in the early 1970s any young men who saw Black movies, television shows, or read Jet and Ebony Magazines has memories of a number of Black beauties, but the ONE that stood out above them all was Brenda Sykes. You probably never heard of her, but during her short period of stardom this dark-skinned beauty was everywhere in Black entertainment. This was the first time we had seen anyone like her. No one in Black entertainment was like he. She wasn't the mammy type nor was she the Hollywood bombshell. Hollywood had never produced a dark chocolate skinned beauty like this without her being an unbelieverable character or being an overweight servant. After being discovered on the Dating Game, Brenda Sykes would co-star in 70s such films like Cleopatra Jones, Black Gunn, Mandingo, and The Liberation of L.B. Jones amoung. And she appeared in numerous television series like Good Times, Executive Suites, The Streets of San Francisco, etc. and even appeared in a soap opera. Brenda Sykes was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. And was married to musician Gil Scott-Heron. This union produced daughter and poet Gia Scott-Heron. The ultra shy beauty really never fit into the Hollywood scene and decided to leave the celebrity atmosphere and spend her life as an everyday person. When you think "Black is Beautiful", think of Brenda Sykes.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bishop Eddie Long Addresses Sexual Exploitation Allegations

Bishop Eddie Long, senior pastor of Atlanta’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, spoke in front his congregation Sunday for the first time since he was accused of sexual exploitation in law suits filed against him several days ago. During his sermon, he vowed to fight allegations from four male members of his church, who claim that Bishop Long coerced them into sexual relationships by bribing them with cars, clothing, electronics, jewelry, money, and trips.

“I’ve been accused, I’m under attack. I want you to know, as I said earlier, that I am not a perfect man. But this thing, I’m going to fight,” said Bishop Long. He went on to say, “And I want you to know one other thing. I feel like David against Goliath, but I’ve got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet.”

To go along with his denial of the sexual exploitation allegations, Bishop Long asked for worshipers to pray for him and vowed not let to the case be tried in the media. The plaintiffs in the case, Maurice Robinson, 20, Anthony Flagg, 21, Jamal Parris, 23 – as well as a fourth man, from a satellite church in Charlotte, North Carolina, who stepped forward on Friday – are seeking unspecified damages (read money). They are popping up faster than Tiger Woods' accusers.

Two of the young men claim they were members of the church's LongFellows Youth Academy, a program that mentored young men, when Bishop Long gave them gifts and took them on trips to seduce them. The lawsuits claim the pastor abused his “spiritual authority.” But federal and state authorities have said they will not investigate the allegations because all four men said they were 17 or 18 years old when the relationships with the bishop began. Georgia's age of consent is 16 years old.

Over the past 20 years, Bishop Eddie Long became one of the most powerful church leaders in the U.S. He led the church as it grew from a congregation of 150 to a 25,000-member powerhouse with a $50 million building and a membership that includes athletes, entertainers and politicians. One of his pastors is Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bishop Long told the congregation that his lawyers had advised him not to “try this case in the media.”I like to give the benefit of the doubt, but I have a problem when you don't flatly deny such allegations. The very first thing out of my mouth would be that this is a flat out lie.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Meet God's Gift

The first thing that anyone asks when they meet this young man: is that your nickname or something. But his real name is God's Gift Achiuwa. The native Nigerian's father is a minister, so the first name he chose for his son is a reflection of the family's religious beliefs. God's Gift Achiuwa is a 6' 9” forward for the Erie Community College basketball team. Coach Nwora discovered him at an annual camp the coach runs in Nigeria and brought him back to Erie, Pennsylvania.

The bruising power forward is making sure he is known for more than just his name. He is averaged 13.1 points, 13.5 rebounds and two blocked shots per game as a freshman, earning third-team All-American and leading Erie to a 27-2 record.

He also excelled in the classroom, earning a 4.0 Grade Point Average in the fall semester and a 3.8 in the spring semester. Division One powerhouses such as Kansas, Pittsburgh, St. John's and Tennessee are among the schools that shown interest. He is a bit on the raw side, but the talent is there and playing in the U. S. has helped him. And Coach Nwora said he is still training like the season begins tomorrow. God's Gift Achiuwa doesn't have a nickname, though his teammates sometimes call him "Gift" for short. For a kid as gifted as Achiuwa on the court and in the classroom, it's a fitting name.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

South Shore Drill Team Provides Different Avenue

While news from Chicago report of dozens of shootings on the first weekend in April 2010, a group of teenage boys gather on a basketball court in a tough South Side neighborhood called the Pocket and picked up their rifles. This was the end of an especially bloody few days in Chicago as police crime scene tape hung from the South Side to the West Side. In 26 hours 41 people had been shot, 3 dead.

And so these boys pick up their rifles and began another four-hour practice session of a unique youth group, the South Shore Drill Team and Performing Arts Ensemble. The group was designed as an alternative to gang activity, high school drop outs, and teen pregnancy. The group offers young people an opportunity to develop self-esteem, self-discipline, goals for their future, and a chance to travel. The South Shore Drill Teams repertoire includes contemporary music, jazz, hip-hop, modern dance numbers and more.

Since 1980, the drill team has been providing boys and girls, ages 9 to 21, with a highly disciplined and choreographed alternative to the street. Team members use wooden mock rifles, hip-hop music and modern dance moves in their performances, which have taken them from Morocco to Walt Disney World to the annual back-to-school Bud Billiken Parade down Chicago’s Martin Luther King Drive.

In 2009, the team performed at 130 events in nine states. This past June 5, the team marked its 30th anniversary with a night of performances at the Chicago Theater. Although many on the drill team come from struggling families and from schools where sometimes up to half the students drop out before the 12th grade, 99.5 percent of the members graduate from high school and many go on to college, said Arthur Robertson, the former Chicago public school teacher who founded the team with only four boys, two of whom were his nephews. Now, its membership has grown to about 350. The team recently participated in the 33rd annual drill team and color guard world championships —the Winter Guard International — in Dayton, Ohio, where more than 300 teams from across the United States and four other countries were entered. The South Shore team won the championship in 1992.

Some parents of these boys allow them out of the house only to attend team practices and events. They want to keep them as safe as possible. The boys feel trapped in their rough neighborhoods; they can’t go outside and be regular children. Here you can be. Without groups like this, many of the boys would be headed down a path of fast-money dreams and jailhouse nightmares. Instead they now spend days learning how to twirl a mock rifle high into the air, do a back flip and catch the rifle without missing a step as they parade. For some, the drill team has saved their life.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Barry Bonds Wins Major Battle

Baseball's all-time home run champion Barry Bonds won a big legal victory Friday when a federal appeals court ruled that evidence the government says would prove he lied about using steroids is inadmissible in court. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, in a divided opinion, said the government cannot use urine samples and other evidence in its perjury case against the former baseball star. Barry Bonds was indicted in federal court in December 2008 of making false statements to a grand jury, denying that he knowingly took steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.
The government alleges BALCO helped supply Barry Bonds with steroids and drug-masking substances. BALCO was accused of covertly marketing tetrahydrogestrinone -- known as "the Clear" -- a then-undetectable performance-enhancing steroid.

Steroids were allegedly commonly used from about 1995 to 2003 with the allegedly full knowledge of Major League Baseball's commissioner and owners. Steroid use was banned by MLB in 2003. Some owners allegedly even cut players who didn't use it! Use of steroids were not against MLB rules at that time. MLB only wrote rules forbidding steroid use after it became public knowledge that so many players were using it. If it's not against the rules, and owners push it, and other players that are having more success due to using, I don't think you can blame any player for trying to be competitive. The commissioner, owners, managers, coaches should share in the blame. So the crime is lying; and if we are going to prosecute everyone who lied we would have to fire every member of congress and every CEO of every major corporation in the U.S.

So it's all about public relations work to keep a good image. No lawyers are going after Mark Maguire. In fact he even has a job as hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals.

The saddest thing about the whole situation is that Bonds was arguably the best baseball player in the game before all this. Now, he will only be remembered for the steroid scandal.

I think it is a waste of time and money that the U.S. Department of Justice is worried about professional sports steroid use when major corporations are causing death and destruction because of unsafe operating practices.

Barry Bonds simply could not have gotten away with taking banned substances without the tacit approval of MLB. And MLB allegedly turned a blind eye to what players were allegedly doing because it reinvigorated ticket sales in a sport that had been losing public interest. Billions of dollars were at stake in TV negotiations, also. Mark McGwire's home-run blitz was said to have "saved baseball" and Bonds was simply carrying on that tradition. MLB is a huge commercial enterprise. When MLB turned a blind eye toward Barry Bonds' dramatic physical changes and unprecedented ability to hit the long ball, it knew exactly what it was doing.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Go #85

Nine-year-old Ruben St. Hilaire, Jr., who lives with this mother in a homeless shelter in New York City, sent a letter to his favorite football player, Chad Ochocinco, formerly Chad Johnson, and received an autographed jersey from Ochocinco for his efforts. He then sent a second letter thanking #85. The letter read in part:

"...Mr. Johnson, you really make me happy. One of my goals in my future life is to be just like you when I grow up. I wonder who was your role model when you were little? I have three role model(s) in my life that's my mom, Mr. President Barack Obama and my favorite football player Mr. Chad Johnson. To me you are the best football player in the NFL. May God bless you and your family..."

Ruben's dream was to go to a football camp. Then at the annual gala fundraiser for the Children Mending Hearts organization in Hollywood, young master Hilaire was surprised when he received a certificate to attend Deion Sanders' camp. And unbeknownst to Ruben, his hero, Chad Ochocinco stepped onstage to present the certificate. An added bonus, was that it was Ruben's birthday and #85 led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday”. (Well I was kind of hoping the surprise was that he game them a house – but I like to dream big).

It was a pretty amazing day for young Ruben, who said it was the happiest day of his life. Although it was a happy occasion, I hope someone helps him and his mom find a home.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Haiti's Connection to Louisiana

Like everyone else, when the earthquake hit Haiti, I watched hours of news coverage. And like everyone else I saw the horrifying scenes caused one of the most devastating natural disasters of our time. And like most of us I had never been to Haiti nor did I know much about this small Black nation in the Caribbean. So I, like everyone else immediately got on my computer and began googling - reading about Haiti's history.

We were taught about the slaves in the U.S., but we were never taught that the people of this tiny nation had defeated Napoleon's mighty army in 1803. That was the same year the French decided to sell their only other colony in the Western Hemisphere - Louisiana. Had the slaves, led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, not overthrown the French Army in Haiti, would the French have sold Louisiana to the United States?

The Louisiana Purchase instantly doubled the size of the U.S. I was born and raised in Louisiana, so I am interested in anything pertaining to the state, and I am a history buff. But I never linked these two events. I am sure the average U.S. Citizen does not know that the Haitian revolution possibly played a large role in the history of the United States of America. The question is, had Toussaint L'Ouverture not lived, would America be the America it is today? If his army and the slaves had not defeated the French, would the French have wanted to sell their only other colony, which itself had thousands of slaves?

So, major events like this earthquake influence us to read about history and look at events a little more closely. It makes you wonder how politically and historically events in other places on earth contribute to our lives. Why is it that a country so close to some of the richest economies in the world could be in this position. It makes you wonder how, Haiti's own government and those of nearby countries have shown no accountability.

Yes the world responds during moments of emergencies, but Haiti was dirt poor long before the earthquake. But we must be helpful to our fellow humans more than when disaster happens. We Black folk must not limit ourselves to only what goes on in our hood, but open our eyes to events and the plight of other Black people all over this world. The reason I don't use the term African-American is that it limits our thinking to what happens in the U.S. We have to broaden our thought to thoughts not only to Black people in Cleveland, Dallas and other U.S cities, but also what is happening in Kingston, London, Capetown and everywhere else, including Port-Au-Prince. It is easy to forget about what is no longer on the front page or the main story on CNN. We have to be effective in keeping the light on problem everywhere.

Haiti is in a state of emergency and it was in an emergency long before January 12.