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.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Just returned from my first cruise - absolutely planning for others. We flew to South Florida on Friday, went aboard Carnival Ship "Liberty" Saturday afternoon and got underway a few minutes after 4 pm.

And after a day at sea we pulled into Cozemel, Mexico.

Next stop Grand Cayman Island.

We love Ocho Rios, Jamaica

And back to Miami.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Notre Dame's First Black Valedictorian

In the 161 years the University of Notre Dame has been awarding degrees, never had there been a Black valedictorian. Until this year. Katie Washington, a biological sciences major from Gary, Indiana, has been named valedictorian of the 2010 University of Notre Dame graduating class and will present the valedictory address during Commencement exercises May 16 in Notre Dame stadium.

Ms. Washington, who earned a 4.0 grade point average, and has never brought home anything less than an A throughout her school career, has a minor in Catholic Social Teaching. She has conducted research on lung cancer and performed genetic studies for Global Health on the mosquito that carries dengue and yellow fever. She is the co-author of a research paper with David Severson, professor of biological sciences.

She is well-rounded and has polished her leadership skills through research and volunteer activities. She practically grew up in her father's doctor's office in Gary. Ms. Washington other activities includes directing the Voices of Faith Gospel Choir at Notre Dame, being a mentor/tutor for the Sister-to-Sister program at South Bend’s Washington High School, and serves as the student coordinator of the Center for Social Concerns’ “Lives in the Balance: Youth Violence and Society Seminar.” She graduated from Gary’s West Side High School and was valedictorian in 2006.

Upon graduation, Katie plans to continue her studies at Johns Hopkins University through a joint M.D./Ph.D program there and follow in her parents and siblings’ footsteps into medicine. Dad William is a doctor and mom, Jean is a nurse, brother Mark is completing his residency at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and sister Terry is a nurse. Another brother, Navy veteran Vincent, works for British Petroleum. (So the Huxtables do exist). Clearly she was focused on her mission in life and she has some good adult guidance in her life. She comes from a family of achievers. I would expect a child from a family of educated middle class folks to excel, regardless of race. Education was part of her home culture. Why bring this up? Because it shows how home culture influences our achievements. This is the story that we don’t normally see. This is not an unusual thing for Black Americans. it does happen all over the U.S. We, as a community, have other stories like Katie’s that need to be on BET, and TV One, etc..

Although she is not 100 percent sure of what kind of doctor she wants to be, she plans to train as a physician scientist with the intention of treating patients with disease. You have to serious grey matter to get into John Hopkins Medical Research Scientist program (that's what the MD/PhD program is called). This is serious sacrifice - over $300K in debt (even with grants) and in school until your late 30's. Not having a real income until around age 40, and be forced into a specialty or into research, more likely the former, since you'd be way overqualified and too far in debt to work as a primary care physician. There is only one word for this kind of person DRIVEN.

Katie demonstrates that if one is given an equal opportunity and makes the requisite sacrifices; great achievement and success will follow. "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity".

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Entire Senior Class On Their Way to Four-Year Colleges

In the mist of news flashes of Black young men with their pants "saggin" and walking around as if they are in leg irons, I thought I would share this positive picture of positive picture of our future leaders.

Urban Prep Academy is a charter school in tough neighborhood in Chicago. Four years ago a fressman class set a goal to all go to college and now four years later that goal has been met. Yes, 100% of the Senior class has been accepted to four-year colleges or universities.

Yes, 100% of the senior class at Chicago's only public all-male, all-Black high school has been accepted to four-year colleges and universities. The 107 seniors have earned spots at 72 schools across the U.S. It's the first graduating class at Urban Prep since it opened its doors in 2006.

This kind of accomplishment requires goal setting, perseverance, focus, having a dream and following that dream. These are words not associated with Black youth in the main stream media. But if it can happen in Chicago, it can happen everywhere else.

The school enforces a strict uniform of black blazers, khaki pants and red ties -- with one exception. After a student receives the news he is accepted into college, he swaps his red tie for a red and gold one at an assembly. The last 13 students received their college ties recently to thunderous applause.

College in this and other similar neighbor was merely a concept--never a goal--for most of these young men growing up. Urban Prep, a charter school that enrolls using a lottery in one of Chicago's more troubled neighborhoods, faced difficult odds. Only 4 percent of this year's senior class read at grade level as freshmen, according to Tim King, the school's CEO. Every single person hired four years ago knew from the day one that this was the goal: Get our kids into college.

Before the students begin their freshman year, they take a field trip to Northwestern University. Every student is assigned a college counselor the day he steps foot in the school. Even the school's voicemail has a student declaring "I am college bound" before it asks callers to dial an extension.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Does Any of This Look Familiar?

45 rpm spindles

S&H Green Stamps

Metal Ice cube trays

Drive in Movies


Washtub wringers

Reel-To-Reel tape recorders

15 cent hamburgers

5 cent packs of baseball cards

25 cents a gallon gas

Jiffy Pop popcorn

5 cent Cokes

Brownie camera

Flash bulbs

Timmy and Lassie (long before Black folks on TV)

TV Test patterns

The sad thing is that I remember all of these.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Serena Williams Opens Second School in Kenya

Serena Williams, the world's #1 womens tennis player, made a whirlwind 3-day trip to Kenya in late February. The trip included the opening of the Serena Williams Wee Secondary School, the second such school in her name in that African nation. The school is located in the remote village of Wee, east of Nairobi. This is the second school she’s opened in Kenya with help from computer giant Hewlett Packard. Serena opened her first school in 2008. Oprah, you're lagging.

Just a couple months ago Serena was all over the news for her rant against a line judge in a tennis match and the media was calling for her head. But where is the main stream media when not only Serena Williams, but any athelete does anything positive?

The tiny village of Wee was a beehive of activity as Serena and her entourage arrived in aboard helicopters to preside over the grand opening. Hundreds of school children and their parents turned out to receive the celebrated star player which they only hear about in the media. The greatest moment of the event came when Serena was decorated as an Akamba woman amid song and dance.

Wee students, having heard of a popular joke that Serena’s roots are in Western Kenya due to her imposing physique, impressed the visitor with a rendition of popular songs from the region like mwana wa mama apepetanga (mama’s girl is a star dancer). The children sang: “Serena we like you, Serena we love you, Serena come dance with us,” and Serena acknowledged by waving back with a smile.

For hundreds of Wee residents, the presence of helicopters attracted their attention much more than did the tennis star as they gathered around the machines they only see flying above the hilly region.

Serena’s school has a special class for deaf students, the first of its kind in the region.

Serena also met with the Prime Minister and Vice President of Kenya and conducted a tennis clinic with the children. And being that Serena was recovering from the flu, her appearance was all the more impressive.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

RNC Documents Reveal Use of Scare Tactics

As the Bible says, what's done in the dark will come to light. Republican National Committee leaders are once again doing damage control after a document was found revealing their plans to use voters' fear in the coming campaign season. The problem started when an attendee at the RNC conference last month Florida left a 72-page document from its 2010 strategizing session in a hotel room.

The memo states that the best path to victory in 2010 is for Republican candidates to depict themselves as the best hope for resisting the "trending toward socialism" taking shape in a Democrat-dominated Washington. The presentation calls President Obama's administration "The Evil Empire," and includes the image of President Obama made over in the makeup Heath Ledger used in his performance as the Joker in the 2008 Batman movie "The Dark Knight."

The memo candidly states that the aim of such caricature is to amp up "fear" among the Republican conservative base. RNC leaders NOW say "the language and the imagery will not be used in any capacity in the future."

The RNC will not admit to it, but evidence points to their founding and backing the "Tea Party Movement". Ever wonder why only Republicans are speakers at tea party" functions. The Obama-as-Joker image is a very familiar icon at Tea Party rallies.

It's time for Black folk to do what the actors in Spike Lee's Skool Dayz say "WAKE UP". While Black folks are still celebrating a year after Barack Obama became the first Black president of the U.S., his and your enemies began plotting, the day after the election, how to not only defeat him, but to embarrass and destroy him. And all the while, we, including the Congressional Black Caucas, NAACP, Urban League, churches, the twin reverends high five and dap.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong – The Snow Leopard

Despite being called the Snow Leopard, Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong hails from a dry, savannah town in Ghana where the temperature rarely falls below 72F – and until five years ago he had never seen snow. But the Snow Leopard, is on the prowl for a medal in the 2010 Winter Olympic games. He has drawn a lot of interest as an African skiing in the Olympics. Kwame will participate in the Alpine Slalom race which is scheduled to take place on February 27. He will make history as the first Ghanian skiing in the Winter Olympics.

Quite the athlete, he also represented Ghana in the West African Student Games in tennis. Kwame took ski lessons when he got a job as a receptionist at a ski center. Kwame said that the only thing Africans have to overcome is the cold. I hear you brother.

Dedicated to encouraging Ghanian youth to ski, he founded the Ghanian Winter Olympic Association and is working on building an artificial ski slope in Akuapem Hills, Mamfe, Ghana.

As well as being a professional ski racer Kwame has achieved academic success completing a first degree in Geography and Tourism in Cape Coast University, Ghana. He then went on complete a Masters in Westminster University in Tourism Management. Born in Glasgow, Scotland where his father was completing a doctorate, he grew up in a dusty town an hour from Accra, Ghana where children dream of becoming soccer stars, not Olympic skiers. But, after moving to Britain and finding a job as a receptionist in the Xscape snow dome in Milton Keynes, he discovered he had a knack for hurtling down the artificial slope.

His tale of triumph over the odds has echoes of the Jamaican bobsleigh team, whose appearance at the Calgary Games in 1988 inspired the Hollywood film Cool Runnings.
Nkrumah-Acheampong is determined not to embarrass himself or his country in Vancouver. “I don’t just want to get down, but ski well and not come at the bottom of the table,” he said.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Still Large and In Charge

PR Genius...fantastic job. Tiger Woods controlled his message without creating a circus around it. And, going back for more "counseling" some period of time while the pr's take the pulse of public perception. Brilliant. Tiger has a sickness. He is realizing it. He is dealing with it. He is probable cranking up his golf practices right now. In 5 years he will likely be a stronger model than before. And to finish top it off was the long emotional hug with his mother.

Tiger Woods delivered his "apology" before a handpicked audience that included family, close friends and members of the professional golf community, but most importantly, business partners.

Sitting in the front row: his mother Kultida, on her right, Amy Reynolds, of Nike, cried through the speech. Kathy Battaglia, of Tiger Woods Enterprises, sat on his mother's left.
Also in the front row: Rob McNamara (in a cream-colored blazer), PGA commissioner Timothy Finchem (in a red tie) and his close friend, and fellow Stanford University grad, golfer Notah Begay III (far left). And please, no other Black folk present...not "friends" Mike and Chuck.

Just how powerful is Tiger Woods - his 13 and a half minute apology was carried live on every major television network. Name me any other celebrity who can command such. One pro golfer was whining today that Tiger apology overshadowed this week's tournament - exactly - did you even know there was a tournament this week. The PGA can't wait for his return. It will be their largest rating ever.

He's human, he makes mistakes. I wish him AND his family all the best.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Captain America Angers "Tea Party" Folks

The fictional superhero, Captain America, has been one of the most popular comic book heroes since his creation in 1941. But now that the Captain has turned his attention to what appears to be the "Tea Party" movement, he has upset "real Americans". Issue number 602 has Captain America and his Black sidekick The Falcon observe an anti-tax protest from a rooftop, while trying to infiltrate a White supremacists anti-government militia group, "the Watchdogs". It was fine when Captain America fought Nazis during World War II, or took on those who burned the American flag during the Vietnam era, but when he turns his attention toward "patriot Americans", he is "out of line".

The protestors depicted are all White and carry signs adorned with slogans very similar to those seen in "Tea Party" rallies. The Falcon mentions that the gathering appears to be "some kind of anti-tax protest" and notes that "this whole 'hate the government' vibe isn't limited to the Watchdogs." He then tells Captain America that he doesn't think their plan will work because "I don't exactly see a Black man from Harlem fitting in with a bunch of angry White folks." Captain America then explains that his plan to send The Falcon in among the group posing as an IRS agent, thinking that a Black government official will surely set off their anger.

It appears that certain protesters want Captain America to go back to the 60s, "when Captain America was a pro-America figure." Well I see the Captain really becoming a pro-American figure - mixing a little something for everything in the "melting pot" and not just the potatoes alone.