March 30, 2007

Village Book Club

I wonder if there is any interest in creating an online book club. A place where we can recommend fiction or non-fiction books for other villagers to read. I've never been in a book club, but, I do enjoy reading.

Anyhow, I've decided that my next book is going to be Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny, by Hill Harper. Many of you may recognize Hill Harper from his many roles on television ... currently he is part of the ensemble cast of CSI:NY.

An excerpt from the introduction of his book says,
“Young men today have been bombarded with images of wealth and success that tell them that buying the hottest car or the most bling-blingin’ jewelry is what they should be motivated by. There is an overwhelming sales pitch targeted at these young men that subliminally suggests that material goods are what makes them real men. I want young men to have knowledge of the things that ring them true empowerment: education, a strong sense of purpose, compassion, confidence, and humility, to name a few.

It is no accident that I graduated from Brown University magna cum laude and received graduate degrees with honors from Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government. My family taught me that doing my best, educating myself, and being in service to others were not optional and that having values and being truthful were not negotiable.

I am living proof that these principles work. Through the letters in this book, I wish to pass on to other young men my grandfathers’ legacies of education, hard work, determination, and success.”
Have you read his book? If not, is it one that you would consider reading in the near future?

March 29, 2007

Bring Black Back

The new book by W.D. Wright, The Crisis of the Black Intellectual, contains the following passage on page 311.

"Today there is no general Black leadership and the Black political body is fragmented isolated, individualistic, fanciful, delusional, susceptible to posturing, and has no real sense of engaging with Black politics that are designed to help Black people in America, specifically those millions still ‘stuck at the bottom.’ What could interrupt this situation and force Blacks back to a general leadership and to a consciousness of Black politics would be the emergence of new and differently oriented local Black leaders. This would include some individuals drawn from those ‘stuck at the bottom.’ There are enough Black local leaders, community organizers, and activists who could initiate this new and different leadership across the country and who could consciously and actively seek to recruit and train individuals ‘up from varied misery’ for local leadership."
There is a group of such leaders coming together at the Bring Black Back conference in Atlanta, GA on April 20-21. The group wants to develop and implement a more effective leadership model that better addresses the needs of African Americans who are disconnected from the mainstream in the USA and across the African Diaspora. This leadership model will address the need for more effective political action, and grassroots economic development that benefits African American communities – primarily in urban areas. They seek to address the "authentic needs" of African American communities, and place a high priority on Africentric education as a foundation for our children.

The Bring Back Black gathering comprises Black folks who have been working for decades empowering our people. They do their work quietly and without fanfare. They work by building their own businesses, opening their own schools, and being serious about their political involvement. They do their work by meeting payrolls from which their Black employees take care of their families. They do it by standing up and speaking out against injustice and inequity. They do it by sacrificing their time and their resources for the collective cause of Black people.

It turns out that one of the first gatherings of this group occurred in Cincinnati, OH. The next gathering is later this month at the Bring Back Black conference in Atlanta, GA. Care to share your comments on this grassroots effort?

March 28, 2007

Smitherman wins NAACP vote

Christopher Smitherman, the former Cincinnati councilman who promised to make the Cincinnati NAACP chapter a more aggressive voice for civil rights, was elected its new president Tuesday.

In a vote ordered by the national NAACP after last fall's disputed contest, Smitherman took 187 votes to 134 for Edith Thrower, the Cincinnati branch's president since December 2004. About two dozen Smitherman supporters broke into cheers about 10:35 p.m. as they peered into the window of the NAACP's Reading Road office and saw one of Smitherman's election observers, former branch president Marian Spencer, give them a thumbs-up sign and a wink, telling them that their candidate had won.

Smitherman called his election "a tremendous win for the whole community. This is a win for everybody. I am going to get this organization back to substantive issues." The election was considered crucial because Cincinnati will host the NAACP's national convention in 2008.

Thrower stood outside, surrounded by a crowd chanting "throw her out" as she read the results posted on the office door. "Of course, I'm disappointed," Thrower said. "But as long as the process was done properly, then that is the decision of the organization, and I accept it."

James Clingman, an official observer for Smitherman, said Smitherman's election "gives the NAACP a chance to move forward with real integrity. So it's onward and upward."

The vote was important because of the contrasting leadership styles of Thrower and Smitherman. Smitherman made a name for himself in City Hall as a vocal and uncompromising critic of Cincinnati police practices. Thrower, president since 2004, is seen as a private persuader who maintains a low profile but accomplishes a lot. She was credited with persuading the national NAACP to bring its national convention here next year.

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory showed up about 8:10 p.m. to cast his ballot, and he posed for pictures and shook hands with supporters of both candidates. He would not say whom he was voting for. "I'm going to work with whichever candidate is elected tonight," Mallory said. "I just like to see the democratic process at work."

The Villager is cautiously optimistic about the future of the NAACP branch under this new administration. Black people need to have an uncompromising advocate for our issues ... and the NAACP is uniquely positioned to serve in that role. We look for Mr. Smitherman to justify the confidence placed in him by this vote. I 'spose we now have to see what happens with the national leadership in light of the recent resignation of Bruce Gordon.

Are you comfortable with the current leadership and direction of the NAACP branch in your part of the world? Is the NAACP relevant? For our Cincinnati-based Villagers, do you think that Smitherman can make the local branch relevant in the lives of the Black community?

March 25, 2007

Bilingual Black Folks

I have been visiting other blogs to learn how to improve the Electronic Village. I was amazed by the number of blogs that are written in French, Spanish, Japanese and other languages. Although, I don't know any official foriegn languages ... I am bi-lingual. [NOTE: That is me speaking tongues in the picture to the right!]

Like other people of African descent here in America ... I also understand the language that white folks talk in Corporate America. I worked in corporate environment for 23 years before I started my own business. As a result, I am painfully aware that people of color must battle stereotypes about being less hardworking, or less smart, or less punctual than white workers. We are forced to fight those perceptions throughout our careers.

There are so many stupid things that Black folks have to put up with in this world. If our name is "Black-sounding" then we lose out on opportunities in Corporate America. That is reason enough to support Senator Barack Obama in his presidential bid!

Many employers think that inner-city youth can't do math. That is reason enough to support the work being done by groups like BDPA as they create opportunites for high school youth to battle these stereotypes.

The University of Delaware completed a recent study on how stereotypes impact Blacks in the job hunting process. Of course, Black folks don't need a study to instinctively understand that we must wear the mask most of our time in Corporate America. I wonder how many Villagers reading this post know what I'm talking about?!

March 24, 2007

Dancing with the Devil

House Majority Whip James Clyburn now is the highest-ranking African American elected official in the federal government and the second African American to hold the third-ranking position in the House: Pennsylvania Rep. William H. Gray III (1979-91) was the only other. When Clyburn addresses a joint session of the legislature in his home state of South Carolina on April 10, he will do so with a sense of pride — and a sense of history. He will become the first African American congressman in more than a century to address the South Carolina General Assembly.

The Capitol building in which Clyburn will speak is the same one where statutes passed in the late 19th century — known as "Jim Crow" laws — essentially deprived the state’s large black population of the franchise and other civil rights.

As such, you would think that Clyburn and the other members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) would understand how disappointed that African American citizens are to see that the CBC Institute (CBCI) has cut a deal with Fox News to sponsor two debates, one with Democrats and another with Republicans in the 2008 presidential race.

As many of you might remember, Nevada Democrats and Majority Senate Leader Harry Reid were slammed by liberal blogs for agreeing to a Democratic debate with Fox News a few weeks ago, and backed out of the deal under pressure. Liberal activists complained that Fox News was slanted toward Republicans, would distort the debate, and should be shunned. The breakpoint occurred when Roger Ailes, head of Fox News, in a joke at an an awards dinner, poked fun at President Bush for confusing Senator Barack Obama with Osama bin Laden. (Mr. Obama later said he didn't take offense, but many in the blogosphere did.)

According to Fox:
The first of the two debates will be among Democratic candidates and will be held on September 23rd at the Fox Theater in Detroit. The second debate will be among Republican candidates and will take place in the fall of 2007 at a location to be determined. Both debates will serve as a forum for the candidates to make their platforms known.
In a statement accompanying the Fox announcement, chairman of the CBC, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, said this:
"As a leading organization dedicated to educating the public on issues of national policy, the CBC Institute is committed to presenting the presidential candidates to the broadest audience possible."

"Our goal with each debate is to provide a platform that will allow voters to hear the positions of candidates from both political parties. Collaborating with FOX News provides an opportunity to take this presidential election to millions of households." has released a statement asking CBCI to reconsiderField Negro, African American (Black) Opinion and others in the blogosphere brought this issue to the forefront when it first surfaced. It is time for all villagers to become informed and take a stand. The online petition is the type of activism that warriors in the village can take immediately. At a minimum, we would like your insights on the controversial move made by the CBCI to partner with Fox News for this debates.
"The CBC Institute's decision is shamefully out of step with most Black voters, and we will continue to push on the CBC Institute to drop this deal. Every presidential candidate now must decide whether to legitimize Fox - a network that calls Black churches a cult, implies that Senator Barack Obama is a terrorist, and uses the solemn occasion of Coretta Scott King's funeral to call Black leaders ‘racist.' We will be launching a petition asking presidential candidates to attend the CBC Institute's CNN debate and reject the Fox debate."  Fox News has consistently attacked Black people, Black leaders, and Black cultural institutions. Despite this, the Congressional Black Caucus Institute has announced that it will partner with Fox to co-host presidential debates.

The Congressional Black Caucus is letting us down at a time when Black Americans need strong and strategic leaders more than ever. We are beginning a campaign to make it clear to key CBC leaders, and the voters in their districts, that the majority of us are not with them. We must keep raising our voices, making it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that Black America is speaking out against this kind of irresponsible and disrespectful representation.
Do you think that our Black congressional leaders are being 'fair and balanced' ... or do you think that they are selling out for the almighty dollar bill? What say u?

March 23, 2007

Pete Rose: 'It Was 20 Years Ago'

Yesterday was an interesting day. Over 40 business owners and service providers attended the monthly Lunch'n'Learn seminar hosted at my incubator. The presentation and Q&A session were focused on learning how we can do business with the city government. I anticipate that most of my incubator clients will take steps to register as a Small Business Enterprise in the near future.

Later in the day I attended the 78th annual meeting of the Allied Construction Industries. My incubator strives to build the capacity of MBE/WBE companies in the architecture, engineering and construction industries. So, networking with ACI is important. Frankly, it is impressive when any organization can do something for 78 years in a row ... so, I looked forward to this meeting over at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center. There were over 1,000 folks in attendance. The keynoter was baseball's 'hit king' -- Pete Rose.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. As such, I used to truly dislike Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan and the rest of the so-called Big Red Machine. That's how things are when you are a kid. You love your team and you pretty much hate all the other teams. I used to hate the Cincinnati Reds.

So, I wasn't all googly-eyed about hearing from Pete Rose. However, I must admit that he was hilarious and a perfect match for his hometown audience. He had me and the others in the audience rolling with laughter at least half a dozen times during the course of his speech and Q&A session.

His discussion ranged from his childhood on the west end of Cincinnati to his years in baseball beginning as a minor-leaguer in 1960 to his son's continuing quest as a 36-year old to play pro baseball to his 16-1 record as a member of the National League all-star team to his gambling addiction to his relationship with the current baseball commissioner to his interactions with Joe DiMaggio, Priscilla Presley and others.

Pete is 65 years old ... and his life revolves around his career as a baseball player. He clearly expressed a dream of becoming a major league manager again in his future.

The most compelling moment of his speech for me was simple. When asked a question about his suspension from baseball as a result of his betting on the games ... he said simply, 'It was 20 years ago...' I must admit that in today's baseball when it is acknowledged that huge numbers of players were cheating with steroids and when drug fiends, wife-beaters and drunks are still accepted into baseball's Hall of Fame and are still managing or playing ... you have to wonder why they don't cut this guy a break.

It was 20 years ago. What do you think? Is it time for baseball to bring Pete Rose back from purgatory?

March 21, 2007

Being Serena Williams

I know that you are thinking that I look for any excuse to share photos of Serena here in the Village for prurient reasons. But, that is not the case this time! Native Son beat the drum to share news that Serena was the victim of racist comments during her tennis match earlier this week.

According to Serena, a white spectator called her the N-word.

The guy said, ‘Hit the net like any Negro would,’ ” Williams said, later explaining she had cleaned up the language for the news conference and that he actually used the N-word. “I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. I had to do a double take. I think I hit a double fault on that point.”

You know that we live in a rough environment you cannot escape racism and racist comments even while doing your job ... as Serena was doing on the tennis court. If being Serena Williams doesn't exempt us from such negativity ... how can we expect it in our individual lives?

Yet, we must continue to uplift one another. As the famous philospher, Rodney King, once said, "Can't we just get along?" Well Villagers, any comments on the latest incidence of racial intolerance?

March 20, 2007

1st Blackman to Fly Around the World

My dad is a retired aeronautical engineer. During his career he had chance to work on space shuttle project. However, his passion is flying single engine planes out of Compton Airport in California. For summer vacations, our family would pile into a rented 4-seat Cessna and visit our cousins in Houston and Detroit. His love of flying was shared by my brother, Charles. Charles took flying lessons while attending college in Georgia. Charles had his pilot's license at an early age. Heck, my Mom even took flying lessons for a few years. She earned her pilot's license in 1975, although she didn't keep it up over the years.

Anyhow, I thought my dad would enjoy knowing that there is a 23-year-old aerospace student who built his plane from more than $300,000 in donated parts leaving this weekend in the hopes of becoming the youngest person and first black pilot to fly around the globe alone.

Barrington Irving plans to arrive back in Florida on April 30 in his single-engine Lancair Columbia 400. He had planned to fly last year, but a lack of funding delayed his $1 million project. He still needs about $20,000, but that didn't stop him from setting out.

"I want this completed before the year is over so kids can see that someone who started off with nothing set a goal and completed it," he said just before takeoff. "Even with the challenges, everything is starting to fall in place. It's just my time."

Irving was born in Jamaica and grew up in Miami. He said he saw little chance for success until he met a Jamaican-American pilot at his parents' Christian bookstore. The pilot, Gary Robinson, took Irving to see a Boeing 777. The 15-year-old was mesmerized. He turned down college football scholarships to become a pilot.

Irving is now studying at Florida Memorial University; he has private and commercial pilot licenses. He also founded Experience Aviation, a Miami-based organization that encourages minority youths to pursue aviation careers. He will make stops in Cleveland and Farmingdale, N.Y., before passing into Canada, then crossing the Atlantic, through Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

What do you have to say about this young man's quest? Before you submit your comment please take a moment to track Irving's global flight online. It is amazing how cyberspace can bring us together.

March 19, 2007

5 Blogs That Make Me Think

The evolution of the Electronic Village over the past couple of months has been a joy to experience. I started this blog with an idea that it would become an online oasis where elders from other parts of cyberspace would be willing to sit by our baobob tree in the center of the Village and share their wisdom with us. The stories we would tell around the fire would vary -- Alkebulan, Black culture, economic inclusion, family, information technology industry, science fiction, sports, youth education and other ecletic commentary would be shared in the Village.

It appears that our efforts are appreciated. A 30-something sister with an aptly-named blog, Not Fearing Change, nominated us for a Thinking Blogger Award. She wrote, "The Villager writes about social controversial topics. Items such as race; environment; social conditions. I have only been recently introduced to the blog. But I am slowly but surely becoming a common visitor. As well the Villager was oh so kind to sign me up for a new blog movement – I will let the Villager explain…"

My responsibility is to share the Thinking Blogger Award with five (5) blogs that make me think. There are many blogs and bloggers that I have come to read and respect. However, the five that I tag with this award are:
  1. Cincinnati Black Blog - I came across this blog over two years ago. It was the first and only blog that I read for most of those two years. It is run by Nathaniel Livingston. I respect Bro. Livingston for his persistence and consistency in sharing his controversial view of life for Black folks in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  2. Black Threads - My sister, Kyra Hicks, is a world-reknowned expert in the field of African American quilters. She published two books, a website and a blog on the topic. She is the one that explained to me that I could create a blog at no cost. I'm not a quilter, but, I admire the concentrated focus that Kyra puts into her blog.
  3. African American Opinion - I seek out bloggers of color. I seek out blogs that have information uplifting for people of African descent. Bro. Rock is the blogger that brings together more information for African Americans than I have seen in any four other blogs combined. It truly is a remarkable effort and I highly recommend this blog to anyone with an interest in nubian thought.
  4. The Federation - I don't publicize it much ... but, I'm a science fiction fan. I've read most books written by Isaac Asimov, Octavia Butler, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert and Larry Niven. I saw most episodes of ST:DS9 and ST:Voyager. So, it may not be surprising that the next blog that makes me think is based on a diary of a harassed Starfleet Officer in the 24th Century on the Star Trek of Life. I enjoy the photos, posts and the overall theme of this blog. The blog author goes by the moniker, 'Jean Luc Picard'. His blog makes you think and smile at the same time.
  5. Modern Musings - My favorite blogger is Danielle. Her random thoughts (musings) on a wide variety of issues always makes me think. She demonstrates a willingness to share her thoughts on some of the tough social issues of the day. Many of the design elements of the Electronic Village came as a result of my wandering in her blog. Hey, let me know if you figure out her profile photo ... is she laying down or what?

Anyhow, these are the five blogs that make me think. I encourage you to visit each of them and share your comments as you feel the spirit to do so.

March 18, 2007

African American History for Dummies

I noticed that CBS shared the major for basketball players in the Florida v. Ohio State championship game. One of the seniors on Ohio State is graduating with a degree in African American Studies. It turns out that there are more than 250 colleges offering undergraduate degrees in African American studies. It is nice to see that the discipline of a college curriculum is available for those students with an interest in African American history and culture.

For the rest of us a new book is coming out this month simply entitled, African American History for Dummies (Wiley; April 2007; 432 pages).

The history covered in this book spans from Africa before the transatlantic slave trade, slavery, Jim Crow, the civil rights movement, and Hurricane Katrina to historical figures, pivotal events, momentous court cases and key cultural contributions. African American History For Dummies is a plain-English guide that helps people get a handle on the African American experience over the last four centuries. The book was put together by Ronda Racha Penrice, a freelance writer and African American history enthusiast living in Chicago, IL.

All villagers are invited to share some unknown aspect of their history here under the baobob tree if you have the inclination to do so. For example, I'll share that my maternal grandfather is renowned for his work in the legal system as an attorney, judge, city counsel and congressman. However, my paternal grandfather is a hero as well. He put eight kids (including my Dad) through college while working as a hotel bellman.

Each of us creates history every day with our action, deeds and words. Most of us simply don't have OURstory documented anywhere. What piece of undocumented history in your life or times would you like to share with your fellow villagers? What say u?

March 17, 2007

Do We Really Care About Our Children?

Every village needs warriors and hunters. I've been blessed to know a warrior here in Cincinnati, OH by the name of Jim Clingman. Jim is the author of a number of books such as Blackonomics: The Way to Psychological and Economic Freedom for African Americans. He is a syndicated columnist. His words are available in most African American newspapers around the country. We plan to regularly share his commentary here in the Electronic Village.

There have been a number of high profile cases in which Black children were victimized by the legal system. Shaquanda Cotton is the most visible case. However, there have been other cases in Florida and Baltimore. As such, I thought that Jim's recent column, titled, Do we really care about our children? is a valuable read for all villagers.
Is it any wonder that Black children are angry at Black adults? Is it any wonder that Black youth feel unprotected by Black adults? Is it any wonder that Black youth are out there "getting theirs" and doing anything else they want to do? Is it any wonder that as Black adults complain about the behavior of Black youth our behavior toward them and toward ourselves is equally despicable?

There have been others, but the case of Shaquanda Cotton, the 14 year-old girl in Paris, Texas, who was sentenced to 7 years in jail for shoving a hall monitor in school, should be the final straw for Black people all over this country. This case is especially troubling because the punishment definitely does not fit the crime, and the judge in this case also sentenced a white 14 year-old girl to probation after she was convicted of arson!

Not an isolated incident of miscarriage of justice by any means, but more and more we are seeing Black children being mistreated by authorities across this country, younger and younger, while we adults simply talk about it and wring our hands about it. There have been at least three cases of 5 year-old Blacks being handcuffed, disciplined, and threatened by the police – one of which occurred right here in Cincinnati, a city in which a law exists that allows 7 year-olds to be electrocuted with Taser guns.

 Click here for the remainder of the article.

After you finish reading his column, I hope you will share your comments on the question of the day: Do we really care about our children?

March 16, 2007

Jesse Jackson Endorses Obama

I see that Rev. Jesse Jackson endorsed Barack Obama in his presidential bid. "He's got my vote," said the civil-rights leader. I imagine that Jackson's support will boost Obama's support in the Black community, the lack of which has been widely covered in the media since Obama announced his run for the presidency. Jackson said Obama has not asked him to campaign for him and he is not in Obama's inner circle of advisers and fundraisers. "I just have an appreciation of him," Jackson said.

I remember the excitement that I felt in 1984 when Jesse Jackson first answered the cries of "Run, Jesse, Run". His speech at the Democratic National Convention electrified a nation. He takes many hits now as an opportunist, however, in my view he earned a lifetime of respect for the courage he showed in running for president.

So, now old school endorses new school. Personally, Obama is my choice for president. Not because he is Black ... although that doesn't hurt. Mostly, because I am encouraged by his background and upbringing that he will represent my community better than the other announced candidates. My overall reaction to the other major candidates:

  • Rudy led a city government with racist policies in New York. This was prior to 9/11 when he became sanctified. It amazes me how the negative impact that Rudy had on Black people has been erased as a result of his very public leadership role after the World Tower attacks.
  • Hilary isn't the Clinton that I would want in office. I thought the 8 years of the Clinton presidency were the best in my lifetime. Why settle for a faded carbon of the original?
  • McCain is simply too old and too ambitious. It is shameful to watch him coddling the same right-wing crazies that attacked him in the 2000 election. I lived through Ronald Ray-gun ... not interested in doing that again.
  • Edwards is an interesting choice. I like the fact that he freely recognizes the issues of poverty and racsim in our society. If Obama weren't in the race it is likely that I wold be supporting John Edwards.

Anyhow, I'm glad that Jackson is on record with his endorsement of Obama. We have many months to go in this campaign. We will continue to learn about all the candidates. Do you have any thoughts on the Jackson endorsement?

March 14, 2007

Ride the Waves or Drown?

I am reminded each day about the changes that keep rolling over us like waves.

Yesterday we're watching a movie called Edtv where Ed, the video store clerk, agrees to have his life filmed by a camera crew for a tv network. Today I find out that Edtv is no longer a movie. is a reality show that streams over the web, every moment of Justin’s life captured through a camera attached to his hat.

Yesterday we're seeking out Beanie Babies and Tickle Me Elmos as gifts for our children. Today, my kids want to adopt Webkinz -- these lovable plush pets that each come with a unique Secret Code. With it, my kids enter Webkinz World where they care for their virtual pet, answer trivia, earn KinzCash, and play against other kids from all over the world.

Justin.TV and Webkinz are enabled by the explosion of broadband access to the Internet. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was operating the Electronic Village as a bulletin board system with a 24 baud modem. I'm gettin' old!

While all of this tremendous potential is flattening our world and making it possible for the Electronic Village blog to be read by folks from Africa, China, India, Japan as well as the United States ... I worry that there are too many Black children here in America that are missing the ride. There are too many Black children that don't have a computer at home, or access to the Internet at home, or training necessary to use the computer. I worry about the future of the Black community if our children aren't encouraged and nurtured to become part of this brave new world. I do what I can through my work with the BDPA Education & Technology Foundation (BETF). Will it be enough?

Like I said, I am reminded each day about the changes that keep rolling over us like waves. I want our children to ride the waves ... not be drowned by them.

March 11, 2007

Cincinnati NAACP Election

I asked about the relevance of the NAACP in an earlier post that included thoughts on Bruce Gordon's resignation and the disputed election for president of the Cincinnati NAACP branch.

Well, the NAACP announced that the election for a branch president here in Cincinnati will be run again on March 27. The NAACP national office will supervise the election, which will be held from 6-9 p.m. at the local office on Reading Road. Members as of Oct. 29, 2006 are eligible to vote.

Only a few votes separated incumbent President Edith Thrower from challenger Christopher Smitherman in the first election, held in November. Both candidates claimed victory. For more information about the election, call the NAACP regional office at (248) 557-9708, or the national office at (410) 358-8900.

The main question is still open for comments from any Villager ... is the NAACP still relevant for people of color?

March 10, 2007

March Madness

I went to the ESPN website to make my picks for the upcoming NCAA men's basketball championship tournament ... otherwise known as March Madness. I don't place bets on these games or this 64-team pool. However, I do enjoy seeing how many points I get in the ESPN contest. My college upgraded it's athletics department to Division 1 a year or so ago. As such, we were not good enough for the final 64. In fact, truth to tell the UCR Highlanders were awful this past year.

However, there is another school in the University of California system that did make the tournament ... UCLA Bruins. UCLA made it to the final game last year before losing to Florida. I figure that they will make it to the Final Four again this year. In order to get there they will need to upset Kansas.

My picks for the Elite 8 are: Florida vs. Wisconsin, Georgetown vs. Texas, Kentucky vs. UCLA and Ohio State vs Texas A&M. Each of these matchups in the Elite 8 on my bracket picks are compelling.

My Final Four selections are: Ohio State, Georgetown, Wisconsin and UCLA.

My sentimental favorite is probably Georgetown ... but, I see Ohio State (a college that I truly dislike based on the fact that my parents met & married during their University of Michigan days) with too much talent for Georgetown. On the other side, I think that UCLA will have the experience to get by Wisconsin.

This brings us to a championship game of UCLA and Ohio State. Which brings me back to my alma mater allegience. UCLA is the sister campus of UC-Riverside. That is enough for me. I'm going with the UCLA Bruins to hoist the championship trophy later this month.
  • Final 4 Update: PTS: 890 PCT: 73.8 RANK: 769,456
  • Elite 8 Update: PTS: 650 PCT: 61.7 RANK: 1,126,325
  • Second Round Update: PTS: 490 PCT: 91.2 RANK: 259,059
  • First Round Update: PTS: 270 PCT: 94.5 RANK: 161,646
Care to leave a comment on your Final Four selections? Who is your pick for NCAA championship this year?

March 9, 2007

Bruce Gordon's resignation letter

Recently, I asked about the relevancy of the NAACP in our lives. My post was a result of decision by Bruce Gordon to resign as NAACP president & CEO after only 19 months on the job.

The outgoing memo that he forwarded to the NAACP board was forwarded to Afro-Netizen by an anonymous source. Afro-Netizen has independently confirmed that it is a memorandum written by recently resigned NAACP President & CEO, Bruce Gordon, and addressed to the organization's national board of directors.

"March 6, 2007

From: Bruce S. Gordon
To: NAACP National Board of Directors

It has become clear to me over the past 72 hours that there is considerable discussion about the circumstances surrounding my resignation. It is important to me, and hopefully to you, that there is a clear and accurate account of what has taken place that got us to this point. Let me begin with a chronology that is my best attempt at succinctly summarizing the key events that led up to the media coverage of my departure. I will close with a list of issues that are representative of the lack of alignment between the CEO and Board."

Did you read his memo? I am interested in your comments on his message to Julian Bond and the others on the NAACP Board of Directors.

March 7, 2007

Interview with Kyra Hicks

I have shared information about my sister's blog and website in the past. The quilt shown above is one that she made back in 1995. Many villagers know that she recently published a wonderful children's book called, Martha Ann's Quilt for Queen Victoria. The book provides a true tale of strength and faith as a lesson for children.

Our Electronic Village drumbeat today is about an interview with Kyra posted by Irene Watson ( There is a second interview conducted by Juanita Watson (Reader Views) with some interesting perspective on slavery and quilting.

You can see that I am proud of the work that my sister is doing with Black quilters. Now you can beat the drums for this sister ... my sister ... if you have time or inclination.

March 6, 2007

Gangsta Rap Coloring Book

Jim Clingman is a powerful nubian brother who operates Blackonomics website. He was the second colleague in the past few days to share information with me about a Gangsta Rap Coloring Book with a gun on the cover.

The president of Urban Outfitters, Richard Hayne, became controversial in early 2004 when the company t-shirts bearing the slogan "Voting is for Old People." At one time, the store sold a magnet set depicting a crucified Jesus Christ that one could dress up and put various phrases on. This item was later pulled after a public backlash. However, the chain has not backed down from selling products of all stripes that are generally aimed at mocking various social stereotypes and prejudices.

Anyhow, I am curious as to the thoughts and comments from other villagers on this Gangsta Rap coloring book. Is this acceptable to you?

March 5, 2007

Most Dangerous States in America

Most of the time we don't bother to let facts get in the way of our stereotypes. One stereotype that is reinforced regularly in America is that Black people are dangerous. So, I read with interest the results of 2007 survey listing the most dangerous states in America. The top three dangerous states in the survey are:
  1. Nevada
  2. New Mexico
  3. Arizona
Nevada, with its casinos and nightlife, was rated as the most dangerous state for the fourth consecutive year, followed by New Mexico. Not many nubians living in those three states.

The governor of New Mexico is running for president. I wonder what he has to say about being the leader of the 2nd most dangerous state in the country?

My current home state is Ohio. We ranked in the middle of the pack at #23 on the list. Among neighboring states, Michigan is the most dangerous at 11th, while Indiana was the 25th most dangerous state, Pennsylvania was 26th and Kentucky came in at 34th.

What do you think ... do lists such as this mean very much in the scheme of things? Care to comment on where your favorite state ranked on this list?

March 3, 2007

Martha Ann's Quilt for Queen Victoria

I am very proud of both of my sisters. One of them, Kyra, published a children's book last year. This was her second book. Both focus on her passion for quilting. The children's book is based on a true story. It is called Martha Ann's Quilt for Queen Victoria.

Martha Ann is twelve years old when Papa finally saves enough money to purchase her freedom from slavery. In 1830, the family leaves east Tennessee to begin a new life in Liberia. On market days, Martha Ann watches the British navy patrolling the Liberian coast to stop slave catchers from kidnapping her family and friends and forcing them back into slavery. Martha Ann decides to thank Queen Victoria in person for sending the navy. But first, she must determine how to make the 3,500-mile voyage to England, find a suitable gift for the Queen, and withstand the ridicule of family and friends who learn of her impossible dream. Martha Ann's Quilt for Queen Victoria is the true story of Martha Ann Ricks, an ex-slave who spent fifty years saving spare coins to fulfill her dream of meeting the Queen of England.

Kyra is a quilter, just like Martha Ann. Kyra's quilts have appeared in more than thirty exhibits in the United States and abroad. She loves historical research and rediscovering the lives of quilters past. She is the author of Black Threads: An African American Quilting Sourcebook. Kyra lives in Arlington, Virginia, where she tends her colorful, fragrant rose garden. Visit her Web site at

My sister recently created a teacher's guide for any educator that wants to use this children's book as part of the learning process. Click here for your copy of the 4-page teacher's guide.

March 1, 2007

Don't Mess with Procter and Gamble

Procter & Gamble has been fighting some nasty rumors about satanism for over a decade. The company determined that one of their competitors -- Amway -- spread the rumors over official voice mail recordings to distributors back in the day. P&G sued the company for millions of dollars. The suit went back & forth over the years. It appears to have culminated this month with a $19 million judgement against four Amway distributors. Moral of the story? It doesn't pay to mess with an 800-pound gorilla!