January 31, 2012

Google+ Hangout Interview with President Obama

I didn't listen to the unique Google+ Hangout social network event hosted by President Obama yesterday. Here is the video of the full Q&A session for you listening pleasure:





What is your take-away from this Google+ Hangout session?

January 30, 2012

Villager is Another Year Old Today...

January 29, 2012

Unique Building * MUMOK House Attack (Vienna, Austria)

Erin Wurm is an Austrian artist with a unique perspective on life. Highly regarded and very influential within the art scene for some time, Erwin Wurm’s work may not be all that familiar to most Villagers.

Museum Moderner Kunst (MUMOK) is the largest art museum in Austria. They pride themselves on the collection of modern art from the 20th and 21st century.

Erin Wurm and MOMAK combined to create some architectural buzz in 2006. That is when the so-called 'Attack House' was born. Wurm installed the house on the outside facade of the MUMOK building. Wurm indicates that 'House Attack is a symbol for an everyday occurrence as well as small-mindedness.'



I found a video that showed how 'House Attack' was created.






Every day I'm amazed at the things that people are paid cash-money to do...

January 27, 2012

Tea Party Wants to Re-Write History Books to Give Positive Spin on Slavery

Did any of you see the passionate comments by GOP candidate Rick Santorum towards the end of the debate last night? He was answering the question about what impact religion would have on his work as president if he were elected. He talked about the nation's founding fathers and the fact that "God-given rights" were at the heart of the Declaration of Independence.

Santorum noted that 'God-given rights' can't be given away by the government. As he was talking I kept thinking to myself about the Africans in America at the time of the Declaration of Independence. I wondered what Santorum would say about the "God-given rights" of those men and women who were enslaved by our Founding Fathers? Did they have any "God-given rights"?

Now, I learn that there are some in Santorum's Republican Party who no longer want to be troubled by the inconvenience of our nation's history of slavery. There are some GOP (aka, Tea Party) in Tennessee who want to re-write the history books being used in our public schools to give a positive spin on slavery. [SOURCE]

These Republican (or Tea Party) activists say that the way textbooks are worded now can portray out founding fathers in a negative light.
"Slavery is of course portrayed in the textbooks nowadays I'm sure as a totally negative thing. Had there not been slavery in the south, the economy would've fallen," said Tea Party Activist Brian Rieck.
I guess one person's dehumanizing atrocity is another person's economic stimulus agenda.

January 25, 2012

GOP Wingnuts Gone Wild: Jan Brewer and Mark Oxner

It looks like the dog whistles that GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has been blowing are having their effect. Arizona governor Jan Brewer appears to have lost her mind while welcoming the President of the United States.
The level of disrespect by the Republican Party during the past three years of the Obama presidency is unprecedented. And Jan Brewer wasn't the only one demonstrating a lack of respect to President Obama.

Congressional candidate Mark Oxner thought it would be a good idea to share a political advertisement in which our nation's first African American president is shown on a slave ship. Are Republicans so disrespectful of Black people in this nation that they don't see where shyt like this is NOT funny?





I usually remind people that it's never a good idea to use Adolph Hitler as a comparison for anybody at anytime. I guess I'll need to also note that it is never a good idea to show a Black man on a slave ship. Who knew that an educated adult human being wouldn't know that unwritten rule of common decency?

January 23, 2012

NIHERST Awards in Science and Technology (Trinidad and Tobago)

The National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (NIHERST) is a statutory body established to promote science, technology and higher education in Trinidad and Tobago consistent with national development goals. Trinidad and Tobago has nurtured many sons and daughters who have left their mark in science and technology to the benefit of peoples in the Caribbean and around the world. For many, their contributions have gone unrecognized and unrecorded.

The NIHERST Awards in Science and Technology seek to recognize and reward nationals for outstanding achievements in science and technology, to provide positive role models for our youth to emulate, and to record our scientific heritage. In 2012, NIHERST together with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education and the Caribbean Academy of Science (CAS) will be presenting these awards.

Call for Nominations
  • The Fenrick De Four Award for Engineering - Fenrick De Four was the lead author of almost every national engineering code and standard in Trinidad and Tobago. He was a founding member, President and Fellow of the Association of Professional Engineers of Trinidad and Tobago (APETT), and the first Chairman of the Board of Engineers of Trinidad and Tobago.
  • The Emmanuel Ciprian Amoroso Award for Medical Sciences - Professor Emmanuel Ciprian Amoroso was a distinguished professor in the field of medical science research and education. He was famous for his studies on the placenta and was a pioneer in the development of the fields of endocrinology and reproductive biology.
  • The Rudranath Capildeo Award for Applied Science & Technology - Dr. Rudranath Capildeo was renowned for his intellectual contribution to the fields of applied mathematics and physics. He was also a gifted educator of mathematics and physics and taught at University College London among other institutions.
  • The Julian Kenny Award for Natural Sciences - Professor Julian Stanley Kenny was an eminent zoologist, author and columnist. He taught for over 25 years at the UWI, St. Augustine and was highly regarded internationally for his extensive knowledge and seminal research on the ecology of Trinidad and Tobago.
  • The Anthony Williams Award for Technological Innovation in Arts & Culture - Anthony Williams is an early steelpan innovator. He designed the pattern of the placement of the notes on the instrument; added wheels to the bass drums; improved the way pans were made; and initiated the first scientific study on the instrument by testing his ideas at CARIRI.
  • The Frank Rampersad Award for Junior Scientist - NIHERST’s first president, Frank Rampersad, was a brilliant economist who supported indigenous research and development and human capacity building in fields of science and engineering that were critical to economic development.
  • The Ranjit Kumar Award for Junior Engineer - Ranjit Kumar was a well-known legislator and civil engineer. He planned, designed and constructed the first dual carriageway in Trinidad and Tobago, known today as Wrightson Road, completed in 1940.
For further details and application forms please visit http://www.niherst.gov.tt/.

Two thoughts come to mind for me. First, do we have any 'villagers' who are from Trinadad and Tobago. Second, I wonder if the Miss Universe 1977, Penny Commissiong, will be involved in this award on any level? She remains one of the most beautiful women that I can ever remember!

January 22, 2012

The Rose of Education Wants to Unleash Your Inner Creative Genius: What is Your REAAL NAME?

Most of the time we see true creativity and invention from afar. Steve Jobs is an example. Everyone know that he was a creative man ... but, I doubt that anyone reading this blog post actually met the man in person.

Anthony Hall
I think I've met and interacted with a true creative genius ... Anthony Hall. Anthony is founder of The Rose of Education. The Rose of Education is investigating the use of language to develop new technologies for communications, education, energy, security, defense, propulsion, automotive and robotics. More applications and sectors are being identified.

This is the point when I need to remind you that folks that Jobs was crazy for trying to combine a telephone and a camera in the same piece of equipment.

Hall feels that the result of his efforts will be a bio/technical interface industry, where technology will be used to focus, speed and multiply our natural abilities - cognitive and physical. The Rose of Education is starting at the beginning, with Language.

It's Never Too LATE: Literacy - Academics - Technology – Education, is an initiative intent on increasing awareness and generating interest in the connection these all share - Language.

  • What are the prospects for those who have the creativity and aptitude to succeed in the technological field, but not the mastery of language to allow them to turn imagination into an application?
  • Are there generations of software engineers and programmers residing in our inner-cities, urban and rural communities, just waiting to be identified and nurtured?
The Rose of Education is preparing to find out.

100,000 REAAL NAMES integrates the 4 components in the LATE acronym in a WORDS Game:

First and Last names are turned into acronyms; player chooses words associated with each letter to compose a list of qualities, or a descriptive sentence about the individual that is evocative of closely held aspirations, beliefs, values, visions, etc. For example:
  1. AARON HALL - Ambition And Resilience Overcomes Negativity; Heralding A Lasting Legacy.
  2. DEBI MELZER - Discerns Enlightenment By Imagination, Masters Enlightenment Lovingly, Zeal Empowers Realization.
  3. WAYNE HICKS - Wise African; Your NAME Expresses Hope, Inspiration, Compassion, Kindness, Strength.
The WORDS will become part of a unique Dictionary and Database to help expand the vocabularies of children and adults using the letters of their own names.

I encourage all 'villagers' to play and by doing so, play a part in empowering, enriching and uplifting youth everywhere with a most precious gift - our Name.

So, I ask you -- 'What is Your REAAL NAME?'

Here are some definitions created by Anthony Hall and the folks at The Rose of Education:
  • AS - Applications / Systems
  • HATHieroglyphic Acronym Translator
  • ITY - I Them You
  • LATE - Literacy Awareness and Technology Education
  • NAMES - Neural Acronymics Modular Exercises: Summations
  • REAALRevolution in Education: Acronymics AS Language
  • WORDSWhat Our REAAL Dialogue Symbolizes
I plan to create my own REAAL NAME for both 'Wayne Hicks' and 'Villager'.  The example shown above was provided by Anthony Hall.  However, it isn't easy and I haven't been able to do it yet. I may have to break out that bottle of vodka in my kitchen so that my creative juices can truly flow!

I hope you will give it a try.  If you do ... please share your REAAL NAME with us! 

Here is our opportunity to live out one of the Kwanzaa principles -- Kuumba (creativity).   Are you ready to 'make it so'?

January 21, 2012

Obama's Weekly Address: America is Open for Business

President Obama tells the American people about a series of steps he's taken without the help of Congress to grow the economy and create jobs -- including a new strategy aimed at boosting tourism introduced this week. In next week's State of the Union Address, the President will outline his blueprint for creating an economy built to last.





Did you catch the Apollo Theater debut of President Obama?

January 20, 2012

Three Reasons I'm Not Having an Orgasm About the Movie 'Red Tails'

There is a growing buzz about the movie 'Red Tails' that is opening today. The movie focuses on the heroic Tuskegee Airmen and their performance as pilots in World War II. The movie is directed and produced by George Lucas with a cast that is virtually all-Black. George Lucas gives some background on the challenges that he had to overcome in order to get the movie made in this video clip.




It isn't likely that I'll see this movie at the local cinema. I'll wait until it shows up on Netflix or at my local library. My main reason for waiting is simple -- I like to save money whenever possible and Netflix or the library are much less expensive then going to the movie theater.





There are three reasons I'm not all-out 'ga-ga' about this film:
  1. Give some credit to the 1995 television show! George Lucas makes it seem that this is the first film on the topic. I recall a great film called 'The Tuskegee Airmen' with Laurence Fishbourne, Allen Payne, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Courtney Vance, Andre Braugher, Cuba Gooding Jr., Mekhi Phifer and others.
  2. Terrance Howard is an asshole! The guy has some talent but he seems to always find a way to show disrespect with Black women ... whether it is his apparent hatred for women, his messy divorce, or his recent trysts with white women.
  3. No worthy story lines for Black women! There is some merit in recent blog post from Gina McCauley (What About Our Daughters).
That's my take on the movie. What say u?

January 18, 2012

'Middle of Nowhere' is a Movie That Showcases Black Talents at Sundance Festival

It's nice to see a new generation of Black actors and actresses getting a chance to showcase their talents in Hollywood. I see where a new movie, 'Middle of Nowhere' is making its debut at the 2012 Sundance Festival.

The movie follows a woman named Ruby who loses her husband to incarceration and loses herself in the process. Eventually, she becomes torn between two world - and two men - on the journey back to herself.

Ruby is played by newcomer Emayatzy Corinealdi with Omari Hardwick and David Oyelowo co-starring as the two men in her life. I enjoyed watching Omari when he was prominent in the Dark Blue television series. I also enjoyed David when he was a principal in the BBC drama series, MI-5. I hope that they both get recognition for this move to the big screen.

Big props to Ava DuVernay. She wrote and directed this film. It is nice to see Black people no longer feel a need to complain about the lack of Black images in the movies ... instead they take the initiative to create their own projects that put our actors and actresses on the screen themselves! Kujichagulia in action!






I hope that this blog post encourages you to find a way to support Ava as well as this movie!

January 17, 2012

Good News Tuesday: Kelly Jones (Performance Cockpit)

Kelly Jones
Kelly Jones began his career in the Air Force. He spent five years (1991-96) in the Far East as a fighter jet pilot. He also taught new pilots to fly F-16s and other jets. Kelly served as a pilot for an international airline after leaving the Air Force. A few years ago Kelly suffered a horrific collision that threw him from his motorcycle. He suffered a compound fracture of his left leg and a severe injury to his arm. He had several surgeries. Kelly never complained ... even as he learned that his flying career was over.

During his rehabilitation Kelly began to spend time on computerized race-car simulations. He wasn't satisfied with the experience on a normal computer and began to build a more life-sized simulator. His tinkering and imagination eventually led to the creation of a business, Performance Cockpit. His idea has grown into a professional simulation experience for aviation and motorsports.






Kelly moved his business to Indianapolis in order to be closer to a larger number of current and future race car driver. Turns out that there is a gym that many of the Indy race car drivers use to stay in shape. Kelly put a couple of his simulators in the gym and began to offer hands-on workshops that used the simulators.

Two weeks ago Space Shuttle Astronaut Col. Jim Dutton flew a Performance Cockpit Aviation Simulator as part of a VIP meet-and-greet evening at the Arizona Challenger Space Center. Astronaut Dutton remarked that he has flown numerous different simulators and the Performance Cockpits simulator realism and fidelity were among the best he had seen.

It is truly wonderful to see Kuumba ('creativity) and Kujichagulia ('self-determination) in action!  I look forward to seeing where the creativity of Kelly's business will take him in the months and years to come.

This blog will continue to seek out Good News stories about people of African descent and share them with you each Tuesday. We need to tell the positive and upbeat information about OURstory. We can't depend on others to do it for us. Please pass along any Good News story that comes your way. In the case of bloggers ... we want you to join our Good News parade every Tuesday.

January 16, 2012

Frederick Douglass on Barack Obama

128 years ago, Frederick Douglass provided the explanation for why people are so hard on President Obama. The quote below is worth remembering next time we are invited to pile on.

"Though the colored man is no longer subject to barter and sale, he is surrounded by an adverse settlement which fetters all his movements. In his downward course he meets with no resistance, but his course upward is resented and resisted at every step of his progress. If he comes in ignorance, rags and wretchedness he conforms to the popular belief of his character, and in that character he is welcome; but if he shall come as a gentleman, a scholar and a statesman, he is hailed as a contradiction to the national faith concerning his race, and his coming is resented as impudence. In one case he may provoke contempt and derision, but in the other he is an affront to pride and provokes malice."

Frederick Douglass

September 25, 1883

Celebrating Martin Luther King Day Bill

Today's date is significant because it is Martin Luther King Day Bill. The official holiday, on the third Monday of January, began in 1986. It was the first new American holiday since 1948, when Memorial Day was created as a "prayer for peace" day. Also it was only the second national holiday in the twentieth century (the other was Veterans Day, created as Armistice Day in 1926 to honor those who died in World War I). King is the only American besides George Washington to have a national holiday designated for his birthday (those of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee and others are celebrated in some states but not nationwide).

Internationally, King is one of the few social leaders of any country to be honored with a holiday (Mahatma Gandhi's birthday is observed in India).

In honor of this date ... Martin Luther King Day ... we have the text of his speech I have a Dream. This speech by King was delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963.


"Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.

Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold, which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.

We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our White brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little Black boys and Black girls will be able to join hands with little White boys and White girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring. When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Sometimes I worry that Martin Luther King's legacy has been reduced by many of us to this speech. Please share your village voice about MLK ... without referring to this speech. What other aspect of his life and legacy do you think is important for us to consider on this date?

January 15, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama

What do you think that Martin Luther King Jr. is thinking today as he looks down on the presidency of Barack Obama?

January 14, 2012

Obama's Weekly Address: Helping American Businesses Succeed

President Obama discusses steps he's taking to ensure that more goods and products stamped "Made in America" are sold in the United States and around the world. [Transcript]





I encourage all villagers to check out BusinessUSA website that the president mentions in this week's message. BusinessUSA is a platform that consolidates information and services from across the government into a single, integrated network for American business owners and entrepreneurs.

The economic numbers are slowly beginning to creep in a positive direction. Have you noticed it in your community?

January 13, 2012

Do You Plan to Read 'The Obamas'? Michelle Obama Won't Read The Book

Do you plan to read the new book called The Obamas by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor?





The book asserts that First Lady Michelle Obama has forcefully imposed her will on White House aides and tries to portray her as "some kind of angry Black woman." This is a familiar meme for Mrs. Obama that began during the 2008 presidential campaign.

I'm glad that Mrs. Obama had a chance to share her thoughts on the book during an interview earlier this week with CBS News.







In the interview, Mrs. Obama said, “I love this job. It has been a privilege from day one.

Now there are challenges,” she added. “If there’s any anxiety that I feel, it’s because I want to make sure that my girls (Malia and Sasha) come out of this on the other end whole.
It is difficult for me to understand why people don't like Mrs. Obama. She seems to be a truly remarkable woman, wife and mother. She is a remarkable role model for all Americans ... particularly those of us in Black America. She never seems like the 'angry Black woman' in my view.
There will always be people who don’t like me,” Mrs. Obama added, and said she could live with that.

Mrs. Obama said that she’s “just trying to be me, and I just hope that over time, that people get to know me.”
I encourage those villagers with love for our First Lady to check out the Michelle Obama Watch blog. What is your opinion of First Lady Michelle Obama?

January 12, 2012

Lisa Alexander, Mother of Autistic Youth Neli Latson, Thrown in Jail by Vindictive Prosecutor

Lisa Alexander
We shared the story of Neli Latson with our 'villagers' last year. There is some more rank shyt going on this year.


Lisa Alexander, mother of Neli Latson, was convicted earlier this week on misdemeanor charges that for many would have resulted in little to no jail time. Not the case with Ms. Alexander. She was sentenced to one year incarceration (later reduced to six months).

Lisa Alexander is an 11 year military veteran with no prior criminal history. She left the military to dedicate her life to her children and to especially build a stable life for her autistic son, Neli. Neli was racially profiled, thrown in jail, and unjustly convicted in May 2010 at the hands of the same district attorney that prosecuted her.

Lisa has been tirelessly advocating for Neli and the only constant throughout his terrifying ordeal has been his mother's voice by telephone each day and their weekly visits. She is her son's coping mechanism and is absolutely vital to him.


A number of Neli's supporters believe that the incarceration of Lisa Alexander is in direct retaliation for her efforts to speak out against the corruption in Stafford County and her fight to have her son released to a facility capable of addressing his autism. Her Internet campaign to win supporters to her son's cause was even mentioned by the prosecution during the course of the trial.

Lisa has been under such an extreme amount of stress over the past few years since Neli's arrest that she has suffered severe vision loss rendering her barely able to read. Family and friends are greatly concerned for her health and well being.

I encourage all 'villagers' to find a way to support this family in crisis. Here are two things you can do right now:
  1. Like the 'Fight Against Autism and Police Injustice' Facebook page
  2. Sign the online petition
The goal is to have Neli receive a full pardon so that he can live his life with a semblance of normalcy. You can contact the supporters Neli Latson by email as well.

January 10, 2012

OURstory: Black Indians in America

I will continue to use this blog to educate myself and other villagers on some aspect of African American history.  One of the least known aspects of American history is the existence of Black Indians. Most consider that the initial joining of Africans and Native Americans began in April 1502, when the first Africans kidnapped were brought to Hispanola to serve as slaves. Some escaped and somewhere inland on Santo Dominico life birthed the first circle of Black Indians.

Some Black Indians have a dual ancestry of African and Native American bloodlines. Others are Black people who have lived with Native Americans and maintain their cultural-ceremonial traditions. The seizure and mistreatment of Native Americans and their land, and the enslavement of Native Americans and Africans, were the two parallel institutions that resulted in the Black Indian culture.

Though neither white, Christian, nor European, together they created communities of permanence, that included people from overseas. The early history of these communities provides examples of two diverse people living together in peace. Exclusion from most written historical texts does not erase or deny the facts. Only the absence of true understanding of the relationships red and Black peoples had, leaves unanswered questions for those groping to understand their family's past. You can learn more here and here.

Many people believe racial and ethnic groups in North America have always lived as separately as they do now. However, segregation was neither practical nor preferable when people who were not native to this continent began arriving here. Europeans needed Indians as guides, trade partners and military allies. They needed Africans to tend their crops and to build an infrastructure.

Africans arrived on 'New World' shores with valuable assets for both European and Native Americans. They were used to agricultural labor and working in field gangs, something unknown to most Indians. As experts in tropical agriculture, Africans found much to share with Native Americans, and the two groups shared and combined knowledge about indigenous farming.

Americans found that Africans had 'Great Medicine' in their bodies. They were virtually immune to European diseases that decimated most native populations. This was also an encouragement for joining together, to create stronger, healthier children from the unions.

Their slave experience also qualified Africans as experts on whites - their motives, diplomacy, armaments, strengths, weaknesses, languages, defenses and plans. From a common foe, Africans and Native Americans found the first link of friendship and earliest motivation for an alliance.

They discovered they shared some vital life views. Family was of basic importance to both, with children and the elderly treasured. Religion, a love and respect for 'Mother Life', and the sacred mystery behind life, was a daily part of cultural life.

Both Africans and Native Americans found they shared a belief in cooperation, rather than competition and rivalry. Beyond individual human differences in personality, generally speaking, each race was proud, but neither was weighed down by prejudice. Skill, friendship and trust, not skin color or race was important.

That Native Americans and Africans merged by choice, invitation, and bonds of trust and friendship, cannot be understated. It explains why families who share this biracial inheritance have never forgotten these family ties.

Since 1502, Black Indians have been reported, documented, painted, and photographed coast to coast from Hudson's Bay to Tierra del Fuego. In the decades between the 1619 Jamestown settlement and the 'Great Treaty Signings' of the 1880's, Black Indian Societies were reported in more than 15 states from New York to South Carolina as well as the thirty Caribbean Islands 'blessed' by European colonization.

It was around the 1740's that British colonists in the southern colonies, introduced the practice of slavery among neighboring Native Americans. When more than 60,000 Native Americans were removed from their homes during the 1830s by U.S. Federal troops from the southeastern states of the United States - they were forced Westward to Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. This was called the "Trail of Tears".

Many of these Native American tribes had previously embraced and either helped or kept numerous African Americans as slaves. African Americans and Native Americans created a mixed cultural blend depending upon the specific tribal group.

Later, as the new American government began to thrive, laws were drafted to protect the land and property the colonists had acquired. These laws strengthened the powers of slave owners, limited the rights of free Africans and barred most Indian rights altogether. Today, Black, white and red Americans still feel the aftershock of those laws.

In order to enforce the new laws, Indians and Africans had to be distinguished from Europeans. Government census takers began visiting Indian communities east of the Mississippi River in the late 1700s and continued their task of identifying, categorizing, and counting individuals and "tribes" well into the 20th century. In the earlier days of this process, Native American communities that were found to be harboring escaped African slaves were threatened with loss of their tribal status, thereby nullifying their treaties with the U.S. government and relinquishing all claims to their land.

Despite the restrictions imposed by the U.S. government, Indians and Africans still managed to form close bonds. Some Native American communities ignored the laws and continued to aid fleeing African slaves. Some free Africans aided displaced Indians. Sometimes the two groups came together in "prayer towns" -- European communities that welcomed and protected converts to Christianity, regardless of race. Sometimes, Indian women married African men when the number of men in their own communities was decimated by war or natural disaster.

Some Native Americans listed themselves as "Negro" or "mixed" in order to retain ownership of their land.

Some Native Americans refused to sign the census rolls during the 18th and 19th centuries, some refused to register with the Bureau of Indian Affairs or to allow themselves to be "removed" to "Indian Territory" in Oklahoma during the 1800s. As a result, many of their descendants grew up in urban environments instead of on reservations. Others, such as the Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts formed some of the toughest units in the United States Army. This isn't the image of Native American experience most people carry in their heads but, in this part of the country, it is quite prevalent.

There are some who hold the mistaken belief that one must look, act and speak in particular ways, to be recognized as being part of a particular cultural heritage. During the past 400 years, slavery, oppression and racism have served African American Indians like wind upon the desert corn, they have caused the roots of our culture to grow deeper, in places where experts would say it is impossible for plants to grow.

Here are three books about Black Indians that you may find interesting:

I hope that you have enjoyed my take on this unique segment of our Black History! I look forward to your thoughts, comments and village voices!

January 7, 2012

Obama's Weekly Address: Continuing to Grow the Economy in the New Year

President Obama shares his New Year's resolution: doing whatever it takes to move the economy forward and ensure that middle class families regain the security they've lost in the last decade.  He plans to bring forward a number of corporate executives who have been in-sourcing jobs later this week.





President Obama simply makes sense to me. Am I the only one that wakes up every morning very proud to know that Barack Obama is in the White House?

A Black Philanthropy Kwanzaa Retrospective

by Jackie Copeland-Carson
Huffington Post

Giving is more than generosity. It's a unifying part of our African roots, binding the history and future of black peoples worldwide. This was a remarkable year of firsts in the Pan-African community's history of giving. KwanzaaUjima, Swahili for collective work and responsibility, reminds us of the power of our self-help and giving.

Multiple reports and books documented the undeniable fact that Pan-African people give. The World Bank reported that worldwide African immigrants gave an astounding $40 billion to their home countries with an estimated $11 billion coming from America alone. This combined with the $12 billion that African-Americans gave meant that Pan-African people gave at least $23 billion to charitable causes in 2011.

Read the rest of the Huffington Post article
.

January 5, 2012

Black Unemployment Rate Rises to 15.8% in December 2011

The economy added 200,000 jobs last month according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are about 13.1 million unemployed people in the country bringing our overall unemployment rate to 8.5% ... down to its lowest level since February 2009 ... almost three years ago.  This is good news for the re-election prospects of President Obama.

The news is not as rosy for the Black community.

The unemployment rate in the Black community rose in December 2011 to 15.8%.  This compares to previous months:
  • Aug 2011 - 16.7%
  • Sep 2011 - 16.0%
  • Nov 2011 - 15.5%
The overall message for the US economy is good. This is the sixth straight month with over 100,000 people entering the workforce. However, that is still a ridiculously high rate of unemployment for African Americans is a problem that needs to be addressed.

Jobs gained in December 2011 spanned virtually all industries, including: Transportation and warehousing (makes sense with all of the holiday gifts being shipped around the nation); retail trade; manufacturing; health care and mining.

What is your opinion of the unemployment data that was released today?

January 4, 2012

ITSMF: The Leadership Academy

The Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) is a unique organization of African American executives in the information technology industry. They are currently recruiting IT professionals of color to participate in their 3-prong Leadership Academy.


I encourage Villagers to share this information with any leaders you may know in the information technology industry.

January 3, 2012

2011: More Trying Times for Black America

By Starla Muhammad
The Final Call

For Black people 2011 reinforced the glaring reality that no matter who occupies the White House, overall conditions of the masses in the Black community do not change and in many cases, it worsens. Even for the Black family living in the White House, 2011 further revealed even they were not immune to being disrespected, stereotyped and attacked.

For events and news stories affecting Black men, women and children, this year bears witness to the insight given by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad that no man or woman can rise above the condition of his or her people.

What lessons did Black America learn this past year and what did 2011 say about the state of Black America? The economy, health, crime, international events and politics took center stage this year yielding mixed results according to a cross section of Black activists, analysts, leaders and commentators.

Read the rest of this Final Call article.

January 2, 2012

Artur Davis Considers Switching to Republican Party in Order to be 'Herman Cain, Jr.'

There was a time when I thought that Artur Davis was going to be a historic African American politician. He looked like he was going to follow the lead of President Barack Obama by doing what had never been done before ... in this case, being a Black man elected to serve as the governor of the state of Alabama. However, things went sidewise for former congressman Davis and he lost in the Democratic primary.


The experience soured Davis on the Democrats. That is the only explanation for his recent support of voter suppression laws around the nation. These laws have a negative impact on voter turnout for African Americans ... and so it was odd to see Davis supporting them.

However, now things make more sense. It appears that Artur Davis is now actively considering the idea of switching to the Republican Party. I guess he saw how much book sales and speaking fees went up for Herman Cain.

In my view, Artur Davis is simply a lost soul ... as our most Black folks that join the Republican Party.

January 1, 2012

Happy New Year Villagers!

We all wake up this morning with the knowledge that we've made it to the second year of the new decade. We enter into 2012 with an opportunity to make all things new again. I enter into yet another year with this blog, Electronic Village, and wonder what the new year will bring in terms of content, comments and viability.

It is hard to keep up the consistency with a blog in today's world with the movement that many have made to other social networks like Facebook or Twitter. However, I will continue to try to keep this blog up and running. My hope is that we find our voice in 2012 to such an extent that more of you begin to share your insights with us.

I suspect that the big story of 2012 will be the presidential elections.  However, we will also up the ante on our discussions about politics, Black culture, economics and such.

In any case, at this point ... we simply want to wish all of you a glorious New Year!