June 25, 2007

Manic Monday: Grace

Grace is the Manic Monday word established by Morgen. First, I join others in wishing Grace a marvelous 60th birthday this week!

Books have been written about Amazing Grace. However, it is music where the term makes its lasting legacy. I confess that I don't know many gospel songs. One that is well-known by all cultures in all parts of the world, including here in the Electronic Village is Amazing Grace.

My mom and her choir sing this song. So do many others. This gospel song performed by bagpipers, the Cherokee people, the Neville Brothers, Diana Ross, Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin and so many others.

Mahalia Jackson sang the song at the funeral of JFK in 1963. No doubt this song has been played at the funerals of over 3,500 men and women that died in service of our country during the war on Iraq. My hope is that Barack Obama or whomever comes into office on January 20, 2009 will end this war. We don't need to hear this song quite so often in front of coffins draped in the American flag.

I invite you to sing the song quietly there next to your computer. Here are the lyrics in case you don't know them by heart.

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

T'was Grace that taught...
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear...
the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares...
we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far...
and Grace will lead us home.

The Lord has promised good to me...
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be...
as long as life endures.

When we've been here ten thousand years...
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise...
then when we've first begun.

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

Well Villagers. Do you recall singing or listening to this song at some point in your life? Care to share your thoughts with us here under the baobob tree?

June 24, 2007

Hawaii On My Mind

It is summer time. Time to begin thinking about vacation spots. My favorite vacation in the past took place in Hawaii. Once you get outside crowded, touristy Waikiki, it is beautiful. Serene. The air oozes with the fragrance of exotic tropical flowers. Thick banyan trees gracefully drop their branches to the ground, and grow upwards from there. The water is a pristine turquoise blue. The beaches are immaculate, and uncrowded.

Moreover, you can try out just about any water sport you ever imagined. After all, surfing began here. I am not a surfer ... but I can snorkel with the best of 'em!

The food is great, too. You can get just nearly anything you like, but preferred local delicacies come from the sea. Fresh mahi-mahi and opakapaka plucked from the Pacific Ocean and garnished with Hawaiian macadamia nuts are memorable.

I am not looking to get married again ... but, if I did ... I would likely get a Hawaii home rentals and simply enjoy myself. Heck, the more I think about it ... the Villager may need to make this move sooner rather than later!

How about you? Do you have any vacation plans this summer?

June 21, 2007

Why Did I Get Married?

I know that Villagers tend to rely on the Invisible Woman for tips on Black cinema ... and I recognize that I have never seen a single play, movie, book, television show or schoolyard skit written by Tyler Perry in my life. However, I encourage all villagers to run, not walk to the theatre to see the Tyler Perry flick called 'Why Did I Get Married?'.

Any nubian that is ... or has ever been ... married needs to see this movie and buy the DVD when it comes out for your home collection. Dayum, this was a good movie.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

June 18, 2007

Manic Monday: Heat

Morgen established the Manic Monday word as heat. There are many places on the globe the heat of the battle burns bright. For good reason we hear regularly about the civil war taking place in Iraq because so many of our American troops are taking part in it. However, there are major wars going on in other parts of the globe ... including Afghanistan, Darfur, North Korea, West Bank and Darfur. War is nothing to take lightly. The press covers each of these major blights on a daily basis. However, here in the safety of our world it becomes easy to ignore the heat of war. I find that most Americans ... and I imagine many 'villagers' ... are ill-informed about these other conflicts.

In my case, I am sad that so few of us know about the genocide in Darfur. Sudan is the largest country in Africa, located just south of Egypt on the eastern edge of the Sahara desert. The country's major economic resource is oil. But, as in other developing countries with oil, this resource is not being developed for the benefit of the Sudanese people, but instead, for an elite few in the government and society. As much as 70 percent of Sudan's oil export revenues are used to finance the country's military.

Darfur, an area about the size of Texas, lies in western Sudan and borders Libya, Chad and the Central African Republic. It has only the most basic infrastructure or development. The approximately 6 million inhabitants of Darfur are among the poorest in Africa. They exist largely on either subsistence farming or nomadic herding. Even in good times, the Darfuri people face a very harsh and difficult life; these are not good times in Darfur.

The current crisis in Darfur began in 2003. After decades of neglect, drought, oppression and small-scale conflicts in Darfur, two rebel groups - the Sudanese Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) - mounted a challenge to Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir. These groups represent agrarian farmers who are mostly non-Arab African Muslims from a number of different tribes.

President al-Bashir's response was brutal. In seeking to defeat the rebel movements, the Government of Sudan increased arms and support to local tribal and other militias, which have come to be known as the Janjaweed ("devil on horseback"). Their members are composed mostly of Arab African Muslims who herd cattle, camels, and other livestock. They have wiped out entire villages, destroyed food and water supplies, and systematically murdered, tortured, and raped hundreds of thousands of Darfurians. These attacks occur with the direct support of the Government of Sudan's armed forces.

One aspect of the conflict that we need to understand is the impact China has on the situation. I suspect that the issue of China's support of the Sudanese government will become much more visible as we get closer to the 2008 Olympics being hosted by China. The issue was raised at the recent Democratic presidential candidate debates.

'Villagers', there are many aspects of this story for all of us to explore. I encourage you to check out the briefing paper on the genocide in Darfur provided by the SaveDarfur.org folks. Other random thoughts:

Bottomline? Our Manic Monday jaunts around cyberspace are fun, however, we should take a moment to reflect on the heat that others are experiencing. Perhaps this Manic Monday each of us will take a moment to (a) learn more about the genocide in Darfur and (b) take some personal step to help.

Perhaps we can each pledge to donate a dollar for everyone that leaves a comment or signs our Mr. Linky thing-a-majig! Just a thought...

June 11, 2007

Colin Powell & Barack Obama

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was on the NBC show, "Meet the Press" earlier yesterday. He indicated that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama sought advice on foreign policy matters. Powell said he has met twice with Obama, the Illinois senator.

"I've been around this town a long time and I know everybody who is running for office. And I make myself available to talk about foreign policy matters and military matters with whoever wishes to chat with me," Powell said.

One of the most disappointing moments in American political history was when Powell announced that he was a Republican. I remember hoping that he would run for the presidency as a Democratic candidate after he left office as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the first President Bush. So, I was encouraged today when Powell said it was too early in the 2008 race to say whether he would back a GOP nominee.

"I'm going to support the best person that I can find who will lead this country for the eight years beginning in January of 2009," Powell said.

Powell was secretary of state under President Bush and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman for the first President Bush.

Powell said he does not want to serve in elected office but was less certain about a return to some government post. "I would not rule it out. I am not at all interested in political life if you mean elected political life. That is unchanged. But I always keep my eyes open and my ears open to requests for service," he said.

How great would it be to see Powell serving in the first Obama administration?! Colin Powell would give instant foriegn policy credibility to Barack Obama. It would bring together two of the most recognizable politicians of African descent in the nation. Villagers, what do you think about the idea of Colin Powell endorsing Barack Obama for the presidency?

June 10, 2007

Ujamaa in Action

The long anticipated, new Black Business Network website launched on Saturday, June 2nd. Thousands of people all over the world are visiting the new website, logging in and checking out all of the exciting features. The new website features are elaborate. There are 14 major sections, each one large enough to be a website of their own. Not all sections of the new website are complete yet, however, there's lots for visitors to do.

We have talked about the importance of turning our Black spending power into a more positive dynamic for ourselves and our communities. One way to do that is to find Black-owned businesses to support. I encourage all villagers to log in right now to locate Black-owned businesses for a variety of your consumer needs. It is also an option for those of you that own your own business.

The Black Business Network is a membership-based organization of (1) Black business owners who are committed to selling quality products and services to Black consumers, and (2) Black consumers who are committed to buying from Black-owned businesses. The Black Business Network provides websites, training, events, publications and tools that help Black people to do business together.

The concept is a simple one --> Ujamaa, Cooperative Economics. Let us strengthen our resolve to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together. Perhaps it is time for us to celebrate this Kwanzaa principle on the other 364 days of the year ... not just December 29.

What say u, villagers?

June 8, 2007

Technology Jobs From the Classroom to the Boardroom

Villagers, please pass along this information to anyone you know in the information technology industry... especially if they are unemployed or under-employed. Take advantage of your relationship with BDPA to access a number of job listings and career opportunities. BDPA corporate sponsors actively seek diverse talent from the BDPA resume database.

There are immediate career opportunities in the following areas:

  • Information Technology – 186 jobs
  • Computer Software – 89 jobs
  • Computer Services – 58 jobs
  • Computer Hardware – 56 jobs
You can reach out to BDPA for more details. Job seekers and recruiters are encouraged to check out these opportunities.

June 6, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Dona Nobis Pacem

June 6, 2007 is the official day for the international Blog Blast for Peace. Blog Blast for Peace isn't a contest. It's a fun, easy and meaningful way to creatively express your thoughts on peace in tandem with other bloggers all over the world. Enjoy the flow!

Sign your name below if you support the idea of PEACE!

June 5, 2007

Dwyane Wade and his Wife Siohvaughn Are Getting Divorced

After five years of marriage, Dwyane Wade and wife Siohvaughn decided to split according to YBF.com.

Dwayne’s wife just had their second baby, Zion, in May of this year .

June 4, 2007

Manic Monday: Peace

Peace is the Manic Monday meme word. The timing for this particular word is excellent. It gives all of us an opportunity to express our support for Mimi Lenox's Dona Nobis Pacem initiative, also known as Blog Blast for Peace.

Blog Blast for Peace isn't a contest. It's a fun, easy and meaningful way to creatively express your thoughts on peace in tandem with other bloggers all over the world. Non-bloggers are likewise invited to participate. Email your submission to Mimi: mimiwrites@yahoo.com and admire the Peace Globes rotating through the blogosphere on June 6, 2007.

I am hopeful that many villagers will take a moment this week to ponder what PEACE means to you, your family, your community, your nation and our world. If you believe that war, strife and turmoil can be defeated -- if you advocate peace -- why not sign a Peace Globe to express it? Just go to Mimi Writes to learn more.

Some claim that there are One Million Blogs for Peace and there are many who Blog for Peace.

Most posts about PEACE focus on George Bush's war in Iraq. However, I think it is important to recognize that there are wars in other parts of the world as well. One of the most devastating conflicts is taking place in Darfur. The emergency in Sudan’s western region of Darfur presents the starkest challenge to the world since the Rwanda genocide in 1994. A government-backed Arab militia known as Janjaweed has been engaging in campaigns to displace and wipe out communities of African tribal farmers.

Villages have been razed, women and girls are systematically raped and branded, men and boys murdered, and food and water supplies targeted and destroyed. Government aerial bombardments support the Janjaweed by hurling explosives as well as barrels of nails, car chassis and old appliances from planes to crush people and property. Tens of thousands have died. Well over a million people have been driven from their homes.

Mukesh Kapila, the former United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, said that the violence in Darfur is "more than a conflict, it's an organized attempt to do away with one set of people." The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum issued its first ever genocide emergency. John Prendergast of International Crisis Group warns, "We have not yet hit the apex of the crisis."

Lives are hanging in the balance on a massive scale. This is an issue that we will devote more time to in the coming days & weeks. For now, I appreciate the Manic Monday meme for giving us the chance to think a bit about PEACE.

Do you have any comments on Darfur, Iraq, Blog Blast for Peace or Dona Nobis Pacem?

June 3, 2007

Kill Black on Black Crime

Do you remember a visibly shaken Rodney King saying, "Can we all get along?" on the third day of the 1992 Los Angeles riots? Judging from a report released by the Justice Department it is evident that we haven't figured out how to live together yet. The report, entitled Black Victims of Violent Crime, documents a four-year plateau in the rate of violent victimization among Blacks, starting in 2001, after nearly a decade of decline. It offers no reasons for the trend. Some of the key findings in the report:
  • Blacks made up only about 13 percent of the U.S. population, however, they were the victims of 49 percent of all homicides
  • Between 2001-2005, violent crime rates for Blacks were higher than for whites, Asians and Hispanics.
  • One quarter of violence against Blacks was committed by people under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Violence against Blacks is overwhelmingly intraracial -- about 80 percent of non-fatal assaults and 93 of murders were Black-on-Black.
  • Violence against whites is overwhelmingly intraracial -- Eighty-five percent of white murder victims were slain by other whites.
An AfroSpear blogger, Field Negro is concerned enough about the number of murders in his hometown that he is tracking them on his blog. There is actually a website called Kill Black on Black Crime that strives to prevent violence by strengthening and empowering families, communities, and neighborhoods by encouraging community pride and involvement. The African American Political Pundit thinks it may be time for AfroSpear members to increase the conversation about Black on Black crime.

Villagers, we have work to do. Perhaps we can begin to work towards solutions on this issue by taking Maya Angelou's simple pledge to rescue our young people:

"Young women, young men of color, we add our voices to the voices of your ancestors who speak to you over ancient seas and across impossible mountain tops.

Come up from the gloom of national neglect, you have already been paid for. Come out of the shadow of irrational prejudice, you owe no racial debt to history. The blood of our bodies and the prayers of our souls have brought you a future free from shame and bright beyond the telling of it.

We pledge ourselves and our resources to seek for you clean and well furnished schools, safe and non-threatening streets, employment which makes use of your talents, but does not degrade your dignity.

You are the best we have. You are ALL we have. You are what we have become.

We pledge you our whole hearts from this day forward."
Well Villagers ... what do you think about the Justice Department report or the other issues shown above?

June 2, 2007

Justice or Just-Us: ShaQuanda Cotton

We have asked the question before -- do we really care about our children? -- here in the Electronic Village. I have three children and I know that I need to do better. My children are African American and subject to the nonsense that exists in our country at times. I see that a Texas appellate court let stand the conviction of this Black teenager from the small east Texas town of Paris.

You may recall the case of ShaQuanda Cotton. She was convicted and sentenced for shoving a hall monitor at school. Her sentence of seven years in youth prison for pushing a hall monitor at her high school provoked national criticism and fueled allegations of racial discrimination in the town's schools and courts. Some judges in Texarkana denied the 16-year-old's appeal of her conviction for assault on a public servant and turned aside her claim that she received ineffective assistance from her defense lawyer at her trial in juvenile court before Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville.

"It's not right, it's not fair that Shaquanda has to go around with this felony conviction," Creola Cotton (ShaQuanda's mother, shown with her daughter in the photo) said. "I am just sick over this, I really am."

Fortunately, the appeals court decision has no immediate impact on ShaQuanda, who was ordered released in late March by a special conservator in charge of the state's juvenile justice agency after she had served one year of her sentence. Her case rose to national prominence after it was actively discussed in the Afroshpere. One of the ironies was that three months before ShaQuanda, who was 14 at the time of the shoving incident, was sentenced to prison, Judge Superville saw fit to place a 14-year-old white girl convicted of the more serious crime of arson on probation.

Villagers, it seems to me that we have another Black child charged with a criminal offense that is totally out of line with the incident. Another Black child placed into the criminal just-us system. In my view, the Paris school district should have never let a minor school incident escalated into criminal charges of this magnitude. And the district attorney and others involved in the case should be ashamed of themselves.

It appears that the public school administrators and the criminal just-us system do not have our children's best interest at heart. So, we have to each do a better job. I have to be a better father and parent so that my children don't get caught up in this nonsense.

How about you? How do you respond to the question --> Do We Really Care About Our Children?

June 1, 2007

2007 Black Weblog Awards

The Electronic Village began operations in January 2007. As such, we have little chance for recognition in the 2007 Black Weblog Awards contest. This year, each category will have two winners. The voting public will submit websites for blogs via a nomination form from August 1-15. The winners will be announced on September 5.

Click here to submit your nominations. No longer do we have to sing the blues for being ignored by the larger blogosphere ... here we are creating our own awards to honor dozens of quality Black-owned and operated blogs! Voting will begin on Thursday, August 16. Although we don't expect to be in the mix ... we hope that all villagers will take a moment to participate in the process.