September 30, 2009

Becoming Barack: Evolution of a Leader

I never heard of Barack Obama until the 2004 Democratic National Convention when he gave his nationally televised speech. I didn't think much more about him until I read his book, Dreams of My Father in early 2007. I became a Barack Obama supporter after finishing that book.

I respect his journey. I respect the work that he did in Chicago as a community organizer.

As such, I think that I'll enjoy seeing this DVD, Becoming Barack, Evolution of a Leader, that shares information about his early career path ... before he became the most famous person on the earth.

I'm told that there is footage in this documentary from three of the earliest known recorded interviews with President Obama:
  1. 1986 - a Chicago news story about Obama's early success as a community activist

  2. 1991 - a clip from a news interview while he was a student at Harvard Law School

  3. 1993 - a 15-minute lost interview of a 32-year old Obama, two years out of law school, a professor teaching constitutional law at University of Chicago, a fervent community organizer and a newlywed who had not yet contemplated running for public office

Here is a trailer from the DVD:

I like to think that our president is still evolving. I look forward to seeing how the story unfolds over the next seven years! How about you?

September 29, 2009

Good News Tuesday: Black Adoptions

Currently, there are 496,000 children in the U.S. foster care system and 130,000 of these children are waiting for families to adopt them. The majority of waiting children are of color with older African American boys waiting the longest for adoption. To address these numbers, a new federally funded ad campaign is looking to get more Black foster children adopted. [SOURCE]

Television commercials will feature Black parents and children. Similar ads will appear on radio and in newspaper.

The ads were developed by the Advertising Council, which produces public service announcements and AdoptUsKids, a non-profit which helps connect foster children with adoptive families.

It marks the first time African Americans have been targeted for such proactive adoptions.

Tune In Tuesday: Morris Day and The Time (Gigolos Get Lonely Too)

Our lives evolve over the years. I suspect that most people that know me today wouldn't have a clue how I was in my younger years. Unfortunately, there was a time many moons ago when this song from Morris Day and The Time hit home for me.

Do any of y'all remember when Prince had his various groups out trying to make a living in the music business back in the day? Appollina 6, Vanity 6, Sheena E and many more. Those were the days...

Womanist Musings created a weekly meme today called Tune In Tuesday. She noted that our blogs often deal with serious issues and it might be nice to lighten the atmosphere every once in awhile. Music has the ability to trigger happy memories and much of our lives are marked by song. To that end each Tuesday this blog intends to offer a song and tell you about what it triggers for me and in return you are welcome to share any memories that you have associated with it.

September 28, 2009

Taser Death: Derrick Humbert (Bradenton FL)

It happened again! We enter into the 40th week of 2009 ... and we report on the 40th taser-related death in America. One per week...

This time the tortured man is 38-year old Derrick Humbert. Police pulled Humbert's BICYCLE over at 12:18 am because he didn't have a light on the bike. Humbert got off his bike and ran through the yards of several houses in the neighborhood. Bradenton Police Officer Del Shiflett used his Taser in a fatal ending to the chase.

Before he was to be taken to the Manatee County Jail, paramedics took Humbert to Manatee Memorial Hospital for treatment, but he died there at about 1:00 am.

The penalty for running away from the police should not be death by electrocution. Yet, here we are again with a dead man at the hands of a so-called non-lethal weapon.

It took no time for the police to wave the druggie accusation. They immediately released the fact that Humbert was wanted on a warrant for possession of marijuana.

At this point everyone waits for the autopsy report.

September 27, 2009

Am I Not Human? Seeking Justice After Gaza Conflict

The world's leaders have gathered at the United Nations for a meeting of the Human Rights Council. The Council will be presented with the findings and recommendations from the UN-mandated, fact-finding mission led by the highly-regarded judge Richard Goldstone, who investigated the human rights violations committed in Gaza and southern Israel last December and January.

The Goldstone Report, which is consistent with the findings of Amnesty International, concludes that both the Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups committed grave violations of international law including war crimes and, possibly, crimes against humanity. Both Israel and Hamas have, to date, failed to carry out credible investigations and to prosecute those responsible. Innocent civilians caught up in this conflict deserve to know the truth and obtain justice. Action is needed now.

If you agree, please send a message to Secretary Hillary Clinton and US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice today.

Villagers, no one should be above international law. For long-term security and peace in the region, all those responsible for violations of human rights must be held accountable.

Roots of Humanity feels that each of us can fight against human rights abuses in the world. We simply need to do something. Protest. Meditate. Pray. In the case of bloggers ... we want you to blog on the 27th of each month. Just share information on behalf of our human siblings in all suffering areas who are either barred from communication by their governments, or lacking in technology to ask: Am I Not Human?

Sunday Inspirations: Hallelujah

Often our spirit is touched by music in a very strong way. Leonard Cohen wrote Hallelujah back in 1984. It has been sung many times since all across the world. We've seen it sung in blockbuster animated movies ... on American Idol ... as a theme for a recent episode of The Closer. Everytime that I hear the song it causes me to stop whatever multi-tasking that I'm doing to simply listen. I hope that these two versions bring peace to your soul as well.

Myles Kennedy (Acoustic)

Jeffrey Buckley (Live)

Sunday Inspirations is the meme created by Sojourner in honor of her Mother. This is just one way to help get us through the week ahead, the trials we may face, and yes, to say Thank Ya and testify! I hope that you participate and share with us your Sunday Inspirations. Your weekly contribution may very well be the inspiration that someone else may need and has been looking for.

The Rules:
  1. Anyone can participate.
  2. You may post a video, poem, religious verse, song, story, picture, ANYTHING that has given you inspiration and the motivation to go on. Just make sure not to offend anyone.
  3. Add your name to the meme list so others can be inspired.
  4. Be and get inspired and be sure to comment.

September 26, 2009

Taser Death Grand Jury: Kevin LaDay (Lumberton TX)

Hardin County district attorney David Sheffield gave the taser-killing case of 35-year old Kevin LaDay to the grand jury.

LaDay is one of the 36 people taser-killed by police this year in America. According to Lumberton (TX) police, LaDay ran from them when they tried to do a field sobriety test. Police used a Taser on him during a struggle and he died at a hospital.
An autopsy report released by Justice of the Peace Vi McGinnis indicated LaDay died from PCP toxicity and his death was ruled accidental.

The family claims officers beat LaDay. The county autopsy showed no evidence of that. LaDay's family had a second autopsy done and an attorney for the family said there were discrepancies with the first autopsy.

It is now up to the grand jury to determine if officers acted properly. When the grand jury is finished with the case the FBI will send its report to the Justice Department.

Personally, I hope that it is enough to gain the attention of Congressional Black Caucus. I want them to hold hearings. How about you?

September 25, 2009

Old School Friday: Jimmy Castor Bunch

This blog supports weekly meme known as Old School Friday. We use this opportunity to reach back into our musical memories for songs from the last millennium ... old school songs. This week the theme is A TRIBUTE TO _____!.

I'm giving my tribute to Jimmy Castor. Castor started as a doo-wop singer in New York. Castor then replaced Frankie Lymon in The Teenagers in 1957 before switching to the saxophone in 1960. He formed the Jimmy Castor Bunch in 1972 and signed with RCA.

The Jimmy Castor Bunch reached the peak of their commercial success in 1972 with the release of their album, It's Just Begun, which featured two hit singles: the title track and "Troglodyte (Cave Man)".

Any villagers out there who still remember the Troglodyte song?

September 24, 2009

Tweet Your Senators to Pass Health Care Reform Now!

To help President Obama push through health care reform, you can send a tweet message to your senators from here by simply entering in your zip code.

In this message you can voice your support for timely passage of a reform bill.

What say u villagers? Are you down for a little 140-character activism?

September 23, 2009

Laredo Police Identify Police Officers Who Used Taser to Kill Richard Battistata

I was surprised to learn that the Laredo police identified the three officers involved in the taser-killing of 44-year old Richard Battistata. Thelma Hernandez was the officer who decided it was necessary to use the taser gun on Battistata. She was backed up by two other officers -- Duncan Jalomo and Jaime Rodriguez.

All three officers have been put on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation.

September 22, 2009

Grand Jury Extended in Jamaal Valentine Taser Death Case

The grand jury reviewing the actions of three La Marque police officers involved in the arrest of a man who died in custody has had its term extended. [SOURCE]

District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk’s office and the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office took the lead in the investigation of the death of 27-year old Jamaal Valentine on May 17.

During the struggle, one of the officers shocked Valentine with a Taser.

At issue for the grand jury, which convened Aug. 30, is whether the three officers acted properly during the arrest.

After weeks of silence, Sistrunk responded directly to accusations that he has been biased in his approach to this case.

It is hogwash, pure hogwash,” Sistrunk said. “The assertions that were initially made and continue to be made, including that this grand jury presentation is a sham and that justice is being subverted are an affront to the integrity of the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office … this office and the grand jury hearing the evidence.”
Sistrunk also said the action of the grand jury in extending its term “speaks volumes about both the grand jury and what kind of presentation is being made to them, and it is nothing short of fair and just, for the Valentine family, the La Marque Police Department and the citizens of Galveston County.”

Tune In Tuesday: I Can Do Bad All By Myself

I usually tell folks that I'm not a big Tyler Perry fan. However, I watched a Tyler Perry production over the past weekend with my oldest daughter. It is the 3rd time that I've seen a Tyler Perry production ... and I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed each one. The current movie, 'I Can Do Bad All By Myself' brought me to tears on a couple of different occassions. I guess that I will officially change my tune today ... I'm a Tyler Perry fan now!

Have you seen this flick yet?

Womanist Musings created a weekly meme today called Tune In Tuesday. She noted that our blogs often deal with serious issues and it might be nice to lighten the atmosphere every once in awhile. Music has the ability to trigger happy memories and much of our lives are marked by song. To that end each Tuesday this blog intends to offer a song and tell you about what it triggers for me and in return you are welcome to share any memories that you have associated with it.

September 21, 2009

Taser Death: Richard Battistata (Laredo, TX)

It happened again! The police killed their 36th person this calendar year using a taser gun. This time the taser-related death occurred in Laredo, TX. Richard Battistata, a local truck driver, died after an unnamed officer blasted 50,000 volts of electricity through his body early Monday morning.

The police haven't accused the victim of being a druggie yet. However, they did use their second favorite post-death tactic in these taser cases ... they issued press release talking about the "violent struggle" that led to decision on the part of the police to pull out their taser guns.

Battistata, 44, died after police tried to arrest him on suspicion of breaking into an apartment. The original call was a report of criminal mischief made at 3:50 a.m. Officers said Battistata had broken a window and gained entry into the apartment. When they tried to arrest him, he fought back and the Taser was used, police said.

He lost consciousness and was taken to the Doctors Hospital, where he was declared dead at 4:33 a.m. Monday.

Three Laredo police officers are on administrative duty pending investigation of the death of Mr. Battistata.

What are your thoughts on these continued taser-related deaths?

September 20, 2009

September 19, 2009

Heath Insurance Companies Contribute to Death of 'Norma Rae'

There are times in life when the real-world actions of everyday people are shared with the world by Hollywood movies. That was the case of Crystal Lee Sutton. Her union organizing work in the South inspired the 1979 movie, "Norma Rae".

It saddened me to learn that she passed away last week after a long battle with brain cancer. Sutton’s story is particularly tragic because after fighting her whole life for rights of working Americans, her health insurance wouldn’t cover the medications she needed:

She went two months without possible life-saving medications because her insurance wouldn’t cover it, another example of abusing the working poor, she said.

How in the world can it take so long to find out (whether they would cover the medicine or not) when it could be a matter of life or death,” she said. “It is almost like, in a way, committing murder.
I suspect that Ms. Sutton was counting on President Obama to sign health care reform legislation that would improve the lives of the working poor. Time tells if he is able to do so. For now, we simply pray that Ms. Sutton rests in peace.

September 18, 2009

Old School Friday: Michael Jackson (Smooth Criminal)

This blog supports weekly meme known as Old School Friday. We use this opportunity to reach back into our musical memories for songs from the last millennium ... old school songs. This week the theme is CRIMINAL RECORDS.

The first song that came to mind for me is a Michael Jackson tune called 'Smooth Criminal'. Here is the music video and a live performance. Michael Jackson was a true musical visionary with talent beyond comprehension. Let me know which visual version of the song you enjoyed the most!

Music Video Version

Live Performance

Taser Autopsy: Marcus Moore (Freeport, IL)

It is remarkable how often the police use a taser gun on the walking dead. We continue to see autopsy reports that conclude a taser-victim died from drug use ... the inference is that they would have dropped dead within moments ... even without 50,000 volts of electricity being jolted into them.

That is the case with 40-year old Marcus Moore. Moore died on March 28, 2009, at Rockford Memorial Hospital, two days after struggling with local police during his arrest on robbery charges. During the incident, officers used a Taser gun on Moore, but the final autopsy report indicates that Moore’s cocaine use was to blame for his death. [SOURCE]

The guy is in the hospital for two days ... and his cause of death is cocaine? It must have been a ton of cocaine in his system, right?

Winnebago County Coroner Sue Fiduccia said Friday that Moore had 178,968 nanograms per milliliter of cocaine metabolite in his system at the time of his death, which she indicated is an extreme amount. If Moore would have exerted himself in any way following that much cocaine use, it would likely have killed him, Fiduccia said.

You cannot live with that kind of cocaine in your system,” Fiduccia said.
NANOGRAM?!? Am I the only one that has *never* heard of cocaine or any other substance in our kitchen being measured by the NANO-level?

You already know that I think our taser policy in America is severely flawed when it results in the DEATH of 35 Americans in a year. That seems like an unacceptably large number. However, I suspect that it will take the taser death of a community leader or famous person before the rest of the nation will sit up and take notice. In the meantime, this blog will continue to monitor and report on taser-related deaths.

September 17, 2009

Did Glenn Beck Compare Jimmy Carter to Terrorist Suicide Bombers?

Glenn Beck is truly losing his mind in front of a nationwide audience. First, he lounges on a Fox News couch sharing his belief that President Barack Obama "hates white people" and is a "racist". Then he calls for a 9/12 right-wing protest at which about 60,000 people show up ... many of them carrying overtly racist signs and billboards. Now he rants about Jimmy Carter using the tactics of terrorist suicide bombers:

I imagine that Glenn Beck is under immense pressure. After all, he has lost over 50% of his advertising revenue since an online petition was circulated a few weeks ago. I need to update my list of advertisers that have agreed to boycott Glenn Beck's show on the Fox network. There are now 62 advertisers on that list.

Estimated advertising revenue [the total amount of advertising money being spent during a block of commercial time for a program] was collected on a week-by-week basis for a period of two months. According to the data collected, the amount of money spent by national advertisers on Beck’s program per week was at its highest at approximately $1,060,000, for the week ending August 2, 2009. launched their campaign at the end of that week and since then, 62 advertisers have distanced themselves from Beck. Data collected for the week ending September 6, 2009 shows Beck’s estimated ad revenue at $492,000, equal to a loss of $568,000.
It appears that the pressure is beginning to be felt by Glenn Beck. Don't you agree?

September 15, 2009

(Th)ink by Keith Knight: 4th & (h)8

(Th)ink is an editorial cartoon written and drawn
by cartoonist Keith Knight (the K Chronicles).

Tune In Tuesday: The Manhattans

I enjoy this weekly meme. It has been an opportunity for me to focus on some changes that I need to make in my life thru the music and lyrics of some great artists. Many of you young 'uns don't have any recollection of a group called The Manhattans. However, they told a powerful story with their rhythm and blues lyrics.

Tonight I'm feeling this particular song ... close your eyes and enjoy!

Womanist Musings created a weekly meme today called Tune In Tuesday. She noted that our blogs often deal with serious issues and it might be nice to lighten the atmosphere every once in awhile. Music has the ability to trigger happy memories and much of our lives are marked by song. To that end each Tuesday this blog intends to offer a song and tell you about what it triggers for me and in return you are welcome to share any memories that you have associated with it.

September 14, 2009

President Carter Discusses America's Fear of a Black President

Villagers, it should be interesting to see how America responds to the cogent words of former President Jimmy Carter. Listen carefully to Carter's political analysis in this video clip:

What are your thoughts on President Carter's statement?
I imagine that it is inevitable. It is virtually impossible for politics at a national level to focus on policy or ideas. Barack Obama shared his thoughts on race during a remarkable speech last year in Philadelphia. I suspect that the issue will be on the front burner again.

September 13, 2009

Kyra Hicks Reveals Unknown History of Renowned African American Quilter

My sister (shown in photo with me and Mom) has the art and quilting worlds abuzz with news of a lost Lord's Supper quilt by a famous ex-slave.

Kyra Hicks, 43, recently published "This I Accomplish: Harriet Powers' Bible Quilt and Other Pieces." African American and art history buffs know that Powers, a former Georgia slave, created at least two powerful quilts 100 years ago. The two folk art quilts are in permanent collections in Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and in Boston at the Museum of Fine Arts. Hicks' research has shed new light on Powers' work and life.

Historians have speculated that Powers stitched pictorial images because, as an ex-slave, she was illiterate. They also hypothesized that Powers quilted more than the two surviving quilts, but had no proof until Hicks uncovered it.

Hicks, a quilter herself and manager at Marriott International, started compiling a simple annotative bibliography of references about Powers and became inquisitive about what was known about Powers.

"I'm a huge fan of the PBS program 'History Detectives'," Hicks said. "I had no idea my weekend investigations would lead me to travel to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Georgia, and, most surprising, Iowa."
She combed books and microfilm at the Library of Congress and files at both the Smithsonian and Museum of Fine Arts.

In Keokuk, Iowa, Hicks made an earth-shattering discovery: a copy of a letter written by Powers in 1896 to Keokuk resident Lorene Curtis Diver.

Harriet Powers wrote about learning to read as a child. She also wrote about her quilts, including the Bible Quilt now at the Smithsonian, and of an 1882 Lord's Supper Quilt, which seems lost today.

"I firmly believe there is a chance the Lord's Supper quilt by Harriet Powers still exists," said Hicks. "Two Powers quilts have independently survived more than 100 years. Given my research, I believe the Lord's Supper quilt is in a private family collection not yet attributed to Mrs. Powers. I believe someone has the priceless treasure in their closet, stitched by the most famous American quilter, and is just waiting to be discovered."
Carolyn Mazloomi, Ph.D., an author and noted authority on African American quilts, calls Hicks' book an "extraordinary feat of research" that reveals new information about what may be the most important and iconic historical quilts in the country.

"What she's uncovered has really changed history," Mazloomi said. "She has opened a whole new window to Harriet Powers' life that historians hadn't been able to in the past."
Dr. Patricia A. Turner, a professor at the University of California at Davis and noted folklorist, said that Hicks' book is "absolutely remarkable."

"She followed up on every possible lead that there was and was so tenacious," Turner said. "We now have a much fuller understanding of Harriet Powers' life. It's hard for me to overstate just how important Kyra's book is. I think it's going to be required reading for anyone interested in American quilt history."
I love my sister. I'm very proud of her accomplishments. I encourage you to check out her other books -- Black Threads, Martha Ann's Quilt for Queen Victoria, or The Liberian Flag Story & Love of Liberty Quilt.

September 12, 2009

The Van Jones that Glenn Beck Doesn't Know

I haven't talked much about Van Jones. He's the young guy that resigned earlier this month from his position as an advisor to the President. His resignation was a direct result of videotapes and petitions from a number of years ago being brought to public attention by Fox News. Some call it nothing more than right-wing smears.

Jones was forced to leave the White House quietly and without any fanfare. There are many who feel that his career as a voice for the poor is legendary. In fact, the folks at the Brave New Foundation featured him as part of their Brave Nation series. Check it out:

What are your thoughts on Van Jones? Or on the circumstances surrounding his resignation?

September 11, 2009

Birthers Are Like Cockroaches...

Scientists tell us that roaches will survive World War III and the dropping of nuclear bombs. I figure that 'birthers' are the same way. A century from now when the exploits of President Barack Obama are in our history books there will still be 'birthers' complaining that his administration was an illegal sham because he was born in Kenya ... not America.

As such, I'm no longer surprised when I read stories like this one:

A California judge tentatively scheduled a trial for Jan. 26, 2010, for a case that challenges Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president based on questions over his qualifications under the requirements of the U.S. Constitution.

The suit alleges Obama is actually a citizen of Indonesia and “possibly still citizen of Kenya, usurping the
position of the president of the United States of America and the commander-in-chief.”

In the U.S. Justice Department’s motion to dismiss, attorneys didn’t address the concerns directly, but instead focused their efforts on technical procedures, suggesting the matter can’t be decided in court and that the dozens of plaintiffs cannot demonstrate they have been injured by having Obama in the Oval Office.

The suit alleges Obama is actually a citizen of Indonesia and "possibly still citizen of Kenya, usurping the position of the president of the United States of America and the commander-in-chief."

These folks don't seem to want to acknowledge President Obama's birth certificate (see photo). I'm coming to realization that these folks aren't concerned about politics or policy or rebuilding our economy or delivering health care reform ... these folks simply have a personal disdain and dislike for our President. It doesn't matter if he wants to talk with America's students or eliminate our nation's energy dependency ... they will rant, rave and create tea parties against him.

Birthers are like cockroaches...

September 10, 2009

Can South Carolina Republicans Improve Reputation?

I was glad to see that House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) responded to Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-SC) heckling of the President last night by saying that Wilson "took our state's reputation to a new low."
"I thought Mark Sanford had taken it as low as it could go, but this is beyond the pale," said Clyburn.
South Carolina Republicans are trying to stop the bleeding. Sixty-one of the 72 House Republicans in South Carolina have signed a letter asking Governor Mark Sanford (R-SC) to resign due to inappropriate conduct revolving around his extramarital affair.

The letter concludes, "We have collectively come to the conclusion that South Carolina will not be able to move forward under your leadership."
Illinois already impeached their governor this year ... can South Carolina be far behind?

(Th)ink by Keith Knight: Crazy Like (a) Fox

(Th)ink is an editorial cartoon written and drawn
by cartoonist Keith Knight (the K Chronicles).

Khalis Scores!

What is the point of owning your own blog if you can't puff out your chest when your children do good? The following two video clips are just a few seconds long ... but, I wanted to share them in this village for posterity.

It is amazing how invested you can get into a 4th grade football team! My thanks to a fellow Outlaw parent, Bill Kurtz, for providing me with these video clips!

President Obama's Health Care Speech to Congress (Video)

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Here is written transcript of the speech that contained 5482 words and lasted 47 minutes. President Obama hit some words hard -- and avoided others entirely.

September 9, 2009

Apology from Rep. Joe Wilson ... Latest South Carolina Republican Unable to Control Himself

It stunned me to hear someone heckling the president during his speech before the joint session of congress. However, once I learned that the heckler was Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) ... I was less surprised. After all, it is evident that Republicans in South Carolina have a difficult time controlling themselves. Self-restraint isn't high for governors or congressional representatives from South Carolina.

Here is the video for those that missed the moment...

I guess that Rep. Wilson thought that he was at a Republican town hall meeting. A number of his colleagues, including Sen. John McCain, disowned him for his actions. As a result, he issued the following apology tonight:

"This evening, I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the president's remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill," the statement said. "While I disagree with the president's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility."
I hope that Rep. Wilson pays a political price for his disrespect of the President. What say u?

Dunbar Village Rapists Found Guilty by West Palm Beach Jury

Villagers who have been following the aftermath of the heinous crime that took place two years ago in the Dunbar Village projects down in West Palm Beach FL will be glad to learn that the four cretins caught by the police have been brought to justice.

Jurors convicted 18-year-old Nathan Walker of 11 felonies in the brutal attack on a Dunbar Village woman and her son, including burglary, kidnapping, five counts of sexual battery with great force, and the savage act of forcing the mother and son into sexual acts together. Jurors acquitted him of three other charges.

Tommy Poindexter's jury convicted the 20-year-old cretin on eight kidnapping, burglary and sexual battery charges, but acquitted him of five others, including forcing mother and son into sex acts.

Walker, Poindexter and a third young man who has already pleaded guilty, 16-year-old Avion Lawson, face sentencing Oct. 13. All are looking at possibly spending the rest of their life in prison.

Poindexter, Walker and Lawson were tied to the crimes by forensic evidence - DNA from a condom, a pillowcase, the woman's dress and fingerprints.

The verdicts come more than two years after the attack by a gang of as many as 10 men and boys upon the woman and her 12-year-old son within their public housing complex apartment. They forced themselves inside, demanded money, then sex, then poured chemicals on the woman and her son.

The woman had to testify about it before jurors at trial. "I tell him to stay on top of me. Stay there because there are going to kill us," she said of her son, in Creole-accented English.

The woman, now 37, had to recount before a packed courtroom the variety of ways she was raped and doused in chemcials. She did so slowly, methodically, as if still in shock.

"It's really hard. If I even think about I might cry," said juror Rebecca Meyer Baez. "She's probably the strongest woman I've ever met. The fact she can come in there and hold her head high. I'm astonished."
Villager's Voice: I am still looking for the police to arrest the other six cretins involved in this rape-torture case. What can possibly be taking so long to bring the other six people to justice?

September 8, 2009

Obama's Speech to America's Students (Video/Text)

On Tuesday, September 8 — the first day of school for many students — the President talked directly to students across the country on the importance of taking responsibility for their education, challenging them to set goals and do everything they can to succeed.

Anyone that objects to having the President of the United States speaking directly to their children about staying in school is a fool. That's my opinion. President Obama announced that he would be speaking with students during his interview with Damon Weaver (Canal Point Elementary School):

Because some fools expressed outrage that the President would be speaking to their children ... the White House released an advanced copy of his speech. Here is the text of his remarks:

Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."

So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.

I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

What are your thoughts on the message from President Obama to our young 'uns?

Tune In Tuesday: MFSB, 'Mysteries of the World'

Most villagers know that I was a radio disc jockey during my college days. I was known as the 'Wizard of Soul and Mind' on KUCR 88.1 FM. I had a great time as the voice inside of your radio. For a number of months I would open each show with an instrumental by MFSB called, 'Mysteries of the World'. Instrumentals were the best way to open the show ... they allowed you to talk over them with whatever monologue you had that day.

Anyhow, I woke up this morning with a strong desire to share this one with y'all. I hope you enjoy the vibe!

Womanist Musings created a weekly meme today called Tune In Tuesday. She noted that our blogs often deal with serious issues and it might be nice to lighten the atmosphere every once in awhile. Music has the ability to trigger happy memories and much of our lives are marked by song. To that end each Tuesday this blog intends to offer a song and tell you about what it triggers for me and in return you are welcome to share any memories that you have associated with it.

September 7, 2009

Taser Death: Shane Ledbetter (Aurora, CO)

It happenened again. During the 36th week of the year we had the 35th taser-related death in America. This time it was Aurora (CO) police officers that used their taser at least twice on 38-year old Shane Ledbetter. [SOURCE]

Ledbetter died yesterday in an area hospital where he had been since being taser-shot by police on Thursday. Police were serving a warrant on someone else when Ledbetter ran away. Two officers chased Ledbetter through the park to a grassy area near a canal on the park's western edge, police said, where they ordered him to stop.

When he refused, an officer used a Taser on him, but the man continued to struggle so the officer used the Taser again.

Police said after the officers subdued Ledbetter and tried to take him into custody, he started to have some sort of medical problem and was unresponsive. Officers began CPR on the man and radioed for paramedics who took the man away in an ambulance.

Police detectives are investigating the case and will turn their findings over to the Arapahoe County District Attorney, who will make a determination on what charges will be filed.

The Arapahoe County Coroner's Office is scheduled to perform an autopsy on Ledbetter early this week.

Villager's Voice: I have no idea why Ledbetter decided to run away. His sister says he was 'spooked'. He wasn't the subject of the police action in the home where he was found. Perhaps it was a guilty conscience for prior illegal acts. It doesn't much matter to me ... the penalty for running away from the police IS NOT DEATH. Why is our nation accepting these taser-related deaths that continue on a weekly basis? When will the Justice Department or Congress or the Surgeon General get engaged in this epidemic?

I encourage all villagers to use our online petition to contact your congressional representatives about these taser deaths.

Our Focus is Out of Balance: And the Result is Weighing Us Down

by Melvin J. Gravely, Ph.D.
The Diverse Business Dialogue

On the scale of what we have and what we don't have, what we don't have seems to weigh more heavily. Whether it's money or time to go to college or number of bedrooms in the house or opportunities to do business or financing to get a business going, the list of those things lacking just seems longer.

OK, I realize it's human nature but it is so unproductive and I'm hearing it more as it relates to minortity business development. There are not enough educational opportunities, access to decision makers, nor enough "qualified" minority firms.

My new favorite questions are how many should there be and how many do you need? No one can answer the questions with anything other than, more! These two questions expose the reality, there is likely enough for you to succeed. There are enough qualified minority firms for you to increase your spending. There are enough entrepreneurial training programs for you to develop your skills. There is enough access to decision makers for you to grow your business. Shouldn't we lean more toward how we can and less on why we can't?

Read the rest of Dr. Gravely's article.
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September 6, 2009

President's Weekly Address: 'Labor Day and Fair Rewards for Hard Work'

With Labor Day approaching, the President commits to rebuilding the economy so that a lifetime of hard work leads to a comfortable retirement, and explains his proposal to help to get there.

What are your thoughts on the President's message this week?

2009 Black Weblog Award Winners

Over 8,000 votes by the blogging public determined the winners of the 2009 Black Weblog Awards. A second award in each category made by a group of judges. Maurice Cherry and his crew at the Black Weblog Awards are to be commended for putting together this recognition.

Here are the 2009 winners:

Best Blog Design
Popular Vote: My Brown Baby
Judges’ Vote: Black Digerati

Best Blog Post Series
Popular Vote: Starving Artists” Series on 25 Magazine
Judges’ Vote: “Wet Wednesdays Erotica” Series on Naked With Socks On

Best Business Blog
Popular Vote:
BDPA Foundation
Judges’ Vote: BDPA Foundation

Best Culture Blog
Popular Vote: Afrobella
Judges’ Vote: FreshXpress .:. The PULSE of Young Black America

Best Faith-Based Blog
Popular Vote: Infinite Gen
Judges’ Vote: Reflections of a Jazz Theologian

Best Food Blog
Popular Vote:
Judges’ Vote:

Best Gossip Blog
Popular Vote: The Fury
Judges’ Vote: The Fury

Best Group Blog
Popular Vote: MESH.
Judges’ Vote: Very Smart Brothas

Best Health and Wellness Blog
Popular Vote: Mother Knows Best
Judges’ Vote: Mother Knows Best

Best Hip-Hop Blog
Popular Vote: GangStarr Girl
Judges’ Vote: The Rap Up

Best Humor Blog
Popular Vote: Awesomely Luvvie
Judges’ Vote: TWiB! This Week in Blackness

Best International Blog
Popular Vote: Ebony Intuition
Judges’ Vote: black and (A)broad

Best LGBT Blog
Popular Vote: Xem VanAdams
Judges’ Vote: Xem VanAdams

Best Microblog
Popular Vote: @brotherjesse
Judges’ Vote: @elonjames

Best Music Blog
Popular Vote: GangStarr Girl
Judges’ Vote: Industry Plug

Best New Blog
Popular Vote: Three Ways to Take It
Judges’ Vote: FreshXpress .:. The PULSE of Young Black America

Best Parenting and Family Blog
Popular Vote: My Brown Baby
Judges’ Vote: spelhouseLove

Best Personal Blog
Popular Vote: Brother Jesse Blog
Judges’ Vote: Blog It Out, Bitch

Best Photo Blog
Popular Vote: Swagger: Paris, New York
Judges’ Vote: Street Etiquette

Best Podcast
Popular Vote: Man and Wife
Judges’ Vote: Man and Wife

Best Political/News Blog
Popular Vote: Postbourgie
Judges’ Vote: The Field Negro

Best Science/Technology Blog
Popular Vote: Urban Science Adventures! (c)
Judges’ Vote: The Koalition

Best Sex and Relationships Blog
Popular Vote: Single Black Male
Judges’ Vote: Single Black Male

Best Sports/Recreation Blog
Popular Vote: Ed The Sports Fan
Judges’ Vote: Ed The Sports Fan

Best Style and Fashion Blog
Popular Vote: Mane & Chic
Judges’ Vote: The Fashion Bomb

Best Teen Blog
Popular Vote:
Judges’ Vote: I (heart) That

Best Video Blog
Popular Vote: Xem VanAdams
Judges’ Vote: TWiB! This Week in Blackness

Best Writing in a Blog
Popular Vote: Very Smart Brothas
Judges’ Vote: The Black Snob

Blog of the Year
Popular Vote: Brother Jesse Blog
Judges’ Vote: TWiB! This Week in Blackness

Blog to Watch
Popular Vote: Mane & Chic
Judges’ Vote: FreshXpress .:. The PULSE of Young Black America

And the winner of the Aaron Hawkins Award is…
Bill Cammack! - Bill Cammack is an Emmy Award-Winning freelance video editor who has focused his attention on the New/Social Media space.

Share your thoughts on the 2009 Black Weblog Award winners. Did you choice win? Do you feel that some deserving Black blog was left out this year? Any new learnings from this year's list? In other words ... share your thoughts in the VILLAGE VOICES area below!