February 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Look Out Below!

February 28, 2012

Cost of Freedom Project

Open Letter to Proud Black Voters,

I am writing to ask for your support for the Cost of Freedom Voter ID App, a user-friendly app that will cut through the confusion and help voters get an official photo ID.

As you know, the Justice Department blocked South Carolina from implementing its voter ID law; rulings on Texas and Mississippi are pending. As of this writing, strict photo ID requirements will be in effect in Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Tennessee and Wisconsin. There’s a 50-50 chance that Pennsylvania, a battleground state, will enact a voter ID law this year.

In 2000, we didn't know about the butterfly ballot design or clogged punch-card voting machines. Today, we know millions of citizens do not have government-issued photo ID. In Wisconsin, a swing state, 55% of African American men and 46% of Latino men do not have a driver’s license. Similarly, 49% of Black women and 59% of Latino women lack an official photo ID.

Among African Americans aged 18-24, 78% of Black men and 66% of Black women do not have a driver’s license. If the Wisconsin election is close, photo IDs could affect the outcome.

Casting a provisional ballot is not a solution. In 2008, 1,000 voters in Indiana were turned away because they did not have government-issued photo ID. That may not sound like a lot but George W. Bush won Florida by 537 votes.

Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson told MSNBC: "All of a sudden after the 2008 election, these (voter ID laws) miraculously appear. Why? Because we have a Black president in the White House and it is to stop all of the people of color from … coming out to vote."

The Cost of Freedom Voter ID App will quickly give users information on how to get a voter ID. With the rollback of hours at the DMV and bureaucratic delays in processing requests for birth certificates, voters cannot wait until September to get ready. They need to be educated about their state’s photo ID requirements and provided assistance now.

Please visit the Cost of Freedom Voter ID App campaign today and make a pledge. The civil rights generation fought for the right to vote. As voter ID laws proliferate across the country, it’s now our responsibility to remove impediments to the ballot box.

The struggle continues.

Faye Anderson, Chief Evangelist
Cost of Freedom Project

February 27, 2012

Rev Al's National Action Network Joins Blogging While Brown Conference

The 5th Annual Blogging While Brown Conference announced that Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network (NAN) executive director Tamika Mallory will be a conference panelist during the June 1-2, 2012 event in Philadelphia.
We are thrilled that Ms. Mallory will be participating in our political activism panel in a very important discussion amongst those who use social platforms and their influence to be catalysts of change within their communities. The panel will be a dialogue between traditional civil organizations and younger activists during a presidential election year. Mallory has continuously demonstrated that our individual voices can be powerful when joined together and social media makes such a collective effort an effective means to peacefully organize political and social action,” states Blogging While Brown founder Gina McCauley.
Mallory has been a member of the NAN since age 20 and was recently named as one of Ebony Magazine’s 30 most influential national leaders under 30 and she was publicly applauded as “a leader of tomorrow” by Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett. She is currently being heralded as one of the youngest champions of the civil rights movement. Since a child, Mallory has participated in rallies, marches, vigils and protest with her parents who were founding members of NAN.

As Executive Director Mallory has spearheaded NAN’s anti-violence initiative and lead the organization to many significant achievements. Those achievements include shaping the organizations commitment to equal standards for women and African Americans in the music industry and the elimination of misogynistic and racist language in music. Mallory was single-handedly responsible for mobilizing thousands of protestors across the country for the National Day of Outrage.

By participating in Blogging While Brown Mallory seeks to engage new leaders in the African American community. By marrying the traditional civil rights organization with today’s powerful social networking tools Mallory seeks to address the emerging issues facing today’s African American community such as healthcare, education and employment, to make a difference in the lives of young African Americans.

Register today for Blogging While Brown Conference as the early registration rate expires on March 1, 2012

February 26, 2012

1976 Blue and White Newspaper (Los Angeles High School)

That is me sitting down (2nd from the left) with the other members of the journalism class that produced the high school newspaper -- the Blue and White -- back in 1976. I was a 17-year old brother with a large afro back then. But, I guess my desire to write and report was born back then ... and still lives today via my blogs.

I decided to publish this photo as a way to get myself back engaged in daily blog posts here on the Electronic Village. We'll see if I can rev up my engines again over the coming weeks and months!

February 25, 2012

Obama's Weekly Address: An All-Of-The-Above Approach to American Energy

President Obama talks about how important it is to embrace an all-of-the-above approach to addressing our nation's energy challenges.

Oil companies receive $4 billion every year in taxpayer-funded subsidies, despite continually bringing in record high profits. Meanwhile, gas prices are on the rise—just like they were this time last year—and the same people funding those subsidies are paying more at the pump for the gas they need to get to school and work.

February 22, 2012

Video of the Day: President Obama Sings 'Sweet Home Chicago'

Last night, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted an incredible group of performers for a night of blues music as part of the PBS "In Performance at the White House" series. After a little encouragement from the legendary B.B. King, the President took the mic from Mick Jagger, and sang a few lines from, "Sweet Home Chicago." Watch:

How can you not want this man to stay in the White House for another four years?

February 20, 2012

10 Steps to Cope with Technology Fatique

The Electronic Village exists because of the advances in technology. However, it is based on the imagery of a simpler time when we built relationships by face-to-face conversations and sat down over a meal with one another. Sometimes we just get tired. It is with that thought in mind that I offer 10 steps to cope with technology induced fatigue.
  1. Turn it off! Every computer, cellular phone or electronic device has an on and off switch. Use it! When you take time off -- shut off your personnel communication devices.
  2. Take time off! This might seem silly, but, one of the most damaging mistakes overachievers make is failing to take time off. For some reason, we try to be responsive to the needs of others, and "stay ahead of the game". Take some time for yourself.
  3. Turn down the noise! It seems that everywhere I go these days there is music, electronic noise and voices in the background. Some days it is just extremely noisy! If you have important work to do -- find a quiet place and space to do it.
  4. Remember three words that begin with the letter N -- No, Not now,
    These three words are extremely powerful words to gain control of your time and create some breathing space.
  5. Rest! Take time to sleep, take a break or play. Don't focus so much on your goals and results that you don't take time to rest and sleep.
  6. Stop Doing, Just BE! Sometimes doing nothing is a'ight! It is so easy with our hectic lifestyles to be too busy to enjoy the simple things; conversations with our children, walks or a good book. Being a human being has its advantages -- take time to do nothing. When is the last time you listened to the birds singing outside in the backyard?
  7. Reflect! Take time to evaluate and determine if the direction you're heading is where you want to go. Do you feel trapped? Conflicted? Torn between priorities or values?
  8. Get in Alignment! Are you out of alignment with your own priorities, goals and values? It's one thing to set a goal to climb a mountain -- it is quite another to have climbed a mountain and suddenly discover you are on the wrong peak. Create a list of values -- those things that you cherish most about your life -- and then evaluate if the time you are spending on daily tasks are in alignment with your values.
  9. Make more life room! How much time, effort and energy is something worth? The answer is -- it depends. It depends on your values, priorities and goals. The key is to make sure that you do not allow anything to take up any more room in your life than you deem worthy. You may have to rearrange and say no -- to be able to make room for the things that are the most important to you -- but, if you don't, no one else can do it for you!
  10. Be Good to Yourself! Brothers and sisters, you deserve it! You deserve to enjoy the best that life has to offer! Embrace it -- cultivate a sense of expectation. A sense of wonder and surprise. Be willing to be pleasantly surprised. Life may be waiting to hand you a wonderful gift -- make sure you have the foresight and vision to be able to see it. There is no one else on this planet like you -- you are unique. No one else on the planet knows what you know or has had the experiences you have had. Be good to yourself!
Do you have other suggestions for this list?

February 19, 2012

Village Gift Idea: Day Clock

DAY CLOCK - What day is today? You don't know? Then you need a Day Clock. It's uniquely designed to keep track of weekly events like your golf day, card night, movie night, and so much more. It's ideal for vacations and cruises when it's easy to lose track of the day.

February 18, 2012

Obama's Weekly Address: Continuing to Strengthen American Manufacturing

President Obama describes a series of steps to strengthen American manufacturing and create jobs here in the United States.

The President has been focused like a laser on the economy and creating jobs. Others are worried about contraceptives and rubbers and such ... while President Obama seems to be fighting for the regular peeps in American. Anyhow, do you have any thoughts on this week's message from the President?

OURstory: Shani Davis

I went ice skating only once in my life. Most of my time was spent on my butt. I suspect that my example isn't much different from other Black folks of my generation. Ice skating rinks aren't very prevalent in our neighborhoods. That is why I had much respect for Shani Davis when he became the first Black to win an individual gold medal in Winter Olympic history on this date in 2006.

He captured the men's 1,000-meter speed skating race in Turin, Italy. After crossing the line and spotting his time, the first guy to break 1:09 on the slow Turin ice, Davis thrust his right fist in the air. As he coasted along the back straightaway, he raised both arms toward the roof of the Olympic oval, and then put his hands on his head in obvious relief.

It was a great sports moment for Black atheletes in America. What is your favorite memory of the Winter Olympics?

February 16, 2012

Entrepreneurs Discuss 'How To Avoid 7 Common Traps'

BDPA New Jersey chapter marketing director Derris Boomer is leading an aggressive effort to provide a monthly webinar series designed to advance the careers of African Americans in the IT industry from the classroom to the boardroom. The February 2012 webinar was focused on those BDPA members interested in moving forward as entrepreneurs or business owners. The guest speaker was Hicks Enterprises chief executive officer Wayne Hicks (known on this blog as 'Villager'). The topic was 'Small Business Opportunities in a Down Market: How to Avoid 7 Common Traps'.

The back-and-forth exchange of ideas by the presenter and the online participants was both enlightening and educational. Here is the 14-page PowerPoint deck used by the presenter during the webinar:

Our hope is that BDPA members across the nation will review the webinar seminar series offered by our New Jersey chapter ... and add relevant webinars to your personal calendar. Ongoing professional education is an important part of the BDPA experience!

February 14, 2012

Taser Death: Johnnie Warren (Dothan, AL)

A Houston County sheriff's deputy has been placed on paid administrative leave as authorities continue to investigate the death of a 43-year-old Johnnie Kamahi Warren who was handcuffed following a bar fight in Dothan, Alabama. [SOURCE]

Dothan Police Chief Greg Benton insists that his officers did the right thing when they electrocuted an UNARMED and HANDCUFFED man who was already in their custody.

It should be interesting to see how this taser-killing gets worked out over the coming weeks and months.

The Alabama Bureau of Investigation is investigating.

February 12, 2012

Villager Shares 'Inspiration and Focus' on VoiceAmerica's 'What Matters' Radio Show

Your 'Villager' was interviewed last month by Certified life coach Mary Beth Lodge.  Mary Beth interviewed me on her VoiceAmerica Internet radio show, 'What Matters' in an episode title, Goals: Inspiration and Focus.  

The promo for the show read:
Discouraged about the impact you can have? Ever think that one person doesn’t have much influence? One person, focused and passionate, can make a tremendous difference! This week we are joined by R. Wayne Hicks, executive director of the BDPA Education and Technology Foundation. BDPA was founded in 1975 out of concern that minorities were not adequately represented in the workforce of the then emerging computer industry. BETF, the Education and Technology Foundation of BDPA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity established in 1992 to financially support student education and technology initiatives.
Wayne Hicks
An active leader in the organization since 1988, Wayne has followed his passion for education and applied his skill and dedication to expanding opportunities for disadvantaged youth across the country. Working at both the local and national level, Wayne is the embodiment of the ripple effect. Listen in and gain an inspiration for your own passion and purpose.
Click here to listen to the archived version of the radio show interview.

I was very happy to share the great works being done by BDPA under the umbrella of its Student Information Technology Education & Scholarship (SITES) program.  I informed Mary Beth and her audience about the great young people that BETF has been providing college scholarships over the recent years.

I found this video on Mary Beth's website and thought that you would enjoy it as well!

Anyhow, I hope y'all enjoyed the video and the radio show interview!

February 11, 2012

Obama's Weekly Address: Extending the Payroll Tax Cut for the Middle Class

President Obama urges Congress to extend the payroll tax cut to prevent a tax hike on 160 million hardworking Americans. Back in December, Congress faced this exact same predicament. People all over the country tweeted, emailed and wrote to explain how losing $40 each check would affect them. Ultimately, thanks to our stories, Congress did the right thing and passed a two-month tax cut extension. It’s more important than ever that we make sure our story is part of the debate here in Washington.

It is hard to believe that the Republicans in congress are so dim-witted that they continue to fight a losing battle. Why are they so obtuse on this issue?

February 9, 2012

Taser Lawsuit: Robert Ricks (Alexandria LA)

The Alexandria Police department electrocuted 23-year old Robert Ricks last year. The police tased him twice and he died after the second shot of 50,000 volts of electricity. Ricks was unarmed. In fact, at the time of the second taser shot he was in police custody. The coroner later claimed that the cause of death was 'excited delirium'.

The family of Robert Ricks is not satisfied with the explanations or the excuses given by the police department, Taser International or any of the other 'powers-that-be'. As a result they filed a lawsuit of wrongful death. [SOURCE]
"I just want to ask them what, what happened? What happened?" said a frustrated Lawrence Ricks, father of Robert Ricks.

TASER International says while its their policy not to comment on pending litigation, the want to remind people that the cause of death was "excited delirium," not the taser gun.

Commonsense tells me that the young man wasn't going to die that day if he hadn't been electrocuted TWICE by the police officers. Commonsense tells me that an unarmed many didn't need to die if the police handled the situation better ... without relying on an instrument of death to keep the young man quiet.

February 8, 2012

Let's Move! Michelle Obama Accepts Jimmy Fallon Fitness Challenge

I suspect that most 'villagers' are not up after midnight to watch the Jimmy Fallon talk show. Most of you have seen how First Lady Michelle Obama held an impromptu push-up challenge with Ellen DeGeneres a few weeks earlier. Fallon decided to one-up DeGeneres with hula-hoops, potato sacks and dodge ball. Check out the video:

I think it is wonderful that our First Lady continues to find ways to find childhood obesity. I encourage you to take a moment to learn more about Let's Move!
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February 7, 2012

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (February 7, 2012)

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a day to focus attention on the staggering toll HIV continues to take on the Black community. It is also a day of hope – a day on which we recognize the progress we continue to make towards ending this epidemic in our communities.

When we look at HIV/AIDS by race and ethnicity, Blacks have more illness (Blacks represent only 12% of the U.S. population, yet account for 45% of new HIV infections and 46% of people living with HIV disease in 2006); and more deaths (Blacks accounted for 57% of deaths due to HIV in 2007 and the survival time after an AIDS diagnosis is lower on average than it is for most other racial/ethnic groups). In 2009, Blacks accounted for 44% of all new HIV infections.

The AIDS diagnosis rate per 100,000 among Black adults/adolescents was 9 times that of whites in 2008. The AIDS diagnosis rate for Black men (85.5) was the highest of any group, followed by Black women (39.9). By comparison, the rate among white men was 10. The rate of new infections is also highest among Blacks and was 7 times greater than the rate among whites in 2006.

Among the U.S. population overall, Blacks are more likely than whites to report having been tested for HIV in the last 12 months (40% compared to 14%). Among those who are HIV positive, CDC data indicate that 33% of Blacks were tested for HIV late in their illness—that is, diagnosed with AIDS within one year of testing positive for HIV (in those states/areas with HIV name reporting); by comparison, 30% of whites and 36% of Latinos were tested late.

In 2009, an estimated 16,741 Blacks were diagnosed with AIDS diagnosis in the US, a number that has slowly decreased since 2006. By the end of 2008, an estimated 240,627 Blacks with an AIDS diagnosis had died in the US. In 2007, HIV was the ninth leading cause of death for all Blacks and the third leading cause of death for both Black men and Black women aged 35–44.

The number of new HIV infections per year among Blacks is down from its peak in the late 1980s, but has exceeded the number of infections among whites since that time; new infections have remained stable in recent years.

A recent analysis of 1999–2006 data from a national household survey found that 2% of Blacks in the U.S. (among those ages 18–49) were HIV positive, significantly higher than whites (0.23%). Also, the prevalence of HIV was higher among Black men (2.64%) than Black women (1.49%).

At some point in their lifetimes, 1 in 16 Black men will be diagnosed with HIV infection, as will 1 in 32 Black women.

From 2005–2008, the rate of HIV diagnoses among Blacks increased from 68 per 100,000 persons to 74 per 100,000. This increase reflects the largest increase in rates of HIV diagnoses by race or ethnicity.

Of all Black men living with HIV/AIDS, the primary transmission category was sexual contact with other men, followed by injection drug use and high risk heterosexual contact.

Of all Black women living with HIV/AIDS, the primary transmission category was high risk heterosexual contact, followed by injection drug use.

Of the estimated 141 infants prenatally infected with HIV, 91 (65%) were Black (CDC, HIV/AIDS Reporting System, unpublished data, December 2006).

There are approximately 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S, including more than 500,000 who are Black. When we know better, we tend to do better and we hope having an idea of how big this epidemic is in the United States alone will help gain your support for this effort. Generations to come will look back at us and wonder why HIV/AIDS was, or will they?

Let's make it history in our lifetime.

February 6, 2012

Taser Lawsuit: Douglas Boucher (Mason, OH)

Mason police officers tased 39-year old Douglas Boucher in December 2009. He died. The police didn't see anything wrong with it. No charges were filed against the two officers. The family of the dead man see it differently. Boucher's family filed a federal lawsuit. [SOURCE]

The autopsy didn't indicate that the taser was the cause of death.  The lawsuit claims that the two police officers used excessive force on a mentally ill person. The family seeks compensatory and punitive damages from the city of Mason and officers Daniel Fry and Sean McCormick.

The two police officers were not called onto the scene. They just stopped by the same Speedway gas station where a female clerk was serving Mr. Boucher. When the police arrived, the clerk alleged that Boucher was harassing her. The two officers asked Boucher to go outside. The officers were attempting to handcuff Boucher when he wrestled away and hit Fry in the head with his one handcuffed hand, according to the police. When he tried to go after the clerk again - she had come outside - McCormick attempted to use a Taser on him. The first shot failed, but the second electrocution with the 50,000 volts from the taser gun knocked Boucher to the ground. He hit his head on the concrete and died.
The lawsuit claims that "Mason police officers arrested him, tased him in the chest and in the back and then, while he was on the ground, struck him with a police baton, kicked him and tased him five more times."
The report issued by the Ohio powers-that-be did note that the police officers failed to 'spark test' their taser guns ... to the device may have given off more that the 50,000 volts of electricity specified by the manufacturer.

February 5, 2012

Village Tip: Increase Sales by Making a Promise

We make promises all the time. Cross my heart and hope to die; swear on my mother's grave; the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God. These are all promises. Whether these statements are used to make a false promise or not, they all do one thing; they make the person who receives the promise feel more secure.

Entrepreneurs quickly learn that one of the quickest ways to get a potential customer's attention is to make a promise. In marketing, that promise should be the first thing they see, so it should be embedded in the headline.

A headline should appeal to an immediate need. Regardless of who your target audience is, all people have the need to feel secure; to know that an advertised product or service can fulfill the advertised claim. That is where the promise comes in.

Now, this doesn't mean that you should say the words "I promise," only that they should be implied. Offer a benefit and phrase it in a way that says, "We are completely confident in what we claim."

But beware the false promise. Though plenty of advertisers make them, a false promise will only sell a product or service once. Your success as an entrepreneur is based on repeat sales ... so don't do something that may help you today, with negative consequences for you in the future.

If you want to create long-term customers, make a promise that your product or service can fulfill. Once they see you are as good as your word, they will feel utterly secure. And security is what really sells a product.

February 4, 2012

Obama's Weekly Address: It's Time for Congress to Act to Help Responsible Homeowners

President Obama continues his call for a return to American values, including fairness and equality, as part of his blueprint for an economy built to last.

February 3, 2012

Black Unemployment Rate Drops to 13.6% in January 2012

The United States added 243,000 jobs in January 2012 - far exceeding expectations of about 150,000 jobs - and unemployment rate dipped to 8.3 percent. Job growth was widespread last month in the private sector, with large employment gains in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are about 12.8 million unemployed people in the country. The unemployment is the lowest its been in almost three years. The trend of positive employment news continues to grow under the leadership of President Obama.

The news also contained positive progress for the Black community.

The unemployment rate in the Black community took a big dip in January 2012 to 13.6%. This compares to previous months:
  • Dec 2011 - 15.7%
  • Nov 2011 - 15.5%
  • Sep 2011 - 16.0%
  • Aug 2011 - 16.7%
The overall message for the US economy is good. This is the seventh straight month with over 100,000 people entering the workforce. The rate of unemployment in the Black community is still out of whack with what we see nationwide, but at least the statistics are trending in a positive direction.

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