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Posts Tagged ‘youth’

School choice and family planning are two topics I would love to hear discussed in my community because they are at the foundation of our futures.  However, I want that discussion to take place around a discussion table sixty or seventy years ago. 

A.G. Sadler Sr., third seated from left

A photo of my father and his fraternity brothers meeting at the local Black college hangs in my mother’s den.  The organization wore Black and Gold and he was old enough to actually know founders personally but it could have been a meeting of any Black fraternity or sorority of that time because they were all committed to moving the race forward.  You can see the steely determination in their eyes: we as a people would have the opportunity to learn, earn and prosper in this great nation and the sky would be the limit once those doors of opportunity opened. 

If we had a time machine or a portal to the past (like a smart phone app), we could tell these gentlemen that we were from 2012 and that a Black man was in the White House…a Black man without a mop.  Since most of the men in that picture were college professors or public school educators, I want to know their opinions on school choice.

Today, we recognize that public school K-12 education needs a top to bottom overhaul.  I personally think that the teachers enter the profession ready to teach and that the facilities are generally acceptable in my area.  For a myriad of reasons, some of the kids just aren’t ready, willing and able to learn.  I think the foundation of education is discipline or obedience learned at home and church. 

Those guys in that photo didn’t question their parents in their generation and neither did we in my generation.  Today, I hear kids ask their parents “What?” and “Why?” with a tone that would have never happened in my day.  One of the men in that photo was likely the dentist that my father would have taken me to see after he knocked my teeth out for saying “What.”

We should discuss parents having a tax credit or voucher to put their children in the best quality educational situation.  When schools in the South were integrated, White private schools popped up in every county.  But, I can remember the dedication of the educators from the all-Black schools.  A period of “separate but equal” would have been fine with many Blacks because they wanted fairly funded schools more than forcing us to attend school with people who thought of us wrongly. 

When we debated school choice as congressional staffers in the 1990s, I would always argue that private schools would cherry-pick the best students and those remaining in the public schools would be students from families that couldn’t afford to get out.  If the best 20% opted for private schools, the worst 20% should have a voucher to attend a special school after getting kick out of regular school. 

Public policy can’t solve the education problem because the ultimate problem is that some people are having children before they are prepared to raise and nurture them.  To me, people shouldn’t get married until they are around 24 years old and they should then wait 24 months before having kids (a waiting period to ensure that the marriage is viable.)  Before 24 years of age, people could be finishing their education and training, moving up in the workplace and having fun socially.  Children should come into the mix when folks are ready to be parents like those Alphas in that old photo.  Instead, we have kids having kids and early grade teachers are half educators and half parents. 

Current conservatives trip me out with talk of abortion and welfare.  The guys around that table never envisioned people having the government deeply involved in their lives. They were concerned more with anti-lynch and opportunity.  The conservative men in that photo would have a lot to say about the long-term effect of LBJ’s policy that would come in a decade or two. 

A recent study indicates free birth control dramatically reduces abortion and teen pregnancy.  Since the far Right conservatives are rightfully concerned with governmental spending, they should know that abortions and public assistance goes down if fewer pregnancies occur in the first place.  The guys in that picture could discuss the wrongness of abortion and premarital sex as well as the wrongness of hungry children and struggling families.  Reasonable people know that you can’t always push your faith’s beliefs into the public policy of a diverse nation. 

http://news.yahoo.com/study-free-birth-control-leads-fewer-abortions-210623724.html;_ylt=A2KJ3CabFnBQvlUAOf7QtDMD

The achievement-oriented Blacks of my fathers’ generation would be disappointed to learn that music is crime and sin-based and hip hop shapes the mindset of our youth more than parents and church.  If those guys in that picture were transported into current times, they would figure out a way to get the best education for their families.  Unfortunately, those pioneers in education would be compelled to seek schools for their families that kept their kids away from certain elements without regard to race.  Oh, I would teach government and tennis at an all-male school that brought academic heat all day every day–a place where gentlemen were built.

Teaching the guys in that photo was easy because they were enthusiastic about learning; it was learn or be an unofficial slave during Jim Crow.  If they had a window on today at that table, they would be flabbergasted with the way our youth are carrying themselves and disappointed with the squandering of opportunities.

I enjoyed hearing this speech by Kappa founder Edward G. Irvin.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7P7rpu-0Tf4]

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Makenzie and Susan Taylor

My niece Mackenzie Kerry wrote and gave the following speech.  She is very insightful for a high school freshman and did a great job on it.  In the picture, she is with Susan Taylor, the former editor of Essence Magazine.  When I was about Mackenzie’s age, I started reading Essence monthly because guys should learn about cool women from cool women. 

Mackenzie Kerry: Charlotte Cares Event

If I were a predictable person I would write a speech about the typical drugs, violence and sex.  But you can tell us teens to quit these things all day long and it will go in one ear and out the other. So I had to dig deeper way down to the roots of these problems. What did I find? Better yet who did I find? Insecurity. Insecurity walks on stilts and wobbles wherever she goes. Her nails have been bitten down to stubs and her eyes are glued to the ground. Insecurity may be small and unconfident but don’t let that fool you. She can cast a very big shadow. She can get under your skin and mess your brain.
 
Insecurity is what has the youth of today messed up. Nobody wants to be that one kid who is bullied and destined to spend every lunch at that empty lunch table and their Friday nights at home alone. Everyone wants to fit in. 
 
But you know there can’t be fitting in without peer pressure. Those two are best friends. Peer Pressure only knows one way and that is the way of the world and Peer Pressure will do anything to get you to conform to it. Peer Pressure has the mesmerizing eyes of a snake and a voice a smooth as silk. He will slither like a serpent and whisper right into your ear.
 
Peer Pressure is the one who will convince you to join gangs; the gangs that will provide you with protection, a family, a superior title and plenty of money. The same gangs that will get you injured, put your family in harm’s way, land you in prison. The same gangs that could end your life.
 
Peer Pressure will persuade you to try drugs, because it’s the cool thing to do. They let you escape reality for a period of time. The same drugs that can cause hangovers, depression, seizures, diseases and even death.
 
Speaking of depression, did you know peer pressure can do that too? Peer Pressure a jack of all trades can create violence, gossip and bullying. These are all things that cause you to feel stressed and isolated. Stress and isolation can lead to depression and depression can lead to problems at home and school, drug abuse and yes even suicide.
 
Do you see the theme here? All of these things Peer Pressure does can lead to death. If all of the youth die out then there is no future because we kids are the world of tomorrow.
So how can we build self-confidence and blow insecurity and peer pressure out of the water?
 
Parents you all play a huge role in our future. Although we may not show it all the time we need you. There are many things you do to help us build self-confidence. Recognize our achievements. When we finally reach that goal or get an A on that test any accomplishment, big or small, show us that you care and that you are proud.
 
Secondly, believe in us. It is a lot easier for us to believe in ourselves if we know our parents believe in us. Let us know that you expect us to do everything to the best of our ability and make us believe that failure in not an option.
 
Thirdly be a good role model. Not just for your own child but for any child you come in contact with. There is a shortage of good role models in our communities. Us youth are always going to be looking for role models and if we can’t look to you then we turn to look up upon celebrities. And imagine where the world would be if all of the youth copied celebrities. 
Yes it would be a mess. 
 
Now youth we of course have to do our part. When we are trying to reach a goal, we should strive for an accomplishment rather than perfection. Nobody is perfect except God. When we do make mistakes we should think of them as lessons and opportunities to learn. We should be proud of ourselves for attempting and then let it go because if you hold on to those mistakes they will stay in your head and torment you which will not help build self-confidence at all. 
 
Next, take pride in your opinions. If your friends engage in something that you know is wrong, don’t hesitate to say no. Do not lower yourself to their level. We are children of God and he would expect much more of us. 
 
Lastly, stop thinking those negative thoughts. The dance teacher at my church taught me there is a way to compliment yourself without being arrogant. Replace those thoughts of “You are ugly, and dumb and you could never do that” with “You are beautiful, you are smart and you can do that”.
 
I used to be the shy kid in the corner who constantly worried about what people thought of me. But then something in me changed. Insecurity and Peer Pressure were thrown to the curb and something else took residence in my soul. An explorer committed to following her own direction. The one who exceeds everyone expectations and writes out stereotypes. The one that doesn’t need people to tell her she is pretty and isn’t hurt when people call her ugly because she is perfectly content with herself just the way she is. The one who is strong enough to resist being crushed and molded to fit into what the world thinks she should be. The one we walks down the street with her head up because she is proud to be a child a God. And her name is Confidence.

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Georgia is a possibility for Team Obama if we get young people registered and prepared to vote.  Chuck Todd with MSNBC keeps pointing to a map with Florida, North Carolina and Virginia as the only swing states opportunities in the South.  The president won these states in 2008 and Florida is the big prize because it had 27 electors (electors are the people voting in the electoral college and equals the number of members of congress.)

In 2008, Senator McCain won Georgia by 52 to 47 (a margin of 5.2%.)  That’s peanuts or should I say there are enough guys in rural Georgia named Peanut, Dirty Red and Man to sway the 2012 election.  Actually, the 204,607 votes need to change that election and maybe the 2012 election could be found easily in Atlanta, our five next largest cities and dozens of rural towns.  The congressional races of Rep. Sanford Bishop (Macon, Columbus, Albany) and Rep. John Barrow (Augusta) cover the non Atlanta population centers except Savannah so turnout in these areas is important.  Look at it like this: on the first full night of high school football, stadiums around the state will have thousands of unregistered young Black adults. 

If you can sit in a ball park for three hours, you can take 10 minutes to register and 10 more minutes to vote.  Many of the young men on that field, the cheerleaders and the band members  will decide to serve our nation in the armed forces and we should elect leaders who view them as people—someone son or daughter.   

October 9, 2012, is the last day to register to vote for those wanting to vote in the presidential election.  How would Obama supporters feel if the election turned even nastier after that date but thousands of then-concerned Georgians couldn’t vote because they missed the deadline?  Before someone trips out about race, I wanted to remind people that our community was seriously loving on southern White guy Bill Clinton;  that’s my dude.  Actually, I voted for Romney in the primary because he was the best in a jacked-up field after Jon Huntsman left the GOP primary contest.  If Huntsman won the GOP nomination, I might be 50-50 between the president and him at this point.  So, supporting Obama isn’t about race as much as it is about keeping the crazy part of the consevative movement out of the White House and the fact that the president has done a good job.

We know that the Democratic Party of Georgia and the national DNC isn’t as crafty as the GOP.  The boys in Chicago and D.C. don’t know the kudzu covered rural South like we know it.  Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and even Georgia can be won by President Obama if we mounted a serious GOTV and registration efforts before and/or after high school football games.  

Social media and smart phones are the tools and wouldn’t it be nice to use these devices for something positive.   Hey, we need to fire up the grills and get the best old school D.J.s to pump Maze, pfunk and Tina Marie. It’s time to talk with the young folks about history and it’s way of repeating itself. 

My friends in the GOP have a way of ignoring those who vote for someone else (Dems listen to everyone.)  While Obama and Romney will be rich and happy no matter what, we need to show some political muscle so the federal, state and local elected leaders will remember our side of town when making policy and laws.   

http://sos.georgia.gov/elections/Voting_information.htm#Registering to Vote

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My June was spent in a small summer program called the Youth Exploratory Initiative.  We created this project because kids today seem to spend too much time on video games rather than playing outside like we did.  Let me tell you, those video games have given them an understanding of basketball, football and the military that is vastly superior to our old school childhoods.  They read defensives and select plays in football like N.F.L. coaches.  But, all the videos games in the world still can’t replace their excitement with hitting in the baseball batting cage, facing an opponent in chess, hitting a golf ball 100 yards or conquering the water by swimming or boating.  They went from Wii to “We.”

These young men, who all do well in school, get in their early years what some folks don’t get until high school or college: you gain knowledge to use it in life.  For example, grammar isn’t store in your mind to be use only in actual class or at work.  One should speak well 24/7.

 On this Fourth of July, no fireworks or backyard barbeque spark a young person’s appreciation for the blessing of being an American like the History Channel’s documentary “America: the Story of Us.”  Oh, whoever made this film came from the action movies genre because George Washington looked like Brad Pitt.  Commentary about grit and perseverance was offered by everyone from Rudy Giuliani to Colin Powell to P. Diddy—I got cool points with the Y.E.I. guys because I have a picture with Newt on my blog and the speaker was featured in the documentary.  Yes, moderate Democrats know some conservatives.

Of course, some might say that a summer program with good kids is like preaching to the choir but sometimes it seems like we spend too much time, energy and resources on “other” kids and that is not fair to those doing what they are supposed to do.  Remember in the original “Longest Yard” movie when Burt Reynolds’ character was looking for football players for his prison team and someone said that a guy played at Florida State—to which Reynolds replied, “Florida State University?”  “No, Florida State Penitentiary.”  The late Biggie Smalls rapped that he was more familiar with the state penn than Penn State.

Well, the boys in the Y.E.I. program are more interested in Duke for academic reasons than being gladiators of the gridiron.  Oh, don’t get it twisted; they would love balling in the NCAA, NBA or NFL.  But, their parents have them focused on books and character.  We visited FSU and FAMU and they walked into Doak Campbell Stadium.  I ask them where they wanted to be in this arena in the future: a benchwarmer for national power FSU; a football starter and honor student at visiting Duke; or eventually the guy eating pasta salad in his corporation’s skybox.  Of course, they said a former FSU national champion who was an honor grad and is now in the skybox because he went to grad school at Duke.  

We were lucky that it was orientation week at FSU and FAMU so the guys could imagine their parents walking the campuses with them in a few summers. 

To be honest, the Y.E.I. program was basically a reward for their hard work during the school year and we should do more of that.  You would be surprise by what these kids already know.  Coach A.J. and I played a You Tube video of the greatest music composers of all times and the guys knew most of the music from action movies and cartoons.  But hey, we to introducing them to the classics: jazz and Motown.  To our surprise, the know Motown and old school R&B because the rappers have sampled them to death— keep the legal and your money right.

They also know that rap is a medium of art and that art should imitates life rather than life imitating art.  In other words, thug rap is a corruption of real hip hop, which was mostly positive.  The hardest rappers of the past now have their kids in prep schools because no community should glorify a hard life.  Since parents work hard to give you a comfortable life, those parents are more heroes than some guy with “a condo on his wrist” who is proud of his police interrogation   (FYI “Cashin Out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GbolQtl17o&feature=related ).  Y.E.I. kids’ families are local law enforcement and military veterans and that is real “Call of Duty.”

The web-based information we cover is on a tab at the top of the Project Logic Ga page and pictures are can be found on the Project Logic Ga facebook group page.   Thanks to the sponsor of the project—who actually came up with the idea.  President Obama and Governor Romney would agree that real health care improvement starts with diet and exercise.  Some folks talk a good talk but the team at S.P.A.M. truly is about getting our youth of the path to better health.  (Come on now, The Y.E.I. guys ate four pizzas a day… but washed it down with bottle water rather than soda.)      

The billions of dollars that will be spent on political campaigns this year could be better utilized thanking good kids and the long-term benefits would be amazing.   As professor Aaron Johnson taught them during a brief visit to his econ class at Darton College, it’s all about cost benefit analysis and risk/reward.

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George Zimmerman meant well but we must be careful in our zeal to protect our communities.  Trayvon Martin was a better young man than most but sorting good kids from the bad ones has become difficult because most of them –Black, White and Brown- seems to admire the thug/hard element. 

I didn’t add “Yellow” to the list above because (as I stereotype) Asians youth in America still respect their elders and attempt to be obedient.  Oh, it is a matter of time before certain parts of American culture ruin them also. 

We have two or three generations of young people who don’t give a flip about how they carry themselves.  They will say or do anything in front of anyone and dare you to look at them sideways.  Zimmerman, with the warmth of his firearm, wanted to be that heroic figure in the neighborhood who stood for what was right; he wanted to be the man not afraid to stop the crime drama.  But, he stepped mistakenly to a decent guy. 

On some level, I feel like the guy on the block who senior citizens seek regarding community matters but I am much smarter than Zimmerman.  You must establish a vibe with the young folks and I have found that the holiday season is the best time.  During Christmas and the Fourth of July, my 40 something classmates come home to visit their parents and, of course, yell (like we do) at a brother from down the street.  It usually surprises the current young people to know that their uncles were once young and that some oldheads gave us words of wisdom—now it’s our turn. 

The seed gets planted when my old friends put their massive hands on their nephews’ shoulders and say, “listen to my homeboy and help him keep the block straight for moms.”  That nephew and his crew are the ones with the booming car music at 3 a.m.  We always want to diplomatically address these matters rather than seeing another person heading to expensive penal system.

We have so much unemployment in rural Georgia but a factory closing doesn’t mean you don’t have a job to do.  Most of my friends have worked continuously since high school.  I have seen guys laboring to keep their kids in Polo and Tommy gear but the kids grow up with a feeling of entitlement.  A year out of work might just be the year when dude saves his son from the streets or the year when moms’ house get the renovations it needed. 

On the job front, we are starting to see reports on employers who will only hire whose currently working.  Really?  In my community, we must do everything we can to weather these rough times.  The good news is that Black folks have perseverance encode on our DNA.  If we get rid of Polo, Tommy and other aspects of conspicuous consumption, we could live with less money.  Secondly, we must stop trying to keep up with the Jones because the Joneses are in debt up to their eyeballs. 

There is nothing wrong with a guy being a stay at home dad for a minute; I have been a stay at home son for more than a minute and yes the salary drama is stressing me out.  We are now the old guys who voluntarily read the Bible and I like Proverbs 20:29 “The glory of young men is their strength and the beauty of old men is the grey head.”  I find Psalm 71:18 to be equally cool “Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and they power to every one that is to come.”  While unemployed, you still have work that needs to be done.

Proverbs 22:6 states “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Well, my daddy had a strong commitment to our community and my neighborhood was created in the 1970s by men who were overworked and underpaid on someone else’s farms.  If those dead men paid for these houses with years of hard labor, we can’t let a few half-raised youth destroy the area to the degree that widows are in constant fear.  And the crazy thing is that homies who come home from prison are the main ones telling the youth that the wild path isn’t the right one.

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People get and give insults in the South all day every day.  If you have thin skin, you should move.  These insults come to mind.

The Michael Basiden Show’s list “8 Reasons Black Women Should Date White Men: First, Black Women should date whoever makes them happy and treats them well.  But, the list from Basiden’s show ticked me off because I don’t think the desired traits are rare among my friends. I did like the list’s view on our community’s glorification of thug life.

http://madamenoire.com/22660/8-reasons-to-date-a-white-man-30188/

Obama vs. Cain: I once worked at the U.S. Congress across the hall from Rep. John Conyers’s office and he had a young bright chief of staff named Julian Epstein.  At my Black college homecoming last weekend, many old classmates asked my opinion of the Herman Cain presidential candidacy and I told them that Obama vs. Cain was great for several different reasons from several different angles. I am insulted by Black people who think the Black electorate isn’t intelligent and crafty enough to vote for Cain in the open primary states if they want to see him faceoff with Obama.

While watching Fox News yesterday (yes, I watch Fox News sometimes), Julian Epstein let the cat out of the bag by saying that Democrats aren’t behind the recent Cain drama because smart Democrats want Cain to be the G.O.P nominee.  Epstein then seriously said that Democrats would donate to Cain’s campaign.  As we say in the South, Julian should “hush” because he is telling family business in the streets but he is so right.

Cain is to Obama as LBJ was to Kennedy: Yes, I can insult my political friends by stating that crass LBJ passed bills that smooth Kennedy didn’t get to before his tragic departure.  Those Kennedy boys were no match for the Dixiecrats but old Lyndon knew how to fight fire with fire.  LBJ said that he was insulted when a lifelong Black employee of his family would drive from Texas to the White House and if she need to use the bathroom in route, she had to squat in the woods. 

Obama is my favorite president but possibly too nice to turn the nation around.  He is too nice with the loyal opposition and he is too nice with his base regarding personal responsibility.  If you read the 8 reasons Black women should date White men, you will see that the president and the first lady could say more about their development and growth relative to teaching the next generation of all colors.  If Obama won’t get brass, Cain certainly would and that might be the answer.

Herman Cain, Bill Clinton and Thomas Gipson:  I worked at Albany State University with old school southern gentleman Thomas Gipson..God rest his soul.  Mr. Gipson, like Rev. Jeremiah Wright, had knowledge and wisdom for you everyday but he got a pass or was grandfathered on political correctness.  Gip said that the university’s harassment policies were nonsense and that he would never stop complimenting lovely women. 

Bill Clinton, one of my three favorite presidents, insulted me with that whole Monica mess as did Bush 43 with weapons of mass destruction.  If I gave Clinton and Bush passes, Herman Cain gets one also.  If people from Albany, Georgia, want to know what Cain likely said, they should remember Thomas Gipson and know that what was once tradition is now litigation.

In summary, “yes we can.”  We can reelect President Obama.  We can elect a Georgian as president if not Obama.  We can better position ourselves to enhance the lives of Black women.  We can understand if said women find happiness elsewhere.  We can understand that no candidate is perfect and neither are we.  We can use insults as positive dialog starters.   

We can put on that Sade’s remake of Timmy Thomas’s 1972 classic “Why Can’t We Live Together,” sit back and explain to Cain’s supporters why they are alienating the massive political center.  You can’t win the White House without the center.

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For me, being an uncle is an important role and we should all know our roles.  Avuncular is an adjective that means “of or pertaining to an uncle.”  Uncles and aunts serve as part-time parents like the Parents Reserves—one weekend a month and two weeks per year.

A kid may hangout with good old uncle Teddy for a short period of time and then it’s back to the parents because Sports Center or Jeopardy is on the box.

History buffs know that the term Uncle Sam came from meat-producer Samuel Wilson who provided barrels of processed meat to our troops during the War of 1812.  That aid is the source of the term pork barrel spending.

An uncle shouldn’t take the place of parents and young people should never have kids with plans for mama, daddy, uncle, aunt or Uncle Sam to provide long-term support.    

Readers of this blog know that Uncle Teddy welcomed the Obama campaign and presidency in part to hear the Obamas/Robinsons cut loose on their methods for family success: education, hard work, hose to the grin stone, eyes on the prize, and avoiding toxic people.  I am still waiting for them to speak frankly but I can tell that the First Lady is going to write one important book on the subject after they exit the White House.  She is going to tell us what is really wrong with us in her opinion and she will be so very right. 

Uncle Sam isn’t your daddy.  Uncles can help create nurturing environments but uncles and aunts cannot do for you what you must do for yourself.  The late, great Bernie Mack took in his sister’s kids but that guy was rich.  Most uncles and aunts aren’t rich and neither is Uncle Sam.

The Obama Administration (the current Uncle Sam) should explain the national debt to regular Americans and employ the JFK statement about “what you can do for your country.”  You should have kids after age 25 with someone with a proven income who is emotionally-developed.  You should focus on a career path in school.  You should honor the fight for freedom by staying out of jail.  

I might be eccentric Uncle Teddy in my family because “there is no-telling what Uncle Teddy might say next.”  But time will tell that “unc” or auntie say what the parents didn’t or wouldn’t.

To me, Rev. Jeremiah Wright was Obama’s uncle and the White House’s message would be better if he was around.  Yes, the old guy said some wild things but all old guys do that—they earned the right as combat vets.  When the old guys who drink coffee at McDonald’s ask me if I am my father’s “boy,” there is no need to trip. 

But, Rev. Wright’s directives to Black America are rooted in the self-determination mentality that existed before the welfare state.  Rev. Wright is actually as conservative as Rev. Herman Cain and could sit and listen to a discussion between them for hours.

Uncles will praise your accomplishments but we will grind you up when you mess up.  It will take the uncles and aunts in my community “reading” the youth if our futures are going to be better.  Man, my Aunt Della could get you told  for “old and new” with a quickness.  I am keeping the family tradition.    

Aunt Della

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An entertainer called Chapter recently released the satirical video “It’s Free, Swipe Yo EBT.”  I was ticked off until I realized the song was a poor attempt at parody.  But, the bigger questions are the social responsibility of so-called artists and the direct effect they have on the entitlement mentality.

  Warning: strong language

If you grew up when and where I did, you know that the government isn’t your friend.  The limited role of government ranges from delivering the mail and defending the borders to helping hungry children.  The truly heartless are the only ones who want to see hungry babies resulting from some people have children at the wrong time with the wrong people.

Chapter or Keywanda actually started an important discussion.  When people on the far Right argue that the federal government should be extremely limited, they should remember that Black people appreciate the intervention of the fed into the affairs of southern states during the struggle for freedom.

In the 1990s, Newt Gingrich pushed  Bill Clinton in the correct direction and Speaker Gingrich had me convinced that the roles of federal, state and local governments are to create a level playing field or fair opportunity for Americans to develop.  If an individual blew those opportunities in the best country on earth, that person made their bed.

We spend so much government money addressing bad personal decisions and it’s not free.  Yes, temporary assistance is a needed safety net but some people misunderstand the intent.  With medical science, proper diet and regular exercise, people are living longer.  So, young people should enjoy being young, develop a career path and have fun until they are in their mid 20s—there will be ample time for marriage and parenthood after the club days are over.  Club sweethearts aren’t necessarily spouse material.   

This video was made in California but southern Blacks who actually vote are appalled by the mindset that this video highlights.  We must get and keep the government out of our business and no one should need to tell any parents of any color to care for kids who didn’t ask to be born.

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What are soft skills?  The front of the Albany (Georgia) Herald today has a story about state official Melvin Everson coming to Albany to emphasis soft skills in K-12 education.

http://www.albanyherald.com/home/headlines/Officials_Soft_skills_important_in_the_workplace_127499653.html

Soft skills include punctuality, ability to learn, appropriate business attire and teamwork.  Really?  Reading that article was a long blink second for me.  My homeboy Richardson (Fort Valley State, Omega, teacher) talks about long blinks when realizing what the youth today don’t know or refuse to learn—it’s called good, old fashion common sense or home training.  You learn it from the community, church, sports, band or working (as we did) in the “fields.”

Because I could talk and dress, I got out of the watermelon fields in high school and behind the microphone at “WRSG…radio Sylvester.”  To be honest, I did say there was a 60% chance of precipitation during a downpour but I was trying.   A lady called and said, “genius…there is a 100 percent chance..look out the freaking window.”

Many Americans learned soft skills from watching Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best, Family Ties, The Cosby Show, Family Matters and Good Times.  James and Florida raised quality kids in a rough environment; they were a strong family. 

Guys learn it by listening to oldheads in the barbershop and I imagine girls do the same in hair salons.  Everson learned it at our Albany State University and in the U.S. Army.  During his candidacy for state labor commissioner, I told Melvin that he would have had my vote in the general election because he was a Golden Rams and gets it. 

Everson is a conservative and fully conscious of the budget constraints facing the state and national governments.  So, I want to help Everson and former congressman, now Governor Nathan Deal save some money (Deal is cool because he always supported peanuts and other south Georgia crops.)

Georgia should create a program called the “Chameleon Project.”  As we know, the chameleon is a little lizard that changes to camouflage itself in different settings.  Of course, today’s youth want to be hard and thuggish like some hip hop stars.   Newsflash: your hip hop heroes send their kids to prep school in the suburbs because only a nut wants to be in the hard life–ask prisoners.  As the late, great Bernie Mack said, “If you went to jail for someone else…you aren’t a punk…you are a new fool.”  The Mack man said he would have been jumping up and down in court with his hand up, “he kilt that boy, your honor..I tried to call you but I didn’t have your number.”   I digress. 

The Chameleon Project would show young people how to learn from everyone, how to switch attire to secure the cool mall job and how to speak clearly and properly.  Watching the right T.V. shows can improve soft skills.  If a person says “youknowwhatIsayin” constantly, I don’t.  The smooth tone on NPR radio would give a young person a vocal camouflage option.  Cuban immigrant and former CEO of Coca Cola Robert Goizueta taught himself English by watching the same movies over and over.  We know some people can turn it on and off like a faucet but if you can’t, default to the manner of speech that puts legal money in your pocket.

It is a shame that young people spend so much money on clothes (not made in America) but don’t have a dark suit to wear to their grandmother’s funeral.  FYI: cut the tag off the sleeve.  The unofficial hero on the Chameleon Project is Eddie Haskell from Leave It To Beaver.  Eddie was a cutup but he could pour on the charm when parents were around.  In the courtship and employment interview processes, we oldheads like to see a young man who can rock the classics….Blue Blazer…presses white button-down…khakis..penny loafs… prep tie.  I was crushing the sweethearts’ mommies with that gear in 82 and it was the same gear my father wore at A&T in 32.  That functional outfit could be put together in Wal-mart for under $100 bucks.  

That Eddie Haskell

I once worked in a job skill training program and the clients/students always said that this information should have been introduced to them ten years earlier–before certain paths were chosen.   So, Deal and Everson are on the right track because moving into management will require more than the basic technical skills.   I bet the youth in developing nations are as sharp as a razor and clean as a whistle; they have the eye of the Tiger.

Melvin, check this out, oldschool..holla at your boy.”  Translation: “Mr. Everson, look here, fellow alum..contact me for additional discussions regarding this matter.”

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What should children learn as they head back to school?

The start of the school year is filled with promise but I have serious concerns about the American education system.  First, kids have much better resources than we had but we had home training, which was actually home, church, and community training.  It was important that we knew when to sit down, be quiet and focus.  From 150 T.V. channels to Xbox, today’s kids like flashy and that makes good old fashion teaching boring.

Newsflash: much of life in the real world is boring and making yourself do what you don’t want to do is an important part of growth and development.  Children should arrive at the logical conclusion that they will be in school anyway so why not gain knowledge that will make their futures better.  Every subject from my school years has come up in life at some point and in some way.  When Black kids study American history, they should develop an understanding about the past and their obligations to strive into the future.  The revolving door on American prisons indicates that should young people don’t value the freedom many fought to obtain. 

High school economics is a needed subject in my opinion because kids need to know about conspicuous consumption, cost-benefit analysis, risk/reward and delayed gratification.  Even people who make 60K plus working in industry without college degrees should know that material things aren’t that important and everyone shouldn’t know what you have.  We should hope that kids learn to be balanced, law-abiding, happy citizens.  They should also learn that it’s not the government’s job to take care of you; the government doesn’t love you like that.

Teachers enter the profession fully prepare to perform but the half-raised part of the student body will ruin the learning process for all involved.  A stress-out teacher’s thoughts turn to mortgage and SUV payments—so they take it.  As the Negro hymn goes, “before I be a slave..I will be buried in my grave.” I would sooner stave that allow a student to disrupt school while disrespecting me.  To be honest, the wrong folks are having too many kids at the wrong time and they would be the first to tell you that—ten years later.

[http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshhP91JK3E2gM29c5O8]

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What should the average American know about the job market and the government’s role in job creation?

Ted Sadler: Employment/recovery was the obvious first monthly topic for our new discussion series because so much pivots off jobs.  We should admit a painful fact: many of the jobs that America lost during the economic downturn won’t be coming back.  Companies are functioning leaner with more automation so the unemployed and underemployed should plan carefully.  We must work hard and work smart because the traditional 40 years with one employer and a solid pension is becoming the exception rather than the norm.  The government can’t guarantee a job that produces funds to meet your financial needs and wants.  As President Kennedy might have said, what you can do for your country is limit your obligations, training hard and pinch pennies until they scream. 

The government should provide quality schools for K-12 kids and educational options for adults while creating a business environment conducive to job creation.  We must keep a watchful eye on politicians and their relationships with special interest groups because at times it seems that the paychecks elected officials are most concerned with protecting are their own.  Candidate Obama was a master at straight talk and I need him to speak honestly about the possibility of emerging nations out hustling us with their “hungry for opportunities” workforce.  We better get on the ball.  Finally, I was alarmed by a CBS Sunday Morning cover story about 50 plus years old unemployed people.  Surprisingly, many employers pass on experience applicants because they are concerned with retirement while young workers are cheaper to employ.  Look here: the job market is a rough game and must be worked from every angle….half the process is crafty networking. If you find yourself unemployed, the time could be right to build your own house or spend precious time with young family members—raise them or the streets will.  

CBS Sunday Morning story

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI1qy1Iwzl8&feature=player_embedded

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In Georgia, we spend too much money on criminal justice after spending cash for 12 years to education whose who would become criminals.  New Governor and former congressman Nathan Deal was alarmed by the crime-related items in the state budget.  To me, it’s like that old Fram oil filter commercial: “You can pay me now or you can pay me later” the mechanic says.

Well, we should pay teachers who today unfortunately do more than the teachers of old.  U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Spike Lee are pushing for more Black men to consider teaching.  Currently, one percent of teachers are Black men and over the next 20 years many teachers will be retiring.  In this down economy, teaching could be a cool option for those with the right temperament and the paid is not bad.

Education officials should look into a program Silver Springs, Maryland, had in the 90s called college style teaching.  The D.C. Area had many retired federal workers and military veterans who would like to work part-time because they were basically fine financially.  The school system found recruiting difficult because those who wanted to simply teach didn’t wanted the headache of hall, bus, homeroom and activities duties.  While the majority of the teachers were “full teachers with full pay,” the college style teachers, who received less money, arrived on campus 30 minutes before their first class, taught two classes, had a planning period, taught two more class and left campus—similar to college professors.

Options for other duties like coaching and clubs came with more money in a cafeteria plan like current coaches’ stipends or supplements.  We could be talking about former Wall Street executives, well-travelled war veterans, and high-paid factory worker who want a change for the last phase of their working years.  If the schedules are right, these teachers might split time between teaching and consulting in their former fields.  The real winners would be the children who would get teachers who know exactly what the workforce needs.  I love the idea of lower grades kids having more positive men in the schools as role models.

Yes, our communities were better when parents and the church primarily raised kids.  Today, music videos, the internet, 150 T.V. channels and the streets are framing young minds.  If we don’t do something innovative soon, we will continue spending more money sending youth to Georgia State Penitentiary than Georgia State University.  The rough kids disrupt the education experience for those to want to learn.  I will tell you what: get this program before my 50th birthday and I will teaching four American government/civic classes and coach tennis for 30K and be glad to have it.      

The added benefit of having clean-cut men in the schools is the character options for boys, and the experience of being around real men for girls whose fathers were elsewhere.  Oh yeah, some of those life-long daddy issues and quickness to argue with men stem from rarely being around a certain type man.  As Chuck D said in the rap rhyme back in the day, “with a man in the house…the bullsh__ stops.” I shouldn’t go there but let me rhyme, “with men in the schools…knowledge becomes more cool.”

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Solving the pressing family crisis in our community could start with some simple solutions.  President Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope, Hill Harper’s books “Letters to a Young Brother” and “Letters to a Young Sister,” and Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint’s “Come On People” all contain a central theme on the family.  To me, the theme was be careful when and with whom you start a family. 

President Obama and Hill Harper were classmates at Harvard Law and both seem to emphasize waiting until the early twenties at least before making huge life decisions—like 23 years old.  Of course, young people start college, training at technical schools, serving in the military and building careers before that age.  But, I wish they would train, study and work by day and worship, chill and enjoy life at night and on the weekends while being very deliberate about life-altering actions like parenthood and crime. 

The difference between 16 years old and 23 years ago is vast.  While working in a community service program with young mothers, I quickly learned that most of the moms wished they would have waited to better know themselves and the guys with whom they were dealing before having a child.  Most of my students later discovered that the dudes themselves didn’t really know who they were at the time.  If you like to party, you should get partying out of your system before dramatically affecting you life and those around you.

My friends and I are constantly puzzled by young people who were raised under difficult conditions who put themselves in the same conditions.  Of course, that young person’s parents often shoulder the burden of caring for the teen mom’s baby at a time when grandmothers should be enjoying relief after struggling for almost two decades and getting their money straight. 

We know that medical science, diet and exercise could give young people today the opportunity to live 20 years longer than their grandparents.  So, what is the rush to be a parent?  Hill Harper wrote that many young women are looking for love from guys or want a baby to love.  But, careful life-planning and love for the unborn child should have them delay parenthood until conditions are better—never perfect but better. 

Governmental resources are scarce and taxpayers are understandably ticked about entitlement spending.  While some loved the general idea of an Obama presidency, I was crazy about Obama speaking to young people about being careful with life choices in a manner similar to the decision-making of President Barrack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill Cosby, Hill Harper and countless others who could teach these life skills and back them with proven actions.

I say young people should study, work and have fun while they are maturing and please listen to older people around you—they have been where you are heading and you can learn from their personal histories. 

The Audacity of Hope: Barrack Obama

p. 255 In other words, African American understand that culture matters but that culture is shaped by circumstance.  We know that many in the inner city are trapped by their own self destructive behaviors but those behaviors are not innate.  And because of that knowledge, the black community remains convinced that of America finds its will to do so, then circumstance for those trapped in the inner city can be changed, individuals attitudes among the poor will change in kind, and the damage can gradually be undone, if not for this generation then at least for the next.

Such wisdom might help us move beyond ideological bickering and serve as the basis of a renewed effort to tackle the problem of inner city poverty.  We could begin by acknowledging that perhaps the single biggest thing we could do to reduce such poverty is to encourage teenage girls to finish high school and avoid having children out of wedlock.  In this effort, school and community based programs that have a proven track record of reducing teen pregnancy need to be expanded, but parents, clergy and community leaders also need to speak out more consistently on this issue.

p. 245 Then there’s the collapse of the two-parent black household, a phenomenon that is occurring at such an alarming rate when compared to the rest of American society that what was once a difference in degree has become a difference in kind.  A phenomenon that reflects casualness toward sex and child rearing among black men that renders black children more vulnerable – and for which there is simply no excuse.

p. 347 I didn’t have a prepared text, but I took as my theme “what it takes to be a full-growth man.”  I suggested that it was time that men in general and black men in particular put away their excuses for not being there for their families.  I reminded the men in the audience that being a father meant more than bearing a child; that even those of us who were physically present in the home are often emotionally absent; that precisely because many of us didn’t have fathers in the house we have to redouble our efforts to break the cycle; and that if we want to pass on high expectations to our children, we have to have higher expectations for ourselves.   

My notes from the Cosby Book: Come On People

https://projectlogicga.com/2009/06/26/come-on-people-the-cosby-book/

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George C. Fraser

 

In his book “Success Runs In Our Race,” George Fraser convinced me that networking was vital to professional and social success.  On Tavis Smiley’s Covenant With Black America, Fraser asserted that African-Americans were the only Americans who sought political power before economic power upon arriving in this country or what would become this country.  

You have to love being at a cookout or mixer when intelligent topics like this come up.  The radical brother points out that we arrived in the hulls of ships and in bondage; political power was needed first just to keep citizens and the government itself from harming us or restricting freedoms.  

The conversation then turns to the age-old Booker T. Washington vs. W.E.B. Dubois argument. When I was young, Dubois’ push for education and college degrees appealed to me.  As I grew older, Washington’s focus on job training, business ownership and finance made more sense.  

Helen Blocker Adams is bringing George Fraser to Augusta, Georgia, on October 14, 2010, and I must go hear this noted author because we are in rapidly changing times.  While some in our community are bracing for a political nightmare if the conservatives take the House and Senate back, those of us who grew up reading Black Enterprise Magazine are wondering how we will adjust, maintain and prosper.  Southern Black voters are generally moderate to conservative but more importantly resilient when the government doesn’t care—and the government often doesn’t care so stop looking to them and save yourself.  

During this campaign season, I imagine Fraser’s networking principles would recommend meeting and listening to everyone—don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.  I think young people miss the networking opportunities they could experience from following politics.  If you go listen to everyone or volunteer, the professional benefits will come.  

Fraser’s new book is “Click: Ten Truths to Building Extraordinary Relationships.” The current political candidates need to read this one and come to the event at Paine College. 

http://www.georgecfraser.com/    Check out his video

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I don’t care what anyone says; President Obama is exactly the president “candidate Obama” said he would be.  The problem is people don’t know how to listen.  He isn’t big on party politics because he didn’t spend that much time in the national arena before ascending to the top.  That’s why he is constantly looking for Republicans with whom to work.  He thinks that is natural and logical in D.C. 

Of course, the GOP leadership dares their members to seriously dialog with the White House—let them fail so the Red Team can take the presidency in 2012.  Can any good American really say “let them fail”?  “I hope Hurricane Katrina kills thousands so the Democrats can win in ’08.”  “I hope BP’s oil reaches Key West, turns and goes up the East Coast so we can get the White House back.”  How sick can someone be to think those thoughts? 

I don’t know the plans of the Democrats or Republicans but we Obamacrats still believe in changing the way Washington works.  (Okay, this is just me thinking out loud.)   First, we must remember that Obama is not Superman or the second coming.  He is a very smart person and I think he is malleable.  The president would come toward the center if it produces results and keeps decent conservatives from drifting into radical ranks on the far Right  The center is mandatory to lead in America–belive that.

The situation with Mrs. Shirley Sherrod shows what I have always known: Obama is not familiar with the plight of southern Blacks because he thankfully has not been through our troubled past.  I am glad the brother grew up around sweet people and it reflects in his considerate nature but is he mean enough to scrap like Clinton—Bill and/or Hillary.  Mrs. Sherrod’s Baker County, Georgia, is similar to Hope, Arkansas so Bill knew how nasty things could get.  Speaking of nasty, we should discuss the fact that thuggish youth of all colors are more of a domestic terror threat than the Klan and the  Taliban put together.  In the public policy arena, one must have a certain amount of nasty in them. 

How can we help our community during this election season?  We should support our traditional candidates but develop a line of communication/dialog with a select group of reasonable conservatives (wrestle them from the Far Right.)  If a candidate is lock-step with the far Right’s approach of misinformation and hate-speak, they should be defeated for pitting Americans against each other and scaring folks for political gain (the same applies to the far-Left.)  

In the 90s, our community overwhelmingly supported the Democrats. When Newt Gingrich and company took the Congress, we were toast.  Conservatives vote when the only election on the ballot is a run-off for dogcatcher but our community is fickle about hitting the polls. 

Obamacrats (Republicans, Democrats, and Independents) should dialog on understanding, policy and logic. Personally, I could trade a few anti-Obama Blue Dogs for conservatives who are about dialog with the whole community.  Senator Johnny Isakson would be the best example of such a Member of Congress and moderates should have as much influence with him as the Far Right.  Those conservatives would be essential for this White House over the next two years and the people will decide in 2012. 

President Obama is one of the smartest people in American history but he can’t know everything.  We remember governing without our community’s input and must work to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.  The African American community is very diverse and our conservative brothers and sisters believe in a limited government than in many ways makes good common sense.  They should talk with their other family about the questionable methods and techniques of the recent past because maybe we can make progress or at least peacefully function. 

I still believe in the version or incarnation of Newt Gingrich that simply stated that the limited role of the federal government was to foster an opportunity for children to grow, learn and achieve if they focus, work hard patiently and keep it clean.  If not, the life they get will be the life they made.  I can live with that. 

I can’t live with people who benefit from the Obamacrats but ignore us or worst slam the White House.  Obama is a nice guy but the rest of us grew up with these scrappy Tea Party people.  Scrapping and calling someone out is nothing new to us.

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Mrs. Juanita Goggins froze to death alone recently in South Carolina and reading her story was hard.  She was the first Black woman elected to the state House and a pioneer in public service. 

We must respect and protect our senior population and value them as the community’s most prized resources.  It hurts my heart to see young people using the worst imaginable language near senior women.  These women, many of whom lost their husbands years earlier, barricade themselves in their homes at night and during the day in fear of half-raised neighborhood thugs—but White folks are the biggest concern for the community.  Right.

I am pleased to say that I have always been a person who got taught when the old school people were sharing knowledge and wisdom on the block, in the church parking lot or the barbershop.  Since I have lived long enough to become old school myself, there is a natural obligation to share also but the homies aren’t interested.  They learn from rap videos and end up with an entitlement mentality and a lust for silver and gold.  “Seek ye first…”

Kids in our community are eager to start families with people they barely know while the parents who raised them are still on the struggle.  While the following statement is likely a stereotype, you must admire the Asian culture in America because the family unit functions as a cohesive operation—like a small business.  My Black brothers complain about the Indian and Korean businesses in the community but I say learn from their model.

Before starting a new family, our kids should take care of the seniors who let us stand on their shoulders.  They fought the good fight but now fight people who look like them and face neglect.  Family life would be much nicer if marry couples had their first child after the marriage solidified and after they were finished being young.  I say 24 years old is a good number.  Between 18 and 24, we should be checking on the seniors and learning from them.  Respect your elders….even when you get old.

The worst feeling in the world is putting off seeing about the seniors and learning that it is too late—-you selfish bastard.  I hope the rims and tims were worth it and stop leaving your kids for your parents to raise.  Those parents might find themselves with little savings at retirement age.  Retirement, what retirement. 

No one can say that I didn’t make the seniors around me priority one.  Matthew 19:19  “Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Bible verse and cuss words in the same paragraph; let’s us say I am a work in progress and the senior are still busy molding.

http://www.heraldonline.com/2010/03/08/1999622/goggins-blazed-trail-for-black.html

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The headline in last Thursday’s Augusta Chronicle ‘Juvenile Crime up 23% in Richmond in the last year’ was troubling.  So much so that I teamed up with a friend who manages three Waffle House restaurants and three local organizations that work directly with at-risk and disenfranchised boys to do something about it. A press conference was held Wednesday and once again the local media were there. Our CBS and NBC affiliate, our daily newspaper and the black owned weekly newspaper were there and gave us much coverage and much love. In about 24 hours, we’ve got over 60 men who have signed up to serve as mentors for our young boys. Our goal is 250 men, by August 7th, who commit to at least one hour per week with a young man. It seems we’re well on our way. We’ve even attracted people who want to help ‘recruit’ men to get involved. I’m blown away by the response we’ve received in such a short time…

The following article was featured in today’s Augusta Chronicle. http://www.augustachronicle.com

Effort seeks mentors for young males
By Stephanie TooneStaff Writer
Thursday, July 16, 2009

Helen Blocker-Adams met with media and community partners Wednesday about filling the void of father figures in the lives of Richmond County’s young males. // <![CDATA[//

Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Radio host Helen Blocker-Adams (right) and Waffle House District Manager Escubar Moore (left) want men to volunteer to be mentors for young males to help combat the rise in juvenile crime in Augusta.

Mrs. Blocker-Adams, a talk show host on WNRR-AM 1230, said she was disturbed after reading in The Augusta Chronicle that juvenile crime has increased 23 percent in the past three months, compared to the same time last year. That should be a wake-up call to Augusta, she said.

“Juvenile crime is just off the Richter scale,” she told a crowd in front of the Waffle House on Gordon Highway on Wednesday. “We have to find some surrogate fathers for these young males because a lot them don’t have one.”

She and Escubar Moore, the district manager of three Augusta Waffle House restaurants, will sponsor the Back to School Men’s Drive for Kids, a campaign to recruit positive male role models for Augusta’s male youth.

By July 27, Mrs. Blocker-Adams and Mr. Moore hope to sign up 250 men to volunteer with local mentoring agencies: Dads in Action, An Ounce of Prevention and Full Circle Refuge Juvenile Justice Ministry.

Mr. Moore said men can sign up at Waffle House locations on Gordon Highway, Deans Bridge Road and Wrightsboro Road. The men are asked to give one hour a week with one of the three mentoring agencies. About 75 men had signed up to volunteer as of Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Moore said.

“I hope we blow that number away and have even more,” he said. “That 250 hours per week can make a whole lot of difference in our community.”

Devon Harris, the executive director of the Full Circle Refuge Juvenile Justice Ministry, has worked with troubled youth for several years. He said the statistics are not surprising. A positive male in the lives of some of the young men in his program could make a difference in their lives and have an impact on the community, Mr. Harris said.

“We want to think it’s somebody else’s problem or the government’s problem, but we have to plant the seed,” he said. “These young men are looking for guidance. They want someone to invest in their lives.”

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

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While teaching an academic refresher class in a welfare to work program, a student asked me to make a list of the common English errors she should avoid.  The list because the first day icebreaker for new groups and the standard for speaking at the facility—in and out of class.  Former students still thank me for “the list” because it helped them with interviews, work and parenting.  From 600 plus students, a surprising number have kept the list handy for years to improve the English of their families.

ENGLISH ERRORS

 1.     fittin’ = fixing

2.     gull    = girl

3.     baze   =bath

4.     bout   =about

 5.     –in     =ing

6.     dat     =that

7.     doze   =those or doors

8.     dez     =these

9.     nem    =them

10. wit     =with

 11. menz  =men

12. y’all   =you all

13. chew  =you

14. showl =sure is

15. betcha =bet you

 16. nann   =none

17. sometin’=something

18. wartor   =water          

19. flow =floor

 20. foe =four

21. ax =ask

22. lawd =lord

23. lil =little

 24. bitness =business

25. stoe =store

26. lunt =loan

27. wuz =was

28. hur=her 

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When I hear those heart-warming songs on the fourth of July, my national pride is strong.  But, great nations aren’t born; they are built brick by brick and person by person with determination, resolve, respect, fortitude, shame, focus and responsibility.  My friends and I jokingly say that they don’t make Black folks like they use to when referring the character of our parents’ generation compare to our generation.  Is it just me getting old and cranky or are the school kids today considerably more disrespectful and unfocused. 

The disclaimer: there are great teens who say “yes sir” and “no sir” like the young people who work at the local Harvey’s grocery store.  They don’t know where any items are actually located but they are nice.  That’s it; even the nice kids are not resourceful enough the look at the items as they walk the store a hundred times a day.  In my day, a kid employed at McDonalds or at a golf course would impress a business person who would offer them a job just for working with enthusiasm and drive.  Today, a kid will cuss you out for recommending a low paying job that would take them away from texting their friends, surfing the web or playing video games.  If the video games, giant HDTVs and the web are so visually stimulating, how can teachers and pastors keep young people’s attention?

Don’t you dare say go high tech because I want to go low tech or no tech.  Let’s start a charter school like the one on Little House of the Prairie with water pump outside.  Children sit down and learn..period.  If the students don’t like it, who cares because that was the point; learn to do something you don’t want to do.  I would take 20K a year to work at that school over 45K in a regular public school.  If you hear that I am teaching school, tell the local news van to back up to the school and leave the motor running…story coming soon about new teacher putting a little monster in a headlock; parents planning lawsuit.  

People need to have the ability to do what they don’t want to do.  Time for a non-P.C. racial stereotype: many Asian kids are very obedient, respectful and focused before they hanging out with other kids.  Isn’t it amazing that the last five years of being a teen shapes the next five decades.

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Mortgaging our kids’ fiscal futures is a concern but a bigger issue should be the drive of the kids in the developing world (Latin America, Asia, Eastern Europe) compared to the average American teen if you read Thomas L. Friedman’s The World Is Flat.  While there are excepts, many teens in our community have the entitlement mentality that First Lady Michelle Obama and her mother refuse to allow the Obama girls to develop.  Our children have funky dispositions and I can’t stand them as far as I can throw them.  Can I throw them?

So, I am playing tennis with a former basketball coach at the high school yesterday and the football team is going through drills.  Evidently, the coaches worked with the younger players first, then took the underclassmen pass the tennis courts to the practice field.  For the next hour, I heard about a dozen players who appeared to be around ninth grade used the worst language in front of the gym as loudly as they could—s, a, mf, b, d, p and n-gger.  Not my business, don’t speak to other people’s children, my name is West, I am not in that mess.  Then I started to place the blame for this unacceptable behavior: the kids themselves, parents, lower grade teachers, church, family, DNA, lack of oxygen in the birth canal, was not whipped like we were.  Spare the rob…spare the rob.

While I was no angel at that age, I respected women, children and older people during public conversations.  We would change the language or say salty things quietly.  Since I can’t give up on the youth because they are my classmates’ kids or sometimes grandkids, I employed the glare technique to no avail.  For all the years I was respectful, I intend on enjoy the same reverence.  As coaches’ wives and children walked past them, the ugliness continued without pause.  I had enough after hearing part of the talk that would make a drunken sailor blush and said, “Fellows, would you please watch your language.”  The ringleaders laughed and I decided that I would be at their games in the fall so I can watch decent kids put them on their behinds every time the ball is snapped. 

In recent years, our high school sports teams have looked good on paper but lacked the character and focus to win state championships.  Champions are made between the ears and coaches can’t be blame if they start with youth without strong moral fiber and will.  I really don’t think I was upset at the kids as much as the parents who failed to prepare them for life—they are being raised by music videos.  It pains me to say that those kids had the mentality and social skills of fourth graders and the okay kids were being negatively influenced by the worst ones.  Here’s the fun part.  As the coach walked back to the gym, the loudmouths got nervous when thinking that we were going to rat them out.  Of course, I sung like a jaybird, which might have been a mistake because the little homies could be “connected.”  

I don’t have the answer but someone needs to figure something out soon because today’s kuckleheads or tomorrow’s inmates/fathers—talk about your vicious circle.  But, those coaches are well-intended professionals and you don’t measure an operation by who comes into the program; you notice the quality of the products who finish.  Of those loudmouths, only a few will be with the team in the fall.  Some folks can’t take discipline. 

In education, teachers who can’t reach the youth should admit failure and allow someone else the opportunity to get the job done because the consequences of failure are bigger threats to America’s future than the Taliban. 

While I won’t say it, some friends think the answer starts with encouraging less than bright people to refrain from populating the nation with idiots.  We have all been riding in a car and saw rough-looking teens courting and someone said, “let’s hope they don’t have a child because that gene pool is polluted.”  I can see it in their eyes; a disconnect from a functioning value system and the inability to determine appropriate social behavior.  What’s sad is that many will ended up in shackles like the ones we worked hard to throw off.  I can’t watch that happen. 

To end on a positive note, it feels good when a young adult stops me and say thanks for trying to talk some sense into his head during his teen years.  I say no problem, it is the least I can do since folks talked to me during my teen years and if you get really rich buy me a pontoon boat.

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