Black LGBTQ History Comes To Morehouse

by TKOEd • Wednesday, Dec 12, 2012 • no responses - be the first

 

Via Colorlines:

 

Morehouse College, the nation’s most well-known all-male college for black men, announced this week this week announced a new course focusing on LGBT pop culture, history and society.

This is good news, and potentially a major step forward for HBCUs. I love that they are approaching this from historical prospective as well. Just within the civil rights movement there unsung LGBT heroes. Let alone wider society. A key component of progress is understanding, and nothing fosters better understanding like knowledge of history. Many props to Morehouse.

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The Big Story: Jeffrey Goldberg’s Gunsmoke!

by TKOEd • Monday, Dec 10, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Jeffrey Goldberg advocates for more guns, and more gun control in this month’s Atlantic magazine:

I shared—and continue to share—the view that muscular gun-control regulations, ones that put stumbling blocks in front of criminals seeking firearms, are necessary. But I was also seized by the thought that, had I been on the train, I would much rather have been armed than unarmed. I was not, and am not, under the illusion that a handgun would have necessarily provided a definitive solution to the problem posed by Colin Ferguson. But my instinct was that if someone is shooting at you, it is generally better to shoot back than to cower and pray.

The problem with this, and Goldberg’s entire argument is that it’s mostly built on the back of fighting back an assailant who also has a gun. Goldberg asks victims of gun violence if they would have preferred to have been armed on the day they were shot, and all them dismiss the idea to varying degrees. Now the people who were actually in the middle of it all are highly skeptical that being armed would have done them any good, but Goldberg is pretty damn sure it would have. Lots of people like to think they would have saved the day had they been in the theater in Aurora, but the folks who went through it are much less sure. That should give us all pause. Not Jeffrey Goldberg though:

But the worst thing that could have happened to Daniel Mauser did, in fact, happen. The presence in the Columbine library of a well-trained, armed civilian attempting to stop the killers could hardly have made the situation worse.

The fact that extremely few civilians are “well-trained” in the use of firearms doesn’t seem to faze Goldberg in the least. Furthermore he knows that it wouldn’t have made the situation worse. Because he was there! Wait, no, he was not. He doesn’t consider how a shoot-out could have easily made things worse. He moves on to Columbine after talking to an Aurora survivor who’s pretty sure that armed civilians wouldn’t have been helpful at all. You know because it was a theater, and it was fucking dark, and who knows who’s shooting at who? And did I mention the shooter was wearing body armor?

The whole piece seems built around a fantasy Goldberg seems to have about taking down someone shooting at him or someone else. He mentions places with less gun violence in passing, but only to say that we’ve gone past the point of no return, and that we already have so many guns so the only answer is MORE GUNS. Or he posits that the U.K. has more home break-ins when people are home because they have less gun ownership. Never mind that those places have far less gun violence, and crime in general.

Goldberg mentions Trayvon Martin, but only to call Zimmerman a “cowboy.” I’m also thinking of Jordan Davis, and Robbie Tolan, and Oscar Grant, and Sean Bell. All of who were killed or shot by people who were lawfully carrying guns. I point this out because that’s the crux of Goldberg’s argument. Lawful gun owners. He puts up lots of statistics to show that concealed-carry laws don’t create more gun violence. But when I look at how many people seem to have an irrational fear of Black men more guns on the street, no matter how they were obtained doesn’t make me feel any safer. I also think that’s what makes it easier for Goldberg to be so dismissive of the idea that more people with guns could be a problem. It’s doesn’t seem to be a problem for people who look like him. All the most famous instances of people being shot by someone who legally carried a weapon are Black men.

Goldberg seems to assume that when a law-abiding citizen pulls a gun on a criminal the criminal will flee. But given his focus on fighting guns with guns, then what seems more logical is to assume is a shoot-out. Does a shoot-out sound safer then a stick-up for the general public? Shouldn’t we also assume that faced with an increasingly armed populace that more, and more criminals will take up James Holmes’ lead, and wear body armor when they go out to commit crimes? There are so many issues & questions he fails to consider in what is a relatively long piece. In addition his other “evidence” he strongly implies that the rise of concealed-carry laws has played a significant part in bringing down the crime rate in America:

Today, the number of concealed-carry permits is the highest it’s ever been, at 8 million, and the homicide rate is the lowest it’s been in four decades—less than half what it was 20 years ago. (The number of people allowed to carry concealed weapons is actually considerably higher than 8 million, because residents of Vermont, Wyoming, Arizona, Alaska, and parts of Montana do not need government permission to carry their personal firearms. These states have what Second Amendment absolutists refer to as “constitutional carry,” meaning, in essence, that the Second Amendment is their permit.)

He throws out a couple more stats like that in other parts of his piece. But he also hints that his attempts at providing causation between c-c, and less crime might be bullshit:

Others contend that proving causality between crime rates and the number of concealed-carry permits is impossible. “It’s difficult to make the case that more concealed-carry guns have led to the drop in the national crime rate, because cities like Los Angeles, where we have very restrictive gun-control laws, have seen the same remarkable drop in crime,” Winkler told me. (Many criminologists tend to attribute America’s dramatic decrease in violent crime to a combination of demographic changes, longer criminal sentencing, innovative policing techniques, and the waning of the crack wars.)

He attempts to refute it in the very next paragraph though. The above quote mentions L.A., and its restrictive gun-control laws, but leaves out many other cities like say, NY or D.C. Large cities are responsible for a large majority of the reduced crime in America, and they are also the places most likely to have strong gun-control laws.  All of this gives me the sense that rather than going in trying to find the best resolution to out gun problem, Goldberg went in trying to figure out how to have it both ways. He wants to have his gun so he can one day be a hero, but he wants to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill & criminals. All of this is supposed to make us safer. Despite all the stats he throws out in this piece, at no point does he even hint at any other country where more guns = less crime. Only America do we have this backwards logic. He says 47% of people in this country own guns, he wants us to believe the only real way for the rest of us to stay safe is by getting one ourselves.

It’s clear to me that Goldberg has succumbed to “The Seductive Dream of Standing Your Ground”, but the biggest fantasy is the idea that we can get even get moderate forms of gun control passed at a national level. We’d get more guns, and but no more control.

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Black Republicans & The “Plantation”

by TKOEd • Monday, Dec 10, 2012 • one response - join in

Why do Black GOPers like Herman Cain & Shirley Husar like to refer to Black Democrats as being on the “Democratic plantation” or in “bondage” to Democrats? Why do they always seem to do when addressing white Republicans? And why are they surprised after making such statements that a Black person might call them a “sell-out” or some variation?

I don’t know about you, but when you say that I’m a slave to the Democrats I suddenly don’t think very highly of you. And when you do it while addressing nearly all white audiences I’m become extremely skeptical of your motives. Because you’re clearly not trying to convince me to come over to your side. You’re not even talking to me. Usually you’re in the middle of giving advice to white GOPers about how they should “recruit” Black folks.

Herman Cain described himself as a “modern-day Harriet Tubman.” Shirley Husar (who? exactly) said:

It is time to lay down the tracks of a new “underground railroad,” a movement to help a people who are in bondage to the Democratic Party find hope and encouragement in the GOP…

These self-styled Harriet Tubmans didn’t do so well this year, Obama won 93% of the Black vote. Damn those stubborn coloreds. They really love their massa.

We have values that resonate strongly with GOP values – love of family, the desire to succeed, hatred of cronyism and concentrated power, which are often used against us.

Let’s break this down a bit.

Love of Family: The GOP is generally considered the party of “family values”, but are they really? The Family & Medical Leave Act passed, but nearly all who voted against it were Republicans. They’re anti-gay marriage. They’ve been anti-programs like S-CHIP. They’re anti-family planning.They voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Desire to Succeed: I’m not sure what this is referring to specifically, but I’m assuming it has something to do with work. GOPers are often cited as being on the side of “small business”, but who are they really in the pockets of? Big Business. Who are they always working for? Rich investors and/or rick business owners. They’re virulently anti-union. Again, they voted against Lily Ledbetter. They are generally the ones voting against raising the minimum wage. All these are ways in which people try to better themselves, and the lives of their families.

Hatred of Cronyism & Concentrated Power: Is she really serious with this one? “Heckuva of job Brownie.” Enron. The Wall Street recession. Iran Contra. Blackwater. As far as concentrated power goes, all I’ve got to say is reproductive rights.

Do these people think we’re stupid? Shirley says no:

Blacks and Latinos aren’t genetically Democratic. We aren’t stupid. We aren’t blind.

You’re right, Shirley. We’re not stupid. That’s why we aren’t persuaded by charlatans like yourself looking to bamboozle & swindle us. This isn’t about helping Black folks. It’s about selling the white GOP establishment on how you can magically bring minorities to their side, by telling them to get off the plantation.

Again you’re right, we’re not stupid, and we’re not blind. As a matter of fact, we see right through you.

 

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A Few Words On Today’s Jobs Report

by TKOEd • Friday, Nov 2, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Mostly from brilliant former Veep economist Jared Bernstein, bold mine:

Well, the big jobs report is out showing payrolls grew by a more-than-expected 171,000 last month and the unemployment rate ticked  up slightly, as expected, to 7.9%.  Job growth for the prior two months was revised up by 84,000, and the average monthly pace of job growth over the past four months–a useful way of smoothing out monthly noise in the data–is 173,000, a sharp acceleration over the second quarter’s pace of 67,000 per month (see figure).

The uptick in unemployment was expected after September’s 0.3 percentage point drop, but a few things are worth noting.  First, the 0.1 point increase is statistically indistinguishable from no change at all–the unemployment rate has to rise or fall about 0.2 points to be significant.  At 7.9%, the jobless rate is down significantly–by one full point–from its rate one year ago.  Second, one reason for the slight uptick was more people coming into the labor market seeking work.  We’ll need to see how this development evolves in coming months, but we may be seeing early signs of an improving job market pulling more job seekers in from the sidelines.

All told, given the acceleration in payroll growth, the upward revisions to prior months payroll gains, the trend decline in unemployment, and the pick-up in labor force participation, today’s report is generally pointing to job market that’s showing signs of improvement.

 So basically what we have here is that a decent amount of people are feeling good enough about the economy that they’ve started looking for jobs again. Furthermore, as Berstein notes, the last quarter saw a 3-fold improvement in jobs added over the previous quarter. Obviously, that’s a huge increase. We’re on the right path, and we need to stay on it. Romney, and Ryan have nothing to offer, but reheated Republican rhetoric on taxes. A teevee dinner, if you will, of trick-me now economics. Pardon, that’s trickle-down. I’m sure you’ll pardon the my confusion. 20% across the board tax reductions, Medicare as a voucher system, and promises of 12 million new  jobs? All with no specifics? Sounds like a sketchy deal all right.
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The Big Story: Get Out The Vote

by TKOEd • Friday, Nov 2, 2012 • no responses - be the first

The election is close. Very close. Let’s do a run down of what we currently believe will be the closest states on election day:

The above chart is clipped from Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com. The number furthest to the left is the average of the numbers to the right which are themselves either straight up averages of polls or averages with some sort of weighting system built in.

The biggest thing I noticed was the Florida average. Romney is only up by .6 points. Everything we’ve heard has pretty much said that FL was Romney’s to lose. This throws that thinking out. I lived in Missouri in 2008. It’s the only time I’ve ever lived in a state that was contested in a presidential election. It was amazing to me. Maybe that’s because I don’t watch much teevee. I was at the the Obama rally that drew 100,000 people:

Old St Louis courthouse?

On election day that year I went to an Obama field office, and volunteered to knock on doors. It was kind of difficult. Not because people weren’t nice, they were, but I just never randomly knocked on anyone’s door before. Whatever difficulty I felt though was overwhelmed by the amazing feelings I had. The feeling of civic duty was there, but most of all it was the feeling of trying to help a man who I wholeheartedly believed, and still believe, in. Not to mention he would be the 1st non-white man to be POTUS in the history of this country.

Get Out The Vote. GOTV. That’s what I was trying to do that day. This weekend we need to GOTV for this man again. The alternative is a man who inspires no one, and even those who support him see Romney as the snake oil salesman he really is:

Romney’s shape-shifting nature would induce him to govern as a center-right moderate.

Emphasis mine. That’s David Brooks today in an op-ed where he’s actually endorsing Romney for President of the United States of America. The op-ed is titled “The Upside of Opportunism.” I shit you not. Can we let this man become president? NO! Can we let a man who cares not for the right of women to control their bodies sit in the Oval Office day in, and day out? NO! Can we let a man who wants to put even more money in the pockets of rich folks become POTUS? FUCK NO! So if you live in Wisconsin, Colorado, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, North Carolina or Iowa (cue Dean Scream!) we need boots on the ground. We need you to go knock on doors. We need you to be poll watchers. We need you. Our country needs you. People’s lives are at stake.

Health care is probably the most important issue in this election, because what the political press nor candidates themselves will tell you is that the president actually holds very little sway over the national economy. And as I’ve alluded to, health care is absolutely life, and death. Country to popular belief, just going to the emergency room is not health care. Not in any real sense of course. As anyone (like me) who’s actually had to use the ER as a family “doctor” will tell you, the ER sucks as health care if you’re not potentially close to death.

So we have a choice. It’s the same choice I had in 2008. Sit on my ass or Get Out The Vote. I chose the latter. I’m imploring you to do the same this year. The candidates have not talked about or only mentioned in passing many of the issues that are close to my heart, but I know who’s closest to what I believe in. I know who will actually work for the most vulnerable if pushed, and given the chance. That man is Barack Obama.

We’ve got a lot of work to do, because even if you’re not in one of the states above, we can make calls. If you do, get down to an Obama field office, and volunteer. At the very least go out, and vote. Our work will make all the difference in the election.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

The Big Story: Romney’s Racism

by TKOEd • Friday, Oct 26, 2012 • no responses - be the first

“We’re taking back America” ~ Mitt Romney

Did I miss something? Was America stolen? If so, who stole it? Wait, I know. It must have been that Black guy (from the southside of Chicago no less) in the big White House in D.C. You know, the one with the militant wife. He’s shifty on the basketball court. He’s probably shifty off of it too.

Mitt Romney’s co-chair, John Sununu, is a man who has blown quite a few dog whistles in this campaign. Now he’s recycling one from the 2008 presidential elections: Colin Powell is going to vote for Obama because they’re both Black. Should I assume that Sununu is supporting Romney because they’re both white? Is he “proud” of Romney because he’s running for president, and he’s white?  Should I assume that the 57% of white men who voted against Obama in 2008 did so because he’s Black, and McCain is white? A Democrat hasn’t won the white vote since 1964. That was the year Lyndon Johnson won in a landslide against Goldwater. Interestingly enough, the Civil Rights Act passed that year. I wonder if that had anything to do with whites voting GOP for nearly half a decade? Nah, no way (#straightface).

Personally, I’m interested in any of Sununu’s apologies or retractions of his racist bullshit. I am interested in the fact that Romney has never rebuked any of Sununu’s remarks publicly. Instead Sununu continues to be on the frontlines for Romney’s campaign. Constantly sent to talk to the media. So I have to assume that, at worst, Romney agrees with his co-chair’s bigoted pronouncements or, at best, sees a political advantage to these kinds of statements. For some reason I’m very inclined to believe it’s the latter. Maybe it’s because Romney believes Black people just want free stuff from the government.

Lately, Romney wants the American public to see him as a moderate. But as I watched clips from his speech yesterday, and I heard that “taking back” line, and knew he was going to send out racist dog whistles right up to & on the day of the election. This is who Romney has decided he’s going to be. This is who the modern day GOP is. Blacks want free shit, Obama stole America, and Negroes vote for Obama because he’s Black.

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Fatherhood Friday: Crime & Punishment

by TKOEd • Friday, Oct 19, 2012 • no responses - be the first

It’s hard for me to punish our daughter. Not because she’s a girl or any nonsense like that, but because she’s a kid. Like all kids she makes a lot of mistakes. Basically, she only gets punished for things on which we know that she knows better, and that what she’s done is wrong or something we don’t want her taking part in.

Today her class was supposed to go apple picking. Erika & I were going as chaperones (mostly because we wanted to pick some apples too!). A minute or so after we get to the school with Kyli one of the school administrators comes up to us & asks Kyli to tell us what she did on the school bus the other day. Kyli’s face immediately changes. It goes from full of joy to showing some shame. Kylie recounts her transgressions. Erika hands me the pastries for the parenting forum the school principal holds every Friday. Erika stays downstairs to speak with one of the other kids involved (Kyli’s cousin). Erika comes upstairs, and tells me the whole story. I decide that we are all not going to go on the trip. Erika goes to inform Kyli’s teachers.

Kyli is predictably very upset that she will not be going on the trip. I err on the side of being tough on Kyli while trying to always keep in mind that’s she’s only 6 years old. The other thing I always keep in mind is that I am raising a Black child in America. Some folks have no problem arresting very young Black children for a tantrum.

These are the issues that white parents don’t have to concern themselves with. We’re raising kids that the older they get the less slack they receive just because of their skin color. In some states, Black & Latino juveniles are far more likely to be tried as adults than their white counterparts charged with the same crimes. Now I’m someone who opposes trying juveniles as adults in ALL situations. The notion that we’re going to say a child was acting as an adult is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. A child is a child is a child. Nothing can change that. The fact that we are the only country in the world that sentences juveniles to life in prison should make us all support continuing that ask why.

Maybe my biggest fear as a father is my child having to deal with our justice system, especially the NYC police. So maybe I’m a little tougher than I need to be sometimes. I’ve been dialing it back, successfully I think. This summer was tough, but Kyli’s been doing better than ever when it comes to actual school work. One thing we’ve learned is that if we’re talking, Kyli is most likely listening. Even when we think she’s not. It can be a long hard struggle to actually see the results, but they always come. But for me, possibly the toughest thing about parenting is the uncertainty. It can take a long time to know if you’re on the right path with your decisions, and as I’ve laid out above it feels like the consequences of being wrong falls harder on our children. At the same time, I’m not interested in stifling Kyli’s personality. All we do is to try, and help her grow into the best Kyli she can be. We’re not interested in raising a child who will fit perfectly into what white society thinks is the best presentation of a Black woman. As I’ve stated before I don’t want her to beholden to anyone or anything, but herself. I believe at some point kids are partially raising themselves, and parents act more as guides than anything else. The tools we give them or help them cultivate up until the point they start to take over can make all the difference. It’s scary that we don’t really know until they’re grown if we’ve given or helped them find all the tools they need. But at the end of the day I think it’s really about do they know they can trust us, and have we helped them find what they need to help themselves. Time will tell, but I feel good about us, my family and our communities.

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Massachusetts Lab Tech Arrested For Faking Drug Tests

by TKOEd • Monday, Oct 15, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Police said the former state crime lab chemist admitted that she altered or faked test results of drug cases assigned to her. Prosecutors said she went as far as adding cocaine to samples that were negative.

“There was clearly a short cutting of corners,” State Attorney General Martha Coakley said. “There was just getting this done as quickly as possible and all of that we’re looking at.”

Officials said during her nine years the lab, Dookhan tested more than 60,000 drug samples. About 11,000 people now in jail were put there in part due to her work.

Already more than a dozen have been released because of questions about how she handled evidence.

But for some reason lots of folks in this country don’t understand why so many people, especially those most likely to be targeted by police, don’t trust the justice system. Couple cases like this with all the forensic science issues with have in this country, and all the police brutality & misconduct & you have a system that hardly any objective observer can be confident in.

Leah Bartos for Pro Publica:

One afternoon early last year, I punched in my credit card information, paid $495 to the American College of Forensic Examiners International Inc. and registered for an online course.

After about 90 minutes of video instruction, I took an exam on the institute’s web site, answering 100multiple choice questions, aided by several ACFEI study packets.

As soon as I finished the test, a screen popped up saying that I had passed, earning me an impressive-sounding credential that could help establish my qualifications to be an expert witness in criminal and civil trials.

For another $50, ACFEI mailed me a white lab coat after sending my certificate.

I don’t know about you, but shit like this makes me not want to leave my house, and carry a video recording device that’s on at all times.

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Fatherhood Friday: Waiting For The Bus

by TKOEd • Friday, Oct 12, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to take my daughter to her bus stop & wait with her. The mornings before school are a slightly crazy time. Getting the child up, washed, fed, dressed & out the door while simultaneously packing her lunch, and getting the dogs together for their morning walk can be intense. Luckily, I have Erika on most days, and vice versa.

Every morning there is a parade of other parents, mostly moms, taking their kids to school or waiting with them at the various bus stops. There is also shorter, not smaller, parade of children taking other children to school. This morning I saw a boy, maybe 8 years old, walking an even younger girl to what I assume was school, pre-school or day care. I had one thought: “And Mitt Romney thinks poor people (read Black people) don’t take “responsibility” for their lives. And yes, I think he was thinking about Black people when he made that 47% statement. I don’t think he was thinking about seniors or soldiers or disabled folks. Too many things in that statement are exactly the things that the GOP has been accusing Black people of being for decades. This was just the latest coded way of saying them.

I thought of my niece who at 13, with all the pressures of trying to get into a good high school, has been helping her parents more & more with her younger brothers. Fuck you, don’t tell me she’s not taking responsibility for her life. She’s not only taking responsibility for her life, but two others. I looked at my daughter, and prayed that she would never have to juggle so many responsibilities. That we will have the good fortune, and good decision making to give all she needs, and more. We’ll expect her help with other kids when we have them, but, God willing, that will be dictated by us, and not by circumstance.

I thought of the parents whose children are helping them shoulder the burden of bad circumstances, choices, and often just bad luck. How scared are they when they send their kids out that door alone? They probably worry about bad drivers, and bad influences. They maybe say a small prayer, and hope that neither child’s impulsiveness rears its head during their, hopefully, short walk.

Being a parent is hard, being a poor one is even harder. 21.6% of the people in my Congressional district live in poverty. The overwhelming majority of them are taking responsibility for their lives. And whatever ones aren’t, I guarantee it’s not because they’re “dependent” on the govt. As if $30.88 a week in food stamps is making people dependent. Fuck you. It’s far more likely that people who can’t, won’t or are having a hard time taking responsibility for themselves have been failed by their government, and by extension, their country.

Either way, we are striving to raise to help our child grow into a good adult. One who won’t ever have to worry about being dependent on anything, but her own skills, charm & know-how. She will not be beholden to a big corporation, or a “big” government. The only thing she’ll have to answer to are her big dreams. I pray the same for all children.

 

 

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Welcome to America In Black

by TKOEd • Thursday, Oct 4, 2012 • one response - join in

Welcome to my new home on the web. Welcome to the a place where you hopefully will turn to find sharp analysis, news, opinion, and most of all the truth. On some issues it will be the truth as I see it, but I will always strive to bring you facts. My twitter pages says sincerity is my credential, honesty is as well.

I will talk to you about issues from my point of view, and I will tell you what I think it means for the poor, the overlooked, the underrepresented, and those of us who are Black & Brown in America. I’m not a reporter, but I hope to bring you  some news, and issues you’ve never heard of or really thought about in addition to the stories that are carrying the day. My main focus, obviously, will be on what happens within our borders, but do not believe I will not speak of & to my constituency overseas as well.

More than anything I want this place to be a community. I’m looking for passionate, intelligent, and well-informed discussion. You want to be pissed off at me or another commentor? Be my guest, but stick to the issues, and stick to the facts. No ad hominem attacks, no lies, no personal shots. Save that shit for your twitter page. The other things I’m looking for AIB to be is a resource. With a lot of issues, I’ll tell you what I think should be done, but more than that I want to tell you how we/you can get it done. When I talk about financial literacy I’ll give links to places where we can go to become more financially sound individually & as a community. I’ll expect the community I hope to build to respond in kind in the comment section.

This blog is not going to be just about my own navel-gazing. This will be a place for real world solutions, real world advice & real world action.

Welcome to a place where we will talk fatherhood. Welcome to a place where we will talk marriage & relationships. Welcome to a place where we will talk poverty. Welcome to a place where we will talk immigration, the military & prison industrial complexes, racism, American exceptionalism, and A LOT of politics.

Welcome to America…In Black.

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