Insight News

Oct 04th


Non-violence must prevail

Today, we are mourning.  As a collective nation, we are suffering the senseless loss of life in Arizona, the vitriol in our public discourse that may have contributed to this heinous act and our inability to stop it before it ripped a deep hole into the very fabric of our democracy.  While most of us attempt to digest this vicious attack, we cannot ignore the fact that gun usage and violence are destroying our communities all across this great country of ours.  We can no longer disregard the notion that guns are too readily accessible to folks and a culture of hostility exists all around us.  If we weren’t motivated to take substantive action to save ourselves before, at the very least, Arizona’s shootings should push us to now do so without hesitation.

Make the dream a reality for the children

Make the dream a reality for the childrenAlthough Dr. King is no longer with us, his spirit and dream live on.

On January 17, 2011, we will mark the 25th anniversary of the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday. It is a milestone that provides us with an opportunity to honor his legacy.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday is also recognized as a national day of service. A time when we can impact our communities the most and transform Dr. King’s life and teachings into community action that helps solve social problems.

As we embark on this 17th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, please take time to reflect on how we can make his dream a reality for African American children in foster care.

Quiet times

A snowstorm has blanketed the east coast, causing flight cancellations and disrupted holiday plans.  The President is vacationing in Hawaii after a grueling lame duck session in Washington.  During this the last week of the year, there will be no economic indicator issues.  These are quiet times.

I received an email from a friend of a friend, one of those forwarded things that I swear not to forward on, even though I am threatened with gloom, doom, and decades of bad luck if I fail to spread the word.   This electronic version of a chain letter leaves much to be desired until I read to the bottom line that says, “January 1, 2011 can be written as 1-1-11.  How much more confirmation do you need to do things differently.”  Something to think about but different does not mean polluting cyberspace with more junk e-mail.

Christmas, Kwanzaa and Chanukkah

Habari Gani begins the greeting.  It is Swahili for “what’s happening.”  During Kwanzaa, the seven days between December 26 and January 1, the response reflects the particular day of Kwanzaa.  On December 26, the response is Umoja, which means Unity.  On December 29, the response is Ujamaa, which is cooperative economics.  On the last day of Kwanzaa, January 1, the response is Imani which means Faith.

We are all indebted to Mualana Ron Karenga for his development of the Kwanzaa concept in 1969, and for the millions of people who celebrate African history and heritage.   As a Christian, I worship and am mindful of the birth of the Christ Child and the fact that somehow, as a greeting, Happy Holidays has swallowed Merry Christmas.

Claims Resolution Act: Will farmers be paid?

Headlines are saying that “Black Farmers Are Getting Paid” because President Barack Obama has signed the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 that authorizes $1.15 billion to settle claims Black farmers won initially from the US Department of Agriculture over a decade ago.  Before we all trumpet “success and justice” in this matter, take a look at how we got to here.

In 1997, a Black North Carolina farmer named Timothy Pigford filed a claim against the government for reparations.  Four hundred Black farmers joined Pigford’s suit and claimed USDA discrimination against them on the basis of race.  Then-Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman found that 205 of the 116,261 loan and crop payments issued by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency involved the possibilities of racial discrimination.  On January 4, 1999, Judge Paul Friedman signed a consent decree that awarded damages to Blacks who farmed, or tried to farm, between January 1981 and December 1996 and had applied for USDA aid.  Claimants were supposed to file by September 15th 2000, but around 73,800 did not.

Give the gift of caring and sharing this season

No matter what faith traditions we come from or celebrate—Ramadan, Christmas, or Hanukkah—this time of year is one of reflection on what really matters. The average American family spends hundreds of dollars on gifts during this season. It’s wonderful to share special times and gifts with friends and family, but for many adults this holy season has been commercialized and become defined by shopping for the “in” toys, clothes, and other material gifts we think our children want. And while it’s fine to give children these things when we can, we should never forget to give them the more important gifts of ourselves—our time, attention, and family rituals—that children need. We also should be teaching them the importance of sharing with others. Too many children are afflicted by physical poverty, but too many are afflicted with “affluenza”, the spiritual poverty of having too much that is worth too little. Perhaps this season we can teach that the greatest gift is one of caring, sharing, and service.

Challenging the privatized prison industry

A few months ago a group of earnest and determined stockholders traveled together by bus from Washington, D.C. to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend a shareholders’ meeting. On the surface, it sounded like a fairly ordinary trip, but this was an unusual group on an extraordinary mission. The shareholders’ meeting was for the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company in the country; and the group of shareholders included ex-offenders who now each hold one share of stock in CCA to get an ownership stake in some of the same prisons that once held them captive. They attended the meeting in hopes of sharing their perspective on how the privatized prison industry can better serve society by rehabilitating inmates rather than just serving its own profits by perpetuating the prison cycle.
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