Thursday, September 27, 2007

Urban News: More Blacks in Prison Cells Than College Dorms

In a U.S. Census Bureau report released today, data shows that more than three times as many black people live in prison cells as in college dorms.

"It's one of the great social and economic tragedies of our time," said Marc Morial, president and CEO of the Urban League. "It points to the signature failure in our education system and how we've been raising our children."

The new data has limitations. The numbers, driven by men, do not include college students who live off campus. In addition, it does not provide racial breakdowns by gender or age, though it does show that males make up 90 percent of prison inmates.

There are a lot of reasons why black students do not reach college at the same rate as whites, said Amy Stuart Wells, a professor of sociology and education at Columbia University's Teachers College. Black students are more likely to attend segregated schools with high concentrations of poverty, less qualified teachers, lower expectations and a less demanding curriculum, she said.

"And they are perceived by society as terrible schools, so it is hard to get accepted into college," Wells said. "Even if you are a high-achieving kid who beats the odds, you are less likely to have access to the kinds of courses that colleges are looking for."

Students who don't graduate high school are much more likely to go to prison, said Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. Nearly 40 percent of inmates lack a high school diploma or the equivalent, according to the census data.

Morial added, "Minority students also need more early childhood education, longer school days, longer school years and more meaningful summer job opportunities. We need to get serious about true investment on the front end."

Source: GoogleNews

NBA Star Dwyane Wade Is Coming To A School Near You

Remember recess period from elementary school? Once I entered junior high, recess was over. A recent report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has found that recess is declining in schools that primarily educate children from minority and low income families. The report also cites that recess is the single best way to help kids be more physically active, which will definitely help considering the obesity rate in children is increasing.

This week is National Recess Week (September 24-28), which brings attention to this issue. Cartoon Network has announced a major partnership with NBA Cares and Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade to help enlist one million volunteer hours to rescue recess across America.

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NBA Community Ambassador Bob Lanier (in photo above playing ball with the kids) was on hand in Washington D.C. at Brookland Elementary school for the announcement of National Recess Week.

Wade said, “I’ve been extremely fortunate and blessed to work with people who’ve helped me along the way, so I’ve made it a priority to give my time and energy back to young people whenever I have the opportunity.”

Wade will lead fellow NBA players, legends and WNBA stars in making public school appearances during the school year as volunteer recess monitors. (The kids will love that!) He will also appear in a national on-air spot to promote Rescuing Recess, the award-winning campaign created by Cartoon Network to champion the benefits and importance of daily recess in schools.

“Rescuing Recess is a perfect fit for me to meet with kids and share how being active and healthy is an important part of being a good student,” Wade continued. “In fact, using recess to blow off steam and to re-energize will actually help them do better with their schoolwork.”

For more information on how a school can get involved, visit to complete the volunteer challenge registration. The school that has the most volunteer hours will receive a single $25,000 cash grant and a special recess rally event.

Source1 Source2

In related news, Dwyane Wade hosted the Young, Fly and Flashy Skating party to benefit his foundation, The Dwyane Wade Foundation, on September 14th in Lynwood, Illinois:

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NBA player Antoine Walker and Wade

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Wade with Kanye West

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Wade on rollerskates with New York Knicks Quentin Richardson

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Photos: Wireimage


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Philanthropist Magic Johnson Hosts Fundraiser for Senator Hillary Clinton

On September 14th, Earvin "Magic" and Cookie Johnson held a fundraiser for Senator Hillary Clinton at their lavish Beverly Hills estate.
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Music producer Jimmy Jam, his wife Lisa with Hillary and Magic
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Hillary and Magic with Pauletta Washington, wife of Denzel Washington
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Magic and Hillary with fundraiser co-chairs Quincy Jones, Berry Gordy and Clarence Avant

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Dennis Rodman, Keyshawn Johnson, Hillary, Dave Winfield and Magic
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Lisa Ellis, EVP of Sony/BMG with Hillary and Magic
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Cookie Johnson, Hillary, Pauletta Washington and LaTanya Richardson Jackson

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Hillary with Radio One Chair Cathy Hughes, Cookie and Magic

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Although Johnson had given the maximum $2,300 primary contribution to Clinton's leading rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., the basketball legend turned entrepreneur said he is endorsing Clinton because of her "unique understanding of the domestic and international issues" and because she "has the experience and knowledge to help lead our country and get us to a better place."

SourcePhotos Arnold Turner/Wireimage

Hip Hop Is Under Attack!

Between the congressional hearing held yesterday on Capitol Hill that focused on violence and language in rap music and BET's Hip Hop vs. America Pt. I that aired last night, hip hop is definitely under attack these days.

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Just look at the faces of rap artists Levell "David Banner" Crump and Percy "Master P" Miller at the congressional hearing. They look stressed.

The hearing was convened by Del. Bobby L. Rush (D) of Illinois who asked music industry executives about their companies’ role in the production of explicit rap, at one point inviting them to read aloud from 50 Cent’s lyrics. The lawmakers also asked whether marketers were doing enough to shield young listeners from graphic content.

During the testimony, David Banner, who read from a prepared statement said:

“Gang violence was here before rap music .... I can admit that there are some problems in hip-hop, but it is only a reflection of what is taking place in our society. Hip-hop is sick because America is sick.”

Master P took a different stance saying rap artists needed to consider how fans might be affected by their music. He said, “We are inflaming this problem by not being responsible.” Miller also apologized to all of the women he has offended saying, “I was honestly wrong.”
Source: NYTimes
Photo: Gettyimages

Monday, September 24, 2007

Urban News: Racism's Toll May Be Physical

Racism, more than race, may be cutting black men down before their time.

In the L.A. Times article, Racism's Toll May Be Physical, researchers are studying the link between ill health and premature death to continuous assaults of racial discrimination, whether its real or perceived.

Vickie Mays, psychologist and director of the UCLA Center on Research says, "We have always thought of race-based discrimination as producing a kind of attitude, now we think we have sufficient information to say that it's more than just affecting your attitude. A person experiences it, has a response, and the response brings about a physiological reaction."

That physiological reaction includes a stress response in which the body releases a chemical called cortisol. As this occurrence happens continually over time, it can increase blood pressure which can lead to heart disease, diabetes and other infectious diseases.

An example of this is given in the article:

"Let's say something occurs where you follow me around in a store. I think that's racist. My blood pressure goes up. I get upset. Then I go to a different store. Someone appears to start following me. I am primed from a previous experience and I feel it again. We call it a micro-assault."
Researchers site that people feel and respond to discrimination in similar ways, though the experience of discrimination is more common to blacks. Among blacks, it's more commonly felt among men.

Read the article here. (link expired)
Source: LA Times

Friday, September 21, 2007

::Event: More Pictures From The Dream Concert::

More pictures below from the Dream Concert, a benefit for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial held on September 18th in NY:

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Kevin Liles and Len Burnett

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BET CEO Debra Lee and Ben Chavis of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network

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Robin Thicke

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Joss Stone

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Cece and Bebe Winans

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Garth Brooks

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Aretha Franklin

Photos Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Black Thursday Brings Attention to Racial Disparities

Thousands of people convened in the small town of Jena, Louisiana yesterday to support the Jena 6, six black teens who were initially charged with attempted murder in the beating of a white classmate. Hip hop artists that traveled to Jena included Mos Def, Ice Cube and David Banner. Thursday, September 20th was dubbed "Black Thursday" as many people wore black across the nation in support of the march and to protest against unequal justice.

Radio personality Michael Baisden did an incredible job of organizing this march, mobilizing the nation on this important issue, which has brought attention to the racial disparities within the nation's judicial system.

Tina Jones, a mother of one of the Jena 6 youth said, "I hope that the D.A. will wake up and realize that he's doing the wrong thing, and to release these kids," she said. "It's not equal. The black people get the harsher extent of the law, whereas white people get a slap on the wrist per se. So it is not equal here."
It's not equal in many cities.

Let me introduce a term to you: Disproportionate Minority Contact, or DMC.

This term describes the degree to which youth and his/her family come in contact with public services (i.e. police, child welfare, etc.) experience fair outcomes and are held accountable based on their own circumstances, not based on their race/ethnicity, living conditions, income, or family composition. DMC exists when minority youth/families have differing outcomes, usually more harsh. Let me give you an example: A disproportionate number of black youth that are arrested by police are sent to juvenile services, as opposed to being referred to a diversion program. Once a youth is in juvenile services, it is likely they will go deeper within the system.

Although this issue has been studied by the federal government and several states, few cities have been able to reduce their DMC.

There are two organizations that are committed to addressing racial disparity within the judicial system.

In a previous post, I highlighted the work of the Sentencing Project, a national organization that works for a fair and effective criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing law and practice, and alternatives to incarceration. The organization has become a leader in the effort to bring national attention to disturbing trends and inequities in the criminal justice system. This past July, the Sentencing Project issued a report, Uneven Justice. In the report it cites that African Americans are incarcerated at nearly 6 times the rate of whites and Latinos at nearly double the rate.

Another organization that is committed to addressing this issue is the W. Haywood Burns Institute. Based in San Francisco, they are a leading national organization that works with cities to reduce the over representation of youth of color in the juvenile justice system.

One way to effect change is to be informed. That is just one of the reasons I began this blog. What laws and policies may unfairly target people of color? In some cities wearing saggy low slung pants, which is popular among African American males, means run ins with the law, stiff penalties and even a stint in jail. In a Baltimore Sun article, Benetta Standly, statewide organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia says, "In Atlanta, we see this as racial profiling. It's going to target African-American male youths. There's a fear with people associating the way you dress with crimes being committed."

Photo: Washington Post

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Event: The Dream Concert

The Dream Concert, a benefit concert for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Foundation, was held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City last night. Among those who attended:

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Co-Chair Quincy Jones; Host committee member Kerry Washington

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Singer John Legend

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Rapper Talib Kweli; Stevie Wonder
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Denise Rich

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Gospel artists Bebe and Cece Winans; Kirk Franklin with wife Tammy

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Music producer Swizz Beats with Wyclef Jean

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Host committee member Al Roker and wife Deborah

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Tommy Hilfiger, Dee Ocleppo, Porschla Coleman and Russell Simmons
Viacom was the title sponsor for this event, donating $1 million dollars in cash and $500,000 in media value. Other individuals and organizations providing support include philanthropist Sheila Johnson, Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation, State Farm Insurance, Wal-Mart and the Walt Disney Company Foundation.

Photos WireImage/GettyImages

::Event: Inspired in Atlanta::

Gin company Bombay Sapphire held its Inspired in Atlanta event September 14-16, a three night celebration of urban arts and entertainment. The celebrity-filled series of events supported local charitable organizations.

Honorees included Ambassador Andrew Young and Grammy Award-winning performer and humanitarian, India.Arie, with musical performances from R&B stars Monica, Dionne Farris and more:

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Honoree India.Arie with Robert Epstein of Bombay Sapphire

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Check presentation to Harambee House on behalf of India.Arie
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Singer/songwriter PJ Morton with singer Monica
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Andrew Young
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Dionne Farris
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Check presentation to the Andrew Young Foundation

This event marks the brand's fourth year hosting private music performances with America's top urban talent in cities across the country. Earlier this year, Bombay Sapphire hosted Inspired in New York-- a seven- day Black History Month celebration, and Inspired in Chicago - a three-day tribute to Chicago urban culture.

Photos Rick Diamond/WireImage

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Ultimate Victory

Grammy award winning rapper Chamillionaire is releasing his new album today, Ultimate Victory, without something that all rap albums seem to have -- a parental advisory sticker.

Chamillionaire says watching white fans singing along on the N-word prompted him to eliminate it from the rhymes on his new album.

The Houston rapper, whose platinum 2005 album The Sound of Revenge spawned the Grammy-winning hit Ridin', says he made that decision long before criticism of rap lyrics erupted over CBS Radio shock jock Don Imus' racially tinged insult of the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

His stance drew jeers from rival 50 Cent, who shrugs off complaints about hip-hop's violent and misogynistic content. "Let (Chamillionaire) go sell gospel records, if he's so (expletive) righteous," 50 told Spin magazine in July. But rather than getting into a beef with the rapper, Chamillionaire used the controversy as fodder for the album's first two singles, Hip-Hop Police and The Evening News.

In his new video for Hip Hop Police, Chamillionaire dons makeup to play hip-hop cop Al Sharpless, news anchor Bill O'Wildy (references to critic/activist Al Sharpton and Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly) and news reporter Cashus Burns. He also appears as himself. The video portrays Sharpless arresting and interrogating Chamillionaire while O'Wildy's newscast details the arrests of other rap stars.

"It's really not about the police but the people who police hip-hop," Chamillionaire says. "It's like loving hip-hop is a crime these days, so I did a Murder Was the Case (the Snoop Dogg hit) type of record to paint the picture."

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Journey to Jena

This is the tree that ignited a racial firestorm in Jena, Louisiana last fall.

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I debated on whether I would post a story on the Jena 6 because so many websites and bloggers have it covered. I thought, one more blog? Will it make a difference? But with a rally and protest scheduled for this Thursday in Jena that is expected to draw over 60,000 people, I decided to feature this because this case shows that when people mobilize for an important cause, it can effect change. No doubt it influenced the judge in the case to overturn one of the students convictions from an adult charge to a lesser juvenile offense this past week.

Brief Background: In September 2006, a Black student at a high school in Jena, Louisana challenged school officials about sitting under the “white tree” in the schoolyard where the majority of the school’s 80% student body would gather (Blogger note: What?!? A white tree?!?). After the student was told they could gather anywhere they wanted, three nooses were found in the school colors hanging on the tree the next day.

Three white students were identified as the culprits and recommended for expulsion by the school principal. But, the white superintendent of schools overruled the recommendation and gave the students a three day suspension saying the nooses were just a playful stunt, “Adolescents play pranks, I don’t think it was a threat against anybody.”

Sidenote: What exactly is a noose? I looked it up on wikipedia and the definition says “the noose is a simple knot, normally made from a small-diameter rope that is often used by campers and hunters to catch small game.

When a noose is hung on a tree? That’s an entirely different meaning.

The following are comments I found on Diversity, Inc. about what a noose hanging from a tree means to them:

What they appear to have intended is exactly what it means for me: intimidation, fear, racism, danger.”

"A noose signifies the means by which death was inflicted on blacks since slaves were brought here to America. It is so sad to see that it is still being used as a threat.”

"A noose is a tangible, visual, silent and deliberate threat intended to indicate hatred and bring about fear, terror and panic."

"To me, a noose is a symbol of killing and death…"

With the superintendent’s decision that the nooses hung on the tree weren’t a threat against anyone, the racial firestorm began. Black students organized a sit-in under the “white tree” at the school to protest the light suspensions given to the noose-hanging white students. Several black male athletes took the lead in this protest -- the same students who were eventually accused of attacking a white student. After the demonstration under the tree, Robert Bailey, Carwin Jones, Mychal Bell, Theodore Shaw, Jesse Beard and Bryant Ray Purvis became infamous, now known as the Jena 6.
I’m not going to go into details of the case because I’m sure you heard it by now. The Michael Baisden website and Color of Change have additional information.

My purpose for highlighting this issue is to announce the Journey to Jena, a rally and march for peace and justice that is spearheaded by national African American radio personalities, among them Michael Baisden and Steve Harvey, as well as entertainers such as Tyler Perry (who was born and raised in Louisiana).

The rally and march will be held this Thursday, September 20th in Jena, and everyone in the country is being encouraged to wear black to show support and protest unequal justice. Marches are also being planned in other cities on this day to show support.

It is my hope that the media (particularly the Black media) continues to use their powerful platform to bring attention to the many other issues impacting the Black community, such as the 50% school drop out rate among African Americans and Latinos and the staggering HIV/AIDS rate in the Black community, among others.

Tyler Perry said on the Michael Baisden show today, "No doubt that the footsteps heard in Jena will be heard around the world."

Sources: Diversity, Inc.,,

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Conference: The 2007 Community Investment Network Conference

The Community Investment Network Conference is an annual gathering where individuals, families, neighborhood associations, foundations, giving circles, community and civic groups come together to discuss various strategies of investing time, talent, and treasure to build communities by design and not out of crisis.

The theme for this year is Civic Responsibility : Re-connecting People to their Communities
When: October 5-7, 2007
Where: Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center, Durham, North Carolina

Who should attend? Anyone who...
is concerned about their community but doesn't know how to motivate change
is thinking about starting a non-profit
is interested in starting a giving circle or already a member of one
wants to establish a charitable legacy (scholarships, volunteerism, etc.)
desires to maximize their charitable efforts and be more effective

Featured speakers include:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketDr. Emmett D. Carson, CEO and President, Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketReverend Romal Tune, President and CEO, Clergy Strategic Alliances

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMs. Margaret Rose Murray, Community Philanthropist and Co-Founder, Vital Link School

For more info please contact Dionne Lester -

The Survivor Foundation Announces the Knowles-Rowland Temenos Place Apartments

Beyoncé, Mathew and Tina Knowles, Kelly Rowland and The Survivor Foundation held a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday for the Knowles-Rowland Temenos Place Apartments, a supportive housing facility for at-risk populations in the Houston area.

The housing development is the result of a collaboration with House of Deréon founders Tina Knowles and Beyonce Knowles, the Survivor Foundation, Inc., the City of Houston, and St. John's Downtown (church home of the Knowles family).

The project is a 43 unit, single room occupancy supportive housing facility designed to provide permanent living accommodations for women and men who are taking significant steps in improving their lives after the traumatic effects of personal and natural disasters. The apartments will provide "a safe place to live" for all residents. Major contributors to the project include Wal-Mart and American Express.
In addition, located on the same block as the apartments is the 1.2 million Knowles-Rowland Center for Youth which is an exciting, multipurpose recreational complex for youth which includes a youth HIV education and risk reduction program called "Breaking The Silence."

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Beyonce with Pastor Rudy of St. John's Church at a food distribution event earlier this summer in Houston.

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Source Source2