July 15, 2013

America Has Given Up on Young Black Men, Like Trayvon Martin; Choose Community Over Chaos; 4 Things to Protect Our Sons; Justice for Jordan Davis

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Choose Community Over Chaos
America Loves Trayvon Martin After He Is Dead!
Protect Your Sons
Justice for Jordan Davis
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Choose Community Over Chaos
Photo provided by The Black Star Project
July 13, 2013  

There is a passage from Dr. Martin Luther King  Jr's last book, Where do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, that has been a source of solace and encouragement to me over the years. I return to that passage today now that the jury has found George Zimmerman not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin.
In any social revolution there are times when the tailwinds of triumph and fulfillment favor us, and other times when strong headwinds of disappointment and setbacks beat against us relentlessly. We must not permit adverse winds to overwhelm us as we journey across life's mighty Atlantic; we must be sustained by our engines of courage in spite of the winds. This refusal to be stopped, this "courage to be," this determination to go on "in spite of" is the hallmark of any great movement.
Where do we go from here, chaos or community?
Whatever the jury's decision, it could never have alleviated the pain we feel as a result of the senseless shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin, who had his whole life ahead of him. Whatever the jury's verdict, it could never have brought this 17-year-old black boy back to life. His death is a national tragedy that we pray  will never happen again.
None of us can deny the pendulum of emotions that we are feeling today, but we would like to see our leaders, community members, and youth turn their energy towards positive action and advocacy as Dr. King suggests.
Together we can promote positive images of black men and boys. Together we can challenge and end discriminatory policies. Together we can fuel each other to be "engines of courage." 
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"America loves Black men like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Frederick Douglass and even Trayvon Martin after they are dead.  It is the strong, vocal, positive, everyday Black men that they have trouble with while they are alive!"  - Phillip Jackson

America has given up on young Black men, like Trayvon Martin

By Phillip Jackson, The Black Star Project
June 15, 2013

Trayvon Martin is more valuable to America as a dead young Black man than he ever was alive!  As a dead symbol, the president can claim him as a son he never had, but as a living Black man, the American criminal justice system claims one out of three young Black men born after 2001.   
As a dead symbol, Republicans can claim that Trayvon deserves his right to live as an American; but many living young Black men, like Trayvon, are stripped of their rights every day because of harsh, racially-targeted and overly-punitive laws created by and pushed by Republicans.
Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, reminds us that more Black men are in prison today than there were Blacks enslaved in America in 1850.  She suggests that we have not really ended Jim Crow, but have just given it another name - the criminal justice system.  We can also call it the education system or the economic system, but they all equate to a new system of racial control of Black Americans, just like Jim Crow. 
Miami Heat wear hoodies in honor of Trayvon Martin
America has given up on young Black men, like Trayvon Martin.  As a dead symbol, Trayvon will spark a national conversation on race, but as a living young Black man, Trayvon probably couldn't get a job at a fast-food restaurant.
As dire as this crisis is, there are solutions, but they are not in symbols or soul-searching.  They are comprehensive and substantial efforts and actions to ameliorate this stain on America's reputation for fairness and equality.  Government, foundations, civic, faith and community organizations must:
  • Help rebuild Black families with fathers as an essential, prominent and functional component of the family structure.
  • Provide mentors, positive role models and viable paths for young Black men.
  • Ensure that all young Black men are supported to value education and to experience a globally-competitive education.
  • Teach young Black men to succeed in entrepreneurship, small business, cooperative economics and in the work world.
  • Encourage young Black men to be spiritually sound and to be of good character.
  • Establish rigorous efforts in the largest 300 cities in America that address the issues of education, family, imprisonment and employment for young Black men.
  • Establish a national commission to manage a comprehensive, coordinated campaign for Black male achievement, similar to the one created by Open Society Foundations.
Addressing symbols is quite useful and practical when a society lacks the courage and integrity to deal with its disturbing realities.  America loves Black men like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Frederick Douglass and even Trayvon Martin after they are dead.  It is the strong, vocal, positive, everyday Black men that they have trouble with while they are alive!  
Please call 773.285.9600 for more information about The Black Star Project. 
 4 Things to Do Now
 to Protect Our Sons
July 14, 2013 
My oldest son is 17. Like Trayvon, he stands six feet tall. Like Trayvon, he's thin. Skinny even. And like Trayvon, he was stopped by a stranger while returning to his father's house. For him, the stranger was an actual policeman who, like Zimmerman, believed he looked, "suspicious" in spite of his lack of criminality. In spite of his deservedness to be in that space. But unlike Trayvon, my child survived his encounter. My child, lived.
After the tears. The outrage. The anger. Those of us who mother, father, love, a black child ache for answers to a verdict that at once seemingly renders meaningless the loss of a black boy's life. We seek refuge in knowing what lessons to convey, what things to say that could serve as a layer of protection for the children we love in case of another murderous encounter.  I don't pretend to know all the answers. But these few things, I know to be true.
1) Our children must know they will be viewed with undeserved suspicion. We do our children no favors by propagating the myth of colorblindness. The fact of the matter is, color consciousness is real, and as this case shows, potentially deadly. 
2) Our children must know how to defend themselves. Certain skills are life-saving. Knowing how to swim, how to safely operate a car, are all rights of passage that could one day mean the difference between life and death. 
3) Our children need their own systems of protection, their own "watch." At the time of the Atlanta child murders, parents pulled together and literally organized neighborhood patrols and escorts to ensure children could safely navigate their way from one space to another. 
4) Our children need us to show up and never give up.  
And finally, we need to be loud and unrelenting in our demands for change. We need to come to the cruel realization that in America, at each and every level, while allies exist, at the end of the day, no one will protect us, but us. 
Avis Jones-DeWeever is host of Focus Point and President & CEO, Incite Unlimited, LLC.
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Is this the next Trayvon Martin case?  Will another young innocent, young Black man's murder be justified?  The eyes of the world are on Florida!!!

Jordan Davis killed for loud music: mirror image of the Martin case?
Details differ between the shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis and unarmed teen Trayvon Martin earlier this year. But in both cases, older armed men initiated arguments with black teenagers and fired deadly bullets when the situation became threatening
(L. to r.) A Wolfson High School classmate of Jordan Davis breaks down outside the funeral home where the visitation with Jordan's family was taking place at the Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home in the Mandarin area of Jacksonville, Fla., on Nov. 28. Friends of Jordan comfort one another outside the funeral home. Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union/AP
November 30, 2012
ATLANTA - Florida's landmark "stand your ground" self-defense law is again in the spotlight after the Nov. 23 shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Jordan Davis, by 40-something software developer and gun collector Michael Dunn after an argument about loud music outside a Jacksonville convenience store.
Jordan's death is drawing comparisons to the shooting of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin in February by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, chiefly because both shooters are expected to claim immunity from prosecution under the state's 2005 stand your ground law that ended any legal requirement for lawful citizens to back away from danger, even in public places.
In the shooting of Jordan Davis, Mr. Dunn, after stopping at a convenience store, asked a group of black youths to turn down loud music pouring out of their SUV. According to Dunn, he felt threatened when Jordan began trash-talking him. He fired eight shots into the SUV after he says one of the people brandished a shotgun. Police did not find any weapons, but Dunn's lawyer says the group could have ditched it.
Jacksonville police have already said that Dunn, not the boys, was at fault. "It was loud, they admitted that, but that's not a reason for someone to open fire on them and take action," said Lt. Rob Schoonover of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
While the Davis case is getting national attention, largely because of the racial narrative of another older white man killing a black teenager in a public place, the debate hasn't risen to the fever pitch of the Martin shooting aftermath. The main reason is that police have already charged Dunn with murder and attempted murder for his actions. And unlike the Martin case, there are several strong eyewitnesses to the shooting.
Click Here to Read Full Story 

Black Males Missing 
From College Campuses
By Marjorie Valbrun 
America's Wire
Walk the campuses of many black colleges, and you are bound to notice young female students strolling and talking, clusters of women having lunch together, classrooms filled mostly with women. It's impossible to miss the dearth of male students and not worry about that.
Young black men are not attending, or graduating from, college at the same rate as black women. Although their absence is more apparent at historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, black male students are scarce at colleges everywhere.
The national college graduation rate for black men is 33.1 percent compared with 44.8 percent for black women, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The total graduation rate is 57.3 percent. Black men represent 7.9 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds in America but only 2.8 percent of undergraduates at public flagship universities.
While this troubling trend is most acute among blacks, young men of color in general are underrepresented in colleges and universities. The national college graduation rate of Hispanic men is 41.1 percent and of Native Americans and Alaska natives 33.8 percent. In comparison, the graduation rate for white males is 54.5 percent. Asian/Pacific Islanders have the highest rate, 60.6 percent.
This education gap virtually ensures that men of color, particularly blacks, will continue to have less earning power than their white counterparts and be underrepresented across a broad spectrum of high-paying professions.
Howard's undergraduate male enrollment declined from 3,070 during the 1994-95 academic year to 2,499 during 2009-10, while female enrollment declined by only 52 students, from 4,958 to 4,906.
Click Here to Read Full Story 
Young Black men represent 3 to 4% of the college going population in the United States.  Only 33% of Black men who enroll in college in the U.S. graduate in six years.
U.S. Department of Education   
The Odds Are Against Your Young Black Man Graduating from College.  This Program Can Change the Odds to His Favor!  Young Black Men Must Learn to Get Over... 
"The Wall"
Program Designed to Help Young Black Men 
Succeed in First Year of College

It is estimated that 67% of young Black men who start college return home as dropouts in their first year of being on a college campus.  Some families send colleges their honor students and get ex-felons in return.  Young Black men get caught up in the traps of freedom, women, drugs, sports, parties, fraternities, et cetera without guidance or support and they flunk out of college.

At "The Wall" Young Black men will learn to: 
  • Make good life decisions
  • Create good study habits
  • Balance social life and academic life
  • Manage women and relationships
  • Succeed in their first year of college
  • Create a 4-year graduation plan
 Join us for 
"The Wall" 
Teaching Young Black Men to Succeed 
in their First Year of College
Saturday, July 20, 2013
1:30 pm to 3:30 pm
3509 South King Drive
Chicago, Illinois
FREE!!! - FREE!!!
You Must RSVP to 773.285.9600
We need Chicago-area volunteer teachers to help us educate Black children during the summer at our 
Saturday University
Please call 773.285.9600 if you are a Chicago-area teacher and you have 3 hours a week during this summer to volunteer to educate Black children. We can also use college-trained volunteers from any background to help us educate Black children. While Black teachers are preferred, we need teachers of any ethnicity to help us educate Black children. 
--------------------------------------------------------------------- Parents can register now for one of our 20 free Chicago-area Saturday Universities. 
Please Call 773.285.9600 to register. 
Every Father and Every Man in America Should Take A Child to School on the First Day of School for the Million Father March!!!

Call 773.285.9600 and ask for Vince Cain to lead the effort in your city.  Women should encourage and support men in this effort.  Women can also take the lead.  We have everything you need to create a successful Million Father March in your city. 

The Black Star Project
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