United States Army Disabled Veteran, Sergeant Kericia E. Smith Faces Third Heartbreaking Trauma of Her Life

img_1132Many people, born and raised in the United States from an early age adhere to and are taught to pledge our allegiance to the flag, and ultimately our allegiance to America –the red, white and blue, that is, the bloodshed, or the honor and purity of white and of an unstained message; and, a color that results in the blue as like streaming tears that come, however, despite that scripture tell us to love our neighbors.

Our neighbors as those who reside here with us under God. One Nation undivided, in liberty and justice for all. Hence, it is a must that we all consider to look at this message with the question of how does it happen that bad things are a reality in a country so great as this?

How, is it the case, that my country does not have my back, or that, those who live here do not have my best interest and the interest of my family; or the interests of my neighbor at heart? How–can one still love their neighbor, or more specifically, how can my neighbor love me after this, that is, the trauma of the American Dream; and, we ask how does this massacre of U.S. citizenry happen?

Embracing Me as Her Journalist

Sergeant Kericia E. Smith said, “I think you should tell them why you decided to write this story,” and after thinking about it, or rather, after her prompting I have agreed to tell you her story sprinkled with my voice (together we will speak) so that those still asleep abiding in the American Dream can wake up to the travesties of life happening while you are sleeping? I accepted this story without too many reservations, because firstly as Americans we forget that to give does not come in the form of money only, especially when someone faces hardship reaching deep into their heart and soul. I have a heart and to believers, the scriptures tell us “Do not worry…”. Scriptures also tell us that we are to ‘bear one another’s burdens’.

Secondly, I have been trained well to understand that as a journalist I am called to be the proverbial ‘watchdog’ of the government and not only the government but those who connect with it to utilize law, and along with this understanding I see that the more professional journalists (some seemingly) care more about their bosses than a common cause among the people; however, I have no boss except the Most Highest God of this universe. Hence, the excuse is taken away of what will I eat or what I will wear.

Also, in this stance I as a writer, a mother, wife, grandmother and citizen take the pledge to uplift my neighbor in whichever way I can in honesty and fair dealing and I know that this is the Way, and, I believe scripture is true that He will provide. As a reward, I have been trained to help Sergeant Kericia E. Smith through this circumstance. In any case, I am more grateful in this instance that the Most High chose me to serve her. As a result, Sergeant Smith has created a new phrase calling me her ‘freestyle journalist’. It’s catchy would you agree?

We need you to look at this, and notably, this story is for anyone facing the trauma of inadequate care of yourself or a loved one in a hospital and or health care environment, and this message is also helpful for workers who see such horrendous events take place.

The Call for Help

I received a voicemail from Sergeant Kericia E. Smith, founder and CEO of the Association of Veteran Women, Incorporated [AOVW, Inc.] who (in short) explained that she needed a storyteller. Telling me, she was having some troubles, or rather, that she is having a few heartbreaking moments she wanted me to take a look at.

So I do not need to tell you how excited I was and unprepared for even this one. Subsequently, I learned she is named after her best friend pronounced [Ker (ee) sha], and they also share a birth month.

Sergeant Smith is an advocate for all women, but mainly for those women who have risked their life serving their country in the Armed Forces. Ultimately, a voice that until now has gone unheard, and, she is a miracle because I believe she is a groundbreaker and a trend setter for many who have lost hope. Hence, she fits the profile of a fighter, and she does not look like what she has been through. Thus, as divine connections happen she and I have worked diligently and have crafted a story that is beneficial for the public to know. However, before I move on, it is important that you know that Kericia initially called several journalists’, major newspapers and magazines to tell her story, but decidedly they were uninterested because there was no response. Kericia says, that someone told her to search out freelance journalists and she found my website The Dailey Grind where my motto is ‘Reporting what the news won’t.’  She told me, that she prayed and left a message, and I am the only one to respond to help her.

Therefore, I tell you Kericia this is it—the time is now and that God has prepared you for such a time as this! In the words of Ms. Shirley Chisolm, Kericia has decided that she is “Unbought and Unbossed!”  Essentially, she says “My misery has become my ministry!” I agree.

My Best Friend Died

I am Sergeant Kericia E. Smith. I am a disabled veteran diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD], a trauma I acquired while on active duty. I was also my best friend’s primary caregiver, and is the reason why I want to tell you the story about my best friend who was admitted into Arlington Memorial Hospital for dehydration and a urinary tract infection, and who was later admitted to Kindred Rehabilitation Hospital for a bedsore. Moreover, in the process of admitting my best friend I was given admission papers to sign, but now in retrospect suspect there may have been a  Mandatory Binding Arbitration Clause. Nevertheless, I was never given a copy of any document I signed. However, in that case, what I do know is that my best friend was un-necessarily medicated to the point of a medically induced coma. As a result, they did not feed him, but without authorization inserted a feeding tube, gave him steroids and two blood thinners; along with, another drug that also causes bleeding.

In short, on May 16, 2016 at about 10:30 a.m., I walked into my best friend’s room and found him

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Custom Casket Spray

bleeding out severely, and all day long I begged the doctors and medical staff at Kindred Rehabilitation Hospital to transfer him to Arlington Memorial Hospital Emergency Room which is right across the street—they refused. Consequently, around 8:30 p.m., my best friend who was my father was unresponsive, and to my dismay there was no defibrillator available for them to attempt life-saving measures. Hence, my beloved father, a Medicare/Medicaid patient bleed-out and died.

To date, I have not been able to obtain my father’s death certificate because Kindred Rehabilitation Hospital has not filed or recorded it with the City of Arlington, or, Texas Department of Vital Statistics. I would also like to mention that Kloe my service dog was God sent and has done an outstanding job and has been a tremendous help throughout this ordeal—she saved me.

Please note, that if I had not fed my father and inserted a feeding tube, given him steroids, and if I had given two blood thinners; along with, another drug that causes bleeding and allowed him to bleed to death I would be in jail.  Needless to say, I am re-traumatized all over again, because (as mentioned) I was my father’s primary caregiver.  I witnessed my father’s death and it was nothing I could do to help him. Consequently, it is a sad day in America that I served my country since I was 18 years old, and yet, my father had no medical staff including doctors to care enough to let me save my father’s life by answering my pleas to transfer him to the emergency room across the street. I ask how can they continue to receive federal and state funds? These doctors and medical staff took an oath to save lives so how could they just stand by and let my precious beloved father die for no good reason?  

This is not an attack on all medical professionals or providers, and, it is in my personal opinion that there are excellent hospitals, doctors, nurses and other medical staff who give quality care to all their patients. However, at Kindred Rehabilitation Hospital my father did not receive the quality lifesaving treatment that he deserved. [Sergeant Kericia E. Smith, United States Army, and Army Reserve; Disabled Veteran; Face to Face Interview, Thursday, September 15, 2016; 4:30 p.m.].

This is a heartbreaking and touching story. Conversely, as I was writing and recounting her pain it is easy to visualize this scene taking place in the hospital, because for those of us who have lost a parent or both parents we understand grief– but not this way. Moreover, perhaps there is someone who can attest to this type trauma, or, those people who have experienced the trauma firsthand and know the full picture. Hence, here I will recount to highlight some of the facts Sergeant Smith mentioned so that we all will understand better the plight Sergeant Smith and her dad suffered at the hand of medical professionals who take an oath to save the lives of the people they treat.

A Brief Background Check of Kindred Rehabilitation Hospitals

Renamed Kindred Healthcare in 2001–Vencor (1998), was one of the nation’s most prominent healthcare companies, however, the company has a shady and elusive past and is due for a background check if you are considering this source for your loved ones. Kindred Healthcare Corporation is the largest healthcare company in the United States with a net worth of $7 billion (See: Kindred Hospital Annual Reports). Accordingly, Kindred Healthcare works under a plethora of venues, such as, post-acute services; including, transitional hospital care, short-term rehabilitation, skilled nursing, home health, long-term care, assisted living,  nursing facilities, palliative care and hospice.

Here is a breakdown of events:

Frederick D. Smith (October 11, 1937 - May 16, 2016)

Frederick D. Smith (October 11, 1937 – May 16, 2016)

   A Last Word from Sergeant Kericia E. Smith

Vencor/Kindred’s long history of wrongdoing seems to always survive and thrive due to Medicare fraud which only adds insult to injury with the loss of my father.  If these Medicare fraud cases were known to the public then our loved ones would be less likely to be put at risk.  Kindred seems to look at ‘profits over patients,’ and our lives are worthless because Kindred medical staff is reckless with our medical care. Additionally, any other business as unethical and abusive would have gone out of business decades ago, yet, Kindred continues to thrive on recklessly committing Medicare fraud. 

Why has the Department of Justice not been more aggressive at informing the public about Kindred’s record of bad behavior? It is the case, that Kindred decayed decades ago from the inside out, and this should send a stench up our noses because the carcasses of our loved ones are not collateral damage and the loss of life should cry out for justice. Nevertheless, we are told ‘If you see something to say something!’ Consequently, I did see something, and I said something, but they did absolutely nothing! It is absolutely appalling! Kindred Rehabilitation Hospital had NO Defibrillator!

I am Sergeant Kericia E. Smith and I approve this message—over and out!
[Sergeant Kericia E. Smith, Electronic Communication, September 21, 2016; 5:31p.m.].

Related Articles and Additional Resources

Also see:

Please stay tuned for more detailed information concerning Kindred Healthcare facilities the Tort Reform and Medicaid/Medicare Fraud (False Claims Act).

For more information on Association Of Veteran Women, Incorporated call:

Sergeant Kericia E. Smith, (817)461-5116. Or send an email to: aovwinc@aol.com

 

kayla-dailey__picKayla Dailey, is a prolific writer whose aspirations include hope of encouraging those who face trials and difficulties in life through the written word. As a student of the word she writes, Kayla has earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Ashford University, and holds, a Master of Arts Degree in Organizational Management with specialty in Public Administration. Mrs. Dailey is an advocate for civic and community building issues, African American liberties, equal employment, and now veterans and their families; as well as, advocacy against domestic violence for women, children, abortion and other issues people face.  

© Copyright 2016. The Dailey Grind. All Rights Reserved.

HIV is Living Among Black America

slidethumb_fuelDid you know that 1 in 16 black men and 1 in 32 black women are diagnosed with HIV?

Statistics from the Center of Disease Control [CDC] estimate that in 2010, there were 44 percent of African American adults and adolescents carry the horrific burden of contracting and spreading the virus—13 and older.

Accordingly, African Americans account for 13 percent of the entire population but present with the virus eight times more than whites.

Here are the numbers:

  1. 70% African American men (14,700) of all new cases out of the 20,900 new cases reported
  2. African American men account for 63.6 new cases out of 100,000 populace which is 7 times higher than white men
  3. Men having sex with other men account for 72 percent (10,600) of new cases, and gay and bisexual men between the ages of 13-24 than any other race represented which means that Bisexual and gay men are more than 3 times more affected than other races
  4. African American women represent 29 percent of all new cases, that is 6.100 of adult and adolescent women, but since 2008 there is a decrease to 21 percent
  5. 1 percent out of 100,000 women have the virus which is 20 times higher than white women and 5 times more than Hispanic and Latino women

The need to bring this news to your house is urgent, and urgent for us all as a group; even more than for the individual who suffers such a fate. Consequently, when speaking concerning HIV as an epidemic in America the premise here is that people may not feel that the issue affects them since it’s not in their house. However, generally speaking the premise here is not the houses we live in per se’, but the house of Africans as a nation within America whose members are attracting the virus daily. Let us not forget that end of the woeful event for many is death; therefore, there is a need to deliver this news to your door, to my door and the doors of our neighbors that we are dying ever so slowly from the silence of non-adherence to the call that HIV creeps softly, but AIDS kills loudly.

I want all of us to get this warning, because we see a very small sound coming from health officials concerning this matter, or, we do not take heed concerning taking care ourselves, to educate ourselves because our children are dying, our women, our men. It is the case, that with all the education available we must send this call out right up and to the doorsteps of every person to feed of its contents at the dinner table, and especially when we prepare to lay down unprotected.

I ask —do your love yourself? We are going in-depth about this topic, dedicating much time to discuss every single detail to alleviate and protect our house that means the group, the family and the individual. It is the case that if we do not learn the truth about the behavior that leads to contact then no one can save us.
Look for more information on HIV and African Americans coming soon!

Watch: Out of Control: The AIDS Epidemic in Black America

   Conflict Identification and Resolution: General Motors and Government Involvement

images (1) During the General Motors bailout crisis the public sentiment was one of enragement concerning government intervention. Notably, for some the outcry was [seemingly] there goes the government again sticking their nose in where it does not belong, however, for many with jobs at stake the intervention was one of relief from vast layoffs within the company. Hence, the government’s intervention, although not popular brought relief for many. Conversely, the outcry might be one of ignorance for some. It is the case, that the government has always been involved, not solely with General Motors, but with the transportation industry collectively as a shareholder, and this is the reason for their intervention to protect their investment. Baack (2012) concerning the nature of negotiations and bargaining stated two points of interest, that negotiations are a ‘give and take decision’; and negotiations can be a ‘win-win’ for both parties [The Nature of Negotiations and Bargaining Processes; para 2]. Therefore, the General Motors Company allowance, or rather, acceptance of intervention government diverted further injury to the public, the transportation industry as a collective industry; as well as, the government who were shareholders[and who] negotiated with General Motors, rather than a so called barge-in type scene as the public regarded.

Baack (2012) wrote there are three areas to consider in a negotiation; and asks the question concerning preconditions, “Does negotiation present the best option?” The thoughts to consider in this instance are: (a) the psychological climate, (b) the availability of resources, and (c) the characteristics of the bargaining issue. Hence, all these combined should lead to what Baack (2012) considers to be a win-win solution, or rather, an ‘Integrative Negotiation’ process.” [The Nature of Negotiations and Bargaining Processes; para 4].

Considering the availability of sources, becoming a stakeholder allows that the government experts have input into safety standards which for GM obviously were an issue, those along with financial problems. Notably, armed with resources needed, as like money, the US government’s help was well needed. Additionally, it is a give and take type scenario which took place which said, You [General Motors] allow me [US Government] to buy shares in your stock and I [US Government] will in turn bail you out of trouble to avoid a bankruptcy; a win-win. In the article, “5 Keys of Dealing with Workplace Conflict,” Mike Myatt (2012), a contributor to the Forbes blog wrote, “Don’t fear conflict; embrace it – it’s your job.” While you can try and avoid conflict (bad idea), you cannot escape conflict. The fact of the matter is conflict in the workplace is unavoidable. It will find you whether you look for it (good idea – more later) or not. The ability to recognize conflict, understand the nature of conflict, and to be able to bring swift and just resolution to conflict will serve you well as a leader – the inability to do so may well be your downfall. (Myatt, 2012. para.1).  General Motors faced bankruptcy as a solution to its problems. Notably, filing bankruptcy can denote one of two things, (a) relief for businesses and individuals who have no other recourse from creditors, and (b) a means of escape from creditors for those who have acted irresponsible. Hence, for General Motors a bankruptcy would not be a good idea because of shareholders, employees, or the public citizens in regards to purchase of cars out on the street.

In the article, “Government fines GM maximum $35 million for delayed safety recall’, author wrote:

GM will pay a $35 million penalty — the maximum allowed, and the largest ever imposed on an automaker — and will be required to make wide-ranging changes to its safety practices that will be supervised by the government, another first for an automaker. “What GM did was break the law,” Anthony Foxx, the secretary of transportation, said at a news conference. (Wire Reports, para. 2).

Notably, in the instance in the industry of transportation the government as a saving factor is seen all around, because not only was GM in trouble financially, but the public as well. This analysis is great because clandestine activity is brought into the light and presumably had it not been for the government’s intervention some activities might never have been seen. In addition to fines, there is also note in the article about employee training going forth which is great for public safety.

Baack (2012) spoke about preconditions to negotiations. In this we note that the government’s pronouncement about the trade of stock and their help allowed for further examination of the companies policies, safety procedures and other issues of concern. Hence, Baack gave a list of preconditions that had to happen; otherwise, no solution will come. He calls the list psychological climate which includes:

  1. Willingness to participate in negotiations
  2. Readiness to negotiate
  3. Agreement on some issues
  4. Willingness to settle
  5. Sense of urgency [The Psychological Climate Section; para. 1]

Baack (2012) wrote, “A stakeholder is a person or group with a vested interest in the outcome of a negotiation. These individuals should tangibly demonstrate their readiness to be seated at the bargaining table. If a stakeholder group is absent or unwilling to commit to good-faith bargaining, the potential to find a viable solution is reduced.” [The Psychological Climate Section; para. 2]. One can surmise, then, that the government’s strategy to become a stakeholder gave them considerable influence in the goings on of the business. Hence, people must realize that government as a shareholder served two purposes: (a) to allow them a stake and profits, and (2) allowed them further insight in company structure. Hence, as shareholder, the government is not only entitled to financial records, but unlawful practices as well which is very good indeed; because, even after selling the stock off the stigma of unsafe practices and unlawful activity allows the government the ability to make decisions for GM’s inability to keep cars safe. Hence, the resolution is continual monitoring by the government.

It is the case, that all activity, compromise, resolution and so forth would not be possible had it been for the governments’ resources, the money, the experts and General Motors willingness to negotiate with them. Moreover, Baack (2012) wrote about the ‘Availability of resources,’ giving the means of influence in negotiation:

  1. Legitimate
  2. Reward based
  3. Coercion
  4. Expertise
  5. Charisma [Means of Influence in Negotiation Section; Table 7.2].

For this purpose, legitimate, coercion, and expertise will discussed, because of the gravity of the negotiations. Therefore, a concern in the negotiation efforts on GM’s part would be ownership and patent protection in regards to implied take over; along with their need for other expert opinion and know how, other than their own, which the government provided with analysis of the situation as a whole, that is, in the area of safety, finances and public concern were all laid out in the open. To understand coercion, one might look to the fact that had not car makers decided to take the government up on the offer there might have been a halt to the transportation industry. However, as it stands the loss revenue, damaged relations with customers all stand, because of faulty products. Additionally, had the offer not been accepted by General Motors then the government might have used coercion as a persuasive technique to investigate the company without incentive.

In conclusion, the steps of conflict resolution as Baack (2012) wrote are thus:  (a) Identify the parties involved, (b) Identify the issues, (c) Identify the positions of the parties, (d) Find the bargaining zone, and (e) Make a decision.[ The Steps of Conflict Resolution Section; para. 1]. Hence, the negotiations between the General Motors Company and the US Government are met by acceptance of the government proposal to help, and in turn allowing the government to become stakeholders; which in turn, allowed the government to bring in expertise in financial discovery, as well as, expertise in matter of safety. For General Motors, the need for continued monitoring is needed in compliance to the law and for safety of its customers. However, the matter of a government barge in is far from truth as is the impression for some Americans. It is therefore the case, that a least in this instance the government did the right thing after all.

 

Sources:

 

Baack, D. (2012) Organizational Behavior. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/books/AUBUS610.12.1/sections/sec6.1

 5 Keys of Dealing with Workplace Conflict. Forbes. 

 Government Motors no more

Government fines GM maximum of $35 million for delayed safety recall

HR Performance Issues and Motivation

customer serviceAbraham Maslow (1954) wrote a basic satisfaction-progression model which adapts to the philosophy of Humanism. Conversely, the humanism approach would show that all people are basically good people, even with the absence of religious thinking; that is, all people [without thought to religion] have the ability to pursue and maintain basic needs. The hierarchy of needs Maslow (1954) developed, and to paraphrase Baack (2012), stated that for all human-beings to be satisfied the physiological needs of “food, shelter, clothing, and sex” must be met. [Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Section, para. 1]. These in turn, can lead one to pursue needs outside of themselves such as social circles where one meets friends, acquaintance and work relations. Hence, these social needs if they are successful, in turn, lead to esteem, where people, generally are found to be well-liked and held in high regard, and these are where people know that the work they do has meaning; not only for their feelings of esteem, but in helping other which Baack (2012) stated, “esteem leads to self-actualization”, that is what one does in their life’s work makes a difference. [Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Section; para. 2].

The thought of manipulation in the workplace is absolutely appalling. It is the case, that  an employer who would play on a person’s need to get them to do anything for their paycheck is unthinkable, however some do just that.  For example, an employer, whose vision in the beginning was to help people who had difficulty finding employment, and was successful in starting a ‘reputable’ company helping many. However, the original owner, now deceased, the company was wrested by evil men who now use control over the employees by way of trinkets under the guise of ‘a job well done’. It is the case, that incentives should come in the form of additions to pay allowing the employee to buy what he wishes and if its trinkets or material goods he [the employee] wants he is not manipulated to have them. Additionally, Baack (2012) stated, “The need for power suggests the drive to make others behave in ways they would not otherwise choose. When properly channeled, the need for power can be related to managerial success. To do so, power cannot be created or used in the pursuit of personal goals, and the individual should not place influence ahead of effective performance. [McClelland’s Need Theory; para. 4]. Therefore, the acknowledgment of  issues which cause lack of motivation in the workplace with managers who are seen as people of influence, and manipulate by trinkets to persuade their employees to do their bidding unawares; and,  no matter how unethical. Hence, anyone who chooses not to participate is not well-liked by management which Baack (2012) wrote, according to Maslow (1954) can impede progress for an employee.

Assuming that all the physiological needs are met through ones’ paycheck the move to social, esteem, and self-actualization are forthcoming. However, one has to trust their boss, or people in supervision over them to such a degree as to allow credit to them [the employer]; even while, waiting to receive a check.  In the article, “The Top 9 Things That Ultimately Motivate Employees to Achieve”, Glenn Llopis (2012), wrote there are few key things that motivate a person, they are: (a) Trustworthy Leadership, (b) Being Relevant, (c) Proving other wrong, (d) Career Advancement, (e) No Regrets, (f) Stable Future. These are just a few, however, Llopis (2012) concerning trustworthiness stated:

Leaders that have your back and that are looking out for your best interests – will win the trust of their employees who in turn will be more motivated to achieve.    I once had a department manager that always looked out for me.  He was upfront in communicating his performance expectations and his feedback was direct.   He never treated me like a subordinate and looked for ways to include me in senior management meetings.  This opened my eyes to what lied ahead in my career and thus motivated me to reach the next level and in the process exceed the expectations of my boss. [Trustworthy Leadership Section; para. 1].

The scenario where the employer manipulates through the employees’ physiological needs not being met is one of concern, especially when taken from the idea of humanism and the thought that all humans are basically good. Hence, in this case, all people can be considered good until they are proven un-worthy, and this revelation can lead to lack of motivation, or a less than positive image of the employer. Hence, though Maslow’s theory is a good one it does not bring into focus, or rather, allow for greedy employers, or greedy people. Llopis (2012) wrote, “As a leader, be mindful of providing security and stability in how you lead your employees – and watch their motivational levels rise.” [Stable Future Section].

In the article, “The Holy Grail of Workplace Motivation” Skip Weisman (2014) wrote concerning transparency:
For small business owners transparency may be more frightening than autonomy. Transparency is difficult for small business owners because it is opening them up to scrutiny they don’t feel their employees are entitled to….. Transparency breeds significantly higher levels of motivation and commitment because it speaks directly to the level of trust in the workplace. Research has shown that higher levels of trust can be directly related to higher levels of financial performance. Offering transparency shows an employee a direct correlation between their role and the company’s bottom line performance. It allows employees to understand the correlation between their compensation and the results the company achieves. [Autonomy and Transparency Section; para. 1,10].

In this instance, the employer who is not transparent would find it difficult to reward an honest employee, and one can see why not in the sense that wrong doing is shown up by the honest employee who for all purpose is aware of the manipulation. Hence, rewards or incentives which may be well received by needy employees might not be so with on who is honest. In essence, bribes under the pretense of ‘good of a job’ well done are at the expense of the employee and the customers they serve. Hence, to motivate themselves employees, according to Llopis (2012), in the article, “6 Unique Ways to Sustain a High Performance Mentality” to paraphrase stated that the employee should keep a blog to write about lessons and experience which to add, is ideal for those employees who can find no other recourse, except to know what to look for in their other endeavors when searching for employment. [Step6: Write a Blog and Hold Yourself Accountable Section].

Ultimately, according to Maslow having basic or physiological needs met is essential for security in the individual personal life. Hence, the challenge is that these must be met by management which brings further safety to the individual at home, and in the work place. However, the rationale of security is further cemented with (a) trustworthy employers and (b) transparent employers where one’s esteem is made wholesome with shared thinking and goals among superiors and peers. Therefore, if one feels safe then, and esteem is reciprocal this makes one’s work worthwhile. Hence, employers and their management should take measures that all their staff feel their jobs are a safe environment to work to ensure a wholesome environment for everyone.

The Good News: Civic Journalism and Building the Community

civic JournalismAn American Journalist and Humorist once wrote, “The Job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. (Steele, 2002, Para. 1). In this view, the role of the reporter is two- faceted: 1) the reporter must shake up those who are comfortable, and 2) the reporter must comfort those who need it by offering a helping hand, or at least educate their public by bringing in new information to those in need of it. According to Executive Director, Pew Center for Civic Journalism there are two key things to know concerning Civic Journalism which says” when the media does its job differently, citizens do their jobs differently, and when you seed innovation into newsrooms you get new ideas”. (Schaffer, 2014). Hence, if reporting today is not bringing affliction and/ or comfort then it is not good news. What can be done about it? Schaffer (2014) makes mention that there a few things to be done which could go beyond diagnosing the problem. Therefore, diagnose the cause but move on and actually change that which has already been diagnosed. Conversely, one would have to see clearly the picture that journalism has portrayed to the masses which means going back to review what the public sees and why they see it that way. Hence, making changes which should be of first priority. Once a problem is identified there should be efforts made which bring improvement and understanding to public thinking that change the relation of the media as a ‘lap dog,’ of the media as an ‘attack dog,’ and ultimately change the media as a ‘watch dog’ to something other than a farce. Essentially, American media must be seen as the “guide dog’ which educates the public on their role to help their own communities and beyond.

A survey conducted by the Pew Center for Civic Journalism reflects journalists’ view of the First Amendment saying that some journalists hold their rights to freedom of press in high regard more than the public did. On the contrary, citizens feel differently toward the media and label the press arrogant, insensitive, biased, inaccurate and sometimes filled with sensationalism. Conversely, “fifty-three percent respondents said they believe the press has too much freedom, forty-five percent respondents said they believe media protects democracy, and thirty-eight percent of the respondents said the media actually hurt democracy.” Additionally, there were people who disapproved of reporting political candidates, hidden cameras, and publishing governmental secrets. (Schaffer, 2014, p.9-10. Para. 7). Consequently, this data might be surprising for some, however, it shows that America citizens are divided in their opinion of the media, and also shows what journalist think of their work is totally off base. Especially, in regards to news gathering as it pertains to truth of how citizens really feel about the news and those who report it which causes resentment for citizens who feel they are unheard.

On April 15, 2014, an accident on Interstate NE Loop 820 shook a community leaving two dead people and others injured in Fort Worth, Texas. (Read: Two Killed in Crash Along East Loop 820). The neighborhood was shaken, not only from the force of the impact, but from the force of the ideal. People witness to the accident or nearby could be seen running from their homes and motorists stopping to help. It is the case that a community came together but was left to pick up these pieces alone, but this has become the norm there. The crash involving three vehicles was the worst incident to happen in the Stop Six community since the notorious “Birthday Party” shootings in 2008 which left a five year old child dead on her birthday; along with, her paternal grandmother, and several other innocent children and adults in attendance. (Read more: 2 dead in birthday party shooting in Fort Worth). In both of the events, the reporters, helicopters could be seen coming from miles around, hovering over people’s homes to gather their stories and taking interviews from witnesses. Notably, once the initial reports were broadcast the neighborhoods were forgotten which leaves one to ask what about the neighborhood? There has not been any attention since for media coverage for the community though there has been plenty newsworthy material such as council meetings where neighbors meet with officials from time to time to discuss issues which have not been met or that need attention. However, these type meetings are generally campaign ventures and sparse. It is the case that the only reports in certain neighborhoods are of a negative undertone, a killing, a domestic issue when someone is killed, a child kills their parent, a sexual offender nearby and so on. Notably, though that type news is necessary people already know that their neighborhoods are not the best and that most are unsafe. Therefore, good news would bring with it an appeal for public support and someone who can report that appeal accurately is needed. To date, there is still no follow up interviews for the families in attendance of the birthday party to know how they fare and this is where media responsibility to update the public is a needed for any mass tragedy of this magnitude. Moreover, there seems to be a drive through type reporting as far as media is concerned. Additionally, though these incidents might seem small concerning the accident and the birthday party this is the type reporting seen in the neighborhoods where reportedly violence is common. Therefore, however common whether an accident or murder no other news seems newsworthy material. Where are the caring journalists to tell the story?
One of the reasons the lack of report might seem difficult in certain communities would be a lack of journalist support and lack of journalistic staff. Typically, one might see minority commentators, anchors and reporters here and there, however, why are they so scare? Concerning BBC and black journalist, Meikle (2014) wrote “A senior black journalist has accused the BBC of” institutional myopia or inertia “over its employment of ethnic minority staff” (Para.1). In this instance, one might wonder what this has to do with the general public and reporting. The problem is confusion in the work place where many journalists find themselves clamoring for rank instead of clamoring to get stories that matter. Hence, instead there are stories of hometown heroes and those deemed fitting for community efforts, but no reports of how to solve eminent or impeding problems. It is the case that with few journalists to work stories, or who find interest to report stories are pushed to quit such organizations as BBC. Of course, BBC being global is a far cry from everyday life in a community; however, one should ask does this type behavior occur everywhere? Therefore, the type of behavior as found in drive by reporting styles may prove a huge factor lacking in community building efforts.
In the article, “The Last Days of Journalism” Nip (2008) employed at a least 6 different ways media could change audience view or to offer a helping hand:
• Listening to the public to help shape the news agenda
• Giving ordinary people a voice
• Covering storing in a way which facilitates public understanding and stimulates citizen deliberation of problems behind the stories
• Presenting news to make it more accessible and easier for people to engage in the issues
• Engaging the community in problem solving
• Maximizing the impact of coverage in the community
Listening to the public is almost non-existent when it comes to some communities. Hence, a great idea would be to gather ideas developed from mingling with people in their communities in times separate from campaigning. Notably, politicians always have a say about certain issues, but what about the communities these bills and policies affect most? It is the case, then, that the only time some citizens have an opportunity to speak is in tragedy, or an election year and those meetings handpicked. Nip (2008) adds, “Listening techniques include conducting polls, surveys, town hall meetings, focus groups, readers’ panels, and organizing intimate living room or kitchen conversations.” (p. 180). Therefore, giving a voice to ordinary people would make a world of difference when people’s input seems important. Thames (2014) wrote “Unlike journalists who earn a living covering politics, voters have a lot of other things competing for their attention — at home and at work. We’ve been quick to misjudge their unfocused nature as ambivalence. Most take their role quite seriously. Times Mirror found last year that 66% of Americans “completely agree” it is their duty to always vote, up from 46% in 1987.” (Line 7). It is the case that the media might take for granted that people casting votes have a voice. For example, one should ask how is it that with all the lines formed during an election is anyone not heard from, except politicians. During campaigning Wendy Williams advocated women’s health issues which included a right to choose and single parenting support. It would have been a great add if during the campaign there were voices heard on the other side of those issues; as like, women who have had abortions to balance out information and give the people an informed decision. Conversely, attack ads make people distrustful and mean spirited which is another reason why the media is not well liked.
Radio is great for community discussions and forums and though good sources of information one should ask are there solutions to come from these? Rudy Vee is on the air and has been a full time Professional Announcer for the COX MEDIA GROUP in Jacksonville, Florida for 22 years. Rudy was asked what issues of a public concern he believed needed the most help from media. He wrote, “Public safety. Especially for women. We, as announcers, are here to educate and inform. That premise has long fallen by the wayside to commercialism. Now, there are insignificant Sunday morning programs to comply to FCC regulations regarding this. Don’t get me wrong, the music IS the star; but radio could be doing so much more. There are a couple of cats, Gregg Street in Atlanta and Jamming Jimmy Olsen in Tyler that are using their shifts for the greater purpose of super-serving the community and kids. But very few are allowed to do this anymore? Also, we could a heck of a lot more in supporting the local artists in the market. But, once again, if it ain’t chartin,’ chances are it won’t get played. we also need to be doing more for the classic artist of our time that are still putting out art. The Con-Funk-Shun’s, the Lakeside’s, the Will Downing’s, the Glenn Jones’, the Howard Hewett’s. The cats are still putting out quality classic art – but to no avail.” (Vee, 2014). Ultimately, more broadcasts and reports need to reflect Mr. Vee’s thinking that the communities need more help from the media. Mr. Vee also added input concerning journalism and good reporters. He was asked, “What is the current state of the radio ‘talent pool?’ Is good Journalism being shelved along with good pay? His response, “WOW! Umph…No comment (Sorry)” That says it all.
Journalist engagement with the community in problem solving is a big issue for some, and education is a key ingredient. In the aforementioned Stop Six area as well as other areas of the city homeowners have found their property taken in  pay arrangements where the city offers one year of payment with balances due at the end of a year. In this, there is no education about the home owner’s right to acquire counsel from an attorney who would give them adequate information about property tax law and their ability to get a longer arrangement. Consequently, without that help many people have faced eviction. It is the case that anyone can find this information in any public record if they knew to look. Therefore, news coverage would benefit the community if those concerned could have their stories told. As a watch dog to government, journalists have a duty to be honest and fair in their reports of government officials concerning corruption. In that regard, Steel (2002) wrote, “Cole Campbell, editor of the Virginian-Pilot, has put into practice various elements of civic journalism. He believes that news organizations must create a different sort of relationship with the public, one that reexamines the journalist’s role to sources and to readers. Campbell (1995) says newspapers must reframe the questions and change conventions about what is news and how it is covered. He says journalism must “cover tension not just conflict, ambivalence not just certainty.” (Para. 6).
CSPAN guest Ed Fouhy (1997) outlines the plight of journalism and community saying, “Civic Journalism needs to be in reformed. One definition of a reformed civic journalism would be to tell the truth so the people can be informed and remain sovereign and gives maximum freedom of choice.” In essence, Mr. Fouhy proclaims that the media should be a guiding force to the people, but instead have become arrogant and have First Amendment Reflex Syndrome where the excuse is always given for freedom of speech. Fouhy adds to that to say, “ Journalist often are inconsiderate to the personal hurt caused by to people and the person through invasion of privacy, and devalue the damage done by media while overvaluing the good that might come from reports.” (Paraphrased). The plight of some communities; or rather individuals broadcast on television is disparaging, because of bias reporting. Last year, in news there were  a string of unfair trials publicized where people were literally getting away with murder. One in particular was a young Caucasian boy of sixteen years who was drunk behind the wheel of a car and ran into and killed people on the side of the road. His psychiatrist labelled him as suffering from so called ‘affluenza’. Conversely, affluenza reportedly, is a dis-ease of the affluent which says a youth’s inability to tell right from wrong is imbalanced. Hence, the punishment for the inebriated lad was ten years’ probation. In that same vain, this year an inebriated black man was drunk and drove his car into a crowd of people. The media coverage had a field day with that and for weeks after followed up with the funerals, the victims and the like. The icing on the cake came when an interview with a deceased teen’s girlfriend said that she wanted the accused dead, and this said with malice against someone of her own race. The media never showed anything afterwards concerning the other drunken individual mentioned, except to say that his parents were settling suits for those families who lost loved ones too. It is bias, because here are two drunks who killed but two totally different reports concerning them. Steel (2002) wrote, “Bill Woo (1995) does not shine a solid red light on public journalism. He raises cautions in the spirit of a yellow light. Woo likes the connections to improving democracy, and he says he is “intrigued by what may lie down that road, beyond the bend.” But he also urges all of us in journalism to listen to what he calls the “old bells ringing for objectivity, detachment, independence, for the courage to print stories that are unpopular and for which there is no consensus. “I hope we listen for them again,” Woo says, “before we grow so old and so wise that they no longer matter.” (Para, 30). One has to question whether the stories reported are objective, detached, and independent when one sided reporting is the case. Additionally, good news would have made at least one of the reports into an angle story, whereabouts; the issue of driving drunk would have been displayed with information to educate and teach. Hence, the guidance factor in journalism would have been at the forefront for youth today to discourage drinking endeavors; but sadly, the message presented was if one is white and affluent one can get away with murder which is surely a form of bias at its peak.
Troubling is the fact that good news has been traded for internet stories and social media scandal done in a rush. It is the case that gone are the days of intimacy where a good newspaper read was a family affair, comics and all. Paula A. Sanford, Currently resides in Galesburg, IL USA and is a Certified Television Producer with Chicago Access Network TV, (CAN TV) 2007-2010 – Produced written copy & public service announcements for the Cook County, Chicago, IL area. Paula also is a Community Relations Coordinator/Public Relations Director: Prayer & Faith Outreach Ministries, Chicago, IL – 2004 – 2010: Made community relations news available to the Chicago & surrounding suburbs, concerning upcoming and ongoing events occurring in the church and community. Paula was asked to give her view concerning the fail of some newspapers and their readership: “Does the decline of newspapers even matter? Could this actually be a blessing in disguise? Her response: Yes, I think it matters that there is a decline of newspapers. To me, it is as imperative to some people to have newspapers, because some baby boomers (and others) may never adapt to social media.” (Sanford, 2014). It is the case that some people would rather read than turn on the television or listen to the radio. Hence, Civic Journalism must be multifaceted in its quest to guide.
In closing, journalism has three approaches to the community, that is the lap dog, the attack dog, the watch dog, and to remove negative stigma every public journalist should take responsibility for seeing the goal of becoming a guide dog to the communities brought forth. In these, there should be different outlooks stemming from the individual journalist who might see their job as a race to higher status and paycheck rather than seeing a community of hope developed. Journalist across the board must re-engage with the community not just entertain communities, because as it is with the homeowner’s plight so it is as Fouhy (1997) points out that “People want to know where the good schools are and how to improve those where they live; as well as learning how their tax dollars are spent. In turn, reports should be a balance between positive and negative where there is ongoing reporting; not just drive by reports. Certainly, there is a need to re-direct the focus of what good news is, because good news shakes up the comfortable and comforts the afflicted. Subsequently, becoming the ‘guide dog’ it was meant to be.

The Lifestyle of Poverty among Black People

hebrews Urie Bronfenbrenner, an ecological theorist proposed that human development is best known in terms of the interaction between individuals and the environments in which they live. He proposed what he calls the “Ecological Theory,” and in this construct is what he termed,  Microsystem,  Mesosystem, Exosystem, and Macrosystem and  says these entities consist of one’s “daily environment, family, school, religion and group affiliations”, and further adds that these can range from poor to excellent. Conversely, all the connections of  the theory have an effect or impact for the individual whether child or adult (Witt & Mossler, 2010). What do all of these have in common? The commonality is that all have played a magnificent part on the black mind which either keep people in poverty or releases them from it. The Bronfenbrenner theory sheds light on most human beings where environment along with other relationships are crucial to development. In this case, poverty and the underlying issues which are indicators of how a person may view the world around them. According to a report from Black Demographics, there are an estimated 44,456,009 million black people living in America which amounts to 14.1 percent of the population as a whole. Conversely, in proportion to these numbers, statistics show that 28.1 black families in America live at the poverty level. (Black Demographics, 2012, Paraphrased). Sadly, there is a stigma attached to African American people which says that all black people are lazy, some do not want to work, or they are criminals.  It is the case that, though these conditions may be warranted in some cases they do not apply for the group as a whole. Consequently, there is difficulty for some when speaking of this lifestyle of poverty from the inside out. Therefore, let this essay serve as a voice for those who cannot speak that the lifestyle of poverty supports everything people do from how a person might view themselves; including, their spiritual self, interaction  in relationships, and especially how one views problems, and/ or the inability to resolve them.  Poverty is multifaceted in American society and it affects more than just shelter but consumes ones entire existence, and to combat it each individual would need to examine and eliminate certain factors or barriers to their impoverished self; hence, mental health is a factor, unemployment, education, relationships, spirituality and other areas of life.

In order to see the entire picture of how the black population has ended up in an impoverished state one would have to go back to the past venue of slavery, because these venues convey truth of how traumatic an event slavery actually was, and as a result create an impoverished lifestyle today.  No one wants to talk about the mental and physical cruelty which was subjected on a people all those years ago, and even today people shout ‘get over’ it as if the hurt, pain and shame can be so easily put away from ones soul.  Inherited grief, the ridicule the scorn, the brute force of a hatred which is seemingly so deep rooted that one cannot dare believe that someone can be so evil against another, and most harrowing of all is that some used Christianity to make their way seem right. It is prejudice and discrimination which still lives on today in the white race and that which keeps black people down. In the article, “What are slavery’s Lingering effects?, the author wrote,  “The enslaved immediately found themselves dependent on their captors for food clothing and shelter, which has subject their descendants to the inequalities of colonization for decades.” (NCR, 2014, Para. 2).  Consequently,  a dependent mind tends to stay that way unless there is light to shed insight that the way out of poverty is to learn to think for oneself; hence, it is the premise that acceptance of a life given is generally passed down to one’s young whether they are rich or poor. It is the case, if one has been viewed as a social outcast for centuries then this would serve as a premise for lifelong habits formed, and what happens next is the acceptance of a poor lifestyle without necessary tools to change their environment. Bronfenbrenner definitely has a great point. Hence, his theory will be used to back up other sources throughout  this article.

Society tends to shun the impoverished adult rather than the children in most instances. Hence, one has a tendency to feel sorry for the children while being most critical of the adults’ inability to come from this lifestyle of defeat. Of course, one would see the reasoning behind this thinking, because no one wants to see a grown man sitting on the lap of a woman, or even worse the lap of the government. However, one should also note that these men and women were children once raised in poverty themselves.  Byron A. Brown, director of Educational Research Solutions consultancy in Botswana writes, “For many years, poverty has dominated international headlines as a global condition. Poverty is pervasive, and it is a chronic socio-economic problem affecting all population groups; adults, adolescents and children in many societies. The impact of poverty on adults can be far-reaching as adults are household heads. In household structures, adult poverty often has a ripple effect downwards, debilitating even the youngest family members. As part of a strategy to alleviate poverty, many societies are encouraging their adults, particularly young adults living in poverty, to participate in programs geared towards poverty reduction. But poor adults are not like mainstream well-to-do adults; poor adults often have complex learning and psychological problems that must be understood before they can participate in any programs. In most cases, these issues are locked in the identity which they developed by virtue of their sustained poverty conditions.” (Brown, 2005, p. 393, Para. 2). I agree wholeheartedly with Browns’ perception of the lifestyle. In the text he deals promptly with the initial impact of generational poverty across the board then narrows that concept down to the black households. However, even though this is enlightening news that someone else sees the clear picture of poverty among the black race does not to ease public conscience of the plight. He adds further, “The common assumption is that adult identity develops as individuals work through conflicts, stigma and stresses that are related to their poverty conditions. Resolving feelings of rejection, the direct physical consequences of deprivation, the consequences of severe stress on social relationships and the stigma attached to being poor, adults gradually consolidate an affirmative sense of self that enables them to accept their position and class in the community/society.” (Brown, 2005, p. 393, Para. 2). The information, in a sense might seem disparaging; however, the acknowledgment that there is a situation stemming from poverty passed down from one’s ancestry does not present biased information. Conversely, when speaking of Bronfenbrenner’s theory of people’s contact with their environment then the premise becomes that one’s choice is limited to their environment; especially in childhood. Hence, people living in poverty have no sense of seeking help outside of their environment. Furthermore, if social programs are available these might lend to help entertain an image of life without poverty, but do nothing to change the mind to free itself from poverty which is inbred thinking wherever that impoverished lifestyle happens to be in the world.

The Exosystem denotes Bronfenbrenner’s theory on social programs. Therefore,  in consideration of fundamentals that slavery has wrought a mind of dependency is one that society has yet to accept and the reproach of such sentiment is seen further in the venue of governmental welfare programs of the United States.  In the broadcast, “’The War on Poverty’Splitting up Black Families Podcast (2005),” guest speaker , Cherylyn Harley LeBon, co-chairman of Project 21, a leadership network of black conservatives suggests that the breakdown of black families as a moral and social construct;  along with,  or even more than slavery began with the entrance of welfare programs. The war on poverty introduced by President Lyndon B Johnson in 1960 set the premise for the downfall of the American black family in that these programs set in place under the pretense of help, actually, tore down the unity of the black family system even further when a mother has to choose whether to have shelter and food for the children; or keep the father in the home when there is not a legal marriage involved. Further notes presented, in statistical data show that in 1964 poverty was about 19 percent and since has dropped to only a 15 percent decrease total for blacks families which is a 4 percent decrease in 50 years. Therefore, however surprising this information might be for some people , it is the case, that one cannot hang on to untruths that an impoverished mind can be freed without provoking thought so the person can see they need the help first. Essentially, a mind which accepts poverty as a way of life has accepted their enslavement and will stay this way until a life changing thought provokes it to seek outside of the environment to which the mindset was bred. Moreover, one must see the United States Government as the slave owner, and see themselves free to walk away. There is no bias in the broadcast, no deceit, because further information was brought forth from the Reparations site (2014), where a study concluded that all states within the Cotton Belt are living in poverty, and shows that in parts of Texas alone there are 81to 100 percent families who live in poverty. Hence, the lingering effects of slavery are overwhelming. Similarly, the reality that black families were split up because of murder or being sold away as is seen in slavery where without the father to protect the wives and children became dependent solely on the slave owner; instead of the man. Hence, this is the same exact scenario just another time frame of life.

Reference to absent fathers is manifest in the article, “Wired for Success,” which speaks to the public in general concerning fathers not living with their children. However, the plight of the black man has been this way for centuries and is a further add to the premise of the impoverished lifestyle. Here we note that society has tagged these men dead beat dads, and granted this is what some are if they do not support their offspring. Here also is a barrier, because for those who work for low or no pay equals no money for the children who live elsewhere. Moreover, not all are dead beats who fall behind in their payments. There are many reasons why some men cannot pay. Consequently, many black men view child support as a modern day ‘lynching’ and do not want to be caught in the noose so they run. The article also links some common factors concerning poverty and the absent parent in general, saying, “Approximately 30% of all American children are born into single-parent homes, and for the black community, that figure is 68%, and also shares more insight which says “Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, and criminality, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics. Over half of all children living with a single mother are living in poverty, a rate 5 to 6 times that of kids living with both parents; Child abuse is significantly more likely to occur in single parent homes than in intact families In single-mother families in the U.S. about 66% of young children live in poverty ”. (Williams, 2011, Para 4). Ray Williams, author of the article brings good data to the table  statically as like that provided above but that is where ‘good’ stop here, because he goes on to group black people and American values in a lump. This information is not all inclusive when the majority of citizens where slave minds frequent are black and poor. He adds this saying, “The Scholastic Aptitude Test scores have declined more than 70 points in the past two decades; children in single-parent families tend to score lower on standardized tests and to receive lower grades in school according to a Congressional Research Service Report.” (Williams, 2011, Para 4). I add, to this in defense of the so called ‘fatherless’ children and say that it is biologically impossible for any child on earth to be produced without the aid of a man. Hence, the term ‘fatherless’ needs to be dispelled from the equation. This statement brings me to my next point while we remember that education has not come easy for black people in America.

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory  pointed to how one’s environment would influence poverty through the ‘Microsystem.  The Mesosystem is of value as well. In the book “Adult Development and Life Assessment” the authors write, ‘The Mesosystem refers to the connection of all the microsystems influencing a child. Changes in one microsystem can impact others. For example, fighting parents create distress in the home, which can influence how well children perform in school.” (Witt & Mossler, 2010, Para. 3). Education in black communities can leave a bad taste in one’s mouth, because in black impoverished neighborhoods there are not only poorly funded schools, but as a result of poor funding there are not adequate resources for learning. This is a personal experience I had with my own children being that we live and have lived all our lives in impoverished neighborhoods, and having experienced single parenthood for the most part I can say that the children suffer for lack of funding because not only do they not have textbooks to take home but they do not learn well. In these schools state testing is given and the children are lowest in the state in the areas of history, reading and math. Furthermore, along with being low-income schools some were pressured with the added threat of passing the test or having their schools close. To date, several high school students who did not pass the TAKS test have not graduated.  Consequently, the tendency for low income school districts to hire  less than adequate teachers or low paid teachers who might have made only C scores in college themselves are not equipped to prepare a child for A grade work; not to mention the ones there for a paycheck only and fall into the category with others which says‘under the pretense of help.” Additionally, parents who are uneducated, or who have to work outside the home cannot help their children. In essence, an uneducated parent, a working parent in some cases are in the same category of an absent parent being that they are not there; or rather cannot be supportive of their children by helping with homework. Conversely, if one or both of the parents cannot read then there is no help there as well. Therefore, what academically can they help with?  Hence, Bronfenbrenner’s theory, although correct, means more than just arguing parents or abusive parents. It is the case that a parent in absentia of an education can affect a child’s performance as well. Society will say here there are opportunities available, however, if the choice of a meal on the table means work, rather than learning to read then the choice is made to work. On the contrary, not every black person sits at home to live off the state. It is the case, that generations of people have inherited their parent’s educational values. Perhaps if there had been rights given to read in slavery then all black people would have literacy would they not? As mentioned earlier, the premise now is that it takes a thought provoking light to reveal the need to look outside of ones environment to seek help to stand up

Of course, poverty is not isolated to the United States because across the globe there are people struggling to break free from the lifestyle. In this we note, that many other countries are adopting social programs as like those in the United States with great success. How can this be when the United States is known for its success in business and otherwise, and still their own citizens; black people are still the poorest of the land? Greg Corombos, author of ‘War on Poverty’ writes, “In some communities, public assistance programs have become a subtle destroyer of the spirit because when you’re looking at multi-generations of families who have been on public assistance, where is the incentive for individuals to want to start businesses and become entrepreneurs? It’s just not there,” (Corombos, 2014, Para. 8). Corombos is exactly right, because an impoverished mind has not a mind for business, except to put food on the table and in many instances it might seem better to allow the government to feed, clothe and shelter as generations before were conditioned to. Slave mentally breeds poverty, and the mind which says why work when I can get all this for nothing. In other words, Massa takes good care of the slaves or so they believe.

A study was presented by Byron Brown (2005) with five adults who had lived their entire lives in poverty, the focus being on individual poverty and households. Results concluded that lifestyle of poverty presented the following: “(a) the participants acknowledged being poor and believed ‘poverty’ is a label that others used to identify them (some reject the poverty label); (b) all held a strong belief that there were important purposes and meaning to their lives, even though they were poor; (c) for many poverty meant, ‘unbelief in self, that they hardly travel  out of the village—frustrated, just locked indoors’; (d) they felt rejection and a sense that other people see them as ‘nobodies’ because of their poverty conditions; and (e) many talked of discomfort, emotional pains from poverty stigmas, deprivation, inadequacies and feelings of hopelessness.” (Brown, 2005. p. 398,  Para. 2). History, education, religion, identity and spirituality have a connection with all of the above. The study is an accurate view into the minds of those who live the lifestyle of poverty. In this view, one can gather that until there is a mind changed then people literally see themselves as having no choice, no hope of a better life and sometimes unknowingly pass that same mind down to their children. This thinking is why society sees entire generations living on the welfare system. Hence, grandmother lived on welfare, daughter lives on welfare, granddaughter, father left his wife, son left his wife, and grandson left his wife and so on.

Spirituality is a great motivator, contributing  to how one gains a meaning into what happens in life. However, for blacks the belief in God far outweighs that of the white people. One may ask how is it that a group of people who have been kidnapped, beaten up, murdered, raped, enslaved, and rejected can still believe there is a God who loves them. Christianity has presented a God who is all about prosperity, and also presents a question that if the God of Christianity is all about prosperity then what happened to the black people? Why are all other people prosperous and this prosperity seen everywhere except with people of color? Since Brenfrenbrenner’s analysis speaks of church as an influence, let us talk about church; or rather religion as it pertains to poverty among blacks and the downfall of the blacks race in America and otherwise. According to a Pew Research study, black people are the most spiritual people in the United States. In the article, “African Americans top U.S. religious measures-Pew”, Stoddard (2009) writes, “Nearly eight in 10 blacks (79 percent) say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 56 percent among all U.S. adults.  Blacks attend religious services and pray more frequently than the general population. While 39 percent of all Americans report attending religious services at least once a week, 53 percent of blacks report the same. Similarly, while 58 percent of all Americans report praying at least once a day, 76 percent of blacks report praying daily. The vast majority of blacks are Protestant (78 percent), compared with 51 percent of the U.S. adult population as a whole.” (Para. 1-3). There is much to be said concerning this because religion, identity and lack of education has much to do with these findings, because although blacks pray to the so called God of prosperity in the Christian sect they are still poor. The Scriptures can explain, “Hear the word of יהוה, you children of Yisra’ĕl, for יהוה has a case against the inhabitants of the land: “For there is no truth or kindness or knowledge of Elohim in the land.  “Swearing, and lying, and murdering, and stealing, and committing adultery have increased. And bloodshed follows bloodshed. “Therefore the land mourns, and everyone living there languishes, with the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens. And the fish of the sea are taken away. “However, let no one strive or reprove another, for your people are like those striving with a priest. And you shall stumble in the day, and the prophet shall also stumble with you in the night. And I shall make your mother perish.” (Hosea 4:1-5). History recounts that the slaves were stripped of their names, forbidden from reading, or speaking their native language of Hebrew and worst took away our God. How do we know this? One knows because of some of the lyrics of so called slave songs such as Kum Ba Yah (Come by here Yah) in the Hebrew tongue. The book of Deuteronomy Chapter 28, also conveys truths of this matter, saying that the children of Yisra’el would be taken to another land by ship and that the occurrence would not been seen again, there to be sold as bondsmen and women and no man would redeem us. Redeem in this instance would be as in Kinsman Redeemer, however, if all one’s people are sold and scattered to the four corners of the earth then there is no man (kinsman or otherwise) to save us. Hence, poverty is a part of the curses; verse 31-33 says,  “Your ox is slaughtered before your eyes, but you do not eat of it. Your donkey is violently taken from before you, and it is not given back to you. Your sheep are given to your enemies, with no one to save them.  “Your sons and your daughters are given to another people, and your eyes look and fail for them all day long, and your hand powerless.  “A people whom you have not known eat the fruit of your land and all your labours. And you shall be only oppressed and crushed all the days.” (Deuteronomy 28, The Scriptures). It is the case that black people were stripped of their God and forced to worship the god of Christianity. Hence, poverty is the result of idol worship which is a breach of Covenant to the Most High. Hosea conveys truth: “My people have perished for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being priest for Me. Since you have forgotten the Torah of your Elohim, I also forget your children.  “As they were increased, so they sinned against Me. My esteem they have changed into shame.” (Hosea 4:6-7). The study is correct, black people do pray but to the wrong god. It is the case that one cannot argue with statistics.

In closing, I leave a quote from William E.B. Du Bouis, PH.D, from the article, “The Individual and Social Conscience, “It is impossible for the individual to reach the larger social conscience by sheer expansion, by a benevolent endeavor to be interested in all men. This leads inevitably to a tenuous filmy consciousness, a loss of grip on the realities of human beings—on the concrete man. It becomes easily a theoretical rather than a practical humanitarianism, and has often been illustrated in the world’s history by the wavering and doubting of the philanthropic mind. We can only be interested in men by knowing them—knowing them directly, thoroughly, intimately; and this knowing leads ever to the greatest of human discoveries,—the recognition of one’s self in the image of one’s neighbor; the sudden, startling revelation, “This is another Me, that thinks as I think, feels as I feel, suffers even as I suffer.” This is the beginning, and the only true beginning, of the social conscience.” (Excerpt from: The Sacred Unity in All the Diversity”: the Text and a Thematic Analysis of W.E.B. Du Bois’ “The Individual and Social Conscience” (1905)). This is a powerful statement. One that surmises the condition of those who live in an impoverished lifestyle because many cannot understand why years after rights of equality were given do people still have hatred in their hearts, and worst why do people still live in poverty. The Messiah said, that poor would always be among us. Our children want to know why they cannot live in a good house, go to the same schools as their white peers, and seemingly the margins and divides are unconquerable when we see disparages even against the children who can go to college but are not prepared for college when they get there. Hence, education for a black mind is a farce. What about religion? Even the preachers are dumbed down, and are educated fools who do not know truth, and in actuality are helping the lynch mobs to kill our people. Therefore, Religion is a farce. The welfare system is system designed to break up homes and families under the pretense of help, therefore government assistance is a farce. It is the case that the only thing real thing in all this to the black person is their poverty. Hence, each day a person gets up to start another day walking through their impoverished mind, unable to solve problems, unable to find answers because like their mothers and fathers before them their ability to think is limited to the life passed down. Therefore, each individual would need to examine and eliminate certain factors or barriers to their impoverished self.  It is therefore the case that mental health is a factor, unemployment, education, relationships, spirituality and other areas of life. A great writer once wrote, “A theorist, said that family, church, school, and state programs help shape a child’s mind and the world around them. It is my opinion these have failed the black child. Family has failed the black child, religion has failed the black mind, school has not provoked thought, except to brainwash our children when there is no identity to gain of who they are other than how society sees them.” (Spears, 2014). It is written.

Watch: Poverty In America

 Bibliography

Black Demographics, (2012). 12 Black Population: 44.5 million, 14.2% of USA. 

Brown, B., (2005). The incorporation of poverty into adult identity over time: implications for adult education.  INT. J. OF LIFELONG EDUCATION, VOL. 24, NO. 5 (SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2005), 393–404. Retrieved (19 March 2014) from: http://library.ashford.edu/databases_a_z.aspx#J

Gillam & Griffith (2010). Prayer and Spiritual Practices for Health Reasons among American Adults: The Role of Race and Ethnicity Author. Journal of Religion and Health, Vol. 49, No. 3 (September 2010), pp. 283-295. Published by: Springer. 

Grohol, J., (2014) The Vicious Cycle of Poverty and Mental Health. 

North American Reparations Task Force (2014). What Are Slavery’s Lingering Effects? Sponsored by: National Commission for Reparations. 

Stoddard, E., (2009). Reuters, African Americans top U.S. religious measures-Pew.

The Scriptures (1998). Translated, Published and distributed by: Institute of Scripture Research. North Riding, South Africa. The Scriptures Publication History, First Edition 1993, Second Edition 1998. IBSN—13-978-0-9585045-4-6

Williams, R., (2011). Wired for Success The decline of fatherhood and the male identity crisis. Psychology Today (2014).  

Williams, R. (2012). “The Sacred Unity in All the Diversity”: the Text and a Thematic Analysis of W.E.B. Du Bois’. “The Individual and Social Conscience” (1905). J Afr Am. (2012) 16:456–497  DOI 10.1007/s12111-011-9171-4. Published online: 23 March 2011. Political Science, Bennett College, 900 East Washington St., Greensboro, NC 27401, USA. # Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, 201.

Witt & Mossler (2010). Adult Development and Life Assessment. Ashford Discovery Series. ISBN 10: 0-9841823-3-0, ISBN 13: 978-0-9841823-3-6, Published by Bridgepoint Education, Inc., 13500 Evening Creek Drive North, Suite 600, San Diego, CA 92128. Copyright © 2010.

ILLITERACY A CONDITION OF POVERTY

blacks and literacyAccording to Ian Golden, the commentator at TED.com, income has increased and illiteracy has decreased. However, that menu can be multifaceted, because either the rich are making more money or the poor are getting up to actually learn how to come out of their poverty. It is the case that being illiterate is a paralysis as like being blind without help to get up.

I notice that Mr. Golden also stated during his presentation that with some areas of global concern people can feel left out, or either do not participate. There is good information provided there because one should note that illiteracy does allow some to be left out. Conversely, being on that same end of the spectrum would allow that people not participate, because a common cause of mal-information is illiteracy. In the article, “Digital Technology and Teaching American Culture,” Robert Batchelor writes, “Calculations of the total worldwide Internet growth has increased om an estimate of 445 percent over the last 10 years.” (Batchelor, 2011, p. 49).

I add,  the increase, though commendable, do not include everyone. It is the case; the audience for the internet is not all inclusive. For example, some people over 60, black, in poverty, and illiterate would not be on the internet because their mode of information is most likely television, and print news; such as newspapers. I am being generous when I give the age 60 because some even some people my age and up do not want to be bothered, or just feel too old to learn anything new so these people are mal-informed, have been mis-educated as many of the black race, and self defeated in some instances. I believe that many people left out of the age of technology have, perhaps, fallen for the so called American Dream where instead of gathering information to make them more profitable or prosperous they feel if they can just hit the lotto, or if they work hard enough then their dream might come true. This thinking is wrought in part by leaders promising better things to come lessor taxes and more economic freedom.

Concerning this thinking Batchelor adds, “In an increasingly chaotic world global citizens are losing faith in their leadersto provide security, serenity, and opportunity”. (Batchelor, 2011.p.52).

One cannot participate or know what the leaders are up to if they have not the means to participate or the knowledge to climb aboard.

Source: Batchelor, B. (2011, March). Digital technology and teaching American culture.

Watch: Navigating the Future