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.

Can the So Called Righteous Prevail in Prayer? Really?

Today’s rally for the “Adopt a Terrorist for Prayer” movement seems comparative to time travel; where a step back reveals hippy

Muslim prayer beads

Muslim prayer beads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

land where the old song “I’d like to Teach the World to Sing” comes to mind, and is now replaced by a request for the world to pray in one harmonious tune.

What is Adopt a Terrorist for Prayer Movement? The approach is really a free for all prayer session, non-restrictive and prochoice for all who wish to participate. Conversely, in this “prayer meeting” there is a chance for all people to work together quietly and peaceably to stop terrorism.

Dr. Bruce Thomas, in the article, “Fighting Terrorism Is Like Fighting Addiction” says, “When under the influence of alcohol, the abuser of his wife and children thinks he is doing right things to manage his household. Likewise, when under the influence of certain doctrines, suicide bombers think they are taking proper steps to defend Islam. An alcoholic’s drunken tirades terrorize a family into appeasement and cooperation. An alcoholic’s drunken driving threatens a whole community. Similarly, inflammatory rhetoric from a terrorist or a sympathizing cleric intimidates peaceful Muslims into passivity and compliance. Actions resulting from this rhetoric threaten the world.”

Send terrorism to detox through prayer? If nothing else is working it could be worth a try. Certainly, no one will hold a gun to one’s head if they choose not to act; in prayer that is.

Interested? For information, visit: Adopt a Terroist

Democracy, The Great Black Out

prison-slavery
Photo Source: Newsome.com

“Daily the Negro is coming more and more to look upon law and justice, not as protecting safeguards, but as sources of humiliation and oppression. The laws are made by men who have little interest in him; they are executed by men who have absolutely no motive for treating the black people with courtesy or consideration; and, finally, the accused law-breaker is tried, not by his peers, but too often by men who would rather punish ten innocent Negroes than let one guilty one escape. (W. E. B. Dubois, 1903, The Souls of Black Folk) (as cited by Black American Quotes).

This is the jest of findings in the black community where people are being held captive and prisoners to a system which does not seem like it is made for them. In my community many people cannot afford attorneys for legal needs, not because the help is not there but because if one is not indigent then the help is not available. In the crimminal court might appoint an attorney for an individual does not have good intentions. Notably,  some of these people might work along with the prosecution to railroad our men. The result, too much time given in some cases. In the YouTube video “Democracy is black” the author had a simple but powerful message which conveys all colors being combined in a test tube which produced one color; that color being black.

The message, denotes the color black as being dominate over all other colors within it. The video ends saying, “Democracy is power, the color of a nation”. If black means power then it is lost when it comes to the legal system in America; surely America has failed a nation of black people, because whether it is a case of criminal or domestic there is a hard path in America; one that is black.

Once I was served divorce papers. I sought help from a government agency who provides free services. I was told I didn’t qualify, but was given a document to file and had to show up for court by myself or Pro Se as it is known, and I found out quickly that without an attorney the judge won’t listen. The judge was talking and speaking with my ex-husband’s attorney and would not even look my way; a continuance was scheduled. During that time my unemployment ran out and I called the service back and was given attorney at that time; hence, I had to literally have no money. However, I can proudly say that I still have my daughter with me who is now 14 years old, but in saying that people without money do not have a fair chance at all in the legal system. I was blessed, but how many have lost their children in this manner? This could happen to anyone, but I was a single and a black woman and there are many like me.

In an article, “In Forma Pauperis” the author, Arthur Ghee (2007),” says, “Are you being denied full access to the courts? What if you cannot afford court filing fees? You are considered an indigent person. The term for filing in the court system is called, in forma Pauperis or (IFP).IFP is a legal term derived from the Latin phrase “in the character or manner of a pauper”. In the United States, the IFP designation is given by both state and federal courts to someone who is without the funds to pursue the normal costs of a lawsuit or a criminal defense.” (Ghee, 2007) (as cited by BlackLegalinfo, 2007). That was me; I was seemingly, without rights because I had no money. This was a civil case, but what about criminal cases?

In the criminal arena there are many cases where a defendant might not be able to afford an attorney. It is here where we find trial courts and appellate courts; and where, one who is black or non-white does not stand a chance of getting a fair trial if he were to walk into court with no counsel or a court appointed one. It is not the case that all court appointed attorneys are shoddy, but a fair amount have done a bad enough job that practically every person you ask who has used one would tell you they are no good. I have spoken with many who believe this way, and they say it is best to have a so called “free world lawyer” if you are to get a fair trial. If a trial does not fare well, then there is the appellate court. Pember & Calvert (2013) says, ”Trial courts are fact finding courts and appellate courts law reviewing courts” (p. 16. Para. 1).

Conversely, in trial court all the evidence against the defendant is laid out for a jury to decide a guilty or not guilty verdict. However, in an appellate court a ruling has to be made upon finding flaws in the way the case was handled. Notably, in an appellate court is where someone has filed action saying that their rights were violated during the trial process, this is also where “Constitutional law” is upheld if it have been overlooked; most common is of a racial nature.

In an article from New America Media, the author states, “The report, Critical Condition: African American Youth in the Justice System, identified a number disparities among Black youth, including disproportionate arrest rates and harsher prison sentencing, as compared to white youth. ‘It is baffling that we are still faced with this serious problem of racial disparities in our justice system,” said Liz Ryan, president and CEO of Campaign for Youth Justice. “It is time for states to reverse punitive laws that result in the transfer and incarceration of African American youth in the adult criminal justice system.’ According to the report, African American youth make up 30 percent of youth arrested while they represent only 17 percent of the overall youth population. Additionally, African American youth are 62 percent of the youth prosecuted in the adult criminal system and are nine times more likely than white youth to receive an adult prison sentence, the report revealed. The NAACP supports the report’s findings and pointed to the now famous Jena 6 case in Louisiana as an example of Black youth being mistreated by the nation’s criminal justice system.”

Ultimately, If things are to change and the so called negro race be seen as a color dominate race or a race from which all colors are derived the judicial system must change to give fair trials; without or without money as a motivation. Notably, we must consider that if Democracy is black the colors which make it black must come to accept it as such. Times are dark for the so call negro in America. Democracy is black because a nation cannot win when it cannot see light. Democracy is black, today, because of the great black out of a nation. Until that time as a change is brought forth the path remains black for some.

Source:

 Black American Quotes, (2013). Black Injustice

Black Legal Info, (2007). “The unequal scales of Justice”  

Democracy  Challenge , (2013). Democracy is Black  

 New America Media, (2013). Report: Criminal Justice System Unfair to Black Youth 

Pember, D. R. & Calvert, C. (2013). Mass media law (18th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Watch: Modern Slavery: More Black Males in Prison Today Than Those Enslaved in The

U.S.Guantanamo Bay: Innocent Prisoners of 9/11

English: United Airlines Flight 175 crashes in...

English: United Airlines Flight 175 crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center complex in New York City during the September 11 attacks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guantanamo Bay, the Prison where suspected terroists to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks were held were innocent. The idea of this investigation is noted to have come from one question; that is, what happened in Guantanamo?

One can imagine that with the plight of so many American citizens in prison and jail being innocent, there is the question of why this case should be any different.
The report, “America’s Prison for Terrorists Often Held the Wrong Men is a project which maps out the harrowing plight of those men who were detained by the United States Military, and were thought to be terrorist in one form or another during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The journalist notes about the series:  “An eight-month McClatchy investigation of the detention system created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has found that the U.S. imprisoned innocent men, subjected them to abuse, stripped them of their legal rights and allowed Islamic militants to turn the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba into a school for jihad.”
The report on the project, begins with a video denoting the plight of those men taken to prison, the journalist says, “The men were difficult to find and hesitant to talk, because they were worried about retribution of their government. “
The account of the investigation indicates that the use of databases served as tool to locate the men who had been imprisoned. Lassete says, “An eight-month McClatchy investigation in 11 countries on three continents has found that Akhtiar was one of dozens of men — and, according to several officials, perhaps hundreds — whom the U.S. has wrongfully imprisoned in Afghanistan, Cuba and elsewhere on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence, old personal scores or bounty payments.”

English: Pentagon, Washington, D.C. (Sept. 11,...

English: Pentagon, Washington, D.C. (Sept. 11, 2006) – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace speaks to attendees at a memorial ceremony at the Pentagon remembering the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley (RELEASED) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In summary, the tools used in the investigation to find the men are as follows:
Databases: Government and Agency Records. Houston states, “A journalist should consider which level of government records (federal, state, county, city, or special district) to examine first.”  This includes government databases.
• U.S. Military Tribunal Transcripts (Unclassified)
• Military  Court Marshal Documents
Interviews with the Detainees, which include travel to: Human sources were located through Court Marshal documents described above.
• Germany
• Refugee Center of Albania
• Mosque in Jordan
• Dangerous cities and streets of Afghanistan
Other sources included: Human sources as well, however, these add to the thinking or the rationale of the United States officials.
• The Bush Administration
• Defense Officials in Washington
Source:
America’s Prisons for Terrorists Often held the Wrong Men. Guantanamo: Beyond the law.Houston, B. (2009). The investigative reporter’s handbook: A guide to documents, databases and techniques (5th). Boston, MA: Be

Kansas City Cheif Player Murder-Suicide

English: Jovan Belcher, a player on the Kansas...

English: Jovan Belcher, a player on the Kansas City Chiefs American football team. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Kansas City Chiefs player kills his girlfriend in a murder-suicide, fans mourn his loss.

‘Jovan Belcher, shot his girlfriend to death on Saturday morning at their home in Kansas City and then drove to the team’s practice facility a few miles away. He then shot himself to death in the parking lot while head coach Romeo Crennel and General Manager Scott Pioli watched,” reports say.

Many convey sadness as they deal with the shock of this tragedy.

One fan reflects of how the deceased player was looked upon as a role model in the community, sources say.

Also as tragic is the reality that suicide has claimed the lives of old and young more than one might care to admit.
According to research analysis provided by Suicide in the U.S.: Statistics and Prevention those who are most at risk factors include the following:

  • depression and other mental disorders, or a substance-abuse disorder (often in combination with other mental disorders). More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have these risk factors
  • prior suicide attempt
  • family history of mental disorder or substance abuse
  • family history of suicide
  • family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • firearms in the home, the method used in more than half of suicides
  • incarceration
  • exposure to the suicidal behavior of others, such as family members, peers, or media figures.

Suicide is common among children and young people?

In 2007, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.1 Of every 100,000 young people in each age group, the following number died by suicide:

Children ages 10 to 14 — 0.9 per 100,000suicide-by-method-chart

Adolescents ages 15 to 19 — 6.9 per 100,000

Young adults ages 20 to 24 — 12.7 per 100,000

As in the general population, young people were much more likely to use firearms, suffocation, and poisoning than other methods of suicide, overall. However, while adolescents and young adults were more likely to use firearms than suffocation, children were dramatically more likely to use suffocation.
There were also gender differences in suicide among young people, as follows:

Nearly five times as many males as females ages 15 to 19 died by suicide.

Just under six times as many males as females ages 20 to 24 died by suicide.

If you or someone you know suffer from any of these symptoms or issues, please know help is available.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health.

To read more: Chiefs fans somber after player’s murder-suicide

Down with One-Sided Reporting

Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Dist...

Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vivian says, “In politics, Gans said, both ideologues and politicians who lack ideology are treated with suspicion: “Political candidates who talk openly about issues may be described as dull; those who avoid issues entirely evoke doubts about their fitness for office.”

Apparently, even to those who report their stances.

The above response to the presidential candidate is a good introduction into the values held by journalists, because everything about the media reports concerning government concerns to me have been played down. In past times, presidents have vied to cut areas of budget in government which would slight the poor out of much needed social services. However, the news broadcasts and coverage of these particular issues have been brief. Vivian says of “Ethnocentrism, seeing things on the basis of personal experience, values.”

It might be easier for some people to separate their lives from those who ask for help; or, who are receiving help seeing them as different. When I say different I say this because of quotes using terms like: paupers, beggars, or leeches, and with so many opinions going forth I would think that some of these might come across as biased on behalf of the reporter. My thoughts are that this too is reflected in the media’s coverage of those who get that help, because we always get one side of the story. Where is the word of those who receive the help? It seems to me that these people have been bashed with no chance of defense.

A Pew ResearchStudy conveys public opinion of the media; findings in the study “Pew: Public Perception of Media Bias Hits Historic High” suggests, “Said Pew, “The overall ratings for the performance of the news media are quite negative:

  • Fully 66% say news stories often are inaccurate,
  • 77 % think that news organizations tend to favor one side, and
  • 80% say news organizations are often influenced by powerful people and organizations.

The percentage saying that news stories are often inaccurate has risen 13 points since 2007, with much of the increase coming among Democrats and independents, ” the study said.

In my personal opinion, I believe that media bias is evident in many occasions, and this sheds light on why nobody likes to be in the eye of the camera. Notably, people are afraid they will be cast in a bad light or their story not told correctly. I would rather be seen in a bad light for reporting factual information from both sides; rather than, one-sided untruths. I am a truth-seeker and I plan on keeping it that way.

Source:

Pew: Public Perception of Media Bias Hits Historic High.