Archives for: July 2010
By helen on Jul 30, 2010 | In The Black Perspective of Views of America By Helen Burleson
ONE IDIOT STOOD UP TO BE COUNTED
By Helen L. Burleson, Doctor of Public Administration
Some of you may recall that I pleaded with all idiots to please stand up to be counted. One did. On Thursday, June 24, 2010, one claimed his birthright when he queried, “Where is the White House?” “Where are the Senators and Congressmen?”
“Not a one of them is here!”
I’m going to attempt to paraphrase his ‘enlightened speech.’ “Last night I could not sleep thinking about this event, thinking about this building. Here we are in the Nations’ Capital and not one senator is here and only two congressmen are here. There is no one from the White House here, no cabinet members. Where are they? Where are they?”
It is with great pleasure that I tell you where the White House was, if you were referring specifically to President Barack Obama. President Obama was meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia attempting to mend some fences to eliminate the necessity for answering the red phone in the middle of the night. Thus, he was tending to the business of the
Nation. Bridging the divide, President Obama heartily endorsed the position that Russia be admitted into the WTO, the World Trade Organization, something that Russia has wanted for a long time.
Additionally, I’d like to inform you that because the Nation’s Capital has not moved to Bethesda, MD, you were not in the Nation’s Capital, my dear sir.
I listened to your remarks with mixed feelings, pleased that you answered roll call; but displeased that your cacophonous complaints spoiled the dignity that the ceremony deserved. The dedication of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD was a cause for elation and celebration. The $65,000,000.00 72,000 square foot state-of-the-art center dedicated to the diagnosis and clinical care of service members suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post traumatic stress syndrome (PTS) was built and paid for with private donations given to the military. Lacking both in class and candor, you misspoke because like most idiots, you were devoid of facts. Of course, absence of facts has never stopped the babbling of idiots.
I have to ask you were you equally concerned when Walter Reed Hospital and other veterans’ hospitals were neglected and were operating in disrepair? After an expose in the Washington Post in 2007, it came to light that a name familiar with troublesome ventures was named. The contract for maintenance was awarded to former executives with Kellog, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Haliburton. Coincidentally, Haliburton’s name came up with some problems with overbilling and other problems with their contract in Iraq. Now with the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill, again the name Haliburton comes up. I’m beginning to wonder if there is a pattern developing. I am positive that you must have vented your fury about these disastrous events.
I am certain that you must be cognizant of the fact that to their credit both the President and Mrs. Obama have advocated for veterans and their families in order to make conditions better for them. President Obama tried to get a more substantial raise in the pay for service people; but, typically the opposition party blocked the effort. Have you ever taken the time to applaud them for that?
Now, let me tell you something about the absence of Secretary Gates who was scheduled to be there. All of us who were awake were aware of the fact that we had a general with motor mouth syndrome who had to be relieved of duty in Afghanistan. It was important that the Secretary be involved in the transition to make certain that a change in leadership would not create a lack of continuity in our efforts to carry out the mission in Afghanistan.
There is as pointy hat awaiting you. You have earned it. I have made several because daily the idiots are opening their mouths to prove to us that they have earned their stripes and their pointy hats. I’m so glad you answered roll call. You have a lot of company so don’t worry, don’t lose any sleep because you won’t be lonely or look odd for many will be wearing a pointy hat just like yours.
I’m sorry about the fact that your hat is not personalized but I could not find your name. Wear it as it is. As soon as I learn your name, I will personalize it for you.
By Randle Loeb on Jul 29, 2010 | In Caring and Surviving, Citizenship and Stewards By Randle Loeb
Yesterday, and on any day there was a rally on the doorstep of El Centro Humanitario at 2250 California Street, across from the Blair-Caldwell Library of a decision with respect to a federal judge on an injunction against the onerous parts of a law passed by Arizona State Assembly, which stated that it was lawful for police to stop and search suspects who may be undocumented and on such a basis arrest them. This judge said that it is unconstitutional for a local law enforcement organization to determine to determine status of citizenship and that the federal government is the only legitimate place to determine the status and procedures of citizenship. Some parts of this new law in Arizona were not addressed in the court's decision striking down these requirements. Rights of undocumented people are hanging in the balance. The present administration has arrested and incarcerated more people than even in the previous administration.
Undocumented citizens have contributed more to the economy of America than most people realize, or care to acknowledge. One of the artists in the Biennial of the Americas did an installation on the floor of the McNichols Building that had a penny for every million dollars of contributed work of such people to this land. There were more that 3.756 pennies sitting side by side. The artist is donating the pennies to a local Latino organization at the end of the exhibition.
What overruns our imagination of this dramatic exhibition is the insignia on the penny, which states, "E pluribus Unum," Equality for all, is on the face of the penny.
The federal judge prescribed a cure for the ill of Arizona , which has set a standard for the neglect and harm of segment of our populace. Let us regard our neighbor in our image and see that all belong here.
By helen on Jul 20, 2010 | In The Black Perspective of Views of America By Helen Burleson
THE COLOR OF MY HEART IS RED
By Helen L. Burleson, Doctor of Public Administration
As a young teacher, I was assigned to a predominantly white school on the near west side of the City of Chicago. I wanted to request a transfer because I wanted to teach children of African descent. I had nothing against white children, but I knew unequivocally that they were already exposed to a much better education depending upon class and status. I also knew unequivocally, that wealthy white children of the upper class get a superior education compared to those of the lower class, especially those in the wealthier suburban communities. There are reasons for that. One of the reasons is that the elite demand quality schools and the tax base supports the demands that they make. The second reason is that the parents are very involved in their children’s education and equip them with whatever resources are required to facilitate the learning process, whether it’s tutoring or psychological support. In these homes there are the tools that enhance learning: computers, a quiet place to study, and books and supplies needed to supplement learning. In many instances the guests in the homes are the leaders in industry, finance, politics, government, the arts and literature.
On the other hand, in the inner cities where the community residents are mostly Americans of African descent, too often, the schools are overcrowded, dilapidated, poorly equipped and lacking in resources.
These are strong contrasts, but they are true. How do I know? I know because I have walked on both sides of the street. The elementary schools that I attended in the wealthier Hyde Park neighborhood where I grew up, were world-class schools with the best and the latest in equipment and texts. I attended Kenwood Elementary School from 1935-1940. I graduated in 1943 from Ray Elementary school, a few blocks away from the University of Chicago. I graduated from Hyde Park High School in 1946. Ray school was a pilot school and we were paired with the University’s education department. When William S. Gray of the Department of Education of the University came up with an innovation called the non-oral or silent approach to reading, we were the first public school to participate in the experimentation. My classmates and friends were children from wealthy homes. Their parents were in the legal and medical professions and giants of commerce: Kleins Potato Chips, Japps Potato Chips (later during WWII changed to Jays) Brandywein Mattress, Handmacher Clothiers, the granddaughter of Amos Alonzo Stagg, Judge Sabbath, Goodman Ice Cream Company and professors from the University of Chicago. Most of them had servants in the home and lived in some of the mansions in the area. Some of them had chauffeurs who drove them to school. They were the children of privilege. They had all the advantages that money could buy.
Let’s go back to the inner city school where I taught on Chicago’s south side. There were mobile units, popularly called Willis Wagons, classes were overcrowded and 2 and sometimes 3 children had to turn around in their seats to share a single text book. I then realized what happened to the text books my schools discarded at the end of each school year to be replaced by the latest copyright dates. In the inner city school, the texts were worn, often tattered, dirty and outdated. It was the tale of two cities: one rich and rewarded and the other poor, neglected and punished.
It was for this reason that I wanted to teach in the inner city schools where I could fully utilize all the skills and knowledge that I had gained at the privileged all white schools that I attended as a child. I worked diligently with the children trying to help them catch up by reaching and teaching each child according to his/her learning style. I had great success. I used the research writing book, written by Kate L. Turabian of the University of Chicago to teach research skills. I tailored the curriculum to meet the students where they were in order to bring them along to where I knew they needed to be. Today, I am in touch with many of my former students and I take pride in knowing that some have gone on to become professionals in all fields; one, after earning a doctorate became the head of the physical education department for the City of Chicago, there are educators, physicians, attorneys, ministers and just plain decent citizens; and, I am so glad that I could play a role in challenging them to excel.
This is being written because of what happened today to Shirley Sherrod, who, like me, had an epiphany and realized that people are people and when they need you, you respond, ignoring race, creed or color. Having experienced a personal tragedy, naturally, Ms. Sherrod viewed white people on the surface as those she did not want to help to the fullest extent. How many of you can honestly say, that you can love someone from a group that caused the death of your father? In spite of this, she overcame her bias; and, according to the farmer and his wife, who were the subject of her conversation, she saved their farm and they are now friends.
Like Ms. Sherrod, I had a change of heart. I loved my white students as much as I did those Americans of African descent. When I retired, my classes at the predominantly white school cried and kissed me goodbye when they found that despite their efforts I was leaving to become a full-time mother to my son. They had worked out a schedule where their mothers would volunteer to take care of my son on a rotating basis in order for me to continue teaching at their school because some had told their younger siblings to be certain to sign up for my classes.
Like Shirley Sherrod, I found a loving place in my heart. I pray that her life will serve as a lesson for us all and that she will be restored to her position which gives her an opportunity to demonstrate repeatedly that there is something stronger than ignorance; and, that is love.
All the ignorant should take a page from her book.
I love all children because the color of my heart is red!
By helen on Jul 15, 2010 | In The Black Perspective of Views of America By Helen Burleson
IS THIS CONSIDERED AMERICAN JUSTICE?
By Helen L. Burleson, Doctor of Public Administration
The case of Oscar Grant raises many questions. The first question is how could a trained police officer not know the difference between a gun and a taser? The second question is the placement of the two weapons, was the taser in a holster next to the gun or was the taser in a holster on the opposite side of the body? The next question raised is the training given in the use of a taser. Are officers trained to have each weapon in the same place or in opposite places? The next is, is there a weight difference which distinguishes the two weapons? This leads me to the next and a very important question. Also, isn’t the purpose of a taser to subdue an out of control person? Can a person be considered out of control if he is face down and motionless?
According to the video that has been shown, Mr. Grant was restrained, was on his stomach and motionless. How could an officer surrounded by several other officers feel threatened by a victim thus restrained?
This leads to a very important question. Once a trial date was set, why was there a change in venue? According to the American justice system as I understand it, due process includes the composition of a jury that is supposed to reflect one’s peers. Was the venue changed to circumvent finding a jury of the peers of the citizen who was dead as a result of being shot in the back?
Was the decision to change the venue made only by the prosecution without input from the defense attorney? What was the rationale for changing the venue? Was this a deliberate attempt to predetermine the outcome?
I remember a recent case where a college student cut in line in a Wal-Mart; and, because she was accused of resisting arrest, she was given a 14 year prison term. I understand that later through negotiations that that severe penalty was lifted. No one died as a result of the Wal-Mart incident.
One begins to wonder if Lady Justice has removed her blinders and is making arbitrary decisions based on reasons other than the merits of the case.
It was always my belief that there was equal justice under the law; but, I must admit my faith and confidence in our judicial system is being stretched to the limit.
The arbitrary and discretionary authority that police have and use in selected situations needs a very careful analysis and calls for that authority to be reformed to correspond to a given situation. No one can feel threatened by a man who is face down and motionless. American justice is being compromised and that does not bode well.
We have gone on record as a nation that does not sanction or tolerate torture; and, yet there are too many instances of selective torture and cruel and unusual punishment.
I have read that the Justice Department will investigate this case. It is my fervent prayer that they will remove any sun shades and with clear vision examine all the facts and procedures that resulted in what I consider to be a gross miscarriage of justice.
I raise the question, is what transpired in the case of the death of Oscar Grant considered American justice?