Thursday, December 30, 2010

"You've Got Mail," and Your Mail Is YOUR Mail - A Look at Invasion of Privacy

As I start this blog post, let me make it very clear that my intent is not to defend the actions of Clara Walker, a Detroit, Michigan wife whose email account was allegedly hacked or read without her authorization by her husband Leon Walker. It is however, a post stating my views concerning the unauthorized reading or entering of email accounts, cell phone text messages, cell phone voice message accounts, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, personal/private journals etc. etc. In my view (and this is my personal view, as this is my blog) no one, including spouses or any other family members ought to be able to enter into any of these private accounts without the express permission or authorization of the account holder. Just because you are in a committed or marital relationship does not automatically give anyone (husband or wife; boyfriend or girlfriend) carte blanche to just blatantly disregard the fact that email accounts, etc. are private accounts for the holder. That’s why they are all password protected. I very well understand the principals of marriage, and I also understand that whether you are married or not, you are still an individual and are entitled to your privacy. Invasion of privacy rules ought to still apply whether it is a spouse, brother, sister, mother, father, stranger etc. Invasion of privacy is invasion of privacy.

Having been one on the receiving end of having my journals, email and cell phone voice mail accounts compromised, it is clearly a pet peeve of mine. When I read the accounts of the Walker case it brought back vivid flashbacks of my experiences. Again, I do not condone Mrs. Walker’s behavior as that is a separate issue; however, it is not a good feeling to have your privacy invaded in such a way. It leaves you feeling violated just as if someone had broken into your house or gone into your underwear drawer without your authorization. Regardless of what type of relationship you are in, there are just some things that you want to remain with you and keep private. In my view marriage is not a license to trample on each others' privacy. Just like any other part of the relationship, the privacy piece needs to be respected as well and when it is not, you can expect trouble.

Mr. Walker in an interview stated that "She'd asked me to read her e-mails before and that "She gave me the password before. She didn't hide it." First of all I don’t believe in husbands and wives sharing passwords to individual accounts. If it is a shared email account that is one thing; however, if it is a personal account, the passwords ought not to be shared to avoid the possibility of either snooping. The old cliché that says “curiosity killed the cat” is true. You define “cat” in any way you would like, whether it be a marriage(cat), relationship(cat), job(cat) or whatever, in many instances snooping in someone’s private email account can be a killer. The other old adage of “If you look for anything long and hard enough, you will find it,” is also true. Whatever you look for in someone else’s accounts, you will undoubtedly find even if it is in your own mind and perception. Again, I understand folks view on marriage concerning EVERYTHING has to be shared and I don’t agree. Married or not, we still have to have our own space and be able to maintain some individuality (I know there are those of you who won’t agree and that’s okay). My view is I have me, you have you, and we have we. You do your thing; I do my thing; and then there are things we do together. The more developed each one becomes as an individual, the stronger the WE will become; individual interests, friends, personalities, etc. needs to also be a part of a marriage or relationship. There ought not to be any need for each other to read each other’s personal emails and text messages unauthorized. Either you trust each other or you don’t. If you choose to invite your spouse to read a particular email or the two of you share a joint email address that is one thing; to blatantly barge into or hack into a personal account is another.

There are invasion of privacy laws, and in the Walker case Oakland County, Michigan, Prosecutor Jessica Cooper used a state anti-hacking law to charge Leon Walker with a felony. According to CNN, the Michigan statute forbids someone from accessing "a computer program, computer, computer system or computer network" to acquire property "without authorization." New York criminal defense lawyer Paul Callan said all 50 U.S. states have such laws, but he called this "a highly unusual use of a criminal statute." There are other tenets of the various invasions of privacy laws and statues as well. People really need to think before they “peek” (Mr. Walker’s words) or snoop around in other folks’ emails, journals, and other various accounts because they are indeed breaking invasion of privacy laws. These accounts are no different than what is now known as “snail mail” or what we traditionally know as letters delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Just as no one has the right to open anyone else’s mail, no one has a right to open anyone’s email which is short as you know for electronic mail.

As I said above, this is an extreme pet peeve of mine and one I am very sensitive to because if you have ever been the victim of this sort of invasion, it is an indescribable feeling of being violated nothing short in my mind of  being raped. In fact, it is a rape of your private information as your private information is taken without your consent and by force. I cannot advise and advocate enough for folks not to do it regardless of what you think the case may be. Nothing good can come from anyone breaking into anyone’s privacy unauthorized. Without siding with Mrs. Walker for her actions in all of this, I can feel her pain of being violated by her husband reading and sharing her emails. Agree or disagree,  as always, I welcome your commentary in the comment section of the blog.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Drops of Water On Any Hard Surface Will Over Time Wear Through That Hard Surface

For the second time this year I have come across a book that speaks the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Earlier this year I read the book ENOUGH by Juan Williams and I could not sing the praises of the message of that book enough and now I have discovered the book STOP BEING NIGGARDLY by Karen Hunter and I cannot stop singing praises of Ms. Hunter's message. The reason being, the messages of both Ms. Hunter and Mr. Williams are very similar. They both, like Bill Cosby and Minister Farrakhan seek to help African Americans see the inappropriate behaviors that we (African Americans) partake in that keep us from being as successful as we can be.

Ms. Hunter and Mr. Williams express so eloquently in their books my personal views and opinions concerning why African Americans as a race is not as far along as I know we could be. In both books, one might think the authors are Anti-African American even though both are indeed African American. As I have written in previous blogs, the problem that I see with African Americans (and yes I know I am generalizing and that there are individual cases) is that we really do resist hearing the things we need to either stop doing or start doing to improve ourselves as a whole. Not only do we resist hearing it, we don't make the necessary changes needed for improvement. This could never be more evident then what Bill Cosby experienced when he delivered his now famous “Pound Cake Speech.”  He was lambasted by both African Americans who have quote unquote made it and by those who were nowhere near making it, all because he had the courage to speak the truth in terms of what African Americans need to do to move forward. Like President Barack Obama, he heard that he wasn’t “Black enough,” or had lost his “blackness” because he expressed his views on why African Americans stay gridlocked in terms of moving forward in society. He dared ask the African American community to look within her own house or in the mirror and as a result was ostracized and nearly outcast from the African American community. Minister Louis Farrakhan has been preaching the same messages for years concerning our (African Americans) being able to do for ourselves to no avail. We still tend to gravitate towards any silly fad that comes along, i.e. sagging pants; being fascinated by the “Bling, (which is usually fake)” having to show that we spent the most money on an item albeit automobile, sneakers, jewelry, etc. ; calling each other derogatory terms and thinking it is cute; not taking the importance of education seriously; and the list goes on and on. When someone points this out to us (African Americans) we then want to get an attitude or try to justify these behaviors in every which way possible. Usually it has something to do with the “white man” or our having been enslaved for over four hundred years.  Yes, there may some truth to these justifications, however, we cannot continue to be paralyzed by the fact that we were once slaves or by what the white man does or does not do.  Karen Hunter says it well in her book STOP BEING NIGGARDLY, when she says, “I can’t control white people. I can only control me.”  It has been my experience that we are quick to not do what we are supposed to do and then turn around and blame the white man for what we feel we ought to have received if we had done what we were supposed to have done. How can you blame the white man for your not having a job because you dropped out of school? How can you blame anyone for your limited options, when you did not take your education seriously? 

So just as when I wrote the blog concerning The Pound Cake Speech, I expect folks to be critical of my views and I am okay with that.  I agree with Karen Hunter when she says that she knows that drops of water on any hard surface will over time wear through that hard surface and she hopes as do I to be yet another drop of water.  She likens the drops to the words of Nannie Helen Burroughs, Marcus Garvey, Marva Collins, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X, preachers, and teachers who attempt to inspire and motivate people to have full lives.  The message is not new, but it is resisted and denied.  It is our hope that enough of us will continue to be drops of water eroding that rock like surface of denial and resistance in order for African Americans to move to higher heights.  More of us must get to the point where we realize the truth and take action to move us further forward. Being in denial or getting mad at the messengers will keep us stuck in mediocrity and will continue to move us further and further away from excellence. Like Ms. Hunter, Mr. Williams, Mr. Cosby, and Minister Farrakhan, I will continue to be that drop of water continuously hitting that hard surface of African American denial of our issues.  I am not anti-white, however, I am pro-black and because I am pro black I cannot just sit by and watch us as a people continue to move backward while  making a bunch of excuses as to why. Making excuses for why we ought to be able to call each other “nigger” and "hos;" why we ought not speak correctly, or parent our children correctly; why we ought to be happy being mis-educated and under educated and the list goes on. I for one will not hold my peace because someone might say that I am not black enough or have lost touch with my blackness.  We can and must do better than what we do.  Nannie Mae Burroughs wrote in the 30’s Twelve Things the Negro Must Do and the twelve things she outlined still are applicable in 2010 and as we move into 2011. I say again, we can and must do better than what we do.  Let us face it and fix it. 
Twelve Things the Negro Must Do
by Nannie Helen Burroughs

(1) The Negro Must Learn to Put First Things First
(2) The Negro Must Stop Expecting God and White Folk to Do for Him What He Can Do for Himself
(3) The Negro Must Keep Himself, His Children and His Home Clean and Make the Surroundings in Which He Lives Comfortable and Attractive
(4) The Negro Must Learn to Dress More Appropriately for Work and for Leisure
(5) The Negro Must Make His Religion an Everyday Practice and Not Just a Sunday-Go-to Meeting Emotional Affair
(6) The Negro Must Highly Resolve to Wipe Out Mass Ignorance
(7) The Negro Must Stop Charging His Failures Up to His "Color" and to White People's Attitude
(8) The Negro Must Overcome His Bad Job Habits
(9) The Negro Must Improve His Conduct in Public Places
(10) The Negro Must Learn How to Operate Business for People -- Not for Negro People, Only
(11) The Average So-Called Educated Negro Will Have to Come Down Out of the Air
(12) The Negro Must Stop Forgetting His Friends. Remember!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I apologize to Sony

I apologize to Sony for mistakenly identifying it as the maker of XBOX in my last blog post (There Are Some Roles That Need To Be Turned Down).  In my disgust for Kobe Bryant's part in it, I mistakenly noted Sony as the maker and not Microsoft. So the line should read in the last post that the Microsoft and Activision Publishing, Inc. execs ought to be ashamed for the Call of Duty ad and the message it sends. Again I say, really take a look at that ad with the young girl and the machine gun and again my apologies to Sony.

There Are Some Roles that Need to be Turned Down (Revised to reflect accurate company Activision Publishing Inc.)

Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Kimmel shooting a machine gun and bazooka; Magic Johnson, Troy Aikman and Hulk Hogan peddling Rent-A-Center; Carl Weathers acting like a clown with a Bud Light Playbook; and I am sure the list goes on and on.
I truly understand the need for work and residuals by entertainers, however, these are well known celebrities who I am sure could have turned the aforementioned roles down. Kobe, Jimmy and Troy are still active in their respective professions with Magic and Carl more in the backgrounds.

The issue I have with their particular involvement in these ads are the fact that they are detrimental, especially the Kimmel and Bryant ad for Activision Publishing, Inc's XBOX game Call of Duty. What really caught my eye beyond Kobe’s involvement was the scene with the very young girl firing away with an Oozie Machine Gun. Kobe is also seen firing away with the Oozie and Jimmy Kimmel has a bazooka. Absolutely ridiculous!!!! Shame on Activision Publishing Inc's ad agency folks and the Activision Publishing Inc. execs for approving the content of that advertisement. We won’t even get into the Call of Duty game itself. That’s another blog post.  In truth, I am disgusted with Kobe for being involved in this non-sense especially given the increasing murder rates in our African American communities.

Now folks, come on……… our murder rates are rising in urban areas and we are going to show a Kobe Bryant firing an Oozie. Does that make sense to you? If it does, we are worse off than I thought. Next time the Call of Duty ad is played, take a good look at it. See beyond the “game.” What message is Kobe and Jimmy sending? I know many of you would say “None.” Many of you would say, “There he is thinking too deep again.” But think about it….am I? With murder rates in cities like Paterson and Newark, New Jersey on the rise by our children and teenagers, no one stops to think that there is a connection? Only one of the hottest basketball players of our time making it look like it is alright to be shooting and killing. Come on. We have got to do better than that.

In terms of Rent-A-Center, that is one of the worst deals anyone can make. Over the long haul the “renter” has paid over and over again for something that could have been purchased at a much less expensive price than what will be paid over the life of the rental agreement. The “renter” would be better off to save for the “big screen TV” or furniture or perhaps use a lay away plan. The worst thing one could do is to get into an agreement with Rent-A-Center, yet here we have names such as Magic Johnson, Troy Aikman and Hulk Hogan singing the praises of Rent-A-Center advocating our going there to quickly rent our entertainment and furniture needs. Like Kobe, Magic Johnson of all people ought to know how their involvement is impacting the African American communities. I am sure Sony and Rent-A-Center are very much aware hence their being selected to be a part of the advertising campaigns. Mr. Aikman and Hulk Hogan are no better. So when we critically think about this, we have to see that sometimes there are roles that need to be turned down based on what the company is marketing and to whom. The last thing kids need to see is Kobe Bryant squeezing off rounds from and Oozie. The last thing disenfranchised folks need to see is Troy Aikman or Hulk Hogan steering them towards deals that everyone knows is even more costly in the long run. Who is pimping who?

I have much respect for entertainers such as Angela Bassett, Morgan Freeman, Danny Glover, Bill Cosby, etc. who will not take roles that will be detrimental to themselves or the communities they serve. They place their self-respect and the respect of their support base above the proverbial “Almighty Dollar.”  They do not allow themselves to be pimped. As always I welcome your thoughts and commentary.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

You Know It When You See It – Kudos to Cuban Pete’s Restaurant in Montclair, NJ

Sometimes it seems as if good to great customer service went the way of the dinosaur; yet every now and again you see a glimmer of what good to great customer service looks like and more importantly feel like. I had such an experience this past Friday night.

Earlier on Friday two of my co-workers recommended that I go to a restaurant establishment in Montclair, NJ known as Cuban Pete’s. They both spoke highly of the food and forewarned me that it could get crowded. True to their description, the restaurant was indeed standing room only. My wife Yvette and I proceeded to find out how long the wait would be and was told by the maitre d' that it would be a forty five minute wait. Based on the number of people standing around, forty five minutes seemed to be reasonable, so we decided to wait. We patiently waited and waited and waited without our names being called to be seated. In the mean time we witnessed couples who had entered after us be seated in a relatively short period of time. The owner asked why we were still waiting and we told him that we had not been called as of yet. He then checked the list and as it turns out an oversight had occurred and our names were skipped as the maitre d'  had continued to move forward, in fact she was on the next page. This is where the great customer service came in. The owner of Cuban Pete’s felt so terrible that he told me and my wife that our dinner would be on him. He said that he would pick up the tab for our having to wait longer than we were told because of the oversight of the maitre d'.

It was an extremely wise business move and great customer service gesture. While it cost him sixty dollars for the meal, it brought him much more in public relations and word of mouth. He had the business insight to know that we would share our bad experience and drive customers away instead of recommending his establishment as I am now doing as evidenced by this blog post. I am indeed sharing my wonderful experience with others who I highly recommend to patronize Cuban Pete’s at 428 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair, NJ. The food was as excellent as promised by my co-workers. I had the Red Snapper and it was so good. While I was thanking the owner for his generosity, he extended his generosity even more with a fifty dollar gift certificate for a future visit. He was a man of principle. Yvette and I could truly feel his sincerity and he apologized profusely for the error and our extended wait. In these times, gestures like that are rare but when you think about it, it makes extremely good business sense.

Certainly good customer service is so badly needed and desired that when it is experienced it is acknowledged almost with disbelief ("I can't believe I just received great customer service"). My fraternity brother Herman “Skip” Mason who is the General President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., via Twitter posted “Shout out to Detroit Marriott Room service for prompt service! Healthy breakfast turkey sausage, egg whites, fruit and wheat toast. Pardon me...” Once again because good customer service is so rare, the need was felt to acknowledge it. Good customer service ought to be the rule and not the exception. Kudos to the owner of Cuban Pete’s for his principles, sincerity and good business sense. If you are in the Montclair, New Jersey area I encourage you to dine at Cuban Pete’s- 428 Bloomfield Avenue - Montclair, NJ. (973)746-1100/ (973)746-2100. My wife and I will certainly be going back.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

We Keep Getting the Wake Up Calls But Are We Ever Going to Wake Up?

As I was watching the news last night I heard at least three stories that the news anchors described as “Wake Up Calls” and of course my critical thinking skills kicked in and asked the question, if we are receiving all of these “wake up calls,” when are we going to wake up? It begs the further question, are we ever going to wake up? Each passing tragedy and horrific event serves as a metaphorical alarm, and yet we seem to keep hitting the metaphorical snooze button. Poverty is at a record high; college students are being murdered just by being at a party; a college freshman commits suicide as a result of an invasion of his privacy; Osama Bin Laden can send audio and video tapes at will (without our technology being able to track him), and we have pastors and priests who cannot keep their hands off of young men (not to mention the one who wanted to burn the Quran). It’s as if we are all asleep and the wake up calls keeps coming and we keep refusing to wake up. We can be likened to Rip Van Winkle or the Disciples who could not stay awake when Jesus went to pray even after He gave them a wake up call.

If we do not wake up soon, we won’t have to worry about waking up as we will just drift or be forced into that eternal sleep. People are getting killed senselessly on a daily basis; our politicians do very little other than bicker and see who can find the most dirt on the other; and for the most part the church is perceived as being relatively quiet. The phrase “wake up call” is used so frequently that at this point it really is like the alarm going off every 10 minutes and one rolling over and hitting the snooze button each time it sounds off then falling back to sleep for another 10 minutes. As a world and a country we cannot afford to keep ignoring the wake up calls that we keep receiving. If we continue to do this, we will not only be asleep but we will continue to live a nightmare. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Know What Prayer Can Do

While watching the University of Alabama Crimson Tide take on the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, I was struck by how the stadium was filled to capacity with fans wearing red. As both teams have red and white in their uniform colors, fans came to the game in red to support their respective teams. Interestingly enough, from an aerial view the stadium actually looked like empty red seats from above when in actuality it was fans donning red shirts. The thought that came to my mind was how amazing it was that we can fill a stadium to capacity about something that really doesn’t matter and yet if this same crowd were asked to fill that same stadium to pray or come together to do something that would really have an impact on the world, my guess is it would indeed be empty red seats that I would be looking at instead of a stadium filled to capacity with red shirts.

As I watched this sea of red shirts my mind went back to the time immediately following September 11, 2001 aka 9-11 when Yankee Stadium was filled to capacity with people of all religions and faiths coming together in a multi-denominational healing/prayer service to pray. Oddly enough, I have not seen an effort like this since September 2001. Gospel artist Neal Roberson sings a moving rendition of the song “I Know What Prayer Can Do,” and I agree with him and wonder why we as a nation do not come together in stadiums around the country and hold prayer services like the one held after 9/11. If I recall in that gathering were Reverends, Bishops, Priests, Rabbis, Archbishops, Ministers, Prophets, Apostles, Evangelists, Pastors, Elders, Overseers, etc. etc. etc. Your religious belief or faith did not matter. We were all united as one by the horrendous acts of a few; united as one by the three thousand plus lives that were lost.

It’s amazing how we all recognized the need for a multi-denominational healing/prayer service during that disaster and seemingly have not held a session like it since. (At least not to my knowledge.) Given the state of the world today, wouldn’t it beg the question of why we do not hold more prayer sessions in large venues like athletic stadiums around the United States? Wouldn’t it be something to fill a stadium full of red shirts not for a football game, but to petition God to really bless America. Every president closes his speech with “God Bless America,” (which I personally think is selfish. Why not ask God to Bless the World?) and yet we don’t do anything as America to seek God (I am well aware of the separation of Church and State). Interestingly enough when you think back to September 2001, the separation of Church and State didn’t seem to matter at that multi-denominational healing/prayer service. Oh well what does this Critical Thinker know? I trust it won’t take another disaster like 9/11 for us to realize what prayer can do. I welcome your feedback in the comment section.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Be Careful Who You Call Pastor

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” Matthew 24:11 (KJV)

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Jeremiah 23:1 (KJV)

And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3:15 (KJV)

Ironically I start this edition of The Critical Thinker quoting from the Bible given the impetus of the post being the threatened Koran/Quran burning by Terry Jones, a Gainesville, Florida “pastor.” I place the word pastor in quotations because my goal was to not draw any more attention to Mr. Jones than need be and at the same time help us to understand that we really must be careful who we follow and call pastor. As a result of Mr. Jones’ threat to burn Qurans on the anniversary of 9/11, several news agencies investigated his history and allegedly, Mr. Jones is a Jim Jones wannabee. James Warren "Jim" Jones was the founder and leader of the Peoples Temple, which is best known for the November 18, 1978 death of more than 900 Temple members in Jonestown, Guyana along with the deaths of five other people at a nearby airstrip in Georgetown, Guyana.

If we were to look in the dictionary to define pastor, it states as follows:

1. (noun) pastor - a shepherd; one who has the care of flocks and herds
2. (noun) pastor - a guardian; a keeper; specifically (Eccl.), a minister having the charge of a church and parish

Now let’s juxtapose our dictionary definitions with the Biblical passages I quoted above. In Jeremiah 3:15 God says that He will give us pastors according to His heart which are to feed us with knowledge and understanding. God also said in Jeremiah 23:1 that there will be woe unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep in my pasture. According to news reports Mr. Jones had 50 plus members in his church in Gainesville and 30 of them scattered upon learning of his idea to have a Quran burning day. I don't know about you but I have yet to see the knowledge or the understanding that any of us would get from burning the Quran, the central religious verbal text of Islam,

Let’s face it, there are preachers, pastors, ministers, etc.who are truly “sent,” and there are others who just “went.”  There is a difference. We must be very careful who we allow to have spiritual charge over our lives. It could cost you your spiritual and your physical life. Ask the 900 Temple members in Jonestown, Guyana. Everyone who hangs out the shingle with the title “pastor” is not a pastor. As Matthew 24:11 makes clear to us many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. Please do not become one of the many who will be deceived. Pray for discernment because the life you save may be your own.  Something to critically think about and as always I welcome your commentary.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Parents Please Make Sure Your Children Behave On The School Bus

In accordance with state law, N.J.S.A. 18A:39-1, all public elementary school students (grades K-8) who live more than two miles from their school and all public secondary school students (grades 9-12) who live more than two-and-a-half miles from their school are entitled to transportation. These students are said to live “remote from school.” Whenever a school district is required to provide transportation to students attending regular public school programs, students attending nonpublic schools who meet those distance requirements may also be entitled to transportation services. In addition, any student classified with special needs who either meets these distance requirements or for whom transportation is required in the student’s Individual Education Plan must be transported.

While this is the law, it is a great enabler of horrible behavior on our school buses. If a child refuses to behave properly on the bus, we ought to be able to remove that child from the bus and hold the parent(s) accountable and responsible for getting their children (who refuse to behave on the bus) to school. I have witnessed students on these buses; running; throwing things out of the windows; spitting out of the windows; fighting on the bus; hitting the bus aide; jumping up and down on the seats; etc, etc. etc. and all of this is while the bus is in motion. Parents please help your children understand the importance of their behavior when they are traveling to and from school on their school bus.

Most (if not all) of our students are operating under the mindset that it cannot happen to them with the “it” being a fatal school bus accident, when in reality it can indeed happen. Children who are doing anything on the bus other than sitting and talking quietly become a distraction to the bus driver thereby increasing his/her likelihood of becoming involved in an accident. The following link provides traffic safety facts through 2008 It can happen to you.

Attorney Mark Bello in his blog The Injury Board BlogNetwork offers the following tips for safety when riding a school bus that I agree with:

1. When you see the bus coming, line up about ten feet from the curb. Wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the driver advises it is safe to board. The driver is the only one who can view all traffic on the road.

2. If you must cross the street to board the bus, wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and for the driver to flash the red lights; look both ways before you cross.

3. Once aboard, listen to the driver; don’t rush or push others out of the way.,

4. Behave on the bus; do not do things that will distract the driver. Some examples:

■Stay in your seat

■Keep the noise level down

■Keep head, hands, and feet inside the bus

■Don’t throw things inside the bus or out the windows

■Keep the bus clean

■Cooperate with the driver; always follow his or her instructions

■Stay out of the ‘Danger Zone’–anywhere within 10 feet of the bus

■Don’t try to stop a moving bus to retrieve something you forgot.

■Don’t try to pick up something that you dropped underneath the bus.

If our children follow these guidelines, it will go a long way towards ensuring safe passage between home and school and school and home. Again, I ask parents to speak with their children and require them to behave on the school bus. Their life and other lives are at risk when they do not. As the old saying goes, “The life you save may be your own.”

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Men/Boys, It Looks Stupid

This is my shortest blog post to date.  Men/boys the sagging of the pants looks stupid!!  How's that for short?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Parents……Why School Uniforms Are a Good Idea.

The topic of school uniforms in public schools have been bandied about for many years and has received both positive and negative feedback from parents, students and in some instances school officials alike. Some say the wearing of school uniforms will take away the children’s individuality. Some say the wearing of school uniforms is a form of control. Some say the wearing of school uniforms infringes upon the students’ rights and all of these statements or sentiments may have some validity to them. However, there is another train of thought that seems to be gaining momentum and is appearing to make more and more sense to parents, students and educators and that is school was never meant to be a fashion show. School was never meant to be competitive battleground for BabyPhat, Nike, Aeropostale, Apple Bottoms, or Timberlands (Tims).

School is a place where the focus must be on education. Anything taking away from that focus is a distraction including clothing. For many students, the only reason they come to school is to show off their latest “gear.” They pride themselves (and some of the parents too) on who can out dress who. In the meantime, the students’ academics are suffering. While that young man is concentrating on his classmate's Apple Bottoms, he is missing out on Newton’s Laws of Motion. While that young lady is focusing on her Aeropostale sweat shirt she is missing out on the works of Aristotle. While our students are concentrating on BabyPhat they are missing out on what really makes babies fat.

Parents when you think about it from an economic perspective, school uniforms are less expensive than trying to keep up with the Jones’ kids. You can purchase three or four sets and continue to add to them at a far less expensive rate than purchasing BabyPht, Nike, Aeropostale, and Timberlands. Now I am not saying that your child cannot wear these brands. By all means when they are not in school, feel free to sport whatever gear you would like. In school setting however, we must make it easier for our students to keep the main thing the main thing and that is to get their education.

I look forward to seeing our students in school uniform as we enter the 2010-2011 school year. It has been my experience that the children who wear their uniforms perform better academically. My own children wore school uniforms their entire elementary and middle school years and achieved great academic success.

I am sure the debate over school uniforms will continue and both sides will continue to make strong arguments as to why or why not school uniforms are a good idea, but for this educator and parent who have experience from both sides of the debate, I elect to go with the school uniforms. As the old saying goes, “Try it, you’ll like it.” As always I welcome your commentary.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Parents - Education Must Be Priority One!!

On September 7, 2010 over 30,000 Paterson students who speak 25 different languages will enter fifty-two schools in the Paterson Public School District (PPS) kicking off the 2010-2011 school year and as they do so it is incumbent upon parents to make their children’s education priority one.

We do not have the luxury or the time to have education be anything less than our top priority. It must be our focus as parents. On Aug. 18, 2010, Jim Axelrod reported in a segment of the CBS News with Katie Couric a story entitled The Freshman Foul: Poor ACT Scores; High School Students Score Lower than Ever on ACT: 28 Percent Unprepared to Pass Even One College-Level Subject. In that report it was cited that the United States is being outperformed by 23 countries in Math; 16 countries in Science; and 9 countries in Literacy. Telling statistics about where we are in the state of education in the U.S.

If we as parents do not make education our number one priority, the list of countries outperforming us academically will continue to increase by subject. Nearly 30% of students graduating high school are unprepared to pass first year college courses in Math, Reading, English and Science. Think about that.

As horrifying as these statistics and reports may sound, we have the power to turn things around. As my mother and father would always say, “It starts in the home.” These dire statistics can be turned around, but it must start in the home. This is not the blame game, but the truth of the matter is, parents are their children’s first teachers (good or bad) whether they like it or not. Parenting does not come with the Charles Barkley option of saying “I am not a role model.”

During a radio interview on my weekly radio show The Reading Circle with Marc Medley, I was extremely encouraged by the conversation I had with Cheyanne Alexandra Rosier, a nine year old student who has been skipped twice and will be starting sixth grade this school year. She is among other things a published author already. To hear the articulation of this child and her ability to express herself was refreshing and inspirational letting me know that it can indeed be done. Cheyanne’s mother and father constantly challenge her at home through dialogue and by requiring her to critically think about her actions and decisions. Cheyanne’s home life plays just as much of a role in her education as her school life and it has paid off. In my heart of hearts, I know there are more Cheyanne’s out there. It is just a matter of us parents taking the time to mold and shape our children by helping them understand the importance of education. Move away from questions that allow your children to give you one word answers. Ask them, how did you get to that conclusion? Find out their thought process. Conversate with them. We can do this!!

So as our 30,000 Paterson students who speak 25 different languages enter those fifty-two schools on September 7, 2010, I challenge the parents of those 30,000 children to make education priority number one. It has to become priority number one. I welcome your thoughts.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

While reading the July issue of THE WEEK, I came across this little factoid courtesy of USA Today that speaks to a large part of the state of our economy. The factoid stated the following: “American passenger airlines collected 1.86 billion in extra fees in the first quarter of 2010.” Notice the words “extra fees.” This little tidbit leaped out at me because at the time of reading it, I happened to be on vacation of which I had just taken an airplane to my destination (Thank God Air Jamaica did not charge a per bag fee). Now of course the thought that came to this critical thinker’s mind was a consumer has to pay for the airfare (which is already exorbitant) and then you have to pay for your bags (which are going on the SAME plane/flight), you may be charged for your movie (which is on the same flight); you may have to pay for your meal/drink (which is on the same flight); and recently I heard the proposal to actually charge passengers to use the toilet (which is on the same flight). When one critically thinks about this, one has to come to the conclusion that this is ridiculous. It’s just as ridiculous as having to pay an automated teller fee (ATM) to withdraw your own money. Wasn’t the point of the ATM to reduce costs by not having to have a live body (human teller that would have to be paid)? The consumer is being hit with extra fees for everything while at the same time extra compensation is not being added to his/her paycheck(if anything, it is being reduced). I just don’t understand where all of these companies are imagining that all of these extra fees are coming from and then they seem confused when consumers decide not to purchase anything and sales drop off causing a vicious cycle. Costs are out of line with salaries as it is and when you begin adding “extra fees”…………………. Something else to critically think about. By the way that 1.86 billion in “extra fees” was only for one quarter. Multiply 1.86 billion times four. I welcome your response. Did I mention the parachute packages and salaries of the CEO's of these companies?   

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Women/Ladies, You Have More Power Than You Realize

No men, I am not PW’d or a punk or a wuss or anything else, but I do know what motivates most men and that’s women. The men can talk all of the crap they would like, but the bottom line is most things that men do are to attract the attention of females. It ranges from everything from the car they drive to the tie that they wear. (Dog, I let the secret out….)

This edition of The Critical Thinker throws out a challenge to the ladies/women (never know which term to use or which one might be seen as offensive), and that is to stop paying any attention to the brothers/men who sag. If every woman/lady were to do this, sagging would stop. Ladies/Women, stop helping brothers/men think it is cool or sexy to show their boxers; sagging will stop. Women/Ladies, stop dealing with brothers/men who listen to hip-hop/rap that contain lyrics that call you bitches and whores; lyrics will change. If every woman would do this, sales would plummet and lyrics would be changed. Stop giving your affections and adoration to brothers/men who buy and download music that degrades you. Ladies/Women stop helping a brother believe that the “Thug” Look is the look that woos you. Tell him to fix his teeth, wear his clothes the way they were designed to be worn or they can’t deal with you and watch how quickly broken teeth get fixed, gold teeth disappear and clothes get worn correctly.

I encourage every young lady/woman who is in school that I know to ask for the males’ report card before she even thinks about giving the digits (Now this does not mean the female must not come correct as well). If every female would do this, watch how quickly the young men would start EARNING A’s. My point is this; since (for the most part) male behavior patterns are developed to attract females, the females have more power then they realize (I am not talking about lording this power or getting haughty or stuck up because of the power), but I am talking about using this influence to make the world a better place. If you as a female exhibit some self discipline and self control in terms of having to have a “man at any cost," our world would change. I challenge you to take this critical thinker’s test. Raise your standard(s). Share the idea with some more sisters/ladies/women. Test the theory. Spread the word about how you are now going to seek some higher standards out of the men that you deal with and watch (slowly but surely) how sagging will be a thing of the past; Thug life will diminish and the lyrics will no longer refer to you as a “bitch,” or a “ho” (whore). Take me up on my challenge and please do let me know in the comment section how you have made out. This critical thinker would love to hear your thoughts. Who knows you may be helping to save some man/brother's life. As always, I welcome your commentary.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Time Will Bring You In

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to serve as the organist (This Critical Thinker is also a musician) at my cousin’s former husband’s memorial service. Ironically, I was also the organist for their wedding twenty-seven years ago. Even though their marriage ultimately ended in divorce and I lost touch with Keith, I have fond memories of our times spent together and shared them during the memorial service.

As I sat at the memorial service it dawned on me that I have been to several funerals over the last two years of friends and family members who are the same or very close in age to me. People who I have played Monopoly with; gone on trips with; been in their weddings; attended church with; shared dinners with; etc. etc. What came to my mind as I sat at the memorial service was a story my mother would tell me about her baby brother when they were children. She would tell me with great laughter of how she and her brothers and friends would play church under the tree in Bolivia, North Carolina and how her brother would play the “preacher,” while his friends played the deacons and amen corner. She would say how his favorite sermon title was “Time Will Bring You In.” So as I sat there looking at the urn on Saturday which contained Keith’s ashes, I thought about how indeed time will bring you in and the fact that time is bringing every one of us in.

I was extremely proud of Keith’s two children Whitney and Chase who despite the fact that their parents were divorced thought it not robbery to give their father a ceremony to commemorate the fact that he had existed on the planet. Regardless of what was done or not done in life, they still felt the need to show their father respect even in his death.

Unlike many of The Critical Thinker submissions, this one is more personal as I am encouraging everyone who is reading these words to tell your family and friends that you love them while you still have time. Make peace; forgive; love each other and do whatever you need to do while your loved one is alive. Once we get to the memorial service or funeral, it is too late to talk about how much the person was loved or will be missed. The time is now to spend time, to let bygones be bygones and to let people know that you love them and give them an opportunity to let you know that you are loved. We must learn to be okay with life not turning out like we had planned... and instead plan to love and accept life as it turns out. Gandhi says "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." Without running the risk of sharing too much information (TMI), I am constantly trying to get that message across to my own two daughters who are going to mess around and let something happen to me or other of their family members before they realize that it will be too late at the funeral. I encourage everyone along with my daughters to tell your loved ones that you love them for certainly time is bringing us all in. Something to critically think about and as always, I welcome your comments in the comment section of the blog.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cavalier Fans Want to Pay Dan Gilbert's $100,000 Fine. Critical Thinkers, Does This Make Sense To You?

After being hit with a $100,000 fine for his ode to anger, Gilbert received an offer of his own from some Clevelanders who totally agree with everything he said, if not his font choice. From the Associated Press:

Critical Thinkers does this make sense to you?  I would be willing to bet that most of these fans are barely at poverty level and yet they are willing to pay the fine of a millionaire. In my view, there just in not that much "fan" in the world. Now if this makes sense to you, I really would love to read your comments.  Please be sure to respond in the comment section of this blog. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

We Must Stop Making Martyrs Out Of Thugs

Like popping a DVD in the DVD player for the hundredth time and watching your favorite movie over and over again, we witnessed the ruling in the Oscar Grant case. It was not our favorite movie. Unfortunately, as the script seems to always call for, an African American male was shot by a Caucasian police officer. Now, I know many of you readers expect me to take up the cause of Mr. Grant, particularly since I am an African American male also; however, in this writing, I will not do that because I need us to really focus on connecting our decisions to possible consequences. There is no doubt the Grant family has my sympathy for the loss of their loved one. In fact, a part of me grieves as well just knowing that another brother is dead that did not have to be, but what we must look at are the events that lead to Mr. Grant’s death, and I am not talking about his last days when he was turning his life around and talking about his job and his daughter, etc. etc. There were some bad choices that were made early on that contributed to Mr. Grant suffering the consequences that he did. He was not a stranger to the police or the court system. Guy Finley has a brilliant quote concerning our choices and our consequences that says “We have freedom of choice, but not from the consequences of those choices.” Yes, Mr. Grant had freedom of choice his entire life; however, he did not have freedom from the consequences that followed those choices. Mr. Grant is not alone, hence the reason for this issue of The Critical Thinker.
In far too many cases we are ready to defend and glorify bad and wrong behavior to the extent of making martyrs of thugs. The inspiration for this blog came from Sistas, Divest, Now, also known as (AKA) BlowTheTrumpet on Twitter   (,) where the author is facing multiple issues from respondents concerning her position on the death of Mr. Grant. Many of the responders (like many of you will do after reading this) were criticizing her for her position concerning this glorification of thugary or thug life when a thug is killed. Not only was she criticized for her position but was also criticized differently as a woman with her point of view compared with a man who shares the same view. There was some sexism going on there too.

There is no question that EVERY life ought to be thought of as precious; however, the time to start seeing life as precious is not when one has lost it. To add fuel to the fire when it involves an African American and a Caucasian, we immediately begin deifying the African American even if he/she is a thug or thugette and vilifying the Caucasian making the thug or thugette a martyr. They are not martyrs. It is usually a case of being where you are not supposed to be in the first place. In Bill Cosby’s Pound Cake Speech, he asks a wonderful question hence the name of the speech. “What were you doing with the pound cake in your hand to begin with?” That’s what always seems to get overlooked when Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jessie Jackson are called. What were you doing stealing that car? What were you doing raping that woman? What were you doing breaking into that house? And on and on and on. We never go back to the root, and because we never go back to root, we keep coming up with the same old sad story like popping a DVD in the DVD player of a movie you love and watching over and over again, except this is not a movie we love. These are the lives of our people. Michael Conliffe, an author who has done the thug life and was fortunate enough to get out before he got “got” is doing everything he can to spread the word about our choices and consequences. For all of the wannabee thugs, I recommend reading his book Hotter Than The Streetlife from Mr. Conliffe will be the first to tell you that the thug life leads to two places; death or jail.

I close this with a true story that happened as I was writing this. I am sitting outside on my porch and three young boys ran past me playing “shoot-um up” with cap pistols. Calling each other nigga and pointing the pistols at each other (some at close range) and firing the cap gun. The sound is real. I called the boys over and asked them do they realize how many people get killed in Paterson every year by gun violence and they shook their head yes (they don’t know) and I asked them, and you are still willing to play with toy guns? They walked away thinking. One of the little boys said “Is that your uncle?” and I yelled back, “No just someone who is interested in our young men staying alive. “ We must stop making martyrs out of thugs and help our young and old people connect their decisions with their consequences. I end with Guy Finley’s quote “We have freedom of choice, but not from the consequences of those choices.” When you get a chance check out some of the lyrics to “Thug Life” songs. I welcome your commentary.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What does Lindsey Lohan and Lebron James Have In Common?

MY LEVEL OF INTEREST!   The following excerpt from  the sitcom Frasier,  tremendously illustrates my point. I really could not have said it any clearer myself.

- A caller (Roger) wants Frasier to help him decide whether he should call his boat 'Lulubelle' or 'The Intrepid':

  Frasier: "Roger, at Cornell University they have an incredible piece of scientific equipment known as the tunneling electron microscope. Now, this microscope is so powerful that by firing electrons you can actually see images of the atom, the infinitesimally minute building blocks of our universe. Roger, if I were using that microscope right now... I still wouldn't be able to locate my interest in your problem. Thank you for your call."

If I had that tunneling electron microscope of which Frasier speaks, not even it would be able to locate my level of interest in where Lebron James plays basketball or if Lindsey Lohan goes to jail or not. You can rest assured there will be at least one television that will not be tuned in tonight to Lebron's television special announcing his decision to the world and as for Lindsey, the judge did her a favor. I welcome your response.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

What Are You Pumping Into Your Spirit?

A couple of weeks ago me along with the eighth grade teachers were chaperoning the school’s eighth grade dinner dance (I refuse to call it a prom because proms are for those who have completed the requirements to graduate high school) and the disc jockey (DJ) was playing one thug rap song after another. The students (who really don’t know how to have a good time) were just standing around huddled up into a crowd in the center of the dance floor and seemed to be confused as to whether to dance or not. They literally looked like a football team in a huddle when they were supposed to be dancing.

At that point one of the chaperons said, I’m sitting here listening to this music and for some reason I am feeling angry. She wasn’t angry at anything or anyone but the music was causing her inner spirit to feel angry. She even said this music is making me feel angry. Note she did not say she was angry at the DJ for playing this type of music; she did not say she was angry with the music; she said the music was making her “feel” angry. My response to her was that this is what our students listen to on a constant and regular basis. It is this type of music that is being listened to when our kids are plugged-in to their IPODs and MP3 players and it is having the same effect on them that it had on this teacher that night. The music is making them feel angry and they then express that anger through fighting, cursing, name calling and bullying. (see The Psychology of Music Effects on Behavior, Intelligence, Learning, Pain and Health)

Conversely, on last Sunday I was driving along the Garden State Parkway on my way to Pleasantville, NJ (which was 112 mile drive from my home) and was listening to gospel music and began feeling really good. The exact opposite was occurring. I was listening to positive music and was feeling great wherein at the dinner dance we were listening to negative lyrics and were feeling angry.  It was at that point that I thought of the conversation with the teacher at the dinner dance inspiring me to write this blog entry.

We really must be conscious of what we allow into our spirits. We live in a time where we can literally shut ourselves off to the world by plugging a pair of mini stereo headphones into our ears. We can virtually shut out any surrounding sounds other than what is being pumped directly into our minds, bodies and souls from these IPOD’s and MP3 players. The words, rhythms, and instrumentation are going unfiltered into our spirits and we think that it does not affect us when in reality it does. Just as the chaperon described, it’s making us feel angry. Again rappers will say that it is “Art imitating life,” and again I will counter with it is “Art perpetuating a bad way of life.”

Parents and children be mindful of what you are letting into your spirit through music, as whatever you allow in will take control of your feelings which will in turn take control over your actions. The next time you are listening to a piece of music, check yourself to see how your are feeling.  As always, I welcome your opinions and commentary.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Small People? The Nerve!

"I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don't care. But that is not the case with BP. We care about the small people."  BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg

I start this edition of the Critical Thinker in a similar vein of my June 6 submission where I began with a question. I am sure some critical thinker out there reading this can tell me who the small people are. I am sure it is just me who could not figure that one out.  Just as I asked on June 6th “Who is ‘That Nigger?” (with the emphasis on “that”) in today’s edition I question, “Who are the small people?”

Sadly, I guess BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg didn’t realize that as soon as the words “small people” came out of his mouth, that bloggers, reporters, journalists, news anchors, and comedians around the world began having a field day. I am sure the writers for Leno and Letterman started doing cart wheels. Similar to the lob in volleyball or tennis, his words were just ripe for a slam. We small people ought to send that big person a thank you card. (Gee, I wonder how BP’s profits would look if the “small people” were to stop buying BP gasoline?)

The really sad part is the chairman had not a clue. What’s even sadder is he is not the only one. There are people right here in the United States who subscribe to the “small people” ideology as well. Don’t believe me?………Custodian; security guard; secretary; garbage collector; bus driver and countless other “just a” titles have the “small people” connotation in far too many minds. I say “just a” because I am sure you have heard…. oh he’s “just a” custodian, or she’s “just a” secretary, or that’s “just a” security guard and if you have not, I have. Those “just a” statements and thoughts are the same sentiments that Mr. Svanberg verbalized. Oh yes, make no mistake, many of us who are not struggling with English as a second language, also see people as big and small based on income and popularity when the truth of the matter is we are all just people. There is no such thing as big people and small people. That’s why I do not get carried away over “celebrities.” A celebrity is a person just as I am. You will never find me fawning over a singer, actor, athlete, author, etc. because I do not see him/her being any different from myself. The only difference is the fact that they are seen by more people and make more money; certainly two attributes that do not make them “Big,” in fact if you critically think about it, if there were no small, how could there be big? In other words if it were not for fools (uh I mean fans….(small) there would be no celebrity (big).

I have met many “celebrities” during my lifetime due to my travels, affiliations, and career moves and have yet to go berserk over any of them (Oh the stories I could tell of what I have seen people do and say when they are around “celebrities”). I am not impressed. I have taken photos with them and chatted with them (acknowledging my appreciation for how they have developed their craft), but never awestruck or to the point where “I’ll never wash my hand again because I shook the hand of……” or screaming and crying and all of that nonsense. They are people; however, because of this worship of people who have money, position or are seen by millions of other people, we get this phenomenon of big and small people. Have you ever really wondered why people get star-struck? I don’t ask for autographs, however, when I see people particularly children asking the so called “star” for his or her autograph and he/she blows them off as if they don’t matter, I am disheartened for the child. I guess they were too small of a person to sign their baseball or autograph book. Give me a break, please!!!

So in reality, Mr. Svanberg really just verbalized what many of us right here in America do every day, and that is to judge and label people who we feel perform menial, un-noteworthy tasks. I tell you this, let the “small people” stop doing what they do and watch how far any organization or culture progresses or succeeds. Let the custodians, security guards, secretaries, trash collectors, bus drivers, etc. etc. stop doing their work and see how far the organization goes. I leave you with a metaphorical fable that I am sure you critical thinkers can figure out. Just in case you can’t, I have labeled the representation of the “big people” and the “small people.”

All the organs of the body were having a meeting, trying to decide who was in charge.

The brain said: "I should be in charge, because I run all the body's systems, so without me nothing would happen." (BIG PEOPLE)

"I should be in charge," said the heart, "because I pump the blood and circulate oxygen all over the body, so without me you'd all waste away." (BIG PEOPLE)
"I should be in charge," said the stomach, "because I process food and give all of you energy." (BIG PEOPLE)
"I should be in charge," said the rectum, "because I'm responsible for waste removal." (SMALL PEOPLE)
All the other body parts laughed at the rectum and insulted him,(BIG PEOPLE) so in a huff, he shut down tight. (SMALL PEOPLE). Within a few days, the brain had a terrible headache, (BIG PERSON) the stomach was bloated (BIG PERSON) and the blood was toxic (BIG PERSON). Eventually the other organs gave in. (BIG PEOPLE). They all agreed (BIG PEOPLE) that the rectum (LITTLE PERSON) should be the boss.

The moral of the story is: We are ALL important and there are no small people; only small minds. As always, I welcome your commentary in the comment section of the blog.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

See and Say

Two of the best compliments I have received over the last couple of weeks came from a parent of a student at my school and the President/CEO of, Luisa Rosario. The parent told me that "I don’t play" and she wished that she had had a principal like me when she was in school and that if she had, she might have done better in school. At that point I knew I was heading in the right direction because this was a parent who in many instances fought me when I stood my ground in imparting high expectations and standards at the school. The second compliment came from Ms. Rosario when she was presenting me with an award for being one of the contributors to, an online magazine where you can also find me blogging. During her introduction of me she said, “He’s blunt, and when you see his articles, it is his writing and not mine.” I concurred with Luisa’s assessment wholeheartedly and thanked her for the compliment. Yes I am unashamedly blunt.
I share both of these scenarios with you because if we are going to progress, we will need people who see issues that need to be addressed and will say something about it and then take it a step further and do something about it. When I was a child there was a Mattel toy called See and Say that allowed toddlers and infants to pull a string or pull down a lever and whatever the large arrow in the center of the toy stopped on, the toy would say whatever the picture was that the arrow was pointing to hence the name "See and Say." New York currently has a slogan that says "If you see something; say something,” encouraging people to report suspicious activities. I must agree; If you see something, say something. Time is out for us being afraid and scared to address issues that are literally killing us mentally, physically and spiritually.

As we see mis-education, we have to say something. As we see boys and men walking around exposing their boxer shorts with their pants sagging, we have to say, “Pull them up.” As we see young girls and boys “sexting” on their cell phones, we have to say something. As we see boys and girls who think playing is hitting each other , we have to say something. As we see people littering by dropping their chip bags, gum wrappers, and McDonald’s bags on the street, we have to say something. As we see people talking on their cell phones while driving, endangering their lives and ours, we have to say something. As we see men wearing twisted caps in buildings such as schools and churches, we have to say something.

By now I think you get my point. To stand silent is to become a part of the problem. To stand silent is to condone the very behavior that you complain about to everyone else. To stand silent in the midst of all of this chaos will help the chaos to continue. So like the Mattel toy when you see something that needs to be addressed, don’t be afraid to say something. Say it and act upon it.  I end with a quote from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. where he says "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." I encourage you to don't let your life begin to end. More to critically think about and as always, I welcome your commentary.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I don’t know about you but as I listen to people talk as they walk along the street, or hang out with each other, and even from many of our youngsters, I too often hear them talking about “That Nigger.” “You should have seen That Nigger,” “Man I told That Nigger,” “I wish That Nigger would,” “That Nigger was bad,” and on and on and on about “That Nigger.” So I often find myself questioning who is “That Nigger?”

While it may seem that I am making light of this, the use of the word “Nigger” is a very serious issue. I don’t have to go into the history (at least I don’t think I do) of the word for one to know how serious of an issue it is. When I hear the word it does something to my ears…….like someone scraping his/her fingernails across a chalkboard, or the chalk squeaking on that same board. It hurts my ears to hear it and yet far too many of us just toss the word nigger around like it is nothing. We’ve even gotten so politically correct that we call it the “N” word. Enough is enough. We must stop pussy footing around and call it for what it is: we must stop using the word “Nigger”....... period. No soft –soaping; no different spellings (nigga, niggah,niggaz) ; no excuses about art imitating life (which is really art perpetuating bad life), etc. etc. etc. None of it! We must just stop using the word. It must be eradicated from our vocabulary. I even hear my Latino and Caucasian brothers talking about “That Nigger” with the irony of it all being that in many instances the conversation is with an African American. “Yo man, That Nigger crazy yo".......................

Historically African Americans are the only group that has taken a term that was meant to degrade us, and call themselves turning it cute; allegedly using it now as a “protest” to the fact that it was used to demean us. Ridiculous!!! Latinos are not running around talking about “That Spic,” nor are Italians running around talking about “That Guinea or That Wop” nor are Jews running around talking about "That Hymie.”  So I end this as I began with the question, can someone please tell me who "That Nigger" is?

Once again, something to critically think about. I welcome your response.

Why African Americans Must Use Twitter and Facebook Beyond Entertainment

A few weeks ago a report came out revealing that African Americans appear to spend a disproportionate amount of time on social networking sites such as facebook and twitter. Let me preface this edition of The Critical Thinker by saying that I truly want to see all people of all races progress and do well in life; in fact, it’s one of the reasons I surface the topics that I do in The Critical Thinker. I want us all to THINK!! It’s one of the reasons I created the Critical Thinker to begin with. However, as an African American, like anyone else, I pay particularly close attention to what impacts my heritage and background. This does not diminish or take away from any other ethnic group, but again, like anyone else I have a vested interest in what happens to and about my ethnic group which happens to be African American. If I were Irish and born with this same mindset, I would be the same way; the same holds true for if I were born Latino, Caucasian, Asian or any other ethnicity with the mindset that I have.

I say all of that to say, that if the issues I write about tends to be targeted towards or about African Americans, the message can be applied to anyone regardless of their background. Now back to African Americans seemingly using social networks more than other group. Facebook and Twitter are awesome TOOLS if intelligently used. I say intelligently because I would be willing to gamble that the majority of the usage by African Americans that the report is referring to is for entertainment purposes. As African Americans, we must move beyond the entertainment value of dynamic tools such as Facebook and Twitter and use them for our betterment both educationally and financially. The same holds true for the television or the computer. We have to do more than just look to be made to laugh, crack jokes, curse, show off our pictures (because we are so stuck on ourselves), track who is screwing who (both literally and figuratively), and all of the other mindless activities that really don’t matter. Interestingly enough, similar studies have found that African Americans watch more television than any other group. What are we (African Americans) doing during all of these hours of watching television, being on Facebook , and being on Twitter? If we are mindlessly using these tools as passive activities to slowly suck the life out of our brains, then shame on us. If they are nothing more than brain drains, then once again, shame on us.

I must admit, I really had nothing for Facebook and Twitter to do until I realized how they could be used to help me improve myself and promote my radio show. Through these two tools I have been able to do everything from book guest authors on my show to ascertaining a commencement speaker for my school’s eighth grade graduation. Once I figured out the value of these sites beyond entertainment, I was hooked. I also use these mediums as another way to educate others. My postings are not just about what a good time I had at a barbecue, but are about educational items of interest that followers and friends may not have known or may have their curiosity piqued to the point of wanting to find out more about the topic. I also look for postings that are educational. Both Facebook and Twitter can be wonderful educational tools; however, just like TV and the internet, it will become a haven for passivity instead of challenge if not used wisely. (Hey this is the Critical Thinker; what do you want?) Everything we do cannot be just about entertainment. It amazes me the lengths we will go to for entertainment. As I make my away around the city, I am stupefied at how many satellite dishes can hang on a roof that is in deep disrepair. “I don’t have roof, but I have cable or dish TV.” How pathetic is that? I am not knocking entertainment per se, however, a balance must be struck and in too many instances reports are coming out that African Americans are out of balance and are too heavily weighted on the entertainment side with the scale hanging in the air on the educational or intellectual side. That is why Bill Cosby’s Pound Cake Speech (See Critical Thinker Pound Cake Anyone?) is so critical and so true. I am sure there will be those who will be more than willing to give me flak about the commentary I have made with this entry, but once again, I do not care. We will not move forward until enough of us are willing to take a stand and call things for what they are. We must call a spade a spade (no pun intended). We cannot keep making excuses for African Americans being down (or for any group for that matter). We have the tools to make things happen if we use them in an intelligent, efficient and effective manner. In 2010 we can get in touch with anyone anywhere in the world and in many cases regardless of how much of a celebrity he/she is or thinks he/she is; he/she will respond back. I have been able to contact the rich and the famous through Facebook and Twitter to take care of business; not just follow who is with who this week and their latest escapades. We must learn to maximize the many tools that we have at our disposal and stop wasting time on meaningless chatter and gossip. As always, I welcome your thoughts in the comment section of the blog.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pound Cake Anyone?

This blog entry stems from my reading the introduction to the book written by Juan Williams, ENOUGH where in his introduction, Mr. Williams references a speech by Bill Cosby known as the “Pound Cake Speech.” I’ve known of Mr. Cosby’s thoughts in other speeches; however I was not aware of the “Pound Cake Speech” in its entirety. I read the speech and felt compelled to re-share it with the world once again in my blog The Critical Thinker (for those who may have missed it like I did), because Mr. Cosby was lambasted by well known and unknown African Americans for his remarks. The sad fact of the matter is, every bit of what Mr. Cosby said is true. Every bit! I am re-sharing this with the world because in this particular case I stand with Bill Cosby and I am willing to be lambasted as well for siding with the truth.

African Americans will never move forward and take their rightful place in society until ALL (did I say all?) of these issues raised by Mr. Cosby are dealt with and addressed. Rev. William D. Watley has penned a book that pretty much sums up what African Americans are going to have to do if they are to truly move forward and it is entitled, YOU HAVE TO FACE IT TO FIX IT. We must face our issues and deal with them; not chastise and ridicule the messenger. I stand with Bill Cosby on this one. If any of you who are reading this knows Mr. Cosby personally, please let him know that I support this speech 100%. Say what you will, I don’t care. Critical thinkers, I give you the Pound Cake Speech.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I really have to ask you to seriously consider what you've heard, and now this is the end of the evening so to speak. I heard a prize fight manager say to his fellow who was losing badly, “David, listen to me. It's not what's he's doing to you. It's what you're not doing. (laughter).

Ladies and gentlemen, these people set, they opened the doors, they gave us the right, and today, ladies and gentlemen, in our cities and public schools we have fifty percent drop out. In our own neighborhood, we have men in prison. No longer is a person embarrassed because they're pregnant without a husband. (clapping) No longer is a boy considered an embarrassment if he tries to run away from being the father of the unmarried child (clapping)

Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic and lower middle economic people are [not*] holding their end in this deal. In the neighborhood that most of us grew up in, parenting is not going on. (clapping) In the old days, you couldn't hooky school because every drawn shade was an eye (laughing). And before your mother got off the bus and to the house, she knew exactly where you had gone, who had gone into the house, and where you got on whatever you had one and where you got it from. Parents don't know that today.

I'm talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was two? (clapping) Where were you when he was twelve? (clapping) Where were you when he was eighteen, and how come you don't know he had a pistol? (clapping) And where is his father, and why don't you know where he is? And why doesn't the father show up to talk to this boy?

The church is only open on Sunday. And you can't keep asking Jesus to ask doing things for you (clapping). You can't keep asking that God will find a way. God is tired of you (clapping and laughing). God was there when they won all those cases. 50 in a row. That's where God was because these people were doing something. And God said, “I'm going to find a way.” I wasn't there when God said it... I'm making this up (laughter). But it sounds like what God would do (laughter).

We cannot blame white people. White people (clapping) .. white people don't live over there. They close up the shop early. The Korean ones still don't know us as well...they stay open 24 hours (laughter).

I'm looking and I see a man named Kenneth Clark. He and his wife Mamie...Kenneth's still alive. I have to apologize to him for these people because Kenneth said it straight. He said you have to strengthen yourselves...and we've got to have that black doll. And everybody said it. Julian Bond said it. Dick Gregory said it. All these lawyers said it. And you wouldn't know that anybody had done a damned thing.

50 percent drop out rate, I'm telling you, and people in jail, and women having children by five, six different men. Under what excuse, I want somebody to love me, and as soon as you have it, you forget to parent. Grandmother, mother, and great grandmother in the same room, raising children, and the child knows nothing about love or respect of any one of the three of them (clapping). All this child knows is “gimme, gimme, gimme.” These people want to buy the friendship of a child....and the child couldn't care less. Those of us sitting out here who have gone on to some college or whatever we've done, we still fear our parents (clapping and laughter). And these people are not parenting. They're buying things for the kid. $500 sneakers, for what? They won't buy or spend $250 on Hooked on Phonics. (clapping)

A\Kenneth Clark, somewhere in his home in upstate New York...just looking ahead. Thank God, he doesn't know what's going on, thank God. But these people, the ones up here in the balcony fought so hard. Looking at the incarcerated, these are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake! Then we all run out and are outraged, “The cops shouldn't have shot him” What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand? (laughter and clapping). I wanted a piece of pound cake just as bad as anybody else (laughter) And I looked at it and I had no money. And something called parenting said if get caught with it you're going to embarrass your mother. Not you're going to get your butt kicked. No. You're going to embarrass your mother. You're going to embarrass your family.

If knock that girl up, you're going to have to run away because it's going to be too embarrassing for your family. In the old days, a girl getting pregnant had to go down South, and then her mother would go down to get her. But the mother had the baby. I said the mother had the baby. The girl didn't have a baby. The mother had the baby in two weeks. (laughter) We are not parenting. Ladies and gentlemen, listen to these people, they are showing you what's wrong. People putting their clothes on backwards. –isn't that a sign of something going on wrong? (laughter)

Are you not paying attention, people with their hat on backwards, pants down around the crack. Isn't that a sign of something, or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up (laughter and clapping ). Isn't it a sign of something when she's got her dress all the way up to the crack...and got all kinds of needles and things going through her body. What part of Africa did this come from? (laughter). We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans, they don't know a damned thing about Africa. With names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed and all that crap and all of them are in jail. (When we give these kinds names to our children, we give them the strength and inspiration in the meaning of those names. What's the point of giving them strong names if there is not parenting and values backing it up).

Brown Versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem. We've got to take the neighborhood back (clapping). We've got to go in there. Just forget telling your child to go to the Peace Corps. It's right around the corner. (laughter) It's standing on the corner. It can't speak English. It doesn't want to speak English. I can't even talk the way these people talk. “Why you ain't where you is go, ra,” I don't know who these people are. And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk (laughter). Then I heard the father talk. This is all in the house. You used to talk a certain way on the corner and you got into the house and switched to English. Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can't land a plane with “why you ain't...” You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth. There is no Bible that has that kind of language. Where did these people get the idea that they're moving ahead on this. Well, they know they're not, they're just hanging out in the same place, five or six generations sitting in the projects when you're just supposed to stay there long enough to get a job and move out.

Now look, I'm telling you. It's not what they're doing to us. It's what we're not doing. 50 percent drop out. Look, we're raising our own ingrown immigrants. These people are fighting hard to be ignorant. There's no English being spoken, and they're walking and they're angry. Oh God, they're angry and they have pistols and they shoot and they do stupid things. And after they kill somebody, they don't have a plan. Just murder somebody. Boom. Over what? A pizza? And then run to the poor cousin's house. They sit there and the cousin says “what are you doing here?” “I just killed somebody, man.” “What?” “I just killed somebody, I've got to stay here.” “No, you don't.” “Well, give me some money, I'll go...” “Where are you going?” “North Carolina.” Everybody wanted to go to North Carolina. But the police know where you're going because your cousin has a record.

Five or six different children, same woman, eight, ten different husbands or whatever, pretty soon you're going to have to have DNA cards so you can tell who you're making love to. You don't who this is. It might be your grandmother. (laughter) I'm telling you, they're young enough. Hey, you have a baby when you're twelve. Your baby turns thirteen and has a baby, how old are you? Huh? Grandmother. By the time you're twelve, you could have sex with your grandmother, you keep those numbers coming. I'm just predicting.

I'm saying Brown Vs. Board of Education. We've got to hit the streets, ladies and gentlemen. I'm winding up, now , no more applause. I'm saying, look at the Black Muslims. There are Black Muslims standing on the street corners and they say so forth and so on, and we're laughing at them because they have bean pies and all that, but you don't read “Black Muslim gunned down while chastising drug dealer.” You don't read that. They don't shoot down Black Muslims. You understand me. Muslims tell you to get out of the neighborhood. When you want to clear your neighborhood out, first thing you do is go get the Black Muslims, bean pies and all (laughter). And your neighborhood is then clear. The police can't do it .

I'm telling you Christians, what's wrong with you? Why can't you hit the streets? Why can't you clean it out yourselves? It's our time now, ladies and gentlemen. It is our time (clapping). And I've got good news for you. It's not about money. It's about you doing something ordinarily that we do—get in somebody else's business. It's time for you to not accept the language that these people are speaking, which will take them nowhere. What the hell good is Brown V. Board of Education if nobody wants it?

What is it with young girls getting after some girl who wants to still remain a virgin. Who are these sick black people and where did they come from and why haven't they been parented to shut up? To go up to girls and try to get a club where “you are nobody..,” this is a sickness ladies and gentlemen and we are not paying attention to these children. These are children. They don't know anything. They don't have anything. They're homeless people. All they know how to do is beg. And you give it to them, trying to win their friendship. And what are they good for? And then they stand there in an orange suit and you drop to your knees, “(crying sound) He didn't do anything, he didn't do anything.” Yes, he did do it. And you need to have an orange suit on too (laughter, clapping).

So, ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for the award (big laughter) and giving me an opportunity to speak because, I mean, this is the future, and all of these people who lined up and done..they've got to be wondering what the hell happened. Brown V. Board of Education, these people who marched and were hit in the face with rocks and punched in the face to get an education and we got these knuckleheads walking around who don't want to learn English (clapping) I know that you all know it. I just want to get you as angry that you ought to be. When you walk around the neighborhood and you see this stuff, that stuff's not funny. These people are not funny anymore. And that 's not brother. And that's not my sister. They're faking and they're dragging me way down because the state, the city and all these people have to pick up the tab on them because they don't want to accept that they have to study to get an education.

We have to begin to build in the neighborhood, have restaurants, have cleaners, have pharmacies, have real estate, have medical buildings instead of trying to rob them all. And so, ladies and gentlemen, please, Dorothy Height, where ever she's sitting, she didn't do all that stuff so that she could hear somebody say “I can't stand algebra, I can't stand...and “what you is.” It's horrible.

Basketball players, multimillionaires can't write a paragraph. Football players, multimillionaires, can't read. Yes. Multimillionaires. Well, Brown V Board of Education, where are we today? It's there. They paved the way. What did we do with it. The white man, he's laughing, got to be laughing. 50 percent drop out, rest of them in prison.

You got to tell me that if there was parenting, help me, if there was parenting, he wouldn't have picked up the Coca Cola bottle and walked out with it to get shot in the back of the head. He wouldn't have. Not if he loved his parents. And not if they were parenting! Not if the father would come home. Not if the boy hadn't dropped the sperm cell inside of the girl and the girl had said, “No, you have to come back here and be the father of this child.” Not ..“I don't have to.”

Therefore, you have the pile up of these sweet beautiful things born by nature raised by no one. Give them presents. You're raising pimps. That's what a pimp is. A pimp will act nasty to you so you have to go out and get them something. And then you bring it back and maybe he or she hugs you. And that's why pimp is so famous. They've got a drink called the “Pimp-something.” You all wonder what that's about, don't you? Well, you're probably going to let Jesus figure it out for you (laughter). Well, I've got something to tell you about Jesus. When you go to the church, look at the stained glass things of Jesus. Look at them. Is Jesus smiling? Not in one picture. So, tell your friends. Let's try to do something. Let's try to make Jesus smile. Let's start parenting. Thank you, thank you." (clapping, cheers)