In 2008, first-time voters shocked the nation as they waited patiently in line, literally for hours upon hours, to cast their vote in a Presidential election that would go down in the history books. It was young people â€”Â and people of color especially â€”Â who propelled Barack Obama into office by their sheer numbers. SEE ALSO: Black Women Did What? 10 History Facts About Our Beloved Sistas Why The GOP Wonâ€™t Win The Senate It was great moment. We all celebrated and rejoiced, but then did nothing. We took it easy during the 2010 midterms and watched Tea Party extremists take over Congress, and in the time since, sadly, most of us have just been sitting back not doing much. Meanwhile, conservatives and all those counting on you to stay at home have been passing voter ID laws, immigration bills and other things to help guarantee that your voice will be silenced. Because my generation and those even younger have such small attention spans, and have stopped focusing on what is really happening out here, let me remind you: Your fundamental rights are in jeopardy at this very moment. So instead of just going for self, minding your business, or just not caring, itâ€™s time to wake up, get up off your behind and do something. Thereâ€™s no time to waste. This Sunday, on March 4th, National Action Network, led by Rev. Al Sharpton, will head down South to where it all began to Selma, Alabama. From the 4th through the 9th, we will march, camp and rally en route from Selma to Montgomery where we will culminate the weekâ€™s activities in front of the Alabama State Capitol. Weâ€™ll march at least 10 miles a day, everyday in unison with community leaders, activists, civil rights advocates and anyone who understands the emergency of the moment. The historic Selma to Montgomery March of 1965 consisted of three separate marches that brought such attention to inequality in the U.S. that it soon led to passage of the Voting Rights Act, and marked the emotional and political peak of the Civil Rights Movement. Today, when we find those very liberties under attack across the country, we will once again walk, campaign, congregate and rally from Selma to Montgomery to remind us all just whatâ€™s at stake. And weâ€™re honored to be joined by Congressman John Lewis who helped lead the march of â€™65. Virginia recently became the 31st state to have voter ID laws on the books. For decades, Americans have been voting and proving their identity with utility bills or other acceptable forms of ID. Now suddenly, individual states want to enact these ID requirements that clearly target the poor, minorities and, yes, young people. While youâ€™re busy trying to get that corner office, or becoming CEO of a corporation, there are forces at work trying to deny you the very basic right of voting in your own country. And at the same time, in Alabama, legislatures passed the most reprehensible, down-right racist anti-immigration bill yet. Trying to intimidate Latinos, immigrants and others, lawmakers in Alabama simply canâ€™t accept the fact that their demographics are changing â€” much like the rest of the nation. Many people say the Civil Rights Movement found its voice in Alabama. Well weâ€™re heading back there to let everyone hear loud and clear: we will not let you steal our votes, we will not let you steal the election and we will not let you steal the rights we fought so hard to obtain. And to all the young folks out here, nobodyâ€™s telling you to stop striving for your goals â€“ that would be foolish and unproductive. Just remember that you should put as much effort into being connected to the movement. After all, your own future hangs in the balance. Join us in Selma or en route to Montgomery, and if you canâ€™t, see what other ways you can help out: nationalactionnetwork.net SEE ALSO: Farrakhanâ€™s Annual Speech Labeled â€œAnti-Semiticâ€ By Civil Rights Group The GOP Still Looks For A Savior
March 2, 20121 CommentRead More
Tonight at West Virginia University, Joan Morgan and I are discussing the last decade of gender / politics and hip-hop thru the lens of her book, â€œWhen Chickenheads Come Home to Roostâ€; and my own 2002 book, â€œThe Hip-Hop Generation.â€ Check the live stream below at 7 pm ET!
February 29, 2012No CommentRead More
While folks like Cicely Tyson, Phylicia Rashad, Maya Angelou, Voncile Mallory (my mother) and others are gracefully aging, we younger folks arenâ€™t doing as well. Following the untimely passing of legendary singer and actress Whitney Houston, many seem fixated on her cause of death, alleged troubles and pretty much anything negative they can latch on to. RELATED: When Beloved Icons Become Black History SEE OUR FULL WHITNEY HOUSTON COVERAGE HERE CHECK OUT OUR BLACK HISTORY MONTH GAME CHANGER: Merck CEO Breaks Ground In Business World But instead of focusing on how she died, we need to pay attention to how we live. When did you last jot down a list of your own demons? What does it mean to be a real, genuine friend to someone? Though we donâ€™t know definitively what cut this multitalented womanâ€™s life so short, we do know that life brings trials and tribulations for all of us and itâ€™s time for a serious global intervention. When was the last time you saw a friend doing something crazy and didnâ€™t say a word? Why is it that we are taught to â€œmind our own businessâ€ and keep quiet even though we know somebody is engaged in destructive behavior? Not paying child support, cheating on a spouse, not taking care of kids, always borrowing money, constantly looking for the next hustle instead of getting a jobâ€¦ these are some of the things that if they donâ€™t kill you, theyâ€™ll kill those around you. Letâ€™s not pretend that they donâ€™t exist. Instead of just explaining away our issues, why not tackle them head on by first and foremost admitting that they occur. We simply cannot go around turning our backs to things like substance abuse, domestic violence, alcoholism, gambling or any other form of troubling behavior. If you know someone suffering from depression, step in. If you think a friend is drinking too much or taking drugs, you have got to speak up. If a young person is talking about guns and violence, please, please, please do something. Society often teaches us to be selfish, to go for our own. And though thereâ€™s nothing wrong with setting the bar high and achieving your goals, we cannot leave each other behind in the process. Youâ€™d be surprised how many of our co-workers, neighbors, friends or loved ones are suffering through a major battle, and theyâ€™re just one intervention away from a breakthrough. What are we doing to prevent him/her from heading down the wrong path? Instead of expressing regret after someone is gone, letâ€™s take a hard look at how weâ€™re living and how weâ€™re treating the people in our lives. We may never know the extent of Whitneyâ€™s battles. But we know sheâ€™s gone at 48 and that ainâ€™t right. The lesson is that we must deal with our own lives and figure out what it means to be an honest friend to someone else. It doesnâ€™t mean being there when things are great, or hanging out when itâ€™s time to have fun. A true friend says something and takes action when they see things are wrong. A true friend is there when times are tough. A true friend intervenes before itâ€™s too late. A true friend cares less about the friendship and more about the friend. SEE OUR FULL WHITNEY HOUSTON COVERAGE HERE CHECK OUT MORE BLACK HISTORY MONTH GAME CHANGERS: Olympic Medalist Tries To Prevent Black Kids From Drowning Former NFL Player Fights Lung Cancer To Honor Late Wife
February 17, 2012No CommentRead More
When the world heard of the tragic passing of Don Cornelius, we had different reactions. Some were in disbelief, others paid homage to the legend with a â€œSoul Train lineâ€ in Times Square, while many reflected on his immense impact on society. SEE ALSO: Is Black History Month Hard On Black Folks? BLACK HISTORY MONTH GAME CHANGER: Meet The First Black Female U.S. Coast Guard Helicopter Pilot But one thing most people either chose not to accept or simply did not want to accept was the fact that Don Cornelius was dealing with serious internal issues; so much so that he took his own life. No matter what the root cause, poor mental health is a dangerous issue that people unfortunately do not address â€“ especially in our community. And yet it continues to destroy the lives of those suffering from it (and of their loved ones). Because mental health and depression are such significant and critical issues, itâ€™s only right to enlist the expertise of someone qualified to speak on the subject. Thatâ€™s why, this week, Iâ€™m honored to have Terrie Williams, clinical therapist and veteran public relations counselor give us her words of wisdom: We are all mourning the loss this week of Soul Train creator and cultural icon, Don Cornelius.Â An American success story, Don left us with a 35-year history lesson in business acumen, cultural exportation, and community uplift.Â Thatâ€™s all good. We should take some time to measure and celebrate Donâ€™s legacy.Â Thatâ€™s easy.Â Whatâ€™s not easy is to discuss how and why he died.Â Yes, he hid his demons well. But clearly they were there because this 75-year old icon with a body of work most of us will never achieve chose to end his own life with a gunshot to the head. By all accounts, Don was a very private man. True to form, he didnâ€™t leave a note so we donâ€™t know what moved him to end his life. What we do know is that we did not have to lose Don this way. This silence about depression is now killing us.Â It is real. It is deadly. And, it does not discriminate. According to the World Health Organizations, by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of death behind heart disease for everyone. As a veteran public relations counselor and clinical therapist who manages her own depression, I know for sure we all need to learn to identify its symptoms â€“ what it looks like, sounds like and feels like â€” and get help for those that need it. We must take care of our mental healthâ€¦ and get a â€œcheck-up from the neck up.â€ My heartfelt love and prayers go out to Donâ€™s family, friends. Terrie M. Williams is the author of Black Pain: It Just Looks Like Weâ€™re Not Hurting and the co-founder of The Stay Strong Foundation.Â You can follow her at twitter.com/terriewilliams or visit http://www.storiesthatheal.samhsa.gov or www.thestaystrongfoundation.org. BLACK HISTORY MONTH GAME CHANGER: Committed Resident Rebuilds New Orleans SEE ALSO: First Lady Hits Road For â€œLetâ€™s Moveâ€ Anniversary
February 10, 2012No CommentRead More
When we think of a First Lady, any First Lady, we often reflect on how distinct, prestigious or significant her role is. As the virtual Ambassador for the President, the First Lady usually provides a more human side for the highest office in the land. She is an extension of the Commander-in-Chief, while still carving out her own vital role whether it be in politics, education, nutrition, health care or any other realm. MORE STRONG, BLACK WOMEN: Black Woman Leads Crusade For LGBT Rights Harlem Mom Loses Sons To Guns, Becomes Anti-Violence Crusader But never has a First Lady been so disrespected, ridiculed, demeaned or vilified in the manner that Michelle Obama has. With such high approval ratings (at times even higher than her husband), thereâ€™s a clear explanation for the continual attacks against Mrs. Obama â€“ her race â€“ and come to think of it, his race. During the Presidential campaign of â€™08, many Black women like myself were beyond excited to see a strong Black woman as the next potential First Lady. An educated, extremely intelligent female who dedicated much of her efforts towards working in the community and uplifting others, Michelle Obama represented what many of us either strive to be, or already regard ourselves as. And the fact that President Obama, a biracial man, married an independently minded and strong-willed woman like Michelle, only solidified our appreciation and support for this couple. Itâ€™s exactly that admiration and love for Michelle Obama that conservatives and those with an ax to grind hate so much. And theyâ€™ve proved over and over again that they will try to do anything to tarnish her image. When Barack Obama was on the campaign trail, the verbal assaults against Michelle already began. First, they attempted to turn her comments about being proud of her country into a negative, as if she was somehow unpatriotic her entire life. During the rest of the that period and throughout Barack Obamaâ€™s Presidency, the right continued throwing insults against Michelle for everything from the clothes she wears to her fight against obesity, to supposed lavish vacations. Following in conservative footsteps, now everyone appears to think itâ€™s appropriate to make outrageous claims against the First Lady. The latest example: British publications printing stories of Michelle spending $50,000 on undergarments. The fact that White House press secretary Jay Carney had to take time on Monday to denounce theÂ underwear rumor is proof that the allegations against the First Lady are out of control. And now that weâ€™re in an election year, things are likely to get worse. Because Michelle Obama represents so much of what we love, they will do everything they can to smear her image and that of the President. Itâ€™s our duty to make sure that they donâ€™t succeed. Make no mistake: smearing them is an attempt to diminish our own self-esteem. I asked my mother the other day if sheâ€™s ever seen any First Lady repeatedly insulted like Michelle Obama has been. The answer, not surprisingly, was a definite â€œNO.â€ Throughout it all, Mrs. Obama has taken the barrage of attacks with grace and dignity, while disproving everything with her actions â€“ just like a strong Black woman would. And I should know, a strong Black woman is me; she is you and we cannot allow her to be slandered. MORE STRONG, BLACK WOMEN: Unbelievable! Meet The 88-Year-Old Marathoner Diagnosed With HIV, Concert Promoter Becomes AIDS Activist
February 3, 2012No CommentRead More
This week I had a rare moment of downtime. While flipping through TV channels I caught a preview of a show that will air this weekend: Oprah Winfrey interviewing Sean Penn in Haiti for â€œOprahâ€™s Next Chapterâ€ on OWN. I couldnâ€™t help but wonder what their interview will depict, and whether it will show what I saw earlier this month in Haiti as part of a delegation organized by Dr. Ron Daniels of the Institute of the Black World and the Haiti Support Group. I am still deconstructing all of the emotions I have from the sojourn we took, and already planning a trip with Young Black activists and professionals. READ ALL OF TAMIKA MALLORYâ€™S BLOGS HERE When most people think about Haiti, the first thing that comes to mind is the devastating earthquake that ravaged the country. Thatâ€™s exactly what I used to do â€” that is, until I had the remarkable opportunity to visit the first free Black nation in the Western hemisphere. I joined about 30 others as we spent five days absorbing the rich history, culture and determination that defines Haiti. Yes, there is still great suffering from the horrific quake of 2010, but if thereâ€™s anything I learned on this eye-opening trip, itâ€™s that resilience and a passion for life still dominate the people. As an American who sometimes takes for granted the amenities we have available, my first reaction when we landed in Port-au-Prince was that of shock. The devastation from an earthquake that killed at least 300,000 and injured countless others was still prevalent especially in this city that was the epicenter of the disaster. Parents lost children, children lost parents, families were torn apart and some just disappeared in an instant. Even two years later, the effects of this dreadful quake are visible everywhere, and the sheer scope of the damage was a big hit to my chest. Going past tent cities where people are still living without proper homes or clean running water, and watching young children with missing limbs go to school touched all of us in a way that words cannot even describe. But just like the structures that re-emerged from the rubble, the spirit of the people uplifted all of us. Cooking meals on the street, mothers made sure their daughters still had barrettes in their hair as they ran off to play and clean uniforms as they went off to school. It was those little things â€“ the signs of hope â€“ that reinvigorated our own passion to continue helping the people of Haiti. Visiting the Oasis Institute, an orphanage and learning center for young girls, we were honored to watch these kids as they smiled and sang their hearts out for us despite their own circumstances. We were all humbled. As part of our trip, we also spent some time in the city of Milot taking in the unique background of a country where slaves were freed even before abolition occurred in the United States. In that realm, we were escorted up the large mountainside of the infamous Citadelle Laferriere, constructed as a one-of-a-kind symbol of liberty for a one-of-a-kind revolution. Today, it still serves an icon for the bravery and courage of Haitians in their quest for justice. But unfortunately, the end of slavery didnâ€™t deliver a guarantee of prosperity. Following French colonial rule, international boycotts of freed Haiti, coupled with U.S. occupation of the nation in later years and a tremendously high volume of resources exported, Haiti continued suffering for years. The 2010 quake only exacerbated the challenges. And though there has been extensive progress since the disaster first struck, much work remains. National Action Network and I will maintain close contact on the ground and continue to assist the resolute people of this Caribbean nation. I encourage everyone to support organizations that they trust and donate their time or money to keep hope alive for those that have been doing so even with all of the odds stacked against them. It is not enough to say you donâ€™t know who to trustâ€¦find someone! Whether itâ€™s Dr. Danielsâ€™ Institute of the Black World, Wyclefâ€™s Yele Haiti Foundation or any other charitable group, be sure to get involved, learn the exceptional connection and debt we as Black people have to Haiti and remember to assist anywhere disaster or injustice strikes. We do live in a place called the world; letâ€™s start embracing it.
January 27, 2012No CommentRead More
Itâ€™s high time we, the majority, take our country back: When certain individuals began chanting their mantra of â€˜take our country backâ€™, the rest of us hoped that it wasnâ€™t a subliminal message to strip away this nationâ€™s advancements and take us back to some sort of Jim Crow era. But in such a short span of time in office, many conservative elected officials have proved that their goal is precisely to implement regressive measures that begin to chip away at the core of the fundamental constructs of the civil rights movement. The latest enactment of voter ID laws across the country are a prime example of how the right is attempting to wrong us all. See Also: Want To Read More Sharpton Pieces? Click Here See Also: Black Travel: Visit The Black Mecca Of America, Harlem For those who like to pretend that racism never existed in our past, hereâ€™s another quick reminder: years after slavery was abolished, there were systematic ways to still deny African Americans civil liberties â€“ not the least of which was a poll tax. After the 14th Amendment guaranteed equal protection for all, a poll tax was enacted as a prerequisite to voting. Because African Americans (and poor Whites for that matter) found it difficult to come up with the money required to vote, many were covertly disenfranchised from the process. It was a new measure, but it held the same underlying notion of racism and oppression of an entire group of citizenry that slavery itself did. Today, thankfully, a poll tax does not exist, but as Republican leaders continue to champion and implement voter ID requirements, they are establishing a new form of voting prerequisites and voter suppression. When nearly 25% of African Americans lack â€˜appropriate IDâ€™ in order to vote, itâ€™s clear who their target is. When college students are barred from voting in the state where they attend school and instead must return to their home state, itâ€™s clear who their target is. And when the process of obtaining this â€˜appropriate IDâ€™ isnâ€™t free by any measure, itâ€™s distinctly clear who their target is. Imagine youâ€™re a hard-working American who holds two or three jobs just to put food on the table, and now youâ€™re required to take a day (or more) off in order to obtain an ID. Not only does this person accrue lost work wages, but he/she also has to factor in the cost of traveling to obtain the ID, as well as fees associated with getting copies of documents like passports or birth certificates. For the individual enduring such difficult times as so many Americans today are, is all the hassle and extra expenses going to be worth it in their eyes? Or will they simply say, I wish I could vote, but I simply canâ€™t afford it? And letâ€™s not forget the long enduring lines, procedures and bureaucracy that will likely arise for folks in the process of receiving ID cards. It may not be a poll tax, but these new voter ID laws are just a polished version of the same oppressive measures designed to keep people of color and the poor out of the electoral process. There are currently 13 states across the country that have adopted voter ID requirements, with more pushing for similar legislation. When so many Americans do not possess a driverâ€™s license due to an inability to purchase a vehicle or because itâ€™s simply not necessary in an urban environment, the amount of Americans without valid ID for the polls is staggering. Once again, African Americans, Latinos, the poor and other disenfranchised groups will clearly be impacted the most by these voting requirements. And it should come as no surprise that this sector of society votes Democratic a majority of the time. If Republican officials and those who support them are so upset by the direction of the country and so insistent on the fact that we are a center-right nation, why donâ€™t they prove it with fair elections? By conjuring up ridiculous requirements that are obviously designed to reduce the number of voters, they only validate the fact that their Party and their vision for the future is antiquated and the majority is not on their side. Instead of playing dirty politics, perhaps they should just run an election on the facts and allow everyone to freely vote. After all, what are they so afraid of? Maybe itâ€™s high time we, the majority, take our country back.
November 4, 2011No CommentRead More
As I stood holding family members of Zurana Horton this week, my tears turned to anger as I replayed the imagery in my mind of the mother of 12 being gunned down as she used herself as a shield from the bullets that were flying at the kids being let out of school in Brownsville, Brooklyn. RELATED: The Fight For Justice Wages On Here I was in the home of a mother who had already lost two other children to gun violence and now she had to raise grandchildren that would surely be forever scarred by the brutal gun violence that took their motherâ€™s life. I looked around at photos of Zurana and thought about the state of emergency in the Black community and how we wonâ€™t turn each other in because itâ€™s â€œworking with the man,â€ but will instead allow our people to kill each other while our streets are the â€œWild Wild West.â€ I lost my sonâ€™s father to gun violence 10-years-ago and Iâ€™m so tired of watching more innocent victims like him and Zurana get their lives cut short. Thankfully an arrest has been made in this case but that wonâ€™t bring Zuranaâ€™s life back. National Action Network held a press conference and the media asked the same old questions: Whether the elected officials have been accountable and what more the community can do. It makes me want to vomit when I think about how we have to beg people to care about the loss of Black life, and then we have to beg the community to take care of itself and quit the taking of lives. Why is it that we donâ€™t know where these illegal guns are coming from? Why are we unable to get weapons off our streets? And why on earth is it so damn hard to get our politicians to do something about it? If Zuranaâ€™s tragic death occurred on the upper east side of Manhattan and not Brownsville, Brooklyn, you better believe elected officials and those in power would be singing a different tune. If young white men and women were dropping like flies from bullets in their neighborhood, I can guarantee you all of society would come to a halt until some sort of resolution could be achieved. Now, some people may say that we in the Black community need to speak up and do something to protect ourselves. But after generations of systematically being put down, the post-traumatic slavery syndrome is still affecting us whereby we as a collective think we somehow donâ€™t deserve better. Well, Iâ€™m here to say itâ€™s time we demand better. It is nothing short of a travesty that we continue to watch men, women and children in our community get taken out by senseless violence on a daily basis. The simple act of picking up your children from school should not cost a person his/her life. People keep people keep asking me why I continue to write about the issue of gun violence. The truth is, every single time someone dies from gun violence I feel like Iâ€™m living in the moment when I got the call that my sonâ€™s father was murdered, and they had found his body in the bushes where it had been for two weeks. I will never stop talking about the issue of gun violence and nor should we as a community until it ceases to exist. RELATED: Sharpton Joins Call To Give Up Killer Of Mother Who Saved Children
October 26, 2011No CommentRead More
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