When I got punished I couldn’t go outside. . . punish a kid now by making him go outside. . .

My Saturday morning routine was as follows. . . get up at 6am to watch Looney Tunes, eat cold cereal for breakfast and be outside playing all day until the street lights come on. If I was in the house during the day it was because I was grounded or it was raining. Back then we did have Atari, Intellivision and the Apple computer to play games on but nothing took the place of getting some exercise. If I wanted to play video games me and my boy Nate would walk downtown to the Oak Tree or ride the bus to Berkeley to play at the Silverball arcade. Mostly we were playing basketball and strike-out at Lafayette elementary school and football in the street. I had to stay within shouting distance of the house and fortunately my mother’s voice carried. I look at these kids now and wonder what the f*ck happened. . . kids are getting fatter at a younger age and developing diabetes right along with it. Anyone that reads my Facebook posts knows that I have no problems railing on fat people. I think they give me some of my best joke material. When the movie Precious came out my brain went into overdrive thinking up and telling new jokes. I have no sympathy for adults that are overweight simply because they don’t take care of themselves. What makes me upset are they ones raising fat kids in their image. I can half way understand an adult getting caught up in the day to day rigors of life and neglecting their health, the same cannot be said of their children. The health of our kids are suffering as technology is getting more sophisticated. 5 factors I believe are contributing to this. . . lazy parenting, poor diets, the internet, affordable cell phone plans and sophisticated video game systems.

In my generation if you were in your room and it was too quiet your parents were checking up on you because they just knew that you were into some bullshit. Things have changed because now parents are too lazy to interact with their kids and instead are letting the internet, cell phones and the Sony Playstation take over their lives. My generation is comfortable with these things because we were taught to use the Commodore 64 and Apple computers in elementary school. We saw how video game technology advanced from Pong to Mike Tyson Punch Out and then the Madden Football franchise. We are comfortable with our kids having their own cell phones, Playstations and laptops because we also use them. Parents feel guilty depriving their children of their toys because they also have them. The joke use to be that you bought your 5 year old a big screen television that you secretly coveted but now they are buying them 2 for 1 Blackberry’s and WII consoles. When I was a teen we invited our friends over to play Tecmo Bowl but now you can run your Playstation through the internet and play somebody online 24 hours a day. You don’t even need to leave the house now to interact with your friends if you can play online from your bedroom. Throw a kid a football and it’ll hit him in the mouth but don’t challenge him to Madden 2011 he’ll kick the shit outta you because he’s mastered the game and has all the cheat codes!

When I was growing up we had one telephone and it was located in the dining room. The cord wasn’t long enough to drag to my room so I was forced to have my teenage phone conversations around my family. Fast forward 20 years. . . Verizon and AT&T offer their Friends and Family plans so everyone in the household can have their own cell phone with unlimited data plans. It is understandable that a parent would buy their kid a phone so that they can reach them after school or work. Unfortunately technology is being abused because kids are spending all hours of the day in their room talking and texting on the phone. Parents are enabling this behavior because when they want to communicate with their children they are calling them or texting them instead of getting up to find out what they are doing. How lazy does one have to be that they don’t walk from the kitchen to their kids room to check up on them? A friend of mine recently told me that he canceled his daughters Facebook account because he didn’t like the photos that she had uploaded. He further punished her by taking away her cell phone. With her privileges gone she was like a totally different girl. She was actually interacting with the family instead of being holed up in her room.

I’ve noticed that Oakland Public high schools have off campus for lunch. Have you ever seen some of the business’s that cater to these students? Burger King, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Subway’s are some of the fast food restaurants that I see frequently around our schools. Soda which is linked to childhood obesity has been sold on campuses for decades. This generation’s children are being allowed to make their own food choices and it’s being dominated by fast food. Left to their own devices kids are ignoring the four basic food groups and are instead opting for processed food. Have you seen the size of the chicken wings at KFC? I don’t know what they are putting in that chicken but I can’t buy those size wings at Lucky’s. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom took a lot of flak for trying to curb obesity by banning soda vending machines on city property. “There’s a direct link between what people eat and drink and the obesity and health care crises in this country,” the Mayor’s spokesman Tony Winnicker told the Chronicle. First Lady Michelle Obama is also trying to tackle this crisis with her Anti-Obesity Action Plan. This is her blueprint for ending the obesity problem within a generation that calls for more infant breastfeeding, building more sidewalks, curbing time with digital media and getting deep fryers out of schools.

Comedian Bill Burr made a joke recently that parents were making their kids fat on purpose so that they would be unfuckable to sexual predators. I mean, who wants to screw a 200lb 8 year old with diabetes that had a stroke at 5 while riding his Big Wheel? You could get a hernia picking up your 4 year old. Kids don’t have any money to buy those cupcakes so whose feeding them. . . their parents! Kids aren’t getting enough exercise to counteract the inactivity that goes along with TV, video games and shitty food they are eating. When I volunteered to baby sit my niece I made it a point to eat baby carrots, unsalted sunflower seeds and fruit in front of her because I knew she would want some. I knew that whatever I ate she would eat and I didn’t want her turning her nose up at healthy food. 25% of school aged children are now obese which can lead to low self esteem and health problems. Kids love to make fun of other kids and the fat ones are the easy marks. Fat kids grow up to be obese adults who will in turn have other fat kids. Parents do your job by making sure your kids have a balance between eating properly and getting exercise. Your not doing anyone any favors by bringing home a bag of McDonald’s every night to your kid who’s locked up in his room surfing the net drinking Dr. Pepper.

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Are black women raising weak-minded black males with gay tendencies?

When I was a child my grandmother used to tell me stories of how she raised her boys. Above all else she was their mother first and don’t ever get that twisted. My grandmother is one of the most fun loving people that you would ever want to meet. She taught me how to play Scrabble, Bingo, Uno, Yahtzee and all different kinds of board games. She was also quick to take a fly swatter to my legs if she caught me doing something that I had no business on her watch. My grandmother has been raising or taking care of kids since she was in her early 20’s. The one thing that I could always say about her is that she prides herself in being consistent. If she said something she meant it. If you felt the need to test her that was on you. My grandmother wasn’t a single parent she was married to my grandfather for 40 plus years until he passed in early 1994. My grandfather served in the military and was away for long stretches so she ruled the house while he was away (and when he was home). Although my grandparents were teenagers when they got married they were strict disciplinarians that stressed education and demanded respect. Those values have altogether disappeared from my parents generation to this one. Black men are fathering kids out of wedlock at an alarming rate and black women seem to be more interested in raising their best friends.

I was raised along with my two brothers in a single parent household. My mother didn’t intend for this to happen but my parents split up when I was four. Early on my father maintained a presence in my life by having me over for the weekends and coming to some of my soccer and baseball games. I remember as a kid that I picked up the phrase “Wzup Blood. . . ” and he would immediately check me and tell me not to say that. When I asked him why he said “Because I said so. . . ” I was told that my grandfather wasn’t the type to explain himself when he said something and I’m sure that’s where my father picked it up from. I was pretty scared of my father growing up so if he said something I didn’t have the heart to test him like I would my mother. After my parents split up my mother and I fought like cats and dogs. I realize now that I was carrying a lot of anger from my parents divorce and she got the brunt of it. I can also appreciate that she had the impossible job of trying to raise three boys on her own.

My father wasn’t there much in my teen years but I did have strong role models to look up to. In high school I worked for Rocsil’s shoe store in downtown Oakland which specialized in shoes for big feet women. I don’t know what the owner (Fred Brown) saw in me but he stayed on my ass to make sure that I did a good job. He didn’t hesitate to jump down my throat if he felt that I was being lazy and not paying attention to detail. He also stressed the importance of an education and carrying yourself in a favorable light. Being around Mr. Brown I was learning how to look, speak and dress well. One of my closest friends growing up was Nate Kirtman. His family lived one block away from mine on the same street. I spent a lot of time with his family playing sports, watching movies and playing video games. I remember one time in particular when I went over there looking for Nate and his father answered the door (Big Nate). I asked if Nate was around and he jumped down my throat and told me not to ever come to his door without greeting him first. He scared the shit outta me because I didn’t realized I had done anything wrong but I never made that mistake again at anyone’s door. I also recall Nate and I playing baseball on his computer and him getting a little lippy with his mother. Big Nate overheard and told him not to ever talk to his wife like that again. Later on Lil Nate and I talked about what happened and he was still shaken that his father referred to his mother as his wife. In no uncertain terms he let Lil Nate know that she is his wife first and his mother second. He made a powerful statement that day which I haven’t forgoten 25 years later.

Back when I worked managed City Garage in the mid 90’s I remember being asked by a customer what I was doing for Father’s Day. I remember being startled by the question but replying “I’m not married yet . . . ” I repeated that story to a few people because I was still surprised that someone would assume that I had kids without finding out first if I was married. I never liked the term “Baby Momma”. I’m not sure when this term came to be but I think it came around in the late 80’s or early 90’s. Women were having kids at an alarming rate and some with multiple fathers. It isn’t unusual to see a women with two or more kids with wildly different hair types and skin tones. I think a lot of black women put themselves into that type of situation for two reasons. . . 1. They can use their kids as an excuse for not finishing school. 2. They are lonely and worried that her man might leave but her kids can’t because they depend on her. Why else would an unwed mother have multiple kids by different fathers? I can’t believe that she thinks that the third or fourth father will marry her and take care of her family. That would make for a great Tyler Perry movie but chances are that’s not happening in real life.

Growing up my grandmother told me about a saying that went “Women raise their daughters but love their sons.” The theory goes that women raise their daughters by teaching them how to cook, clean and sew while at the same time spoiling their sons by turning them into mamas boys. These mamas boys would in turn search for women who would take care of them like their mother and the cycle would be complete. If this is in fact happening this could help explain why so many black men are in jail, doing drugs and dropping out of high school. A mother can’t teach a boy how to be a man just like a father can’t teach his daughter how to be a woman. Unfortunately more than 65% of black households are headed by women which gives them the enviable task of trying to wear both hats. With no man there to set the example many woman are ill equipped on how to raise their sons. I watch these young black men walking around with dreads, tattoos, gold teeth and their pants hanging off their ass and I tell myself no way would I ever let my son look like that. We are looking at a lost, angry generation of young males that have no guidance from their mothers and are searching for male role models in the wrong places.

Last year Morehouse college instituted an “Appropriate Attire Policy.” This policy banned the wearing of women’s clothes, makeup, high heels, purses, wearing hats in buildings, pajamas in public, do-rags, sagging pants, sunglasses in class and walking barefoot on campus. Parents spend a lot of money sending their sons to Morehouse with the expectation they will be made into a “Morehouse Man.” Morehouse college prides itself in developing leaders and you can’t lead if your jeans are sagging off your ass, your wearing gold teeth or dressing like a bitch. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. graduated from Morehouse and he would be rolling over in his grave if he were alive to witness the condition of our black males.

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Numbers, Numbers, Numbers. . .

I have worked in sales for the last 21 years. During that time I worked as a Realtor, auto appraiser and auto body shop manager. I started to pay attention to monthly numbers as a shop manager. You might not realize it but sales are a huge part of the auto body business. There is a lot of competition between shops to attract customers for automobile repair. When working with a prospective customer you need to find out what their needs are. They might range from whether or not you are willing to work with their deductible, what types of parts will be used and whether or not the paint will match. It is imperative that you be able to pinpoint this because if you can’t there are plenty of other experienced shops that can. You are wasting your time if you spend 15 minutes writing an estimate for a customer and you allow them to leave your shop without a firm repair commitment. I took pride in closing 94% of the estimates that I wrote. I’m not in the habit of allowing a customer to “Shop” my repair estimate. I developed a pretty good sense of when a customer was serious about having their car repaired versus someone who only wanted to cash out with their insurance company. I say this because I had aggressive monthly and quarterly sales goals and if I wasted time than I wouldn’t be able to meet them.

If you ever worked in sales before than you learned how to manipulate numbers in your favor. When I worked at BMW one of the longtime estimators would get annoyed with me because he felt that my numbers were too high. He was used to being the top banana and felt threatened by my presence. I was hired during the middle of May so my first couple of weeks were spent getting to know the employees and the dealership management program. We were paid on a commission basis so it was important that I pick up things rather quickly. My plan was based on two different scenarios. I could be paid on my gross monthly sales or if I had a poor month my commission would be based on the shop’s gross total, whichever was higher. I’m a pretty competitive person so I decided early on that I would make sure my commission would always be based on my gross sales. This caused friction in the office because I was always trying to break my previous month’s mark while the senior estimator was content with only writing around $100-110k per month. One day when the manager was out of the office, Russ (the senior estimator) decided he would have a talk with me to let me know how things were ran in the office. He said that I was doing well and picked things up much quicker than he thought I would but that I should also keep an eye out on the other two. I told him that I wasn’t trying to make anyone look bad but that I was there to make as much money as I could. I also let him know that I wasn’t going to be handing over any of my repair estimates to help pad their numbers.

Before I started at BMW, Bill (the manager) explained to me that Russ negotiated a different pay plan than I had. I was shocked that he told me that because I always felt that you never discuss what other co-workers make. Russ’s commission plan was based on his monthly sales only. If he had a poor month he didn’t have the benefit of relying on the shops monthly sales. The caveat was that his pay was based on a higher rate than mine. Russ was paranoid over having a bad month so he would cherry pick the repair jobs that he wanted to work with. Once he reached his number for the month he would hold over any additional repair jobs to ensure that he would have plenty for the following month. This caused friction within the office because we knew that Russ was only looking out for himself and I was pissed that I couldn’t get the same deal. When I got hired at BMW I explained to Bill that I was a very competitive person. I shared with him that I took pride in having the highest sales figures every month. I did request that he not throw up in my face what anyone’s numbers were because I would take that as a personal challenge without that person realizing it. Russ was used to having the highest sales numbers month after month. I routinely blew past his numbers and to keep from looking bad he was forced to close jobs that he wanted to hold over for the next month. One month in particular Russ tried holding over a couple of big jobs that were ready to close because he was satisfied with his monthly numbers. When Bill found out about this he had a cow because this affected his quarterly bonus. When I found out what happened I explained to Russ that what he did was selfish. By holding jobs back from being closed end he was affecting peoples money and that wasn’t fair for him to do.

In one of my earlier blogs I touched on how numbers can be manipulated. I told a story where a shop manager broke my sales mark by $10k and the owner took glee in rubbing it in my face. I didn’t say anything at the time but I wasn’t impressed because I wanted to see what the numbers would be like for the following month. When I found out that his numbers dropped from $70k to $20k in one month I already knew what happened. It’s OK to pad your numbers with a car or two here and there because it’s easy to make those numbers up. It’s quite common for estimators to pad their monthly numbers by closing out repair jobs that aren’t finished. Shop owners and managers are aware of this practice and generally won’t squawk if the jobs are pretty close to completion. Where you can get into trouble is if you try and cover up the fact that you are having a poor month by closing out jobs that you shouldn’t. You will exacerbate the problem because the next month you will be stuck trying to finish jobs that are technically closed. You run the risk of being fired if you get caught running your shop like that.

I decided to write about this topic because I think it’s fascinating how numbers can be manipulated within a business. People have been going to prison over the last decade for manipulating numbers. Companies like Enron, Worldcom, Stanford Financial and Madoff Securities all have been brought down by accounting fraud. American Greed on MSNBC is my new favorite TV show. It details in spectacular fashion how people perpetuate different kinds of fraud but on a massive scale. Fraud can be committed many different ways but the one consistent element is the need to always bring in new business. A sound business can’t rely on new customers 100% of the time. A strong business relies on a mix of new and repeat customers. If you don’t have that than your business is doomed to collapse.

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The Tea Party Federation is going to make sure that President Obama will get a second term.

Marty Schottenheimer had a plan for beating the Oakland Raiders when he was the coach of the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers. Run the ball, win the turnover margin and the Raiders would blow the game in the 4th quarter. “Martyball” dominated the Raiders in the 1990’s and 2000’s. It wasn’t pretty to watch if you were a Raiders fan but it damn sure was effective. I can see the Democrats using this approach to defeating the GOP in the next Presidential election. I’ve seen the latest polls that show President Obama’s numbers are down because people aren’t happy with his signing of the economic stimulus package and him keeping his campaign promise to overhaul the health care system. He has also had to deal with unemployment, the housing crisis, the war in the middle east and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Ex-Presidents Reagan and Clinton’s numbers were also down in the 1st two years of their administration and they had no problem winning a 2nd term. President Obama knew that for the first two years of his administration that his party would control the House and Senate. It would be imperative for him to address the promises that he made during his campaign while he had their full support. This upset the GOP who saw that Obama was willing to pass key pieces of legislation without their input. With the GOP attacking the Democrats as raging, big-spending liberals it has given rise to the Tea Party movement.

Taxed Enough Already is the acronym being used for the Tea Party Movement. They have gotten a lot of notoriety for their protests of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Federal Reserve Transparency Act and the Health Care Reform bill. The Tea Party made it on to my radar when they protested Obama’s Health Care bill. On March 20, 2010, before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Bill was voted on by lawmakers, it was reported that protesters against the bill used racial and homophobic slurs at a rally at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Several black lawmakers said that demonstrators shouted “nigger” at them. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver said he was spat upon, and Congressman Barney Frank, who is gay, was called a “faggot.” While Fox News showed protesters shouting “Kill the bill”, Representative André Carson said that while walking with John Lewis and his chief of staff from the Cannon building he heard the “n – word at least 15 times.” Carson said he heard it coming from different places in the crowd, and one man “just rattled it off several times.” Carson quoted Lewis as saying, “You know, this reminds me of a different time.” A prominent member of the Tea Party Movement Andrew Breitbart offered to make a $100,000 donation to the United Negro College Fund “for any audio/video footage of the N-word being hurled at Congressmen John Lewis and Andre Carson”. Breitbart asserted that the racial slurs were only alleged as a way for the left, abetted by the “progressive” media, to “marginalize” Tea Party supporters. In response, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said he himself had seen the events in question.

Mark Williams the leader of the Tea Party Express thinks that any controversy stirred up has “been fantastic for the movement.” Williams appeared on Anderson Cooper’s “360” on CNN in September 2009, called President Obama a “Nazi,” and agreed with his own previous characterization on his blog of President Barack Obama as “an Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug and a racist in chief.” On July 13, 2010, the NAACP passed a resolution calling on Tea Party groups to condemn racist elements in their ranks. The next day, Williams posted on his blog a satirical letter to Abraham Lincoln from NAACP president Ben Jealous. The letter portrayed Jealous as a supporter of slavery who believed that the National Association of Colored People needed a “massa” to take care of them. The letter was widely criticized as racist, and as a result David Webb of the National Tea Party Federation on July 18 went on Face the Nation to announce that Williams and the Tea Party Express were expelled from the National Tea Party Federation.

President Obama was elected because of a grassroots effort that brought people together. Sarah Palin is trying a similar strategy by appealing to a different sort with her “Hockey Mom”, conservative and christian values. Palin is brilliant because she appeals to less sophisticated people with her beliefs on the NRA, anti-abortion, creationism and capital punishment. This stance makes her very popular in rural areas of the west, south and Midwest. It’s ironic that she considers herself a conservative because she is a capitalist when it comes to her speaking fees which fetch $100,000.00. On February 6, 2010, Palin appeared as the keynote speaker at the inaugural Tea Party convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Palin said the Tea Party movement is “the future of politics in America.” Palin’s speaking fee was reported to be $100,000, which some in the Tea Party movement criticized as being too high for fiscal conservatives to pay. Palin said the Republican Party would be smart to “…absorb as much of the tea party movement as possible. Palin also had the words “Energy”, “Tax Cuts”, and “Lift American Spirit” written on her palm. She didn’t look at her hand during the speech, but she did during a press interview that followed and was later derided by critics, including White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

The name “Tea Party” is a reference to the Boston Tea Party of 1773—a protest by American colonists against various acts by the British Government which, among other things, attempted to establish a monopoly on the importation of tea into the colonies. The colonists felt disenfranchised because of their lack of representation in the British Parliament, and resented the British government’s efforts to control them. It appears that now The “Tea Party” movement represents another group of disenfranchised people. On April 19, 2009, Senior White House Adviser David Axelrod, when asked about the Tea Party protests on CBS News, said “I think any time that you have severe economic conditions, there is always an element of disaffection that can mutate into something that’s unhealthy.” Tea Party members are 90% white, believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction and that the Obama administration favors blacks over whites. When I hear that people believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction I think that they are masking their true feelings with words like “Socialism” and “Marxism”. Obama won the election because the majority of people didn’t like the road that our country was heading towards. While unpopular to some, President Obama is doing everything that he said he would do while on the campaign trail. The Tea Party Movement is doing a great job of distracting people from their own platform because they are busy defending themselves from being branded as racists. What they need to realize is that people don’t want our country to move backwards and groups like this only strengthen our resolve to move forward. It’s amusing watching different groups jockey for position to try and take over the GOP leadership. Rush Limbaugh took his turn last year by telling his radio listeners he wished that he failed. RNC Head Michael Steele has drawn the ire of GOP supporters by engaging in a war of words with Limbaugh over who’s in charge of the party and making insensitive comments about the Afghan war. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has thrown away his presidential hopes by lying to the state and his wife by sneaking off to Argentina to be with his soul mate. Now we are witnessing the Tea Party Express try and takeover the Tea Party Movement. I’m enjoying watching the GOP implode at a time that they should be trying to come together to take back the White House. It’s not even half time and the GOP is coming apart at the seams. These competing groups will be highly scrutinized by the media and Fox News can’t protect them all the time. I’m going to enjoy watching Sarah Palin, Micheal Steele and the Tea Party Movement usher President Obama into a second term.

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Life experiences show that blacks and whites still see things differently.

When I read in the Oakland Tribune last week that organizers had gotten together to stage a pro-Johannes Mehserle rally I was dumbfounded. If people thought that we had gotten past the race issue just because we have a black President they sorely mistaken. During the past 20 years we have been able to witness the Rodney King beating, Oscar Grant shooting and the OJ Simpson trial. It’s amazing that today people of different races can see the same video but still come to shockingly different conclusions. When I watched ESPN televise LeBron James “The Decision” a couple of weeks ago I thought it had to be one of the worst ideas ever conceptualized. I talked it over with some friends of mine before the show aired and we agreed that if he was leaving the Cavaliers this was not the way to do it. We knew that it wouldn’t go over well because he grew up in the Cleveland area but his decision was being aired from Connecticut. It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that this wasn’t going to go over well back in his hometown. The images they showed after his decision predictably where of people throwing rocks at his likeness and of his jersey being burned. I knew that Dan Gilbert who as the owner of the Cavaliers would be upset at his decision to leave but his letter and follow up interview I thought were shameful. I could understand him writing a letter to the Cavalier fans to keep them calm while also expressing their frustration with LeBron’s exit. Instead he assassinated his character by saying that he abandoned his hometown and quit in specific playoff games over a two year period. When I read the letter’s contents I felt he went too far and I knew that some black people would have a problem with it. When Jessie Jackson came out an accused Dan of projecting a slave owner mentality, I wasn’t surprised. When I followed the story on ESPN over the next few days a few black prominent sports writers came out in support of Jessie but all the white ones shot him down. I checked through the comments section in the Cleveland Plain Dealer website and they all denounced Jessie as a racist and denied there was anything racial about Dan’s letter or interview. While most blacks don’t look to Jessie Jackson as our spokesperson he is far from racist. Race is such a touchy subject with most whites that they don’t feel comfortable addressing the issues that Jessie brings up. It’s easier to brand him as a racist than to have any meaningful discussion on his perceived injustices.

Reactions were split right down the middle when the OJ Simpson verdict was read about 15 years ago. The buildup was extremely intense because everyone had been following the trial for the past year. The Prosecution made it appear that there was overwhelming evidence that implicated Simpson in the killing while the defense injected race and a police cover up. I was at work when the verdict was read and I will never forget the reactions of people that were shown on tv. Black people erupted in euphoria when the jury said “Not Guilty” while white’s fell to the floor crying and devastated. I always felt that Simpson didn’t do it but that he knew who did. To be perfectly honest I was hoping that he would be acquitted whether he killed Nicole Brown or not. Throughout history whites have gotten away with killing blacks without any of them being brought to justice. Now the prosecution made so many errors in their case that they made it easy for the jury to acquit Simpson. Who can forget the image of Christopher Darden asking OJ to try on the bloody glove? Now OJ was never going to be compared to Sidney Poiter with his acting skills but he acted his ass off when he struggled to get that glove on and then showed the world that it didn’t fit. When that presentation went south on live tv I knew that OJ was going home. Why then was their an uproar over him getting off? White people felt that he literally got away with murder. Ideas were debated that the jury system should be overhauled to make sure this travesty of justice would never happen again. Black people felt that it was a just verdict and that the justice system worked in our favor for once. The truth is that the only reason he got off was because of his money and celebrity. OJ had his “Dream Team” of lawyers that ran circles around the LA District Attorney’s office proving that if you have money you get to play by a different set of rules.

I think that OJ being declared “Not Guilty” was payback for the 4 LAPD police officers that beat Rodney King getting off. In 1991 the nation was in an uproar after seeing a video tape of Rodney King being beat within an inch of his life. Without that tape being aired this would have been another violent encounter with a black man and the LAPD. That tape brought up such strong emotions that the district attorney’s office pressed excessive force charges against 4 of those officers. The judge declared that media coverage tainted the jury pool and had it moved to Simi Valley. I had never heard of Simi Valley before but we found out that it was 98% white and was home to many police officers. When I watched the video I thought it was a slam dunk case for the prosecution and was glad that something like this was finally caught on tape. The jury which was made up of 10 whites, 1 Latino and 1 Asian saw things differently. I believe they thought that if Rodney was running from the police and resisting arrest than the use of force was warranted. When the verdict was read and the officers were acquitted it touched off a riot in LA that caused 1 billion dollars in damages and the lives of 53 people. The Army, Marines and the National Guard were called in to help quell the violence. Two of the officers served 30 month prison sentences because a Federal jury found that they violated Rodney King’s civil rights.

Thankfully the pro-Johannes Mehserle rally that was staged Monday didn’t result in any violence, arrests or property damage. I still think that it was a poorly conceived plan that had the potential to erupt in violence. I thought how can you get behind a sworn officer who took the life of another individual. We all saw the same video footage numerous times that showed Johannes shoot Oscar Grant as he lay on the ground with his hands behind his back. Although I knew that 2nd degree murder wouldn’t stick I wasn’t surprised when they found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Because there was a loss of life I’m sure the jurors felt that jail time was warranted. It seems that the pro-Mehserle supporters are upset because they feel that a bad precedent was being set with the involuntary manslaughter verdict. Listening to some of their rhetoric they seem to feel that Oscar Grant was to blame and that Mehserle was just doing his job. It seems that they are upset because they feel that (white) police officers have a tough enough job to do in the inner cities without the threat of jail time if they make a mistake. While I agree with that logic I don’t like it being used in this instance. That situation was so poorly handled by all the officers at the scene that after Mehserle shot Grant in the back they are lucky a full scale riot didn’t break out. I wonder how those officers would have handled that? They probably would have started shooting and tasering everyone in sight. Hopefully this case gets studied by police departments across the nation so that these mistakes don’t get repeated.

Depending on how and where you grew up can greatly shape your opinion on how you view things. If you grew up in Piedmont or the Oakland Hills your relationship with the police department would be totally different than someone that resided in the flat lands. I can understand how two people that live in the same city can have completely different viewpoints on issues. White people don’t have a history of being brutalized by the police department so they don’t understand when a black person thinks that an attack could be racially motivated. When Grant supporters caught wind of the pro-Johannes Mehserle rally being held in Walnut Creek they thought that they were supporting the fact that a white cop took the life of a black man. Growing up in the Bay Area I have been lucky to have been exposed to people of different races. I don’t take offense to people that don’t share my views on racial matters. I just know that we have a long way to go to bridge the gap when communicating our viewpoints. That way it’ll be easier to illicit change when we see an injustice, otherwise things will just stay the same.

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Women have come a long way from cheering sports to understanding them. . .

I became an avid sports fan because my father introduced me to baseball. I started off playing T-ball during the summer and graduated to Little League baseball, basketball and soccer. I wanted badly to play organized football but I wasn’t allowed to until I was in high school. For a number of years my father take me to the A’s season opener because it fell on our birthdays (mine is April 5th and his is the 6th). I also listened to the Warriors and the A’s on the radio and watched the Raiders on tv. I used to try and stay up until 11:25 just so I could watch Wayne Walker do the sports telecast on Channel 5. When I was growing up in the 1980’s my only interaction with women in sports was pretty much limited to kickball and prison ball. During recess the girls busied themselves by gossiping (I’m guessing) while we played touch football and basketball. In high school the girls supported the football and basketball teams but that seemed mostly due to the fact that guys were there and they wanted to be seen wearing their boyfriends Letterman jackets. Facebook has shown me that women are much more involved in sports than I ever gave them credit for. I always thought that the reason that they wanted to go to the Warrior’s or Raider’s games was to be seen. It turns out that they actually like and have taken the time out to understand the game.

There is nothing more annoying than watching a game with your girl and it seems like you are watching two different programs. While I’m engrossed in what’s happening on the field she is staring at all the football players asses. While she might not know who most of the players are they are familiar with a lot of the bigger names because of the tabloids and reality tv shows. It can make watching the game more difficult because she has already formed an opinion on certain athletes. If they performed on Dancing With The Stars she might be a fan of them but if they recently went through a divorce that was covered by TMZ she was sure to hate them. Earlier this decade when the Shaq/Kobe Lakers were terrorizing the NBA I caught hell because I decided to go see them play the Warriors instead of hanging with my lady friend. Not only was she mad that I blew her off for a basketball game she didn’t like the Lakers because she felt that they were too arrogant. A few years later over dinner I told her that a few of my buddies were thinking of putting a trip together to go to LA. We wanted to see the Lakers play Phoenix in what would have been Shaq’s first visit to LA in a western conference uniform. In 2004 the Lakers made the decision to get rid of Shaq and keep Kobe and predictably they went through a down period of 3 years. Now they were contending again and because Phoenix knocked out the Lakers in the playoffs the previous 2 years we thought this might be a hot game to go to. Well when she realized that it was going to be a guys only trip she was pissed. I thought it was funny that someone who couldn’t stand the Lakers because of their arrogance (and Kobe’s rape charge) was now having a fit because she wanted to be seen in LA.

Title IX I feel has probably had the biggest impact on women and sports. Title IX stated that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance”. What this meant for women’s athletics is that they could enjoy the same opportunities to compete in sports that men did. Taking full advantage of this rule The number of women in high school sports increased by a factor of nine, while the number of women in college sports had increased by more than 450%. This rule was not without controversy and animosity from men because it forced schools on the high school and collegiate levels to dismantle certain men’s programs to make sure they were in compliance. The unintended consequence of this rule led to increased opportunities for women to compete but at the same time decreased opportunities for men in sports like golf, swimming, track, wrestling and tennis.

While I think that Title IX had the biggest impact on women’s athletics the need for women to feel included cannot be understated. When I was growing up men spent all day Saturday’s and Sunday’s playing golf. One of the reasons that they could get away with this was because women either didn’t play or weren’t interested in the game. Because most golf courses are designed on prime real estate they would plan trips while using the excuse that they’re just going to go play some golf. Women would let their men get away with this because it was better than them going to strip clubs once or twice a week. It was also a good way for men to bond while drinking beers, smoking cigars and talking shit which are generally frowned upon at home (which is an understatement). The same is also true for football. Football is a very complicated sport that can be frustrating to watch if you don’t understand the game. Each play only lasts for a few seconds but has a lot of action going on all over the field that can be tough to follow. If you grew up watching the game and your father was an avid football fan than he would have taught you would have been taught from a young age. You were placed in a difficult spot if you tried picking picking up the sport in your twenties. It could be annoying to your man if you kept asking why that flag was thrown every few minutes. You wouldn’t understand why your boyfriend or husband spent so much time away with his friends watching the games all day Saturday and Sunday. I’m sure that many a relationship has been severely tested by the time Monday Night Football rolled around and he didn’t get home until 10pm. Plenty of women have felt alone on the weekends during football season when they wanted their men to try other activities but were rebuffed.

While I do think that some men use sports as a reason to get away from their women I don’t think that’s true for the vast majority of them. I think guys are more than happy to take dates to sporting events as longs as they show a genuine appreciation and understanding for the sport. Because so many women have grown up playing the same sports that men have that has seemed to change. There was no Title IX when my mother and grandmother grew up so I’m sure that’s why they don’t seem to have much interest in following anything but a major sporting event (like the Rose Bowl or the Olympics). I’m glad that women have taken such a strong interest in sports. Not only is it fun to take them to a sporting event but we can also hold an intelligent conversation that doesn’t involve the bullshit on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”. Now if only I could get my girl to go to the Spearmint Rhino with me in Vegas so that I can buy her lap dances from Double Diamond D and Mercedes then I would have the perfect woman! What man wouldn’t want a bisexual girl that loved sports. Oh well a man can dream can’t he?

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A riot in the black community about black on black crime would be the first.

I have watched, listened and followed the news about the Oscar Grant/Johannes Mehserle shooting for the past 18 months. I watched people riot, loot and in the process destroy business’s in downtown Oakland in the name of Oscar Grant. Press conferences were given by the family and local advocates expressing their anger about another white cop killing a black man. The whole situation would not have gained national attention if people hadn’t captured Oscar’s killing on cell phone video. Mehserle made matters worse by not giving a statement to BART police who were then blindsided when they found out that millions of people were viewing the shooting online. People were already suspicious because of the rumors that were flying around and they had them confirmed by going online. I must say that I was shocked when I saw the video but common sense told me that Mehserle would have to be out of his mind to kill someone in full view of hundreds of people. However it seems that in the black community my thoughts are in the minority. I completely understand the communities outrage because we do expect our sworn officers to keep their head’s in a tumultuous situation. I would ask where is the communities anger when we kill our own?

I find it hypocritical when I watch self serving local politicians and advocates stand up and give press conferences expressing their anger at police brutality. I have yet to see one get on that same soap box and incite a riot because two black youths killed each other. Bill Cosby was one of the only black figures willing to try and tackle this issue publicly. Cosby made public remarks critical of African Americans who put higher priorities on sports, fashion, and “acting hard” than on education, self-respect, and self-improvement, pleading for African American families to educate their children on the many different aspects of American culture. He pointed out that the majority of our problems stem from illegal drugs, single parent parenting, high school dropouts, teenage pregnancy and offensive clothing to name a few. Cosby was roundly criticized for doing so being called “out of touch” and “elitist” for supposedly airing our dirty laundry in public. In my opinion we need to do that more often. When I was growing up if I saw someone with cornrows, tattoos, big muscles and sagging pants we all new he just got home from prison. Fast forward 20 years and that is the style. Hip hop music made the prison culture mainstream. What has shocked me is that the parents don’t see the harm in letting their kids adopt that fashion. They don’t understand that this is how their kids are being perceived by authorities and other races.

What distresses me the most to is that we know who the people are that are holding our communities hostage. They are our sons, daughters,uncles, cousins and neighbors. Whether or not we are willing to admit it typically we have close relationships with these people. Last year well over 100 people were murdered with just about all of them being men and women of color. Rarely were any of them killed out of mistaken identity either. The majority of those crimes went unsolved because of “No Snitching”. “No Snitching” is the misguided code of the streets which is use to intimidate witnesses from coming forward and helping the police solve crimes. When you read the paper pay close attention to how many crime victims are labeled uncooperative by the police. How are the police supposed to solve crimes when the victims won’t come forward for fear of being labeled as “snitches”. Originally a snitch was a term used for people who gave the government favorable testimony in exchange for a plea bargain, money, or some other kind of reward. Now it’s been expanded to include anyone helping the police. Kids grow up having this code instilled in them while learning a strong disdain and mistrust for the authorities.

In March of 2009 Lovelle Mixon gunned down four police officers in cold blood. Although many Oakland citizens had stepped forward to help at the scene of the motorcycle police shootings, about 20 black bystanders taunted police as they gathered at the scene. The cited their cause as being a resistance to police brutality. Uhuru House activists, who promote “African internationalism,” handed out flyers in the neighborhood where Mixon was shot, inviting people to a rally where they might “uphold the resistance” of “Brother Lovelle Mixon”. A newspaper that I had never heard of called the San Francisco Bay View, identified itself as a “National Black Newspaper,” and they suggested that the killing of four police officers was a victory for “the people” and referred to Lovelle Mixon’s death as a “murder”. Approximately 60 people attended the March 25 Uhuru House rally in support of Mixon. The demonstrators marched down MacArthur Boulevard, some carrying signs proclaiming “genocide”. Thankfully even the harshest critics of our police department as well as family members of Lovelle Mixon denounced these groups and thanked the police department for their service.

We have had officer involved shootings in the past that haven’t sparked this kind of national outrage. The only reason why people decided to riot was that the incident was captured on cell phone cameras. Last year I saw a 10 minute video posted on the internet that saw a black woman at an Oakland beauty salon attacked by a group of black women. What shocked me was that this was done in front of a group of people and nobody stepped forward to try and help this woman as she got beat for about 7 minutes. Whoever setup this plan in motion meant to beat and film this woman so that they could post on the net for all to see. Everyday more and more videos of this type are posted online. I’m an avid net surfer and I never read where these videos are used against people as evidence. If this were to happen and people would report it I’m sure that would change.

A few weeks ago I blogged about us taking our communities back by any means necessary. Some felt that my views were a bit extreme and over the top. A good step in the right direction would be to see a press conference hosted by an angry family and supported by their pastor and politicians because another murderer, drug dealer or pimp went free. I want to see them hold those people publicly accountable by name because they wouldn’t cooperate with the police. I wonder how people sleep at night knowing that they have information that could put someone behind bars that killed their neighbor’s child. The only way that we are going to inspire change is to place pressure on those that we know are causing the problems. Things would change if people new that we weren’t afraid to stand up and point those that were doing wrong. It’s disingenuous at best to only stand up when you know a big payday is coming your way.

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