Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rev Sylvester Williams becomes 58th Bishop of CME Church

My former pastor, Dr. Sylvester Williams, Sr., has now become a Bishop in the Christian Methodist Episcopal. I am extremely happy and proud. For the past eight years he has served as Senior Pastor of Carter Temple C.M.E. Church. He will now serve the churches in the 2nd Episcopal as Presiding Prelate.

Dr.Williams is uniquely qualified to be bishop, much like President Obama is uniquely qualified to be President--both men have spent their entire adult lives preparing for the tasks at hand.

Congratulations, Dr. Williams!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Unsafe Thrifty Bargains...

Her Royal Highness prides herself on being a 'Thrift-store' Queen, who believes there is hardly anything she wouldn't purchase used however, USA Today recently published a list of 20items that shouldn't be purchased used. Here are the items:

1. Cribs and children's furniture

2. Car seats

3. Bicycle helmets

4. Tires

5. Laptops

6. Software

7. Plasma and HD TVs

8. DVD players

9. Digital and video cameras

10. Speakers and microphones

11. Camera lenses

12. Photo light bulbs

13. Mattresses and bedding

14. Swimsuits and undergarments

15. Wet suits

16. Shoes

17. Hats

18. Makeup

19. Pet supplies

20. Vacuum cleaners

Monday, May 24, 2010

Third Annual "Role/Roll" Like Marcus Harley-Davidson Memorial Ride for Peace and Officer Thomas Wortham, IV

Chicago, IL - More than 200 motorcycle enthusiast are expected to rev their engines down south Halsted Street from 115th Street to Union Park on Randolph Street on Sunday morning, May 30, 2010, in honor of Marcus Hendricks and fallen police officer Thomas Wortham, IV, both killed by senseless gun violence. This event is sponsored by the Marcus Hendricks Memorial Foundation. The participants will ride for peace and community unity and to promote mentoring as a solution to violence.
The first Roll Like Marcus event was held on May 4, 2008, just two weeks after Marcus Hendricks was fatally shot while in the office of his plumbing business in the Sheldon Heights neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. An avid Harley-Davidson enthusiast, Marcus' friends from the biker community joined together for a ride to commemorate Marcus - a father, a husband, a business man and a community supporter on what would have been his 35th birthday.
Since Marcus' death his family has created the Marcus Hendricks Memorial Foundation to promote the tenets of his life: hard-work, family and commitment to community. As a plumber Marcus created his own successful plumbing and sewer business. He supported the community by employing individuals whom he felt deserved a second chance and an opportunity to become self-sufficient and provide for their families.
Chicago Police Officer Thomas Wortham IV was murdered on Wednesday, May 19, 2010, and the ride this year will pay tribute to Officer Wortham. Cynthia Flowers of the Marcus Hendricks Memorial Foundation says, "Officer Wortham's death should spark outrage from the community. Like my brother he was doing everything right. My heart is bleeding for this family and for this dad who had to go to war against domestic terrorists to defend his son's life!"

The Marcus Hendricks Memorial Foundation is asking motorcycle officers from the Chicago Police Department and the Illinois State Police to lead the parade this year. Additionally, Black Bikers of Chicago, the Chicago biker community and bikers from Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana are invited to participate in this event. The Black Bikers of Chicago and the biker community on the whole represents professionals, businessmen, members of law enforcement and a vast array of resources and talent that can be shared within our communities.
Just as men and women are being asked to Roll (r-o-l-l) like Marcus, they are also being encouraged to "role (r-o-l-e)" like Marcus by making hard-work, family and community development a way of life. Participants on this ride will have the opportunity to sign-up as mentors in local schools. This ride is also meant to link community advocacy groups who are actively working within Chicago neighborhoods to the bike clubs and individual mentors to help develop a partnership to impact positive changes in our communities.
Since Marcus' murder his sister Cynthia Flowers has committed herself to working towards improving education, family integrity and community unity. Flowers states, "When the youth speak about the reasons violence occurs they often refer to adults who don't care. Through our ride we want to show those youth that there are plenty of adults and organizations that do care. We want to show them that members of the biking community, to which my brother belonged, not only say they care but many of them have programs that give back directly to the community."
Black Star Logo

Important New Book: The New Jim Crow

How the War on Drugs Gave Birth to a Permanent American Undercaste

by Michelle Alexander

Ever since Barack Obama lifted his right hand and took his oath of office, pledging to serve the United States as its 44th president, ordinary people and their leaders around the globe have been celebrating our nation's "triumph over race." Obama's election has been touted as the final nail in the coffin of Jim Crow, the bookend placed on the history of racial caste in America.

Obama's mere presence in the Oval Office is offered as proof that "the land of the free" has finally made good on its promise of equality. There's an implicit yet undeniable message embedded in his appearance on the world stage: this is what freedom looks like; this is what democracy can do for you. If you are poor, marginalized, or relegated to an inferior caste, there is hope for you. Trust us. Trust our rules, laws, customs, and wars. You, too, can get to the promised land.

Perhaps greater lies have been told in the past century, but they can be counted on one hand. Racial caste is alive and well in America.

Most people don't like it when I say this. It makes them angry. In the "era of colorblindness" there's a nearly fanatical desire to cling to the myth that we as a nation have "moved beyond" race. Here are a few facts that run counter to that triumphant racial narrative:

*There are more African Americans under correctional control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.

*As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.

* A black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The recent disintegration of the African American family is due in large part to the mass imprisonment of black fathers.

*If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas have been labeled felons for life. (In the Chicago area, the figure is nearly 80%.) These men are part of a growing undercaste -- not class, caste -- permanently relegated, by law, to a second-class status. They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits, much as their grandparents and great-grandparents were during the Jim Crow era.

Excuses for the Lockdown

There is, of course, a colorblind explanation for all this: crime rates. Our prison population has exploded from about 300,000 to more than 2 million in a few short decades, it is said, because of rampant crime. We're told that the reason so many black and brown men find themselves behind bars and ushered into a permanent, second-class status is because they happen to be the bad guys.

The uncomfortable truth, however, is that crime rates do not explain the sudden and dramatic mass incarceration of African Americans during the past 30 years. Crime rates have fluctuated over the last few decades -- they are currently are at historical lows -- but imprisonment rates have consistently soared. Quintupled, in fact. And the vast majority of that increase is due to the War on Drugs. Drug offenses alone account for about two-thirds of the increase in the federal inmate population, and more than half of the increase in the state prison population.

The drug war has been brutal -- complete with SWAT teams, tanks, bazookas, grenade launchers, and sweeps of entire neighborhoods -- but those who live in white communities have little clue to the devastation wrought. This war has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color, even though studies consistently show that people of all colors use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates. In fact, some studies indicate that white youth are significantly more likely to engage in illegal drug dealing than black youth. Any notion that drug use among African Americans is more severe or dangerous is belied by the data. White youth, for example, have about three times the number of drug-related visits to the emergency room as their African American counterparts.

That is not what you would guess, though, when entering our nation's prisons and jails, overflowing as they are with black and brown drug offenders. In some states, African Americans comprise 80%-90% of all drug offenders sent to prison.

This is the point at which I am typically interrupted and reminded that black men have higher rates of violent crime. That's why the drug war is waged in poor communities of color and not middle-class suburbs. Drug warriors are trying to get rid of those drug kingpins and violent offenders who make ghetto communities a living hell. It has nothing to do with race; it's all about violent crime.

Again, not so. President Ronald Reagan officially declared the current drug war in 1982, when drug crime was declining, not rising. From the outset, the war had little to do with drug crime and nearly everything to do with racial politics. The drug war was part of a grand and highly successful Republican Party strategy of using racially coded political appeals on issues of crime and welfare to attract poor and working class white voters who were resentful of, and threatened by, desegregation, busing, and affirmative action. In the words of H.R. Haldeman, President Richard Nixon's White House Chief of Staff: "[T]he whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to."

A few years after the drug war was announced, crack cocaine hit the streets of inner-city communities. The Reagan administration seized on this development with glee, hiring staff who were to be responsible for publicizing inner-city crack babies, crack mothers, crack whores, and drug-related violence. The goal was to make inner-city crack abuse and violence a media sensation, bolstering public support for the drug war which, it was hoped, would lead Congress to devote millions of dollars in additional funding to it.

The plan worked like a charm. For more than a decade, black drug dealers and users would be regulars in newspaper stories and would saturate the evening TV news. Congress and state legislatures nationwide would devote billions of dollars to the drug war and pass harsh mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes -- sentences longer than murderers receive in many countries.

Democrats began competing with Republicans to prove that they could be even tougher on the dark-skinned pariahs. In President Bill Clinton's boastful words, "I can be nicked a lot, but no one can say I'm soft on crime." The facts bear him out. Clinton's "tough on crime" policies resulted in the largest increase in federal and state prison inmates of any president in American history. But Clinton was not satisfied with exploding prison populations. He and the "New Democrats" championed legislation banning drug felons from public housing (no matter how minor the offense) and denying them basic public benefits, including food stamps, for life. Discrimination in virtually every aspect of political, economic, and social life is now perfectly legal, if you've been labeled a felon.

Facing Facts

But what about all those violent criminals and drug kingpins? Isn't the drug war waged in ghetto communities because that's where the violent offenders can be found? The answer is yes... in made-for-TV movies. In real life, the answer is no.

The drug war has never been focused on rooting out drug kingpins or violent offenders. Federal funding flows to those agencies that increase dramatically the volume of drug arrests, not the agencies most successful in bringing down the bosses. What gets rewarded in this war is sheer numbers of drug arrests. To make matters worse, federal drug forfeiture laws allow state and local law enforcement agencies to keep for their own use 80% of the cash, cars, and homes seized from drug suspects, thus granting law enforcement a direct monetary interest in the profitability of the drug market.

The results have been predictable: people of color rounded up en masse for relatively minor, non-violent drug offenses. In 2005, four out of five drug arrests were for possession, only one out of five for sales. Most people in state prison have no history of violence or even of significant selling activity. In fact, during the 1990s -- the period of the most dramatic expansion of the drug war -- nearly 80% of the increase in drug arrests was for marijuana possession, a drug generally considered less harmful than alcohol or tobacco and at least as prevalent in middle-class white communities as in the inner city.

In this way, a new racial undercaste has been created in an astonishingly short period of time -- a new Jim Crow system. Millions of people of color are now saddled with criminal records and legally denied the very rights that their parents and grandparents fought for and, in some cases, died for.

Affirmative action, though, has put a happy face on this racial reality. Seeing black people graduate from Harvard and Yale and become CEOs or corporate lawyers -- not to mention president of the United States -- causes us all to marvel at what a long way we've come.
Recent data shows, though, that much of black progress is a myth. In many respects, African Americans are doing no better than they were when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and uprisings swept inner cities across America. Nearly a quarter of African Americans live below the poverty line today, approximately the same percentage as in 1968. The black child poverty rate is actually higher now than it was then.

Unemployment rates in black communities rival those in Third World countries. And that's with affirmative action!

When we pull back the curtain and take a look at what our "colorblind" society creates without affirmative action, we see a familiar social, political, and economic structure -- the structure of racial caste. The entrance into this new caste system can be found at the prison gate.

This is not Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream. This is not the promised land. The cyclical rebirth of caste in America is a recurring racial nightmare.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What Do These Beautiful Women All have in Common?

Today is National Women and Girls HIV and AIDS Awareness Day

Annette Fields, Rae Lewis Thornton, Pernessa Seele, and Princess Kasune Zulu are educators, activists and prayer warriors for the healing of HIV and AIDS. They believe in the power of prayer and the coming together of all people of faith to unite with purpose, compassion and hope. Through the power of God's love they hope to educate every American about HIV prevention facts; encourage and support HIV testing; advocate for the availability of compassionate care and treatment for all those living with the disease in every community in America; and love unconditionally all persons living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.

During this National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, Sunday, March 7 through Saturday, March 13, 2010, every church, mosque, synagogue, temple and home is encouraged to join in prayer, education, advocacy, and service for the healing of AIDS in the United States and the World.
"Today, let our hearts be broken by the things that break the heart of God."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hey Michael Jordan! Happy Birthday to the Greatest Player in NBA history

Today, February 17th, marks the 26th anniversary of Michael Jordan's 21st birthday--that makes him 47 years old, fine as frog's hair, and still getting paid as a result of an outstanding basketball career and business saavy.
Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player that has ever played the game--in my book. I'd never heard of him while he was a college baller, but I remember when I first saw him play as a rookie Chicago Bull, I said to myself, "Self, he's got the longest tongue I've ever seen." I'll bet quite a few women thought that...
And he never missed an opportunity to let folks see it hanging out as he sailed through the air over opponents and slammed backboards left and right. In fact, most of the action shots and posters show him gliding through the air--tongue hanging out with an air of victory boldly displayed in his body language and on his face. I like Michael Jordan cuz he laughed alot while he played and it was obvious that he loved the game of basketball.

I am impressed with everything about Michael Jordan's sports career, including the fact that he went to play professional baseball mid-career, and that he is currently attempting to purchase the Charlotte Bobcats basketball franchise.

There is a site called, The Evolution of Michael Jordan and there I found a list of
"10 things I bet you didn't know about Michael Jordan"
1.) He won 6 championships in his basketball career.
2.) He was 5 times voted regular season Most Valuable Player
3.) His career scoring average is 30.1
4.) He played in 172 games and scored more than 40 points in each
5.) He scored 50 or more points in 39 games
6.) He earned 10 scoring titles
7.) He retired 3 times
8.) He was awarded 2 Olympic Gold medals
9.) He scored 32,292 regular season points
10) He is listed as #1 of the 50 Greatest players in NBA history
Will there ever be another NBA player as great as Michael Jordan? No.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Haitian-American Utah's 1st Black Woman Mayor

While taxes, growth and quality of life were issues in Saratoga,
Utah's 2009 mayoral campaign, Mia B. Love's race was not. Nor is it with her.
The 33 year old wife and mother of three was recently sworn in as mayor--the first Black woman to do so in Utah's history.
She volunteers in her children's school and serves as legislative vice president in the PTA, as well as having served on the City Council for the past six years. Love explains that her family, Haitian immigrants who settled in Connecticut, instilled in her the need to give back to the community.

The 33-year-old Republican mayor has gone on record as saying she's never experienced racism while living in Utah, first in Salt Lake County, then in American Fork before moving to Saratoga Springs in 2001. Love's husband, Jason is Caucasian. Mayor Love and her family are Mormon.

"It is a physical feature," Love said, sitting in the dining room of her home in the Sunrise Meadows neighborhood. "I am proud to be a member of this community."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

As a native of the great State of Illinois aka "Land of Lincoln," it was very apparent on the anniversary of what would have been his 201st birthday that Georgians as a group do not celebrate President Lincoln or his legacy. As I shopped for groceries , walking all through the supermarket and in other retail outlets in Covington, Georgia not one person that I encountered wished me a Happy Lincoln's birthday. I was simply appalled.
The 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln's birthday was marked on Friday, February 12th by an aggressive snowfall over Georgia. There were no parties, galas or even barbeques scheduled, although the schools in Newton County were closed, not in honor of President Lincoln, but because the snow was coming.
Although I've only lived in Georgia for one year, I have yet to run across a park or a street named 'Lincoln'.

In lieu of our nation's difficult times, President Obama is calling us to be like Lincoln in working together across party lines.
" If we are going to get through this tough economic time, we are going to have to do it as one nation, as one people,"President Obama is quoted as saying.

Like Lincoln during the Civil War, Obama understands what it is like to be a president elected that many Americans do not agree with. I never really agreed with Bush on many of his conservative views. I didn't vote for President George W. Bush, but I never wanted to see him fail and drag our country down with him. I do not dislike the Republicans--even though they totally disrespected President Obama as a group during the State of the Union Address.
Obama supporters do not continue to harp on the fact that President Obama inherited this mess our country is in under the immediate past Bush administration. Can we come together as Americans and support our President--the people's choice for leadership?

Happy 201st Birthday Mr.President!

My friend, journalist Stephanie Gadlin and several FB friends posted this pic of President Lincoln and the following quote that is attributed to him prior to his signing the Emancipation Proclamation which freed Southern slaves on January 1, 1865. There were many comments blasting President Lincoln for the many statements made prior to him drafting this document. I love and applaud President Lincoln because even though he was relunctant to do the right thing for the right reason--good came out of it and I was born in Chicago, Illinois--a free child. Had history been different, I shudder to think of what my experiences could have been.
Happy Birthday Mr. President! Rest in Peace.

HONEST ABE DAY: "I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lady Gaga & Cyndi Lauper new Voices for MAC Viva Glam Lipstick to Support HIV Initiative

Pop divas Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper are the faces of From Our Lips, which is M·A·C Cosmetics’ Viva Glam campaign honoring women living with HIV/AIDS and those working to prevent new infections. All proceeds from sales of Viva Glam Cyndi (a light coral red lipstick) and Viva Glam Gaga (a light blue-pink lipstick) will benefit the M·A·C AIDS Fund. To date, the fund has raised more than $150 million to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and improve the lives of HIV-positive people worldwide.

“I’ve been familiar with the campaign and have been wearing M·A·C since I was 10 years old,” Gaga said in a statement. “To be joining the likes of iconic former Viva Glam spokespeople is an honor. My new Viva Glam lipstick color is amazing. It’s very me—a bluish pink, great for everyday, a little bit ’80s. I hope that women buy this lipstick, and honor themselves and honor the cause.”
In conjunction with the launch of From Our Lips, the M·A·C AIDS Fund released data from nationwide surveys on women and HIV. According to the M·A·C survey results, nearly three in five American women (55 percent) say they’ve never been tested for HIV, and 78 percent say they’ve had sexual intercourse without a condom. In addition, the average woman was last tested for HIV three years ago, compared to two years for the average man.

Princess Zulu: Sentenced to Death

Twelve years ago when Dr Tembo gave me the news that I was HIV positive, he gave me only six months to live. While Time magazine’s Man of the Year—Dr. David Ho—had created a cocktail of drugs that could suppress HIV, it would be years before treatment made its way to the poor hospital in Luanshya, Zambia where I lived.

Even five years later, only eight thousand people in Africa had access to these drugs—but millions had died. At the time, few people knew or admitted what had claimed their lives. We called the disease “Slim” or “Kalawe Noko,” which means ‘go and say goodbye to your mother.’ It had no respect of person—it took the young and the strong, leaving behind the weak and the frail.

Proudly today, I have witnessed a great increase in the number of people accessing treatment. Given the “perfect storm” of conditions that allowed AIDS to march across Africa, the fact that the tide is now turning is both remarkable and inspirational. Millions of deaths have been averted. Children can now sleep at night with their parents watching over them.

But I caution to add—our task is far from over. In 2008, for every two people who started taking antiretroviral drugs, another five become newly infected. Access to treatment is a long way from being universal.

We need to maintain the pressure on our elected leaders, our places of worship and our broader communities to march forward.

Twelve years ago, I was given six months to live. I am still fighting, and God willing, I will continue to do so. I will continue to fight until all who require treatment, regardless of where we were born and how we contracted the virus, have access not only to HIV/AIDS treatment, but to all health services. That to me is universal access—and that is a basic human right.

-Princess Kasune Zulu

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ignorance is No Excuse for lack of Cross-Cultural Mission Training

Haitian Judge Bernard Saint Vil made his recommendation a day after questioning the detained Americans, most from an Idaho Baptist group, were charged last week with child kidnapping and criminal association after being arrested Jan. 29 while trying to take 33 children, ages 2 to 12, across the border to an orphanage they were trying to set up in the Dominican Republic.
Group leader Laura Silsby of Meridian, Idaho, explained that the children were obtained either from orphanages or from distant relatives. She said only children who were found not to have living parents or relatives who could care for them might be put up for adoption. However, at least 20 of the children are from a single village and have living parents. Some of the parents explained that they willingly turned over their children to the missionaries on the promise the Americans would educate them and let relatives visit.
This incident would have been less likely to occur had this group been properly trained prior to stepping their foot onto a plane and flying to Haiti. Church missions groups have hearts of gold and good intentions, but cross-cultural training is needed prior to engaging in humanitarian relief in other countries. Upon arrival, the group needed to have been once again briefed on acceptable practice. This group is in jail because left to their own devices Americans will always sidestep what they view as 'red tape' or 'hassle'. In many countries avoiding proper parctice is against the law--apparently in Haiti it an offense serious enough for jail time.

John Mayer's Playboy Interview...A Lesson in Getting Too Comfortable

John, John, John! What were you thinking, John? Did you forget the first rule of dealing with reporters? The rule that states that anything you say can and will be held against you in a publication? Did you forget you held a 'trump' card that's called 'off the record'?
John, I like you, John. So I'm gonna try to explain this as gently as possible using this example: Just because you stand in a garage doesn't make you a car; and just because you love Jazz and the Blues doen't give you license to use the N-word in an interview to be published in an international publication. Again I ask, what were you thinkn?
Because I like your music so much I find it hard to absorb some of the info you gave during the interview--namely describing the sexual prowess of your ex-lovers. At the time it may have seemed like a great idea discussing them as though they were simply sex toys and as though they were not daughters and sisters and nieces and cousins. Did you forget about how their families may have felt about this info leaking out? Did you consider how this could embarrass your own family?
John, John, John--You definitely need to go back to media training and next time you feel like u want to be cozy and familiar with a journalist--make sure it's one that you have alerted that some comments are "off the record". And for goodness sake, stay alert and don't get too comfortable. haven't you heard that "loose lips sink ships?"

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Is Sarah Palin an "Effen" Retard?

Sarah Palin's address at the Tea Party convention in Nashville vividly demonstrates why this woman is unlikely to ever become president of the United States: she's too forgetful-she writes notes to herself in the palm of her hand. When we did this in school it was considered a form of cheating. Is Sarah Palin an effen retard? The woman is paid $100K per speech and she writes her notes in her hand? Give me a break! She is getting publicity and attention that should be saved for someone who has something significant to say or a real author, and not an attention seeking former beauty queen with a ghostwritten book and too much time on her hands.

Happy Birthday, Robert Towsend...

In my ever-changing, hectic life as the next Pulitzer Prize winning news journalist from Chicago now residing in Georgia, I sometimes get so bogged down that I forget stuff I really want to remember. For example--birthdays. If I get up early enough and I'm not having hot flashes or some other kinda 'senior moment', I can remember when people I love are born.
Yesterday, February 8th was Robert Townsend's 53rd birthday!
Robert is one of the funniest comedians, one of the most dynamic actors, one of the most talented directors and writers and just an all around great guy. Please take a moment to check out his website. He's got clips on his newest project--The History of Black Comedy: Why We Laugh. Also, did I happen to mention that he is from Chicago's West Side although he resides in L.A. (I ain't mad atcha, I hate snow, too) lol.
Hey Robert, I hope your birthday was just like you are--da bomb!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

President Obama Addresses the Power of Prayer

"While prayer can stiffen our spines to surmount an obstacle...prayer can also do something else. It can touch our hearts with humility. It can fill us with a spirit of brotherhood. It can remind us that each of us are children of an awesome and living GOD."
-- President Barack H. Obama
Thursday, February 4, 2010
National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Caressa Cameron--Miss Virginia Crowned Miss America in Las Vegas

Congratulations are in order for Caressa Cameron, a 22 year old from Fredericksburg, VA who was crowned the 2010 Miss America pageant winner. Miss Cameron is a Communications major who aspires to become a newscaster.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Oprah!

Oprah--girl, please forgive me. I just realized that I forgot to call and wish you birthday greetings yesterday on Friday, January 29th. I know you were staring at your cell and saying to yourself, "Self, did Vanessa forget my birthday?" No, girlfriend I did not forget your birthday--how could I? You're the most celebrated friend I have.
I am however, still kinda annoyed at not receiving an invitation to your 50th birthday party. So much so til I practiced passive resistance and planned to call you at the last possible minute.
You will be happy to know that Renee and I went out and celebrated in your honor. We laughed til we cried and I then went home and crashed.
I hope you had a wonderful day and I pray that you are blessed with many more birthdays!
Your BFF
Vanessa--The Churchy One

The VChurch 2010 Bad "B" Award Winners

I have always wanted to develop and sponsor my own gala awards show. Until now I played with the idea of honoring the funniest comedians, outstanding humanitarians, most creative early childhood professionals, unsung ordinary people and the Stripper of the Year (we've all got a dark side). They are all excellent ideas for public tributes and I was just so undecided until today when I came up with The 2010 "Bad B" Awards; to be bestowed upon women who go above and beyond in their areas of expertise in motherhood. To qualify, a woman has to be a mother who has achieved or set a precedence that causes her extreme notoriety and one for which she has become famous or infamous, as you will. There will be a Winner and a First Runner Up.

This year, I don't need a prestigious panel of judges to help me decide the winner because I'm pretty clear on who the two baddest b's in the entire United States are...drumroll please.

The winner of the VChurch 2010 Bad "B" Award goes to Nadiya Suleman aka Octomom; This woman is no Punk! She is a single mother of 14 children all conceived artificially by the same frozen sperm donor; birthing 8 children at one time by Caesarian section; losing 150 lbs one year post-pregnancy; currently has eight one-year-olds in diapers--eight toddlers; subjecting herself and her children to public ridicule and scorn to capture fame and notoriety as a reality TV star, all while feeding her children on food stamps and Social Security. I'm sure you will agree--she is a 'Bad B'.

The First Runner Up VChurch 2010 Bad "B" Award goes to : Kate Gosselin aka Mega-Mom; reality tv show star and mother of twins and sextuplets; all conceived artificially--8 children total. Publicly humiliated into single mom status by a deadbeat husband.

Many of you know a woman who should be nominated for the VChurch 2011 Bad B Awards. Feel free to nominate her in the comments. Be sure to include WHY you feel this woman is a "Bad B."
The Churchy One

"Q" Re-records "We Are the World" for Haiti relief

Master musician, Quincy Jones, 76 year-old music legend says musicians are gathering in L.A. to record the 2010 version of "We Are the World." The proceeds will benefit Yele--a not-for-profit headed by Wyclef Jean, to help in Haitian earthquake survivor relief.
How fitting to re-release the Grammy Award winning song which was written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson 25 years later to benefit earthquake survivors. I hope some of the original artists perform in the recording.
Attaboy, Q!

My Friends are Grandparents and with that--Title Changes

I just found out that my friends, Horace and Susan Smith are officially grandparents. Hooray! Welcome to the club. You have just been elevated and you didn't even have to campaign. Ain't that wonderful?

But now that you have First Grandbaby Lillian, that does pose a slight dilemma--what are your new official titles to add to your ever-burgeoning arsenal of titles?
Horace, you have so many titles, that when I first met you I asked you which one should I use? You replied that "Pastor" would suffice, so I call you pastor but refer to you affectionately as 'Bishop' (hey, do I owe you tithes for that?) lol. Susan--I call Susan but refer to her affectionately as 'Sister Smith'.
But there are many others titles. For instance, Dr. Smith, Professor, Doc, Pastor, Bishop, Presiding Bishop, Diocesan Bishop, Presiding Prelate, Daddy, Horatio (Susan, I betcha thought I'd forgotten), Dr. Horace E. Smith, II, M.D., Rev. Dr, Nephew, Uncle, Cousin, Brother, and Son--just to name a few. And not to be outdone, Susan also has quite a few titles of her own: Susan Davenport Smith, Pharmacist; Sister Smith, First Lady Susan, First Lady of the 14th District, First Lady of the P.A.of W., Niece, Auntie, Sister, Daughter, Wife, and Mommy--are some that easily come to mind.

So after years of encouraging, kissing, hugging and loving on practically every child in the near vacinity of the two of them, both personally and professionally; baptizing kids, and dedicating babies; and praying for and laying hands on children made vulnerable by poverty both nationally and internationally, Jesus has blessed them with a lovely granddaughter--First Grandbaby Lillian. Her mother is First Daughter, Lauren Smith Elrod.
Herein lies the dilemma of the new titles. Will the good doctor become 'PaPa', 'PawPaw', Grandpa, or Granddaddy? Will Lady Susan be referred to as Nana, Granny, Grandma, Grandmother, or G.G. aka Gorgeous Granny?
A Rose by any other name would smell just as sweet and grandparents--whatever they are called by adorable grandchildren would be just as blessed.
The Churchy One

Friday, January 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dr. King

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr would be celebrating his 81st birthday today if he were alive.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies
hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of
Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength To Love, 1963.

We are so fortunate that his ideals and his words have lived on.
Happy Birthday, Dr. King!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, First Lady Michelle Obama

Sunday, January 17, 2010 is First lady Michelle Obama's birthday. She will be 46 years old. Last year, on January 20th her husband, the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, Jr., Presented her with the White House as her principal residence as a belated birthday gift. He even let her mama move in with them.
This year, how will the President top last year's gift? I'm sure whatever he buys or does will be spectacular.
Happy Birthday First Lady--you go girl! I ain't mad atcha.

Michelle Obama 1st year Reflections

Looking back on her first year as First Lady, which included more than 200 events at her new home along with visits to 14 states and eight countries, Mrs. Obama declared success.

Mrs. Obama plans to spend 2010 focused more heavily on the issue of healthy living. She’ll speak on the issue of childhood obesity, and said if it would help, she’d even be willing to head to the hill to help pass legislation overseeing federal-funded school lunch program, which up for renewal this year.

I am proud of Michelle Obama. She has represented us as FLOTUS to the highest degree of excellence.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Let's NOT Make Haiti the 'Cause du Jour'

Haiti needs many things but false benevolence is not one of them.

There are many of us here in the United States who are learning about Haiti for the very first time. There is really no excuse for this ignorance, but I think of it simply as the privilege of arrogance and global indifference that comes with being a natural American citizen. We only focus on developing countries on a need to know basis--do they have something that the U.S. wants or needs? Then, we need to know them. If a country has nothing we need or want, why should we know them--especially if they're poor?
Haiti has experienced an earthquake of catastrophic proportions resulting in thousands of lost lives, unaccounted for loved ones, and demolition of buildings--including really important ones like hospitals. We have learned that Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The earthquake did not cause their abject poverty. There are many non-governmental organizations who advocate and fund raise on behalf of the citizens and causes of Haiti--year in and year out. This is not vogue or chic.
Won't you search your hearts as you decide to get involved in immediate disaster response for Haiti? Are you giving donations or soliciting funds on behalf of Haiti because your heart tells you to intervene or has the media presented a compelling reason why you should give? Are you giving because you want feel to superior to the people of Haiti (to whom much is given much required--yeah, right) or do you share in their pain? And finally, are you giving because you want others to know how generous you can be? Don't do the right thing for the wrong reason.

Remember, when the cameras leave the island, the people of Haiti will still live in the poorest of nations. Is what you are deciding to contribute to this cause going to help propel them into a life of eventual self-sufficiency? Or do you want to simply apply a bandage to a wound that needs major surgery. Don't let Haiti be a 'cause du jour'--that is, the chic thing to do at the moment.

Reid and Obama Squash Beef...

President Obama does not major in minors. And he knew how to squash a potential silly beef before it started with one of his Democratic colleagues.
.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid apologized on Saturday, January 8th for saying the race of Barack Obama – whom he described as a “light skinned” African-American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one” – would help rather than hurt his eventual presidential bid.

President Obama accepted Senator Reid's apology--period.

This statement was revealed in a just released book, "Game Change" by Mark Halperin. It is a look at the nuances of the 2008 presidential campaign.

What could have caused a stir, was a few revelations in the book that described statements by Hillary Clinton and her husband, Bill Clinton--both currently employed by the Obama administration in key positions. One statement that I was particularly perturbed by was the following:

– Former president Bill Clinton's efforts to persuade Senator Edward M. Kennedy to endorse his wife's presidential bid fell flat when Mr. Clinton told the Democratic lawmaker that "just a few years ago, Mr. Obama would have been serving the pair coffee." What did President Clinton mean by this? I'll bet if I sought the wisdom of President Jimmy Carter he'd be able to tell me.

Ringo Starr turns 70 in 2010

Seems like only yesterday it was 1964 and I was a six year old singing along with everybody else in America, "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah". I had full fledged Beatlemania and a huge crush on the band's drummer, Ringo Starr. Today I am 52 and Ringo Starr is 70!

Ringo, whose birthday is July 7, plans to mark it by flashing a two-fingered peace sign at noon and playing an evening gig at Radio City Music Hall as part of a summer tour with his latest All-Starr band. Currently, he is on a promotional tour for his 15th solo album, Y Not.

Starr, a longtime vegetarian looks to be in his late 50s, dresses sharp and still has his great sense of humor. Let me be the first to say, Happy Birthday, Ringo!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Atlanta Accepts Federal $$$ earmarked for Homelessness Prevention

The Atlanta City Council approved the acceptance of $3.4 million in federal dollars that will be used to fund community-based projects aimed at preventing homelessness under the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). (Legislative Reference No. 09-O-1121) HPRP funds provide financial assistance and services to prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless and help those who are experiencing homelessness to be quickly re-housed and stabilized.

The funds provide for a variety of assistance, including: short-term or medium-term rental assistance and housing relocation and stabilization services, including such activities as mediation, credit counseling, security or utility deposits, utility payments, moving cost assistance, and case management.

Funding for the homelessness prevention fund ($1.5 billion) was made possible through the

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was signed into law on February 17,

2009 by President Barack Obama.

Council President Lisa M Borders is committed to ending homelessness in Atlanta in 10 years.