- Created on 22 May 2013
Winston Churchill once said, “to every man there comes a time in his life when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do a great and mighty work; unique to him and fitted to his talents; what a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the moment that could be his finest hour.”
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was founded on February 8, 1910 and its sole mission was and is to instill in the youth Godly principles and values. Our policies expressly prohibit, not only homosexuals from membership, but atheists and agnostics as well. But somehow only the homosexual issue seems to get the attention of the media.
These issues have nothing to do with discrimination, but rather teaching the youth to stand strong for their Godly values.
As a private organization, the Scouts has every right to institute and enforce rules and regulations they deem necessary for the fulfillment of its mission and to uphold the standards on which they were found. Both state and federal courts have upheld the Scouts’ right to have these policies in place (including the U.S. Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale).
I am not a lawyer, but I am a Christian, a parent, and a volunteer. So, let me discuss these three areas.
How many of you are familiar with Martin Luther? Not Martin Luther King, but Martin Luther? Luther was a key figure of the Reform Movement in the 16th century (you may know it as the Protestant Reformation). During this time, the Catholic Church had a policy that stated if you sinned, you could give money to the Catholic Church and then you could have your sins forgiven. The payment of money was called indulgences. Luther put out a detailed argument against indulgences and was promptly excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
His refusal to retract his writings, called the Ninety-Five Theses in 1517, led to his excommunication. He nailed them on the wall at the Diet of Worms in Germany. Luther’s refusal was a direct slap at Pope Leo X and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
Luther taught that salvation was not earned by good deeds, but rather received only as a free gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. So, he was called before the Diet of Worms (basically a court) and given the chance to recant. His response was, “I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.”
I cannot and will not apologize for my Christian belief that homosexuality is wrong. I cannot and will not apologize for supporting the position of the Scouts to continue their policy of not allowing homosexuals, atheists, or agnostics to become members or leaders. I cannot and will not “evolve” on issues of morality and values. These are the building blocks of the Scouts.
As a parent, morals and values positions your child to be a productive member of society. Parents have to lay down certain boundaries to show a child that there is right and wrong, black and white, up and down. You don’t give children choices, you give them direction. Because the Scouts espouse morals and values consistent with mine, many years ago I decided to become a volunteer (Central Region President). I have given of my time and of my money because I truly believe in the mission of the Scouts.
This is why I have taken such a public stand against the proposed changes to our mission. Those who feel we are stuck in time are free to create their own organization—with morals and values consistent with their beliefs. But, please do not attempt to force those of us who want to remain true to the Scouts’ original values to give in to outside pressures—because I won’t and we won’t.
My belief in God and the Scouts’ standing up for Christian principles are not subject to the latest polls, fads, or political whims.
Why should we of faith have to renounce our beliefs in order to make others feel good? We are not anti-anything, and we will not make apologies for what we believe. We adults must not lose focus of our mission—to instill morals and values in our kids.
Those who would seek to change our mission should remember that this battle is not about ideology, but about choices. People choose to join the Scouts with the full knowledge of what our values are. Changing our morals and values is tantamount to creating a new organization. That is not what I signed up for.
We welcome everyone who believes in our mission and accepts that we are a faith-based organization. By joining the Scouts, you acknowledge that you are in agreement with our founding principles. Therefore, there is no need to alter our founding principles for anyone.
Dave Steward, Central Region President for the Boy Scouts of America, is chairman and founder of World Wide Technology (WWT), a market-leading systems integrator and supply chain solutions provider that is the largest Black-owned business in the U.S., with revenues in excess of $5 billion annually.
- Created on 22 May 2013
I was flipping through the TV channels last week and came across one of Spike Lee’s best movies, "School Daze." This was a 1988 film written and directed by Lee. The movie took an inside look at some of the internal issues that go on within the Black community—issues like dark skinned Blacks versus light skinned Blacks; Blacks that have “good” hair versus Blacks with “nappy” hair; Blacks from wealthy families versus Blacks from poor families. The movie was funny and serious at the same time. I always say that comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.
The movie’s setting takes place on the fictional Black college campus of Mission College. Lee’s concept for the movie was based on his experiences he had as a student at Morehouse College, as well as his interactions with students from Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University. Spelman and Morehouse are predominately occupied by children of the Black elite. They are all located in Atlanta.
The movie received critical acclaim and was a financial success. But it created a firestorm because the elite Blacks did not take well to criticism of their disdain of Blacks who were not part of their clique—just ask Bill Cosby.
Though the school in the movie was named Mission College, it was actually shot on the campuses of Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta. But, because of the movie’s portrayal of the Black bourgeoisie, Lee was forced to stop filming on those campuses and was barred from being invited to speak on their campuses after the movie was released. He was forced to complete his filming at nearby Morris Brown College, a lesser known Black college that was not known to have many people from wealthy backgrounds.
Not much has changed in the 25 years since the release of "School Daze." As a matter of fact, one could argue that this schism within the Black community has gotten worse.
This view is personified in the person of President Barak Obama. He is light skinned, has no connection with the Black community, Ivy League educated, and seems very uncomfortable around Blacks who are not part of the bourgeoisie.
He is more comfortable talking about Newtown than he is Chi-town (Chicago). He hangs with the likes of Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, and Hill Harper to give him “street cred.”
Yet, he ignores the very issues that gave birth to the Hip-Hop nation—police brutality, Black on Black crime, teenage pregnancy, the glorification of the drug culture, etc.
The Blacks that have regular access to this White House rarely, if ever, lift their voices to address some of the needs and concerns of those who can’t afford to raise thousands of dollars for the president.
These Blacks have not once criticized the Obama administration’s lack of action in regards to the issues of particular concern to the Black community. Oh, I forgot, they don’t want to jeopardize their invitations to the White House’s Christmas party.
These Blacks rationalize that Obama can’t afford to be seen doing anything specifically for Blacks for fear that Obama will be called a Black president. Well, I thought he was the first Black president?
So, let me make sure I understand this; it’s ok to do specific things for the Black bourgeoisie—private invitations to the White House, rides on Air Force One, private movie screenings at the White House, but he can’t do things specifically to address the high unemployment rate in the Black community?
Lee’s movie has quite an emotional, but yet powerful ending. Laurence Fishburne, one of the main actors in the movie, awakens from his sleep (along with the rest of the cast) and meets in the middle of the campus with his pajamas on. Then he screams several times at the top of his voice, “W-A-K-E UP.”
Unfortunately, under Obama, the Black bourgeoisie have yet to wake up.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at raynard1223.
- Created on 21 May 2013
It’s no coincidence that in the next few weeks the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on a challenge to affirmative action in higher education and also a challenge to the most important provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Historically speaking, such challenges are what’s to be expected when Black Americans prove they are more than fit for American citizenship.
For nearly half a century substantial numbers of Black students at and Black graduates of elite White colleges – such as Barack and Michelle Obama – have proven they match their White counterparts in intelligence, ambition, and determination to contribute to the nation. But, still, the anti-affirmative action propaganda is saturated with thinly-disguised assertions of Black inferiority.
And for nearly half a century, Blacks of voting age have shown an expert understanding of how to play the political game and a profound faith in it. They have not indulged in loony conspiracy theories about the presidents whose policies they oppose, nor supported politicians who spout extremist fantasies about the federal government.
Instead, they’ve become a bedrock of the Democratic Party coalition and are increasingly ratcheting up the rate at which they turn out to vote. But this commitment to the American political tradition has provoked conservatives to increasingly tawdry neo-Jim Crow schemes in the political arena and continual challenges in the courts in order to limit blacks’ access to the ballot box.
The part of the Act under challenge is its Section 5, which requires certain jurisdictions to get permission from the Justice Department or a special federal court before changing voting procedures. Congress re-authorized this “pre-clearance” provision along with the entire act in 2006 after extensive testimony showed many of the jurisdictions were still using such tactics as denying petitions for early voting, or reducing the hours for early voting, or moving polling stations to locations likely to reduce the Black turnout.
The challenges to both affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act contend they discriminate against Whites. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia bluntly previewed his opinion during the Court’s oral arguments over the latter when he characterized the part of the Act under challenge as “the perpetuation of a racial entitlement” that victimizes Whites.
What both Supreme Court challenges – and Justice Scalia’s remark – in their negative way affirm is the fundamental importance of both the policy of affirmative action and the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act.
They protect Black Americans’ right to compete.
Depriving Black Americans of that right was the major purpose of the Supreme Court’s 1896 decision in Plessy v Ferguson. That ruling stamped the court’s imprimatur on the burgeoning laws and customs stripping Blacks – 90 percent of whom then lived in the South – in ways large and small of their status as American citizens. It directly concerned segregation on public transportation in New Orleans. However, its most powerful impact was to validate depriving Blacks of their access to education and the right to vote.
But there are two things about the Plessy decision even more important than realizing what it did.
One is understanding that the ruling came when American society was in turmoil from the wrenching demands of industrial capitalism and a floodtide of immigration from southern and Eastern Europe of White peoples whom most native-born White Americans considered a lower species of human being.
The second is understanding that Plessy’s reasoning was built on pretense – the pretense of the doctrine of “separate but equal.”
Its main points were: That separation of the races was the “natural order” of human relations. That Blacks and Whites could prosper under it because Whites, who had used violence to prevent Blacks from voting and seize control of the Southern state governments, would provide Blacks an equitable share of the governmental resources they gave to Whites. And that it was only the rogue Southern Blacks and Black and White “outside agitators” who were unhappy with segregation.
Of course, this was nonsensical thinking. But Plessy took hold among Northern as well as Southern Whites because it was rooted in a vicious anti-Black bigotry – and a fear of competition from Blacks, who had in the decades since the Civil War shown how capable they were of contending for the resources of the society.
To return to the present, a combination of bigotry and pretense and fear of competition is what animates the challenges to both affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act. Both challenges are rooted in the 19th- and 20th-centuries racist pathology that, as far as Blacks and Whites are concerned, the “rights” of American citizenship and the resources of American society are a zero-sum game: any exercise by Blacks of their rights as Americans is a threat to the rights – and the privileges which have masqueraded as rights – whites have always enjoyed.
Will the U.S. Supreme Court affirm once again how backward a notion that is?
Lee A. Daniels is a columnist for the National Newspaper Publishers Association. His most recent book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America.
- Created on 21 May 2013
As Memorial Day approaches, I can’t help but think about Miami’s unofficial Urban Beach Week. It’s the largest urban festival in the world, drawing about 350,000 guests to South Beach. Of the 14 years of its existence, I have patronized Collins Avenue, Washington Ave, and Ocean Drive enough to say, “What happens in Miami, stays in Miami!”
Since I have grown older, I have come to realize that we spend entirely too much money with a city that despises the ground we walk on. And that’s not the only example. Remember Freak Nik in Atlanta, the Greekfest in Philadelphia, Black Family Reunion in Daytona Beach, Jones Beach in New York and Virginia Beach Labor Day Weekend? Most of these events have been canceled because the local residents in each town voted against hosting our events. Should we be outraged that people don’t want to see a gigantic Hip Hop video played out in their streets, hotels, restaurants and clubs?
I’ve always believed that these massive gatherings are extensions of the civil rights movement. The need for us to get together is evident in our Sunday mornings, Saturday evenings, family reunions, historical meetings and marches. But if there is no agenda when we get together, what’s the point?
Approximately 350,000 people of Hip Hop make an annual pilgrimage to South Beach and no progress is made. This, too, is a Hip Hop Dilemma. A young man interviewed on South Beach Memorial Day Weekend 2005 stated that he spent approximately $1,500 for his outfits, $1,500 on travel, rental car and hotel, and another $2,000 for food, partying and activities. You don’t need a calculator to figure that’s $5,000. When asked where he got the money, the young man said he saved up all year to ball out for the weekend. He’ll return home and start the process over again. For what?
Factoring in clothes, accessories, hair, nails, cars, flights, food, clubs, drugs and tricking, I estimate that we spend $350-$500 million on this weekend alone. With the annual median income of Black households at $32,068 and 13 percent of Blacks unemployed, can we afford to give away any money with no return on our investment?
We can’t even get courtesy in return. After $400-1,000 a night for a hotel room, we’re told we can have guests. When you can afford to pay that price, obviously you are not a child. Nothing is done to eliminate the predictable traffic maze. All public parking is eliminated, forcing us to pay $50-$100 or risk having our cars towed. Either way, they pocket the extra money. Foot costs are inflated by at least 30 percent, with “gratuities” automatically added on to tables of two or more.
If I pay $5,000 for a trip and I don’t get to my destination because I am being harassed by cops, I am not going to be a happy camper. I’ve watched the cops on South Beach purposely heckle party goers who were so drunk that they were bound to be jailed
We need to sue the city of Miami for violating our civil rights this weekend, but the problem, my friends, is our behavior detracts from making our case. We view shootings and killings as a daily occurrence back home, but people from Miami frown on such occurrences.
They will take the appropriate measures to protect their kids, their families and their environment even if that means treating us as second-class citizens. They want us to know that they don’t welcome us. Honestly, can you blame them? They can’t understand why our women are walking around virtually naked and craving the attention of men who refuse to pull their pants up and are quick to yell obscenities and make obscene gestures. People admire us for our power and our abilities, but hate us for our ignorance and stupidity. The city of Miami’s response to this weekend is representative of the entire country’s disdain for the Hip Hop Community.
Part of the Hip Hop fantasy is to live a lavish lifestyle, carefree and confident, but at what and at whom’s expense? Unfortunately, our own. We can’t keep acting like its OK to take our money, put us in jail, and send us home with a new bill or a new charge. Everybody is in on the take, but us. This is becoming the new normal. We are fooling ourselves if we say our behavior is up to par with the rest of society. And we are also not being true to ourselves if we think our money is not as good as anybody else's. We have rights, but we have to be awake to exercise them. I am a Citizen of Hip Hop, respect me as such – as I begin to respect myself.
- Created on 21 May 2013
It will strike many of you as counter-intuitive, but there has been a rising phenomenon of unemployed workers suffering discrimination when they have sought work because…they have been unemployed. This is not an exaggeration. In fact, the situation is so serious that the City Council of New York passed an order prohibiting discrimination against the unemployed, an order that was vetoed by the mayor, but was then overridden by the Council.
Since the beginning of the Great Recession, the problem of discrimination against the unemployed has been gaining attention. It was so odd that few people actually took it seriously. After all, an unemployed person looking for work is what one would expect, right?
What has happened is something that is quite common within our economic system–capitalism. When there is an economic downturn, the labor market gets flooded with people who are looking for work. In that situation, employers often have the upper hand and start to cherry-pick from that available pool of workers. Instead of treating someone who has been out of work for a long time but has been seeking work as a committed and diligent worker, many employers treat them with suspicion, acting as if there was something wrong with the worker that kept them out of work. Instead of appreciating that there have been and are millions of workers who have been displaced, either due to temporary downturns or, as has been the case with many Black workers, as a result of structural changes in the economy, too many employers are prepared to write off the long-term unemployed as nonredeemable.
Most employers will not acknowledge that they are biased against the long-term unemployed when they deny someone a job. Instead, the job-seeker may not get an interview or may be politely dismissed. If you add onto that other factors, such as age, race, and gender, a long-term unemployed person can find themselves moved into the category of the permanently unemployed, with little chance of getting work.
Younger workers face the challenge of discrimination for being unemployed, but it plays itself out differently. A younger worker who has been the victim of long-term unemployment is frequently viewed as not serious and not willing to make sacrifices. I had a discussion with a wealthy businessman some time ago who was bemoaning what he saw as too many younger workers taking advantage of unemployment insurance in order to avoid starting at the bottom and working their way up. This sort of prejudice appears to be very common among many employers.
New York City took the right step in banning discrimination against the unemployed. Hopefully, other jurisdictions will do likewise. But at the end of the day, government intervention in another way will be essential. We not only need laws prohibiting discrimination against the unemployed; we need jobs for the unemployed. Government should be committed to both steps.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the author of “They’re Bankrupting Us” – And Twenty Other Myths about Unions. Follow him at www.billfletcherjr.com.