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Sunday, October 26

Thoughts on the status of the black male

The following posting was based on the article "The black man... an endangered species" by Tiffany Chiles, published in DONDIVA, 2008.

There are so many areas that we, the black men are referred to as “unknown.” Society has been discounting the black man for hundreds of years and he has literally become unknown. We’ve lost a generation of black males to the streets, gangs, drugs, unemployment, violence, crime and broken homes. The question that we need to ask ourselves is will we allow the next generation to be lost or taken from us as well.

A quarter of black Americans live below the federal poverty level, a rate about twice the national rate. More than a third of all black children live in poverty, and almost two thirds grow up in homes without both parents. In some cities, more than half of all black boys do not finish high school, and by the time they are in their 30’s almost 6 in10 black high school drop outs will have spent time in prison. Half of all black men in their 20’s are jobless. The typical black household earns only about 60% of the earning of white households and has a net worth only about 10% of that of whites. The HIV/AIDS rate is highest for black Americans and blacks are more often the victims of inadequate healthcare. In 2008 the government has been enforcing drug laws that put young poor black men and women at a higher risk of incarceration. Two generations ago, you could go through a phase, get in trouble with the law, get involved with drugs for a minute, hustle a little dope until something happened to scare you straight. Today, you no longer have the opportunity to learn from your mistakes or be scared straight. Due to harsh Federal and State drug laws you mess up the first time and it could men a lengthy prison sentence. And that one prison sentence could affect the rest of your life and the rest of your family. You are the unknown. You can’t vote, you can’t get a job, you can’t get a grant or financial aid for school, you can’t live in public housing (not even with your momma), and you can’t get health care. You can’t support yourself or your family. The only thing you can do is exactly what the system knows you will do, commit more crimes to survive. This is why the recidivism rate amongst blacks is so high. For first time offenders, the rate of re-incarceration can be as high as 15%, for individuals with prior criminal history it can be almost 40%. These individuals don’t want to commit any crimes and be at risk of going back to jail but they feel they have no choice, it’s do what you do best or starve. The choice thereafter becomes instinctive. They are trying to survive in a society that wants to keep them unknown.

While we do believe that people in prison are a danger in society, there is something gravely wrong when there is a 2.2 million people in jail and almost 1 million of them are black, when the fact is that black people make up only 13 percent of societies makeup on a whole. If you as a parent have been incarcerated, your children are 6 times more likely to go to jail because you did. Most minorities know someone who knows someone that is in jail, that’s been to jail, or that’s been to jail themselves. Conversations about inmates in prison seem normal to us. Prison in the black community has lost its negative stigma. In 2007 the Bureau of Justice reported that the leading cause of death among black males ages 16 to 34 was black on black homicide. Today’s youth are disrespectful and wreckless as many participate in criminal activities for some feeling of acceptance and family. It is probable that their fathers aren’t in the home because he has either purposely disappeared, been violently killed or incarcerated. In 2008 it’s a sad truth but one in three is likely.

The black man is disappearing from existence in record numbers. They are being lost to poverty, HIV, violence, death, and incarceration. We cannot continue to treat these problems like many of us do our personal problems- we ignore them. We have already lost our fathers, brothers and men, we don’t want our children to be lost as well.

How do you perceive the black man of today? What can be done to bridge the gap between the races?

Sunday, October 19

Cutting funds from FARC budget

(Note: Child in this article is a term meaning to range from kids to adults)

In 2007 state legislators voted to slice millions of dollars from FARC’s (Florida Association for Retarded Citizens) budget. The money that was given to FARC was distributed to families that had children with disabilities. The legislators devised a plan to divide the 31,000 people that are registered in FARC’s homes and community care programs into 4 groups (or tiers) and cap the amount of money that is given to them. The group that they are placed into is depending on the level of need they have and their previous payment records. As it stands right now the tiers are as follow. Tier 1: with no benefit limit has 3,261 people; tier 2: with a cap of $55,000 limit has 4,643 people; tier 3: with a cap of $35,000 has 7,053 people; and finally tier 4: with a cap of $35,000 has 14,460 people.

Before legislators decided to place them into groups, payments to families were based on what each mentally disabled child needed, as determined by medical assessments; there was no cap on the amount that was given to the families, it was all dependent on the child’s needs. Under the new system, only those with serious disabilities will continue to receive unlimited benefits. The others will be limited to between $15,000 and $55,000 per year. It depends on which group the child is put in.

One example of this is that according to the Tampa Tribune’s article on October 2, 2008, a family was receiving $60,000 a year to pay for services, medical, and other necessities that their daughter needed. However due to the new system, the amount of financial help that they were receiving is being cut in half.

Many parents can no longer support their child with disabilities. The article states that if a parent feels that they can no longer take care of their child then they can ask the state to put them in a group home. But when the state does that the taxpayers ultimately pay more. At home they were learning to live on their own through a program called “One step closer to Independence.” Through this program they were learning to do things on their own. Examples would be cooking, cleaning, and other necessities. One of the other programs that they can do is a day program through PARC (Pinellas association for retarded people) which shows people with mental disabilities how to work. They do jobs like putting together small boxes for medical companies. As a result of this program less money is needed to take care of them in the long run because they learn how to work and thrive on their own. This program is a tremendous success, however when they are placed in these group homes, the program is terminated for them and they become reliant on the people around them.

What are your thought on cutting funds from the Florida Association for Retarded Citizens budget?

Sunday, October 12


Reparations, or compensation in different forms, mainly monetarily, are often used in our society to appease a certain entity. Whether it be one nation to another such as Germany to the Allies after World War I, forcing them to pay a total of 132 billion marks in war reparations or The Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany, forcing Germany to pay out a total of three billion marks to Israel over 14 years. Or even one nation to an individual or group of people such as Germany and German corporations being made responsible for paying out reparations to Jewish individuals in other countries via certain programs, which some sources say will have reached roughly 50 billion dollars by the year 2020. In 1988 the U.S. government approved the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which provided reparations to Japanese-Americans held in interment camps during World War II of which totaled $1.6 billion, roughly 20,000 per person. Reparations date as far back as Rome, and remain a popular trend of compensation for many. 

In Christopher Phillips Six Questions of Socrates he delves into the subject of reparations on a more present event. The September 11th attacks and the way the donation funds were divvied up to the families of the survivors. One of the participants in his dialogue goes on to say 

       “It said that they’re calculating who gets how much based on how much their future earnings would have been. That means the family of a man or woman who died, and who’d been making lots of money, is going to get a lot more from the funds than families of poor people who were victims.” 

Phillips further points out that The New Yorker reported “High end families-those who stand to get the most from the fund-were particularly ‘infuriated’ by the formula, because it limits how much they could get from the fund.” At what point did these families have the right to complain about the donations they were receiving? Did they have the right at all?

            Descendents of slaves have also been asking for reparations for some time to compensate for the free and forced labor during those times, in which many argue has helped make America what it is today. A powerful argument indeed, and a just one at that. Should this generation be forced to pay for another’s mistakes? Especially seeing how far society has come since those times?

            Does war reparations imposed on countries hurt them in the long run? Take Iraq for example, after 1991 a total of $53 billion in war reparations was to be paid out to various countries and individuals. The website, brings up an interesting point, “The war reparations being paid are for damage inflicted by Suddam Hussein’s regime, which no longer exists.” Which will ultimately “prevent the Iraqi people from rebuilding their country,” and ultimately increasing (as we have witnessed) the presence of coalition forces and entities in helping to rebuild Iraq. At what point should a simple forgiveness be issued in order to give a nation the chance to right its wrongs and rebuild?

How do you feel about reparations? Should Germany or other countries/organizations continue to pay out these reparations? Should people be given money or other forms of reparation?




Saturday, October 4

Legalization of Marijuana

Next month the state of Michigan is going to vote on a proposal to allow doctors to recommend marijuana for patients with cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS and other conditions. Such patients would register with the state and then will be able to legally buy, grow and use small amounts of marijuana to relieve pain, nausea, appetite loss and other symptoms. Although polls show a 67% approval rate for the proposal, the measure is opposed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, and Attorney General Mike Cox, a Republican.

Michigan is not the first state to opt for legalization. In 1996 California and Arizona approved using marijuana for medical purposes as well while the court system had to deal with the reactions to the measure. Californian law allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana for almost any pain or ailment while it also legalized its cultivation, not just the possession. However, after the measure passed, America's “drug czar” of the time, retired four-star general Barry McCaffrey, warned physicians not to violate federal law by prescribing marijuana. His warning was rejected by a group of California physicians who filed suit claiming that their rights to advise their patients were being violated. In the case of Arizona, voters even approved of the medical use of heroin and LSD. The unprecedented referendum results fuelled a debate over who should be controlling our drug laws. The federal government or the state voters?

The legalization of marijuana raises other broad questions for both supporters and opponents. Will legalization for medical use undermine the seemingly endless federal war on drugs by cultivating greater tolerance of marijuana and other drugs? Could it be the back door to an all-out legalization of marijuana and probably other drugs as well? Finally, some doctors wonder “Is it really good medicine?”

The issue became a complicated one in various states that had adopted the measure. In Massachusetts, the Department of Public Health issued new rules allowing people with doctor-certified conditions to avoid state prosecution. Similar steps were taken in other states that had legalized marijuana use, such as Louisiana, Virginia and Ohio. At the same time a new debate sprang across the country, focusing on our policy regarding drug use with many supporting legalization for any use, many opposing it, and others wondering as to the criteria that dictated legalization of alcohol and nicotine on one hand, and criminalization of marijuana and other narcotics on the other. If you click on this NYT article you will see the addictiveness ratings of nicotine, heroin,cocaine, alcohol, caffeine and marijuana.

Who do you think should control the drug laws? The federal government or the state voters?
How do you feel towards legalizing cannabis for medical or recreational use?