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After ‘March’, Feeling Hopeful About the ‘Dream’

By Dr. Barbara Reynolds

(TriceEdney) - Obama’s speech was not just a wander down memory lane. He reiterated his resolve to fight the forces that have kept black unemployment often twice that of whites, failing schools and urged people not to make “poverty as an excuse for not raising your children.”

Symbolism aside, however, there were some such as DC delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton who said Obama should have used the moment to talk tough to a recalcitrant Congress which has consistently blocked his measures to uplift the poor and the middle-class. Some were disappointed that he did not restate the pledge of Atty. General Eric Holder to probe how the Justice Department can impact the unfair outcome of George Zimmerman walking free after killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. And while he spoke against the legislative moves to block voting rights, he did not address voting rights for the district.

There were hundreds of other causes and concerns he could have addressed, but he did outline a powerful prescription for change. It goes far beyond the superman syndrome of one man. It called for collective struggle of committed activism.

“The good news is, just as was true in 1963, we now have a choice. We can continue down our current path, in which the gears of this great democracy grind to a halt and our children accept a life of lower expectations; where politics is a zero-sum game where a few do very well while struggling families of every race fight over a shrinking economic pie -- that’s one path. Or we can have the courage to change.”

President Obama reminded the crowds that change rarely comes from Washington but from the bottom up. In other words, he threw the gauntlet down, not just to Congress, or racist extremists, or budget cutters, but to those still waiting for their turn, their change. The answer is not one Superman, but super-people fired up with the courage to change.

President Clinton uttered a similar message:” Martin Luther King did not live and die to hear us complain," said Clinton. "It is time to stop complaining and put our shoulders against the stubborn gates holding the American people back.”

As the close of the ceremonies, the five-year-old daughter of Martin III, Yolanda, (named after Dr. King’s oldest child who died in 2007 at the age of 51) rang the bell that once hung at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, where a firebomb took the lives of four little girls less than a month after the March. Her grandfather ended his 1963 speech with a prophetic vision that one day instead of violence freedom would ring across the nation.

If freedom continues to ring and reign, if this generation follows the president’s prescription for change, one day even a woman who looks something like Dr. King’s adult granddaughter will be standing at that sacred spot as president addressing the nation.

Don't Let Aurora Tragedy Cause Cinemaphobia
By Barbara Reynolds

( - Despite reports of copy-cat threats, my suspicions that there is something inherently evil about the last Dark Knight trilogy and despite a you-tube public service announcement on how to zig-zag out an exit if shooting begins, I am going to be the hero of my own drama. I am going to drag myself into the movie to see the latest Batman trilogy with the expectation that I can emerge alive.
I am going to fight the villain in my own mind that warns if I enter a darkened theatre to see Batman, I just might end up a casualty in a real-life scene of a crazed shooter like James Holman, the alleged killer who announced he was the “Joker’’ before gunning down 12 people in a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo.

I am going to fight the feeling that the creepy movie itself is cursed, a state which hopefully is not transferable. Heath Ledger, who played the role of the psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic Joker in 1989, died of prescription drug overdose before the debut of the film. Morgan Freeman, who played Lucius Fox in the film, was seriously injured in a car accident in Mississippi in August 2008. His co-star, and the star of the franchise, Christian Bale, hit the headlines in July 2008 when he was arrested for allegedly assaulting his mother and sister shortly before the London's premiere. Several other stunt persons were injured.
Born To Be Wild (Morgan Narrates)
Born To Be Wild
For anyone who has ever suffered from phobias (irrational fears that feel real) panic attacks of doom dread of death or nightmares from over-identifying with victims of horrific crimes, you know we have to beat down every menacing scary thought before it becomes a full-fledged horror that can take over our lives and push us away from friends, familiar places and the ordinary pleasures of life.
In years past, movie themes like The Birds, a 1963 suspense/horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock where flocks of violent birds attacked a town and a murderous shower scene in Psycho, left some of us still queasy about feathered creatures  flying overhead and still keeping a watchful eye for intruders while showering. If those scenes can produce such phobias, imagine what the mind can conjure up when murderer leaps from the screen into the movie seats.
In fact, phobias which are irrational fears that prevent people from carrying on ordinary activities can result from something far less cataclysmic than a massacre of innocents attending a movie.
I suffer from gephydrophobia, a fear of bridges, for example. The cement paved Wilson Bridge is a breeze, but the tall 4.3 mile Bay Bridge, one of the world’s largest when it opened, exposes drivers to a watery abyss that is so terrorizing that scores of people like me pay drivers to take us across.
This fear of bridges all started because of a joke. In 1983 I was driving across it and my friend joked that she thought I was going to drive off the bridge like news reporter Jessica Savitch. When I heard that, I looked at the water and my heart pounded, my knees shook and my foot froze on the accelerator.  I had virtually an overwhelming desire to get out the car and start running. Someone else had to take the wheel and drive me across. To this day, I still can’t drive across it and a recent accident where a driver did drive off the bridge only confirmed my worst fears.
There are about 520 types of phobia. At least 20 million people have them. There  are football players who are petrified at the sight of a little mouse, office workers who would rather walk up 20 flights of steps than ride an elevator, people who won’t  touch others for fear of germs and people who the very thought of leaving their house induces shaking and overwhelming anxiety.
We must not allow enough craziness to creep into our minds where an alleged gunman like Forman can imbed another phobia in our mental lexicon, such as the irrational fear of movie-going, a source of positive escapism and family entertainment. Psychiatrist Dr. Jan Hutchinson says, “It is natural to feel some anxiety or nervousness about attending a movie after such a disastrous event like Aurora but to vow never to attend a movie because of one event is irrational, what we call a phobia. And the only way to rid yourself of a phobia is to do whatever you are afraid of. Ninety nine percent of the time you will be fine.”
So, according to Hutchinson in the last 29 years I could have rid myself of bridge fear simply by driving across it, which in my mind still means driving off of it. Too late for that. What I can do now is aggressively resist this creeping anxiety each time I think about the massacre in the Aurora theatre, which, if prolonged could turn into full-blast cinemaphobia. Dark Knight is a must-see for me; only because what it means not to see it.

Creflo Dollar Case: Could a Smack Down Now Prevent a Beat Down Later? by Barbara Reynolds

( - If only I could load up a bunch of bad kids across the nation and bus them to Pastor Creflo Dollar’s church in Atlanta for a good old fashioned smack down, I would certainly do it.

From his pulpit Sunday shortly after being arrested and jailed for allegedly beating his 15-year-old daughter, the mega-church pastor denied intentionally hurting her adding: “I should have never been arrested.”

Dollar was arrested after his 15-year-old daughter called 911 at about 1 a.m. last Friday and told a Fayette County sheriff’s deputy that she and her father argued when he said she couldn’t go to a party. A police report says the girl told a deputy her father charged at her, put his hands around her throat, began to punch her and started hitting her with his shoe. The deputy noted a scratch on her neck.

Let’s just say that the truth lies somewhere between the police report and the pastor’s view of what happened and that he smacked or spanked or jerked his daughter around to keep her from what could have been a bigger threat. If all that happened was a smack-down, I unashamedly agree he should not have been arrested.

I have attended his church in Atlanta, watched his TV broadcast daily and as a fan I did not like his being arrested and paraded in the media in an orange prison jump suit on misdemeanor charges stemming from disciplining his daughter.

When you think of all the trouble that can happen to a young girl out after midnight, the pastor should be applauded for trying to stop her from defying his rules instead of being treated like a criminal. What if his daughter had wound up in trouble? Can’t you see the headlines this father’s day blasting Dollar, the father of five children, as an unfit dad as a moral leader with millions of followers who can’t keep his own daughter in check.

Too many kids these days do not respect nor fear us as parents. Situations like the arrest of Dollar only reinforce beliefs among the young that parents will be punished for disciplining them much harsher than they ever will be for misbehaving.

I’m not saying all kids deserve a smack down, but it shouldn’t be ruled out either as a last resort. Some parents can enforce order simply by taking away privileges, such as denying trips to the movies, locking up their X-Boxes or snatching their ubiquitous cell phones. That might not work, however, for the hardcore knuckleheads, who curse their parents, hang-out in the streets late at night and walk around disgustingly with their pants hanging down showing their underwear or the girls wearing tattoos on low hanging breasts. Smack-downs at home might prevent them from getting in the kind of trouble that would warrant more serious beat downs from police or prison guards later on.

Parents need to establish more spiritual and moral authority in our homes just as I believe Pastor Dollar was trying to do. Up to seventy percent of African-American homes are headed by women. It is tough trying to be both nurturer and disciplinarian. We need more men in the home not only to love our children but also to help us discipline them, especially the disorderly males, who often get away with too much because of how many women raise our daughters to be responsible but pamper and over-indulge our sons.

As a single mother who reared a son, I tried everything to keep him in check, ranging from praying, switching, paddling, spanking and threats. When that didn’t work I sent him to boarding school until he decided to comply with my rules. Now a college graduate with a career in law enforcement I think I found the proper balance.

One of the best ways to control our bad kids is to scare them half to death. If your child is convinced you are capable of being a serial killer or your former job was torturing prisoners at Guantanamo, they are more likely to obey. While the love of my grandmother who reared me, inspired me, her hard knocks kept me in line. On Sundays at church she was a proper lady wearing white gloves and a nice hat, but at home my antics could turn her into a domestic terrorist.

I attended Catholic school. It was not unusual for the nuns to throw us over a desk and beat us with a belt if we did not complete our homework or whack our knuckles if our assignments were late. Later in life I found that fear factor worked for my advantage. To this day I have a built-in reluctance to miss deadlines or procrastinate.

My parenting advice, however, is hotly refuted by some doctors, such as board-certified pediatrician and psychiatrist, Dr. Jan Hutchinson. “According to the American Society of Pediatricians it is never OK to strike your child. The only modification I would add is it could be acceptable in self-defense, if a life is being threatened. But this is rare and unusual.”

Referring to a major study of 2,500 mothers by Tulane University in April, Hutchinson said, “Not only is spanking children of limited effect, it has long-term negatives. The study showed that children who are spanked twice monthly at age 3 are twice as likely to become destructive, aggressive and mean -spirited by the time they are five. There is a great correlation between hitting a child and increasing aggression. It is important that children are disciplined, but it should be done in the framework of love and support and not harshness and cruelty.”

To spank or not to spank if that is the question, it looks like Pastor Dollar chose the smack down. If that act has taught his daughter a valuable lesson about honoring her father, who apparently has provided and cared for her all her life, perhaps jail was not too hard a price to pay.

To Stop Drug Deaths: 'Stop Scooping Things Under the Rug'
By Dr. Barbara A. Reynolds  

( March 4, 2012 - As expected no mention of drugs were voiced during the tearful home going service for America’s diva Whitney Houston. Preachers, movies stars, musicians talked of her fame, her triumph, but they all kept respectfully silent about the illicit or legal drugs that probably killed her. She was only 48.

Like many others, I cried as I watched the spirited home-going service. I cried for Whitney. I cried for daughter Bobbi Kristina. I cried for mother Cissy Houston.Then I cried for myself.
For many years I had been addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs—the kind of toxic cocktail that reportedly caused Houston’s untimely death. If it were not for divine intervention I would have met the same fate.

Fortunately, since the 1980s I have been a member of Greater Mt. Calvary Holy Church in the district, where Bishop Alfred Owens not only preaches deliverance but also instituted a faith-based program--CATADA HOUSE-- to aid those addicted to drugs and alcohol. After my own deliverance, I now serve as director of the Harriets’ Anti-Drug ministry there which for 15 years has helped scores of addicts break free.

In the 1980’s and even today there is a terrible stigma to admitting that like everywhere else, even in most churches behind the Sunday best faces, some of the so-called righteous are struggling with the disease of addiction. Silence and shame cloud the chronic drug problem in America, where it is reported that more than 22 million are dependent on alcohol and drugs and drug overdoses claim a life every 14 minutes. Continued silence, however, cannot protect us from the scandal of how our drug culture with its baggage of pampered entertainers, glitter and self-indulgence is killing us from the top to the bottom, where people die with only a few remembering their names.
Many of us –the media and fans—are akin to ambulance chasers racing from one celebrity death scene to another, scrutinizing every salacious detail and then rushing onto the next spectacle. When will we stop and examine the reasons for all these red-carpeted deaths and what must be done to stop them?
Many cried over the drug-induced death of Michael Jackson, the demise of Mega-church pastor Zachery Tims, who was found dead in a Florida hotel floor with a suspicious substance in his pocket, and the loss of Anne Nicole Smith in another prescription drug-related death. Rumors are now sweeping the Internet that Bobbi Kristina, who has watched both parents struggle with drugs, is said to be using cocaine to cope with her mother’s tragedy.
There are several ways to abate these tragedies. A first step is for the music industry to take ownership of the problem not only in the messages they peddle, but by the cavalier way they enable drug use. Can you imagine what would happen if the industry could find enough non- drug using role models to start an anti-drug drive, especially since entertainers often carry more weight with kids than parents.
“Drugs are everywhere at the Grammy ceremonies whether in hotels or private rooms,” says James Walker, an entertainment attorney, CNN contributor and author of “This Business of Urban Music.” “Drugs are the status quo. Many of those who manage the stars are more enablers than managers. There is virtually no one around to help those struggling with drugs. The drug demons are just awaiting them. The irony of all this is Houston, the star of Bodyguard needed a bodyguard to protect her from herself.”
A culture of indulgence is a major contributor to the drug crisis, says Dr. Stephanie Myers national co-chair of Black Women for Obama for Change, who conducted an informal on-line focus group to discuss Houston’s demise. “We must guide our youth to dream bigger dreams than those benefitting self and to dedicate themselves to moving beyond their fears to leave a legacy for others to follow. We must help educate our youth to have a YES WE CAN attitude that prolongs life because we cannot afford to lose talented individuals like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and many others, to intense stress combined with powerful prescription drugs and/or illegal drugs—it must stop.”

So what must we do to stop the parade of drug-induced deaths?
Education consultant Dr. Eleanor Renee Rodriquez, co-chair, education committee of Black Women for Obama for Change says, “We must stop scooting things under the rug. The culture has to change because drugs have become normal. All the adult stakeholders that impact our youth, from preachers, teachers, parents, have to stop sending mixed messages of saying no to drugs while using them themselves. There must be better education of the dangers of prescription drugs and we must provide more alternatives to building an internal foundation in the lives of children, such as nutrition programs, exercise, art and music.”

I last saw Whitney Houston in person in 2010 when she was honored by BET, where she asked to be judged not by her failures but by her triumphs. I can’t judge her at all, but I only wish her triumphs could have saved her.
Dr. Barbara Reynolds is the author of six books, including Out of Hell and Living Well, Healing from the Inside Out, a spiritual biography which describes her personal battle with addiction and the program she launched to help others. She is an occasional blogger for the ROOT DC.)

J. Edgar Hoover's Other Secret

By Dr. Barbara A. Reynolds

( - Clint Eastwood, in his new movie J. Edgar, artfully surfaced a well- guarded secret that the FBI czar who reigned over the bureau for 47 years was a closeted homosexual.

Nevertheless there is yet another skeleton pounding on the closet to be let out.

Could J. Edgar Hoover, not only have been gay, but also African-American?

In some quarters, this racial rumor has been whispered about as widely as Hoover’s homosexuality. Eastwood’s avoidance of the issue only adds to the intrigue, making it as spicy as the movie storyline that while Hoover was digging up dirt on presidents, spying on and harassing civil rights leaders, he was also cross-dressing and having private slugfests with his lover, Clyde Olson, the number two man, who worked directly under him in the FBI.

“Edgar Hoover was a black man passing for white,” says Millie McGhee, an African-American living in Southern Maryland, who has written two books Secrets Uncovered: J.Edgar Hoover-The Relative and Secrets Uncovered : J. Edgar Hoover Passing For White? “
McGhee said: “In the late 1950s, I was a young girl growing up in rural McComb, Mississippi. A story had been passed down through several generations that the land we lived on was owned by the Hoover family.
My grandfather told me that this powerful man, Edgar, was his second cousin, and was passing for white. If we talked about this, he was so powerful he could have us all killed. I grew up terrified about all this.”

But later as an educator and researcher she unearthed enough information by digging through altered court records, oral interviews with both white and black Hoovers, plus the help of licensed genealogists to substantiate the rumors she had heard as a child that Hoover was a relative. “Because of Edgar’s anti-black history, I am not proud of this lineage but history must be based on truth,” she said.

Author Anthony Summers, in his 1993 book Official and Confidential, said that he found that in some Black communities in the East, it was generally believed Edgar had Black roots and was even referred to as a “soul brother.” Writer Gore Vidal, who grew up in Washington, D.C. in the 1930s also said in an interview: “It was always said in my family and around the city that Hoover was mulatto. And that he came from a family that passed.”

McGhee said: “Since the movie has come out, so many people have asked me why my information about Hoover’s black roots was not included since my research is all over the Internet and I have made a documentary What’s Done In the Dark about our family.”

If only Eastwood had tackled this issue with the same vigor as the sexual theme, it could have garnered insight into Hoover’s well documented and complex obsession with destroying Black leaders. Was this self-hatred or self preservation?

Hoover’s obsession with Black groups dates back to the 1920’s when as head of the precursor to the FBI he targeted Marcus Garvey and his United Negro Improvement Association, which numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Hoover sabotaged the Black Star Line, which was to transport Blacks back to Africa, by throwing foreign matter into the fuel, according to historian Theodore Kornweibel. Garvey was later deported to Jamaica.

Hoover’s true colors showed when in the 1950s he verbally attacked interracial marriage, the NAACP, and other civil rights groups while praising the White Citizens Council. In 1956 Hoover launched the FBI's Cointelpro (Counter-Intelligence Program) where leaders of groups such as the Black Panther Party were gunned down with FBI involvement.

In the movie, a scene showed that shortly before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize, Hoover dictated a letter to King telling him to reject it because “he was not worthy.” That reprimand was based partly on tapes of a sexual liaison King had reported to have had in a hotel room that Hoover had bugged.

Hoover’s desire for Dr. King’s demise continued through illegal break-ins of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that King headed and wiretappings. After King was assassinated in 1968, conspiracy theorists maintained that Hoover was directly involved.

It is said that one of Hoover’s favorite adages was: ‘’We must never forget our history. We must never lower our guard.” If Clint Eastwood had only lowered his guard, he would have allowed an important chunk of history to break through.

(Dr. Barbara Reynolds is an ordained minister, author of six books and lecturer in various seminaries and universities.).

'Fault Line' in History: No Mention of Corretta Scott King at Monument

By Rev. Barbara A. Reynolds

( - Even among the splendor of the day’s festivities, the absence of any words or deeds of Coretta Scott King carved in the stone of the monument honoring her husband left a fault-line in our nation’s history.

The recent dedication of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. monument l offered a splendid tribute crowned by President Barack Obama linking his presidency to the martyred human rights leader. The centerpiece of the monument on the National Mall is a towering 30 foot statue of Dr. King carved out of stone. It is a grandiose salute to a man who without an army, weapons, or a national treasury commanded a war so unlike that of Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln who are enshrined in memorials nearby.

Dr. King commanded a spiritual army that helped liberate the heart and soul of America from its deepest hatred and molded it into a liberation movement for freedom and dignity that continues resounding around the world.

The memorial is spectacularly significant; something for all the world to see for generations to come. This grandier makes the absence of any lasting tribute to Coretta Scott King, the person that did the most to carry forth Dr. King’s legacy, so compelling. I dare say if it were not for this woman by his side, his legacy would never have risen to such heroic proportions today.

Somewhere on that vast four acres there should be a statue, a bust, a plaque or something showing that she was a co-partner in this great freedom movement. (She died on Jan. 30, 2006.) Why not a mention of her on the Monument's wall of great quotes? He once said, “In every campaign, if Coretta was not with me, she was only a heartbeat away.””
In fact, one of Coretta’s most cherished quotes symbolizes what kind of woman she was. Horace Mann, the founder of Antioch College, her alma mater, once said, “If you have not found a cause to die for, you have not found a reason to live.”

That statement was not mere words to her. She lived at a time when she virtually had to have the faith of a prophet and nerves of steel just to live each day. During the 1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott carloads of Ku Klux Klan drove through Black housing sections. The Kings received constant threatening calls. Then on January 30, she was in the house with her infant daughter, Yolanda, when the King’s house was bombed. “We could have been killed, but it was just not our time to die,” she told me. Despite the terrorism and the pleas of her parents to leave Montgomery she stayed with Martin until the 369 day boycott successfully ended.
“During the bus boycott I was tested by fire and I came to understand that I was not a breakable crystal figurine, “she said. “ If I had been fragile and fearful this would have been too much a distraction for Martin. Certainly his concern for my safety and that of the children would have prevented him from staying focus on the movement, but he came to understand he could trust me with trouble .In Montgomery, I was tested and found I became stronger in a crisis.”

In 1968, the testing became heart-breaking. On April 4, Dr. King was gunned down in Memphis while a campaigning for the rights of striking garbage workers. During the national upheaval and riots following the assassination, much of the nation was awed not only by the poise of Coretta King but by her inner strength as she took her slain husband’s place and led the march. “What most did not understand then was that I was not only married to the man I loved but I was also married to the movement that I loved.”

In taped interviews, Mrs. King told me how after her husband’s death her faith gave her the strength to raise her four children and to build a world-class center in Atlanta to continue the non-violent work of Dr. King. This move brought her into a bitter contention with some of Dr. King’s chief aides who had their own agendas for self-promotion and tried unsuccessfully to push Mrs. King out of the way.

In Atlanta, she led a redevelopment effort of deteriorated neighborhoods that helped create the diversity that attracted the 1996 Summer Olympics. The Center, along with the King birth home, the gravesite at the center, where both Kings are entombed brings in thousands of tourists each year and has helped Atlanta become the spiritual Mecca of America, according to Steve Klein, communications director of the Center.

Following the success of raising funds for the center, Mrs. King started lobbying for the King Holiday Bill. While only a sentence or a phrase is ever used to describe this effort it took more than 15 years of hard-core organizing, the drive to collect 6 million signatures and lobbying from state to state, along with civil rights supporters in Congress and in the streets to pass the legislation to make Dr. King’s birthday a national holiday which was signed into law on Nov. 2, 1983..

At the same time, she was working to institutionalize her husband’s legacy Mrs. King also emerged as an incomparable human rights spokeswoman in her own right. “Where ever there was injustice, war, discrimination against women, gays and the disadvantaged, I did my best to show up and exert moral persuasion.”

As I started interviewing Mrs. King in the mid-1970’s, it was clear that she did not see herself as an appendage or a footnote in history. She often emphasized that she was more than a wife during Dr. King’s life and more than a widow after his death. She once told me “My story is a freedom song of struggle. It is about finding one’s purpose, how to overcome fear and to stand up for causes bigger than one’s self.”

Coretta King was the other half of the Martin Luther King persona. They were two souls with one goal of giving their lives to create a Beloved Community where all people would have dignity and justice. Telling one story without the other creates a flaw and imbalance, a scar on history. It would be shameful for this not to be corrected.

Dr. Barbara A. Reynolds, the author of six books, including “Jesse Jackson: America’s David,” is working on a biography of Coretta King. An ordained minister, she was former columnist and editorial board member of USA Today,

Activists Must Turn the Spotlight from Numbers to Hurting People By Dr. Barbara Reynolds

( - When people want a Wyatt Earp to ride into town with guns blazing to defend the townspeople and a horde of Danny Doolittles show up there is sure to be dismay in Dodge City.

Nevertheless, when the smoke clears and the townsfolk finally realize if they organize a tough take no prisoners posse of their own, they can still win the war, then all hope is not lost.

The GOP and their nasty sidekicks, the Tea Party, succeeded in manufacturing a crisis over the federal debt ceiling because they have only one game plan: to destroy President Barack Obama and his base of working class and middle class Americans by any means necessary. If that means shutting down the government, pushing the nation into default, wrecking the economy, the means justify their end.
Their plot required refusing a vote to raise the debt ceiling without forcing a deal from the Democrats to exclude increases in revenues. That position protected the rich, but if left unchallenged would have pushed the country into default, thus creating havoc when certain government checks could not be issued, and interest rates hiked. And all that misery would be blamed on the President in an effort to deny him a second term.

Thankfully, the president has a grander mission than just trying to save his party. His goal was to save the nation. His stated efforts were aimed at ensuring that the fiscal situation would not be balanced on the backs of single mothers working two jobs to support their families, seniors on a fixed income or the poor in need of hospital care. Whether he can accomplish that, the verdict is not in.

The major problem is that in the first phase of the budget fight to cut $917 billion over the next decade not one red cent comes from the millionaires, the billionaires, and the corporate welfare bunch.

This shameful exercise must be axed. Not one red cent should come from those the GOP has labeled expendable or collateral damage without severe retaliation from the streets to the ballot boxes.

A move to stop this mass transfer of wealth can’t be the task of President Obama and elected officials alone. They need a posse of the civil and human rights leaders, pastors, progressives and the all important media to flip the switch. The rest of the year cannot be spent with our noses buried in spreadsheets, numbers and arithmetic. The spotlight must be on people. What does it mean to send children to failing schools in Washington DC, where politicians and civil rights leaders would not dare to send their own children, for veterans to return from Iraq to homeless shelters and for families to cope with losing their homes?

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies recently held a meeting where it was stressed that the median wealth of a white family is now 20 times that of a black family.” Between 2005 and 2009, the median net worth of black families fell to $5,677 compared to $113,149 for white households. “Equally tragic is the median wealth of single black women has dropped to $100 compared to $41,000 for single white women, according to Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeaver, executive director of the National Council of Negro Women.

According to White House backgrounders, the Democrats protected most social and education programs, including Pell grants, funding for black colleges, Social Security and Medicare.

Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett in an interview with Essence Magazine said a trigger has been inserted in the legislative package that specifically protects such programs as Medicaid, food stamps, Social Security, Medicare, the earned income tax credit. “ This part will be in the hands of a 12 person bi-partisan super-committee whose task it is to come up with $1.5 trillion more in cuts from the domestic and the defense side by November 2011. If they do not come up with the cuts then a trigger will be invoked to cut costs across the board.”.‘

“The Bush Tax cuts will also expire at the end of next year, where there will also be savings as well, according to Jarrett. “And the president can veto tax cuts of the very wealthy, those making in excess of $250,000 per year if need be. We are a country that helps the elderly, disabled, poor, disenfranchised, etc.”

Jarrett said, ‘’By specifically having social safety net triggers built into this new legislation we were able to protect the vital services that Black and brown people (as well as all people) depend upon in our nation. In short, the President kept more damage from occurring in these communities by securing the social safety net in this new bill.”

While the White House may have succeeded in doing damage control on behalf of the non-rich this time, but in the next go around the stakes are even higher. Keeping watch over this 12 person committee requires all eyes on deck. If savvy Americans stay on their couches instead of creating a counter movement to the Tea Party, our lack of effort may give us the government we deserve - a catastrophe.

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