Tag Archives: blacks

Will Trayvon Martin’s death be a moment or a movement? Let’s create a community movement!

This weekend, I attended two discussions regarding the Trayvon Martin incident, the problems that African American’s face in our country and how we can overcome them.

[ Yes..this weekend, Black folks were actually meeting. ..everyone was invited though.]

If you have been paying attention, you know that the country, the world, is concerned about Trayvon Martin being shot and killed by a professed neighborhood watch member in Florida.

In reaction, the media and groups across the country have been in discussion about racial profiling, social justice and just how and why in the year 2012 we still have to contend with these issues 40 years after Jim Crow.

One such discussion was held in downtown Oakland, hosted by Top Ten Social, a local organization whose mission “is to push the cultural, artistic and intellectual envelope of Afro-futurist urban expression and create sustainable models through innovative events”..like a Speaker’s Series. On March 31st they dedicated time for the community to come together and to share reflections and strategies on how we should respond to the Trayvon Martin tragedy.

A member of Top Ten Social takes notes on the discussion while a community member speaks.

On Sunday April 1st, I attended a more intimate affair organized by my wonderful friend Tiffany who texted all of her friends asking for discussion and ideas on what we should do. We had a potluck at my church Memorial Tabernacle CHSC ( Christ Holy Sanctified Church) in North Oakland (Easter Services this Sunday at 10:30 am- if you don’t have a church home..:) . This event, though smaller, was a tad bit more structured. Tiffany (who is a master bossy A-type awesome organizer) came with a preset agenda, movie, food and discussion questions.

A Southern Belle - Tiffany. "Isn't she looooovvvelyyyyy???"

At both discussions we all had something to say about the problems. It was, to some, a relief to give voice to fears we have lived with for a long time. What’s obvious is that despite the amount of progress we have made (integration, right to vote, education, etc)..Blacks in America still have a long way to go.

Both discussions also generated a laundry lists of things we can do in reaction from driving down to Florida to petition a state representative, to protests, marches and boycotts, and multi-media campaigns.

I would like to talk about three solutions that came out of the discussions that help to create a community movement, and will make it hard for another Trayvon Martin moment to occur.

Check it out..

Problem: Our children are being maligned, made to believe that they are not good enough and shown that their lives are meaningless.

Solution: We need to love support and cherish our children!

Not just when there is a problem, but constantly. Even before a problem starts. When your baby is born, read to them, nurture them..tell them everyday that they are beautiful, smart and important. If you don’t have children interact with the ones you come across. Ask them how they are doing, smile at them, give them complements. Hug them. If you see a child on the street- don’t look a way and ignore them. Smile and say Hi! Don’t be afraid of them.

Tiffany says: “I ain’t afraid of no child. If they are under 20 years old..I ain’t scared of them. Now if they are over 21 that’s a different story..” *Insert South Carolina cackle*

If we spend more time nurturing our children, our children would love and cherish themselves more. They wouldn’t feel defeated when the world tells them they are nothing…and they would feel like they were capable of accomplishing ANYTHING.

Let’s also stand up for our children by supporting education and community organizations that work specifically with youth.

Oakland: One such group is Young, Gifted and Black. YGB provides cultural support to African American youth by educating them about history through poetry, music, art and movement. Members of YBG performed at the Top Ten Social Discussion and gave a tribute to Trayvon Martin that you can watch below:

Problem: The system seems to be working against us.

Solution: We need to make the system work for us.

I know that there are some cynical Suzie’s out there who feel that “The Man” controls things around here. There is no point in voting when money and greed rules the day. You can’t trust a politician as far as you can throw them..etc, etc.

But we elected Barack Obama! “Well what has he done for me lately?” Folks are unemployed, he’s killing US citizens with unmanned drones, attacking innocent state-supported medical marijuana colleges, AND he wants me to buy insurance? grumble, grumble, doom and gloom.

Some of that is true. But what is also true is that the Justice Department didn’t decide to look into Trayvon Martin’s case until we, the public, raised our voices in complaint. What’s true is that when enough of us are present..and in one accord- we can move mountains.

What’s true is that if you communicate your desires, by voting AND by attending town hall meetings, city council meetings and the like, you can take part in change. Barack Obama is one man. He can’t do this alone and he shouldn’t have to. We should take responsibility and be the change that we want to see!

We tend to react to things instead of being present from the very beginning. We reacted to Troy Davis too late. We are reacting again..to Trayvon Martin’s death, rather than the passage of a law that made his death possible. We should have been there from the beginning, when the law was introduced and shut it down.

The difference between us and “The Man” is that “The Man” participates in the system and makes it work for them from the beginning and doesn’t just ‘give up’ when things don’t seem to go their way. We need to do the same.

Oakland: an opportunity is presenting itself. Wednesday at 6 pm is the Community Police Review Board meeting, at City Hall. On discussion is “100 Block” program and the increase in crime outside of the “100 Blocks”. Gotta concern? You had better be there to make sure your concern is addressed. I can BET “The Man” will be there. We should be there too.

Problem: We don’t have a sense of community.

Solution: Get to know, love, respect and protect thy neighbor and thy hood.

Do you know your neighbor? Do you know their name? Would you go next door to borrow a cup of sugar? If you get locked out of your home, could you go to your neighbor for help? Would you trust your neighbor to babysit your child? If your car gets stolen from your driveway, would your neighbor see it and tell you? If you are screaming outside of your home because you are being assaulted would your neighbor come out to help?

If your neighbor saw you getting attacked would they report it to the police? Or does “Snitches get stitches” hold them back?

What if things were different? What if we trusted enough in our community to not let a few dictate what happens?

You can’t build community and trust without building relationships. A relationship starts with you. If you don’t know your neighbor, go next door and say hi. Bring over a cup of sugar. Exchange emergency contact info or talk about a plan in case of an earthquake, fire, flood, tornado or crazy person with a gun.

That’s just the beginning. From there you can start looking at your neighborhood and what you can do to help it. You can have block parties, and clean up days and all sorts of civic wonderfulness. Wonderfulness that is worth being protected and fought for.

As a community member at the Top 10 Social discussion stated: “We don’t have to travel across the country to Florida to make a difference, we can make a difference here at home.” We can take our communities back. It just takes us working together. That work begins and ends with us.


Soledad O’Brien had a national town hall “Beyond Trayvon: Race and Justice in America” that aired on CNN this past Saturday. Roland Martin said “This is the conundrum, will Trayvon Martin’s death be a moment or a movement”

I don’t know if we are going to see the kind of political movement like that of the 60’s.. but I think what we can all do is create a movement of community change that can be just as powerful.

We’ve lost our village. Lets bring the village back!


What do you think? Do you think we can bring back our village? Do you know your neighbor? If you heard someone outside screaming for help..would you go out to help them? Be honest!


Filed under Advocacy

I have a problem with being misled.

Really? Is that what you say in your commercials?

I like soda. The cool fizzy liquid flowing down my throat on a oppressive hot summer day makes me feel happy and free. My favorite is root beer, Barq’s in particular. It’s the perfect partner for vanilla ice cream. For chocolate ice cream I prefer Pepsi. Pepsi, being slightly sweeter, is better than Coke for ice cream floats.  #myPEPSIjingle

I also love drinking!  If I am tired and it’s hot outside, I’d rather have a  slurpee smoothie. liquid something instead of something to eat. You can’t just have a can of soda or small glass. That’s not going to satisfy. You have to get the big 32 ounce cup! AND it’s cheap. A slurpee is barely $2.  Economical, fills you up, and cools you down..that’s THREE birds that I’ve killed!

However, I have decided to cut soda and sweetened beverages out of my life. I’m not skinny and diabetes is an unwelcome friend of Love’s family.

1 sugar cube equals 1 teaspoon of sugar

Why soda? Because soda and other sugar sweetened beverages is the  highest source of sugar and empty calories in my (and many folks’) diet. I am lucky to live in Oakland and was blessed to learn a lesson from Alameda County Public Health’s Soda Free Summer Campaign. The Recommended Daily Allowance of Sugar is at most 40 grams or 10 teaspoons per day (4 grams = 1 teaspoon).

A 12 oz soda averages 39 grams of sugar. There goes my limit. DANG IT!

Out of the many sources of sugar in my diet: cereal, juice, ice cream, tea, candied yams, tooth paste.. soda contains the most sugar with the least reward. I’d rather just have ice cream. That’s 36 grams of sugar, but with dairy and calcium..a nutrient!  Unlike soda, it’s easy to limit your ‘one sitting’ intake of sugary foods. You can  literally drink liters of soda in one sitting. There are only so many candied yams you can eat in one sitting.

Armed with this knowledge, over the past two years I have tried to reduce my sugary beverages consumption and drink more water. Yet, I am constantly being coerced, misled, and bamboozled by the beverage industry.

In the past, I hated water for a long time. No flavor, no color, no sugar…BORING.  I can’t just stop drinking soda COLD Turkey. It’s an addiction. I need a patch or something…..

I KNOW..I can drink Vitamin Water. It  has some flavor.  It’s water with vitamins. I can get healthy and quench my thirst at the same time!  One of my favorite flavors was Formula 50, ’cause it’s grape, and I like purple. (I ❤ Purple Rain).  Formula 50 contains vitamins with lots letters (C, B, E). But it also has 32 grams of sugar per bottle (DAMN IT!!). No more Vitamin Water for me!

A better alternative:  I can quench my thirst and get all those nutrients (and more)  by chowing down on some grapes.

Vitamin Water doesn’t tell you about the unnecessary sugar in their commercials. They market it as a healthy, better than water, beverage. They know Vitamin Water isn’t all that healthy and  their attorneys ASSUME you know it, too.

“Vitamin Water is a great tasting, hydrating beverage with essential vitamins and water and people can clearly see from the labels, which are FDA compliant, what’s in every bottle..”

How many of us read those labels on the back? How many of us calculate the nutrients in our diets? How many educated folks know how to read a nutrition label? How many low-income people do? How many African-Americans? Are 50 Cent’s fans reading the label?

Yet, we are the ones most effected by over-weight and obesity. According to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s new “F as in Fat”  report low-income individuals and African Americans have some of the highest obesity rates. “Adult obesity rates for Blacks topped 40 percent in 15 states, 35 percent in 35 states, and 30 percent in 42 states and D.C. …..More than 33 percent of adults who earn less than $15,000 per year were obese, compared with 24.6 percent of those who earn at least $50,000 per year”

Part of the reason behind these alarming statistics is lack of education, low access to healthy foods, and economics. Junk food is easy to prepare, cheap and available everywhere, particularly in low-income communities. There is a Mc Donalds, 7-11, or liquor store on every block in the hood. Some people have to travel across town to reach a farmers market or even a Safeway.

At the same time African-Americans are targeted with advertisement of unhealthy foods. I am part of the Pepsi Generation.  Popeye’s sponsors Black History Month on BET. McDonald’s celebrates Black History 365 Days a YEAR. They are LOVIN’ US!

I can’t totally blame soda, or sugary sweetened beverages for being overweight. I know I need exercise more and pay better attention to what I eat in general. However, I have a problem with being misled by false claims in commercials.. Most importantly, I don’t appreciate being lured into unhealthy eating on purpose. And if I, as an educated woman, have this issue what about those who aren’t as educated and don’t have as many choices?

The Federal Trade Commission has a problem with it, too. They are asking the food industry change their practice in advertising unhealthy foods to children. If we as adults have a problem with being swayed by unhealthy food marketing, you KNOW our children do, too. They eat what we give them. They also believe Ronald Mc Donald is their friend.

The FTC has new guidelines which will be up for discussion in Congress this summer. They are asking for public comment. Do you have a problem with being misled and want to do something about it?

Comment on the unfair marketing of  unhealthy foods by visiting FTC’s website: https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/foodmarketedtochildreniwg/ Do it TODAY! The deadline is July 14th.

I learned about all of this a the Childhood Obesity Conference in San Diego two weeks ago. (Shout out to CCPHA, Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy Makani Themba-Nixon,  the FTC and many others!) There should have been a lot more African American’s there. There weren’t a lot of low-income people there, either.  They need to know this. I am sharing what I learned with you now. Share this with someone else.

Share with me, too! What are some of the ways you are cutting sugar from your diet? What commercials are misleading you? Do you think the food and beverage industry is being unfairly targeted?


Filed under Advocacy, Health, Oakland, Obesity