Tobacco Travails Sunday, Sep 21 2014 

On NewsConferenceLA this morning, one of the discussions related to ‪‎tobacco ‪‎companies and their lobbying Congress and legislators via ‪contributions to ‎political ‪‎campaigns thereby, influencing ‪‎elections and legislation.

Tobacco and ‪‎smoking have been taken to excess in relation to their original purposes. They’ve become an semi-acceptable vice. In protest to the negative effects of tobacco products, CVS no longer sells ‪‎cigarettes. I haven’t researched this move to ascertain whether CVS has stopped selling all tobacco products nor what the PR basis for this move is.

These matters make me remember a long-held consideration about the issue of tobacco. What are some beneficial ‪‎alternative‎‪‎uses‬ of the product? Would it take a lot of effort to implement those efforts?

The Indigenes did not add ‪‎nicotine to the plant. It was smoked for ‪‎religious and political ‪‎rites‬ (the solidification of treaties), to cement agreements as a sign of unified effort. (Think peace pipe, But the dangerous additives were not part of the cultivation of the product. It was not addictive. It was the 20th Century commercialization of the product that brought about adding chemicals that would cause craving for more.

So maybe tobacco companies can lose the tarnished reputations their signature products and their brand now own if they stop adding the chemicals to the products. (Just a thought.)

But that still leaves us with the troubling matter of election influencing with campaign contributions and lobbying that surpass the usual abilities of the average voter.

Is Anyone Listening? Monday, Sep 8 2014 

The age-old complaint has resurfaced. Job seekers place little value in using recruiters because they aren’t reliable.

An applicant will be induced to apply for a very alluring sounding position, whether permanent or through a staffing agency. But when they get past the application, all sorts of little bugs start creeping out of the woodwork that weren’t expect. New conditions, new requirements, new qualifications. Those are predicated on the fact that the office actually exists.

Another amazing thing that happens is, after enduring an hour or so of machine assisted testing and achieving high scores on each test, the position turns out to be something that doesn’t require that much expertise and the firm doesn’t typically send people out who have that much. They only want the most basic skills possible. Next, the new candidate is told they will be called when something comes up. Someone else was sent out on the advertised situation. Or, there is another opportunity but the rate will be a little lower than the one in the ad. Can you start tomorrow?

Some agencies are a reflection of the fact that humans are part of the wheels that turn. Office functions must be done. Sometimes things get overlooked or lost or misplaced or sent to the wrong place. But it’s the temp who gets blamed for the difficulty and the blame is cemented to the worker’s reputation. Applicants are now very wary of temp agencies.

A Drawer Full of Resumes

One recruiter who did permanent placements had an entire drawer full of engineering resumes that had not been reviewed. Needless to say, the applicants had not been contacted at all. Did any of them meet some of the criteria for new orders? Well, they needed to be organized so why not make that determination while doing the sorting and organizing.

I was the researcher in that firm. The engineering terminology and highlights of career accomplishments weren’t part of my vocabulary. I went to the recruiter to seek clarification about the language. Unfortunately, he had about as much knowledge as I did. The resumes went back into a stack and filed away.

The Other Side of the Coin

Applicants and candidates also have some failings that need to be corrected. So let’s not lay all of the blame for failed opportunities at the feet of the recruiter. Stephen cites some very valid counter arguments. Also notable is the fact that he’s willing to own up to some of the errors that are committed.

Mike (another recruiter) groaned one day about a candidate who seemed to be intentionally obstinate. But the candidate hemmed and hawed about setting a date for a personal interview. It must have been their desire to not look too anxious. They agreed to a phone (not an in-person) interview, maybe. And the date and time of even the phone interview couldn’t be nailed down. The situation raised a lot of questions. Perhaps the office was too far in terms of travel. Then, again, with the cost of gasoline, it could be the candidate didn’t have gas money and didn’t want to admit that. Who knows what bugaboos were attacking that candidate’s ability to meet the invitation. The point is, they did not and had no reasonable explanations for their change in direction. Would gentle probing for the reason have helped? No matter. Opportunity lost.

Job Market

News informs us that the job market is softening. There are more jobs available. The difficulty with the news is that we aren’t told what quality of jobs are blossoming. Are they permanent jobs, entry level, across the enterprise, focused in just one industry, or are they temporary jobs?

No matter what types of jobs they are, another concern is the rate of pay. Job seekers are also weary of attempting to make ends meet with minimum wages of $7.25 (federal) or as much as $10 per hour. It simply isn’t a livable wage these days. There are true stories of people who are working two and three jobs in order to support their families. One of the ways they finally manage to do so is by virtue of the fact that there’s another wage earner in the household. But they still don’t have health insurance.

Disabled Sheltered Workshops in Peril Saturday, Jul 12 2014 

not impossible

Breaking down the barriers

Some of the news from Disability Scoop talks about “sheltered workshops.” Congress Passes Bill Limiting Sheltered Workshop Eligibility, by July 10, 2014).

You may be asking yourself, “What is a ‘sheltered workshop?'” It relates to workforce training and internship for the disabled that is segregated from others who do not have some form of disability. Here’s an explanation from Wikipedia.

Why is this news important? Because those who comprise the disabled population struggle against various types of employment and access discrimination and even voting rights, under certain conditions. They are also paid sub-minimum wage (the minimum wage being, in and of itself, is not even close to a livable wage). If the projections of the IEP are correct, there may be justification for paying minimum, or even sub-minimum, wages to students who graduate with lowered educational attainments.

So we begin to see a picture of certain forces determined to create a population of those who are needy and dependent on government subsidies in order to survive. Even though we see general monthly improvements in our unemployment figures and numbers of jobs created, such is not the case for those in the disabled population. Job Market Rough For People With Disabilities, by July 8, 2014)

In actuality, many in the disabled population, even those with intellectual challenges, are capable of being part of the cog works of industry at all levels and deserve to be compensated  accordingly. We would be wise to not think of becoming disabled or categorized as a senior in terms of a person who is no longer an individual capable of adding value to our society. We err when we classify them as relics who spend their days engaged in hobbies and few to any activities that don’t involve mental, or even physical, challenges that keep one in tune.

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Return of Ethics in Recruiting Wednesday, Jul 9 2014 

Ethics in Recruiting

Ethics in Recruiting

This month started with the revival of “Ethics in Recruiting“, a discussion group that proved to be very popular from 2004 to 2007.

As before, its focus is on the practices used in recruiting with a goal of coming to a consensus about good, ethical practices.

Realizing that there are recruiters around the world who are corporate, in-house, staffing, agency, and third-party or independent recruiters or consultants, who recruit for many industries, it is recognized that there are some practices that differ. There is terminology that may differ from one place to another. But the art of recruiting is essentially the same.

The intent is to include all aspects of the recruiting phases, from training and development, coaching, sourcing for candidates, screening and qualifying, shares and splits. Still related to the job is client development, guidance for clients, writing the job requisition as well as the description.

Salary negotiation and perks, signing bonuses, placement fees and “ownership” of placements is also an important aspect of the practice. Then there are factors such as confidentiality, non-competition agreements, discrimination, and contracts.

The welcome mat for inclusion is there for those who are animated toward coming to a common ground and pushing for a better image of the recruiting profession because of adherence to good business practices. There are organizations that have been in existence for many decades and that have their own Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct. There are organizations that provide training for all types of recruiters. Members of those bodies are extremely valuable and their input is necessary so that we can build toward establishing a single standard, if that is indeed possible.

Are people from the human resources aspect of employment appropriate members? Yes, because they’re part of the employment picture. Their voices are just as important as the others involved in the equation. Resume writers, career coaches, also add to the discussion. Membership is not restricted.

Let us continue the conversations. Let us return to hashing out the points that create the headaches and iron out the areas of contention. Let us work toward creating a single voice, wherever the practice, about Ethics in Recruiting.

Join us at the LinkedIn group, Ethics in Recruiting.

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Diversity: An Evolution of News Reporting Monday, Jul 7 2014 

The newsroom used to be a gaggle of men who typed up the script that was delivered by men’s voices. It was populated by men who took pictures of people, places, and events. Typically, these men were White, because they were male, the voices were deep and conveyed authority. We were subconsciously conditioned to believe that they were the only ones qualified to provide us with the information about us and our world – whether any of it matched our current existence or not. If women were involved in any of the production of the news, their names were suppressed, changed to merely non-gender revealing initials, or simply not provided. It was a time and an industry for men – White men. Asians, Latinos, Negroes were not seen on the television screen nor heard in the background.

But change is inevitable. The news desk that used to be populated by White or Latino faces began to have Black ones, although they were typically the weather prognosticators. To give credit, there was a smattering of Asian faces that finally began to spread before us so that an awareness that the world is more than White and Black began to press on our senses. All hard-won inroads.

Let us return our attention to the inroads of Black journalists. Max Robinson and Ed Bradley were national newscasters of note, as were many other men of color who began to be part of the on-screen presence. Jim Hill remains one of the first Black sports casters, even before retired football and basketball players became pre-game and post-game commentators. Now we have the likes of Lester Holt and Pierre Thomas who will probably become the national news anchor for his station.

Make Room, the Women Are Here

And then it happened. Women were not only on the screen but Black women were there – and the stations admitted to their presence. There was the first woman reporter, Nelly Bly, as well as the first 24 women reporters allowed to join the Press Club. Did that then obviate the need for the women’s press conference started by Eleanor Roosevelt? It isn’t clear. It’s meetings were weekly and its focus was on getting women hired to be in the newsroom. As time passed and acceptance grew, Gloria Steinem found herself holding the distinction of being the first woman to address the National Press Club. That event isn’t recorded on the NPC’s timeline. But what is recorded about their firsts are the first woman president of the organization on February 10, 1982, Vivian Vahlberg of the Daily Oklahoman, and 22 years later on January 21, 2004, Sheila Cherry was sworn in as the Club’s first African American president.

Still Moving the Ceiling

There was Nancy Hanschman Dickerson who moved the ceiling to become the first female reporter for CBS. Pam Moore continues as the evening anchor for San Francisco’s KRON (NBC) News while Belva Davis is a legend for her superb special reports and journalism firsts. I would be remiss if this piece had no reference to Paula Madison and acknowledgement of the award bestowed on her for her push for new excellence in reporting. Charlayne Hunter-Gault Who has a civil rights legacy among her accomplishments and Gwen Ifil are others among the industry minority icons and beacons of excellence. With those journalists came sporadic yet meaningful reports on more than just ethnic reporting. There came news about significant matters of national and international magnitude with incisive yet very understandable explanations of the complex. Unfortunately, NPR has grabbed those talents; fortunately, they still serve as examples of good, solid journalism and models for others, no matter what the race of the journalist.

Therein lies the basis for my excitement when on June 23, the CBS Morning News had a report delivered by a young Black journalist about a very complex issue affecting the American public. Her report was quite thorough and shed light on many aspects of the situation. On being questioned by the three anchors, she was quite adept at explaining for the layman’s understanding what was at issue and why. It was with that report, as well as the growing number of interviews of Black professionals, scientists, and corporate spokespersons selected to be interviewed on news analysis and social issues programs, because of the growing number of Black actors in commercials, and interracial groups and couples on the small screen, all (of necessity) articulate and representing the positive attributes of the race, that I exulted my joy at where we have come. I thank Tracie Powell and Richard Prince, both members of the National Association of Black Journalists for the articles they wrote in what appeared to be a response to the post regarding my epiphany. They brought out even more information that was proving too time consuming for me to cover alone. And their articles are testaments to the strength there is in working with commendable colleagues.

Where sports was definitely a man’s territory, the emergence of women started growing. KAVU’s first black female sports anchor/reporter is one example. Pushing the gates of news reporting and journalism for minorities continues its momentum. Acceptance is now taken for granted in many places.

It’s refreshing to see this phenomenon of acceptance and presence happening. These representatives (named and unnamed for the sake of space) are also role models for our youth. And they are positive racial and cultural models who negate the old stereotypes and bases for discrimination and exclusion. Is there a particular reason for this burgeoning presence or is it simply the evolution that has finally come of age?

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A Time of Recognition Thursday, Feb 27 2014 

march-on-washington January 15 came and went. There were parades and tributes to Martin Luther King, Jr. We talked about having the dream – again. We moved on. I was buried in dealing with the biases of others that were stymieing my ability to realize my dream. So I did not publish a tribute to King. But I made many references to him and his causes in the various Comments posted to the different social media where I’m a member.

Then February and with it Black History Month became the current reality. Again, people talk about movies that deal with recognition of the Black contributions to the foundations and progress of our nation’s maturing into a place of freedom with real and equal civil rights. Throughout the month, there have been conversations in various social media about progress for Blacks, recognition of their struggle, the injustices suffered, the rising from the chains of slavery and injustice. I’ve had thoughts, some of which have been expressed through social media Comments. But as yet, there’s been no dedicated publication of mine that deals with Black History nor the progress of Blacks in the United States of America.

Today, after being saturated with so many perspectives and retrospectives and visions of the future, there are some things I need to say about Black History Month. These thoughts are expressed by necessity.

School Closed

Many dramatic movies were considered for Academy Awards (the Oscar) that tell the story of Black contributions to our country. The Butler tells us of how a pivotal, unsung Black servant brought sanity and distinction to the White House. Fruitvale Station shows us how one young man was wronged and then executed because of the color of his skin. The Long Walk to Freedom tells us of how patience and intelligence, if held for the long run, will eventually lead to redemption and freedom. And 12 Years a Slave shows us not only what travesties befall a person’s dignity through being treated as a non-human but how devastating the status of “slave” can be when it is wrongly saddled on an educated person who is law abiding and landed. It also shows us how the generic “slave” deals with their circumstances in order to survive.

Which of these dramas is deserving of the Oscar for any of the categories for which they’ve been nominated. Taken in totality, they show us that Life as a Black person is not comfortable. Even when there are distinguishable accomplishments, there were herculean endeavors to make those a reality. They might have been even greater had it not been for the many obstacles and setbacks that came along the way. They might have been even greater if the observing public knew of the instances when the Soldier of Black had to deal with being put in their place and forced in various ways to stay in their place.

Many of the Civil Rights Era images have been displayed on social media by those who want to acknowledge those times and, like me, those who lived in those times. Some watched TV news footage in numbed shock and young children and wondered how such things could be perpetrated on other human beings. Some were actually among those who suffered the hostilities in order to pry the Doors of Freedom open for humanity. And the Movement grew. Sit-In1_small

It’s significant that those who are part of this nation either by choice (immigration) or naturally (birth) seem to be denied the blanket of rights for which they strove to win its sovereignty and preserve it. It’s troubling to page through history and see the injustices rained upon the Japanese, the Native Americans, the Chinese, and all other races who deliberately served in the armed services and battle lines of many wars so that they could prove their loyalty because of their citizenship. Yet those pieces of discrimination are part of what made this land. It was only a matter of time before an organization such as the NAACP would spring up in order to address the wrongs. It’s also significant that the founders of the organization were not just Coloreds. So it’s inappropriate to pin the wrongdoings on one race just as it is inappropriate to make any type of generalization. But it still happens.

naacp-founders

There are rare stories of the Oklahoma town referred to as the Black Wall Street. The town’s name was Greenwood. It’s remembered for its affluence and grace as well as what is known in small circles as the Black Holocaust. Andrew Williams tells us that few know about Greenwood (no doubt because of the embarrassment of the matter) by explaining that “The events of the riot were long omitted from local and state histories. ‘The Tulsa race riot of 1921 was rarely mentioned in history books, classrooms or even in private. Blacks and whites alike grew into middle age unaware of what had taken place.'”

It’s refreshing to see that we have achieved a type of self consciousness about recognizing the plight of our downtrodden. In the last five years, increasing numbers of colored faces, particularly those of men, are appearing on news analysis, economic, political, and social programs as spokes persons. They are interviewed on such programs because they are the manager or the Ph.D. on the subject being discussed. They are tacitly held up and held out as knowledgeable in their subject area. And they prove themselves worthy of the distinction through their controlled, clear discussion of the topic with well enunciated words using proper grammar.

Television programs are less inclined these days to gratuitously show the bare chested Black man in order to allure viewers. And roles that depict an integrated couple but feature the Black husband in a cartoonish caricature aren’t enduring the ratings. But that’s also a signal of progress. Where misogyny was at one time against the law, the law is no longer valid and the interracial anything is making its way into being the norm. It’s simply a matter of depicting two people interacting with one another.

Have we made progress? There’s so much to consider; there’s so much more to be said. Perhaps all of us should evaluate and think before we answer that question.

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Passing of The Lion Monday, Dec 9 2013 

My appointment book memorializes not just future commitments in order to prevent the embarrassment of having the impossibility of double commitments occurring at the same time or too close to onset of one another. The appointment book also acts like a timesheet that preserves information about something that occurred at a particular time.

More importantly, my appointment book memorializes events that have become historic time stamps. The page for Thursday, December 5 at 1:00 PM, records in red ink, “Mandela died.”

Since that point in time, my mission has been to devote thoughts, recollections, influences, that became part of my awareness of Mandela the man, Mandela the leader, and Mandela the legend. Unfortunately, Life had other intentions for my time. Business matters took priority that developed ancillary necessities. Exigencies spontaneously grew out of expected successful conclusions. Thus, self-imposed feelings of guilt grew with each night that Fatigue replaced Writing Time. Additionally, the 50-year anniversaries of the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. imposed recollection of how those shocking events affected not only Americans but the world. Stacking the expanding issues that deflected attention from writing a tribute about Mandela were the various social media conversations, misconceptions, uninformed opinions, myths that purported to be informed information but proved to be hate mongering, unsupported, short sighted statements, and platitudes.

Those 50-year anniversaries were presented to us via the media by individuals who had only tangential (if any) contact with the events. They did not witness the stamping of history. However because of the importance of the events being remembered, they attempted to flagellate us into a frenzy about the significance of them. Is that what these collections of historic events will become? Attempts at being proud about the evidence of rising from the oppressive conditions become attempts to tell the tales. They aim to present the momentous significance but merely parrot the platitudes they’ve heard second and third hand and merely stand as substitutes for the pride and jubilant celebrations that are supposed to be had.

So here we are five days later. All that could possibly be said about Mandela the man, Mandela the leader, Mandela the legend have been televised, recited, discussed, and written. Images of his ex-wives, his widow, and some of his chilren have been shared with the rest of us. Interviews of people, White and Black, domestic and foreign, have been broadcast on all manner of programs. We have been advised of the plans for his lying in state leading up to his funeral. We have been informed about how The Lion felt during his developing years – his revolutionary years. There have been glimpses into how life was during his incarceration. We are told about his stoicism on release and his statesmanship in the negotiations for it. There are round tables about his challenge of making one country constituted of many races that feel passion for their country and breaking down the decades of the divisive racism that existed during the reign of apartheid.

In South Africa, there are celebrations because of the death of The Lion. Some find this odd. Those who are aware of the American Black practice of celebrating the life of one who has entered the Hereafter are able to understand. It isn’t a celebration because the person is dead. Instead, it’s a celebration that their mission has been completed with whatever successes have been achieved. It is a celebration of graduating from being a mere mortal who is subject to the many vagaries that challenge us to being among those who have risen above those challenges and into a more beautiful existence. Some achieve this at very tender ages while others have many purposes and missions to fulfill. Life does not end because of actuarial numbers but when the Master Craftsman says Death may become the possessor of the soul – but only the portion of the soul that may remain in that plane for the Master Craftsman has other, further intentions for the principal portions.

It is significant that the timing of certain events shape us and our thoughts. Those events enable us to see things more clearly. Those who are trainers and presenters should take note of those events as they develop their materials. It was in October that a discussion group was developed to study the book The New Jim Crow and the social impacts of jails overcrowded with Black men. It was a study of how Blacks in America are singled out and punished for even the slightest of matters and told they have so egregiously broken the rules that they must spend the remaining 40 to 60 years of their budding lives behind bars. They lose all rights of citizenship. They essentially become victims and unofficial slaves.

Close in timing was release of the movie “12 Years a Slave” that traces an actual account by a learned free man of his kidnap and being sold into slavery before the Civil War. We learn (or are reminded) of the conditions of that slavery and concomitant abrogation of citizen rights. Programs populate the public broadcast stations about the Civil Rights Movement and the many assaults Black citizens endured in order to make a more whole United States. Some who are paying attention to these history classes take note of how interrelated the subjects truly are and begin to appreciate the marginal progress that’s been made domestically. Additionally, appreciation of life under apartheid was for the native population.

Why have I not dedicated any time to actual writing of this tribute to Madiba until today? My emotions, like my time and attention, have been sucked out of me. Those social media conversations (so skewed and uninformed) ate much of my time spent reading and in search of non-existent enlightenment about him. Instead, I came away further drained but more aware of why America sinks into the mire of destructive rule under unenlightened Right Wing rhetoric. I deal with an increasing number of businesses striving for economic success by using some form of fraud and slipshod workmanship. I labor to educate myself about my own health maladies and then hold my breath when the time arrives that the situation is beyond my non-licensed abilities and must entrust my life and conditions to those who have been educated and licensed to do so. Those are just some of the reasons why these words are structured as they are and published today.

Today the many aspects of the man, Mandela, that taught the lessons about leadership, captivity, social and civil wrongs, forgiveness, striving to overcome oppression screamed for release. Today I was forced to come to grips with the antithesis of American Freedom and the apathy that fertilizes the American inertia. It made me want to scream. Looking at the life of Madiba causes a trickle of Hope to melt my jaded attitude, the callous perspective, and my personal numbness. The struggle for a healthy oneness isn’t subverted by one’s age nor passage of unproductive time. It only seems as though it’s been unproductive. The struggle is furthered by how many lessons have been presented and mastered.

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Surviving in a Fundamentalist Environment Tuesday, Oct 22 2013 

The issues related to The Shutdown are put to bed until January – when they’ll need to be revisited and hashed out again. We started getting nervous about how we as a nation would function and how we would derive the services (once taken for granted) to keep us a civilized place. We wondered how we would be able to survive without becoming homeless, bankrupt, hungry. How were we to send messages, ship goods, have our streets and rubbish handled, and many other things.

Then there was the matter of passports and clearances, licenses issued, and enforcement of laws. We take it for granted that there is a government and all of those matters will be handled by government.

But Wall Street kept ticking along as though there was full faith and credit even when we, as a population, did not see it. Of course! We could fall back to our fundamentalism and simply do these things for ourselves rather than wait on our parent government to supply the hand to empower.

There are two series on television that propose to show us what will happen when government dissolves and leaves us at our own means. Those shows are “Revolution” and “Under the Dome.” These both portray civilization devolving into savagery and warfare for the sake of waging war and killing. Few can trust anyone else. Deals are struck, but it’s a matter of what happens when the parties leave the room as to the endurance of the deal. Enforcement of the terms is a matter of who wins the next skirmish or battle.

Throughout all of the experiences of the citizens, no one is concerned about the simple things that make Life endurable. Who is making soap? Although they keep writing messages on sheets of paper and making signs, there’s no thought to how after 20 or more years that paper is still being produced, let alone ink for writing or sign making. No one is concerned about making new clothing, even though what existed 20 years ago has probably rotted by our introduction to the landscape. And what about toilet paper? Of course, for some reason there’s ample foliage so leaves are available.

Who is developing the chemicals to make medicines for the many health ailments? But then, in a land where it’s a matter of survival of the fittest, perhaps there is no longer a need for medicines. As cheap as life is is the times of these places, perhaps all those with ailments and disabilities were executed so they wouldn’t get in the way.

On Revolution, there is still heavy use of bullets. We’re not told how casings and powder are being produced in order to make new bullets. We’re not told how new guns are being manufactured. They’re just there and waiting to be used with abandon.

Some of the warriors have made bows and arrows. It’s unclear how they have time to craft new ones. There’s nothing that’s telling us how they’re putting together the implements to make knives. And although they are living in very complex structures, we’re not given privy to how stone and mortar is being ground and formed to make building blocks and new buildings. Nor are we shown how these people are felling trees and refining the lumber to make planks and building pieces.

Cooking implements must be around. But no one seems to be focused on making them. No one, in fact, seems to be focused on the exchange of money or goods at all.

It isn’t clear who is manufacturing the uniforms and shoes nor how they’re getting the needles to make them. But maybe Rumpelstiltskin is among their numbers and he manufactures these things on their behalf.

They only focus on the power. That seems to be the gasoline for everything in either of our fictional settings and during The Shutdown. Power is the sole focus. Who has it determines what is done, who does it, and who is held in check until they learn to siphon it or steal it. Woe to those who have none or so little that it barely matters to anyone.

Are these two shows telling us what to expect in January and each next iteration of The Shutdown? It appears we will forget about all forms of commerce and will live by less than fundamental means.

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The Ultimate Guide to U.S. Army Survival Skills, Tactics, and Techniques

When Disabled Is Powerful Monday, Oct 7 2013 

The new television season started this past week. There’ve been shake ups for program days and times. Some of last year’s staples are gone. With that, we’ve collectively breathed a sigh of relief about some of the shows as well as grumbled softly about others that remain.

We also have one show that’s a reprise. “Ironside” is now set in current perspective with Blair Underwood (a Black lead) playing the title role of a paraplegic police detective out to get the answers that lead to getting the bad guys out of circulation.

Remember Raymond Burr? With Burr as the star, the show had an eight-year run. It was all about the hard-as-nails detective out to get results. As far as the audience was concerned, he had no real personal life and no real obstacles.

Enter Underwood in the title role. Ironside has a personal life. He has a girlfriend and they have a full relationship. He suffers from PTSD and suffers flashbacks (just like many of our contemporary veterans) to the day of the incident that led to the loss of his full abilities. He’s a Black man aligned with law enforcement, not a victim of it. The bad guys (and women) come from all walks of life, diverse ethnicities, forms of crime. You find them in many locations and venues.

As with the earlier version, the new Ironside quickly identifies ways to overcome the barriers to accomplish his goals and the manner in which he pursues his mission. Although his flashbacks remind him of how he wound up in his current circumstances as well as the fact that his condition is permanent, he is not wallowing in self pity. It’s obvious that he’s not dissolved into feeling worthless. There are alternatives to the straightforward methods of doing his work. Life is still open to him in many ways. And just when the criminals think they have him under their thumbs, some new skill (of which we weren’t previously aware) emerges as part of the means of escaping Death.

While I want to say that this version of Ironside is stellar in its delivery because of the demographics it seeks to portray, I don’t want to go down that path while there’s scant time to research the statistics of Black men who are paraplegics. I want to research how many there were five and ten and fifteen years ago. It’s my guess, especially in light of the fact that there are so many foreign war veterans, that the numbers are growing at an enormous rate.

The fact that this iteration allows Ironside to have PTSD and flashbacks sets the stage for us to become conditioned. We are being led to realize that not every person who suffers from those conditions is out of control. They are not deranged and they are not dangerous to others – unless, of course, that other is actively and currently threatening their welfare and safety.

The frequency of those flashbacks made the story line difficult to follow at times. That’s what probably caused its low rating.

Ironside is not a homeless man. He is not living in a shelter. And he does positive things to take care of himself, all the way from healthy diet to exercise to staying up to date on reading of all types of matter, and use of technology.

This iteration of Ironside shows us disability in a positive light. It helps employers see it not as a deficit and depletion of revenues. In fact, it tacitly shows employers and recruiters the many possibilities of having this type of disabled person among the members of their staff and book of talent. The person is resourceful and in many ways can go toe to toe with everyone else.

And then there’s that name of the character – Ironside. He’s difficult to defeat because his outer (and in many respects, even his inner) side is as difficult to penetrate as iron.

I’d like to congratulate the producers of this new, updated version of Ironside. The subtle messages came through loud and clear for me – and I was only half watching while I worked on another project. While it isn’t disabled veterans nor young men of color who live in a ghetto, this show is providing these demographics with a role model who helps them realize there is life after the incident, whatever that incident was. It reminds them that the encouraging and supportive words from friends, coaches, instructors, and family are not mere platitudes – empty words that sounds nice. There is reality in what’s being said. Being disabled does not mean not empowered. It’s just the opposite.

Who told you that Life would be easy lied to you. Life is supposed to be challenging so that you can take pride in figuring out how to overcome the barriers. Life is supposed to be challenging so that we can flaunt our own personal ironside.

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Revisiting the Dream after 50 Years Wednesday, Aug 28 2013 

It was 50 years ago on August 28, 1963 that Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his now famous speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The reflecting pond between the Lincoln and the Washington memorials was packed with the presence of over 250,000 civil rights supporters of all races and religions.

Yahoo! Voices sent me two invitations to write about that day. They wanted writers to create a recollection of where they were and what they were doing at the time of the speech. It took a bit. Life has put a lot of pebbles into the stream since then and it takes a little doing to clear away the debris to bring back the recollections.

August 28, 1963 was during Summer break and the speech occurred at the height of the day. I sat in my living room watching the events of the march unfold on television. As with each of his speeches, I was moved and inspired by King’s words. We all wanted to believe that his dream wasn’t a mere dream but a vision of an actual future that would unfold in that century.

By virtue of the fact that the March on Washington was multi-racial and the causes of freedom and equality ranged from pay to women’s rights to color to education to opportunity for all to worker rights and more, it was more than about race. It was more about those who were disenfranchised becoming those who fully participate in what was supposed to be the whole American Dream and the guarantees. It was about realizing that Dream contained in our founding documents and the principles upon which this country was founded. We need these types of periodic reminders. After a few decades, our minds put such ideas on the back burner, especially when we’re not living those principles on a daily basis. As months and years passed, the pressures that made the speech compelling at its delivery dissipated. It became inspiring words and concepts. And then it became concepts talked about during Black History Month or on King’s birthday in order to simply bleat the syllables.

The “Why” of It

The March on Washington was essentially a culmination of the events that began in the 1950s. The efforts of the Freedom Riders, the lunch counter sit-ins, the peaceful non-resistance, the assaults with fire hoses and police dogs, the Little Rock Nine being escorted to Central High by National Guard troops, the children killed in the church bombings, not to mention the many civil rights workers martyred for their efforts to create a wholesome place for all to live. Those were the things that needed to be overcome. And those (plus many other individual efforts) formed the fabric of the levers to open the doors of opportunity.

Interruptions and Distractions

Unfortunately, there were intervening circumstances that interfered with achieving the Dream. The war on drugs seemed to focus on Black neighborhoods. That war in turn plunged the residents of those environs into the depths of lack and bleary-eyed hopelessness. Substandard products emerged from those neighborhoods. They brought with them a desire to keep people of color in their places because they were not qualified or else only qualified to serve and not lead. By the time we as a society reached the 1980s, it was difficult to find a Black face as a leader in any place except religion and politics.

The Silence

But there were the quiet numbers who strove to be the exceptions. The silence grew to the point that many forgot about the demonstrations and the non-violent principles of those early days of reaching for recognition and admission – two commodities that were supposed to be available by right. Lack of consistent reinforcement and training on principles of professionalism and leadership were put on an even steeper slope. Those who had those ideals as part of their DNA, moved forward – quietly – and proved their value. They made positive inroads and positive examples of themselves that empowered others to also enter the doors of opportunity. Quietly it has been happening at a very slow pace. It’s been occurring so quietly that barely anyone notices today except when it leaps in front of you during a news maker interview and the subject is a notable scientist or other nontraditional professional.

Old Lessons on the Road

Unfortunately, some of the lessons were forgotten. The old detractors survived the passage of time and became the ones who created new barriers that only the most extremely qualified could pass. Although many White churches talked wonderful principles of acceptance and brotherly love, they were hard pressed to actualize those concepts when put to the test. The result became shunting their Black members and members of color into situations of being passed over for acknowledgement or displaced in activities in deference to another who was not of the same racial makeup.

Lessons in acceptable comportment changed or lost. The hip-hop age, the acid rock, the protest age and rap song protests and statements displaced reasoned speech and debate except during elections. Instead, loud and brash being shouted became the way to do things. Talking and conversation became how well one could drown out the other party or how many times they could be interrupted so as to not get a word in edgewise. Critical thinking skills crumbled. People (of all races) expected to be spoon fed information instead of reasoning out the solution for themselves. One’s GPA became more a testament of how well the student could bully the instructor into giving them an “A” compared with demonstrated more than a 90 percent comprehension of the subject when tested.

Daydreaming

So here we are 50 years later. We want to talk about the major strides that have occurred during this half century of progress. But to do so would only be delusional. While the blatant discrimination and signs of it no longer exist, the stench of Jim Crow still plagues us. It’s infected the waters drunk by our new immigrants so that they replace the hard-core racists of the past. Some of their open statements are so blatantly obnoxious that they cause the listener to gag in shock.

The standard of living continues to drop because the minimum wage continues to not stay apace with the consumer price index or cost of living index. More neighborhoods become enclaves of ethnic clusters – ghettos – where people strive to find pride in their environs. Unfortunately, if the majority of the population is Black, it is considered a dangerous place. The presumption that gangs and drugs are the mainstay with undisciplined behavior and unbridled lack of self restraint are the basis of the place. Don’t go there late at night.

Although there are many more faces of color, particularly Black of all hues, portrayed as many types of characters on both the small and large screens, and although there is a higher likelihood of finding Black and Brown faces in managerial positions in businesses, there is still an atmosphere of marginal acceptance if you are not an employee but of the same race. While the focus should be on doing the job at hand with professionalism, it’s delivered only to those who appear to be qualified to receive that deference.

Dream or Vision – and When?

It was a noble speech. King inspired us in his Southern Baptist preacher style of speaking. He brought people to their feet and stirred them to follow him to whatever heights he verbally painted for those who listened and were willing to be moved. Again I have to ask, was it a dream he was having, a collection of unconscious delusions with very little based on reality? Or was he actually sharing a prophet’s vision of a Tomorrow that was somewhere on the Horizon of the Future?

If it was actually a prophet’s vision, then it’s time for us to become parents of future generations and resume the training and lessons of what type of work needs be infused into making the vision a reality. There are lessons that are in desperate need of being learned. There are rules of etiquette that need to be re-learned and put to use. And there are lessons in how to be a leader that need to be taught at every juncture of our existence, whether at home, school, vocational training, or work.

We need to stop thinking about how nice it was that King said those words and then put the speech back on the bookshelf to collect more dust. It’s time to put the wheels of progress back into motion so that we resume our forward movement and growth of our rights. But most of all, it’s time to use the greatest tool for making the dream, the vision, a reality. It’s time to develop the right type of communication in order to say, “I am qualified; I belong here,” and then open the door.

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