African Americans

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Blacks most visible behind the scenes at Citrus Bowl

The Wilson family from Philadelphia


ORLANDO — Take away the players’ parents, event workers, and even the players themselves, and there weren’t a lot of Black folk seen at this year’s Citrus Bowl. There was an obvious “color” contrast among the reported 48,624 spectators at last week’s Minnesota-Missouri football game at the Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando. The MSR, during its pregame stadium walk-around, ran into a few “connected” Blacks who were at the game simply because they knew someone who was a participant:


Such as the Wilson family from Philadelphia, there to watch 14-year-old Akua Wilson perform as part of the All American Halftime Show. “This is a good experience for her,” said her father, Leonard Wilson, Sr.

“Our [Black] kids don’t usually see much out of a 10-block radius in Philadelphia,” Wilson told us. “To experience something like this allows them to see the world from different perspectives. Continue Reading →

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Fried Chicken, Watermelon and You aims to heal cultural damage

Author challenges dysfunctional decisions Blacks make that hinder their progression

By Dwight Hobbes
Contributing Writer


African Americans today are not known for an abiding sense of accountability. In fact, according to an overriding tendency toward excuses and blaming slavery on the one hand and the White man on the other as some sort of mantra, you’d hardly know we ever believed that, despite the institutionalized racism perpetrated against us, it’s our responsibility to do something about it. Keenly insightful essayist and candid social critic Cindy Traxler’s Fried Chicken, Watermelon and You (CC&J Publications) clearly details the imperative to self-empower. She takes on a complicated issue and, addressing vital aspects that usually are attended to with knee-jerk rhetoric, doesn’t simplify it, employing a discerning eye, common sense, and uncommon frankness to render solutions quite accessible. “I’m looking to challenge the old, stale, tired, and counterproductive practices of my people,” reads the introductory essay, “Let Me Explain.”

Among those counterproductive practices, she states, are “mastering things [like] our rapping skill before our grammar skills or nurturing our athletes more than our future doctors.” In “My People,” the author makes it clear she isn’t arbitrarily bashing Black folk, since we have had more than a little help in opting for skewed aspirations. Continue Reading →

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Make Black people more marketable by building our brand

By Marquis Rollins

Guest Commentator


During your daily commute today, if you were to stop at any Mom & Pop’s convenience store in the nation, you would find it. To locate it requires a search because it has yet to be considered to have any significance at all. Abandoned by consumers for its lack of potential and stocked by storekeepers at the very bottom of the shelf because it has no appeal, there it sits — the undesirable brand. Although this product promises to be everything that society would want in a product, it fails to deliver the objective. The label is cheap, the ingredients questionable, and no matter the expiration date, one would assume that it could potentially go bad any day. Continue Reading →

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Family contact with prisoners known to reduce re-offending

Community asks commissioner to remove obstacles to such contact
By Raymond Jackson
Contributing Writer


On April 24, Reverend Jerry McAfee of New Salem Baptist Church hosted an event introducing Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy and his staff to a listening audience greatly affected by the rules, regulations and policies of Minnesota correctional facilities. This was an audience whose cultural base is four percent of Minnesota’s population, yet from their community comes 50 percent of Minnesota’s incarcerated population: African Americans. The top three areas of concern were:

• a 10 percent increase in the surcharge applied to money sent to inmates,

• visitation and family contact, and

• educational opportunities for those incarcerated. Reverend McAfee, in his introduction and welcome, stated, “Our goal tonight is to get some information, to all of us, that tells exactly what the Department of Corrections does. Normally when we deal with the Department of Corrections it is from a negative perspective. Continue Reading →

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Project Sweetie Pie cultivates an urban farm movement

By Dwight Hobbes
Contributing Writer


It’s a tough call as to whether Project Sweetie Pie ( is the proverbial idea whose time has come or if its founder/director, irresistible force Michael Chaney, has brought his tireless tenacity and innovative industry to bear on the immovable object of social inertia. In October of 2014, Chaney told the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, on being honored by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, “Urban farming is a means to an end. It creates economics [as well as] a value system and work ethic within our community. “This serves as an antidote to the poison that we [experience] as African Americans, the mythology that the larger, dominant community tries to spread upon us of self-defeat, of low self-esteem. That we’re not capable.”

Project Sweetie Pie (PSP) encourages youngsters to literally get their hands dirty by learning how to plant gardens and grow food, in the process acquainting them with exercise out in the fresh air as well in entrepreneurship. Continue Reading →

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The quest for health equity is lifelong

In 2002, April was designated as Minority Health Month to increase awareness about health disparities that exist for people of color. Even though April 2014 Minority Health Month is now past, we must continue to address health disparities head on every month of the year. Health disparities exist when certain segments of the population have higher rates of preventable diseases and mortality. Many populations are affected by disparities, including racial and ethnic minorities, residents of rural areas, women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. In a recent report to the MN legislature on health equity, the MN Department of Health stated that although Minnesota is deemed one of the healthiest states, African Americans and American Indians in the state have continued to experience higher rates of preventable disease as well as reduced life expectancy. Continue Reading →

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U of M study: Race matters most in determining who breathes bad air

The Twin Cities earn yet another racial disparities distinction

By Isaac Peterson
Contributing Writer

In April, researchers at the University of Minnesota released a study showing that people of color in the U.S. typically breathe air that is 38 percent more polluted compared to their White counterparts. The study concluded that race and income are major contributing factors in how much polluted air is breathed, but that race matters more than income. Using satellite observations, data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and maps of land uses, the research team was able to compare the geographic data with Census figures to determine socioeconomic disparities in air pollution exposure. The study was national in scope and provided information on air pollution on a nationwide basis, broken down to show comparisons between urban and rural areas as well by city, county, and state. The pollutant the study tracked was nitrogen dioxide (NO2), one of the main pollutants targeted by the EPA, which considers it one of the most significant threats to air quality. Continue Reading →

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