A retreat for Black leaders to plan actions to enable Whites to feel safe
What horn will midnight hear? The Calvary bugler sounding retreat from battle? Gabriel’s trumpet leading the Halleluiah chorus? The morning wake-up horn calling retreat members to begin discussions for addressing violence in the community? History reveals good and bad leaders and shepherds, and the shifts that occur from heroic sacrifices to keep eyes on the prize (as during slave and Jim Crow days), to becoming paid bureaucrats of “solution organizations” that “look the other way” to maintain the status quo. Continue Reading →
What joy and excitement energized the Black community, individuals and organizations alike, anticipating seeing and meeting the first African American president, Barrack Obama, in North Minneapolis when he was in town Monday, February 4 to make a major speech on guns and violence in America. Although disappointed in what the president’s administration has not done for communities of color, and skipping North Minneapolis as a campaigner, expectations still ran high until they gave way to high disappointment when his visit turned out to be a PR drive-by, as his motorcade sped to and from the well-fortified police academy building at 41st and DuPont in North Minneapolis, leaving many bewildered and upset. The gun and crime statistics didn’t match ours of columns past nor address the concerns Harry Belafonte expressed at the February 1 NAACP Awards show: that Black Americans are the “most incarcerated, most unemployed, and most hunted in America,” nor the question Belafonte asked earlier regarding why contemporary discussions continue “to ignore decades of urban gun violence.”
The courtesy and respect denied the community in general spilled over to key leaders such as the Assistant Majority Whip of the Minnesota Senate, who received none of the considerations that should be accorded to a man of his political stature (he stands fifth in the line of succession for governor). One wonders how many were behind Senator Hayden being so disrespected by his own. Senator Hayden is known within the Black community for his significant expertise and experience. Continue Reading →
By Charles Hallman
When Sarah Walker first lobbied the Minnesota Legislature on behalf of former offenders, she didn’t see it going over very well. “The first time I organized this, I was concerned that this would be received very poorly,” recalls Walker, the COO of 180 Degrees, Inc.
But as a result, over 50 organizations formed the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition and started Second Chance Day on the Hill. “Since then we have gotten more legislative leaders interested in this issue. I think we really fundamentally changed the dialogue about the issue at the Capitol. We passed three bills in 2009, and we’re hopeful again this year for another good year,” continued Walker. Continue Reading →
By Dwight Hobbes
Donald “DJ” Hooker, Jr. is a refreshing change of pace from the all-too-pervasive images of young Black males constantly recurring in the mainstream media. You know: the very picture of rabid recklessness with little sense of community and less regard for human life. The lost-cause character Larenz Tate portrayed in Menace II Society, “O-Dog,” for instance. Tate, it turns out, played a greatly different, sweetly coming-of-age character, the nice kid “Drew” in The Inkwell, which, of course, though just as well made and brilliantly acted as Menace II Society, never drew nearly as much attention. Real life examples on the order of Drew don’t make your typical news coverage. Continue Reading →
By Dwight Hobbes
“I was tired of seeing our youth in the community hopeless, lost without leadership and fatherless.” That could be just about anyone talking about conditions that have gone on in Black communities for what by now feels to many of us like an eternity. It could be just about anyone who gave up hope and walked away, if not finding a way to leave the community then just turning off mentally and emotionally, no longer caring. Instead, exactly the opposite, it’s Minneapolis MAD DADS CEO and President V.J. Smith, explaining why he rolled up his sleeves and stepped to and, in October of 1998, established the Minneapolis Chapter of Men Against Destruction-Defending Against Drugs and Social-Disorder, Inc. (MAD DADS).
V.J. Smith, right, in the streets ‘promoting hope’
A mere glimpse at statistics exposes the need for Minneapolis MAD DADS. In 2001, African American males were 32 percent of all prison inmates in Minnesota with 25 percent of all arrests in the state occurring in Minneapolis. Continue Reading →