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It is no secret at all that the key to the growth of the Republican Party is to engage minorities. With shifting demographics and a growing minority population, the GOP is pressed to make changes in their outreach efforts or simply become a party of isolation.

While the thought of many on the right may have been “Well they’re not going to vote for us anyway,” there have been some who sought to eradicate this foolish notion.

I can personally testify to the fact that Gov. Nathan Deal (R-GA) gets what minority engagement is all about. He received my church’s invitation to come and participate in our “Community Day” on Sunday, September 21, 2014.

It is pretty obvious that this event was planned months in advance in order to make preparations for the occasion. When it was first announced to the congregation that the Governor was paying a visit, there was a combination of awe and disbelief. Quite frankly, there were several who thought there was no way the governor was going to come to our small, but growing church.

But to the surprise of some, the governor came, along with his wife, Mrs. Sandra Deal. The First Lady of Georgia read to the children’s Sunday School class and later joined her husband in the main worship service.

Towards the conclusion of the service, Gov. Deal spoke of the importance of criminal justice reform. The topic of how to continually prevent African-American men and women from living life within the confines of a jail cell resonated very well amongst the predominately black audience.
The main point is not Deal’s willingness to talk about criminal justice reform, even though that was good and beneficial. The simple fact is that he showed up. The GOP must realize that their mere presence speaks volumes.

Minorities want candidates and politicians to know that they do not want pandering or special treatment, but to simply be acknowledged. Do not get me wrong. There are heavy issues that effect the minority community such as unemployment,jobs, education, and others, but these issues cannot be conveyed unless there are people who are willing to listen. In order to listen, you must be present.

Gov. Deal understands minority engagement. He knows that engaging is simply not making a campaign promise or acknowledging minorities in a speech, but that it requires for you to go to where they are.

I cannot predict how many of our church members will vote for Gov. Deal. That’ll be decided in the voting booth. What I can say confidently is that the governor taking time out of his schedule to engage our church was the genesis of a fruitful relationship, and there were quite a few who were willing to lend a listening ear. If Gov. Deal can do this, so can any other conservative.

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Because of the hyper-sensitivity our world has succumbed to, the issue of race is a subject of taboo or insecurity to many. The truth is, we should all talk about it.
It’s really hard to label anyone an expert of race. Many of us have been exposed to various cultural practices and living conditions, but there is a world out there that transcends our experiences or academic knowledge.

We should discuss race for the simple matter of being educated. All of us are unlearned in some area of life. It would do us good to step outside our comfort level and become aware of issues surrounding us.

When discussing race, it is important to realize the emotions and experiences that accompany the topic. A white person, even with good intentions, will never be black and, therefore, cannot speak as a black person. A black person will never be white and, therefore, cannot possess the feelings of a white person. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just the different components of genetics and behavior.

The purpose of discussing race is to garner a better understanding and appreciation for others’ lives. Just because one may say, “My best friend is black,” doesn’t necessarily mean they have taken the time to understand the diverse areas of black culture. The racial makeup of our circle of friends will give a great indication of how we perceive race. If our friends look just like we do, that signals we are afraid of stepping outside of normalcy and comfort. It doesn’t make us evil people. Just unlearned.
When we seek to educate ourselves, we may find our perceptions in error. When discussing race, it’s beneficial to keep an open mind and a respectful dialogue.
One of the biggest barriers to bridging the racial divide is assumption.

We cannot assume that all black people and all white people think alike. I vividly remember some whites in 2008 assuming I was going to vote for Obama solely based on the fact I have brown skin. I know some blacks who are cautious and weary of engaging with whites because they assume they are out to manipulate them. Assumptions are not healthy. They only cause us to be apprehensive and regressive when it comes to communication.
We must be willing to find what we have in common, instead of what separates us. Black and whites alike cherish family, friends, cultural activities, education, sports and such. When we become more focused on the individual, we will find ourselves embracing not only diversity, but humanity.

Nobody should have to fear repercussions due to voicing their opinions on race. But for their views to be valid, they must listen, engage and educate themselves. If we do not discuss race, we limit ourselves and become citizens of an isolated world.
Race is a beautiful thing. It’s a human thing. It should be embraced, not feared.

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Is America seeing a resurgence of segregation?

It’s not a re-institutionalization of race-specific water fountains or separate-but-equal accommodations that are assigned by skin color, but a sort of self-segregation among black youth that could have a crippling affect on upward mobility.

It’s a variation on the fear of someone “acting white.”

In 2004, a relatively unknown politician named Barack Obama said society should “eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white.” Now, it might be a good idea for the President, who appears to be very concerned about employment and class issues, to mention that associating with white people just like he and many other successful blacks have done all their lives is similarly not a refutation of one’s blackness.

In a newly-published study called “Testing the ‘Black Code,’” researchers James D. Johnson of the University of the South Pacific and Leslie Ashburn-Nardo of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis found that many black students say they tend to lose kinship with other blacks who are perceived to have close relationships with whites.

Having surveyed 212 black college students, Johnson and Ashburn-Nardo reported that “[b]lacks who appear too friendly and comfortable around whites are viewed with suspicion; their blackness is questioned.”

In their technical analysis, they added:

Blacks sometimes strategically imply that they have connections to whites in an effort to increase their probability of success in the corporate world. Doing so may be a means of distancing themselves from negative group stereotypes or perhaps a “disarming mechanism” to enhance their acceptability in the eyes of white employers or colleagues. Regardless of motive, such strategic out-group alignment may put blacks at risk for identity denial from fellow in-group members.

What’s worse, these skeptical students allegedly have “less empathy” for other blacks who are seen as being too chummy with whites to the degree that they would consider not helping these people out should they have a “run of bad luck.”

Essentially, these people are on their own in a jam if they aren’t seen as being “from the ‘hood.”

While the 212 individuals surveyed by Johnson and Ashburn-Nardo are certainly not the voice for all black Americans, it is shameful to see that their mindset is geared towards regressing racial relations instead of improving them. They show a trend, and build on the “acting white” theory that is blamed for poor test scores among many black students.

I’ve been richly blessed in my life to have a very diverse circle of friends. The color of their skin has never been part of a litmus test to decide if I would associate myself with them, but merely by their character and conduct.

Through these associations, I’ve learned a lot about myself, life and been enriched both personally and professionally.

With that in mind, the researchers fear that the introvertive mindset they’ve found could hurt black advancement. Networking outside of one’s race, the survey indicates, could hurt familial and longstanding personal relationships. In order to get along, this stigma might lead to antisocial behavior that keeps otherwise competent and aspiring blacks from moving up in the workforce.

At this time of great concern over wages, advancement and socio-economic mobility, it appears petty resentments within the race could be more of a problem than any perceived racism among workplace managers.

This race-conscious attitude is not a successful practice, nor is it a moral one. I’m glad it has never been thrust upon me, and I pray that those who are affected see their error in it.

I grew up with the realization that the American Dream was achievable with determination and a good work ethic. Now, however, that perception is being tarnished with an unnecessary racial divide suggesting that the authenticity of our skin color is contingent upon the people we associate with.

It is culturally ignorant to suggest blacks or whites are in uniformity when it comes to traditions, customs or whom they accompany themselves with.

Through healthy interaction, people of different races, classes, genders and other demographics learn from one another and develop a greater appreciation for different cultures.

I would point to my friendships and associations as a tribute to my achievements and experiences.

If God is not a respecter of persons, neither should we.

Who Needs To Grow Up?

Posted: February 25, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Obamacare has caused many problems since its implementation; but the President still clings to the false perception that it is better for us. In an interview with former basketball superstar Charles Barkley, Obama retorted that Millennials should sign up for his healthcare plan because “it’s just part of growing up.”

What is so naïve and insulting about this remark is that the President ignores the consequences surrounding Obamacare. While Americans were told that they could keep their current health care plan, they’ve now realized that they were victims to a total fabrication. Many have had their plans canceled and now have to pay higher premiums due to the lack of affordability of Obamacare.

 

It is unlikely that enthusiasm and support for Obamacare will escalate anytime soon. Less than a third of Millennials currently uninsured indicated that they will sign up for the exchange. 41% said that they are 50-50 right now about making a decision. Overall, Obama is now facing a 54% disapproval rating among youth, which is the group that vastly supported him and helped usher in his presidency.

 

It is not surprising to see Millennials oppose Obamacare as emphatically as they are seeing that the job market cringes at the thought of more regulations. Just recently, the CBO indicated that roughly 2.5 million workers will leave the workforce due to the health care legislation.  This compounds the economic woes that we are already facing today.

 

Over 21 million Millennials find themselves taking up residence in the confines of their parents’ homes because of the lack of jobs.

 

The primary focus of President Obama should be jobs and growing the economy. If the president really wanted young people to grow up, he should seriously consider allowing the free market to take its course and back off the idea that big government should serve as a nanny.

 

We desire jobs and wages so that we can grow up and get out of our parents’ basements. The president should acknowledge this instead of cramming more job-killing regulations down our throats.

 

Growing up, Mr. President, means admitting when you’re wrong. Who really needs to grow up?

 

 

We Are Black History

Posted: February 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

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Every February, we are kindly reminded of the contributions of many black Americans. We reflect on the bravery and courage of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, who through the process of abolition, liberated many and validated the cause of freedom.

 We embrace the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr and Rosa Parks who braved the hostility of racism and hatred and paved the way for many to access the American dream with their dreams of equality and justice.

 Black history is rich with many stories of heroism, but is it far more than a storybook and a history lesson. It is modern day life. It is the life that we are currently living.

I am far more convinced now that a legacy isn’t formed when one takes up final residence in a grave and others begin to articulate how they lived their lives. A legacy isn’t created on a epitaph or a monument with glorious quotes, but it is created in what we do in the present to preserve the future.

 This current generation of black Americans are now living their legacy. It is simply up to them on how this legacy is presented.

 I encourage black Americans to live as a victor. When we take opportunities that are advantageous for us to become empowered, we enhance our history.

 I am here today to declare that we can have access to a good quality education. We can possess the entrepreneurial spirit and become successful and produce thriving families, which in essence, would contribute to a thriving community.

 Our success in life is not contingent on how big a role government promises to play in our lives, but it is dependent upon morals, faith, our values, hard work, and the sole determination to rise from the ashes of low living and partake of the promises given to us by our Creator.

 We must speak to the mountains of despair within our community and command them to be removed. We must exchange prison cells that occupy many black men for educational study halls, colleges and corporate offices. We must substitute the lack of a father figure in many black homes for a two-parent unit, which provides mobility and strength in a family.

 Most importantly, we must acknowledge that Almighty God is the source of our provisions and strength, and that he enables us to make choices that will have a great impact in our families, communities, and nation.

  Black history is only vital if we preserve it. We can preserve it by deciding to free ourselves from any chains of social or economic bondage that would attempt to keep us in a low state of mind.

 The future lies within our hands. Those that went before us should be honored and remembered, but the responsibility is now up to us. We are black history.

 

 

Is There A Cure For Poverty?

Posted: February 10, 2014 in Uncategorized
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My generation is currently barraged with student loans, an anemic labor force, an inadequate number of available jobs, the failing Obamacare fiasco, a mounting debt crisis, and other pressing issues. Thus, marriage may indeed be the last thing on our minds. However, if recent research is to be believed, marriage may be one of the best ways to diminish poverty and income equality that the President is so adamant to combat.

According to the Census Bureau, only 7.5% of families consisting of married parents lived in poverty, compared to 33.9% of single parent families. While marriage in itself doesn’t totally eradicate income equality or a poor standard of living, it certainly increases the likelihood that a family will be better off. Single parents, while certainly not eliminated from climbing the economic ladder, are just not as equipped for financial security as those who are married. Steven Crowder validates this point by demonstrating that married couples make more and create a larger net worth that accumulates over time. Another study from Harvard University showed that single parents not only struggle to offer a solid home, but actually serve as a hindrance to upward social mobility for their children.

Sadly, this trend may continue in the coming years as the Center of Disease Control and Prevention found that 40.7% of babies were born to unwed mothers in 2012.

Oftentimes, single parenting is unavoidable due to unforeseen consequences or a tragedy. However, our generation should take these studies seriously.

As the President increases his campaign to end poverty, it would be nice to see President Obama and other political leaders address and embrace solutions to the causes of poverty rather than enflame the fires of income equality to score political points.

Read more: http://generationopportunity.org/2014/02/08/the-cure-for-poverty/#ixzz2swA5jxLX

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Certainly laughter and comedic relief are consuming the atmosphere of our homes during this time of year. Reminiscing on holiday stories, entertaining unexpected guests, and the participating of gluttony in the midst of various Christmas parties usually obliges us to not only laugh, but create new lasting memories.

If you add Barbara Walter’s most recent claim to this list, you’ll find your self laughing uncontrollably, and yet grimacing at the very thought. In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, Walters expressed an opinion that shocked very few. When asked about the president’s dismal performance and low approval ratings, she retorted, “We thought he was going to be our Messiah” .

You can watch the clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9YWKkgjK7Y

While her admittance of absurdity and fallacy surely causes one to erupt in sarcastic cheer, the danger here is that she is simply a spokesperson for the many that idolizes mortal humans.

Our culture is contaminated by those who put imperfect human beings on proverbial pedestals and worship their every act. In Walters attempt to align the leader of the free world to the risen Savior, she not only made a mockery of the deity of Christ, but she exposed a culture that has substituted God for individuality.

In the concept of Walters claim, she confesses that many Americans perceived President Obama to be the divine answer to our country’s problematic woes. It was the naïve thinking of many in 2008 when Obama was elected to the Oval Office that one man alone will arise from the ashes and restore dignity and economic prosperity to our beloved America.

There is a bigger question that lays here. Who do we idolize? In addendum,  do we realize this shortcoming and are we attempting to fix it?

We’ll pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to see sports icons for a few hours of entertainment. We’ll spend countless amounts of dollars supporting musical artists who have lives that are exempt from morality and values.

We’ll vote for politicians who cheat on their spouses and abort the promises they made to their constituents on the campaign trial for popularity and political fame.

We’ll expose our children to the confines of Hollywood entertainment for the sake of making them culturally relevant, when in essence, we are raising them to embrace the moral decay of our secularized culture.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with having role models and mentors who encourage and inspire us to be the every best we can be, we must be cognizant of the fact that unless we provide a moral and convicting solution to the contamination problems within our culture, we are simply part of the idolization.

Whether it is Barbara Walters or the enthused fan at Yankee Stadium, we must prevent ourselves from contaminating our souls with adoration that belongs to our Creator and not to man.