Trump, the Politically Incorrect Politician

TrumpI’m almost ashamed to admit that I was once a big fan of current Republican Presidential nominee, Donald Trump.  Years ago, before The Apprentice and before he became a controversial politician, I discovered his best selling book, The Art of the Deal.  Trump’s business acumen and his Machiavellian style bravado made him seem like a real life Gordon Gekko.  In great detail, he discussed the intricacies of deal making and the joy that he would feel after successfully completing a significant business deal.

As a recent college graduate, who was determined to become a successful businessman, I incorporated some of Trump’s ideals and philosophies into my personal life.  But, the reincarnated Trump, bares little resemblance to the 1980’s deal maker who emblazoned his name on almost everything that he owned, from hotels, airplanes and even cologne.

In recent years, Donald Trump has managed to reinvent himself in the form of a brash, politically incorrect politician who has captured the attention of devout GOP voters and continues to lead in almost every Republican poll.  When Trump announced his most recent Presidential bid, he immediately created controversy by proclaiming that as President, he would deport all Hispanic illegal aliens back to their countries.

As a result of his proclamation, he instantly jumped to the top of the polls.  Where most GOP candidates were reluctant to make such controversial claims about immigration, Trump was undeterred and as a result, he has become the focal point of the GOP race.  His campaign rallies draw thousands of avid supporters who fervently believe that he is the answer to their political prayers.

This is Trump’s third attempt at running for U.S. President, despite never holding political office before.  Unlike his failed prior attempts, Trump seized momentum from the inception with his current campaign.  Like a savvy businessman, he learned from his past failures, reinvented himself and out maneuvered his other GOP competitors by making extreme proclamations regarding Mexican-Americans, border security and dealing harshly with Chinese and Iranian policies, to name a few.

One of the lessons I believe that Trump learned, was to not present himself as a politician.  In his prior campaigns, he appeared hesitant to shake up the status quo and quickly lost ground to ultra-conservatives like Rick Santorum.  His new platform, and his emphasis on presenting himself as a wealthy businessman who has nothing in common with his political competitors has been called “refreshing” by a large majority of Republicans and even a few Democrats.

Initially, I assumed that like his previous attempts, Americans would quickly grow tired of his rhetoric and dismiss him once again as just another wannabe Presidential candidate.  However, Trump has been able to excite what some pundits call “the angry white” voters and maintain his position atop the GOP polls.   These are the same voters who adamantly supported extremists like Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and anyone else who vocally disparaged President Obama.  But as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told the Washington Post in 2012, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

Trump is undoubtedly preaching to a choir, whose membership is declining.  Most census data predicts that Latinos will comprise nearly half of all U.S. citizens within the next 30 – 40 years.   Furthermore, the country’s political leanings are growing increasingly more liberal and less conservative, with the advent of gay marriage, universal healthcare and the easing of marijuana laws.

As Trump continues to lead in the polls and stir up his conservative base, he’s also alienating future generations of voters who will likely perceive the Republican party as unsympathetic to their beliefs and their cultural backgrounds.  This is why many in his party are beginning to speak up and disavow him as a legitimate candidate, who doesn’t represent the “true” principals of their ideology.  But ironically, he does represent everything within the GOP platform.

Since Obama was elected in 2008, they have adopted a scorched earth policy towards him and the Democrats.  They have routinely attempted to block every piece of major legislation, threatened lawsuits over his use of executive powers, attempted to repeal Obamacare nearly fifty times, shut down the government and invited a foreign leader to address Congress without his approval.  The Republican position towards President Obama has created so much animosity that New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie is constantly ridiculed just for giving the President an enthusiastic hug.

In a recent debate hosted by Fox News, Rand Paul and Donald Trump both chastised Christie for his embrace of President Obama during his visit to New Jersey, shortly after Hurricane Sandy.  This puerile and asinine position towards our President, is a new low for the Republican party and provided the perfect platform for Trump to gain immediate credibility among those who possess minimal respect for our President, despite his achievements.

I personally lost all respect for Trump, when he became the de facto leader of the Birther Movement,  and vociferously implied that Obama was not born in the U.S.   Trump also questioned the legitimacy of Obama’s academic achievements while at Columbia and Harvard, insisting that he was given preferential treatment.  Criticizing an accomplished African-American’s academic bona fides, is a commonly used racist “dog whistle” that Trump doesn’t mind blowing loud and clear.

Whether or not Trump is a racist is up for debate, but he certainly doesn’t mind offending Latinos, African-Americans, Asians etc. in his attempt to solidify his support.  His ascendancy to the top of the Republican polls, unfortunately represents the official “dumbing down” of America.  Trump is simply a showman who has utilized his celebrity as a reality TV star and applied it to the political theater.  I suspect that his real motivation for seeking the highest office has more to do with increasing his brand, than actually winning.

Many loud and controversial politicians like Trump have made a big splash into American politics but quickly fell back down to earth.  However, he seems to have defied his 15 minutes of political fame and with only 13 months until election day, continues to maintain his lead over his competitors.  If Trump continues to lead in the polls, everyone will be anxious to see if the GOP reluctantly anoints Trump as their nominee.  The outcome of that decision will no doubt have a lasting impact on their party, as Trump has become their ring leader and their biggest liability.

Profits over Prophecy

crefloI recently watched the newly released documentary entitled Going Clear, which exposes many of the Church of Scientology’s deeply held secrets, including prison camp type treatment, harassment of ex-members, physical beatings by church leaders and the church’s ultimate victory against the IRS to declare themselves as a non-profit religious organization.  I must admit that I thought I knew a lot about Scientology and its enigmatic founder, L. Ron Hubbard, who was once a prolific science fiction writer, but the documentary revealed a lot of arcane practices and rituals that were previously unreported.

I’ve studied many religions and I’m always fascinated by what makes people become devout religious believers.  The documentary featured former high level church members who had previously defended Scientology in the media as a sound and credible institution of higher consciousness.  Several of the former members described bizarre intimidation tactics instituted by the church leader, David Miscavige, such as constant one-on-one evaluation sessions conducted by high ranking members called Auditors, which were designed to document the church members vulnerabilities and were ultimately used to intimidate ex-members from speaking to the media.

While watching the film, I began to recall similar stories about the Mormon religion and the Church of Latter Day Saints and some of the tactics they used to intimidate former members.  In a documentary entitled, This World, The Mormon Candidate, former church members recounted being harassed by private investigators who were former FBI agents.   They also discussed being “disconnected” from their friends and families who were still associated with the church, which was also a common practice utilized by the Church of Scientology.

The irony of a church encouraging family members to “disconnect” from their friends and family members, just seems unfathomable and a complete contrast to the tenets of a religious organization.  It’s this level of zealousness that’s so intriguing; seemingly stable people who completely surrender their spiritual objectivity to an organization or to a spiritual leader, who often use that blind faith to financially enrich themselves and elevate their status among their congregants and their community.

Recently, Megachurch Minister Creflo Dollar was chastised in the press for asking his followers to donate $65 million dollars towards the purchase of a new private jet.  Dollar proclaimed that he needed the new jet so that he could continue to spread the gospel around the world, despite reports that he already owns 4 other private jet planes, several mansions and expensive cars.

According to several news organizations, Dollar’s church generates an average of $69 million in annual donations, all of which is presumably tax free.  While I’ve never attended Dollar’s church, I’ve heard that devout members are required to share their annual financial information with the church and to set up automatic monthly tithing from their checking accounts based on their annual income.

Tithing which is defined as giving a one-tenth part of something or a contribution to a religious organization or compulsory tax to a government, is the lifeblood of any religious organization.  However, in the past 20 years megachurch ministers have found other lucrative tax free revenue streams.  Ministers such as Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Paula White, T.D. Jakes and others routinely travel the world in their private jets with large entourages, proselytizing their “prosperity gospel” and collecting large speaker fees, along with selling millions of books, tapes and producing theatrical films.

It’s the latter revenue stream that came to the attention of the U.S. Senate in 2007 and prompted an inquiry into the finances of megachurch leaders such as Creflo Dollar, T.D. Jakes, Bishop Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer and Paula White Ministries in Florida.

The Senate panel requested financial documents from each leader in an effort to determine if their lavish lifestyles violated the churches’ tax-exempt status.   According to related news articles, many of the ministers responded to the inquiry but were unwilling to provide complete financial disclosure, especially Creflo Dollar.

The rise of megachurches and their leader’s ancillary tax free revenue streams have come under constant scrutiny.  Should a minister who generates millions of dollars in book sales, speaker fees and box office revenue pay taxes on that income?  Of course they should!  Unless they can demonstrate that that the bulk of the tax free revenue is materially benefiting their donors and the communities that they serve, otherwise it should be considered taxable revenue.

Ministers like Dollar, defended their lavish lifestyles and income by proclaiming that they have routinely purchased cars and houses for church members.  While this seems admirable and altruistic, I doubt that this is a common occurrence.    In 2012, an employee of Dollar’s church was unfortunately murdered while working in a church office by an intruder.  In reaction, Dollar encouraged church members to donate to a fund to pay off the widow’s mortgage and outstanding debt.  With millions already donated to his church, Dollar who’s probably a multimillionaire, brazenly asked his congregation to take on the burden of paying off a church member’s debts.

To be clear, I’m not a hater of ministers who create massive amounts of wealth.  I think preachers should be rewarded for building a large and loyal following, and should be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor.  The issue that I have is, how much wealth is enough?  How many planes, cars and houses does a minister really need?  Apparently, to Dollar and others, they should be able to flaunt their tax free wealth without question.

According to an article published by Urban Intellectuals, African-Americans have donated almost 420 billion dollars to black churches in the past 30 years.  If the bulk of those tithes and donations were invested back into the black communities in the form of charter schools, job training, tuition assistance and drug counseling, it’s likely that the unemployment rate and crime levels would be dramatically reduced in the neighborhoods that they serve.  But it’s clear that these megachurches are not reinvesting the majority of their donations back to the community, instead they’re being used to generate more money for the church leaders, without sharing the wealth with their most loyal congregants.

A true spiritual leader with millions in donations, should be dedicated to building institutions and programs that actually help their followers, instead of hoarding those tithes and enriching themselves.  Spiritual leaders like Gandhi and Mother Teresa could have easily taken advantage of their followers and enriched themselves beyond measure, but they elevated the true purpose of their calling over the pursuit of riches.

It would be refreshing to see these uber-wealthy ministers adopt the same mind set, but it’s unlikely since the source of their wealth is predicated on people who hope to achieve financial prosperity through the gospel.

Empire unexpectedly canceled due to complaints from church leaders and music executives


Despite the meteoric and unprecedented rise of Fox’s hit show, Empire.  The network has decided to pull the show, much to the chagrin of loyal followers who have been captivated since the debut of the pilot episode.  The show is based on a fictional family, struggling to maintain a musical empire founded by former drug dealers played impeccably by Taraji P. Henson and Terrance Howard.  The reason for the cancellation according to Fox, was based on continuous pressure from evangelical church leaders and disgruntled music executives, threatening to sue the network for copyright infringement…this is also an April Fools Joke!  Be sure to check out my new book, Confessions of a 40 (something) year old Bachelor on Amazon

The Intentional Grounding of Black Coaches in College and the NFL

TonyAs an avid fan of college and pro football, I dedicate a lot of my weekend hours to watching my favorite sport.  I instinctively find myself rooting for teams that have a tradition of allowing black quarterbacks to start and teams that also have a black coach.  My support of black quarterbacks and coaches evolved from a time when I recalled not seeing any black coaches and very few black quarterbacks leading their teams.  Despite African-Americans making up almost 70% of players in both college and the NFL, African-American coaches are severely underrepresented compared to white coaches.

Of the 32 teams in the NFL, only five currently have an African-American head coach – and the numbers are even worse in Division I college ranks.  To address this disparity, in 2003, the NFL introduced the Rooney Rule (named after Steelers’ former owner, Art Rooney).  The Rooney Rule required each NFL team to interview at least one African-American coach prior to making a head coaching decision.  Since the Rooney Rule has been implemented, we’ve seen the number of overall black coaches increase only slightly.  Furthermore, the number of first time black head coaches without prior head coaching experience was miniscule compared to the number of white head coaches without prior head coaching experience.

If someone were previously oblivious to the NFL and began following the league, they may ask:  Why are most of the players black and most of the coaches are white?  Is it because white coaches are simply better at coaching? Are African-Americans more suited for playing the game, instead of coaching the game?  These would all be valid questions to an outside observer, but as we know, there’s a lot more to consider when trying to answer these salient questions.

For many years, college and NFL teams only allowed a few black players to play the game – despite their obvious physical attributes.  Over the past thirty years, the NFL has transformed into a league that thrives on African-American players  — unfortunately, black head coaches were not allowed to thrive in the league.  The NFL did not hire its first African-American head coach until 1989, when the late Al Davis hired Art Shell to lead his Oakland Raiders.   Since then, there have only been 15 black head coaches in NFL history.

Recently, Rex Ryan and John Fox were released from their respective teams but wasted no time finding new head coaching jobs within days of their dismissal.  The same cannot be said for African-American coaches.  Lovie Smith who took the Chicago Bears to the Superbowl in 2006, was dismissed from his job in 2012 but did not land another head coaching position until two years later.  Denny Green and Herm Edwards both had similar experiences after being fired from their jobs.  The bottom line is that if you’re white, you have a much better chance of landing another head coaching job.

What’s the cause of this disparity?  Are NFL owners being racist? Or are they simply hiring people that they feel “comfortable” with?  Regardless of the motives, it’s clear that black coaches are not given the same opportunity as white coaches.  Many black coaches are steered towards defensive coordinator positions instead of the coveted offensive coordinator job, which is typically seen as a stepping stone to a head coaching job.   The stereotype of black coaches for a long time was that they were good at defensive schemes but incapable of being in charge of a sophisticated offensive game plan.

One of the objectives of the Rooney Rule was to give black coaches more experience at interviewing for head coaching jobs, which may have led to the hiring of coaches like Mike Tomlin, Leslie Frazier, Mike Singletary and Raheem Morris.  This was a great initiative but now it appears that most teams flaunt the NFL rule, skipping interviews with black coaches in an effort to hire more white coaches.

If the NFL was a traditional corporation, they most likely would have been sued for discrimination a long time ago.  There are very few industries where the majority of the workforce is dominated by one race or gender but not equally represented in the demographics of their managerial staff – imagine  companies like Mary Kay or Avon not having a history of female CEO’s, it would have certainly caused a public backlash.  However, in the NFL it’s simply business as usual.

Black coaches are probably reticent about the lack of opportunity because they don’t want to be “blacklisted” by NFL teams.  Until African-American coaches are given the same opportunity to fail and succeed as their counterparts, you will continue to see a gross lack of representation.  In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”  The NFL and college programs have come a long way in their hiring practices but there’s clearly more work to be done, to achieve Dr. King’s dream.

Eyes on the Empire

empire1Like most urbanites, I was anxious to see the premiere of Fox’s new television show entitled, Empire. It was difficult to drive around the city of LA without seeing a billboard or poster promoting this intriguing new hip-hop drama about the music business.  I typically don’t follow network TV shows, but I clearly was captivated by the hype and the unique storyline.

Once I began to watch the show, I was drawn in by the music and the myriad of complex characters.  Including, Terrence Howard as the patriarch of a musical dynasty and his convoluted relationship with his recently paroled ex-wife, played by the dynamic Taraji P. Henson.  Howard and Henson bring an instant credibility to the storyline, with their superb acting skills and on-screen presence. My biggest concern while watching Empire was, would it be authentic? Authenticity in the world of hip-hop is critical to an artist’s success and usually determines their level of success and acceptability – but there are exceptions like Iggy Azalea, who sounds like she’s a karaoke rapper that hasn’t been booed offstage yet.

Other than a few corny moments, where Howard’s sons attempt to collaborate on a hit song to appease their demanding father — I felt as though the show was realistic.  To enhance the credibility of the leading actors, Howard and Henson, director Lee Daniels incorporated flashbacks to a grittier time in their relationship as a successful drug dealer and an aspiring rapper trying to make it “big.”

The flashbacks also provide a back story into the evolution of their children’s lives and their complicated relationship with their parents.  In one scene, Howard’s middle son, who’s struggling with “coming out” can be seen prancing into the living room wearing his mother’s clothing.   Howard’s character angrily responds and picks up his son and throws him into a trash can outside.  I recently read that this was an actual event that occurred in director Lee Daniels’ life as a boy.  So apparently, Mr. Daniels who is one of the executive producers, has created a character within the show, that he can vicariously tell his personal story through as part of a fictional musical dynasty.

The inclusion of a gay hip-hop artist was quite surprising and I’m sure caused a lot of viewers to question the overall theme of the TV show.  Watching the way that Howard’s character handled his relationship with his gay son was quite awkward but also provided a real-life perspective on how difficult it must be for a father to accept his son’s lifestyle.

Despite his feelings towards his son, Lucious, the main character must decide which of his three sons will ascend to the throne of his soon-to-be publicly traded hip hop empire.  However, this narrative is severely flawed because it’s obvious that his older Ivy league educated son, Andre, is the clear choice to be the next CEO.  His other two sons, who are both artists, seem to be completely unqualified and uninterested in running a large company.  Which begs the question, how could a successful businessman like Lucious not clearly see the obvious choice? Would he risk turning over a thriving music business to his younger son, who seems to be struggling to develop his career while dealing with the temptations of being young, rich and famous? Most likely not, but the producers apparently thought it could work.

After the pilot episode was over, I felt like there were too many dynamics to consider within the story.  Lucious murders his long-time friend who was seeking to extort money from him, Lucious finds out he has terminal ALS, his wife is recently released from prison and finagles her way into his company, his sons are dealing with the return of their estranged mother, his older son his plotting with his mother to take control of the company, his ex-wife is jealous of his new girlfriend, Lucious is worried about taking his company public etc.  All of these elements didn’t have to be revealed in the pilot episode, it felt as though the director was overreaching.

Regardless of the flawed storyline, Empire certainly seems like a show worth watching and I’m curious to see how the series unfolds.  Like most of the 9.8 million viewers that tuned in last week, I’ll be watching tonight to see if the show is truly destined to become an “empire.”

Why Richard Sherman doesn’t get a “Pass”

ShermanMuch has been made about Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman’s rant after his team defeated the 49ers in last week’s hotly contested NFC Championship game.  Sherman made an athletic play to tip the ball to his teammate who then secured it for a game clenching interception against the 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree.   Sherman was seen taunting a dejected Crabtree after the play was over and continued his celebration by throwing up a choke sign towards the 49ers sideline.  Immediately after the game, Sherman was interviewed by well-known sports reporter Erin Andrews.   Sherman still excited about his big play, proceeded to shout into the camera about how great a player he was and how “sorry” of a receiver Michael Crabtree was.   Erin had a look of astonishment on her face as she struggled to continue her questioning.

The reaction to Sherman’s now infamous rant reverberated across national news outlets and social media.   My immediate reaction was one of disbelief that an athlete would go so far to disgrace another athlete on such a huge stage.  As a former football player, I’ve dished out my share of smack talk on the field but I always shook my opponent’s hand afterwards – whether in victory or defeat.  However, Richard Sherman decided that he would let out all of his frustrations and toss sportsmanship aside in an effort to further embarrass his opponent and shout to the world about his greatness.

I knew that Sherman had attended Stanford so I decided to google his bio and I was surprised to see that he graduated with a 4.2 GPA.  While I was impressed with his academic performance, I was also confounded about how a top Stanford student athlete could unleash such a vociferous and self- aggrandizing tirade on national TV.  His rant has been the central topic of discussion on sports blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc. with many supporters but mostly detractors referring to him as a thug.   Sherman responded by suggesting that the term “thug” was actually just a euphemism for the N-word.  I agree with him that the word “thug” when used to describe a black man is really just a code word — however, that doesn’t excuse his behavior or his antics.  When I saw him shouting into the camera, I didn’t see a Stanford grad with a 4.2 GPA, I saw a wannabe thug embarrassing himself on national TV.

Once the storm of criticism began to swell, many people began to make excuses for him by suggesting that he should get a pass because he made it out of Compton or because he was a great student at a renowned university.   Some have also said that he was just reacting in the heat of the moment, but his demeanor didn’t seem to change until he was forced to issue an apology by his head coach.  Since arriving in the NFL three years ago, Sherman has been known as a “hot head”, an agitator – someone who takes pleasure in disgracing his opponent.  So his post-game rant was really just an extension of his on field behavior.   I applaud the fact that he made it out of a rough neighborhood and became successful, but he’s not the first black man to ever beat the odds nor will he be the last.

I saw a Facebook post comparing Justin Beiber’s recent arrest and his past troubles with Richard Sherman’s tirade, suggesting that there’s a double standard when it comes to black people in the media.  It’s true, there’s always been a double standard!  But does that mean that we should lower our expectations of ourselves as a result?  No, it doesn’t.  Imagine if President Obama blamed his recent troubles regarding the NSA and Obamacare on the fact that he was black and came from a single parent household.  I personally believe that if he were a Republican, they would be carving out a monument for him on Mount Rushmore right next to Lincoln, Washington, Roosevelt and Jefferson as we speak.

Every man regardless of his race is accountable for his own behavior.  Yes, some black men are thugs.  Yes, some black men do commit more crimes than others and there may be socio-economic issues that are the root cause but for those like Richard Sherman there should be a higher standard.  That’s why I was so disappointed in his behavior, instead of portraying himself as a smart, fearless football player – he came across as just another thug, beating his chest and looking for personal attention in a team sport.

The real tragedy in his tirade was that instead of America talking about his personal story of overcoming the odds, being a role model and becoming a star cornerback in the NFL – all we heard about was the “thug” word, stereotypes about black athletes and double standards in the media.  I’m personally tired of hearing, “Oh that’s just how black people act.” It sounds like such a cop-out.   If I embarrass myself in front of my clients, I don’t expect them to treat me differently because I’m black – I have too much respect for myself to allow that type of thinking.

Perhaps we’ve come to accept a lower standard, sagging pants, grilled teeth, fatherless children and a lack of education seem to be in vogue.  I choose to hold myself to a higher standard and I expect those with the gifts and talents like Richard Sherman to do the same but maybe I’m just being hopeful and naïve because I still believe in the old mantra – Each one teach one.

Why We Still Hurt

blackpainPresident Obama’s recent unexpected comments about the Trayvon Martin tragedy were quite revealing in the personal manner in which he described his own experiences with being profiled as an African American man.     Obama talked about being followed while shopping in a department store, noticing people lock their doors as he walked across the street and also seeing white women who clutched their purses and held their breath while they were in a confined elevator with him.

These are all very familiar themes for African Americans because we continue to be subjected to these overt acts of profiling in our daily lives.   I recall shopping at an upscale mall where I had purchased a back massager from Brookstone which came in a very large box.  I decided to peruse the mall before I took the box to my car.    As I was walking through the Nordstrom’s men’s section on my way to the exit, I suddenly saw a mall security officer leap from behind a rack of clothes as if he wanted to startle me.

He was talking on his walkie- talkie and never introduced himself or said anything to me.   I thought the whole incident was strange but as I was walking to my car, I realized that he was trying to get a reaction from me because he thought that I was a thief.

The following day I called the mall security and asked them if they had a policy of following African Americans around the mall as they shopped.   I explained to them what happened to me the previous day and that I felt slighted by this officer’s conduct; of course they denied that this was their policy, but it was obvious that this was probably standard procedure for them.

My primary reason for calling was because I was upset that I was profiled and I wanted to make sure that someone responsible heard my voice and my complaint.   One of things that really resonated with me about Obama’s statements was that he indicated that black people felt put off by the failure of society to acknowledge that this type of profiling was prevalent.

This failure to acknowledge our pain and our frustrations is the very root of many of the maladies that exist within the black community.   Without a means or an outlet to vent our frustrations about profiling and discrimination on a daily basis, many times that anger is directed towards our own community.   Escalating black on black crime in many large cities is rooted in disappointment, lack of opportunities and decades of discrimination.

In 1995 after the overthrow of the white majority rule in South Africa, President Mandela helped to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) where witnesses who were identified as victims of gross human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experiences, and some were selected for public hearings.   Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution (Source:  Wikipedia). The result of this initiative was profound because it helped to heal some of the pain associated with decades of apartheid on the majority of black South Africans.

America has never apologized for two decades of brutal enslavement that our ancestors had to endure, nor has there ever been an attempt to reconcile the pain and the injustice of slavery.    Since we’ve elected our first African American President, I think some people assumed that we were living in a post racial society.   But the Trayvon Martin tragedy was a reminder that race is still prevalent and we still have a long way to go to achieve MLK Jr.’s dream of a non-racial society.

I often feel as though we’re becoming two different races composed of educated and affluent African Americans and a distant race of disaffected black youth who don’t feel as though they’re a part of our society.    There are many reasons why these youth feel so disenfranchised but I believe that the primary reason is the absence of strong black male role models in their life and the decline of two parent families in America.

Young black men are more likely to join a gang because the gang lifestyle represents an extended family of male role models who serve as surrogate father figures in their life.    The result is typically an early death or extended incarceration, which has not declined over the past 20 years.

I believe that we have reached a point in the black community whereby we can help those who want to help themselves and we simply have to pray for those who are lost.