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Not My Son

Not My SonNot MY Son

By Gail R. Jackson, Editor

 No doubt protestors in America are outraged over the decisions by our justice system not to indict white police officers who were involved in several shootings and killings of unarmed African-American males.  So am I.  Words alone can’t express my anger. Every time a killing has occurred, from Trayvon Martin to the Eric Garner, I’ve gotten sick to my stomach because short of protesting, I can’t do anything about it.   Black men are being gunned down by white police all across America but are not being held accountable.  This madness has got to stop.   I have a seven year old grandson so my maternal reaction is to protect him from this injustice. Of course, not one person can do it alone.

I am reminded of the pivotal role the church played during the Civil Rights Era.  African Americans were sick and tired of being treated like they didn’t matter.  In an effort to affect change, the churches were mobilizing points, people stuck together, many lives were sacrificed.  As a result, through blood, sweat and tears, today African Americans are better off because of it.  I believe that the time has come once again to address the racial divide that exists in this country.  Police brutality won’t be ignored and I believe that the church should lead the effort.  The church, the strength of the Black community, the most powerful institution we have, has got to stand up and say enough is enough. Church programs, musicals, and anniversary celebrations have their places, but the church must be about much more than that if the lives of our young men are to be saved.

It is my hope, my prayer that next year churches would come together in solidarity and purpose to adopt plans to build better relationships between the police and the community.  Initiate social activities such as softball games, fishing expeditions, bowling tournaments, and camping.  Involving local police in the lives of Black men allows the police to see young Black men as human beings and, as a result, end racial profiling.  Black men would learn the job of the police, learn the law and the consequences of disobeying it.  I don’t have all the answers, but I know that doing nothing to address this crisis is not it.  Romans 12:9-10 (LB) reads, “Don’t just pretend that you love others, really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good.”

Tamir Rice was only 12 years old when he was shot down before he could comply with police.  Amadou Diallo, 23, was shot 19 times while reaching for his ID that the police asked for.  There are many other victims.  When will the next police shooting of an unarmed Black male occur, and where?  Will it be in our community, New Orleans, Marrero, Gretna?  What other names will join those of Treyvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and Amadou Diallo?  Will it be your relative?   Don’t wait until another murder of one of our boys or men occurs to get involved.  Keep the protests going, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” “I can’t breathe.”

Please stand with me and say enough is enough.  Get involved.  This madness has got to stop.  We must be proactive as a community; we must be our brother’s keeper.

So say it with me, “Not my Son.” Say it with an attitude, “Not My Son, Not My husband, grandson, uncle, pastor, neighbor’s son, church member’s son …. . “

 

 

 

What are You Thankful For?

What are You

Thankful For?

 

By KaJa J. Dilosa, age 9

 

KaJa(1)Okay, it`s November and Thanksgiving is close, so I’ve been thinking about what I’m grateful for.  I also interviewed some special people in my life to find out what they are thankful for, and this is what they said.  First let`s start with me.

I`m thankful for life, a house to live in, clothes, food, and last but not least, I am thankful for being a daughter of God.

I interviewed my mom.  She is also thankful for life, her family, parents, grandparents, that the New Orleans Saints are winning, peace, loving kids and husband, good health, and that she can help others.  After my mom, I talked to my friend, Zoe.

Zoe is thankful for friends, her mom, her education, and life. Next up is Mother (my grandmother).

Mother is thankful to wake up each day because she knows that God is allowing her the opportunity to make a difference in someone`s life and that others may bless her as well.  She is thankful for her beautiful mother, Sunday family gatherings, dear friends, church, and God’s blessings upon all of us.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             After Mother, it was Pawpaw Larry’s turn.  Pawpaw is thankful for his family, his health, possibilities, thankful for his wife, and the best kids and grandkids.  Next up is my little brother, Jahari.  He is 6 years old.

Jahari is thankful for pizza, eggs, his mommy and daddy, his big sister, a house, plenty of toys, the grocery store, friends, games, and electronics.

My cousin Tylee is 11 years old. He is thankful for one thing, LIFE.  His brother, Trey, 12, is also thankful for life and  family, love, friends, his dad and mom, and everything.  Next up is my friend, Emely.

Emely is thankful for her family, her friends, holidays, and life.  My other friend is named Elizabeth.  She is thankful for her friends, her family, animals, life, her house, holidays, and her brother.

My dance director is thankful too.  Ms. Decay is thankful for her family, the dance school, ALOD [Awesome Ladies of Distinction], God’s grace and mercy, and her health.

Finally, my dance instructor, Ms. Lee, is thankful for her good health as well, for creativity, and freedom.  She said she is thankful for her life, food and shelter, and the right to make her own decisions.

What are you thankful for?  Happy Thanksgiving!

 

KaJa is in the fourth grade in the Jefferson Parish School System.  This is her very first article.  She aspires to be a writer, a professional dancer, and a photographer.   Her hobbies are dancing, shopping, and reading.

 

 

Make Someone’s Wish Come True

 

Make Someone’s Wish Come True

By Gail R. Jackson

 

Gail11Recently on a television talk show, a young man was being interviewed by three women.  Seeming to be just another kid to me, their body language indicated something different.  They were fascinated by what this boy had to say, and it was obvious to me that they were deeply touched by his story.  It got my undivided attention so I stopped what I was doing and watched.

The young African-American teenager told the talk show hosts that he asked his pastor if he could come up and address the congregation; his wish was granted.   From the pulpit, he gave a heartfelt plea explaining how his mother died in prison when he was very young and he has been living in foster homes most of his life.  The teenager asked if someone would adopt him.  “All I want is for someone to love me,” he said.  As of this date, hundreds of people have applied to adopt the teenager.

That young man’s request took my breath away and presented a different perspective in my life.  Because of his situation and the fact that it’s Thanksgiving time, I wondered what children generally thought about the meaning of Thanksgiving, so I posed the question to my little granddaughter, and her story follows entitled “What are You Thank For.”

The finer things in life, i.e., designer clothes, five-star restaurants, private schools, IPhones and IPads, attending  sporting events, travel and other luxuries have become the norm for many of us.  However, basic needs for so many others, i.e., food and drinkable water, warm clothing, and yes, a family to come home to, ARE other people’s luxuries.

While this holiday season, many teenagers will be expecting electronics, expensive shoes and clothes, even cars, the only prayer of hundreds of others kids in foster care is to simply have someone who loves them and a family in which to come home.

I urge everyone to take some time and reflect on what is truly important, and how you can make someone’s wish come true, especially this holiday season.

 

The Power of Pink

The Power of Pink

By Gail R. Jackson, Editor

 

Gail11The color pink is overwhelmingly everywhere.  This month, all shades of pink are showing up in the most unusual places.  Corporate buildings illuminate pink,  and football & basketball players wear it proudly.  A color most popular in the spring, yet every October, pink has a specific job.  It ushers in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, symbolizing a disease that primarily affects women, and too often results in the devastation of victims and their families.

It’s ironic to me that this classy color, like black, is used to symbolize both elegance and sorrow.  Think about it; there are “pink slips,” “pink eye,” and “pink slime.” A little black dress can send a sensual message while that same dress can be worn to a funeral.  We have accepted society’s claim that black is associated with pain and sorrow, but I can’t wrap my head around why pink, in all its gracefulness, is treated the same.  Dark grey makes more sense.  I wondered what was the mindset around the selection of pink  in a negative light, so I did a little research in order to understand it better.

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Dee-1: Hip Hop Icon Makes God Smile

Dee-1: Hip Hop Icon Makes God Smile

David Augustine

By Kimberly Dilosa

David Augustine, Jr. is the product of two blue collar working parents born and raised in New Orleans East.  He is a young man who, in spite of his environment, beat the odds and graduated from Ben Franklin High School and then Louisiana State University with a degree in marketing.  Armed with a resolve, “I just want to make God smile,”  Augustine has evolved into Dee-1, an international hip hop icon who has taken the world by storm by creating popular music based on his truth.  “I majored in marketing in college to learn how to market products.  I am a product.  Many rappers become “successful products” by telling lies about their lifestyles.  I decided to market myself based on my real life.  I’m not going to hide that I’m a Christian.  I’m not going to hide that I went to college.  I’m not going to hide that I’m a positive black man.”  He says, “Our family didn’t have a lot of money, but I had two hard working parents.  Just watching them every day showed me you can have your desires and needs met if you are willing to work hard.”  Dee-1’s truth has resulted in international success.

The 20-something year old rapper has appeared on HBO’s Treme, and has worked with  music industry royalty including Mos Def, Mannie Fresh, Juvenile, Master P, Murs, and Lupe Fiasco.  He has toured in Canada and just completed a 50-city USA tour, performing in every state in the nation!   Dee-1 inspires audiences from the heart because, he said, “I don’t ever want to be in a position for God to ask me, ‘you had 20 million people loving Dee-1; how many of them did you point in my direction?’ I know this life is temporary.  I want to bring people closer to God; He is my inspiration.”  Obviously he loves the Lord.

Dee-1 makes crowds move to conscious lyrics set to funky beats.  His arsenal of motivational anthems includes hits that make you think while you rock: “Failure ain’t an Option,” “Heart of a King,” “Proud of Me,” and “Bye to the Broke Days.”  Dee says, “I want to motivate people to follow their dreams.  Don’t be stopped by naysayers.  Identify why you are here on Earth and pursue your mission in life.”  Dee-1 continues to break barriers in the music and acting realms by incorporating his real-life experiences into his music.  He spoke about his friends that came up in crazy circumstances.  “My two best friends were murdered.  I rap about what led to the killings.  One was robbed.  They were in pursuit of money (which is the root of all evil).  My other friend gave in to peer pressure.  He didn’t want to be seen with books, he didn’t want to be ‘the smart boy.’  He started doing things that would ultimately result in going to jail or death.”  Both of his friends were good kids with outgoing personalities.

When he is home, he is dedicated to the grassroots community organizations with which he volunteered before his career skyrocketed.  He is inspired by Charles Anderson (founder of United for Peace and director of Ceasefire).  “This dude is not from here and still fights and connects with our struggle in New Orleans.” He goes on to say that he is also inspired by my passion, always willing to work with the YOUTHanasia kids “like we used to do at the Teen Center.”  Reflecting, “Cats like Ben Brubaker, founder of Hip Hop for Hope, urges us to use our collective voices for change.  I’m a member of the 2-Cent movement.  We started at the same time, I’m the rapper, and the other members are the production and community organizing members.”  In spite of international success, Dee-1 is a New Orleans native son at heart.

Dee-1 wakes up with a resolve to win every day.  He ended the interview with his inspirational lyrics, “Yesterday is done; and tomorrow hasn’t come…SO WIN TODAY!”  Job well done young man….Yes, (I believe that) God is smiling on him.

 

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A Question for God. . .

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Me:  God, can I ask You a question?

God:  Sure

Me:  Promise You won’t get mad

God:  I promise

Me:  Why did You let so much stuff happen to me today?

God:  What do u mean?

Me:  Well, I woke up late

God:  Yes

Me:  My car took forever to start

God:  Okay

Me:  At lunch they made my sandwich wrong & I had to wait

God:  Huummm

Me:  On the way home, my phone went DEAD, just as I picked up a call

God:  All right

Me:  And on top of it all, when I got home, I just wanted to soak my feet in my new foot massager & relax. BUT it wouldn’t work!!!  Nothing went right today!  Why did You do that?

God:  Let me see, the death angel was at your bed this morning & I had to send one of My Angels to battle him for your life.  I let you sleep through that

Me (humbled):  OH

GOD:  I didn’t let your car start because there was a drunk driver on your route that would have hit you if you were on the road.

Me:  (ashamed)

God:  The first person who made your sandwich today was sick & I didn’t want you to catch what they have, I knew you couldn’t afford to miss work.

Me:  (embarrassed):Okay

God:  Your phone went dead because the person that was calling was going to give false witness about what you said on that call, I didn’t even let you talk to them so you would be covered.

Me (softly):  I see God

God:  Oh and that foot massager, it had a shortage that was going to throw out all of the power in your house tonight. I didn’t think you wanted to be in the dark.

Me:  I’m Sorry God

God:  Don’t be sorry, just learn to Trust Me…. in All things , the Good & the bad.

Me:  I will trust You.

God:  And don’t doubt that My plan for your day is Always Better than your plan.

Me:  I won’t God. And let me just tell you God, Thank You for Everything today.

God:  You’re welcome child. It was just another day being your God and I Love looking after My Children…

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