Attention Teens: Dead Right is the Same as Dead Wrong!

Attention Teens: Dead Right is the Same as Dead Wrong!

The title of this post is a bit intense, isn’t it? Well, I hope it gets your attention as much as it did mine when I first heard it. I was a 16 year old high school sophomore when I learned what these words meant. And they have literally saved my life.

As a teenager I wanted the independence of being able to drive. So my parents enrolled me in a driver’s education class. The first part of the class was all theory. After I passed that phase, I went on to the next phase – road practice. At the end of the last class before we moved on to actually getting behind the wheel, our instructor said those words that have guided me as a driver the past two and a half decades.

What do you think those words mean? Initially, I wasn’t sure. But then after he explained it, it made perfect sense. What he explained to us is that as new drivers, we had to be careful at all times. We have to drive for ourselves as well as the other drivers on the road. We also have to drive for pedestrians. Because if we get into an accident of any sort, if we die, we’re dead. It doesn’t matter who was right or wrong: dead right is the same as dead wrong.He taught us that the car is a great device but it can also be a lethal weapon, therefore we ought to drive defensively. Assume that other drivers are distracted. Assume that they will run red lights. Assume that pedestrians will walk into on-coming traffic. Just assume the worst and then prepare to avoid collisions at all costs.I raise this issue in this post because many of us as parents have teenagers who are just beginning to drive. And as we know, teenagers “know” everything. They know just what they’re doing and we ought to just leave them alone and let them do their thing. During my teenage years way back in the ‘80s, we didn’t have the many distractions that we have today. No cell phones, no texting and driving, no iPods, no GPS. It was just us and the road.Here are some alarming statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention: 
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for more than one in three deaths in this age group.
  • In 2009, eight teens ages 16 to 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries. 

  • Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash.
  • In 2009, about 3,000 teens in the United States aged 15–19 were killed and  more than 350,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor-vehicle crashes.

These statistics are just an indicator of the fact that teen driving is a matter that we as parents ought to take seriously. There are so many potential distractions as we drive today. And for teens, these distractions often result in disastrous outcomes. They text and drive routinely. They travel in groups and talk and laugh while navigating their way through traffic. They also engage in daring acts such as drag racing. When I was a teenager, I recall a friend and co-worker of mine was driving me home after we got off our late shift (about 2 AM) from a fast food restaurant. He just got a new high performance sports car from his parents.
He told me that the car could go really fast. In my ignorance I asked him to prove it to me. We were on a local road that had a 45 miles per hour speed limit. Would you believe that he got that car up to 140 MPH? I never felt as scared as I did that night. What were we thinking?Now as a man I can look back and say how ridiculous that was. But at the time, we were just teenagers having fun. I did have fun - at least until we were flying down the street because I realized that one wrong move could have easily ended our lives.
Let me also mention the teenage drinking issue. In the United States, the legal drinking age in 21. But how many individuals actually wait until they’re 21 before having their first drink? I’m not proud of this fact but I think that I drank more before reaching the legal drinking age than I have since reaching it. This was particularly true during my early college years. But one thing I never dared to do was drink and drive. That’s dangerous in so many ways. In December 2010, I wrote the post Put Down That Drink, Aren’t You Driving Home? In that post I highlighted the effects of driving under the influence of alcohol. It’s a very serious matter – one that ruins families. Teenagers routinely drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs, endangering themselves, their peers and other drivers when they make these decisions. Some are fortunate to live to the point that they realize how silly those wrong decisions are. But many never get that chance simply because they put themselves in danger and end up losing their lives.
As a parent of a 12 year old daughter, I know that in a few years she will be driving. And I’m already giving her driving tips. I’ve given her the “dead right is the same as dead wrong speech” already. And as I drive, I show her practical applications of that teaching.If you’re the father or mother of teens, do share this post with them. It’s a lesson that I believe will save lives. I’d much prefer that we annoy our children with our speeches and lectures about being safe drivers than deal with the alternative. No one wins when accidents occur.
I hope that this post is somewhat of an eye-opener. Dead right is, in fact, the same as dead wrong. Let’s share this message so that we minimize the likelihood that our kids or anyone in our sphere of influence learn this lesson the hard way. My intent is that this post will save our kids’ lives. We owe it to them to give them the best counsel as they begin to assume the responsibility of driving.Do enjoy your day. And if you drive, please do so with the utmost caution today and always.

America has lost a generation of Black boys

It is not that we lack solutions as much as it is that we lack the will to implement these solutions to save Black boys

There is no longer a need for dire predictions, hand-wringing, or apprehension about losing a generation of Black boys. It is too late. In education, employment, economics, incarceration, health, housing, and parenting, we have lost a generation of young Black men. The question that remains is will we lose the next two or three generations, or possibly every generation of Black boys hereafter to the streets, negative media, gangs, drugs, poor education, unemployment, father absence, crime, violence and death.

Most young Black men in the United States don’t graduate from high school.  Only 35% of Black male students graduated from high school in Chicago and only 26% in New York City, according to a 2006 report by The Schott Foundation for Public Education.  Only a few black boys who finish high school actually attend college, and of those few Black boys who enter college, nationally, only 22% of them finish college.  

Young Black male students have the worst grades, the lowest test scores, and the highest dropout rates of all students in the country.  When these young Black men don’t succeed in school, they are much more likely to succeed in the nation’s criminal justice and penitentiary system.  And it was discovered recently that even when a young Black man graduates from a U.S. college, there is a good chance that he is from Africa, the Caribbean or Europe, and not the United States.  

Black men in prison in America have become as American as apple pie.  There are more Black men in prisons and jails in the United States (about 1.1 million) than there are Black men incarcerated in the rest of the world combined.  This criminalization process now starts in elementary schools with Black male children as young as six and seven years old being arrested in staggering numbers according to a 2005 report, Education on Lockdown by the Advancement Project.    

The rest of the world is watching and following the lead of America.  Other countries including England, Canada, Jamaica, Brazil and South Africa are adopting American social policies that encourage the incarceration and destruction of young Black men.  This is leading to a world-wide catastrophe.  But still, there is no adequate response from the American or global Black community. 

Worst of all is the passivity, neglect and disengagement of the Black community concerning the future of our Black boys.  We do little while the future lives of Black boys are being destroyed in record numbers. The schools that Black boys attend prepare them with skills that will make them obsolete before, and if, they graduate. In a strange and perverse way, the Black community, itself, has started to wage a kind of war against young Black men and has become part of this destructive process.   

Who are young Black women going to marry?  Who is going to build and maintain the economies of Black communities?  Who is going to anchor strong families in the Black community?  Who will young Black Boys emulate as they grow into men?  Where is the outrage of the Black community at the destruction of its Black boys?  Where are the plans and the supportive actions to change this? Is this the beginning of the end of the Black people in America? 

The list of those who have failed young Black men includes our government, our foundations, our schools, our media, our Black churches, our Black leaders, and even our parents.  Ironically, experts say that the solutions to the problems of young Black men are simple and relatively inexpensive, but they may not be easy, practical or popular.  It is not that we lack solutions as much as it is that we lack the will to implement these solutions to save Black boys. It seems that government is willing to pay billions of dollars to lock up young Black men, rather than the millions it would take to prepare them to become viable contributors and valued members of our society. 

Please consider these simple goals that can lead to solutions for fixing the problems of young Black men: 

Short term

1) Teach all Black boys to read at grade level by the third grade and to embrace education.

2) Provide positive role models for Black boys.

3) Create a stable home environment for Black boys that includes contact with their fathers.

4) Ensure that Black boys have a strong spiritual base.

5) Control the negative media influences on Black boys.

6) Teach Black boys to respect all girls and women.

Long term

1) Invest as much money in educating Black boys as in locking up Black men.

2) Help connect Black boys to a positive vision of themselves in the future.

3) Create high expectations and help Black boys live into those high expectations.

4) Build a positive peer culture for Black boys.

5) Teach Black boys self-discipline, culture and history.

6) Teach Black boys and the communities in which they live to embrace education and life-long learning. 

By Phillip Jackson, Executive Director    

The Black Star Project

3473 South King Drive, Box 464

Chicago, Illinois 60616

773.285.9600 or email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

New York Parents Fight for Superintendent Who Knows and Cares about Black and Latino Children   
NYC Public School Parents
Independent voices of New York City public school parents
 Tone Deaf Mayor Turns
Cathie Black Appointment into a
Public Relations Train Wreck 
 Posted by Steve Koss at 11/26/2010 

If the recent uproar over Cathleen Black’s appointment as NYC Schools Chancellor has shown anything, it has been the growing tone deafness of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The man who once ran roughshod over the city’s term limits laws and then quite literally had to buy his way into a third term subsequently promised not to fall into the historical trap of third term ineffectuality. Yet he is now wearing out his welcome at an accelerating pace, doubling down on bad decisions and lashing out at everyone who disagrees with him. Well known for lacking the common touch, the Mayor has never seemed more distant from everyday New Yorkers and more tin-eared in his behavior.
The Mayor’s most recent spate of tone deafness began with his behind-closed-doors decision to appoint an unqualified magazine publishing executive to replace outgoing schools chancellor Joel Klein. Ms. Black was personally light years removed in almost every possible way to the lives of most public school parents: never attending a public school, sending her children to boarding school, never demonstrating the slightest interest in the issues surrounding public education during her professional career, owning houses on Park Avenue, rural-gentry Connecticut, and Southampton, sitting on a charter school board (whose meetings she had never yet attended) chaired by Rupert Murdoch, socializing with Oprah, having baby showers hosted by Marilyn Quayle, birthday parties in Tuscany, and so forth.
Even Ms. Black’s experience as a business executive felt tainted, far, far away from a real bricks and mortar, unionized, multi-site, multi-layered operation. And then there were those magazines: Cosmopolitan? O Magazine? Seventeen? Redbook? Town & Country? THIS was going to be the leader of our children’s schools? Still, all of these shortcomings might have easily been overlooked had Ms. Black offered the least educational or even just public sector experience. Her main qualification thus ended up looking like it was being a cocktail circuit friend of the Mayor’s.
The Mayor reacted almost immediately to the initial blowback on his choice by foolishly claiming he had conducted a public search and that Cathie Black was the best choice. Of course, no alternate candidates could be found, and even the normally stuffy NY Times did a tongue-in-cheek, online search (here and here) for anyone who would say they had been interviewed for the position.
Incredibly, the only person who claimed to have been consulted about the new chancellor was Geoffrey Canada, the publicity-seeking-missile whose charter school advocacy is, for many New Yorkers, at the heart of their distaste for what they see as the Mayor’s destructive education policies. Mr. Canada’s input was hardly a soothing consolation, and he was quickly disappeared from the scene. Still, the Mayor’s people were fast losing control of the public conversation even as the Mayor was making demonstrably false assertions about “the process. “
Ms. Black herself only amplified the sense that the entire selection process was a cavalier handout from the Mayor to a social acquaintance. She refused to speak publicly or be interviewed, and then reversed herself for a single interview with the lighter-than-air Cindy Adams (simultaneously reinforcing a growing host of unseemly interconnections among Rupert Murdoch, Joel Klein, Ms. Black, and the Mayor). With Ms. Adams, Ms. Black positively gushed over how she had accepted the position after an hour’s breakfast chat with the Mayor and how her stomach had done flip-flops over the idea. Like Sarah Palin, Ms. Black suggested that she never blinked, never considered her lack of qualifications, never thought that the lack of public process would be the least bit objectionable. The story line looked more and more like “Mr. Tone Deaf Chooses Ms. Tone Deaf for Schools Chancellor.”
By now, the Mayor was well down the road to an absolute public relations train wreck. Within days after foisting an unqualified candidate on the parents of 1.1 million school children, he was publicly scolding the citizens of NYC for their opposition, asserting that they simply did not understand the true nature of the Schools Chancellor’s job. His staff and PR machine fell in line, lashing out at the UFT and “the opponents of mayoral control” who, by inference, would attack anything the mayor did with schools and anyone he chose to lead the schools. Never in any of these verbal volleys and rationalizations were children mentioned by the “children first” mayor.
As public opinion gelled against Ms. Black, the Mayor’s PR machine went into high gear. They trotted out whatever supporters for Ms. Black they could muster: Gloria Steinem, Rudy Giuliani, Oprah, Ed Koch, Ms. Black’s husband’s employer (IIE), the presidents of her and/or her husband’s alma maters, and David Dinkins, among others. Perhaps the intent was to influence or pressure Commissioner Steiner, but the voices of this group of Cathie Black supporters were irrelevant to the citizenry. The Mayor could not muster a single supporter whose voice actually mattered to regular people when it came to their children’s education.
Ever one not to look for a second foot to stick in his mouth, the Mayor spoke out again, comparing Joel Klein to a pitcher who had just gone seven (very rocky) innings and Ms. Black to a “closer”, a la the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera. So education for the mayor was now just a ball game of limited duration, and what he expected from Ms. Black was to close out that game. In baseball, that means shut down the opposition, don’t let any new threats develop, keep things where they are. Just hold the line and finish what Joel has started. Nice analogy, just brimming with optimism and hope for a brighter tomorrow.
When the time came to petition the NYS Education Commission David Steiner for a waiver of the legally required educational qualifications, Mayor Bloomberg was beginning to realize that the unwashed masses were getting a bit too up at arms. The Mayor’s response was a classic doubling down on tone deafness: shutting down all public discussion via the Panel for Education Policy. The public be damned; he and he alone would submit the waiver, not the PEP, even though NYS law clearly states that waiver requests are to be submitted through the local board of education.
The Mayor was not going to permit any public forum that might allow some of the parents of those 1.1 million parents to have any voice in who would be leading their children’s schools. The Mayor lashed out once again, arguing that mayoral control means that he makes the decision, not realizing that his very imperiousness was a stick-in-the-open-wound reminder of how he had poured his own millions into the last election to prevent those same citizens from holding him accountable.
All of this was mere anticlimax to an absolute orgy of tone deafness on November 23, however. On that day, Commissioner Steiner convened an advisory panel that effectively rejected the Mayor’s waiver petition for Ms. Black by a vote of 6 - 2 (here and here). Bloomberg, ever the sorest of losers, completely ignored the voices of City Councilpersons, state legislators, and many thousands of unhappy citizens who signed petitions against the waiver. Instead, he lashed out like a child with hurt feelings, saying that the state law requiring waivers to be granted for under-qualified school superintendents should be abolished. Bloomberg of course failed to recognize the irony in his reaction, that the very law he wished to abolish was put in place to prevent behavior exactly like he had demonstrated in the previous two weeks.
Also on November 23, the Daily News reported that Ms. Black’s college transcript had been publicly released, but with the grades blacked out (no pun intended). Her grades in such courses as Introduction to the Sacred Script, Dogma of God and Creation, Theology of the Sacraments, and Liturgical Singing are apparently not in the public interest, yet public schools are publicly graded and the Mayor can hardly wait to release a similar form of grades on individual teachers. The DOE’s response as to why the grades were not being released as well was a Peewee Hermanesque “because we said so.”
Still on that selfsame day, Rupert Murdoch announced News Corps’ acquisition of Wireless Generation, “a national leader in the new wave of education reform” as the NY Times put it. That news seems only mildly interesting until one notes that Wireless Generation is one of the DOE’s (and Joel Klein’s) leading partners in School of One, a technology-based, student-paced learning system that Klein himself has been actively promoting for the past two years and has reportedly been pilot testing in several NYC schools this year. Wireless Generation has also been one of the major recipients of negotiated (not competitively bid) contracts from Chancellor Klein for the hugely expensive ARIS system, a database that Bloomberg and Klein point to as one of their top educational achievements but which is routinely bashed by teachers as useless.
Since Joel Klein would be leaving the DOE to become a senior “education market” strategy executive for Mr. Murdoch, the revolving door sleaze was palpable enough as it was. Announcing the deal on the same day as the waiver rejection, and while Mr. Klein remained in his current Chancellor’s position, came across as Rupert and Joel blatantly thumbing their noses even further at the public.
The late-breaking Quinnipiac College poll, released the evening before Commissioner Steiner’s waiver panel met, reported the public’s strong dislike for Ms. Black as Schools Chancellor. It also showed the Mayor’s favorability ratings plummeting as his tone deafness continued to worsen.
No doubt his private response was that opinion polls should be abolished as well. Why stop the train wreck now?

Today, you’re in charge of the nation’s finances. Some of your options have more short-term savings and some have more long-term savings. When you have closed the budget gaps for both 2015 and 2030, you are done. Make your own plan, then share it online. Related Article »

72% of black babies born to unmarried women, a statistic that fuels debate: Is it by-product of racism or a failure to take responsibility?

No Wedding, No Womb?

72% of black babies born to unmarried women, a statistic that fuels debate: Is it by-product of racism or a failure to take responsibility?
November 6, 2010


Seventy-two percent of black babies are born to unmarried mothers today — a potentially harmful situation that is drawing renewed attention.
The black community’s 72 percent rate eclipses those of most other groups: 17 percent of Asians, 29 percent of whites, 53 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of Native Americans were born to unwed mothers in 2008, the most recent year for which government figures are available. The rate for the overall U.S. population was 41 percent.
Historically black Hampton University recently launched a National Center on African American Marriages and Parenting. There is a “Marry Your Baby Daddy Day,” founded by a black woman who was left at the altar, and a Black Marriage Day,” which aims “to make healthy marriages the norm rather than the exception.”
In September, Princeton University and the liberal Brookings Institution released a collection of “Fragile Families” reports on unwed parents. And an online movement called “No Wedding, No Womb” has ignited a fierce debate that includes strong opposition from many black women.
"There are a lot of sides to this," says Dr. Natalie Carroll, a Houston obstetrician who has dedicated her 40-year career to helping black women. "Part of our community has lost its way."
Carroll, who has brought thousands of babies into the world, counsels her patients, “A mama can’t give it all. And neither can a daddy, not by themselves.”
Children of unmarried mothers of any race are more likely to perform poorly in school, go to prison, use drugs, be poor as adults, and have their own children out of wedlock.
Some argue that the high rate is a legacy of segregation: Blacks are more likely to attend inferior schools, creating a high proportion of African Americans unprepared to compete for jobs in today’s economy. Women don’t want to marry men who can’t provide for their families, and welfare laws created a financial incentive for poor mothers to stay single. The drug epidemic sent disproportionate numbers of black men to prison and crushed the job opportunities for those who served their time.
If you remove these inequalities, some say, the 72 percent will decrease.
Maria Kefalas, co-author of Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage, says some women see motherhood as one of life’s most fulfilling roles — a rare opportunity for love and joy, husband or no husband.
Christelyn Karazin, who is black and a former single mother, created the online movement No Wedding, No Womb, which calls for greater accountability from black women and men. Karazin says it is not her intent to “bash single mothers,” but to push both men and women to “abstain from having children until they are emotionally, physically and financially able to care for them.”
"I just want better for us," Karazin says.
But some have attacked NWNW online as shallow, anti-feminist, lacking solutions, or a conservative tool that focuses on the symptom instead of the cause.
"It carries a message of shame," said blogger Tracy Clayton, a black woman born to a single mother. NWNW "makes it seem like there’s something immoral about you, like you’re contributing to the ultimate downfall of the black race."
Demetria Lucas, relationship editor for the black-focused Essence magazine, says plenty of black women want to be married but have a hard time finding suitable black husbands.
"If you can’t get a husband, who am I to tell you no, you can’t be a mom?" she asks.
Law Professor Amy Wax, author of Race, Wrongs and Remedies: Group Justice in the 21st Century, argues that even though discrimination caused blacks’ present problems, only black action can cure them.
"Blacks as a group will never be equal while they have this situation going on, where the vast majority of children do not have fathers in the home married to their mother, involved in their lives, investing in them, investing in the next generation," she said.

More than 10% of Black Children Have at Least

More than 10% of Black Children Have at Least One Parent in Prison - Black Fatherhood Today

| No Comments | No TrackBacks parents-prison.jpgAmerica’s growing prison population over the last several decades has resulted in more and more children growing up without a parent, most often a father being the one behind bars.   A report from the Pew Charitable Trusts reveals that more than half of all prisoners in the U.S., or 1.2 million inmates, are parents of children under the age of 18. Fathers make up the vast majority of this total, 1.1 million, while the rest are mothers (120,000).

About 40% of all incarcerated fathers are black, and one out of nine black children (11.4%) in the country has a parent in prison or jail.   Among the other findings in the Pew report:
• More young (20 to 34-year-old) African American men without a high school diploma or GED are currently behind bars (37%) than employed (26%).
• 2.7 million children have a parent behind bars—1 in every 28 children (3.6%) has a parent incarcerated, up from 1 in 125 just 25 years ago. Two-thirds of these children’s parents were incarcerated for non-violent offenses.
• Previous research has shown that children with fathers who have been incarcerated are significantly more likely than other children to be expelled or suspended from school (23% compared with 4%).   The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and has a larger total inmate population than the 35 largest European countries combined. -David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff

There are grown men with holes in their souls the shape of their fathers.
Chris Gardner (via asunkee)
Free Legal Help For Dads in NYC With Child Support, Custody or Visitation Issues

 Free Legal Help For Single Dads With Child Support, Custody or Visitation Issues

Photo Caption: Assemblyman William Scarborough (L) with 29th AD Task Force Meeting guest speaker Melanie Hart (R), Chief Program Officer of LIFT - Legal Information for Families Today.  Hart spoke about the free legal help they provide at each family court in the city, including Queens Family Court. They provide information and legal consultations, help completing court documents and help understanding court orders to help anyone navigate the Family Court System, as well as accompaniment to court or public agencies. Photo by Juliet Kaye.

The Chief Program Officer of LIFT (Legal Information for Families Today) , Melanie Hart, was a guest speaker at Assemblyman William Scarborough’s 29th A.D. Task Force Meeting.  LIFT empowers people with information. They provide on the spot help and legal information for families struggling to make their way through the complex Court system, a family law hot line where any questions will be answered and an email hotline.  They have a fathers support group and a grandparents support group where they provide free food and an MTA card.

Melanie Hart, who is an attorney, said many people aren’t entitled to free legal representation, such as people seeking child support.  LIFT is in all the courts in the five boroughs with on the spot help available to families. They are there to answer your questions. Everyone who visits LIFT at the court house will receive assistance completeing court documents and understanding court orders, and get practical legal information and easy to follow step-by-step courthouse procedure. If your case involves child support, custody, or visitation, you can also meet with LIFT’s expert staff for one-on-one consultations and strategy sessions.

LIFT Family Legal Center is located at 350 Broadway, Suite 501 (located around the corner from Manhattan Family Court.  At the Center, they can provide expert legal information tailored to your case, help completing court documents and understanding court orders, and help with objections and appeals. They provide accompaniment to court and to other public agencies, such as the Child Support Collection Unit.  You can call (646) 613-9633, ext. 222 to schedule an appointment. Their services are free.

LIFT’s Family Law Information Hotline number is: (212) 343-1122. You can call this number to speak to a LIFT staff member about your family law issues to see if they can help you.
Visit their website at for more information or to access their email hotline.

Visit for more resources: jobs, free training programs, apprenticeship programs, scholarships, DNA testing

The Veterans Administration needs to know it’s not alright to send our sons into the military to fight our wars, come home injured and hurt, and then take away their health services. This is UnAmerican.