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HAPPY 53rd BIRTHDAY, President Obama!

President Obama Photo, biography.com

President Obama
Photo, biography.com

According to the Superman Poll, you have a 100% approval rating from this voter. While you cannot do it all, you have remained steadfast in advocating and ensuring that some of America’s most vulnerable are cared for—Obama Care has changed the lives of many, Student Loan Forgiveness has given college-loan debtors some hope, and  your most important leadership has been to inspire other members of the your team, like Attorney General Eric Holder, to openly speak against and investigate disparaging policy practices as they affect incarcerated people, especially Black males and other Men of Color.

According to the Perception Poll, you have a 100% approval rating from this voter for changing the way the world perceives which Americans are willing, able and capable of leading our nation, its people and its position as a leader among nations of the world.  The My Brother’s Keeper Initiative is such a smart initiative in sending a message about the perception about the importance of Black Males in our nation.  The latest economy results are in—there is growth and jobs have been added to our economy!

According to the Cool Factor Poll, you have a 100% approval rating because I dig your cool—you can sing (remember the Apollo?), you can really play basketball, and I dig how relatable I find you and your family—Mrs. Obama as your wife and First Lady is the real deal.  How cool!

According to the Intelligence Factor Poll, you have managed to show that it is okay to be a smart, study Political Science, be an expert on the Constitution, and be a well-written and well-published attorney. For that you have a 100% approval rating from me!

According to the Foreign Policy Poll, I have witnessed considerable growth in your leadership around the world, especially in this second term.  None of us like what is happening in Gaza between Israel and Palestine, but one of the first changes I supported you requesting that Israel return to the use of the pre-1967 boundary lines in 2011.  It was a start in establishing some semblance of equity in a turbulent region, but more importantly, I appreciate the fact that America, under your leadership found it important to condemn Israel’s actions in Sunday’s August 3rd, 2014 bombing of a Gaza UN school. We’re making some progress and that’s a good thing!  And, you still always work toward peace.  You have an 100% approval rating from this voter.

While I am having a lot of fun with these polls, I want it to be known that I find you to be way more than the average president and far greater than marginal–there is a lot of evidence to support my findings.  I want today to be memorable and what birthdays are made of, even for the President of the United States of America: CAKE, CANDLES, and FUN!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, President Obama!

Political Lingo: Voting…

Good Morning / Good Afternoon PoliDayReport Readers!plessy

I spoke with some of my peers and friends and you would not believe how many of them told me they had not voted in Tuesday’s elections. While the outcomes that many anticipated for some of the most high-stakes elections were successful, those outcomes still do not excuse those of us that did not vote.

Did you know Black Codes, laws designed to indirectly enslave Black people once the 13th Amendment abolished slavery,  were enforced and directly tied to voting in an act of defiance by Whites against the passing of the 15th Amendment (1870)–the amendment that made it possible for Black males to vote? Did you also know that Black Codes, and the remix, Pig Laws, changed the face and meaning of criminalization in America, a form of criminalization that appears to be tattooed in our penal system today (if you do not own Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, you must go out and purchase it)?  In this video below Dr. Muhammad, Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, explains the laws better here:

Slavery By Another Name

In modern acts of defiance, we witnessed the shutting down of our government by a small faction of elected officials with a heavy impact on our political and economic outcomes, and even then some people still had the nerve to not invest an insignificant amount of time to commit the significant act of voting.

obamatoddThis morning while getting dressed for work, NBC’s Today Show featured an interview of President Obama by Chief White House Correspondent for NBC News, Chuck Todd, in which President Obama was asked, around the 2:21 mark, regarding Obamacare: “Do you feel like you owe these folks an apology–for misleading them…?” here:

President Obama’s Interview by Chuck Todd

From an effort to provide America’s people with adequate and suitable health care, President Obama now has to answer questions about how he can absolve the skepticism people will have of him and his administration on this issue and on future promises.  And, as a responsible leader President Obama apologizes.

Perhaps the real people who should be sitting on the “hot seat” are those defiant pseudo-citizens that believe they are the only “citizens” entitled to government programs.  I have yet to hear any of the smaller faction offer up an apology for shutting down our government, unnecessarily burdening the people, and not working as hard as advocates to provide for the American people as they have been in stroking their defiant egos and stoking their agendas.

votingPeople, it is time to trim the fat weighing our government down. You have to vote, and you have to vote responsibly. Defiance only ostracizes and leads to the unfair treatment of people.  While some of these Tea Party members and people who identify with the politics of the Tea Party feel that they should have all of the entitlements, there can never be a time in which perceived minority groups take a perimeter approach to the operations of this country.

Let’s vote people.

Political Lingo: Gerrymander

“(You Gotta) Fight! For your right! (To Party!)!” The Beastie Boys

Those were the words the Beastie Boys sang in 1986 and it was a song that I loved to do my best impression of beat-boxing to. Fast forward to 2013 and it isn’t the right to party that most people are going to have to fight for. It will be the right to VOTE.

During President Obama’s second run for office in 2012, there was a huge voter suppression effort brought on by members of the Tea Party and other constituencies (a group with a common goal / outlook) seeking to ensure that President Obama would be a one-term president. Voter suppression is the act of implementing any obstacles to make it harder for citizens to exercise their right to vote. Some of the obstacles include things like requiring voters to show identification, providing them with misleading information when they show up to polling stations (the places people go to vote), and allowing very long lines to form hoping to deter to voters.  Voter suppression is obviously illegal.  Attorney General Eric Holder compared requiring people to show identification prior to voting, to a poll tax or a sum of money paid that allows a person to vote.  We know that poll taxes were rendered illegal by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because voting is FREE, but determined groups will always find a way to “fight for their right” to do whatever they feel they should have a right to do.

There is a political and perfectly legal means of determining the outcomes of elections, however. It’s called gerrymandering. The term originated in the Boston Gazette in 1812 along with this political cartoon to poke fun at the intentions of  its namesake Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry to support his political party, The Democrat-Republicans.  Gerrymandering is the act of changing or altering electoral boundaries in order to provide an unfair political gerrymanderingadvantage in an election. For example, in some districts, there may be a majority group of younger or older voters. Or, there may be a majority group of voters of a particular racial or economic group. In the event that candidates want to manipulate the outcome of the election, the boundary lines for these districts will be redrawn so that the groups that vote in favor of the candidate or political party are all placed in the same district. When these groups go to the polls to vote, the candidate is pretty certain to gain a victory because he / she has manipulated the demographic, or characteristics, of the voters.

Gerrymandering almost turns politicians into puppet masters. It may appear that they are able to control the voter, but the only control they truly have is over the unregistered voter.  The more people who are registered and the more people who vote, the harder it is to control district lines. You have to fight! For your right! To VOTE!

Activism and Social Media: Personal Choices, Public View

Thank you for coming to my blog as I identify the latest, noteworthy happenings as I see them. This is NOT a twitter post. You will NOT read it in 140 characters or less. It is NOT a Facebook status. There is no need to “Like” it, unless you are really moved to. It is a blog. And, it requires time and reading.  Whether these happenings are germane to politics or are indirectly influenced by our understanding of politics. life or anything else, they are happening everyday and I want to talk about them, and I need you to know they exist. I am interested in perspective. Take the poll when you finish.

While everything happening in the media may not be accurate, factual, or remotely close to the truth, people are hearing about what’s going on. Although people (maybe even you reading this blog) will not “have the time” to read this post in its entiretysocial media because we are all too busy being busy, we are getting sound bites of what’s happening in our communities and our world. These sound bites infiltrate our intimate spaces called perspectives; and, we take them and spread them around like a plague. Are we wrong for having been conditioned to need to have a statement rendered in 140 characters or less? When we make personal choices to get involved in a public phenomena, must there be someone there to “Like” it before those actions are considered activism? Are we interested in the change or the display?

This past weekend I was in Los Angeles, California on the campus of UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) with the Tavis Smiley Foundation and its Youth 2 Leaders youth to leadersLeadership Institute.  On Friday, the delegates watched a film called, The Revolutionary Optimists about a group of Indian youth using their activism to bring changes to their local communities. Following the movie, I led a discussion about the movie’s themes, but primarily about the role [and absence] of youth-led activism. When asked if they believed today’s youth were doing enough to contribute to our society–helping to fix some of our most pressing issues through their activism, some of the delegates said outright, “No.” Other students provided explanations such as shyness, fear, the need for instant gratification, and complacency as reasons why there is notLead Love Save Serve enough activism coming from the youth.  And, then it was stated that social media was not effective in solving problems.  And, so I began to think, “we spend all of our extra time on social media, and young people don’t even think it is effective.” Wow!

Clearly this country has seen its share of youth-led activism before social media was even a thought. In the 60s there was SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, with the operative word being student. In the late 60s and early 70s, there was the Black Panther Party for Self Defense which was made up of teens and very young adults.  Despite not lasting very long, we can say Black panthersthat these groups left a lasting commentary on the changes that can happen when young people get involved as change agents.  Although there was no social media prior, besides the good ol’ word of mouth, each youth-led movement has used the tools at its disposal to spread the word, garner support, and take action.

In the 21st Century, youth-led activism, some would argue, is not the same as it was during the modern Civil Rights Movement. Some would even argue that there is nosit ins activism happening today because we don’t see the barrage of marches, sit-ins, arrests, etc.  And to them, I would challenge getting to know what some of the Youth 2 Leaders Delegates have done. Or, do an analysis of events that have taken place on a wide and global scale like Occupy Wall Street and what’s happening right now in our beloved Florida. The Dream Defenders are staging a sit-in to contest Florida’s “Stand Your Ground Law” as a result of the shameful Trayvon Martin verdict.  Even worse is that the same shameful system that would deny justice to Trayvon Martin is the same system that has attempted to deny the Dream Defenders access to basic necessities like food as they demonstrate their First Amendment Right to assemble . SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! How do we know about these happenings?  The media. Why do we know about Oscar Grant’s untimely and savage murder at Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California? Social media.

We will never experience much of what we do today as a passing moment, because in the era of social media, our every thought and expression is caught on someone’s waiting media device. In that regard, I guess we are all activists as we make personal choices to curtail behavior and thoughts that could very well end up in public view due to social media.

To learn more about the movie Fruitvale Station, follow the latest on twitter at @ForestWhitaker @fruitvalemovie

To learn more about the Tavis Smiley and the Tavis Smiley Foundation follow the latest on twitter @tavissmiley @youthtoleaders

For more information about the Dream Defenders follow them on twitter @Dreamdefenders or follow this link to learn more: http://t.co/sIgnmR5IhD

The Electoral College: A Process to Get Schooled On!

What You Need to Know:

  • It is not a school, but a group of people composed of 538 members with the responsibility to elect the president. This is number equal to the amount of representatives in Congress plus an additional 3 members to represent Washington, DC.
  • Each state has a certain number of representatives, but every state has an equal number of Senators, two each for a grand total of 100. The number of representatives is determined by a state’s population. Larger states have more representatives in Congress. Since Washington, DC is not a state, but a district, the 23rd amendment was ratified in 1961 to allow for the residents in Washington, DC to have three delegates to represent this district in presidential elections.
  • The Electoral College was a compromise of ideas that came about during the constitutional convention to prevent a candidate from dominating a particular region of United States. It was also used as a result of the Framers’ reluctance to have the people directly elect the president for fear that people would have an undue allegiance to their states and that “regular” people were not smart enough to make the right decision. At this time in American history there was still a battle between the states and the federal government.
  • The Constitution never uses the term Electoral College, but it does state the President [and Vice President] shall be elected by electors of each state, in the Article 2, Section1. This Article provides instructions, qualifications and duties to the Executive Branch of government—it includes the President and his Cabinet. The other two branches are the Legislative Branch (Article 1) and the Judicial Branch (Article 3) respectively.
  • Electors are delegates selected by their states that have pledged to vote for their party’s nominee, and in some states these electors are legally required to uphold this pledged vote. But, electors can sometimes go against their pledge. In this case they are called faithless electors and the results become what happened in the 2000 Bush v. Gore election. States can replace fickle voters by December 11th, 2012.
  • The magic number a candidate needs to be declared the President Elect (term given to the person declared on election night, November 6th, 2012) is 270. That is one-half of the total number of votes plus one.
  • The person that wins the majority of the state’s popular vote wins all of that state’s electoral votes (Maine and Nebraska are exceptions: the electoral votes can be divided between the candidates).
  • It is possible for a candidate to receive the majority of the popular votes, but not win the election because the electoral vote determines the winner of the presidency. There are 4 Presidential elections to which the above statement applies: 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000. For the most part, it is pretty safe to say the Electoral College is effective, but it is still archaic!
  • The popular vote is the one rendered by the people on election night, the electoral vote is the one rendered by the electors that vow to vote for the candidate the people want. Electors do not vote until December 17th, 2012. At this time, they go to their perspective states and cast a vote.

See you all on Election Night!

Election 2012…Will You Count?

This will probably be my shortest blog to date,  but definitely one of my most important.  As Election 2012 grinds away, a lot of the political process has been called to task.  Voter suppression has been implemented in a lot of states and college students will probably be one the largest groups affected by new voting laws implemented across the nation.

Did you know that it was because of the 15th Amendment to our Constitution that African American men primarily, and others, obtained the right to vote, in 1870? That was 142 years ago!

Did you know that women obtained the right to vote because of the 19th Amendment in August of 1920? That was 92 years ago!

Did you know the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which forbade discriminatory practices in voting, was passed after many arduous years of struggle by fierce leaders and people entrenched in a complete understanding of their civic duties and responsibilities? That was 47 years ago!  (http://www.congresslink.org/print_basics_histmats_votingrights_contents.html)

Did you know the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 in 1971? That was 41 years ago!

As Election 2012 is a mere 187 days away, it is imperative that you know what your voting rights and requirements are.  Don’t kill your voice by not voting.  Whether you’re a life-long voter, student or even a convicted felon–know your voting rights!  Meet the deadlines.  All you have to do is to click on the links The PoliDay Report has provided, make a calender to place on your refrigerator, bedroom wall or the door to your house to remind you that National Election Day will be November 6th, 2012.  Get your university, churches, mosques, temples, and communities involved.  When the votes are finally counted, make sure that you are one of the numbers in the final tally.

See you at the polls on Election Day 2012!

Go to http://www.naacp.org to register to vote via their “This is My Vote” initiative.

For more information about voting requirements go to: http://www.barackobama.com or http://www.canivote.org

For a complete list of all of the constitutional amendments go to: http://www.house.gov/house/Constitution/Amend.html

Reality Show Women are Mean Girls…Reality Shows Encourage Bullying!

On Monday April 9th, after tuning in for my weekly [guilty] pleasure of Basketball Wives, I was more disappointed in Basketball Wives than ever before; Episode 8 showed these reality girls completely bashing Kenya, one of the newer cast members, for her pursuit to become a pop singer.  If you are one of the girls of The Real Housewives, Love and Hip Hop and Basketball Wives Franchises, being a mean girl comes with a hefty paycheck; however, an even larger price is paid every time these characters are given a public outlet to bully others, destroying the confidence and esteem of other members of these shows and projecting the message that bullying is justified when you’re upset and looking to establish “the bottom line” to girls all over the world.  According to the federal government’s initiative, http://www.Stopbullying.Gov, bullying is defined as:

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

Every time VH1 and BRAVO air their highly rated “reality” shows, they are making a statement about why bullying should continue and why it is not only the behavior of children.

The women of these shows, who in most cases are mothers, are rewarded lucrative six-figure paychecks by these show’s creators and producers to “act out” week by week in violent fights where they hurl glasses and other objects that can cause serious bodily injury.  Desperately in need of anger management and mental health professionals, these women catastrophically become enraged over issues that many would call trivial.  Without apology, the term ‘bitch’ is used as the replacement to individual identity, even when it is being used under protest (on Episode 4 of Basketball Wives, one of characters, Kesha, asked another character, Tami, to not refer to her as ‘bitch’ and Tami proceeded to call her a ‘bitch’ three more consecutive times). http://www.vh1.com/video/shows/full-episodes/episode-4/1680466/playlist.jhtml

I’ve noticed the entire time I am watching these shows I am engaged in a full-fledged diatribe with these reality show women.   Why I repeatedly subject myself to this distress is a mystery to me.  This very behavior played out time and again in my profession as an educator. When my students become confrontational with one another, it’s just like watching one of these reality shows except now it’s live! These shows almost serve as how-to manuals for bullying and dishonoring the humanity of others. For example, if someone calls a person “loose” as opposed to making any other claims that suggests that a person may be promiscuous and then cannot recall exactly which word they used to describe the sexual history / behavior, one should throw wine bottles scarcely missing the head of other “non-threatening” people. After all, this is what we’ve seen take place in an episode if Basketball Wives (http://www.vh1.com/video/misc/753796/earrings-out-bottles-thrown.jhtml ). Or, if the new girl confesses to having a sexual tryst with one of the mean girls’ beau, the friends of the mean girl should fight the new girl to avenge the mean girl’s embarrassment—at least this was the behavior we saw take place in Love and Basketball by two of its characters (http://www.vh1.com/video/shows/full-episodes/still-look-pretty/1674232/playlist.jhtml).

While there is no Federal Anti-Bullying law, on Thursday March 10th, 2011, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, The Department of Education, and The Department of Health and Human Services hosted a White House Conference on Bullying Prevention (www.whitehouse.gov) and 49 states have passed school anti-bullying legislation.  For acts of bullying outside of the school, these abuses can be addressed via other federal governmental departments and civil rights legislation.  Clearly some of these shows need to be sanctioned by the FCC for poor taste and judgment, but more importantly for showing that it is okay to bully and to get handsomely rewarded for being a mean girl. The drama of these shows draws high ratings speaking volumes about what keeps the attention of viewers today, but there is also something to be said about the fact that these women have, in various interviews, discussed their desires to use these shows to launch entrepreneurial endeavors—Jennifer Williams from Basketball Wives has a lip gloss line called lucid (http://www.lucidcosmetics.com ), Nene Leakes has been seen in shows like GLEE, and many of the other women are in successful real estate and other business ventures.  Those stories are excellent and should be highlighted rather than the contradictory behavior that deflects from the public’s view of these women as viable business women. Instead, episode after episode, season after season, we see wounded grown women and mothers acting out like scared and wounded mean girls.

Count Your Lucky Numbers

On February 4th 1861, one of the most tumultuous times in America’s history began and wouldn’t see an end until 1865.   America was so distracted by controlling the Souls of Black Folks that it couldn’t see how terribly it was quickly leading to its own demise.  Both sides, Americans, were fighting to maintain or expand economies (the South’s economy was based on agriculture and in the North, industry) that had been fueled by the human commodities brought to America some more than two hundred years prior.  And, Americans died—almost three quarters of one million Americans died in the Civil War.  For African Americans, our “luck” was about to begin.

Several plans to rebuild America and reestablish it as a collective unit of states and not two halves of a whole were laid out; and, America entered a phase called Reconstruction. For African Americans three pieces of legislation changed our course in America forever and navigated the road to Reconstruction—at least for African Americans and for poor whites and new immigrants also. The Constitution was amended three times from 1865-1870—the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were just the beginning.   While Andrew Johnson was not America’s first choice as president, he was the only choice following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  After all, he was Lincoln’s Vice President.  Using his leverage as president, Johnson forced Confederate states to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment before they could be readmitted to the United States of America.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The 13th Amendment

The battle to reconstruct America didn’t stop with the abolition of slavery as African Americans now had to further be integrated into America’s infrastructure. Therefore, the Fourteenth Amendment was added:

Section 1: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Today, the 14th amendment is one of the most commonly used amendments in the court of law. It is at the core of immigration debate, it has been used in cases of discrimination and it has been suggested for use by political pundits and strategists regarding the Democratic / Republican showdown regarding the debt ceiling debate. From 1868 until now, the 14th amendment, remains an integral source for obtaining justice and allowing it to be extended to all.

No one can deny the feeling of relevance a person feels when he or she has the right to vote. The voter-registration process for election year (2012), the fourth election year in the twenty-first century, has been widely scrutinized by organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Urban League (NUL) due to voter suppression tactics designed to restrict how, where and if people are able to vote. I believe the greatest initial response to civic empowerment in this country was demonstrated by Black men in 1870, the year in which the 15th Amendment was passed; these men took advantage of this new right to vote and they had a strong sense of obligation of how to use the vote to make change.  When President Obama announced his bid for the presidency in 2007, there were so many naysayers and skeptics not believing he had a chance, and others were mum, refusing to say anything, but watching intently as the unthinkable* unfolded. Perhaps this was the vibe in America in 1870. When northern Republicans advocated that Blacks should have the right to vote, they were labeled as ‘Radicals.’  The mere thought of legislation inviting Black men to vote was unthinkable. For many, it was also unthinkable that the fervor created in 1870 would materialize into the presidency in 2008. But, we voted anyway and look at what happened.  With the passage of the 15th Amendment came the election of over 1500 Black elected officials; and, they held posts as high as Senator and Governor.  Alas, the Presidency, although nearly 140 years later, was going to happen.

I like to complete “connect-the-dot” puzzles. As children, these puzzles are used to help us to see the bigger picture when there is an inability for us to do so. America’s journey is like a connect-the-dot image; the more connections made the more complete the picture.  In this election year, the next slide in our picture show has yet to be revealed, but if we stick to our understanding of how a ”connect-the-dot” puzzle works, its revelation won’t be a big surprise. The 15th Amendment speaks volumes of how voting changes lives and the 14th Amendment summons the citizen.  In 2012, go to the polls. Vote!

*It wasn’t unthinkable for me as I named Barack Obama as our president when I was in Boston in 2004.

The PoliDay Report Poll 2: Doug Lamborn’s Statements: Racist?

ThePoliDayReport Poll 1