Representatives from five area Walgreens store locations handed out gloves to participants during the annual CYD “Toys for the Children that Santa Forgot but God Remembered” event held Tuesday at North Division High School, 1011 W. Center St. Area boys and girls received toys, books, clothes and much more.
Archives for December 2011
Monday’s Barbershop Forum
Dr. Patricia McManus, Executive Directive, Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin Topic – “Help Save Our Babies”
Dorian James, Respiratory Therapist, Pulmedix Asthma Care Center Topic – “Asthma Is Killing Us”
Ruben Hopkins – Chairman, WI Black Chamber of Commerce
“Developing a Strong Black Business Network”
Barbershops have always been the Black Man’s country club where brothers could come and discuss politics, sports, education, wars, money and women. Many of us developed some of our views of what was going on in the world while listening to the older men and the barbers that stimulated the dialogue. Many of our barbers because they work on Saturday have not been able to attend many of the conferences, forums and meetings that take place on the weekends.
Therefore, we will hold this forum on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month. We know that once the barbers attend they will pass the information on to the community.
If you are interested in speaking at the Barbershop Forum, call 562-5225 or 374-2364. Also, encourage your barber to participate. Forums are open to the public.
When: Monday, January, 9, 2012
Where: Coffee Makes U Black 2803 N. Teutonia Ave.
Time: 10AM – 11:30AM
MillerCoors will light up Miller Valley for an additional nine nights
WHAT: Due to record-breaking attendance, MillerCoors is extending the popular Holiday Lites show for an additional nine days through January 1. Milwaukee-area residents and visitors are invited to visit Miller Valley and celebrate the holidays with the Lite show.
**Mini tours will not be available but the show will run continuously during the evening hours. Guests are encouraged to pull over to the side of State Street to watch the Lite show, to keep the two middle lanes clear for traffic.
This year’s Holiday Lites show features more than 300,000 LED lights choreographed to a mix of traditional and modern holiday music. The show is the largest of its kind in the Midwest, yet requires the energy equivalent of just eight toasters to display.
WHEN: Saturday, December 24 – Sunday, January 1, Continually, 6:00-11:00 p.m.
WHERE: Miller Valley, State Street between 38th and 41st Streets
A free, monthly educational and support group for grandparents and other relatives who are parenting again is being offered by three collaborating agencies in Milwaukee. This ongoing group entitled “Grandparents and Other Relatives Parenting Again” is offered the third Wednesday of each month from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. The group meets at the Villard Square Grandfamily Housing, 3427 W. Villard Avenue, Milwaukee. Limited childcare is available for children under twelve years of age. Registration is required.
The “Grandparents and Other Relatives Parenting Again” group allows participants to exchange ideas, discuss their child’s growth and development, learn from one another and share their stories with others who find themselves unexpectedly in a parenting role.
To kick off the new year, a light supper will be provided for adults and children on January 18, 2012 as a “Getting to Know You” opportunity.
To register for “Grandparents and Other Relatives Parenting Again,” call the Parent Helpline at 414/671-0566. Undocumented families are welcome. If you have roadblocks to attending, please call for possible assistance.
This program is presented by The Parenting Network, Family Caregivers Support Network of Interfaith Older Adults Programs Inc. and Jewish Family Services. For more information, please visit theparentingnetwork.org.
The Young Adult committee of the Milwaukee Branch NAACP will host an innovative and collaborative event to strengthen our community.
The One MKE Summit will be held Saturday, January 7 at Milwaukee Area Technical College, 700 W. State Street, with a focus of ONE VISION. Powering the movement to ONE Milwaukee.
The purpose of the ONE MKE Summit is to pull together all stakeholders within the African-American community to connect and collaborate. The goal is to leave at the end of the day with a set calendar and specific action items on how to pool resources to make a greater impact and drive outcomes on a grander scale.
Social action, community involvement is a must
As we press rewind on the year 2011, several images remain embedded in our minds.
We vividly recall a year marked with protests, marches and rallies throughout the state. From Milwaukee streets to the State Capitol and beyond, Wisconsinites boldly declared their dissatisfaction with political policies, misdirected priorities and budgetary decisions.
We remember the Wisconsin 14; the senators who stood up and spoke for their constituents by fleeing the state in an effort to suppress a vote on Gov. Walker’s proposed budget that would drastically cut school funding, healthcare benefits and rights of union workers to employ collective bargaining.
With joy, we are reminded of the pride we felt as the “home teams” succeed in their quest for greatness. Football fans were ecstatic with the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl win. The Wisconsin Badgers are headed to the Rose Bowl. And Milwaukee Brewer fans passionately supported the team as they returned to the post-season, winning their first playoff series in 29 years.
Yes, we spoke up, spoke out and celebrated with great enthusiasm in 2011. We’re left with a year of remarkable images that changed the landscape of Milwaukee.
Sadly, however, not all of the images were positive.
Just as we recall scenes of groups gathered in protest against the Walker administration, we also remember scenes of groups of teens gathered in angst.
We vividly recall hordes of teens causing various disturbances throughout the city in what has been described as “violent flash mobs.” From the near-riot at Mayfair mall to the Riverwest attacks and the State Fair melee, groups of Black youth rampaged the city. Just last week a group of teens were involved in a nonsensical attack of a young mother on a county bus.
While many were fighting for our children’s education and protesting against budget cuts that they believe detrimental to our school system, our youth were in a fight as well – against what, we’re not entirely sure.
One might surmise that they were fighting against a system that has all but forced them to deal with mature issues at a premature age. Homes without fathers find young boys playing the role of men; and young girls lose their innocence, as they become mothers – babies raising babies.
Looking back on 2011, it is with vigor and passion that Wisconsinites stood up for what they believed in. We fought for what we thought was right, important and valuable.
Unfortunately, the plight of the Black community was not one of the highest priorities of most organizations; the disparities grew rather than reduced.
The year 2011 saw Milwaukee accepting without protest a series of negative social indicators that disproportionately affected African Americans, from a 55.8% unemployment rate for Black males to poverty, incarceration and infant mortality.
That must change in 2012. And we should spearhead the fight.
As we enter 2012, we need to harness that same vigor and passion and stand up for our youth; we must believe in them! In 2012, we need to fight for what we know is priceless: our youth for they are our future!
Our young people need us more now than ever. Programs for youth are being cut, class sizes are doubling; gym, art and music are being dropped from school curriculums and our youth are looking for outlets to find guidance, love and encouragement.
In 2012, resolve to stand up and fight for our young people. Get involved with an organization that caters to youth, like the Boys and Girls Club, Pearls for Teen Girls, Urban Underground, Running Rebels and so many more. Volunteer at your neighborhood school; mentor a child or just be listening ear for a child who needs someone to talk to.
Better yet in 2012 be a part of the solution. Register, vote and bring others to vote. It is an election year and many political offices are open, get out and vote for the candidates who will support and make a difference in the city as they tackle critical issues like jobs, education and health care. The work that needs to be done is not restricted to legislative policies, but to social action and community involvement.
If we ban together and fight for our youth, our families and our community, the images that flash before us in 2012 will tell a different story from those of 2011. In this New Year, let’s make it happen!
by Mikel Kwaku Osei Holt
Seems just about everybody I know has suffered through 2011. Friends and relatives have lost jobs. Illness or deteriorating health has cut across social, economic and ethnic lines. Most have bit their lips as their jobs have been negatively altered. Dozens of family members have filed for unemployment benefits.
I have not been immune, and have faced tribulations in each of those paradigms, including a major reduction in family income.
As a result, 2011 concludes under a cloud of sorts.
But in an ironic twist of fate (or faith), Christmas 2011 was celebrated by many/most families as a ‘holy-day’ commemoration of the birth of the Christ, versus an overly commercialized ‘holiday’ that focuses on some obese, bearded white guy in a red suit.
Forced by economic and political woes, many of us approached the most important and sacred religious event with an elevated sense of understanding about the solemn occasion, and the underlying mandates that Jesus taught over the next three decades that are requirements for our personal rebirth.
From that perspective, the economic malaise of 2011 has a silver lining as it forced many of us back to the religious side of Christmas. Instead of succumbing to the overly commercialized and bastardized ‘Xmas,’ this year there was an appreciation for whatever blessings we’ve received, and a focus on how His birth signaled personal journeys in which we could step in his footprints.
That realization made the Christmas Eve service at my new church, House of Grace, even more apropos. Not only because the service was the last one to be conducted out of my sister’s home on Grant Blvd (we’re moving to a rental space as we search for a church home), but more so because our pulpit and mission is without the limiting boundaries of nonsensical or unnecessary church traditions and cultural nuances.
At the House of Grace, services are more about dialogue and inclusion, than pastoral dictate and sociocultural traditions. Ours is truly a teaching ministry, and there is ample space allocated for congregational involvement that transcends call and response. Our structure is closer to traditional African family learning scenario than scripted church services that often remind me of military services. With my sister, the Rev. Deborah Thomas, as pastor of the newly organized ministry, and a small but spiritually attuned congregation of family and friends, there is an intimacy and fellowship that is both engaging and uplifting.
Thus, our Christmas service was equally a commemoration of the birth of ‘the’ Christ, but also an opportunity to explore the meaning of his mission as well as how those of us who consider ourselves to be Christians can be more Christ-like.
Each of us was asked to offer a scripture, poem or life revelation. Five of my nephews offered enlightening personal poems; adults provided scriptural analysis, praises and highlights of their personal journeys.
I used my brief time to implore the fellowship to commit the New Year to fulfilling the biblical mandates to aid the poor and the oppressed.
I cited three old and three new testament scriptures on the mandate by the Prophets and Jesus to not only give to, but to uplift and fight for the poor (Psalm 82:3-4 and 1 John 3:17-18 in case you want to look them up.)
I noted that the tribulations endured my most of the congregation was significantly outweighed by what most of the local poor endured in 2011. And for many of them there is little hope for remedy or a brighter future. In Milwaukee, nearly one third of the city’s children will go to bed several days a week with growling stomachs. Over 4,000 MPS students are homeless. Milwaukee is the fourth most impoverished state in the country. A report released last week revealed that the Black male unemployment rate now stands at 55.8%! Single parents head 70% of the city’s Black households, and over 85% of them are impoverished.
That latter statistic, coupled with an alarming percentage of African Americans without a high school diploma, contributes greatly to Milwaukee holding the distinction of hosting the highest infant mortality rate in the United States.
And before your mind turns to the current state political paradigm, a reality check is needed here: these conditions have existed for much of the last decade, even though they have worsened slightly in the last year. They existed when Democrats controlled state government, and under a Democratic mayor, and majority liberal common council and board of supervisors. They exist (and some may say worsened) under President Obama during the two years when he and Democratic controlled the senate and congress. Just like our state government during the same time period, ‘our’ politicians fought among themselves over who would be the chef, and what crumbs would appease what group. In the end, we didn’t get the gravy, but instead we lift with a wordless cookbook and a tub of lard.
I mention those facts not to disparage Democrats, but to note that neither the left nor right apparently cares enough to step out of their invisible boundaries of partisanship for the good of the people, which does not solely mean regular voters and campaign contributors.
Obviously, the poor cannot be found at all on the Republican agenda. And much of their platform has only served to expand the number of poor, and to weaken the middle class. But we would be both naïve and punked to blindly assume things will get significantly different depending in which party has the hammer.
It is with that realization that I concluded my presentation committing myself to do much more to directly benefit the poor for the rest of my lifetime. (The Rev. Thomas asserted her desire to follow suit and encouraged the congregation to draw up similar plans as dictated by biblical mandate. She also revealed that the mission of House of Grace, both the church and its separate non-profit companion, is to prioritize assistance to the poor and the oppressed. To teach them to fish, instead of merely giving them a meal. Providing the poor with tools, and the oppressed with a voice.)
For me, my mission will start with a financial contribution. While 2011 may go down as my worst year financially, there was still a small amount saved for year-end contributions. It was my intent at the beginning of 2011 to focus on my son’s scholarship and contributions to the Barack Obama campaign. My new agenda is to drop Obama for the poor.
Three or four months ago, I would not have felt safe to make that change. Politically, I felt, Black America’s top priority must be to do all we can—financially—to insure the re-election of President Obama.
Within the confines of the political system, he has done more to empower Black America and to challenge the status quo than any president in our history. And I assume a second term would provide much more substance than symbolism. It is in the second term that presidents define themselves, if for no other reason than the fact that they don’t have to worry about political correctness under the cloud of re-election.
Today, I feel almost 100% certain that our president will be re-elected, with our without my few dollars. His ratings have gone up from an embarrassing low. The nation’s economy has improved (albeit minimally), and even unemployment has dropped by a full percentage point, although you would be hard-pressed to connect the Black community to that wagon.
More importantly, the GOP field of challengers is not only pathetic, but the party apparently has come to the realization that its structural ineptitude and lack of alternatives to the present course has turned off the American voter.
The so-called top GOP challenges seem to come out of a Saturday Night Live skit.
Newt Gingrich is not only morally bankrupt, but couldn’t even secure 10,000 signatures to get on the primary ballot in Virginia. Rick Perry is a bubbling idiot who has stumbled and stammered his way through debates and interviews. Herman ‘the player’ McCain was the flavor of the month in November (which is laughable in itself) before scores of mistresses and sexual harassment charges derailed his campaign. (It didn’t help that he didn’t know the difference between Liberia and Libya, or the GPA from the NBA.)
The likely nominee will be Mitt Romney, who conservatives don’t like. His being a Mormon is also the kiss of death.
Moreover, I see Republicans replicating the same self-defeating scenario of 2008, where they beat up on Senator John McCain so much leading up to the primaries that he was damaged goods during the election. Romney is the new McCain.
I’ll still give time and energy to the Obama campaign, but both my cultural foundation and biblical understanding requires that whatever few dollars I have will go to the poor.
Of course, my few coins won’t eradicate poverty. And as yet, I don’t even know where my handful of silver will be directed. But I do know if I can convince a few of you to join me, we can collectively make a difference.
Exactly how is open to discussion and debate.
We can each look to adopt a family, providing them with both financial assistance, but more importantly a blueprint or map to navigate themselves out of their imprisonment. We can join an existing or new organization that seeks mechanisms to empower the poor, particularly the children.
Someone suggested during our service that we put our time and resources into an educational campaign, which may require going door-to-door, school-to-school, and social media to social media to explain to the poor why the roots of their impoverishment and how they can break the shackles, some of which they forged themselves.
As I noted, women head 70% of Black Milwaukee households, which is a major factor in the poverty statistics. Slightly more than 50% of them are high school dropouts. Someone needs to explain to them that education, no matter their current condition, is the passport for them, and their children.
We can also direct our attention to the sperm donors and even the devoted but financially limited fathers about their roles in breaking the chains of poverty, and equally important emphasizing the importance of Black nuclear families, both culturally and religiously.
Naturally, we can point poor families to resources and teach them how to fish as we seek to empower them with culture and spiritual enlightenment.
I also would put on the table the creation of a new political party or Black think tank. Many of the scriptures that guide followers call for us to fight for the fatherless children and the oppressed. The political status quo and agenda of the dominant two parties do offer little to empower the poor and instead seems to focus more on providing Novocain to ease their pain.
Deuteronomy 15:11 (which I referenced in my presentation) declares that the poor will always be among us. That was written 2,000 plus years ago, and has not been challenged or changed. One reason for that, at least in America, is a two party system that serves partisanship and not the people,
More now than ever, we need a vessel that exists solely to empower the poor, redirect resources for solutions instead of appeasement, and galvanizes Black America specifically to step outside of the shadow of slavery.
Obviously, the task before us would be a Herculean undertaking. Maybe it is, but everyone who commits to following the biblical mandates, takes us closer to eradicating plague that envelops our community.
The poor may forever be among us, but they will be fewer in number if we do what we are challenged to do.
by Michael Brox, Candidate for Milwaukee County Supervisor, 5th Dist.
President Barack Obama recently announced to the American people that our troops in Iraq would be returning home.
“I am proud to say these two words: ‘welcome home,’” our president said.
A war that has lasted longer than World War 1, World War 11, and the Vietnam War combined. With a cost of almost 5,000 American soldiers lives, over 30,000 wounded, and over $1 trillion is finally over.
This article is not about if you believe the war was justified or not. This is an article about how those brave troops will be treated when they return at the end of the year.
In the coming weeks, many of our veterans will return to Wisconsin — and Milwaukee in particular — without a job; traumatized in some way by the effects of war, yes and even possibly finding themselves homeless.
I hope and pray that our elected leadership, church leaders, as well as the business community are making the preparations necessary now to extend that helping hand to these brave men and women. After all 91 Wisconsinites have paid the ultimate price (gave their lives) so that we can our freedoms here at home.
I am always touched when I see a heart warming reunions of families and loved ones that have been reunited after returning from war (well done Mr. President). It is also comforting to know that organizations such as Operation Homefront Wisconsin exist to help hundreds of families of military veterans with development, sending care packages overseas; they also help with financial issues and health support.
It was also encouraging to see the millions of dollars invested in Milwaukee to build a facility at the Veterans Administration (VA) for vets who return from the wars with severe spinal injuries, as well as the construction of a new nursing home for veterans, centrally located on 35th street and Wisconsin avenue.
The truth is: communities all over the state of Wisconsin are organizing homecomings for these returning veterans. What will we do here in our community to welcome home our soldiers?
To our local aldermen, county supervisors, state representatives, state senators, as well as our Congresswoman Gwen Moore, I ask: what can we do to welcome our troops home and back into our community?
I ask you this question because you have access to the resources to get the job done. The responsibility extends beyond our elected officials; the church community can lend a hand as well.
The various churches throughout the city could host a “welcome home veterans day,” whereby church members could provide veterans with a home cooked meal, a job fair, a thank you celebration, or just words of encouragement.
Leaders, lets not allow our veterans to return to a Milwaukee where it’s business as usual. Let us all work together to let our soldiers know that we here in Milwaukee’s African American community appreciate the sacrifices that they have made for this country.
In conclusion, I will make you this offer. If you are apart of an organization, a church, or an elected official who wants to have an event to support our returning troops in the upcoming year, I would be happy to work with you to make this happen.
I don’t believe in simply complaining without offering a solution to the problem. I can be contacted via e-mail ([email protected]). Let me know what you have in mind and we can go from there.
Let’s have that ticker tape parade! And to all businessowners: Remember, don’t forget hire a vet!
Happy New Year! May God bless you; our President Barack Obama, and may God Bless the United States of America.
by Tony Evers, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Recently, I visited the Milwaukee High School of the Arts. I watched as students in Mr. Roberts’ jazz vocal ensemble class sang their hearts out.
These students clearly loved this class, and of course, they’re not alone. Many students love courses and extracurricular offerings that aren’t always counted as core subjects like reading and mathematics: things like sports, world languages, agriculture, science, and civic engagement projects.
What’s more, this enthusiasm pays off. A number of researchers have found that kids involved in sports, the arts, clubs, and extracurriculars tend to develop more confidence and social skills, and achieve more after high school. It turns out nearly a third of students attending Harvard Law School were on their high school debate team.
Students who pursue arts or music throughout high school score significantly higher on college entrance exams in reading, writing, and mathematics. And so on.
Is it any wonder? Looking back on our own school years, aren’t our proudest moments often the times we stepped out of the child’s role and tried on something greater? It might be a shining moment on the stage or the field, a first taste of life as a chef or business manager, a team effort toward an engineering project or international experience, or a passionate drive to change your school, community, or world. In other words, these classes and activities give our students an incredible gift: the chance to develop a passion for achievement.
This may be the key quality for any adult, in any occupation or activity, anywhere: a passion for achievement. Motivation that gets you moving.
We have amazing students in Wisconsin. In Omro, some are working outside of school hours to raise money for an outdoor classroom (it was the vision of their teacher, Bruce Fowler, who passed away this fall). In Sun Prairie, hundreds of students came to the high school on a weekend to help create a video that showcased the school’s activities and spirit. Online, you can see the joy in their faces.
Can we doubt there are students in Wisconsin for whom these special activities are the reason they feel at home at school, the reason they keep coming and trying at the core academic subjects?
Unfortunately, some of these opportunities are disappearing from our schools. That’s partly because the federal No Child Left Behind law makes schools focus on a few basic subjects at the expense of everything else. It’s also because of funding cuts—like the ones in Wisconsin’s current budget. Nearly two out of every three Wisconsin school districts that responded to a survey this fall said they cut extracurriculars, sports, or subjects other than reading or math—and a majority of districts reported they expect the same or worse cuts next year.
If I could have one wish for 2012, it would be that we all support and prioritize our public schools, so students don’t lose the chance to experience learning opportunities that energize them. So that every child—every wrestler, every actor, every musician, every club president—can discover their passion for achievement.
Tony Evers is the elected state superintendent of public instruction.
The last half of 2011 brought many new and exciting developments in my life. God showed me that He had not forgotten me – something that many of us can forget when life’s tasks, responsibilities and pressures become a whirlwind rather than a gentle breeze.
While our “heart” knows that He is present, sometimes our “head” longs to see His manifested presence even more to reassure us during difficult times. As these developments were unfolding I made a conscientious decision to take better care of myself.
It was actually in the midst of a very unusual, although not negative, situation that I saw that putting me on the back burner was not only failing to help me, it was in some cases preventing others from acting respectfully and responsibly when it was well in their power to do both.
I know myself well enough to know that I am easily bored with things that are not challenging. I knew that a treadmill was not going to keep me engaged in an exercise routine long term so I decided to take up a new sport – tennis.
I knew going in that this was going to be quite the endeavor at the start but I committed to the idea and invested in a membership at an indoor tennis facility, equipment and two coaches, Connie and Jamie. In the process of learning to play tennis I saw a lot of transferable life lessons emerging from my tennis lessons and I wanted to share a few of them with you.
Set goals that are small but meaningful. The first week of tennis my goal was simple: Don’t collapse on the court. I did not care if I did not make my hits or if the ball flew into another court. Not dying in front of everyone was my only goal. Every lesson that I walked out alive I walked out satisfied knowing that met my goal.
Set new goals. After two weeks I realized that not only was I not going to die, but that my body was learning (with some coaxing from the Jacuzzi) to agree with the one hour sessions, three days a week, so I had to set a new goal. Hit the ball.
As Christians, and as humans in general, we tend to get comfortable in the “old goals” because they make us feel as though we are continually achieving when in fact we have long since outgrown the usefulness of that goal.
Imagine if your goal at age 30 was, “color inside the lines, share toys with others, don’t put objects from the floor in my mouth.” While we can all acknowledge that these are all good ideas, they do not fit the needs of the average 30 year old.
As you look at your goals with your walk with God, are you constantly changing and building on them to build your faith or do you still have your pre-school Christian goals of, “pray before I eat, don’t be mean to people I like, go to church on Sunday.”
Staff for the change you want. As I mentioned, I have two coaches. Connie is a tremendous teacher who has won all manner of tennis awards. Her job is to teach me the mechanics of the game so that I learn how to play correctly. Her focus is getting my feet and body in the right position and the racquet on the right bevel.
Jamie is a high school varsity tennis player who gives me great instant feedback and has endless 17-year-old energy to run me all over the court. I think she tried to off me a few times but I was determined to maintain goal one – don’t collapse on the court. My coaches reflect, not where I am but where I want to be. I want to be able to play well in matches and not collapse.
It is ok to NOT be good at something. Too often we put pressure on ourselves to be good at any and everything we set out to do. There are times when being “good” is not the point. Sometimes just the effort involved and the improvement that you see signals that your effort and energy were well spent. God designed us to need other people, and for other people to need us.
This week as you plan your 2012 goals, be good to yourself and take a lesson from my tennis lessons.