Thursday, April 27, 2017

Local Voices

“Without health and long life, all else fails …”
– Dr. Booker T. Washington
  
Among other things, April 2017 is “National Minority Health Month.” Therefore, this is a good time to tell my personal health story in order to help others deal with their health problems … and to take (much) better care of themselves.

National Minority Health Month was first observed as “Negro Health Week,” initiated by Dr. Booker T. Washington in 1915. That observance grew into today’s month-long initiative. Dr. Washington, along with other Negro health experts of the day, felt that special attention must be given to the (overall) health concerns of the “Negro populace,” for there was not equitable access to health care for them.

Accordingly, the theme for 2017 is “Bridging Health Equity Across Communities.” Its purpose is to raise awareness about the health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minorities. Basically, it is a call for all of us to unite towards a common goal of improving the health of our communities.

Inasmuch, I shall share my health story to advise and motivate others to “take care of business” when it comes to personal health matters, and the like. I am a 76-year-old African-American male, who suffers from hypertension, high cholesterol, prostrate difficulties, cardiac-pulmonary deficiencies, agent orange symptoms, and sarcoidosis.  Considering everything, I was in pretty good shape, or so I thought.  Overall I thought I was pretty rugged, too.  Thirty years in the Marine Corps and almost twenty years of working with inner-city youth had me convinced that I was “Iron Man.”

Awhile back, I began to notice a drastic change in my bathroom schedule: constant urination, 10-12 or more times per night and day.  I “toughed it out,” until a good night’s sleep was impossible to get.  Also, everything I drank went right through me, almost instantly.

I sensed something was wrong, and after about two weeks of enduring this discomfort and inconvenience, I made an appointment with my local VA hospital in Hampton, Virginia.

After undergoing blood and urine screening and having my blood sugar tested, I was diagnosed with a full-blown case of diabetes-type 2.  My blood sugar/glucose reading was 406.  (At the time the 406 reading meant nothing to me.  I later learned that a healthy blood sugar/glucose level is 80-120.) 

Afterwards I was given new medications that I couldn’t even pronounce, much less spell.  Names like metformin and glipizide, coming in dosages/units of 500 mg and 5 mg.  Then, the real surprise hit me.  After taking these medicines for about 7-8 days, along with my other medications for hypertension and cholesterol, I awakened one morning and discovered while trying to read the newspaper that I couldn’t.  Everything was blurred – badly!  Talk about shock and trauma!  I almost panicked!

Immediately I got an “emergency/priority” appointment with my VA doctor, and he informed me that I was suffering from the effects of my newly discovered diabetes.  I asked, “Am I going blind, or am I in danger of losing my eyesight permanently?”  He replied that he didn’t think so, although there was no assurance how bad things might get.  He arranged an immediate (same day) appointment for me to see an ophthalmologist.

After a thorough examination by the ophthalmologist, I was told my eyes were generally healthy, but the “lens of my eyes” had changed from the effects of my diabetes.  He instructed me to continue on my diabetic diet and prescribed medicines.

Meantime, the doctor told me to get some reading glasses so I could read small print.  Further, he said my eyes should return to normalcy within several weeks or so.

Within three weeks my eyesight improved and my blood sugar was under control.  My eating habits have totally changed, as I am on a strict diabetic diet.  Before this happened, I ate anything and all of what I wanted: greasy foods, fried meats, desserts, breads, butter, cheeses, sauces, spices, candies,  alcohol, and the like.

After I got over the shock of having diabetes, I realized how truly lucky I am.  Just imagine, if I had not checked on what was wrong with me.  Never thought I’d say it, but thank God for the constant urination and sleepless nights.  Talk about giving me a sign!

Since my diabetic diagnosis and treatment, I have come to fully appreciate the ordinary and mundane things of life.  The “life things” that too many of us “take for granted”: good eyesight, healthy eating habits, proper body weight, adequate exercise, alcohol and tobacco elimination, normal blood pressure, and regular cholesterol.

Not only could I have lost my ability to see and to function as a regular person, but I could have lost my life – instantly and unexpectedly.  Mostly, this is my reason for wanting to share my story with others.  Especially those who are not taking good care of themselves and/or are too busy, they think, to get a good medical examination.

In closing, I would advise everyone to “take the time to be good to yourself.”  Remember, it’s the only self that you’ll ever have.  As they say, “One never knows, does one?”

John L. Horton is a resident of Norfolk and a frequent contributor to this newspaper.

As an African-American woman, I spent most of my life thinking that politics was a game of greed. Where I grew up, we saw politicians as obnoxious and self-interested – putting themselves over the communities they were elected to serve. My opinion began to change when I took my first government class during the 2008 presidential campaign.

The Democratic nominee at this time was a Black senator from Illinois. Barack Obama looked more like me than any other presidential candidate I had ever seen. More importantly, he spoke to my experiences and my dreams for the future. His election showed me and millions of other African-Americans that we had a voice, that we had a say in choosing the leaders who would represent us, and that our elected leaders could, in fact, be among us. Watching our first Black president speak in Hyde Park on Election Night, I knew I wanted a career in politics.

I put these thoughts into action at Norfolk State University, joining a state senate campaign in Virginia Beach, then helping Norfolk elect its first African-American mayor. I later served as an organizer for the Democratic Party of Virginia, NARAL Virginia, and Hillary for America. Now, I work as a personal aide for the man running to become the next governor of Virginia. His name is Tom Perriello.

Like me, Tom was also pulled into electoral politics eight years ago, inspired by the hope and change Obama offered. Tom then succeeded to do what many called impossible: winning a congressional district that no Democrat had won before.

I met Tom after being asked by my mentor and NARAL co-worker to attend one invited me to help her corner Tom with questions on reproductive rights, specifically his 2009 vote on the “Stupak Amendment.”

That’s not exactly what happened. Tom listened to us and responded to our questions without flinching, taking full responsibility for his one-time vote which he apologized for and still regrets. As a young congressman representing a red-leaning district, Tom cast that vote to keep a promise he made to his constituents – later allowing him to vote for the Affordable Care Act. He explained that he is and has always been pro-choice, marching for Roe v. Wade when he was 17, fighting against the defunding of Planned Parenthood in Congress, even overseeing a progressive push to take on dangerous Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws at the Center for American Progress.

And as governor, Tom will be the champion women need to protect our rights. Access to health services and reproductive care is especially vital to women of color, and as an African-American woman, a vital issue for me. There is no doubt in my mind that Tom is, and will continue to be, a strong champion for all Virginia women.

Tom’s willingness to address the issue openly and honestly was refreshing because accountability is so rare in politics. While I entered the meet-and-greet skeptical of Tom, I left so impressed and inspired that I asked how I could become involved with his campaign.

Now, a few weeks into the job as his personal aide, Tom has not let me down. He has continued day in and day out to impress and inspire me with his deep desire to do good and do right by the people of Virginia. 

He cares deeply about bringing politics back to the people – meeting voters where they are, from Arlington to Abingdon – and I’ve witnessed his passion first hand. Tom is open, honest, and truly cares about our struggles and worries, just like when I first met him in Norfolk.

By Thiaa Rahman

The Republicans don’t seem to know how to govern! The past few years, they have not had to govern, all they had to do was obstruct anything the Democrats proposed. At that time the Congress approval rating by the American people was 17 percent. Now that the Republicans are in the majority and in the driver’s seat they should have no problems governing the country.

The first major piece of legislation they tried to pass since the election of Donald Trump, was the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which failed! That was a shocker because they have been trying, and failing, for seven years to appeal and replace ACA. They have been campaigning on and telling their constituents the reason they had not passed the ACA was because of the Democrats. Now that Republicans are in the majority in both houses of Congress and still failed, what are they going to tell their supporters now?

Other than political meanness, why do they need to appeal and replace the ACA? Why not work with the Democrats in a bi-partisan way and fix any problems with the ACA? House Speaker Paul Ryan doesn’t want to work with the Democrats to fix the legislation. He wants his repeal and replacement act to be passed by Republicans only. He could not get enough support from the Republicans to bring the bill to the floor so he blamed the Republican Freedom Caucus for not supporting his plan. To save face, Trump had Ryan to pull the bill before it was voted on in the House of Representatives. Trump blames both the Republican Freedom Caucus and the Democrats for not supporting the bill. What a sad commentary when the Republicans run the White House, the Senate and the Congress and can’t govern well enough to get one of their own bills passed!

The breakdowns as I see them were, first, Ryan’s attempts to repeal the ACA should be dropped because American citizens oppose that action. Secondly, Ryan should work with his party and the Democrats to fix the bill. Working as a non-partisan body will likely benefit the American users.

The Republicans are so focused on supporting Donald Trump, until they are blind to his errors or they are overlooking Trump’s narcissism. In his narcissistic behavior Trump is so busy putting up smoke screens to divert attention from the Russian interference with the elections until he cannot concentrate on running the country. Each week, or in some cases, each day, Trump throws out a smoke bomb to divert and delay the investigation committee’s efforts to fully investigate the Russian scandal.

One of the most outrageous diversions was the lie about President Barak Obama wire-tapping Trump Towers. The latest is that Susan Rice unlawfully spied on members of his staff. What’s next? I hope he is not using the bombing of Syria as a diversion tactic. I wouldn’t put it past him, but if that’s in his mind, God bless us!

It’s a pity that the Republicans, in their efforts to support Trump and maintain party control, overlook his sickness. They are so anxious to applaud him and say that he is looking presidential whenever he does something that seem positive to them. For example, they were quick to show their approval of the bombing of Syria, but failed to question whether his bombing was a well thought out strategy, and what’s his next move would be.

When will the Republicans realize and admit that Trump has an unhealthy mind and they must take some unhealthy actions? I hope it’s before the country falls too far in peril!

Shedrick Byrd is a frequent contributor to the New Journal and Guide and former Director of Human Resources for the Naval Supply Center, Norfolk and the Norfolk Naval Shipyard

Webster’s dictionary defines ALTERNATE as “to change from one place, condition, etc., to another and back again repeatedly; to reverse direction of flow repeatedly”; and, FACT, as “something that actually exists or has actually occurred; something known by observation or experience to be true or real.”

Welcome to the world of “alternate facts,” a curious phrase – (two words that somehow seem to be in contradiction.)  But, no matter. In these turbulent times facts seem to have fallen on fiction. People of good will feel they are living in a parallel universe, with one set of rules for some people, and another set of rules for the rest of us. Can facts be manipulated?  Are we falling backwards into ignorance once more?

Think of the “alternate facts” that once existed, sold to an unsuspecting citizenry, only later to be thoroughly debunked.   “FACT” #l: “The earth is flat.”   (Disproved.)
What a shock to discover the real truth when explorers went forth and no one fell off the earth! So we put away our former limited thinking and forged ahead with expeditionary confidence.

“FACT “ #2:  “The earth is the center of the universe.”  (Disproved)  

It is so like us to think that everything revolves around us.  Corrected, we then gave allegiance to the mighty star in our solar system and the sun smiled benignly on its backward children.

Medical factual debunking continues to come to light, from the causes of certain illnesses, to the existence of unseen germs.  The more we examine “alternate facts,” the more we expose them for what they are:  distortions of awareness, “pretend” facts, ignorance.

Shame on us for defaming women – ducking so-called “witches” out of jealousy and spite – withholding the vote and equal pay. (Not our most shining moments.)  
An entire body of evidence – prejudicial intolerant thinking – gave rise to “alternate facts” about groups of people that is still, disturbingly evinced today.

What we now know is this:  Native Americans were never the “savages” we portrayed them as being.  Instead, we were the thieves of their lands and their rightful heritage.

No race or group of people is “vermin” or worthy of our demonization.  Rather, there is a need in a certain mentality, to defame others in order to build up itself – a meanness of spirit, that once given power, ruthlessly lies, bullies, steals, and uses its cudgels of fear to dominate and infect others.

We saw this clearly in World War II and in other unjust wars and conflagrations throughout humankind.  No race is “three-fifths of a man or woman.”  The noble Africans, stolen from their families and lands, brought against their will to a strange country whose barbaric customs broke their bodies, but not their souls, taught courage, kindness in the face of adversity, and endurance to the rest of us.

All – all of us – are created equal by a loving Creator who answers to many different Names.  We are brothers and sisters: One.  Let’s return, shall we, to the terms we lived under before “alternate facts” appeared to separate us.

Let us go back to that time in Creation “when the morning stars sang together.”  We are those stars.  Let’s go back, even though some will call us old-fashioned.  Others will call it by its proper name: Truth.  Shall we dare to embrace it?

Judith Stevens resides in Hampton Roads and contributes regularly to the New Journal and Guide’s MUSE quarterly section.

According to prominent mentoring programs such as the Harvard Mentoring Project, National Mentoring Partnership, Corporation for National and Community Service, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, there are over 20 million young people in America who are in dire need of mentors and/or role models.  These youth need help in improving their school success, daily living responsibilities, and achieving career goals.

According to the aforementioned national mentoring programs and other related research and studies, mentoring helps young people in several ways:

• School – improving attendance, increasing chances for higher education, enhancing overall attitudes toward education, and the like.

• Daily Life – providing youths with caring adults who can give support and guidance.  Young people who are mentored are more likely to be crime-free, not use illegal substances, and more apt to get along with peers, family members, and authority figures.

• Career – assisting youths with information and facilitation in finding jobs, obtaining internships, and setting career goals.

I have been a mentor for at-risk youths and disadvantaged families for over three decades.  And, I know that mentoring works not only for the young person, but for the adults as well.  As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently stated, “Not everyone can be great, but everyone can serve.” As such, mentoring is the epitome of a “helping relationship,” by which one person (mentor) enables another person (mentee) to ameliorate self. As the sage saying goes: “No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child(ren).”

As mentors, we must get our mentees to practice self-discipline and prioritize certain goals in life: (1) finish at least high school; (2) remain drug and crime-free; (3) get a job(s); (4) become adults and get married before having children; (5) remain positive and plan for the future.

In this abbreviated writing, I shall focus on young African-American males.  Over the years, I have found these particular youths to be more at risk and disadvantaged in today’s society.  However, the principles, practices and proposals are apropos and generic for all youth who need help with mentoring, and can be applied accordingly.

Too many of these alienated and uncommitted youth display a profound lack of self-esteem, and self-control.  They show an abundance of anger, boredom, frustration and disrespect.  They lack a sense of direction and purpose.  They need to learn to perform and achieve at their maximum capacity.  In short, they need to acquire self-discipline and personal priorities. Most of all, they need to be inspired and motivated by the words and philosophy of Dr. King: “If you can’t fly, then run; if you can’t run, then walk; if you can’t walk, then crawl; but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

  Basically, the eradication of the “root causes” and “reasons why” can be accomplished by focusing upon the amelioration of three vital areas: (1) self-discipline and personal priorities; (2) family stability and community empowerment; and (3) education and job skills.

Accordingly, I offer the following curriculum overview and training outline:
• Self Respect
• Respect for Others
• Values
• Motivation
• Attitude/Personality
• Individual Responsibility/Accountability
• Goal Setting and Life Planning
• Personal Health and Wellness
• Anger and Stress Management
• Conflict Resolution
• Managing Diversity
• African-American History and Cultural Enrichment
• Race Relations
• Male-Female Relations
• Effective Communication Skills
• Active Listening Skills
• Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities
• Substance Abuse Information and Education
•  Remedial Education/Basic Literacy Skills (Educational Assessment; Relapse and Dropout Prevention; Educational Alternatives; etc.)
• Job and Survival Skills (Vocational Assessment; Aptitude and Attitude; Work Ethic; How to Find Jobs; How to Apply for Jobs; How to Organize and Obtain Important Job-Related Papers; How to Write a Resume; How to Interview; How to Follow-up; etc.)

Some of these topics/subjects – goal setting and life planning, remedial education/basic literacy skills, job and survival skills, and the like – might be more age-appropriate for youths, 14 years and older.  Also, this same curriculum could be used for adult males of 21 years and older.

John L. Horton is a resident of Norfolk and a frequent contributor to this newspaper.

When one does not live in reality, one forces others to either give up their actual factual reality for a fantasy world where only the facts one likes are part of one’s said reality (show).

Non-existent “alleged” wire-tapping false charges become just another alternative fact(-rivitive) in an endless procession of blips on the fact check radar that has become the daily and nightly news broadcasts.

Reporters report what this proven narcissist says, then operatives from said whack job backtrack multiple interpretive versions of what actually happened, as if to present us with a smorgasbord of corroborative semi-truthful options to attempt to digest, understand, compute and deal with.

Then by citing non-existent or false unproven sources, articles, news stories, networks and posts this punch-line-joke-of-an-administration, tries to legitimize the original comments and tweets of the inane, made by the insane.

The press is not untrustworthy; they deal in facts and cover both sides of each story every day. They have done so since the press first became the checks and balances system to power. The press is the fourth estate; their vital role of “in bounds or out of bounds referee” serving both Democrats and Republicans since the beginning of our republic often putting back the “justice,” in justifications. 

All who have led have faced the scrutiny of the press. All who have come before have had both good and bad press stories and relationships. Cherry–fact picking is not allowed, nor is it allowed in reporting. Neither should it be allowed to one who is supposed to lead and be a leader. Bad facts must be reported the same as good facts, even when and if they are counter to the opinion of the leader. We the people have to be smart enough to figure out when the used car salesman is lying to us and ripping us a new one with his special slimy undercoating treatment (money or _ _ _ _ _ grab disguised as a handshake.)

Each over-hyped (under-strategized) embellishment brings us ever closer to a fact-free world where honesty, decency, integrity, and accountability become casualties. The truth isn’t parsed, versioned, derivatively repackaged; it stands on its own, alone.

The longer one gives any credence to the one (minus one) now running the show, the longer and furtherer we will have to walk back from God-knows-where, America’s real reality can’t be executively produced (or as in this case un-executively re-produced.)

Our problem is that we were all so fed up with the existing system, the status quo, the candidate choices, the direction both parties had partially delivered us to, that some of us bit for the devil unknown, behind Door (and under hairpiece) Number Three.

The honeymoon is over and now people from both sides see, that we can’t live or fit into his warped Fantasy Island mentality. There can only be room for the self, only the one, in there.

It is the job of the true leader, one which unites, includes to truthfully present the facts.  We can unite behind a common good, not one just for America, but an example for all mankind. Are we not the beacon of hope, the light of loving equality that other so-called “less developed” nations can follow and emulate?

On present course we will stand alone. We will have alienated our best friends and allies, the way we did with Germany’s Angela Merkle in the press conference and by the way we tried to throw the British under the bus by targeting them with false accusations. British Intelligence never did wire tap “the Tower” Mr. Rupunzell. One simple reason prevented it. “Intelligence,” (or intel) by definition, is useful, intelligent, it makes sense. It furthers a cause or an attempt at a directive through direct action.

Since we are keeping score and the truth does matter, we now dub “The Donald” as the chief executive liar, book cooker-fryer, global warming-denier, the Russian contact supplier, say I, the New Journal and Guide’s town crier. No problem, Don. I know you’ll just fry’em up in your fact-free, time machine, deep fat truth trier/dryer. True conceit is lying on a tweet, during a live congressional hearing about one’s earlier tweeted lies.

Lies are like rotten teeth. It doesn’t take long before you’ve got a whole head of crazy teeth and are spitting out new versions of debunked conspiracies theories ad-nauseam. Time to take a wolf bite outta’ the root cause. Release the (press) hounds.

Sean C. Bowers is a local progressive youth development coach, author and poet, who has written for the New Journal and Guide the last 18 years. His recent book of over 120 NJ&G articles detailing the issues is available at V1ZUAL1ZE@aol.com and he does do large scale solutions presentations.

By John L. Horton

“We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now because I’ve been to the mountaintop … I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.”
“I’ve Been To The Mountain Top” Speech, Memphis, Tennessee, April 3, 1968. Dr. Martin Luther, King, Jr.

Again, it is time to celebrate the memory and importance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who would have been 88 years old were he still alive.  Since his death on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, so much has changed … and yet, so much has remained the same.

Therefore, we must continue to live “the dream.” We must continue to honor King’s memory and legacy by becoming (re)acquainted with his fight for social justice, political fairness, and economic equity.

Sometimes I wonder, if he were alive, what would King think about how things have gone in the African-American community? What would he say? What would he do? What would he want us to do?

I am sure that King would encourage us to resolve the social, political and economic challenges that buffet us. He would remind us of individual responsibility, family stability, group cohesion and collective empowerment. And, he would remind us that many of the answers and solutions lie within us as a people.

King would demand that we empower ourselves (individuals, families and communities) by acquiring social competence and life survival skills of a positive and beneficial nature: literacy and education improvement, work and entrepreneurial attainment, political involvement, crime and drug-free lifestyles, overall personal and familial betterment, and the like.  In short as a people, we need self-discipline and designated priorities.

Just as importantly, King would espouse an understanding that these challenging tasks and complicated issues cannot be easily overcome or quickly accomplished, but that they can be done.  And, he would remind us to always remember that we are standing on the backs and shoulders of those who have gone before us.  Therefore, we must continue the “good fight,” for failure is not an option. And, together, we “can make this climb and eventually get to the mountaintop.”

If King were alive, he would challenge us to “get the job done.” He would encourage us to put our minds and backs into the tasks before us.  He would remind us that we are the “master of our fates” and the “captains of our souls.” Further, King would preach and teach about PRIDE (Personal Responsibility In Daily Efforts).  And, he would inspire us with the ten most powerful words in the universe: “If it is to be, it is up to me!”  Yes, he would!

Just as importantly, King would inspire us to be optimistic and positive about our lives. Furthermore, he would emphasize the uplifting philosophy and psychology of life and reality that we must fervently follow the “Socratic Wisdom” that a life unexamined is not worth living … and he would encourage us to always do the best that we can for ourselves and others.
Also, King  would encourage us to show a willingness to know something, to be smart, to be curious, and to be willing to learn and accomplish a lot more. While the world we inhabit may not be all fair or just, we must be willing to try … and try … and try … We must learn to give life our utmost effort and perform at our maximum capacity.

One of the most sage and eloquent statements ever uttered by King illustrates this reality: “The most dangerous person in the world is one who is sincerely ignorant and conscientiously stupid. You have a moral responsibility to be intelligent.” Truer words have never been spoken.

If King were alive, he would stress the need for building a foundation of empowerment for teaching individuals, families and communities how to tap the power within, rather than depending on handouts and the goodwill of others. Accordingly, he would emphasize the importance of family as the original and best departments of health, education, welfare, and salvation. Simply stated, we cannot reasonably expect others to do those things that we should do for ourselves.

How I wish Dr. King were still alive! But, he’s not. However, his teachings, sacrifices and contributions will always be with us. Therefore, let us draw from his legacy and achieve his “dream” for all of us. What a great way to show respect and appreciation for the man. As the Good Book so eloquently espouses: “Blessed are those who empower others to be all that they can be …”

Long live the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.! Long live the dream! Better yet, let us celebrate the memory by achieving the dream.

John L. Horton is a resident of Norfolk and a frequent contributor to this newspaper.

On 28 February President Donald Trump delivered his first address to a joint session of Congress. Trump, reading from a teleprompter, sounded what some say Presidential. But many felt that upon examination of the narrative of his presentation it was filled with lies and promises that seem to be impossible to accomplish. He received a standing ovation from Republicans on almost every promise but few Democrats were impressed.

Disturbing to me was the embarrassing moment when Trump commented on the death of a Navy Seal and gave tribute to William Owens who was killed in a raid against terrorists in Yemen. Trump used Owens’ death in his speech to promote the President’s own political agenda.

It was reported that Trump ordered the raid without having a serious conference with his intelligence security professionals. The raid was bungled and, in addition to Owens being killed, three other military personnel were injured. To gain sympathy and support for his deadly mistake, Trump invited Owens’ wife to be in the chambers for his speech. He introduced her to Congress and she received a five-minute applause during which pain of her grief was written on her face. How embarrassing!

I wondered what many of my military comrades and the families of the deceased must have felt when they heard Trump’s bragging about the heroics of Owens’ death. Many of our soldiers, marines and other military personnel are killed daily in battle somewhere. Therefore, for Trump to make such revelry about one military person killed in battle breeds some suspicions.

In his praise of Owens’ life-sacrificing death, he said the raid in Yemen was a success. He said that important information was gained from the raid. We as citizens have not and will likely never hear or see the information and we will be told it’s secret data and cannot be shared with the public. Therefore, confirmation of Trump’s assertion that the raid was a success will never be revealed.

I was intrigued when I heard how Van Jones, an active commentator and critic of Trump, was taken by Trump’s tribute to Owens. I have been a follower and supporter of Jones since he served as Special Advisor to President Obama on Green Jobs. Filled with emotion, Jones said Trump’s tribute to Owens was “one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics, period” and it was the moment Trump “became President of the United States.”

I really got upset at Jones and felt he had been duped by Trump’s attempt to gain support for his goof-up in Yemen. His first attempt of blaming Obama for the failed Yemen incident did not work so he was trying a new tactic. I lost some of my zeal as a supporter for Jones. I thought he would have seen through the act. Then I thought perhaps Jones has never served in the military and witnessed other members of the military being killed, so it may have been easy for him to get emotionally caught up in Trump’s rhetoric.

Jones and others who were emotionally moved by the tribute should have know what several people who have been interviewed on TV, including psychiatrists, say: that Trump is narcissistic and therefore conniving.

If Trump did not need to recognize Owens to cover up the blunder in the Yemen raid for his personal political benefit, he would not have mentioned him in his address to Congress.
If Trump is a narcissist, he wears a mask and rebuffs any information about him that he doesn’t like. I see why his supporters stick by him. He may not help their causes but he does give them a show.

Shedrick Byrd is a frequent contributor to the New Journal and Guide, and a retired U.S. Navy veteran.

By Shedrick Byrd

As a 76-year-old African-American male, I believe myself to be an “Elder of the Village.”  In that regard, I put forth the following ideas, thoughts and (possible) solutions to an “ongoing village crisis” that is threatening and debilitating to our community-society at large.

With the recent rash and upsurge of primarily Black youth violence (assaults, shootings, killings, etc.), something needs to be done…now…immediately.  This chaos and disaster cannot be allowed to exist in our (civilized) midst. These perpetrators and instigators are a danger to themselves and to the society at large.  They are profoundly at risk and/or endangered, especially as measured by everyone else’s status and situation. 

For example, according to almost every national survey and statistical report, young Black males trail young Black females in almost every educational-economical category.  Among other things, this “gender-gap” has troubling implications, as Black women will find a shortage of compatible Black men to marry and with whom to build solid families and communities.

Unfortunately, these dire circumstances reveal that these Black men continue to be disproportionately incarcerated, inadequately educated and insufficiently employed, among other things.  These particular Black youth continue to be debilitated by criminal activity, substance abuse, sexual irresponsibility, and poor health habits, overall.  Saliently put, this represents a bleak futuristic outlook for too many of our young Black males.

Despite this bleak outlook, I sincerely believe these particular youth can be empowered and uplifted.  However, they must believe in the truism, “If it is to be, it is up to me!”  They must exert a willingness and enthusiasm to be(come) all that they can. They need to understand the required discipline and sacrifices are well worth the eventual benefits and rewards.  A spirit of “can do” and “will do” is required of them. Otherwise, these youth need to understand that failure to have a “life’s plan” will bring them shattered dreams, broken promises and hopeless futures.

More poignantly, these youth need to understand that real manhood and true fatherhood are the grass roots and bedrock of family, community, survival, and destiny.  It should be understood manhood and fatherhood are intelligence, competence, responsibility commitment, investment, ownership, and empowerment; manhood and fatherhood are head, heart and guts – all located above the waistline; manhood and fatherhood are respecting and protecting your young, your elderly, your family, and your community.

Our young Black males have to show a willingness to know something, to be smart, to be curious, and to be willing to learn and accomplish a lot more.  While the world they inhabit may not be all fair or just, they must be willing to try. They must learn to give life their all. They must be willing to be “chance-takers” and “opportunity-seekers.”

Somehow we must get these disenchanted youth to believe that sound choices and hard work will bring them personal, familial and professional success.. They must be made to understand they are important to our overall society and are a positive force in our national future.

All of this will require lots of hard work and smart work. To be sure, it is an awesome struggle that lies before these youth; however, nothing worthwhile is ever accomplished or gained without a struggle.  As Malcolm X so eloquently stated: “To help yourself, you must respect yourself, educate yourself. Attachment to drugs, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, material goods, and short-term rewards are just a new form of slavery. Liberation comes with health, education, responsibility, financial independence, family stability, and community service …”

Basically, it will require a grass roots approach for empowering young African-American males.  In its beginnings this needs to be an in-house and self-help movement. To paraphrase Paul Robeson, “You cannot expect someone else to do those things for you that you should do for yourself.”  Frederick Douglass put it even more saliently, “A man may not get all that he pays for, but he must certainly pay for all that he gets.”

Accordingly, these disillusioned youth need to be encouraged to perform and achieve at their maximum potential.  They need to have a more comprehensive understanding of the “forces and realities” that frustrate and debilitate them. While many of these “obstacles” are challenging and complex, they can be overcome.

In summary, I profoundly believe our young African-American males are brave enough, strong enough, determined enough, and smart enough to get the job done.  All they need to be successful are their “roots of responsibility” and “wings of wonderment.”  Enough said.  Let them (and us) now do what needs to be done. 

John L. Horton resides in Norfolk and is a frequent contributor to this newspaper.

Don’t impeach President Donald Trump! Not yet! Trump is bad enough but the thought of having Vice President Mike Pence as President gives me the creeps. Pence is a much more savvy and evil politician than Trump and therefore more dangerous to the country. I know you say “more dangerous than Trump?.” I say yes. Pence would have the ears of the far right Republican party more than Trump does and he would set the country back 50 years. You know what that means for Black people. Fifty years was one number of years one of Trump’s supporters suggested.

Trump has done enough damage to the country since being in office to be impeached or at least have impeachment proceedings started. Had it been former President Barack Obama, the Republican-led Congress would have already started impeachment proceedings. Trump’s behavior makes me wonder if he thinks he is above the law. Except for the justice system stopping him from implementing the Muslim Travel Ban Executive Order that barred Muslims from seven different Arbs Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, I have heard little from Congress to challenge him on any of his other Executive Orders.

Being President is more than Trump can handle, it seems to me. I don’t think he has the interest or knowledge for the job. His counterparts in other countries are noticing his behavior and see a weak President and could be preparing to take advantage of those weaknesses to do us harm. At different presidential functions, I notice he seems to be very uncomfortable in his role as President.

It is obvious that Trump was in cahoots with Russia and that he received help from the Russians in his election campaign. Recently his security secretary General Michael Flynn was called out by the press for talking to the Russian ambassador about lifting sanctions that President Obama had levied against Russia for their hacking into the election campaign. Flynn was accused of lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russians saying he did not mention sanctions during those discussions. He was also accused of lying to the President, Vice President and other Presidential staff personnel about his conversations with Russia.

Following some of the incidents and events that have gone on in this administration it is hard for me to believe that the President and Vice President did not know what Flynn had discussed with the Russians. In support of Flynn, the Vice President went on TV vowing that Flynn did not discuss sanctions with the Russians. After Flynn was caught lying by the FBI, the President and Vice President say they were told by Flynn that he did not discuss sanctions with the Russians. Trump is such a pathetic liar it’s easy for me to believe that he instructed Flynn to tell the Russians that the sanctions would be lifted once he was in office.

I certainly believe that Flynn told Pence he had discussed sanctions with the Russians. If Flynn starts talking, it could be the end of President Trump and maybe Pence. There is no precedence for a President and a Vice President being impeached at the same time.

I hope the Democrats continue to insist on investigating Flynn. I’m not sure it will reveal anything since Trump has surrounded himself with legal policy makers that will block any chance of convicting Flynn of a crime. He is surrounded by a spineless attorney general, and a Congress is not going to force any actions. They seem to fear him.

This is a golden opportunity for Democrats to take advantage of the chaos. If the Democrats would select worthy candidates who have the backbone to fight for people’s rights rather than campaigning for the next election to hold on to their seats that they are doing nothing with.

For the security and safety of our country it is time and necessary for the Congress to put aside their political wrangling and come together in a non-partisan way to keep America strong. This is real!

Shedrick Byrd is a regular contributor to the New Journal and Guide.

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