Friday, September 28, 2012

Question for Plato Negro from Gregory Fields, Professor of law and student at Academy of da Corner

Dr. M and Professor Gregory Fields at Academy of da Corner, 14th and Broadway,
downtown Oakland CA.  photo Walter Riley, Esq.

And Professor Gregory asked Plato Negro: "Most humble master teacher, Plato Negro, Dr. M, Rumi, Saadi, Hafiz, the consensus is that you are one of the wisest persons in the world, especially here in the Bay Area. It is conceded you know 99% of what is to be known or is known, therefore, we ask you kindly, is it possible that you will allow us humble ones to claim possession of the1% that you do not claim to know?"

Plato Negro: Absolutely, you may claim the 1%. Of course it is also known that a wise man can play a fool but a fool cannot play a wise man. In the 1% that you know, I know you know that I have been known to be a fool.

American Education Dead in the Water

The American educational system as with all American institutions, e.g., political, economy, religious, family, is suffering the last stages of full blown addiction to white supremacy mythology and ritual and shall find itself in the dustbin of history. There is no reform capable of making the needed structural changes, only revolution shall suffice. We shall continue being reactive rather than proactive in approaching the problems confronting our children, students and adults. Stop nick picking and cherry picking a social order that must be destroyed for its myriad cancers and pervasive class and racial quagmire.
--Dr. M

The Urgency of NowSchott Foundation: America's Education System Neglects Almost Half of the Nation's Black and Latino Male Students
Click below:]

New report cites need to address students being pushed out and locked out of opportunities to learn; Schott Foundation joins call for a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions

The research for this report was conducted by Michael Holzman. It was edited by John Jackson and Ann Beaudry, with assistance from Emily Dexter and Kalycia Trishana Watson. The report was designed by Patrick St. John.
The Schott Foundation for Public Education September 19, 2012 

[moderator: the full report may be found here -]

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - A new report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education finds that only 52 percent of Black male and 58 percent of Latino male ninth-graders graduate from high school four years later, while 78 percent of White, non-Latino male ninth- graders graduate four years later. The report suggests that without a policy framework that creates opportunity for all students, strengthens supports for the teaching profession and strikes the right balance between support-based reforms and standards-driven reforms, the U.S. will become increasingly unequal and less competitive in the global economy.

According to The Urgency of Now: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males, the national graduation rate for Black males has increased by ten percentage points since 2001-02, with 2010-11 being the first year that more than half of the nation's ninth- grade Black males graduated with a regular diploma four years later. Yet, this progress has closed the graduation gap between Black male and White, non-Latino males by only three percentage points. At this rate, it would take nearly 50 years for Black males to achieve the same high school graduation rates as their White male counterparts.

"We have a responsibility to provide future generations of Americans with the education and the skills needed to thrive in communities, the job market and the global economy. Yet, too many Black and Latino young boys and men are being pushed out and locked out of the U.S.
education system or find themselves unable to compete in a 21st Century economy upon graduating," said John H.
Jackson, president and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education. "These graduation rates are not indicative of a character flaw in the young men, but rather evidence of an unconscionable level of willful neglect, unequal resource allocation by federal, state and local entities and the indifference of too many elected and community leaders. It's time for a support- based reform movement."

Among the states with the largest Black enrollments, North Carolina (58%), Maryland (57%), and California
(56%) have the highest graduation rates for Black males, while New York (37%), Illinois (47%) and Florida (47%) have the lowest. Arizona (84%) and Minnesota (65%) were the only states within the top ten ranked states, in graduation rates, with over 10,000 Black males enrolled.
Among the states with the highest enrollments of Latinos, Arizona (68%), New Jersey (66%) and California
(64%) have the highest graduation rates for Latino males, while New York (37%), Colorado (46%) and Georgia
(52%) have the lowest.

Three of the four states with the highest graduation rates for Black males were states with a relatively small number of Black males enrolled in the state's
schools: Maine (97%), Vermont (82%), Utah (76%). This seems to indicate that Black males, on average, perform better in places and spaces where they are not relegated to under-resourced districts or schools. When provided similar opportunities they are more likely to produce similar or better outcomes as their White male peers.
The report cites the need to address what the Schott Foundation calls a "pushout" and "lockout" crisis in our education system, in part by reducing and reclaiming the number of students who are no longer in schools receiving critical educational services and improving the learning and transition opportunities for students who remain engaged. Blacks and Latinos face disproportionate rates of out-of-school suspensions and are not consistently receiving sufficient learning time
- effectively being pushed out of opportunities to succeed. Many who remain in schools are locked out of systems with well-resourced schools and where teachers have the training, mentoring, administrative support, supplies and the facilities they need to provide our children with a substantive opportunity to learn. In the foreword to the report, Andr‚s A. Alonso, CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools, described his city's efforts to keep kids in schools: "We could not have made these strides without asserting unequivocally that we had no disposable children, and that we needed everyone's help to make things right." Alonso concludes, "I am confident that we as a nation will rally and we will succeed. The cost of continued failure is around us, a disservice to our best hopes. The cost of continued failure should be abhorrent to contemplate."

To cut down the alarming "pushout" rate, the Schott Foundation is supporting the recently launched Solutions Not Suspensions initiative, a grassroots effort of students, educators, parents and community leaders calling for a nationwide moratorium on out-of-school suspensions. The initiative, supported by The Opportunity to Learn Campaign and the Dignity in Schools Campaign, promotes proven programs that equip teachers and school administrators with effective alternatives to suspensions that keep young people in school and learning.

Schott also calls for students who are performing below grade level to receive "Personal Opportunity Plans" to prevent them from being locked out of receiving the resources needed to succeed. The report highlights the need to pivot from a standards-driven reform agenda to a supports-based reform agenda that provides all students equitable access to the resources critical to successfully achieving high standards.

The Urgency of Now also provides the following recommendations for improving graduation rates for young Black and Latino men:

End the rampant use of out-of-school suspensions as a default disciplinary action, as it decreases valuable learning time for the most vulnerable students and increases dropouts.

Expand learning time and increase opportunities for a well-rounded education including the arts, music, physical education, robotics, foreign language, and apprenticeships.

States and cities should conduct a redlining analysis of school funding, both between and within districts, and work with the community and educators to develop a support-based reform plan with equitable resource distribution to implement sound community school models.

"There is no doubt that the stakes are high. Black and Latino children under the age of 18 will become a majority of all children in the U.S. by the end of the current decade, many of whom are in lower-income households located in neighborhoods with under-resourced schools," said Michael Holzman, senior research consultant to the Schott Foundation. "We do not want our young Black and Latino men to have to beat the odds; we want to change the odds. We must focus on systemic change to provide all our children with the opportunity to learn."

Happy B Day, John Gilmore, My Main Man!

We so remember John Gilmore, not only one of the greatest sax men ever, who took music beyond the sound barrier into deep outer space, but he was one of the most humble men who visited this planet, especially in his long devotion to Sun Ra. We remember performing with John as part of Sun Ra's Arkestera.
--Dr. M

Let it Stand
Blowing in from Chicago

from the album "Blowing in from Chicago" (1957)
John Gilmore was born in Summit, Mississippi, but grew up in Chicago and originally played the clarinet, taking up the tenor saxophone while serving in the United States Air Force from 1948–1952.

Gilmore played briefly with pianist Earl Hines, and in 1957 then pursued a musical career, playing briefly with pianist Earl Hines before encountering Sun Ra in 1953.

In 1957 he and Clifford Jordan recorded a Blue Note date that is regarded as a hard bop classic: Blowing In from Chicago. In the mid-1960s Gilmore toured with the Jazz Messengers and recorded with Paul Bley, Andrew Hill (Andrew! and Compulsion), Pete La Roca (Turkish Women at the Bath), McCoy Tyner (Today and Tomorrow) and a handful of others.

His main focus for the next four decades remained with the Sun Ra Arkestra. Many who noted Gilmore's talent, and thought he could be a major star like John Coltrane or Sonny Rollins, were puzzled by his dedication to Sun Ra.

Gilmore's explained that his devotion to Sun Ra was because of Ra's use of harmony. He said that Sun Ra was "more stretched out than Monk."

In 1990, he told Graham Lock in The Wire that "I'm not gonna run across anybody who's moving as fast as Sun Ra ... So I just stay where I am."

After Sun Ra's death in 1993, Gilmore led Ra's "Arkestra" for a few years before his own death from emphysema in 1995.

Video: Clifford Jordan, tenor sax; John Gilmore, tenor sax; Horace Silver, piano; Curly Russell, bass.

For more John Gilmore videos, click here 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Notes from Gullahland

Taxes Threaten an Island Culture in Georgia

Stephen Morton for The New York Times
Brandon Dixon fishes the creeks about Sapelo Island, Ga. More Photos »

SAPELO ISLAND, Ga. — Once the huge property tax bills started coming, telephones started ringing. It did not take long for the 50 or so people who live on this largely undeveloped barrier island to realize that life was about to get worse.

The New York Times
Sapelo Island, a tangle of salt marsh and sand reachable only by boat, holds the largest community of people who identify themselves as saltwater Geechees. Sometimes called the Gullahs, they have inhabited the nation’s southeast coast for more than two centuries. Theirs is one of the most fragile cultures in America.
These Creole-speaking descendants of slaves have long held their land as a touchstone, fighting the kind of development that turned Hilton Head and St. Simons Islands into vacation destinations. Now, stiff county tax increases driven by a shifting economy, bureaucratic bumbling and the unyielding desire for a house on the water have them wondering if their community will finally succumb to cultural erosion.
“The whole thing just smells,” said Jasper Watts, whose mother, Annie Watts, 73, still owns the three-room house with a tin roof that she grew up in.
She paid $362 in property taxes last year for the acre she lives on. This year, McIntosh County wants $2,312, a jump of nearly 540 percent.
Where real estate is concerned, history is always on the minds of the Geechees, who live in a place called Hog Hammock. It is hard for them not to be deeply suspicious of the tax increase and wonder if, as in the past, they are being nudged even further to the fringes.
Theirs is the only private land left on the island, almost 97 percent of which is owned by the state and given over to nature preserves, marine research projects and a plantation mansion built in 1802.
The tobacco heir R. J. Reynolds Jr. bought the mansion and most of the island during the Great Depression, persuading the Geechees who owned the rest to move to 400 swampy inland acres. Today, Hog Hammock is not much more than a collection of small houses and a historic cemetery, with a dusty general store and a part-time restaurant, Lula’s Kitchen, where shrimp and sausage are transformed into a low-country boil, a classic example of Sea Islands cooking.
That kind of history makes it hard for people to believe county officials who say there is no effort afoot to push them from the land. The county has offered 15 percent reductions in tax bills until the appeals that most people have filed can be heard. But it is going to be a challenge to pay even the reduced rate. While there is work cooking and cleaning for visitors to the plantation house, maintaining state research facilities or renting space to vacationers, money is difficult to find.
The relationship between Sapelo Island residents and county officials has long been strained, especially over race and development. In July, the community relations division of the Justice Department held two meetings with residents to address charges of racial discrimination. A department spokesman said the meetings were confidential and would not comment.
Neither would the chief tax appraiser, Rick Daniel, or other elected county officials. But Brett Cook, who manages the county and its only city, Darien, says local government does a lot to support the Geechee culture.
“It’s a wonderful history and a huge draw for our ecotourism,” he said.
This summer, he pointed out, the county worked with the Smithsonian to host a festival that culminated in a concert with members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters, who practice a style of singing and hand claps developed by slaves.
The issue, said Mr. Cook and other county officials who would speak only if their names were not used, is not one of cultural genocide. They are just trying to clean up years of bad management and correct property taxes that were kept artificially low by questionable policies.
McIntosh County has a history of bureaucratic mistakes and election corruption. Its rocky political landscape was the subject of a book, “Praying for Sheetrock,” by Melissa Fay Greene, which detailed its racial segregation and the 1970s fight between a domineering white sheriff and people who wanted to elect the first black government official.

Taxes Threaten an Island Culture in Georgia

(Page 2 of 2)
The county, which has about 14,000 year-round residents and thousands more with vacation homes, had for years put off reviewing its taxable property. An outside firm did the last valuation in 2004. Paul Griffin, the chairman of the Board of Tax Assessors, called the work “very, very sloppy” at a June meeting covered by The Darien News.

In 2009, the county was in the process of updating its tax digest when the state froze property taxes to help stanch the effects of the recession. Instead of continuing its work, the county stopped the process until this year.
Meanwhile, property was sold — some of it to wealthy people interested in vacation homes on the mainland and some on Sapelo Island. Those sales never made it to the tax records until now.
“We’re rural, we’re on the coast and we’re desirable,” Mr. Cook said. “When the market got hot six or seven years ago, a lot of individuals holding $15,000 or $20,000 lots on the marsh could sell them for $100,000 or $150,000.”
The county also started a new garbage pickup service and added other services, which contributed to the higher tax rates, he said. Sapelo Island residents, however, still have to haul their trash to the dump.
“Our taxes went up so high, and then you don’t have nothing to show for it,” said Cornelia Walker Bailey, the island’s unofficial historian. “Where is my fire department? Where are my water resources? Where is my paved road? Where are the things our tax dollars pay for?”
Here, where land is usually handed down or sold at below-market rates to relatives, Ms. Bailey has come to hold four pieces of property. She lives on one, which is protected from the tax increases by a homestead exemption. The rest will cost her 600 percent more in property taxes. “I think it’s an effort to erode everyone out of the last private sector of this island,” she said.
Government systems have been devised to try to save Sapelo Island’s Geechee culture. Hog Hammock is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the state created a Sapelo Island Heritage Authority in 1983, which the governor oversees. But critics contend that the authority could serve as a vehicle to more development.
State lawmakers have discussed creating a trust that would protect land from development but allow residents who could not afford to keep their property to stay. But that is still just an idea.
The National Park Service recently released a 272-page management plan for the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, which stretches from Wilmington, N.C., to Jacksonville, Fla. It calls for creative solutions to preserving Gullah land, said Michael Allen, the service’s foremost expert on the community, of which he is also a member.
But it says nothing about how to fight the tax collector.
State Senator William Ligon, who represents the county and is a real estate lawyer, suggests that residents file a lawsuit if they do not get relief.
“In an economy where property values have been declining, I think I would want to look very, very closely at what had been done at the county level,” he said.
None of that offers immediate relief to residents who have tax bills piled up on kitchen tables and in desk drawers.
Sharron Grovner, 44, is one of them. Her mother, Lula Walker, runs the little restaurant on the island. Ms. Grovner buried her father not too long ago. Her family has more than four acres of property and faces more than $6,000 in taxes. Like most, they have appealed. “You can do the best you can do for a year, but then you are going to need some kind of help,” she said.
Still, they are not going to let go of the land. “It’s like this,” she said. “People like me don’t sell their property.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

'Who killed Chauncey Bailey?

This interview with journalist Thomas Peele is a continuation of the Monkey Mind Medias version of who killed journalist Chauncey Bailey. It should be understood that we in the North American African community do not buy his version that the Black Muslim Bakery young men were solely responsible for his murder. Oakland Police Department involvement and mismanagement of the homicide investigation is crystal clear. In fact, an OPD officer, Longmire, was the chief mentor of the young men. If I mentor you and you commit three murders under my watch, there would be more than grounds of suspicion about my role in a conspiracy.

Insighters & Scholars’ Circle – Sept. 23rd, 2012
Chauncey Bailey was the first journalist killed in the US doing his job since the 1970′s. We’ll look at the reasons behind his assassination. Thomas Peele is the author of Killing the Messenger: A Story of Radical Faith, Racist Backlash and the Assassination of a Journalist. [ Dur: 24 mins. ]


What is Culture - Marimba Ani

Open Letter to the North American Africans of Houston's Third Ward

From the Desk of Marvin X

September 24, 2012

Open Letter to the North American Africans of Houston’s Third Ward

Dear Brothers and Sisters, it is with great joy, deep affection yet a heavy heart that I depart from you this morning. The last two weeks that I have shared with you has been most enlightening and enjoyable.

It has renewed my faith in the notion of a Black Nation, or what we used to call Nation Time! Swimming in your sea of Blackness has been an awesome experience, especially not having to apologize for or even afraid to say the word Black, an almost punishable offense where I come from, the so-called multi-cultural land of the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area, where, as Paradise says in his classic poem, they like everything about us but us, and where we were once in great numbers but our population has been in decline the last few decades, especially do to gentrification.

Of course  gentrification or neo-colonization is a global affair, and it is certainly happening in Houston’s Third Ward, for now you can still enjoy the power of North American African culture in an essentially free space.

I want to especially thank my precious daughter Nefertiti for arranging my tour of Third Ward. She is indeed a special child, conceived, as she noted not long ago, while her parents were in flight from American imperialism, i.e., she was conceived during my second self imposed exile for refusing to fight in Vietnam. Her mother and I had sought refuge in Mexico City and later Belize, then British Honduras.

Nefertiti has been on her own journey toward self-realization. I have never tried imposing my ideology or spiritual beliefs on her or any of my children. But today she expresses many of my ideas in her words and deeds. I can see clearly that she is highly respected by the Third Ward community. If not, I would not have been able to express myself at the many venues she arranged for me. 

Although the purpose of my national book tour is to promote the Wisdom of Plato Negro, parables/fables, the interest of you brothers and sisters was clearly in another book of mine  How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy.

Khepera Books and the Secret Word Café have indicated they shall form study groups based on the book. As we know, a person may have one mission but God has another. Indeed as I was departing the airport, I tipped the Red Cap cash and an autographed copy of How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy. The brother said, “I have seen a lot of white supremacy during my forty years in Houston."

I want to especially thank the following persons and institutions that allowed me time and space to speak:

Deloyd Parker, SHAPE Community Center, especially the Elders Institute of Wisdom.
Dr. James Conyers, Chair, Africana Studies, University of Houston
Dr. Malachi Crawford, Professor of Africana Studies, University of Houston,
Professor Eric Rhodes, MBA, ESq., Department of Business, Texas Southern University
Zin, KPFT Radio
Minister Robert Muhammad, KPFT Radio
Annelle, KPFT Radio
Nefertari, Secret Word Café
Khepera, Khepera Bookstore
Third World Imports
Michael Demaris, Security Services
Brother Kofi, United Black Front
Brother Omowali, SPICE

Marvin X
Gullahland, South Carolina