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Friday June 18th 2021

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Governor Mark Dayton’s Pre-K Plan (information) is purposely being kept away from Black Minnesotans

Governor Mark Dayton's plan is graded. (Photo: "F" - Fair Use).

Governor Mark Dayton’s plan is graded. (Photo: “F” – Fair Use).

The evolution of Jim Crow seems to follow black Minnesotans into employment, economic development and education. The governor’s universal preschool plan for 4-year-olds will drive every program created by people of color outside MN’s public education system out of business. Cultural competence is being met by political bamboozling. 

By Don Allen, Publisher –Our Black News

I was inspired to write this piece after hearing reports on Minnesota Public Radio and just recently reading Joe Nathans piece, “Column: Four requests of the governor, state legislators.”

Again, I am put in a tough position trying to explain to my brothers and sisters about what is happening at the state legislature without our consent, which will lead to the further destruction of our black youth in the public education system. The Pre-K bill that the House and Senate produced is one of political favors and a payback to Minnesota’s public education system for some deed done that was aligned in lock step with the Democratic Farm Labor party (DFL). Governor Dayton wants to make free all-day kindergarten available around the state and spend more than $100 million on preschool programs for 4-year-olds in public schools…free sounds great, but because of the programming done to black Minnesotans this free will cost us dearly.

If an expert says Dayton’s plan is no good, then why are black Minnesotans not talking about it? (Jim Crow training.)

An expert on the guts of this bill Art Rolnick, the former research director at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis who supported Dayton’s previous efforts to expand learning for the youngest children, now a policy fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, has made researching early childhood education a big part of his life’s work doesn’t back the governor’s universal preschool plan for 4-year-olds. Rolnick prefers an existing scholarship program that pays for needy children to attend Head Start, a childcare facility or a public school program that meets quality standards. He said Dayton’s plan is misguided because it would subsidize early education for all kids rather than target low-income children who need early education the most and are the least likely to have access to it (MPR).

The other catch 22 is if passed, this bill will put most private pre-K educational facilities like Montessori schools out of business. This means, a program ran by black Minnesotans, for black (or children of color), low-income, poverty stricken will have to enter into a system that has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that black bodies do not matter and educating these bodies, based on Minnesota school systems continuing decline means nothing. Of course, the African American Leadership Forum fully endorse Dayton’s plan, which should be telling in itself. A black organization supporting more failure for black children…think about it. (There has always been overseers.)

Let me remind you; white students sit in the same classrooms besides our failing black students in Twin Cities and manage to maintain a passing grade. The public school system was never set up with a cultural competence piece to teach black students.

Dr. Paul Farmer an expert on structural violence would say this in light of what’s happening to black Minnesotans

Structural violence is one way of describing social arrangements that put individuals and populations in harm’s way… The arrangements are structural because they are embedded in the political and economic organization of our social world; they are violent because they cause injury to people … neither culture nor pure individual will is at fault; rather, historically given (and often economically driven) processes and forces conspire to constrain individual agency. Structural violence is visited upon all those whose social status denies them access to the fruits of scientific and social progress.

The catastrophic failure of Minnesota’s public education system has roots that reach from the training of new teachers to testing. Minnesota has looked the other way when Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education in a visit to Minnesota suggested more black male teachers in the classroom might be a start to close the gap. The Minnesota Board of Teaching, who controls the Minnesota Teachers Licensure Exam (MTLE), has continued to let what I allege is the racist organization Pearson dictate testing in Minnesota from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Pearson’s farms out its testing development to another firm in the same state. What we get in Minnesota is a test where the first few question is about Hitler’s drive into Europe (Allen 9/13).

The state of Minnesota is not complicit alone in its social arrangements. There are several politically driven “educational nonprofits,” which maintain their non-partisanship demeanor, but their actions aligning with DFL tactics show otherwise.

The Minneapolis Foundation, Charter School Partners, Educators for Excellence, Education Evolving, Migizi Communications, Minnesota Business Partnership, MinnCAN, Parent Aware for School Readiness, and Put Students First Minnesota all need to be questioned about their intent. All listed agencies are well-established, stocked with white females, but yet do not have a plan to assist black bodies failing in the public school systems – but think governor Dayton’s pre-K bill is a formula dropped out of Mount Olympus.

Another piece of this pre-K puzzle is the voice of our black elected officials. Senators Bobby Joe Champion, Jeff Hayden and state representative Rena Moran have remained virtually silent about Dayton’s pre-K bonanza. Black people in the black community do not know enough about this bill other than if Dayton says its good…its good; he’s a democrat, president Obama is a democrat…the bill must be good. The step and fetch-it mentality of the black community will be their undoing unless we start to pay attention when these white men and women talk about spending and re-routing billions and not one red cent will touch the black community, or its children in the public school system.

What should happen at the end of the day is that if a universal pre-K bill is passed, parents and legal guardians should be able to chose where the money goes. So if I want to send my 4-year-old to a Montessori program, the voucher I have will direct money to that program because I feel strongly this is the best option for my child.

Minnesota state government is not a parent of your young pre-school children. Do not let them start now.

Structural violence has a chokehold on black Minnesotans.

Is Downtown Minneapolis is safe…do black youth have summer jobs? (No)

If young black at-risk students do not have summer jobs to look forward to, downtown Minneapolis will become the mecca of hanging out, which leads to nothing but bad things. Come on, we have seen this too many years in a row.

By Don Allen, Publisher – Our Black News

Yes, downtown Minneapolis has a lot to see and offer. But city officials don't offer it to their own. (photo: Minneapolis skyline - Fair Use)

Yes, downtown Minneapolis has a lot to see and offer. But city officials don’t offer it to their own. (photo: Minneapolis skyline – Fair Use)

In the career long tradition of former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak, the city of Minneapolis police chief, mayor and city council want residents, visitors and business people to know downtown Minneapolis is safe. This announcement published in the Star Tribune earlier this week is only a metaphor from city officials who do not have a clue as to what it is that keeps the shootings, stabbings and robberies in downtown Minneapolis a focal point of concern.

If Minneapolis is so safe, then why the need to make a public spectacle of the area? I’ll tell you, Minneapolis is far from being the sanctified grail of fun and excitement it used to be. As someone who is very interested in restaurants, shows and people watching, it is very clear, when in downtown Minneapolis, especially at night, you do not walk into crowds of youth and expect not to be disrespected, asked for money or called an Uncle Tom or sell out because you’re wearing a suit that you worked very hard to buy and these thugs and thugette’s (black and white) wouldn’t know the first thing about doing something meaningful in terms of pulling up their bootstraps and applying a little sweat equity to get what they need.

Minneapolis’ mayor Betsy Hodges has failed to focus on programs like the very successful Neighborhood Youth Corps, employing youth 14-21 in meaningful roles in Minneapolis. From building cement trash cans for Nicollet Mall, cutting the grass for Minneapolis’ senior citizen population, or making wood chip trails down by the banks of the Mississippi River, the creativity of employing Minneapolis’ most critical population to deter crime is met with more police. A challenge that will bite the mayor and police chief right in the behind once the Aquatennial and city block parties start to happen.

We all have heard the news reports. Shootings at Target Field, robberies in downtown Minneapolis and many deals gone bad that never get reported to the police, its only a matter of time before that wife, child or visitor to downtown Minneapolis becomes a statistic and city, including its Department of Civil Rights will be forced to deal head-on with what they do not want to happen…the successful and part-time gainful employment of Minneapolis at-risk youth.

With less than $1 million, the city of Minneapolis could hire 500 youth from north and south Minneapolis at minimum wage to work at least 25-30 hours per week in programs connected with leadership from the public school system, police department and Minneapolis’ health department. The work could range from door-to-door lit drops, to beatification projects in Minneapolis Parks. However, this takes creative planning and I feel the city has run its course of creativity, intention and ethical behavior in this matter.

Personally, when I go downtown – it’s in and out…anyone reading this should plan your trips accordingly. #willnotbeaDTmplsvictimofviolence

Medical cannabis law changes clarify use in health care facilities

Medical marijuana news in Minnesota.

Minnesota Department of Health

Minnesota Department of Health

Certification and registration starts June 1

Media inquiries: Scott Smith – MDH Communications, Phone: 651-201-5806

During the final days of the 2015 regular legislative session, state lawmakers amended Minnesota’s medical cannabis statute to address patients’ use of medical cannabis in hospitals and other health care facilities.

The amendment extends protections and immunities to employees of health care facilities to possess medical cannabis while carrying out their employment duties. These protections include providing care or distributing medical cannabis to a patient on the Minnesota medical cannabis patient registry who is actively receiving treatment or care at the facility. The amendment also allows health care facilities to reasonably restrict the use of medical cannabis by patients. For example, the facility may choose not store or maintain a patient’s supply of medical cannabis or that use of medical cannabis may be limited to a specific location.

With certification and registration beginning Monday, June 1, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has added informational resources on the Medical Cannabis website (mn.gov/medicalcannabis) to help Minnesota patients better understand their options under the state’s new medical cannabis program.

June 1 is the first day that the registration process can start,” said Assistant Commissioner Manny Munson-Regala. ”While there is no time limit on when patients can register, this is a good time for patients and practitioners to start having the conversation about medical cannabis.”

An essential first step for those patients interested in medical cannabis is to visit a health care practitioner – a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant – who can go to the MDH website and certify they have one or more of the qualifying conditions. Once a provider certifies a patient, the patient can register at the MDH website to receive medical cannabis at one of the locations established by manufacturers after the program goes live July 1.

Practitioners voluntarily choose whether to certify patients. Patients may have to seek a second opinion if their practitioner declines to participate. Patients also need to consider the potential out-of-pocket costs, which could be hundreds of dollars a month. Minnesota insurers do not cover medical cannabis.

Under the law passed in 2014, patients with the following conditions qualify for medical cannabis in Minnesota:

  • Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea  or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting
  • Glaucoma
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Terminal illness, with a life expectancy of less than one year, if the illness or treatment produces severe/chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, cachexia or severe wasting

Minnesota plans to have eight Cannabis Patient Centers across the state. The first ones will open July 1 in Minneapolis, Eagan and St. Cloud. Additional locations in Rochester, Eden Prairie, St. Paul, Hibbing and Moorhead will open in the following months. After completing the registration process, patients can visit a cannabis patient center to receive medical cannabis. Patients meet with a pharmacist to determine the correct dose of medication.



Military Families’ Reliance On Food Stamps Hit A Record High

I wish someone could explain to me why our military personnel need food stamps.

I wish someone could explain to me why our military personnel need food stamps.

Editors note: DOD-run stores, known as commissaries, sell food to active-duty and retired military personnel and their families at prices that are lower than what private grocers charge. Nearly $104 million of the $6.2 billion in total revenue the commissaries brought in during fiscal year 2013 came from food stamps.  Food stamp usage at the stores has more than quadrupled since 2007 as the recession compounded the already difficult financial situation faced by military families. New soldiers with a child and a spouse earn $20,000 per year in pay, according to CNN Money, and the frequent relocations and disruptions inherent to the lifestyle of a military family make it harder for military spouses to find jobs and bring in supplementary income. The unemployment rate for young military spouses was 30 percent in 2012. Retired military servicemen and women who joined up after 9/11 have a 10 percent unemployment rate, which also contributes to the elevated food stamp figures at DOD commissaries, and nearly a million working-age veterans lived in poverty in 2010.

The following is from MPR by Krissy Clark:

growing number of working people use food stamps to help make ends meet. Often they work in retail, food and service industry jobs, where pay is traditionally low. But there’s another group of working people turning to food stamps that might surprise you: active-duty military personnel and their families.

What do we know about food stamp use in the military?
Every year the Department of Agriculture publishes data about where food stamp benefits (officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) are being spent. The categories range from grocery stores and super stores to convenience stores and farmers markets. Also on the list, surprisingly, are military commissaries — those stores on military bases that sell groceries just above cost to active duty and retired military personnel and their families, as well as those in the reserves and National Guard.
In 2014 more than $84 million-worth of food stamp benefits were spent at military commissaries. That’s just a fraction of a percent of all the food stamps spent in the U.S. last year. But the number is sobering when you think of who is doing this spending — people who served or are currently serving our country and are still having trouble making ends meet.
Do we know how many active-duty military personnel are on food stamps?
The numbers are hard to come by. Neither the military nor the USDA tally those numbers, but recently the USDA estimated that between 2,000 and 22,000 active-duty military members
used food stamps in 2012, the latest data available. (There’s an interesting explanation of how those vastly divergent numbers are arrived at in this PDF, a report from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission.) These estimates suggest that between 1 percent and 2 percent of active-duty military members used food stamps in 2012.
What about veterans?
The USDA estimates that in 2012, more than 1.5 million veterans used food stamps, or about 7 percent of all veterans.
How low does your income have to be to qualify for food stamps?
Pretty low — though it depends on how big your household is. A single person has to be grossing less than $15,180 a year. For a family of four, the annual income threshold is $31,008.
So what is military pay these days?
If you are a very junior member of the military on active duty, your annual base pay can be less than $19,000. Add in housing and food allowances and it can go up to the high $30,000s. But if you’ve got a big family, if your spouse isn’t working (which, if you’re moving around from base to base or if one parent is overseas can often be the case), that money may not go too far. You might very well qualify for food stamps, or at least find yourself struggling to get by.
What kinds of financial challenges face military families?
Jennifer Daelyn grew up in a military family and now runs the Hand Up Youth Food Pantry near Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps base north of San Diego. When she tells people that she helps a lot of active-duty military families, “often people are really surprised that it’s even needed,” she says. “They’re like ‘they don’t need that — that doesn’t really happen.’ But it does.”
Daelyn says she hears common concerns from the military families she serves. “They might have things set up if everything is going as planned, but if unplanned costs arise — someone needed to get new tires for their car, or had an unexpected pregnancy, it’s difficult to handle considering the financial situation that they’re in.”
And then there’s the added challenge that military families are moved around a lot. “It can be hard to maintain family and social support networks,” Daelyn says. “People who are in different states than their parents, than the kids’ grandparent that was providing support for them emotionally, financially, just with coping.”
Does it matter if military personnel use food stamps?
You could look at the issue of military personnel on food stamps as academic — it’s all government money after all. Does it matter if lower-paid military members are getting part of their paychecks supplemented through one taxpayer-funded program, SNAP, rather than subsisting on their taxpayer-funded paychecks alone?
Others argue it’s just not right that wages for some of those serving in the military haven’t kept up with inflation.

The Suicide Rate for African American Boys has doubled since 1993

By Your Black World

A study published in the JAMA Pediatrics on Tuesday found that black-boys suicide rate among has doubled since 1993. The suicide rate among white children during the same period has declined.

Why do black youth commit suicide?

Why do black youth commit suicide?

The study tracked the suicide rate of children aged 5 to 11 from 1993 to 2012. During the period studied, the suicide rate among black boys rose from 1.78 to 3.47 per million, while suicides among white boys dropped from 1.96 to 1.31 per million.

“I was shocked, I’ll be honest with you,” said Jeffrey Bridge, lead researcher and epidemiologist at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

“I looked at it and I thought, ‘Did we do the analysis correctly?’ I thought we had made a mistake,” Bridge told the New York Times.

“We were very surprised to see higher suicide rates among black children over time,” added Bridge.

“The stable overall suicide rate in school-aged children in the United States during 20 years of study obscured a significant increase in suicide incidence in black children and a significant decrease in suicide incidence among white children. Findings highlight a potential racial disparity that warrants attention. Further studies are needed to monitor these emerging trends and identify risk, protective, and precipitating factors relevant to suicide prevention efforts in children younger than 12 years,” the journal concluded.

The rate of suicide among black girls is also rising, increasing from .68 to 1.23 per one million. The suicide rate for white girls during that same period went from 0.25 to 0.24 per 1 million.

This increase in suicide in black children is alarming since it goes against the national trend.

“Historically, the suicide rate among US black individuals has been lower than that of white individuals across age groups, although the gap between black and white boys aged 10 to 19 years narrowed from 1980 to 1995.9,15 To our knowledge, this is the first national study to observe higher suicide rates among US black individuals compared with white individuals.”

What can the Minneapolis Urban League do to survive it’s own reputation?

Today I, Don Allen offer an olive branch to the Minneapolis Urban League. If I have to work to help keep the doors open, then let it be. It is much more important the agency survives its own storm with the assistance of broad thinkers like myself who hold the key to survival and re-invention.

By Don Allen, Publisher – Our Black News

One right move today can make the difference for the Minneapolis Urban League.

One right move today can make the difference for the Minneapolis Urban League.

Since 2007, the Minneapolis Urban League has been plagued with issues funding, accountability and questionable numbers of community members served by the agency. In 2007, community members were in shock as the city of Minneapolis re-directed over $700,000 in funding for a truancy program to another agency under the watchful hand of former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak who maintained concerns the Minneapolis Urban Leagues program missed the mark in addressing critical needs in the areas of truancy and community engagement. The termination of the contract to manage the Curfew/Truancy Center also meant a dozen people hired by the program were unemployed effective December 31, 2007 when the current contract expires. The Minneapolis Urban League managed the program for the city and county since its inception, 12 years ago. The program was created as collaboration between then County Attorney (now U.S. Senator) Amy Klobachar, and then Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton.

Between 2008 and 2009, the Greater Twin Cities United Way pulled over $1 million from the agency. It was explained the United Way changed their focus from 7th-to-12th grade education to early childhood education and this was significant to MUL, because they operates both an elementary/middle school and high school that experienced a direct hit [approximately $500,000 per year].

In 2013, the Minnesota House of Representatives have enacted a bill attempting to establish a “13th” grade pilot project based in north Minneapolis. The bill, H.F. 1149 is part of an education and employability solution for young adults who are unemployed, underemployed and not enrolled in postsecondary education. Co-authored by Senators Jeff Hayden (D-SD 62), Bobby Joe Champion (D-SD 59), Representatives Ray Dehn (D-HD 59B) and Will Morgan (D-SD 56B), the bill is said to potentially impact over 3,000 young adults ages 18-26, placing them on college and career pathways by 2015. It states the commissioner of education shall develop a one-year “13th” grade pilot project, with one site being operated by the Minneapolis Urban League. Unfortunately, the oversight for this educational juggernaut was snatched away by the bills authors, leaving responsibilities only to officials and board members at the agency (MUL). That too was shut down when the Minneapolis Urban League was accused of potential double billing. The questions started after the Minneapolis School District awarded the Minneapolis Urban League as much as $800,000 a year for a program that never lived up to its promise of graduating the city’s most troubled high school students. Then Minnesota legislators agreed to give the Urban League $300,000 a year for nearly identical work, paying some of the same staff to work with many of the same students the school district already was paying to help. Now top state officials and Minneapolis school leaders are investigating whether the Urban League is getting paid twice for similar work (Star Tribune).

Needless to say, the Minneapolis Urban League has a trend, not a fluke of alleged mismanagement of resources.

In 2015, after 40 years of service to the Minneapolis Public School systems, the relationship between the Minneapolis Urban League and school system was cut off. Minneapolis Urban League will be closing its alternative high school, coming a month after criticism from state and Minneapolis School District officials that the agency was double billing for its work helping at-risk teenagers. The alternative high school will close June 5, ending a 40-year partnership with the Minneapolis Public Schools.

The Minneapolis Urban League must come to the realization a different approach is needed before the agencies doors are shut for good. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Admit to the mainstream community of the Twin Cities, not just the black bourgeoisie of the Twin Cities that the MUL has made many mistakes.
  2. Talk in open forums about the plans to correct or reset the MUL.
  3. Stop using black media outlets to cry race card and that the white news paper are “attacking a black agency,” when in fact any thinking person knows the MUL has been virtually ineffective for many years and provides no real substance to its surrounding community in north, or south Minneapolis.
  4. Re-engage members of the community the MUL has vilified, like Don Allen for instance. New and different relationships might reconnect the MUL to uncovered funding that is currently on the table. (Hint)
  5. Let community members know when you will have the challenge fixed. There’s nothing worse than black folks working in a silo like they’re members of the NSA.
  6. The failure of the MUL’s “Gateway to Success” must be rebranded to something meaningful and Twin Cities appropriate. Former MUL president R. Scott Gray had no skin-in-the-game, and we allege most of his ideas were someone else’s ideas.
  7. Open the MUL’s focus to the Hispanic-Latino, Asian and Immigrant population in the Twin Cites. The discretionary spending of these groups combined with black Minnesotans is in the billions every year…an MUL self-awareness campaign wouldn’t be a bad idea to build the community with affirmations like, “We can build the MUL together.”
  8. Apologize: At this point, thinking you’re pulling the wool over someone’s eyes is a death sentence for the MUL; yes it’s humbling, but a necessary part of the community healing process.
  9. Make sure those Conflict of Interest Statements are signed, god forbid state auditor James Noble finds out the MUL has been paying a board member for advertising and editorial content the crap will hit the fan (oops).
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Many of us already know the Minneapolis Urban League under its past and current leadership cannot make it alone. If the Minneapolis Urban League maintains it stratified social cabal, marginalizing creativity by those they demonize, we can expect the Minneapolis Urban League to take the same path of the St. Paul Urban League…Closed, out of service.

Open Letter to Minnesota’s Homeless Black Veterans: The historical legacy of exclusion still follows us in this challenge too

If you judge me by my color, and deny me a seat at the table because of my words, you are no better than the racist who use structural violence concealed in a series of meeting with on people of color at the table.

If you judge me by my color, and deny me a seat at the table because of my words, you are no better than the racist who uses structural violence concealed in a series of meeting with no people of color at the table.

The date of my enlistment will never expire. The oath I took I swore to leave no soldier behind; to make sure all soldiers are accounted for and no soldier who served in the United States military be put in harms way will be maintained for life. So far, I have been marginalized because to complete my mission, funding is needed and collaborations with organizations that will work together and intentionally get our boys and girls off the streets…I am truly troubled and my head hangs low on today, Memorial Day 2015.

By Don Allen, Publisher –Our Black News

Today is the day we pay tribute to those who have fallen and given the ultimate sacrifice to the United States of America. In Minnesota we hold events all across the state to honor, remember and salute warriors who wore the uniform with pride, respect and honor. Today is also the day we should be concerned about those who will not have a warm bed, a roof over their heads or a place they can call home. Today, we must be very concerned about the possibility of the walking dead; Minnesota’s homeless veteran population, warriors stuck in a purgatory of need, ignored by those who hold the controlling means of getting our warriors off the streets and giving a voice to the voiceless; a home to the homeless, creating stability where there is none.

Minnesota’s homeless veterans might not read this letter, but my goal is to let those who control the flow of equity that I will not give up; I will not be mislead, swayed or marginalized because I speak in the public sphere about catastrophic malfeasance in focusing on all homeless veterans, men and women; yellow, red, black and white who need someone to advocate for this cause that has become my passion, hope and dream.

Please understand, to complete the mission of putting homeless veterans in stable housing takes money. Between 2013 and 2015 millions of dollars were distributed to agencies, some obscure, to come up with a plan. The plan, rather than purchasing hundreds of vacant homes in Minneapolis and St. Paul was to start a Homeless Veterans Registry. While this idea is key to create a database of homeless veterans in Minnesota, it still lacks the action plan of getting veterans into housing, stable and back to a regiment of work, education, addressing health care concerns and tending to addiction challenges, boldly connected to focusing on the overall veterans well-being.

The Minnesota Homeless Veteran Registry should ensure that Veterans experiencing homelessness have access to appropriate housing and services. But there has been some significant rejection of veterans of color and agencies who serve these veterans. In other word, the historical rejection of the black body who wore green has evolved into racist construct that has denied me and other black people a place at the table, funding or culturally competent engagement.

I have pulled together some amazing organizations: WellSpring Second Chance, an agency with the means to collaborate with veterans on their own terms and evaluate human needs; Wilson Image Barbers Community Training Initiative, a nonprofit that has a Veterans Grooming Project to make sure all veterans have haircuts with beauticians to style female veterans also. Drop Out To Drop Ins, an agency that will focus on education and families of veterans to make sure the sons and daughter of Minnesota’s homeless veterans are in school, learning and successful. New Perspectives Housing Alliances, a new nonprofit agency that was virtually ignored by those who control funding, but wanted to start the process of focusing on homeless veterans, purchasing, and renting housing in the Twin Cities and immediately placing veterans into homes with a program that sought sustainability for all homeless veterans. There is also the Council on Black Minnesotans, whose board and executive director are willing to be the fiscal oversight for all the organizations.

Then you have me. Yes, this is my passion, but isn’t it important to be supported, like a job with my focus on planning, implementing and collaborating with local agencies building bridges, connecting people to services and feeling good at the end of the day.

It’s time to take this to the next level. I have prepared several data requests to analyze the construct in control of funding mechanisms in Minnesota to assist homeless veterans. I understand why the black veteran and those who support them is still marginalized and lays within the walls of a building on Kellogg Street in St. Paul Minnesota.

Postmodern Deconstruction of Queer Studies

Before we more forward, we must be clear.

Before we more forward, we must be clear.

By Don Allen, Publisher – Our Black News

The postmodern effects of thinking are seen in our Western culture, with homosexual, bisexual, and polyamorous behavior becoming more acceptable to Americans, but it also creates a divide in academics and the academic political right. The most worrying trend is scholars who are right-wing Christian fundamentalist looking through the lens of queer studies who do not represent a homosexual orientation and have taken up the mantle of inquisition, self-charged to define, compare and contrast acceptable rhetoric about queer studies.

My article on queer studies looking through a postmodern lens addresses the problems of sexual identity, human sexuality, and gender. The challenge still remains should academics debate how we should interpret the relation between the long history of queer practices and the history of queer identities – or come to terms the interpretations of queer practices has changed across time and space?

If postmodernism represents a new way to look at queer studies, then critical literary apparatuses must be used to define queering (or queer studies) as a non-sexual orientation ideology. However, when looking through the lens of postmodernism as it pertains to color, race, class and more specifically, sexual orientation, it becomes even more problematic to define the modern, postmodern and post-post modernism; not because we cannot comprehend the meanings, but so few intellectuals have been indoctrinated with postmodernism in a way that would lay bare my very clear definitions, claims, arguments and evidence as it pertains to queer studies. Heterosexual males in academia are not considered authorities on queer studies, however English departments and many other disciplines have adopted the principles of queer studies and trained their students to read though this lens.

In the process, lesbian or gay studies sometimes take on a sound of essentializing lesbians, gays, or straight people and pitting lesbians or gays or “homosexuals” against straights as binary opposites. Just as deconstruction tries to go beyond the binary oppositions that structuralists believe organize our thinking, so queer studies drawing on and contributing to deconstruction- tries to go beyond the binary oppositions and essentialism that it sometimes sees as characterizing gay or lesbian studies. Could this be considered a postmodern approach? “Deconstruction is only the negation of the negation, it remains in the same sphere, it nourishes the same terrorist pretension to truth, that is to say the association of the sign — here in its decline, that’s the only difference — with intensity. It requires the same surgical tampering with words, the same split and the same exclusions that the lover’s demand exacts on skins,” (Lyotard).

The concern is that some people use terms such as lesbian and gay or use lesbian or gay studies to suggest a belief in stable characteristics that can describe all gays or all lesbians across geography and time and that definitively separate gays and lesbians from each other and from straight people. By contrast, the term queer suggests instability and continuous process. We might say that queer studies are a deconstructive version of gay and lesbian studies. “When this debate is applied to sexualities, the interactionist/postmodernist offers up a much more modest account of sexualities than many in the sexological world would have us believe. It throws into doubt any ‘Grand Narratives of Sexuality’—from Freud to sexology—that have haunted much of the modern world’s analysis of sexuality,” (Plummer p. 520).

The desire for a deconstructive postmodern version of lesbian and gay studies speaks to the larger project of reconstructing ideas of identity and sexuality, moving away from the naturalizing of heterosexuality and away from compulsory heterosexuality. The naturalizing of heterosexuality is the assumption, typically made without thinking, that everyone is heterosexual unless labeled otherwise, that heterosexuality is the norm and anything else is a special case. What postmodernism presents can be meaningless promoting obscurantism and uses relativism (in culture, morality, knowledge) to the extent that it cripples literature and most judgment calls. Read the rest of this entry »

They don’t need signs

No, they don't need signs to tell us our blackness makes them feel uncomfortable and that we should not been alive.

No, they don’t need signs to tell us our blackness makes them feel uncomfortable and that we should not been alive.

It does not matter; black or white, you are not born a racist. Being a racist is a skill-sets taught to those with a lower-level of thinking.

By Don Allen, Publisher – Our Black News

They don’t need signs to tell us how much they dislike us;

They don’t need signs.

They don’t need signs to treat us like animals begging for our children to graduate from high school; begging for our youth not to be shot down in the street by other youth; begging for that one police officer not to work the shift when my black child is walking home from football practice…

They don’t need signs.

They don’t need signs to tell us we are overqualified, hard working and the perfect candidate for a job they will not offer us.

They don’t need signs.

They don’t need signs when they tell us we are “working on diversity” and the only people on campus who look like me are the janitors.

They don’t need signs.

They don’t need signs when other community members marginalize, dismiss and exclude me from important conversations about my black people; They don’t need signs when my people tell me I hate black people and I do not. They don’t need signs. They don’t need signs when leadership in the black community has been contracted to keep us uninformed, uneducated, undocumented, unemployed and unfit.

They don’t need signs.

It is 2015…They don’t need signs.

Analyzing Hortense Spillers “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe” and the New Black

For those outside of reality, coonery exists as a tight fitting hat or a reversible reality.  

By Don Allen, Publisher – Our Black News

Hortense Spillers, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe,” becomes more timely and relevant in 2015 than ever before with the talk about the New Black. Hip Hop music artist Pharrell, interviewed by Oprah said,  “The New Black doesn’t blame other races for our issues.,” then, one of the world’s most successful musicians, said to Oprah, the billionaire queen of the world, “The New Black dreams and realizes that it’s not pigmentation: it’s a mentality and it’s either going to work for you or it’s going to work against you. And you’ve got to pick the side you’re going to be on.”

Pharrell lays bare huge blind spots in his cognitive thinking of picking the side (or identity) you are going to be. Choice and the operant construction of race, in step with severe structural violence for those who do not have it like the Pharrell (money, fame, women and prestige), is the spectacle for those on the outside looking in can only dream of obtaining, which makes Pharrell’s statements about the New Black even more arguable.  Pharrell’s comments are ultimately folly to people who do not fit in with his narrow ideas. He misses the point that “black outsiders” exist.

Spillers thoughts on the erasure of blackness, as it “inscribe[s] ‘ethnicity’ as a scene of negation,” through the construction of a binary opposition between “white” (or normalized American) and “black” family structures is a point that must be considered as fact.  In the analysis of any blind extension of blackness, we (scholars) must address statements from the people who perpetrate unoccupied materialism as a platform for the most absurd rhetoric.

In Spillers feminist-focused argument, the road of identification is shrouded and unclear: To her point, we (Blacks), are not in control of our identity, but assigned to an infrastructure by historical placement. “Embedded in a bizarre axiological ground, they demonstrate a sort of telegraphic coding; they are markers so loaded with mythical prepossession that there is no easy way for the agents buried beneath them to come clean.  In that regard, the names by which I am called in the public place render an example of signifying property plus.  In order for me to speak a truer word concerning myself, I must strip down through layers of attenuated meanings, made in excess over time, assigned by a particular historical order, and there await whatever marvels of my own inventiveness,” (67).

I love my people; I don't love the coonery.

I love my people; I don’t love the coonery.

Rapper/actor Common fell into the same trap as Pharrell, while discussing the legacy of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and the current tensions in an interview with John Stewart. Common said, “We all know there’s been some bad history in our country. We know that racism exists,” the star conceded, before adding, “I’m…extending a hand. In addition, I think many generations and different cultures are saying ‘Hey, we want to get past this. We have been bullied and we have been beat down, but we do not want it anymore. We’re not extending a fist and saying, ‘Hey, you did us wrong.’ It is more like ‘Hey, I am extending my hand in love. Let us forget about the past as much as we can, and let us move from where we are now. How can we help each other? Can you try to help us because we’re going to help ourselves, too.’ That’s really where we are right now.”

Again, Common presents a gaping blind spot in not understanding America is fixed. We can access Spillers and her argument in reflecting back on its major points.  It leaves us with the challenging supposition that maybe the ways in which historically gender and race has been configured for black men and women through slavery and its aftermath will always be a part of the constructed identity by the dominant white patriarchal structure. We (Blacks) sit outside of a dominant “American grammar.”

The so-called legitimacy of white, normative gender constructions as potentially radical ways of re-conceptualizing what it means to be a man or woman, black or white, rather than banishing the “illegitimacy” of black family structures as lacking something fundamentally in the American landscape.

Works Cited

Spillers, Hortense J. “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book.” Diacritics 17.2 (1987): 64-81. Print.


Stewart, John. “The John Stewart Show”. 2015.

Winfrey, Oprah. “The Oprah Show”. 2015.

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