Victory: Motivation for the World, One Word At a Time

From the Motivation for the World blog by Gary A. McAbee…

http://motivationfortheworld.wordpress.com/

Motivation for the World

Victory… an excerpt from the soon to be released book:

Motivation for the World, One Word at a Time by Gary A. McAbee

Victory

I believe one of the greatest joys is when we successfully overcome an opponent, difficult situation, or challenge. At least, this is the way I feel when I achieve a level of success that I did not expect nor anticipate. For me these are special achievements and I consider each of them a victory. I thank God every day for small victories, because sometimes that is all that goes right in a given day. Major accomplishments take time, and finding your victory when pursuing major goals may be a prolonged wait. Unfortunately, sometimes the ultimate victory never comes along.

The road to success is littered with obstacles, hardships, and challenges that must be faced on a daily basis. If we are not careful, these hazards can…

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Join the Political Debate

Join the Political Debate: a chapter from the book:

Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now, written by Gary A. McAbee

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NOTE: this excerpt was written in 2012, when I encouraged all people to get involved in the political process. It was an attempt to get people to wake up, and learn about the ways politics affect our daily lives. Today, the idea that people should pay closer attention to politics is more important than ever. As a country, we need to read and educate ourselves every day to join the political debate…

 

Now that we have an African-American President, there really is no excuse for black people to doubt the validity of the political process. The system still has subtle inequalities and injustices here and there, but for the most part we can believe that it works. We can believe that our votes are counted and they have meaning. We can believe that our voices, so often ignored in the past, have been heard. Now there is no excuse why we should not be more involved in politics, and issues that shape our communities, and nation as a whole.

How many ways are there for African Americans to contribute to the political process? We can start by voting. Barack Obama’s candidacy energized a new generation of voters while reawakening so many disenchanted ones. Let’s face it: many blacks were turned off by politics until Barack Obama came along. As a result, our voter turnout results were among the lowest of any race people until 2008. This is a trend that can continue if we ride the political wave that we are currently on.

We cannot forget the sacrifices that our predecessors made so that we can vote today. By voting, we can validate their efforts and the hardships they endured for future generations of African Americans like us. Until recently, our heroes such as Fannie Lou Hamer and Frederick Douglass would have been disappointed in us because of our spotty voting history. However, this disappointment would undoubtedly be turned into pride now that we voted en masse and helped to elect our current leader. In the future, we must continue to honor the legacies of those who paved the way for us to vote today by filling the ballot box.

African Americans can join in the political process by remaining aware of the decisions made on the local level. The decisions made by our city councils have long-lasting impacts on the issues currently affecting our lives. For example, I spoke in this book about the amount of bars and liquor stores in my old neighborhood. It takes licensing and zoning laws to operate businesses, so how can we have so many operating in a given area? The answer is because it is legal and allowed to happen. What can we do to change this?

We can start by getting involved by letting our local elected officials know that this is not acceptable. One thing we can do is voice our displeasure so that more of these places are not allowed to open in our communities. Take this action a step further. If we are not satisfied with our local representatives, we can email, call, or visit them! After all, they work for us and we can vote them out. Our strength lies in the fact that they are aware of this. So, if enough African Americans in Jersey City, NJ choose to complain about the establishments in our neighborhoods, changes would surely follow.

Moving on, education must become a part of the debate when joining the political process. Our schools do not place enough emphasis on the workings of government; therefore, we are left out of the loop when it comes to political matters. We can easily overcome this by using a very powerful tool at our disposal: the computer. With the advent of the computer, there is no excuse for a lack of knowledge in today’s society! We can learn about politics, the legal system, and policy formulation all by accessing the internet. As a result, we can be better prepared to join the political debate.

Increasing our knowledge base would lead to more African Americans who can become involved in the political process as candidates. A great way to influence and direct change in our communities is to elect our own officials. Our elected officials are vital to our agenda of better education, better and safer schools, and cleaner communities just by their presence alone. Their voice in government is better than having no representation at all. Therefore, we need to be sure that we are raising our next generation of politicians who will shape the future of African Americans.

This influx of talented minds would help to close the gap of a lack of African Americans on the national political scene as well. We are not visible enough in national politics. An illustration of this point is from studies of the Sunday early morning and daily cable news political shows and roundtable discussions. These are the best opportunities for elected officials to join the national political debate in front of millions of interested viewers. The studies paint an interesting picture.

I am one who hates to use statistics, because statistics can be analyzed from many different viewpoints. However, the following statistics about the lack of African-American viewpoints cannot be denied. For example, during a 16-month study on the Sunday morning talk show circuit, only 1 out of every 10 political figures invited was African-American. In fact, 60% of these shows had no black guests at all during the study. As a final thought, 69% of all African-American appearances were made by only three people: Juan Williams (author and FOX News correspondent), and former Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.

This lack of representation points to the fact that our underrepresentation must be challenged and improved. Even if these political figures could push an agenda favorable to African Americans, how much impact could they really have on today’s political discussions? Therefore, we need more African Americans in politics to keep issues that affect us on the table.

There is one last point to be made about today’s political landscape. This is a reminder to our people, as well as our politicians, not to get caught up in the typical gridlock in our politics thanks in large part to political affiliations. It shouldn’t matter that Barack Obama is a Democrat. Nor should it matter that JC Watts is a Republican. It should not matter to us that Al Sharpton attracts negative publicity. Nor should it matter that Clarence Thomas possesses conservative views. They are all African-American political leaders that we can learn a lot from if we are open to joining the political debate. Their ideals can help us become more interested and educated about the political process.

Tearing Down Barack Obama: Who Will Finish The Job of Erasing His Legacy?

The Presidency of Barack Obama was historic for so many reasons. The most obvious is that he was the first African-American to serve as President of the United States. As a black man, I gushed with pride knowing that the ultimate glass ceiling, the office of the President, has been shattered by Barack Obama. Now young black males can look to the example of Barack Obama and dream of one day becoming the second African-American President of the United States. If you do not understand the importance of this, I suggest you think about it and try to find some empathy to comprehend the magnitude of this achievement.

Of course, the Presidency of Barack Obama had to come with a price. The price was the typical back-and-forth debates that happen constantly in Washington. Members of both political parties, Democrats and Republicans, play a significant role in these occurrences. Both political parties would like to limit the power of success of the other, all in an attempt to push their agenda through. It was under this backdrop that Barack Obama took office eight years ago. Naturally, he would be subject to the political wrangling and scrutiny that all Presidents must face while in office. However, upon careful review, I am one person who wonders if the scrutiny President Obama faced was typical, or greater than previous Presidents.

(…if you lean Republican, have conservative ideologies, or possess another motive not to be discussed here, I hope that you continue reading anyway. I am sure that your natural tendency is to immediately dismiss the premise I am about to present. I will give you that. However, I will not give you the right to discharge my point-of-view without at least trying to understand it. Without trying to frame his Presidency within the historical terms of black people in America, It will be difficult for you to accept what I will say next, nor agree with it at all. I only ask that you proceed and make an honest attempt at gaining some understanding…)

Post-election, was there a concerted effort to tear down Barack Obama, his Presidency, and the legacy he would leave behind? Let’s tart from the beginning and see where we go. It is known and proven that leaders of the Republican Party met behind closed doors immediately after the first election of Barack Obama. Their mission was laid out. They would obstruct President Obama at every turn, as well as try to render him a one-term President. I suppose this is normal and a method both Republicans and Democrats use once the other party wins the Presidency. However, was this the first time such a meeting was confirmed to have taken place?

I could be wrong (and feel free to provide facts that will do so), but I have followed American politics closely since the 2000 Bush vs. Gore election fight. I do not recall immediate opposition to President Bush, or at least not a backdoor meeting that went public. Nevertheless, the stage was set for opposition and obstruction of President-elect Obama. This is undeniable.

Now back to my original point: how does it look when the first African-American President faces obstruction and purposeful attempts to “sabotage” his Presidency from day one? How am I, given all of the obstruction black people have faced in America, supposed to feel  when I know there are member of our own Government dead-set against this President?

Let’s fast forward to how many times during both of his terms that Barack Obama was “delegitimized” as President. In other words, how many times did his critics act as if he never won, or should have won the Presidency twice? Obama has been called weak at foreign policy, yet a dictator over us about domestic affairs. He has been questioned about his use of executive actions, when he has done this fewer times than his predecessors. He has even been about his vacation time, even though he was away from Washington fewer days than other recent Presidents. Again, these things are always things a President, regardless of political party get scrutinized for doing. But it seems to me Obama got a little more backlash than other Presidents…

Remember in one of his first reception lines, how Russian dignitaries skipped over President Obama by not shaking his hand?

Remember former Governor Jan Brewer, and the time she stuck her stuck her finger in President Obama’s face?

Remember the congressman, who interrupted the State of the Union Address to say the President lies?

Remember when President-elect Trump delegitimized the President by asking for Obama’s birth certificate time and time again…

I could go on and on with example after example of attempts to delegitimize the Presidency of Barack Obama. 

Now back to my original point: how does it look when the first African-American President faces obstruction and purposeful attempts to “sabotage” his Presidency while he is in office? All of these slights play out in the public eye, so the world saw and paid attention to these things. Not only that, but people of all races, supporters and non-supporters, friends and foes, also saw the treatment President Obama received. None of these things should have ever happened to the President of the United States. Personally, I do not care who is in office, Democrat or Republican. There is a level of dignity and respect owed to the President at all times.

So what was I to say as I witnesses outward expressions of “hostility” toward the first African-American President? How was I supposed to feel, as a black man, as people tried to tear down President Obama? Please provide me with tangible evidence that warranted this “hostility” as proof that his Presidency was such a disaster. In the meantime, I will share this…

For the record, Obama was reelected in 201, but unemployment did not stay above 8% as predicted by Mitt Romney

For the record, gas prices did not shoot up to $6.00 per gallon as a result of Obama’s reelection…

For the record, the stock market did not crash during either of Obama’s two terms in office…

For the record, Obama did not plan to suspend the election of 2016…

For the record, Obama did not vow to stay in office after 2016 (if Trump won)…

All of these “stories” were either outright lies, or distortions of the truth to make some people fear the first African-American President even more. What makes this sad is the people responsible for the untruths knew they were lies, yet they told these stories anyway. Their goal was to play of the fears of people who are uneducated about civics and the functions of government. It worked! Yet Obama continued to serve as the President of the United States with dignity and class.

Let’s fast forward to the election of 2016. Even though most economic numbers have improved dramatically during his Presidency, this election turned into an indictment to some degree of Barack Obama. As a result, we saw the rise of Donald Trump and his appeal to those who rejected Barack Obama from the start. President-elect Trump rode this wave all the way to the White House. Of course, he used his platform to bash the President and claim how much he has failed after eight years in office. While this is normal during an election season, who can explain why this happened while the President’s approval numbers are at their highest point right now?

Now back to my original point: how does it look when the first African-American President faces obstruction and purposeful attempts to “sabotage” his Presidency as his time in office comes to an end? Given the treatment of so many of my ancestors (and myself and countless other African-Americans), this feels like the ultimate slap in the face. I understand the nature of politics and the desire to downgrade members of a different political party, but really? President Obama’s successes and failures will be scrutinized objectively by Presidential scholars. This treatment is to come later. Right now, to me it feels as if someone is ready to finish the job of tearing down Barack Obama, once and for all.

A wise man posted this on social media back on November 7, 2016, one day before the 2016 election…

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An even wiser man (Van Jones) made a compelling statement concerning the treatment of Barack Obama, especially as a result of the brilliant victory of President-elect Trump. Van Jones could not have said it any better. To paraphrase his comments, he called the victory of Donald Trump (in part) a “whitelash” against President Obama and the demographic shift occurring in the United States. Once again, to fully understand his (and my) point-of-view, you should take into consideration the treatment of black people in America. What are we supposed to tell our children?

See full clip here: Van Jones- CNN November 8, 2016:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdgewCeLtrU

As a final thought, I say we should just let this play out. If you are concerned or need to find additional evidence, please stay tunes and watch how soon the attempts to erase President Obama from history start to occur. Remember that you read about it here “first”. Let’s see, repealing ObamaCare, whether you like it or not, is already the first of Obama’s accomplishments in the crosshairs of the new Congress as soon as Donald Trump takes office? What will be next? I am sure it will not take along before we see several additional attempts to tear down Barack Obama. Who will finish the job of erasing the legacy of Barack Obama? Time will tell… 

 

The Start of Your Success: The Election of 2016

Motivation for the World

Now that the Election of 2016 is over, there are many things that I could say about the outcome. To be clear, I wanted Hillary Clinton to win. To be transparent, I am an ardent supporter of President Barack Obama. To be honest, I am in shock that Donald Trump is the President-elect. Some people see his win as a tragedy. Others see it as an opportunity. Either way, I am here to say neither of these positions is right; neither of these positions is wrong. A Donald Trump Presidency is neither the beginning of the world, nor the end of it. It is all a matter of perspective and how our beliefs are shaped and molded by politics and our current elected-officials.

I am here to offer a way to change your perspective and hopefully change the way you think now that this election season has come to an end.

The start…

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Voting Rights: Yet Another One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

Voting: Yet Another One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

Vote

There are still a few barriers that tend to disqualify certain groups of people from participating in our democracy. Restrictions to voting and voting rights are one of these remaining great disqualifiers that negatively affect far too many people. The interesting part of this issue is the fact that voting rights are established for all citizens as a birthright. The only restriction that should prevent American citizens from voting is age, and once that barrier is passed the right to vote should no longer be an issue. However, even though it is 2016,  the fundamental right to vote is still not guaranteed for all American citizens. It is one of the remaining great disqualifiers.

To effectively make the point that voting has always been a disqualifier, we must look back through the course of our history. When our nation was founded, voting was an exercise that only white male wealthy landowners could do. Over time, voting rights were gradually extended to other segments of the population thanks to adding amendment after amendment to the US Constitution. Take a look at the timeline that nearly ended voting as a remaining great disqualifier. Then think about the continuation of the discrimination that remained despite of the amendments created to prevent it…

  • Fifteenth Amendment (15th) 1870: non-white males, regardless of property ownership received right to vote
  • Nineteenth Amendment (19th) 1920: women received right to vote
  • Twenty-fourth Amendment (24th) 1964: ended poll tax as a disqualifier from voting
  • Twenty-sixth Amendment (26th) 1971: reduced voting age to 18

Despite the ratification of these amendments, major pockets of resistance to voting rights remained. These included denying the rights of freed male black former slaves from voting, even though the 15th Amendment allowed it. Females of all races could not until after the 19th Amendment allowed women to vote. Poll taxes, which were a pay-to-vote scheme, prevented many people from voting until the 24th Amendment made the practice illegal. Finally, the age barrier was reduced by the 26th Amendment, thanks in large part to opposition to the Vietnam War.

One must ask why these pockets of resistance to voting, otherwise known as remaining great disqualifiers, existed even after laws were put in place to abolish them. Something more sinister was taking place, and history has a way of documenting injustices for the record. At various parts of our history, the following groups of people were not allowed to vote: women, poor white men, slaves and free blacks, Native Americans, and in some cities, Jews and even Catholics. It would take two sweeping pieces of legislation to “end” voting inequalities: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Both of these laws included various parts which, in theory, should have ended all forms of voting discrimination.

After the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, we must ask ourselves why court cases and laws created by individual states still to this day challenge the voting rights of so many groups of people. The door that closed on voting inequalities in the 1960s was opened by the Supreme Court in 2013 when it struck down a part of the Voting Rights Act. The Court determined that many of the safeguards put in place to protect voting rights for African Americans in the South were outdated and unnecessary. You would think that would be the case in 2013. However, soon after this ruling several states in the South and others controlled by Republican legislatures enacted laws that make it more difficult for some people to vote in 2016!

In 2016, many people face barriers such as reduced early voting times, new ID laws, and stricter registration dates and rules. Voting is still one of the remaining great disqualifiers. The recent headlines from the past week prove this is true. The good news is courts around the country are knocking down laws that put unreasonable restrictions on voting. For example, on July 29, 2016 a federal court struck down a North Carolina Law that included strict identification guidelines for voting. Other states, such as Texas, Ohio, and Wisconsin have similar laws that are currently being litigated.

As we complete this brief examination of voting in America, we must ask again why so many restrictions have been placed on the voting rights of so many people. The truth is that some people simply do not want others in our society to vote. This crosses over issues of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, economic status, and political affiliation. Therefore, the only way to finally end challenges to voting is to adopt common-sense measures that can be applied equally and fairly for all American citizens. The following list is a good start:

  • Create a national voter ID, offered free of charge, that could also be used in state and local elections for identification.
  • Distribute free voter IDs at driver’s license centers as an option for those who cannot obtain a driver’s license for various reasons
  • Switch the national voting day to a Saturday so less people would have to make arrangements to get off work to vote, or keep Election day on Tuesday, and allow all workers to have two hours of paid time to vote.
  • Allow national early voting days to be uniform in all states.
  • Give voter registration cards to all high school graduates  so they can start the registration process immediately.
  • Develop a better system similar to airline screening that eliminates voting fraud.

These are only some ideas that may be developed in the future. For now, we have to rely on the court systems, as well as our elected officials, and everyday citizens to help ensure the voting rights of all Americans. Hopefully someday soon, this will be  this will no longer be an issue for any American citizen over the age of 18.Voting has been one of the remaining great disqualifiers for far too long.

This is a follow-up to my original posts:

Credit: One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

Education: Another One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers.

Be on the lookout for my next post… Mass Incarceration: Maybe the Last of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

Black Lives Matter Explained Yet Again

One house in a row of five houses is on fire. One of the houses that is not on fire is a blue house. The fire department is called to the neighborhood. They immediately rush to the house on fire and commence to their spray water. As they do this, are they saying the hell with the other houses that are not on fire? Ask yourself, are they neglecting the houses that are safe? Are they making a conscious decision to disregard the people in the blue house?

No, they are addressing the problem: one of the houses is on fire and we are here to address the problem. The house on fire is #BlackLivesMatter. The houses that are safe are #AllLivesMatter. The people in the blue house are #BlueLivesMatter (#CopsLivesMatter). In the case of the blue house, things appear to be normal, but maybe a closer inspection will uncover that their house needs attention too. But even in this case, is the blue house in more danger than the burning house?

I can’t understand why it is so hard to understand this. If you are reading this and you still don’t get it, let me try to explain it again because this issue is so important to me…

  • October will be Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Does this mean in October we will say who cares about lung cancer awareness and those who suffer from that illness?

  • Save the rainforests and save the whales? So I guess the other forests and sea animals don’t matter.

  • A doctor is an eye surgeon. Does anyone have the right to tell her or make her also perform root canals?

Each one of these examples is utterly ridiculous. They are so ridiculous that they can be dismissed immediately. Yet when we discuss #BlackLivesMatter, critics can’t seem to comprehend that these examples are the “exact” same thing. Again, black lives matter DOES NOT MEAN we say who cares about white lives. Black lives matter DOES NOT MEAN other lives don’t matter. Black lives matter DOES NOT MEAN their cause can be told or forced to perform a different action, such as address the false narrative that is black-on-black crime.

Not clear enough yet? Let me politicize this for those who might choose to ignore or disregard those examples…

  • For the military crowd:
    • Support our Troops in Afghanistan… does this mean forget about the ones in Iraq? How about the ones in South Korea?

  • For the gun control crowd:

    • We want to protect the rights of handgun owners, so the rights of shotgun owners do not matter.

  • For the support the veterans crowd:

    • Unfortunately, many of our veterans are suffering from combat-related illnesses. Should we concentrate on them, and let those veterans who are just homeless fend for themselves?

To be clear, I do not consider myself the smartest man in the room. I might think I say brilliant things, but never have I considered myself a genius. Honestly, I just consider myself an average person who has a pen, blog, and something to say. So I do not say this lightly…

…if, after all of these examples, you still do not understand #BlackLivesMatter, then something else must be going on. I have two potential explanations.

Explanation #1: There must be something more sinister that is directing your misunderstanding. If this is true, it is probably because of the inclusion of one small word. The inclusion of this word, dare I say, (Donald) trumps all ability to use reason to see what this issue is all about. The word is BLACK. Somehow this word, when it is used to discuss issues related to black people, is always perceived to be a threat (see Black History Month, Congressional Black Caucus, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, etc.). We are talking about a word! Can you imagine how some people feel when using this word is not enough, so we start marching in protests (aka #BlackLivesMatter) in cities across the country?

Explanation #2: There must be an intellectual gap that is directing your misunderstanding. This could be as simple as not understanding words or the analogies presented here. It could also be as simple as adding personal opinions and biases to this issue. Or it could be listening to those who are purposely and intentionally telling you not to use your ability reason and use common sense (this is called intellectual dishonesty). They tell you #BlackLivesMatter is a hate group, so you listen without investigating for yourself.

I will let you decide which explanation works for you if you choose not to understand. For some, nothing can convince them that #BlackLivesMatter does not mean “all lives” or “blue lives” do not matter. I guess we let those folks wear the shoes that fit them.

By the way, because I just mentioned shoes, does it mean I am anti-work boots?

Ferguson

Let me know what you think! I welcome your opinions and encourage meaningful dialogue…