Monday, June 26, 2006
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Friday, May 12, 2006
Rooney--I don't think being a minority makes you a victim of anything except numbers. The only things I can think of that are truly discriminatory are things like the United Negro College Fund, Jet Magazine, Black Entertainment Television, and Miss Black America. Try to have things like the UnitedCaucasianCollege Fund, Cloud Magazine, White Entertainment Television, or Miss White America; and see what happens...Jesse Jackson will be knocking down your door.
AR -- He's absolutely right that Jesse would be knocking down the door. Hopefully Mr. Rooney understands that the basis of forming such focused mediums to cultivate growth in the black community was because historically black people have been oppressed and unable to get assistance, acknowledgement and upliftment from mainstream resources like scholarship programs, Miss America pagaents, and new mediums. Therefore, Blacks had to create their own mediums.
Rooney--Guns do not make you a killer. I think killing makes you a killer. You can kill someone with a baseball bat or a car, but no one is trying to ban you from driving to the ball game.
AR -- agree
Rooney--I believe they are called the Boy Scouts for a reason, that is why there are no girls allowed. Girls belong in the Girl Scouts! ARE YOU LISTENING MARTHA BURKE?
I think that if you feel homosexuality is wrong, it is not a phobia, it is an opinion.
AR -- agree
Rooney--I have the right "NOT" to be tolerant of others because they are different, weird, or tick me off.
AR -- agree including not being tolerant of Mr. Rooney
Rooney--When 70% of the people who get arrested are black, in cities where 70% of the population is black, that is not racial profiling, it is the Law of Probability.
AR -- agree except the majority of racial profiling occurrences take place in communities where the percentages are much lower. The reality is the majority of US cities are comprised of much much lower percentages of blacks. This statement also does not account for the underlying pedagogy of white police officers who are often more likely to release a white man on a "warning" with no arrest than to extend the same to a person of color.
Rooney--I believe that if you are selling me a milkshake, a pack of cigarettes, a newspaper or a hotel room, you must do it in English! As a matter of fact, if you want to be an American citizen, you should have to speak English!
AR -- agree. The dominant language in Brazil is Portuguese, Mexico is Spanish, and Japan is Japanese and you are expected to know their respective languages should you decide to visit or become a citizen of their countries.
Rooney--My father and grandfather didn't die in vain so you can leave the countries you were born in to come over and disrespect ours.
AR -- this statement seems irrelevant to me. Speaking another language other than the native tongue is not interpreted by me as disrespect.
Rooney--I think the police should have every right to shoot your sorry ass if you threaten them after they tell you to stop. If you can't understand the word "freeze" or "stop" in English, see the above lines.
AR -- disagree. Police should heed to the rule of meeting force with equal force. Meaning a cop should only be using his firearm if the suspect is using a gun or some other deadly weapon of equal force. No cop should be shooting folks who do not display violent behavior.
Rooney--I don't think just because you were not born in this country, you are qualified for any special loan programs, government sponsored bank loans or tax breaks, etc., so you can open a hotel, coffee shop, trinket store, or any other business.
AR -- agree. The dominant language in Brazil is Portuguese, Mexico is Spanish, and Japan is Japanese and you are expected to know their respective languages should you decide to visit or become a citizen of their countries.
Rooney--We did not go to the aid of certain foreign countries and risk our lives in wars to defend their freedoms, so that decades later they could come over here and tell us our constitution is a living document; and open to their interpretations.
AR -- again irrelevant to me because most often these challenges are coming from Americans, not non-citizens.
Rooney--I don't hate the rich; I don't pity the poor.
AR -- agree.
Rooney--I know pro wrestling is fake, but so are movies and television. That doesn't stop you from watching them. I think Bill Gates has every right to keep every penny he made and continue to make more. If it ticks you off, go and invent the next operating system that's better, and put your name on the building.
AR -- agree. Mr. Gates has no legal responsibility to give $ he has earned legally to anyone. However, I suspect he gives because of a moral sense of responsibility to help another that may not be as fortunate. That's called having a heart.
Rooney--It doesn't take a whole village to raise a child right, but it does take a parent to stand up to the kid; and smack their little behinds when necessary, and say "NO!"
AR -- agree.
Rooney--I think tattoos and piercing are fine if you want them, but please don't pretend they are a political statement. And, please, stay home until that new lip ring heals. I don't want to look at your ugly infected mouth as you serve me French fries!
AR -- agree.
Rooney--I am sick of "Political Correctness." I know a lot of black people, and not a single one of them was born in Africa; so how can they be "African-Americans"? Besides, Africa is a continent. I don't go around saying I am a European-American because my great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather was from Europe. I am proud to be from America and nowhere else.
AR -- I personally refer to myself as Black, and although Mr. Rooney does not use the term European-American, I am very aware of others who do. I think there's room at the cross for us all.
OK, well those are my comments. Thanks for considering my thoughts.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Nobility In Policy Making:
Why A Strong Smoking Ordinance is Advantageous for Houston
“Hello, Ms. Lifeguard. I’d like to swim on the non-peeing side of the pool please.”
What an absurd request since there is obviously no effective way to prevent urine from dispersing itself throughout the waters of a swimming pool. The irrational nature of this statement demonstrates the very basis of an important public policy debate currently proceeding in Houston that surrounds the implementation of strong city indoor air quality legislation that will save lives and improve quality of life. The national debate began over 30 years ago and has FINALLY reached our city affectionately known as The Fattest and Most Polluted City in the USA.
Environmental tobacco smoke, also known as secondhand smoke (SHS), is a toxic air pollutant that will claim approximately 38,000 American lives this year. Almost 400 of those deaths will occur in the Houston area. SHS contains 4,000 chemicals, 40 of which cause cancer in humans, including: cyanide, arsenic, carbon monoxide, benzene, ammonia and formaldehyde. Either inhaling the puffs of a smoker or passive smoke from a burning cigarette, pipe or cigar can expose one to SHS. From workplaces to households, anyone who is exposed to SHS is at an increased risk for developing cancer or other severe health problems.
There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke, and smoking that is permitted indoors places countless people at risk. Essentially, tobacco smoke is a gas that does exactly what it is designed to do: it moves freely about in space. Although the sight and smell of tobacco smoke may wane within seconds of its release, science tells us it is not gone. The toxic smoke lingers in the air until inhaled into human lungs where it can cause numerous deadly health conditions including lung cancer, heart disease, asthma, bronchitis, and more. So in the same way you cannot block the dispersion of urine in a pool, there is no way to block the dispersion of toxic smoke in the air.
That is why advocacy groups like Houston Communities for Safe Indoor Air (HCSIA) are insisting that our city adopt strong safe indoor air policies that will eliminate smoking in all workplaces and public places. Such is required in order to protect the rights of nonsmokers to breathe smoke-free air. Proposed solutions that include provisions for secluded smoking only areas and/or ventilation systems should not be supported since employees who must service those areas are still exposed and ventilation devices do not remove the threat of carcinogens in the air.
Healthy People 2010, our nation’s focus statement that identifies the most significant preventable threats to health, recommends action to reduce the proportion of nonsmokers exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. The experts who formulated this document stated that “developing strategies and action plans to address one or more of these indicators can have a profound effect on increasing the quality of life and the years of healthy life and on eliminating health disparities—creating healthy people in healthy communities.” Exposure to secondhand smoke is preventable. The National Cancer Institute issued the following analysis regarding indoor air legislation:
Through the continued implementation of clean indoor air policies aimed at eliminating secondhand smoke exposure in workplaces, restaurants and bars, and public spaces such as beaches and parks, there has been a significant reduction in the level of secondhand smoke exposure in shared environments.
So why are Houston’s leaders so opposed to taking swift and responsible, resolute action? After all, the facts are astounding.
▪ The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified secondhand
smoke (smoke that comes from a lighted cigarette, pipe, or cigar or is exhaled by a smoker) as a Group-A carcinogen, which means that there is sufficient evidence that secondhand smoke causes cancer in humans.
▪ This year, 38,000 nonsmokers will die of heart disease and 3,000 will die of lung cancer from breathing secondhand smoke. Approximately, 400 of these deaths will occur in the Houston area this year.
▪ Secondhand smoke is a leading cause of crib death in infants.
▪ Secondhand smoke increases the number of asthma attacks and the severity of asthma in hundreds of thousands of asthmatic children.
▪ Secondhand smoke increases the risk of middle ear infections, pneumonia and bronchitis resulting in over 300,000 infections in children each year.
▪ In Texas, 22 percent of adults and 24 percent of high school students currently smoke. Tobacco use in Texas claims 24,100 lives and costs $4.55 billion in health care expenditures each year.
▪ In October 2005, Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services released its strategic plan and identified clean air as a priority public health issue over the next five years.
▪ People of color are the least likely to be protected under smoke-free workplace policies and more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke because of occupation in service or hospitality industries.
▪ Sitting in a non-smoking section of a restaurant is like smoking 1½ cigarettes for the nonsmoker.
▪ Restaurant and bar workers have a 50% higher risk of lung cancer than all other nonsmokers.
▪ Studies have shown that smoke-free laws have no negative impact on restaurant and bar sales, employment or tourism.
The health of our Houston workforce and citizens has been needlessly assaulted far too long. Studies indisputably indicate that indoor air policies reduce employee leave and the frequency of hospital urgent care visits. Because a large number of employees exposed to SHS are uninsured, state and county health services must absorb skyrocketing medical costs for treatment. Thus, enacting a smoking ordinance is also a fiscally responsible decision for taxpayers who must bear the burden of these expenditures.
One may again ask why Houston leaders have not prioritized their constituents’ health by supporting strong policies that would dramatically improve the health of our uninsured workforce and prevent needless loss of life. Two prevailing point of views couch this debate: health impact versus economic impact. The health impact has been addressed; let us now flip the coin.
It seems the business interests of this city have recklessly reduced a major health and quality of life issue to dollars and cents. Restaurants and bar owners are concerned they will lose business if indoor smoking is restricted. Further, they believe their business is private property, and they are entitled to choose whether they will implement such a policy. Beer companies are worried that bars will not able to sale as much of their product. Tobacco companies are afraid they will lose revenue if smoking is discouraged indoors; people will not smoke as many cigarettes. Private clubs are concerned their clientele will retreat to outlying cities where indoor smoking is still allowed. Convention bureaus are fearful that ordinances will reduce tourism. Smokers feel their right to smoke is being infringed upon.
The reality is negative economic ramifications resulting from indoor air policies are unjustifiable. It should be noted that the No. 1 and No. 2 populated states in America, New York and California, have adopted statewide smoking ordinances and have experienced no economic handicap since implementation. Restaurants, bars, private clubs, tourism and beer in these states are still alive and well. Other states including Delaware, Washington, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey as well as Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico have also successfully adopted strong policies.
Finally, contrary to most spin arguments and accusations that this topic is fractious, the right to smoke is not at issue here; however, the right for nonsmokers to breathe safe indoor air is at issue. The right of workers to earn a decent living in a safe working environment is also paramount. Opponents to indoor air policies should look beyond unsubstantiated fears and consider the tremendous tax money to be saved from reduced illness among the uninsured, the reduced number of employee sick days, the reduction in needed janitorial services, and the greater potential increase in nonsmoker clientele who are will happily patronize smoke free establishments.
Public health and well-being should carry no price tag. If you care about the health of our workers and families, the choice is clear. The responsibility rests on the citizens to educate our community leaders and demand a remedy that adequately respects and protects citizens who have made a conscious lifestyle decision not to smoke. That remedy is strong clean indoor air policies that safeguard workers and citizens from secondhand smoke in all workplaces and public places. It is the right answer for Houston.
Houston Communities for Safe Indoor Air (HCSIA) – http://www.hcsia.org
Americans for Nonsmokers Rights Foundation (ANR) – http://www.no-smoke.org
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/
Harris County Health and Environmental Services – http://www.harriscountyhealth.com
National Cancer Institute (NCI) – http://www.cancer.gov
Tobacco Scam – http://tobaccoscam.ucsf.edu/
Saturday, November 12, 2005
I am also tempted to complain about the recent decision that FEMA will pay for the distribution of absentee voter ballots to New Orleans residents in preparation for the Feb 2006 mayoral election. How absurd! First, they can't seem to find these folks. Second, they don't have enough money now to adequately serve Hurricane Katrina victims in Mississippi much less Hurricane Rita victims in East Texas.
Then something occurred to me during my commute from work yesterday. If there is difficulty getting these folks housing in Houston and Dallas areas and if there is also great concern that citizens will not re-populate in the city to reasonably hold an election, how about taking a hard look at ways to get them back home? After all, the majority of these folks had to be bused out of the city to escape the storm because they lacked transportation. What makes the government believe they miraculously have transportation to get home now???? As the saying goes: "Common sense is not so common." Moreover, people might be more interested in rebuilding the city if arrangements for temporary housing were made in N.O. to support families returning home!
OK, I won't belabor these troublesome issues any longer. I do have Noble News to report.
The State of Michigan has made great strides this month in empowering America's youth.
First, Kalamazoo, Michigan is the latest recipient of a lotto-sized donation. Anonymous donors pledged to pay for a 4-year education to every senior who graduates from the town's high school for the next twelve years. Free tuition to every graduate, every year for twelve years! The benefits for such a pledge are astounding:
- Children will be more excited about education;
- Students will be more motivated to learn so they can attend college;
- Lower and middle-class families now have options for advancing their family's educational capital without the strain of negotiating financing to do so;
- New families interested in taking advantage of the offer will move into town;
- Students will be excited and encouraged to come home and give back even more;
- As these students come home, they will start businesses and spark employment growth;
...and the list goes on.
What a creative way to revive a community! I look forward to hearing of more "neighbor-minded donors" who will do this in their respective areas of influence. After all, we ARE our brothers' keeper and in spite of all the naysayers, I do believe that God has given us sufficient resources to make the world a better place for all. There really is no justifiable basis for the haves and the have nots.http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=1306093
Second, the small town of Hillsdale, MI (population 8,400) elected a local high school senior as its next city mayor! This young man was 17 at the time of the May filing to have his name printed on the ballot so he ran the election as a write-in candidate. He earned money through a summer job to run his campaign. And this November he was successful in this efforts to win the city's lead administrative post! Who would have thought it could be possible? I've always dreamed of leading my small Texas town to greatness after I got age, education and accomplishment on my side. But this young man didn't hesitate to launch out and make a difference today.
What does this say about this young man's mindset? What does this endeavor say about his upbringing and parental support? Can America's new generation of youth really make a difference? I am encouraged to see the faith and will of this student, and I believe God is not finished using our children to direct this country's focus back where is should be....to family and to our neighbors.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
When a friend called to inform me of the newest BET reality show, I immediately responded that I would never waste my time watching such trash. I know that statement appears closeminded, but I have a huge problem with BET's shallow programming as of recent. The network is clearly targeting a hip-hop population that I am having trouble identifying with. This culture by my estimation has lofty dreams of building Rome in a day yet lacks interest in learning life principles of decency and respect that historically have been instrumental in sustaining long-term success.
As I see it, the problem with this new work is by its very title, the show implies and espouses a business methodology for success that may be attained in some way other than noble means.
My friend argued that I am overreacting. After all, the show's objectives are similar to The Apprentice's, where business theory is innovatively applied to solve some organizational dilemma. Maybe so...I'm a little tired to debate tonight. But even if I had more energy, I still believe BET execs could have launched a better program that suggested that Black America, too, can operate with class and responsible leadership to realize great business plans.
Monday, September 19, 2005
September 10-11, 2005
(Special message preached at Oak Hills Church by Max Lucado)
Who would have thought we would ever hear this phrase spoken on a radio news
report in America: "Today, about 25,000 refugees were moved from the Superdome in
New Orleans to the Astrodome in Houston." For days, we’ve watched the tragedy continue to unfold in Mississippi and Louisiana and, if you are like me, you’ve wrestled with feelings of shock and disbelief…feelings that, over the last five years, have become all too familiar.
We were barely into the new millennium when we saw towers falling in New York
City and planes crashing into the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania farmland.
We saw bombs over Baghdad and witnessed the ancient land of Abraham become a
war zone for his descendants. You’d think we had seen enough, but then came the
tsunami--a roaring wave that sucked life and innocence out to sea.
And now the fruits of Katrina. A city sitting in twenty feet of water. Citizens hacking
their way onto roofs and helicopters hovering over neighborhoods. Optimistic rescuers,
opportunistic looters, grateful people, resentful people—we have seen it all.
And many have seen it up close. Katrina came to San Antonio in the form of 12,500
evacuees. Many of you are meeting them, feeding them, writing checks, and manning
shifts. And you, as much as any, have reason to wonder…What is going on here? 9/11,
Iraq, tsunami, Katrina. And I didn’t mention nor intend to minimize Hurricanes Dennis and
Ivan and Emily.
Jesus criticized the leaders of his day for focusing on the weather and ignoring the
signals: "You find it easy enough to forecast the weather—why can't you read the signs of
the times?" Matthew 16:2-3 (MSG). What are we to learn from all of this? Is God sending us a message? I think so. And, I think we’d be wise to pay attention. There are some spiritual lessons that I think God would want us to learn through this tragedy. The first lesson we see is…
I. The Nature of Possessions: Temporary
As you’ve listened to evacuees and survivors, have you noticed their words? No one
laments a lost plasma television or submerged SUV. No one runs through the streets
yelling, "My cordless drill is missing" or "My golf clubs have washed away." If they mourn, it
is for people lost. If they rejoice, it is for people found.
Could Jesus be reminding us that people matter more than possessions? In a land
where we have more malls than high schools, more debt than credit, more clothes to wear
than we can wear, could Christ be saying: "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15)?
We see an entire riverboat casino washed up three blocks and placed on top of a
house in a neighborhood. You see demolished $40,000 cars that will never be driven
again, hidden in debris. And in the background of our minds we hear the quiet echoes of
Jesus saying, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his
soul?" (Matthew 16:26). Raging hurricanes and broken levees have a way of prying our fingers off the stuff we love. What was once most precious now means little; what we once ignored is now of eternal significance. A friend and I attended a worship service at Antioch Baptist Church last Sunday night. Several African American Church leaders had organized an assembly to pray for the evacuees that have ended up in San Antonio. Many of them sat on the front rows….
dressed in all the clothing they owned: t-shirts, jeans. Their faces were weary from the
week. But when the music started and the worship began, they came to their feet and sang
with tears in their eyes. They were rich.
Are you that rich? Were all your possession washed away, could you still worship? Would you still worship? If not, you are holding things too tightly:
"Tell those rich in this world's wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so
obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God,
who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping
others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they'll build a treasury that will last,
gaining life that is truly life" (1 Timothy 6:17-19 MSG). Through Katrina, Christ tells us: stuff doesn’t matter; people do. Understand the nature of possessions. Be equally clear on:
II. The Nature of People: Sinners and Saints
We see the most incredible servants and stories of selflessness and sacrifice. We
see people of the projects rescuing their neighbors, we see civil servants risking their lives
for people they’ve never seen. My wife Denalyn and I toured a shelter supervised by one of
our neighbors here in San Antonio. We met a family of some twenty cousins and siblings.
One six-year-old girl told Denalyn about the helicopter man who plucked her off a third
story porch and lifted her to safety. That child will never know who that man is. He’ll never seek any applause. He saved her life… all in a day’s work. We saw humanity at its best. And we saw humanity at its worst.
Looting. Fighting. We heard stories of rapes and robberies. Someone said, "The
heavens declare the glory of God but the streets declare the sinfulness of man." The video
footage in New Orleans has confirmed the truthfulness of that quote. Can you imagine not
being able to sleep in the Superdome for fear that someone might try to rape your
daughter if she went to the restroom in the middle of the night?
We are people of both dignity and depravity. The hurricane blew back more than
roofs; it blew the mask off the nature of mankind. The main problem in the world is not
Mother Nature, but human nature. Strip away the police barricades, blow down the fences,
and the real self is revealed. We are barbaric to the core. We were born with a me-first mentality. You don’t have to teach your kids to argue. They don’t have to be trained to demand their way. You don’t have to show them how to stomp their feet and pout, it is their nature… indeed it is all of our nature to do so. "All of us have strayed like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own" (Isaiah 53:6).
God’s chosen word for our fallen condition has three letters- s-I-n. Sin celebrates
the letter in the middle. "I". Left to our own devices, we lead a godless, out of control life
of "…doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it" (Ephesians 2:3 MSG).
You don’t have to go to New Orleans to see the chaos. Because of sin, the husband
ignores his wife, grown men seduce the young. The young proposition the old. When you
do what you want and I do what I want, humanity and civility implodes.
And when the Katrinas of life blown in, our true nature is revealed and our deepest
need is unveiled: a need deeper than food, more permanent than firm levees. We need,
not a new system, but a new nature. We need to be changed from the inside out. Which
takes us to the third message of Katrina:
III. The Nature of God’s Grace: Inside Out
Much discussion revolves around the future of New Orleans. Will the city be restored?
Repaired? How long will it take? Who will pay for it? One thing is for certain: someone has
to clean her up.
No one is suggesting otherwise. Everyone knows, someone has to go in a clean up the
mess. That is what God offers to do with us. He comes into sin-flooded lives and washes
away the old. Paul reflected on his conversion and he wrote: "He gave us a good bath, and
we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5). Our
sins stand no chance against the fire hoses of God’s grace.
But he does more than cleanse us; he rebuilds us. In the form of his Holy Spirit, God
moves in and starts a complete renovation project. "God can do anything, you know—far
more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it
not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within
us." (Ephesians 3:20 MSG). And what we can only dream of doing with New Orleans, God has done with soul after soul, and he will do so with you, if you let him.
The most disturbing stories from the last week are of those who refused to be rescued.
Those who spent their final hours trapped in attics and rooms regretting the choice they’d
made. They could have been saved. They could have gotten out… but they chose to stay.
Many paid a permanent price.
You don’t have to pay that price. What rescuers did for people on the Gulf Coast, God
will do for you. He has entered your world. He has dropped a rope into your sin-swamped
life. He will rescue, you simply need to do what that little girl did, let him lift you out.
I mentioned my visit to Antioch Baptist Church last Sunday night. A local minister,
Pastor L. A. Williams gave a message on this one verse: "But Noah found grace in the eyes
of the Lord…" (Gen. 6:8).
The minister helped us see all the things Noah could not find because of the flood. He
could not find his neighborhood. He could not find his house. He could not find the
comforts of home or the people down the street--there was much he could not find. But
what he could find made all the difference. Noah found grace in the eyes of God. If you have everything and no grace, you have nothing. If you have nothing but grace, you have everything.
Have you found grace? If not, I urge you to do what that little girl told us she did.
When the rescuer appeared on her porch, she grabbed him, closed her eyes, and held on.
That’s all you need to do. And if you never have, and would like to, I urge you to reach for
the hand of your rescuer, Jesus Christ. Your Redeemer lives, too. This hurricane was his tool to get your attention. Trust in Him while you still can.
The Will of God will never take you to where the Grace of God will not PROTECT you.
Be Blessed in the Lord!