Category Archives: Politics

He Left a Playbook to Deal With This

While the context was specific to achieving racial equality and not pandemic preparation, another high-profile individual left a detailed document on how to respond to a  crisis.

 

The individual was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the document is a book published in 1967, called “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community.”

 

Fifty plus years later, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community,” presents some hard truths and stark realities that remain relevant and demand our collective attention, perhaps even more so today. Its resonance, while centered on race relations and equality, has justice at its core.

As those of us in the fields of health sciences and healthcare seek to improve health equality and inclusivity, we only need look to Dr. King’s wisdom for insight and direction.

Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, the answers exist in what Dr. Leon McDougle, (National Medical Association (NMA) President and Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion and the Chief Diversity Officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center), refers to as the  “already structured forces in the (Black) community that can serve as the basis for building a powerful united front.” Specifically, Dr. McDougle was referencing: The (Black) church, The (Black) media, The (Black) Fraternities & Sororities and (Black) Professional Organizations.

Dr. King’s message is particularly instructive:

“We need organizations that are permeated with mutual trust, incorruptibility and militancy. Without this spirit we may have numbers but they will add up to zero. We need organizations that are responsible, efficient and alert. We lack experience because ours is a history of disorganization. But we will prevail because our need for progress is stronger than the ignorance forced upon us. If we realize how indispensable is responsible militant organization to our struggle, we will create it as we managed to create underground railroads, protest groups, self-help societies and the churches that have always been our refuge, our source of hope and our source of action.” –  (King, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community, pp 169 – 170)

The “source of hope and our source of action” that Dr. King referenced is precisely my guiding north star.  We must build and foster relationships with organizations, institutions and individuals who are prominent and trusted in the community.

The objective is simple – to illustrate and demonstrate how science can save lives…specifically Black and Brown lives. In order to accomplish this, we must be active and visible participants in remedies and clinical trials that will produce cures and solutions. We are resilient and strong and realize that, while it is a part of the solution, science alone will not save us.  It is important that we rely on ourselves.

Research has proven that people who are able to exert some control over their lives fare better and experience a better quality of life. The challenge is to strengthen our self-reliance and channel it in ways that help us better cope and survive.

COVID-19 is the latest and most prominent disease disproportionately devastating people of color and under-served communities; but that is only one disease in a longer list including HIV, Heart Disease, Diabetes and a host of other maladies.

So, when your pastor, sorority sister, fraternity brother or that individual you respect talks to you about science, clinical trials and how we have to organize the power in our community to save lives, Listen. Ask questions. Become engaged. Get informed. Most importantly, do not ignore Dr. King’s playbook.  Our lives depend upon it.

 

The Intimacy Between McDonald’s and the African-American Community

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There is an intimacy that exists between the African-American Community and McDonald’s that is quite remarkable and noteworthy.

It is a relationship that, from a pure marketing perspective, is unprecedented and compelling.

While food is always central to the conversation, this conversation also includes community, heritage, cultural pride, accessibility, acceptance and optimism.

It isn’t captured in a commercial, though there were times when McDonald’s nailed the “essence of the special relationship” in that format.

It is an unspoken “nod” that says,

“We’re a part of your family…your community – we’ve always been in your community – and like any good friend, we’re always here for you”.

Yes, there is a special intimacy that this brand has with African-Americans (and Latinos) that is bigger than the products it sells.

Authentic is always “in”…especially in times of crisis.

 

From the Rodney King riots in 1992 to the upheaval and unrest in Ferguson today, McDonald’s proves that it does more than sell good food.

 

 

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“In the wasted landscape of South Central LA, everything had been destroyed. Everything except for five buildings. In the post-apocalyptic aftermath, surrounded by smoldering ruins and debris, there were five buildings which had been untouched. Not a broken window. Not a slash of spray paint.  All flooded in their usual operable fluoro lights.

These five buildings all had one thing in common. They were all McDonalds.”

‘When the smoke cleared after the mobs burned through South Central Los Angeles in April, hundreds of businesses, many of them black owned, had been destroyed. Yet not a single McDonald’s restaurant had been torched.’

Click here to read Chuck Ebeling’s full blog post, Rodney King Death Today Reminds of a Positive Lesson From LA Riots

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“…McDonald’s, typically framed with large windows, also serves as an ideal safe zone amid heavy-handed police crackdowns, said Mitchell.

“It’s a fairly comfortable place, it’s a place they’re familiar with, lots of people go there and, in a different way, it’s a place that’s easily surveyed,” he said. “It’s a safe place, it’s so much in the public eye.”

It’s a little hard to tell whether we should be glad that McDonald’s is serving a useful public cause, or utterly depressed that traditional meeting places like libraries and local sandwich shops have been replaced by a corporate behemoths like McDonald’s and Starbucks.

(Click here to read the full HuffPost article, “How One McDonald’s Became The Epicenter Of The Ferguson Conflict“)

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In full disclosure, I am a McDonald’s supplier.

I have worked for McDonald’s local Co-Ops specializing in the areas of African-American and Ethnic Marketing.  The experience has afforded me the opportunity to view the brand up close and personal for thirty uninterrupted years. At the core of what differentiates McDonald’s is the Owner/Operator – men and women who do more than sell food. In many instances, they are active and visible participants in the communities where they do business.  They act as parents, advisers, counselors and active supporters of their communities.

 

 

 

Portrait of Nina

140811_r25323a-690As a child, my mother introduced me to the music (and politics) of Nina Simone.  It took me years to fully appreciate Simone’s gifts and message.  A contemporary of Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin and Harry Belafonte, “her intelligence and restless force attracted African-American culture’s finest minds.” Simone was was one of the true pioneering voices of the Civil Rights movement. She changed the face of both music and race relations in America.

“Her skin was very black, and she was made fully aware of that, along with the fact that her nose was too large. The aesthetics of race—and the loathing and self-loathing inflicted on those who vary from accepted standards of beauty—is one of the most pervasive aspects of racism, yet it is not often discussed. The standards have been enforced by blacks as well as by whites.”

Click here to read the full New Yorker article, A Raised Voice, How Nina Simone Turned the Movement Into Music.

Photo: Courtesy New York Public Library

To learn more about Simone, start by reading I Put A Spell On You, The Autobiography of Nina Simone and listening to The Essential Nina Simone

Fernando Ruiz & Heavenly Jenkins need not apply…

 

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There are a total of 15 charts.

I chose “Number 15″ to share, but I guarantee that the other 14 will enlighten you about two of the most vital and growing consumer groups –

African-Americans and Latinos

“No. 15 – Employers are more likely to turn away job seekers if they have African-American sounding names.”*

Click here to be enlightened.

 

 

*Source: “15 Charts that Prove We’re Far from Post-Racial,” HuffPost Black Voices, 7/2/14

The Power of Black Voters in 2015

Very interesting reading from today’s Washington Post.

Although the article focuses on partisan politics, the real message for me is the power of the Black voter.

“Black voters played a huge role in delivering Barack Obama to the White House in 2008 and 2012. And in 2014, they will play a huge role in determining whether the president’s party can stop Republicans from taking the Senate.”

Click here to read the full article.