Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Useless Slaughter and Meaningful Action

Pastor Corey Brooks and Project Hood

Pastor Corey Brooks and Family

 I first heard about Pastor Brooks before the Trayvon Martin affair. He was known at the time, as "The Rooftop Pastor" because he had decided that, in order to bring attention to the senseless loss of life among the young people of his neighborhod and others he would camp on the rooftop of a South Side Chicago  motel. Pastor Brooks had vowed to remain on the roof until he raised $450,000, the amount needed to buy and tear down the building, which he says has become a magnet for drugs, prostitution, and violence. I followed his endeavour with interest and he finally came down after 94 days, after having received a donation of $100,000 from actor-producer Tyler Perry which put him beyond his goal. It wasn't just Perry though, he had also gotten donations of dollar, $5, $10, $100 and $1,000  and he sincerely thanked all who answered the call for assistance in his quest to eliminate gun violence which is epidemic in Chicago. 

 As amazing as this story sounds it doesn't stop there. Having torn down the motel Pastor Brooks still lacked the 15 million dollars needed to build a youth center on the site of the motel. To make a long story short, soon the word began to spread that "The Rooftop Pastor" was going to walk across the United States from New York City to Los Angeles in order to raise money and at the same time bring attention to the gun violence that is occurring all across the nation. I find it unfortunate that the mass media which appears to be so interested in the abolition of gun violence today, didnt find the story of Pastor Brooks walk across the nation, which he completed after 130 days of walking,  worthy of their time. What about all these folks now crying for gun control, very few of these voices were heard when Pastor Brooks was walking across America. Who knows how things might have gone if they had glorfied this persons intent to try defeat the violence.  Perhaps more would have been influenced to make an attempt to improve things or at least to help the good pastor towards his goal.  People are all too content to stand by and do nothing, not even comming to the aid of those who are engaged in the struggle. Then when something goes the way it had to under the circumstances they scream for the government to take charge and force things to change. They want to find a scapegoat for their own lack of action, never thinking that any direct government solution will be the equivolent of using a blunt object to get rid of a headache. No people, this is our problem and we have to get together to work out our own solutions. Then tell the government what we've come up with using rational deduction rather than media frenzy inspired quick fixes. 

 Look at Pastor Brooks for example, here's someone who's been working to solve the problem in his own way. Maybe there is something we can glean from this man's experience that holds a key to bringing this violence under control or at least reducing it's occurrence.  See Project Hood if you're interested in Pastor Brooks' brand of meaningful action. 

 Update January 10, 2013 Awards Vote.

We can vote once every day on twitter and once on facebook 

I believe, vote until January 18th.

Advocate for Nonviolence and Community Empowerment - A Pastor, businessman, philanthropist, mentor and visionary, Pastor Corey B Brooks Sr. founded New Beginnings Church of Chicago, as an urban ministry. He took a personal mission to combat the crime and constant violence in our communities. Chicago may reach 500 murders in 2012 and too often people are silent, but Pastor Brooks is about action. He camped out on a rooftop for months to raise money for a community center, he walked all the way across the country coast to coast and has been recognized for his work by Steve Harvey and Tyler Perry. I believe without a doubt that Pastor Brooks is the BCG Change-Maker of the Year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Where's The Outrage?

Drug Sentencing Disparities
  • About 14 million Whites and 2.6 million African Americans report using an illicit drug
  • 5 times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites
  • African Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense.
  • African Americans serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as whites do for a violent offense (61.7 months). (Sentencing Project)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

African Textile Use and Creation

Some of the eye catching and unique textile patterns of Africa caught my eye and I decided to look up a bit of background on some of these beautiful creations. I find it amazing how more African Americans are not immersed in fashion designs based on these textiles. I seems like there is so much potential for mutual benefit to be had in developing relationships with the creators of these quality materials. I can see custom handmade clothing from original high grade African textiles that are imported using only quality controlled mateterials. Even commercially produced textiles using designs created by African artisans can be used in some manner. Everyone wears clothes the only thing preventing the popularity of this material among brothers and sisters in America is the lack of creative marketing.

Ndomo is a textile workshop where traditional and modern cloths are designed and made, using natural dyes from leaves, bark, and clay. This process is called 'bogolan', or mud cloth. This center was founded in 1990 by Boubacar Doumbia. It is located in Pelengana, close to the city of Ségou (Mali). The term Ndomo refers to the first phase of the (former) Bamana initiation societies, through which young people are integrated into social life. Solidarity, sharing and a sense of responsibility are traditional values of the Bamana, one of the largest ethnic groups in Mali. Ndomo offers social security and stability by offering education based on local knowledge, and jobs. This film consists of fragments of the dvd "Ndomo - solidarité et partage", Samaké Records 08, and lasts 4,5 minutes. (see:

A Sierra Leonean with 15 years in Bamako's Tie Dye industry explains the ins and out and much loved making of the 'bamako bazin'.

Adire (Yoruba — tie and dye) textile is the indigo dyed cloth made in south western Nigeria by Yoruba women, using a variety of resist dye techniques. As the translation of the name suggests, the earliest pieces of this type were probably simple tied designs on cotton cloth handspun and woven locally (rather like those still produced in Mali), but in the early decades of the 20th century new access to large quantities of imported shirting material via the spread of European textile merchants in Abeokuta and other Yoruba towns caused a boom in these women's entrepreneurial and artistic efforts, making adire a major local craft in Abeokuta and Ibadan, attracting buyers from all over West Africa. The cloth's basic shape became that of two pieces of shirting material stitched together to create a women's wrapper cloth. New techniques of resist dyeing developed, such as "adire eleko" (hand-painting designs onto cloth with a cassava starch paste prior to dyeing), along with a new style more suited to rapid mass production (using metal stencils cut from the sheets of tin that lined tea chests, using sewn raffia and/or tied sections, or folding the cloths repeatedly before tying or stitching them in place). Most of the designs were named, with popular ones including the jubilee pattern, (first produced for the silver jubilee of George V and Queen Mary in 1935), Olokun ("goddess of the sea"), and Ibadadun ("Ibadan is sweet"). However, by the end of the 1930s the spread of synthetic indigo and caustic soda and an influx of new less skilled entrants caused quality problems and a still-present collapse in demand. Though the more complex and beautiful starch resist designs continued to be produced until the early 1970s, but despite a revival prompted largely by the interest of US Peace Corps workers in the 1960s, never regained their earlier popularity. In the present day simplified stencilled designs and some better quality tie & die and stitch-resist designs are still produced, but local taste favours "kampala" (multi-coloured wax resist cloth, sometimes also known as adire by a few people).