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Photo Recap: United Nations of Consciousness Hosts Ribbon Cutting with FREE Backpack Give-Away

By Naomi K. Bonman

SAN BERNARDINO, CA- They say it takes a village to raise up a child, and that is exactly the motto that United Nations of Consciousness (UNC) has been doing with our youth in San Bernardino.

The organization recently acquired a space where they are able to meet and hold activities for the youth at Anne Shirrells Park. However, things are never quite official until there’s a ribbon cutting.

UNC held its official grand opening and ribbon cutting on Saturday, July 30 at Anne Shirrells Park. Youth from all across the community came out to receive their backpacks filled with goodies, lunch provided by McDonalds, and a day filled with activities stations which included art, reading, building blocks, coloring, movies, and more.

To show their support, government and elected officials were in attendance, from Assemblymember Cheryl Brown, Rick Van Johnson, Carolyn Tillman, and the Black Chamber of Commerce Inland Empire.

If you would love to get involved with UNC and their community endeavors, please visit www.uncyouth.org or www.unclife.org.

Elections 2016: Can the Power of the Black Vote Make Black Lives Matter?

Activists Debate Boycotting Clinton, Police Violence and the Possibility of a Trump Presidency

By Manny Otiko/ California Black Media

Democrats attending their party’s  convention last week in Philadelphia were moved to tears, rounds of applause and a standing ovation when nine mothers of Black men slain by police brutality and racially motivated attacks took the stage. 

“The majority of police officers are good people doing a good job,” said Lucia McBath, the mother of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, who was killed by Michael Dunn, a 45-year-old White male in Jacksonville, Fla.,  after a tense argument at a gas station.

“We’re going to keep using our voices and our votes to support leaders like Hillary Clinton, who will help us protect one another so that this club of heartbroken mothers stops growing,” said  Mcbath.   The mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown and other men and women who were killed by police or died from gun violence joined McBath  on stage.

Many who attended the convention or watched that heartfelt moment around the country at home viewed the inclusion of “the mothers of the movement” as a signal that the Democratic party is taking the concerns of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement seriously.

But for some that emotional moment on television was just political theater – too simple a gesture with little or no real or lasting impact.  

Hank Newsome, a New York-based attorney and self-described “Black Lives Matter Activist,” is threatening to boycott the presidential elections, unless the Democratic Party takes more and immediate action on police violence.

He and other activists recently  launched the “I Ain’t Voting” campaign to express their anger at the Democratic Party, threatening to persuade Blacks to not vote in 2016.

Black Americans, he says, have a rare chance right now  to collectively demand action from the  Democratic Party –  or at least insist that some of their priorities be included in the party’s 2016 platform  or future policy plans.

“Hey, if you don’t give us criminal justice reform, we’ll give the country to Donald Trump. That’ll send the Democrats into a frenzy. Black lives will matter then, I guarantee you,” said Newsome in an interview with the BBC.

Newsome and a group of other African-American activists protested at both the Democratic National Convention this week and the Republican National Convention before that in Cleveland.

Newsome is not the first to call for African Americans to withhold their votes. Political pundit Tavis Smiley has suggested numerous times that Black Americans should sit out an election to get the Democrats’ attention.

Other activists view the idea of Blacks not voting – or boycotting the 2016 elections in particular – differently.

Dr. Melina Abdullah, for example, who is one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, admits she supports neither Clinton nor Trump. She describes the standard bearers of the two major parties as “corporate candidates” whose positions on issues can be influenced by powerful meg- donors.

She says the BLM movement does not plan to endorse either candidate. If Clinton is the eventual winner of the presidential election, though, she says BLM will continue to demand she pushes for  police reforms.

Unlike Newsome, Abdullah is urging African Americans to get out and vote in November.

“A lot of Black folk say people died for this,” said Abdullah, who is also  professor of Pan-African studies at California State University Los Angeles. “It (voting) is a way of honoring my ancestors.”

Although Abdullah says she respects the right of people who chose to sit out, she plans to cast her vote in November and says she also votes in every election.

For Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a Los Angeles-based political analyst and writer, Newsome’s “I Ain’t Voting “campaign is “unrealistic.”

“It’s the height of political naivety,” said Hutchinson. “The stakes are far too high for that kind of pox-on-both-of-your-houses attitude.”

Black Americans vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates. If many of them don’t turn out on Election Day – especially in states that have a tendency to vote either Republican or Democrat  like Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina – that could greatly affect Clinton’s chance of winning.

Hutchinson said that instead of sitting out the election, Black voters should get engaged and lobby politicians to take action.

“The better strategy is to organize, educate, and mobilize among young persons about the importance of political engagement to pressure the Dems, local elected officials, and others for police and criminal justice reform,” Hutchinson said. “That can’t happen if you disengage from the process.”

Whether they support the possibility of an African-American boycott of the 2016 elections or not, most Black political activists are extremely critical of Trump and at least ambivalent about a Clinton presidency.

Abdullah calls the billionaire businessman “oppressive on every level.”

“He’s a raving lunatic, fascist and a blatant racist,” she describe Trump.

But she is no fan of Clinton’s either. She described the first female nominee of a major political party in the United States a “war hawk” and pointed out that  Clinton supported domestic policies that expanded the criminalization of Black men and spurred the growth of  the prison industrial complex.

Hutchison says there are more than enough valid criticisms of both candidates to go around, but sitting out the 2016 election is not a beneficial move.

He warned BLM activists about the dangers of boycotting the 2016 election and handing victory to Trump.

“A Trump win will mean stepped up repression of BLM by police forces emboldened by a Trump win, fewer protests, more arrests and convictions,” Hutchinson said. “However, remember BLM is hardly the only or first to organize, mobilize, and make demands for police reform and accountability. That fight has been waged by civil rights groups from the NAACP to my group and civil rights activists for years and will continue.”

“Ain’t No Need of You Lying to Yourself!”

Lou Coleman

Lou Coleman

By Lou Coleman

And think that you are lying to everybody else too. You ain’t fooling nobody! Why complicate things? Just go ahead and admit it. I understand. Life gets complex, and sometimes we just feel the need to bend the truth to make it through the week. We need our lies to keep the pain tucked away where it can’t get to us. That deceitful heart of ours has a way making it easy for us to be okay with these lies that is, until they’re drawn out by God’s scalpel [Psalm 139:23]. What I want you know is that lies don’t just cover up the pain of life, they actually make it harder for you to grow in your faith and in your connection with others. The problem is that we have gotten so numb to them that we don’t necessarily even see the damage they do. It is important that we face our moments of truth understanding the serious implications of actions and decisions. Stop lying and start telling the truth! Truth telling is essential to the church.

Y’all get mad with me if you want to, but I ain’t sugar coating nothing! I’m going to call sin just what it is, Sin! I hear folks say, “It won’t hurt to tell a little white lie.” Yes it will and yes, it does! I don’t care how big a lie is or what color a lie is. A lie is a lie and if you lie at all it’s a sin and sin is sin.  We’ve got to stop white washing our sin. We’ve got to stop trying to cover up. We’ve come to the point where we’re calling right wrong and wrong right. Shame on us! The world manipulates – but the church is based on Truth. The world covers for itself – but the church is based on Truth. The world pulls strings – but the church is based on Truth. The world exaggerates – but the church is based on Truth. When you start introducing anything but the Truth, the Pure Unadulterated Truth into the way you handle your interactions in life, then it’s like taking a big hatchet and whacking at your own foot. Which goes to show that you ain’t hurting nobody but yourself… Stop it!

Lying is a killer! It robs you of all godly virtues. It comes as harmless yet its effects can be most devastating.  If you want to be established, lay your foundation on Truth. Go and apologize to those you have lied to or against. You cannot afford to miss Heaven! Lying is more perilous than it seems. It’s more Satan-like than Christ-like. Jesus referred to Satan as “a liar and the father of lies” [John 8:44]. By contrast, Jesus declared himself to be the Truth [John 14:6]. The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” [Jeremiah 17:9]. What’s so indicative of our human state is the universal tendency to minimize the treachery of lying. We want certain forms of lying to be okay. Well it’s not okay! Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” [John 8:32].  

You got to learn that when you’ve done wrong, you got to live with yourself. And when you have done wrong, your memory is working against you.  David said in [Psalms 51] every time he turn around, memory, keep bringing that situation back to him. You can’t lie and get away with it. You tell one lie; you got to tell another one.  Listen, we’ve all sinned and come short of the Glory of God. My memory recalls and keeps me reminded that I haven’t always been what I am now. Memory reminds me of my mistakes that I’ve made. Reminds me of problems and flaws in my own character. I’m not talking about someone else’s memory; I’m talking about my memories that are ever before me. But I’m glad to report that when sin is plaguing you and when it’s ever before you, there’s hope. You don’t have to be overcome by your sins. There’s a God who is able to bring you out. There’s deliverance. There’s escape from sin. David shows us that way. David made it to the praying ground. David found a prayer closet and talked to God about His sins. That’s all you got to do… You need to pray about your weaknesses. You need to talk to God about your shortcomings. Talk to Him about your faults and your defects. David opened with a plea of mercy. David said, “Have mercy on me oh God according to thy loving kindness, according to thy tender mercies. Blot out my transgressions, wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin… Against thee, thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight… “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean: wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” Somebody ought to help me tell Him thank you. Thank you Lord for a new walk and new talk. NO MORE LIES!