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Black History: State of Affairs and Mind

Hakim Hazim

Hakim Hazim

“An institution is not a place; it’s a state of mind.”- Tom Pomeranz

It’s impossible to listen to commentary about the state of affairs concerning Black America and not form an opinion. This will not be your typical article on Black History. I’m going to take a different approach, one that attempts to point out an empirical thing that we can remedy as a people still striving to fulfill the promise of the God we serve in Christ and the dreams our ancestors had for us. By using Pomeranz’s definition above, I’ll attempt to provide some clarity by defining institution as a state of mind, and I’ll call for an exodus away from the mindset. In this day and age of increasing government deficits and ineptness we cannot continue to look to institutions, no matter how evolved, for answers.

The primary function of any type of institution is to govern in some form.  People conditioned by institutions of any type look to the authorities and seek guidance, counsel, permission and ultimately favor from the leaders. We were brought here as powerless people, and we were liberated by the bold actions of abolitionists, a president of conviction and the blood of countless soldiers. During the Civil Rights Movement, we compelled the government to give us equal treatment. In short we were reformers of the status quo, not dependent on it. In our battle to secure rights and privileges from the institution of government, we, especially as Christians, must ask ourselves if we have become dependent on it.  The institution has helped us, but it is not our liberator.

I was once privileged enough to sit in on a training by national disabilities clinician, Tom Pomeranz. He spoke of institutions in a profound way—as a way of thinking and acting by the people who depend on it and those who provide services and instruction to those they are entrusted with. These three characteristics were evident:

  • Belief in segregation (Certain people should be kept away from others)
  • Belief in limiting choice (Certain people can’t handle decision making)
  • Belief in limiting privacy (A mindset that encourages and tolerates intrusion)

I cringed when I heard these words. I knew it to be true. In some ways we were all institutionalized in regards to our thinking regardless of race. But slavery had a profound impact on Blacks traumatizing generations to come. It scarred the soul of the oppressor and oppressed. Martin Luther King, Jr., attacked the institutions of the day that promoted the belief in segregation, limiting our choices and violating the most basic private rights of our people. Law enforcement routinely violated Black families, homes and even taped confidential conversations. The government upheld and codified these approaches into law and enforced them with vicious brutality.

I am thankful this is no longer the status quo approach of the government, but I lament the current state of affairs so many Black folks are disproportionately ensnared in poverty, fatherlessness, addiction and skyrocketing incarceration rates.

The pain caused by these things prompt us to look for a source of relief. In the past, government came to our aid; currently, many of our leaders teach us that it’s impossible for minorities to have success without its intervention. I beg to differ. I changed my mind a long time ago.  We need to raise a generation of ministers, entrepreneurs, educators, politicians, and people who excel in the natural social sciences. We have to raise expectations. If we expect the exceptional from the marginalized, they will give it to us.

ABOUT HAKIM HAZIM:

Hakim Hazim is the founder of Relevant Now and co-founder of Freedom Squared. He is a nationally recognized expert in decision analysis, criminality and security.

 

With Black Community Awareness of Obamacare Benefits Falling Short of Expectations

McKenzie Jackson, California Black Media

McKenzie Jackson, California Black Media

California advocates and consumers urge renewed effort and focus

By McKenzie Jackson, California Black Media

Last May, Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace,  announced the awarding of $37 million in grants that would flow to a total of nearly 300 organizations, all working to conduct outreach and develop tailored education plans about affordable health care coverage available through the state exchange.

Targeting a total of 9 million Californians, 32 grants were said to be focused on African-American outreach, compared to 37 targeting Latinos. Twenty-seven grants were focused on Caucasian outreach and education, with 20 aimed at the Asian-Pacific Islander community.

These efforts are widely perceived to have been in good faith. But with so few African-Americans enrolled in Obamacare benefits through the state exchange questions linger about the effectiveness of the outreach. As of last month, only about 11,000 blacks were on the Covered California rolls, representing about 3.1 percent of enrollees, despite numbering seven percent of the state’s total population..

“We definitely need to increase the outreach to African-Americans,” said Karen D. Lincoln, a professor of social work at the University of Southern California and founder of the organization Advocates for African-American Elders. “I think the fact that the primary method of enrollment is via the Internet, there is a large segment of our population who cannot enroll. Now, among the general population of African-Americans, there is certainly more use of social media, but access can be a problem.

Advocates are now stepping in to help boost the effectiveness of the outreach. For example, The California Endowment, in partnership with DHCS, has launched a $23 million statewide effort to boost Medi-Cal enrollment in 36 counties across the state.

Considering the numbers, those efforts appear to be worthwhile. According to Covered California, as of 2013 there were 8.5 million Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal. Thanks to Obamacare, up to two million more residents of are expected to be eligible this year, with a significant percentage of those potential enrolleesbelieved to be African-American.

Thomas Duncan, CEO of Trusted Health Plan, a Washington D.C.-based managed healthcare organization, argues that African-Americans are poised to be among the chief benefactors of the healthcare law. In an article entitled “African-Americans will benefit greatly from Obamacare,” published February 6 in the International Business Times, Duncan wrote that a disproportionate percentage of blacks will become newly eligible for health coverage.

“Prior to the Affordable Care Act, our nation’s healthcare system was discriminatory to both lower- and middle-wage workers,” he wrote. “But now, Obamacare opens the door to preventive, primary, and strategic specialty care for millions of African-Americans and others.”

“Black people, we need that,” said Joseph Thomas, a 31-year-old Woodland Hills resident. He estimates that the Covered California plan he recently obtained online with his domestic partner would save their household about $1,200 per year. “[It’s important because] we don’t seem to go to the doctor as regularly as we should, but we always seem to have health issues and die earlier.”

To find out where you or a loved one can enroll in person go to www.coveredca.com and click on find local help.

Next week: In African-American communities statewide, churches remain the de facto town square. How are black faith organizations stepping up to encourage enrollment in affordable healthcare?

The NAACP’s Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics Competition 2014

RIVERSIDE, CA- The Riverside NAACP is looking for high school aged students from grades 9-12 to participate in the Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) 2014 competition. The competition serves to showcase the hard working students who want to participate and show off their skills in the following categories: Science, Humanities, Performing Arts, Visual Arts, and Business. The application deadline is Monday, February 24. Mentoring days are Sunday, March 2 and Sunday, March 9. The local competition will be held on Sunday, March 16. Finalists will be eligible to compete at the National Competition July 19 to 23 in Las Vegas.  (ACT-SO) is a major youth initiative of the NAACP that provides a forum through which youth of African descent demonstrate academic, artistic and scientific prowess and expertise, thereby gaining the same recognition often only reserved for entertainers and athletes. Anyone interested in applying please download an application from the Riverside NAACP website www.naacp-riverside.org. Completed Applications should be sent to Riverside NAACP- P.O Box 55131- Riverside, CA 92517 or faxed to 951-324-9603.