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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.

 

Check the Flex of Top Fitness Professional: Diana Hex

Diana Hex

Diana Hex

LOS ANGELES, CA- As we close out Black History Month and jump into Woman’s History Month in March, we would love to introduce our readers to professional dancer and celebrity trainer, Diana Hex, who not only is breaking barriers in the aerobics arena but is also a full time mom who exemplifies why we celebrate “Women’s History Month”.

Hex is originally from Birmingham, Alabama, but grew up in Los Angeles. Dancing has always been embedded in her genes. Her mother was a professional dancer, so she has taken on the torch and followed in her footsteps. As she evolved into the world of dance, Diana started teaching Hip-Hop and Cardio Sculpt at the Madonna Grimes Dance/Fitness Theater in West Los Angeles when she was asked to join an aerobics class. At first it was tiring, but the more that she became involved in it, she started to fall in love with it; and her fitness journey in competitions began.

“I really just broadened my whole world,” she stated.

This year is off to a running start for the fitness coach. She recently participated in The Fit Expo, which was held in Los Angeles, where she participated as a model for Promera Sports. As one of the company’s newest ambassadors, she handed out products and motivated participation in contests and poster signings by IFBB bodybuilder Fred “Biggie” Smalls and IFBB bikini model Ana Delia De Iturrondo. The event set the bar for more opportunities resulting in an invitation to participate in The Arnold Sports Festival and Fitness Weekend, which kicks off on February 28 in Ohio.

In addition to the expo events, the former LA Clipper’s cheer leader’s primary goal for this year is to get back into competitions. She will be participating in “Ms Fitness Inland Empire” on April 5 in Corona, and “Miss Fitness Hollywood” on June 28. It has been over five years since she was involved in a competition. The last one was in 2009 where she won fourth place in the “Miss Fitness” competition.

“I want to get back into it. I’m very excited and confident. I feel that I am in the best shape of my life”, Ms. Hex said.

Other plans for the year include participation in the LA Marathon for the first time; choreographing and assisting as the associate producer of an exercise video that is designed to motivate others to have fun while getting in shape; she will also be finishing her book entitled, Diana Hex: 30 Day Success Journal, which will showcase her passion for dance and helping others reach their goals; and she will be continuing to teach her Zumba classes throughout the week.

Overall, Diana Hex wants to assist others in completing their journey to become better within themselves on a healthier scale. Many of us start an exercise regiment and stick to it for a few days, but then we fall off. For starters, the sought after coach has provided three easy steps to help in accomplishing your goals, which is to create a fitness collage of the things that inspire you that you can look back at and reflect on; next is to find a role model that can help get you on the right track; and lastly, create a 3-by-3 month plan of your goals, write them down and hang them up somewhere.

For more tips or to take a Zumba class, please visit www.dianahexfitness.com. She is accepting new choreography and training clients and would be glad to assist you in getting back on the right track.

 

 

 

Slow to the sign-up?

In a critical period of Obamacare outreach, will more black consumers take advantage of benefits available through the California healthcare exchange?

 By McKenzie Jackson, California Black Media

When Andre Andrews signed on to the Covered California website on February 7, he was in the midst of coping with a medical emergency.

A week before, Andrews had been the victim of a hit-and-run. The Burbank resident was walking his bike up the side of a street late one night, when he was suddenly struck by a passing motorist who never bothered to stop. The impact left him with missing teeth, lacerations to his face and an ambulance bill alone of over $1,000.

Uninsured since leaving a job in early January, Andrews has already paid $500 of the bill, but he now feels more secure because of his coverage eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, it is made available in this state through Covered California, which Andrews is confident will help him better manage medical expenses and aid with any future health problems he might experience.

“I never really go to the doctor, but I still need health insurance, especially since this happened,” said Andrews. “All these other healthcare insurance providers online are expensive.” For the 30-year-old, what he found through Covered California “is less expensive. I’m one of those guys that thought nothing would ever happen. But clearly it can. You don’t know what is going to happen.”

More than 11,000 black Californians, and potentially millions more across the United States, can identify with the peace of mind Andrews enjoys today as a result of Obamacare. Following a difficult rollout, there has been a surge of enrollments over the last two months; on January 25, the Obama administration announced that three million Americans had signed up for private health plans under the law, including 800,000 in the month of January alone.

California accounts for 625,000 of those enrollees, but thus far only 3.1 percent, or 11,153, are African-Americans, despite blacks being nearly seven percent of California’s population. That is compared with whites, who have accounted for 54.7 percent, or 199,186, of Obamacare enrollees, tops in the state.

Obamacare ensures that all Americans have access to affordable health insurance, by offering discounts or tax credits on health insurance plans and enlarging the Medicaid assistance program to include more individuals that can’t afford healthcare in their budgets.

A household with an income between one and four times the Federal Poverty Level is ideal for receiving the health insurance discounts. Despite common misperceptions, that only single mothers can qualify for healthcare assistance, for example, or that a family must be in a deep poverty to get help, even individuals who earn too much to qualify for discounts and tax credits are entitled to buy plans through Covered California.

In California and across the nation, individuals with Obamacare have benefits in 10 categories including ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment and prescription drugs. The health plan also helps cover rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices, laboratory services, preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management, and pediatric services such as dental and vision care.

Among those who have yet to enroll in a healthcare plan, despite the fact that he would almost certainly be eligible for coverage and/or subsidies, is 30-year-old Clint Thompson of Santa Monica. Thompson, who recently returned to California from New York City, is debating whether to enroll in a plan through Covered California, or try the insurance offered through his employer, a clothing retailer.

“I’m weighing the options of each,” said Thompson, “but I really haven’t looked as in-depth as I should.”

Thompson and others like him, those who remain on the fence about obtaining healthcare coverage, have until the March 31 open enrollment deadline to either enroll in a plan of some kind or be subject to a penalty.

Covered California this month launched an outreach campaign covering 21 counties across the state, Kern, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Clara and Ventura among them,  that includes opportunities for free enrollment assistance at libraries, community centers and other locations. Opportunities to enroll and information about outreach locations can be found on the website at www.coveredca.com.

Although online enrollment remains a viable and popular option, Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said many people are more comfortable with face-to-face discussion.

“Many people want to speak with an expert in person in their own language,” he said recently, “rather than over the phone or on the Internet when making such a personal decision about health insurance.”

Next week: As a Covered California deadline approaches, African-American consumers, healthcare experts and advocates assess the effectiveness of healthcare outreach to the black community.