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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?

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.