Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day of Blogging for Justice

Many of my fellow AfroSpear members have blogged on 30th July about the rising numbers of tasings. Like many abuses of the criminal justice system, the victims are disproportionately African Americans.

We don't have tasing in the UK as yet but, in my opinion, it is only a matter of time.

I find it difficult to say how I feel about this. I feel so strongly, it's hard to find the words.

The violence must stop.

On nearly a daily basis, there are reports of tasing 'abuse', that is to say, tasing used in extreme cases such as, for example,

Blind, cancer, diabetic woman tased

But tasing in and of itself has been characterised as torture.

This is part of a much bigger problem. African people have been characterised as violent, brutish and animalistic for hundreds of years - first by the Arabs, then by the Europeans. This was used to justify the enslavement of African people.

In recent years, we have seen many manifestations of this, such as the Rodney King case and others like it. Children as young as five being incarcerated. The disporportionate number of African American people on Death Row. And tasing is a part of this overall pattern.

In the Niger Delta, African lives are worth very little, compared to the value of oil:

In other parts of Africa, the search for conflict diamonds costs many lives.

I could go on and on and on and on. There is so much more to say. But I try to be solution-focused.

Bottom line, the violence must stop. THE VIOLENCE MUST STOP.

We can find peaceful means to air our grievances. We can find peaceful means to bring about justice. I am working alongside many other people all over the world to bring about peace through Nonviolent Communication (NVC). And miracles are happening.

To read more about NVC, visit: and

To read posts by other AfroSpear members, visit:

Partial List of Participants in Day of Blogging for Justice

Sorry I cannot list everybody here. Well done to all the bloggers who have helped to bring this issue to prominence.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama in Berlin

Yesterday, 25th July 2008, the streets of Berlin were lined with people wanting to hear Presidential candidate Obama speak.

He spoke of freedom, and of the need for American and German people to unite.

He spoke of duty and of victory over tyranny. He spoke of a common destiny and of our common humanity. He made reference to a new hope, and to the fall of the Berlin wall.

Senator Obama’s central message seemed to be that we need to unite in the fight against terrorism – get behind the armed conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was saying that wee are all together in this fight. He repeatedly addressed the “People of Berlin, people of the world”. I am sure he is eager to demonstrate his grasp of foreign policy.

However, his statement that the purpose of the NATO mission in Afghanistan was to “help them rebuild their nation” was, at best, disingenuous. It sounded very much like Bush and Blair’s justification for the invasion of Iraq. It made me wonder whether Obama's foreign policy will be "business as usual" if he is elected President.

In Britain, the U.S. is largely characterised as an invading and dominating force. The speech may have been meant to allay that perception, but if so, I am not clear about how far it went in achieving that aim.

I was heartened to hear the Senator speak of the need to tear down walls between Christians, Muslims and Jews.

I was also encouraged by his statement of the need to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and reduce the arsenals, and to bring the Iraqi war to a close. This was a dove message in what was largely a hawkish speech.

Although the candidate made repeated reference to the Berlin airlift, he only mentioned briefly and in passing the two world wars we fought against Germany. Living in London, I see nearly daily reminders of the Second World War and the devastation it caused. Work on construction sites still regularly unearths unexploded Nazi bombs that were rained down on the people of London and other British cities. Senator Obama’s speech contained only the briefest mention of that conflict.

The Senator used many of the right words, but I am not sure he conveyed a good grasp of the international situation. And although his speech was very idealistic, I did not personally find it particularly convincing.

To watch the video, go here:

As the author/publisher of Black Success Stories, I am well aware of the importance of positive Black role models. If he is elected President, what impact will this have on your life – your home, your family, your health, your job, your business? Join my Obama phone-in on 19th August. Click here to register Click here for more details. Your opinion matters.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Senator Obama Arrives in Iraq

Senator Barack Obama has stated that he will withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq within 16 months of being elected President. He has, however, stated that he will consult military advisors before taking this action.

He arrived in Iraq today to discuss troop levels and the U.S.’s strategy on Iraq. He described the discussion with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other top U.S. and Iraqi officials as “constructive”.

This is an interesting piece on what Obama needs to do in order to get accurate, up-to-date information from people on the ground in Iraq.,8599,1823684,00.html

I would like to know, out of interest, what the Senator thinks about the fact that we invaded Iraq illegally in the first place. Also, what he thinks about the suffering that was caused by the sanctions we imposed on Iraq before the invasions - lack of clean drinking water for the citizens, children denied access to hospital supplies and drugs, etc.

As the author/publisher of Black Success Stories, I am well aware of the importance of positive Black role models. If Obama is elected President, what impact will this have on your life – your home, your family, your health, your job, your business? Join my Obama phone-in on 19th August. Click here to register. Click here for more details. Your opinion matters.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Demise of Health First

With a heavy heart, I attended a recent meeting of the African Health Forum. It was the final one as part of Health First.

Health First was a resource funded by the Primary Care Trusts (pcts) of three South London boroughs, Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham (LSL). Large numbers of African people live in each of these three boroughs.

Health First provided support and advice to professionals and voluntary and statutory organisations for 15 years, but it has now been decommissioned.

I attended a stakeholders’ meeting several months ago, at which everyone agreed about how valuable Health First had been, and the value of the training provision in particular.

We had opportunities to meet people who played various roles across the three boroughs, whom we might never otherwise have met. This allowed us to share information and skills across a range of organisations and individuals.

In 2007, it was announced that Lewisham had decided to withdraw funding from Health First. Several months later, Lambeth and Southwark also decided to pull out.

This is reminiscent of when the Emergency Clinic at the Maudsley, a local mental hospital, closed a couple of years ago. Again, one borough – Lambeth in this case – withdrew its funding and Southwark, the remaining borough was not able to continue to fund the emergency clinic. This means that in an emergency, mental patients such as myself now have to go to the main hospital, Kings College Hospital, for help and support. We hope there will be a member of staff on hand who can provide specialist care and we have been told that there will always be someone available to do this. But Kings do not provide telephone support, which I have personally found extremely valuable at times when I was in a crisis.

Health First was seen as a flagship resource, and other local health authorities and pcts across the country looked to it as an example of good practice. The African Health Forum was an important part of the work of Health First. We are a group of people working in the voluntary and statutory sectors, specifically around HIV and sexual health issues, including health promotion, education, prevention and advocacy within the three boroughs. We have now widened our brief to include other health issues that affect local African communities.

I have been a member of the African Health Forum for over two years, and I have very much appreciated the opportunity to network and learn from others working in the area of health promotion.

The mood at the African Health Forum meeting was one of mourning. One person said it was like living in a house and someone tearing off the roof.

One thing that was said at the meeting was that there were allegations of mismanagement. This came as a shock to me. I had not heard anything about such allegations prior to that meeting and it seemed to be coming out of the blue. Nobody at that meeting was aware of any issues regarding mismanagement within Health First.

There are still funds committed to continuing the work of the African Health Forum for at least one further year. However, we don’t know what this work will be or what we will be able to achieve. We don’t know if there will be dedicated workers to support our aims. It is possible that we will continue in a different form – only time will tell.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Williams Wimbledon Final

It was obvious that the Williams sisters had answered the same questions over and over again. They knew what to expect.

“Your father’s not here. He said he could not bear to watch.”

“He’s done his job,” Venus repeated patiently.

“How does it feel to be playing against your sister?” “How will your game differ from when you play another opponent?” And variations on the theme.

The girls from Compton had grown into professional tennis champions. Theirs was the only family on earth where winning Wimbledon twice could be seen as a problem. And the only one in which two siblings would face each other at the final.

Like 2003, I felt SO emotional watching them take their places on the court. They both exuded so much confidence and self-assurance. And they played brilliant tennis.

On winning her FIFTH Wimbledon Championship, Venus immediately commended her sister Serena for her excellent game. She also thanked her other sisters for their support.

So what’s next? A Black man in the White House?

As the author of
Black Success Stories and Success Strategies for Black People, I am very aware of the power of positive role models, and the psychological effects they can have.

However, at the moment, I am even more interested in the practical effects of a person in a leadership position, such as Senator Barack Obama.

If Obama is elected, what effect will this have on your day-to-day life? I want to hear your views. Join my Obama phone-in on Tuesday 8th July. Click here for details.

See also, Jay-Z's 99 Problems.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Jay-Z's 99 Problems

Wow! This has been an amazing week.

The Victoria and Albert Museum is exhibiting a retrospective on Mary Wilson and the Supremes.

The Wimbledon final was between Venus and Serena Williams. Last time they payed each other in the final, I was SO emotional. They are both champions. Each has won Wimbledon more than once. And we knew that, whoever took home the trophy, it would be a Williams.

And Jay-Z was the headliner at the Glastonbury Festival.

This was very controversial because one of the Gallagher brothers stated publicly that Jay-Z should not be the headliner. Glastonbury is for indies, not for rappers.

I am not a fan of rap. For one thing, I can’t even understand what they are saying most of the time. Must be my age. And nobody forces me to listen to it. Nor am I a fan of indie music, for that matter.

Got home last night and switched on the box. Glastonbury, the Best Bits” was on. When Jay-Z stepped out on that stage, his band was playing and he was strumming his guitar. Not even singing. But the crowd recognised the chords, and they were singing,

Today is gonna be the day
That they're gonna throw it back to you”.

The Oasis hit, “Wonderwall”.

Jay-Z can’t sing to save his life, but he went out on that stage and he gave it his best shot. He did it to make a point. And he made it. And it was GOOD.

Then he went into “99 Problems” and the crowd just chanted right along with him. This is as it should be. Music is music. It’s not meant to be cordoned off into ghettos.

But I can’t see the Gallaghers being able to perform one of Jay-Z’s numbers.

Apparently, the crowd were chanting “hoes, hoes, hoes”. I do not approve of women being referred to as “bitches” and “hoes”. It is disrespectful and demeaning. (Mind you, having read the lyrics, he says that that is not what he means.)

Jay-Z, I don’t know if you are irreplaceable. That’s not my call. But when you stepped out on that stage, you were bloody brilliant.

So what’s next? A Black man in the White House? And if Obama is elected, what effect will this have on your day-to-day life? I want to hear your views. Join my Obama phone-in on Tuesday 8th Click here for details.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

I am surprised at how much this day means to me today. At home, I was never one to celebrate Independence Day. All that flag-waving left me cold.

Wow! In the past six months, I have completed five ebooks! So I have a lot to celebrate.

I made my first potato salad of the year the other day. This ritual connects me with my memories of the past, summers in New York, barbecues with family and friends. And many things I have been happy to leave behind.

But this year, we have an African American Presidential candidate who looks like he may have a chance of winning.

Join me for my Barack Obama phone-in for African American people, Tuesday 8th of July. Let me hear your views. What difference will it make if Obama is elected President? How will it affect your home, family, job, business? Click here to listen and ring in.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Obama - Your Chance to Air Your Views

As the author of Black Success Stories and Success Strategies for Black People, I am well aware of the psychological effects of positive role models. We all need to have achievers to look up to, who demonstrate the fact that we can do it, we can achieve our goals.

Some would say that the Presidency of the United States is the most important, most powerful and most influential position in the world.

My question is, if Senator Obama is elected as President of the United States, what difference will this make to your day-to-day life?

I am looking to hear from people of African heritage, both within and outside the U.S. If Barack Obama is elected, how will this affect your:

  • home
  • family
  • health
  • job
  • business?
Please phone in my Success Strategies radio show Tuesday 8th July. Click here for details.