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By Gerald Britt on August 31, 2009

I'm going to have a little trouble writing this post. I may fumble it a little, so forgive me where necessary and be sensitive to the intent.

Criticizing local black politicians doesn't come easy for me. At least not publicly. One reason is because Dallas' history of black city councilpersons is historically brief. I'm old enough to remember George Allen, the first African-American to serve on the council - it was 1969. And, what is most unfortunate, I could actually take the time and name all of the black Dallasites who have served on the council since then. So, I, like many others who have given some leadership in the African-American community, have been slow to publicly offer much in the way of criticism or critique. Some would say that's more excuse than reason... if you say so, I take the, uh, criticism (or critique).

So here goes...

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 31, 2009

No matter my critique or criticism of the public education system, I still believe that concept of a free public education to every child is probably one of our country's greatest gifts to the world.

I many schools in Texas, this is the first day back to school! So, a little something to all of my friends who are teachers, students, parents, grandparents and guardians of those precious young minds who will be filing into classrooms this morning:

It is in fact a part of the function of education to help us escape, not from our own time -- for we are bound by that -- but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our time.

T.S. Eliot

Have a GREAT school year!

By Gerald Britt on August 30, 2009

"Politics is not perfect but it's the best available nonviolent means of changing how we live."

Maynard Holbrook Jackson (1938 - 2003)
Mayor of Atlanta (1973-77; 1977-1981; 1989-1993)
Politician, Business Leader

By Gerald Britt on August 30, 2009

"The work begins anew; the hope rises again and the dream lives on."

Sen. Edward (Ted) Kennedy (1932 - 2009)
The Lion of the Senate

By Gerald Britt on August 29, 2009

Michael Steele, the Republican Party Chairman, is weighing in publicly on the health care debate. To be fair, he's probably gone on the record long before now but I haven't heard him, so I'll cut him some slack.

Here's an excerpt of his Washington Post op-ed:

"Americans are engaged in a critical debate over reforming our health-care system. While Republicans believe that reforms are necessary, President Obama's plan for a government-run health-care system is the wrong prescription. The Democrats' plan will hurt American families, small businesses and health-care providers by raising care costs, increasing the deficit, and not allowing patients to keep a doctor or insurance plan of their choice. Furthermore, under the Democrats' plan, senior citizens will pay a steeper price and will have their treatment options reduced or rationed.

"Republicans want reform that should, first, do no harm, especially to our seniors. That is why Republicans support a Seniors' Health Care Bill of Rights, which we are introducing today, to ensure that our greatest generation will receive access to quality health care. We also believe that any health-care reform should be fully paid for, but not funded on the backs of our nation's senior citizens."

Steele's column gives me a chance to ask two questions that I have been pondering for the past few weeks....

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 28, 2009

The 'Cash for Clunkers' program has come to an end. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood says that between 700,000 and 800,000 cars have been sold throughout the country.

The 'Car Allowance Rebate System' (or 'CARS', the real name for the program), has been apparently wildly successful, in spite of some problems dealers are having getting reimbursed from the fed. More than 625,000 vouchers have been submitted for nearly $3 billion of federal money to get gas guzzling cars off the street, traded in for fuel efficient new models.

The fun us over. But wait a minute! If you live in Texas there's still hope!

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 27, 2009

"In all chaos there is cosmos, in all disorder a secret order."

Carl G. Jung, 1875 - 1961

By Gerald Britt on August 25, 2009

Once again, Leonard Pitts, Jr., columnist with the Miami Herald has an analysis of our country's strange new hysteria right on the mark.

Actually, its probably not quite so strange, and, unfortunately not so new. It's a matter of people whose fear of change has caused them to forget the dysfunction of the past few years and show a side of America brings our differences and distances into high relief.

Or maybe we've just finally found the 12% of citizens who thought the country was headed in the right direction last year!

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 24, 2009

"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point."

C. S. Lewis, 1898 - 1963
Author, Christian Scholar, Educator

By Gerald Britt on August 24, 2009

Among the worthy recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom is Sydney Poitier, one of our country's greatest actors.

Long before Denzel Washington or Morgan Freeman, Sydney Poitier was not only a premier black actor, he was a bona fide movie star. And the roles he took made African-Americans proud. Whether it was volatile Walter Lee Younger, in Raisin in the Sun, burning with his frustrated ambitions; or the affable and earnest Homer Smith in his Oscar winning role in Lilies of the Field; the doctor who puts turns the world of a liberal white newspaper publisher upside down, when he finds out about Poitier's engagement to his daughter in, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner - Poitier exhibited class and poise rarely seen by any actor and which few actors of any background could match. As one of his colleagues put it, "He is our Cary Grant."

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 23, 2009

The big problem with the attempts to reform the health care industry is cost. There are estimates as high as $ 1 trillion dollars (roughly the combined costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars), for a reform that has the government playing a more significant role in making sure that all Americans have health care.

But currently the number of Americans without health care (whether the number is 47 million, 30 million or 20 million), in some way cost us all. Not only does their lack of coverage cost the insured, our for profit system of providing coverage has as its primaCheck Spellingry concern investors - not the insured.

Anecdotal, pro-public option gibberish. Could be, unless you take into account the words of Aetna CEO Ron Williams who said

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 20, 2009

Here are some scenes from almost a year ago, remember?

It was, for so many of us, a euphoric period. America entered into an extended period of self congratulatory reveling; with a crumbling economy, two wars abroad from which our country was becoming increasingly disconnected yet our nation's capacity to transcend some of the worst of its past and elected the U.S.'s first African-American president.

However, I will never forget former New York Governor Mario Cuomo's wise council regarding electoral politics: "We campaign in poetry; we govern in prose." That's not just good for politicians to remember, its good for their constituents as well. Especially when it comes to the legislative process. Congress is divided between liberals, blue dog Democrats and recalcitrant Republicans.

In the balance is health insurance reform.

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 19, 2009

In the health care debate (the real one, not the hysterical ranting), what we've needed was someone who could clearly explain a position! Thanks to Representative Anthony Weiner (D) New York. You may not agree; you may have ideological if not political differences, but there's no doubt what's being proposed. No screaming, no yelling, no demagoguing, no fear mongering.

An real argument against which a real counter argument could leave citizens with something to chose. And I imagine you could argue with it if you have a real counter position. Unless you're Joe Scarborough!

By Gerald Britt on August 18, 2009

I watched the 60 minutes interview of Michael Vick last night and I must say I was moved.

Oh, not moved in the way you might think. Its not a matter of whether or not I believe he is sincere in his apology or his desire to make amends for the horrible dog fighting episode. Or that I was particularly excited about his recent signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. I believe that whether or not he means what he says is something that will take time to figure out. And even then some people will judge him by the wrong he committed.

That's actually the thing that moved me...

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 17, 2009

Miraculous healing, a staple belief of most major religions - certainly the Christian faith. One of the most moving stories in the Bible is the story of the woman who's twelve years of suffering was ended when she elbowed her way through a crowd and touched the hem of Jesus' garment. Equally as moving is the simultaneous story of a man who had summoned Jesus to come and heal his 12 year old daughter. Jesus was going to see this young girl when the woman struggled to get healing from the Master anyway she could (Luke 8:40-56).

No matter where you stand on 'faith healing', the one thing that is just as true now as it was two thousand years ago, is the fact that illness and healing move people to anxiety, desperation and, when no cure can be found depression and despair. For those of us who believe the Bible, we understand the most important thing in situations like these is hope. If that is true, how despicable is it to intentionally instill fear in those who face the prospect of uncertainty when it comes to illness and the dire need for treatment and health care.

We are in the midst of a national controversy with regard to health care. A national conversation can be had that is both vital and vigorous. Most importantly it should be substantive. Promoting fear during these times is a dastardly tactic that ought to be decried from every serious citizen.

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 16, 2009

Its nearly always great to see the 'boys and girls' you grew up with. It's really great when you see that their doing well. Elaine Ford-Evans is one of those old friends (I don't think she'll mind me mentioning her. I know she won't mind me mentioning her daughter Erin! She is quite a writer and copy editor for The Root, an online magazine. Another mutual friend, Seneca, keeps me abreast when Erin has an article posted.

Someone once said, 'Those who forget the past live an unauthorized existence'. I like Erin's writing because she's a young lady who senses and sees the historical significance of the contemporary. Here's an excerpt of a recent post on her summer trip to Barbados...

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 14, 2009

For those wanting a very interesting look at the rise and fall and rise of a politician, 'The Nine Lives of Marion Barry' is an excellent view of Barry's descent from nearly iconic stature to cataclysmic self destruction - and political survival.

The former Mayor of Washington D.C., whose fall from grace included a 6 month stint in prison for cocaine possession is the consummate political survivor. He now is a member of D.C.'s city council where he won re-election last November in a landslide.

I've always been disappointed in Barry. But one cannot help but look at the promise with which he first became mayor 30 years ago and his ability to charm his constituency into overlooking flaws fatal to other office holders.

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 13, 2009

About five years ago, Dallas dealt with health care. Well, we dealt with it in the microcosm, compared to the massive reform debate our country is undergoing today. That is, if can call this a debate. Debates usually have a point of view vs. an alternative proposal as opposed to the hysterical reactions we are currently witnessing.

Dallas' health care challenge dealt with the budget of Parkland Memorial Hospital, which also happens to be the county hospital. Attempts to balance the hospital's budget were resulting in the proposal of cuts by our county court appointed board of managers, cuts which would have severely curtailed services to the poor. Arguments supportive of these cuts included scapegoating undocumented immigrants and knee jerk suppositions about who was actually a 'burden' on the county's health care budget.

At the time I was still a pastor and heavily engaged in working with Dallas Area Interfaith, one of a network of community organizing initiatives affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation. Our tactics differed significantly from the shouting, heckling, disruptive affairs we see in the town hall meetings across the country today.

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 11, 2009

A friend of mine passed it on to me and it is just too good to keep!

Khadijah may be exceptional, but she certainly is not by herself. There are more stories like this than we realize and before we accept as gospel the convenient arm chair analysis of people who love to castigate poor people we need to realize that there are more Khadijah's out here than we know!

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 10, 2009

ARLINGTON, Texas - There are those rare times when justice makes you sad. Not because the justice meted out seems unreasonable or unfair, but because the reason for it - indeed the need for it makes you wonder whether or not we are the enlightened, sophisticated people we claim to be.

On August 7, Grace Head, a 67 year old resident of Arlington, TX, was convicted of the December 2007 misdemeanor assault on her neighbor, Kay 'Silk' Littlejohn. Head was also convicted of misdemeanor criminal mischief "for jumping onto the hood of Littlejohn’s Toyota Camry, stomping the car and hitting its hood and roof with a stick."

Because it was judged that these crimes were racially motivated (Head is white, Littlejohn black) the two crimes judged as hate crimes and Head was sentenced to two years imprisonment.

The assault on Ms. Littlejohn, was particularly heinous...

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 8, 2009

"When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people."

Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1907 - 1972
Theologian, Human Rights Activist, Rabbi

By Gerald Britt on August 6, 2009

Once again its football season!

There's lots of serious stuff to talk about, but in the 'white noise' of all the news about President Clinton's rescue mission, health care legislation and the shooting in Pennsylvania, I heard something that caught my attention. Eli Manning, quarterback for the New York Giants, was offered and was expected to sign a new contract for $97 million, making him the highest paid player in the National Football League. Trivial against the backdrop of all of the serious news out there, but what can I say? It caught my attention...

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 6, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Senate continues debate funding for what appears to be the surprisingly successful 'Cash for Clunkers' stimulus initiative. Stimulus, while evidently not what this program intended to be, has been exactly what it has turned into. It has turned into a cash register ringing success for Ford and other U.S. auto makers who were on life support just a few short months ago. The program has been so effective in fact, that it is about to run out of money after $1 billion has already hit the street in almost a week.

Officially known as the 'Car Allowance Rebate System' or CARS, program provides $3500 - $4500 for trading in a low fuel efficiency car for a higher efficiency new car.

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 5, 2009

DALLAS, Texas - News of the prospect of post office closings is jarring in a number of ways. Not that I am a big user of the postal system - you got it, I pay as many bills as I possibly can online. Which probably makes me one of the millions of culprits who have brought this possible calamity to untold numbers of Americans.

The United States Postal Service is running a 7 billion deficit, but this one doesn't have much to do with the recession. The Post Office has been facing this problem for years. Increased use of the Internet, UPS, FedEx, DHL, rising gas prices AND the economy have all taken a bite out of USPS profitability. The question is what will that mean to its viability in the long run?

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 4, 2009

The Dallas Morning News' current installment on homelessness in Dallas County sheds important light on a very tragic situation.

The easiest thing in the world is to talk expansively on what these people ought to do - at the end of the day, they will never be someone else's problem; they are our challenge. And, to use an old bromide, Kim Horner's excellent article proves that, its not whether or not we will pay for them, it is what and how much we will pay for.

Read more of this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on August 2, 2009

"There is no Democratic or Republican way of cleaning the streets."

Fiorello LaGuardia, 1882 - 1947
99th Mayor of New York City

By Gerald Britt on August 1, 2009

In a matter of weeks it will be time - for school!

I know. I don't mean to throw a damper on the last few days of carefree summer relaxation. But for parents with school age children, no date seems to be far enough away to not sneak upon them. And besides, whether school starts in mid-August or September, education demands are such that school never seems to end anyway. Summer reading assignments, summer school and all manner of prep courses and camps seem to interfere with summer fun. But that's the world we live in now and of course those who fail to adjust to the new reality get left behind.

The danger of going back to school having 'forgotten' where you left off has consequences far beyond having homework the first day of class.

Read more of this post here ...

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Want to read more pieces written by Gerald Britt? We have more here! This page you are on right now is an archive of entries written by Gerald Britt in August 2009. This author's preceding monthly archive is Gerald Britt: July 2009.

The next monthly archive, after this one, is Gerald Britt: September 2009.

To see all entries ever written by Gerald Britt, see the complete blog archives for Gerald Britt.

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This is an archive of blog entries written by Gerald Britt in August 2009.

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