The Essence of Politics

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

My Perspective: Is Affirmative Action Legal or Constitutional?

The recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of the New Haven firefighters has been considered a reverse discrimination ruling. However the reverse discrimination ruling leaves confusion amongst many on the court as well as employers, civil rights advocates, politicians and attorneys but particularly labor attorneys. The court ruled 5-4 Monday that the white firefighters were denied promotions unfairly because of their race, reversing a decision that high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as a federal appeals court judge. Still the majority of justices said the city was wrong to scrap a promotion exam because no African-Americans and only two Hispanic firefighters were likely to be made lieutenants or captains based on the results. The city said it had acted to avoid a lawsuit from minorities.

While the court upheld that employers still have an obligation under civil rights laws to avoid discrimination in hiring, promoting and compensating workers, the ruling creates confusing standards on how to meet that obligation, said Wade Henderson, president and chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. "Employers will now face a convoluted minefield when attempting to protect workers from discrimination," Henderson said. "Employers are looking for bright lines ... they're looking for clear directives to help them better understand how they can engage in nondiscriminatory decisions."

The ruling is confusing, Henderson said, because the high court seemed to say that while New Haven officials tried to avoid discrimination, throwing out the test was discriminatory. "It puts employers in a real quandary," he said. The Obama administration should direct the government's civil rights agencies to offer guidance on the ruling, said Shirley Wilcher, executive director of the American Association for Affirmative Action. "In the meantime, we're scratching our heads," she said. "We're concerned about the impact on employers who want to comply with the law and do not want to discriminate ... and it's not clear how to do that." However Bernard Jacques, a Hartford-based labor and employment attorney, also believes the ruling will stump many employers. The court ruled that test results alone are not enough to prove discrimination, that a "strong basis in evidence" is needed, but justices didn't define that phrase, Jacques said.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said in the ruling, "Fear of litigation alone cannot justify an employer's reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and qualified for promotions." He was joined in the majority by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the white firefighters "understandably attract this court's sympathy. But they had no vested right to promotion. Nor have other persons received promotions in preference to them." Justices David Souter, Stephen Breyer and John Paul Stevens signed onto Ginsburg's dissent, which she read aloud in court Monday. Speaking dismissively of the majority opinion, she predicted the court's ruling "will not have staying power."

The ruling is "a sign that individual achievement should not take a back seat to race or ethnicity," said Karen Torre, the firefighters' attorney. "I think the import of the decision is that cities cannot bow to politics and pressure and lobbying by special interest groups or act to achieve racial quotas." At a news conference on the steps of city hall in New Haven, firefighter Frank Ricci, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, said the ruling showed that "if you work hard, you can succeed in America." New Haven, trying to fill senior fire department vacancies, gave a test to 77 candidates for lieutenant and 41 candidates for captain. Fifty-six firefighters passed the exams, including 41 whites, nine blacks and six Hispanics. But of those, only 17 whites and two Hispanics could expect promotion. The city eventually decided not to use the exam to determine promotions. It said it acted because it might have been vulnerable to claims that the exam had a "disparate impact" on minorities in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The white firefighters said the decision violated the same law's prohibition on intentional discrimination. Twenty white plaintiffs sued. The city declined to validate the test after it was given, a step that could have identified flaws or determined that there were no serious problems with it. In addition, city officials could not say what was wrong with the test, other than the racially skewed results. "The city could be liable for disparate-impact discrimination only if the examinations were not job related" or the city failed to use a less discriminatory alternative, Kennedy said. "We conclude that there is no strong basis in evidence to establish that the test was deficient in either of these respects." But Ginsburg said the court should have assessed "the starkly disparate results" of the exams against the backdrop of historical and ongoing inequality in the New Haven fire department. As of 2003, she said, only one of the city's 21 fire captains was African-American.

Thus the recent ruling has brought about the question whether or not Affirmative Action is legal or constitutional? Since the ruling of the New Haven case has left the door open too much confusion in regards is reverse discrimination acceptable and if it is when is it acceptable? Also is affirmative action reverse discrimination in some way and if it is, is it constitution? These questions are the type of questions that the recent ruling has opened up. So let the debate begin with us understanding the history of affirmative action and why its legality and constitutionality is in question. Over the last couple of years, since 1995, the debate over the legality, constitutionality of Affirmative Action has raged. Fueled mostly by Conservatives like Pete Wilson, Ward Connerly and Dinesh D'souza, although Liberals have also sounded out in opposition. The debate has captured the attention of the nation, with the Passage of Prop 209 and the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the appeals against it.

AA Opponents claim that it is itself, a form of racism. That AA promotes strife and is detrimental to the very persons it intends to help. Much of this debate has been confused by political grandstanding and rhetoric. But what is the truth? Over the past couple years I have watched and participated in this debate, I have done a great deal of research into the subject and this is what I have found.

Let’s begin with the Civil Rights Act. The Civil Right Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in the workplace. It very specifically describes what discrimination is and the various forms that it takes. Reading through all the details can be a harrowing experience, but the bottom line is that The Civil Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of the race, age, religion, gender or national origin. But there is a loophole; nowhere in the Civil Rights Act does it prohibit discrimination for someone on the basis of race, religion, gender or national origin. The Civil Rights Act does not specifically authorize Affirmative Action; however, it does not prohibit it either. Not completely because an employer can make choices and decisions in the work place which benefit one particular demographic faction - however they cannot do so at the expense of another group, because that would be discriminating against that group.

You can take "Affirmative Actions", as long as they do not result in a "Negative Reaction". This is a very fine line to walk. One that can’t be walked unless when know what Affirmative Action can and can’t do. Essentially what this means is that when dealing with a zero-sum situation, where the situation is static, rather than fluid, you cannot implement AA. But in a situation where things are dynamic and non-static, where doing something positive for one person, or faction, does not necessarily take anything away from anyone else then Affirmative Action may be legally applied. To give a real life example, a hiring situation is usually static. There are a usually a specific set of employment slots, and as such making a hiring decision which benefits or prefers one faction over another, would very definitely be detrimental to people outside that faction. On the other hand, offering Outreach and training courses prior to hiring, or doing recruitment to a particular faction, doesn't necessarily create a "Negative Reaction" to others. It simply means more people, with better qualifications show up for the job(s). This is how Legal Affirmative Action works and no one is hurt by this, except those who are under qualified for the position.

The distinction between what is actually legally allowable under Affirmative Action and what is not, is often lost on people. Even many AA supporters are unclear on this issue. If and when a person, company, or agency implements an Affirmative Action program that is within a static situation, resulting in a Negative Impact on people outside the "Preferred" groups - they are violating the law. It's just that simple or is it? Now in order to meet the "Compelling Need" there is an additional to this basic requirement by the Civil Rights Act which has been the Supreme Court Decision in Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200 (1995) (USSC+), although the Court rendered no decision on the case and had it sent back to the lower court, the court did state that race-based polices by the government must be able to withstand strict judicial scrutiny. This, in laymen’s terms, means that the goal of the policy must meet a compelling need for the community, and that no other alternatives are available which will similarly meet the same need or goal.

This means that not only must any race-based Affirmative Action plan not create a Negative Reaction or so-called "Reverse Discrimination", it must also be desperately needed, and no other options must be available in order for the plan to be legal and constitutional. This is contrary to the often quoted opinion by opponents that Affirmative Action is nothing more than "Reverse Discrimination" itself. It is (Reverse Discrimination), if that agency is acting illegally and unconstitutionally. Therefore any government or private agency which claims to be implementing AA essentially as "Reverse Discrimination" is admitting to a crime.

This notion brings about the next question which is doesn’t AA use Quotas? Quotas are not legal within Affirmative Action. By definition a "Quota" sets a hard ceiling and floor on the participation by a particular faction. "We can have no more than *this* number"...this would clearly pose the potential to discriminate against someone. Moreover, the Supreme Court ruled in 1978 in Regents of Univ of Cal vs Bakke that Quotas or systems that acted like Quotas, were unconstitutional. "Racial classifications call for strict judicial scrutiny and this case presented a challenge to the special admissions program of the petitioner, the Medical School of the University of California at Davis, which is designed to assure the admission [p*270] of a specified number of students from certain minority groups. The Superior Court of California sustained respondent's challenge, holding that petitioner's program violated the California Constitution, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq., and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court enjoined petitioner from considering respondent's race or the race of any other applicant in making admissions decisions.

Although the court agreed that the goals of integrating the medical profession and increasing the number of physicians willing to serve members of minority groups were compelling state interests, id. at 53, 553 P.2d at 1165, it concluded that the special admissions program was not the least intrusive means of achieving those goals. Without passing on the state constitutional or federal statutory grounds cited in the trial court's judgment, the California court held [p*280] that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment required that no applicant may be rejected because of his race, in favor of another who is less qualified, as measured by standards applied without regard to race." So why do people assume and claim that Affirmative Action is synonymous with Quotas?

Some of those who claim that AA=Quotas simply don't know any better. I personally find it hard to believe that the current UC Regents, such as AA opponent Ward Connerly, are unaware that Quotas have been illegal since the Bakke case back in '78 was filed against...the very same UC Regents of which he himself was a member. For others, it's because it is politically and ideologically expedient to maintain this belief. But sometimes, it is because they are confusing Affirmative Action, with Consent Decree's or Court Orders which result from Law Suits and/or Civil and Criminal Actions against a discriminator. So if a company violates the law, it can be punished for that violation. If a company has committed an act of illegal and unconstitutional discrimination - they can be punished for that via fines, and those whom they have wronged may have those wrongs corrected. The Civil Rights Act authorized creation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to ensure that government agencies abide by the law. Additionally it authorized the Department of Justice (DOJ) to take Civil Action when appropriate. Neither of these agencies is in the business of implementing Affirmative Action, they are in the business of law enforcement.

Civil Actions do not require government agencies. They can be brought forth by individuals. Groups of individuals can consolidate their suit, as a "Class Action", and they may receive aid from Civil Rights Legal resources such as the ACLU and NAACP. In each of these cases, the plaintive must provide a preponderance of evidence to support their claim. Simply offering statistical data concerning the percentages and types of employee's vs the pool of available applicants (as opposed to the general population) is not enough. The plaintive must show that there is a specific company policy which is creating a disparate impact on a particular group. The company, in response must show that this policy has a bona fide business justification. If the policy does indeed meet a bona fide business qualification, if can be retained even if it has a disparate impact on people from different groups - but if it does not meet a legitimate qualification the company or organization can be held liable for that policy or practice.

Now The Civil Right Act of 1964 includes a rather large exemption which allows for discrimination when such discrimination is required to meet Bona Fide occupation qualifications. "(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, (1) it shall not be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to hire and employ employees, for an employment agency to classify, or refer for employment any individual, for a labor organization to classify its membership or to classify or refer for employment any individual, or for an employer, labor organization, or joint labor-management committee controlling apprenticeship or other training or retraining programs to admit or employ any individual in any such program, on the basis of his religion, sex, or national origin in those certain instances where religion, sex, or national origin is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or enterprise, and (2) it shall not be an unlawful employment practice for a school, college, university, or other educational institution or institution of learning to hire and employ employees of a particular religion if such school, college, university, or other educational institution or institution of learning is, in whole or in substantial part, owned, supported, controlled, or managed by a particular religion or by a particular religious corporation, association, or society, or if the curriculum of such school, college, university, or other educational institution or institution of learning is directed toward the propagation of a particular religion."

For example if the job requires a person with a certain skills, abilities or experiences...then the employer can makes choices and discriminate against people who do not have those particular traits on the basis of gender, religion, national origin. This exemption protects companies from malicious persecution by potentially disgruntled factions. It also means that companies CAN NOT be forced to hire, promote and use unqualified people through implementation and enforcement of the Civil Rights Act. On the other hand, if the reason for this discrimination cannot be justified in business terms, it is illegal.

If, for example, a job offer or a promotion, were denied to someone because they are the member of a factional group protected by the Civil Rights Act (Gender, Physical Disability, Veterans, National Origin and Race), they may recover the job that they have lost due to the unlawful action of the company. So it is important to note that The Civil Right Act doesn't just protect Blacks or Women but in fact neither is even mentioned in the Act - it protects everyone on either side of the factional lines. As punishment it can be legally mandated via a Judge, that the company meet a specific "quota" of jobs as a remedial action to the discrimination that the specific company has engaged in. Job discrimination can be analogous to theft. A job was stolen from one person, and given to another. The beneficiary is a receiver of a stolen item. The "Quota" cannot be put in place; until it has been proven that the Job/Opportunities were Stolen. Those that received those jobs/opportunities have no right to that item, so having them give the job back to its rightful owner - should be standard practice.

It's essentially like asking someone to return a stolen car to the person they stole it from. It is not indiscriminate, the specific theft has to be proven first or else, it is not legal to establish the quota to return what was taken. Please be aware, I make a distinction here. I do not consider such punishment via Court Order or Consent Decree to be Affirmative Action, per se. It is punishment and "Remedy" for a crime. A "Remedial Action" is not constrained in the same way that voluntary or even E.O. Mandated Affirmative Action is. Police and Courts regularly arrest and jail criminals, a similar action performed by other individuals would most certainly be called "kidnapping" and "false imprisonment". So what is legal in one context is not legal in a different context, especially when due process has not been applied. Obviously when a court orders that a company must have a work force that is X% female, for example, it may seem unfair to males. But the fact is that this cannot occur unless the judge (or jury) has been shown a preponderance of evidence indicating that the company is guilty of prior (and sometimes current) criminal behavior against females. The Court Order is part of their punishment, and also a correction for their crime. Contrary to the claims of those who would paint Civil Right Activists as "bullies" in this situation can only legally occur when the crime of discrimination has been proven

Also contrary to their claims, these events are not driven by Affirmative Action - they are driven by the Law Enforcement, and removal of Affirmative Action would not change the probability of these types of "Quotas" occurring. Often punishing a guilty party, impacts more than just the guilty party but it impacts people around them as well, who themselves may not necessarily be guilty of anything. This is sometimes unfortunate, but often unavoidable. So it could be argued that simply fining the guilty company should be sufficient. However, when heavy fines were imposed on Texaco, for their bad behavior in discriminating against black employees during the mid 1990's (as revealed by the audio tapes of one disgruntled employee, which documented their attempts to conceal evidence indicating their guilt in a discrimination suit) - their CEO argued that these fines would cause them to close down some of their stations, thereby forcing them to lay off workers, and that some of those laid-off would be the black workers who had originally filed that class-action suit which resulted in the fine being imposed in the first place. This always sounded like a retaliatory threat to me which itself would also be illegal. So clearly any form of punishment against a company is going to have some undesirable impacts on innocent people. If you punish the company, it's going to hurt everyone working for the company as well as their vendors and customers.

But what else are you supposed to do? The alternative to this situation would be to essentially let the guilty go free, and to allow those who have been the beneficiaries of criminal activity, to retain those benefits. But does it really make sense to do this? Does it make sense to let criminals keep what they steal? "I stole it fair and square" is what the criminals say. So shouldn't stolen items be returned to their rightfully earned owners? Strangely or maybe not so strangely, this is exactly what some AA opponents have suggested is the course we should take. The De-criminalization of Discrimination - they claim, is the solution to our problem of racial strife. This suggestion is like saying that we should decriminalize murder because occasionally police and prosecutors become overzealous in pursuing the criminals. Legally, Quotas can be used in this manner, to return stolen jobs and opportunities not as a part of Affirmative Action, but as Civil or Remedial Action against a proven discriminator, using the rules of evidence in a court of law. Affirmative Action does not require a Court Order, but it also can not contain any form of "Quota".

So for those who think that everyone has to implement Affirmative Action is wrong in short. But the long answer is that only government agencies and contractors are required by Presidential Executive Orders (#11246 & 12107) to implement AA. The verification that contractors are implementing Affirmative Action (legally) is handled by the Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs or OFCCP. Their implementation of Affirmative Action must follow the same guidelines I have outlined above, and must be legal. Private firms that do not contract with the Federal Government may voluntarily implement Affirmative Action programs, but as such - they must also conform to the laws and not use those programs as a tool to discriminate against anyone. The only exception to this is when a Civil Rights Law Suit is brought forth and either wins, resulting in a Court Order with Remedial Actions, or an agreement is reached between the opposing parties (Consent Decree) which includes Remedial Actions to correct for the alleged discrimination.

Which brings into question whether or not affirmative action is still needed today considering the recent ruling by the Supreme Court in the New Haven firefighters case as well as other cases like the University of Michigan that barred affirmative action (quotas) from being used in selecting students to attend colleges and universities in the state of Michigan. So when people ask is affirmative action still needed today, this question, when usually answered by individuals, usually hinges on their perception of the level of ongoing discrimination which still exists in this country. The White House, DOJ, and OFCCP report that such discrimination continues. Many people feel that such discrimination is shrinking, although information from the FBI and Southern Poverty Law Center indicate that Hate Crime and Violence is on the rise. Still people assume that while racial discrimination shrinks, the compelling need which supports the legality of Affirmative Action diminishes as well. Yet, Affirmative Action does not simply address the issue of racial discrimination. It also addresses, gender discrimination, age discrimination, religious discrimination and discrimination against the handicapped or veterans.

Those who view Affirmative Action as being purely a "Race" issue often proclaim that if we would all stop being "hyphenated" Americans (African-Americans, Asian-Americans.etc) we would no longer need Affirmative Action. They claim that this "Identity Politics" is a wedge that is driving us apart. This ignores the fact that "American" is a specific and therefore "divisive" identity as well, considering the fact that not everyone in the world is an "American". It also ignores the fact that AA isn't just limited to "race" and as such this proposed solution falls apart when you attempt to apply it to the issue of gender, or age, or religion or veteran status, or physical handicap. So should we ALL become veterans so that we all have the same "Identity"? Or should we all become just one Gender so that we eliminate our differences? Nonetheless how would we procreate then? The fact is that, we already are "one Race", the Human Race, yet at the same time people are different. We are all individuals. We always will be. People have the freedom of choice, and part of guaranteeing that freedom is to also guarantee that people who happen to make unpopular, yet legal, choices which place them within a minority faction are not punished and intimidated for that choice by the majority faction.

Although America is a country which honors freedom, it is also a majority rule country. When we vote, the decision goes to the majority except in the case of the Presidency; it goes to the winner of the Electoral College. But still, when we are in social situations, the majority in the venue controls it and sets the rules. Sometimes simply being outside of the majority, outside of the mainstream is itself intimidating to those in the minority - without the requirement that anyone in the majority being particularly hostile, and absent any deliberate discrimination on anyone’s part. The situation where all but one of the black students who were admitted to UCLA Law School in 1997 refused to go because they felt "unwelcome" in the wake of Prop 209 is an example of this type of passive intimidation at work.

The ultimate minority is the minority of one. The individual in the protection of individual rights lays the inherent protection of "Minority rights". They are one-and-the-same. Affirmative Action, when legally implemented, seeks to reach out to, and support the freedom of choice of individuals to be themselves, without being forced to conform by intimidation, assimilation and/or coercion to the majority on issues which are not relevant to their bona fide quality as an individual. Thought of in this light, it is clear that we will always need some form of Affirmative Action, even if it is not necessarily called Affirmative Action. We should always seek to ensure that we are not leaving qualified people behind in participation in our society, simply because they don't conform to the mainstream/majority social and cultural faction.

However there are still dangers though. AA critics claim that the implementation of AA demeans those it seeks to help, by branding them as inferior. "They couldn't make it on own their own and they needed a Program to get in". This belief is largely predicated on the previously mentioned belief that AA=Quotas. And that as such there may be a tendency to let better qualified people go, and retain those of lesser qualification in order to meet the "Quota". Contrary to the claims of AA supporters this does occur. But it generally happens as the result of a Civil Action or Remedial Action subsequent to a Consent Decree or Court Order. Under normal, legal Affirmative Action this does not happen. AA does not require Quotas. It may however include "Goals" and/or "Timetables". There is a difference between a Goal and a Quota because a Goal is something you try to do while a Quota is something you have to do. All Affirmative Action programs require is that those implementing them make a good faith effort to try and improve a situation and get people involved who are currently underrepresented when compared to the pool of qualified and available applicants.

The fact is that those people may simply not want to be involved and as such, employers are not required to twist arms and break the law to change their minds. Again, freedom of choice means, that people have the freedom to not do, what may be in their own best interest. You can lead a horse to water, but they have the freedom to not be involved if they don't want to be, in which case the "failure" is theirs. There is the danger of overzealousness. It can lead to overaggressive recruiting and the creation of "Virtual Quotas" where the selection systems become highly complicated and jury rigged to create a pre-ordained outcome. Technically, this is illegal. But as a matter of practicality it can be very difficult to determine when this is occurring and when it is not, within an Affirmative Action program. However simply because it is difficult, doesn't not mean that we should not try to ensure that every possible qualified person is included in our society and able to benefit from our society. To not even try would be a far greater crime.

So when it comes to reverse discrimination like in the New Haven case, according to the OFCCP, very few discrimination cases ever occur against a person within the majority faction, which is usually an able-bodied male and/or Anglo person. Of the over 3,000 plus discrimination cases filed in Federal Court between 2000 and 2005, only 3% of these were "Reverse Discrimination" cases. And only a handful of these were found to have any merit worth pursuing. Even though it should not, and only rarely does, sometimes AA programs or more often Remedial Action Programs take on the shape and form of what they attempt to correct when they are implemented incorrectly. The best defense against this is vigilance. Individuals who have been discriminated against by an Affirmative Action program have a right to sue, and seek redress just as much as anyone who is discriminated against by any means. Mistakes are made, sometimes malicious ones but the law as it currently stands, protects against such abuses. What we need to do is fairly and consistently enforce the law? And we need to better understand, what to expect from the law - so that we can recognize when it has gone wrong, and whether that is because of flaw in the law, or a flaw made by the individuals implementing the law. Under the current legal restrictions AA can hardly be implemented at all, but it can be implemented legally and fairly. And it should be.

So to answer the question of whether affirmative action is legal and constitution, the question is yes as long as it doesn’t discriminate against other people and it is applied right. However when there is discrimination, affirmative action can be applied to remedy the situation as long as it is found that a discriminatory act was brought about against a group of people because of their race, age or gender. Thus affirmative action must be applied currently and accurately without any quotas except in the case where there is remedy to a situation of discrimination already. So while the Supreme Court has perhaps confused many people with its recent ruling in the New Haven reverse discrimination case, it should be clear that the Court applied Affirmative Action correctly in this case and they didn’t leave any room open for whether not affirmative action is legal or unconstitutional because the city of New Haven didn’t apply the affirmative action law accurately and correctly.

That is why the answer to the debate is that affirmative is legal and it is constitution as long as it is applied and implemented legally and fairly for all to benefit from it.

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Jay-Z - History

(Jay-Z - History)Jay-Z - History with Lyrics

LYRICS : [Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
And the battle's finally won
(Gimme a lighter)
Victory (Lighters up) is finally ours
(Lighters up)
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 1: Jay-Z]
In search of victory, she keeps eluding me
If only we could be together momentarily
We can make love and make history
Why won't you visit me? until she visit me
I'll be stuck with her sister, her name is defeat
She gives me agony, so much agony
She brings me so much pain, so much misery
Like missing your last shot and falling to your knees
As the crowd screams for the other team
I practice so hard for this moment, victory don't leave
I know what this means, I'm stuck in this routine
Whole new different day, same old thing
All I got is dreams, nobody else can see
Nobody else believes, nobody else but me
Where are you victory? I need you desperately
Not just for the moment, to make history

[Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
And the battle's finally won
Victory is finally ours
History (yeah), so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 2: Jay-Z]
So now I'm flirting with death, hustling like a G
While victory wasn't watching took chances repeatedly
As a teenage boy before acne, before I got proactiv I couldn't face she
I just threw on my hoodie and headed to the street
That's where I met success, we'd live together shortly
Now success is like lust, she's good to the touch
She's good for the moment but she's never enough
Everybody's had her, she's nothing like V
But success is all I got unfortunately
But I'm burning down the block hoppin' in and out of V
But something tells me that there's much more to see
Before I get killed because I can't get robbed
So before me success and death ménage
I gotta get lost, I gotta find V
We gotta be together to make history

[Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
(Lighters. Up.)
And the battle's finally won
(Lighter. Up.)
Victory is finally ours
(Lighters. Up.)
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 3: Jay-Z]
Now victory is mine, it tastes so sweet
She's my trophy wife, you're coming with me
We'll have a baby who stutters repeatedly
We'll name him history, he'll repeat after me
He's my legacy, son of my hard work
Future of my past, he'll explain who I be
Rank me amongst the greats, either 1, 2, or 3
If I ain't number one then I failed you victory
Ain't in it for the fame that dies within weeks
Ain't in it for the money, can't take it when you leave
I wanna be remembered long after you grieve
Long after I'm gone, long after I breathe
I leave all I am in the hands of history
That's my last will and testimony
This is much more than a song, it's a baby shower
I've been waiting for this hour, history you ours

[Chorus: Cee-lo (2x)]
Now that all the smoke is gone
And the battle's finally won
Victory is finally ours
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

Man in the Mirror--By Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson - Man in the mirror

I'm gonna make a change,
for once im my life
It's gonna feel real good,
gonna make a diference
Gonna make it right...

As I, turn up the collar on
my favorite winter coat
This wind is blowing my mind
I see the kids in the streets,
with not enought to eat
Who am I to be blind?
Pretending not to see their needs

A summer disregard,a broken bottle top
And a one man soul
They follow each other on the wind ya' know
'Cause they got nowhere to go
That's why I want you to know

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)
(Na na na, na na na, na na, na nah)

I've been a victim of a selfish kind of love
It's time that I realize
That there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan
Could it be really me, pretending that they're not alone?

A willow deeply scarred, somebody's broken heart
And a washed-out dream
(Washed-out dream)
They follow the pattern of the wind ya' see
'Cause they got no place to be
That's why I'm starting with me
(Starting with me!)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Change his ways - ooh!)
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make that..
(Take a look at yourself and then make that..)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
(Man in the mirror - Oh yeah!)
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Better change!)
No message could have been any clearer
(If you wanna make the world a better place)

Michael Jackson - Man in the mirror

A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cook

It's been a long time coming but a change is surely going to come in America and the World! I am the Future of America and the World and that is the message that each of us must carry with us each and every day that we wake up on Earth! I am the Future! You are the Future! We are the Future of America and the World! That is way every election is important--primaries, special elections and general! So vote every year and hold our politicians accountable. Hold our political officials accountable by writing them, calling them and making sure they attend meetings that we the people have. "The Time for Change is not Now but Right Now!"

"EmPOWERment By Any Means Necessary" should be our anthem and should be our creed as we make the positive differences in America and the world that so many people beg for and hungry for year after year! A Change is Gonna Come, A Change is Gonna Come, that's what we must say as we say "God grants us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, Courge to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference" each morning before we go about the task of making a positive change in America and the world a reality.

Born In The U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen

“When will people realize that we are Americans first and foremost, not Democrats or Liberals, not Republicans or Conservatives, not Independents or moderates. We are Americans. Stop putting a political party above America and stop putting any politican above America. America succeeds because of us the people holding our government responsible no matter the political party because the main two political parties are to blame for the condition America is in."—Hodari P.T. Brown

America with its flaws and all is a country I am proud to have been born in. America is not perfect but my love for it is perfect. That’s why all Americans must realize that we are all Americans. In fact we are Americans first and foremost. We are not Democrats or Republicans. We are Americans.

We are not Muslims, Christians or Jews. We are Americans. Too many times we recognize our differences with others rather than appreciating our similarities which are, we are Americans. We are Americans first and foremost, no matter if we were born here or moved here legally. We are all Americans, here in this country to make not only our lives better but the lives of other Americans better so future Americans can enjoy the rights and freedoms that make us all Americans.

We are all Americans. We are one party united under God. We are Americans and this is the only political party that matters. We are Americans and this is our country so let’s make sure that we make America better than how we found it so future Americans can live prosperous and joyous lives. We are Americans and must not ever forget that.

America will prosper as long we make sure we are doing our part to make it prosper and that means we can’t put any political party or politician above America. Long live America forever and long live America’s service to the world. Together, America and the world will prosper for future generations to enjoy America and the world we live in.

Lift Every Voice and Sing

This video of the ' Negro National Anthem' was originally screened at the historic African-American Church Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC on January 18th, 2009. Many of the esteemed individuals featured in this video in attendance and we presented with the ' Keepers of the Flame' award for the monumental contributions to social justice.

This version of the song was performed by the Grace Baptist Church Cathedral Choir, conducted by Derrick James. The video was produced and donated by Ascender Communications, LLC ( at the request of The Balm In Gilead, Inc.

If I Was President--Wyclef Jean

If I was President that is the people's anthem. We all have ideas of what we can do as President and through this website, we will fulfill our deam as a people!

Somethings Gotta Give--Big Boi ft Mary J Blige

Somethings Gotta Give people and it begins today for all us to make sure that something is us. We the people are sick and tired of suffering. Where is our piece of the Dream that so many people dead for so that we all could see today. This is our time people to change America and the world so that the Next Generation has a better future than the past we inherited.

This is our call to service. This isn't about one political candidate or one political figure. This is about us as people coming together to finally leave up to our potential and achieving the great feats that those before us have achieved. This is our moment to lead our nation and our world to greater heights.

Somethings gotta give people and it starts with us the people making it happen. We have to improve our education system in America. We have to rid the world of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We have to go to the streets and lift a hand to another in order to decrease poverty in this world. We have to take a stand today and make sure that the future of America and the world is brighter than it has ever been.

Somethings Gotta Give and that is why we must "Remember Each One, Reach One and Teach One so America's future and the World's future continues to prosper."

John Legend - "If You're Out There"

If you're out there than you need to get started in helping to change America and the world. The world and America won't change until you get involved in making the changes you want to see in this world. If you're out there, than you must know that tomorrow started now and today started yesterday so you are behind in helping to the change. If you are tired of hatred, racism, poverty, war, and violence than the time to change it is now. If you want universal health care, world peace, democracy for every nation, equal rights, and happiness for all than you must get involved now to help the save world.

You must believe in the change that you want to see and you must act on making that change a reality. If you're out there than say it aloud and show the rest of America and the world that you're out here to make a real positive change in the communities we stay in. If you're out there than get involved now. I'm calling every women and men to join me as we take back our country right here, right now. If you're out there than the future started yersterday and we are already late so we have lots of work to do but I know we can do it together as one.


Yes We Can accomplish anything that we set out to do! We don't need charismatic or inspirational leaders to believe in ourselves and to take responsiblity for our own faith, we just need each other. Yes We Can build a new America and a new world if each of us would take action now to make the changes that we want to see in the world. Yes We Can control government by holding our political officials accountable for their actions by calling them out when they don't pass legislation that supports the common good of all man and by voting in every election to ensure that we have people representing the people locally, state wide, nationally and in the world.

Yes We Can be great! Yes We Can be what we want to be! Yes We Can be glorious in not only America but the world! Yes We can put action behind our worlds and change the world starting right here, right now! Yes We Can as Republicans, Democrats and Independents become one as we freely think about our fellow men and women and make decisions that will be in the best interest of all people and not one single group.

Yes We Can be the change that we want to see in the world! Yes We Can show the world that the youth are ready to lead! Yes We Can put our egos, our social economic statuses, our religions, our educational statuses and our skin color to the side for the better good of the world! Yes We Can be Greater than we have ever been and help others be Greater than they have ever be!

YES WE CAN and YES WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS IN ALL THAT WE DO! YES WE CAN, no matter what others may say, we will be glorious! YES WE WILL and YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!

YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN is what will be sung from every mountaintop, every riverbank, every household, every school yard, every factory, every sporting event, every college campus and even every place you can imagine in the world is where YES WE CAN, will be said and heard!


Keep On Pushing - Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions

Wake Up People! No matter who is elected to any public office, we have to “Keep On Pushing” as a people to make sure they don’t leave us in a worst state than what they inherited. We as a people have to “Keep On Pushing” to make a difference in the lives of others. We have to have an “EmPOWERment By Any Means Necessary” attitude as we continue to push our agenda that we the people deserve and want better. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change in a positive way that will benefit all Americans no matter their age, their religion or skin color. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change that will improve our education system, improve our military, improve our national security, improve our healthcare system and improve our economy. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change that will leave America’s future in a better than how we found it and that will leave the world’s future in a better state than we imagined we could live it. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to make life better for our neighborhoods, our families and even our quote on quote enemies. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to inspire, to uplift and to guide those who need help spiritually, physically and mentally. We have to “Keep On Pushing ” so that our lives, our future generation’s lives and the lives of those who came before us does not die in vein.

“Keep on Pushing”

A War For Your Soul

A War For Your Soul-regular version from Erisai Films on Vimeo.

The moment has come for us as a nation of people to finally wake up and realize that our destiny and fate in society has rests on our shoulders. We cannot allow the forces of evil and darkness to drain us out. We have to continue to overcome all odds in order to make the future of our nation better and the future of future generations of Americans better. We have to continue to pray to our Lord and we have to continue to uplift each other in prayer as well as take action against those things that are trying to destroy us. We have to stand up once and for all and be the future that we want to be. Now is our time and we shall do together by any means necessary.

This video was created to inspire young African-Americans not to fall prey to some of the problems they face in society. The use of the voice "Master of Darkness" represents evil, which is where the blame of all problems should be placed, and not on any one group of people. This video should not to be used to divide people (Black & White), there are images of heroes that are white in this video, and there are images of Black & White coming together with the words of Dr. King in the background. Some of the images from the past can be unsettling, but they are used to show all Americans how far we have come, and how far we still have to go. This film is being strategically placed in school systems, churches and youth orgs around the country, in hope of helping a lost generation of kids that we as Americans have forgotten. As fellow Americans we must continue to love each other, and take that love and spread it to the rest of the world. **THIS VIDEO IS NOT FOR SALE & I AM NOT ACCEPTING DONATIONS FOR THE FILM, I ONLY WANT THE MESSAGE TO REACH AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE WITHOUT ANY HIDDEN POLITICAL OR FINANCIAL AGENDA.

Sitting On the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding

"The time for sitting is over! The time for action is now! The time for hope without action is hopeless! The time for change without a positive attitude is a change that we can't believe in! We need change that is positive of helping all people! Our time for action is now, our time for hope is now, our time for change is now and our time to believe that we can do whatever we set our minds to is not now but right now!"


The Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming;
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;
'Tis the star-spangled banner; O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of flight and the gloom of the grave;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land,
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just.
And this be our motto— "In God is our trust; "
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

Black President

Our Time is not now but Right Now! Our Time has finally come to change the world not now but Right Now! If you don't believe that we can change the world than watch as we do it by changing your mind into believing in us and what we can do! This is OUR TIME RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!


We got to FIGHT THE POWER! We can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch injustices take place. We can no longer sit by and allow our right to vote to become unexercised. We must FIGHT THE POWER for our past, present and future! We can no longer allow our rights to be oppressed and our voice to become drained by the powers at be. We must FIGHT THE POWER and show that we have a lot to say that needs to be heard by the mainstream media. We must FIGHT THE POWER and live up to our potential as dynamic, unbelievable and phenomenal people.

We must not believe the hype but we must become the hype. We are not Harriett Tubman, Marcus Garvey, MLK, Malcolm X, Booker T. Washington, Carter G. Woodson, W.E.B. DuBois, the Black Panther Party, SNCC, or any other activists but we are the fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunties, and relatives of those who came before us to pave the way for us to FIGHT THE POWER! We are not next Generation of leaders who will not be honored and praised until they die but that’s the fight we accept. We are not fighting the power for glory or fame but we are fighting the power for just causes that most men and women will not understand until years or decades later.

We are fighting for our sisters and brothers in Darfur, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, China and Mexico. We are speaking for those who are poor and have no food or water. We are fighting for those who are sick and dying. We are fighting for universal healthcare across the world and human rights for all people. We are fighting for rich and poor! We must FIGHT THE POWER no matter how hard and tough the road may be. We must FIGHT THE POWER for a better today and an even greater tomorrow!



“People Get Ready” our time is coming! We have come too far to turn back now. Our train is coming and it is coming in waves. “People Get Ready”, we don’t need a ticket but we need faith and the Lord will help guide us as we take back America and the world. “People Get Ready” our moment is now and we are ready to see the change we want in America and the world. All we got to do is have faith, hope and prosperity. “People Get Ready” to face your fears. “People Get Ready” to face your demons and the challenges of yesterday because today and tomorrow we will conquer & be victorious. “People Get Ready” a change is coming and our actions will make sure that change is a real positive change that lasts forever.

“People Get Ready” because we have had enough of just talking but now is our time to show action. “People Get Ready” to take back America and the world. “People Get Ready” to take back our communities and to make our streets safer and schools better. “People Get Ready” to make all our dreams come true. “People Get Ready” to see a better present for everyone and a better future for future generations. “People Get Ready” to live up to your potential and to help others live up to their own potential. “People Get Ready” to move past hatred, bigotry, racism and sexism. “People Get Ready” to fulfill the dreams of those who came before us and those who will come after us.

“People Get Ready” as we make our actions speak louder than our words. “People Get Ready” to make words mean something again as we put action to back up our rhetoric. “People Get Ready” as we embark on a new journey that will re-write America’s history as well as the world’s history. “People Get Ready” as we make the lives of others better and the lives of future generations better. “People Get Ready” because all we need is faith, hope and action to make this world a better place. “People Get Ready” to make a difference. “People Get Ready” to fulfill the American dream. “People Get Ready" to live out the American Dream as our founding fathers wanted us to live it. “People Get Ready” because our time is now, our moment is now and our moment in time to change America & the world is not now but right now. “People Get Ready” because a change is coming!

(Let me tell you now)
People get ready, there's a train comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
You don't need no ticket, you just thank the lord

People get ready, for a train to Jordan
Picking up passengers coast to coast
Faith is the key, open the doors and board them
There's hope for all among those loved the most

There ain't no room for the hopeless sinner
Who would hurt all man kind just to save his own (believe me now)
Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
For there's no hiding place against the kingdoms throne

[Alicia & Lyfe]
So people get ready there's a train coming
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels humming,
You don't need no ticket, you just thank the lord


God Bless the U.S.A. by Lee Greenwood

Lee Greenwood-god bless the U.S.A