The Essence of Politics

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Perspective: The War On Our Youth—Fear in Chicago

This should come as no surprise that the citizens of Chicago are now leaving in fear because they are afraid to even go outside to get their mail yet along to get in their cars to go to work. Maybe I am exaggerating but it is no exaggeration that this year alone 300 people have been gunned down in Chicago and 36 youth have been killed as of June. This is higher than the total that was killed during the 2007-2008 school year which was 32 and higher than the 27 that were killed during the 2006-2007 school year. In fact what makes many Chicago residents fearful now more than ever is the fact it seems as if the violence in Chicago has no conscience. There is no territory that is safe in Chicago from the violence not public transportation, the grocery store, school or even church, where 6 people were shot and 5 were wounded during a funeral early this month in Chicago.

Although the shooting that took place at a funeral outside of a church was considered gang related, the gang wars have escalated in young and the youth in the city have become youthful assassins. For example in early April as a court battle over "warrant-less" searches continues in Chicago Federal District Court, the real battle raged in the high-rise Public Housing Projects on South State and Federal Streets. Chicago is well known for its reputation as the home of "gangsters", but, the "gangsters" of the 90's are not members of the Italian mafia nor bootleggers of Canadian whiskey. Today’s Chicago "gangsters" are the purveyors of drugs, prostitution, guns, and "murder for hire". Chicago broke an all-time record for murders during the month of March, and police think that many of these killings can be attributed to gang warfare. According to police sources, the total number of murders in Chicago last month was eighty-eight (88). This contributes to an overall total number of homicides for the year, which stands at two-hundred and twenty-one (221). Police say that if the murders continue at the present rate that Chicago could easily set a new annual record for the number of Chicagoans killed in a single year.

Police intelligence sources say that the latest increase in homicides is the result of gang "turf wars", as gang members and drug dealers fight over control of given neighborhoods. Residents of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) Robert Taylor Homes say that the drug dealers are actually fighting over control of the very buildings that they live in. During a recent weekend, more than three-hundred (300) separate shooting incidents were reported, in the vicinity of the Robert Taylor Homes. Fourteen (14) people were killed during the same weekend, with twelve (12) of the fourteen (14) incidents believed to be gang related. While police admit that the increase in shootings occurs almost every Spring, they also say that the number of incidents this year is expanding, with a proportionate increase in murder rates. Gang members, using high-powered semi-automatic and automatic weapons, often "spray" a given street corner or playground in hopes of wounding or killing rival gang members. In certain neighborhoods on Chicago's South and West sides, gang motivated "Drive-By" shootings are a common occurrence. Unfortunately, all too often, bystanders and otherwise blameless kids are caught in the hail of gunfire.

More amazing than the number of people wounded or killed, is the age of the "shooters". A Chicago Police Department (CPD)spokesperson said that today's "gang assassins" are frequently identified as 15, 16, or 17 year old black youths. CPD spokesperson Billy Davis, is quoted by the United Press International (UPI) as saying "you've got kids out there convinced that they'll never grow up...that they'll die tomorrow...if their lives are worth nothing, neither is yours". A purposefully anonymous police insider said that one of the reasons younger and younger gang members are doing the shooting, is because they will receive shorter sentences, or no jail time at all for the commission of the same crime as an adult. Juvenile gang members are often called upon by gang leaders to conceal drugs and guns, because they know that juveniles will receive more lenient treatment in court, if they are caught. Secondarily, several recent psychological studies have found that young minority offenders, often coming from single family homes, and with low self-esteem, seem to show little or no remorse for their violent actions. Several sociologists suggest that young people growing up in a violent atmosphere, subjected to crime and poverty, and with poor role models, may contribute to the "desensitization" that allows the unremorseful conduct that results in many murders.

Also most important, in the view of some psychologists, is the fact that the typical urban drug dealer or gang leader may appear to be the most prosperous member of society in a given neighborhood. A number of stories abound, in regard to the drug dealer or gang leader that gives money to mothers to buy groceries, who sponsors local sports teams, and always gives away Christmas presents during the holiday season. These same people always seem to have the newest clothes, most expensive cars, and to have the prettiest women attached to their arms. To an impressionable youth, the drug dealer or gang leader is a successful role model and someone they want to emulate. Unfortunately, this same gang "leader" also teaches the use of explosives and automatic weapons, how to smoke, shoot, or ingest drugs, the proper method of "cutting" and selling drugs to children, and how to force a previously addicted woman into prostitution. Thus, career criminals teach juveniles how to commit crimes, and pay them for their ruthlessness and avarice. Those that enter into the gang system rarely ever leave, unless it is in an expensive casket, probably paid for by the gang.

Police say that they have stepped up patrols in the gang and drug ridden neighborhoods. And yet the killings go on. But, long-time observers warned that this was only Spring, and that the violence usually escalates as warmer weather comes to the "Windy City". Unless some viable solutions are found soon, law enforcement "old-timers" predict a long, hot, and dangerous Summer in Chicago which in fact is the case and many fear that the violence in Chicago will escalate even greater than it was in 2008 were violence soared. Blaming a "reeling" economy and an influx of guns on the street, Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis released final crime statistics for 2008 that showed both violent and property crime rose from 2007. The city ended the year with 510 homicides, up 14.6 percent over 2007 and the most in five years. There were 163,316 incidents of crime in total, an increase of 2.5 percent. Weis pointed to continued gang crime as a major source of the violence, saying that 92 percent of murder suspects and 72 percent of murder victims had criminal records. Police seized more cash and shut down more drug corners in 2008 than in the previous year but took in about 600 fewer guns with 13,065.

Brought in to improve the department's reputation after a number of high-profile scandals, Weis came under fire for the rise in crime and spent much of 2008 trying to reverse the trend. Weis acknowledged the success of his predecessor, Philip Cline, who led the department to its lowest murder tallies in 40 years but battled officer misconduct. To fight the crime increases, Weis said, he has resurrected some of Cline's most successful programs such as the Special Operations Section, which targeted gangs and guns but was disbanded amid officer abuse scandals. Weis created a similar unit, the Mobile Strike Force, but said he instituted better oversight and tighter controls. General complaints against officers remained flat in 2008, with 7,163 investigated by police, said Deputy Supt. Peter Brust, head of the Weis-created Bureau of Professional Standards. Still those steps have not reduced the violence in the city as of today but the police department is still trying to do all it can in a city that seems to have become lawless as well as has lost its moral conscience.

To make the violence in the streets of Chicago even worse is the fact that the social costs of gun violence in Chicago total about $2.5 billion each year, according to a report released by an academic group formed to research effective ways to reduce violent crime. "Gun Violence among School-Age Youth in Chicago," the first report from the University of Chicago Crime Lab, used interviews, focus groups, police data and social research to characterize factors underlying Chicago's escalating murder rate. Expanding upon previous research that every crime-related gunshot wound causes around $1 million in social costs, the report's four authors calculated the annual cost of gun violence at $2.5 billion, or $2,500 per Chicago household. The cost reflects in part the repellent effect of violence upon city populations, pushing more people into outlying communities, said Crime Lab director Jens Ludwig, a professor of social service administration, law, and public policy at the university."Every city is trying very hard to encourage families to live in the city to support the tax base so that we can improve city services for everyone in the community," Ludwig said. "But gun violence winds up making that much more difficult."

Other findings from the report include:
--Most of residents at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center suffer from at least one psychiatric disorder.

--The average juvenile in custody scored lower on a vocabulary test than 95 percent of the general youth population.

--More than a third of homicide victims had alcohol in their system, while only 3 percent showed traces of "hard drugs" like heroin or cocaine in their blood.

--Four-fifths of Chicago homicide victims in 2008 died from gunshot wounds.

While some of these risk factors for youth gun violence were previously shown by other studies, characterizing the magnitude of these factors could suggest different strategies for violence reduction, Ludwig said. "There are a bunch of things around the mental health piece and the schooling piece that I think people might not have realized and provide real targets of opportunity, above and beyond the sort of things that we've already been doing," he said. The report recommends that intervention programs should seek to help children before the age of 13, the age at which Chicago and nationwide arrest rates begin to rapidly rise. It also endorses programs that offer immediate rewards for good behavior -- such as the cash-for-grades program implemented last year by Chicago Public Schools -- and swift but less severe punishment for crimes.

However no specific programs are outlined in the report, though the group is openly accepting proposals to reduce crime and violence. The group will then help secure funding for approved programs and evaluate their outcomes with the rigor of a medical trial. "What we want to try to do is take advantage of the fact that there are lots of people out there who really understand the problem in a deep and full way and already have developed promising ideas about what to do given their experience," Ludwig said. So why should such a study be taken seriously when it doesn’t offer any specific program for the city to implement in order to deal with violence in the city. However the young people in Chicago are dying violent deaths at an alarming rate as the city tries to figure out to deal the escalating violence.

As mentioned previously at least 36 Chicago Public School students have been killed, most of them victims of gunshots. Scores of other Chicago children and teenagers have been wounded in shootings, and there were concerns that the gun violence could escalate when school let out for the summer and those concerns were true because the violence hasn’t stopped cause the school year ended. While urban gun violence in Chicago and other cities is nothing new, there is a growing sense among community leaders that it's now at a crisis level especially in the wake of the shooting at a church during a funeral. So as the summer is coming to an end and the gun violence in the city seems to have not end, many students are fearful to even go back to school. Clinet Jordan, a graduated senior from Chicago's Simeon Career Academy high school, on the city's South Side, said he must admit that he was to come to school sometimes. He said usually [gang members] don't try to pull that stuff until after school, but now they're trying to get kids coming to school in the morning. That's ridiculous. We shouldn't be scared to come somewhere — we should feel safe and have a safe learning environment. It don't play right; it's not right. Mr. Jordan is right, we should be afraid to go to school and shouldn’t be afraid to go outdoors because of fear of being gunned down in the streets.

This is a heavy toll of violence and Jordan and his classmates at Simeon know the toll of gang-related gun violence all too well. Greg Robinson, a shy, quiet freshman basketball player, was in the back seat of a car while returning home from a game when someone started shooting. He died trying to shield his young cousins from gunfire. Simeon has lost several other students to gun violence over the years, and it's far from the only Chicago high school affected. Gangs are prevalent throughout the city, and teenagers often have to cross dangerous turf to get to and from school. Some of the victims have been in gangs, but many have not. Some are targeted because they won't join a gang; others are mistaken for gang members or simply caught in the crossfire. "How could you even say, like, wrong place and wrong time?" says Ronnie Mosley, Simeon's 2009 senior class president. While rattling off the names of other area students killed in recent years, Mosley says these weren't kids who were in gangs or in trouble, or even doing things they shouldn't have been doing.

"Greg was at home. Chavez [Clarke] was here at Simeon on a Saturday getting credits to graduate. Blair [Holt] was on a bus on his way home," Mosley says. "No place is safe but possibly schools." "Your mind is immune to the violence," says Simeon senior Diedra Barnes. "You sad, but at the same time it feels like there's nothing you can do, because every time you turn on the TV, it's like, 'Oh, another CPS student is shot, or this kid is shot.' " Jordan said having his high school years marred by the constant danger of gun violence is leading him to attend college as far "away from the city as possible; that's why he is going to [go] all the way to the East Coast. He refused to live his life in fear." Jordan will attend the Citadel in South Carolina this fall. Jordan’s family has told him when he leaves, don’t come back. Is this what the citizens of Chicago should be telling your young if they survive the violence in the street? Is the message in Chicago to tell youth that survive the violence to leave the city and never to come back.

That seems like the message as clergyman try to deal with this issue. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church in the same neighborhood as Simeon, is outraged at the violence. "What kind of crazy day do we live in, where our children are afraid to come home and go to school?" Pfleger says. Outside of his church, Pfleger flies the American flag upside down — something the U.S. Flag Code states should only be done as a signal of distress and a dire need for help. "Well, this is a dire need," Pfleger says. "This is a distress signal we're putting up saying we need help. We want to sound the alarm; we want a call for helping us deal with children being shot down in our city streets." Some veterans' groups accuse the priest of desecrating the flag in a publicity stunt, but others, including a group called Veterans Against Violence, have joined Pfleger and his cause.

Pfleger wants the country to respond to the problem of urban violence in the same way it responds to what he says are much lesser threats, like the swine flu. "We effectively called a consciousness of a nation in 48 hours on H1N1. A billion dollars was released from the administration to deal with it," Pfleger says. "Well, how come we can't be as comprehensive and as aggressive with blood on our streets of our children?" Still the enormous gang population in the city of Chicago is not going away no matter who is involved. Gun violence is so pervasive in Chicago because of the sheer number of gang members, according to Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis. "We have the largest gang population of any city in the United States," Weis says. "The only city that rivals us is Los Angeles."

Weis says that while L.A.'s gang population is estimated to be somewhere between 55,000 and 70,000, he estimates there are at least 100,000 gang members in Chicago. The Chicago Police Department is targeting those entrenched gangs throughout the city in several ways. One is by what he calls "hardening the terrain," or having officers saturate certain areas such as parks, street corners and alleys that are known for gang activity. In addition, Weis says the Police Department has a specialized gang unit. "They focus on the actual worst of the worst gang members: the people who are making the decisions, who should be shot, the people who are actually pulling the triggers," Weis says. "And they go out every day with a list of targets, trying to find these people, these persons of interest, and locate them and try to catch them."

Weis adds that the Chicago Police Department is working to improve community relations. Distrust of the police has long been a problem in Chicago. And the city is cracking down on curfew violations, to get kids off the street when they're most at risk. Radical approaches are being adopted to deter gang and gun violence such as the Chicago schools are teaching conflict resolution skills to students, and they are trying to defuse disputes between gangs and cliques so they don't escalate later when students are out of school. Weis says the strategies appear to be working. "We're down about 15 percent in homicides," he says, compared to the first few months of last year. And the number of school-age victims is down, too, according to Weis. However Weis comments don’t take into account we still have 4 months to go in this year because he is comparing that the 50 school children homicides in 2008 which was the highest in seven years.

Still Weis announced additional summertime tactics aimed at reducing gun and gang violence in Chicago but even those tactics have not fully dealt with the problem properly as the violence has increased well into the summer with at least 6 youth being gunned down at a funeral early this month. But the superintendent and others say policing alone is not enough to solve the complex problems that are costing too many young people their lives. "Complex problems require complex solutions," says Simeon senior Ronnie Mosley. "I think, you know, we have to kind of be radical in our approaches." Mosley, who will attend Morehouse College in Atlanta in the fall, has led rallies and marches against gun violence with his classmates. He and other students traveled to the Illinois State Capitol to push for an assault weapons ban, a state limit of one handgun purchase a month, and other "common-sense gun laws" — none of which has passed.

One such bill, which had the support of Chicago students who had lost too many classmates to gunshots, failed by just five votes. "We were devastated," Mosley says. "It's kind of like a slap in the face," adds Diedra Barnes. "It makes you feel like nothing is being done and nothing is happening. We march and we try to protest and, it's like, for two weeks [the shootings] ceased and then out of nowhere, bam, somebody else died." But Barnes, Mosley and other students say they'll continue their battle against gangs and gun violence in Chicago. They say preventing youth violence starts with them — in their homes, neighborhoods and schools. However the Chicago Public School students who have been killed and most of them victims of gunshots as well as the scores of other Chicago children and teenagers who have been wounded in shootings, and the concerns that the gun violence has escalated is deep sociological problem plaguing the city. The story speaks to a few key issues prevalent in the criminology field.

W.J. Wilson’s classic 1997 text, When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor, discusses how in Chicago’s most impoverished neighborhoods, those families who could afford to leave, did. As crime escalated, educated African American professionals, who once lived in those communities, bolted for the burbs. Thus, Chicago ghettos were left without those role models for the youth and young adults left behind. In turn, the unemployed and those working in the informal economy became all the more visible for young people. This phenomenon is seen through Jordan’s plans, as another intelligent, motivated, college-bound youth is encouraged to never return to his Chicago community. The other structural problem presented in this story is the proliferation of guns, which is a global issue more so than simply a local issue. It is clear that Chicago police, clergy and others have tried to implement things to address the problems but conflict resolution programs and increase in police presence won’t solve this issue. In fact this is still a relatively small-scale response to a macro problem, and therefore, will not likely result in major improvements.

The Chicago Police Department is targeting those entrenched gangs throughout the city in several ways. One is by what he calls "hardening the terrain," or having officers saturate certain areas such as parks, street corners and alleys that are known for gang activity. A few concerns manifest from this approach. First, again, it is a reaction-based intervention, and thus, will not fix root issues. A positive that can develop from increased police presence is that some communities with high crime rates do not feel that they can move forward with crime prevention programming until criminal elements have been removed from their neighborhoods. Unfortunately, what tends to happen more frequently with increased police presence is greater tension between the police and neighborhood residents. In addition, more arrests in these communities contribute further to the already disproportionately high number of poor, young men of color in the criminal and juvenile justice systems, largely for non-violent crimes. As California has learned, prison over-crowding is also a major factor that contributes to state debt and a cutback in social services (e.g., education, health care), making the unintended rippling effects of amplified police enforcement quite harmful.

The one structural area that Chicago is doing right is in the form of prevention which is gun control. Complex problems require complex solutions. Since President Obama has pushed for increased gun control, there has been increased public sentiment for the individual right to bear arms. Recent research, however, has shown that the easier it is to obtain a gun in one’s community, the more likely homicide rates increase, and that the ease with which people can obtain guns is greater in minority communities. Other research has shown that “Licensed dealers who kept no records or falsified records were the preferred source of supply for street gun merchants” and that while the number of licensed gun dealers who are corrupt is low, corrupt dealers still account for a huge portion of guns illegally trafficked and used in crimes. An example described from this study:

In a notable diversion involving 1,200 guns, a savvy vendor bypassed retail sources by using a forged Federal firearms license to buy guns directly from an unwitting distributor. After obliterating most of the serial numbers, the trafficker resold the guns to three other unlicensed peddlers in bulk quantities. Dealer corruption emerged as a surprisingly significant source of supply. Gun tracing disposed that some retailers had not only failed to account for incoming guns but also ignored State registration requirements. Malfeasance licensees was particularly evident in the casework, as 71 percent (13,667) of the diverted guns passed through 15 licensed dealers who made unrecorded or misrecorded sales to individuals and unlicensed vendors.

In addition, the study notes that citizens without criminal records can easily purchase guns from vendors and then re-sell them or give them to others – what they refer to as a straw purchase. Also significant was theft from gun distributors. In these cases, the gun venders are not at fault, but the ease with which guns can be obtained (either through surrogate purchasing or theft) is obvious. Increasing gun control through intensified background checks, not having gun retailers located in commercial sectors, and maintaining better oversight of retailers would not necessarily stop conflict between youth, but it would certainly mitigate the lethality.

So with information and studies like this, show that the war on our youth in Chicago goes beyond the normal ramifications. In fact radical action isn’t just needed to address this issue but it must be a combination of efforts that involves politicians, community leaders, students, parents, clergy and law enforcement all working together to combat the fear. The fear that many of the residents of Chicago has is unheard of and very uncommon. The fear that at any moment their child or themselves can be shot while in public has evolved into something never heard of. In fact Chicago has never seen anything like this before but for the last 3 years Chicago’s violence has gotten worse and worse because it’s as if morals have been lost in all of this. There used to be certain places where gangs would not shot or dare to disgrace but Chicago’s young assassins have no boundaries and no limits because they have lost their sanity and moral character. The fear in Chicago’s street is something unseen and unheard of and it seems as if it gets worse and worse as the weeks go on. Therefore it is clear that if Chicago’s residents is to change from being fearful to being heroic, it will take a collaborative effort from all Chicago residents to deal with this problem.

No one can deny that if we don’t solve the violence in Chicago now than the youth in the city will continue to grow up in fear and those that make it out of the city will be told never to return as a result of the constant violence plaguing the streets. Chicago’s streets are under attack and this is a weekly assault on the lives of not just ordinary Chicago residents but the future of Chicago. Thus if we are go change the violence, the bloodshed, and the constant borage on the lives of future Chicago residents than this has to begin now because this issue has gone unaddressed for far too long. We must save our youth in Chicago right now so that they can grow up and be doctors, lawyers and the President of the United States of America. This is the moment to end the youth violence, the gang violence and gun violence in the streets of Chicago because this story is not nothing new but the rate at which it is occurring brings me images of the violence in the streets of Los Angeles and New York during the 1980s. This is why Chicago’s issue is even greater because this is war on our youth more so than a war on drugs or guns. Chicago’s youth are caught in the cross hairs of senseless violence where they are only safe in school. This is shameful, this is ridiculous but most of all this is uncalled for. So let’s end this war on our youth and let’s help save the future of Chicago forever.


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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.
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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