Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Pope’s Take on Stolen Peoples’ Equity

-- "When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."  MLK Jr.

By Stephanie A. Stradford and Eric Stradford, USMC Retired

AMWS, September 23, 2015, Washington, DC – #GodBlessAmerica.   Even if you never got a touch or a kiss, the message from the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church rang out as one of inclusion. One needed not be a Catholic to feel valued.

Pope Francis’ message to America echoed one preached a half century ago by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.    The first pope born in the America’s stood beside the first Black President of the United States to symbolically acknowledge a lineage of dirty little secrets and prayerfully invoke God’s divine blessing on America’s future.


Almost every U.S. President, regardless of faith, acknowledges a power greater than himself as the political leader of the greatest nation on earth. 

Congress got an earful today, and will likely feel the full court press as the Bishop of Rome holds church in the hallowed halls of One Nation Under God.  The national motto and the imprint “In God We Trust” on U.S. currency will likely serve as an enduring reminder of the Pope’s first visit to the United States of America.

If full faith and credit can serve as a tangible measure, Washington’s effort to balance the nation’s checkbook might very well be a good first step toward forming “a more perfect union.”  The $18 trillion national debt is perhaps the best place to start.  The figure includes your overwhelming college debt, upside down mortgage, low-paying job and inability for 52% of all Americans to rise above a zero net worth.  On an average, each American owes a little over $57,000.   In theory, folks who make $60,000 or more should be in the black.  By faith, many disadvantaged Americans could be debt-free over the next seven years.

But for children of historically disadvantaged America, getting in the Black calls for intentional, prosocial, reinvestment of “Other People’s Money” (O.P.M.).   Who really needs help? How should haves and have nots share the responsibility for economic inclusion?  Who is ready, willing and able to model new strategies for inclusion?

Since 1996, Youth Achievers USA Institute has qualified economic beneficiaries through a circular capacity building program known as THE ANNUAL YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS.
Beginning in 2016, the national 501c3 public charity will engage existing beneficiaries and qualifying candidates in adding value to vision through intentional, prosocial economic opportunities.   The NATIONAL LEARN-2-EARN partnership identifies diverse public charity programs through which YouthUSA beneficiaries demonstrate economic leadership.

A series of blog articles and YouTube videos, produced in cooperation with THE AMERICAN MENTOR WIRE SERVICE of YouthUSA, offer greater insight on the American economy from a “winner’s” point of view.

A “winner,” for the purpose of a program definition, is any American citizen age 7-24 who commits to becoming a community asset where he or she lives, learns, works or worships. A winner who completes requirements of THE ANNUAL YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS capacity building program qualifies an economic beneficiary (Youth Achiever) with all rights and responsibilities.   In 2016, YouthUSA will host a national gathering inviting beneficiaries and caring adult supporters to its 20-year “I’m A Winner Dinner” and gala.  

The gala launches a 10-year economic security demonstration aimed at increasing economic value in children from low income families.  The late Evelyn Walker Armstrong, an advocate for disadvantaged youth, endowed the process with $100,000 to fund The J.D. and Laurena Walker Fund, a development program of YouthUSA.  Elected board members and any caring adult supporter can gain greater understanding of “O.P.M.” through their participation in on-line Task Force discussions.  A $12 monthly subscription to THE CONFERENCE CENTER ensures individual access to proprietary discussions.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


A peculiar bird presents a unique perspective on socio-economic repair.  "It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten." The Ghanaian word, Sankofa, translated to English, presents an inherited  value for historically disadvantaged heirs.  “Reach back and get it," symbolized by a bird with its head turned backwards taking an egg off its back is often associated with the Akan proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi," which translates (san - to return; ko - to go; fa - to look, to seek and take)

By Eric Stradford

AMWS, August 20, 2015, Atlanta -- #BlackLivesMatter.  It is among the numerous, diverse issues on the fringe of a national debate.   By evidence it is a trending hashtag in the evolution of modern day social media.  It gives voice to an historically disadvantaged minority retrospective on history where some citizens have been valued as less than equal.  Absent of intergenerational inclusion, it promotes and perpetuates a faithless introspective on the American Dream as a dream deferred.

According to one website on the Internet, #BlackLivesMatter is “an ideological and political intervention.”  It is not an organization, but “a decentralized network aiming to build the leadership and power of black people.”   Nationally respected advocate and columnist Dr. Julianne Malveaux called on historically disadvantaged friends-n-kin to embrace #BlackLivesMatter.  Her advocacy promotes the evolution of a message to a movement.   But, it also heightens demands for evidence of measurable reality.  

“I am proud of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and excited about the three young women who organized it, and the thousands who have united under their banner.  The movement prioritizes black lives in a way that they have never before been prioritized,” stated Malveaux. 

Dr. Malveaux’s assessment of #BlackLivesMatter underscores generations of social activism where #BlackLivesMatter have #AlwaysMattered.   Assuming that inclusivity reflects a measurable if not common goal for forward movement, young advocates can expect the greatest challenges from folk who look like they do and share their perceived right to demand equality. 

For example, the statement, “Black queer and trans folks bear a unique burden from a hetero-patriarchal society that disposes of us like garbage and simultaneously fetishizes us and profits off of us,” might be perceived as a #BlackLivesMatter position seeking to include others in their movement.  But the economic impact of such inclusion possibly suggests a need for intentional generation skipping as it pertains to full economic inclusion.

One reality should be crystal clear to African Americans today.  Not everybody in a movement qualifies for the inheritance.  At an earlier phase in “the movement,” A Philip Randolph articulated, “At the banquet table of nature, there are no reserved seats. You get what you can take, and you keep what you can hold. If you can't take anything, you won't get anything, and if you can't hold anything, you won't keep anything.  And you can't take anything without organization.”

History shows us that people perish for a lack of vision.   Some modern-day elders in “the movement” describe themselves as the African American Economic Community (A.A.E.C.). They  see organization as a necessary step toward economic inclusion.  That means qualifying organizational leadership based on core values and capabilities to serve a greater good.  One must ask, “Can a vision for national security abroad be achieved without economic security for all?”

If the vision for #BlackLivesMatter was to “form a more perfect union,” sustainable activism might be prefaced by a common vision statement such as, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

From one informed perspective, no meaningful conversation can take place without language.  Shall we spell defense with a c or an s?   Shall we listen as well as talk? Shall we insure or ensure domestic Tranquility? And why capitalize Posterity and not ourselves?  “We The People” is an evidence-based starting point for pursuing inclusivity.  #BlackLivesMatter exists for the sole purpose of presenting evidence of a credible national security threat.  It is a public investigation into policies and practices that threaten the United States of America in its collective resolve to “form a more perfect union.”   

In the context of national political debate, #BlackLivesMatter is not supported by any political party, but is committed to securing the “blessings of liberty” to address historically unmet needs of historically disadvantaged citizens of the United States of America.  A sustained conversation on stolen peoples’ equity identifies ways and means to actuate an inheritance based on documented compromises in the process of forming a more perfect union.

Money-n-the-Bank is an economic security strategy discussed among A.A.E.C. elders since the 1998 Million Youth Movement in Atlanta.   It presents one in a diversity of tactics to be embraced in pursuing measurable and sustainable economic outcomes.   Money-n-the-Bank is inclusive in that it addresses economic needs of low to moderate income Americans.  It promotes a shovel-ready demonstration of a national candidate’s ability, commitment and capacity to govern.  

Specific Demands of #BlackLivesMatter

“We will seek justice for Brown’s family by petitioning for the immediate arrest of officer Darren Wilson and the dismissal of county prosecutor Robert McCullough. Groups that are part of the local Hands Up Don’t Shoot Coalition have already called for Wilson’s swift arrest, and some BLM riders also canvassed McCullough’s neighborhood as a way of raising the public’s awareness of the case.”

“We will help develop a network of organizations and advocates to form a national policy specifically aimed at redressing the systemic pattern of anti-black law enforcement violence in the US. The Justice Department’s new investigation into St Louis-area police departments is a good start, but it’s not enough. Our ride was endorsed by a few dozen local, regional and national organizations across the country – like the National Organization for Women (Now) and Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation – who, while maintaining different missions, have demonstrated unprecedented solidarity in response to anti-black police violence. We hope to encourage more organizations to endorse and participate in a network with a renewed purpose of conceptualizing policy recommendations.”

“We will also demand, through the network, that the federal government discontinue its supply of military weaponry and equipment to local law enforcement. And though Congress seems to finally be considering measures in this regard, it remains essential to monitor the demilitarization processes and the corporate sectors that financially benefit from the sale of military tools to police.”

“We will call on the office of US attorney general Eric Holder to release the names of all officers involved in killing black people within the last five years, both while on patrol and in custody, so they can be brought to justice – if they haven’t already.”

“And we will advocate for a decrease in law-enforcement spending at the local, state and federal levels and a reinvestment of that budgeted money into the black communities most devastated by poverty in order to create jobs, housing and schools. This money should be redirected to those federal departments charged with providing employment, housing and educational services.”