IN THE NEWS - May Edition

May 2017 is shaping up to be a very busy month in the news! I will spare everyone from me regurgitating the political fodder of President Trump to focus on the good, bad, and the ugly affecting the community of color. I'm a glass-half-full kind of girl, so let's start with the positive stories on the Internet.

The Good

If you've been busy (or asleep under a rock), you probably missed the media coverage on Carson Huey-You. A young man from Texas who owns the distinction of being the youngest person to graduate from Texas Christian University. At just 14 years of age, Carson holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and minors in Chinese and math. He plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Quantum Mechanics beginning in the fall. And to obtain a Ph.D. in the future. Kudos Carson! As remarkable as that is, Carson's younger brother, 11-year-old Cannan, is also heading to TCU next fall to study astrophysics and engineering. Cannan wants to be an astronaut. Congratulations to both of these young boys! I suspect we will hear more amazing accomplishments from both in the future. Momma didn't raise no fools!

The third annual Harlem EatUp! Festival took place May 18-21, 2017. The festival was another great opportunity to showcase the talented chefs and restaurateurs, artisans and musicians in Harlem. It is also a wonderful way for community members and visitors to get together while supporting local businesses. Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson and others have invested in Harlem and are doing their part to shine a spotlight on this historic and enduring New York City neighborhood.

LaVar Ball, father of Lonzo Ball soon to be NBA freshman, has launched his company Big Baller Brand and is shopping a co-branding shoe deal. Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour have all passed on the deal, citing a number of issues including the $1 billion-dollar price tag. I commend LaVar Ball, a fledgling entrepreneur who took the initiative to create Big Baller Brand. Mr. Ball has received a significant amount of pushback from the media, athletic companies, and people in sports and entertainment. I hope the family continues on this path of financial freedom. Remember, having a contract to play or being connected to a sponsor does not necessarily mean an athlete is in control of his/her wealth. The ingenuity of LaVar Ball's approach is exactly what everyone should be about as an entrepreneur - thinking outside the box and looking for ways to disrupt business as usual. Is it a risky proposition? Yes, but that doesn't mean it's wrong. Examine why LaVar Ball is being vilified and you will quickly realize that what he is proposing has the potential to change the way athletes negotiate with corporations. Instead of being a horse in the stable of companies like Nike or Adidas athletes would command a larger stake in these businesses as well as more control of their unique brands. Keep watching this story. It will teach you a lot about the media, the titans of industry and the padlock that has been placed on the entryway to greater riches and free enterprise.

The Bad

Senate Bill 1849, also known as The Sandra Bland Act, started out as a promising piece of legislation but was ultimately stripped of the protections and accountability measures that would have prevented others from experiencing the same or similar issues as Ms. Bland did during a routine traffic stop. The bill which passed the Texas Senate on May 2, 2017, now primarily focuses on mental health issues and county jail operations.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rolled back the guidelines given to State prosecutors by former Attorney General, Eric Holder to allow for judiciary discretion as opposed to mandatory minimum sentencing for certain offenses. Sessions reversal of policy has met with bipartisan criticism and movement toward criminal justice reform with a new bill co-sponsored by Rand Paul (R-KY) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT). It will be interesting to see how this story develops over the coming months. Sentence reform would markedly improve the position of people of color who by and large face stiffer sentencing for criminal charges.

The Ugly

Officer Betty Jo Shelby of the Tulsa, Oklahoma police department shot and killed Terence Crutcher, an unarmed motorist on September 16, 2016. Shelby was acquitted of first-degree manslaughter charges on May 17, 2017.

The Justice Department will not charge Baton Rouge officers in the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling. The case, a holdover from the Obama Administration, was inherited by Attorney General Jeff Session. AG Session's has stated his support for law enforcement in what he calls, "difficult situations" and reticence to pursue criminal cases against officers on a number of occasions.

We've lost our young ones to shootings involving law enforcement. Jordan Edwards, 15 years old and Jayson Negron, 14, rest in peace.

Family

Let's stay connected to one another, beautiful people. Take in all the information as motivation to move forward. Forging a new path will require changing our approach to the systems of government, politics, policing, education and everything else. As a community, we must assess which institutions to engage from the inside and also build our own. Together we will accomplish great things! And, for those that left this world too soon, we carry you with us too.

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