All Articles Tagged "politics"
After dancing around the issue for the past year, Hillary Clinton announced she was officially running for president over the weekend. Unlike her Republican counterparts who declared their 2016 plans amid large crowds of fans, Clinton released a video kicking off her campaign.
Clinton’s campaign announcement included a diverse cross section of American families sharing their plans for the future. In one scene, a Black couple excitedly tells the camera they’re welcoming their first child. In another, a gay couple holds hands and explains they’re getting ready to walk down the aisle. The video also shows a young Asian college student looking for a job, a white woman preparing to retire, and a cute little brown boy discussing his role in an upcoming school play. At the end of the clip, Clinton finally appears on screen and tells the camera, “I’m getting ready to do something, too. I’m running for president.”
The clever video signaled a departure from Clinton’s previous bid for the White House. Back in 2008, then-Senator Clinton also kicked off her campaign with a video, but unlike her latest effort, it was all about her. There were no “regular” Americans, no uplifting music, and no shots of cute kids and couples talking about the future. Back then, Clinton was all business, outlining her ideas for the nation and talking up her experience. This time around, Clinton seems to be positioning herself as the candidate who will fight for everyday Americans.
But are Black women buying it?
African American women are one of the most reliable and powerful voting blocs in the country. In fact, “In the past two Presidential elections, Black women led all demographic groups in voter turnout,” according to the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. While some have suggested Black women only turned up at the polls in the last two cycles to support President Obama, Virginia’s 2013 gubernatorial race proved them wrong when “Black women once again, exceeded all other groups in turning out on Election Day” and swaying the election.
The power of Black female voters is clear, but it’s not certain whether Clinton will advocate for our issues, or take African American women’s longstanding Democratic Party support for granted.
Unlike her last campaign, Clinton seems to be embracing her position as a woman on the verge of making history. She’s come out in favor of raising the minimum wage, paid family leave, equal pay for equal work, and discussed income inequality. And while Black women will definitely benefit from Clinton’s advocacy around these issues, we also have our own unique challenges—like making sure our children and partners don’t get racially profiled by police, improving the safety of our neighborhoods, and making sure our children have schools that will help them succeed.
For Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States she’ll need to hold the Obama coalition together and inspire Black women to head to the polls. Whether or not Clinton will directly connect with Black female voters remains to be seen, but if she wants to win close races in swing states like Virginia, Florida, and Pennsylvania she’ll need to work to get African American women on her side.
MommyNoire, Will you be supporting Hillary? Why or Why not?
As we get ready to say goodbye to President Obama, the race for the oval office begins with new candidates. Hillary Clinton is making news for her recent battle over email she deleted that she claims to be personal, not work related. The trouble here is her ability to be transparent about the emails she deleted. With the truth ready to be told by any person with a blog and a camera, transparency is key. Rather they are work related or not, this brings up the question of rather we can trust her. Is she going to be a good candidate for presidency? In a recent poll, Clinton beats Governor Scott Walker by nine points as the next possible candidate for election in 2016.
“Gov. Scott Walker is a predictable first choice for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination among Wisconsin Republicans polled last weekend by Public Policy Polling.
Among all voters, however, he’s nine points behind Hillary Clinton and three points behind both Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren in hypothetical presidential election matchups.
The survey of 1,071 Wisconsin voters conducted last Friday through Sunday showed Clinton beating Walker 52 percent to 43 percent, with 5 percent not sure.
When Clinton is replaced by Biden or Warren, the Democratic candidate gets 48 percent to 45 percent for Walker both times, with 7 percent not sure.”
While some are rooting for Clinton, others think that she is not up to the challenge. Her ability to step up to the new age in order to run the country is looking bleak. So says, National Journal who states that her “90’s ways of deception” when handling a crisis doesn’t work.
“Staggered by self-inflicted wounds, the former secretary of State faced a choice between the right way and wrong way to manage a public-relations crisis in the post-Internet era, when the 1990s tactics of deflection, deception, and victimization are far less effective. She chose the wrong way.
Rather than be transparent, completely honest, and accountable, Clinton doubled down on the 1990s. She refused to turn over her emails stored on a secret service in violation of federal regulations. She defended contributions to her family’s charity from foreign nations that discriminate against women and support terrorism, a brazen contradiction to her public profile.
“I fully complied with every rule I was governed under,” she said, a legalistic dodge that rivals Al Gore’s lame defense of his fund-raising shenanigans in 1997: “There is no controlling legal authority.”
What do you think? Can we trust Clinton or should we be waiting for someone else to take the reins? Which side do you agree with?
Attorney Loretta Lynch has been making headlines over the past few weeks as she stepped into the Attorney General nomination from President Barack Obama. If Lynch becomes Attorney General, which should happen later this week, she will also be the first African American woman to hold this position.
Lynch has served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York under both President Obama and Bill Clinton. She’s spent the past decades prosecuting federal crimes that range from terrorists to Wall Street. While we’ve seen her across our TV screens we wanted to know more about Lynch and her history-making seat. Asma Hasan, a fellow minority attorney, took time to delve deeper into Lynch’s story and what she stands for.
Hasan reports for Refinery29:
So, who is she?
Lynch is a study in legal career success. The 55-year-old, who was born in North Carolina, went to Harvard and then steadily climbed her way from lowly corporate law firm associate up. By the end of this week, she may arrive at the top, as the nation’s chief attorney. In an eloquent but understated opening statement to the Judiciary Committee (which kicked off a marathon day of hearing testimony), Lynch spoke movingly of her librarian/teacher mother and minister father.
Almost as moving for me, as a fellow female attorney of color, was Lynch’s uncanny ability to dodge, quite graciously, the venomous spitballs lobbed at her by many of the Republican members of the committee, who expressed bitterness towards Obama and current Attorney General Eric Holder. These interactions showed what Lynch would likely take on as Attorney General, and how she would deal.
She’s Against Legal Marijuana:
Unlike Obama and her predecessor Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch has taken a public stance against the legalization of marijuana. The current administration has been content to look the other way as states start legalizing weed, but Lynch, in a moment of candor, said that she felt increased use of the drug brings increased associated criminal activity to communities.
An impassioned attorney general against marijuana legalization, which Lynch may very well be, could shut down the pot industry in those states where it has been legalized, since federal law (under which pot is banned) preempts state laws. This is unlikely — Lynch herself said she probably wouldn’t start enforcing such laws that her predecessor hadn’t — but having her in office definitely could slow down legalization in new states.
She Agrees With Obama’s Exec Action To Stop Deportation:
In another bit of testimony that has received less airplay, Lynch slipped in that she feltObama’s recent executive action to stop the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants was not amnesty but a “temporary deferral.” Technically, she is correct in that the executive action merely delays deportation of the affected immigrants for three years. The realistic implications, though, are wide — and Lynch did not address them. Anyone with a green card can, after a certain number of years, apply for citizenship or a renewal of status.
She’s Not Afraid To Go After Police:
When Lynch was a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, she sent a police officer to prison for 30 years for a violent attack on a Haitian immigrant, Abner Louima. The 1997 case was nationally known and became a symbol of broken relationships between cops and the people they police.
Now, nearly 20 years later, Lynch will take over potential prosecution of recent police brutality incidents, which have shocked the nation into a state of distrust towards law enforcement. In December, Attorney General Holder said the Justice Department will investigate the death of Eric Garner, the New York man killed by a police stranglehold earlier this year, after a grand jury failed to indict the officers involved. Given the timing, actually conducting that investigation will likely fall to Lynch.
Lynch’s style in her hearing shows that she supports the antiseptic beauty of technical interpretations over bold, controversial statements. It is this kind of thinking that, while somewhat boring, may actually result in progress in those areas where Obama and the Justice Department have spectacularly failed: specifically, the closing of the detainee prison in Guantanamo Bay (a commitment made by President Obama in his initial presidential campaign), and the successful prosecution of Chinese and Asian cyber-attacks on American websites, e-mail, and data. It may take a less-vocal — but collegial and by-the-book — thinker to finally move these tasks along.
Whatever Lynch chooses to take on (and as AG, she would have some discretion to choose), she will have to tap all her evident abilities in order to face several hurdles, the primary one being time. Even with an early February confirmation, Lynch will have barely two years on the job. Repairing the relationship between Congress and the Department of Justice, which Lynch would take over from the embattled Holder, will be no easy task. Fortunately, she is already on her way; she’s clearly won over several of the Republican Committee members, explaining that she wants to work with them and hopes to learn from their knowledge. She actually seemed sincere, too.
After seeing Lynch in action during her testimony, it seems clear that, if confirmed, her work will likely merit more than just a footnote in history textbooks. Here’s hoping she won’t simply be the first African-American female AG, but a professional who helped repair a nation that was fractured — both by outsiders and from within.
“It has been and still is a hard time for many…but today we turn the page.” – Barack Obama
Lets just keep it real, it has been a hard, long, bumpy road for President Barack Obama. Last night’s State of the Union address underscored the massive conundrum that POTUS still faces as he manages everything from world affairs, the economy, The resistant Republican Party, and a country on seemingly the verge of Civil War.
Parents face a quandary as well, and the president addressed those concerns in his speech.
He asked, “Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well, or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?”
The answer is one that each and every family, parent, and child will have to answer on their own. From an African American perspective, there must be less and less tolerance for mediocrity and more focus on economic development within our own communities. The truth is, there is no “everyone” and far too many folks have drunk on the Kool-Aid of complacency for far too long. We have failed to give our kids the straight facts in an effort to shield them from the coarse American reality.
The President also tossed out a few cliches like: “This country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” If that’s the case then the nation has never really operated at its best. As we move forward, we are going to have to be real about what is going on in places like Ferguson and move forward accordingly with your kids. Some have taken drastic measures like Lawrence Otis Graham, who monitors heavily what types of clothing his boys wear (Read: Police Brutality: Is It Time For A Black Boy Dress Code?”. Perhaps we look closer at what we let into our kids’ impressionable minds (Read: Is Empire A Good Representation Of Black Family Life? ) and bodies (Read:Wendy’s Fast Food Takes A Healthier Route). Or maybe, just maybe…we have a bit more patience for those that need more patience (Read: Who Failed Bobby Shmurda?). We have to care, people.
Like it or not, we have to do better and while police brutality is a scourge the nation must address collectively, the Black Community is going to have to come to terms with our inner Civil War. Far too many of us are looking at the president for solutions when the answers to many of our issues can only come from local activity. Again, the poor was unmentioned so we must become a village again.
Obama has the nation looking and feeling a bit better and that is a good thing. His approval rating is at 50 percent, a remarkable feat in these times of strife. He boasted about insurance rates, employment rates, a booming economy, reduction in combat mission overseas and other advances. When my big body vehicle filled up after only $41.00 I tweeted the president. So, when President Obama says the state of the union is strong, he’s not lying. The fact remains, the union he speaks of doesn’t address myriad of discrepancies that our children face.
Still, parents have a many matters to consider if the state of our families is to continue to be bigger, better and stronger.
“We are a strong tight knit family that has made it through some hard times.” – Barack Obama
There are more hard times to come, but the vigilant are already prepared.
As a mom to a busy 4 year-old toddler, I have very high expectations of my one and only son. Hopefully, through my guidance, as well as through the support of his ever evolving school system, he will one day grace the classroom of a top university, where a sea of academic options will be at his disposal. Creating a vision board for my son is one thing, but even better than that is my personal investment in his educational journey. That process begins by taking the time out of my busy schedule to help him read and write, while showing him the road map to becoming an earnest leader. I believe that early childhood nurturing, regardless if you are married or single is vital to a child’s learning compass. My goal is for my son to be an asset, and not a liability within his community. It’s easy to blame a child’s inability to thrive and become competitive on a failed school system. But, in all reality, the responsibility starts with a sound and solid foundation, and that begins at home first.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to a Media Brunch in Newark – New Jersey’s largest city. Within the beautiful spaces of the Newark Club, were media peers, waiting to hear Cami Anderson, Newark’s first white female Superintendent discuss her vision for Newark’s broken school system. Before meeting Cami Anderson, I read various opinion pieces regarding her leadership and strategy. As a mother, who has faced her own parenting roadblocks, I requested to meet with her one-on-one. I scraped the data and statistics talk. Our children are more than numbers. I wanted to see where her heart was. I wanted to see if we could connect beyond the political landscape and just be mothers in dialogue about our children’s future. We all have great expectations, but sometimes a mash-up of adversities and challenges can delay even the best laid plans. With the media fiasco aside, I sat down with Newark’s leading academic authority, who I didn’t realize was raised in a multiracial family setting and had a bi-racial 4 year-old.
Meet Cami Anderson, the Educator:
Mommynoire: Nice to meet you Cami. Let’s get to the heart of the matter. In terms of education and entrepreneurship do you think your current structure or how you are structuring Newark Public Schools will prepare children, once they graduate to be able to run their own businesses? Will Newark children be able to become leaders and not just members within the workforce.
Cami Anderson: I really believe strongly that every kid needs to be able to read, write, think and do math at very high levels. Because if you teach entrepreneurial skills and business skills, but you can’t do that, we just know that in the 21st century, you are going to have limits regarding what you can do. But at the same time, some of the passion you heard from me around teaching students the non-academic skills, like persistence and self-management and recruiting mentors and managing through challenges, so we do have a lot of curriculum, resources, standards and we’ve even partnered with the National Foundation On Teaching Entrepreneurship, because in many ways, what you need to be a successful student, is not different to what you need to actually further your career and start your own business.
I think part of the reason I got in education, I believe, when you look at boardrooms, The White House, higher education, and business, you just see a lack of diversity at the top in terms of gender and race. I think that’s morally wrong, but I think its a big problem for the country, because we are losing out on all of this extraordinary talent. So, some of the reasons I do what I do, is because I want to change that. The strength of our country is diversity, but when it comes to leadership, there are huge gaps.
Mommynoire: How do you combat the fears of Newark residents, who say you can’t do it because you don’t understand the Newark experience, although you come from a multicultural family?
Cami Anderson: One, I’ve had an interesting journey, as a person, given my family experience. I’m one of 12. I have 9 siblings who were adopted from some pretty tough circumstances and they are multiracial. So I feel like when it comes to some of the challenges I see our students facing, my own family experience has really given me a lot of first hand observations and passions around a lot of the same things our students are facing.
At the same time, I’ve also found that family and students, they want excellence. And if you are willing to be authentic, build relationships and stand up for what is right, a lot of folks just want to be in a great school, and they are happy to partner with whoever.
Mommynoire: As I listen to you speak, I’m not seeing a white woman in Newark. I’m just seeing an educator.
Cami Anderson: Yes, an activist. Someone who is passionate about equity. I think a lot of families want the best for their kids and they want to believe that the person at the helm, has that as their core value.
Mommynoire: I’m raising a 4 year-old boy with a busy and overactive imagination. When I look at him, he’s already been in 4 or 5 schools because he is always busy. They like to tie it to ADD. But when I work with him, I see the creative side. So my question is: how do you build programs around children who may not be special needs, but they have difficulties learning in traditional environments?
Cami Anderson: First of all we do know that when it comes to students, African-American and Latino boys are over identified, in terms of students with special needs and also in terms of being disciplined, for the same actions that their white peers are not. So, this is straight up in the research. The first thing is that we need to challenge or own systemic biases and really have frank and tough conversations about the affects of racism. With school in general, you have to be careful not to become too routinized. I grew up in the theater. I believe in giving students a lot of different ways to develop. Some are traditional, because they are going to have to learn to sit in rows to take tests, etc. and then also, non-traditional – the arts and theater. We have to focus on strong academics, but we also have to give kids a lot of opportunity to express themselves. I’m worried about this too because my son is bi-racial.
Mommynoire: Let’s take a South Ward child that is connected to the most perverse forms of hip hop music. They are heavily infused in gangs, and through music they are taught that school doesn’t even matter. And listening to a Lil Wayne, they realize they can get everything they desire without being in the classroom. They are making millions upon millions and telling our kids that they don’t need school, how do you get those kids – to not be the drop out?
Cami Anderson: I’ve spent most of my career in education, working with young people who failed out of the traditional system. I taught kids who were suspended for a year. In my old job in New York as a Superintendent of alternative high schools, I worked almost exclusively with young people, that really struggled. Many of them were court involved. I actually helped to find a network of charter high schools for court involved youth. So these groups of students are near and dear to my heart. I think you have to look at the 3 R’s – relevance, rigor and relationships. So the first is relevance – they have to feel connected to the people at the school. Schools that do well with young people that are struggling do well because they have adults who believe passionately in young people. They never give up on them, even when they may be challenging authority. That’s the relationship relevance. They have to feel like school is going to get them somewhere. You have to do a lot of things to engage them as leaders. You have to engage them as a community and also use topical issues that they are passionate about. About rigor – people think the way to recapture disconnected youth is to dummy down the curriculum. It’s actually the opposite. Because if they feel bored, or that you don’t respect their intelligence or leadership skills, which many of them have both, then they aren’t going to come back. And they certainly aren’t going to stay if they feel like they can be competent somewhere else. I’ve been blessed to be able to start charter schools and run a whole system. As a teacher, my students have been able get very significant gains. And its because we worked hard in all three of those areas.
We know it’s hard to keep up with everything happening in the tweets, so here’s a brief recap of what Black Twitter’s been talking about lately.
Election Day – Time to hit the polls
The 2014 election season comes to a close today as voters across the nation head to the polls. Republicans and Democrats are battling it out over control of several gubernatorial races around the country, and voters will decide who will control the Senate for the next two years. No matter what side of the political fence you fall on, voter turnout groups are relying on Twitter to get voters to the polls. And from the looks of things, it’s working.
I exercised my right to vote. Will anything change? TBD! #Election2014
— Rachel Lynette (@alwayslapislove) November 4, 2014
— dream hampton (@dreamhampton) November 4, 2014
— claudio (@claudioericka) November 4, 2014
We sometimes take our voices for granted, but what would it be like if we had no voice at all? As important as it is to vote–our ancestors fought and died for that right–some of us still feel voting is a waste of time and does no good. What do you believe?
ColorOfChange.org is doing a social experiment called the Election Day Project to show people how much power they give up by not voting and essentially letting someone else make decisions for you. Check the video and see these women find out what happens when others speak for them in a hair salon.
ColorOfChange.org exists to strengthen Black America’s political voice. The goal is to empower our members – Black Americans and our allies – to make government more responsive to the concerns of Black Americans and to bring about positive political and social change for everyone. ColorOfChange.org is comprised of Black folks from every economic class, as well as those of every color who seek to help our voices be heard.
The members are united behind a simple, powerful pledge: we will do all we can to make sure all Americans are represented, served, and protected – regardless of race or class.
Using the Internet, as with this Election Day Project, they enable the members to speak in unison, with an amplified political voice. They keep them informed about the most pressing issues for Black people in America and give them ways to act. We lobby elected representatives using email, the telephone, and face-to-face meetings.
Color of Changes brings attention to the needs and concerns of Black folks by holding coordinated events in different parts of the country, running TV and print advertisements, and demanding that the news media cover our issues. They also work with other groups – online efforts and other organizations that are doing related work – to magnify their impact.
Are you planning on voting? Do you always vote?
Celebrities can hold considerable weight in the public eye when it comes to certain issues and they can even sway a politician’s view about something. These celebrities made their way to Washington D.C. to lend their powerful voice to a cause or issue they believed in, reminding us all the power is in the hands of the people.
Funnyman Stephen Colbert first got his start in front of a national audience on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” Playing a caricatured version of a political pundit, Colbert became so popular he landed his own show where he continued poking fun at staunch conservatives by acting like one. In 2010, he brought that satire to the House Judiciary Subcommittee to talk about working in America’s fields. Showing support to migrant workers, Colbert testified while sitting next to the president of the United Farm Workers, he talked about his “vast experience spending one day as a migrant farm worker,” adding that he was happy to use his star power to help the cause.
Stacey Dash just loves talking politics. TMZ recently caught up with the “Clueless” star and she spoke on behalf of Republicans in regard to same-sex marriage. According to Stacey, Republicans are definitely in favor of gay marriage.
“We are for equal marriage,” the 47-year-old actress said. “We’re not against that. We’re not against that at all. We believe everyone should have the same rights.”
Stacey went on to say that she doesn’t get why folks believe that the GOP are against same-sex marriage in the first place.
“That’s just propaganda, that’s not true. That’s just a certain amount of people. You can’t just throw a blanket over everyone because certain people have one opinion.”
Though most naturally roll their eyes when Stacey opens her mouth to discuss politics, we’d have to agree with what she says about making generalizations about everyone in a particular party. However, at the same time, it’s important to note that the official stance of the Republican party on same-sex marriage is that they’re against it. Not to mention that the party’s national platform calls for a ban against it.
As you may recall, last month it was announced that the controversial star would be joining the FOX News team as a regular contributor.
“Stacey is an engaging conversationalist whose distinctive viewpoints amongst her Hollywood peers have spawned national debates,” said Bill Shine, Executive Vice President of Programming, in a statement. – See more at: “We’re pleased to have her join Fox News.”
This should be interesting.
Tuesday, May 13, 2o14
Cast Your Vote For Ras J. Baraka
For Mayor of Newark, New Jersey
“This day, this space, this time and this condition are exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Leadership is not born out of ambition. It’s born out of time and condition.” – Ras J. Baraka/PolitickerNJ.com
This week, Diddy is doing more than dancing. The media and music mogul is lending his influential voice to support to Newark, New Jersey’s leading mayoral candidate, Ras J. Baraka via his personal Instagram:
Meet politician Ras J. Baraka, the South Ward, Newark, New Jersey native, who is also the son of the late iconic poet and activist, Amiri Baraka. A transparent leader in his own right, Mr. Baraka, who has been a community organizer his entire life is determined to carry Newark on his back for all the right reasons.
The Howard University graduate who majored in both Political Science and History notes that his alliance to Newark stems from his family’s roots which span over 70 years in the hardened ‘Brick City.’ With such a deep legacy, its no surprise that Ras Baraka is sincerely vested into transforming Newark into space that is economically healthy, academically rich, and community safe.
Truly impressed by his track record and his commitment to reviving Newark, Mommynoire contacted Ras J. Baraka to hear why he believes he is the most prepared to be mayor.
Kay Hudson, the Deputy Editor, shares her notes from her conversation with the busy politician determined to rebuild Newark into a city that is not recognized for its imperfections, but recognized for its power.
Mommynoire: Why should the residents of Newark call you their mayor?
Ras Baraka: I have built a strong grassroots movement of people, schools, businesses, colleges and universities, health care institutions, organized labor and more to work together to rebuild Newark. I know that a mayor can’t change a city all by himself from the top down. I tell people that “when I become mayor, you become mayor”. I ask people to believe in Newark and in their power collectively to transform our city.
Mommynoire: And if you become Mayor, what core changes would you like to see during your tenure?
Ras Baraka: I would like the city to concentrate on redeveloping our neighborhoods, not just downtown, to end the culture of gangs and violence, and to help strengthen our economy to create more jobs. To transform Newark, a mayor must focus on reducing poverty.
Mommynoire: For those who only hear the negative about Newark, shed light on the pulse of the people who make up the city. Who are they? What is their story?
Ras Baraka: Newark is a city of extraordinary people who are struggling to provide the basics for their families. Newarkers respond passionately when asked to get involved in transforming their city. Very few are involved in the crime that dominates the attention of the news media. The people of Newark, many of them recent immigrants, are deeply involved in the life of our communities.
Mommynoire: What is your solution for the gang and gun culture that plagues Newark? Do you want to clear the trouble makers out? Or do you want to empower them through targeted support based programs?
Ras Baraka: My strategy for dealing with the gangs, Project Chill, involves more than just a police crackdown. I will mobilize the full resources of law enforcement, community leaders, our educational and health institutions and city government . We will directly meet with gang members and give them a choice: If you continue a life of crime, you will be shot dead in the street or spend most of your life in jail. But, if you put down your guns, you can rebuild your life. You will be welcomed with job and literacy training and another help you might need. This concept in endorsed by President Obama’s Department of Justice, and has worked successfully in Boston, Compton, and Minneapolis. My opponent calls that “negotiating with gangs.”
Mommynoire: What are your thoughts on the education climate in Newark? Can the school systems be saved? As a principal, what steps did you take to rebuild Central High School and whats steps will you take to build the rest of the endangered school system?
Ras Baraka: At the present, Governor Chris Christie is trying to shut down our neighborhood schools and turn them over to profit-making companies. I am leading the fight to stop him. As the principal of Central High School, I turned around a failing school and eliminated the gang culture and increased the graduation rate from 50% to 80%. We accomplished this by involving parents in the school, creating activities that are more appealing than gang membership. We worked with feeder schools, brought in colleges and universities to help with curriculum and to provide scholarships. We trained teachers in practices that have proven successful in other urban schools. What we accomplished at Central High School, we can accomplish in all of our schools.
Mommynoire: How has your father’s literary history influenced your life? What core values did he instill in you that you would like to instill into your community?
Ras Baraka: At an early age I was exposed to the arts and to the international struggle for justice and human rights. I was blessed to grow up in my household. My parents Amina and Amiri Baraka exposed me to riches that were literary and also grounded in the reality of the unfair distribution of power and wealth. My parents taught me that the only way to stop injustice is for people to join together and work collectively. All of my life I have been a community organizer.
Mommynoire: Let’s talk about your competitors. How different are your visions for Newark?
Ras Baraka: Shavar Jeffries is the candidate of Wall Street hedge fund operators and political bosses. They want to privatize our schools. They don’t care about our neighborhoods. They are not from Newark or even from New Jersey for that matter. It is so important for them to control Newark that they are spending nearly five million dollars for Jeffries. Shavar is their lapdog in every way.
Mommynoire: Celebrities from entertainment mogul, Diddy to filmmaker, Spike Lee are supporting you and your mission – why do you think they believe you are the man for the job?
Ras Baraka: The celebrities supporting me are those who devote their lives to fighting injustice and to building a better world for all of us. I have worked with them for years, and they know that I am about bringing people together to create change. Like myself they understand that change is possible only through collective action.
Mommynoire: Let’s reflect back, what was Newark like when you were growing up? How has Newark changed since then?
Ras Baraka: Newark has come long way from the aftermath of the rebellion. But we have a long way to go in rebuilding our city. Minority and immigrant business are growing, the downtown business district has attracted new businesses and our once industrial waterfront is in the process of redevelopment. Newark has made enormous strides for the very wealthy. It’s time to focus on the needs of the rest of us.
Mommynoire: Where do you see Newark 5 years from now?
Ras Baraka: I envision a Newark in which citizens are empowered to do for themselves and for their city. Our neighborhoods will be reborn and our local shopping districts rehabilitated. We will have a stronger economy because we will have helped our small businesses to grow. The culture of gangs will have been replaced by a culture of love of self and community.
Take a peek at some of Ras Baraka’s accomplishments on the next page: