Solange Knowles & ‘Chance the Rapper’ Used Their Awards Appearance for a Greater Cause – #HometownChat

Hot Shot (Old-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
– Oprah Winfrey, TV Host & Entertainment Mogul

Hot Shot (New-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
– Kevin Hart, Comedian & Actor

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#HometownChat – “Smart Community, Special Service, Civic Dreams”

It was another sunny day in LA as Red Carpet watchers came out for the pre-show. So it was in England as well, as Solange Knowles performed a music set for concert goers. Then she got on a plane headed for LA. Knowles & Chance the Rapper used their BET Awards appearance for a greater cause.

She was there to honor a social activist; he was there to receive the Humanitarian Award. After receiving her own award earlier in the show, Knowles embraced the work of those working to address issues of brutality and criminal justice. Meanwhile, Chance is no stranger on empowering kids on the block.

He was almost brought to tears by a surprise clip from former First Lady Michelle Obama praising him for his work. With the lead-up to the Essence Festival and Independence Day celebrations underway, there’re many getting ready to get their groove on. Others are also considering the issues of the day.

For some, these times feel like there’s a kind of fog over the country’s social/political optics. Whether it’s in cases of laws being enacted or rights being revoked, it’s not clear how long it’ll take for this fog to burn off. How can we get through the fog? What does the fog look like? Well here are some things to consider.

  1. When vision is low, turbulence is high.
  2. When clouds are in the way, civic instruments have a role to play.
  3. When sunshine is blocked, social/civic development gets cooled.
  4. When haze is in the air, proceed with caution or move to higher ground where things are clear.

The healthcare debate and criminal justice matters have taken center stage in recent days. There’ve been a series of court rulings and proposed Senate legislation that have communities wondering ‘what are we, worst-in-class citizens?’ Some are even thinking out loud ‘how could anyone be so mean?’

An often quoted word of inspiration says ‘where there’s no vision, the people perish.’ This might also be modified to suggest where there’s no vision, no sense of common purpose, no justice, the people perish. What we see in the back-and-forth is that when vision is low turbulence is high in matters of public affairs.

As an example, the turbulence on a flight can happen during the first 10 minutes of takeoff or later at higher altitude. Low lying clouds have a way of making the early part of the ride bumpy. In the case of higher altitude, it’s usually due to a phenomenon called ‘air pockets.’ This is like a pothole in the sky.

When clouds are in the way a pilot has to use on-board instruments to help see through the fog. In the case of our country’s optics, that’s what the Special Prosecutor role headed by Robert Mueller is all about. But there’re other civic instruments and institutions that as citizens we get to add our say.

We look back on our history and see those moments when ‘America was born, died and came back from the dead.’ This is seen from the events leading up to America’s Independence to the Civil War period to the age of Civil Rights. They’re times when the light of progress came through after dark days of pain.

Solange and Chance are helping us get through the fog or dampness in the air by letting their light shine through. Just like when the sun is shining it warms the air, when the light comes through, our social and civic development grows. But when the light is blocked our social/civic development gets cooled.

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They also know when haze or ‘air pockets’ are in the path, to proceed with caution or move to higher ground where things are clear. When vision is high it points us towards that higher ground. In a sense that’s what can be achieved through the collective efforts of ‘Community 3.0, Vision100 and the United Streets of America.’

So where do we find ourselves on issues of the moment? Some of the concerns have been around for a while. It feels like same old stuff, different day. Maybe we’re at the crossroads of belief and relief. We’re trying to believe there’s room enough for fresh change while hoping for some relief from the confusion.

When it comes to technological change we’re in a phase known as ‘the Internet of things.’ This is where more of our electronic devices and home appliances are connected to the Internet. This way there’s more we can do to measure and manage the efficiency in our daily lives by being more connected.

To advance our effectiveness in social change, there needs to be a mindset that a “Community of things’ will move us from the ‘politics of things’ to the ‘common purpose of things.’ How we get there might seem a bit fuzzy. But it could mean connecting ‘Mission Ready Blocks’ (MRBs) with ‘Mission Rocking Beats.’

Abraham Lincoln once said Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character give him power. Martin Luther King Jr. is quoted as saying Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice and suffering; the tireless exertions and passionate concerns of dedicated individuals.

Where we are today fits those quotes. Those in power show us their true character. What they propose assumes that anything goes. Lincoln and King would have us know we must fight for opportunity and against injustice. These things we can do in the meantime until sunshine comes after dark days are gone.

Block Talkback: These days should we fight for something (like healthcare for more citizens) or fight against something (like brutality and social injustice)?

Groove-tracks: Baby Cham ft Alicia Keys – Ghetto Story – https://youtu.be/loPRsrqrDXc

TLC – It’s Sunny –  https://youtu.be/EolE4i0UmWw

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Alicia Keys & Rihanna as Artists Known for their Hot Tracks and Humanitarian Hearts – #HometownChat

Hot Shot (Old-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
Rev. Al Sharpton, Civil Rights Drum Major

Hot Shot (New-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
Rihanna, Global Music Artist

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#HometownChat – “Smart Community, Special Service, Civic Dreams”

This year’s Oscars had major confusion as to which movie won for Best Picture. With the awards season in full effect other artists are looking forward to their own time in the spotlight. It’s great to celebrate chart toppers and emulate performers like Alicia and Rihanna known for their hot tracks & humanitarian hearts.

But the Oscars also had a down home moment when folks from a city tour bus were invited inside the hall. The ‘star’ of this surprise part of the program was ‘Gary from Chicago’ who was busy taking pictures with Hollywood celebs. The mix of folks from the bus was a good reminder of America’s rich diversity.

From our history to the outlines of the American flag we see what can happen when stars and stripes come together. In a sense it was stars and stripes that came together in that Oscars moment.  Alicia might see it as the workings of a blended family while for Rihanna it’s shining bright like a diamond.

As artists they’re walking in shoes of past icons, including Nina Simone and Mahalia Jackson. Simone sang about being young gifted and black. That was a kind of anthem during times of unrest and upset. Jackson was there in the trenches using her voice to lift spirits and move the needle on social activism.

Alicia & Rihanna know social impact is more than just working that body but also having a body of work. It’s more than just a singing voice but also a social voice for greater good by seasoned citizens and an engaged next generation. Having stars & stripes come together in Community 3.0 (call it C30) means:

  1. Giving no more reasons that leave ‘small change’ on the sidelines.
  2. Bringing lots more ‘We the People’ potential to the frontlines.
  3. Having a more ‘turnt-up’ mindset in hometowns over time.
  4. Moving a ‘C30’ vision into something primetime.

Most people can think of a time of walking over ‘small change’ in the street. It might have been a nickel or a dime. For someone who’s well-off, small change will have lower value than for someone less-off. For a less-off person, small change can be the difference maker in buying a bottle of water to quench thirsts.

There’re ways to have small change in smart community make a big difference. It might be small change when we plug our smart phones into the outlet. The power increases in small percent jumps. But before you know it apps get updated. Before you know it the phone is fully charged and ready for smart use.

When officials offer the same old same old to the community, then ‘We the People’ have to get plugged-into some new ways. We learn this from early human history in two kinds of social uplift situations. There was one where the powers-that-be was told ‘Let the People Go’ and the other told ‘#LetThePeopleKnow.’

If Moses and Pharaoh or Joseph and the King don’t ring a bell then at least modern civil rights history should. What they have in common is how folks stepped-up their true calling and hometown game. They brought more ‘We the People’ potential to the frontlines in every little step they took and move they made.

Recently, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made news saying people don’t fully appreciate what makes America great. It’s not simply in the cars we drive, homes we live in or towering skyscrapers we build. It’s in the down home ways we function as a melting pot of diverse ideas and breakout talents.

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When diamond is mined there’s a breakout process before it has market value. It’s all about how the diamond in the rough gets ‘turnt-up’ into diamond in the bling. Having a more ‘turnt-up’ mindset in community is in a ‘stars & stripes’ diversity that empowers consumers and citizens for more street value.

This will make us better by doing things to move a C30 vision into primetime. Remember when AOL first came on the scene. It was like an add-on feature with a new computer. It wasn’t there to compete with the computer but to connect the user (through the computer) to a broader space called the World Wide Web.

AOL partnered with computer makers to give more options to the consumer. The same could happen if C30 were to partner with urban radio to connect ‘block talk’ with the world of streets and beats. The same is true if C30 produced civic dream features connecting hometowns with ‘destiny’s dots’ in the community.

During the Montgomery Bus Boycott the powers-that-be weren’t ready to respond to ‘Let the People Go.’ So those in the movement also went with the ‘Let the People Know’ strategy. Along the way folks were told by movement leaders that there comes a time when time itself is ready to make a change.

In the days ahead if there’s ongoing confusion about civic affairs it might be baffling when certain officials remain hardened to their positions. But there’s sure to come a time when even time’s ready to make a change. Even in having to ‘Let the People Know,’ there came a time when ‘I Have a Dream’ took shape.

So to move C30 into primetime as in days gone by, there’re times to work with key decision makers and times to affect other powers-that-be. There’re times things might be well said but not well meant. There’re times to fight the power and times for plugging-in the power to be ‘turnt-up’ as young, gifted & stacked.

Groove-tracks: Snap – The Power – https://youtu.be/j1BNcSBApOU

Common & Lalah Hathaway – Young Gifted & Black – https://youtu.be/pPfgjNjLZ9I

Doc Rivers Steps to the Mic on the Day ‘American Idol’ in Politics Left the Building for an Alternate Replacement #HometownChat

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Over the past few months I’ve tried to observe the campaign season with two eyes: One looking at the concerns of those in Urban America and the other at resentment by those in Heartland America. I’ve been trying to figure-out and explain what’s going on these days. At times people want to throw-in the towel.

That’s why social media and local radio are buzzing. Sports radio too, as pros who played sports all their life are a little frustrated for how they’re seen by some fans and public figures. As if the spotlight on Colin Kaepernick wasn’t enough, now it’s NBA coach Doc Rivers who stepped to the mic on ‘locker room talk.’

There was a time we’d sit, watch and cheer our favorite performers. Not just as families watching American Idol on TV but also as citizens watching the Presidential debate. With Idol now a recent past, it seems the day we see politics as an ‘American Idol’ has left the building for an alternate replacement.

The voter frustration level can be hard to put into words. This leads people to throw logic out the door and attach themselves to things on an emotional level. In a sense that’s how the second Presidential debate went off the rails. It was over-run by Alt-Right venom and low-brow antics of insults and miss-information.

It can be entertaining to see insults fly. But it’s even more frightening to think how miss-information is a great threat to society. This makes it harder to learn much in civic affairs. Still, without the benefit of a real scientific poll, it seems the main frustrations of American voters include the following:

  1. The political system (i.e. stalemate) isn’t working for enough regular citizens.
  2. The social/justice system isn’t serving some communities fairly.
  3. The census demographic changes create fear that the country is becoming more diverse too fast.

Recently, President Obama had the first veto override in his Presidency. On the next day, sponsors and supporters of the Bill in Congress said it would need to be modified. It left some political commentators to think that this was just a way to have an override on record during the President’s two terms in office.

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Even one of the Bill’s supporters laid blame at the President’s feet. This example of legislative wrangling was a reminder of how the political system sometimes seems to be more about posture than main purpose. It’s become a kind of run-around that isn’t working for enough regular citizens.

Then there’re communities that are left feeling like ‘nobody.’ This may go as far back as America’s early founding where the Constitution recognized African-Americans as having a three-fifths standing. It was a sort of ‘Class-B’ citizenship with ‘bogus’ reasons for unequal legal protection under the law.

Today, some citizens are seen as a threat instead of an asset. For example, how is it that an alleged terror suspect known to be armed and dangerous is captured alive, but an innocent unarmed Oklahoma resident whose car is disabled doesn’t get to see another day? This creates a social strain in community.

Other things might not be obvious but sure seem curious. Increasingly there’s a different despair that’s floating in the Heartland America air. As a broader set of immigrants enter our shores there’s a fear of the census demographic changes. It’s as if America’s diversity is seen as a threat instead of an asset.

Pittsburg Steelers fans know something about the ‘Terrible Towel.’ It’s a way they rally the team with a wave of towels in the air. Sometimes the fun of the game is also seeing fans create a ‘rolling wave’ around the stadium. This might start off in one section of the stands and roll around in a complete circle.

Maybe that’s the kind of vision we need from the next leader of the Free World. This would mean having public policies and hometown synergies where citizens participate in a ‘Great Wave.’ It might start from one end of America’s shore and travel around the coastline to the other end. This way more people get to experience the full fun and ethnic flavor from rolling together.

Groove-tracks: Common – The People –  https://youtu.be/S7B2VgRShew

Alicia Keys – In Common – https://youtu.be/4HazJhPnrB8

Marvin Gaye Once Asked “What’s Goin’ On” But Today We Ask “What the What?” #HometownInspiration

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Trivia: Who’s the new record-holder for most music sales in a week? (Answer below)

The NY Daily News wants to make a point. Their cover story on the tragedy in San Bernardino read “God Isn’t Fixing This!” They and many others would like to vent frustration in strong terms. Over forty years ago, Marvin Gaye once asked “What’s Goin’ On” But today people are asking WTW – “What the What?”

There’re some world records that America should not be proud of. And denial is not going to change a thing. True, we lead in areas that make the country attractive to those looking for a better life. But it’s hard to see how more mass shootings than the number of days in a year fit with that ‘better life’ ideal.

America’s history of revolution, civil war, civil rights, stock market crashes and tech bubbles were previews to what’s being experienced now. As the back-stories are told it seems when we were more focused on ratings than on well-being, we became like a tree standing on the outside but dying inside.

Recently, the Syrian crisis became front and center. Some wanted America to offer refugee status. In 24 hours Congress got together to discuss putting a ‘pause’ on the refugee program. Whether the Bill made a difference is still debatable. So, what’s taking them so long to address senseless violence in America?

It’s hard to say there’s a common thread in all these events. Some point to domestic terrorism while others see radicalization attracting those who don’t feel like they fit-in or matter. So it might help to have a counter-radicalization effort to dispel propaganda with a new kind of powerful that’s ‘good enough.’

We increasingly live in a media-intensive world. The combo of social media and news media make it easier for people to project their reality. That reflects the culture of convenience today. So as everyday folks and public figures act shamelessly in rhetoric, they’ll be inciting those wanting to be the next Rambo.

We can safely say whether urban, suburban or rural, “if nothing changes in America, then nothing changes!” With a focus on ratings without well-being, we’ll have more senseless doings as human beings. If the harsh rhetoric doesn’t change, we’ll be telling it like it is without knowing what we’re dealing with.

Answer: Adele

Groove-tracks: All Star Tribute – “What’s Goin’ On” – https://youtu.be/TFvp2jwqoDk,

‘Empire’ Cast  – “Powerful” –  https://youtu.be/Gbejk8nd1jE