Michelle Obama and Tracee Ellis Ross Had a Heart-to-Heart Chat on Becoming a Better You, A Better Me and A Better We


Who’s ready to meet America’s newest pop star? Well she’s already America’s lady love but now it’s without the White House strings attached. As former First Lady Michelle Obama kicked-off her book tour, she’s sharing some previously untold stories behind the curtains as well as her life of Becoming.

Sometimes referring to herself as a “Southside girl” she takes us through her journey and the pages of the book with her signature down-to-earth style. It’s as if she’s talking with a full-house of her closest friends. Even joking of feeling like saying “Bye Felicia” as she departed the White House for the last time.

During her sit-down with Tracee Ellis Ross she had a heart-to-heart chat on going from modest means to being on the biggest stage in the world. Her ‘pop star’ message of choosing people over politics wasn’t just about her childhood dance-steps but also on becoming “a better you, a better me, a better we.”

She’s made clear that running for office isn’t on her bucket list. But she still plans to advocate for those who approach public service with love, honor and service for a common cause. These days it seems there’re those who see public service as being about money, power and fame by any means necessary.

This has been in the spotlight since the Obamas left office. America has its own ‘becoming’ story where progress happened in leaps and bounds but sometimes with backsteps. Much of what we see today seem more about ‘fear and hate’ than about ‘hope and love.’ So our ‘becoming’ needs to deal with:

  1. Voter Suppression
  2. Democracy Subversion
  3. Racial Division
  4. Truth Destruction

Imagine if Doctors today decided that they’re going to make it harder for women to give birth. It would be like doing things that made childbirth harder on mothers and families. When it comes to voter suppression, that in a sense is what we see with some politicians in making it harder on citizens.


It took a revolution to give birth to the nation. Ever since then the work has been about moving towards a more perfect union. But when some make it harder to vote they’re messing with a key aspect of what it means to be a democratic republic. Democracy subversion gives rise to a breach in trust in government.

Some might remember as a child playing with marbles. The marbles had a certain color swirl to their makeup. Some had more color filled-in while others were clearer in appearance. No matter how a marble looked we didn’t approach one over the other with a supremacy mentality. They were all just marbles.

A mindset of people over politics is one where we appreciate all the marbles. But when racial division gets stoked it’s like trying to separate the marbles or act like there’s ‘color supremacy.’ That feeds into the idea that one color is better than another color. In God’s eyes we’re all just different color marbles.

As kids we also played the telephone game. We’d tell someone a phrase and they’d tell the next person. Usually by the time it got to the end of the line it wasn’t what was first said. But there’s a difference between miss-information and truth destruction where folks make stuff up to deceive and destroy.

That’s where Mrs Obama draws the line. With voter suppression we might have to recall the Voting Rights Act. But with truth destruction our democracy and personal security are at stake. So whether Brooklyn or the Bay Area, Tennessee or Texas we’re still on that road of becoming “a better you, a better me, a better we.”

Tracks: Arrested Development – Tennessee  – https://youtu.be/6VCdJyOAQYM

Lou Rawls – Lady Love – https://youtu.be/a-CwWMXpsX0

Aretha Franklin – The Queen of Soul Was Rock Steady from Start to Finish


Tribute to an Icon Who Made us Groove

Most of us can remember where we were when certain major news stories hit the airwaves. It could be the day of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, the passing of Michael Jackson or Prince. These events leave us thinking about what our loved ones or music icons mean to our everyday experiences.

Then of course there’s the news of the passing of Aretha Franklin. She became known as the Queen of Soul for her musical prowess that started at a young age. But it’s not only remembering where we were when that news first broke. It’s also about how Ms. Franklin made us feel in our coming and going.

Long before Video Music Awards were a thing, Franklin was a chart-topper on the Billboard scene. She became the youngest inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She’s also the most decorated female Grammy winner of all time. That’s another way for saying Franklin was ‘rock steady’ from start to finish.

As the tributes pour in from past Presidents & showbiz figures, we remember Franklin as a person whose music through soul went beyond the mold. Her work was not limited to one genre of music. Franklin made hits across pop, gospel, R&B, jazz and even a little country. If for nothing else her music had S.A.S.S.

Ms. Franklin didn’t get lost in the diva-girl persona that seems to cloud some artists. Her music was usually built around a Storyline. In some cases it became Anthemic. It had a Soundtrack quality to the groove. But it also had Swizzle by delivering ‘soul with sizzle.’ That‘s the Aretha many came to love.

Recording artists, music industry pioneers and fans might not all agree on whether Michael Jackson was more talented than Prince. But they’ll likely agree that Franklin was in a class of her own. She left us with memories from her music that’ll be around for a long time. She also left us some takeaways from her life.

When it comes to the intersection of American history and pop culture Ms. Franklin might also want us to:

  1. Raise our voice in local as well as high places.
  2. Raise our value in a career game and other spaces.
  3. Raise our volume of impact that leaves a legacy for the ages.


Franklin had the chance at an early age to develop her singing voice at her father’s Church. After honing her chops there she went on to become a hit-maker and crowd-pleaser. She even had the chance to sing at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama wearing that fancy hat which is now at the Smithsonian.

When you look at her music you find the evolution of a career across three record companies. Columbia Records introduced us to her voice as sales weren’t quite through the roof just yet. Then Atlantic Records took us through mid-career as she became a household name. And still the hits kept coming.

Then there’s the partnership with Arista Records which brought a more hip sound to her music. This is probably the period for which her work speaks volumes. More people both young and old came to fully appreciate her longevity in the music biz. Her Kennedy Center Honors in 2015 was like icing on the cake.

Many remember that moving performance of Natural Woman that had the audience drooling at her feet. Even The Obamas were on a Franklin high. So the jury might be out on whether the favorite female artist these days is Cardi B or Nicki Minaj. But there’s no mistaking that Ms. Aretha Franklin was Soul Sister #1.

Tracks: Jennifer Hudson – I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) – https://youtu.be/6BWU5dCYHkY

Fantasia – Aretha Franklin Tribute – https://youtu.be/bRWzzaB-Png

Barack Obama & John Kasich Return to Political Spotlight with More Faith in the People – #HometownChat

Hot Shot (Old-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
– Jamie Foxx, Actor, Artist & Comedian

Hot Shot (New-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
– Pharrell Williams, Global Music Superstar & Fashion Designer


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

There’s lots of talk these days around the basketball court and the halls of Congress. Whether it’s looking at the first 100 days or getting ready for the White House Reporters Dinner or enjoying the NBA playoffs. Plus, Barack Obama & John Kasich have returned to the spotlight with more faith in the American people.

Obama has been on a post-presidency honeymoon, spending downtime in scenic locations. He recently met with students in Chicago discussing the importance of civic engagement. While it might feel like he’s walking a tightrope as former President, he’s working on preparing the next generation of service leaders.

In the case of Kasich, his return is largely due to his book tour. He’s concerned about the static nature of today’s public policy with the feeling that more gets said than done. His time as Ohio Governor and as presidential candidate stands-out in the minds of those who see the nation being challenged by divisions.

Sometimes policy arguments are more left versus right, middle-class versus 1%-class, starched-collar versus no collar. Increasingly it seems to be about voices that are softest versus loudest. With social media as an added ingredient for dissent it can be difficult to get a handle on how public policy might:

  1. Improve economic stock value at home and abroad.
  2. Bridge community strength in the city and countryside.
  3. Reduce social divide across the have’s and the haven’ts.
  4. Embrace personal security within the issues and without the threats.

A constant concern for everyday folks is whether their money is well spent. For some there’s more month than money and something might get postponed or dropped from the budget. But if there’s a will there’s a way to make it to the next check. It’s in how households survive based on what’s spent and what’s saved.

With talk of setting aside money for a border wall, it makes some wonder if that’s the right priority. How might that improve our economic stock value at home or abroad? There’re airports that need upgrading and buildings that need repairing. There’re projects that need investing and towns that need boosting.

A few years ago a bridge in Minnesota collapsed, killing some motorists. It’s a popular roadway serving the Twin Cities area in Minneapolis. Further investigation showed a structural design flaw. The bridge has been replaced but government reports show many more structures in cities and countryside need repair.

This bridge is a major thoroughfare used by those in the Twin Cities. Their economies are closely tied to the commerce that moves on the span. The importance of such a bridge shows the value of public policy whether it’s in connecting two cities or linking community strength between the city and the countryside.


When traveling the highways and byways of America there’s much to see and much that’s not seen. From the rolling hills to the urban skyscrapers, there’s a sense for where resources are plenty and where it’s otherwise few. There’re pockets of ‘McMansion Estates’ and relics of rundown hometown squares.

With this comes a feeling of the have’s and the haven’ts. This might be seen in tax policy or healthcare programs. Some argue that the discussions are presented as a choice between having universal appeal or unrestrained profit. The policy debate will have the most credibility by serving the haven’ts just as well.

More and more we find personal security as an ongoing concern. There’s the issue of financial identity information kept out of the wrong hands. Others worry about getting pulled-over on the road where something minor becomes major. There’re some laws that appear to out-muscle the civil rights of citizens.

Public policy debates are helpful by an approach to the subject around the pros and cons of the issues. Sometimes when it’s a debate around safety the threat is about losing federal funding. But what’s to be gained by projecting a fear of others other than demonizing and dividing groups of people?

In parenting situations there’re different ways for getting the attention of a child. Sometimes it’s a stern look or raised voice for ‘putting the fear’ in them. However, there’s a fine line when crossed that might lead to intimidation or abuse. It’s probably better for a child’s self-esteem by ‘putting the faith’ in them.

Maybe that’s where Obama and Kasich can agree with good public policy working wonders by ‘putting the faith’ in people. As with smart parenting, it takes understanding the issues and the effects on a child. The next generation of Community 3.0 service leaders will make a difference by advancing smart community.

So in the words of Obama, if we are the change we seek, then citizens are agents of change to policy-makers. In the words of Kasich, if politicians are too locked-in to own their shadows, then citizens will have to step-out of the shadow. History shows that when people free their minds, the rest will follow.

Block Talkback: Why should officials who tend to put fear in people be anymore trusted by the public if ‘putting the faith’ in people is better for making a difference in community?

Groove-tracks: En Vogue – Free Your Mind – https://youtu.be/i7iQbBbMAFE

Beyoncé ft Kendrick Lamar – Freedom –  https://youtu.be/dOuZA5ftyJw

Barack Obama, Kevin Hart: Making Passion Do for Hometown Blocks as for Brand Stocks – #HometownChat

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

Hot Shot (Junior): “Real Talk with Industry Players and (Future) Biz Leaders”
– A’layah Robinson, Budding Social Entrepreneur


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

“It’s not where you start but how you finish.” For Barack Obama, it started as a community organizer on the streets of Chicago. This helped put him in the White House. Kevin Hart’s journey went from Philly to Hollywood. They might tell us something on making passion do for hometown blocks as for brand stocks.

These days Obama’s is looking to work on his memoirs. After signing what’s thought to be a hefty book contract, he’s setting aside time to recap his eight years as President. Hart’s become one of the hottest stand-up comics and is busy as pitch-man for all kinds of consumer products. The latest is for underwear.

Recently when word got out that Obama was in the NY area a crowd quickly gathered. When word hit social media that Dave Chappelle gave a nod to Hart in his Netflix show some buzz got started. Maybe that’s also what happened when the NFL announced that the Raiders were moving to Las Vegas.

There’s a list of cities that would love to have a team in their backyard. Many know they can’t depend on such fortune to change their future. They’ll have to do it in other creative ways for hometown blocks as an NFL team or biz start-up might do for their brand stocks. So for those on ‘Third Street’ this could mean:

  1. The local club isn’t just for getting your groove on but for Community 3.0 getting a move on.
  2. The beauty shop isn’t just for hair and nails but for social shifts and setting sails.
  3. The ‘race track’ isn’t just about black versus white or wins and losses but for dreams and causes.
  4. The street hotspot isn’t just for phones or ‘cards & dice’ but for letting ideas spread at a fair price.

The biggest part of getting an NFL team to switch cities is getting a new stadium. That usually starts out with a vision for the physical venue. This stadium would likely have the latest in service amenities and social niceties. Part of the consideration would also be the impact it will have on the surrounding area.

If only there was a strategy to have passion do for those ‘around the way’ as for those who come to play? That’s usually another sticking point with city officials for coming up with public/private funding. It’s why the local/social club might not just be a place for getting your groove on but also getting a move on.

The move from Oakland to Vegas is likely to be a big talking point on sports radio. Many have been ‘banking’ on such a decision after other teams made plans to change cities as well. The pros and cons will get discussed forwards and backwards. Some fans might be seen cheering and others seen jeering.

Another place where this will get some attention is in the barber/beauty shops in town. Beyond the bars and pubs, there’s no better place for down-home sports analysis than the place of many post-game experts. These neighborhood social shops don’t have to be known just for styling and profiling.

The passion expressed each week reminds us that the beauty/barber shop isn’t just for doing hair and nails but for social shifts and setting sails. It’s a place where the unsung get heard and the unsaid gets told. It’s a place where you might come-in feeling low but step-out feeling high and embracing a new flow.


Hart’s been using his passion to do just that. He’s done it on stage with various road shows. He’s done it on the big screen with box office success to his credit. He’s doing it as a pitch-man for consumer products that fit his taste & wallet terms. And he’s even doing his part to push others in areas of health & wellness.

Everybody’s passion finds itself on a different kind of ‘race track.’ So, every community’s passion should be more that just about ‘white versus black’ or wins and losses but also civic dreams and social causes. Plus, the ‘race track’ should do more than have us going in ‘political circles’ to feel good or not feel used.

In technology the hotspot is a kind of virtual space where wifi connections take us to a far-reaching place. When you connect to a hotspot you get access to ‘ramps and lanes’ on the information superhighway known as WWW. It brings a whole new world. It’s a wider reach of content. It’s a web of resources.

What if the new hotspot approach to community isn’t just with tech streams but also with social streams? This would mean being more than just about smart phones or playing cards and dice. It’d be about letting breakthrough ideas spread at a fair price. It would be about handling resources as a smart community.

There’s talk on whether government should be run as a business or whether community can be run like a car. How that’s done effectively might depend on who’s at the top or who’s in the driver’s seat. But based on what happened in Flint Michigan, public service passion is in how much the powers-that-be really care.

In one sense, for some who bring passion to be trusted it might help to have social indicators related to a kind of ‘check system light’ similar to a car’s check engine light. So when new program ideas are introduced they get reviewed and measured on an e-scale, fairly serving needs from many to everyone.

Maybe that’s a lesson from Obama’s Presidency and the recent healthcare drama. It’s what the CBO, a good CEO or community leader might help us see through. Passion can do good for hometown blocks as with brand stocks. But if left unchecked it can do more tearing down than building up, so keep runnin’.

Block Talkback: How about a new ACA View; from ‘Repeal & Replace’ to ‘Repair & Repaint’? It’s not ‘totaled,’ just a few dents, no need to right-it-off?

Groove-tracks: Pharrell Williams – Runnin’ – https://youtu.be/jDoUrLtdVEY

Anderson.Paak – Come Down – https://youtu.be/Nh5WSnh8s4Q

Ava DuVernay & Lin-Manuel Miranda Speak on Winning a Game but not Losing Our Civil Liberties – #HometownChat


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

“Hey Martellus Bennett, Patriots just won the Superbowl, what are you doing next?” That question might remind us of those past ads for Disney. Bennett’s not planning to do the usual stuff. He’d probably love to hear Ava DuVernay or Lin-Manuel Miranda speak on winning a game but not losing our civil liberties.

While Monday morning quarterbacks broke down the game, other folks were happy seeing the Obama’s back in town. During their two-week vacation there was even a sighting of BO’s look-alike ‘cool Barry’ with his cap turned backward. They returned just in time to settle into Washington’s business as ‘Reality TV.’

What we’re seeing these days is just a new look of some old ways. That’s what a doctor might say when examining a patient or a historian might say when examining the political, social and economic system. We’ve gone from slavery to Jim Crow to an emerging system condition that could be called John Crow.

It’s called John Crow because of a certain far-away bird that takes advantage of the death, misery and ‘lost way’ of animals. This system has a new set of ‘isms’ (along with WMDs – Weapons of Mass Dah) to benefit from death, misery and lower socio-economic status. So to #LetThePeopleKnow when it’s a John Crow is to:

  1. Check the system for signs of ‘Vulture-ism.’
  2. Churn (agitate) the establishment for the acts of ‘sham-ism.’
  3. Challenge the laws against rounds of social schism.
  4. Cheer the people to avoid the pitfalls of fake realism.

Executive Orders recently issued by the Republican Administration appear to have a negative impact on the everyday citizen. Vulture-ism is seen when perks for Wall Street dig potholes on the roads for Main Street. It’s when concerns for poverty and income inequality are stunted by policies of ‘purge & reward.’ We’ve got to save our streets from being attacked by a ‘republic of vultures.’ (Is it just coincidence that Trump’s middle name is John?)

Even the idea of possibly taking Iraq’s oil to pay for U.S. troop deployment in the Middle East is like a John Crow beast preying on the least. The thing to watchout for is whether the shifting administration policies are really about ‘Make America Great Again’ or adding more power and prime rib to their plate.

These efforts to undermine & override are not being overlooked by ‘people in the know.’ Maybe that’s why Nancy Pelosi made the statement that Trump Advisor Steve Bannon is a shot-caller for white supremacy. Howard Stern saying he feels Trump ran for president to get more money for hosting The Apprentice.

By putting those two thoughts out there some political observers have concluded that we’ve got to callout the administration for the acts of sham-ism. A ‘sham’ is a thing that is not what it’s advertised to be. There’s reason the establishment has more explaining to do on their proposed policies and procedures.

In his letter written while in a Birmingham jail Dr. King outlined the issues of his time. He challenged those who questioned his non-violent protests against laws that protected Jim Crow but oppressed, suppressed or distressed John & Jane Doe. King was saying ‘Yo, that’s some social schism.’

Fast-forward to John Crow today with policies that threaten 1st Amendment rights to a free press and religion but protect 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms. The administration wants weak vetting on cabinet picks but extreme vetting on immigrant visas. We find them shutting down Obamacare signups while saying a replacement won’t be ready until 2018. Does that mean they’d rather have people die, denying them insurance while delaying them any chance for a supposedly better plan? Yo, that’s some social schism right there.


So DuVernay and Miranda are doing their part to rally the people against losing touch with realism. She recently quoted James Baldwin who said A civilization isn’t destroyed by wicked people. It is not necessary that people be wicked. Only that they be spineless. Another philosopher once said Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (Is there a ‘true dat’ or amen?)

These notes are reminders to take off any ‘blinders’ that cause citizens to be tone-deaf, street dumb or side-eye blind. They might even suggest it’s a time to have ‘antennas up’ to get the reception and record straight. Smart community understands the past in order to better relate it to what just happened last.

When an Ohio minister says a ‘Chicago gang wants to work with Trump’ it makes people say, really? Then 24 hours later he walks it back, saying he miss-spoke as he was still tired from the recent campaign. He’s not the first minister with the campaign ‘trying to keep it real’ but showing straight-up fake realism.

The job of media, Congressional leaders, constitutional experts and engaged citizens is to keep the ducks in order. Some have committed to doing their part to fight the power as well as ‘floss Trump’s tweets’ (and the rest of his team) because the words in-and-out of their mouths can affect America’s future well-being.

‘Alternative facts’ is the new WMD in the John Crow system used as a cover for miss-information. We’ve been here before in Jim Crow times. So as we rise, let’s not be weary but stay true to realism. We’ll know if what we’re seeing will lead us to a place of more ‘still waters’ or towards a storm of some rough waters.

Groove-tracks: Isley Brothers – Fight the Power – https://youtu.be/KdJ0uv6oMRU

Solange – Rise/Weary – https://youtu.be/mKwxz23H5UY

President Lincoln & Dr. King Might Have to Step out of History to Reset Their Story at Obama’s Final Presser #HometownChat


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

History seems to have a way of repeating itself. That’s true when you consider the events leading up to and around another King Holiday. Some people are having flashbacks to the 60s with the number of ‘conscience rallies’ planned. Maybe Lincoln and King will have to step out of history to reset their story.

Lincoln moved America leaps and bounds to end the Civil War in the 1860s. King and the Civil Rights movement did their part for social justice in the 1960s. Lincoln is an idol for many politicians including president Obama. King holds high honor with many Americans, so too does Congressman John Lewis.

So after days of back-and-forth since 2017, there’s concern this is no time to get happy, but to get woke and huddle-up. We saw a southern American city try to re-name the King Holiday. Along with the John Lewis episode there were other surprise Twitter & SNL moments. What’s to come is anyone’s guess.

So as President Obama holds his final press conference, the goodbyes will be hard to swallow. But what if Obama were to invite Lincoln and King to the presser, how would they speak up and make it plain? They’d have four things to #LetThePeopleKnow as Obama’s set to go. We might hear them telling us to:

  1. Educate ourselves in communities of color and beyond on the 3Rs and other social issues.
  2. Elevate the broader public square to new levels of civic awareness.
  3. Evaluate the truth on who’s fooling who and who’s zoomin’ who (that’s right Queen Aretha).
  4. Escalate a commitment to change for the better (not just for PR or as a vote getter).

After the Civil War and Lincoln’s term ended, there was a ‘repeal & replace’ backlash that followed. Many newly elected officials didn’t want to appear supportive of progressive programs. This is like buying a new car and then having the HD radio removed because you don’t like the artist’s (Obama’s) name on display.

With new found freedoms and opportunities came a push to reverse them. Things went from a new normal to a new abnormal. So as time went on more HBCUs were started with renewed efforts to educate people on the 3Rs and their civic rights. Maybe Dr. King as a Morehouse Man would share this reminder.


Many years after the Civil War, the focus was also on elevating the broader public square to new levels of social awareness. What we know as Black History Month today started as a weeklong effort to inform and inspire. Some modern day history books have a way of leaving blanks or telling tales just to make sales.

One debate is whether Lincoln issued the Emancipation to save the union or free the slaves. This can take on a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario or go from truth to spin to lies in a few seconds. So in our current political climate Lincoln might have us think on who’s fooling who and who’s zoomin’ who then and now.

Often when candidates run on ‘change’ it’s fair to think change for the better, not just for PR or as a vote getter. History will assess this for our outgoing President as it will for the incoming. But when King said ‘I Have a Dream’ he also wanted us to see change as the ‘We’ from bottom up that moves the ‘I’ from top down. It’s how we might shine as ‘hidden figures’ through Community MRBs – Mission Ready Blocks, Mission Rhythm and Blues.

The post Civil War and post Obama eras seem to have some similar sketch-lines. What we see today as a fight against Obamacare was a fight then to stall Emancipation’s progress. What we see in the rise of certain ‘alt’ groups today was the rise of fringe groups then. Plus, we see the potential for gamesmanship in politics to overshadow the purpose of service in politics. The pendulum swing is real so what now?

Well, this is where Prez Obama would step back letting Lincoln and King take it to the bridge. Lincoln the politician might say ‘we must be a country that chooses to plant seeds over weeds.’ Weeds can overrun a lawn and make it look shabby. We must overspread the American landscape with less weeds and more seeds. The spreading of racism, sexism, xenophobia and the rise of false-reality news & views are a bad mix of weeds across the homeland.

King as the Baptist preacher might paraphrase words from the Apostle Paul reminding us that ‘you reap what you sow.’ And to add a common touch King might say ‘you can fool some of the people some of the times, but you can’t fool God none of the times.’ That’s true whether we’re regular folks or big timers.

Those who keep sowing social media weeds can’t expect to grow seeds of trust and respect. It’s when we choose to operate higher than this that we bring honor to the legacies of King and Lincoln. In due season, God can decide to harden, humble, hasten or hijack a man’s heart while steering us on another path.

Godspeed President Obama!

Groove-tracks: Ledesi – Higher Than This – https://youtu.be/I4yva8U-78U

Usher, Stevie Wonder, Shakira – Higher Ground –  https://youtu.be/0PEPrPRAp4M

President Obama Gave a ‘Hope & Change Remix’ with a Vision for America’s Next Phase – #HometownChat


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

As time winds down on President Obama’s term in office, there’s mixed feelings across the land. Some remember where they were when he was first elected as America’s first African-American President. So as part of his farewell speech he gave us a ‘hope & change remix’ with a vision for America’s next phase.

Obama campaigned on a message that he felt spoke to the heart of what it means to keep America moving forward. He said there’re times when it feels like we’re taking two steps forward and one step back. But the net result is becoming a more inclusive nation that widens the arc of justice and equality.

In a packed room of some 20,000 friends, family, staff and well-wishers he again tried to capture the imagination of an engaged citizenry. He reminded us in the simplest way that the U.S. Constitution is just a piece of paper with words. But it’s the people who bring life to those words through the political process.


The farewell address by the outgoing President is a tradition dating back to George Washington. Obama even referenced Washington in his speech as a book-end to sharing four things he wanted to #LetThePeopleKnow as he prepares to go. Before shedding a tear talking about his wife, he told us this:

  1. Affirm the ideal that we can work towards a more perfect union.
  2. Challenge the rise of fear, cynicism and despondency.
  3. Watchout for ‘political IEDs’ that can damage the legs of our democracy.
  4. Do our part in America so that it can continue to do its part in the world.

One of the earlier paragraphs in the Constitution speaks to ‘We the People’ working towards a more perfect union. This ideal has become an ongoing tireless process of give and take, discovery and heartbreak. But it’s one of the clearest ways we might think about how we fulfill our nation’s destiny.

Over time we’ve seen where ‘We the People’ working towards a more perfect union has been derailed by those who seem to be working towards a more pissed-off union. This happened pre Civil War when there was fear of a shift in economics. It happened during Jim Crow when there was fear of a shift in politics.

And it happened in the recent elections driven by fear of a shift in demographics. So Obama told us to challenge the rise of fear, cynicism and despondency. But also to watchout for political IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) that can damage the legs of our democracy. These get planted in different ways.

They’re part of a new arsenal of political WMDs (Weapons of Mass Dah) that are used as direct acts of hindrance or direct accounts of hogwash. Sometimes it’s a string of deception to make people believe fake news and deny real news. Other times it’s to suppress, depress, oppress, or confuse the electorate.

As the speech came to a build-up it’s as if Obama was channeling Dr. King. In what became King’s last speech in Memphis he talked about having been to the mountaintop and seen the Promised Land. He said he was confident we’d get there because his eyes had seen the coming of the glory of the Lord.

Obama wanted us to know that it was an honor having served eight years as our President. During that time he’s been to different events in the life of our nation that were mountaintop experiences. He still believes in hope and change today as he did then. That’s why we must do our part in America so that it can do its part in the world. So maybe Obama’s good if we choose to remix #YesWeCan with #YesOurCountry because ‘we are the ones!’

Groove-tracks: Will.i.am – We Are The Ones – https://youtu.be/ghSJsEVf0pU

Bruce Springsteen – Land of Hopes and Dreams –  https://youtu.be/hXrT8rQ0axM

Joe Biden & Harry Reid Would Have Us Know Stuff Happened in the 2016 Presidential Elections – #HometownChat


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

The 2016 elections shock has set in. So I decided to do something that I haven’t done in a while. It meant putting on my ‘tech head’ hat from my old professional days as a computer engineer. Each time the product was shipped to the customer, before it went ‘live’ we’d do a process called Root Cause Analysis.

This meant a deep-dive into the guts of the software code to see the root cause for ‘bugs’ (errors) found in the system. After a similar approach with the election results a few things stood out. Even VP Joe Biden and Senator Harry Reid would have us know stuff happened in the 2016 Presidential elections.

The biggest thing was WMDs – Weapons of Mass Dah! Some say the reason was fake news. But it was really about suppressing, depressing and polluting the electoral atmosphere. There’s even more that can be said which falls under the ‘Birtherism’ banner (let that simmer for a minute and then press continue).

Sure, some people were ‘angry with the system’ and used their vote as their voice. Others were angry with their situation and latched-on to what might be seen as ‘bravado-outsider-change.’ Then there was the backlash (also called ‘whitelash’) that came with distortion, delusion and distraction (more Dah!).

In the full root cause report it details four things we should ‘let the people know’ before President Obama goes. He shouldn’t have to carry the weight and burden of proof by himself after he leaves office. There’re even things we learn from trailblazers in our recent and distant past that we can use to move ahead.


So what does it mean to go from battleground to common ground? Well we shouldn’t lose our common sense. But we can use as a model folks like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President John F. Kennedy and Joseph (the original dreamer). They left us a blueprint for making a difference as follows:

  1. Be Watchful: Things to watch and fight for in how citizens get treated.
  2. Be Powerful: Things to live and reach for in how citizens rise to the occasion.
  3. Be Fruitful: Things to have and hold for how citizens secure shared-benefits & inalienable rights.
  4. Be Graceful (and Grateful): Things to love and leave as a legacy for the next generation.

We’ve seen a rise in incidents of hate, hurt and hogwash. You don’t have to be a computer scientist to know the root cause. During the campaign it was described as a “We the People” movement. Well, history shows there’re those who work towards a more perfect union and others towards a more pissed-off union.

Kennedy said “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” Today he’d join Dr. King with those working towards a more perfect union who’re concerned about the ‘Reversing of America.’ King might go further in telling the pissed-off crowd “Yes, It’s our Country” (too).

King and Kennedy knew there’s power in our vote and voice if used wisely. There’s also power in how we serve a greater purpose and channel our passions. We see that in the story of Joseph. He was miss-treated, lied-upon and falsely imprisoned. He later rose to the occasion in becoming a major public figure.

He did it using his gifts and working his ground. Everybody doesn’t have the same gifts. But every soul is birthed with at least one free gift. Gifts and talents are like yeast and slices in a loaf of bread. Some people have one, two or more personal strengths in how they make their paycheck bread. Plus, it’s working your gifts and talents that help make acclaim rise and made Dr. King soar to the occasion.

Over time we can judge the fruits of our labor and actions of political leaders. According to a social influence expert, what some Presidents do makes them famous or puts them in a sorry class of infamy. History reminds us of the latter from former U.S. Presidents Warren G. Harding and James Buchanan.

They’d miss-out on the Presidential Hall of Fame. Harding filled his cabinet with campaign supporters who enriched themselves. Buchanan seemed un-interested and didn’t do much to end slavery. He served just before President Lincoln prior to the Civil War. Could there be parallels in what’s happening now?

Even-though we find unease/disdain for what lies ahead there’s still room for hope and light to shine. Dr. King as a Baptist preacher might call our attention to insightful words from the Psalms saying “For God’s wrath can flare-up in a moment.” Maybe that’s why he had such grace under mounting pressure for social change. This and more he left us as a model for our generation.

Groove-tracks: T-Pain – A Change is Gonna Come – https://youtu.be/gsRYciU3Y2g

Kierra Sheard – Hang On –  https://youtu.be/1K4rvNY4WwQ

President Obama Sees America on a ‘Rock & Roll’ Track for Greatness


Trivia: Which Grammy-winning artist first fell in love with Hip-Hop at age six? (Answer below)

It was one of his most anticipated speeches to date. With his approval ratings on the slide, the President had to be sure he connected with Americans. On the heels of a series of setbacks in his administration he was still able to be upbeat in his message. It’s as if he sees America on a ‘rock & roll’ track for greatness.

The speech was a shot at setting the stage for his agenda. He gave some highlights of his 2014 goals and maybe even his dreams for the rest of his term. One of the memorable lines from the speech was “America does not stand still and neither will I.” That line when taken in context was truly inspirational.

Setting aside the TV pundits (whether you agree or disagree), the President seems less focused on the politics of the day and more on the service of his job. It’s not unlike what many working professionals have to consider in business. The key is to maintain a purposeful view on how you ‘rock & roll’ on the job.

The way to ‘rock’ on the job or in business is in how you do ‘more things right.’ The way to ‘roll’ is in how you do the ‘right things more.’ Yes, it’s about getting things done from start to finish with a little ‘sports talk’ in between. But it’s even more so about getting the ‘right things done more’ to raise the score.

So what it’s gonna take for President Obama to boost his approval numbers? That’s a question being debated in some circles. Whether it rises or falls further is yet to be seen. What is certain is that the President is using the rest of his time in office to usher in broader social and economic gains in greatness.

Tip: The goals set by working professionals and small businesses involve a balance between doing ‘more things right’ and the ‘right things more.’

Answer: Macklemore

Nelson Mandela Did for South Africa What Few Thought Possible in a Lifetime


Trivia: What’s the name of the region where Nelson Mandela will be laid to rest? (Answer below)

What a long road to freedom! For 27 years Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for his anti-Apartheid stand. The combination of global outcry and a call to conscience helped the country avoid a potential civil war. Nelson Mandela did for South Africa and the world what few thought possible in a lifetime.

It’s hard to say which one incident was the turning point in history. The country saw brutal clashes between citizens and the police. A growing list of companies signed-on to economic sanctions. Many celebrities and freedom fighters around the world kept the pressure on the South African regime.

Mandela points to his years in prison as key to his own metamorphosis. He had one or two opportunities to be released but choose not to until the government changed its ways. It’s almost as if Mandela used his personal ‘season to change’ as a preview of the change he would help usher into his country.

He went from outlaw to crafting new law. He was once a prisoner who became the country’s first democratically elected President. He stopped the minority population from being oppressors and helped the majority become dreamers. His legacy will show that when destiny is for you, who can be against you.

President Obama said Mandela was the last great liberator of the 20th century. Obama encouraged young people in Africa and the world over to embrace Mandela’s life’s work. It was a history-making goodbye as an African-American President paid his respects to an African hero. What a long road to freedom!

Tip: Neither snow nor rain, wind or hail should stop the mail from being delivered or dreams from being considered because when destiny is for you who can be against you.

Answer: Qunu