Kerry Washington & Jane Fonda Want Us to Wake Up and Push for What Matters Now – #HometownChat

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

Women across the country came out in droves to make their voices heard. The rallies planned in many cities turned out larger crowds than expected. Even in the coldest parts of the world men and women joined together. So Kerry Washington & Jane Fonda want us to wake up and push for what matters now.

Some are questioning whether it should have been called a women’s march. Others consider whether the Presidential campaign, transition and inauguration speech were factors. In some ways the rally events were an outpouring of emotions on the Obama years, people’s tears, the country’s fears and racial layers.

We saw many poster signs at the rallies. One with a Martin Luther King quote said “We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.” On social media was a church sign with words from Dr. King saying “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

As the first week of the incoming administration unfolds, a new level of social activism seems to be in the making. It didn’t help that over the weekend the press secretary flat-out made stuff up in what he told the public. So it’s possible that the use of ‘alternative facts’ will grow if we fail to #LetThePeopleKnow about:

  1. The great suppression in our politics.
  2. The great confession in our culture.
  3. The great expression in our community.
  4. The great connection in our country.

In his final White House press conference, President Obama gave a list of issues he’ll be monitoring as a citizen in the days ahead. High on the list was voter suppression. He said we’re the only major democratic nation in the world that makes it harder for citizens to vote. It’s a case of suppression over progression.

This was actively done in voter ID laws, reduced polling locations, restricting voter information and raising social discontent. It’s among the WMDs – ‘Weapons of Mass Dah’ causing alarm for those who choose citizenship over political gamesmanship. Now it’s in ‘Birtherism 2’ with questions about ‘illegal’ voting.

Haven’t we seen this before, the efforts in suppression and ‘alternative facts?’ Think of it as more direct accounts of hogwash (Dah!) for telling lies and spreading delusion. Plus, the great confession in our culture has roots in the Constitution from a ‘vanilla view’ of America with Blacks seen as three-fifths value.

These ‘alternative facts’ from early days and recent times are similar to versions of delusion seen today. Some hold extreme views in their minds which say white is always right and black must step back or be out of sight. So it’s a good thing when the Courts strike down Voter ID laws from state to state.

Remember when the campaign team said that Michelle Obama’s speech was not plagiarized at the GOP convention? The person trying to do the convincing then is the same person who’s the press secretary now. After the dust settled they made a surprise confession that the speech was lifted from Obama’s text.

In the movie Hidden Figures, the role played by Taraji P. Henson taught us about moving from what is to what should be. She kept pressing until she joined a meeting of the minds with NASA engineers and decision makers plotting the next space trip. Her math skills genius was the great expression in the room.

This kind of unsung talent can be duplicated in community. After the founding of the nation we saw Community 1.0. After the Civil War & Civil Rights eras we saw Community 2.0. These shifts took us from what is, to the next level. Now we’re poised to see Community 3.0. We’ll make the shift by learning from technology which went from ‘flip to smart’ phones, from a manual operating system to Windows PC.

In community is the call for a ‘system reboot’ that moves us to set our sights, stretch our skills, strut our stuff and save our streets. It would also be a kind of ‘social moonshot’ for the fulfillment of many more ‘I Have a Dream’ promises. This would be a giant leap for smart community, special service & civic dreams.

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At the women’s marches people showed up not based on net worth but on forging a greater connection of networks. It was all peaceful even though we heard some ‘choice words’ by a few as hearts were opened. But there were also thought-provoking ideas shared, reminding us that as a country thinks, so it is.

Meantime, there’re cabinet posts under review to serve our nation. What we don’t want is a political moon landing that’s like stepping into dirt on ‘Trump Island.’ It would be better to see a giant leap of faith across reasonably-minded individuals who know America as the land of the free and home of the melting pot.

So while elected officials try to do ‘repeal & replace’ we should challenge their intentions of reversing the gains and returning the pains. We should also be doing our own ‘rewind & retrace’ so we understand where all this is coming from. This way we’re not going from love and happiness to wonder and sadness.

Groove-tracks: John Legend, Common, Melanie Fiona & The Roots  – Wake Up Everybody – https://youtu.be/iJgxJ6JrPkc

John Legend – Surefire – https://youtu.be/Hih2iyO-LH4

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

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#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.

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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

What’s It Gonna Take to Turn the Corner or Change Lanes on Senseless Violence in America?

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Trivia: Which Hollywood actor ‘threw shade’ at Ashton Kutcher’s Steve Jobs movie role? (Answer below)

Washington D.C. is often seen as the seat of power within the halls of government. It’s where elected officials meet and work to make things happen for the country. When national problems arise they find solutions. So, what’s it gonna take to turn the corner or change lanes on senseless violence in America?

The comparisons to other countries or even to terrorism fail to move them into action. The statistics speak for themselves. A part of the problem is our country is affected by some kind of blind-spot. In addition, there may be certain ‘objects in the mirror’ that are preventing politicians from changing lanes.

After each occurrence they tweet condolences and give avoidance speeches. Then things return to where we left off. It’s easy to lose faith in our representatives when they’re clearer on what they can’t do than what they can do. Maybe this is as good a time to see our politicians be brave, not just bench warmers.

Some of the needed changes are a matter of process reform. There’s a process for a police academy recruit to be armed. Trainees are checked-out to have the right background, training and temperament. But for everyday citizens, being armed is like drive-thru service. What does that say about our system?

There’s a process to get a driver’s license or to vote that’s more thought-out than to make a weapon’s purchase. Plus, we have a situation where those who fall through the cracks seem to fit a pattern. To change lanes means taking a closer look at what’s causing them to choose powerless and purposeless.

Navigating the road to change is not just about blind-spots. Running for office has become an episode of the ‘Dating Game’ on campaign trails. Once in office, some officials become so ‘married’ to the same-old ‘Special Interest’ music in their ear. Then for regular folks it’s hard getting politicians to feel their pain.

When major events threaten our shores, economy or citizens we take decisive actions. This might involve deploying military or other resources, or enacting reasonable security measures. Yes, there might be temporary setbacks but we usually bounce-back. So, surely there must be something we can do here?

Answer: Michael Fassbender

Groove-tracks: Sara Bareilles – “Brave” – https://youtu.be/QUQsqBqxoR4

India Arie – “Brother’s Keeper” –  https://youtu.be/oaRPBU7Kw1Q

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake Reverses Her ‘Thug’ Description

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Trivia: Which retired boxer learned to box from cops in the police athletic league? (Answer below)

Things have calmed down some in Baltimore. After a week of peaceful protests leading up to the burial of Freddie Gray, there was a turn for the worst. In the heat of battle cars were set on fire and buildings looted. As authorities deal with the fallout, Baltimore’s mayor has reversed her ‘thug’ description.

Community leaders were saddened by the violence and lawlessness. Even President Obama had strong words for the actions of the ‘thug’ elements. Unlike Mayor Rawlings-Blake, Obama is sticking with his description of the destruction. Maybe some people feel more comfortable with the word ‘hooligan.’

This back and forth could go on because of the racial tinge that the word ‘thug’ brings. It could also miss the point of doing effective root cause analysis. It’s like those times when software developers have to determine if a program has a ‘bug.’ Their root cause analysis will zero in on the cause of the ‘bug.’

To fix the bug in software some changes are made and a new version released. To move beyond the ‘thug’ label in our culture, we can look to the slogan for Baltimore; ‘B-More!’ Without getting too technical we can challenge ourselves to ‘Be More!’ We can be more exceptional citizens and examples for our kids.

Maybe Obama sticking to his statement is about ‘calling a spade a spade.’ He’s no longer running for office and can be quite direct. With the mayor, she has a re-election on the horizon. Maybe her view is one of distinguishing spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds. She’s not putting all residents in the same suit.

So talk about ‘thugs’ in community or ‘bugs’ in software is always a sensitive matter of deep debate. It might even be said that there’re thugs in high places and bugs in our social system. If a turtle in England can get wheels after losing its legs, then urban communities only want wheels to roll into a brighter future.

Answer: George Foreman

Groove-track: Rihanna – Diamonds – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWA2pjMjpBs

“Dr. King says ‘We Need Urban Change Now as A Hometown Response to Sticky Situations’”

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Trivia: Who prompted Dr. King on his ‘I Have a Dream’ refrain at the March on Washington? (Answer below)

Today we’re at a critical moment in history. On one side of the spectrum we’ll celebrate the anniversary of Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. It was given on August 28th 1963 during the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” On another side we find unacceptable situations in some American cities.

It’s likely that Dr. King surveyed the social landscape in the weeks leading up to that moment. Many of his observations were probably referenced in the speech given 51 years ago. In our current media world he’d probably be invited to do interviews leading up to the historic event. Can you see him on cable news?

Let’s imagine the headline in the morning paper before the rally. It might say “Dr. King tells Philly Radio Station ‘We Need Urban Change Now as a Hometown Response to Sticky Situations.’” Maybe that would be a clue for his approach to the issues facing America’s political leaders and citizens coast to coast.

If here today, he might look back to his speech in 1963 and ask “How is it that the unemployment rate for blacks is still twice that of whites 51 years later?” He might continue by asking “Why is high school student-readiness for college low across many demographic groups but even lower for minorities?”

How we answer the questions will determine the direction of our actions. A political slant might result in a legislative response. But a purposeful slant will cause us to ask more probing questions. Are our challenges a White America problem, a Black America problem or a United States of America problem?

So, we’ll avoid a ‘chicken and egg’ debate about who has to change first. Let’s just say that there’re some things Black America needs to do to change. We can’t be happy about leading the pack in entertainment and sports while making excuses for unchecked behavior, poor student performance or social stigma.

It’s much harder to change other people than to change oneself.  In changing oneself it opens the door for encouraging change in others. So let’s just say there’re some things White America needs to do to change. They can’t be happy with keeping the status-quo when truth speaks louder than deception.

Dr. King might also refer to our ‘We the People’ representative government. That model exists through Congress and State Legislatures. Today we see blustering and filibustering. So let’s just say there’re some things Hometown America needs to do to change towards a ‘We the People’ branch of community.

The Founding Fathers drafted documents that capture our nation’s ideals. The process was sometimes contentious and fractious. But they came together on the purposeful notion of “a more perfect union.” That’s why there’re some things we all need to do for the United States of America to forge ahead.

Footnote: There’re some things that White America, Black America and Hometown America need to do for the United States of America to change so that the American Dream is possible for all.

Answer: Mahalia Jackson

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

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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