In Pursuit of Excellence — My Master’s Degree

Pursuit of ExcellenceIf you have read my blog for a while, you already know that I am a former 8th grade dropout who didn’t began the process of educating myself until I found myself wrongfully incarcerated in 1997.

Beginning in the county jail, I earned my GED from Houston Community College. From there I embarked on a long and tortuous journey to receive a formal education.

Once I arrived in prison I didn’t want to get caught up in the usual nonsense and unproductivity that my current environment seems to mandate. So I threw myself into education whole heartedly As a result I was able to earn a few associates degrees, one in language arts through Trinity Valley, and two others in Business Administration and Humanities in Huntsville on the Wynne unit.

But I wasn’t finished there. While still on the Wynne unit I began taking classes from Sam Houston University in pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology.

Unfortunately my education dreams got side-tracked when the state of Texas cut the budget at all state colleges. Being a public college, Sam Houston took a major financial blow and promptly decided that with funds in short supply spending money on educating inmates was a unconscionable expense. The crazy things was no one even considered the strong rehabilitative value of these programs which have been shown to cut recidivism.

As the ax fell myself and several other former Sam Houston students pursuing their degrees found ourselves in limbo.

Luckily after two years of educational purgatory the pearly gates of higher education finally opened to me. When I was finally transferred to my current unit which offers a bachelor’s degree program as well a Masters one through the University of Houston Clear Lake.

I have set it as a personal goal to have my master’s degree by the time I’m 40. Being 35 and a ¼ as I write, this means I have 4 years to do it.

I am convinced I can do it. But for me, the ironic thing is that out in society I grew up less than two miles from University of Houston’s main campus, but had to come to prison to attend. Go figure. Like they say, better late than never.

And today I am happy to report that I am headed head first into that place called graduate degree land. Hip Hip Hooray!!!

Rims to Die For

rims

I am the product of a Southern urban culture in which cars play a major role. In Houston the city of my birth people trick out all types of cars which makes living in the city like being surrounded by a 24/ 7 car show. You are likely to see everything from a late model Cadillac with Ferrari doors to a purple Maserati with hot pink interior.

It’s literally off the chain and for the most part it’s all good. But there is one pair of rims that have been dubbed the most dangerous rims in the city.

These rims known on the streets of Houston as Swanger or Elbows are a essential part of Houston’s car culture, yet they have a long bloody and deadly history. Originally invented by Crager for limited edition Cadillacs, the car giant put the rims on the 83 and 84 Eldorado models, but quickly discontinued there use after it was discovered the rims had a tendency to loosen in certain places and to make a clacking sound.

The rims bare a strong resemblance to another chrome Crager rim the 15 inch 30 spoke, with one exception. Unlike the 30 spokes that sit flush with the tires, the company’s 83 and 84 model rims extended out from the tires hence the nickname elbows. Due to the rims tendency to clack Cadillac stopped ordering them for their cars forcing Crager to discontinue production.

Shortly after the Detroit auto giant decided to move on to another type of rim for their luxury vehicles, the rims became a smash hit with Houston’s underground car scene, often showing up on late model Cadillacs, Buicks and Oldsmobiles.

From the mid to late 80’s the rims could still be purchased through Cadillac dealers as they proceeded to liquidate their entire back inventory of the troublesome rim. Once that avenue was tapped out the rims began to be bought and sold strictly on the secondary market. And as is generally the case high demand caused the prices to sky-rocket. To the point that a brand new set of 83’s or 84’s that could’ve originally been purchased from the dealer for under six hundred dollars a set nearly tripled in price.

By the early and mid 90’s a set of 83 and Vogues would set you back anywhere from fifteen to twenty five hundred depending on their condition. While a set of 84’s which have straighter spokes that stick out about an inch further would cost anywhere from three to five thousand.

On top of this sudden price increase was the fact that with the exception of a few Mom and Pop tire stores, most notably Big Tex on the Southside there was nowhere in Houston that you could just walk into and purchase a set, creating a process to where even a person with the money to buy a set would have to search around and try to find someone willing to sale a set. A process that was not only tedious but equally dangerous.

A tragic consequence of this high demand and short supply was the robbing and killings that began around 92. At one time the car jackings were so bad that a saying developed which was “83’s get you jacked, 84’s get you killed.”

Between 1992 and 2000 it’s believed that over a hundred young men and even a few women lost their lives as a result of riding Swangers.

Before long the rims had developed their own folklore to the point where putting a set on your car meant you either had a death wish or that you were someone who didn’t mind riding around strapped at all times.

When I was growing up, I craved a set badder than I wanted oxygen and didn’t rest until I got my first set. But soon I discovered that the rims were more trouble than they were worth and ended up selling them to another guy who didn’t mind spending most of his time guarding his car, or better yet his rims.

Today while these rims remain as popular as ever and very much a H-town staple things have improved a whole lot. In the early 2000’s spurred on by an employee who had grown up in Houston. Executives at Texas Wire Wheel decided to purchase the rims design patent from Cadillac and to start making newer versions of Elbows strictly for the Houston market.

While the originally elbows only came in 13 and 15 inch and are still favored by old heads. The newer version come in a range of sizes including the mind boggling Gorillas and Super Pokers.

Texas Wire Wheel’s decision to begin production of “Swangers” again was undoubtedly a good business move for the company. It also had the unintended consequence of decreasing (not stopping) the robbing and killings that had become a regular occurrence as result of the rims coveted status.

So the next time you’re in Houston, enjoy the weather, the Zoo, the Space Center, Reliant Stadium and all the beautiful shinny cars you’re likely to see. But beware of the rims, they bite.

Will The Real Heroes and Role Models Please Stand Up

In the United States we tend to look at celebrities and sports figures as Heros. Even though the antics of a good portion of these individuals constantly reveal that majority of them are anything but .

For instance I am a Miami Heat fan who likes league MVP Lebron James, but I don’t consider him a hero or role model. For me he is a young athletic man who plays a game that a lot of people like extremely well and earns a large income as a result. Nothing more or less. Same thing with rappers, singers and so forth. Since when does talent, record sales, and box office reviews equals morals and character?

What got me to thinking about this subject was that awhile ago myself and few more guys were in the weight room working out when another guy begin to make a point by quoting rapper Lil Wayne. Another guy jumped in and cut him off, he was like, “Man, wait one goddamn minute, who the F— is lil Wayne that you basing your life on shit he say? What college did he graduate from, what movement did he start, how many people has he helped, or how many lives has he changed for the better?”

I listened to this dude rant and nodded my head in agreement. But that got me to thinking about what a hero or role model is and isn’t. I mean, normally we quote people who have really changed our world, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus, Thurgood Marshall, President Obama, Winston Churchill, Malcolm X, Fredrick Douglas, to name a few. Yet here was a young man basing a large portion of his thinking on something he heard Lil Wayne say on a rap song.

As I gave it some thought I came to the conclusion that a true hero is someone who improves the lives of a significant number of people in a measurable way, while often being unsung and derided in the process.

Think of the mostly faceless and nameless college students of CORE and SNCC who came together and helped to desegregate the South with their sit-ins and Freedom Rides. Besides a few of the leaders, I bet you can’t name even one, yet there were literally hundreds.

True heroes. Or someone like Sojourner Truth who wasn’t content to simply escape to freedom herself. She continued to put herself in harm’s way by going back to help some 300 others. Knowing all along that should she be caught, the penalty would certainly be death, but only after being raped and tortured. That’s a hero. Not someone who makes 20 million dollars for their latest action movie, lives in a mansion, has 13 luxury cars yet hires illegal immigrants to raise her kids and clean her house in a effort to save money. I mean come on people.

And while heroes heroics tend to have an effect on a large number of people, role models can be just plain everyday folks who work with what they have while living their lives with respect and dignity.

With this in mind it’s my pleasure to introduce you to a few of my heroes and role models.

Claressa Shields

Claressa Shields

Claressa grew up in Flint, Michigan in a low economic area surrounded by drugs, gangs, violence, and negative influences. Raised in a small house with several other siblings, her mother was a real heavy drinker, she said, “Growing up, I could never get my mom to stop drinking.” She was also picked on by older bigger girls in her neighborhood. According to Claressa, “I was smart, but skinny. There were always girls who would pull my hair and try to bully me for no reason. I felt like nobody could hear me or understand me, so I stayed to myself.”

Her sense of having no voice had began even before she was a teenager. At the age of 5 she was repeatedly raped by a friend of her mothers. To get away from the sexual predator whom her mother was still involved with, she had to move in with her grandmother.

All in all this brown skinned girl had had a hard life. But God. Her luck begin to change when at the age of 11 she wandered into a local boxing gym and asked to train. At first the coach laughed to himself and thought she was just joking. Not wanting to make a big fuss, he figured she would mess around for a few days, a week at the most and then be on her way. But before long he noticed her dedication and the disciplined approach to training that she exhibited. That, and the fact that she was whipping up on every boy her size and bigger in the gym. The girl had fire.

It turned out that Claressa’s inner pain had found an outlet in the form of a pair of boxing gloves. She said, “At the time I felt like I was in a real dark place; I was just real mad. And then I started boxing, it kind of brought light into my life, into that dark room. It opened a window.”

Before long Claressa was considered one of the best female boxers in her division, eventually qualifying for the 2012 Olympics where she not not only competed but won a gold medal. The first for a African-American female boxer in her entire state.

The girl from the bottom had made it to the top on the world’s biggest stage. She said, “I don’t walk around carrying a burden like, oh I was raped; oh, I was molested; oh, my mom didn’t believe me, because to me, all that is in the past and I overcame it. God let all that stuff happen to me because he saw that I was strong enough to handle it. He knew that I would be successful. His purpose was that all this would happen, and when I make it, when I win a gold medal, I’ll be able to tell my story, and they’ll be able to see that God is real.” Claressa Shields – a True Hero.

Ms Latiker

Ms. Latiker standing in front of a a memorial she built to memorize the 370 young victims of gun violence killed Chicago in 2012

Chances are you’ve never heard of Diane Latiker. Our President probably hadn’t either when Ms.Latiker typed him a letter. She wrote, ”Being a organizer from Roseland, I’m sure you understand the need that exist concerning the violence that’s taken the lives of thousands across our nation. We need your help Mr. President.”

You see Ms. Latiker is one of our unsung real heroes. In the city of Chicago, a city with a gang epidemic as well as the highest murder count in the nation, 507 in 2012 alone, she decided to do something heroic and step into the gap by starting ”Kids of the Block”, a youth mentoring and after school program for underserved poor kids on the cities’ Southside. Since she began, some 2000 kids have passed through the doors of her organization.

While Ms.Latiker and the world may never know for certain, she has undoubtedly saved many of these young people’s lives. All with no radio or TV shows or fanfare. But that’s what a real hero does, continues to fight the good fight even in the face of seemly insurmountable obstacles. All the while Screaming “No retreat, No surrender. Victory or death.”

Catherine Rohr

Catherine Rohr

Another hero I want to introduce you to is Catherine Rohr. An attractive young white lady who once earned millions of dollars as a Wall Street investment banker. A job she gave up to teach MBA style entrepreneur skills to incarcerated robbers and murders.

At the age of 25, Ms. Rohr became a born-again Christian and took a trip to several Texas prisons with a church group whom she was visting. It was during one of these trips that Ms. Rohr got the inspiration to teach business classes to inmates. According to Ms. Rohr, “these men exhibited many of the same qualities she looked for when she met with founders and investors.”

Fired up, Ms. Rohr quit her cushy investment banker job, moved to Texas and started the, “Prison Entrepreneurship” program, or PEP for short, with her own money.

In a five year time PEP had graduated 500 students, 60 which went on to start successful businesses. Even better was that compared to the national average of a 40 percent recidivism rate for PEP graduates, it was only 10 percent a significant improvement

Eventually Ms. Rohr left Texas and moved back to New York, raised 1.5 million and began a new prison entrepreneurship program called “Defy Ventures”, a program that is doing for convicted felons in New York, what PEP is still doing for men in Texas — changing lives forever.

 Quanell X

Quanell X

The last unsung hero whom I want to give credit to is local community activist Quanell X. He grew up in Southeast Houston in a predominantly black area known as Sunnyside. A recent report on America’s best and worst neighborhoods named Sunnyside as the 6th most dangerous neighborhood to live in in the entire United States. So it’s no secret the types of activities that you can find going on in Sunnyside and areas like it.

As a black male child searching for his way in the world this is where a young Quanell cut his teeth. And it wasn’t long before he was on the path of death and destruction that seemed the only avenue open to a entire generation of black youth. But after his young brother who was also in the, “game” was found murder execution style along with his girlfriend Quanell decided to change his life for the better.

Initially he found salvation in the Nation of Islam. Articulate and well spoken he quickly rose in the organization until a split caused him to go his own way. For awhile there after he was affiliated with the New Black Panther party before eventually forming his own community support activist organization.

Today Quanell X is considered the number one activist in Houston’s black community who even has his own nightly TV segment called Face-off on the local Fox News affiliate. As the first person most African Americans call when they need someone well spoken, fearless, and knowledgeable to speak truth to power he is at the pinnacle of success.

While many people dislike his confrontational in your face style, very few can doubt his effectiveness. And knowing Mr. Quanell personally, where he comes from as well what he was once about, it’s a joy and inspiration every time I look up on TV and see this former SA Fool immaculate in his tailor made suit, telling the mayor, Police Chief, FBI and whoever else that we won’t rest until justice is served.

Calling All Genealogy Buffs

genealogy

I am seeking help with finding cut more about my family tree. In particular the path my ancestors took after emancipation from slavery. I am interested in submitting a sample of my DNA to a online genealogy service such as AfricanAncestry.com which holds out the promise of connecting modern day African-Americans with their pre-slavery African ancestors, kind of like a high-tech version of Alex Haley’s journey in Roots.

Former Houston Rocket’s basketball star Hakeem Olajuwon is responsible for reigniting my interest in tracing the various branches of my family tree. Several years ago I read an article in the business section of the Houston Chronicle about a 245 acre tract of land Mr. Olajuwon purchased on one side of Clear Lake to add to his existing real-estate holdings. What caught my eye in the article was that a former slave owner named James West, who at one time was the largest slave owner in Texas once owned the property that Mr. Olajuwon was purchasing.

That stunned me. As I knew from my knowledge of slavery that following emancipation, many former slaves simply took the surnames of their former masters. Which is the reason why we have so many Jones, Johnsons, Smiths, and Williams etc in the black community –

Furthermore on my father’s side my family’s name is West. I also knew that my father’s relations are originally from Galveston, TX a small island about twenty miles from clear lake.

At that point I couldn’t help but wonder if my paternal ancestors had once been enslaved on the West Plantation in Clear Lake and had simply migrated a few miles down the road to Galveston after emancipation. But of course it was only a hypothesis, although not a far-fetched one.

Seeking to put the pieces of the puzzle together I reached out to my aunt Desira, my father’s sister and she provided me with a little more information. Namely that her mother, my grandmother, was named Vermilya Matthews, her mother my great grandmother Catherine, and my great grandmother’s father who was born in slavery was named Wiley. My aunt’s father, my grandfather was named Charles West Jr., and his father, my great granddad, was named Charles Jonathan West Sr. and was a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While it’s not much, I am hoping it’s enough for me to begin connecting the dots.

On my mother’s side things are a little more sketchy and all I know for sure is that my maternal grandmother, whose name was Amanda Brown, has roots in Louisiana and Arkansas. That’s about it. But like a bloodhound I have a scent to chase. Now all I have to do is hop in my time machine, set the dial to the year 1600 and the hunt is on. Woof!!!

Help Wanted/Position Open

Position Open

ONE PERSON, MULTINATIONAL, AMERICAN BASED CORPORATION WHICH HAS BEEN INSOLVENT FOR OVER A DECADE, SEEKS A QUALIFIED CANDIDATE. THE PERSON FOR THIS POSITION SHOULD BE EDUCATED, INTELLIGENT, WELL-SPOKEN, PREFERABLY GOOD LOOKING, A TURN-AROUND SPECIALIST AND AN ADEPT PLAYER OF THE GAME OF LIFE WITH THE ABILITY TO ENCOURAGE, MOTIVATE, AND INSPIRE WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY TURNING A MERE IDEAL INTO A PROFITABLE BUSINESS BEGINNING WITH LITTLE OR NO CAPITAL. BASICALLY SOMEONE WHO CAN TURN WATER INTO WINE, AT THE VERY LEAST A SWEET FORM OF GRAPE JUICE. HOWEVER, THIS IS A UNPAID POSITION WITHOUT THE FUTURE PROSPECT OF PERSONAL FULFILLMENT AND GREAT MATERIAL RICHES, OR WITH BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS, DAZED DREAMS AND BANKRUPTCY, DEPENDING ON FACTORS, BOTH KNOWN AND UNKNOWN, THAT MAY OR MAY NOT OCCUR.

ALL INTERESTED PARTIES
APPLY IN PERSON AT THE
LOST CITY OF ATLANTIS
BETWEEN 8 and 5 PM
MONDAY—- FRIDAY

Is it just me or does this often seem like the job description of life when we are asked to do the impossible?

Why We Need More Than A Moment of Silence

Sandy Hook Guns

 

Most Americans with an iota of compassion were heartbroken by the senseless shooing at Sandy Hook Elementary where …

Dawn Hachsprung, 47Sandy Hook Stat Shootings Mary Sherlach, 56
Victoria Soto, 27
Emilie Parker, 6
Jessie Lewis, 6
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Rachael Davino, 24
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Violet Hubbard, 6
Chase Kawalski, 7
Nancy Lanza, 52
James Mattioli, 6
Gracy Audrey McDonnell, 7
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Jack Armistead Pinto, 6
Noah Panzer, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman

….all lost their lives.

But if anyone is listening, please hear me. Being heartbroken just isn’t enough. The United States has a gun problem that has been ignored for too long.

I speak from experience. As a young African American man from the inner city, I was brought up in a culture of violence. One where disputes and disagreements frequently ended with someone being sent to the hospital or morgue. So this problem or issue isn’t abstract to me, it’s up close and personal.

What’s sad is rather it’s miseducated drug dealers gunning each other down in the streets, or people with mental health issues like the Connecticut shooter going on senseless rampages the common denominator is easy access to guns, any type of guns.

In the society that we’ve created, a person with the money can purchase pretty much any type of weapon from a handgun to an AK-47 assault weapon equipped with a 100 round drum.

Think about that, civilians able to purchase weapons of war in Any City USA. Who needs a hundred round drum and for what? Surely not hunters, or regular people just trying to protect their family? The only people whom I can think of are guys like the guy who went into Sandy Hook Elementary, right wing revolutionaries who think African-Americans and Hispanics or some other unidentified threat is out to get them and destroy their way of life, and other people involved in some form of illegal activity. In other words, a very small sliver of the US population.


This is the only developed country in the world where these type of weapons are readily available. SO IS IT ANY SURPRISE THAT WE REAP SENSELESS VIOLENCE WHEN WE HAVE CREATED AND FOSTERED A CULTURE OF VIOLENCE? There are an estimated 300 million guns in the hands of the public.

In referring to the tragedy, President Obama asked the question, is 26 dead the price of freedom?

I think not. I think that’s the price for the capitalist at Colt, Smith&Wesson, Clock, Beretta and so forth to continue to line their corporate coffers.
Why do you think these gun manufacturers donate millions of dollars annually to the NRA – an organization that turns around and funnels this money to various incumbents and candidates who support their deadly agenda lock stock and barrel?
Why else would the US Congress pass a law that keeps gun manufacturers from being sued for the havoc and destruction their products cause? Whose interest does such a law protect? Surely not yours or mine, but these are our elected officials.

Until a majority of Americans decide to put people before profits, nothing will change. We will continue to go from one Columbine, Virgina Tech, Colorado, Sandy Hook to another. Tragedy followed by tragedy. Slaughter by slaughter.

That’s not the type of society I want my children, grandchildren to live in. And I wager you don’t either. But what are we willing to do about it? For most of us the answer is a big fat nothing.

So where do we go from Sandy Hook? I don’t know but I do know that we need more than a moment of silence.

 

Well, Well 2013

Happy New Year 2013
If you are reading this it means the Mayan prophecy about the world ending on December 2-1 didn’t happen. Go figure.

Seems we can’t get out of here that easy…or in the words of the immortal Chris Rock, “brother can’t get a break.”

With all the crazy things happening in the world the scroll seems to definitely be rolling up, but I don’t know the exact date. Sorry.

Until it happens we got to keep on keeping on. Last year at the beginning of 2012 I wrote a comprehensive list of goals — many of which I am sad to report are still in limbo. But isn’t that the whole idea of “BHAG’s”

BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOALS

And being a BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GUY—literally how could I not go for the gold.

So while I am readopting my list of goals from 2012,(which is kinda like re-gifting to yourself) -This year I am taking it to a new level by adding NEW-AGE-VISUALIZE-IT-THINK-IT-INTO-EXISTENCE-lingo into my arsenal of success tools-By creating a vision board filled with magazine pictures of all the things I want to own or accomplish in life. Think of it as a primitive form of Pin-interest

So meet me back here, same bat time, same bat channel at the beginning of 2014–and I’ll let you know the results. And while you at it why don’t you use 2013 to set your own “BHAG’S”.

After all the Mayan’s were wrong we gotta do something with the time we have left. See you next year!

Happy New Year!

 

The Young African-American Survival Guide – Go Get It for Free!

I can’t explain how good it feels to do some good from a bad situation which is what I feel this book will do.
As a result of my own struggles and troubled childhood, I have developed a strong desire to work with disadvantaged African-American youth from inner city communities, particularly those from single parent homes, to encourage them to make better life decisions.

Using the gift I’ve been given, I have written an illustrated book of some 200 pages, a workbook for Africa- American youth, entitled “The Young African American Survival Guide for ages 8-18”.
The book is built around the topics of sex, drugs, hustling, education, gangbanging, and violence.

The book is certainly needed in many African-American communities:

• 67 % of all black children are born to single mothers
• African-American women and their children make up 60 percent of all new AIDS/HIV cases in the United States
• 50 % of black female teenagers have contracted a sexually transmitted disease by age 18
• At birth a black male child has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison
• In 2002, 1,772 black youth died from gunshot wounds
• 1 out of every 21 black men will be murdered. The murder rate for black males is 10 times higher than the murder rate for white males
• 40 % of prisoners on death row are African-American
• 64 % of black students cannot read at grade level in the 4th grade, compared with 29 percent of white children

For many of us, these are only numbers, and essentially not our problem. But it’s the human beings behind these numbers that concern me and all individuals who have love and concern for their fellow human beings.
I decided to try to make a difference, even if it’s just a small one, in the life of some inner city child with my book “The Young African American Survival Guide”.

Access my book for free on Prisonsfoundations.com

The Naked Truth

Naked Truth

People were horrified, and rightfully so when R Umar Abbasi, a New York Post freelance photo journalist, took the picture above, seconds before the subway train plowed into 58-year old Ki-Suck Han after he was pushed onto the tracks. What pissed people off wasn’t just the fact, outrageous enough, that the NY Post decided to run the picture on their front page. But that the photographer was busy taking pictures instead of trying to help. One twitter writer commented, “To say the cover of @nypost is despicable would be an egregious understatement. Love of capital over care of humans, wholly disgusting.”

My question is what makes this particular incident of human insensitivity more egregious than all the others. How about the top rated A&E show, “Next 48 Hours”, that shows murder victims and the aftermath. Has anyone ever given any serious thought to the fact that something is really wrong with a culture that’s entertained by by murder. What about shows like “Jersey Shore, Basketball Wives, 16 and pregnant,” that glorify behavior and mind-sets that would’ve once been considered shameful? Then there are video games like “Grand Theft Auto” that promotes a lifestyle that keeps reporters and prisons full as supposedly harmless.

While I am far from a moralist, or someone who believes in censorship and telling people what they can and can’t do, or watch and not watch, I believe in being honest with myself.

As such it doesn’t surprise me that a photojournalist caught up in the day-to-day rat race of economic survival would chose the shot of a lifetime — and the pay dirt it would bring over saving a life. Just like it didn’t surprise me when a rich man – ­Mitt Romney – talking to other rich people told us exactly how he felt about 47 percent of the country. It is what it is. In my opinion this is the true face of America, the world’s greatest incarcerator, where the poor are ostracized, and nearly half the people don’t have health care, and the other half gets upset when someone tries to give it to them.

It hurts to look at the naked truth either in ourselves or others. So we continue to be a nation of pretenders. Smile and everything will be okay – this is America, the greatest country in the world. Even if we have a debased culture, it’s cloaked in luxury cars, designer clothes and suburban homes which for some people makes all the difference. In their minds, filth not seen is the same thing as filth that doesn’t exist.

Jesus called the Pharisees whitewashed tombs that look good on the outside but inside were filled with ugly dead man’s bones. Is the whole USA nothing, but a white-washed tomb? One that horrifies us when something, or someone, like R Umar Abbasi’s decision to take a prized picture over trying to save a man’s life forces us to take a peek inside?

Please Help Save Baby Ethan’s Life

The little handsome curly haired Cherub faced baby boy in this picture is 1 year old Ethan Richards-Ethan who currently resides in Texas Children Hospital in the medical center desperately needs the very organ we use to symbolize love: a heart.

Ethan is the first child of Sean and Regis Richards a young married couple outrageously in love who were overjoyed when on September 6, 2011 they welcomed their 7 lb,6 oz bundle of joy into the world. Not long after being born at around 10 months with a mother’s intuition Regis noticed that something was wrong with her baby boy. The baby was losing weight and his lips didn’t look right.

Several trips to their family doctor failed to turn up the cause of baby Ethan’s illness. Eventually the family found themselves at the Pediatric Cardiovascular ICU of Texas Children Hospital where it was determined that little Ethan was experiencing severe heart failure and without a transplant his young life would be cut short.

While he was immediately placed on the transplant list-This tragic news rocked this young couple to the core and turned their happy life inside out. Regis quit her job to remain at her young son’s hospital bed side. While Sean took over the responsibility of being the family’s sole bread winner on top of emotionally supporting his wife and son.

On top of this, the young family was left with the daunting prospect of trying to pay for a transplant operation that cost upward of a million dollars. Now you already know that unless you happen to be blessed with the last name Knowles or Carter, not too many young newlyweds have a cool million just sitting in the bank for a family emergency.

That’s why several members of Houston’s black   community including yours truly have banded together to get the word out about the Richards’ and baby Ethan’s plight—with the hope that you will help save his life.

To do so you can go to www.youcaring.com and enter Team Ethan to donate, or at any Wells Fargo by donating to, “Team Ethan Heart Donation Account”, account number #3881481901.

We all shook our heads with sadness in our hearts about what happened to the 20 innocent kids at Sandy Hook Elementary. As much as we would like to none of us can do anything for those kids who God saw fit to call home. But we can all do something for baby Ethan.

PLEASE SUPPORT THIS CAMPAIGN TO SAVE HIS LIFE!