Plain Dealer playing the wrong black card about poverty... it's the soot, stupid!

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 09/03/2006 - 14:00.

As the Cleveland Plain Dealer assigns blame for the plight of Cleveland as the most impoverished city in America, they target the black poor. I find this highly disturbing, especially as they completely white-wash the greatest flaw in our economy, which is a century of cow-towing to industry causing and perpetuating toxic contamination of our people and neighborhoods in our urban core.

In their 09/03/06 lead editorial, the powers that be at the PD declare: "Religious and civic leaders need to speak out against the street culture that cripples poor neighborhoods - and to get the resources necessary to show that a different path will bring better results." In an 08/30/06 column, Regina Brett wrote "Poverty fight needs to get real" and: "Combat street culture: The NAACP should take this on full time. Do more to enforce traditional values and glorify education, hard work, marriage, parenting and delayed gratification." She adds, "The poor have to make better choices when they can. Stop spending money on hair extensions and decorated nails if you can't afford a backpack and pencils for your kids. Don't wear bling when your kids aren't wearing socks."

Obviously, the PD editors feel blacks are the problem, and God is the answer. How simplistic and convenient. My recent experience with crime and poverty in NEO has been a friend who was core to NEO's culture being murdered by a white-trash punk from blessed burbilly Medina, and a good peace keeper killed by an apparently non-black New Yorker. Both killers were from outside Cleveland "street culture" but clearly impoverished, armed, and mentally ill. In my neighborhood of Ohio City, the street culture is white, African-American, African, Caribbean, Hispanic, Arab, Vietnameese... no one "street culture" is apparent, as most of us are immigrants to here, which was abandoned by the white suburbanites like the writers of the PD, and resettled by a dynamic new population.

The PD seems on a witch hunt that goes against the very potential for greatness this community must explore and optimize - our urban, living, street culture. In urban areas, where we don't have fenced six acre yards, shopping-malls and luxurious parks and school campuses to homogonize culture, we sit on porches, play together in the pocket parks, and live in our neighborhoods... culture is of the streets. It seems the PD only believes urban culture should exist in churches. As Regina Brett concludes, " Get churches involved: Hundreds are listed in the Yellow Pages. Since you don't pay property taxes, you owe the city. Don't just open up on Sundays. Turn yourselves into neighborhood centers." Please, be real.

The recent City Xpressionz festival brought 100s of very talented, cool, well behaved and enthusiastic street-cultured people of all ages and races together for a joyous and inspiring afternoon in Ohio City and I don't believe anyone was shot, raped, or kidnapped. Nobody had to spend any money or be any particular race to be there... there were no riots in the streets, and great art and spirit was created by all. The only downer of the day was that it occurred at the same time as the memorial for the artists killed by that trash from Medina.

I think it is time for the writers and editors of the PD to practice what they preach and leave their McMansions and move back to Cleveland - proper... not in Bratenahl or some $500K high-rise tax-abated condo by the PD fortress, but right into Mt. Pleasant, Tremont, Ohio City, Glenville, and Slavic Village... fix up a turn--of-the-20th-century Victorian or townhouse, and learn about the issues of urban property and the hazards of lead poisoning and their roles in poverty. Then, experience street culture and learn the facts about the good life in NEO before condemning it and our people. Regina... there are two apartments for rent in my building, and a dozen for sale on my street... take your pick. Be a new economy immigrant and join the urban pioneers.

If they are too white-knuckled to do that, they should at least get real about the root of our educational ills, being lead poisoning. And they should admit they would not live 1 mile from Mittal because they do not want their children to suffer from asthma. They should be real, and then we can all work together to really solve the problems of Cleveland, which are that industry here has historically made Cleveland stink, brain damaged, unhealthy and so physically unacceptable to anyone who may escape.

Regina Brett owes black moms an apology

I am disturbed to hear that certain Cleveland journalists seem to have promoted the racist idea that poor blacks are worse parents than poor whites. I have ecountered this before and I am not sure where this stereotype started, but from my personal experience its just not true. On so many occasions I have been impressed by how much poor black women enjoy motherhood -- despite having to struggle financially. The women I have met are devoted mothers who want their children to succeed and seem to have good will for all children. I have also been surpised by how warmly many poor black mothers and their children greet my blond blue eyed son. Children can transcends racial barriers, its a shame adults forget how. If you are going to focus on street culture and criticize all the black mothers that have hair weaves its only fair to scold the white trash mothers who waste money on cable TV.
One thing is definite, poverty hurts children of all races and being a good parent requires being educated. Even a college degree doesn't mean you will know how important it is to breast feed and  how to keep your child safe from lead poisoning, transfats and other toxins.

Educate Regina on NAACP

I think it is especially revealing that, in explaining poverty in Cleveland, the PD targets "street culture" and Regina Brett targets the NAACP... thanks to Regina's racial profiling, I've joined the NAACP. It is truly worth exploring perceptions about race among NEO media and community leaders. Here are the mission, vision and objectives of the NAACP, nearing their 100th year fighting injustices like racial profiling, from their national website:

Our Mission

The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.

Vision Statement

The vision of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights and there is no racial hatred or racial discrimination.


The following statement of objectives is found on the first page of the NAACP Constitution — the principal objectives of the Association shall be:

  • To ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all citizens
  • To achieve equality of rights and eliminate race prejudice among the citizens of the United States
  • To remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes
  • To seek enactment and enforcement of federal, state, and local laws securing civil rights
  • To inform the public of the adverse effects of racial discrimination and to seek its elimination
  • To educate persons as to their constitutional rights and to take all lawful action to secure the exercise thereof, and to take any other lawful action in furtherance of these objectives, consistent with the NAACP's Articles of Incorporation and this Constitution.

Regina, it goes a bit deeper than fighting "bling".

Now, for the Republican perspective, from Wikipedia, here's a bit on Bush vs. the NAACP, which should be a complete embarrassment for all card-carrying Republicans...

Bush versus NAACP

During the 2000 presidential campaign, the NAACP's National Voter Fund ran a television ad against Bush. The ad featured the daughter of James Byrd, a black man dragged to death by three white men in a pickup truck, blaming Bush for refusing her pleas for a hate-crime law when he was Texas governor.

In 2004, President George W. Bush (2001—) became the first sitting U.S. president since Herbert Hoover (1929–1933) not to address the NAACP when he declined an invitation to speak.[3] The White House originally said the president had a scheduling conflict with the NAACP convention, slated for July 10-15, 2004.

However, on July 10, 2004, Bush said he declined the invitation to speak to the NAACP because of harsh statements about him by its leaders. "I would describe my relationship with the current leadership as basically nonexistent. You've heard the rhetoric and the names they've called me." Bush also mentioned his admiration for some members of the NAACP and said he would seek to work with them "in other ways."

The Internal Revenue Service informed the NAACP in October 2004 that it was undertaking an investigation into its tax-exempt status, focusing on a speech given by Julian Bond at its 2004 Convention in which he criticized President George W. Bush. The NAACP has denounced the investigation as political retaliation for its get-out-the-vote activities and has refused to supply the information concerning its activities that the IRS has demanded.

President Bush met with leaders from the NAACP on December 7, 2005 to discuss a wide range of issues.

On July 20, 2006, after having rejected the civil rights group's invitations for five straight years, Bush addressed the NAACP, making a bid for increasing support for Republicans by African-Americans [4].

And, an update from the NAACP Website, on the IRS attack...

IRS Determines NAACP Should Retain Tax Exempt Status

Chairman Julian Bond, Chief Counsel Dennis Hayes, and President/CEO Bruce Gordon field questions from reporters about IRS announcement.

August 31, 2006

Investigation concludes Association did not violate tax laws or commit undue political intervention

The Internal Revenue has informed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that it has concluded its examination of NAACP activities and determined the Association did not violate conditions of its tax exempt status.

“We have determined that you continue to qualify as an organization described in IRC section 501©(3),” the IRS wrote in a letter to the NAACP dated Aug. 9. IRS official Marsha A. Ramirez said that a review of video footage of the Bond speech and other information indicated “that political intervention did not occur.”

The IRS launched an examination of the NAACP on October 8, 2004 after receiving complaints from several Republican members of Congress who said their constituents believed NAACP National Board of Directors Chairman Julian Bond crossed the line of non-partisanship in a speech at the NAACP 2004 National Convention critical of Bush administration policies.

“It’s disappointing that the IRS took nearly two years to conclude what we knew from the beginning: the NAACP did not violate tax laws and continues to be politically non-partisan,” said NAACP President and CEO Bruce S. Gordon. “Tax-exempt organizations should feel free to critique and challenge governmental policies under the First Amendment without fear of IRS intervention.”

“The good news is that we are vindicated,” said Bond. “The bad news for us and other freedom loving Americans is that it was initiated for partisan purposes to threaten our right to free speech. We’ll continue to speak truth to power.”

The IRS initiated an audit of the NAACP just one month before the 2004 presidential election and nearly three months before the end of the NAACP’s tax year. The IRS refused to explain the basis of its investigation for more than a year. The NAACP learned the basis for the examination only after filing four Freedom of Information ACT requests (FOIA).

The documents included complaints filed by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), then-Senator Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), Representatives JoAnn Davis (R-Va.) and Larry Combest (R-Texas), then-Representatives Robert Ehrlich (R-Md.) and Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) and political donor Richard Hug. In the interest of ensuring transparency, integrity and fairness in the administration of the tax law, the NAACP will release copies of all the documents provided thus far by request.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

CONTACT: NAACP Office of Communications 410.580.5125

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PD and Regina, what is this "street culture" you hate?

The more I think about the PD/Brett attack on street culture the more disturbed I become. Are they comparing "street" as urban vs. "7-11 parking lot" as suburban? Is this soul vs. country? Aerosol vs. velvet elvis? What is this culture they are attacking, and how is it worse than say "suburban culture". Are "street" movies worse than suburban movies? Are street songs worse than suburban songs? Are street video games worse than suburban video games? Is street food worse than suburban food? Is street God worse than suburban God? Fact is, I don't know of anything about any suburb or white middle-class community in general that I would call cultural, that didn't come from some ethnic roots, and all I know about street culture is it is the diverse, mind-expanding, trend-setting American culture that is America's dominant art and identity that draws the world to our shores, airwaves, media and experience. Bad identities with it are created by major industry perversions of the culture and society - advertisers, Hollywood, record monopolies, a bunch of Harvard guys out to make a killing. The culture has nothing to do with killing... that is colorblind greed and mental illness found everywhere in America, for diverse reasons, in this nation founded and built upon genocide, slavery and discrimination against non-Eurocentric culture. I would hope we as a community are past that stage of ugly history. Please, go back to elementary school and learn some social science.

And, regarding truly cultural people wanting to look their best, my understanding is elevating self esteem is very important to all people... especially those trying to deal with difficult circumstances. That some people have more style than middle-class suburban folk shouldn't be held against those with true cultural sensibilities, or their cultures... look into ornamentation of pure cultures around the world for all human existence before criticizing it in segments of today's American society.

I just don't get what the PD and Regina are getting at here - this is probably the most unjust and foolish rant they have ever undertaken in this our region's incredibly white-bread, stale suburban newspaper.

You are spot on, Norm. 

You are spot on, Norm.  Lack of educational opportunites and unsafe environmental factors (such as lead poisoning, unclean water and lack of access to more healthy and enriching food and drink) hurt people of ALL races.  It has hurt the Cleveland poor since there were Cleveland poor.  Now that a disproportionate amount of those faces are black, it's a problem for black folks to solve? 

I have lost all respect for Regina Brett.

Derek Arnold

There are same problems no matter race

I've been in Toronto the past week and following the news here. Psycho shooting up college students... gangs shooting bystanders... there is graffiti everywhere... lots of homeless beggers on the streets... and guess what - none of it is "black". The gangs are multinational - the psychos and beggers are white... the graffiti is awesome and probably a bit of every culture. In the most multicultural city in the world - of 2.4 million people - the crime seems pretty petty but there - what is different from NEO is here people are integrated and so must be tollerant... young, old, black, white, gay, christian, Islamic, Indigenous and immigrant all get along... and still live a very urban, cool, street-oriented life. We can learn so much from here, if we stop listening to the haters and spirit snipers in NEO and realize they and we don't have all the answers, can learn better ways elsewhere and bring them to our culture, and in the process we start living together as a real One Community. In fact, the only bad culture I've experienced is the crap from America they let in over the TV, from HBO and MTV... and that is all white trash crap. I've been missing the PD - did they ever explain what this Ghetto Culture is they are attacking... any mind-expanding op eds?

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Blast from the past: 4-years later - less culture - more toxic

I wrote this posting in September, 2006, -  4-years later - less culture - more toxic

What have we done to address the toxicity of the community, which causes all the hardship here? NOTHING - our air pollution monitors don;t even work.

As citizens allow the illuminati to blame poor blacks for America's problems, as the Illuminati profits excessively by polluting excessively... FOR FOUR MORE YEARS

And, since I wrote this, THEY destroyed more local culture, global culture, the US economy... and climate change has become a global crisis.

Bling bling, PD - with realNEO, you sell-outs shall never be forgotten.

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Thanks Norm

The Political Gangster

          This needs to be on facebook Norn! all of this. Evelyn I knew you had it in ya but WOW!! I REALLY LIKE THIS. The truth is the truth.

I promoted this to the home page for President Obama

I promoted this to the home page for President Obama - you know he is coming to Cleveland this weekend... I hope to hear of some good new developments for the region from this!

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