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Celebrating Black Music Month

Friday, June 09, 2017

At the end of the day, there is nothing that makes a black gathering come together better than black music. Second to food, black music provides “magic” that makes every setting special, whether it is R&B, soul, blues, jazz, gospel or hip hop.  


June is the official time to observe Black Music Month, and like Black History Month, an ideal time to learn and teach others about African American culture.  Although popularized by nearly every race and culture, the history of black music in America was born from pain. 


Gospel and blues are expressions of injustice and oppression, whether it is the result of racism, poverty or personal disappointment.  At the same time gospel inspires us to have faith in the future.  Either way, this music has transcended culture and race and become the backdrop of many movie soundtracks.  Honest lyrics, sung with pure passion, which stirs our souls in a powerful way.


Black Music Month is a perfect opportunity to teach young people about the legends who paved the way for some of the young hip hop artists of today—singers like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and musicians like Dizzy Gillespie who couldn’t stay at certain hotels because of their skin color.  There is a reason why their music sounded so mesmerizing—it spoke to the struggles of being black, but also inspired folks to keep their heads up.


This month young people can show their parents and grandparents why they like Kendrick and J. Cole so much.  Why not teach them a few new dance steps while you’re at it?


Juneteenth (June 19th) is the official day of observance for African American culture. It is the day black folks in Galveston, Texas realized (2 years later) that slavery in America had been abolished.  The news prompted spontaneous celebrations, and music was no doubt at the center of it all.


The legacy of black music will always be around because it is so widely embraced and copied by everyone.  Since summer is concert season, it is the best time to get your fill of everything black music has to offer.  The Gardena Jazz Festival is returning in August at Rowley Memorial Park, 13220 S. Van Ness Ave., Gardena. The one-day engagement features live musical performances by jazz artists in a range of sub-genres like smooth, vocal, bebop, cool, Dixieland and various other forms.  Google “Gardena Jazz Festival” for updates.  Also, check out the Forum, Staples, and other venues for black and black-inspired music.  


While we don’t need a designated month to observe black music, it’s nice to know something we hold so dear is so widely appreciated.  Happy Black Music Month!


June is Black Music Month

Friday, June 09, 2017

With black music being such an intricate part of African American life, many of us might not feel the need to celebrate it as a national observance.  Still, Black Music Month has its rightful place in history.  The observance, honoring the vast musical contributions of black artists, was first declared in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. In 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the African-American Music Bill, which formally established June as Black Music Month nationally.


Last week, President Trump issued this year’s proclamation and, in a statement, credited the influences of black music pioneers for giving “all Americans” a better understanding of American culture.   “The indelible legacy of these musicians who have witnessed our Nation’s greatest achievements, as well as its greatest injustices give all Americans a richer, deeper understanding of American culture. Their creativity has shaped every genre of music, including rock and roll, rhythm and blues, jazz, gospel, hip hop, and rap,” he said.


Chuck Berry, Dizzy Gillespie, and Ella Fitzgerald were acknowledged as black music greats of the past whose music still brings people together.  


The powerful influence of African-American artists is due, in no small part, to the never ending amount of innovative, exciting music that is recorded and released. Each year, the BET Awards pays tribute to icons from the past, as well as today’s current and up-and-coming music makers. 


The lineup of artists performing at the BET Awards this year include Bruno Mars, Migos, Tamar Braxton and Trey Songz. Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Trevor Noah, Issa Rae, Robin Thede and others will be on hand as presenters. Saturday Night Live's Leslie Jones will host the awards show.


Beyoncé is nominated for seven awards for “Lemonade” and Mars is nominated for five awards.  Chance the Rapper, Solange, and Migos will also battle it out for this year's top prizes.  For a complete list of nominees, go to


The 2017 BET Awards will air live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 25 at 5 p.m. PST on BET.


What You Should Know About Opioids

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Tiger Woods’ recent brush with the law may have saved his life.  Although the 41 year-old golf legend didn’t have a trace of alcohol in his blood, he did test positive for drugs—among them, an  opioid called Vicodin.


Woods was prescribed Vicodin for a back injury, and is recovering from back surgery.  While he escaped unharmed—he was in his car asleep at the wheel, but stopped—this story could have ended far worse. 


Vicodin, the brand name for a painkiller that combines the opiate hydrocodone with  acetaminophen (or Tylenol), has a high potential for addiction. Its side effects can include confusion, depressed breathing, and drowsiness. Police say Woods showed these symptoms when they found him.


Opioids are drugs that work in the body the way opium does — by blocking the body's ability to feel pain. Some are made directly from opium, and others are man-made and go by such brand names as OxyContin®, Vicodin®, Percocet®, and Actiq®). Heroin is also an opioid.


In 2014, almost 2 million Americans abused opioids or were dependent on them, and more than 14,000 people in the U.S. died from opioid-related overdoses, according to recent annual figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, opioid-related overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999, according to the CDC.


If you take opioids for pain, Keith Heinzerling , an internal medicine doctor at the UCLA Family Center,  offers these tips for avoiding addiction:


•Don’t use opioids for long-term pain management.


“Even serious acute pain usually improves within a week or two,” Dr. Heinzerling says. He advises people who think they need pain medication longer to seek safer alternatives.


•Calculate your personal risk.  Younger people; those who have different sources of pain; have a history of addiction, depression or anxiety; or take high dosage medication, have a higher risk for addiction.


To take opioids safely, Dr. Heinzerling recommends following these guidelines:


•Keep doses as low as possible, and make sure you stay in frequent contact with your doctor or pain medicine specialist.


•Never take opioids with other substances such as alcohol or sedatives.


•If you take opioids, keep them safe, secure and out of the reach of children or anyone who might abuse them.


•If you have leftover medication you no longer need, dispose of it safely. Many sheriffs’ departments, hospitals and pharmacies will collect and dispose small amounts of medication.


•Ask yourself honestly: “Am I using this drug for things other than pain?” If you’re taking the medicine to relax, de-stress or help you sleep, you might be developing a dependence on the drugs.


Freedom of Speech

Thursday, June 01, 2017

By Veronica Mackey


Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Black Lives Matter were subjects of criticism by a few residents at Tuesday’s council meeting.  Long time resident Ray Davis who attended the City’s Memorial Day ceremony honoring veterans, said Waters “desecrated” the memory of his father, a military man. 


When pressed for details, Davis said Black Lives Matter members disrupted the ceremony, and Waters invited one of the leaders to sit up front with her. “They (Black Lives Matter) wouldn’t have free speech if it weren’t for people who fought to give it to them,” he said.”I’m calling on the VFW and the American Legion to demand a public apology from Maxine Waters,” he said. 


Black Lives Matter protestors are demanding answers about the deaths of a young couple—Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin—shot and killed by Inglewood police more than a year ago.  They come to the council meeting every week to voice their concern.


Erick Holly, president of the Inglewood Airport Area Chamber of Commerce, said, “It’s amazing,  we have no problem fighting for the rights of others, and you can come in and interrupt a Memorial Day service.  It is unacceptable, and respect needs to be on all aspects.”


Another man spoke out against those who don’t respect other people’s religions during public assemblies.  When he attended Maxine Waters’ town hall meeting, the man said, “There was a man from the ‘religious wrong’ haranguing people.  There should be a policy for organizational meetings.”


Parks and Recreation Commissioner Willie Agee complained that Black Lives Matter supporters harassed him after last week’s meeting.  “The same people who are protesting here today called me everything in the book, and they cursed me, they disrespect veterans.  These are the people protesting, they need to be investigated.”


Councilman George Dotson apologized for not attending the Memorial Day ceremony. “I want all the veterans to know that I stand with them, and I would not be enjoying the life I am right now if it were not for them. 


“Nothing that happens can change the meaning of it (ceremony),” Councilman Eloy Morales said.


Councilman Alex Padilla mentioned that Justin Johnson, son of JC and Angela Johnson (owners of the Serving Spoon restaurant) graduated last week as was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Justin was not present but received a round of applause.


 “Someone interrupted the (Memorial Day) ceremony, and I thought that was truly unfortunate,” Mayor Butts said.”There are other people’s rights that should be appreciated, and you should never—“


A Black Lives Matter supporter shouted from the audience, interrupting the mayor, and was almost ejected from the meeting.


“Just as what is happening now, we have people that think their rights and their feelings are the only ones that matter,” the mayor continued.  Then he gave the public an update about the Michael-Sandlin case:


“The due process of the investigation was completed on Friday. The officers are no longer employed by the police department.  You can contact the district attorney’s office for more information.”


Inglewood Realtor Larry Springs made a case for pay increases for the council and Mayor James Butts. “The city was in bankruptcy several years ago.  At this point, we have a surplus. I feel the mayor and council should be given raises,” he said.


Treasurer Wanda Brown reported that homes in Inglewood recently sold between $632,000 and $699,000.


Three public hearings were set to adopt a resolution for the Citizen Participation Plan for Fiscal Year 2017-18.  The resolution is related to Section 8, Housing and the Community Development Block Grant.


On June 17, a hearing will be held to receive public comments on priorities for community development and housing needs.  The second public hearing, on July 11, will be held to discuss the Draft FY2017-18 Consolidated Plan and Annual Budget.  On December 12, another hearing will be held to receive public comments on the Draft FY2017-18 Consolidation Annual Performance Evaluation Program.  All hearings will be held at 2pm.


An ordinance was adopted to regulate the use and discharge of fireworks, and impose administrative fines for the unlawful use or possession of illegal fireworks, and to amend the monetary amount the City may impose as a criminal penalty and administrative fine for a violation of the Inglewood Municipal Code. 


Another ordinance was passed to amend the Inglewood Municipal Code for the regulation and control of backflow and cross-connections to the City’s water system.



It’s no secret that in communities of color, payday loan companies are everywhere.  Easy money lenders know Black and Hispanic Americans are paid the least, making it harder for them to make ends meet between paydays.  They see us coming.


Advocates of this type of predatory lending argue that they are providing a valuable service by offering help to those who could not get access to money in other ways, due to poor credit.  But if their intentions are so good, why did Republicans try so hard to protect them from reasonable government regulations.  


The L.A. Times did an excellent piece calling out GOP lawmakers who are voting this week on a bill to roll back proposed laws to regulate payday and title lenders from taking unfair advantage of consumers.  In the 589-page Financial Choice Act, there is a clause on page 403 that says federal authorities “may not exercise any rulemaking, enforcement or other authority with respect to payday loans, vehicle title loans or other similar loans.”


The important but poorly placed wording can have future repercussions for future generations of low income earners.    And because of the bill’s length, it is unlikely that most GOP lawmakers have read it, or that it even matters to them. 


The Financial Choice Act was authored by Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Hensarling has received millions in campaign contributions in exchange for his support of high interest lenders.


Payday loans are ideally intended for short-term use.  The problem is the interest rates are so high and the terms are so short that borrowers frequently find themselves unable to repay the loan in full. When that happens, a borrower will repay the loan and immediately sign to take out another or take out a second loan, and juggle both to keep the payments current.  It’s an endless cycle that traps borrowers and ruins credit.  With title loans, the borrower put up their vehicle as collateral. If the loan is not repaid on time, the borrower could lose their car.  


According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, more than 19 million U.S. households resort to payday loans, and 20% end up saddled with 10 or more loans, one after the other.  With annual interest rates as high as 400%, consumers become trapped in a cycle of debt with no end in sight. 


The CFPB was formed under President Obama in an attempt to reign in practices of payday lenders and other loan sharks.  But now Republicans want to do away with consumer protections, like they are trying to do with their version of the health care bill.


It’s not hard to see why Republicans buried this provision and hoped no one would notice.   This, like so many other pieces of legislation, boils down to getting paid by lobbyists.  This is the sole motivation behind enacting laws that hurt the non-rich and non-white.  The deeply buried provision that favors predatory lending may be hard to find, but the behavior of GOP lawmakers  is predictable.  Just follow the money.



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