Answers are Found in Common Unity When you think about the word community what definition comes to mind? One source defines that word as "a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, and goals." I made an interesting discovery after breaking down the word into two parts, community means "common unity." There is a shared goal, or a desired outcome which is common to the whole. Regardless of our differences we all want basically the same things - clean air and water, fresh food, access to quality education, transportation, medical care, housing, and entertainment. We want to feel safe, loved, appreciated, respected, and cared for. As Culver City continues to advance to world class status, as one of America's most progressive cities, it is important that we maintain our common center. As exciting as it is to think of the big sweeping plans for our future, it is important that we maintain a sense of community. It is important that we not only be known for our wonderful downtown business district and our planned billion-dollar development for the rest of the city, but how we treat each other. Like any good city, we want people who live and visit to have a sense that this is a warm and welcoming place. We want to be seen as a community that looks after its seniors, protects children, and allows people freedom to create and fulfill their dreams. We want people to say how nice the people are in Culver City, and to feel honored and respected. We can have a reputation as a city that cares as well as enjoys all the wonderful amenities offered by a bustling economy. We really can have it all. As our city moves more into the limelight, everyone who lives or works here will have an opportunity to make Culver City a great place to live and work. Government can't be the only entity responsible for creating a good quality of life. It will depend on all of us. So much can be accomplished if we are willing to use our people power. There are resources available all over the city in the form of government, nonprofits, schools, churches, and companies. Let's listen more closely to what people in this city have to say.
October 7, 2013
We have witnessed five years of political grid- lock coming to a head with the recent shutdown of the government as the nation prepares to launch its first nationwide comprehensive health care plan, the Affordable Care Act. This should be a period of great celebration, but it's not. It's a period of grand distortions. When the Affordable Care Act passed three years ago, the middle class and poor people finally got something that says society hasn't forgotten about them. Forty three million uninsured people now could receive care and shop for their provider. That's a major accomplishment, but it has never been recognized as such. The entire time health care reform was debated and legislated, it was mischaracterized and distorted. Politics gets petty like that sometimes. While the President of the United States has tried to ignore the pettiness, he can't ignore the reality. The Republicans have been able to distort the reality of what the Affordable Care Act means and can do for Americans. Since the Republicans can't deal with the truth of the Affordable Care Act passing, they are going to spend every waking hour trying to tear it down, trying to distort what it is, what it will cost, and what it ultimately mean for the people's "quality of life" health care. When you can't fight the truth, you distort the reality, hoping the lie becomes the truth. The Republicans have spent the past three years licking their wounds while trying to distort the reality of what universal health care means to the nation. They have even sought to racialize the distortion by tying it to the President in a way that reminds you who he is and where he came from. You can't separate the health care policy from the man who signed it into law. The Republicans even gave it a name, hoping it would be his downfall in re- election; and that it would cause people to reject it on its face before even understanding what it could do for them. They call it Obamacare. As the January launch comes closer to reality, the Republicans have raised the stakes. Just when you think this Congress can't become more grid-locked than it already is, the Republicans are using the Congressional powers to run the government as leverage points to undermine the funding of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. It is holding up the budget approval process until Obamacare is defunded. The House has already passed an emergency budget bill that only takes the government's 2013-14 funding through December 2013 and it is missing funding for Obamacare. On the Senate side, Senator Ted Cruz is attempting to filibuster a budget that includes the Obamacare funding. The Republicans may refuse to raise the debt ceiling. The last time that happened, the nation fell off the "fiscal cliff" into a forced sequestration. There were massive layoffs and forced government service cuts. Economists are predicting that if it happens again, the recession could return and hurt the American public even more. The Republican's don't care. This is about political survival for them. They don't care how many people they hurt in the process, if it means they get the President. The goal is to try to turn the people against the Affordable Care Act before they can enroll in it, because they know once the people enroll in it they are going to find out it's better than they had been told and the lies were solely for the purpose of political deceit. The funding schedules have been released and it is being reported that the Affordable Care Act will cost less than previously forecast. So, already the lies about Obamacare have begun to be proven false. When the people find out the Republicans lies about Obamacare were untrue, the Democratic Party will go into 2016 on a real high. Particularly when you have the Presidential hopefuls of the other party (Cruz and others) leading the lie. The politics of distortion can only play out for so long before the truth takes hold, and that's generally not long at all. The President knows this, but distortions are hard to ignore. The pettiness can create grand distractions away from more meaning business (like a peaceful solution in Syria).
Now that we've had two events at the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, it is important to remember a few things about Martin Luther King, Jr. beyond his "I Have a Dream" speech. The question is always asked: What happens after the marches are over? Demonstrators left Washington, D.C. in 1963 determined to change the American landscape. Consequently, we had passage of the 1965 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act. Those laws were passed, not because of a speech in the nation's capital, but because of the hard work and dedication of people at the local, state, and national levels to bring about change. While the "I Have a Dream" speech might have been King's most popular, it was not his most substantive one. In 1963, King etched a picture of what America should look like in the future. However, a far more important effort was his "Mountaintop" speech, delivered in Memphis the night before he was assassinated. In that speech, King outlined a plan for economic empowerment and told us how to strengthen our institutions to accomplish that goal. Instead of placing so much emphasis on what King said in 1963, we should look at what he was doing at the time of his death. He wasn't trying to create a special commission or hold conferences on how to strengthen the middle class. He was organizing a Poor Peoples Campaign, a trek to Washington, D.C. to dramatize the urgent need to help the least among us. SCLC continued the Poor Peoples's March after King's death, erecting a tent city on the Mall. After six weeks, demonstrators were evicted. Today, the poor are still suffering. Poverty is defined as a family of four being able to live off of $23,021 a year. Today, a record 46.2 million people, 15 percent of the U.S. population, are living in poverty. One of the goals of the 1963 March on Washington was a minimum wage that could lift a family of four out of poverty. They demanded the minimum wage of $1.15 an hour be increased to $2 an hour. As a report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) entitled, "The Unfinished March: An Overview," noted, "The inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage today is about $2 less than it was at its peak value in 1968." Worse than living on below-poverty wages is to have no job at all. When he was assassinated, King was helping organize garbage workers in Memphis. He was not dreaming because he was not asleep. We honor him by continuing his work, not by merely continuing to recite his "I Have a Dream" speech.
Trayvon Martin: his presence may be gone, but the name lingers on. That sickening, sinking feeling has crawled into our guts yet again. Trayvon Martin becomes another martyr for the seemingly never ending Civil Rights struggle. Trayvon joins Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, four little girls killed in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King, and thousands of other African Americans who have been killed primarily because of their race. The nation is still talking about the verdict in the Trayvon Martin murder trial in songs, teach-ins, panel discussions and legislative proposals. In Congress, Rep. John Conyers has introduced the End Racial Profiling Act, Sen. Ben Cardin is sponsoring the Senate version of the bill. Aside from banning racial profiling, the bill seeks to strengthen law-enforcement training to ensure officers are basing their patrols and apprehensions on behavior, not skin color. Hearings are being held to discuss various aspects connected with the case. Here in California the State Assembly's Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color, formed by Speaker John Perez last year, will examine the progress made toward keeping kids in school, implementing approaches for campus safety, and addressing the violence youth experience in their communities. The committee is also advocating for a package of bills tacking these key areas and will identify priorities next year. California's boys and young men of color are more likely to grow up in neighborhoods marked by poverty, lack of opportunity, violence, underfunded schools and low-wage jobs that do not represent pathways to careers and success. After a series of hearings last year, the committee released a draft report and action plan intended to be a blueprint for the next 10 years, outlining key legislative proposals to advance outcomes on health, education, employment, juvenile justice and youth development. Having an identity is one thing. Being born into an identity is quite a different matter. This is part of the discussion that America is starting to have now. Sadly, to get the ball rolling, it takes violence, discrimination, assault and the specter of denial to be pulled out into the light. It takes a lot people saying "Enough". If there is one set of laws, one Constitution for every citizen, its protections hopefully applied equally to all, then why do results seem to differ so radically? Recently, President Obama spoke personally and eloquently about race in America. He put himself right in the middle of it. The backlash was swift as it was bizarre. That's when I knew he was onto something. You have to value all these young people. You have to see yourself in them. You cannot divorce their plight from your own. They should not be broken. Because it all matters. It is life and death. It is the present and the future. It is everything. In this year marking 50 years of civil rights progress, we must renew our commitment to building "a more perfect union." There is no celebration without continuation. The 21st century civil rights struggle has never before confronted us so boldly and clearly.