It’s Official: I Am With Her

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I admit, this had been one of the hardest decisions in all my years voting. Bernie Sanders has some interesting ideas and viewpoints. His history fighting for civil rights also weighed heavy on me. If there was ever a time we needed a champion for civil rights in the White House, that time is now. Yet I feel there is something more to it. A bigger picture.

The one idea I really liked from Bernie Sanders was the idea of free college. These days it is impossible to get a decent paying job without a college education. As we all know, nothing is free and even by his own admission, taxes will have to go up to pay for it. Everything else can be gained at the Senate level.  Bernie is better served staying in the Senate and offsetting the Republican surge there. If the Democrats win the senate, Bernie will have an easy time getting support for his initiatives.

Hilary is ready. She watched as her husband ran our country effectively. She was a Senator from New York from 2001-2009. Then she would later serve our country as United States Secretary of State from 2009-2013. She has the experience. She knows what our country is facing and what will help it. She knows the Republican plan for America and went to Flint,MI to see the affects of one Republican’s interpretation of that plan come to horrific fruition. There she promised Flint that she will fight for it and never forget it. Secretary Clinton also readdressed her commitment to ending Systematic Racism. Which is not just a minority issue, it’s an American issue. Racism has shattered America for centuries. Mrs. Clinton has vowed to “Make America Whole”.

The Republican party has come out with guns blazing and focused on Hilary Clinton. They know she is a direct threat to their plans. Her experience, insight, and dedication to America and not just the wealthy make her the top choice. I am endorsing Hilary Clinton for the next President of the United States. I believe that the best man for the job in this case is a woman. Holla if you hear me!

– K. Greene

 

 

Reading,Writing, and Water

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I was writing a new piece when I finally had enough. The news became more and more unbearable each time it was reported and for the first time in a long time… I hated to be right. I never liked Governor Rick Snyder. I saw his disdain for the lower class and minorities evident throughout every move he made. Now those moves have risen to the surface. Invested in apathy and interest paid for by the health of thousands of Michigan residents.
Currently, Detroit Public School teachers fed up with the conditions of the schools and laughable wages have staged “Sick outs” to call attention to the matter. Detroit Public Schools are under an Emergency Manager appointed by Governor Snyder in order to help the school district while it is severely in debt. Help only in word and not deed. For the past 6yrs, Detroit Public Schools continued to fall deeper into decay. Molds and fungus grow wild in the hallways. The very same hallways kids have to use for gym class because the gymnasium is no longer suitable due to leaking roof and warped, molded floor. Some schools have no heat, old books. Teachers have to come out of pocket for toilet paper and school supplies for the children. Their salaries barely supporting their own households. How would you feel if your child went to school and these are the conditions that they were forced to learn in?

An hours drive north of Detroit and another Emergency Manager appointed by Governor Snyder has committed the unthinkable. It has been known for the past two years that Flint’s water supply was in dire straits. In fact, General Motors abandoned using Flints water in 2014 for their plant citing pollutants in the water. Like his counterpart in Detroit Public Schools, he was in no hurry to turn things around. In fact, it was a doctor’s report on the high levels of lead in children that sparked outrage. Then there were the reports of over 80 cases of Legionaries disease with 10 fatalities due to the polluted water. It is estimated that it will take $41 million to replace all the corroded pipes causing the contamination. Which is all the pipes in the city. Darnell Early was the Emergency Manager in Flint and of course Governor Snyder had to remove him. Yet Snyder felt Early was a good man and made him the new Emergency Manager of … You guessed it, Detroit Public Schools.

Governor Snyder has apologized and in turn blamed bureaucrats for anything he could but the damage is done and his part is plain as the pain in the faces of Flint’s residents. Faces that echo the ultimate betrayal of leadership. Snyder’s lack of respect for minorities and the poor came swiftly when he appointed Emergency Managers over Flint,Pontiac,Detroit, and Benton Harbor shortly after his first term as Governor. Now we see the fruits of his decisions. Promise fair oversight but deliver unfair dispensation. Promise an investment of resources but deny the resources necessary. Emergency Management is nothing more than suspending democracy in favor of his friends. Namely the rich and Republican. The rest of us can drink the water. Holla if you hear me.

-K. Greene

 

The Packard: An Answered Prayer For Prosperity

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My favorite Bible verse of all time is Ecclesiastes 3:1. It reads “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.(King James Version)”.  For a neighborhood on the eastside of Detroit, that time is now.  The old Packard car plant which lay dormant for years is about to receive new life from across the seas. European billionaire Fernando Palazuelo purchased the old 3,500,000 square foot complex with hopes of bringing new business and jobs to an area in desperate need of a boost.

A town hall was held at Holy Ghost Cathedral in the next block down from the old building under the leadership of Bishop Corletta Vaughn. A rainy Thursday evening would bring the new owner of the Packard building together with his new neighbors for the first time. Cameras from the new reality series “Preachers of Detroit” were rolling to show the world this event. “It’s an exciting night” Bishop Vaughn opens with a smile. That excitement was shared by all in attendance. A small church with a Bishop who’s personality is as large as life itself, filled to capacity to hear a big announcement that will change the face of the eastside of Detroit forever. All walks of life came to hear what was coming. The plant closed in 1958 and once employed 40,000 people. This was the first ray of hope in the area in 56yrs. Everyone that came through the door was grateful decades of apathy on East Grand Blvd was coming to an end.

Fernando Palazuelo had great success in Peru refurbishing buildings and making them suitable for business. Mr. Palazuelo presented a power point of his accomplishments in Lima, Peru. His first set of slides highlighted his success with buildings in Peru as old as the Packard. His methods were to preserve as much of the original buildings as possible while at the same time give them an artistic facelift. His passion for art is prevalent in the buildings featured in the slides. Palazuelo’s company Arte Express will now focus on the old Packard plant. In fact, they have established Arte Express Detroit LLC to symbolize their commitment to Detroit. This will be no small feat. The total time for the renovation is expected to take 7-15yrs with 1500yrds of debris already cleared.

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A Q&A followed. The Dais Included, Fernando Palazuelo, Kari Smith Packard Project Manager, and City Council President Brenda Jones; moderated by Bishop Corletta Vaughn.  Anyone in attendance had the opportunity to express any concerns or to ask questions any questions they wished pertaining to the city or the Packard Plant development and indeed they did! One after another, residents approached the microphone to express what was on their minds and hearts. Some just wanted to thank him for his investment in the community. A few asked about jobs and opportunities for skilled trades. One business owner was concerned about the lack of adequate lighting in the area. Another was concerned about the effect of the construction on her business which borders the old Packard Plant. The most heartfelt concerns came from the firefighters who manned the fire station in the next block. The words they shared shook everyone in attendance. As the veteran first responder stepped forward, all eyes were fixed upon him as one of the most important members of the community. Then he spoke. He acknowledged Bishop Vaughn and her husband Pastor Gilbert Vaughn as having supported them in the community since the beginning of the church over 20yrs ago. Especially, during the loss of one their fellow fireman killed in the line of duty. He also welcomed Mr. Palazuelo to the area and pledged the support of the station but there was a problem. The fireman informed all in attendance that the station will soon close due to budget cuts. They were told the news by their superiors at their last meeting. The station itself is one of oldest in the city. It was built back when horses pulled the water pumps. The original hayloft used to feed the horses is still there. Also due to budget cuts, the station is not equipped to handle full scale fires and their current rig is scaled down to handle small fires and rescues only.

Everyone was taken aback by this news. City Council President Brenda Jones used her phone to seek the truth of the Fireman’s claim and was notified via text that the station was not being closed. The Fireman was unmoved by the text. He knew what he was told and the conditions in which he worked, upheld his beliefs. Bishop Vaughn was very concerned as was Mr. Palazuelo. The people in the seats sat stunned. The neighborhood as a whole wanted to know what was going on with their fire station and as a community, felt a little less safe. This would be the first time in a long while this community spoke as one. The Firemen who protected this community now had the strength of the community on their side.

Once the meeting was adjourned, Bishop Vaughn and Mr. Palazuelo greeted all who stayed after. Those who brought resumes, got a chance to give them to Mr. Palazuelo personally. After all, these are his neighbors and he spoke to each person as such. I sat at my table and smiled. I couldn’t stop smiling. Detroit’s revitalization was happening in one of the most unlikeliest of locations. So unlikely that none of Detroit’s major news outlets made it to the event. Of course, they got the story of the first announcements but they didn’t get this. They didn’t witness the faces of excitement I saw. They didn’t sit in the presence of this abundance of hope. I witnessed one of the most decimated communities in Detroit find their way again. It was like witnessing a whole neighborhood wake from a brutal coma. It can easily be said that while I sat in the back of this church, I witnessed a neighborhood blessed like no other. Holla if you hear me.

-K Greene

Warning

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I have been in deep thought as of late. For so long I have been obsessed with the conditions here in Detroit that I took my eyes off the big picture. I wanted to use my voice to uplift and encourage my fellow Detroiters. I wanted to start a different way of thinking. I thought I was on the right track.  As of right now, I am not so sure.

Sometimes I lose myself doing research. Facts, figures, and latest findings feed my mind like a steak to a hungry lion. Yet there is one figure that seems to be uninteresting to the educated masses. That is the number of unarmed black men assaulted or killed by Law officials.  Better yet, the number of African- Americans stopped by police and searched as opposed to Caucasians stopped and searched. What are the percentages of encounters of Law enforcement based on race in regards to state or city.  What could we learn from those stats? what will they teach us? What is the reason behind such an omission of fact? I get  that I have asked a lot of questions. The questions I have posed are the very same questions that our community is asking themselves and pretty soon we must ask the nation. If we African Americans are to be prosecuted and convicted on sight, what numbers support such dispensation of our legal system?

I challenge that there are none. The miscarriage of justice currently running rampant throughout our country based purely on racism cannot be justified by stats. Yet there is one constant that continues to grow. The ever increasing business of privatized prisons. Our judicial system that prides itself on equality is unequal in its operation. Any punishment is considered a debt to society however the goal of business is not to go into debt. If a prison cannot go into debt then it must be filled by any means necessary. Who fills it? The race with the least powerful voice in our judicial system. The poor and the black. Period and point blank.  I warn you. If we don’t work to turn it around now, inequality will be normal and true justice will be a thing of the past. Holla if you hear me.

– Kelly Greene

 

 

 

ENOUGH!!!

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Being born in the 70’s gave you the distinction of being born just after some of the worst times in American history… The Civil Rights Movement.  Now there was still a fair amount of racial tension but the blood shed and riots of previous years took their toll on everyone. The die hard racists agreed to disagree and a desire for peace was nourished by all races.  It is now 48yrs later and the growing number murdered African Americans at the hands of whites has relit the fuse. Blood in the streets and justice denied based upon the color of your skin.

Lately, My Facebook feed has been flooded with video and stories of unarmed young black men shot or choked to death. Many of these stories never made it to national news. There have been 5 this past month. Michael Brown- Ferguson, MO,  Eric Garner-Staten Island, NY , Ezell Ford – LA, Dante Parker -Victoville,CA , and John Crawford in Ohio.  It appears that our justice system has become bored with the whole innocent till proven guilty process when it comes to African American males. The process is now straight to judgment. Or “Legal Lynching” as I call it.  It doesn’t happen to any other race. The police have already made their minds up when it comes to African Americans. One video went viral recently of white cop straddling and punching a black woman on the side of the freeway. The message appears quite clear. Racism 2.0 is full effect and threatens to reopen old wounds of the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s.

I was hoping and praying that when LeBron James left the Miami Heat to re-sign with Cleveland Cavaliers, he would cite Florida’s Stand Your Ground Laws as a reason he left.  I would have been so proud to see him giving a press conference and explaining how the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis affected his decision.  I could just see him sitting at the podium and telling the whole room how uncomfortable he was raising his sons in a state where any white man could shoot and kill his boys and get away with it.  Jordan Davis’s killer, Michael Dunn only got convicted of attempted murder for each of the 3 boys that were with Davis in the truck Dunn shot up. Dunn won’t serve a day for Davis’s murder.  George Zimmerman as we all know was acquitted of Trayvon Martin’s murder even with overwhelming evidence against him. Who could blame LeBron? Could you live in a state under those conditions and you had the power to leave? The Miami Heat as well as the City of Miami are expected to suffer significant financial loses not to mention potential championships.  LeBron had a golden opportunity to strike a huge blow for the African American community. Hitting a city or state in the wallet is the only way to make them listen. The best basketball player in the world could have led the way.

I am hoping our more affluent and successful African Americans take the lead. Their money and influence could go a long way to help bring us together as a people to combat these tragic events. We need our Lawyers and politicians to lead us politically and legally. They can voice our displeasure throughout our government. Yet I feel as if I am asking too much. Many of our more successful African Americans have chosen to remain silent and not take a stand. It seems like that they don’t want to risk endorsements or contracts by being too political and taking a stand. Many of our African American lawyers and politicians are too absorbed in themselves or their political party to set anything in motion. So it’s left up to the rest of us. The working poor, The hopeless, disenfranchised, victimized, and angry rest of us. We are therefore left with our only option … Riot.  That’s the only time the media seems or wants to listen. Our parents felt the same way in Detroit in 1968. They faced the dogs and water hoses to make things better for our community. It appears that 48ys later, Ferguson, MO has become ground zero for another phase of the Civil Rights Movement. If it has truly come to that, then I must prepare myself. The strange fruit that once hung from trees in the south now grow on the streets and sidewalks of our cities. Planted by seeds of injustice and fertilized by racism.  If I must face the dogs and water hoses to end this vicious harvest, then so be it. The next generations of African Americans are at stake. Holla if you hear me!

-K. Greene

UPDATE: Michael Dunn was convicted of First Degree Murder in the Death of Jordan Davis September 30, 2014. The fight against injustice rages on.

H2O

Detroit Fist

Summertime in Detroit is always a good time. The Riverwalk is alive with people enjoying beautiful days by the Detroit river. Lunchtime at Campus Martius is the new hotspot for everyone working downtown Monday-Friday.  A cleaner and ever improving Belle Isle continue to host all comers looking for outdoor fun but this summer, there is a dark cloud hovering overhead.

In March, The Detroit Water and Sewage Department began hiring contractors and sending them out to shutoff water to those who owe $150 or 60 days delinquent in paying their water bill. On top of this, an 8.7% across the board rate increase.  The first people targeted of course were the people. Average people in Detroit are trying to make a comeback after the economic downturn. I am all for paying your bills but there are 3 glaring points that make the execution of this very wrong.

1. Detroit is the only city targeted. The Department of Water and Sewage covers 40% of ALL MICHIGAN not just Detroit.  I have a hard time believing that Detroit is the only city with massive delinquent water bills. Why not a total sweep of all areas?

2. The numbers don’t lie.  Although the unemployment rate went from 24.8% in 2010 to 9.8% in 2013, the median household income in Detroit is 38.5% less than the Michigan average and 45.85 less than the national average.  The poverty level in Detroit is 157.4% greater than the Michigan average and 112.1% greater than the national average. (Source: areavibes.com)  Many citizens are still playing economic catch up with less than adequate income.  The Water Department itself shed 81% of its jobs. Those who remained see wage and benefit cuts.

3. Favoritism. The advantages of the top 1% have been well documented. It appears it applies to the water as well. While the Water Department was going after the little guys, big businesses were riding massive overdue bills without a care. VARGO GOLF owes for 2 properties. One for $478,207.59 ($437,714.11 past due) and the other $109,897.25 ($100.527.58 past due). Even the state of Michigan itself has a nice hefty bill $86,889.73 ($70,426.02 past due).

Recently, as many as 1000 people have marched and rallied downtown with more protest to come,  Canada has offered to bring water over for the less fortunate. The United Nations has declared water a human right. What will the out come be? We will have to wait and see.  It has become clear that if you are willing to take water from the poor, then you are willing to take anything from anybody. Especially if its for politics. Holla if you hear me!

K. Greene

 

Kwame Kilpatrick: The Verdict

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The hot topic in Detroit these days is Kwame Kilpatrick found guilty of several counts of racketeering and bribery. Many will see March 12th as a turning point in Detroit history.  I don’t see it that way.  Some see it as a sad day for the City of Detroit.  I don’t see it that way either.

I watched the trial with some interest.  I couldn’t help it. The news wouldn’t talk about anything else. Where ever Kwame went, there were cameras capturing his every step. Those steps will turn out to be  some of his last as a free man.  Kwame knew this day was coming.  The Federal Government had been watching him since 2002. The evidence was overwhelming. All he could do was lower his head and place his hand on his forehead.  Kwame once claimed “It will be impossible for me to get a fair trial in Detroit. I would  come out better if they hung me from that giant fist downtown”. The reality of the situation dealt him a crushing blow. The king of Detroit has fallen.

I lowered my head and put my hand on my forehead as well.  Why? Because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing afterwards. I understood those who sympathized with Kwame. Outside of his mischief, Kwame was a very charismatic and hands on mayor(No pun intended). He made himself accessible to the public and helped bring the Super Bowl to Detroit. Dave Bing Recently turned down an opportunity for Detroit to host the Olympics. Detroit was blissfully happy while Kwame was in office.  The recession proved that Detroit’s Bliss overshadowed its ever-increasing debt.

What I didn’t understand was the media blaming Detroit’s problems all on Kwame. I watched as news broadcast after news broadcast covered the verdict as if Detroit had finally won a war against its worst enemy. Some stations went as far to proclaim this day as a victory for Detroit. How? I don’t see any winners. Detroit is still broke and Kwame lost his freedom. Channel 7 news said that including Kwame, 35 people have been indicted under his administration.  As they scrolled the names of the people and their charge or charges across the screen, I made a observation. They included City Council members and a few of their appointees as well. City Council members are elected by the people, not Kwame.  At least 20 of the 35 mentioned had nothing to do with Kwame’s corruption case. Yet the news says it’s all under Kwame.  This reporting has some people convinced that Detroit is where it is today because of Kwame.

I have a hard time believing that one man caused Detroit to be in the condition that it is in today. Kwame Kilpatrick stepped down in September of 2008.  So in 4 1/2 years nobody did anything to improve the city of Detroit. Blaming Kwame should have ended a long time ago. Now the Verdict for Detroit: Guilty and sentenced to an Emergency Financial Manager for 18 months. Holla if you hear me!

-K Greene