Self Inflicted Wounds

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There are things that plague our community and we thought injustice and police brutality was tops on the list. In fact, it sparked a new movement entitled “#BlackLivesMatter”. This past Holiday season has opened my eyes to an even bigger problem. We seldom value our own lives. In the fight for peace in our neighborhoods, we are losing daily.

The man pictured above is Anthony Tolson. Arguably Detroit’s best on bass guitar. The truth of that statement may never be known now. Last Christmas eve, Anthony was shot and killed by thieves who carjacked him for his truck. The truck was found. His children’s gifts and his bass still in the back. One of the young men arrested for his murder indicated that they only wanted the rims. A few months later, A young man was shot and killed at Eastland mall. It was over a minor dispute in the mall but I continue to read his mother’s major heartbreak on Facebook everyday. Every week since then, there has been a murder here in Detroit, 90% of those under the age of 30.

It’s not just here in Detroit. Chicago, Miami, and Memphis have seen some of the most bloodiest days in their history in the past month. Guns are easy to get and easily stolen. Now that Micheal Jordan has released his latest color of his old throwback gym shoe. To my knowledge, there have been 3 fatalities due to being robbed for those shoes at gunpoint. These factors have driven people to the gun stores at record numbers. It feels more like we have given up.

We have given up raising our kids, We have given up mentoring our teens. We have given up passing knowledge of self and community. We have abandoned the notion that we can control our own; raise our own; provide for our own. We want to fight mass incarceration yet give into mass neglect. We, yes WE! We are the key to everything. Not lawmakers or lawmen. We who are in the neighborhoods everyday. It is We who must teach what really matters. Not Jordan’s, expensive rims, not even foolish pride, but the lives of every one who looks like you, lives like you, and in the future…will learn to believe in you. Holla if you hear me!

-K  Greene

 

 

Power of the Black Vote

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I spent most of 2014 hosting a radio show called “We The Nation” on Urban Nation Radio. I focused on politics and current events. The most important message that I wanted to get out was the importance of voting. I had numerous guests and did a lot of great interviews but the voting numbers in the African-American demographic barely budged. When I went out into the community, I often spoke to young people about voting but many felt like their vote didn’t matter. They were unmoved by my knowledge and my words fell on deaf ears. I needed a bigger and better example. Thanks to Donald Trump and his meeting with those black Pastors, I may now have it.

Before the meeting ever took place, a backlash came from the African-American community once the flier was circulated. Eventhough Trump is a highly successful billionaire, many in the African American community see Donald Trump’s views as racist and unfavorable. Many of Trumps comments have done little to change this perception. Trump himself realizes that he cannot win the White House without the Black vote. So with the help of Pastor Darrell Scott from Ohio, Donald Trump reached out to African-Americans through the Church. It’s a well known fact that the church has been the center of the African-American community since the Civil Rights Movement. Also, since the Republican party has built their campaigns on Christian morals, it was a very sound strategy.

The post meeting fallout was even more explosive. CNN interviewed Black Pastors all evening and the following day. One Pastor that was featured prominently was Bishop Corletta Vaughn from Holy Ghost Cathedral in Detroit. She did not go to the meeting citing Trump has not visited the community she serves and especially his unclear views on women’s rights. What did Trump do in response? He now has a clip of two African-American women loudly proclaiming their endorsement of him for President.

Now, if you throw in the recent Senate battles on Gerrymandering and voter redistricting at the local level in urban areas along with Donald Trump’s campaign strategy, the picture is clear. Black voter power is big! The fact that African-Americans don’t embrace it is bigger! Imagine what changes in education and economic empowerment if African-Americans realize their voting power. Now that is HUGE! Holla if you hear me!

-K. Greene

 

Your Wages Are Too High

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It’s pretty early in the race to see who will be the next President of the United States but the Republicans are in full attack mode! They feel its prime time to assert themselves and show the nation they can lead the country. They have stuck to the Republican game plan to the letter. There is one part of their plan that may cost them the entire race. The Republicans have agreed that Americans make too much money. Let me bring you to Detroit.

Detroit was just named the most dangerous city in America for the third year in a row. Detroit has always had a reputation but real economic issues underscore the findings. In 2010, Detroit’s economy collapsed along with the rest of the country. However, Jobs and wages have been slower to return than anywhere else. This is largely in part due to the auto industry which was the hardest hit. Average rate of pay for an autoworker was around $21/hr. American Axle once told it’s employees at a townhall their fully loaded wages (including benefits) was worth about $66. Since then, incomes across Detroit have been cut in half and benefits cut even further. Now we have a city full of disgruntled, formally gainfully employed individuals that are now working for far less than they used to and barely making ends meet. Hopelessness creeps through the city like a plague. Crime spikes were inevitable. Yet the Republican platform maintains that our current wages are too high.

It is safe to say that if a Republican candidate won the Presidency, that our economy will start to see lower wages across the nation. Cities across the nation will start to have the same issues as Detroit, Jobs may come but many will struggle to see anything above $15/hr. Benefits will be at a minimum with prescriptions and copays rising as they are now.  Teachers salaries have fallen in Detroit to the point that many have quit early in this school year. Income inequality is a huge issue and we will see how much of an issue in the months to come. Holla if you hear me!

 

Detroit Women on a Mission

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There are times when I look around and wonder what direction are our women are going? I see some who are goal oriented and achieving yet social media paints a different picture, Women and young girls twerking by shaking their butts in G-Strings or very short shorts get 500 “Likes” on Facebook. It also appears that “Girl Fights” are the new rage on social media as well. It doesn’t matter if its 1 on 1 or an all out brawl. Hair pulling and clothes ripping excites the crowd as the female combatants provide plenty of action for everyone’s camera phone, Even the older women join in. Then, it goes viral!

For two of Detroit’s most influential women in the community, This is unacceptable! Ber Henda Williams is a noted poet in the city and her passion for spoken word only pales in comparison to her passion for mentoring young girls, June 6th she will be hosting her annual Power of Girlhood version 5.0. She will have special performances from poets One Single Rose and Dimonique Boyd just to name a few. You can find more information here: http://www.thepowerofgirlhood.org/. If you have a young girl, do not let her miss this event and It is totally FREE!

Nobody took the world by storm like “Preachers of Detroit”  cast member Bishop Corletta Vaughn. She has been an inspiration for women and young women alike. Bishop Corletta Vaughn’s story of perseverance to become a Bishop in the male dominated pulpit has empowered women world wide. Bishop Vaughn wants to do more for women and young girls. In one episode of “Preachers of Detroit”, Bishop Vaughn invited the women on the show to her “Women Who Soar” conference, On July 8-12, she will be doing her conference again and it’s open to all women who want to attend! Also, for the first time, this will be her expansion summit! Ladies are strongly encouraged to bring their daughters for an enrichment summit that will stay with them for a lifetime! There is a fee for this summit yet it is a small price for the information and enrichment women and their daughters will receive! This is a can’t miss Mother-Daughter outing opportunity!

I encourage all women reading this post to attend both events! Let the “Power of Girlhood” bond you and “Women Who Soar” empower you! As men, we have to support our women and encourage them to attend, Our daughters can benefit greatly from interacting with strong and talented women. Encouraging your wife to go to an empowerment summit is the perfect way to show your support for her goals. In return, she strengthens the household so that both of your goals become a reality!

My hat is off to Ms Ber Henda Williams and Bishop Corletta Vaughn. I am thankful for these women of faith and purpose serving as guides and mentors to our community’s most valuable asset… Our women. 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

Ceasar Torreano’s Venue Shout Outs!!!!

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I have a deep love for Detroit Poetry. Our poets go hard like no other! Experiencing Detroit poetry live is a must!! That’s why I have asked good friend and powerful poet in his own right, Ceasar Torreano to give Holla If You Hear Me the weekly rundown of venues where you can experience Detroit Poetry live! Don’t forget to pick up his latest book of romance poetry entitled “The Caking Chronicles”!

Here are my venue shoutouts for the whole week in the Detroit area.

MONDAY Neo Minds, No Words Bared Open Mic @ Coffee Shop, Arts & Entertainment from 8pm to 11pm Location: 1464 Gratiot, Downtown Detroit, Michigan 48207

Boundless Expressions Open Mic @ The Phoenix Cafe from 9pm to 2am Location: 24918 John R Rd, Hazel Park, MI

TUESDAY

5 E Gallery The Foundation Open Mic from 8:00pm to 2:00am Location: Cass, off of Forest, Detroit, MI

LIV open mic poetry from 9pm to 1am Location: 641 Beaubien St, down the street from Greektown Casino, Detroit,

WEDNESDAY

1917 American Bistro Open Mic from 8pm to 12am Location: Livernois right off Outer drive, between 7, & 8 mile.

Open Mic Jam with DJ L.Boog from 9pm to 1am Monthly series

THURSDAY They Say’s open mic with host Katrina Storm from 7pm to 11pm Location: 267 Jos Campau off of East Jefferson

Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe with host Caesar Torreano from 9pm to 12am Location: 12511 Woodward, off of Glendale 1/4 mile from Davidson, Highland Park, MI

FRIDAY Rhyme and Reason open mic from 9pm to 12am every second & fourth Friday bi weekly series Location: 9226 Kerchval, Detroit, Every

Spotlight Open Mic at Manilla Bay Cafe from 9pm to 12am Every first & third Friday bi weekly series Location: 4731 Grandriver, off Warren, Detroit, MI

SATURDAY

Peaceful Poetic Places from 6::30pm to 10pm, every 2nd Saturday

Allure & Soul at Club Ambiance Ultra Lounge from 8pm to 10pm Location: Shelby, off Congress, Downtown, Detroit

SUNDAY Spirit Spit @ Spirit of Hope starting @ 5pm, Monthly series, Location: 1519 Martin Luther King Jr.Blvd, Detroit, Michigan

There you have it and Thanks Ceasar!! Check Ceasar out at Namdi’s Thursday nights and pick up his book “The Caking Chronicles” ASAP! Holla if you hear us and DETROIT POETRY!!!

– K. Greene ft. Ceasar Torreano

Little Known Lunch Hour

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Guess where this is. New York? Chicago? Atlanta? No to all three. If you were in this picture, you would be standing in the middle of downtown Detroit. Campus Martius to be exact. At lunch time, the surrounding office buildings empty and the employees all flock here. With over 30 restaurants and food trucks within walking distance, lunch here is unbeatable! Add the sunshine and a light breeze like today and morning stress is carried away. I know what you are thinking..”Detroit..Really?!”  Yep! Proof that you can’t always believe everything you hear about Detroit. Holla if you hear me!
        K. Greene