8 Things I learned while blogging about Paris Texas

8.  White America thinks that racism only comes in the KKK/David Duke variety

Race is always a factor.  Whether it is intentional or unintentional, we make decisions based on race almost everyday.  The problem with White America is that they still don't understand why black folks are so sensitive in this area.  They don't see how our systematic destruction of Black America at the hands of this nation might still have a place in our collective memories. 

They don't acknowledge that their policies abroad of democracy and unity don't even exist in what Maya Angelou calls "these yet to be United States."  Can you imagine suggesting that America forming a "unity" government distributing seats in Congress based on race or ethnicity?  I'm not sure if you'd be called a Socialist or Communist.

But racism doesn't always come dressed in a hood.  Sometimes it wears a uniform, a principals hat, or even a robe.  Racism shows up on standardized tests, rental/job applications, and loan papers.  

As we remembered the Tuskegee Airmen last week, we cannot forget the Tuskegee Experiment, which lasted until 1972 .  Whatever this country has done before, it can do again. 

7.  The Squeaky wheel gets the oil

Ms. Creola Cotton and Ms. Brenda Cherry continued to push for the justice that they believed was in order and told it to anyone who would listen.  The finally found someone in Howard Witt who made this a national story.  As such when Jim Kimbrough was appointed conservator of the Texas Youth Commission, Shaquanda Cotton's was the first of up to 4,700 cases to be reviewed for wrongful extensions of youth sentences.

6.  I love my hometown –  Paris Texas 

I was outraged when I heard that a 14 year-old was sentenced to 7 years in my hometown for pushing down a hall monitor.  As I learned more and talked to more people, I began to see many different angles to the story.  When claims of overt and blatant claims of racism began to be levied at my birthplace indiscriminately, it began to affect me in ways that  even surprised me.  Now I am committed to following up and talking to the youth of the town more regularly than I have in the past, and get more folks to travel down to try to get the kids off on the right foot.   

5.  You are the leader you are looking for

This isn't my quote, but one that I heard during the Tavis Smiley Covenant with Black America Tour.  So many leaders emerged throughout the Shaquada Cotton case.  Creola Cotton and Brenda Cherry refused to take no for an answer.  Howard Witt and the Chicago Tribune took a chance on a story that was grossly underc overed in Texas. 

Rickey Smiley used his radio show as a platform to rally support and eventually lead protestors to the Lamar County Courthouse.  And African-American bloggers nationwide took matters into their own hands and inserted themselves into the debate.

What I love about the blog world is that we no longer have to wait for the local TV station or newspaper to run stories on our interests.  We can run stories our own stories, and we can make our own news.  It's still important to write letters to the editor and to TV stations.  But now have our own power of the bully pulpit.  And we don't have to wait for God to send the next Martin Luther King or Malcolm X, and we can feel secure as Minister Louis Farrakhan leaves the scene if each of us does his or her own part in the struggle. 

4. Comments posted to your blog sometimes get attributed to you.

Many folks linked to my blog during discussion of this case.  Links are a big deal in the blog world, and I was blessed and humbled by each one.  The strange thing is that some sites seemed to paint me as a conservative or pacifist because of what they were reading at Dallas South.  I'll admit, I took a more wait and see approach than some, but I didn't  censor more than 3 comments over the last couple weeks, and those were for language and personal attacks.  I also had comments from a number of people who live or lived in Paris, Texas.  Some sites later admitted that they rushed to judgment about me based on comments or my posting Superville's remarks.

3. The African-American Bloggers are on it

Like any good blogger, I had my blogroll together and tried to comment on a number of sites.  But there were so many wonderful African-American run websites that I was introduced to over the last two weeks during coverage of this story.  Howard Witt ever of the Chicago Tribune wrote and article about the power of black bloggers .

I've even seen the term citizen journalist used in the last couple of weeks to describe these writers.  I pray that each of us will use the power of the pen wisely and responsibly.  I've tried to make Dallas South Blog a combo news site and editorial page, but that's me. 

There are many formulas out there and we all have to be true to who we are.  But I think knowing that kids are finding these sites too, we should monitor language, limit personal attacks, and encourage debate .  But one wise blogger chided me, "sometimes you got to call a MF, a MF."  Touche

2.  Print Media Still Matters

I think there has been more than enough evidence in the last month that the print media is still relevant.  There is no doubt that this medium is getting less popular as cutbacks are hitting papers as stockholders' demand for more profits. But in the Chicago Tribunes outstanding coverage of the Shaquanda Cotton case , and the Dallas Morning News investigative prowess in the Tyrone Brown case , and the Texas Youth Commissions scandal (please read about the TYC debacle if you aren't yet aware).  The Internet has cut into the huge margins newspapers have traditionally garnered, but their staffs are still huge even compared to TV media.  In my mind subscribing to the local paper is still the best way to keep abreast of what's happening in the community.

1.  Our children are suffering 

Each one teach one.  Raise your children.  Know your neighbors children. Be a mentor; help raise your nieces and nephews.  Get to know the young people in your church.  It's our village, and Robert Franklin suggests that there's A Crisis in the Village. He's right about that.  We have to get more involved in the lives of Black Youth, meeting them where they are and not where we want them to be.  If not, we could be looking at a lost generation.  Each, one….teach one.

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