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COMMENTARY: Always Give Love and Thanks

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “More ironic than celebrating “Thanksgiving” during American Indian and Alaskan Native Heritage Month, has to be Black people who would rather identify with Native Americans while totally disregarding, dismissing and oftentimes making disparaging remarks about Africa!”

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(Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

 My Truth

Cheryl Smith, Publisher of, I Messenger Media L.L.C. / Texas Metro News

Cheryl Smith, Publisher of, I Messenger Media L.L.C. / Texas Metro News

By Cheryl Smith, Publisher of, I Messenger Media L.L.C. / Texas Metro News

I’ve always heard that one man’s Heaven is another’s hell. While one group is celebrating Juneteenth, the other side was bemoaning the ending of slavery. That’s pretty much the way it is with Thanksgiving.

Now, November is significant for a number of reasons, including it is American Indian and Alaskan Native Heritage Month, which brings me to my truth: We’re not living in a vacuum and we have to be concerned about others.

Now, when I was growing up, everyone, I mean every Black person I knew claimed some type of “Indian” heritage. They were “part” Cherokee, Apache, Seminole, or Comanche, et al. “Don’t you see my high cheekbones,” many would ask.

More ironic than celebrating “Thanksgiving” during American Indian and Alaskan Native Heritage Month, has to be Black people who would rather identify with Native Americans while totally disregarding, dismissing and oftentimes making disparaging remarks about Africa!

Well, I just absolutely love Patty Talahongva. A member and former president of the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA). Patty has been very helpful in sharing information about the culture of America’s real first family.

We were in a program that brought together journalists from NAJA, the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) and National Association of Black Journalists.

We had some intense discussions. I learned quite a bit from my sisters and brothers. We shared information about one another’s struggles and tackled stereotypes. The conversations weren’t always calm or civil; but they were definitely eye-opening.

Since those days, over a decade ago; I still feel a bond with men and women from each organization. I listened and felt their pain and didn’t try to one up them on whose experience was more painful.

When the members of NAJA said that sports mascots were offensive to their people, guess what? I made a commitment to honor them by not referring to those mascots, especially when you got the back story on some of those names.

I also learned about the significance of Totem Poles and other sacred items. Of course, I thought back to my last year that I went Trick or Treating and how because of my “Native American roots,” I dressed as an urban Pocahontas.

And there was also the high school I grew up wanting to attend, Weequahic High in Newark, NJ. The colors were orange and brown. I ended up at East Orange High and we were the Panthers.

And yes, I am going to say, today, I was a Black Panther, although that wasn’t really the case. I could also tell about the lessons I learned from the other journalism group members, but this is American Indian and Alaskan Native Heritage Month, right?

Some people don’t care that they are hurting folks when they make negative comments about another’s culture, heritage, or upbringing. Thanksgiving is celebrated around the world, and many don’t know why.

Through my interactions with others, I learned more about my people and the Motherland. Sure, I already loved being Black and my feeling about African people has always been positive.

But there’s something to be said about sitting around with a group and the Native Americans can tell you what Nation their parents are from, the languages spoken, traditions and more.

On the other hand, here us Black folks were talking about our European experience and nothing more: dressing up for Easter Sunday, getting a turkey for Thanksgiving, struggling to get gifts so Santa Claus could bless everyone. You get the picture!

Well, I don’t have to wait until the fourth Thursday in November to eat “good” food, or to bring the family together. Actually, that was a way of life for African people.

Heck, Black people tease other Black People for participating in the ONLY celebration regarding the freedom of enslaved Africans in America, Juneteenth! But if we don’t celebrate, who will?

We can’t blame our young for not knowing anything, especially if we don’t know and we aren’t trying to find out so we can spread knowledge. We have a responsibility to teach, not to demonize those who don’t know. Know history. Share history.

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Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

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Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

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Children’s Defense Fund: State of America’s Children Reveals that 71 Percent of Children of Color Live in Poverty

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

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Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Part One of an ongoing series on this impactful and informative report.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The child population in America is the most diverse in history, but children remain the poorest age group in the country with youth of color suffering the highest poverty rates.

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Dr. Wilson’s remarks come as the Marian Wright Edelman founded nonprofit released “The State of America’s Children 2021.”

The comprehensive report is eye-opening.

It highlights how children remain the poorest age group in America, with children of color and young children suffering the highest poverty rates. For instance, of the more than 10.5 million poverty-stricken children in America in 2019, approximately 71 percent were those of color.

The stunning exposé revealed that income and wealth inequality are growing and harming children in low-income, Black and Brown families.

While the share of all wealth held by the top one percent of Americans grew from 30 percent to 37 percent, the share held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33 percent to 23 percent between 1989 and 2019.

Today, a member of the top 10 percent of income earners makes about 39 times as much as the average earner in the bottom 90 percent.

The median family income of White households with children ($95,700) was more than double that of Black ($43,900), and Hispanic households with children ($52,300).

Further, the report noted that the lack of affordable housing and federal rental assistance leaves millions of children homeless or at risk of homelessness.

More than 1.5 million children enrolled in public schools experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year, and 74 percent of unhoused students during the 2017-2018 school year were living temporarily with family or friends.

Millions of children live in food-insecure households, lacking reliable access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food, and more than 1 in 7 children – 10.7 million – were food insecure, meaning they lived in households where not everyone had enough to eat.

Black and Hispanic children were twice as likely to live in food-insecure households as White children.

The report further found that America’s schools have continued to slip backwards into patterns of deep racial and socioeconomic segregation, perpetuating achievement gaps.

For instance, during the 2017-2018 public school year, 19 percent of Black, 21 percent of Hispanic, and more than 26 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native school students did not graduate on time compared with only 11 percent of White students.

More than 77 percent of Hispanic and more than 79 percent of Black fourth and eighth grade public school students were not proficient in reading or math in 2019, compared with less than 60 percent of White students.

“We find that in the course of the last year, we’ve come to the point where our conversations about child well-being and our dialogue and reckoning around racial justice has really met a point of intersection, and so we must consider child well-being in every conversation about racial justice and quite frankly you can only sustainably speak of racial justice if we’re talking about the state of our children,” Dr. Wilson observed.

Some more of the startling statistics found in the report include:

  • A White public school student is suspended every six seconds, while students of color and non-White students are suspended every two seconds.
  • Conditions leading to a person dropping out of high school occur with white students every 19 seconds, while it occurs every nine seconds for non-White and students of color.
  • A White child is arrested every 1 minute and 12 seconds, while students of color and non-whites are arrested every 45 seconds.
  • A White student in public school is corporally punished every two minutes, while students of color and non-Whites face such action every 49 seconds.

Dr. Wilson asserted that federal spending “reflects the nation’s skewed priorities.”

In the report, he notes that children are not receiving the investment they need to thrive, and despite making up such a large portion of the population, less than 7.5 percent of federal spending went towards children in fiscal year 2020.

Despite Congress raising statutory caps on discretionary spending in fiscal years 2018 to 2020, children did not receive their fair share of those increases and children’s share of total federal spending has continued to decline.

“Children continue to be the poorest segment of the population,” Dr. Wilson demanded. “We are headed into a dark place as it relates to poverty and inequity on the American landscape because our children become the canary in the coal mine.”

Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children.

The $1.9 trillion plan not only contained $1,400 checks for individuals, it includes monthly allowances and other elements to help reduce child poverty.

The President’s plan expands home visitation programs that help at-risk parents from pregnancy through early childhood and is presents universal access to top-notch pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

“The American Rescue Plan carried significant and powerful anti-poverty messages that will have remarkable benefits on the lives of children in America over the course of the next two years,” Dr. Wilson declared.

“The Children’s Defense Fund was quick to applaud the efforts of the President. We have worked with partners, including leading a child poverty coalition, to advance the ideas of that investment,” he continued.

“Most notably, the expansion of the child tax credit which has the impact of reducing poverty, lifting more than 50 percent of African American children out of poverty, 81 percent of Indigenous children, 45 percent of Hispanic children. It’s not only good policy, but it’s specifically good policy for Black and Brown children.”

Click here to view the full report.

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