Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Education Brain Trust

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Funded by Polk County Decat/Iowa Department of Human Services &

Des Moines Public Schools

May 3

Moulton School

Introduction and Kick Off

10 a.m. to Noon

May 17:

Carver Elementary

9:00 am to 3:00 pm

June 7:



9:00 am to 3:00 pm

June 21:

Callanan Middle School

9:00 am to 3:00 pm

Parents attending the Empowerment summits will receive special incentives, including $$$$$$ for their participation. For more information please contact;

Paulette Wiley- Volunteer Director Education Brain Trust 515 664 8670, or

Nansi J Woods- Project Coordinator, Ask Resource Center 515 243 1713


Our Children,


Iowa's Smoking Ban

By Dana Boone

As we all know (but like to forget) smoking is a serious addiction that can be very destructive -- not only to those who smoke, but to others around them who don't have a choice.

There is still a lot of discussion about how Iowa's new smoking ban will be enforced and people looking for ways to go around it. Instead of looking for ways to quit.

If smokers spent time in an hospital ICU with someone battling a smoking-related illness, I guarantee you, they could not hold onto the idea that smoking is a right to be championed. That idea would disappear as quickly as a puff of smoke.

Smokers don't need to scrable to find NEW places to indulge; what they likely need is help (and prayers) so they can quit for good.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Mother Teaches Her Son How to Play the Game: Race & Basketball

By Coy Bundy

Basketball is a renowned sport that expresses all the laws of gravity.

There are players that broke the racial boundaries of basketball in our American past. Ya Ming alone is the first Asian basketball player I have ever seen. Larry Byrd actually was a very good white basketball player (he could actually play like a black man). The other day my oldest son saw two young boys from India in his three-on-three tournament and was excited because he didn't even know what race they were. The beauty of basketball is that the kids and adults playing the sport becomes more and more diverse everyday. The problem of basketball is that the Referees have not changed as the years go by.

My son is 5'6" and weighs 135 pounds. He is a basketball player. It's as though he has the size of Shaquille O'neal and the ball control of Kobe Bryant. Having these skills in little ol' Iowa is not always good. It's a blessing for him because of his future. That's as far as it goes. My son is continuously fouled because of his size and is fouled out of games also because of his size. He is a very caring young man and has great sportsmanship with other players. Until the referees get involved. My son's East High 6th grade AAU team is the best in the league. They don't win championships in Iowa because of bogus referee calls.

To focus on the reasoning behind these bogus calls by referees, I have came to the conclusion that they are intimidated by the fact that a young black man in Iowa can excel. Is it good to teach an all white team that if you cheat and call outrageous fouls that they will succeed in life? It is more harmful than helpful to do this to young men whether they are in Iowa or Atlanta? It doesn't matter if it is an all white team or an all black team. When the white kids on the opposing team get out of AAU and Jr. High School they have to face the fact that they are not as good as the black players. There is a world outside of Iowa and you are giving these kids a bad start. I wonder sometimes if the coaches from the other teams actually approve of this for their children. If you know your team is winning because they are the color that is preferred in the state, why do you allow it?

Every kid has a future and a need for scholarships when they go to college through basketball. Why mentally breakdown the kids that have more balling skills than the ones who don't? Yes, it is hard enough to keep my son out of jail in the state of Iowa when he gets older. But you are making a child face discrimination before he even turns 12 years old, he doesn't know how to handle that. So, what does a child do? He lashes out at the other child and gives him a hard foul. Then what does the parent have to do? We have to punish the kid for being upset because he can see and feel the reason of why he is being mistreated.

We're in the year of 2008, when is this going to stop? Shouldn't our children with mad balling skills be protected against these prejudices of older white men? As a parent, what do you say to your child when you know that he is being treated unfairly? Is there cause to discipline your child for outburst that he cannot help because he can't handle the pain in his heart from this treatment? Are we still living in the Civil Rights Movement days as our parents lived in? Will he hate white people all together and believe they are sneaky and conniving because of this? Should you pull your son out of a sport that you know may get him into a good college instead of letting him succeed in life like the kids that live in Ankeny, Johnston, Altoona, West Des Moines and Waukee?

I'll tell you what I am doing as a parent with my son. I know that racism is still out there in Iowa, even in the year of 2008. My son is protected against prejudices referees because I protect him. I tell my son that this is a part of life and even though I do not agree with it, it makes him stronger than the kids he is playing against. When my son has an outburst and is crying because of unfair treatment I tell my son to respect authority and respect the call. I do believe that we are still living in the Civil Rights Movement days and will not stop until the older generation has stopped making the decisions they made in the 1960's. Yes, my son will not trust white people because of how he is being treated by white referees that discriminate against him. Although his feelings are hurt I still encourage him to love all races of people and "my son's best friend is a white kid". The last answer to my last question, is No. I'm not pulling my son from basketball because he is being mistreated and fouled out of games. He is a strong black young man and he will succeed in life no matter who tries to break his spirit because I am right there to mend them back together for him. I am my son's mother, lawyer, therapist, life coach and confidant. I will never let him fail.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Donnybrook? Call It What It Was

A newspaper story today about a recent fight at Des Moines' Lincoln High School had a rather curious word in the opening paragraph, which read: "Monday's donnybrook at Lincoln High School, stemmed from a week-end-long dispute which erupted over the lunch hour, Des Moines police said Tuesday."

Donnybrook. Schmonnybrook. Let's just stick to what it was -- a fight. I wonder if this had happened at some other school in the city if it would have been called a riot. I bet.

I darn sure know it wouldn't have been called a "donnybrook." LOL. But not really.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Black Students in Des Moines Shine in ACT-SO Competition

By Dana Boone

With so much attention paid to academic achievement gaps, lagging test scores and graduation rates, one might think all African-American students in Des Moines were struggling. But that is far from accurate.

Nearly 50 of Des Moines' highest achieving, gifted and brilliant black students on Saturday participated in an academic competition at Corinthian Baptist Church. The competition is called ACT-SO. It stands for Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics and is part activities for youth by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Students, who came from high schools in Des Moines, Urbandale and West Des Moines, competed in five areas: the sciences, humanities, performing arts, visual arts and business. I had the honor of helping judge the students' essays, poetry and a play.

Students wrote and performed their own musical compositions. One sang in Italian. They penned moving poetry, a through-provoking play about burying the N-Word and even business plans. They performed science experiments and math projects.

A core group of dedicated volunteers led by the phenomenal Gretchen Woods spent months organizing the event. Others served as mentors and judges.

Some of the students will advance to the national competition held in July in Orlando Fla. Some will not. Only the best go on from here.

These students -- and this academic competition - help remind us all that there are high achieving black students in our midst -- despite the headlines we read nearly every day.