It's a difficult and touchy subject for many. But 'We Need to Talk' about yesterday's deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school.
Our very own intern, Kareem Nuri, has been honored by Washington DC Public Schools (DCPS). Kareem's hard work and dedication to the REEF program at Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School in NE DC earned him a nomination from his peers.
By: Shawn Kernes
This is likely to be a very contentious post, but here goes.
I have been deeply affected by the tragedy in Parkland, my former home. maybe tragedy is the wrong word... Disaster, terrorism, murder, and failure all seem to fit.
Initially I wanted to stay out of the political debate. Let the dust settle, give myself and others a chance to heal... but honestly, watching the ridiculousness of this debate is getting to be too much.
We need to stop using events like this one to drive forward narrowly defined political agendas.
Guns do not cause mass shootings. Mental illness does not cause mass shootings, drugs (prescribed or otherwise) do not cause mass shootings. Upbringing does not cause mass shootings. Membership in hate groups does not cause mass shootings. Trauma does not cause mass shootings.
The reality is that if we knew what caused mass shootings, the problem would be easy to fix... we don’t.
We are aware of a variety of contributing factors. We need to address all of those factors, methodically and as part of a systemic approach. Not as a series of point solutions.
Personally... I want to see changes to gun control. I want to see mental health care become a standard part of healthcare. I want to see healthcare reform. I want to see changes to our drug policies and enforcement. I want to see a lot of changes... but More importantly, i want to see those changes lead to positive outcomes - not just change for the sake of change.
What do we really want to solve for? What is our priority?
In the case of the Parkland shooter. Taking away his gun might have reduced the magnitude of carnage, but the desire kill and injure others would not likely have changed... and when there is a will there is a way.
Why is it so hard for people to accept that we need to both address the desire to inflict damage AND the magnitude of damage when it occurs?
Those looking for gun reform and those looking for healthcare reform should be working together to adress this, and many more issues in our society. This is not a zero sum game.
By: Dr. Devon Smith
Devon is HSH Senior Correspondent, follow her on Twitter @Devon_Bianca
Thursday (Feb. 8, 2018) night’s radio broadcast was full of colorful dialogue between the callers, Armstrong and his guests. The guests included: Blake Allison, founder of FELA a financial education program, Jordan Goodman, a personal finance expert, Dr. Devon Smith, a veterinarian and correspondent for Howard Stirk Holding and finally, Renee Garfinkel a Washington Times Contributor and Jerusalem Bureau Chief for Howard Stirk Holdings.
The first hour of the show focused on two related topics: the stock market and financial education. Many callers were quick to blame President Trump for the fall in the stock market over the last few days. They were also quick to credit President Obama for the past year of economic growth. Jordan stepped in to remind people of a few important ideas. First, presidents generally, do not impact the stock market on a day to day basis -- their impact is long-term, and second, given the aggressive growth over the last 12-15 months, a drop or “correction” in the market was expected if not needed.
The conversation evolved into the idea of financial education or rather lack thereof in educational institutions. Devon pointed out that in all of her years of education, including graduate school, she was never required to take a basic financial education course. This is, in everyone’s opinion, a huge problem. Armstrong argued that financial education classes are being purposefully withheld from the lower classes of society to prevent them from being successful and rising above the poverty line. Devon pointed out that her private school education also lacked financial education classes suggesting that the problem is widespread and not in fact deliberately targeting the lower classes. Blake jumped in and informed everyone listening about a recent push for a standardized financial education course mandatory in all public-school curriculums. A program that is now being implemented in many states. Blake also went on to discuss his platform which is aimed at educating adults with applicable, relevant information that will help them more easily navigate their financial world.
From there the conversation pivoted into a discussion about the poor and lower classes of America and more specifically, what can they do to rise above the poverty level into the middle class. Armstrong was adamant that the middle and wealthy classes are to blame for the level of poverty in America and that poverty is a form of slavery propagated by upper classes. Many callers agreed with Armstrong and called in to offer their support. Devon, however, cautioned that Armstrong was painting a broad stroke on a very complex and multifactorial issue. She referenced a Brookings Institute study. In this study, the institute found that if American’s follow three guidelines: graduate high school, get a full-time job and wait to have children until you are married, there is less than a 2% chance of living below the poverty line. The bottom line is that poverty is a very complex and troubling issue that our country needs to focus on. However, individuals and society alike must both be held accountable.
By Kevin Chiucchini @kevincushingc
I’m not a fan of amusement park rides, especially the kind that take unexpected turns and flip upside down, but on Thursday’s show, Army & Q opened the knowledge theme park and we all took a ride on the educational rollercoaster. Sometimes as a radio-host, you can plan and prepare all you want for a certain topic, though ultimately the dialogue is dependent on the feelings and mood of the people. Armstrong started off the show by mentioning the 12th school shooting in the U.S. since the beginning of the year, the controversy of nepotism surrounding HUD Secretary Carson’s son, and then transitioned into the highly anticipated memo to be released by Donald Trump later this afternoon.
The main argument from the callers and most political analysts is that releasing the republican drafted memo could potentially dissolve any cases of collusion regarding Donald J. Trump and Russia. The Nunes drafted memo is supposed to shed light on whether the FBI misled a court to receive a warrant to spy on Trump’s presidential campaign. According to one caller, the level of trust in the African-American community for the F.B.I. and Donald Trump are low, but even lower for our President. Several times it was mentioned from callers that by releasing the memo, he is only trying to save himself, without any regard for the damage it could do to both political parties. I asked the question in the negative to Army, “Who is this not going to hurt?”. The only answer I can personally come up with is the Russians.
Occasionally a caller will tell Army they listen to his show, but don’t support his views, and usually that leads to a better discussion than someone calling to praise and pledge unconditional support. Radio hosts, journalists, and politicians can claim they have the right answer and solution to every issue, but at no point is it appropriate to keep others silent so you can make your point the only correct one. To summarize the ultimate lesson from the show, it’s appropriate to finish with the poignant statement by Army, “I’m not here to be right. I’m here to know the truth and help others know the truth”. As far as the criticism and controversial questions, Army and Q are always ready.
By Karl Nelson
Karl Nelson, the social media manager of The Armstrong Williams Show, attended the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in New York City.
President Donald Trump entered the Oval Office a year ago, and ever since his administration took over, we’ve all witnessed an overwhelming mix of politics and entertainment. Of course, the most notable example is the slew of protests that have taken place in professional sports, which was sparked by Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protest. However, for the sake of this topic and given what we saw throughout the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, let’s focus on the love/hate relationship between music and politics, which has also been on display as of late.
This past year, there have been several musicians who have used their platforms to speak, sing and rap boldly against the president – something that was inescapable if you watched or attended this year’s Grammys.
Rapper Kendrick Lamar and Comedian Dave Chappelle kicked off this year’s show with a bold performance, delivering a message about race in America with American flags in the backdrop of the performance as well as backup dancers marching in army uniforms.
“I just want to remind the audience that the only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America is being an honest black man in America,” Chappelle said mid-performance. “Is this on cable? CBS? Because it looks like he’s [Lamar] singing and dancing, but this brother is taking enormous chances! Rumble young man rumble!”
Kesha’s performance of “Praying” was another noteworthy political moment during the awards show, as her performance abstractly touched on her “long battle with music producer Dr. Luke over sexual abuse allegations,” according to The Washington Post. In fact, before Kesha took the stage that night, Janelle Monae introduced her with a heartfelt speech where she made a reference to the infamous “#MeToo movement and the Times Up initiative, which offers legal support to those dealing with sexual harassment or assault,” The Washington Post noted.
“Tonight, I am proud to stand in solidarity as not just an artist, but a young woman with my fellow sisters in this room who make up the music industry: artists, writers, assistants, publicists, CEOs, producers, engineers and women from all sectors of the business,” Monae said. “We are also daughters, wives, mothers, sisters and human beings. We come in peace, but we mean business. And to those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s up.”
Hillary Clinton even joined in on the so-called fun at this year’s Grammys by participating in a skit with the likes of John Legend, Cher, Snoop Dogg, Cardi B and DJ Khaled. The prerecorded skit mocked President Trump, as those who participated read excerpts from Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury.”
“He had a longtime fear of being poisoned,” Clinton read. “One reason why he likes to eat at McDonald’s. Nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely pre-made.”
As if that wasn’t enough political references for one awards show, it didn’t end there. As the night concluded, Rapper Logic shared the stage with suicide attempt survivors as well as family members of victims who are no longer with us. The famous millennial took that opportunity to speak strongly about the American people and beyond.
“Black is beautiful, hate is ugly. Women are as precious as they are stronger than any man I have ever met,” Logic said. “And unto them, I say stand tall and crush all predators under the weight of your heart that is full of the love they will never take away from you. Be not scared to use your voice!”
It came as no surprise to me that while many praised the Grammys for taking political stances throughout the show, there were also many people who found it annoying and unnecessary.
I’ve lost count of the people I’ve encountered who have voiced their disdain for the way politics has been integrated into the world of entertainment, specifically this past year. I heard the same sentiments following the Grammys.
After hearing both sides of the political spectrum voice their opinions about the current relationship between music and politics, it brought me to a million dollar question: Why are we suddenly acting as if this is the first time in the history of this country that politics has been integrated into the music and entertainment industries?
It’s time for a history lesson.
This rocky marriage between music and politics has existed for centuries. In fact, politics and music are similar, as they both are “rooted in conflict and harmony,” according to Live For Live Music. In both of these arenas, the main players are trying to create some type of societal change. Both music and politics allow for expression – expression that comes as a response to whatever the current circumstances of this world are.
Still not convinced?
Just as politics seeks to inspire groups of people, the same applies for music, and when you think about where we are today on issues of immigration, potential war, racism, poverty, and the list goes on, it actually makes sense that many artists and music-inspired platforms would take advantage of the opportunity to push their agenda. After all, name one politician in the forefront of the conversation who is not pushing his or her own agenda, at least to some degree.
If we’re going to discredit the music industry for using its platform to combat the president and the current state of politics, then we must also credit the music industry for celebrating this country’s achievements at pivotal times.
“From protest songs to voter campaigns, campaign rallies to musical endorsements and musicians campaigning, there’s been no shortage of love between music and politics,” according to Live For Live Music.
Take Woody Guthrie, for instance. Guthrie, a singer, songwriter and poet, was an artist who used his platform to protest with songs like “This Machine Destroys Fascists,” which highlighted music’s ability to bring people together for a cause.
How about singers like Billie Holiday who touched on civil rights issues in songs like “Strange Fruit.”
There’s also Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin’” that urged America to turn from its old ways.
Oh and we can’t forget about John Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance,” which became an anti-war anthem in the 1970s.
In the 1980s, Republican Ronald Reagan entered the Oval Office looking to get America back on track after what was a rough presidency under Jimmy Carter. Music would later come into play during Reagan’s presidency due to “his slow reaction to the Aids outbreaks, allowing the CIA to help worsen the drug epidemic in the inner cities.”
It was those times that gave birth to N.W.As “F*** Tha Police,” a controversial hip-hop record that came as a result of Reagan’s “War On Drugs.”
In the 1990s, there was Madonna’s “Rock The Vote,” which attempted to encourage more young people to get out of the house and go register to vote. What did that lead to? It led to Bill Clinton’s first presidential term thanks to a large number of young votes.
Then, following President George Bush’s eight years in office, there was “Yes We Can,” a song by will.i.am that was inline with President Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign message of hope.
And now we fast forward to present day where the likes of rappers Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Jay-Z, and Logic have each touched on political issues in their latest songs and albums. In fact, Eminem’s performance last year at the BET Hip Hop Awards took several jabs at the president. Eminem delivered a cypher that “questioned the President’s patriotism, criticized his policies and ridiculed his campaign promises,” according to CNN.
I’ve written all of this because it’s time for Americans to move away from dialogues that point to a history where music and politics have never intertwined. That notion is simply not factual, that’s unless we’re talking about alternative facts. | KMN