Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Clinton Experience by Akindele Akinyemi

First, allow me to thank Sister Maia Anthony for allowing me to be part of this year's Emerging Leaders panel at Freedom Weekend this past Saturday. Sister Maia has a very strong vision and I loved our panelists who gave strong input to show some direction for the future of Detroit. Yes, Maia is a visionary who is also an emerging leader. We should not forget that in the near future.

Now down to business.

I was at the 52nd Annual NAACP dinner last night. I must admit the food was better than last year.

This year's speaker was Former President Bill Clinton. Before Clinton even arrived when the announcer said his name on the PA system he received a standing ovation.

Sounds like Hillary Clinton got Michigan on lock already. If I was Barack Obama I would secure my homebase (Illinois) first.

Bill Clinton spoke on the issue of people in the community taking better care of their health and finances.

He said the following:

"This economy of ours has been great for me and for several of you, but it's not been such a good deal for a lot of people," he said. "More people are working and losing their family's health insurance. More people are working and falling below the poverty line."

He also mentioned how payday loan shops are a risky quick fix.

On the subject of health Clinton stated this:

"The next president and Congress can give you quality, affordable health care," he said. "But if we don't do something about rising tide of childhood obesity and diabetes among our children, it threatens our future."

I'm not going to beat around the bush on this issue. Bill Clinton hit on some good points. However, since he was talking to a predominately African American crowd I must say that many of us have the preconceived notion of having the federal government take care of us as if we are still on a plantation.

First, in terms of payday loans and loan sharks this can be solved if African Americans would learn how to budget their money and stop living over their means. We drive Lincoln Navigators and Jaguars but RENT an apartment. We wear $150 shoes but living out of suitcase because you are homeless. Our priorities are messed up and why blame people who set up Payday Lending in our community? These franchises are practicing a free market enterprise and they have they right. If our community do not support that Payday Lending service they will go out of business.

African Americans are so inept to deal with economics as a community because we have been taught to think social power (first), political power (second) and economics last while other races think economics first.

My other concern about Clinton's remarks are how families are still working and falling below the poverty line. I am just curious to know what type of jobs are these families working for? I mean two people in the home working at McDonald's cannot support a family of 4. One person working as a manager at CVS or Rite Aid cannot support a family of 4. Again, where is our priorities as it pertains to fiscal responsibility?

Clinton is right about childhood obesity and diabetes among our children because it is a real threat. However, I feel that government can play a role in health and diet but this process really starts in the home. If we would stop substituting a home cooked meal for fast foods (the excuse is always I do not have time to cook) for our children would not be faced with this threat. Cut down on sweets, sugar and candy are simple things we can teach our children and adults in the community. We should be teaching our children to drink water (at least 64 oz a day) instead of pop and juice.

Our children should be engaged in some form of exercise daily. Take them to the park and let them run around until they are tired. Get them involved in sports in the community like Think Detroit. Gone are the days where you allowed your children to play outside the house because of the immediate threat of violence in our community, especially in neighborhoods where poverty runs rampant. Take them away from the TV and Playstation, Disney and Cartoon Netowrk, PSPs and other tech items that is a constant distraction to building up their physical self being.

This can be done by parents getting more involved with their children's lifestyle. Our children become gay and lesbians because we are not involved with their upbringing, their spiritual health and wealth as well as giving our children a support network. Parents in our community have allowed the environment to take control of them instead of taking control of the environment. We have allowed our jobs to dictate how we are raising our children. Our jobs tells us how much time we can spend with our children, what time we can pick them and so forth. Diabetes run rampant in our community and while many African American parents are most likely diabetic because of an unhealthy diet we are too lazy to teach our children NOT to be like us and give them better foods to eat.

We do not need health care for PREVENTION. African Americans have to get that story right. We need health care for high prescription drugs and medical expenses.

So while African Americans were giving a standing ovation for Bill Clinton last night I wonder when was the last time people in that audience took their children to the doctor, exposed their children to realities outside of Detroit or have set up a investment plan for their children's future?

Finally, I was hoping that Bill Clinton would speak about the need for those in the audience to build economically sound communites based on family values in the African American community. I guess that is not on the NAACP's list for African Americans.

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