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MINORITYREPORTER

from information to understanding

vol. 6 no. 19

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In This Issue:

CALENDAR

MINORITYREPORTER
from information to understanding

vol. 6 no. 18

1 22 www.minorityreporter.net april 22 -28 | 2013 www.| minorityreporter .net april - 28 2013

may
of a 1960s Detroit neighborhood that managed to remain for many years a bastion of racial integration and harmony in the face of white flight and urban decay. This is a powerful piece that speaks to what continue to be many of the central issues of our time. Proceeds from the production will benefit Dr. Freddie Thomas High School and its program for transitioning 8th graders. Tickets are $15. Tickets can be ordered by calling 585-2694673 or can be purchased at the door 11 Move with the Deltas! Location: The PAC Center at MCC Bldg. 10 Parking available in Lot G Come out for one or challenge yourself to all four workout sessions! Conditioning 101 9a.m.| Music & Movement 10a.m.| Line Dancing 11 a.m.| Zumba 12 p.m. 11 Creative Workshop Spring Childrens Show May 11June 8 in the Lucy Burne Gallery (Creative Workshop) This exhibition of works by children studying at the Gallerys Creative Workshop is offered in conjunction with the MAG Centennial. Admission is free during Workshop hours. Call 585-2768959 for more information. 12,19,24,27 Flower City Days at the Public Market Join us for Flower City Days at the Rochester Public Markets. Also 6/2 and 6/9 25 PlayDate Rochester Time: 9:00pm2:00am Location: Diplomat Party - House located at 1956 Lyell Ave PlayDate Rochester offers an environment where people whether single or married, in their 20s or in their 50s, can get a genuine interaction that breaks down the barriers typically found at a bar or nightclub. It offers nostalgic games at an affordable price. The cost to attend PlayDate Rochester is $10 before May 1st, $15 in advance, and $20 at the door. Tickets can be purchased online at www.playdaterochester.com.

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2 Max At The Gallery Tapas Night Time: 5:00pm8:00pm Locatio: Vanden Brul Pavilion Every Thursday night, youre invited to visit the Gallery (half price admission from 5 to 9 pm), listen to live music, and enjoy wine, beer and tapas plates for purchase. No reservation necessary!

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{COVER {LOCAL

PG 8 - 10

Local Businessmen Claim They Were Duped into Foreclosure PG 4 - 6

RCSD Parent Advisory Council President Candice Lucas Running For School Board Is the Black Vote Being Ignored? Former City School District Teacher Howard Eagle Searches for the Districts Rubber Room

{state

PG 12

5 Rochester Southwest CROP Walk 2013 Time: 1:30pm Location: Carlson Commons, 70 Coretta Scott Crossing Funds raised from pledges will go locally to Southwest Ecumenical Ministries (SWEM) to support Foodlinks Backpack Program that supplies weekly supplemental food to children at two city schools. It will also go internationally to development programs in partnership with Church World Services and other NGOs in their fight against hunger. To walk or to sponsor a walker, call St. Stephens church at 328-0856, or go to cropwalkonline.org 7 Financial Fortitude Seminar Time: 6:00pm-8:00p.m. Location: Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church 250 Dr. Samuel McCree Way, 14611 8 Delta Movie Night Time: 6:13p.m. Location: Baobab Cultural Center - 728 University Avenue, 14607 Talk back discussion immediately following the film Skin 10 Professional Networking Mixer & Book Drive Time: 6:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m. Location: Tajzes - 139 State Street, 14614 Please bring new/gently used books and school supplies for 3rd graders. Items collected will support our upcoming project Reading is Fun at school no. 19 10-18 Palmer Park Time: 8:00 p.m Location: 1199 East Main Street A hit of the 2008 Stratford Festival, Palmer Park is a docu-drama of sorts that tells the story of the rise and fall

art director

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NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Partners with the NFL Against Discrimination

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photography Columnists

{NATIONAL

PG 13

FDA Will Investigate Added Caffeine in Foods Black Owned Car Dealerships Disappearing Across the Nation

{COLUMNS:

PG 14-15

Gloria Winston Al-Sarag C. Michael Tillman Rev. Michael Vaughn Vincent Felder Diane Watkins Mike Dulaney Davy Vara Ayesha Kreutz

Negroes Lynched in Rochester, NY 2013 By Gloria winston Al-sarag

Say No to Lovely Warren for Rochester Mayor By davy vara

Minority Reporter, Inc. is a family of publications and other media formats committed to fostering self awareness, building community and empowering people of color to reach their greatest potential. Further, Minority Reporter, Inc. seeks to present a balanced view of relevant issues, utilizing its resources to build bridges among diverse populations; taking them from information to understanding. Minority Reporter reserves the right to edit or reject content submitted. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher. Minority Reporter does not assume responsibility concerning advertisers, their positions, practices, services or products; nor does the publication of advertisements constitute or imply endorsement. Minority Reporter invites news and story suggestions from readers.

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RCSD Parent Advisory Council President Candice Lucas Running for School Board
By Delani Weaver Rochester resident Candice Lucas has decided to run for a seat on the Rochester City School Board. She plans to make a formal announcement in a few weeks. With a platform of improving the lives of all district students through parental involvement and family engagement, Lucas, a Democrat, says she will advocate for system changes that benefit all district students and families through focused, effective and altruistic leadership, striving for the highest standards of integrity, transparency and accountability. Lucas currently serves as president of the Rochester City School District (RCSD) Parent Council. Her involvement with the RCSD includes work with the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and the school based planning team. I have two children in the district, an eighth grader and a ninth grader. I have been involved in district affairs for eleven years, from the time my kids were in pre-kindergarten until now, Lucas said. At this point I just feel its more important for me to be a part of the decision-making process with a vote on the school board as opposed to just an advisory capacity in the parent council. Lucas was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and earned an MBA in leadership and management from RIT. I moved to Rochester to attend RIT and have been here since, she said. Her community involvement includes immediate past president and board chair of TNT (True Networking Thursdays), a local business networking organization. She currently serves on the board of directors of Empire Justice Center, Hillside Family of Agencies and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Central NY region. Lucas said the main thing she believes the district needs is work on its family and parent engagement policy. We know for a fact that when parents are involved in their childrens education, that attendance is better, that grades are better, the test scores go up and the graduation rate goes up, she said. This is the number one thing that the district and the school board need to be focusing on. Lucas said there is no one reason that the district is failing. There is room for improvement in all aspects of the school system. There are areas that are challenging across the board, Lucas said. However, we know that one clear cut way to start seeing some progress is to truly make sure our parents are engaged as partners in their childrens education. We dont have that type of system currently. Lucas works full-time for the Center for Community Health (CCH), a program of the University of Rochester. We (CCH) do some work in the area of childhood obesity through our involvement on several community coalitions, she said. In part, good health is part of being prepared for the school day. Making sure the kids are fed, that theyre sleeping, that theyre having doctors appointments, theyre not sick and making sure theyre taking care of themselves. So, thats across the board. Were definitely interested in the health of the community overall. When asked whether or not she was in favor of the proposed school day expansion, Lucas said, Were in a critical stage with the school district and we need some drastic change. We need to make sure that our kids are in school and that theyre learning. We are behind so longer days are an option as long as we have a plan for how those days will be used. It should not be just keeping kids in school longer doing the same thing that were currently doing. Obviously, what were currently doing is not enough for our kids to succeed, so we cant just go with the same plan. What we need to do is make sure that some of these other services are incorporated in that as far as making sure the kids are getting homework help, theyre getting more quality time with their teachers for instruction that theyre gettingif they needtutoring or extra assistance in the classes that they cant get during the regular school day; that theres time for the arts and for physical activity and play. I mean, we know that the kids need these things; so all of those different aspects have to be built in the plan. Lucas said the longer school day model will also give teachers more time to prepare their work and keep the lines of communication open with other teachers for students that are going from one grade to another or one class to another but parents must be involved.

LOCAL

Candice Lucas Its not mandatory for all children and I think that parents and families need to be aware of that and how it works so they can be engaged in that process as well, Lucas said. So, its not something thats being done to them, but its something that they fully understand and buy into. There are currently three commissioner seats expiring in 2013 including Jose Cruz, Cynthia Elliott and Van Henri White. Since the city of Rochester is highly democrat, democratic candidates who win in the September primary are most likely a shoe in for the November general election. Candidates who have indicated a desire to run include Mia Hodgins, Howard Eagle, Earnest Flagler Mitchell, and former board member Allen Williams.

Is The Black Vote Being Ignored, Again?


City Council President Lovely Warrens campaign manager, Gaynelle Wethers, says that Monroe County Democratic Committee Chairman Joseph Morelles announcement that Rochester Mayor Thomas S. Richards will be the partys endorsed candidate on the September ballot is premature and a slap in the face of black voters. I am astonished by this statement released today (April 24) by Joe Morelle, and frankly surprised that Mayor Richards would sign on to it, Wethers said. Once the official announcement was made, Richards, Warrens opponent for the party nomination, said I am humbled and honored to have, once again, earned the support of Rochester democrats. Working together, weve brought record investment to our citys neighborhoods, built a path towards improving city schools and worked to provide economic opportunity for all Rochesterians. Richards also lauded local democrats. The Democratic Party is as diverse as our great city, and I hope its trust in me is a reflection of my commitment to move our city forward, together, as one community. In explaining the move Morelle said We made our statement to announce Mayor Tom Richards had attained the requisite total amount of weighted committee votes to clinch the designation. He has so far received 72 percent of the total votes and has ensured no matter what the result of the remaining committee designation meetings he will end up with at least 52 percent of the total weighted vote. It was a simple statistical fact. According to Warren though, what seems to have escaped Morelles memory is the fact that the announcement had been made even though the 22nd, 25th and 27th Legislative District committees had not voted and had not even met to discuss their vote yet. These committees represent the citys largest and predominantly African-American neighborhoods, and in fact, the 27th Legislative District represents the largest democratic voting population in the city, Warren said. In effect, what Joe Morelle and Tom Richards are essentially saying is that the votes and voices of the people in these neighborhoods dont matter in this process. The diversity of our great party that Mayor Richards referred to is not even close to being reflected in the vote taken thus far. Warren said black voters know that historically and still to this day there have been those who have tried to suppress the vote and/or give the impression that their vote doesnt account for anything. This lack of understanding, this disconnect, is permeating our city and clearly, our party, Warren said. Many of the people in our neighborhoods have reported this to be so, as evidenced by the Democrat and Chronicles UNITE poll and the ACT Rochester Report. (The poll results show a wide difference of opinion on quality of life issues by race). This disconnect, this lack of understanding, this tone-deafness is among the reasons why many members of the democratic committee whose votes have not yet been cast, as well as people in the city of Rochester, have embraced Lovely Warrens campaign.

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Former City School District Teacher Howard Eagle Searches for the Districts Rubber Room
By Delani Weaver Former City School District Teacher Howard Eagle is leading a group of concerned citizens in search of an alleged child molester. Eagle, as part of the group, Community Issues Consortium, recently wrote a letter to Superintendent Bolgen Vargas and the Rochester Board of Education Commissioners asking for the location of the districts alternate work location or the rubber room. This location is allegedly where indicted child molester and City School District Teacher Matthew LoMaglio is said to be assigned. As you know well, over the past month, members of our organization have been sent on a wild-goosechase, in the process of attempting to ascertain accurate information concerning the location of the RCSDs so-called Alternate Work Location (better known as the rubber room), the letter said. Specifically, we have been attempting to discover the location of the ever-elusive rubber room, because we are determined to find out (for certain) whether or not indicted child molester, RCSD teacher, Matthew LoMaglio is assigned there. Eagle said hes representing RCSD parents, grandparents, tax-paying citizens and members and supporters of the Community Issues Consortium, a group promoting unity and empowering initiatives amongst the community. He said the group has been given different locations of the said rubber room, including Martin Street and Hart Street, and both have been false; or told the location has been moved. Wherever the location is, the group wants to make sure that no children are anywhere near him. Where is this guy? It should be public information as long as hes on payroll, which he still is, Eagle said. We want to make sure that even by some miracle or circumstance hes acquitted or found innocent, we are determined to do all that we can to make sure he never works with our children again. Eagle, who is also running for a seat on the school board, said the group has firsthand information from the victims families that the molestation did, in fact happen.
www.RochesteRBaseBallhistoRy.oRg

LOCAL

Howard Eagle Avenue. The school is currently undergoing construction so no children will be there. We had discovered that there is a well-used childrens playground, and a day-care center in close proximity, the letter said. We also went to the portable buildings behind School No. 16 on Post Avenue (for the purpose of protesting the apparently false assertion that Matthew LoMaglio is supposedly assigned there). When we arrived at 12:00 noon, like I-Team 10 had discovered on March 26, 2013, we also found that on April 9, 2013, the building was closed; the gates were locked, and no one was there. Eagle said he spoke with Rochester Teachers Union President Adam Urbanski who said the district moved the location and he doesnt know where the new location is. The group then went to Superintendent Bolgen Vargas office but were unsuccessful because Vargas was attending another meeting. Eagle said Vargas secretary later called and said Vargas agreed to meet with the group if they apologized for being rude to the attendant at the security desk. Eagle calls that characterization erroneous and the letter says: Since the time of the above referenced conversation with Mr. Vargas secretary, we have not heard back from either of them. They dont want to deal with sensitive issues, Eagle said. They seem to have this attitude that if they just wait long enough, then it will just go away. Vargas hasnt responded. The board hasnt responded, which is characteristic of them. But, we want to know, we have the right to know. Where is this guy?

Back in March, the I-Team 10 of News 10 NBC reported the alternate work location was moved to the portable buildings behind School No. 16 on Post

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COVER STORY

BY RICK KERN Rochester-area businessmen claim they have been duped by a mortgage related scheme that is so effective, it has become known among its growing body of alleged victims as the, Loan to Own Scam. Claiming it manipulates the borrowing industry and enables corrupt lenders to foreclose on countless unsuspecting home and business owners, the stunning allegations are said to be the result of intense research and a lengthy investigation by those contending theyve been stung. The effort, which has led to an informal alliance of those alleging to be victims, is spearheaded by Donald E. Frazier. Frazier, 55, and several others have accused community leader, real estate entrepreneur, and philanthropist, George E. Mercier, whos at the helm of Florida West Land Corp., Mercier Realty, Inc., and several other companies, of engaging in deceptive predatory lending practices. Frazier is a former long-distance tractor/trailer driver who ran a successful over-the-road business for years. According to him, he had worked very hard and was doing well. He says he enjoyed a home he loved that was completely paid for, watched his favorite movies and TV shows on large screen televisions, and listened to all his favorite tunes on state of the art sound systems. In addition, he was fond of his toys and looked forward to cruising in his classic 1978 Volvo Bertone, which he claims was worth a hefty $45,000. Boasting superior Italian leather seats as smooth as butter, he said his rust-free cream puff was in extraordinary condition with a mere 20,000 or so miles on it. But the good life didnt stop there. Don Frazier seemed to live by the passion-driven creed Seize the Dream! He owned a business that was doing well and shined at a profession he enjoyed. Furthermore, he was deeply in love with and engaged to a wonderful fiance who frequently accompanied him on his road trips. Other than a tax delinquency issue he says he was working through, hed have to look really hard for something to complain about. Yet, according to him, borrowing money against his home from George Mercier was the biggest mistake of his life. I was doing well for myself, he explained. My house was completely paid off and I was Pulling in $100,000 a year I didnt need the money. He continued, But I was renting my truck and decided to expand my business and buy my own truck. It appeared to be a low-risk venture because even though his credit was questionable due to past problems, business was good. Frazier had hit his share of bumps in the road, but overall claims he was hardworking and dependable which he says brought reliable, lucrative accounts with solid companies such as the United States Postal Service and gigs hauling equipment for high end entertainers including Kenny Chesney, Willie Nelson, Earth, Wind, and Fire, and others. As he explored various lending organizations, he explained he was declined by some, but eventually contacted by Carol Ann Smith, a loan processor employed by George Mercier. Frazier says that Smith advised him that Florida West Land, one of Merciers companies, was willing to lend him the $42,000 needed to purchase the truck he wanted, against his home which he owned free and clear. All systems were go, and the road ahead was smooth driving, right? Wrong! At the closing, Frazier said he was shocked to learn that Merciers company suddenly, with no warning or explanation, required the loan to be increased by $10,000 which was to be placed in an escrow account for insurance on the new truck. According to Frazier, he was given no advance notice of this new requirement, nor did the closing documents reflect the new terms. He said it appeared almost as if the provision was designed to put him in a corner. The way he understood it, Frazier said that if he wanted the loan, he would have to agree to borrow an additional $10,000, and let the lender take out an insurance policy on his truck. Notwithstanding Frazier claims he was told that the closing documents would be revised to reflect the additional escrowed $10,000, and mailed to him the following week that was March 26, 2004 and Frazier claims they have not arrived yet. According to Frazier, what did arrive, however, some six weeks later in May 2004, was a letter from Florida West Land Corp., claiming his loan was in default. He alleges that his payments were not due until the 15th of the month, though, and insists that he made his May 2004 payment around May 1, so he could not have been in default. It was confusing, he said, I never got a payment book or an amortization schedule nothing. In contacting Florida West Land, Frazier maintains he was told by Smith, that he had to make monthly payments of $1,592.04 into the escrow account which he claims he then did right until September. At that time, he says he received another letter from their attorney stating he was in default because his insurance had been canceled for nonpayment. According to Frazier, Mercier allegedly took out the insurance policy with an initial check for $900 and change which covered one months premium. Furthermore, he now contends that the $10,000 that would have covered his insurance for the year and should have been escrowed wasnt. Frazier further alleges, Mercier demanded his check back from the insurance company and canceled the policy without ever notifying me. He claims that the September default letter was the first he had heard of it. And on top of that, Frazier alleges that as far as he knew, he paid for an escrow account that should have been established for the express purpose of covering the cost of his insurance for a year in advance. Before this I used to lease a truck, Frazier explained, it included commercial insurance so it wasnt an issue. By this time Frazier says he had grown very ill at ease with the way Florida West Land was handling his loan, and claims he told them that he refused to make any more payments until he received all his revised loan documents, an amortization schedule, and a complete accounting of his payments and disbursements from the insurance escrow. Unfortunately, he alleges, that unbeknownst to him, Florida West Land commenced a foreclosure action in December 2004. Frazier said he was stunned to discover an Affidavit of Service filed with the Court on January 3, 2005, stating that he had been served by delivery of Summons and Complaint to a Denise Frazier, his wife, on December 17, 2004 at 7:45 a.m. According to him there was just one problem he could document the fact that he was hundreds of miles away with Denise. Not only was I not married, Frazier said, but we were both in Indianapolis, Indiana picking up a mail delivery from the U.S. Post Office there no one was home where they said they served Denise. And her name wasnt even Denise Frazier; we were engaged, but not married. Frazier claims the Affidavit of Service was falsified, but said nonetheless the City of Rochester Marshal came to his home in late February,

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COVER STORY
times, trying as hard as he can.

advising him that his house had been sold at a foreclosure auction and he had to vacate. Frazier says he tried to explain he had never been served but it didnt matter he was put out. Frazier maintains that, despite his efforts, he couldnt obtain a copy of the Default Judgment of Foreclosure from the Supreme Court Clerks Office or the attorney acting as referee in the action, and to this day says he has never seen it. He said he hasnt seen his house or possessions in years either. According to Frazier, everything he owned was removed from the house, including a safe with $9,000 to $12,000; and he alleges that he was not told where he could reclaim his furniture and other belongings. In the midst of everything, he was also involved in what he felt was a highly suspicious auto accident with his truck on August 15, 2004, while he was on the job. Though he was cited and eventually lost his license because he was an uninsured motorist, Frazier claims that he was unaware his policy had been canceled. Instead, he alleges that Mercier received the notice of cancellation because he was the one who took out the policy and was supposed to keep it active through the escrow account. Unable to drive he has also lost his livelihood. Apparently, however, there seems to be some agreement in the New York State Attorney Generals Office. In a letter to Insurance Services of the NYS Dept. of Motor Vehicles, Assistant Attorney General Benjamin A. Bruce wrote: The insurance documents indicate that the lender did not pay the premiums between March 26, 2004 and May 11, 2004 resulting in the cancellation of Mr. Fraziers insurance. Bruce also noted that the mechanics of the loan seemed to warrant scrutiny, explaining: It further appears to us that the loan itself may have been transacted in an unfair deceptive manner. He goes on to explain why, citing, among other things, a tax delinquency issue that seems to have been used against Frazier by the lender, but Bruce also says he could not conclude it merited further inquiry by the Attorney Generals Office.

He then explains that his office has referred the investigation to the FBI for criminal prosecution if they deem it to be warranted. Florida land issues were out of our jurisdiction, Bruce told us in a telephone conversation. We did a statewide search to see if there were other claims but we saw no other incidents of people taking out mortgages on vehicles so we could not pursue the case. Bruce says he was aware the FBI had been inquiring into the dealings of Florida West Land when he forwarded Fraziers case to them. Frazier claims to have spoken to the FBI three or four times with others claiming to be victims. While there is always more than one side to a story, it appears that Frazier, who has been homeless since 2005, is not alone. Kenneth P. Conine, a married father of five with a landscaping business, had what he alleges is a similar experience. Introduced to George Mercier through a mutual friend, Ed Ferris, according to Conine, was hired to handle landscaping responsibilities for several on Merciers properties. Conine said that he and his family lived in a high crime area of the city of Rochester and were looking to move to a more family friendly locale. He claims that when he shared his dream of moving with Mercier, Mercier said he had the perfect home for Conine to raise his growing family. According to Conine, after looking at the property, he and his wife agreed, developed a rent-with-the-option-tobuy contract with Mercier, and just began to move in when they got the shock of their life. Conine claims both in-person and in a notarized statement, that the terms of the contract they were presented with had been changed; and that they were between a rock and a hard place, out of options, and had to accept it. Conine also alleges that when it came time to move from renting to owning some 18 months later, Mercier called him into the office and said he wouldnt do the mortgage unless Conine signed a statement saying he saw a number of Merciers appliances at his friend Ed Ferris house (implying wrong-doing on Ferris part).

His notarized statement reflects the stress he felt and reads: When I met with him then he told me the only way he would give me the mortgage is if I signed a statement that I saw multiple appliances at Ed Ferris house. I had five children at the time and was scared to let my family become homeless. The statement I signed stated Ed had a stove and refrigerator at his house marked for delivery to some of Merciers property. According to Conine a commitment letter was drafted the next day, but again, with different terms a little more friendly to the lender. Conine claims that he pleaded with Mercier and was simply told to sign or move his family out in 48 hours. On the upside, Conine alleges that Mercier reassured him that he would continue to give him work to help make the payments. As the deal went forward, Conine contends that a mere 24 hours before closing, Mercier informed him that he would not close the mortgage unless Conines mother put her house up as collateral as well. He also accuses Mercier of saying that if he didnt like it he, his wife, and children had 48 hours to vacate the property. His mother agreed and put her home up as security against the loan. Conines allegations dont stop there. He also alleges that some 10 days after closing, Mercier stopped doing business with his company, making it very hard to make his payments. Furthermore, he claims that Mercier deliberately held his checks so his payments would be late, and then charged him outrageous late fees. He set me up totally, asserts Conine. He gave me enough money to put the down-payment down, gave me enough to make the payments comfortably, raised the payment out of our comfort zone, which he knew, then took everything away. Conine doesnt deny that he has had problems making the payments, or that he has become a credit risk. But, he says hes a good guy in tough economic

I worked very hard to support my family and do the right thing. Like Donald Frazier, his house went into foreclosure and he has lost a lot but not without a fight. He hired attorneys (who he claims inexplicably bailed from his case when they were gaining the legal high ground) and went down swinging. Still, at this point Conine says that Mercier bought his house at auction, though no one knows how it got there. Among Conines more scandalous assertions, are his accusations of intimidation tactics allegedly meant to bully him to withdraw his lawsuit against George Mercier. According to Conine, Mercier was behind some very unscrupulous dealings designed to unnerve him. He was doing a lot of scare tactics, tried to strong-arm us out of the lawsuit, he alleges. Cars were parked at the end of our street, a lot of people were driving by, mail (was) being taken out of the mailbox. He then went on to implicate Merciers Vice President, Edward Traugott, alleging: Ive actually seen Ed Traugotts car leaving my house when no one was home. We would come home and the doors would all be open nothing stolen, but the doors would be wide open in the house. I dont understand how that happened. Conine said he realizes how outlandish his allegations appear. I know this a l l

10 www.minorityreporter.net | apr 29 - may 5 | 2013

COVER STORY
sounds nuts but all this stuff is real. He continued, alleging, He poisoned one of our dogs; again, one of the neighbors saw Ed Traugott there. We couldnt get his license plate number so we couldnt press charges. Two weeks later he poisoned the other dog. Conine claims that toxicology reports revealed that rat poison killed his dogs, and that he discovered poisoned meat in his yard he also said there was no rat poison at his house. Ironically, Donald Frazier complained of similar cloak and dagger occurrences while he was fighting to keep his home, including things like missing mail and his dog being let out of its kennel several times. Nevertheless, like Conine, Frazier was never able catch anyone in the act. And according to a notarized statement by Angelica M. Rivera of Rochester, there were much more direct attempts to intimidate her. Rivera who, with her husband and three children, rented their residence from Ken Conines friend, Ed Ferris, claims in her notarized statement, that shortly after receiving a notice to vacate (apparently from one of Merciers representatives) which Ferris told her to disregard, she was personally visited by Ed Traugott. According to Rivera, Traugott claimed that he was the legal owner of the property. He also said Ferris had been arrested for fraud and demanded the last six months rent. She further alleges that Traugott told her how beautiful she was, touched her face, and told her everything would be okay. Upon calling the authorities, she writes that she later discovered Traugott did not own the property and could ignore him unless notified otherwise by the Gates Town Court. Not long after, Rivera claims to have encountered a black gentleman sitting on her front porch with files and papers, and a letter telling her she needed to get her family out of the house before something bad happened. She writes that, he began to tell me how very dangerous these people were and yet again I paid no mind. She accuses Mercier and Traugott of ramping up the harassment alleging that they, began to stalk me, not only physically, but harass me continually. They blew up my phone all hours of the night, and sat across the street in the daycare parking lot and would watch me. At that time I left my blinds closed and doors locked at all times. Time and time again I had the police called and they said there was nothing they could do. I felt helpless and alone. Finally, Rivera charges Traugott with coming on her property and trying to put his hands on her. When she threatened to have him arrested for sexual harassment, she claims he laughed and said he was coming in. According to her it got physical with Traugott blocking the door from being closed with his foot, and her trying to push him away. She claims another call to the police came up empty. Ultimately, she says she went to court and the judge confirmed Mercier owned the property and had sold it. She claims they had 72 hours to vacate the premises. Ed Ferris allegations are eerily similar and equally nightmarish. Ive been in front of four Supreme Court judges, he asserts, all Ive ever asked any of them is to let me have a trial by jury to prove this guy is hes a criminal. Lets face it; the guy stopped me from paying him off. His accusations continued, Since hes (Mercier) gotten my properties, hes flipped my house, my main property three times. Hes collected money from people on three different occasions. Held mortgages on them and gotten rid of them hes flipped my house three times. For Ken Conine the frustration is maddening and he is not sure how it will play out as he tries to save his mothers house. From here? The legal end is so complex; Ive had a hard time finding an attorney, he explains, alleging, They all said its a winner, but there are a lot of conflict of interest issues because George (Mercier) has hired them in the past. He claims hes had contact with some movers and shakers about his case and that the FBI has been to his house twice saying they were very interested in George Mercier and Ed Traugott. Those claiming to have been on the wrong end of the alleged loan to own scam are many. Donald Frazier maintains he has personally spoken to dozens of people professing to be victims. He continues to rebuild whats left of his life but his frustration is evident. Im 55-years-old. I cant see myself starting over. I cant run the way I ran. Im doing everything I can do to keep my feet on the ground. All you can do is what you can do to keep it going. But, he alleges, to have this man destroy everything I did just because he wanted to take from people. I dont like bullies. Minority Reporter left several messages over a two-week period with Merciers secretary for a response from him but our calls were not returned.

Im 55-years-old. I cant see myself starting over. I cant run the way I ran. Im doing everything I can do to keep my feet on the ground. All you can do is what you can do to keep it going. -- DONALD FRAZIER

11 www.minorityreporter.net | apr 29 - may 5 | 2013


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12 www.minorityreporter.net | apr 29 - may 5 | 2013

FEATURE STORY
a safety line, life jackets or supervision. In the blink of an eye, they found themselves fighting for their lives in a raging current whipped up by the stormy weather.The high-risk adventure turned into a tragic disaster when the pledges tried to make it back to the riverbank. Five somehow made it ashore, but two were swept away: Marvell Edmondson,19, of Portsmouth, and Jauwan Holmes, 19, of Newport News. Five feet forward, there were no more rocks, Christian Cavazos, one of the survivors, said later. Instantly, it was swim or go under. Authorities were called, but it was quickly evident that Edmondson and Holmes, both popular students with bright prospects, would not be found alive. Once again, hazing had killed a prime example of why VSU and other schools are doing everything they can to stamp out dangerous initiation practices that once were a hallmark of fraternal groups and to bar organizations that disregard antihazing policies. The stunned campus remains in mourning as divers and boats searched for the remains of the two students. Edmondsons body was recovered Monday after the tragedy, and Holmes body was founded two days later on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Chesterfield County Police charged Mackey and three other members of Men of Honor with five misdemeanor charges of violating a state law against hazing, defined as the reckless or intentional

Two HBCU Students Die in Hazing Incident Group Violated University Ban
(TriceEdneyWire.com) - They just wanted to belong.Thats why seven Virginia State University freshmen endured a week of beatings and other ritual hazing. Despite a VSU ban on such harsh practices, the seven willingly accepted the treatment as part of their initiation into an off-campus social club called Men of Honor named for the 2000 movie about Carl Brashear, the Navys first Black diver. Everything would go horribly wrong after the eager pledges were handed their final test: To walk across a usually calm, narrow, five-foot deep stretch of the Appomattox River near the campus. Do that and they would be in, the pledges later said they were told by James A. Mackey Sr. Mackey, owner of Macs Grill, an Ettrick restaurant two blocks from the campus that served as club headquarters, and the other club members, including several VSU students who had recruited them. It would be a wet walk in the park, they were told.The water would only be chest high, at most, they were told. There were rocks to walk on, they were told.Only cowards would back down, they were told, not real Men of Honor. So the seven initiates who had come through the clubs hellweek accepted the dare a decision the five survivors canonly regret after tragedy struck.They walked into the river in a line early Saturday, April 20, just past midnight. They were undaunted by pelting rain, a slashing cold wind and near pitch-black conditions.They went in near the bridge connecting Petersburg to VSU and Ettrick without

Marvell Edmondson,19 and Jauwan Holmes, 19 endangerment of a students health or safety. According to police, two of those charged are enrolled at VSU, Eriq K. Benson, 19, of Quinton, and Cory D. Baytop, 26, also of Newport News. For Cavazos and the other survivors, the tragedy has only been compounded by the knowledge that they were trying to join a rogue club. According to VSU, Men of Honor was not connected in any way to the university and had no permission to use the schools logo on information sheets it distributed to students as part of its recruitment drive. VSU has a strict policy against hazing, and that policy is enforced, according to university spokesman Thomas Reed.The school requires initiates and members of sanctioned Greek organizations to undergo two to three hours of training on hazing every semester, he said. But eliminating dangerous hazing has proven difficult as this terrible incident and a separate incident last year involving VSU students show. Last years incident involved the campus chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, which last fall moved its initiation of new pledges to Petersburg to avoid the campus ban.Two weeks ago, Petersburg Police arrested four members and charged them with misdemeanor hazing between August and November 2012. Those charged included the president of the VSU Student Government Association, Brandon Randleman, 22. The charges stem from police allegations that the fraternity members injured pledges. According to police and a lawsuit,one of the pledges needed skin grafts to repair the injuries he suffered from hazing and was so traumatized he dropped out of VSU.

STATE
NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Partners with the NFL Against Discrimination
An agreement between New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the NFL to ensure gay players are protected from harassment and discrimination was made Tuesday. Posters being hung in players locker rooms highlighting the NFLs antidiscrimination policies and periodic training meetings are both a part of Democrat Schneidermans culture of inclusion for gay players. The NFL isnt undergoing any charges or disputes in relation to discrimination, but has agreed to training about the anti-discrimination policy during its annual Rookie Symposium and Football Operations Meeting, and in other meetings, throughout the year. This policy will also include prospective players. The NFL has had an anti-discrimination policy for several years. However, in February, three prospective draft picks said officials asked them questions about their sexual orientations, which could have violated law. The NFL said it found no specific violations. Schneiderman applauded the NFL for working cooperatively with our office to address these issues. Together, we are sending a powerful message that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated in any form, he said. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league has a long history of valuing diversity and inclusion. Discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation is not consistent with our values and is unacceptable in the National Football League, he said.

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13 www.minorityreporter.net | apr 29 - may 5 | 2013

FDA will investigate added caffeine in foods


By MARY CLARE JALONICK Associated Press WASHINGTON Trail mix. Potato chips. And now gum. With a growing number of foods boasting added caffeine for an energy boost, the Food and Drug Administration says its time to investigate their safety. The FDAs new look at added caffeine and its effects on children and adolescents is in response to a caffeinated gum introduced this week by Wrigley. Called Alert Energy Gum, it promises The right energy, right now. The agency is already investigating the safety of energy drinks and energy shots, prompted by consumer reports of illness and death. Michael Taylor, FDAs deputy commissioner of foods, said Monday that the only time FDA explicitly approved the added use of caffeine in a food or drink was in the 1950s for colas. The current proliferation of caffeine added to foods is beyond anything FDA envisioned, Taylor said. It is disturbing, Taylor said in an interview with The Associated Press. Were concerned about whether they have been adequately evaluated. Taylor said the agency will look at the potential impact these new and easy sources of caffeine will have on childrens health and will take action if necessary. He said that he and other FDA officials have held meetings with some of the large food companies that have ventured into caffeinated products, including Mars Co., which owns Wrigley. Wrigley and other companies adding caffeine to their products have labeled them as for adult use only. A spokeswoman for Wrigley, Denise M.

NATIONAL

Young, said the gum is for adults who are looking for foods with caffeine for energy and each piece contains about 40 mg, or the equivalent amount found in half a cup of coffee. She said the company will work with FDA. Millions of Americans consume caffeine responsibly and in moderation as part of their daily routines, Young said. Food manufacturers have added caffeine to candy, nuts and other snack foods in recent years. Jelly Belly Sport Beans, for example, have 50 mg of caffeine in each 100-calorie pack, while Arma Energy Snx markets trail mix, chips and other products. Critics say its not enough for the companies to say they are marketing the products to adults when the caffeine is added to items like candy that are attractive to children. Major medical associations have warned that

too much caffeine can be dangerous for children, who have less ability to process the stimulant than adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics says caffeine has been linked to harmful effects on young peoples developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems. Could caffeinated macaroni and cheese or breakfast cereal be next? said Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which wrote the FDA a letter concerned about the number of foods with added caffeine last year. One serving of any of these foods isnt likely to harm anyone. The concern is that it will be increasingly easy to consume caffeine throughout the day, sometimes unwittingly, as companies add caffeine to candies, nuts, snacks and other foods.

Black-owned Car Dealerships Disappearing Across the Nation


Harry Lee Harris and his wife, Vanessa, stand in front of the Universal Ford dealershiphe is selling in Henrico County. The sale price was not disclosed. PHOTO: Sandra Sellars/ Richmond Free Press Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the Richmond Free Press (TriceEdneyWire.com) - After spending most of his life in the automotive business, 60-year-old Harry Lee Harris is shifting gears. Owner of Universal Ford since 1986, Harris will on May 1 complete the sale of his successful black-run business to Richmond Ford. There is a time to buy and a time to sell, said Harris, referring to his dealership at 10751 W. Broad St. in Henrico County near Richmond, Va. My wife and I are looking forward to traveling all over the big globe and being super grandparents. Well play lots of golf, too. Ron Kody, who is White, owns Richmond Ford. The ownership change means there will not be a single Black-owned, new car dealership in the Richmond area. Virginia, at best, has just a handful of Black-owned dealerships. In Northern Virginia, there are three, Infiniti of Chantilly, owned by Reginald L. Brown Jr., formerly of Richmond, and BMW of Sterling and MINI of Sterling, both owned by Thomas A. Moorehead. Across the nation, the number of Black-owned, new car dealerships peaked at 532 in 2002, but has fallen by 50 percent since. As of 2012, there were 261 such dealerships, according to Automotive News, an industry trade journal. Those dealerships comprised just 1.5 percent of the 17,653 new car dealerships in the U.S. In response to a question, Harris elected not to disclose his selling price. The purchase price was sufficient for Mrs. Harris (Vanessa) and I to retire comfortably. And the Kodys certainly purchased a profitable and premium franchise in the Richmond market, and we wish them luck. As of May 1, Universal will change its name to Richmond Ford West. Harris said all Universal employees will be retained as part of the transaction. That includes Geneva Harris, a manager, who is Harris daughter. The youngest of 11 children, Harris was born in Arkansas and grew up in St. Louis. His role model was his older brother, Sam Johnson, one of the nations first minority auto store owners. Harris got his start as a teen when his brother put him to work washing cars at his dealership, Metro Lincoln-Mercury in St. Louis. An unquestionable workaholic with king-sized dreams, he rose to managerial status. I fashioned myself after Sam, said Harris. I used his blueprint to get where I am today. His first car was a pre-owned 1962 Chevy Impala that he purchased for $250. Hes been upgrading ever since. Harris and Johnson became partners and transferred to Charlotte, N.C., in 1977 to run Johnson LincolnMercury. In 1986, with the help of the Ford Motor Minority Dealer Program, Harris purchased Universal Ford. The original location was in the Virginia Commonwealth University area where the Siegel Center now stands. The business moved to Innsbrook in Henrico County in 1989. Harris has been ranked as high as No. 53 on Black Enterprise magazines annual list of the 100 top Black-owned dealerships. In 2012, he received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Metropolitan Business League, the areas largest Black business group, of which he is a longtime member. He also belongs to the Ford Minority Dealer Association, the Ford Lincoln Mercury Alumni Association, the Urban League of Greater Richmond and the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers. He served on the board of the Garfield Childs Foundation, whose members included former governor and current U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine. Harris, Harrys wife of 37 years, is something of an entrepreneur herself. For nine years, she owned and ran Shoes Etc. at Sixth Street Marketplace. Harris has two brothers, Clyde and Eli Harris, who own and operate used car lots in the Richmond area. The decision to sell will free him and his wife to do things weve never had the time to do, Harris said. Until now, he said, life has totally revolved around work. Nothing is forever, said Harris. Were no different than Thalhimers, Bills Barbecue, Dick Strauss Ford. All those owners have moved on, too. Ive got my own bucket list of goals, and Ive pretty much reached them. In retirement, he hopes to speak to business classes at Virginia Union University and other schools. Harry and Vanessas four children are graduates of either VUU or Johnson C. Smith in Charlotte. They have three grandchildren. Life is good. The Harrises reside in a home along the 18th fairway at plush Dominion Golf Club in Wyndham in Henrico. Harris says both he and Harris are avid golfers, but she can outdrive me because shes had so much more practice. Now, Harris, in Chapter Two of his life, will have more time to chase the dimpled ball around the course. You might say hes trading cars for pars. Being a shrewd businessman, its a deal he couldnt pass up.

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14 www.minorityreporter.net | apr 29 - may 5 | 2013

OPINION/EDITORIAL
STRAIGHTno chaser

The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of Minority Reporter.

Negroes Lynched in Rochester, NY 2013


At a time when UNITE Rochester has increased its visibility and appears to be getting a handle on racism issues in Rochester, a hastily-prepared, not very well thought out press release came flying out of the local Democratic headquarters. It appears UNITE needs to recruit the Monroe County democratic chairperson to join them, or at GLORIA WINSTON AL-SARAG least attend one of their meetings, because he aint got a clue about what racism looks or smells like. Joe Morelle seems to have single-handedly tied the knot in the noose that was hung over a tree which found some Negroes in Rochester swinging from it, gasping for air. The recent press release, and fourth misstep for Democratic Party Chairman Joe Morelle this campaign season, proclaimed the current mayor of Rochester victorious as it relates to securing the Democratic line for the upcoming mayoral race. Morelle made it clear that he was supporting the mayor early on. In my opinion, I feel the party chairman should have kept his mouth shut and let the chips fall where they may at convention. I interpreted his premature endorsement as a scare tactic, one that would make Lovely Warren reconsider running for mayor at this time. I also feel he had a hand in the former mayor and Lt. Gov.s statements suggesting it was not Lovelys time to run and she should wait. Anyone with any level of sensitivity to the black community should have been able to foresee how this was going to play out; and that it was not going to be well received. I think his response and editorial, authored by Connie Mitchell, made that crystal clear. Black folks are just sick and tired of white folks thinking they have a right to determine their futures. Its as simple as that. The announcement, and the results therein, came as no surprise to anyone, especially those in Lovely Warrens camp. What was a surprise was the fact that no convention had been held, and that three key legislative committees had not yet met and were not included in the count. So the reported 72 percent vote that Lovelys opponent allegedly garnered from committees that had met demonstrated a blatant disregard for three committees that just happen to represent minorities. The committees not counted were in the 22nd, 25th and 27th Legislative Districts. Negroes were lynched again. Their representation or votes seemingly have no value to a Democratic Party they have toiled long and hard for in the vineyard. How utterly insulting that is. Did I hear someone say Republicans are in recruitment mode? Why continue to stay loyal to a party who shows such public disregard for its members? Then, to add insult to injury, the mayors PR person made a comment in a City Newspaper blog accusing the Warren camp of playing the race card. What?? To me, that was a feeble attempt to cast a smoke screen, intent on hiding the fact that Morelle and company, in light of the announcement that did not include the majority of black and Hispanic voters, played the race card blatantly. Then came Rachchas response (allegedly Gary Walker), after Lovelys campaign manager, Gaynelle Wethers, launched a scathing response to the unfortunate press release. She took the gloves off and called a spade a spade, no pun intended. All of this and there has not been a convention yet. I am of the impression, regardless of whose toes they step on, that some folks feel they have something to worry about and are therefore intent on getting out front. After all, we all know that the black and Hispanic vote in Rochester is of no value to any politician until they need it. From where I sit, it was the black community that delivered the last victory for our current mayor. The same mayor who claimed he was not a career politician, and had no intention of running again. So, why are you then? Mr. Mayor, I have the greatest admiration and respect for you, but you need to stop letting Morelle make a fool of you and have your motives called into question. Not only is it time that you honored your commitment not to run, I think we also need to start organizing against Joe Morelle. It is time for someone who looks like me to run the Democratic Party, anyway. Dana Miller would be better than Joe Morelle, dont cha think? Surely the party chairman wont mind me looking out for my family since he looks out for his so well. There is nothing wrong with that, even though some folks in Irondequoit may disappear, but looking out for family is what America and politics is all about, isnt it? It is all in line with the American Dream as long as they do it, but like I have said many times before, the minute we learn how to play the game, they change the rules. Party designation, minus a convention, is a new one to me. Folks have run and won offices without the party behind them. The strategy did not work. No one but the party seems to be running scared. Dont count Lovely Warren out. We delivered Tom Richards, when he claimed all he wanted to do was finish what Duffy had started, and we will deliver Lovely Warren; a woman who is a product of this community, brings fresh eyes, new ideas and is in touch with the community. Whatever you do, please dont get my concerns twisted. My concerns have little to do with the vote count taken in committees we already knew would not support Lovely. They seem to make sure any candidate they support looks like the majority of their committee members. My concern is the attitude, mentality and ignorance of people who would release a statement to the press almost bragging about the fact that three key committees representing the black community were not considered worthy enough to wait for their meetings or vote count. Lovely Warrens camp should not be the only ones outraged. Where are the advocates for change? Those who are allegedly on the front line combatting racism? All I can hear from them is silence, which is at times golden, but right now comes across as more dirt being swept under the rug. This is 2013, not 1813. Put that rope down and learn how to spell process and inclusion. Every vote in their city, this county and America should be valued and considered important. Put your white hoods back in the closet and stop the lynching!! We are sick and tired of being sick and tired, too.
---------------------------------Gloria Winston Al-Sarag is a Community Activist, Writer, Communicator, Political Activist. She is a native Rochesterian and has been involved with numerous community orgainzations in Rochester. Contact Gloria at: JazzyG4202@aol.com

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OPINION/EDITORIAL
Achievement Gap or Opportunity Gap?
African-American students achieve at a different level than White students. Test scores are lower, as are high school and college completion rates, and the number of African-Americans attending four-year institutions is falling. The rate of African-American suspensions and expulsions from K-12 schools is higher julianne malveaux than that of other groups. By almost any metric there are gaps between AfricanAmerican students and white or Asian students (Latinos achieve at about the same rate as African Americans). Why does this happen? The late sociologist John Ogbu hypothesized that the gap was the result of young African- Americans thinking that learning was acting white. His theory was batted around as if it were fact, even when Duke economist William Darity refuted the Ogbu theory. Why? Because it fits somebodys stereotype to describe AfricanAmerican youngsters as culturally alienated from the mainstream, so much that they eschew the very institution that could be a bridge for them into the middle class. Give the history of African-Americans and education; it is hard to swallow these stereotypes. Several states had laws on the books to prevent African-Americans from learning to read and write in the pre-civil war period. Both white and black people risked flogging, cash fines and other penalties for teaching a slave to read. Millions of African-Americans sacrificed for the right to be literate, and ensured that their children would also have opportunities by baking cakes, frying chicken, and raising a few dollars to get to college by whatever means necessary. At the beginning of the 20th century, the only colleges open

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The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of Minority Reporter.

to African-Americans were historically Black colleges and universities, and we went despite the obstacles. Our presence rejected the notion that learning was acting white. In fact, we were acting learned and literate. Still, it is in the interest of some to continue that stereotype. Youve heard that adage that if you dont want an African- American to know something, just hide it in a book. That kind of ignorance is the very reason that African-American people were able, during the Civil War, to spy on Confederates who thought they were only illiterate enslaved people. That is why Mary Ellen Pleasant was able to eavesdrop on conversations on stock and turn them into wealth. Those who write about the achievement gap ought not underestimate African Americans. Where does the achievement gap come from, then? It comes from the opportunity gap. The average African-American household earns $31,000 a year, compared to $51,000 for whites. $51,000 can buy a lot more opportunity than $31,000 can. If income determines housing clusters, neighborhoods with a $51,000 mean income have better schools and more involved parents than the $31,000 neighborhood does. Closing income gaps closes opportunity gaps, according to a Ford Foundation-sponsored book written by Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, an Obama education advisor. She says poverty and segregation means that some students attend schools that have fewer resources than others. Indeed, inner city high schools are less likely to offer Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes. Sometimes when these courses are available in suburban high schools, African-American students are discouraged from taking them. Dr. Ivory Toldson, a professor at Howard University

and a contributor to the Root also refutes the notion that African- American students think learning is acting white. Most African-American students, he says, are interested in attending college but may not because of cost factors. He also says that academic support should be provided to all students, and that the way to close achievement gaps is to reduce racial disparities in income and to increase equity and inclusion in education. For a great deal of students the issue is not acting white but being connected to educational options and outcomes. One of the more important factors in student achievement is parental involvement, yet many parents find themselves too busy or too uninformed to interact with teachers. One study says that parents dont necessarily have to help with homework, but simply to reinforce that homework should be done, and to be inquisitive about it. Unfortunately, many parents, frustrated with the school system, write it off. Further, too many of our community organizations dont sufficiently emphasize education, or if they do, dont get into the down and dirty of it, preferring to raise muchneeded scholarship funds than to take a young person by the hand and guide them through next steps to education. The majority of African-American students are still first-generation college students. They arent always sure what next steps are, and they often need help maneuvering through a system with which their parents have no familiarity. Too many smart students dont have the parental and societal support they need to achieve. The United States falls way behind the rest of the world when we dont value students who have the potential to be high achievers, regardless of race or ethnicity. We further disservice ourselves as a nation when we fail to value those who have the intelligences to change our world.

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