Saturday, May 18, 2019

The higher education scam no one is talking about

The college admissions bribery scandal has exposed a dirty little secret about our system of higher education.  If you have money, you can leverage it to have your child(ren) admitted into most any American college. We should not be shocked that money trumps morals in America. And in a system of higher education that has historically and consistently shown to produce significant benefits between those who have a college degree and those who don’t, every parent would be wise to have their child admitted into that system.

For instance, college graduates, over their lifetime, will have better outcomes related to physical, mental, social, economical and other issues that promise upper ward mobility. If the benefits of a college degree could be distilled into a vaccination, it would be the greatest blockade of human detriments and the most significant booster of health and wellness than any other thing on earth.  It both protects you and improves you.

So, as we all are distracted on how a few people gamed the system, what will be missed is the biggest and longest running college education scam of all, which is, that success in higher education is in any way related to intelligence.

Now…don’t get me wrong, it helps to be smart when applying and graduating from college. But supreme intellect is not a requirement. Colleges use standardized intelligent tests and other measures to gage a person’s intelligence, but that’s because it’s what they have always done. I could get into other deviant motives for using these entrance exams, like ensuring certain profiles of people are impeded from entering. While there is a percentage of those efforts happening, it’s mostly rooted in academic tradition and the lack of appreciation on various ways to measure human “intelligence.”

Having benefited for a couple hundred years from the current system, the majority of Americans are in no hurry to help change the system that has been so beneficial to their children and grand-children.

Unfortunately, the branding of higher education is that only those people who have proven their intellectual capabilities are admitted into their system. However, I can confidentially report that academic success at every level, bachelor, master and PhD, does not require high intelligence.

On what grounds might I be making this outlandish statement? Well…the first is from my own personal experiences.  In my late twenties I decided to enroll in college after some time spent inside a psychiatric hospital, where I also received help with my alcohol and drug addiction along with other issues. Seeking financial help from my state’s Vocational Rehabilitation, their two-day evaluation resulted in being told I had learning disabilities as well as being mentally retarded.

Imagine a young twenty-something asking an organization like Voc Rehab to invest thousands of dollars for college assistance and they learn the young man was a high school dropout, currently working as a garbage man, suicidal, recently released from a psychiatric hospital, has a history of childhood physically and sexually abuse, diagnosed with a substance use disorder, followed by recent testing that revealed dyslexia, ADHD, and mental retardation. Would you investment?

The short of it, I was told that I was not “college material” and should ride out my employment as it had great pay and a generous retirement package. After stewing on my life for several weeks, I quit that job and moved into the Volunteers of American where I enrolled in one college course. I ended up living at the VOA for over two-years and gradually increased my college credit enrollment. I kept my disabilities and story to myself until about sixteen years later when I finally obtained a PhD and acquired an assistant professor job in Buffalo NY. My Dean at that time, who did not know my past, asked if I would speak with a reporter from the New York Times. It was a cat named Alan Schwarz, who was looking for stories about higher education.  He had spent several years investigating head trauma in the NFL and looking for something new. Mr. Schwarz finally got around to asking about my own path into college. I decided to share some of my story, which eventually found its way into the NYTs.  I later expanded on that brief story in a book that is free and open to read.

Having a PhD gave me some confidence to expose my past experiences into college. Earning tenure, which took ten-years, has also offer some protections to reveal my dark past. Even as I draft this story, negotiating with myself whether to include certain information, the nauseating poison of shame, guilt and remorse that remains dormant in the dark, is unrelenting when I consider exposing them to the world. 

Regardless, the primary point is, if someone like me can be successful in higher education, any human can. That message should be the branding of higher education. Which leads to the final reason I can confidentially state that higher education has little to do with intelligence. I have empirical evidence.

I have scientifically tested the hypothesis. The first test was asking underrepresented minorities (African-Americans, Hispanic/Latinx, and American Indian/Alaska Natives) who successfully graduated with a bachelor’s degree, one simple question – What was the *main* reason you successfully completed college? The motivation I focused on underrepresented minorities (URMs) is that these groups have led the college dropout rates in the U.S. for decades.  

Why focus on URMs? They have historically maintained the lowest rates of success throughout our higher educational systems. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center 2017 report, there is a 20-point difference between non-minority and minority dropout rates.  There has been lots of research identifying why URMs are unsuccessful and ways to avoid those pit falls. There is virally no research on why URMs succeed. So I asked them.

The top three themes cutting across all three group’s responses were, (1) Parents promoted education and expected their children to go to college (37%); (2) Their own determination (33%); and (3) Emotional and logistical supports (31%). Respondents who identified the influence of their parents (e.g., promoted and expected an education & provided emotional and logistical supports) as the main reason for succeeding in college represented sixty-nine percent of the sample.

There were no responses related to higher education’s measures of success, such as being a great test taker, having great high school grades, playing sports or having volunteer experiences. While these things are important, they are not required. What seems to be related to academic success for URMs is a combination of supports and grit.

The second investigation centered on whether URM students felt like their college campuses were welcoming, making them feel like they belonged. When individuals feel like they do not belong somewhere, they usually leave. The same goes for college campuses and the students who show up there.

I produced a brief video that shows a variety for students explaining how when they first showed up on campus feeling out of place and not welcome. This is followed by something happening that changed their perspectives. The video ends with statements of gratitude that they remained. Surprisingly, after watching the video and openly discussing their internal struggles, students who participated had a significant higher re-enrollment rate compared to the sample of students who did not.

What this research shows is that when students realize their feelings of being out of place and not welcome are just like other students, and they hear other student outwardly express those feelings, they feel less unique and less out of place, which results in them staying and succeeding.

Given these two investigation together, the findings could not be clearer, success in higher education does not resemble what is most likely required to get into college and be successful in college. While it might take a scam to get someone into top ranked colleges, having high intellect is not require for success once enrolled.

The higher education scam that no one is talking about is the fact that success has very little to do with intellect, test scores or all the other things this system expresses to the world.  Take it from me, a past documented academic outsider and current tenured professor, any human can be successful in any college on this earth.  With the right social and emotional supports, grit and awareness that every student on campus has secrets and insecurities about their academic abilities – please know you can be successful and exceed your wildest imaginations.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Urban Indians: What we don't know can kill them

Below is a 10-year plan to scientifically investigate American Indians living in urban communities. As the below plan indicates, we know very little about urban folks. It will take a significant effort to build our knowledge. As an urban Indian myself, I hope we can get some movement on our plan. Please know I am happy to hear your thoughts, ideas. Peace DAP

A behavioral epidemiology approach to investigating substance use disorder in American Indian urban communities: Ten-year study plan 

The problem. Substance use disorder (SUD) is a chronic and often relapsing illness costing the United States more than $600 billion annually in healthcare, productivity, and crime-related costs.1 

While more than 23 million, or nearly 10%, of all Americans aged 12 years or older misuse substances, up to 90% of those with SUD are not receiving high-quality care, signaling a substantial treatment gap.2 

The most substantial deficiency within our scientific literature as it relates to behavioral epidemiology is SUD’s impact on American Indian communities. While there is empirical knowledge on rural, reservation-based AIs, urban-based AIs have received little attention from our nation’s scientists.3 

The Indian Relocation Act of 1956 was a United States law intended to integrate American Indians (AIs) into urban settings in order to better assimilate into American culture. Indian Bureau promises lured native people away from their pastoral reservation existence, where they struggled to come to terms with modernity. 

In 1976 Congress passed the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, in part, to address concerns that health services are not providing culturally appropriate services to AIs who left the reservation. In 2016, 29 Urban Indian Health Organizations were funded through Indian Health Services (IHS) to provide a wide range of healthcare services located in 10 different areas across the U.S. This represents less than 1% of IHS’s overall budget.4 

Currently about 71% of AIs live in urban, suburban, or rural non-reservation area settings.5 Over the last 30 years, more than 1 million AI have moved to metropolitan areas.5 Historical traumas, including urban relocations and cultural assimilation, continue to affect AI communities in significant ways.6 The most significant mental health concerns today are the high prevalence of depression, substance use disorders, suicide, and anxiety.6 American Indians generally use and abuse alcohol and other drugs at younger ages, and at higher rates, than all other ethnic groups in the U.S.7,8 

While our scientific literature on AIs remains limited, our knowledge as it relates specifically to AIs living in urban areas who suffer from a SUD, is virtually non-existent. A search in NIH RePORTER in the past 10-years (NIDA, NIAAA) for research targeting urban AIs, resulted in two funded projects. One exploring motivational intervening and culture for urban youth (R01) and one investigating urban Native Americans and Alcoholics Anonymous (R21). Our illiteracy on urban AIs is so momentous that no singular, one-off, innovative research project can remedy it. A well-planned, long-term and sequential investigative strategy is required. 

The solution. Because we lack the basic epidemiological knowledge of substance use disorder (SUD) in urban living AIs, we will follow Sallis and colleague’s9 behavioral epidemiological systematic framework of research on health promotion and disease prevention. Their framework classifies the specific sequence of phases (e.g., research studies) that lead to evidence based public health interventions directed at populations. 

There are 5 phases, which have been adapted to focus specifically on SUD, consisting of: 
 Phase 1: Establishing the link between substance use behaviors and health. 
 Phase 2: Developing methods for measuring substance use behavior. 
 Phase 3: Identifying factors that influences substance use behavior. 
 Phase 4: Evaluating interventions that change substance use behavior. 
 Phase 5: Translating research into urban SUD practice. 

Years 1-5 plan 
Our first five years will focus specifically on phases 1-3. These studies will be exploratory, developmental and planning efforts using R21 and R34 mechanisms. The aims will consist of cross-sectional, population-based studies examining the link of SUD with targeted health outcomes (Phase 1). We will develop, test the validity, reliability and psychometric properties of existing and our own health questionnaires (Phase 2). We will finally explore and identify factors that shape, influence and change behaviors which lead to high risk alcohol and drug use and a SUD (Phase 3). We will use as our beginning analysis, Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Selected Metropolitan/Micropolitan Area Risk Trends (SMART) of BRFSS (SMART BRFSS). Years 6-10 plan The knowledge developed in years 1-5 will lead us to Phases 4 & 5. Phase 4 studies will be random control trials using R01 mechanisms as well as U01s and P series grants. The aims of these studies might include development and testing of AI specific SUD treatment methods and implementation and dissemination strategies into urban treatment systems. 

Resources at Washington University in St Louis’s Brown School 

This effort will sprout from the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies , which is housed in Washington University in St Louis’s Brown School of Social Work and Public Health. Founded in 1990 to provide scholarships for AIs, the Buder Center has grown into one of the most respected centers in the nation for the academic advancement and study of AI health and wellness issues. There are 156 AI Buder Scholar alumni across the U.S. working in various AI social work and public health services. There are 24 current Buder Scholars enrolled in the Brown School’s masters of social work and/or public health programs. The Buder Center has also produced 10 PhD scholars with an additional 5 obtaining a JD. There are four current AI doctoral scholars in our PhD program.

Community-based Resources and Stakeholders 

We will also convene a gathering of Urban Indian Health Organizations and other potential researchers who are providing or interested in investigating SUD services. Our Buder Center has a Memorandum Of Understanding with Indian Health Services to educate and train social workers and public health scholars as well as develop research studies to better understand AI health and wellness issues. 

Increasing diversity in biomedical and community services 

Part of this plan will include training and supporting AIs and other underrepresented minorities to enter biomedical and community services professions. We will seek supports through NIH Career Awards, Diversity Supplements, R24 & 25, and P Series. 

1. National Drug Intelligence Center. The economic impact of illicit drug use on american society. Washington, D. C.: United States Department of Justice; 2011. 
2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2012 national survey on drug use and health: Summary of national findings. NSDUH Series H-46, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4795, MD: SAMHSA. 2013. 
3. Urban Indian Health Institute. Supporting sobriety among american indians and alaska natives: A literature review. Updated 2014. Accessed 9/28, 2016. 
4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Fiscal year 2014 indian health service: Justification of estimates for appropriations committees. . 2013. 
5. Urban Indian Health Commission. Invisible tribes: Urban indians and their health in a changing world. Updated 2015. Accessed 10/24, 2016. 
6. Beals J, Manson SM, Whitesell NR, Spicer P, Novins DK, Mitchell KM. Prevalence of DSM-IV disorders and attendant help-seeking in american indian reservation populations. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62(1):99-108. 
7. Office of Minority Health. Mental health disparities: American indian and alaska natives. american psychiatric association. Accessed 9/22, 2016. 
8. Buchwald D, Beals J, Manson SM. Use of traditional health practices among native american in a primary care settings. Medical Care. 2000;38(12):1191-1199. 
9. Sallis JF, Owen N, Fotheringham MJ. Behavioral epidemiology: A systematic framework to classify phases of research on health promotion and disease prevention. Annuals of Behavioral Medicine. 2000;22(4):294-8.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Words, Sticks and Stones...Lives Matter

It’s been a while since I have posted some thoughts into this NACWR blog. I’ve been a bit busy and many things have happened. For instance I was tenured. After several years in academics, some folks decided I was worthy of a permanent job.  My Dean at the time of tenure, Eddie Lawlor, said something like…tenure is a very unique thing, it is a contract between you and the university that guarantees employment for the rest of your working life. It is a great gift.

I agree. It is a great gift. While tenure means different things to different people, the most common understanding is that tenure means “…you can’t be fired.” Or at least a tenured person would have to basically commit a serious, on-the-job crime before being fired – and still there would be a process to determine if it impacted tenure.

An acquaintance, who has the basic understanding of tenure and who thinks on the level of an uninformed teenager, learned I got tenure while we were at a university fund raiser, surrounded by students, faculty and community folks, and stated in a loud voice, “Oh dude…you got tenure? could F@#k a student right here on this table and they could not F@#king fire you!”

Yes. Tenure can protect against poor, inappropriate, unethical, dishonorable behaviors. And it most certainly has in the past.  Anyone who uses the gift of tenure to pursue unethical actions, is…well…I’m not sure what that is.


My thoughts about tenure is more in line with its original intent, guaranteeing the right to express opinions (academic freedom) that might go against community norms or expectations.   Similar to why certain judges receive lifetime appointments/tenure – they can express their views without worry of community or political pressures.

Words are very powerful. They have the ability to influence. Why write something for the sake of nothing?

With social media it is now much easier to gather and direct a mob/movement with words. We have the ability to connect with several hundred of your closest “friends” who also have their own pod of “friends.” These eConnections allow for unmet, fragile emotional needs to be medicated with the number of “likes” clicked.

A good measure of the size of an emotional hole in someone is to count the number of social media “eFriends” one has.   

Words will never hurt me

Words [clicking “like”], have the power to heal. And the more Likes the better. The potential impact of this simple, one word, can be significant. There are other words that have the capacity of an improvised explosive device (IED).

These words are so powerful I hesitate to write them here – even with the protection of tenure!

Recently, there was a presentation delivered by a tenured professor who used a certain word (the n-word, used as to avoid the full, exact spelling word). It seems our ears are ill-equipped to deal with the n-word, than our mind, which is able to understand it fully.  

Imply the word – Yes. Speak it – Never!

Natives have their own word – the r-word. A football team in Washington DC uses this word, along with a visual. This word is the team’s brand – it’s their trademark.

There are off-limit words for other communities as well.

Please know…I am not arguing if these words should be spoken or not, I am making a case that these words have power. Perceived power for the speaker and potential harm to the hearer.

There was a saying I recall using and being used on me during my youth that goes: Sticks and stones may break my bones - but words will never hurt me.

This statement and stance is used to castrate the power from the word.  Its message is: Yes…my bones being broken would result in excruciating pain and suffering. Some injuries resulting from being battered by sticks and stones could have lifelong consequences. I could be physically and/or psychologically disabled. I could be killed as the result of your beating -- I may not ever recover.

However, your words have no consequences for me – none. 

Mother Nature designed my bone structure to break under certain physical pressures. She also designed me so that my emotional structure, is not at all impacted by words.

The emotional impact that results from a spoken word landing on my eardrum is equal to the physical impact of a butterfly landing on my forearm.

Words are not harmful as I am a strong human being and I know who I am. What you think, believe or say has no impact on me – even if it is about me. Your words have the weight and impact of butterflies. If one happens to land on me, I do not feel it. No marks…no worries.

What does worry me?

Sticks and Stones…

Thursday, June 9, 2016

My new novella is now published and free to read - Admitted

My new novella was recently published and is free and open to read.

Title: Admitted

If you are troubled by graphic violence, sex, drug use, language, etc -- DO NOT READ IT!

It is a compilation of stories and years living with men who were trying to recover from many addictions and disorders.

Enjoy, Peace, DAP

The link is

Friday, November 27, 2015

Why are there so few Native American PhDs?

We in academics who are interested in finding and hiring minority faculty -- specifically Native Americans -- are asked why there are so few PhDs to pick from. When there are open faculty positions listed, programs are flooded with non-minority applicants -- and they are very well qualified to boot. It is easy to justify hiring non-minorities when there are so many overly qualified folks to pick from, and there are so few minority applicants without the "right kind" of education, training and scholarly experiences on their resume.

So, when asked why there are so few Native American applicants to pick from, it is so complicated, a typical sound bite response usually is the only result. It is difficult to frame, know how to begin or where to begin.

Because I am interested in education when I read this article I thought about all of the poor responses to this on-going question. While there are additional layers to this problem, the article, link below is a great response to why there are so few Native American PhDs. I hope you will read it. Peace, DAP

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Do our values show up in our policies?

Why I asked you a question on Facebook...

A very generous colleague of mine who directs a research center has years of data indicating that children, mostly very poor children, who have assets like 529 college savings, experience improved health and wellness outcomes.

Although his distractors say that the child’s parents, more specifically, the child’s mother will spend the child’s savings, his research indicates parents leave that money alone as it is viewed as helping their children get an education and out of poverty.
The problem is that although there is sound, historical data supporting efforts to provide saving accounts for new born children, this idea does not sit well with policy makers. There are states that provide modest saving accounts for children and this was accomplished by framing this effort as – “job readiness.”

We began to discuss how to develop a different framing in order to better connect with folks.

I think to reach and get the attention of a large audience the approach has to tap into something that is deep, personal and equally shared across gender, age, politics, etc. For instance, consider the statement, “No child left behind.” This was the work of Ted Kennedy (D) and George W. Bush (R).

In reality, the general American public cares little about child welfare. However, the general American public does “support our troops.” Americans hold the idea/value that on the battle field; we will leave no soldier behind. It is un-American to abandon anyone in war. It is a crime to “abandon your post.” Our most valued heroes are those individuals who were willing to sacrifice themselves to save others.

The framing of No Child Left Behind, hits deep with us. We are all in favor of not leaving anyone behind – especially children.

Think about the recent events where our government used its resources to return one American hostage held in Afghanistan for several years after he left his Army unit (NOTE: After rescuing him, he is now being charged for abandoning his post and could go to prison). Where ever Americans go in the world, they are protected and valued by our idea of what it means to be an American. President Carter failed when attempting to go after hostages in Iran. Americans were upset not at the attempt – but the failure.

It is a deep seated American value that we leave no American behind.

Our “academic” framing of helping children in poverty has to tap into that same broad American value.

The above link is a story about a man who entered a school bus, killed the bus driver and took a child hostage. The dead bus driver was an instant hero. The child is the victim and the man who took the child was the villain.

Every American – every human – values the safe return of that child. Every American agrees with the framing of that story and the players involved.

If Al-Qaida, ISIS or any “outsider” took a group of American children hostage and forced them to live in a rundown shack, feed them just enough to survive, did not provide them with medical care when sick, and blamed them for their own situation – Americans would demand, at any cost, to bring them home.

However, there are about 16 million children “held hostage by poverty.” Poverty forces children to live in inadequate structures. Poverty forces malnourishment. Poverty forces children to live without proper medical care.

If poverty was a foreign government, Americans would not allow this treatment to our children.

Unfortunately the idea of defending children or declaring a “war on poverty” carries a military framing. Also, the war on poverty was declared in the Johnson administration and ended in the Clinton administration with the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act.  

War or defending framing is powerful and Americans are strongly connected to warriors. Below is the ending of the recent “American Sniper” movie. This sniper had 160 confirmed kills in Iraq and Afghanistan – killing men, women and children.

A war or military framing widely connects with folks and is a deep value. However, these are played out. Declaring war on anything has been a mess.

Considering a different framing

There is however an American value that is also deep rooted and baked into our DNA. Whenever there is a crisis or life-threatening situation people value who gets protected first. This has beginnings with a sinking boat, in the novel Harrington: A Story of True Love, 1860.

Women and children first!

It was later widely expected and popularized during the sinking of the Titanic.

The “captain going down with the ship” was also expected during the same time. This is a very powerful value.

Americans love heroes and would love better to be one.

Above is a story where Captains did not go down with the ship. They saved themselves – being one of the first off the ship. People were furious with these self-seeking captains and one will most likely go to prison.

The value that women and children are first is very powerful and cuts across all types of Americans. And those adults who save themselves first, is out of step with that value.

A greater and deeply seated value is the idea of “women with children go first.”

Females with children in many cultures are treasured. In the animal world, such as wolf packs, females and pups are the highest priority. Wolf packs are structured just like human families.

The mother and pups remain in a den and are protected by the other wolves. All the adult wolves take care of the pups. Adults bring food to the mother so she can care for her young. When the pups begin to eat meat, all adult wolves brings food to the pups, play with them, and make sure they are safe.

Wolves will fight to the death in order to protect their pups. Their system and survival depends on the health of their females and pups. These behaviors are directed by Mother Nature (DNA). When faced with the choice to protect themselves or their young – there is no choice. They do not stop and consider things. They don’t evaluate or plan the outcomes. Behaviors and nature are interwoven.

American families hold similar DNA.

Often times we focus on new policies without ever looking at or debating our current policies.

So, to play out our current policies: if a group of Americans were face with a crisis, like being inside a burning building, the natural, innate act would be to ensure women with children get out first.

This is why I asked that question on Facebook. Most responses were in favor of the woman holding the child being first out of a burning building. We value – in our behaviors – protecting mothers and their children. Honestly, who could be against this? This is cooked within our DNAs.

I asked on my Facebook post:
Question: If you were in a burning building with a group of other folks, who would you pick to be FIRST out the door? Assume they are all healthy.

Middle aged man
 Teenage female
 Female holding her baby
 Retirement aged female
 Teenage male
 Middle aged female
 Teenage male

Who is FIRST to safety? – pick only 1

Female holding her baby. Why?
Female holding her baby
Male not make
Is this a trick? You have teenage make twice?
Female holding Baby
Female holding her baby
Female w baby
Female holding the baby
Female w/baby - not because there's anything special about women & children but because it's two for one.
Female holding baby because all would let her go first
Female holding the baby, although may not be my choice to choose who goes first. Teenagers would be last. Haha
Female holding baby
wondering why "self " is not on the list? baby is first....
The first person I came to. They all hold unique value.
Why are they standing around waiting to be dismissed from a burning building? They are all healthy and can make the decision to run or perish.
female w baby
 (Please note that this Facebook question is not scientific as I pick my friends because they most likely have similar values.  I may need to de-friend a few folks as the result of this question though!). 

From our current policies, if older people were in a burning building along with other community members, these older folks would be allowed to push aside or basically run over women with children. Older people get out of the building first.

Now, we value our elders and should. When I asked my youngest son, who is 13 ¾, he picked women with children to get out first. His second pick were elders. I asked a follow up question: Son, if you were the elder in a burning building would you pick yourself to leave before others, like getting out before teenagers or anybody else? He quickly responded – no. 

Under our current policies, if the Titanic happened today, life boats would be filled first with older folks.   

In the good ole US of A

The elderly, by law, get: $1.2 trillion.

Our children, get: $444.7 billion.

The largest category for children's spending is tax credits.

These behaviors (policies) go against our DNA and are also Un-American.

Our American heroes/elders would not allow this to happen. And people want the opportunity to be a hero.


This framing taps into an old, established value that women with children are precious members who must be protected and respected.

If potential danger approaches, we sacrifice ourselves for women with children. If we are in a burning home, adults should not run over a woman holding her child. If that happened, Americans would be infuriated at such self-seeking behavior.

We want older folks to get off the sinking boat or out of the burning house safely. However, it should not be our policy that they lawfully get to stampede over women holding their children.

Thanks for your help and Peace, DAP

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ferguson officials should be charged under the RICO Act

Please allow me to open with…I’m no lawyer.

The reason for my opening? There’s a law that says people who are not lawyers, cannot assert themselves as lawyers. Isn’t that something? You can impersonate a teacher or truck driver, no worries. But act like a lawyer without paying a law school for a degree and, you are breaking a law.

Now, when I think about a law, for some dumbass reason, I think they should apply to everyone equally. Surely, our law makers would not spend all of their valuable time creating laws that applied to some groups of folks and not others. I think laws are created to help everyone.

Can you imagine what would happen if a small municipal community in Missouri announced they just passed a law that would raise $1 million per year by targeting drivers within its city’s limits? Wonder if it was further reported that through the efforts of the city’s police department and judicial system, older white, male drivers would be allowed to be targeted to cover 80% of the new law. Basically, cops would be on the lookout for white males driving about town and pull them over. 

The cops would find multiple “violations” which would require white men to pay $800,000 per year and others to pay $200,000.

The hurricane-force shit storm that would rain down on this community would be epic. And rightly so.

Anyone who lives around St Louis knows that there are certain municipals that target African-American drivers. It took us a few months to notice who mostly were pulled over by the cops. When we would ask folks, they were open about things – especially in Ferguson – before it was “Ferguson.”

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a federal law designed to combat organized crime in the United States. According to NOLO “it allows prosecution and civil penalties for racketeering activity performed as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. Such activity may include illegal gambling, bribery, kidnapping, murder, money laundering, counterfeiting, embezzlement, drug trafficking, slavery, and a host of other unsavory business practices.”

“To convict a defendant under RICO, the government must prove that the defendant engaged in two or more instances of racketeering activity and that the defendant directly invested in, maintained an interest in, or participated in a criminal enterprise affecting interstate or foreign commerce. The law has been used to prosecute members of the mafia, the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, and Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group, among many others.”

The whole Ferguson system - its leaders - should be charged using the RICO act. The recent Department of Justice report lays out all kinds of unsavory business practices.

There are no laws that allow these practices to occur. Ferguson’s police department and its criminal justice system are an organized crime syndicate similar to the mafia. Our U.S. Department of Justice would have a strong case against the criminal organization in Ferguson using RICO.

But there again, I’m not a lawyer.

Peace, DAP

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Older is Better

I was sitting in my favorite chair: a recliner that allows me to arm-reach everything I might need -- end table with small drawer; lamp; electrical outlet; TV remote; etc.  I was thinking about an earlier chat I had about the importance of bringing back, or more importantly, hanging onto our indigenous wisdom.

This internal dialogue was interrupted by my son’s text saying that he needed a ride home. It was Sunday morning.

A bit of history: Friday evening after work I had to swing by his school on my way home because he needed $10 to buy a ticket to attend a dance Saturday night. I pulled up to his school, handed him a ten dollar bill from my car window. He vanishes back into his school. Several minutes later he and his two buddies walk out and get into my car. Those three hung out after school while waiting for me – more importantly -- my $10. My son’s two friends remembered that they needed to bring $10 to school before Friday.

My son…he forgot!

After several trips over the weekend, I realized that I am my son’s personalized Uber. The main difference is that I give him money after riding him places.

Back to my chair and thoughts about indigenous knowledge. As I am typing this my two sons have their faces in their smart phones and my lovely wife, although it is Sunday, is on her laptop finishing her work from the past week.

Information is not knowledge. We are bombarded with information from our TVs, world wide web, and all kinds of other technologies. We are not obtaining knowledge from these tools, what we are mostly doing is obtaining information. Mainly, unusable information.

We are extremely lucky to be living in a time with so much information at our fingertips. We have many great tools in our lives: Cars, electric, walmarts, etc. Our Native American ancestors, our great leaders, had to get information and “things” in a very differ way. The older way is better.

Which would you prefer, living in a world with clean water, air and food with very little technology? Or in our current world where everything we need is arm’s length, but the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we consume – are poisoned?

Our ancestors’ bodies and minds were clean - not toxic like ours. They were vaccinated by Mother Nature. The strongest survived, led and taught. There teachings came from purity of thought, body and community.

Our Native Ancestors lived in a world that was pure, clean, and full of knowledge.

We live in a world that alters the body and mind with contagions.  

Older is better and we need to learn from our clean ancestors and never let that knowledge go.