What we're about

My Community's Keeper is a group of people Stepping Up and Doing Something about positive and negative issues that affect African American's lives and well being, in communities near and far. This group is open to males and females of all ages and races. The main focus of our group is to build strong communities and relationships to swiftly and properly address injustices and celebrations as a supportive group. We will create safe spaces for the community to express issues that affect African Americans and other communities that experience injustices or ignored celebrations in that community.

Our mission is to help empower African Americans in finding resolutions and solutions in solving issues in African American communities, schools, jails, families, homes, businesses, jobs, etc...... My Community's Keeper will work to better all people and learn how to give and get help from other people from different races, religions and backgrounds.

We will be seeking to improve all lives while building a Strong African American Community that empowers all. My Community's Keeper, is the Soul, Strength and Support of a Grassroots non-profit organization called Step Up And Do Something! Inc. ( http://www.stepupanddosomething.org/ ). Our goal is to provide resources and support for African Americans through tons of hubs throughout different communities. The resources and information that help support and empower African Americans in a positive way, will be the programs and projects we develop for Step Up and Do Something, Inc.

Please join us and start a program or project under the 501c3 nonprofit and help reshape our communities the way we want them. Training on how to start your own non-profit sponsored by Step Up and Do Something and Grant Writing is on the last Saturday of each month from 4pm to 6pm at Hillview Library, 1600 Hopkins Drive, San Jose CA. 95122. Please RSVP and let us know what community resources you would like in our communities or which project or program you would like to develop and run as a non-profit Step! to Step Up and Do Something! Inc.

Upcoming events (4)

Town Hall Meeting: Empowering All Shades of African Americans

My Dear Sista's & Brothas,

I am looking for a few of you to help Step Up And Do Something address this issue in our communities. Our dark skin African American babies, young ladies and women are being emotionally hurt by the discrimination against them by other African American sistas and brothas. Before we improve our own communities and lives, we need to have respect for one another's skin tone and be able to be with whom we want to be with regardless of color.

The video below sparked the need for this Town Hall Meeting. The young ladies and the young man committing at the end of the poem were very emotional on both parts and needs some attention. Here it is please comment below how we can help our people with this issue:

https://youtu.be/jIcYVXPDnhw

Our goal will be to have different safe places for African Americans to gather to discuss issues and celebrations in a safe places to come up with our own solutions to resolving or rejoicing issues as we see fit to our circumstances.

All meetings will be like a Town Hall Meeting with a panel that can handle the many questions and concerns with care and respect for everyone's feelings. The data collected from the the meetings will be the source of our projects and programs developed as a group or it will be our opportunities to network with other organizations that assist African Americans in helping to improve their lives.

I'm excited you all are Stepping Up To Do Something! Please RSVP and volunteer to be on the panel for the many Town Hall Meetings we will host across African American communities. Please, also email topics for our Town Hall Meetings. When we have more than 20 RSVP's and at least two Sista's and two Brotha's on a panel we will post a date that's best for everyone and a location.

Thank you for your support!

Rita

Forum: Gun Violence in African American Communities
Needs a date and time

Needs a location

Gun Violence in the Black Community is a National Public Health Emergency
By Frank Hagler July 29, 2013

Like Mic on Facebook: http://mic.com/articles/57033/gun-violence-in-the-black-community-is-a-national-public-health-emergency#.wSMYI2Dsp

Gun violence in the African American community is a national public health and safety issue and should be treated as such. Strategies are necessary to stem the rate at which black men are murdering each other.

The American Journal of Medicine reports that homicide is the leading cause of death among young African American men. Ninety-one percent (91%) of the deaths were due to firearms. Medical professionals believe that eliminating wanton homicides due to firearms would improve the life expectancy of young black men more than any other cause of death other than cardiovascular disease or cancer. For them, gun violence is a matter of public health and safety and should be addressed using scientific methodologies in the same way you would address any other issue of public safety.

Gun violence and gun-related homicides are bordering on epidemic health and safety proportions in the African American community. However since 1996 public health research in gun violence, such as the type conducted by the National Institute of Health or the Centers for Disease Control, has been generally discouraged and research that advocates or supports gun control is explicitly forbidden. It would be morally repugnant and intellectually dishonest to continue to block research into the problem.

The need to address the high incident of homicides due to gun violence in the African American community is a perfect example of how problems in the black community relate to national issues and require national focus. Leveraging the black community to define, research, develop and test solutions to gun violence can be leveraged in communities throughout America.

Unfortunately, when it comes to guns, public health organizations are barred from collecting evidence-based data in the same way they would other public health issues, for example cigarette smoking or driving while intoxicated. The ban prevents medical and public health professionals from providing qualitative analysis in support of firearm legislation. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence found that “without hard information, policymakers are stuck arguing against emotional and ideological positions rather than evidence-based ones.”

Under no other conceivable scenario would medical and public health researchers be legislatively prevented from doing their jobs. If gun violence is the leading cause of death amongst a significant portion of African Americans then the medical community should be allowed to determine why. The National Research Center found that the lack of data on gun usage is “among the most critical barriers to a better understanding of gun violence.”

President Obama has included $30 million of new funding in the 2014 Federal Budget to support research by the Centers for Disease Control into gun violence prevention strategies. In January he issued a memorandum authorizing Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, to direct the CDC to conduct or sponsor research into the causes of gun violence and the ways to prevent it. Congressional approval for the funding would end a 17-year drought on gun violence research.

Homicide deaths due to gun violence amongst African American men highlight the challenge of finding the balance between Second Amendment rights and the enforcement of gun control laws. In most instances it is an illegal handgun that is the weapon used in the commission of the murder. Even when it is not, most of these young men are certainly not licensed to carry a concealed weapon. Dominik Wodarz, a mathematical biologist who works on disease and evolutionary dynamics said to TGDaily, "It's time to bring a scientific framework to this problem."

Medical academics would like the opportunity to gather evidence around these dynamics so that lawmakers can implement evidence-based legislation. They challenge the assumption that individual behavior and mandatory sentencing for unlicensed firearms is sufficient to address the concern. The American Public Health Association noted that “we cannot arrest our way out of this public health crisis.” Wodarz and his wife Natalia Komarova, a mathematician who studies biomedical and social trends, explained "what is under debate is essentially an epidemiological problem."

Wodarz and Komarova have designed parameters to measure how to prevent gun-related homicides and have presented their findings in a peer reviewed paper, but more is needed.

A little research into solving the problem of gun violence in the African American community could go a long way.

So, My Sistas & Brothas, how do we halt the gun violence in the African American communities? Please volunteer to be on the panel, if you have knowledge or passion about this topic. We need at least 20 RSVP's, two sistas and two brothas to host the Town Hall Meeting to set the date and time. Please email me if you're interested in being on the panel to address comments and concerns of the guest.

Thank you!

Forum: How Can We Address Structural Racism?
Needs a date and time

Needs a location

Dear Sista's & Brotha's,

We need your support in supporting, "It takes a strong community to raise a healthy and well rounded African American child in at risk communities." RSVP for this Town Hall Meeting and be the catalyst for change and structure our youth needs to be successful in school and life as an adult. Step Up And Do Something! has adopted the 41 Developmental Assets and will host workshops for training My Sista's and Brotha's Keepers, how to go out into the community to build assets in African American and at risk communities. I have been trying for years to get the program I was trained at to go to at risk communities where the need is great. That's not going to happen anytime soon, as far as they train is in the Silicon Valley. So, we're going to do it ourselves! If anyone knows of other programs that we can adopt to improve African American Lives, please list them and we can use what works best. More Information:
http://www.search-institute.org/research/developmental-assets

Below is President Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" program that we would be supporting the outcomes of that success. President Obama's plan is a 5 year plan. Step Up And Do Something is a life long plan My Sista's & Brotha's can support to make sure our young men of color have the same opportunities as their peers.

Thank you,

Rita Guess
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Obama’s Black Male Initiative Must Address Structural Racism

By Freddie Allen
March 13, 2014

NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – If President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative expands educational and work opportunities for young Black and Hispanic males, but fails to address the burdens of structural racism that threaten their lives, the program might not succeed, some community activists believe.

“Let’s say they do all the right things, let’s say they excel in the classroom, let’s say they are involved in community activities, but then they go out on the street and they are harassed by police, profiled and arrested,” said Walter Fields, executive editor of the NorthStar News a news website that caters to African American. “Or they go to college and they get a degree, then they go out on the labor market and they are discriminated against. How do we control that, after you have told these young men that they have to rise above it and be better, then they run into a system that is designed to cut them down?”

President Obama launched the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative in the East Room of the White House, joined by key players in business, philanthropy and public policy. Philanthropic foundations and private corporations have pledged $200 million dollars over the next five years in an effort to “to make sure that every young man of color who is willing to work hard and lift himself up has an opportunity to get ahead and reach his full potential,” the president said.

Obama said that he was inspired to create the initiative following the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed, Black teen who was pursued, shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Fla. Martin’s shooting and Zimmerman’s ultimate acquittal of murder, sparked nationwide protests and an investigation by the Justice Department.

Since then, a similar case has been in the news.

Michael Dunn, a White computer programmer, shot to death Jordan Davis, another Black teenager in Florida in the parking lot of a Jacksonville, Fla., convenience store following an argument over what Dunn described as “thug music” playing in the teen’s SUV.

Like George Zimmerman before him, Dunn was found not guilty of a first-degree murder charge in the death of Davis. Unlike Zimmerman, Dunn was convicted of three counts of attempted murder.

Jawanza Kunjufu, a prominent educated who has written extensively about Black males, said that he’s in total support of what the president is doing with his initiative, worries that financial support pledged so far will be enough to prevent more parents from mourning the loss of their young sons due to gun violence.

“I don’t know if money could have eliminated what happened to Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis,” said Kunjufu.

While some openly express doubts about the president’s new plan, many others applauded President Obama for raising the visibility of the startling racial disparities that exist in education, the labor market and the criminal justice system that cripple a generation that must shoulder the future economic prosperity of a country that has largely forgotten them.

By the time they reach fourth grade, 86 percent of Black boys are reading below grade level compared to 58 percent of White boys who read below proficiency levels. Even though the national graduation rate for Black males increased from 42 percent to 52 percent from 2001 -2010, according to a report on public education and Black males by the Schott Foundation, “It would take nearly 50 years for Black males to secure the same high school graduation rates as their White male peers.”

According to a 2011 report by the Children’s Defense Fund, “A Black child is only half as likely as a White child to be placed in a gifted and talented class. A Black child is more than one and a half times as likely as a White child to be placed in a class for students with emotional disturbances.”

An overwhelming majority of Black students enrolled in special education programs are males and at the other end of spectrum, White females are least likely to land in special education programs, said Kunjufu. Differences in learning styles between male and female students and an inability of teachers to relate to Black male students contribute to the stigmatization of the group targeted by the president’s new initiative.

According to a 2011 study by The National Center for Education Information (NCEI), a private, non-partisan research group in Washington, D.C. 84 percent of public school teachers are White and 7 percent are Black.

Black males account for 10 percent of Black teachers and less than 2 percent of all teachers, White females account for 85 percent of White teachers and more than 70 percent of all teachers.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), “when out-of-school suspension rates were examined by race, one in five black males and more than one in 10 black females were suspended in[masked]—higher than any other race.”

CRDC data also showed that Black students account for 18 percent of national student enrollment and 42 percent of students referred to law enforcement and 35 percent of arrests, compared to White students who account for more than half of all students, 25 percent of law enforcement referrals and 21 percent of arrests.

Kunjufu said that getting more Black male teachers into our nation’s classrooms has to be a part any strategy that seeks to provide better educational opportunities and outcomes for young Black males.

“It’s very important for students to see teachers that look like them,” said Kunjufu. “The question becomes, are school districts and superintendents willing to go the extra mile to recruit African American male teachers?”

Like others who have waited for a targeted program like this from the White House, Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, a group that works for social, political, economic and reform that impacts the Black community, said that the “My Brother’s Keeper” programs have to be multi-faceted.

“It’s not just about mentoring. Mentoring by itself won’t end these problems,” said Daniels. “There will be some who will be able to change their behavior and to escape and to be successful, but to look for [solutions] alone absent structural issues is to virtually take a Booker T. Washington approach: clean up, brush up, paint up have good values look decent and everything will be fine.”

Daniels added: “Well, everything won’t be fine. It’ll take more than that.”

The Black community shouldn’t expect the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative to solve those structural issues alone.

Daniels said that Attorney General Eric Holder’s aggressive push to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, to reform mandatory sentencing guidelines, and to reduce the disparities in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine has to work in tandem with the “My Brother’s Keeper.”

Young Blacks continue to be over-represented in a criminal justice system that cost the United States economy $57 billion to $65 billion per year in lost output of goods and services related to depressed wages and underemployment of ex-offenders.

Even as the president urged business and civic leaders, members of the faith community and foundations to support this new initiative he often returned to a “no excuses” message directed squarely at the young Black and Hispanic males as he tip-toed lightly around the structural racism that will likely slow their at success and better lives. It’s a message that has generated eye rolling from Black thought leaders throughout his presidency.

“What the president is saying, in a very coded way is that, ‘Yeah, we know racism exists, but you have to rise above it,’” said Fields. “I don’t know how you rise above it. We’ve never risen above it. We’ve managed it, but we’ve never truly risen above it.”

Fields continued: “The difficulty in offering this critique is that there is so little done for this population that you hate to criticize anything that is done [them]. But when it comes from the most powerful elected official in the world, we have to hold him to a higher standard.”

Support the Movie "Race" Discuss who hates our Race & How to Empower Our Race!

Dear Sista's and Brotha's,

Let's go out and support the new film "Race"! I have a 12-year-old son and he asked me who Jesse Owens was because he heard us talking about the movie. I am taking my son to the movie and taking the responsibility of educating myself and others in my life about the great heroes of our past and future. He is reading a book about Jesse Owens and the issue of Race and hate is more prominent in the beginning of the book than the actual running race.

This will be a new chapter in my 12-year-old's life. I know he will have any questions I may not have answers to. The goal of this group is to empower and up lift our community to improve injustices and build community among ourselves. So, I will be calling on you, My Sista's & Brotha's for support and positive discussions on how to deal with racism and unfair treatment of African Americans or any group of people.

Please take a young child to see this film and also read the books on Jesse Owens and let's have a discussion next month about the questions and feelings you had. I will leave this Meetup open.

Please post Movie times and conversations below to get the group involved. Thank you for your support!

Rita Guess

Photos (49)