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In a petition circulated online, Change.org minces no words--“NAACP: Hire the First Woman President in the NAACP’s 104 year History.”

Seventy percent of the respondents agreed it is time that NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) elect the first permanent woman president in its history.

The petition and the clamor for a woman to lead the organization came almost within moments after current NAACP President Ben Jealous announced he was stepping down at the end of the year. This is hardly the first time there’s been a clamor and an even louder criticism of the dearth of female leaders at the top of the nation’s major civil rights organizations.

Two things have marked the litany of civil rights organizations past and present. One is that throughout the history of the best-known major civil rights groups--the Urban League, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and of course the NAACP--no woman has occupied the top spot any of them.

The sole exception was in 2009, when the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which in its declining years finally elected the first woman head, Bernice King, Dr. Martin Luther King’s daughter. But that breakthrough was short-lived when King could not reach agreement with the SCLC’s male-dominated board regarding the terms of her presidency.

The second major earmark of civil rights organizations has been the number of prominent women who played pivotal roles in the fight for justice and equality. They are well-known: Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Gloria Richardson, Dorothy Cotton, Septima Clark, Dorothy Height, to name a few.
These women had to wage two fights. One was for civil rights and one was against the blatant sexism and male dominance among the rank and file and leadership in the civil rights organizations.

The men frequently denigrated and minimized women’s role and importance, or they pigeon holed them into so called women’s roles—typists, phone answerers, general gofers, and just plain flunkies for the men. In some cases, they sexually exploited and abused women.

The most blatant example of this was Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver’s frequent admonition that the only place for women in the movement was “prone.” This ignited a firestorm of criticism and condemnation from female Panther members and among women activists in various other civil rights organizations. Although Cleaver took much deserved heat for his insulting and outlandish digs at women, he reflected the quiet sentiment of far too many men that, aside from their views of women, their positions were some of the most advanced, forward thinking and progressive in their social concepts and activism.

The Achilles' Heel of the civil rights organizations remained the quiet and destructive sexism within their ranks. This history burst into public in the run-up to the 50th anniversary commemoration of the March on Washington this past August. A number of women took dead aim at the march’s 1963 organizers for what they considered the deliberate exclusion of women from a major role in the planning, organizing and deliverance of any of the keynote speeches at the historic event.

Those women didn’t stop with a nostalgic glancing, over-the-shoulder critique of the events 50 years ago. Instead, they openly wondered how much had really changed within the major civil rights organizations today.

Apart from the towering roles that women played in past civil rights battles as activists and organizers, radical women, such as Kathleen Cleaver, Angela Davis and Hamer showed by their courage and example that they could more than hold their own and even surpass most men, including men who were considered the movement leaders, in terms of vision, passion, energy and steel-like dedication to the fight for economic and social justice.

Yet despite the power of their leadership and example, they still had to struggle against marginalization by male leaders. In spite of their prominence and name recognition, they constantly bumped up against the intrinsic and galling reality that when it came to leadership and decision-making in organizations, the hard edge of traditional and ingrained male domination and female marginalization continued to be the order of the day.

While many applauded an Angela Davis and rallied to her defense, she was still seen by many men as a woman first, second and often last, and not as a black leader. Yet, just as in the past, there were powerful examples of women as activists and leaders in the civil rights movement, there are even more women today who are fully capable of being not only the visible face of a major civil rights organization, but one of its leading decision and policy makers as well.

NAACP has legions of women in local decision- and policy-making roles in their various chapters. Any one of them could step into the top presidential spot. There are also prominent women outside the organization that BlackAmericaweb.com named, who could assume the president’s mantle.

Among them are Stefanie James Brown, former NAACP youth and college director; Aisha Moodie-Mills, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and counsel-director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Appointing any one of them to head the organization would signal that the NAACP has shattered the glass ceiling. It would send a powerful message that the organization regards the fight for gender equality and against sexism as being equally potent and compelling as the historic and continuing fight for racial justice and equality.

NAACP has a golden opportunity to open the door of its male-only room at the top to women. It’s an opportunity that it and no other civil rights organization purporting to call itself a champion of civil rights should blow.

Taxpayers were calling on their elected leaders to provide economic relief by keeping property tax rates flat. But doing so would mean placing services provided by police, fire rescue, library system and the animal shelter in financial difficulty. In the end, while not every service emerged completely unscathed, essential services remain secure.

But the future of Miami-Dade County’s Public Library System and thousands of cats and dogs in the care of Animal Services Department remains uncertain.
Therefore, Miami-Dade County is establishing a trust fund to allow the public to make voluntary contributions toward the county services that matter most to them. Through this trust, citizens will be able to pool resources and direct them where they believe they’re needed most.

Property tax bills will be mailed to nearly a million households and businesses. A postage-paid envelope will be enclosed, making it convenient for citizens to make voluntary monetary donations above their property tax payment.

Whether you choose to provide additional support to animal services, library system, the police or fire rescue, your donation will help ensure that the services you care about will continue to be provided. These donations are tax deductible and will help meet community needs. Consult your tax advisor with any specific questions regarding your deduction.

 

Counselors are always giving advice to couples, yet their own relationships, marriage and lives are often in shambles. Still, wise counsel does serve a valuable purpose. We always hear about couples seeking counseling when their relationship is in danger. But usually that’s a case of not adhering to the principle of prevention being better than the cure. Maybe if they had seen a counselor before they took the plunge, they would not be in need of counseling now.

Sadly many people have no use for it and think they have the answer to everything. But, Caribbean people like to say, “Young bird don’t know storm.” Many enter marriage with no clue what they’re getting into. By that time they may or may not seek counseling. The wife may suggest it and may even go. The husband may reluctantly tag along. But to make it effective, both have to go with an open mind and believe they really need help. Only then is all the garbage displayed before them.

PROBLEMS

One lady was married for over five years, but was yet to have sex with her husband. The poor man was so frustrated. She too was angry and confused. It was discovered that she had been sexually abused by her stepfather and her uncle when she was a child, so she grew up with great intimacy problems.

Why did she marry? What did she expect? If they both had counseling before they wed, they would have been spared frustration and grief.  Counselors say they merely advise couples about life’s realities. After all, the proverbial bed of roses does have thorns. But many young people marry for the wrong reasons. Some want out of the house after living under their parents’ rule. But are they ready?

The counselor will know. Perhaps he may unable to change their minds, but he can advise them of the road ahead. If they take heed, they may not be surprised when they drop into the first pothole. Another wrong reason to get married is sex, counselors say. Some marry because they’re in church and fornication is deemed sin. To have sex and not sin, they marry. Others wed because the attraction is so hot. While some are having sex, enjoying it, then oops, an unwanted pregnancy results. So they marry. Without counseling, more than likely those marriages will flounder and fall.

DISILLUSIONED

Many young couples are disillusioned about sex and become confused, angry, withdrawn and despondent. So counselors advise a need for space. Couples must spend time together, but not become stifling. Sometimes, men and women need to have their partner on a leash. Now there’s the cell phone, a leash that can cover miles.

Couples must have their own interests, different workplaces and friends too. Yet they should be able to discuss, argue, even cuss, without ill feeling. Plus, they should never go to bed angry. Another thing is not to listen to idle gossip or have too many friends dipping into their lives. Couples should also be their best friends, the counselors advise. Love won’t conquer everything. Counseling is vital, if you’re serious about a long-term relationship.

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CCJ: It’s time Caribbean makes own decisions ~attorney Wayne Golding

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is a regional judicial tribunal established in 2011. The idea of a regional court surfaced in 1970 when the Jamaican delegation at the sixth Heads of Government conference, convened in Jamaica, proposed the establishment of a Caribbean Court of Appeal as a substitute for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Wayne Golding, a Jamaican-born immigration lawyer based in Central Florida, United States, gave Caribbean Today’s freelance writer Kathy Barrett his views on the significance of the CCJ.

Question: What’s the significance of Caribbean Court of Justice to the people of the region?

Answer: My concept, even when I lived in Jamaica as young person, was that I never liked the idea of an outside authority being our final adjudicator in terms of anything. The whole significance of what the queen (of England) represents to me was always obnoxious. For people to sit in their own country and not make the ultimate decisions that affects them and their daily lives, especially when it comes onto your  rights, I never subscribed to the fact that you have to go to a foreign land. I was delighted when the CCJ was announced. It felt like Independence all over again.

Question: The CCJ has two jurisdictions, the original jurisdiction and the appellate jurisdiction. The only states in the region that have signed onto the CCJ, as their final court, are Barbados, Belize and Guyana. In your opinion what’s preventing the other countries from coming onboard?

Answer: The problem is the manifestation from some of our Caribbean countries. The problem is not that England wouldn’t relinquish their hold on our legal system, but it’s whether or not we are moving in the direction of unity in which a decision can come from a final arbitrator in the Caribbean that each country would be satisfied with.

I’ve heard rumblings and I've heard that certain countries are unwilling to sign onto the concept and it has been around for awhile. You really wonder what the motivation is and how long is it going to take.

Question: In October, the CCJ made a landmark ruling when it declared that the government of Barbados breached the rights of a Jamaican woman, Shanique Myrie, to enter the country. Could this ruling be seen as a turning point in the region’s approach towards the CCJ?

Answer: The Barbados situation kind of points out a potential problem we have where a country is indicating, by its actions, that it might not want to adhere, (although it may have to). This just indicates to me that we are going to have a problem with people complying under the system. Barbados is a tricky situation because the Barbadians have always been closer to England than anyplace else in the region. I love the concept. It’s the mechanism that needs to be put in place and whether we are going to have that total buy in eventually.

Question: What of the future of the regional court?

Answer: Another problem could be the issue of precedence, because like every system, be it in the United States, England or Germany, you have the body of law that people look to. So I think that is going to be one of the issues whether we have the body of law in our Caribbean countries that the final appellate court, being in the Caribbean, is really what we need. But the structure is still in question. People always look outside of their own borders for authority. We don’t need to do that anymore in the Caribbean. There needs to be a stronger push to have this up and going. It’s about time for us to really push, because we need to make our own decisions. It’s about time.

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