Thursday, November 21, 2013

Take the Challenge With Me

The recent arrest and conviction of an active member of the United States House of Representatives for cocaine possession forced me think about how flawed drug laws and their enforcement is in America. The most hypocritical part of this sad scenario is the fact that an elected official was using cocaine while at the same time supporting legislation to demand food stamp recipients submit to random drug tests in order to get benefits. This Politco article outlines what this sitting member of Congress voted to do for those Americans of are food stamp recipients.

There is not a doubt in my mind that if I got caught purchasing 3.5 grams of cocaine worth $250 from an undercover agent, there is no way in hell that my punishment would be a $250 fine and one year of probation, while getting to keep my job. If someone who looks like me got caught with something that looks like drug paraphernalia, the same benefit of the doubt would not be given. No favoritism or back door deals, or slaps on the wrist for the average Joe, but a sitting member of Congress gets to blame his cocaine use on alcohol abuse and keep representing the people of Florida like nothing ever happened. Imagine if you can for a moment, that your neighbor or co-worker was arrested for cocaine possession, and got to keep their job. Taking a leave of absence is unacceptable and calling a press conference after 10 pm is not what I call would accountability. His actions should force legislation that would require every elected official to submit to random drug tests because after all; they are government employees who are being paid with tax-payer dollars. If drug tests are good for food stamp and welfare recipients, they should also be good for those voting in favor of these requirements.

I am sympathetic towards people who have drug and alcohol addiction, but I have very little compassion for people like this Congressman who has spent their careers victimizing and demonizing their fellow citizen. I wonder if the Tea Party is going to cancel his membership because of his hypocrisy? I wonder if the same people on right wing talk radio and the news channel that claims to be “fair and balanced” will call for their Tea Party brother to step down like they did when a sitting Congressman sent pictures of his “package” all over the internet.  Of course they won’t because all of that Tea Party, patriotic, family values, limited government, conservative mumbo jumbo rhetoric is nothing more than propoghanda. 

Did he have ulterior motives when he cosponsored H.R. 1695, which would give judges more flexibility on sentencing in cases involving mandatory minimums? While I support abolishing mandatory sentencing, sitting members of Congress who are voting to change laws should not be doing so under the influence of cocaine. I’m sure there are many of you out there who know someone who has been arrested, or is currently serving time behind bars for drug possession. What kind of message does this slap on the wrist send to people currently serving time for committing similar or less harsh crimes? The statistics prove that there is a huge disparity the in sentencing laws that are harsher on crack users than cocaine users and a person’s ethnicity has everything to do with it.

Take the Challenge:
Will you stand with me and reach out to these young people by sending them this letter along with one of following three books for them to read? 1. This Isis Paper; The Keys to the Colors by Dr. Frances Cress Welsing. 2. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Melissa Alexander. 3. Letters to an Incarcerated Brother by Hill Harper. As they return to society, they need to know we have not given up on them and we want them to be productive members of society and our community. I have drafted an example of a short letter intended for young men and women who are currently incarcerated. Feel free to copy or modify it as you see fit.

“Dear Young Brother or Sister,
You might not know who I am and I might not know who you are, but I want you to know that there are people out here who still love and care about your physical and mental health while you are incarcerated.  Not all of us have given up on you and when the time comes for you to make the transition back to life outside the walls of jail or prison, I hope and pray that something you read in one of these books will encourage you to help another brother or sister avoid going down the wrong path.  This Isis Paper; The Keys to the Colors by Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Melissa Alexander, or Letters to an Incarcerated Brother by Hill Harper are examples of books filled with educational information that will force you to think about some of the following things:

1.  Why respecting your fellow man is important.
2.  Breaks down the system of racism, white supremacy.
3.  Explores the hidden meanings of terminology and symbols. 
4.  Helps you understand who are you as an African American?
5.  Why the system wants you to remain incarcerated.

Please accept this book as a seed from me to you and I pray that you will allow the words to inspire you to be a better man or woman, better husbands and wives to your spouse, and better parents to your children.  I have no doubt that this book will be a blessing to your mind, body, & soul. 

God Bless,

Your Name”

Originally published by Steve Maynor Jr. on November 21, 2013 via

Monday, August 5, 2013

Need Scholarship Money?

A few weeks ago I decided to apply for graduate school and during the process, I quickly realized the cost per credit hour for each class is somewhat higher than undergraduate classes. Fortunately for me, the Military Tuition Assistance Program covered 100% of the cost for my two undergraduate degrees, up to $4,500 per year. The program will also cover up to $250 per credit hour for graduate level classes, up to $4,500 per year.

At the university I chose to attend for graduate school, tuition per credit hour for undergraduate students is $350 per credit hour (approx $1,050 per class) for regular students and $240 per credit hours for Active Duty Military students. Tuition per credit hour for graduate students is $480 per credit hour (approx $1,440 per class) for regular students and $385 per credit hour for Active Duty Military students.

That leaves about $135 per credit hour I will need to pay out of pocket, but there are a number of scholarships that are accessible to people just like me that could offset these costs!

I am going to share some information about scholarship opportunities that are available to people all over the world. These scholarships are out there, but no one is going to knock on our doors and ask if we would like to have one. There are a number of companies and organizations that have donated monies for academic scholarships but unfortunately, a great deal of this money is being returned because of a lack of interest or applications.

Most scholarships require written essays, letters of recommendation, and copies of your transcripts (either high school or college). Others are need-based scholarships, where you are required to provide proof of income. Some of the applications can be filled out totally online, while others ask you to mail in the application. Some of the scholarships target specific degree seeking students, while others are based on gender, ethnicity, or religious affiliation. 

I slept on a lot of these scholarship opportunities during my undergraduate studies because I had the Military Tuition Assistance Program. When my $4,500 yearly allocation dried up, I was applying for scholarships left and right. For every 20 scholarships I applied for, 18 or 19 went to other students.

I would not be honest if I told you that discouragement did not creep into my spirit from time and time, but I kept applying. I did get tired of writing essays and asking people to write letters of recommendation on my behalf, but I kept applying. You are going to have to read through a lot of material and sift through scholarships that are not applicable to your particular situation. Time, effort, patience, and persistence are mandatory in this endeavor.

Regardless to how many scholarships you do not win, keep applying!

Please pass this information on to your family members, nieces, nephews, and friends with college-aged children. For those of you without a college-aged child at home, share this with someone who does. If you have children, take the initiative to get them involved and invested in their own futures. There is no need for money to be returned to donating companies because we fail to apply. 

If you are a college student or getting ready to become one, you already know how useful additional money can be. Below are a few links to many websites where scholarship information can be found.

*If clicking on the link doesn't work, copy and paste the URL in your web browser.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

Finaid: The Smart Students Guide to Financial Aid & Scholarships


Student Inventors Scholarships

Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation

Ron Brown Scholar Program

United Negro College Fund

SIT Study Abroad Scholarships

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Ronald McDonald House Charities U.S. Scholarships

Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship Award

The Sallie Mae Fund Search for Scholarships

Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation

American Geosciences Institute

American Physical Society Minority Scholarship

Elks National Foundation Most Valuable Student Competition

National Association of Colored Women’s Club, Hallie Q. Brown Scholarship

National Black Nurses Association Scholarship Program

Thurgood Marshall College Fund

Xerox Scholarships for Students

National Assoc. Of Black Journalists Scholarships

Microsoft Scholarship Program

The American Political Science Association

Guaranteed Scholarships

Jacki Tuckfield Memorial Graduate Business Scholarship 

Burger King Scholarship Program

Siemens Westinghouse Competition

GE Funds LULAC Scholarship Program

Union Sponsored Scholarships And Aid

SIT Study Abroad and SIT Graduate Institute

Graduate Fellowships For Minorities Nationwide

Rhodes Scholarships At Oxford

The Roothbert Scholarship Fund

Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps

Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Scholarship Program

Frederick C. Branch Marine Corps Leadership Scholarship

Army Reserve Officer Training Corps

Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps

Originally published by Steve Maynor Jr. on August 5, 2013 via

Monday, May 6, 2013

How Soon We Forget

When the word radicals and terrorists are mentioned, what is your first thought?

Since the horrific events of 9/11, people of a certain skin tone or religious preference have been stereotyped, profiled, harassed, and pre-judged as being anti-American or terrorist. No one has the ability to identify a terrorist by simply looking at a picture, or based off the spelling of his or her name.

People who behave or believe this way have a phobia against Islam or Muslims, more commonly known as Islamophobia. Islamophobia is prejudice against, hatred towards, or having an irrational fear of Muslims or Islam. We have seen and heard a lot of anti-Islamic talk in the media after the bombing at the Boston Marathon.

Instead of trying to understand and respect other religions, the conservative voices on the radio and television immediately start name-calling, placing labels and demonizing others for choosing to worship the God of their choice. I don’t understand how anyone could group all people of the Islamic faith into one general category, or try to make them out to be a monolithic people.

Some of our fellow Americans either have short memories, or practice a selective style of remembering historical events in relation to present day events when they start making a case to demagogue a religion different than their own.

Just because a person proclaims to be associated with a religion does not mean that they represent the entire faith. For the record, all Muslims are not terrorists and all terrorists are not Muslims.

If we were to use the very conservative approach to analyzing terrorists, every American should be scared to death of young white men. The numbers don’t lie when it comes to who has historically committed acts of terror on American soil against fellow Americans.

The criminal profile of most perpetrators in mass shootings and serial killers has historically been young white men, but there is not a call by the conservative media to stereotype, profile, or harass them. When a non-Arabic person or a person who isn’t a Muslim commits an act of terror, they are called lone wolves, or crazed individuals.

A Feburary 27, 2013 article by Mother Jones, “A Guide to Mass Shootings in America” there have been 62 mass shootings in the last 30 years. A whopping 44 of the terrorist were white males. With that being said, it would be careless and ignorant to stereotype white men the same way people of Arab decent, or Muslims have been treated.

A wonderful piece of journalism by Soledad O’Brien shined light on this subject in the documentary, “Unwelcome: Muslims Next Door.” The story was based off of a very controversial court case in Rutherford County, Murfreesboro, TN. The nasty court battle was in response to an attempt to block a group of Muslims who wanted to build a huge Mosque in the county.

A majority of the people interviewed claimed that the Muslims who wanted to build the mosque are of the same religion as the people who flew the planes into the building. How soon did they forget that they were of the same religion of the people who enslaved, murdered, and lynched hundreds of thousands of Native Americans and African slaves? I’m sure they forgot about the people who bombed the 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham, or burned crosses to intimidate or terrorize fellow Americans.

One of hip hops brightest artists; Jasiri X produced a masterful song about Islamophobia called Wandering Strangers. The video can be viewed by clicking the link below. At a hearing on Muslim Radicalization held by Rep. Peter King a few years ago, you can clearly hear the hatred in the voices of the people screaming, “Go Back Home” and “Muhammad was a terrorist” amongst other nasty and vile obscenities.

How soon we forget the Catholic Church and its long and disturbing history of child molestation, but priests and bishops are often times given a pass or moved to another state where they continue to prey on young, innocent people who do not have the ability to defend themselves against these monsters.

How soon we forget who the terrorist was in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, or who the terrorist was that shot-up an Arizona Congresswoman’s town hall meeting, or who the terrorist was in the Sikh Temple shooting in Wisconsin, or who the terrorist was in the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre, or who blew up the building in Oklahoma City.

Radical, religious extremists are all over the world and are bad for humanity. They use religion to justify bigotry and violence against other people. Child molesters, rapists, murderers, and the people hoarding weapons and ammunition in their basements are the people we should really be concerned with. Don’t forget who the real criminals are and the people we definitely have to keep our eyes on.

If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people being oppressed, and loving the people doing the oppressing.” Malcolm X

Originally published by Steve Maynor Jr. on May 6, 2013 via

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Is Christopher Dorner, Larry Davis Reincarnated?

When I first heard the news about former LAPD police officer Christopher Dorner, another name immediately came to mind; Larry Davis. 19 year old Larry Davis, who later changed his name to Adam Abdul-Hakeem, was a former police informant, small time drug dealer and aspiring rapper who went to war with the NYPD in 1986 after a controversial and highly disputed shootout in his sister’s apartment. 

Davis claimed the police illegally barged their way into his sister’s apartment and without asking any questions, began firing at him despite the fact that young children were in the apartment. Davis fired back and escaped by jumping some 25 ft to the ground. During the shootout, Davis shot six police officers and was a fugitive of the law for almost 20 days.

Davis eventually surrendered peacefully, but not to the NYPD. He gave himself up to the FBI out of fear of being murdered by the blood thirsty, racist, corrupt, and revenge seeking NYPD. He expressed great concern that the police were out to get him and told several relatives that if he was caught in the streets, the police were going to shoot him. He vowed to shoot them first.

Davis and his lawyers successfully argued that he was the target of corrupt police officers, who had the reputation for being hostile and brutal towards Blacks and Hispanics in the New York area. To many, Larry Davis was a man standing up against the authorities and understood his need to protect himself against the police. A lot of Bronx residents thought Davis was doing something brave and his acquittal sent a message to the community that white officers were not going to continue to shoot down young Black people without a proper response.

He was acquitted on several accounts of attempted murder and aggravated assault, but was convicted on weapons charges and sentenced to 5-15 years. While already serving time, Davis was convicted of another murder and sentenced to serve an additional 25 years to life.

The interesting thing about the Larry Davis saga was the media coverage of the events that transpired between himself and the police. Without knowing all of the facts, both the television and print media had already labeled Davis as public enemy number one. They depicted Davis as a savage killer, who was armed and dangerous.

Unlike Davis, Christopher Dorner’s past was not as shady as his east coast counterpart. He was a 33 year old, former Naval Officer who was dismissed from the LAPD in 2008 for lying during a hearing in which he claimed a fellow police officer physically abused an inmate. In his lengthy manifesto, Dorner claimed he was the victim of a corrupt police force who turned against him for being a whistle blower.

Also unlike Davis, Dorner’s rage was against the LAPD and he specifically targeted police officers and their family members to seek revenge for his firing from the force. The killing spree he went on is inexcusable, especially for a man who knows the difference between good and evil, right from wrong, just from unjust. His well written manifesto proves that he was a smart individual, but there is no justification for his violent actions.

Dorner was clearly a man who had lost faith in the same system he spent his adult life protecting and violated everything good he learned during his time in the military and on the police force. Restoring his good name was the central theme for his manifesto, but his violent pursuit of justice will tarnish his name forever because of all the innocent people who were affected by his decision to take on the LAPD by himself.

While I adamantly disagree with his actions, I cannot completely dismiss the allegations made in the manifesto. Like the NYPD, the LAPD is notorious for their harsh and brutal treatment of Blacks and Hispanics. This fact is not arguable or debatable. There was no intention on Dorner’s part to be captured alive and the LAPD had all intentions on honoring his request, as witnessed in the moments of the final confrontation.

No matter how much of an image makeover the LAPD has tried to do over the last 20 years, some of the same bad apples are still on the force.  Why would some of the officers captured nearly beating the life out of Rodney King be in leadership positions in the department today? A better question would be why those jokers did not go to jail?

Whether people want to believe it or not, there is a Christopher Dorner waiting to happen in every city, in every state in America. He should be the poster child for why people should not be allowed to legally obtain as many weapons as they want to. When he purchased his cache of guns and ammunition, he was a law abiding citizen. He was a time bomb waiting to explode and unfortunately, innocent civilians and a couple of police officers were killed. Not to mention the thousands of southern California residents who were on pins and needles during the search for Dorner.

What ties Larry Davis to Christopher Dorner is the way the media reported each story before having any physical evidence. I watched a couple of documentaries about Larry Davis, to include “The Larry Davis Story: A Routine Typical Hit” and the television series American Gangster which featured Larry Davis’ story.

The rush by the media to label Davis a ruthless killer and armed vigilante was front and center on every news station and in most of the print media in the greater New York area. Ironically, there was a completely different reaction from the people in the communities who had been harassed and terrorized by the NYPD.

People in the community gave Davis the benefit of the doubt and were happy to know that someone finally gave the police a taste of their own medicine.  At the end of the day, a jury of Davis’ peers determined that Davis shot the police officers in self-defense.

In analyzing the media coverage of the Christopher Dorner case, it was scarily similar to the coverage Davis received. It’s like the media reports whatever the police tell them and in a rush to be the first to report “breaking news” they present a one sided story to the public as if it were gospel.

People in communities all over the country appreciate the hard working, decent cops who perform their jobs in an honorable and professional manner. On the other hand, people are sick and tired of the cops who abuse their authority. For every cop killed by Christopher Dorner, there are countless incidents in which police officers have shot and killed unarmed Black males.

Remember these names: Amadou Diallo (New York-1999), Patrick Dorismond (New York-2000), Ousane Zongo (New York-2003), Orlando Barlow (Las Vegas-2003), Timothy Stansbury Jr. (Brooklyn-2004), Ronald Madison and James Brissette (New Orleans-2005), Aaron Campbell (Portland-2005), Sean Bell (Queens-2006), Oscar Grant (Oakland-2009), Victor Steen (Pensacola-2009), Steven Eugene Washington (Los Angeles-2010), Alonzo Ashley (Denver-2011), Wendall Allen (New Orleans-2012), and Ramarley Graham (Bronx-2012).

Here are a few examples of these senseless killings within the last year you might faintly hear about on the local or national news for a few days and then the stories fades away as if nothing ever happened.

“Protests in Houston after police shoot unarmed man in wheelchair”

“Chicago Council approves settlement for unarmed man shot by officer”

“Pasadena Trayvon Martin: Police shoot unarmed black teenager Kendrec McDade, then blame death on person who called 911”

“Another Car Shot Up and Unarmed Black Victims Killed, This Time by Cleveland Police Officers”

To some people, police officers are the only bulwark between civilization and an army of evil criminals, even as the police tortures innocent victims to admit to crimes committed by other police officers. Without question, our communities need law enforcement officials to serve and protect the citizens, but we do not need police officers being the judge, jury, and executioner. We need to recognize that authority figures are capable of wrongdoing as well and every criminal suspect is not the monster they are portrayed to be by the media or law enforcement agencies.

Originally published by Steve Maynor Jr. on February 20, 2013 via

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Gun Violence Isn’t a 21st Century Phenomenon

The spokesman for the National Rifle Association tried desperately to make the case for solving the nations gun problems by suggesting that more people should arm themselves. His actual words were, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Really? That has to be one of the most idiotic suggestions I’ve ever heard! He blamed video games, movies and music videos for exposing children to a violent culture while totally dismissing guns as the common denominator. 

I wonder whom he blamed for all of the gun violence in our country prior to the existence of movies, music videos and video games. I wonder whom he blames for the gun violence in the days preceding the Civil War, during Reconstruction, or the Jim Crow South? It couldn't have been hip-hop music videos, or video games because they didn’t exist. 

I seriously doubt that the NRA spokesman would have been on the side of slave abolitionists, the Deacons for Defense, or the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.  These were groups of people who rightfully armed themselves against the corrupt lawmakers of their generation, but they were demonized as being radicals and troublemakers for simply trying to protect their families, homes, and communities from the terrorism of white supremacy. In fact, the 1967 Mulford Act in California was a law specifically put in place to disarm the Black Panthers.  

Sadly, death by way of shooting is not some new concept that somehow exploded in the 21st century. People get amnesia and forget that gun violence is in the very fabric of the existence of this country. Some of the most influential people in American history have died as a result of gun violence.

Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, and Medgar Evers were all victims of gun violence. Like them, there are hundreds of thousands of other Americans who have died by way of a gunshot on the streets of America, outside the lines of a battlefield.

The gun was and still is used for personal protection, but it is also used as a tool to instill fear in people and to control potentially dangerous situations.

After every mass shooting in America there is a short period of time when people are shocked, or in disbelief that the lives of innocent people were taken by an insane individual who should not have had access to weapons. Predictably, gun rights advocates are fearful that the government is going to knock on their doors and tell them to hand over their stash of guns and ammunition. The idea that the 2nd Amendment is being gutted is a flat out lie from the pit of the propaganda machines at the Fox News Channel and conservative talk radio.

We keep hearing these people quote the passage of the 2nd Amendment that says, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” but rarely do they include the introductory clause: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state." The key phrase being "well regulated," not a few paranoid, deranged, and obviously crazy individuals free to stockpile as many weapons as they can because they believe in some out of this world conspiracy theory. Remember how well this way of thinking worked out for David Koresh?

The 2nd Amendment does not specify or clearly state what is defined as arms and people have their own idea of the intent of the law. Ironically over the course of the last couple of years, these same 2nd Amendment advocates have been the very people who have completely ignored another Constitutional Amendment, the 15th. 

The15th Amendment is as plainly written as the 2nd Amendment, but some lawmakers have found a different set of rules when it comes to voting.  Voter identification laws go against the very spirit of the 15th Amendment because it specifically says, 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” 2. “The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

At various times in the country’s history, “appropriate legislation” in some states meant that only a select few individuals were granted their Constitutional right to vote. Absurd voting laws prevented people from voting based on the very items listed in article one of the amendment.

Laws without enforcement are nothing more than ink on a piece of paper.  Like many other laws of the land, passage means very little to people who believe they are superior to, or above the law. Forgive me if I don’t have faith in the legislators claiming to be fed up and are once again making empty promises to actually get something done.

How in one breath can a politician say that assault weapons, high capacity magazines, and armor piercing ammunition is protected by one amendment, yet in the same breath ignore the other amendment and mandate that a person must have a special identification to cast a ballot?

It is absolutely baffling that legislators all over the country are doing everything they can to make casting a vote more difficult than buying a gun. In other words, an American citizens’ right to bear arms is more important than another American citizens’ right to vote. If there was ever an assault on a Constitutional Amendment, it is the 15th that we should really be worried about. It should be easier to vote in America than to purchase a firearm, but the opposite is true. 

This speaks to the very problem our nation has with the amount of people losing their lives to gun violence. Regardless if the death is a homicide or suicide, too many people are dying as a result of a round leaving the barrel of a gun.

Two personal friends of mine were killed in 2012 in gun related incidents involving someone in their immediate family. I also lost a fellow Marine to a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the head. There are a countless number of people in cities all over the country that are dying on a daily basis because of gun violence.

I firmly believe that the solution to this violence begins with R-E-S-P-E-C-T for ourselves and our fellow man; regardless of race, gender, religion, or socio-economic status. This should be the goal of people on either side of the gun control debate.

Originally published by Steve Maynor Jr. on January 14, 2013 via