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February 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Police Respond to Call for Major Police Presence at Edison High School

I-95 was shut down at the 62nd Street exit and 60 to 70 police cars surrounded the school shortly after 11 AM. There were reports of gunshots which has not been confirmed but a student was questioned who said they were protesting because "Mr. Perez" had grabbed a student and put him in a chokehold and slammed him into a pole and he doesn't have the right to put his hands on a student. The student was very upset and her interview was cut short. Some police officers were injured in the process.

There is more to come on this story.


Florida’s Electrical Outage

Tuesday's electrical outage throughout Florida has caused much concern for Florida residents. It was reported the outage resulted from a fire at Turkey Point in the southern area of Miami-Dade County. It was also reported there was equipment failure. The number of folks affected was anywhere from 600,000 to 1 million to 4.4 million. What is certain is that the expansive area affected by the blackout is alarming.

The outage was not nearly as bad as it seemed on television. Generators at my office building kicked in so we only experienced a flicker and we were back in business.

It may be months before the public is given a definite answer as to what really happened.

HB 1007 to Authorize Confederate Specialty License Plate

Floridians should always be vigilant when it comes to legislation proffered in the course of any policy and rule-making session. One such bill is HB 1007 sponsored by Rep. Don Brown, R-DeFuniak Springs. This bill grants authority for the State to sell a specialty license plate in honor of Florida's confederate heritage.

It's not likely the Republican Party wants to deal with the negative publicity this will generate but let's not sleep on this. Another major disappointment is that Gov. Crist has already refused to weigh in on this issue until he sees where it goes.

Hmmm…OK, stay tuned.

Miami Herald: Haitian tells of life as 'slave' in Kendall

A Haitian woman testified about modern-day slavery in the federal trial of a Miami-Dade County family accused of forcing her to work without pay for six years.

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A young Haitian woman, speaking slowly with tears running down her cheeks, described her life as a ''slave'' -- thinking that suicide was the only way to escape the Haitian family in South Florida that had held her against her will for six years.

The audience listening to her horror story: 12 federal jurors in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom, where Simone Celestin, 23, testified Wednesday at length about her experience in a Kendall home.

''I thought about drinking motor oil or bleach. I decided not to drink the bleach. I chose motor oil,'' she told the jurors in describing her feelings of despair in November 2004 after being beaten for not making a bed for the family. [More...]

Meet Jamaica’s Dustin Brown

The handsome young man with locs who is prominently featured on the sidebar of this blog is none other than Dustin Brown who hails from Jamaica. Brown is a tennis sensation and fashion model. We can definitely see why.

Anyhoo, surprisingly, as talented as he is, Dustin is without a major sponsor. If any Nike representative or Oprah or Bill Gates is reading this blog, help a young man out why don't you.

I was 'introduced' to Dustin through an interview on the blog, Black Tennis Pro's. If you want to know anything about blacks in tennis you must check it out. If you just want to look at more photos of Dustin, that's understandable too.

In the meantime, Dustin's going to remain on the sidebar until we feel like replacing him and that's not likely to happen any time soon. Peace.

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The Children’s Trust Program Helps Adoption of Foster Care Children

By Michael R. Malone

Martin Avery, 11, wants one. Chad and Brad Mercado, 13-year-old fraternal twins, and their younger brother Salvador, 11, want one, too. Brothers Ray Gomez, 15, and Julio Gomez, 16, want one, too, but have been bounced through the foster care system for so many years that both are hesitant to leave their present living situation.

These kids and dozens of others, all housed in group homes or with foster-care families, are eager for families to adopt them. The Miami Heart Gallery, an initiative spearheaded by The Children's Trust, hopes to make those dreams come true.

Based on a national model, Miami Heart Gallery has enlisted the support of award-winning photographers from Miami and around the country to donate their time and expertise. On successive Saturdays in February, renowned photographers like Nigel Barker, of "America's Next Top Model" fame, brought their telephoto lenses, tripods and quick-action flashes to Jungle Island and to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden to photograph the kids.

The kids loved it. Most had never heard of, let alone visited, the world-famous Botanic Gardens. So on a bright breezy day, in between trips on the tram to see iguanas, a gigantic Baobab tree and marvel at the huge sculptures of pop icon artist Roy Lichtenstein, the kids got to enjoy the limelight, striking poses for some of the industry's top photographers.

"It was real cool how they took the pictures, the way we got to do our thing," said Ray Gomez, who has been in the foster care system for the past seven years. "The photographers just told us how to pose and to be unique. Sometimes we did our own poses, like with my brother, we were hugging and he put his thumb and I put mine up. It was real alright."

Ray attends Mays Middle School and lives in Goulds in a group home. He's been there for three months, having had to relocate from a previous group home that could no longer offer the services he needed. Julio attends South Dade High School and lives in Homestead with a foster family. Both boys understand that education is the key to their future, enjoy reading and hope to become therapists and teachers when they're older.

Though Ray has a back-up plan, "If I can't be a teacher, I'll be a basketball or football player," he says.

At Fairchild, the photographers shot more than 50 pictures of each child and youth. In total, 70 children will be featured at a museum-quality photo exhibition that opens June 13 at Miami Art Central in South Miami. The photos will be highlighted, too, on a specially designed Web site with audio recordings of each child talking about themselves, their hopes and dreams. The site will also include a video of the development of the Miami Heart Gallery.

The exhibit will later travel for display at the Miami International Airport and then tour to other area sites – to attract the attention of potential families that might adopt.

"Our kids need a place to call home. They need a family, someone who's going to root for them on the bench and help make their dreams and goals come true," said Sabrina Sosa, community relations coordinator for His House Children's Home (HHCH), which has 11 children participating.

His House Children's, privatized two years ago, is listed among top five providers for at-risk children in South Florida. The agency, contracted by Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc. and Child-Net, Inc. in Broward, provides residential care for 65 children and more than 350 children in foster care. Yet despite those efforts, there are more than 800 children in South Florida awaiting adoption, the overwhelming majority who are African-American.

Sosa stressed that His House is meant to offer only temporary support, and that their goal is to find families for the children. Miami Heart Gallery helps that effort to locate caring, loving families.

"It's exciting to see how many volunteers – photographers, hair stylists, printing studios, and others – have come together to donate their time, expertise and resources to a project that will go a long way towards finding loving parents for so many children," said Modesto E. Abety, president and CEO of The Children's Trust.

Anyone interested in learning more about adopting a foster child can call The Children's Trust Helpline by dialing 211.

Alarming rate of black infant deaths studied but time running out

The death rate of black infants in Florida has made the news again. If you've been reading Blogging Black Miami you know of the black infant mortality rate initiative spearheaded by Florida A&M University. We're not sure how that initiative relates to the initiative that is the subject of the article below but a June 30 deadline may be very difficult to meet.

One thing is certain, this could not have been a surprise to health officials. It is statistics such as these that blacks and other concerned individuals more remain vigilant about.


State's infant death rates higher for blacks

Task forces in Broward and Miami-Dade seek to find out why black infants die at a higher rate than white infants.

Posted on Sun, Feb. 24, 2008


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A black mother in South Florida is almost three times as likely than a white mother to have her baby die before he or she turns a year old.

The Black Infant Health Practice Initiative wants to find out why.

Among the project's chief aims: to review community conditions and stress factors that contribute to higher incidences of still births or fetal and infant deaths. The initiative also wants to hear from local healthcare, political and community leaders, as well as conduct citizen focus groups about the challenges black babies face.

The project has a tight deadline. It's slated to run through June 30. [More...]

Pace trounces Glades Central

Monsignor Pace back in state's final four

Posted on Sun, Feb. 24, 2008


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Monsignor Pace's Ray Shipman (23) leaps toward the rim during the first half against Glades Central on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008.

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Monsignor Pace was expected to make another trip to state this season.

The convincing fashion in which the Spartans punched another ticket to the Lakeland Center has their fans buzzing about another possible state championship. [More...]

Norland Tops South Miami and moves to Final Four

Posted on Sun, Feb. 24, 2008

Miami Herald: Norland boys advance to state final four

Missing 12 free throws and committing 16 turnovers couldn't stop the Norland boys' basketball team from punching its ticket to the state final four.

The Vikings held off a spirited South Miami team Saturday night, winning 50-43 and advancing to the 6A state semifinals for the second time in three years. The Vikings (24-6) play Winter Springs at 4 p.m. Thursday at The Lakeland Center.

Norland coach Lawton Williams III said he wasn't concerned with how his team won the game.

''It wasn't pretty. It wasn't pretty at all,'' Williams said. ``We committed a lot of turnovers and made a lot of mental mistakes. We didn't earn any style points, but we got the win.''

South Miami (18-10) showed it wasn't going to be intimidated by the capacity crowd packed into Norland's gym as it built a 9-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Cobras went on a 7-0 run to close the quarter, which was capped off by a last-second three pointer from half-court by Isaac Brown. [More…]