As the 2017 primary election approaches, millennials in action (a political activist group), as well as members from IDAAY, took to the streets with some of the candidates running for office, to urge and encourage people to get out and vote.
This meeting gives a small lecture to parents about being more involved in their children’s lives. They also bring in successful people from different career fields to talk with the children about how they overcame their struggles and used it to become the people that they are today.
The Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network is a non-profit agency located in North Philadelphia that seeks to tackle some of the leading problems in our communities such as drug abuse and violence within our communities.
Their mission is to transform the lives of many of the children/adults, here in the city through “the development and implementation of programs that reduce juvenile delinquency, young adult criminality, as well as relapse into criminal behavior.”
Text and Video by Sharee Cole
Below is a short documentary that gives viewers a peak of what it is like to be a member of one of the programs IDAAY offers known as “Main College Bound Program.” This program provides students with college preparation skills, life skills, and mentoring.
On the weekend of October 2nd, 2016, hundreds of people came out
to enjoy a final celebration in memory of Alexander Wilson Elementary School. The school is set to be demolished in January of 2017 to welcome the new development of dorms for University of the Sciences freshmen .
The event included free food, a DJ, a band, and appearances by many political figures such as State Representative James Roebuck and City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell. Former students and faculty were also in attendance as well as folks who reside in the area and felt a connection with the school.
During a class assignment, we were asked to pick an issue in society that we would like to see changed and provide evidence to support that there is indeed an issue. I chose to write about the modern day slavery taking place right under our noses in the prison systems. Here are some stats I found along with my voice on the issue.
First off there is a cycle. Find a way to target African Americans. (War on drugs…check). Find a way to make sure the sentencing sticks. (Make sure the jurors on the panel are predominantly white…check). When they get out, make it so hard for them to find jobs, due to their record, that they have to resort to activities that will land them right back in jail. (Recidivism…check).
- According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, employer surveys reveal that 74 percent to 96 percent of employers, admit that felony convictions play a major role in the hiring decision.
- According to The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEO laws prohibit employers from discriminating when using criminal history information.1. Sub-point: The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was amended as Title VII, prohibits employers from discriminating in employment based on color, race, national origin, religion, or sex.
- Criminal conduct exclusion is allowed only if the employer can show that it is relevant to at least one of the three determining factors. The nature and gravity of the offense (Ex. conviction of felony theft-deception, threats), the time that has passed since the offense (still recent), and the nature of the job (if the crime relates to the areas of the job description).
Though employers have guidelines to follow in regards to the hiring process, many ex-criminals still cannot find jobs. Why is that?
- A 2010 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated that between 1.5 and 1.6 million of those with criminal records are locked out of the job market each year, costing the U.S 65 billion in annual economic productivity.
When employers do not want to hire ex-felons, it can also be viewed as an excuse to sustain racial inequality since African Americans make up 40 percent of the incarceration population but only 12 percent of the U.S population according to the U.S Department of Labor. The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population but almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners. Over the last 30 years, the incarcerated population has more than quadrupled, and today, just about 2.3 million men and women are held in prisons and jails.
- One out of twenty-eight children has a parent behind bars while that number changes to one out of 9 for African American children.
According to MSNBC, in 2011 alone, there were more African Americans in prison or “under the watch” of the justice system than there were enslaved in the U.S in 1850. This stems from the war on drugs but statistics have shown that blacks and caucasians use/sell drugs at the same rate but African Americans are the ones constantly being arrested for the offense.
- In an article by the Huffington Post, African Americans are frequently illegally excluded from criminal jury service according to a 2010 study by the Equal Justice Initiative. A Kentucky judge by the name Olu Stevens can attest to this since he recently had to dismiss a panel of jurors not once but twice for lacking minorities in cases where the defendant was black.
What better way to keep African Americans in prison except by making sure their kind aren’t on the jury when it comes to sentencing?. Please stay woke people.
Scenarios such as these, show how Africans Americans make up majority of the incarcerated population and how this trickles down to the hiring process and discrimination since they are the ones suffering when it comes to finding jobs.
This is how the cycle of recidivism occurs. Recidivism is when a person is released and resorts back to criminal activities that gets them thrown back in jail. Usually when people sell drugs or steals; it is not for the benefit of them, but to support someone close to them. This will happen if a released criminal cannot find a job. They will do what it takes to find a way to support these people.
The music world is a tough business to make it in. To on lookers, it seems that people in that field have it all together but they too go through challenges to be and remain successful.
Jamaica native Jamelia Ho-Sang aka Yung Whoa, an upcoming pop artist and previous songwriter for certain artists, is no stranger to the music world. Starting off as a model for companies such as Target, Boscov’s and Adidas, Yung Whoa knew early on what it was like to be in front of the camera. It was at the age of 16 that he was discovered by the road manager for The Temptations, Leonard Stanford, who agreed to represent him until he unfortunately passed away only a few months later. Entertainment lawyer, Simon Rosen, who was also good friends of Leonard felt it was his obligation to then take Yung Whoa under his wing and finish what his friend had started. Rosen decided to manage Yung Whoa and brought in Mikey Jarrett, Junior Reid’s road manager to co-manage him until he too passed.
Yung Whoa eventually broke into songwriting. As most
do, he realized songwriting offered a lot of money when someone offered to buy one of his songs from him. Due to contracts and signing most of his song rights over, he cannot disclose which songs he acted as a ghost writer to and in an article by Gary Roth I was able to read just what happens during this process, “When a writer submits a song to a publisher, the publisher will listen to the demo and decide if the song is one that the publisher wants to represent. If so, the writer will be asked to sign an agreement, usually called a songwriter-publisher agreement. What is unusual in this kind of agreement is that the writer will be asked to transfer his ownership of the copyright to the publisher. That has the effect of leaving the writer with no future ownership interest in his creation.” He did however provide me with some artists he had the privilege of working with over the course of his time in the business thus far. Just to name a few, he has worked with Cassidy, Black Rob (Bad Boys), Jr. Reid, Beanie Man, Coke Boys, and Barrington Levy just to name a few.
Wanting to venture out on his own and make a name for himself, Yung Whoa started his own independent record label called Team X and is also busying himself in the studio to come out himself as a pop/reggae artist.
While conducting this interview during one of his studio sessions, I had the opportunity to meet his engineer Franz Richards. He is also no stranger to the music business having worked with Ruffhouse/Columbia and Ziggy Marley. He has known Yung Whoa for about five years and says he is surprised by his incredible progress stating, “ the first time we met I knew he had that fire in him and then the second time I could not believe how he transformed from an artist to a mogul. He is responsible for a lot of people’s careers.” This then led to me ask both of them about their opinion on the music business and both had varying things to say. Yung Whoa, having already experienced firsthand how untrustworthy certain people in the business are, did not have too many nice things to say. “This business is very shady, there are backstabbers, and if you do not know the business they will try to take advantage and steal your money. Basically if you are not benefitting the CEO’s they will drop you in a second.” Franz Richards also agrees in his own way of how unfair the business is by stating, “The music business is easier to break into now because of social media. Around twenty years ago you had to wait to get signed but now you can promote your own music. Upcoming artists back then were not getting as good as treatment as the white people were which is why I began engineering.” To confirm what Richards said about social media, in an article written by Omar Akhtar on The Hub, it states that, “In 2013, social media advertising increased by 35 % over 2012, fueled largely by the growth of mobile.” People are now realizing that with promotion and the right fan base, there is a better chance at getting discovered.
I asked Yung Whoa what a typical day is like for him and he said if he is not flying out of town to handle business, he is in the studio which usually lasts four to five hours at a time, or he is meeting with his entertainment lawyer. If he is not doing any of those things, he will spend hours writing new songs. It is pretty clear that he already has a foot in the door for this music business which is more than most people can say. With the same consistency and dedication I am sure that we will soon see him rise as an artist.