Monday, July 28, 2014

No Hand Signals In The Picture Please

Last week I participated in a professional development institute where a group photo of the cohort was taken at the end of the session. The institute was a part of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and what I found interesting was the fact that the professional photographer felt the need to ask the one hundred and twenty or so of us being photographed to please not flash hand signals in the photo. Think about that for a minute. School leaders from across the country were assembled at Harvard University and when we were taking our group picture the professional photographer felt the need to ask us not to display any form of hand gestures in the photo. I thought about this for a couple of minutes and my mind reflected upon pictures I had taken recently of students, friends, and family members and more often than not, someone would have his/her fingers/hands positioned in some sort of gesture or sign. As you know this blog is called The Critical Thinker in an attempt to cause you to stop, pause for a few minutes and think about
an issue regardless of how significant or insignificant it may be. This seemingly increased need to flash hand signals in every photo is one of those issues. Probably one that no one would stop to think about unless someone brought it to your attention like I am now or like it was for me when the photographer specifically requested that no one flash any hand signals in our group photo. The question I have is, what is this need to always have something going on with some sort of signal in a photo? Do we not know what to do with our hands when we take a picture? Is there a message that everyone is supposed to receive from the signal?  Or maybe, it's just the reverse, only a select few will know what the signals mean when they see the photo. Either way, in many instances all of this hand gesturing can mess up a what would have been a good photo. The age old two fingers behind someone else's head in the photo is still alive and well, but there now is a plethora of other signals that seem to be cropping up. The fact that a
professional photographer on the campus of Harvard University taking a photo of school leaders from around the country had to literally say to us, "Please no one flash any hand signs," tells me that once again we don't know when to say when. That once again something that may be appropriate in one setting  is not appropriate in another and too many  of us do not know or act like we do not know the difference. I am sure the flashing of hand signals in a photo in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, however, when every time you take a picture a hand signal has to appear, that is a problem. There is a time and place for everything and apparently the photographer has had prior experiences with groups to the point that he felt the need to ask us up front not to flash any sort of hand signal in the photo.  This is right up there with signs having to be placed
in movie theaters and churches asking that cell phones be turned off while during the church service or while watching the movie. There are just some things that ought to be common sense, but as you know, in many respects in 2014, common sense is not too common.  Just take a look at any of the social media sites and you will find yourself asking yourself does anyone take a picture any more without having some hand signal displayed? Take a look on Instagram or Facebook and see just how many hand signals you see. The truth be told, all of these gestures are not good. Many are gang affiliated that are indeed intended to send a message. These hand signals like anything else need to be used responsibly and the fact that a professional photographer at Harvard University had to
make it a point to tell us before he clicked the shutter button not to flash hand signals, tells me that too many of us are abusing something as simple as taking a photograph.
We are messing up people's pictures. As always, something to critically think about. Let us be more responsible with everything, even as simple as when to use hand signals in a photo and when not to.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Two Books That Will Change Your Life

I highly, highly (did I say highly?) recommend that you read these two books. Both author/reporters Michael Moss and Melody Peterson perform an outstanding service that unfortunately most people will miss because it is in a book. The two industries tackled are the food industry in SALT SUGAR FAT and the pharmaceutical industry in OUR DAILY MEDS.  If you are like me, reading these two books will make you angry at how we are manipulated for the "Almighty Dollar."  In both books you will find that company executives might as well have weapons and be charged with murder for the decisions that are made concerning human beings and the bottom line. As uninformed consumers, we follow along blindly like sheep to savvy marketing campaigns that are designed to sell the poisonous decisions/products of the industry execs. If you do not read any other books this year, please invest the money and time in these two investigative exposes. They will both give you something to critically think about.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A "Top to Bottom Review of all of the Training"......Really?....Seriously?

Another human being is dead senselessly and the best we can do is say "the NYPD will conduct a 'top to bottom review of all of the training this department provides to its personnel, specifically focusing on force, how do we train our officers for a takedown, how do we train them to use the various levels of force that they're authorized to use?" Seriously? Is that the best we can do? How many more reviews of training will have to be conducted? It's almost as if there is list of politically correct lines to say at these press conferences. Does anyone out there believe that we won't be seeing or hearing about this same type of incident again? Same incident, just change the name of the victim.

I was actually more incensed with Commissioner Bratton's order to conduct a "top to bottom review of all of the training this department provides to its personnel, specifically focusing on force, than I was with the actual brutality, because after all we are used to these types of incidences by now, but to just keep getting that same old politically correct double-speak is galling. Please stop insulting our intelligence because what that really means is we are not going to do anything and nothing is going to change. Next Victim! Same old game, just change the names. A review! What is that going to do?

Mindsets must change. Hearts must change. Spirits must change. Relationships must change. A "Review." You've got to be kidding me.  Words like "review," "commission," and "investigation," almost always mean, we are going to give the public the information that we think they want to hear and then conduct our business as usual. In the meantime, we are holding more and more funerals.  Something to think about. My prayers are with the Garner family.

Monday, July 7, 2014

This Is What I am Talking About When I Say "We're Going The Wrong Way."

My last post was titled "You're Going The Wrong Way," and I used a video clip from the movie Planes,Trains and Automobiles starring Steve Martin and John Candy (see The Critical Thinker posted on July 6, 2014)   to illustrate my point. The recent slaying of this twelve year old is exactly what I am talking about when I say "We're going the wrong way." I don't think I need to say more in this post. Things have got to change; things have got to change.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

"You're Going The Wrong Way!"

Have you ever felt like the couple in this movie clip who were trying their best to let Steve Martin and John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles know that they were headed in the wrong direction? How many times have we like the couple in the movie clip seen the oncoming traffic heading towards the car that was traveling in the wrong direction? Even worse, how many times have the loved one, community, student, congregant, leader, etc. responded the same way that Martin and Candy does only to find out later that they were indeed headed in the wrong direction and that what they were doing was not working. Replay the video clip and see it as an analogy or metaphor for what many of us experience in life whether it be the couple issuing the warning or Martin and Candy receiving it. From the perspective of the couple issuing the warning, it is difficult to see oncoming danger, issue the warning, and then see that the person or people receiving the warning are blatantly disregarding it. Martin and Candy continued to tell themselves that the couple who were trying to save them did not know what they were talking about, in fact, they accused them of being drunk. Why does it take us to be nearly killed (literally and/or figuratively) before we realize that we are going the wrong way? There are oncoming tractor trailers! School systems, governments, societies,politicians, etc. etc. continuously put programs and policies in place that are going the wrong way and when there is an outcry from the people, the response is the same as Martin's and Candy's. Men and boys proudly wearing their pants midway down their thighs showing their underwear barely able to walk; all of these guns on the street;the refusal to make education a priority; all of these senseless murders; the anything goes mentality and on and on and on..........We're going the wrong way! The oncoming tractor trailers (consequences of our going the wrong way) are moving swiftly and if we don't turn things around soon, we will all be crushed. What affects one directly, affects us all indirectly. The unnamed couple in the movie clip knew this and were doing their metaphorical part in looking to head off a disaster. For those of us who are in the position of Martin and Candy, we must understand when we are going the wrong way and make the necessary corrections. Something to critically think about.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

If Ever Given The Opportunity; The Answer is "YES."

Someone asked me if I ever had the chance to be a full time radio talk show host making the same amount or more income than I am making from my current career, would I do it? My answer was, if I could make the same level of income I am currently making, I would most certainly be a full time radio talk show host. I listen to the Sean Hannitys, Mark Levines, Oprah Winfreys, Charlie Roses, Barbara Walters' and Mark Rileys of the world, and I say to myself, "I know I could do that," and I know that I can do it because I have been doing it for the last 13 years on a voluntary basis at WP88.7 FM and I love it. Below is a video slide show of the guests who have appeared at one point or another on The Reading Circle with Marc Medley during my 13 year run on WP88.7 FM/ I truly enjoyed putting this little video together as it made me reflect upon all of the wonderful authors I have had the opportunity to meet and chat with. They range from the "no profile" to the "high profile," from the "famous" to the "not so famous" and yet they have all been just as humble when appearing on my show. I thank each and every guest appearing in the slide show below and to all of my listeners who faithfully rise on Saturdays at 6 a.m. ET to tune in. Don't forget to download The Reading Circle App for your mobile device on Itunes, Google or Amazon. Lastly, if there are any scouts out there for any major networks looking for an experienced radio talk show host, I'm game. Tune in Saturday mornings at 6 a.m. ET on and WP88.7 FM. You are also invited to follow me on Twitter @readingcircle01.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Parents, We Must Do More Than Buy Jordans

  • "Nike released the Air Jordan 10 “Powder Blue” retro sneaker on Saturday, 20 years after the first Jordan 10s hit shelves. Like all the Jordan retro releases, this one was highly anticipated and first-day sales hit $35 million."   Forbes

  •  "Jordan made an estimated $90 million last year thanks to the rich partnership he enjoys with Nike. His 2013 earnings eclipsed those of all other retired or current athletes save boxer Floyd Mayweather. It marked Jordan’s biggest earnings year yet in a career paved with monster paydays, which peaked in Jordan’s last season with the Bulls (1997-98) at $80 million." Forbes 
  • "Retail shoe sales for the Jordan Brand in the U.S. grew 11% last year to $2.7 billion, with basketball making up 84% of that, according to Powell. Roughly 50% to 55% of that goes to Nike."  Forbes  

Read the three bullet points above again. Really let what you have just read sink in. Now think about the number of children, particularly urban children who in some places literally live and die to own/wear a pair of Jordans. Even worse are the parents who feel as if they are obligated to purchase these sneakers, and not just one pair, but multiple pairs throughout the year, in some instances twice a month. I have heard parents who are on governmental assistance tell me that they spent the majority of their monthly check on the latest pair of Jordans for their children. In too many cases, these are the same children who make extremely bad behavioral decisions in school. I've also heard and seen parents who are not on any assistance and are working jobs with competitive wages make this same declaration and feel this same obligation to purchase Jordans for their children. Now don't misunderstand me, I do not have anything against Jordans, while I don't own any, I do not have anything against them either. The problem arises when Jordans are purchased to substitute for the love and attention that the children really need and desire. The problem arises when the children learn to expect stuff over substance and quality time and experiences with their parents.

In many instances the Jordans are used as the carrot for the children to improve their behavior or grades. I will hear parents tell their children, "If you do 'X,' I will buy that new pair of Jordans for you," or "You're not going to get that new pair of Jordans now that you've done 'X." Many children have learned how to manipulate the guilt of their parents to buy them the coveted Jordans. Again, the problem arises when the Jordans take the place of love and other parental support. It's hard to believe that the same child who will be sporting a brand new pair of Jordans is the same child who will tell his/her teacher that he/she can't afford a pencil or pen. Something is wrong. Let be clear again, I do not have anything against Jordans, it's the misuse of the Jordans that I am writing about in this post. For too many of our children, their self esteem is tied to the ability to wear Jordans. A few years ago I actually had a student who was cutting herself in class because one of her classmates had the latest pair of Jordans at that time and she did not. Now mind you, she had a brand new pair of Jordans on her feet, but it was not the ones newly released. She was  literally cutting her fingers with a razor blade over Jordans!!

I remember as a child pestering my parents for Pro Ked and Converse sneakers which at that time cost about $13 a pair, so I have an appreciation for where the children are coming from, but it has been taken to a seriously unhealthy level. There is so much more to parenting than providing Jordans, yet too many parents think that if just give the child Jordans that everything else a parent ought to do does not have to be done. Therein lies the issue. At the end of the day, parents must be parents even if that means saying "no" to purchasing the latest pair of Jordans. Our children must learn values, self esteem, morals, and accountability whether they have a pair of Jordans on their feet or not. It will not matter how many pairs of Jordans a child has in the closet (except to Mr. Jordans and Nike's bottom line), they will not take the place of love, quality time and the teaching of old fashioned values.  Something  to critically think about. I invite you to join me live as I host The Reading Circle each Saturday morning at 6:00 a.m. EDT on I also invite you to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01.