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All Americans should embrace the principles of Kwanzaa

Published: Sat, December 26, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

The Mahoning Valley will join the rest of the nation tonight in ushering in Kwanzaa, the seven-day African-American cultural festival. Tonight’s event at 7 in New Bethel Baptist Church in Youngstown, sponsored by the Harambee Youth Organization, will feature music, dance and a variety of black American vendors.

The launch of the 43rd annual observance of Kwanzaa in this country serves as an opportune time to demystify the festival and debunk myths surrounding its celebration.

Coming as it does during the heart of Christianity’s most hallowed season, it is easy for some to perceive Kwanzaa as a religious celebration. Targeted as it is toward black Americans, it is easy for other ethnic groups to simply ignore.

Kwanzaa, however, is neither religious in its foundation nor exclusionary in its message.

The premise of Kwanzaa is cultural. The observance is designed to reaffirm the community vision and values of African culture and to contribute to its restoration among people of African descent in America.

According to Dr. Maulana Karenga, who organized the first Kwanzaa in the United States in 1966, “Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their own religion or religious holiday. And it is not an alternative to people’s religion or faith but a common ground of African culture.”

Of course, the cultural message is aimed primarily at blacks. Kwanzaa, which in Swahili means “the celebration of first fruits,” accentuates values that reinforce African family, community and cultural values.

Kwanzaa is inclusive

But as Karenga points out, people of other cultures and ethnic backgrounds can and do celebrate Kwanzaa, just as people of all cultures mark Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day, Italian-American heritage festivals and other ethnic-specific observances throughout the year.

As Lynette Miller, founder of the Harambee Coalition and an organizer of this year’s Kwanzaa observances in Youngstown, points out: “Those principles are something that everyone can live by because it is based on sharing, unity and working together.”

Indeed, many of the seven guiding principles, or “Nguzo Saba,” of Kwanzaa transcend racial and ethnic boundaries. Those values, one of which is celebrated during each day of Kwanzaa, include Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith).

Take Kuumba, for example. The philosophy behind the principle of creativity, according to Kwanzaa’s founder, is “to do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.”

Strengthening and improving community — within one’s ethnic group and beyond it — is a laudable ideal for all to embrace.

But that ideal and the others of Kwanzaa should not be reserved for only one week of reverence.

As scholar Dorothy Winbush Riley, author of “The Complete Kwanzaa: Celebrating Our Cultural Heritage,” argues, “although we celebrate Kwanzaa the last week of the year, we must live the teachings each moment of every day, physically, morally and spiritually. Every day of the year, we must apply and practice the Nguzo Saba sincerely and faithfully to harvest success.”


1Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Trying to spread death upon Detroit was a Nigerian trying to detonate an explosive as the plane was coming in for a landing . Had it succeeded in exploding and not merely fizzling out the carnage on the ground in the predominatly black area would have been great . This was a gift from African Nigeria arriving in the USA on Christmas day .


"A prominent Nigerian banker says he’s meeting with security officials because he fears his son may have been the man who allegedly tried to bomb a U.S.-bound flight.

Former bank official Alhaji Umaru Mutallab says he traveled from his home in the Nigeria’s Muslim-dominated north to meet officials in Abuja, the capital. The elder Mutallab says his son, identified by U.S. officials as Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, was a student in London. He said his son left London to travel, though he did not know where to.

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2Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

"I can never embrace an event put together by a man who deems Christmas "a white man's holiday." Grandma Sadye knew best. We all need Jesus!"

Ralph Bailey

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3dreamcatcher52(140 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

The founder of Kwanzaa was jailed on felony assault after he tortured 2 women over a two day period, including using a hot branding iron on one of them and beating them with electrical cords. His "principles" are based in marxism and as far as collective work and cooperative economics, that is not something I will ever adhere to. I wouldn't ever embrace the principles of Kwanzaa. The Vindy is just trying to be politically correct or else they are just uninformed.

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4paulydel(1598 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Why is it every time the Black community has a function its not a one day event but a several days event? Its rediclulus. I do attend some events but some of it gets old and Kwanzaa is a made up holiday by a criminal.

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5redvert(2239 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Just think, maybe we can replace Christmas with Kwanzaa. It would be the appropriate next step.

We have already done away with Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays and instead replaced them with a single president's day. Meanwhile we have a MLK day. Wonder what he would think of the current actions of his brothers and sisters. I remember going to work sick on MLK day just so I would not get ragged on for taking it off.

I have gone out of my way to stay within the acceptable bounds to keep from getting banned though not a easy thing to do.

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6woolyd(579 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Hey guys Washington was a slave master maybe we shouldnt celebrate him. Im white and Kwanzaa doesnt bother me at all. If you dont believe dont celebrate it. No one complains about St Patricks Day or Coluimbus Day and they are caucasian days of celebration. And by the way Columbus was a slave ship owner.Anything that benefits minoroties it seems get on alot of you bloggers nerves. Why? Racists white are the reason for the major economic and social disparities of this country. We are supposed to be the Land of the Free yet anytime a group wants to celebrate their culture someone is beetching. Forget about Karenga just look at the 7 Principle of Kwanzaa and tell me that those principle could not used in America and make it a better place.

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7AXLE69(181 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Happy Kwanzaa usa1-Pro-Conservaterican,I heard that your girl Palin was celebrating it also with Alan Keyes.

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8Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

What is very prominent is the fact that Louis Farrakhan has not condemned the Nigerian's fly in with the bomb to detroit on Christmas day . Not to condemn is to condone . Perhaps he was too busy celebrating Kwanzaa and didn't notice .

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9borylie(946 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

As a white racist ( I'll save some time for some of you ) I'd like to see Kwanzaa celebrated for one day, then even though it's Christmas break, spend the next days on the 3 r's. Then for Black History month use the first 15 minutes to honor MLK, then spend the rest of the month doing what gets you out of poverty, learning the 3 r's. In addition preach to the young girls the perils of unwed motherhood. As I get older and see alot of the traditions I grew up with being taken away from me, I really don't care about Kwanzaa and Black History month being established as traditions. And all of this political correct b.s. being stuffed down my throat, isn't going to make me any less a racist.

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10estarkey7(7 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

No, Kwanzaa is not the same as Black History. Black History honors those who have left an indelible mark of pride on all of History.

Kwanzaa is for the community to embrace principles that celebrate current life and embark on new ways to continue to improve life of our fellow man. All races are welcome to celebrate Kwanzaa and Black History too!!!

So the founder happens to be a felon; does that in any way take away the message the Kwanzaa principles reinforce?

To Stan: So are you trying to say that all of African decent are terrorist? I say burn him at the stake, as he would have burned up anyway, but for you to bring that up in a Kwanzaa post strongly implies your prejudice.

Are all caucasians Neo-Nazi or Klan members? I think not, and even if a group of them decided to burn a black church in February, only a fool would brand such cowardice behavior on every caucasian.

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11dreamcatcher52(140 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

I don't have a problem with anyone celebrating Kwanzaa. I just disagree with the Vindy editorial that states we should all "embrace the principles of Kwanzaa" Some of the principles sound ok, but collective work and cooperative economics is an idea that is marxist in nature. The belief is that everyone works together and shares equally in the benefits. I believe everyone works for their share. Those who work more, get a bigger share. And the fact that the founder was a horrible person who TORTURED two women, I mean, how can anyone overlook that?

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12Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago


"To Stan: So are you trying to say that all of African decent are terrorist?"

Now where did I say that ?

Louis Farrakhan in the past has not come down on terrorists . He is friends with Daffy Kadaffy and has been showered with money by him .

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13redvert(2239 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

USA1, my take on slavery is that it was the last generation of blacks in the South with 100% employment!!!

It is possible that the above comment could possibly draw some sort of reply!

By the way borylie, I think that like me you are actually a "REALIST", not a racist!!! You are just calling it like it is!

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14redvert(2239 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

USA1 wrote,

Redvert, if you unhappy with all the bad white guy slave owners and you're white, give everything you have to the people they harmed and go back to Europe.

USA1, Are you sure you understood my post? Read my last one and you will get the idea!

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15howardinyoungstown(591 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Some of you seem to be forgetting that the Judeo/Roman government in power at the time of Jesus arrested and executed him for what amounted to terrorism.

Stan and USA1 you should both remember "judge not lest you shall be judged"

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16UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Kwanaza is a made up African celebration by a convicted felon Black Power professor in 1966 who wanted to counter the traditional white man's Christmas in America. It divides the races instead of joining them together at Christmas time. Most white people want nothing to do with it.

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17Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago


"Stan and USA1 you should both remember "judge not lest you shall be judged"

I am still working on sensitivity 101 , quickly coming to the conclusion that people are intolerant to rules and the Christian culture . We must all be more tolerant ( except toward people with Christian values ) toward others as they enjoy doing what makes them happy .

The poor misguided fellow from Nigeria that came to visit on Christmas day was just trying to help us celebrate with fireworks . Daffy Kadaffy was helping us go green during years prior by blowing those carbon dioxide producing behemoths AKA aircraft out of the sky .


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18saddad(655 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Every day Stan you publish statements that serve only to make the world a little colder place to live. Give it a break during the holiday season.

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19Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

saddad :

Our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are not getting a break from reality during the Christmas Holidays . In America if we bend the rules and decimate the culture that made us grow and be great amongst the nations of the world we perish .

The bottom line is that we should appreciate the America that is home and not try to turn America into something else . We can't make everyone in the world love us but we can repel attacks upon us .

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20mikeymike(469 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Stan I agree with your statement " we should appreciate the America that is home and not try to turn it America into something else.We as a country are slowly changing and it will be to late,once it is done.

I don't care what Holiday anyone celebrate's,just don't force it on me.I don't force my believes on anyone else and I expect the same in return.
Happy Kwanaza to those of you who celebrate it .

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21mikeymike(469 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Union Forever you are right,Kwanaza divides the races,and it is caused by both sides.I went to the post office to buy Christmas stamps,inorder to mail my Christmas cards.The African American clerk tried to give me Kwanaza stamps,I explained that I wanted Christmas stamps no one I send cards to,celebrates Kwanaza.By the time I left,I was called a racist.I was being forced to accept a Holiday ,that I don't celebrate.I got my Christmas stamps,and wished the racist clerk a Merry Christmas.I never once disrespected the clerk,even though I was,treated poorly.

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22Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Most of us here in America are comfortable with celebrating Christmas, New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving, ect . This is American culture . The last I checked this was still America . When in Rome do as the Romans do .

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23AXLE69(181 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Ok usa1-pro-conservaterican.The billboard ladies and conservatives such as yourself want to force people to say Merry Christmas but noone in your world is allowed to celebrate Kwanzaa because YOU don`t believe in it.I don`t even have to try anymore.Like always,you conservatives just point out your imbecilic hypocrisy yourselves.haha.Thank you my brother,Oh and I`m surprised you wrote the word Gaia.Seems very liberal like.Let me know who you worship usa1 because I will do just the opposite.If you are an example of a religious,spiritual individual than Gaia is looking real,real good........ lol

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24paulydel(1598 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

What does December 25th show on the calander? Christmas Day. Thats the day we celebrate. I try to treat all people equally but the Black community had better wake up because I am sick and tired of all the racist claims when the very people throwing that out are the biggest racists of all. the NAACP have become the Black KKK. They used to look at each case individually and rule fairly now if your black your always right. If you want respect you have show respect. Nobody wants to hear that your being discriminated against because it has become a tired old line that isn't as valid anymore.

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25Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

"All Americans should embrace the principles of Kwanzaa"

Well if all Americans embraced the principles of Christianity crack cocaine would not rule one's life and families would have a Mother, Father and Children under one roof . Worship not false idols for they will only lead you down the path of destruction .

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262ez2c(17 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

just another reason to be loud

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27UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Yes, paulb is only speaking the truth about the state of the vast majority of blacks in this country today. Couldn't agree with you more paulb.

Jack Nicholson's "You can't handle the truth speech" from "A Few Good Men" seems to fit why white Americans are being called racist when they make comments like paulb.

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28Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

What we need is a Caucasian ritual to counter Kwanzaa . Oh wait a minute ! We already have it ! Christmas week followed by New Years !

All Americans should embrace the principles of Christianity ! Everyone is invited . Inclusion and not exclusion !

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29estarkey7(7 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

I have heard many comments against celebrating the principles of Kwanzaa because the founder of Kwanzaa has a criminal record. So because the messenger is flawed, does that destroy the meaning on the message?

Umoja (unity) - Do you not want Youngstown to work together to become a greater community? Seems like we're always left out while Cleveland and Pittsburgh continue to flourish. The deal between Girard and Youngstown for possible Steel Mill business is unity in action.

Kujichagulia (self-determination) - This is 'Pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps' principle of Kwanzaa!! In order to be of assitance to your family, a group or your community you first must get yourself together. Right out of the Republican playbook and I wholeheartedly agree!

Ujima (collective work and responsibility) - Every neighborhood watch group utilizes this principle, by watching out for each other. Someones current problems could be my future problem so organizing to pool efforts in community safety helps everyone. Beautification projects also reflect this principle, as a good looking neighborhood raises property values.

Ujamaa (cooperative economics) - This is one of the reasons Youngstown has suffered more than most surrounding neighborhoods; we earn money and spend 90% of it outside of the community. This is slowly changing by the patronage we are giving Youngstown establishments such as Rosetta Stone and the Coveli Center. This is a straight bottom up principle, not a get it cheaper at China's west branch (a.k.a. WalMart).

Nia (purpose) - This may be too Socialist for the far right to digest, but the work to instill purpose into the community so they can be a help instead of hinder may help reduce a myriad of crimes and other unproductive behaviors Youngstown is surely plagued with.

Imani (faith) - Stan, I believe you a Christian man, and Youngstown needs your prayers and the prayers of any believer, of any faith, to help guide our decisions for a safe and prosperous community.

I believe you feel that the African American community of Youngstown is mostly to blame for our high crime rate and low economic mobility. I am African American and I mostly agree. The difference is what are you going to do about it? I try to help the at risk group as much as I can.

If a Kwanzaa principle made up from an ex-con gets someone to want to care for their community by abiding the law and taking responsibility - I'M ALL FOR IT!

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30Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

I am all for Christian principles and accountability .

The plight of the Black Community is pathetic . Crack Cocaine rules far too many lives . Families don't have a father in the house . Children aren't taught to seek jobs when they leave school . This doesn't have to be . I have contributed my time in the past with help on job applications only to see that my time was wasted . The lure of the streets and drugs took its toll . Death by gunfire on the streets ended a life of futility .

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31borylie(946 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

estarkey, unfortunately most of the messengers and spokemen for the black community are flawed. From foul mouthed rappers, drug dealers and worst of all Sharpton and Jackson. This is who the blacks have as messengers and not a one of them have you in their best interest. They're using you for either money or for power. Wake up, take a real close look and maybe you'll see you need new messengers and a new message. What am I going to do about it? First of all I've hired people of all colors and a large precentage of the blacks didn't work out. Secondly, I've learned with people of all colors, that I can't help those that won't help themselves.

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32metrodawg(70 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Funny.....everyone can have an opinion except journalists, who are paid to have one.

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33Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Society has enabled the young generation in Youngstown to destroy themselves . They find it easier to steal what they want than to find a job and work for it . Hanging out on the streets and shooting up your friends is now a way of life AKA subculture . This is not the dream that Martin Luther King had . What has went wrong ?

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34Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

I still can't get over the fiasco about Ebonics and the Oakland School Board trying to replace the English language with it.

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35Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

The sad fact is that in Youngstown there is no viable black leadership . But we have a black mayor . So what . How many in the black community look up to him ? Surely not the street thugs who are doing their best to totally destroy the city . Time is running out to put the street thugs to work and teach them some respect . With no jobs to keep them occupied drugs offer qick cash and a escape from reality .

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36northsideart(111 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

I think I'll pass on the Kwanzaa experience.

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37metrodawg(70 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

The Vindy said the "principles," not the holiday itself. A lot of you should take heed.

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38Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

If that is the case then everyone should embrace the "principles" of the Bible also, not just Kawanzaa.

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39Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

Kwanzaa is entertainment and should not be confused with the principles of Christianity .

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40SJustice(3 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

So then Stan, the question remains, what can you do about it? Who is going to teach these thugs some respect? They don't see themselves living past 20something. We have told them that actually...that their life expectancy is short in the city...so why should they obey any rules? There aren't any jobs for them. Just listen to these posts....borylie says he has hired all people of color and they don't work out. Gee, I wonder why, maybe having a racist as a boss would be one reason. People celebrating the principles of Kwanzaa in Youngstown is a great thing. These are good people trying to set good examples and principles for their young. They cannot save all of them, but if just one decides to live by these principles and make the community a better place, I am all for it!

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41Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

SJustice :

"There aren't any jobs for them."

Jobs generation should be priority one . I have preached this consistantly . Next come the basics in applying for those jobs . A criminal history and drug use slams the door on most jobs .

I have seen many people not work out on many jobs . Why ? Not doing what was required of them . Yes, there are rules with every job . Drug use , alcohol use and tardiness are three of the biggest reasons .

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42Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

Effective programs?
I have to disagree on that one. They do have programs, the majority of programs are minority programs, from going to college to opening a business to buying a house to finding a job because your a minority. They do have tons of options to better themselves. There are jobs out there if your willing to work. But the majority want to sell drugs and make the easy money, instead of working, they could care less about going to jail and the only drawback in that job is that you die eventually. That is there thinking. Easy money, easy women, everything handed to them. They make babies from different women and the women go on welfare. Ever notice all the nice pimped out cars they drive, and I drive a '98 Toyota and I'm working and trying to make ends met.
It all boils down to wanting to better yourself, it starts with the person, why they don't get tired of the same ole is beyond me. Sex, drugs and rap music maybe.
Got to have respect to give respect.

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43borylie(946 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

S (Stupid?) Justice, I call myself a racist because every time I speak bluntly about the other Americans I'm accused of being one, so be it. If I was truly a racist I guess I wouldn't of hired them in the first place. Your question to Stan i.e. what can you do about it. Nothing we can do, but I'll tell you what can. That's for the girls having all these babies out of wedlock to be told that it's a terrible thing to do, not a trophy. Just like in the 60's when a girl was ashamed to tell her parents she was pregnant. This is where it all starts and the illiterate circle goes into perpetual eternity. Same as smoking pot at ten years old and on and on. No one has the courage in the black leadership to speak bluntly and if they do, guess what if they do? They're called racists just like you called me as I had tried to help.

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44SJustice(3 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

borylie, I call you a racist just as you so proudly call yourself one. Calling me stupid for my opinion shows me your mentality but such is life....Your opinions on these posts come across as very racist and discriminatory. If I was black and you were my boss, I would definately pick up on your life views (since you claim to speak as bluntly as you do) my point is that maybe this is why someone of color that YOU hired didn't work out. This is what perpetuates the problem. How many of the workers that didn't work out for you go back to life on the streets of Youngstown and kill or rob someone? Think about that one...maybe your view on life is adding to the problem.

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45borylie(946 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

S-----justice, Yeah, my fault.

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46AXLE69(181 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

Sure you want to force people to say Merry Christmas usa1-pro-conservaterican.Thats what hypocritical conservatives such as yourself do.Force free thinking people into following your beliefs or you label them as socialists,commies,etc.That`s why you and your teabggers will never be in power.The bottom line is there are not enough voters that think like you.You proudly support the anti-abortion crazies like the nut that killed Dr.Tiller.You complain about the murder rate in Youngstown but when a murder fits your bent agenda,it`s done at the hand of God to save the unborn.What about the lives of the mothers that were saved by Dr Tiller? Oh I forgot.They are not part of the conservatives hypocritical agenda so you don`t really care about them.Hopefully Dr Tillers murderer is tried,convicted and put to death.He`s no different that Kenny Biros.

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47TB(1167 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

"But the majority want to sell drugs and make the easy money,"
This is not true in my experience. Where and who have you been observing?

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48estarkey7(7 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

I completely understand that in the urban subculture, a criminal record gets you more respect than an MBA. Stan, I have absolutely no idea how to change those mindsets. I think our only hope is to concentrate on the really young kids and try to influence them before the streets take over.

There is clearly pride in failure in this subculture.

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49Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

"But the majority want to sell drugs and make the easy money,"
This is not true in my experience. Where and who have you been observing?

From being in Prison (CRC, Grafton), County Jails (Morrow,Mahoning,Medina), Rehab facilities (River City,Cincinnati,New Start, Warren) and listening to and talking to the inmates that know all about the streets and selling and making money instead of working. I had my share of bunkies that ran on the streets and you have alot of time to talk about it sitting in a cell or group sessions.

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50Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

Excuses abound along with bad social behavior . The final product from subculture society is the street hood . They are the product of their upbringing . Proper training starts in the home . Political correctness is to blame the schools and society . Subculture justice is to get off scott free for the crime . The police and mainstream society are the enemies of the subculture . The decay of the cities must continue to the point that subculture is destroyed before new viable growth results . Yes, it's all good.

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51TB(1167 comments)posted 6 years, 5 months ago

The majority of people in prison and drug rehab may want to continue that lifestyle Life2, but I think to generalize that to the larger population as a whole is simply wrong.

That would be like me wanting to find out how many Americans believe in God and doing my polling at a Catholic church and a Jewish community center.

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