Ludacris Says ‘Yes’, Ron Paul says ‘No’-Who Should We Listen to About the Census?

Congressman Ron Paul made headlines and ruffled some feathers the other week when he voted and then later penned an article encouraging Texans and people all over the country to not take the 2010 Census. He wrote; “I voted “No” on this resolution for the simple, obvious reason that the census like so many government programs has grown far beyond what the framers of our Constitution intended.’ We’ve known for a long time Paul has issues with privacy and government intrusion.

However in recent days popular rap star Ludacris has been on tour telling people they best fill out the census. Realizing that in past years African-Americans and other marginalized communities of color have not gotten their fair shake when it comes to Federal resources Luda noted; ““I look at our communities now and I see many empty lots, closed clinics, dilapidated schools and an overall breakdown of social services for the poor and elderly…Today is a day for change.”

Ludacris has promised that he will soon be visiting communities including Dallas, New Orleans, Orlando, New York, Washington and his native Atlanta.

Ludacris wants to make sure marginalized and poor communities get their just dues

“I plan to knock on doors in various neighborhoods around this country to try and dispel any myths about the Census,” Ludacris said. “It’s important that we all stand up and be counted so we can help create potential financial opportunities for our dying communities.”

With all that in mind, which way should we go? Personally, I understand the concerns people have about government and abuse of power. While Ron Paul has penned an eloquent essay speaking to those intrusions, many of us live in communities where our people have borne the brunt of such overstepping. However, we already know that in the age of GPS, internet, cellphones, ATM cards, credit checks, War on drugs and numerous laws on the books ranging from the Patriot Act on down, if the government really wants find us they can track us down. Trust me on that. We’re already on the grid. You don’t think if you live in the hood on the North side the local police departments haven’t already scoped out the neighborhood?

census 2010You don’t think they already know who’s there and who isn’t? I’m not saying its correct or desireable. I am simply saying in this case I gotta go along with Luda, in 2010 we need less vacant lots, more school supplies and extra money in our neighborhoods. Its our tax dollars providing them so might as well fill out the form and not trip. If I really wanna disappear off the grid, I can start by shutting down my Facebook page, Twitter account, toss my cell phone and somehow try to remove my all the photos people have posted of me on the internet and hope to God I can avoid high-tech recognition software. I can do all that and also hope that somehow in their zeal to collect fed monies for any number of law enforcement programs that I wasn’t somehow profiled and catalogued in some sort of traffic violation, gang, activist rabble-rouser police database

I can’t help but wonder while reading Paul’s essay why he wouldn’t want us to fill out these forms since one of his biggest complaints is that the government takes way too much money.  In a state like Texas which many have estimated will have a substantial increase in population, resulting in another 4-5 new congressional seats, shouldn’t we be filling out these forms and getting as much of our money back as possible?

If you take alook at the Census questions, there isn’t anything being asked that isn’t on some sort of government record anyway take a look for yourself if you don’t have a census form

The one set of questions that may raise concerns are the ones asking about additional people and I can understand those who have undocumented people living in the house not wanting to fill that out..but thats a whole other conversation. Even with that in mind, with increase monies already given to ICE and 287G programs, you don’t think the fear of government track downs that Paul raises is not already realized. 

brown communitiesTo be completely honest when you look at Paul and others who take the position that the borders need to be closed and walls erected, I can easily see folks who support his position alerting law enforcement about those who are undocumented.  That has nothing to do with the census and has everything to do with increased xenophobic attitudes.

Before reading Paul’s essay I’ll leave you’ll with one last thought. With so many marginalized communities especially Brown ones in Texas having large increases in populations is it possible, that folks may be whispering for us not to fill out the census as a way to keep us underserved because we’re undercounted?  With states like Texas set to get no Congressional districts, shouldn’t those districts be in areas where we have large population increases and if they happen to be where folks of color are living, shouldn’t we be taking advantage?  Think about it.. We’ll let Ron paul have the last word on this..

-Davey D-

Ron Paul: Census: A Little Too Personal,tx14_paul,blog,999,All,Item not found,ID=100308_3661,TEMPLATE=postingdetail.shtml

Ron PaulLast week Congress voted to encourage participation in the 2010 census.  I voted “No” on this resolution for the simple, obvious reason that the census- like so many government programs- has grown far beyond what the framers of our Constitution intended.  The invasive nature of the current census raises serious questions about how and why government will use the collected information.  It also demonstrates how the federal bureaucracy consistently encourages citizens to think of themselves in terms of groups, rather than as individual Americans.  The not so subtle implication is that each group, whether ethnic, religious, social, or geographic, should speak up and demand its “fair share” of federal largesse. 

Article I, section 2 of the Constitution calls for an enumeration of citizens every ten years, for the purpose of apportioning congressional seats among the various states.  In other words, the census should be nothing more than a headcount.  It was never intended to serve as a vehicle for gathering personal information on citizens.

But our voracious federal government thrives on collecting information.  In fact, to prepare for the 2010 census state employees recorded GPS coordinates for every front door in the United States so they could locate individuals with greater accuracy!  Once duly located, individuals are asked detailed questions concerning their name, address, race, home ownership, and whether they periodically spend time in prison or a nursing home – just to name a few examples.

From a constitutional perspective, of course, the answer to each of these questions is: “None of your business.”  But why is the government so intent on compiling this information in the first place? 

The Census Bureau claims that collected information is not shared with any federal agency; but rather is kept under lock and key for 72 years.  It also claims that no information provided to census takers can be used against you by the government. 

However, these promises can and have been abused in the past.  Census data has been used to locate men who had not registered for the draft.  Census data also was used to find Japanese-Americans for internment camps during World War II.  Furthermore, the IRS has applied census information to detect alleged tax evaders.  Some local governments even have used census data to check for compliance with zoning regulations.

It is not hard to imagine that information compiled by the census could be used against people in the future, despite claims to the contrary and the best intentions of those currently in charge of the Census Bureau. The government can and does change its mind about these things, and people have a right to be skeptical about government promises. 

Yet there are consequences for not submitting to the census and its intrusive questions. If the form is not mailed back in time, households will experience the “pleasure” of a visit by a government worker asking the questions in person.  If the government still does not get the information it wants, it can issue a fine of up to $5000.

If the federal government really wants to increase compliance with the census, it should abide by the Constitution and limit its inquiry to one simple question: How many people live here?

The good, the bad and the ugly of celebrity worship


The good, the bad and the ugly of celebrity worship

By Charlene Muhammad -Western Region Correspondent- |

Stardom is costly in a society where the well-known are worshipped


LOS ANGELES ( – American society is obsessed with celebrities, whether it is Jay-Z and Beyonce, Ludacris, Chris Brown or Rhianna, rapper Kanye West and tennis star Serena Williams, or talk show host David Letterman.

Some popular culture analysts say the celebrity influence is strong because people get to relax, escape pressure and avoid the stresses of their everyday lives—at least for a moment.

But there is also an unhealthy pursuit of celebrity status and success that can take a huge toll on families, individuals, society and the stars themselves, say experts. Hip hop superstar West is not dead, despite a RIP (rest in peace) Internet hoax that began spreading on Oct. 20.

According to a post on, the hoax was a set up as part of a Fox News web page that said the entertainer died in a bizarre crash in Los Angeles.

Celebrity obsession may have surfaced in a bizarre episode and wall to wall television coverage of reports about 11-year-old Falcon Heene of Colorado. CNN and others provided live coverage when it was said the boy may have been trapped in a moving flying saucer-shaped hot air balloon. Authorities accuse his parents of engaging in a hoax. Authorities say their hope was to gain status that might lead to a reality TV show. Parents Richard and Mayumi Heene, face possible criminal charges and may have to pay thousands in restitution for the cost of search and rescue operations to locate their son, who says he hid in a garage the whole time. According to news reports, Mrs. Heene told police the incident was a hoax.


Richard and Mayumi Heene, with their children, are accused of engaging in the Balloon Boy hoax. A police affidavit says Mrs. Henne confessed to false report. Photo: MGN Online/

“This is really society’s fault because we have placed so much importance on people who have fame and fortune until it’s given people a false sense of joy when they can even pretend to meet somebody, know somebody, talk to somebody, and it is really quite amazing,” said Dr. Gloria Morrow, a California-based psychologist.  

People are living vicariously through celebrities and have linked celebrity to fortune, she said. Children think they can do very little to gain a lot, but they only see the limelight, and not the discipline, fortitude and hard work that celebrities put in to become famous singers or athletes, she said.

“Then the saddest part of this is a lot of young people, and old ones, aspire to become famous because they don’t really feel important in who they are. When you have a healthy self-esteem, and you work hard and you happen to become famous, that’s a great thing. And you still have a sense of balance, but I think people who are not feeling good about themselves, or their financial situations are sometimes ashamed about not having enough money and believe that the way out is to become famous,” Dr. Morrow said.

Celebrity interest becomes troublesome when people give too much of their attention to music, sports and other forms of popular entertainment, said Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, an associate professor at Columbia University.

“We lose sight of some of the biggest struggles and some of the most pressing issues of the moment and that becomes immature, irresponsible, and ultimately, for oppressed people, it can become deadly,” Dr. Hill said.

By deadly, the educator means either promoting a false reality, which drives people to do, say or buy things outside of their means to get what celebrity idols have. Or it can divert oppressed people’s attention away from forces impacting their lives on a daily basis that produce the same pressures they are trying to escape.

“At the moment where we’re more concerned with David Letterman than ramping up troops in Afghanistan, we are actually buying into a false reality that actually has a material impact on people around the globe. More people watch American Idol than the evening news. More people read gossip blogs than scripture, so when you live in a moment where those are the realities, you’re really seeing something that’s very, very dangerous,” Dr. Hill told The Final Call. 


Kanye West Photo: MGN Online

He was referring to the NBC late night talk show host, who admitted to having affairs with several staff members after a producer allegedly threatened to extort money from him.

Gossip TV and the 24-hour news cycle

Celebrity worship, coupled with the Internet and cable TV, have interfered with news cycles and have forced news media to vigorously compete for ratings, Dr. Hill continued. The news has always been slanted, but at least it was news, said Dr. Hill, who was a consultant on the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News Channel.

Now what passes for news can seem like a never ending deluge of gossip, paparazzi pics, rumors, sexual titillation and petty beefs overblown into major conflicts.

Over recent years, Dr. Hill continued, society has seen a 24-hour expansion of news, which sustains the public’s attention with arguing, fluff segments, sex and music—rather than intelligent, honest debate.

Instead of spending more time consuming news, information, and assessing the terrain that they are facing on every day, Black people spend more time engaged in that which is foolish and against nurturing their better selves, he said.

In order for the situation to reverse, Dr. Hill argued, people must own their own communications outlets, images, names and means of production. “That’s what makes Min. (Louis) Farrakhan so different. No one can tell him not to be Min. Farrakhan. No one can take away his platform, and I’m not critiquing other leaders because I’m in the same position. Fox News can pull the plug on me in five minutes. But you can’t take The Final Call, so it’s a whole different ball game when you own your own stuff and you manage your own platform, and there’s no intermediary between you and the people. That’s how you recover an image and maintain your legacy,” Dr. Hill asserted.

Fame as a force for good

Celebrity can also be a good thing. Entertainment and sports figures’ names and images have been used to encourage voting, raise funds for natural disaster victims, call for intervention in political and social conflicts, create and fund charities, youth programs, music and arts education, anti-violence campaigns and anti-AIDS efforts.

Rapper Ludacris, who supported Barack Obama for president and gave away cars through his foundation at an Atlanta-area dealership in September, appeared at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 23 to promote community work.

Everyone can give back to communities, whether they are rich or poor, famous or not so famous, said Ludacris, whose foundation was having a dinner that night with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) as an honoree. 


Ludacris gave away 20 cars and greeted fans at an Atlanta area dealership, Sept. 5. The Ludacris Foundation is dedicated to helping youth and families in need. Photo: Ludacris Foundation

“I like to help kids who want to help themselves,” said Ludacris in an interview with CBS News. His foundation, which is headed by his mother, offers arts opportunities to middle and high school students.

His foundation spent $100,000 helping people displaced by Hurricane Katrina who landed in Atlanta. His song “Runaway Love,” from his 2006 album Release Therapy, helped the National Runaway Switchboard through a partnership. The song was about the perils of a young girl on the streets after leaving home. “Any song I put out, I want to make it a movement, not just a single,” he said of the hit tune.

Celebrity and the cost of human failure

Still, since celebrities provide an escape from reality, their failures, changes or conflicts can seem devastating and are fodder for major media coverage—as well as ratings or page views which translate into increased ad income and more magazine or newspaper sales.

When singer Chris Brown assaulted his girlfriend and singer Rhianna before the Grammy Awards show in February, he faced more than legal ramifications. He was sentenced to five years probation, but he also lost endorsement contracts, including celebrity clothing lines, Wrigley’s Doublemint gum, and Got Milk? ads.

When tennis great Serena Williams had an angry outburst against a line judge at the U.S. Open in September, she was fined $10,500 and threatened with suspension.

When British Sugababes singer Keisha was replaced by Jade Ewen, the replacement shutdown her Twitter page after she was deluged with nasty comments about taking over for the last original member of the popular group. Likewise group member Amelle Berrabah reportedly received death threats and “thousands of abusive letters and whilst her Twitter page has been overrun with them,” according to a report in The Sun.

Fan anger exploded with accusations that Keisha, who started the group when she was 13-years-old, had been forced out by her jealous band mates.

Accountability or idol worship?

The lives of celebrities, their successes and failures can engender strong reactions from fans and the same society that raised them to god-like status. Calls for crucifixion can quickly follow a fall from grace. Some argue as role models for youth and public representatives of their communities, the stars must be held accountable.

Others say too much status, influence and responsibility are placed on people who achieved fame and may be unaware of their potential to do good or bad on a large scale.

Few sign-up to become a standard bearer for their generation or industry—which is often demanded of them.

Richard “Professor Griff” Griffin, an activist and member of the revolutionary rap group Public Enemy, said people first have to define what society means in order to determine the real impact of celebrity worship.

“There are different aspects of different societies. For example, if you’re talking about the demographic of young Black males from the age of, I can honestly say, three-years-old up until the time they’re 16, 17, then … it probably hits them a lot harder simply because to us, as Black people, we only have three, four ways out of the ‘hood,” Professor Griff told The Final Call.

Citing now-deceased rapper Notorious B.I.G. to make it out of the hood, you have to either sell crack rock or have a wicked jump shot, he said.

“We dream of actually becoming that person. We actually buy into the whole idea of the fan-tasy. It’s put to us as a fantasy and it’s used, especially when the star football player comes to the youth camp, or comes to your home town and you get the t-shirt, autograph and get to take the picture. You buy into the whole fantasy, not that we can even afford it,” Professor Griff added.

According to Dave “Davey D” Cook, a California-based hip hop journalist, another reason people worship entertainers and athletes is forceful marketing, like any other business or product. People can no more separate their admiration for a singer or rapper than they can for a car or tennis shoe, he said. The zeal in product marketing, consumerism and desire are the same for goods and celebrities, Davey D maintained.

“You have folks who won’t go to school, who’ll get up at six in the morning on a Saturday, where no commercials are playing, to get the newest Nikes. You have folks that will live in the hood, and can barely pay their electricity that will find money and resources and find a way to get a loan to get a Beemer (BMW),” Davey D noted.

He is optimistic that confronting these realities and contradictions can produce a more honest discussion about how to make mothers, fathers, pastors, preachers and teachers more admirable and highly sought out in communities.

But for now, weighing rapper 50 Cent against a teacher is like weighing a Mercedes Benz against a teacher and people are going to want what they want, he said.

Professor Griff believes mainstream society never uses worship of celebrities for anything positive. But, on the flip side, he believes Black people in the music and film industry—with their financial means—can write scripts and cast roles that use the talents of Black actors and actresses in more uplifting ways.

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