THE U.S. LEGAL CANNABIS INDUSTRY IS CREATING VALUE

BUT IT MUST AVOID A DEFECT OF TOO MANY OTHER INDUSTRIES

(Feat.  A Formula to Calculate the P&L of a Legal Cannabis Dispensary or Store)

By Darryl K. Henderson, J.D., January 14, 2019

THE PURPOSE OF BUSINESS

The purpose of business is to create value for customers, employees, business partners, investors and communities.  Value is certainly being created within the U.S. legal cannabis industry:

  • The combination of hemp-derived CBD products and legal cannabis sales are projected to reach $45B by 2022.
  • It is a source of bona fide therapeutic relief and life-enjoyment for Customers.
  • It is a source of gainful employment for Employees.
  • It is a source of viable money-making opportunities for Business Partners.
  • It is a source of wealth creation for Investors.
  • It is a source of crime reduction and revenue for economic and social services development for Communities.

There is still time to avoid the defect of too many other industries, however:

  • The failure, too often, to leverage the value of diversity with equity and inclusion

How can that defect be avoided?

  • In a nutshell, minimize the natural tendencies and negative effects of ego, greed, power, isms and xenophobia.  More details are provided below.

At the outset, let’s be real, the U.S. illegal “black” market of cannabis is not dead.  That market is estimated to be 4 to 6-times the size of the current legal cannabis industry – around $60B – and which is still 36% larger than sales projections for the combination of hemp-derived CBD products and legal cannabis sales.  What are the drivers?  For black market producers and sellers, (i) expensive or inaccessible state and local legal cannabis business licensing, (ii) strict and sometimes cumbersome legal cannabis lab testing requirements, (iii) the IRC Section 280E federal income tax requirement, (iv) exorbitant state and local legal cannabis taxes make operating in the black market easier, quicker and less expensive, and (v) consumer demand is strong.  This translates to ginormous opportunities for the legal cannabis industry once all the factors to positively influence legal cannabis consumer demand are properly addressed.

Cannabis is illegal at the federal level under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (the “CSA”).  The CSA classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance, placing it alongside heroin, LSD and ecstasy in a category reserved for drugs considered to have no medicinal value, have a high potential for abuse, and are unsafe to use without medical supervision. Cocaine, crystal meth and fentanyl are all listed in Schedule II of the CSA, which is reserved for less dangerous drugs.  There are five schedules in total.  Schedule V includes codeine, Epidiolex and Lyrica.

By contrast, “industrial hemp,” which is a form of cannabis, was legalized in 2018 under the 2018 Farm Bill, signed into law by President Trump on December 20th.  Industrial hemp is now legal in all U.S. territories. It has been removed from coverage under the CSA and is considered an agricultural commodity, like wheat, corn and tobacco. Hemp businesses will no longer face the business and regulatory obstacles associated with handling a Schedule I illegal substance under the CSA – like banking barriers, business insurance barriers, the IRC Section 280E requirements, being barred from advertising on Facebook and Instagram, etc.       

Industrial hemp has less than 0.3% THC – which is the psychoactive chemical compound in cannabis that causes a person to get “high.”  It does, however, have a high concentration of CBD – which is the non-psychoactive chemical compound that does not get a person high and is linked to several health benefits.  Industrial hemp is used to make CBD-oil based health products, food products, rope, clothing, paper, building supplies, fuel, etc. 

The FDA retains regulatory authority over foods, drugs, dietary supplements and cosmetics.  So the recent FDA Statement regarding hemp legalization requires businesses that sell hemp-derived products in interstate commerce – as is already occurring – to avoid stating that those products will yield therapeutic, dietary, nutritional or cosmetic benefits without prior FDA approval.  An exception to this FDA parameter is GRAS products (i.e., hemp seeds).

I am personally intrigued with the medicinal value of cannabis.  To think that we can provide therapeutic relief to patients and their families for traumatic brain injury, cancer, sickle cell, Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, epilepsy in children, PTSD, psoriasis, etc. simply through the use of Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa plants (including non-hemp and hemp cannabis) – those are “life-quality” enhancements worth supporting. 

For example, in desperation, one of my relatives decided to try a CBD-oil salve for his chronic swelling and painful knees. The warning on his doctor prescribed Pharma cream indicates that overuse could cause heart problems. So he stopped using the Pharma cream and tried to endure the knee swelling and pain.  But the CBD-oil salve has no troubling warnings and after applying it to his knees he felt relief within 2 minutes.  No more swelling.  No more pain.  And that has remained constant over six weeks and counting.  This gentleman is a church deacon, marine veteran, and the model of an upstanding citizen.  A CBD product, derived from industrial hemp, has changed his life.

The enjoyment, rest and relaxation that can also be derived from responsibly using legal cannabis as an adult-use product – similar to consuming wine, beer or liquor – is merely added value.

As of today, the legalization of cannabis in U.S. territories – including Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico – for medical use (MMJ), recreational or adult-use (RMJ), CBD-oil, and industrial hemp is as follows:

  • MMJ = 36 territories (29 active)
  • RMJ = 11 territories (7 active)
  • CBD-oil only = 14 territories (14 active)
  • Industrial hemp = 53 territories under the 2018 Farm Bill (42 state-pilot programs)
  • Idaho and South Dakota have not legalized cannabis in any way, so outside of the federal legalization of industrial hemp, cannabis is illegal in those two states.

In 2017 legal cannabis sales in the U.S. totaled $8.3B.  Sales are projected to reach $10B in 2018.  There are over 121,000 people employed in the legal cannabis industry today.  Analysts predict that the industry will grow to $23B in sales by 2021, with over 290,000 employees.

A couple of years ago, one acre of industrial hemp sold for $30,000.  In 2018, one acre of industrial hemp sold for up to $50,000.  Analysts predict that in 2019 one acre of industrial hemp will likely sell for up to $100,000.  One acre of hemp yields 1,200 to 1,500 plants, and each plant yields about 1 pound of product. Hemp-derived CBD products will have sales of $570m in 2018 and are predicted to reach $22B by 2020.  Currently, retailers that sell hemp-derived CBD products include Estee Lauder, GNC, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot.

How much money do cannabis retailers make – i.e., medical dispensaries or adult-use and CBD product stores?  The answer varies.  But here is a formula and some conservative P&L estimates:

Hours of Operation =

Mon-Sat = 10 am – 8 pm; Sun = 11 am – 7 pm = 69 hours per week

Transactions =

15 per hour; 150 per day; 1,050 per week; 4,200 per month; 50,400 per year; $80 per transaction

Revenue (including state/local sales and excise tax) =

100% = $4,032,000

COGS =

42% = $1,693,440

Gross Profit =

58% = $2,338,560

Federal Income Tax =

Corporate Rate of 21% (and per IRC Section 280E) = $491,097.60

Operating Expenses =

40% = $1,612,800

Operating Profit =

6% = $234,662.40

ITDA =

5% = $201,600

Net Income =

1% = $33,062.40

The calculations above are impacted by several variables, including geographic location; state and local tax, license and other fees; size and foot traffic of a dispensary or store; and whether the retailer sells medical or adult-use, flower or non-flower, CBD products, and apparel and other ancillary products.  Some dispensaries report annual revenue of more than $20m.

New Frontier Data, a research firm that analyzes the legal cannabis industry, estimated that in 2017 states collected $655m in tax revenue on the $8.3B legal cannabis sales (i.e., sales tax, excise tax, cultivation tax and product tax), of which $559m came solely from cannabis, not vaporizers, grinders and other ancillary products.

New Frontier Data projects that if cannabis were federally legalized in all 50 states the U.S. government would collect at least $132B in tax revenue over the next eight years.  And federal legalization would create 782,000 jobs immediately, growing to 1.1 million by 2025, including jobs with cultivation, production, retail and ancillary businesses.

Major corporations are closely watching the value being created within the legal cannabis industry.  And some of those major players have jumped into the water:

  • Constellation Brands, the maker of Corona beer, invested $2.4B in a cannabis firm. 
  • Heineken, the beer maker, recently acquired a firm that is producing a new IPA beer made with cannabis.  Another Heineken subsidiary has made a THC-infused sparkling water. 
  • Molson Coors Brewing has formed a joint venture with a cannabis firm. 
  • Coca-Cola has announced that it is having conversations with a cannabis firm about making cannabis-infused beverages. 
  • Anheuser-Busch InBev is partnering with Tilray to spend $100m to research cannabis-infused beverages, infused with THC and CBD, and the research is said to “guide future decisions about potential commercial opportunities.” 
  • Altria Group, the owner of Marlboro brand cigarettes and an investor in Anheuser-Busch InBev, has invested $1.8B in a cannabis firm.  (Altria is also buying a 35% share of the vaping company JUUL for nearly $13B.) 
  • Scotts Miracle-Gro, the lawn and garden company, has invested over $140m in cannabis firms involved in plant nutrient and hydroponic technology.

In 2003, U.S. Patent No. 6,603,507 was granted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  That patent covers the potential use of non-psychoactive cannabinoids — the chemical compounds in cannabis that do not cause a person to get “high,” – to protect the brain from damage or degeneration caused by certain diseases, like cirrhosis.  Yes, that is contrary to the assertion under the 1970 CSA that cannabis has no medicinal value. 

Jerome Adams, the U.S. Surgeon General, recently made the following statement during an event at Harvard University on drug addiction, as reported by the State House Wire Service: “Just as we need to look at criminal justice laws, rules and regulations, we need to look at health laws, rules and regulations, and that includes the scheduling system.  I’ll take it somewhere else: marijuana. We need to look at the way we schedule different medications across the board, because one of the concerns that I have with marijuana is the difficulty that the folks have to do research on it, because of the scheduling system.”

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “THC can increase appetite and reduce nausea” and “may also decrease pain, inflammation (swelling and redness), and muscle control problems.”  NIH also recognizes CBD as a chemical compound with potential medical use in “reducing pain and inflammation, controlling epileptic seizures, and possibly even treating mental illness and addictions.”  Again, yes, that is contrary to the assertion under the 1970 CSA that cannabis has no medicinal value. 

So where are we?  Let the evolution of the U.S. legal cannabis industry continue – guided by medical research, public education, product quality and safety, protection of community standards, environmental protection, legal compliance, and equitable and inclusive opportunities for diverse segments of communities to contribute to and enjoy the economic value of the industry.  According to the Pew Research Center and Gallup, the majority of U.S. adults feel the same way:  62% of U.S. adults (Pew) and 66% of Americans (Gallup) support regulated cannabis legalization, according to surveys conducted in October 2018.

KEY MILESTONES IN THE LEGALIZATION JOURNEY OF CANNABIS IN THE U.S.

Pre-1930s:

  • It was a source of textile products, medicines and food products, as well as rest, relaxation and enjoyment for a few hundred years prior to the 1930s (i.e., both hemp and non-hemp cannabis)

1930s:

  • It became demonized as an illicit drug in the 1930s without any medical, scientific, criminology or social data and analysis; the only basis was racist and xenophobic views about Mexican and Filipino immigrants and African American jazz musicians and artists.  Harry Anslinger was the single most influential public figure to create the negative stigma surrounding cannabis.  He testified before Congress and said the following:  “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind… There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”  Anslinger also led the institutionalization of the derogatory slang term “marijuana,” instead of the proper term “cannabis,” referring to the Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica plants.

1930s to 1970s:

  • During the late 1930s through the 1970s, anti-cannabis legislation was put in place both domestically and internationally.  Remember that the CSA was signed in 1970.  Also, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as amended (the “Single Convention”), is an international treaty that was signed in 1961.  It has 186 nation parties, including the U.S., as of February 2018.  The Single Convention is designed by international cooperation to (1) to combat narcotic drug abuse by limiting the cultivation, manufacture, production, distribution, import, export, trade, possession and use of specific drugs, defined to be narcotics, and (2) to deter and discourage drug trafficking of specific narcotic drugs.  Cannabis is listed as a Schedule I and Schedule IV drug under the Single Convention.  The one exception to the treaty would be if such drugs were used for medical treatment and scientific research.

1996:

  • It was legalized by the state of California in 1996 for medical use (now medical cannabis is legal in 36 U.S. territories, of which 29 are active).

2003:

  • In 2003, U.S. Patent No. 6,603,507 was granted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, covering the potential use of non-psychoactive cannabinoids to protect the brain from damage or degeneration caused by certain diseases.

2012:

  • In 2012, it was legalized by the states of Colorado and Washington for adult-use or recreational use (now adult-use cannabis is legal in 11 U.S. territories, of which 7 are active).

2013:

  • In 2013, it was the subject of a CNN documentary entitled, “Weed 1: A Special Report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.”

2018:

  • In 2018, the FDA-approved the CBD-based drug Epidiolex to accompany three other cannabis-based drugs – i.e., Marinol, Syndros and Cesamet, and the DEA accepted those drugs and classified them as Schedule V substances under the CSA.  (Epidiolex is derived from non-hemp cannabis with less than 0.1% THC.)
  • Also, in 2018 hemp became legalized as an agricultural commodity by the Farm Bill of 2018 and was completely removed from coverage under the CSA (i.e., the hemp cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC), and hemp-derived CBD products are being purchased both online and over-the-counter nationally, no matter whether the products have been approved by the FDA.

2019:

  • Today it is the fuel of a U.S. industry with most recent annual sales of $10B, and projected growth to $23B and 290,000 employees by 2022 – and the combination of hemp-derived CBD products and legal cannabis sales are projected to grow to $45B with over 300,000 employees by 2022.

BUT PEOPLE OF COLOR ARE TOO OFTEN EXCLUDED FROM THE VALUE DERIVED FROM OWNING, OPERATING AND WORKING WITHIN THE U.S. LEGAL CANNABIS INDUSTRY

Every human being has a God-given equal (“same”) right to be treated equitably (“fairly”) so as to leverage his or her unique abilities and skills.

More so than beer, wine and liquor, for years, cannabis has been a unifying “social element” for people of different personalities, characteristics, backgrounds and affiliations. 

For example, at colleges and universities across the nation you can find the equivalent of a white dude from Orange County, CA + a white babe from West Virginia + an Asian dude from New York + an African American dude from the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans + an African American babe from Atlanta + and a Hawaiian babe from Honolulu socializing and passing cannabis joints, vaporizers, bongs, infused beverages, etc.  The U.S. legal cannabis industry should reflect that degree of diversity and inclusion at every level and in every aspect.

Unfortunately, the U.S. legal cannabis industry struggles with diversity and inclusion, particularly the inclusion of people of color (PoC).

Marijuana Business Daily, a leading cannabis industry publication, has reported that white men own and operate 81% of U.S. legal cannabis businesses, while PoC own and operate just 19% of those businesses.  By comparison, white men own 57% of total privately-held businesses in the U.S. and make-up 40% of the U.S. labor force. 

The primary challenges to involving PoC in the legal cannabis industry are as follows:

  • Fear = the fear amongst PoC to get involved in the industry, driven by their awareness of the disproportionate number of convictions for PoC for drug crimes (e.g., 57% of people in state prisons for drug offenses are black and Latinx, but they only make-up 32% of the U.S. population), and the lack of education about both the benefits of cannabis use and the status of cannabis legalization.
  • Money = the huge disproportionate lack of capital and access to capital for PoC to afford the thousands-to-millions of dollars in application fees, license fees, permits and capital outlays needed to launch and operate a legal cannabis business.
  • Exclusion = the failure, too often, to include qualified PoC in the different ownership, governance, leadership and staff opportunities within the industry, as well as the inability of too many PoC to participate in the industry because of criminal drug convictions.

The solutions to the exclusion of PoC in the legal cannabis industry may include the following:

  • Federal Legalization = remove cannabis from Schedule I of the CSA.
  • Scientific Support = build more medical research and documentation of the benefits and risks of cannabis use.
  • Education = establish community education initiatives about the benefits and risks of responsibly using cannabis, the existence of community services for any form of substance addiction, and the status of cannabis legalization – i.e., education to offset the 80-plus years of negative stigma pinned upon the cannabis plant.
  • Inclusion = implement well-executed state-regulated legal cannabis social equity programs, as well as comprehensive diversity and inclusion initiatives within legal cannabis businesses and trade associations.  And create tax credits, favorable loans and grants for DBE-owned legal cannabis start-ups.

Inclusion is the unfinished business of diversity.  That fact has too often been a defect of several U.S. industries.  But the U.S. legal cannabis industry is new-enough to avoid widespread infection by that defect if the right preventative steps are taken immediately.

PROGRAM MANAGEMENT PARTNERSHIPS CAN BE SOLUTIONS TO THE ISSUES WITH STATE-REGULATED LEGAL CANNABIS SOCIAL EQUITY PROGRAMS

In an effort to correct the ill-effects of the war on drugs on PoC and the poor, a few states, like California, are taking deliberate steps to involve more PoC and economically disadvantaged individuals in the legal cannabis industry through social equity programs. California has allocated $10m towards its social equity programs, and in some instances local municipalities are supplementing those funds.

However, many legal cannabis industry insiders believe these programs create or fail to address more issues than create remedies to the exclusion of PoC.  The issues cited include:

  • State and local staffing and funding shortfalls within agencies charged to operate social equity programs.
  • Complex cannabis business license application processes, driven by heavily matted regulations, which benefit applicants with more capital and experience.  Large companies can use teams of attorneys and business proposal-writing specialists to complete cannabis business license applications and wade through layers of state and local government bureaucracy.  PoC too often do not have the luxury of those resources.
  • The exorbitant costs – cannabis business license “application fees” range from $250 to $25,000 and cannabis business “licenses” range from $1,000 to $200,000 annually, depending upon the state and whether the fee is for cultivation, production, lab testing, distribution, or retail businesses.
  • Long waits to acquire cannabis business licensing for those applicants who do qualify for the social equity programs.
  • Limited oversight of business partnership arrangements between social equity applicants and outside investors, which has led, in too many instances, to the outside investors hijacking the ownership and operations of the social equity applicants’ businesses through tricky partnership agreement terms and conditions.

As reported by Marijuana Business Daily, “Many social equity applicants typically lack access to bank loans or venture capital and/or have no knowledge of how to apply for those resources to get their cannabis companies off the ground. So, partnerships between applicants and investors are often necessary.  While partnerships are intended to financially benefit both parties, critics contend the practice can give rise to opportunities for investors to divest social equity applicants of their share in the business.”

On the other hand, some states just do it and do it right.  One example is Louisiana.  The first of ten dispensary license awarded in the state of Louisiana went to a half-century-old African American-owned and operated pharmacy named H&W Drug Store.  And one of the two cannabis cultivation and processing operations is Southern University, a historically black university.  That level of diversity, equity and inclusion must exist at every level and in every aspect of the Louisiana legal medical cannabis program – across a variety of diversity dimensions.

Nevertheless, states should establish “program management partnerships” with community organizations to provide business expert oversight and supportive services to social equity applicants.  The National Urban League (NUL) and business management consulting firms – just two examples – can provide social equity program participants with necessary oversight and business support. 

The expert oversight and supportive services can include advisory, program management and staff augmentation services delivery in the areas of business partnerships, contracting, organization development, HR, accounting, finance, IT, marketing, operations management, legal compliance, etc.  Those oversight and supportive services can be paid for with the state and local revenue from legal cannabis taxes and licensing fees collected from cultivation, production, lab testing, distribution, and retail operators.

But the federal government holds the real key to addressing issues with legal cannabis social equity programs.  Removing cannabis from the CSA would provide a clearer and more comfortable path for states to attract and engage outside business experts to help with social equity programs – especially to engage 501(c) (3) organizations like NUL. 

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights recently sent a letter to the 116th Congress that included the following recommendation:  “Pass legislation de-scheduling marijuana with racial equity and justice reform components.”  The letter stresses that bills to federally legalize cannabis should “include reparative justice/reinvestment language for communities most impacted” by directing legal cannabis tax revenue towards those communities.  The letter further states:  “End federal prohibition in a way that acknowledges decades of harm faced by communities of color and low-income communities.”

On December 18th, congressional democrats on the Joint Economic Committee published a report championing the “economic benefits of legalized cannabis at the state and national levels.”  Named, “The National Cannabis Economy,” the report finds that the marijuana industry brought in more than $8 billion in sales in 2017, with sales estimated to reach $10 billion this year and expected to soar to $22 billion by 2022.  “The growth of the cannabis economy presents opportunities for greater job creation, more tax revenue, and better patient care,” the report states, while also summarizing the banking and tax issues that current federal policy causes for state-regulated cannabis businesses.  “It’s time we legalize marijuana, but at the minimum, we must reduce the conflicts between federal and state laws so that the industry can continue to create jobs and bolster state economies,” said Senator Martin Heinrich, (D-NM), the ranking member of the committee.  “This conflict hurts small businesses and constrains the economic benefits of legal cannabis.  But in order to realize the benefits, we must act on legislation ….”

Three separate bills to end federal cannabis prohibition have been introduced in the 116th Congress.  Seven such bills were introduced in the 115th Congress.  As young athletes say today, “Let’s go!”  And as we move forward, let’s make sure that we foster equity and inclusion to leverage the value of diversity at every level and in every aspect of the U.S. legal cannabis industry.

About the Author:

At his core, Darryl is motivated to help, teach and lead people (his “life mission”).  He has amassed a broad range of knowledge and skills in a variety of roles, including HR executive, chief diversity officer, chief employment compliance officer, operations executive, business management consultant, executive coach, entrepreneur, and employment and commercial lawyer.  Darryl earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Georgia School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics degree from Emory University.  His LinkedIn Profile:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/darryl-k-henderson-b87521134

2 thoughts on “THE U.S. LEGAL CANNABIS INDUSTRY IS CREATING VALUE

  • January 18, 2019 at 6:14 pm
    Permalink

    WOW,,,, this is a long article. Not to easy to follow.

    BUT,,, if cannabis is good, if the Saints players use some, will that help them to perform better and win?

    Reply
  • January 18, 2019 at 7:41 pm
    Permalink

    Mr.Darryl Henderson,
    Could you please send me info for investment opportunities here in Louisiana.

    Reply

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by Love Dr. Rob

Will you become stuck with stupid?

She started off saying she didn’t know how much longer she could keep doing this. At the same time, she also said she did not want to start over. ”How many times does a woman have to keep starting over before a man gets it right”? She asked. And I replied she doesn’t have to start over at all, she can stay stuck with stupid. Is anyone in your relationship stuck with stupid?

We all have things we need and want in and from a relationship. The problem is we believe we are supposed to be in a relationship with someone before we know if they can give it to us. That’s like hiring somebody for a job before you know if they are even qualified for the position. Few of us if any complete the interview process before saying you’re hired. 

As this happens in so many cases you end up with someone who just can’t get right. It doesn’t matter how many times you show them, they just don’t get it. Here you keep investing time and energy into training and retraining and they still don’t get it. Despite all your efforts, they seem incapable of learning what you need from them, yet you refuse to let them go. So they have no incentive to learn it because they still have the position and all the benefits that come with it. 

Relationships Require Maturity

Hopefully, a light bulb just went off, but just in case you missed it. If a man or woman is receiving everything they want without having to give anything in return, most will never give anything. When you find yourself in this situation you have to make a decision. Do I continue to invest in my time and my love in someone who can’t give me what I need? Or do I cut my losses and start over?

In most cases, it feels like a lose-lose situation. At least you know what you have in them, and if you leave the next one might be worse. But the most important question you can ask yourself is how long can you stay without getting what you need?  Because now neither one of you is making sure your needs are met. 

Don’t be Stuck with Stupid

Now I’m not telling you that you should leave. If you like it, I love it. For some people, it is better to be unhappy in a relationship than be happy alone. Remember some times even a good person can be unable to love you, even though you love the hell out of them. Once you realize that it is up to you, you have to choose your happiness. If you choose to stay in a relationship where you’re not getting what you need, there will be a day when someone will see y’all together and say look they are still with stupid and you won’t be able to tell which one of you they are talking about

How to do it

by Troy Henry

BACKGROUND

Upon arrival in America, Black Americans were enslaved for several hundred years.  And the impact of this systematic and institutional practice still has a multi-generational impact on many Black Americans today.  The enslavement and de-humanization of the Africans brought to America for economic and white lifestyle purposes is truly the original sin of this country.  Our government made numerous promises of reparation (40 acres and a mule). Yet real efforts to compensate African Americans have been paltry to non-existent.  Black communities today continue to reflect inhumane conditions that are the repercussion of approximately 400 years of pain and suffering. 

A nation of people does not just snap out of this type of institutional racism.  It takes time and proactive efforts to truly attempt to right the wrongs of this sin.  Historically, oppressors have compensated their victims.  The people of Germany compensated the Jews for the Holocaust.  America compensated the Japanese people as a result of the WWII internment.  However, the White American community has never fully addressed the most heinous of all punishments inflicted on a people that are largely responsible for building this great country.

Reparations For Slavery

PERSPECTIVES

There has been much written recently about the need for reparations for Black Americans, and most of these articles have been thoughtful and “on point”. I would like for you to reference several outstanding articles that prompted me to write this body of work.  Each has a unique perspective and discussion regarding the need and benefits of reparations.

The link below is a CNBC article profiling the need and growing support for reparations.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/12/slavery-reparations-cost-us-government-10-to-12-trillion.html

The link below provides the perspective of the wealthiest Black American (Robert Smith Jr) regarding reparations.

The link below  gives you the perspective of one of America’s great entrepreneurs (Bob Johnson) regarding reparations.

https://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/politics/item/35888-black-billionaire-johnson-every-black-american-should-get-a-350k-reparations-check#disqus_thread

The article below attempts to establish the value necessary to properly compensate Black Americans reparations.

While each of these articles and many more do an outstanding job of justifying the necessity for Black American reparations, none of them fully address the high-level implementation of such a program.  The remainder of this article will discuss a practical approach to funding the program and the benefits associated with it.

RELATED: WE NEED MORE THAN SYMBOLIC CHANGE

FUNDING SOURCE

Today, the current US stock market including NYSE, NASDAQ and OTC markets have a value of approximately $37 Trillion.  This figure captures the current market value for all publicly traded enterprises.  The Federal Government has approximately $300T in assets under management in the form of property and other assets.  While it is impossible to trace each asset and company to the act of slavery or any derivative activities, many of these enterprises (public and private) were directly or indirectly the beneficiaries of this heinous systemic sin of slavery.

My approach for reparations for each individual Black American, would target any individual with a gross income of $500,000 annual income or less based on your most recent tax return.  Neither I (small business owner), Rob Smith (Vista Equity CEO), LeBron James (NBA great) or many others Black Americans would participate in this program, because they have successfully and permanently overcome the scars of slavery.  Also, individuals who immigrated to the US after 1990 would also be excluded from the program even though their ancestors may have experienced slavery, it was not in the USA and therefore would not qualify.  Based on the above qualifiers approximately 5 million out of the 45 million Black Americans would not qualify.  Based on the numbers above, a reparations payment of $10Trillion would pay to create a one-time payment of $250,000 to every Black American born before 1/1/2021 or whatever date is appropriate.

Reparations Now or No?

Is Money Available?

So how do we generate $10T without crippling the entire US economy?   Answer: Every publicly traded company would pay a 15% one-time tax on the market value of their company.  Since most companies would not have that amount of funds on hand, its payment could be made in the form of additional shares of contributed stock to the fund.  While this would cause an immediate dilution of share value, it does not put any company at a competitive disadvantage since their competitor would be subject to the exact same tax and repercussions.  As a result, over time the market will respond to this tax much like it has done to the Corona Virus.  This would generate approximately $6T for the reparations fund.

The 2nd source of funds would be the federal government.  The Federal government has the ability to issue one-time payment funds like what was done for the Corona Virus.  In addition, the federal government has un-used and under-utilized property that could be contributed to the reparations fund.  While some of this land may be less desirable, it would represent value to the fund and could be monetized if necessary.  This federal contribution would represent an approximately $4T contribution to the fund.

The reparations funds would be managed on the behalf of the Black American recipients by 10 Black-owned securities firms ($1T each), thereby making them significant players in the financial community with the power and ability to train future financial leaders of America.  The financial management firms would commit to a minimum 6% annual rate of return to remain in the program.

PARTICIPATION

Each of the 40 Million Black American qualified recipients would have the option to take the cash as a non-taxable lump sum of money or as a cash dividend (non-taxable) from the fund.  Any recipient of the funds must agree not to receive any other federal government subsidies such as: food stamps, Section 8 housing voucher, etc.  Also, this would assist the federal government in reducing its entitlements budget.  For Black Americans stuck in the entitlement system, these funds represent access to self-sufficiency and self-determination.

The impact on the Black community would be immediate and extremely positive.  Allow me to give you an example of the fund’s effect.

Example 1:

Assumption: family of 4, husband and wife with 2 kids (3 & 5years old)

Recipient qualifies for $250,000 times 4 family members equals $1M

Recipient chooses to leave the funds with the fund manager and receives a 6% annual dividend equal to $60,000.

In addition to their normal income, the family has $60K non-taxable income to pay for a better school, home, or new business

Example 2

Assumption:  Single individual (age 25)

Recipient qualifies for $250,000

Recipient chooses to payoff $50,000 in debt and purchases a home without a mortgage for $200,000.

The recipient can now continue their life debt free.

Use of the proceeds can have a myriad of potential positive and negative examples, One essential element to this program will be that anyone choosing to take their funds out of the program must enroll in a financial management course to aid them in the best course of action for using these funds. Only after a person successfully completes the course will funds be distributed.

BENEFITS of REPARATIONS

There are a significant number of benefits to this reparation program that can transform our country and attempt to make up for the nations original sin.  The US budget would be less burdened with entitlement programs due to the program, thereby allowing the government to increase funding for roads, public education, and other priorities.  America would be a more educated nation since more and better educational opportunities will emerge.  There will be more innovation due to an increase in entrepreneurship because lack of capital cripples many small businesses.  Crime will be reduced since the economic conditions for many of our fellow Black Americans will have improved significantly. 

SUMMARY

Reparations will benefit all of America and truly compensate our most deserving citizens.  Also, reparations will diminish numerous social ills that plague portions of America today.  Most Importantly, reparations will fairly compensate Black Americas while evenly distributing this one-time economic pain.  This reparation program will help balance our nation’s budget.  Reparations will begin to truly level the playing field for all Americans.

by Kenneth Cooper

Governor and Mayor Differ on best practices

Thursday 9/10

Governor John Bel Edwards has just concluded an unnecessary and premature press conference where he announced that the state will be moving to Phase 3 on Friday. When pressed for details on how that would be implemented, the governor offers no relevant response. Oh I don’t have any details, he basically says. I’m just here to throw the mayor of New Orleans under the bus. Details, he says, will be available tomorrow.

Later that same day, Mayor Cantrell steps to the podium to address a Phase 3 hungry press and population. She does so aware businesses are failing, and citizens are becoming restless. Despite the governor’s vaguely announced path forward, there’s hope that this time the Mayor won’t have the city lag behind in moving from one phase to the next. There’s hope that this time the city and state will proceed in lock-step. Yet, as the mayor begins to speak into the microphone, she deflects.

Mayor Cantrell Says “Phase Twooo!”

A huge, win-win, monumental, all important step forward for Orleans Parish schools is announced. Pre-K – 4th grade students are returning to in-person classes. Boom! Hallelujah! Drop the confetti. Hand out the party hats. DJ, cue the Casanova. Waiter, pass the drinks around.  Not so fast. This huge, win-win, monumental, all important step forward is met with a total of zero questions. No follow ups on when will middle school and high school students return to in person classes, no questions on any protocols put in place, no questions on the data that led to this decision, nothing. Instead, the press asks the mayor a different question: Is New Orleans moving to Phase 3 or what? Answer: No.

RELATED: Should We Really Be Sending Our Kids to School

Mayor Cantrell is not happy

New Orleans is not moving to Phase 3 yet. The city won’t consider moving out of Phase 2 until there’s more information from the governor. Next question: Well what about high school football then? The LHSSA says we can go hut-hut, so will the lights be turned on at Pan-Am and Tad Gormley stadiums? Shall we polish up the pig skin? Exasperated, the mayor calls a timeout. Again, she says, New Orleans is not moving to Phase 3 yet. We will remain in Phase 2. Phase 2 means Phase 2 and all the restrictions that fall under it (under Phase 2 there are no contact sports in Orleans Parish. This is widely understood).  

It was then that Travers Mackel, famed local reporter, realizes that he hasn’t obtained his quota of gotcha quotes. He feigns confusion. So to be clear, he says, yes or no, are we not playing football in Orleans Parish? The mayor turns ten shades of purple, steps closer to the mic, then address him directly. Afterwards, the cleanup crew arrives as the place is emptying. They only have one question for Mr. Mackel, what do you want us to do with your old a$$hole?

Friday 9/11

The knives come out. They come out in the form of a resolution. Hey, if Orleans Parish won’t provide high school athletes with a space to run around, tackle each other, exchange spit, and sweat, while possibly exposing themselves to a contagious and potentially deadly virus, then Jefferson Parish sure will. Later, Mayor Cantrell stands at the podium again, fresh from crawling under one bus only to find herself thrown under another. First question: Mayor Cantrell, this resolution to allow Orleans Parish schools to play football in Jefferson Parish, what are you going to do about it? Obvious answer: prayer. The mayor restrains all fury and provides a proper southern response: for those schools that decide to go that route, God bless’em.

St. Augustine’s Leonard Fournette was an unstoppable force against John Curtis

The resolution was a clear slap in the face, a move to undermine the mayor while allowing Jefferson Parish to collect some extra side money via rental fees the schools will have to pay to use the facilities.

An addendum: Is the mayor being overly cautious? Probably. Do we need her to be? Yes. New Orleans is different from other cities or parishes in the state. There’s nobody sitting around talking about, Man I can’t wait to book my next flight to Ruston or Alexandria. But for New Orleans, there are lots of tourists just waiting to invade the Quarter, the city’s progression from one phase to the next being the determining factor whether their tickets get booked or not. And with that comes more exposure to the Coronavirus, and potentially more setbacks for business, schools, and our general way of life. So the mayor’s like, Pardon me if I’m not in a rush to put our progress in jeopardy. But if you run a business you don’t want to hear that.

You’re dying out here. There’s only so many employees you can lay off or fire before you have to put up the going out of business sign. It’s a tightrope, an unprecedented one we’re all walking. Stay tuned for the next update. Until then, just so you know, New Orleans is not moving to Phase 3 yet, and Phase 2 means Phase 2. Get it? No more questions asked.  

From our Friends at Safety.com

by Mary Blowers

Teens, we know you might be struggling during this pandemic. Your social lives and your education have been upended, and we know that coping with those changes can be difficult. If you’re staying up to date on COVID-19 news, you know that certain groups are more at risk during this pandemic than others. You may not personally be high risk, but you likely know or love someone who is over the age of 60 and/or has preexisting conditions.  Surveys have shown that many adolescents have rising anxiety over the health of your family members, which can make any of your normal stressors even worse. 

In this strange time of social distancing, your anxiety is at an all time high, while your level of support may be at an all time low. We know you are stuck at home without your usual social groups and routines, so we want to offer some non-traditional support options so that you and your family can feel safe from the outside world. Luckily, there are considerable online resources on everything from home security to emotional support to addiction management that can help you to feel more at ease. Take a look at the list of mental health resources that we’ve compiled below, and then keep scrolling for support on issues related to cyberbullying, substance abuse, smartphone addiction, and more.

Mental health resources

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying has become so wide-spread that you likely know someone who has been a victim – maybe you personally have had to face those online attacks. Unfortunately, now that everyone is online so much more, there may be even more instances of cyberbullying. Dr. Sameer Hinduja said that certain groups may be more prone to fall victim to online bullying during this pandemic: “It is also very possible that xenophobic or racist cyberbullying may go up,” she said, referencing parent complaints that their Asian children are being targeted. With this increased potential for harassment and without teachers and school staff to intervene, you may need to take advantage of online resources to keep your friends and yourself safe from cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying resources

Substance Abuse Addiction

Among teens, abusing substances as a way to cope with your isolation and anxiety is not uncommon. Since there are no legal recreational substances for teenagers, those who are utilizing illicit substances are doing it in secret, which is even more dangerous. Due to your age, you are already at a higher risk for mental illness and depression, and social isolation and pandemic worries make those concerns even worse. It’s understandable that you are looking for distraction or comfort during this time, but misused substances pose serious dangers to your health. If you or a friend have found yourself in this situation, please seek out one of these resources.

Substance abuse resources

Smartphone and Device Addiction

Drugs and alcohol are the first things that come to mind when you think of addiction, but your phones and devices can also be extremely habit-forming. As you find yourself at home and alone more now than ever, you are likely to become even more wrapped up in your phones and devices. While it may seem like a harmless outlet, there is actually considerable evidence that smartphone addiction and social media are negatively affecting mental health, making device-addicted teens more likely to struggle with depression and anxiety, as well as sleeplessness and impulsive behavior. In fact, between the years of between 2011 and 2015, there was a spike of major depressive episodes among teens increasing by 50 percent within those few years. San Diego State University Professor Jean Twenge says that smartphone use has replaced time that teens would normally spend socializing in person or sleeping. 

While you are stuck at home, you are likely increasing your screen time, and since school is remote and online for many of you, you may find yourself using devices over 7 hours a day. Teens are becoming hyper-connected to their devices even though many realize that they are online too often. Smartphone and device addiction can cause chemical disruptions in the brain, meaning that this type of addiction could be associated with damaged cognitive and emotional processing. If you or your friends are finding it impossible to disconnect, look into the resources below.

Smartphone addiction resources

RELATED : BACK TO SCHOOL AFTER THE SHUTDOWN

Social Distance Activities

Alright, we’ve talked about how this pandemic is causing increases in mental health issues, cyberbullying and addictions, but now we want to share some alternative outlets to keep your mind off all the stressors. Exercise can be a major help when it comes to staying physically and mentally healthy. In fact, research suggests that elevated levels of aerobic activity and strength training can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Of course, exercising is more difficult to do in isolation with limited equipment, so you may need some additional resources to help you get started. If workout programs aren’t your favorite pastime, check out our list of other game and activity resources below.

Work-out resources

Games or activity resources

RELATED: THE WHINY LITTLE RICH KIDS

Meditation and Disconnecting

In addition to physical activity, meditation and self-reflection can be essential for keeping your mind healthy. The National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health says that studies have investigated meditation benefits for different conditions. Taking time to meditate may be exactly what you need to disconnect from social media and find peace in your mind and home. If you are interested in meditation, but don’t know where to start, we have a list of resources to help you get started.

Meditation resources

Conclusion

There are a myriad of mental and emotional obstacles that you as teenagers must navigate in near isolation during the pandemic. You may feel lonely without your usual school and social environments, which can make it especially difficult to cope with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Since you are spending more time online than ever, you are at greater risk of cyberbullying and developing smartphone addiction. You may also be more sedentary than usual, not exercising or taking care of your physical health. Luckily, there are online resources, apps, communities and people out there that can help. Use our safety guide and reference links above to find the specific support you need, and most importantly, please remember that you are not alone in your struggles with the pandemic.

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SAFETY.COM

STFU: If You Don’t Answer the Census

by CC Campbell Rock

It’s that time again. Once in a decade, U.S. residents are asked to answer the Census. It’s common knowledge, particularly in the African-American community, that there is a matrix of fear about answering the federal head count. In 2020, however red flags are popping up that indicate it’s more important than ever to stand up and be counted and answer the Census.

One red flag was last week’s ruling by a federal judge that put a temporary halt to the Trump Administration’s effort to end the Census count prematurely on September 30, instead of October 31, 2020.

 U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in the Northern District of California issued the restraining order in favor of challengers led by the National Urban League, who filed an emergency request as part of a federal lawsuit. The order is expected to remain in effect until a court hearing is held on Sept. 17 for the plaintiffs’ request for a court order that would require counting to continue through the end of October.

This is not the first time the Trump Administration tried to finagle with the Census count. Last July, a New York judge permanently blocked Trump’s effort to target immigrants by putting a citizenship question on the Census form.

Trump Effect

RELATED: How the President is Suppressing the 2020 Census

It is abundantly clear, that Trump’s maneuvers are designed to stop the flow of federal funding to the states, which fund programs that help all of us.

Billions of federal dollars are allocated each year for programs and services based on Census-derived .  Here are a few:

Maternal and child health programs, Medicaid, Medicare, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),WIC, Social Service Block Grant, Foster Care (Title IV-E),Head Start/Early Head Start, Federal Pell Grants. School Nutrition, State Children’s Health Insurance Program (LA-CHIP), Homeland Security , FEMA, Highway Planning & Construction, Crime Victim Assistance. Community Facilities Loans/Grants. Section 8 Housing Program, Special Education (IDEA funds), after school programs, classroom technology, free and reduced-price school lunches, affordable housing, etc.

Those critical programs get less funding when citizens are not counted. And police, firefighters, infrastructure improvements, and essential city services are also underfunded. Without proper funding, a city can’t increase the quality of life for its residents.

Additionally, redistricting is also based on Census data. Not answering the Census opens the door to structural racism in elective offices.

In Louisiana, legislators used Census data to  gerrymander state and federal districts to keep themselves in power and to suppress the vote of people of color. This is the primary reason why out of Louisiana’s six U.S. congressional seats only one is held by an African-American- New Orleans’ U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond.

Related: Trump and Fake Facts About Black Unemployment

Effect on New Orleans

New Orleans lost one Congressional seat due to an under-count in the 2000 Census. East Baton Rouge Parish, which is predominately African-American, has been gerrymandered such that they can’t elect a person of color to represent them, even if they wanted to. Conservative Republicans dominate the Louisiana legislature because of the census under-count.

After assessing the current Census count in New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s Administration issued an Emergency Update. The city of New Orleans is behind in its Census Count. To date, only 56.6 percent of residents have answered the Census.

“This is an emergency now,” says Arthur Walton, the director of Intergovernmental Relations and chair of the Mayor’s Complete Count Committee, who explained that COVID-19 has made getting an accurate count difficult. “The city had a slate of cultural activities planned,” to inspire citizens to answer the Census but the events were cancelled in lieu of the state’s safer at home program that was designed to contain the virus.

The City of New Orleans’ NOLA Counts: Be in That Number Campaign enlisted the help of celebrities, elected officials, and others to encourage citizens to stand up and be counted including:

Watch these important videos

 Big Freedia

Demario Davis New Orleans Saints Linebacker

Oliver Thomas

Mayor Cantrell with Head Start Kids Census PSA

Elroy James

Mama Jamilah (Ashe’ Cultural Center)

ONLINE ACCESS

People are still going door to door as Census workers did in the past. But Walton, the “Census quarterback,” says “For the first time people can do the Census online using their home computers, cell phones, or house phones. It only takes 10 minutes to answer the nine-question form.

Regarding people’s aversion to answering the Census, Walton says, “The president is not going to have your address.” Records are sealed for 77 years. And Census workers take an oath not to disclose personal information.  “Amazon asks for more information than the Census,” he says jokingly.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem because Joseph, his father and his mother, Mary, had to journey to Bethlehem to answer the Census. Joseph was going to his father’s house to be counted. “The Census is in the Bible, Luke, Chapter 2,”  Walton continues.

Most importantly, New Orleans needs an accurate count to receive its fair share. The feds will disperse $1.8 trillion to states based on Census data. Answering the Census is more important than ever. As a result of COVID-19, cities and states have had to spend money they didn’t anticipate. City budgets now have gaping holes with the possibility of layoffs in the near future.

Department of Labor Statistics

FUNDS DIRECTLY HELP LOCALS

“During this pandemic, we need every dollar we’re entitled to,” Walton affirms. Offering an example of how the feds distributes taxpayer dollars, Walton adds, “For the CARES ACT, if you were a city of 500,000 or more you received between $1.5 and $1.8 billion directly. If you aren’t, you’re getting your money from the state. In our case, the majority red legislature appropriated money to New Orleans.”

You know the importance of each one of us standing up and being counted. Census funds provide better streets and essential services. Your descendants benefit too. The Census documents your existence. This becomes a primary source of data for descendants who want to trace their roots and family tree. African-Americans can trace their ancestry back to at least 1890, when the first American Census was taken.

The Census is a tool for Blacks to assert their constitutional rights. Intentional under-counts continues to deny Black representation in public office, Answering Census in 2020 is the remedy.

The three-fifths clause (Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution of 1787 declared that for purposes of representation in Congress, enslaved blacks in a state would be counted as three-fifths of the number of white inhabitants of that state. The three-fifths clause remained in force until the post-Civil War 13th Amendment freed all enslaved people in the United States, the 14th amendment gave them full citizenship, and the 15th Amendment granted black men the right to vote.

“I’m encouraging the community to share cell phones, tablets, and laptops with their neighbors, friends, and family members to help them fill out the Census,” Walton says. “You might be sitting on your couch right now and you can fill the Census out while you’re sitting there.  Do it now.”

by Love Dr. Rob

In the beginning neither one of them wanted anything. The agreement was it was just going to be sex nothing else. They both knew what they were signing up for from the start. I mean what could possibly go wrong?

Over time just sex turned into pillow talk. From simple conversation after to spending time and doing things together what was supposed to be casual sex had become something different. At least that was the case in one person’s eyes. For they were past the just sex – it’s looking more like a relationship. 

One day she asked the question, “what are we?” He replied, “we are friends”. She felt a way about that, because at that point that were doing way more than friend stuff. Time had past, and she thought they were growing into more. She was pissed to say the least. 

If It Ain’t His Fault, Then Whose is It?

The next thing she asked was, “when do you think it was going to be more”?  He simply answered, “you already know what it was.”  They ended up falling out, and let her tell it he played her. He had wasted her time and used her up. The truth is he hadn’t done anything wrong. 

The moral to the story is be real with yourself about what you want. Don’t settle for one thing knowing you want more. Or if you feel as though your needs and wants are changing, let the other person know. If they aren’t where you are, then it is up to you whether you stay or you leave. Just remember if that person is honest with you, they are no longer responsible for what you accept or expect. If you sign up for it and end up disappointed it ain’t his fault. 

We talked to a top doctor to get his strategies.

by Kelly Glass

Darrell Gray II, MD, MPH

Colorectal cancer is the third-most-common cancer in American men, and Black men have a more than 20 percent higher risk than white men. And there’s recently been a spike in colon cancer in young men. Fortunately, there is plenty all of us can do to try to prevent it. This is what gastroenterologist Darrell M. Gray II, M.D., M.P.H., deputy director of the Center for Cancer Health Equity at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center does to reduce his risk.

Go easy on alcohol

When I’m at a social function, I carry a carbonated beverage with me. Alcohol, especially for men, is linked with a higher risk of colon cancer. People who have two drinks a day or more raise their risk as much as one and a half times that of people who don’t drink at all. The occasional glass of red wine is enough for me.

Watch the red meat

I generally aim to avoid red meat, since it’s been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. While, if we’re being honest, nothing exactly matches the taste and texture of a nice steak, a fresh, well-seasoned, cooked-just-right piece of fish takes up as much space on the plate and can be just as, if not more, satisfying to me.

Get moving to reduce colon cancer risk

Between meetings, procedures, patients, and research, you might catch me doing pushups in my office. Maintaining a consistent workout routine is challenging with my schedule, but I fit it in between appointments or by cycling or walking with my wife and three kids. Even adding moderate activity to a sedentary life can reduce colon-cancer risk by up to 24 percent.

Know your family history

I have a friend who says that “family secrets kill families.” Find out about your family’s medical history. With colorectal cancer, knowing if someone had it—and when—can change when you should get screened. Usually we recommend starting at age 45. But if an immediate family member was diagnosed, you might need a colonoscopy at age 40 or earlier.

Manage your stress

Stress can make everything else I do harder. So when I’m moving through my many commitments, I’m also focusing on my breathing. If stress arises, I acknowledge the cause and then I slowly and thoughtfully inhale and exhale. It helps me recenter. I’ve seen stress cause people to smoke, drink alcohol, eat excessively, or be sedentary—and all those things can increase the risk of colon cancer.

A version of this story originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Men’s Health, with the title “Doctor’s Guide to Colon Cancer.”

Coping with mixed feelings about returning to school.

Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

by Elissa R. Gross, Psy.D.

Kids have mixed feelings about returning to school this fall; both excited and apprehensive. While most look forward to seeing their friends, being less “cooped up” and enjoying more social interaction, many also feel scared, nervous and reluctant. And it’s important for parents to be aware of this.

There is still so much uncertainty surrounding what to expect with changing schedules, including rotating in and out of school and having a “hybrid” of in-person classes and online work.  For many, returning to school may be especially hard after getting comfortable being at home. Others worry about having to wear masks all day and being physically distanced from friends and teachers.

In order to best help our kids and teens prepare for the return to the classroom, we must first understand both our own and our children’s feelings about the transition back to school.  With this awareness, we as parents can do several things to support our kids during this difficult time.

The following are some recommendations to help parents understand and better cope with their own feelings about their children’s return to school. 

1. Accept that there is no “right” answer.

2. Acknowledge that we cannot control what will happen once our kids go back to school.

3. Some of the worries children and teens may be experiencing:

4. Once parents understand their own, and their children’s, concerns about returning to school this fall, the following are some ways that parents can support their kids and teens with the transition:

BLACK AMERICANS’ KICK THE 21ST CENTURY CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT INTO HIGH GEAR

by CC Campbell-Rock


Pictured: (Standing l. to r.) Matthew Ahmann, Director of the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice; Rabbi Joachim Prinz; John Lewis, leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); Protestant minister Eugene Carson Blake; Floyd McKissick, leader of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); and labor union leader Walter Reuther; (Sitting l. to r.) Whitney Young, Executive Director of the National Urban League; Cleveland Robinson, Chairman of the Demonstration Committee; A. Philip Randolph, labor union leader who conceptualized the march; Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.; and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) leader Roy Wilkins. Photo Courtesy of U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.


Thousands converged on the U.S. Capitol on August 28, 2020 to recommit to the calls for justice made on August 28, 1963. In 1963 was  the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his legendary “I Have A Dream” speech.

More than a half-century later, the demands are the same with an added caveat: Speakers called for an end to the killing of unarmed black men, women, and children. Remember the 1955 mob lynching murder of Emmitt Till. That horror galvanized the modern civil rights movement.

The theme of the 2020 Commitment March was “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks.” The protest to the killing of George Floyd by police, who knelt on his neck for eight minutes and forty-seconds. Floyd’s family demanded justice at the Lincoln Memorial. Representatives of more than 20 unarmed blacks killed by police were present.

Victims of Police Violence and Systemic Racism

Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Elijah McClain,  Botham Jean, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Antwon Rose, Terrence Crutcher, Atatiana Jefferson, Jemel Roberson, Joel Acevedo, Dontre Hamilton, Michael Brown, David Jones, Emanuel Lee, Sandra Bland, and more.

Also present was the family of Jacob Blake, the unarmed black man who was shot seven times in the back at point blank range by a Milwaukee cop. 

Organized by Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, and Martin Luther King, III, the son of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., elected officials, union leaders, church leaders, civil rights leaders and families of slain victims demanded justice but also legislation to protect black lives and to finally deliver equality.

From Protest to Legislation

The move from protest marching and demonstrations to a focus on legislation signals the beginning of a new strategy in the 21st Century Justice Movement. Black leaders have always brought political pressure on whites, who at one point, held all the elected offices. What is different today is that more black and brown people are holding elective positions. And now multigeneration, multicultural groups are in the streets protesting. Now people of color and whites know that the only way to secure justice is at the ballot box. Only then can lobbying for change at local, state, and federal legislators be successful.

Speakers at the Commitment March made several demands-

Martin Luther King III Speaks

We’re marching to overcome the triple evils of poverty, racism, and violence. COVID-19  has laid bare the economic inequality. And voter purges, discriminatory practices, felons not able to vote. Now we have to risk our lives to cast our votes in lines during a pandemic. We need to be able to do what President Trump does, vote by mail.  We need to vote like our lives, liberty, and future depends on it because they do. There is a knee on the neck of democracy…the simple challenge before us is that everyone can cast a ballot,” Martin Luther King, III told the crowd.

The Reverend Martin Luther King, III

Dad said, ‘Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.’ He challenged us to become drum majors for justice. If you’re looking for a savior, get up and find a mirror. We must demand the U.S. Senate stop blocking the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act…Raise the minimum wage, demilitarize the police, get into good trouble, Non-violence doesn’t mean passivity.”

Rev Al Sharpton

According to Reverend Al Sharpton, “We want this country to know, your brutality and bigotry can’t rob us of our dreams, we are the dream keepers, which is why we come today, black, white, all religions and sexual orientations, you may have killed the dreamer but you can’t kill the dream, we are going to make this dream come true.

“We all should leave her committed to keeping this dream alive. Everyone who wants to help on election day, be poll watchers, sign up, early voting starts in two weeks. We have to have foot soldiers to protect our vote, but we are not going to submit anymore, you’re going to get your knee off of our necks. Enough is enough….no justice, no peace,”

Talib McMillan

Talib McMillan, a policy advisor for the National Action Network, said, “We find ourselves here in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. We’re not here to negotiate or ask for justice, we are here to demand justice…it’s time for legislation to invest in education, mental health services, in communities and in HBCUS. We don’t just deserve a quarter of the dollar but the whole dollar…we’ve come to let the teller at the bank know this check better not bounce…we come to cash a check to demand justice.”

“We’ve come back to say today that our fight for racial justice is not negotiable. Purging our system of systemic racism and our right to vote is not negotiable, defending our right to a living wage, not negotiable; equitable funding for our school children, supplying rural areas with broadband is not negotiable, a fair Census, eliminating the structural shameful disparate impact of COVID-19, not negotiable; police reform, mental health services, homeless services, deaths of our black people are not negotiable. We’re here to make demands, George Floyd Justice in Policing Act must be passed, pass the Heroes Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and HR 40,” advised Marc H. Morial, NUL President and former mayor of New Orleans.

“Yes, it is possible to write budgets that address the needs of black lives,” Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley told the gathering.  

Two days before the Commitment March, the Milwaukee Bucks walked out of the NBA playoffs, determined to demonstrate against the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, their home base.

Professional Sports Teams Protest

They were followed by the rest of the NBA teams, the WNBA, MLB, MLS, NHL, and several NFL teams cancelled practices. The athletes did more than just walk away from their scheduled games. The Milwaukee Bucks team managers and coaches called the state’s Governor Tony Evers and the Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes and issued a demand for police reform legislation.

After several meetings, the NBA and the NBAPA (National Basketball Players Association) followed announced an “action” agenda and a slate of demands. The NBA and NBAPA agreed to form a social justice coalition to interface with governors and elected officials in their respective states. Hey plan to come up with legislation that leads to meaningful police and criminal justice reform. Players want to  convert facilities owned by the teams into polling places for the 2020 general election.  The NBA will work with networks to run an ad campaign in each playoff game to promote voting.

In an interview on AM Joy Show on MSNBC , Martin L. King, III said “We’ve got to change the direction of the U.S. Senate and the presidency. We have to vote but there is another strategy we can use, economic withdrawal.” King reminded us his father and the other civil rights leaders used economic boycott against the Montgomery Bus Company.

“Blacks spend $1.4 trillion annually. If black people used that power, politicians would come talk to us. And, instead of just marching, we need young people to run and get elected to offices at the local, state, and federal levels.”