MJ Passing a Lesson in Life Appreciation

Posted in Columns, This Generation by 311zine on 07/05/2009

By Deon Price

The entertainment industry mourns the death of a global mega super star and legend. The sudden and shocking passing of singer Michael Jackson exposes the hypocrisy of main stream media. We have seen a borage of dedication tributes on every media outlet from radio, T.V., in print  and on line for the King of Pop, yet these same venues have done just about everything possible to destroy his image, demean his character and derail his career. Now that he’s gone there is a phony love fest displayed by the media that many people including his family clearly recognized.  Michael Jackson endured years of image assassination attempts by mainly American media that forced him into exile. His recent career comeback tour that was planned this summer was a testament to his resilience.

As a society, we tend to rarely show sincere appreciation for people until they are gone. I can honestly say that I also allowed public perception to influence my appreciation for true talent. I was what you might call a closet MJ fan.  I know I’m not the only one who would be reluctant to blast MJ music in public. However, I do have a few of his jewels stored on my MP3 player like  “Human Nature,” or my most recent favorite, “Butterflies”.  I also made a point over the years to share his genius and talent with my children by proclaiming Mike as the “King of the Stage,” taking the thrown over their favorites Chris Brown, Justin Timberlake or Usher. His videos alone convinced them that he has the trophy for all-time best performer.

If there’s a lesson in this it is to appreciate people while they are here.  How many times have we seen t-shirts worn by people of their loved one who have passed away? I often ask, “would you have made a t-shirt” if that person was still alive. Most of the time the answer is, “probably not.”  Don’t wait until I’m gone to show me love.  Make a t-shirt of me now, while I’m here. We just celebrated a family event honoring my mother who is 75 years old.  Prior to the event we had t-shirts made with her image on the front. The event drew a larger than expected amount of family members from all over California. The sentiments of many of the folks attended was, “We should to this more often.” Most of the time families only get together like this when there’s a funeral. Whether it’s quality time with your immediate family, calling your grandparents once a week or attending the annual family reunion, these gestures are sincere and everlasting.

Never pass on an opportunity to show love and appreciation for someone because you never know what tomorrow will bring.  That holds true for family, friends or, in this case, a talented artist. Years ago I had a rare opportunity to see Myles Davis live at the Circle Star theater in Redwood City. I decided to pass thinking I’ll catch him next time. Unfortunately, he died a few months later. More recently, I had a chance to experience the God Father of Soul, James Brown in Cache Creek. I decided instead to go to the Berkeley Jazz  festival. Little did I know, James would pass away on December 25th that year. How many people who were constant critics of Michael Jackson are showing appreciation for him now that he’s gone?

Deon Price is youth advocate and freelance writer who lives in Suisun City, Ca. He can be reached at Deon.Price@comcast.net or http://www.priceedutainment.webs.com


Worldly Advice for The Class of 2009

Posted in Columns, This Generation by 311zine on 06/13/2009

By Deon Price

Congratulations class of 2009! You have just completed the first stage in your career endeavors. That’s right! I said,  your career. I know that’s probably the last thing on your minds right now. At eighteen your priorities are probably upgrading your cell phone or getting a vehicle. Those of you with a bit more ambition may be thinking of finding a job or going to college. I encourage you to brace yourself for you are about to enter an extremely challenging adult reality. What was once an environment filled with plenty of opportunities regardless of your choice of direction be it the job market, military or advanced education, we are seeing unprecedented obstacles in every career path. You will need skill, talent, patience and endurance to overcome these obstacles.

The economy has tremendously affected the job market for the 2009 high school graduates. Even entry level front line jobs are being eliminated. I recently pulled up to a drive through at a local McDonalds. A very pleasant female voice greeted me through the speakers, “Welcome, to McDonalds may I help” After I ordered a happy meal for my baby boy and a number 6 for myself, I rolled forward to the window- it was a 30 something male who completed the transaction. I learned that the voice that I heard was a live person in an Arkansas call center greeting customers in California. I was blown away! Instead of hiring a local teen fresh out of high school, McDonalds is outsourcing its front-line jobs to a state where labor is obviously cheaper.

More applicants are willing to man-up and toe the line by enlisting in one of our Armed forces not necessarily for patriotic reasons but for gainful employment. Military recruiters have raised the bar on their requirements, including expecting a higher score on the ASVAB test. As recently as a year ago, recruiting was rough. They were accepting any able bodied individual with a high school diploma and a pulse.

Due to state budget cuts that may eliminate Pell Grants, there will be 200,000 students that will not have the opportunity to attend college. California State university will reduced the number of incoming freshman by 10 thousand students. This will be the first time in nearly 20 years that the California State University has been forced to reduce its enrollment.

If your first option is not immediately available to you, whether it’s the job you want or the college you applied to, do not get discouraged. Don’t let that “Thanks! But no thanks!” letter kill your spirit. You simply go with option number two which may be trade school or community college. I also encourage you to be an active participant in the direction of your life. Explore different opportunities to find your most prevalent skill set. We are in very critical times that require very careful and diligent decisions. Explore every avenue in order to find your niche, your passion or your true life’s work. You may have to leave your comfort zone and take the road less traveled.

Finally, one of the best skills you can develop that will help you succeed is one that you won’t find in any high school or college class schedule: Interpersonal Skills. The more you are able to maintain and retain personal and professional relationships, the more apt you will be at improving your quality of life. Congratulations and good luck, Class of 2009.

Deon Price is a youth advocate and freelance writer who lives in Suisun City. He can be reached at Deon.Price@comcast.net or www.youtube.com/PriceEdutainment

Educational Entertainment A Way to Reach Youth

Posted in Columns, This Generation by 311zine on 05/13/2009

By Deon Price |

Engaging young people on a consistent basis is a challenge all too familiar for educators, counselors, youth program directors and school administrators. As state budget cuts take place in the form of terminating teachers and eliminating physical education, music and creative arts, we will face very difficult times for youth who are already being slighted by political decisions. Extracurricular activities are vehicles that help students remain engaged in school. Unfortunately, these are the first programs cash-strapped school districts will have to eliminate.

As arts, athletics and supplemental programs are removed, I fear more students will become disengaged and dropouts will increase. The last thing Bay Area students need is yet another reason to separate themselves from the already depleted public school system. Our public school institutions are falling short of preparing our youth for the world or in most cases a higher education.

The need for alternative educational institutions will be more critical than ever. Parents may decide to home school, or consider a performing arts school. Solano County is the only county in the Bay Area that doesn’t have a performing arts school either public, private or charter. The Solano Academy of Performing Arts and Technology organization is trying to be the first.

The mission of most performing arts schools is to empower a community of students with the academic, technical and social/emotional skills required to participate in the global society as professional life-long learners and leaders. The concept is achieved by providing an enriched art- and business-centered environment, which facilitates and promotes critical thinking, logical reasoning, literacy development and creative expression. The philosophy is to prepare students for post -secondary education and training in the various industries in the workforce by providing a rigorous and challenging curriculum that is relevant and flexible enough to be tailored to their unique needs, talents and interests.

The students will be motivated by connecting core academic subject matter to real life experience and creating meaningful and innovative ways of learning.

It is obvious to me the traditional educational environment isn’t effective for some students. This environment will excite students to become more resourceful so they continue to learn outside the formal school setting.

I am a huge supporter of this type of nontraditional educational institutions. There are several ways students learn which mean we should explore different types of teaching. The creative arts is a great tool for teaching that we should continue to invest in.

The concept of educational entertainment is proven to be successful. www.youtube.com/priceedutainment Students are inspired and engaged to perform well in academics through creative, performing and media arts. To put it simply, to deliver a curriculum in a way that reaches the spirit will inspire that student and will have a lasting effect.

Deon D. Price is a youth advocate and freelance writer. Reach him at Deon.Price@Comcast.net.