It's a Beautiful Day in OUR hood
White supremacy is a long-rooted destructive social determinant that contributes significantly to disparities in education, health, housing, wealth, and, in general, quality of life. When addressing this Revelations-like “Beast,” we must understand that institutional statements about Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity, Diversity, and Inclusion are just statements unless oppressed people force institutions to also proactively pursue equity and social justice. Otherwise, we witness appalling things such as the Rooney Rule being adopted in 2003 when there were 3 Black Head Coaches and, in 2020, there are 3 Black Head Coaches.
Because of its ability to regenerate, White supremacy deserves responses as rigorous as those made to Covid-19, i.e., systemic interventions by all societal sectors. Regarding Blacks’ responses to White supremacy, this article was stimulated by my colleague, Dr. Curtiss E. Porter (Chancellor Emeritus, Penn State Greater Allegheny) who wrote, “I am concerned about this generation’s response to White Supremacy… It appears to me, that they think ‘words are enough,’ which I will generalize in the headline ‘Dear White People.’ They are brilliant in articulating the vectors and intersections of racial substance, thought and action, such as the negative outcomes posed by micro-aggression but, in the end, it appears, that much is directed toward some ‘great white ear’ which will hopefully respond munificently.”
In the spirit of Sankofa, a backward look was taken to recall what “brought us thus far” and, based on current circumstances, discern implications for today’s fight against White supremacy. This brief reflection confirms, for example, that “Freedom only comes through persistent revolt, through persistent agitation, through persistently rising up against the system of evil.” (Martin Luther King Jr.) As corroborative evidence, consider two significant periods during the war against White supremacy.
1663-1865 The African Holocaust in America, also known as slavery, remains one if not the worst example of inhumanity --one that produced such excruciating suffering that “ride-or-die” folks were needed in the pursuit of freedom. The horror produced by demonic White supremacists led to people who  leaped from slave ships into the seas;  conducted more than 250 slave rebellions;  implemented work slowdowns by breaking tools and setting fire to crops;  killed newborns rather than let them grow up as slaves;  served as “House Negroes” but spied on masters in order to help “Field Negroes” plan attacks against the master; and,  fled from plantations. These were the proverbial “desperate times that required desperate measures,” including the fact that it took the bloodiest American war to end slavery.
1954-1980 Immediately after the Civil War, there were continued bombings, burnings, lynchings, and shootings of Blacks. Jim Crow laws were passed to enforce racial segregation. Racism became institutionalized. For more than a century, by law and in practice, Blacks were subjugated second class citizens. Therefore, the Civil Rights Movement was driven by a sense of urgency as well as commitment to a wide array of direct actions undergirded by Martin Luther King Jr’s exhortation “…that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
Accordingly, instead of simply hoping that White leaders would respond munificently,  Black students confronted and made demands on historically White institutions of higher education;  Black national organizations won a series of key court cases;  Black community activists boycotted, marched, sat-in and made demands on local governments, schools, and businesses;  Blacks, by way of urban insurrections, exploded like a “festering raisin in the sun;” and  Let us not forget that Dwight Eisenhower sent troops to Arkansas and, later, Lyndon Johnson sent troops to Alabama.
Blacks’ direct action was supplemented by a plethora of efforts to raise “race consciousness,” i.e.,  to move from an inferior and subservient self-concept as a “Negro” to a proud and self-assertive “Black” mentality; and  to gain “Black power” which included Blacks doing for self as well as taking their rightful places in public spaces, e.g., to freely attend public schools as well as build Black owned and operated schools; to work in corporate positions as well as become entrepreneurs; to be fairly covered in the White-owned press as well as create Black newspapers; and to dine at any public restaurant as well as own and operate restaurants.
2000-2020 “Diversity and Inclusion” replaced “affirmative action” but did not significantly advance “equity and social justice” for Blacks. During this period, members of the “talented tenth” became the first Blacks to occupy various managerial, political, and staff positions; Black students gained a significant but token presence in higher education; and more Blacks escaped the worst of poverty. However, by 2020, disparities were growing like a lethal virus as evidenced by widening gaps in Black home ownership, health, educational achievement, and wealth. This scenario reminds one of when more than 40,000 Blacks got back on the White folks’ buses instead of also building upon the transportation system they developed during the Montgomery boycott.
Regarding Blacks’ addressing White supremacy, I have a dream that, one day, the very best Black student-athletes, other students, faculty, administrators and staff will choose to take their talents to several leading historically Black colleges and universities and turn them into externally verified world class colleges and universities. I have a dream that there will be more OWN channels, Tyler Perry Studios, Black law firms, Black banks, Black construction companies, Black grocery stores, and, in general, an exponential expansion of Black entrepreneurship.
In my dream, Blacks will deal with the full implications of Carter G. Woodson’s statement, “The education of the Negroes, then, the most important thing in the uplift of the Negroes, is almost entirely in the hands of those who have enslaved them and now segregate them.”
I dream of White supremacy withering on the vine when  Blacks become the largest active voting block and Black elected officers are multiplied significantly;  Black civic organizations, churches, and families regain their critical importance;  Blacks’ undying love for their people is wed to sustained systematic actions;  the most talented and highest achieving Blacks constantly speak truth to power instead of being muzzled by “30 pieces of silver;” and  the struggle against White supremacy is joined by all people purporting to endorse freedom, justice and equality.
Jack L. Daniel
Co-founder, Freed Panther Society
Contributor, Pittsburgh Urban Media
Author, Negotiating a Historically White University While Black
May 13, 2020
PITTSBURGH, PA (May 15, 2020) – The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) Board of Directors this morning expressed its disappointment in the announcement the Pittsburgh Penguins made immediately following the regularly scheduled May URA Board meeting. At the meeting, the URA Board voted to briefly delay preliminary approval on Block G1, proposed to be a new headquarters for F.N.B. Corp., and other items related to the Lower Hill Development. Board members requested two weeks to review materials that the development team provided well past the usual deadline.
The Penguins’ statement notes many public benefits that could result from their proposed development on the Lower Hill. Indeed, this development has the potential to result in thousands of family-sustaining jobs; historic commitments to workforce development and MWBE participation; millions of dollars flowing into the Greater Hill District Neighborhood Reinvestment Fund; and additional millions for affordable housing initiatives in the Middle and Upper Hill District. However, in order to ensure these commitments are real and concrete, URA staff and board members need to time to review and underwrite the deal.
“Despite broad support for the general concept, both from the URA and the Greater Hill District community, it’s a matter of public record that the development team knew in April that much more work was needed to solidify details on commitments made to the public in previous agreements,” said Board member Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle. “The minimum turnaround time usually requested is five business days.”
“This is truly a transformative development, worthy of public support, and so it should also be strong enough to withstand a short delay for review,” said URA Executive Director Greg Flisram. “We know that we can achieve development goals while also realizing tangible community benefits; at today’s URA, we understand those are complementary, not competing, goals.”
The URA Board and staff remain committed to advancing Pittsburgh’s economy in a way that leaves no one behind. The URA plans to announce a special board meeting, as early as next week, to finish the delayed business as soon as possible.
Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZM) today announced that it will open two new research and development centers - one in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area and one in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Zoom will immediately begin recruiting software engineering talent in these geographies. Employees will work from home until the offices are built and COVID-19-related isolation has abated, expected for fall 2020. While the company has not finalized the office locations, Zoom is looking for space near Arizona State University and Carnegie Mellon University, both of which have exceptional engineering programs. These two centers will add to Zoom’s existing R&D and support Zoom’s engineering leadership, which is based at its San Jose, California headquarters.
“Both Phoenix and Pittsburgh have incredibly well-educated, skilled, and diverse talent pools that are well-positioned to help support Zoom’s ongoing growth and continued success,” said Eric S. Yuan, CEO of Zoom. “We plan to hire up to 500 software engineers between these two cities in the next few years, drawing largely on recent graduates of the many local universities. We look forward to expanding our team and seeing what we accomplish together as we continue to build our world-leading video communications platform with best-in-class reliability, scalability, privacy, and security.”
“Zoom’s expansion into the Phoenix market reflects the success of our efforts to grow and support a new economy for Arizona that is based on technology and innovation,” said Michael M. Crow, President of Arizona State University. “With 4,500 engineering graduates per year and a nationally competitive faculty that have been honored with the highest awards in their fields, we are making great strides in creating a top-tier, concentrated environment of technology and talent in greater Phoenix to support the workforce and research and development needs of companies like Zoom.”
“We are so thrilled that Zoom is planning to establish a research and development center in Pittsburgh, a world-leading hub for engineering, computer science, and artificial intelligence,” said Farnam Jahanian, President of Carnegie Mellon University. “With our visionary faculty and exceptionally talented students, Carnegie Mellon is catalyzing revolutionary work to accelerate digital transformation across markets and industries, and we look forward to partnering with Zoom to enhance their remarkable momentum in defining the future of virtual interactions.”
Zoom is working with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance to make expansion into these cities a success. To explore open roles at Zoom, visit zoom.us/careers.
Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZM) brings teams together to get more done in a frictionless and secure video environment. Our easy, reliable, and innovative video-first unified communications platform provides video meetings, voice, webinars, and chat across desktops, phones, mobile devices, and conference room systems. Zoom helps enterprises create elevated experiences with leading business app integrations and developer tools to create customized workflows. Founded in 2011, Zoom is headquartered in San Jose, California, with offices around the world. Visit zoom.com and follow @zoom_us.
The Steelers offseason is in full swing, even if much of it is being done in a virtual world. The 2020 schedule came out last week, the team held their virtual rookie minicamp, and now players are taking part in virtual meetings, with rookies to veterans all working together with their position coaches via zoom.
It's not a normal offseason in the football world, but Coach Mike Tomlin told fans during the Steelers Nation Unite Huddle that they are moving forward with all teams in the NFL in the same boat.
"We face a lot of challenges, my mentality, and the group mentality is going to be they are challenges that everyone faces," said Tomlin. "From that standpoint it's going to be fair and the playing field is going to be level. We have to be light on our feet. There is going to be a period of adjustment from a scheduling standpoint as we gain our footing in terms of logistics of what day-to-day looks like and things of that nature.
"The entire National Football League will be going through it and I just think if we perform relatively better than others we put ourselves in position to be that team at the end of the journey. That is always our mentality regarding the start of a season."
The release of the schedule, with the Steelers opening the regular season against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football on Sept. 14, helps Tomlin with the planning and preparation.
"There was some angst before the schedule came out in terms of what the calendar looks like," said Tomlin. "Every year I build my calendar backwards from opening day. As long as I have an opening date, I have a framework in which to begin some planning. I just need to be light on my feet and understand some adjustments will be involved from there.
"We have a point from which to begin. The regular season and preseason schedule. We build our calendar back from that. We are excited about doing it. It's going to look different for us this year logistically in a lot of ways I am sure. That could be said for all of us. We are just ready to do it better than those we compete against."
Tomlin took questions from fans across the country, as well as some submitted online, and the topics ranged from the health of Ben Roethlisberger and Stephon Tuitt, to the depth chart at quarterback and much more.
Tomlin on virtual Rookie Minicamp
More from Tomlin:
On Roethlisberger's health:
"He is doing great thus far. He is in great physical condition. Rehabilitation in regard to the injury itself is going well. I hear nothing but positive reports from that standpoint. There have been no bumps in the road. The fact that the injury and subsequent surgery happened so early in the season in 2019 is probably an asset to him and to us as we push into 2020. I think everybody is comfortable with where things are. We're excited about him and what he is going to do for us this year."
On what the depth chart looks like at quarterback:
"We like to sort those things out through competition. As we are positioned today, Mason Rudolph is our backup quarterback. We have some capable guys who have logged some time and gained some interest for obvious reasons vying for the other spots. (Devlin) Hodges played some last year because of obvious circumstances. We were able to pick up Paxton Lynch, who is a former first rounder in the midst of the journey last year. We have some candidates. Mason Rudolph had an opportunity to gain some experience last year. We expect him to be better. He expects to be better. We are comfortable with the mix we have right now, not that we are opposed to get better at any position as we proceed if it makes sense to us."
* On if he started any new hobbies during quarantine:*
"I am binge watching Netflix and usually that is not my style. I am on 'Joe Exotic' like everybody else."
On how he decides to use personnel groups each week and how the tight ends work into that, especially with the addition of Eric Ebron:
"The personnel packages week-to-week have a lot to do with what we desire to be that week based on those available to us, but also some opponent related things relative to match up. Some weeks, if we have two tight ends available or three tight ends available, and from a matchup standpoint it creates issues for our opponents, then you might see that personnel group rise that week. And then it might be two or three subsequent weeks that it might not be as big because the variables aren't in play. That is why it's important you have quality depth and good players all around. You know that injury and so forth are part of the game and people are going to miss time.
"Number two you want to be able to create unique personnel groups and matchups for those you compete against. We are excited about having Ebron in the mix. We know that he and Vance McDonald are the type of duo that are capable of creating issues for people with their talent. We are excited about having those guys. We will sort out the usage of those guys week-to-week. We know invariably those guys and others have a chance to really make us versatile and make us an issue for those who we play against."
On the inside linebacker position and finding someone to replace Ryan Shazier and the cornerback position and others stepping up:
"We took Devin Bush a year ago and as a 20-year old he logged a bunch of snaps for us. We feel good about the overall trajectory of his play. Sometimes when you feel like you have a need it doesn't necessarily mean going out and getting a new component. It's about the improvement of the component you have. We are excited about him taking a significant step between year one and year two as a quality inside linebacker for us, being an all situations type player. To be the type of player to play to a Pro Bowl caliber level the way Ryan Shazier did.
"We are really excited about (cornerback) Justin Layne in the same way. He was a rookie a year ago. Was inactive early on. Carved out a role for himself as a special teamer. He is going through the natural participation, developmental process. Really distinguished himself in a positive way in a practice setting over the second half of the year. Those are usually signs a guy is going to take a step in his second year. We are exited about him and his development and what he can bring to us at the cornerback position, just as like we are excited about the development of Devin Bush and him taking a significant step off a solid rookie campaign he gave us at linebacker."
* On who Chase Claypool will begin behind on the depth chart, guys such as JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and James Washington:*
"I am not going to thoughtfully place him behind anybody. He might come in and carve out a significant role for himself. That is just the mentality I try to convey all of the time with everyone. I want Chase to know there aren't any glass ceilings in terms of what he can do and be for us, not only this year but over the course of his career. He'll be given the opportunity to let his talents show. The other guys you mentioned are talented people as well. Thus the competition. Competition makes us all better and whole and puts us in position to be a good unit and us a good team. He has talent, no question. I like his play demeanor. He is a sharp young man. I see no reason why he can't put himself in the mix and quite frankly we expect him to."**
On if he expects the running back position to be by committee with the group they have, which includes the addition of Anthony McFarland, or will James Conner be the featured runner:**
"I'm a feature runner type guy by mentality. I think that if you have a featured runner it gives them an opportunity to drop a stake in the ground and allows others to rally around him. It gives you a set of core phase run plays that he specializes in and you find a rhythm in that way. But no question in today's game that a feature runner needs to be supplemented and supplemented by guys who are capable of doing similar things in case he misses time, but also supplemented by guys who are capable of doing different things to maybe challenge the defense in different ways and I think that's just the makeup of our group right now.
"James is a feature runner and a proven guy when healthy and we're excited about him getting back to health and displaying that in 2020. Benny Snell is a guy who plays with a physical style in a similar manner as James and might be capable of being a James-type guy if James is unavailable. As you mentioned we're excited about McFarland, who brings a different component. He's got catch quickness and is quick to speed and is capable of producing big plays in open spaces. We like the collection of guys we have in the group.
"I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the addition of Derek Watt at the fullback position. We're excited about him. We're excited about what the group is going to do largely, but usually when it's doing well it's because you have a lead dog out front and that guy is the featured runner."
On Stephon Tuitt's health:
"Stephon is doing really well. Like I mentioned with Ben earlier, his injury occurred at the early portion of the season. As miserable as it made him and us, in 2019, it kind of bodes well for readiness in 2020. We expect Stephon to be ready to go. We are excited to have him and his talents back."
On the situation at nose tackle and if there is another guy out there like Casey Hampton:
"I like the collection of guys we have who are capable of vying for the position. Dan McCullers has been the backup at the position for a number of years. We drafted a young man, (Carlos) Davis out of Nebraska, who has some talent in that area. Tyson Alualu is a veteran guy who is position flexible, so he is capable in that area.
"That position won't be manned in the way Casey Hampton manned it years ago. As a matter of fact, today's game doesn't require that you man it in that way. It was a heck of a lot more base defense back when Casey played. Guys like him were really significant. The amount of running the football in the league at that time and more important the style of running, the double teams and so forth. It made guys like Casey not only necessary, but significant. That guy was a perennial Pro Bowler for us and really a catalyst for a great defense. I just think it's made up a little differently these days. There is probably more of a premium on those who rush the passer. As much as we love Hamp, we know that pass rushing was not his forte."
Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin planning for a new season.