Local Author Shines in Literary World

At one time, Baltimore native Alexander London was an award winning journalist who reported from conflict zones and refugee camps.

Today, as he notes in his biography, he can be found wandering the streets of Philadelphia— and when he comes home to Baltimore— talking to his dog, whom he says is the real brains of the operation.

London, 38, has written numerous best-selling books including books for children and teens. He is acclaimed as the author of “The Wild Ones” series, “Dog Tags” and the “Tides of War” series, as well as the “Accidental Adventures” and two titles in the “39 Clues” series for young readers.

In the fall, London will release his new book, “Black Wings Beating,” the first in a series of fantasy books set in a world of cut-throat falconry.

“I’ve been lucky to have a lot of inspirations in my writing life. My parents always encouraged my imagination, even as the wondered how I’d pay the bills using it,” London said. “But, it was probably my 5th grade teacher, John Xanders, and my amazing elementary librarian, Martha Ruff, who put the right books in my hand at the right time that set me on the path I’m walking now.”

It’s London’s opinion that every young writer needs someone to open the world of books to them at some point, to show them they have a place in it, no matter who they are or where they’re from.

There is room for everyone in books, he said.

“Writers talk about ‘pantsers,’ those who fly by the seat of their pants, and ‘plotters,’ those who plot out everything before they write a word. I’m more of a pantser, in that when an idea or a character or a voice comes to me, I just start writing to see where it goes,” London said.

Usually about one-third of the way in to a novel, London gets stuck and then must start making an outline, writing at the same time, he said.

As a teen, London moved to New York to attend Columbia University where he graduated with a degree in philosophy. Later, he earned a master’s degree in Library Science from Pratt Institute.

Some of his adult-themed books include “One Day the Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War,” and “Far from Zion,” for which he was named as a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.

“I believe books belong to their readers, especially books for young readers, so I tend to think that once a book is published and in the hands of eager young readers, it’s up to them to make the story what they will and the book is no longer mine,” London said when asked if he had a favorite book. “For me, my favorite is always the next one, the one that still belongs just to me.”

Currently, that is “Black Wings Beating,” which he says is also about family, love, redemption, longing, and giant killer birds.

“Once [it’s made its way to readers, then the next one will be my favorite and then the one after that and on and on, because I have a lot of stories left to tell, if I’m lucky enough to get the chance to tell them,” London said.

So, what motivates, or drives, this successful author?

“I do a lot of school visits to talk about reading and writing, and it’s the kids I meet that keep me going,” he said.

“Because a lot of my characters come from marginalized communities, especially the LGBTQ community, I’ll often have kids who’ve never believed they’d get to see anyone like themselves as the hero of a story tell me what it meant to feel seen and validated and ‘normal.’

“That keeps me going. I believe books for young people, at their best, create possibilities for young people’s imaginations, whether its believing that they can be the hero of their own story or seeing the full humanity in someone who is nothing like themselves. Books are empathy accelerators, and I’m honored I get to have a part in creating them.”

Baltimore City Students Express Views on Violence Through Art

The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words,” embodies a citywide gallery show and competition sponsored by The University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center Violence Prevention Program.

The initiative is called Art Against Violence. Through art, the program gives kids an outlet to articulate their feelings and be part of the conversation about violence in Baltimore and throughout the world.

By using art, the University of Maryland R. Cowley Shock Trauma Center also seeks to inspire Baltimore City residents to reduce hostile and risk-taking behaviors that lead to violent and traumatic injury.

The University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center Violence Prevention Program’s mission is to prevent violent personal injury among Baltimore City’s most at-risk populations through research and evidence-based programs targeting the root causes of violence.

Dr. Carnell Cooper founded the Violence Intervention Program in 1998 to reduce the number of repeat victims of violence in Baltimore. “We see the results of the violence that happens to our citizens here in this city,” said Dr. Cooper, who is a Shock Trauma surgeon. “Art Against Violence was started as part of our many efforts to try to impact the violence in our city.”

UM Shock Trauma is the designated trauma hospital in Maryland to treat the most severely injured and critically ill patients. Dr. Cooper noted that violence is the leading cause of death for young adults in Baltimore.

“We are constantly trying to highlight the problem of violence in our community,” said Dr. Cooper. “One thing we know from our research is that patients who drop out of school are at higher risk of being victims of violence, and Baltimore has a high drop-out rate. We try to partner with schools to prevent kids from dropping out.

“Art Against Violence was an ideal fit. It allowed us an opportunity to highlight our concern about violence in our community and gave our students in the Baltimore community an outlet to express their feelings.”

Dr. Cooper is also an associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “As a member of faculty here at the School of Medicine, part of what we feel is that we want to impact the community beyond what we do here in the hospital. We want to go beyond closing wounds, and impact the community around us to make it better. We here at the University, are a part of the community, and want to impact it beyond our doors.”

He added, “We do things like this to reach out to the community. We want to have an impact to prevent people from coming to Shock Trauma with a violent injury. That is part of our new approach.”

This year, the annual event was held at the Memorial Episcopal Church, located at 1407 Bolton Street in Baltimore.

The event took place March 23, 2018 during National Youth Violence Prevention Week, which seeks to raise awareness and to educate students, teachers, school administrators, counselors, school resource officers, school staff, parents, and the public on effective ways to prevent or reduce youth violence.

More than100 artworks were submitted by Baltimore City Public School students. The winners were: Ciaya Spence Highlandtown Elementary (Elementary School Category.); DaySean Matthews, City Springs Elementary (Middle School Category); and Mia Mohammed, Bard High School (High School Category).

“The artwork illustrates a number of things,” said Dr. Cooper. “You can see that the participants gave this issue some real thought. The artwork shows what is going on in their communities and personal lives. The violence around them is impacting them, and the way they proceed in their lives.

“It is concerning that they should have these kinds of thoughts as opposed to much more light-hearted thoughts. That is the nature of the communities that some of our kids are growing up in. It should be a wake-up call for all of us to put more thought into making our communities safer. Ultimately, children will feel more optimistic about the communities they are growing up in.”

After the event, the artwork was on display at the University of Maryland Medical Center through the first week of April followed by other sites. Works of art were also available for purchase.

Self-Defense Training Offered in Recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Every April, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) coordinates the national Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) campaign during the month to educate and engage the public in addressing the issue.

In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Krav Maga Maryland is hosting a women’s self-defense seminar at its Columbia facility located at 8865 Stanford Boulevard (Suite 101) on Saturday, April 28, 2018 from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. to teach women practical, easy to learn self-defense and personal safety strategies.

The seminar is open to females ages 14 and up, and will provide participants with the opportunity to participate in a hands-on training through Krav Maga Worldwide, which utilizes instinctive movements and aggressive counterattacks. The self-defense system was developed by the Israel Defense Forces for training military personnel in hand-to-hand combat. Krav Magna Worldwide. Krav Maga Worldwide pioneered Krav Maga self-defense training for civilians and law enforcement in the United States.

Elisabeth Green, general manager of Krav Maga Maryland will be conducting the seminar along with instructor Evelyn Pearcy.

“The seminar is a training we do several times a year,” said Green who is also an instructor. “It’s three hours long, and is a combination of physical self-defense techniques, mental training, and boundary-setting. It is a mental and physical training presented in a way that applies specifically to women.”

She added, “Evelyn Pearcy and I will be teaching women practical self-defense skills to fight off attackers and prevention skills. The purpose is to help them access environmental risks and identify threats before they take place.”

According to Green, “Krav Maga” is easy to learn, easy to retain, and brings students to a high-level of proficiency in hand-to-hand combat in a short period. She said the seminar is offered during the winter, spring, summer and fall.

“This is our spring seminar,” said Green. “We have them at least four times a year. It gives us an opportunity to train those who might not otherwise come and take a regular class with us. The goals of these seminars are always to provide a safe opportunity for women to learn self-defense in an environment where they are surrounded by other liked-minded individuals, not intimidated, and have fun with it. The goal is also for participants to enjoy it, and leave with self-defense skills that are available if they need them.”

This year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month theme is “Embrace Your Voice” and seeks to help individuals, communities and the private sector understand how they can take action to promote safety, respect and equality to stop sexual assault before it happens. Krav Maga Maryland’s Women Empowerment Seminar falls in line with the theme.

“The seminar opens up with an introduction, and then we do awareness training, and cover how it feels when someone is too close,” said Green. “Then we transition into striking, kicks, and move into self-defense, and cover things like being choked. We also answer questions. The seminar moves at a pace that anyone can do regardless of physical, athletic, or ability level.”

She added, “Krav Maga is a self-defense system not based on weight classes. It is really meant for anyone to learn with any physical ability. It works for a lot of people.”

Green says she has been teaching self-defense for six years.

“I focus a lot on training geared towards women,” she said. “I always get excited about the seminars. We love hosting the seminars and so many people tell us they enjoy them. The women learn how strong they are and that they can defend themselves. It’s really cool to see.”

The cost of the seminar is $99. According to Green, a portion of the proceeds will benefit Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, which is based in Columbia. The Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center is a multi-service crisis intervention center providing 24-hour crisis intervention services, emergency and transitional shelter, and community education.

For more information call 410-872-9194 or visit www.kravmd.com.

Greater Baltimore Kidney Walk Scheduled at Weinberg YMCA in Waverly

The National Kidney Foundation, which serves Maryland and Delaware, will hold its 16th annual Greater Baltimore Kidney Walk on Sunday, May 6, 2018 at The Weinberg Y located at 900 E. 33rd Street in the Waverly neighborhood in Baltimore City.

More than 5,000 people are expected to step up to raise awareness about kidney disease, organ donation and the importance of early screening and a healthy lifestyle for those at risk, according to a news release.

The 9th leading cause of death in the United States, kidney disease affects 9,300 Marylanders. With the increase in diabetes and high blood pressure, the numbers continue to climb, officials said.

This year’s event will again feature the rapper, Freeway, as emcee.

“I was blessed to have two kidney transplants that lasted a total of eight years. During that time, I did not have to receive dialysis treatment. There was light,” said Ray Harris, a 43-year-old from Owings Mills who is on dialysis again awaiting another transplant.

“However, the Kidney Disease bully returned in March 2014. Once again faced with kidney failure, I had no choice but to return to dialysis for the third time,” Harris said. “This time, despite being told I would need a live donor, I refused to be bullied and just exist. My wife and I attend any and all informational seminars and classes. We now bully Kidney Disease together by spreading awareness, giving support, encouraging advocacy and promoting prevention.”

Transplant recipient Sadie Chadwick-Carter 53 has been a walk participant under Team Sadie since 2011. She renamed her group Team Victory in 2013.

Transplant recipient Sadie Chadwick-Carter 53 has been a walk participant under Team Sadie since 2011. She renamed her group Team Victory in 2013.

Sadie Chadwick-Carter 53, and a transplant recipient who lives in Glen Burnie, has participated in the Greater Baltimore Kidney Walk since 2011, one year before she received her transplant.

“My team name started out as Team Sadie…because I honestly couldn’t think of anything at the time. I changed the team name in 2013 to Team Victory. Why? I have the victory over the enemy,” Chadwick-Carter said. “In this fight, Kidney Disease is the enemy of my body and my life. I am determined to be victorious. I live, and I walk victoriously in every area of my life.”

Tisha Guthrie, 43, a Kidney Walk Logistics Committee member and captain of “Team Zumba,” has participated in the walk for eight years.

“In 2005, at the age of 30, I was diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease and I was devastated. No stranger to the trials life has in store, I did my best to wade through the physical and emotional flood,” Guthrie said. “My health continued to decline, and severe intervention was inevitable. As I became acquainted with the wonderful individuals, both patients and staff, at my dialysis clinic, I learned just how many people, ethnicities and age groups are touched by renal disease.”

Sabrina Carter, 42, of Parkville with her son Tristan who was born with kidney disease has participated in Greater Baltimore Kidney Walk for six years.

Sabrina Carter, 42, of Parkville with her son Tristan who was born with kidney disease has participated in Greater Baltimore Kidney Walk for six years.

Sabrina Carter, 42, of Parkville is the mother of a son born with kidney disease and she’s participating for the 6th year.

“My son Tristan’s condition was discovered during my 20-week check-up. My ultrasound revealed that his kidneys were covered with cysts. After Tristan was born, it was discovered that his right kidney had no functions and the left side had decreased function,” Carter said. “Tristan did require surgery at the age of one but has since been stable. His right kidney was completely dissolved by his body and is now considered to have a solitary kidney. I walk to raise awareness for the disease and to promote how important prenatal care is. It saved my child’s life. Today Tristan is an active child. He participates in lots of activities and sports.”

Funds raised from the Kidney Walk will directly support the National Kidney Foundation’s local patient services, education and research efforts.

Participation is free, but donations are encouraged. Everyone who raises a minimum of $100 will receive a commemorative Walk t-shirt. Additional recognition gifts, including jackets, will be award-ed for meeting various fundraising levels.

For online registration, visit www.kidneywalk.org. To learn about sponsorship or volunteer opportunities, call 410-494-8545 to speak with executive director, Pattie Dash.

Earth Day isn’t Just for Rich, White People

For most of my life, Earth Day has been a stark reminder of yet another American tradition in which the basis was formed without people of color in mind. In 1970, the first Earth Day, like the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act and the founding of the United States Environmental Protection Agency that same year, was held in response to series oil spills throughout the 1960s.

Earth Day in particular was prompted by an oil spill off the Pacific coast of Santa Barbara—a predominantly white, affluent beachfront community. To me, Earth Day has been less about promoting the public health and well-being of all individuals through conservation and environmental protection and more about protecting the pristine land owned and occupied by wealthy, white people.

The shift toward intentional inclusion of frontline communities in the environmental movement over the past few years makes this Earth Day different for me; it will be different, because when I look around the country and see oppressed populations rising up and staking their claim in this movement. One prominent example of this has been the increased national capacity and presence of NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program. That will be evidenced this Earth Day as NAACP chapters around the country are hosting activities to engage communities of color in ways tied to deeper social justice and civil rights efforts that are taking place year-round. Needless to say, you won’t just see us planting trees on Earth Day 2018 and going on hiatus until the Earth Day 2019.

As we wrestle with various environmental issues in Michigan, we enter Earth Day with our eyes on the prize— clean air to breathe and safe water to drink. As local oil refineries, trash incinerators, and corporate and municipal utility companies continue to pollute our air with toxic emissions, the Michigan NAACP continues to challenge coal-based permits to install, permits to increase toxic emissions, and the expansion of facilities who already have unchecked violations. Recently, we also undertook efforts to protect our drinking water sources by providing substantive written public comments on Michigan’s proposed revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule, lifting up our most vulnerable communities and calling for the standard to be zero parts per billion, because we know that no level of such a contaminant in our drinking water is safe.

To learn more about the NAACP’s environmental justice initiatives, visit: www. NAACP.org.

Jeremy Orr is the Environmental and Climate Justice Committee Chair for the NAACP Michigan

CharmTV Gives Youth an Outlet for Their Point of View

Since the aftermath of the school shooting tragedy in Parkland, Florida, young people have taken centerstage in expressing themselves publicly on issues affecting America’s youth.

Now, Baltimore’s CharmTV has launched a new program specifically for the city’s youth to discuss issues and topics that are important to them and their peers.

“The Avenue,” which will air Saturdays at 2 p.m. and Mondays at 7 p.m., provides city youth with an opportunity to not only share their views but to get involved in the production of the show, which will include a work-study to learn about the ins and outs of television production.

“Over the past few months, it has been exciting to execute on Mayor Catherine Pugh’s vision to have programming on our network targeted to young people in Baltimore,” said Tonia Lee, the general manager of CharmTV which focuses on everything from local food and cuisine, people and neighborhoods, and history and cultural events. “Many of the topics that will be approached are important not just to the youth of Baltimore, but to youth across the country.”

“Equally important, the on-the-job training and experience that the student production crew receives will help them learn, grow, and prepare for the future,” she said.

“The Avenue” work-study production team consists of Skie Brooks, 15; Mikaela Tatum, 15; Cordell Forbes, 17; Jadzia Hall, 19; Kyla Jackson, 17; and Kamari James, 18.

“That fact that Mayor Pugh is interested in me makes me feel great not only from a personal standpoint, but the fact that she’s interested in all of Baltimore’s youth really speaks volumes,” said Kyla, who noted that she believes the top two issues facing young ones locally are violence and not having enough to do outside of school.

“The youth in this city being able to have a voice is so important to me, especially at this moment, because so much is going on,” Kyla continued. “I think adults need to know how young people feel when it comes to certain things.

The youth have so many ideas for this city to be better, and I think that we need to be heard. ‘The Avenue’ is a great place for the youth to share their thoughts and ideas.”

Kamari James said he wanted to be a part of “The Avenue” because it provides youth a chance to voice their opinion and bring topics to the table that he believes deserves awareness.

“I feel like when we talk about the topics we choose, there’s someone really listening to us that can help us make change. The top two issues that I face as a young person are being misunderstood and overlooked many times,” Kamari said.

A platform for the city’s youth is important now because it provides an opportunity to highlight pertinent issues, he said. “We also get the chance to expose events that are important to Baltimore youth as a community.”

CharmTV regularly broadcasts addresses of the mayor, City Council and other municipal meetings. It also features shows like “Game Changers,” “Who We Are,” and “My Town.”

“Being able to learn about television and television production excites me so much because I aspire to be a broadcast journalist, and this gives me an insight on what it would be like which I am truly grateful for,” Kyla said.

For Kamari, learning TV production is fun and inspiring because he is pursuing a career in filmmaking.

“I want to have a career behind-the-scenes and to see everything that takes place before, during, and after shooting makes me comfortable about my choice in going after this career,” Kamari said.

For more information about the program, “The Avenue” visit: www.charmtv.tv

Pasadena Native Serves With U.S. Navy Half a World Away

Pasadena, Maryland, native and 2012 Northeast High School graduate, Seaman Shaquona O’Berry is serving in the U.S. Navy forward-deployed aboard the guided missile destroyer, USS Curtis Wilbur.

Seaman O’Berry is a culinary specialist aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer operating out of Yokosuka, Japan. The ship routinely deploys to protect alliances, enhance partnerships, and be ready to respond if a natural disaster occurs in the region.

A Navy culinary specialist is responsible for operating and managing Navy messes and living quarters established to subsist and accommodate Navy personnel.

O’Berry is proud to serve in the Pacific and fondly recalls memories of his hometown, Pasadena.

“Pasadena taught me to be hesitant before you speak and I apply that to my everyday dealings in the Navy,” said O’Berry.

Moments like that makes it worth serving around the world ready at all times to defend America’s interests. With more than 50 percent of the world’s shipping tonnage and a third of the world’s crude oil passing through the region, the United States has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world. The Navy’s presence in Yokosuka is part of that long-standing commitment, explained Navy officials.

“I joined the military to fight for my country and I am well prepared for a forward-deployed schedule,” said O’Berry.

Destroyers are warships that provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities. They are 510 feet long and armed with tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, Standard Missile-3 and newer variants of the SM missile family, advanced gun systems and close-in gun systems. Destroyers are deployed globally and can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, or amphibious readiness groups. Their presence helps the Navy control the sea. Sea control is the precondition for everything else the Navy does. It cannot project power, secure the commons, deter aggression, or assure allies without the ability to control the seas when and where desired.

Curtis Wilbur has anti-aircraft capability armed with long range missiles intended for air defense to counter the threat to friendly forces posed by manned aircraft, anti-ship, cruise and tactical ballistic missiles.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, O’Berry and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“I’ve learned to channel my anger and I am more responsible and organized because of the Navy,” said O’Berry. “Serving in the Navy means you are doing something bigger than yourself, taking steps forward to help everyone else.”

Seventh Fleet, which is celebrating its 75th year in 2018, spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. Seventh Fleet’s area of operation encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 sailors in the 7th Fleet.

Letters to the Editor: Re: Putin is the Enemy

— Vladimir Putin denies Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, but U.S. intelligence agencies have conclusive evidence of the meddling.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies with interfering in U.S. elections.

The U.S. has sanctioned Russian individuals. The Russian firm, Internet Research Agency, which directed the Russian espionage in the election was funded by Yevgency Prigozhin, a close ally of Putin.

During an interview with Megyn Kelly, Putin attempted to shift the blame for the election interference to Russian citizens who, according to him, are not real Russians. This dumb commentary was made by a so-called, world leader.

Putin said, “Maybe they’re not even Russians. Maybe they’re Ukrainian, Tartars, Jews-just with Russian citizenship.”

Evidently, Communist Russia has varying classes of citizens based on ethnicity, religion and other backgrounds.

Inhumane Putin and Communist Russia are enemies of the U.S. and other democratic countries.

‘Maryland 529’ Enrollment Deadline Extended ‘til May 31

Maryland parents eager for their children to attend college should be aware of the new enrollment deadline for the Maryland Prepaid College Trust (MPCT). With enrollment now extended through May 31, 2018, families can save for college by locking-in tomorrow’s tuition at today’s rates.

The MPCT is one of two 529 college savings plans administered by Maryland 529, an independent state agency that gives families an opportunity to lock-in tomorrow’s tuition at today’s prices. Benefit payments from the Prepaid College Trust can be used at both in-state and out-of-state colleges and contributors with Maryland taxable income may take up to a $2,500 State income deduction per account, annually.

“With student loan borrowers having doubled in the last 10 years to 42 million people, and student loan debt ballooning from $240 billion to $1.3 trillion, saving for college by enrolling in a 529 plan can help reduce the amount borrowed, and in some cases eliminate the need to take out a student loan in the future,” said Michelle Winner, Public Relations and Marketing Program Manager of Maryland 529. “The Prepaid College Trust allows Maryland families to gain the peace of mind that comes with knowing they have locked into today’s prices for future tuition benefits that their children or grandchildren can ultimately use.”

According to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics, 65-percent of Maryland high school seniors choose to attend post-secondary institutions out-of-state. With over half of high school students opting to enroll in out-of-state schools, parents need to save with a plan that allows for flexibility.

With the Maryland Prepaid College Trust, account holders have the freedom to use their savings at both in-state and out-of-state colleges and universities. Savings can be used to pay the full in-state or in-county tuition and mandatory fees at any Maryland public college, or pay up to the Weighted Average Tuition or your Minimum Benefit toward tuition and mandatory fees at nearly any federally accredited private or out-of-state college.

Additional information-points are noted as follows:

•The MPCT is backed by a Maryland Legislative Guarantee, which adds an additional level of assurance for account holders.

•MPCT account holders are eligible for federal tax benefits and MPCT account holders and contributors with Maryland taxable income may take up to a $2,500 State income deduction per account, annually on their State taxes.

•The MPCT is open to children from newborn through 12th grade, but accounts must be open for at least three years before tuition benefits can be paid.

The deadline to enroll in the MPCT is Thursday, May 31, 2018. To open a MPCT account, visit: Maryland529.com/Enroll-Now and complete the online enrollment form. More information about the benefits of the Maryland Prepaid College Trust can be found at www.Maryland529.com.

I Say No To a Starbucks Boycott

Starbucks has proven to be one of America’s most responsible corporate citizens. In 2014 following the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, by Officer Darren Wilson, then Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz took action when other corporations remained silent.

Starbucks launched its national “Race Together” campaign that encouraged Starbucks’ baristas (workers) to write “race together” on customer coffee cups to spur conversations about race within Starbucks locations. Months later in 2015 following the shooting of Walter Scott, Starbucks CEO Howard D. Schultz was again venturing into the arena of race relations while appearing on stage at Spelman College-a historically-black women’s institution-as part of a panel discussion on the book titled, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”

Again and again, Starbucks has been at the forefront of corporate America when it comes to cultivating a society where all people matter.

As president and CEO of ONUS, Inc.-a national organization committed to Resolving Longstanding Problems that Seem Too Big to Fix, I firmly believe in the power of boycotts. Following the killing of Michael Brown, ONUS conducted one of the most effective and long-standing boycotts in Ferguson, MO, against Sam’s Club and Walmart.

Both stores routinely called upon Ferguson Police to arrest black men who verbally challenged managers’ decisions. Unlike Starbucks, Walmart, Inc. doubled-down in support of its employees’ hateful actions and made no apology for saddling good citizens, who happened to be black men, with unwarranted police records. Walmart then relied upon its deep purse to vigorously defend its deplorable actions.

Starbucks is no Walmart. While I firmly embrace boycotting as an effective tool of free speech, boycotting cannot and should not be black America’s one retort to offensive acts carried out by individual employees representing what has proven to be a good corporate citizen. I do not mean to imply that Starbucks is perfect; I surmise that Starbucks still has internal issues related to race and diversity.

Nonetheless, I appreciate the steps Starbucks’ CEO and Board of Directors have and are taking in response to the incident in Philadelphia, such as the swift issuance of a public apology, public rebuke of the offending employees’ actions and the planned shutdown of Starbucks outlets nationwide for diversity and customer service training. Starbucks is demonstrating that its promise to do better is far more than a mere gesture designed to quiet a public uprising.

Starbucks has earned what millennials refer to as “street cred.” Consequently, the Corporation deserves grace when employees make missteps or engage in discriminatory actions rooted in personal perspectives. While I am confident Starbucks will make right with the young men who were wrongfully arrested in Philadelphia, I urge its leaders to again take the corporate lead by helping to revamp policing in America nationwide.

The Uniform Reporting Law Enforcement Improvement Act (URLEIA) is the solution to America’s policing problem and will effectively revamp policing from the ground up. Corporations, like citizens, have a responsibility to ensure policing nationwide is guided not by the whims of individuals and powerful conglomerates but by the constitutional and humane application of law.

To learn more about URLEIA, visit: www.ChangeIsOnUs.org. Learn more about Jerroll Sanders who is a business executive, author of The Physics of Money: If You’ve Got My Dollar, I Don’t, diversity expert, and strategist by visiting www.jerrollsanders.com.