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November 28, 2014

Response to Ferguson: Systemic Problems Require Systemic Solutions

Ferguson ASSOCIATED PRESS

Decades of segregation and inequality in Ferguson, as well as most American metropolitan areas, have fostered a racial inequality exacerbated by the criminalization of not just poverty, but the criminalization of black and brown bodies. Too many whites are too willing to believe that a black body poses a threat.

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Hill Harper: Offering 'Conversation' for Black Men and Women With New Book

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When 'CSI: NY' actor Hill Harper decided to pen a tome to inspire and uplift young African American men, he was confronted by plenty of naysayers. At his New York book-launch party for 'Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny,' the Harvard-educated author talked about the numerous people who told him young black people don't read. Instead of letting the negative comments dissuade him from writing, Harper stood firm in his belief that he had a message that young people needed to hear.

"I knew I could get an effective message across to our amazing young people. I am happy to know that both of my books have become [New York Times] best sellers, because that indicates to me that statistics and stereotypes can be overcome."

Harper's 2006 debut, inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke's 'Letters to a Young Poet,' includes advice from the likes of his Harvard Law classmate President Barack Obama, as well as rap star Nas and tennis great Venus Williams.

In 2008, Harper's second offering, 'Letters to a Young Sister: DeFINE Your Destiny,' followed. The book, which was designed to inspire young women and is written in letter format, features advice from influential black women like First Lady Michelle Obama, Nikki Giovanni and Ruby Dee.

Now, the 43-year-old, who notes that his biggest struggle in dating has been how much time he spends on the road, is hoping to switch gears and talk about relationships in his new book, 'The Conversation: How Black Men and Women Can Build Trusting Relationships.'

"My last two books, 'Letters to a Young Brother' and 'Letters to a Young Sister,' relied heavily on contributions from well-known men and women who had wisdom to impart to and inspire our youth. 'The Conversation,' however, is different," he clarified.

"The research I did for the book was all about talking to many people from all different walks of life to explore how we are or are not communicating as men and women."

The idea for 'The Conversation,' which includes stories from couples in all stages of relationships -- from new love to 50-year-long marriages -- came from the Iowa native's travels while promoting his previous books.

"While traveling the country on book tours and speaking engagements, I meet all sorts of people. ...Many of them trust me and feel comfortable enough to share their feelings and personal experiences," he said. "It made me want to explore both the reasons for the poor state of our men-women relationships and solutions for making them better."

Considering, as Harper points out, that in 1966, nearly 80 percent of black children were raised in two-parent households. Now that rate is a mere 33 percent; it is a good time for 'The Conversation' to hit bookstores this September.

After the release of 'The Conversation,' Harper hopes to work on a children's book series. But he's quick to remind everyone about how proud he is that his Harvard classmate is now the president of the United States of America.

"I'm so proud of him; I am so proud of us. Let's all of us work as hard as we can in our own communities to create the change that he discussed during the campaign so that we can see real transformation. He can't do it alone, and he is working really hard...so we should do the same."

Harper is certainly doing his part as an author. If 'The Conversation' is as successful as his previous two books, President Obama is certainly equally proud of Harper.

'The Conversation' will be released via Gotham Books on Sept. 8.



Mel B Pictures

    In this photo provided by Kraft Foods, Spice Girl "Mel B" poses for a photo wearing a T-shirt she designed based on the classic pink ribbon used for breast cancer awareness, after a fashion show and launch of "Pose for the Cure" web site to help Kraft Foods raise money for the 'Susan G. Komen for the Cure' fight against breast cancer in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008. The shirt is for sale on the web site and the net proceeds will benefit the foundation. (AP Photo/Kraft Foods, Ray Stubblebine) **NO SALES**

    AP

    In this photo provided by Kraft Foods, Spice Girl "Mel B" poses for a photo wearing a T-shirt she designed based on the classic pink ribbon used for breast cancer awareness, after a fashion show and launch of "Pose for the Cure" web site to help Kraft Foods raise money for the 'Susan G. Komen for the Cure' fight against breast cancer in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008. The shirt is for sale on the web site and the net proceeds will benefit the foundation. (AP Photo/Kraft Foods, Ray Stubblebine) **NO SALES**

    AP

    In this undated image released by Oxfam Tuesday Sept. 23, 2008, British singer Mel B participates in the 'In My Name' global campaign calling for action against poverty and demanding world leaders keep their promises on millennium development goals. (AP Photo/Oxfam, HO) ** NO SALES **

    AP

    In this photo provided by Kraft Foods, Spice Girl Mel B, left, serves as the emcee at a fashion show and launch of "Pose for the Cure" web site to help Kraft Foods raise money for the 'Susan G. Komen for the Cure' fight against breast cancer in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008. Mel B wears a T-shirt she designed based on the classic pink ribbon used for breast cancer awareness. The shirt is for sale on the web site and the net proceeds will benefit the foundation. The woman at right is unidentified. (AP Photo/Kraft Foods, Ray Stubblebine) **NO SALES**

    AP

    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 09: TV personality and designer Khloe Kardashian and Olympic-level swimmer and model Amanda Beard (R) pose backstage at the Mel B With Ultimo Spring 2009 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at the Metropolitan Pavilion on September 9, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images )

    Getty Images

    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 09: Ultimo Scottish designer lingerie brand founder Michelle Mone (L) and pop singer Melanie Brown pose backstage at the Mel B With Ultimo Spring 2009 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at the Metropolitan Pavilion on September 9, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images )

    Getty Images

    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 09: Pop singer Melanie Brown poses backstage at the Mel B With Ultimo Spring 2009 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at the Metropolitan Pavilion on September 9, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images )

    Getty Images

    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 09: Pop singer Melanie Brown and Olympic-level swimmer and model Amanda Beard (R) pose backstage at the Mel B With Ultimo Spring 2009 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at the Metropolitan Pavilion on September 9, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images )

    Getty Images

    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 09: Pop singer Melanie Brown and singer Aubrey O'Day (R) poses backstage at the Mel B With Ultimo Spring 2009 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at the Metropolitan Pavilion on September 9, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images )

    Getty Images

    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 09: Pop singer Melanie Brown, Olympic-level swimmer and model Amanda Beard, singer Aubrey O'Day and TV personality and designer Khloe Kardashian pose backstage at the Mel B With Ultimo Spring 2009 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at the Metropolitan Pavilion on September 9, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images )

    Getty Images

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