Why Life Stations Declined to join protests on #Skid Row

I’m sharing this email publicly to explain why Life Stations declined to March following the death of the man on Skid Row. Our director, Ron Smith has been actively working with officials and residents of Skid Row to improve the quality of life there for more than two years. Our explanation is below.

My dear brother in Christ.

I got your message. I’m writing this email in hopes of explaining my reason for declining your invitation to join the protests in Skid Row.

First, let me say that I am with you in being both outraged and heartbroken to learn of yet another killing. I too am compelled to action and agree that solidarity is necessary to achieve our goals. But it seems that the marches have become a distraction from the very causes we seek to highlight and wipe out.

Much of the nation is in agreement that there exists for black men, a struggle against overt cruelty and excessive brutality. Many are outraged at the indecent social treatment that keeps jumping up in the news. But as we all sit mesmerized by these unopposed oppressive forces of police brutality against black men and our governments unwillingness to punish it, we are at the same time not seeing the big picture of the cancers of second-rate living in urban communities across America where people continue to suffer from hunger and poverty, and unemployment, and drug addictions and abuse and a continual parade of black men being carted off to jail like cattle.

Aren’t these symptoms of the same disease? When do we get to the point that all of these are the conditions that public opinion is incensed by? Why is our righteous indignation limited to the sting of a bullet and when will our collective moral consciences strongly affirm the dignity of every person created in God’s image, the unity of humankind in His plan?

These are not separate but equal issues. They are one in the same. Together they are the right to live. I insist that we cannot oppose one and ignore the others.

In the two years that our director, Ron has been on Skid Row and we have been building Life Stations Centers we have met with many people who claim to be committed to social justice− strong on doctrine but week in action. We have spoken to those who clearly articulate the plight of the black man, but stop short of doing the works, preaching of rebuilding the spirit of the people but lacking the integrity it takes to do it. And none of them willing to put their backs in the fight long enough to make a difference.

Some have even hinted that we are ourselves to blame for the issues that exist within our community; that if we wear khakis and not sag our pants or polos and not hoodies… Yet none of them can recall what Emmett Till was wearing the day he was killed so many years ago. Clothes are not the issue.

And while I do agree that it is the responsibility of every black man and woman to own this battle, it is an outright lie to even suggest that we have not already lifted ourselves up from the muck and mire that was our beginning.

What other people came to this great America in bondage? What other race of man is more hated by other races than the black man? There is no parallel or a more continual opposition of a people and yet, as a people we have progressed so far … and with clean hands.

Since 9.11, God has placed in my belly a determination to help change this world−to make things right for my children and my children’s children. To give back even just a few minutes of sleep to those mothers who lay wait at night on baited breath for their sons to return home safely, and those fathers whose self esteem has suffered because they cannot bring home a decent wage to support their families and those children who go to bed most nights on empty stomachs. And with every shooting, that determination burns in me that much hotter.

Sadly, the brutal killings of our young men are not new to our community. Racially motivated killings have long been the “matter of fact” in our lives like the elephant in the room. And it will continue to be that way until we get to the real heart of the matter and confront the symptoms in their entirety. Indeed this is but one fight!

So, as much as I believe in the cause that you have chosen to fight for, I strongly disagree with the means by which you have chosen to fight. Every time we slow down too long to respond to individual killings, our fight becomes about that particular killing and ultimately our struggle is reduced to ambulance chasing, we become mere eulogists and the conditions within our communities go unchanged.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am all in on the fight for justice and for the improved quality of life for black men and their families. Trust me; I will not rest without it. But it’s time to stop marching and start doing!

Years have gone by and there is now so much more at our disposal. But we’re still using the same strategies that we did in the 60’s. And in the meantime, our sons are dying in record numbers. It’s like bringing knives to a gun fight and hoping for change.
But hope is not a strategy. Nor is it a plan!

I insist that all of us in leadership positions take the gloves off, roll up our sleeves and get this done. Our works MUST be labor intensive, directed, and intentional … intervening in the streets, the courtrooms, the school systems, in our local government and in our own homes. We need to pool our resources of friend’s family, churches and neighbors who believe in the common good to force a society that is humane for all humankind where each of us leads decent lives; attaining the kind of peace that extends outside of our communities and into our world. We should settle for nothing less.

Now is the time and the way has been found for those who truly seek it.

I hope you understand my position.

Be well my brother. And in whatever you decide to do, go with God!

Leslie Haskin
Chief Executive Officer
Life Stations Centers of Excellence


A New light of Hope across America! – Celebrating Black History Month w/Forgiveness (the death of racial bias)

all lives matterIt was evident in 1865 when Racism enacted laws that governed freed slaves. These laws, called Black Codes arrested homeless and unemployed black people and fined them as vagrant. Because the vast majority could not afford to pay the fines, they either went to jail or were forced to “work off” the offense. As time went on, poor black men filled the prisons until the majority of criminals were black and most poor blacks were criminals.

In essence, racism created laws that made black men and criminality the same thing.

In the 1920s and 30’s, Racism dressed in white hoods, called black people “niggers” and found southern trees to bare its trophies. It burned down homes, churches, business, schools and killed little black girls and boys— leaving their broken bodies on the sides of river banks like trash.

In the 40’s and 50’s Racism evolved. It changed its name to discrimination and segregation, changed ours to “Colored” and was a bit more tolerant of our visionaries and white advocates who joined forces with us in the military, politics and social reform.

Racism pushed back on us when we dared to dream and march and demand equality. It publicly brutalized us with hoses and gases and dogs. But we persevered. Focused and unrelenting, our efforts enacted laws that gave us the rights to vote and learn and lift our heads in public and yes, even ride a bus. We demonstrated and prayed until our men became leaders and heroes and eventually martyrs for our causes.

Then Racism retreated. Wounded, but still alive, it laid low and reinvented itself. And while the black community, bent over and carrying 300 years of pain as if it didn’t exist, found pride in black power, black panthers, Shaft and afros, Racism became Racial Bias and we became Black.

Racial Bias is trendy and it sounds nicer. It’s subtle, institutionalized and on its surface, it’s even nonracial. Giving us reason to be newly suspect of our friends next door, it widens the racial divide; instigating accusation and promoting new fears.  And instead of using southern trees, Bias decorates urban sidewalks with the bodies of black men and police stations with the hoodies of non-aggressives. It assigns our daughters to systemic living but boasts of its tolerance to interracial marriage, integrated schools, communities and church…all the time ignoring our liked-minded Caucasian friends and keeping true equality just beyond reach.

And like some ancient demigod, it works in mysterious ways … existing just beneath the surface of truth and infusing our conversations with so much passion that they’ve become unproductive.

It has created racial divides so vast they’re impassable. It has laid for itself a foundation so strong with micro aggressive laws, pointed fingers, behavioral slights, snubs and insults embedded so deep in our society, they’re unreachable.

But what if finally, we did something different?

20120513053600!PickaxeWhat would happen to racism, if regardless of race, every one of us who REALLY cared grabbed a pic axe and started to dig?

What if we changed the game?

Who would we become if we accepted our differences and forgave the past… what if we took away its excuses?

Let’s do it!

Join me in a show of solidarity throughout the month of February, Black History month, by putting a green light on your front porch, in your window or on your steps; symbolizing healing, forgiveness and new beginnings for all people!!

Our position should be that our issues are not limited to one race of people because they are so big that they impact the quality of life for all people.

Share this blog. Spread the word…

Let’s shine a new light of hope across America!




RACISM STOPS WITH ME – Support Legislation to Punish Race Related Acts of Violence

GTY_martin_luther_king_nt_130823_16x9_992Martin Luther King would have been 86 years old on this upcoming January 15, 2015. His legacy is a civil rights fight that won black people the right to life in America.

And almost 50 years after his racism-related death, our sons continue to be sacrificed for the equality that we’re still being denied.

As black Americans, we are forced to accept behavior that is unacceptable in today’s global world. We’re denied credit because of our address, followed around in stores and suspect in high-end restaurants. We must teach our sons to hold both hands out of the car window when pulled over by the police and not to have too many friends in the car at once…. just as a matter of survival.

Our mothers still lay awake praying all night, watching the door, terrified that the phone might ring with bad news that the son she loves, because his pants fell below the belt line, was shot and killed during his short three block walk home from his night shift at work.

The truth is that while many people still deny the deep-rooted issues and the legacy of historical injustices in the black community, recent events in the news are forcing the blinders to come off and stand as the most visceral acts of racism today.

So where do we go from here?

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom.”

black lives matterLife Stations Centers of Excellence is leading the charge for equality…taking our fight to the men and women who we elected to office believing that they would serve and protect us.

We’re lobbying for legislation that punishes overt and subtle acts of racism which directly and indirectly causes the death of any individual; with stricter punishment for acts which result in the death of individuals under the age of 25.

STAND WITH US.  As our voices united together deliver a clear message that it is not okay to kill our sons, husbands and brothers. And we will no longer stand on the sidelines taking pictures of the injustice while injustice prevails.

JOIN US on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday; Thursday, January 15, 2015 in areas across the United States. We are gathering in Washington DC, in Albany New York, Canton Ohio, Chicago Illinois and in front of local and regional town halls across the United States  demanding new laws to protect all people, especially black men, from racists acts of violence.

I realize that time in short. But that only means that there is no time to waste. Everyday that we delay, is another possibility of loss of life.

When history looks back on these days and at the collective deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Mike Brown and what appears to be a growing list of others, it must be taught as the turning point. It must be said that the opportunity presented itself for society to finally evolve beyond color, and we took it!

For more details about demonstrations in your area, please join our mailing list and follow us on Twitter and Facebook fro daily updates.

  • To join in the following areas, contact:
  • To join us in Washington, contact Leslie Haskin
  • In the Ohio area, contact Harvey Jeter
  • In the Los Angeles Area: Councilman Ron Smith

CHANGE THE WORLD WITH US . If you would can organize a satellite group in your local area, please contact our office for more details info@lifecoe.org or call (845)401- 4118.

Check out our website at Life Stations Centers of Excellence for more campaigns and ways that you can partner with us in this dynamic movement to end racism.