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LEMON BRANDS ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF NEW AGENCY AND WEBSITE!

By Melvin Browne

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For Immediate Release

Lemon Brands Announces Launch of New Agency and Website

Atlanta, Georgia – Friday, March 7th, 2014 (Lemon Brands) – Today Brand Director Melvin Browne launched operations and company website for boutique creative agency Lemon Brands. In the works since fall of 2013, the new agency has come into full swing this new year. Based in both Atlanta, Georgia and New York, New York, Lemon Brands is set to cover from small businesses to fortune 500 companies with fresh, innovative, and branded marketing solutions.

Lemon Brands is a full-service boutique creative agency that cultivates businesses and products through strategic branding, interactive marketing, social media strategy, product & brand development, innovative solutions and graphic design.

Staffed by a cutting edge pool of graphic designers, project managers, and content developers, Lemon Brands flexibility and special attention to relevance and detail will certainly fuel a great amount of success in the year 2014.

Lemon Brands has already established a diverse roster of clientele. For mentioning – Swell Caroline, Oliver Allen, CoreyBoi Styles, Inovation3 and HomoCouture.Com. The Lemon Brands agency is full service and their creativity is endless. The small business friendly agency specializes in several markets and industries ranging from Fashion/Apparel industries to Minority and LGBTQ Markets.

Lemon Brands aims to have an amazing year and continued success. Lemon Brands invites all businesses seeking marketing and branded solutions to visit the company website site at www.LemonBrands.Com for a full scope of services.

Contact:
Melvin Browne
Brand Director
Lemon Brands
Melvin@LemonBrands.Com

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Same-Sex Marriage in the Garden State

By Stephfon Guidry

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Jersey boys grab your tuxedos, wedding gowns, and book the chapel’s because marriage equality is coming soon! Judge Mary Jacobson of Mercer County Supreme Court ruled this past Friday that Same-Sex Marriage is set to happen LEGALLY in the Garden State of New Jersey on October 21st 2013. No longer will Jersey residents need to cross the bridge into Manhattan to tie the knot, they will be able to perform their own nuptials at home.

Judge Jacobson ruled in favor of Same-Sex Marriage after reviewing the United States v. Windsor case. She wrote a 53-page opinionated essay detailing her views on the matter of legalizing same-sex marriage.  “Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution,” said Judge Jacobson to press on Friday.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie publicly opposes same-sex marriage equality on the stance that he is following the will of the voters.  Spokesman Michael Drewniak for Governor Christie commented on the matter saying, “Governor Christie has always maintained that he would abide by the will of the voters on the issue of marriage equality and called for it to be on the ballot this Election Day.” While Governor Christie’s camp gears up to appeal and possibly freeze this ruling, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) seeks to change Gov. Christie’s mind on the matter altogether. Menendez stated, “I am thrilled this court decision now brings us closer to fulfilling our nation’s promise of equality and I urge our governor and state attorney general to accept this ruling and finally give same-sex couples in New Jersey the equal rights they deserve.”

DOMA and more states than ever have developed their views on marriage and love. These political victories for civil rights represent the progressive culture of America. The battle for Same-Sex Marriage and civil liberties is still on going but for the moment it seems Jersey boys can count this a win as they are ready to hear wedding bells.

Obama Optimistic For Diplomatic Syria Decision

By Stephfon Guidry

110203_biden_obama_clinton_ap_605President Obama plots a fine line between diplomacy and military action with the Syria situation. After receiving intelligence that Syria was in development of chemical weapons he began to consult with advisers on options. President Barrack Obama presents his case to the public clearly and pulls no vague punches.

 “If we can accomplish this limited goal without taking military action, that would be my preference,” Obama said. “On the other hand, if we don’t maintain and move forward without a credible threat of military pressure, I don’t think we’ll actually get the kind of agreement I’d like to see.” (CNN.com reports) While President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin do not share sociological views they are currently working together to end the Syria conflict for global safety. As military action looms on the horizon Syria President Bashsar al-Assad found the Russian diplomatic plan agreeable. Syria is a nation in the midst of a bloody 2 year civil war with a death toll up to 100,000. Further warfare for Syria only exacerbates resources which is why President Obama and other world leaders are adamant to use an attack as a last resort.

2016 potential presidential nominee, Hillary R. Clinton, former Secretary of State weighed in on her views of the Administration’s plans after the Russian diplomacy came forward Monday. She tells CNN, this is an “important step” expounding further with “But this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction. And Russia has to support the international community’s efforts sincerely or be held to account.” 

The entire global and national political world stands on the fence assessing the goings on between the US and Syria. It is certain that President Obama follows the age old adage that “history favors the prepared” as the Syria situation is far from done.

Remembering September 11th

By HomoCouture

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Today New York will be remembering one of the most horrific acts of domestic terrorism in US history. Throughout the day the nation will be holding ceremonies in various cities to pay honor to the victims of the 2001 World Trade Center and the Pentagon attacks. Tonight in New York majestic blue twin beams will light up near the World Trade Center site to honor the towers and victims. The illuminated memorial reaches 4 miles into the sky and can be seen pretty much from anywhere in New York. Feel free to comments with stories and memorials. God Bless

Colorless Runways this Reason!?

By Stephfon Guidry

glambethannMercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York takes the city by storm with its tantalizing style, opulent couture and runways as far as the eye can see. But on the runway beneath the decadent new duds of next season are the bodies all colorless? Is the fashion industry leaning further away from using models of color on these couture catwalks? Jourdan Dunn (@missjourdandunn) tweeted earlier in the year about not being cast in a Dior show, “I’m normally told I’m cancelled because I’m ‘coloured’ so being cancelled because of my boobs is a minor : )” The mere fact that a top model such as Dunn needs to talk about color should sound the bells.

Former model turned model agency owner, Bethann Hardison authored an open letter  to the fashion world (London, New York, Milan, Paris) talking about this racist global discrimination. Hardison presents a list of the designers with one or no models of color in their shows. Bethan Hardison blasts designers saying “Not accepting another based on the color of their skin is clearly beyond “aesthetic” when it is consistent with the designer’s brand.” She expounds further, “Whether it’s the decision of the designer, stylist or casting director, that decision to use basically all white models, reveals a trait that is unbecoming to modern society.”

Supermodel IMAN, now cosmetics mogul, recently voiced her views to Good Morning America, “I’m not calling any designers racist but the act [of exclusion] itself is racist…There were more models of color on the runway in the 70’s than there are now in 2013.” Iman was joined in the interview by none other than reigning runway diva and supermodel, Naomi Campbell as well as Bethann Hardison. The Council of Fashion Desingers of America (CFDA) sent an email to all designers saying that “The most powerful message is one of diversity.” However sadly it seems designers use and abuse the excuse of “artistic vision” or the “aesthetic of the line”. It is clear that the Diversity Coalition has its work cut out for it and these strong women of color are not going to sit in silence.

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Inferno DR CANCELLED at the Last Minute!

By Melvin Browne

1175417_10101263836543606_230476223_nThe popular Gay and Lesbian summer event Inferno Dominican Republic has been cancelled. As patrons arrived to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, yesterday many found themselves stranded with no transportation and abandoned on the island without confirmed resort reservations. Patrons en route to the Island are in a state of frustration and confusion. Some say the event has been “postponed” and many have expressed their rage via social media.

Inferno DR released a statement on their Facebook Pages saying:

“Inferno DR 2013 – It is with our sincerest apologies that we regrettably have to inform you that we are postponing Inferno Dominican Republic 2013. We apologize for any inconvenience that this has caused. It was our intention to provide each client with an amazing experience but due to unforeseen circumstances that will not be the case at this time. We have attempted to rectify the situation but unfortunately we have exhausted all remedies. You will receive special offers and updates about the Inferno DR trip throughout the year. Thank You! “

There is no further information available at this time and everyone is waiting for the follow-up from either the Founder Will Williams himself or the Inferno DR Camp. Some Inferno DR attendees are still trying to make it work and others are lost. Everyone be safe and stay alert to their Official Facebook for any updates that may follow. Good Luck!

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Hate Crime in Harlem: Transgendered Woman Dies After Brutal Attack

By Stephfon Guidry

trans24n-5-webClose to 11p.m. Friday night, Islan Nettles and a group of other transgender friends encountered a crew of men on West 148th street and Eighth Avenue across from Police Service Area 6 precinct. Once the men realized Nettles and company were transgender, the men began shouting hateful heterosexist slurs and fighting. Nettles, age 21, endured a savage beating from the disgruntled group of young men. Immediately after the vicious attack, she was rushed to Harlem Hospital receiving care. Tragically, Islan Nettles held on in intensive care for only a short time and was declared brain dead then taken off life support. 20 year old, Paris Wilson was arrested and charged for misdemeanor assault initially in the ongoing investigation.

An Intern for Harlem design house Ay’ Medici, Islan Nettles is gone too soon. Her Linked-In Page left this quote about her aspirations in fashion, “Fashion became a definite decision for my life after my first show with my hand designed garments in high school at the 11th Grade.” Sadly, Nettles in another number and in growing list of Hate Crimes directed at the LGBTQ community in New York. In the wake of the Mark Carson shooting in Greenwich Village and now Islan Nettles bashing the number is up to 68-recorded gay hate attacks. Let us hope that justice will prevail and that tolerance and change come through these tragic events.

TRANSformation In California’s Educational System

By Stephfon Guidry

CA Gov. Brown Joins Hundreds Of Scientists Calling For Action On Climate ChangeCalifornia ever the state of progression and equality now steps into a new TRANSformation within its educational system. Bill 1266 allows transgendered students K-12 the ability to choose their own locker room/restroom and participate any sport under the protection of the law was signed by Governor Jerry Brown. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Colorado and Washington are not far behind this legislation but have not addressed this issue on a statewide basis. The bill, AB1266, will take in to effect on January 1, 2014 mid-school year.

The battle for equality is not over while the opposition vehemently speaks out on their internet platforms. Randy Thomasson of savecalifornia.com told FoxNews.com, “This radical bill warps the gender expectations of children by forcing all California public schools to permit biological boys in girls restrooms, showers, clubs and on girls sports teams and biological girls in boys restrooms, showers, clubs and sports teams, this is Insanity.” Other conservatives voiced their concerns saying that legislation like this could be damaging to the majority of children in schools. But truly is this an issue of comforting the majority or the oppressed minority?

Governor Brown is being held in high esteem by the California LGBTQ community as the news of this decision spreads. In an email Masen Davis, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center writes, “Now, every transgender student in California will be able to get up in the morning knowing that when they go to school as their authentic self they will have the same fair chance at success as their classmates” (HuffingtonPost.com) The political climate in the U.S. is finally making definitive leaps and bounds of equitable change for the LGBTQ community let’s hope the government can #KeepItCurrent and show the world that being who you are is beautiful.

STOP and Frisk Decreed a Violation of Civil Liberties

By Stephfon Guidry

Federal Lawsuit Challenges NYC "Stop And Frisk" Policy“Stop and Frisk” met its legislative end last week after the Supreme Court settlement, with U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruling. The NYPD is ordered to clear its criminal databases within 90 days of all of the ‘Stop and Frisk’ names and addresses of individuals, put through the process. Many of those New Yorkers stopped by police were minorities—this initiative meant to protect came across as racially discriminatory. According to HuffingtonPost.com, “New York’s finest stopped and interrogated people 684,330 times in 2011, according to The Wall Street Journal. 92 percent of those stopped were males, and 87 percent of those stopped were black or Hispanic.”

Mayor Bloomberg plans to appeal the ruling on the grounds that ‘Stop and Frisk’ led to lowering the crime rate exponentially. Judge Scheindlin told Associated Press, “In their zeal to defend a policy that they believe to be effective, they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of targeting `the right people’ is racially discriminatory.”

In opposition Mayor Bloomberg spoke out about the 195-page ruling, “It’s a dangerous decision made by a judge who doesn’t understand how policing works.” While it is clear that both sides wish to protect and serve the people of New York the Stop and Frisk policy’s results present a narrow minded view of the usual suspects. The City Council attempted to pass two bills to better ensure the individual freedoms of the people. One bill would make it easier for the wrongfully accused to sue the NYPD and the other would place the office of the inspector general to monitor the NYPD. Bloomberg did veto both bills the City Council is looking to overturn his decision. At this juncture the Courts rule that Stop and Frisk outdated thinking and NYPD needs to #KeepItCurrent!

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B. Scott Declares War Against BET and Viacom

By Stephfon Guidry

2013 BET Awards - P&G Red Carpet Style StageB. Scott the “Multimedia Maven CONFIRMED Today on his Official Website  that he has filed a $2.5 Million Dollar lawsuit against Black Entertainment Television (BET) and Viacom over discriminatory practices concerning his treatment on the red carpet at the 2013 BET Awards Pre-Show. The announcement also included official court documents. However, the lawsuit specifically states “discrimination on the basis of gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.”  After the initial incident BET released this statement to the public:

“BET Networks embraces global diversity in all its forms and seeks to maintain an inclusive workforce and a culture that values all perspectives and backgrounds,” the statement read. “The incident with B. Scott was a singular one with a series of unfortunate miscommunications from both parties. We regret any unintentional offense to B. Scott and anyone within the LGBT community and we seek to continue embracing all gender expressions.”

B. Scott responded with a detailed open letter explaining multiple communications to producers, stylists, and network executives for the approval and transparency. After his tenuous work to ensure he looked his best for the network, to be escorted from the red carpet told to change his look, pull his gorgeous hair back for a more “Masculine” look—only to be replaced by Adrienne Bailon. BET’s actions as a network don’t support their public statement issued. Meanwhile sponsor Proctor & Gamble immediately showed support to B. Scott for this egregious overreach and apologized.

B. Scott bends gender lines and openly embraces his androgyny as he accepts his title as a “Transgender”! He is only suing for, “BET and Viacom for a true public apology and to be fairly remunerated for the time lost, humiliation and emotional distress this entire situation has put me through.” Equality is the new normal so B. Scott is well within his rights to seek legal action for this public debacle.

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Russian Law to Ban Homosexuals from Winter 2014 Olympics

By Stephfon Guidry

sochi-2014-logoAmerica is leading a more progressive view of Gay rights with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, ending DOMA; even professional athletes coming out the world may not share its revolution. Russia seems reluctant to amend or change its laws against same gender loving individuals. The new question arising in everyone’s mind is, will Gay athletes be allowed to compete and will gay fans be welcome at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi?

Currently it is illegal to openly speak about homosexuality to minors in public—in much contrast to the PRIDE parades recently celebrated all over the country, all over the world. The politically correct terminology in Russian law is a ban on “nontraditional sexual relations”. Anyone wearing symbols or showing homosexual public displays of affection can be fined steeply, face jail time, or deportation—no rainbow flags, no holding hands and of course no kissing. Vitaly Milonov, a regional lawmaker who pushed for the bill, told Interfax “If a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it. It doesn’t have the authority.” (ABCNews.com) Madonna recently toured in Russia and was threatened with fines for speaking out against this discriminatory legislation.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) informed athletes of this legislation to implore diplomacy and caution. Recently the IOC released the statement to the Windy City Times, (HuffingtonPost.com)

The International Olympic Committee is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation,…The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardize this principle.

In response to this institutional discrimination, gay Olympian Blake Skjerllup committed to wearing a rainbow pin while competing. US Olympic LGBT champion and Logo star Johnny Weir spoke out against the tentative talks of boycotting the 2014 Winter games because he knows the athletes have “dedicated their lives to possibly having their lone life-changing moment”. As the competition grows closer the IOC is weary and there seems to be no major political changes coming.

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A Royal Arrival!

By Stephfon Guidry

The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Leave The Lindo Wing With Their Newborn SonHis Royal Highness, dutifully named George Alexander Louis of Cambridge is spending his first precious moments away from cameras and in with mum and dad–Prince William and Duchess Catherine. This baby is a real royal and I’m not just talking King of Pop or Queen of Soul. His name comes from George VI, the king depicted in the Oscar-winning the King’s Speech also Queen Elizabeth’s Father. Earlier today Queen Elizabeth II went to Kensington Palace to the little bundle. The media only recently, Tuesday evening was granted a first peek at the infant royal outside the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in London. The #BeyHive can rest easy as #BlueIvy’s 23rd cousin is now safe and sound in his palace crib. #BOWDown

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President Obama Finally Weighs in on Trayvon Martin Case

President Obama Takes Questions From The Press During News Conference

By Melvin Browne

Today President Barack Obama took time during a Press Conference to address the George Zimmerman Trial. This is his first public appearance on the Trayvon Martin Case and Racial Issues in America. Get into the Video from the White House and Full Transcript of the Presidents Statement. One comment in the address that stood out to me most:

“You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African-American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a — and a history that — that doesn’t go away. There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.”

I wanted to come out here, first of all, to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions and is very much looking forward to the session. The second thing is I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks, there’s going to obviously be a whole range of issues — immigration, economics, et cetera — we’ll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.

“The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week — the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling. I gave a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday. But watching the debate over the course of the last week, I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.”

“First of all, I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.”

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there’s going to be a lot of arguments about the legal issues in the case — I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues. The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a case such as this reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury has spoken, that’s how our system works. But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling.

You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

And I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African American community is naïve about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system; that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact — although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. They understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African American community is also not naïve in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else. So folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys. But they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it and that context is being denied. And that all contributes I think to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Now, the question for me at least, and I think for a lot of folks, is where do we take this? How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction? I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through, as long as it remains nonviolent. If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family. But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do.

I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government, the criminal code. And law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.

That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation we can’t do some things that I think would be productive. So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff, so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it would be productive for the Justice Department, governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.

When I was in Illinois, I passed racial profiling legislation, and it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.

And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and, in turn, be more helpful in applying the law. And obviously, law enforcement has got a very tough job.

So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought to bear if state and local governments are receptive. And I think a lot of them would be. And let’s figure out are there ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.

I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the “stand your ground” laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case. On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I’d just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

Number three — and this is a long-term project — we need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African American boys. And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

I’m not naïve about the prospects of some grand, new federal program. I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I do recognize that as President, I’ve got some convening power, and there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front. And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes, and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed — I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation. And we’re going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that.

And then, finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. There has been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have. On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s the possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can? Am I judging people as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

And let me just leave you with a final thought that, as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. It doesn’t mean we’re in a post-racial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated. But when I talk to Malia and Sasha, and I listen to their friends and I seem them interact, they’re better than we are — they’re better than we were — on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

And so we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues. And those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature, as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions. But we should also have confidence that kids these days, I think, have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did; and that along this long, difficult journey, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

Thank you, guys.