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The politicians, teachers and community leaders of southeast Queens could talk until the cows come home and not have a fraction of the influence on kids rapper 50 Cent had during a few hours in Queens Saturday afternoon.
The Grammy-winning singer came to Baisley Pond Park in Jamaica to encourage kids to put down video games and get physically active.
The rapper, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, knows just how tough the streets of southeast Queens can be. Before his success as a performer, Jackson worked for area drug dealers. It was dealing or welfare, he said. He served time in prison and in 2000 was nearly killed in a hail of bullets. His lyrics were filled with bragging about the violence of the streets.
But 50 Cent said his life changed when his son was born. Now he wants to create a stable life for his son and help kids confronting the same challenges that he once faced to build a better life.
Jackson believes video games and other technology keep young people too still. He hopes Forever Young Day will encourage them to play ball and get involved in other healthy activities.
Sony and Nintendo probably do not have much to worry about, but hopefully Jackson’s message will resonate in Jamaica. It is refreshing to see a rap star use his enormous influence to help young people better their lives.
Don’t Just Say ‘No’
Hardly a day goes by when a politician somewhere in the city is not leading a protest against one of the many services facing cuts by the city, state and Metropolitan Transportation Authority. City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. joined Queens residents Friday in a protest against plans to cut the W subway line and 100 bus lines.
Politicians know they cannot lose by joining a protest, waving their arms in the air and saying they will not take the injustice. But the politicians feel no obligation to propose alternatives to closing the budget gaps that led to the service cuts.
The politicians cannot say they did not see this coming. The MTA has been warning about impending budget disaster for more than a year.
More tough times and tough choices lie ahead. Politicians need to offer solutions. They cannot get away with just saying “no.”
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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