Archive for March, 2010

The Bridge: American Conflicts

Posted in Black Interests with tags on March 30, 2010 by Black Man

By Darryl James

The nation we live in is conflicted with itself.

The conflict shows when we realize that the land was built on the backs of free African labor, while many so-called Americans hate both Africans and African Americans.

The conflict also shows when we hear so-called Americans proclaim that America is a Christian nation, while many of its citizens exhibit behavior that is anything but Christ-like.

For example, one would imagine that the so-called “Christians” would seek every opportunity to help others who are in need. Instead, the American Way is to judge those at the very bottom, and to do so in order to justify turning a blind eye to their need.

The most popular excuse is to pretend that the people who ask for money on the streets are all drug addicts or alcoholics, and so undeserving of any assistance.

Some people go as far as to lie and proclaim that the beggars are already on government assistance and are simply too lazy to accept a real job.

Sadly, these are people who probably go to church regularly and claim to be deserving of God’s mercy, even as they have no mercy for the common man.

I almost understand the thought process that advocates away from giving money to the homeless or beggars to avoid supporting a habit, but that is simplistic, in many ways, inhumane and in many cases, a lie.

The reality is that many of us who have homes drink and many of us even imbibe in controlled substances. But, we really have no idea what will happen to money we donate or give away, and if we are being freehearted, then it is only important that we give.

We donate freely to non-profit organizations without a thought as to where the money is going, and many of us tithe to the church without ever reviewing the church books. Our friends and family hit us up for loans and God only knows what use those funds will be put to.

Americans have some very strange ideas about people in need.

For example, ask a person who calls themselves Conservative or Republican and typically, they will tell you that too many Blacks are abusing the Welfare system, an ideology put in place by the late Ronald Reagan, which was proven untrue.

The fact is that the traditional Welfare Queens are white women abusing the system, and of course they are the traditional Welfare Queens, because they comprise the majority of the Welfare rolls.

Truth be told, many Blacks realize that Welfare doesn’t work, but the answer is not to villainize or punish those who need it as a failsafe for their families. The answer may be to deal with it even-handedly, like perhaps, curtailing corporate Welfare. But of course, Welfare Queens like Enron, the banks and airlines would get all strange on us.

Further, some people hold strange ideas about Affirmative Action, as though it is being abused and as though it is abusing Blacks. Their argument is that Blacks who enter college through assistance based on their skin color feel inferior.

My immediate response is: “Who asked you to think for us?” My second response is that the idea is dead wrong.

I am unashamedly a product of Affirmative Action and for the record, I don’t feel one bit inferior to anyone. I realized, even as a child, that the deck was created to be stacked against me and that if I got assistance with college admission, it would at least give me a chance to prove my worth.

Employment works the same way. If you give me the job because I am Black, that fact ceases to matter on the first day of work, when I will begin working my behind off to prove that I am qualified for advancement.

But I do realize that Affirmative Action can be abused and misused.

Affirmative Action got the dimwitted son of George H. W. Bush into Yale and the Texas Governorship. It also got him a baseball team and an oil company. Finally, it got him into the highest office in the land. Unfortunately, he has proved that his kind of Affirmative Action is a truly bad idea.

Affirmative Action for Georgie meant that doors opened for him that he should not have gone into. Opportunities were given to him that he was not only unqualified for, but at which he failed miserably, including the presidency.

Yet, I hear voices opposing Affirmative Action for African Americans, which only benefits the qualified to begin with. No Affirmative Action opponent can produce one shred of evidence that a student who nearly flunked out of high school was admitted to college on Affirmative Action, and there is no data to show that Blacks with little experience were given management jobs they were unqualified for.

It’s sad, but many otherwise, smart and forward-thinking Americans speak in platitudes, strongly and vehemently, without knowing what the heck they are talking about. Moreover, people feel too comfortable offering opinions about things that they don’t even have any way of knowing.

So, the next time you are doling out advice, or speaking sanctimoniously about social ills and who is doing what, think carefully, and if you don’t really know what you are talking about, just keep your mouth closed and your mind open. You may learn something.

But that’s a real live American conflict right there.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames every Monday from 7-9pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.

A Liberal Solution to Black Unemployment

Posted in Black Interests with tags on March 25, 2010 by Black Man

By Raynard Jackson

Every time I try to give radical, Black, liberals the benefit of the doubt when it comes to doing what’s in the best interest of our own community, I am saddened to conclude that I doubt that there is any benefit.

They claim to represent the Black community, but yet at every turn they undermine the very people they are supposed to be helping.  If white people did to us what we are doing to ourselves, there would be a great uproar throughout the country.

The national unemployment rate is 9.7 %, but within the Black community it is 16.5% (12.6% for Hispanics).  The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has implored the president to create more job training and small business programs for the minority community.  Barbara Lee, chairman of the CBC, stated, “This is a deplorable situation.  The facts speak for themselves, and we have to make sure the unemployment rate is addressed throughout the country—and to address the gap.  We are saying, for communities of color, we have to look at job training so the gap is closed and look at ways to address systemic unemployment.”

The CBC has joined forces with groups like the NAACP and the National Urban League to deal with this issue.  Last month, Obama met privately with NAACP president, Ben Jealous, Urban League president, Marc Morial, and Al Sharpton.  No one from the CBC was invited.  Their absence spoke volumes!

All Blacks should have been insulted that these people were the ones chosen by Obama to talk with him about job creation within the Black community.  None of these people or organizations has any knowledge about job creation or economics.  This was a cynical political move by the White House to silence the criticism of Obama within the Black community.

So, what is the radical, Black, liberal solution to Black unemployment?  They support amnesty for those in the country illegally.  These illegals suppress wages and eliminate Blacks from low skilled jobs they would otherwise get.  If illegals were removed from the equation, then wages would rise and low skilled people would be better able to support themselves.  But, they can’t compete with illegals who are willing to work for 70% less than the market rate wage.

So, let me make sure I understand the liberal argument.  Black are disproportionally impacted my high unemployment, so they want to inject 20 million more people into the job market by giving amnesty to those who are here illegally, thereby making the high Black unemployment even higher!  WOW, ok, now this makes sense.  All in the name of building coalitions with the Latino community, we are willing to sacrifice our own people.  How can you feed your neighbor, if your own kids haven’t eaten?  Yes, this is a zero sum game!

Last week, the Washington Post newspaper did a very insightful article about this topic.  According to Vernon Briggs, a professor emeritus of industrial and labor relations at Cornell University, “the issue of job competition remains.   What we have got here is people using immigration as a political issue to unite certain segments of the population, regardless of the economic and labor market impact. In my view, African American workers are the most adversely affected of all groups, but many legal immigrants in the Hispanic community are also severely impacted because they are disproportionately in the low-skilled labor market where the illegal immigrants compete.”

“This new generation of leaders (in the Hispanic community) recognize the need to build stronger coalitions,” Morial said. “It is very important that the nation’s communities of color do not simply see themselves as groups competing for crumbs.”

Jealous, from the NAACP, said “There is a need for a floor for how all workers are treated.” There is a need to ensure that nobody in this country can be forced to work in near-slavery-like conditions. So much of the black experience has been about us fighting over centuries to be part of this country, and for Latinos it’s a similar story.”

Are these guys crazy?  They accuse Obama of not doing enough about Black unemployment, but yet they want to increase the number of people competing for a finite number of low skilled jobs?  In the immortal words of George W. Bush, “this is fuzzy math.”

I could at least understand this cooperation if they had the good sense to extract some type of concession from the Latino community.  For example, why won’t the Latino community speak out on the racist policy that allows Cubans (mostly white Cubans) to stay in the country based on the idiotic “wet foot, dry foot policy?”  Simply put, the policy states that if a Cuban gets one foot on U.S. soil, then they are granted the chance to remain in the country and later would qualify for expedited legal permanent resident status and U.S. citizenship.  Contrast that with people from Haiti who are summarily returned immediately to their country with no hope of getting an opportunity for citizenship.

How long will these so called Black leaders continue to sell out their own people and get nothing in return?  Blacks must think strategically, not emotionally.  It is totally idiotic to support a policy that will hurt the very people you clam to represent.  I can no longer give these radical, Black, liberal individuals the benefit of the doubt because I doubt that there is any benefit.

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm.  He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com).

The Bridge: Call Me Crazy

Posted in Black Men, Guest Columnists, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags on March 23, 2010 by Black Man

By Darryl James

Anytime people have a hard time understanding something, the first thing they turn to is an easy label.

In the case of people with strong voices, the easy label is “crazy.”

I’ve heard it a lot over the years, and even more so over the past few months.  I’ve mostly heard it in small voices, whispered as I leave the room.  I’ve often heard it from third parties, since the scared little rabbits who utter it are too timid to even imagine saying it to my face.  As technology advanced, I began to hear it via email and from anonymous idiots on the Internet.

What I’ve heard, I believe men like Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and even Jesus Christ heard during their lives and times.  Not that I dare to place myself on the same level or in the same company of such great men, but if I’m being given the same label, then maybe I’m actually on to something.

What I’ve heard is “Darryl James is crazy.”

And maybe I am.

Perhaps because I am unafraid to stand for what I believe is right, and for what I believe is just, no matter the consequences, then I am crazy.  Dr King, a man of peace said “A man who doesn’t have something for which he is prepared to die, is not fit to live.”

People called him crazy for that.

Perhaps because I am carving my own way, creating my own destiny and urging others to do the same, then I am crazy.

I believe that Blacks ought to reverse integration. Marcus Garvey urged Black folks to return to Africa.

People called him crazy for that.

Perhaps because I don’t believe in turning the other cheek, and that if you do harm to me, I have the right to defend myself by any means necessary, then, like Malcolm X, I am crazy.

Perhaps because I often take the cause of the underdog, the weak, the voiceless or the outcast, or those shunned by the masses, then like Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I am crazy.

Or, perhaps, because I have seen, read, heard, touched, tasted, smelled, crapped on and slept near too much of the cold reality that this nation can dish out to a Black man, it has driven me to a life on the edge.

The angry, ignorant women and sissified little men with safe little lives who call me crazy would be quick to look for the refuge found in the company of one so crazy when the realities of being colored in this nation come to serve their asses.  They couldn’t survive one week being in the shoes of Malcolm, Martin or even Darryl James.

And they couldn’t survive one of their worthless minutes living in the shoes of men of color like Nelson Mandela, who stayed in prison for twenty-six years on principle.

Standing for something with integrity and fortitude gets you labeled as crazy these days.

It’s simply not the popular thing to do.

But I’ve never pursued only that which is popular.

For all of the ugly things people say about some our so-called “craziest,” they have more plans to work for our community than the window-dressing, self-serving public figures like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton.

Crazy lies in wait to describe men like Barack Obama, who dared to believe that he could be President of the United States. He was labeled crazy for thinking he could do what Presidents over the past 50 years could not do—change the face of health care.

Crazy is prepared for men like Cornell West, an educator who shouldn’t be half as vocal as he is. Crazy lies in wait for Black men who walk into gang territory to take back our communities, or Black mothers who make their children believe that they are princes and princesses and can rule the world.  Crazy is reserved for men like Magic Johnson, for believing that urban American can be economically revitalized.

Crazy is reserved for Kanye West, who believed that he should be able to rap about God while people are dancing, because God is everywhere—even when we are on the dance floor. Crazy is also reserved for Prince who believes that a Black artist ought to have control over his or her art.

Sad, but people will call me crazy for writing this.

The same little rabbits who call Darryl James crazy, wouldn’t dare say it to my face.

They know that I have no problem returning their evil to them and forcing them to live with it, because I am not afraid of evil.  Their greatest fear is that I will show them that which they fear. And it confuses them that I am not a gangster, nor am I some uneducated street thug.

The most feared man in the nation is a Black man with an education and what I call “testicular fortitude” (you figure it out).  To quote Public Enemy’s Chuck D: “the minute they see me, fear me, the epitome of public enemy.”  Sadly, this applies to both whites and Blacks.

The real problem is that Black people have been diminished and have become soft over the past three decades.  The image of the Black man has been defined and redefined by so many outside of us, that many of us have no idea what one really looks like.  Our image is so out of whack, that when a man shows up with principles based on something real, people don’t know how to deal with him and he seems insane to them.

Some of us get labeled as crazy and gangster for being so bold as to face and confront.

So, I’ve learned that I can’t do everything in the light.  I’ve learned that I can neither look too good nor talk too wise.  Everything is not for everyone and I won’t always be understood.

Most importantly, I’ve learned that I am not alone.

Secretly, the scared little rabbits hope that I will continue to stand up and stand out.  They know it will call attention away from them.

So, call me crazy.  Just don’t call me when they come to get you.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames every Monday from 7-9pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.

Tavis Smiley And His Traveling Road Show

Posted in Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests with tags , , , on March 21, 2010 by Black Man

By Gary A. Johnson

March 21, 2010

Talk show host and walking conglomerate Tavis Smiley is in his glory today.  I’m on record saying that Tavis seems happiest when he’s at the top of the news cycle.  Yesterday, Tavis’ event management company presented, “We Count: The Black Agenda Is the American Agenda,” and today Tavis was a guest on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” news show.  Saturday’s event was broadcast on C-SPAN TV.  For Smiley a weekend like this can’t get much better.

Handpicked guests at the “We Count,” panel included Rev. Jesse Jackson; Michael Fauntroy, assistant professor at George Mason University; Professor Cornel West; Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Bennett College president; presidential aide Valerie Jarrett, Raven Curling, CSU student government president; Minister Louis Farrakhan; University of Maryland Professor Ron Walters; Angela Glover Blackwell, founder of PolicyLink; Brainwashed author Tom Burrell; Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson and Dorothy Tillman. Notice I did not use the term “black leaders” when mentioning these notables.  To me, the term “black leaders” suggest that the black community has a void of independent thinkers.  Noticeably, but not surprisingly absent was the Rev. Al Sharpton. Sharpton, the head of the National Action Network, said he didn’t see skipping the meeting on the campus of Chicago State University as a sign of conflict. “There is no tension between black leaders of organizations. Tavis Smiley is a commentator.  He does not have a constituency. We can’t mix apples and oranges,” Sharpton said.

Smiley, who served as moderator told the audience that if President Obama, is going to be a ‘transformational’ president these issues had to be raised.  “We love Barack Obama. We want him to be a great president. We believe he can be a great president, but great presidents aren’t born, they are made. They have to be pushed into their greatness. They are pushed into their greatness when we hold them accountable,” Smiley said.  Blah, blah, blah.

I am all for this President to be held accountable like any other president.  My problem is Tavis.  I said it before and I’ll say it again–Tavis has proven that he is not objective.  When it comes to criticizing President Obama, Tavis tends to go overboard.  Many of us in the media have demonstrated that you can criticize President Obama without guzzling the “Hatorade” as Tavis tends to do.  The problem for Tavis is that he can’t seem to shake the “perception” that he has a personal vendetta against the President for not attending his (Smiley’s) “State of the Black Union Conference” during the last presidential election.

Tavis loves to preach to us about being accountable and uplifting the race.  Has Tavis been held accountable with regard to his relationship with Wells Fargo? Tavis served as the “point man for Wells Fargo luring mostly Black and Latinos to “Wealth Building” seminars  to take out sub-prime loans. Has Tavis been straight with us about why his name was removed from the School of Communications at Texas Southern University?  He promised to donate millions and after several years, fell far short of his promise.  Has Tavis been held accountable to explain his decision to publish R. Kelly’s autobiography?  How will that decision uplift our race?

Tavis talks about how much he loves black people.  I don’t doubt that for one second.  Black people have helped make him a wealthy man.  I would love them too.  In the end, despite all of his talk, you just judge Tavis by his actions.  If you look at his entire body of work, you will see some great things, but in the end, Tavis is all about Tavis.

You can watch the “We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda,” on “U Stream” by clicking on the following link:  http://www.ustream.tv/channel/we-count-the-black-agenda-is-the-american-agenda.

Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In America.com a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In America.com Blog. Gary is also the author of the new book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.

Photo credit:  Chicago Sun Times Media.

The Bridge: A Return to Tough Love

Posted in Black Interests, Guest Columnists with tags on March 16, 2010 by Black Man

By Darryl James

 “Aint nothing wrong with these kids today that a good ass-kicking won’t handle.”

–Moms Mabley 

I was shopping for groceries on a Thursday evening when it happened. 

A little Black elf who should have been smiling and cute was tearing his way through the canned goods aisle, kicking some cans and trying to juggle a few.  He was cursing at an older girl, who was chasing him, trying to reprimand him, but to no avail. 

I turned around and saw the woman he had been with–a woman I recognized from a Black business networking organization.  She was college educated and a successful entrepreneur, but obviously not a good mother.  She wasn’t even paying the child any attention. 

I knew I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t resist–I stepped in the little manchild’s way, scrunched my face into a grimace and said in my most stern voice: “Stop acting like a wild man before I take off my belt and give you a whipping!”  The little urchin gazed up at me, startled for a moment, grabbed his sister’s hand and froze. 

His mother pretended not to notice the interaction and simply said “Hello” when she walked past me. 

The little boy kept hold of his sister’s hand and when I would see him in a different part of the store, he would peep at me in fear.  His mother never looked my way again. 

I don’t know what was going on in that family and I didn’t ask, but one thing I do know—little man needed his little ass beaten. 

I was fifteen when my stepfather passed away.  I was a bit out of hand, and my mother was trying to figure it out.  I was hanging with the wrong crowd and cutting up at school. 

In my French class, I learned obscene phrases to sling at the teacher purely for the students’ delight.  I was fighting and cutting classes and my former straight-A class work was declining in quality. My teachers were delivering warnings and admonishments that fell on deaf ears.

The answer was simple–I needed my adolescent, testing-the-waters-because-I-thought-I-was-grown ass beaten. 

My mother knew it, and she administered an ass beating.  But she also gave permission to my Senior Military Instructor in ROTC to beat my ass.  She gave the same permission to the Vice Principal.  They both paid attention to my wayward behavior and beat my ass periodically. 

The ass-beatings saved my life.  Adults stood in my path of self-destruction and drew the lines between Darryl and the rest of the world.  I was shown clear limits and given consequences when I drifted beyond them.  My behavior improved and I got back on the right track. 

Sorry, but people who think permissiveness and time outs are the answer for ALL children are damned fools.  It only works for kids who won’t be too far out of line in the first place.  But for other kids, who cannot grasp where they end and where the world begins, a good ass kicking draws clear lines. 

Of course there were problems with corporal punishment in the classroom, including abuse by teachers who went too far and accidental injuries, but to allow children too much latitude will provide them with a skewed vision of how the world works.  For some humans, the result will be a life of out of control situations, based on that skewed vision of the world. 

Funny, but we used to gawk in amazement when little white kids would cut up at the grocery store, calling their parents names and basically doing what they wanted to do without repercussions, save for:  “Johnny, you will get a time out when we get home.”  We knew that if we did the same thing, we would be beaten in the blink of an eye, and that knowledge kept us in line. 

But things have changed and today, after three decades of permissiveness, and a general lack of ass-kicking, many of our kids are out of control. 

The day we followed the dominant culture into permissiveness and timeouts as behavior modification for every child in every situation was the day we began to lose our children.  Since then, we’ve seen Black kids doing things we never thought we would see. 

Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed the felony arrest of a five-year-old kindergarten student in Florida, accused of biting and scratching a support teacher and the trial of an eleven-year-old in Pontiac Michigan, accused of killing another minor with a rifle. 

Today’s youth rarely show respect for their elders and to be honest, it’s not their fault.  They are not being properly disciplined and even though we see the result of the faulty method, we are still acting timid about tough love. 

We’ve come a long way from public floggings, but not so far that we still don’t need to pass out an ass whipping every now and again. 

I say a return to corporal punishment will provide some perspective for out of control children.  Otherwise, let’s get rid of the schools we complain about and leave the children at home. 

For every discussion about what the school system needs to do, there needs to be a discussion about what parents need to do.  And instead of simply looking to add more duties to an already overtaxed and nearly failing school system, we should place more of the focus on parental training.  After all, you have to learn how to drive a car, but no one is trained on being a parent. 

There are a number of things that are wrong with the way we are leaving the world to the next generation, but the overarching problem with today’s youth is that some of them need hands placed on them. 

Some kids may turn out fine with the permissiveness and timeout behavior modification methods, but others, frankly, need their natural asses kicked.  

 Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames every Monday from 7-9pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.

 

My Love/Hate Affair With My Country

Posted in Black Interests, Guest Columnists, Women's Interests with tags , on March 14, 2010 by Black Man

By Scottie Lowe

I am to be counted among the small percentage of the population who harbors a simultaneous deep love and a heart-wrenching disappointment with my country.  I can’t say that I hate my country by any stretch of the imagination because I adore the people, places, and events that have shaped my identity but to suggest that I have a God-Bless-America-Of-Thee-I-Sing blanket patriotism would be disingenuous as well.  I love my nation but I see her flaws and shortcomings.  I do not hate my country but I hate some of the aspects of it that taint its supposed greatness.  I see myself first and foremost as a citizen of the world; my life and my story are reflected in the eyes of people from all around the globe.  I’m not of the belief that man-made borders make the particular land I was born on more sacred; more deserving of peace, or that this soil somehow grants its inhabitants greater rights than any other human being.  I can’t wear red, white, and blue colored glasses and wrap myself in Old Glory, blinded by visions of apple pie and baseball that distract me from the harsh realities of this country’s past, and present injustices.

I live in a country that I willingly acknowledge affords me personal freedoms that I take for granted every minute of every day.  I love that I have a constitutional right to practice any religion under the sun in this country.  Hell, I can create my own religion, recruit members, and be tax-exempt in this country if I so choose and it’s perfectly legal and I don’t have to worship in secret or fear late night storming paratroopers arresting and torturing me for my beliefs.  I detest the fact that the commonly held perception is that this is a Christian nation and that oppressive, repressed, and tyrannical religious zealots have decided that their moral misinterpretations of the bible are the standards by which I should be judged.  The only voices considered valid in discussions of faith are those who claim that Christianity is the only, true, and right religion for America and that the vast majority of my fellow citizens have no respect for my first amendment rights to religious freedom.

I love my country and the unparalleled sense of community and togetherness that arises when we face collective tragedy.  I also love that I can speak my mind without fear of prosecution.  I hate the fact that when I use my God-given common sense, logic, reason, research, and information to suggest that there are factors that surround September 11th that don’t add up, I’m persecuted and labeled a lunatic, conspiracy theorist, and unpatriotic.  I will never forget the innocent lives lost on that fateful day but I don’t think those lives have more value than those lost during Hurricane Katrina or those lost en masse anywhere else in the world for that matter.  I mourn for the families of those that died, and even those that survived but I recognize that millions upon millions of enslaved Africans who were kidnapped and enslaved and brought to this country have no monument, have no movie, no lobbyists in Congress, have no yellow ribbons on SUVs for their loss of life, liberty, and their pursuit of happiness.

I feel safe in knowing that I have the right to own a gun to defend myself even though I have not even the tiniest inkling to do so.  Gun violence has proven itself to be an epidemic in this country and radical militias are plotting at this moment to kill people like me because their particular brand of patriotism deems me expendable in their pursuit of a purer nation state so that safety seems a tad bit misplaced but I accept that I have the right to bear arms.  I’d much rather live in a nation where differences are celebrated and respected, where people can live comfortably in their own skin without the need to try to control, dictate, or annihilate anyone who makes them mad or disagrees with them.  I understand that there are nations in this world where I couldn’t even express my displeasure without imprisonment or worse so for that I love my country.

I appreciate the fact that I can live freely as a woman in the United States without fear of having my genitals mutilated, state sanctioned rape, or being considered a second class citizen just because I possess a uterus.  I’m troubled by the fact that I can’t turn on the television or radio without being insulted or denigrated for my gender.  I hate the fact that misogyny is a multi-billion dollar form of entertainment in this country.

Unlike some other places on earth, I have the right to love anyone I desire, regardless of their gender here.  Regrettably, I don’t have a right to marry whom I choose because some people believe that I will infringe upon their heterosexual rights if I do.  I’m not gay.  I’m not even sure I will ever have an overwhelming need to get married again.  I just can’t stomach the fact that a country that proclaims to want the tired, poor, and huddled masses from all over the world doesn’t have tolerance and acceptance for our very own neighbors who want to share in a committed, loving relationship with all the benefits and privileges thereof.  The very same people who claim that homosexuals are immoral and promiscuous are the ones who are working to ensure that they can’t ascribe to matrimonial monogamy.  It’s difficult to understand why in this great land, we can’t live and let live.

I feel incredibly blessed to live in a country where I have a right to choose what to do with my reproductive body.  Right to lifers in this country not only want to take my ability to control my body away from me, they also want to ensure that my child and I won’t have access to adequate affordable health care, housing, education, and opportunity.  Their concern for my fetus ends when I give birth.  Then, it becomes their mission to see that I’m denied every social benefit that ensures the well-being of my offspring and the community at large.  It’s precisely that hypocrisy that infuriates me about the USA.

There can be no question that the U.S. stands alone as the richest, most alluring country in the world.  People from other nations see this as the Promised Land.  It’s here they want to move and migrate in order to realize their dreams of wealth and prosperity with vision of streets of gold and the land of milk and honey.  My country has laws in place to ensure that I don’t have to toil in a sweatshop for a month and only bring home $7.00.   The United States protects my rights if I’m injured on the job, if an employer harasses me, if I lose my job, and when I retire.  The people of the United States, a very large portion of them rather, want to demonize people who come to this country in pursuit of a better life in this country.  The disdain and hatred for undocumented workers, who work in jobs no one else would want, who receive a mere pittance in exchange for back breaking labor, and who have no rights as even human beings let alone employees is was makes me ashamed of my country.  With all the wealth, with all the resources this country has, the greed and selfishness of people who think there isn’t enough to go around and who actually feel justified in their beliefs that we should build a wall to prevent people from having access to providing for their families is despicable.

I love that here in America I have access to museums and libraries and some of the best educational institutions in the world.  I am incredibly blessed by the fact that my friends are from virtually every corner of the globe; I belong to a community of activists and artists who are passionate about fighting for justice, diversity, and truth.  As an American citizen I can vote and participate in the political process however liberal my agendas.  I hate that my ancestors had to shed their blood and in many instances, give their lives in order for me to be a part of that process.  My heart soars that I could be a part of an election in a country with such an odious history of racism elected an altogether brilliant man of color to this nation’s highest office.  I hate that racism is at the core of the right-wing criticisms against him.  I love that I reside in a country where the freedom of speech is protected.  I hate that Fox News isn’t seen for the hate-filled, racist, liars that they are and shut down with public outrage and a demand for more fair and accurate reporting.    I love the sweet summer peaches of Georgia and the electricity of New York City at 4 a.m.  I love the heartbeat of Washington D.C. and the shrimp etouffee of N’awlins.  The music and culture of Miami’s Latino population infuse me with vitality and I’m equally moved by the traditions and food of the Chinese people of San Francisco.  There’s nothing better than waking up on a brisk Chicago spring morning and going running by the lake.  I love the Midwestern fields flowing with amber waves of grain and the purple mountains with their majestic views of my homeland, I love the Redwoods, the Grand Canyon, and the flowing Mississippi River.  I hate the fact that the indigenous people of this land have been marginalized and disenfranchised with the acts of genocide that have been ignored and erased from the history books.  I love Florence, South Carolina where I would go in the summer and spend time with my cousins and get bitten by mosquitoes the size of quarters and eat the best food I’ve ever tasted at The Thunderbird Inn.

I hate the projects of the inner cities where people are piled on top of each other like rats with no plan to provide them with affordable, decent housing, as if they deserve to live like that simply because they are poor.  I hate the segregation of the south where Blacks are kept in their place with imaginary boundaries and intentional mis-education.  I hate that the soil of the south is stained with the blood of my ancestors who hung from the trees like strange fruit for the entertainment of others.

I love my country because it is my home.  To be born in this time, in this place is to be considered fortunate.  Simply because I am a United States inhabitant, I know that my voice has a greater opportunity to be heard and, moreover, respected around the globe.  Listening to the American art forms of jazz, the blues, and Negro spirituals soothes my soul.  If only they weren’t born of the horrendous history of chattel slavery that has been sanitized to appear little more than a mistake and not one of the most egregious acts of terror against humanity that it really was.

Our founding fathers saw fit to ensure that each and every person born in this nation had the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  The irony that plagues me is that during that very time individuals with beautiful black skin were considered 3/5ths of a human being, little more than animals, who labored to make this country the wealthiest in the world.  I want desperately to love my country because it is the bastion of principles that it proclaims. Oh were it truly the land of the free and the home of the brave with liberty and justice for all.  Sadly, they are empty cliches.  Injustice reigns freely from sea to shining sea based on race, gender, income level, physical ability, age, and sexual orientation.  I can’t, in good consciousness, give my unconditional love to a nation that perpetuates wars on concepts where innocent people are victims of capitalist agendas but I can love the potential for my United States of America, a beautiful jewel with flawed facets, to live out its mission so that all its children might be one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Scottie Lowe is an author, activist, and she is also the creator of www.AfroerotiK.com.

Fear Factor

Posted in Guest Columnists with tags , on March 11, 2010 by Black Man

By Raynard Jackson

I originally had no intention of commenting on the recent controversy surrounding the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) most recent foray into racial politics.  But, because of the volume of phone calls and emails asking me to give my take, I have decided to oblige my followers.

Let me state this in the strongest possible terms, the Finance Director, Rob Bickhart (a paid, fulltime staffer) and Finance Chairman, Peter Terpeluk (a non paid volunteer and former ambassador to Luxembourg under President George W. Bush) should have immediately been fired and removed from his position, respectively.  They are both dead men walking.

The bigger question that I have is, what does Bickhart’s and Terpeluk’s actions say about how they view Michael Steele, the first Black chairman in the party’s history.  What type of environment has Steele allowed to fester under his leadership, that his staff would feel comfortable making such a presentation?  This is the pressing issue I would love to have the RNC answer.

Does this mean that Bickhart or Terpeluk are racists?  I won’t attempt to judge a person’s mind or heart, but there can be no debate that their actions were stupid.  These are two very seasoned political operatives who should have known better.  This is why they both must go.

This is exhibit “A” in support of diversity.  There are no Black staffers in the finance office and probably none on the finance committee.  I would like to think if the RNC had some Blacks on staff in this area that those staffers would have objected to such a presentation while it was in the planning stages.

Many whites in the party I spoke with during this controversy attempted to explain it away by stating that the presentation had absolutely no racial connotations and that I (and other Blacks) were being overly sensitive about race.  This is a usual retort from Republicans when they have no intelligent defense for their actions.

In a moment of brutal honesty, the presentation detailed how the RNC gets small donors to give.  They are motivated by “fear, extreme negative feelings towards existing Administration, Reactionary.  Aren’t these the same emotions that were ginned up during the Kennedy/Johnson administration during the height of the Civil Rights Movement that included several assassinations (Kennedy, King, Kennedy, etc.)?

Notice that the presentation didn’t say what these small donors should be afraid of.  This is the old Nixonian principle of “plausible deniability.”  You don’t expressly state a specific action, but you use euphemisms that are vague and general in nature, but when directed towards a particular group, it carries a specific meaning.  For example, if talking to a CIA officer about wanting someone killed, you would say, “exterminate with extreme prejudice, my uncle will probably die next week, or brakes have been malfunctioning on cars lately.”  If summoned to court, the person could truthfully state they never told anyone to kill a person.  “Plausible deniability.”

So, you motivate small donors to give by fearing a Black president, though it was not stated directly.  So, when someone like me challenges the party on issues like this, they try to make me feel like I am hyper-sensitive to race because there was no overt racial verbiage.  “Plausible deniability.”  What we have here are the great grandchildren of the “Southern Strategy” coming home to roost.

This approach is totally unnecessary because Obama and the Democrats have given Republicans more than enough ammunition to mount a winning campaign strategy for the fall elections.  Republicans are in the process of talking themselves out of victory because they can’t stay away from race politics.

In the end, Republicans have nothing to fear but themselves.

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm.  He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com).

Black Folks We’d Like To Remove From Black History

Posted in Black Men with tags , , on March 8, 2010 by Black Man

Flava Flav                                              Omarosa

I ran across this article a few days ago on the web site “The Root.com.”  After reading this article, a few other folks came to mind.  Check it out:  http://www.theroot.com/multimedia/black-folks-wed-remove-black-history.

Would you remove anyone from Black History?  If so, who and why?

Being A Thug Is Too Expensive!

Posted in Black Men with tags , , on March 7, 2010 by Black Man

By Nadra Enzi

A favorite dead horse is deglamorizing thug behavior. It’s tiresome seeing folks shovel themselves into the criminal justice system and afterward cry foul. Never saw the benefit of badly playing hands dealt from  marked decks. Giving ourselves felony records and vacuuming money into correctional coffers is too costly. Instant access via crime information databases tells the tale too quickly. Simply, most low income people can’t afford to be thugs. Memo to thugs: step your game up to Wall Street status and ride from there.

Moral arguments to the side ( risky proposition ), the economic burden of criminal conduct should be stressed more. Especially in a down economy where jobs are few and far between. Self-employed folks should be acutely sensitive to how much crime costs. Ethical considerations are still paramount but many seriously heed the siren call of dollars and cents.

One misdeed allows police agencies; detention centers; judges; prosecutors; judges; defense attorneys; probation; parole; counselors, etc. to reach into your pockets- over and over again. Years worth create crime-induced poverty in turn producing vicious circles of continual offense. More offenses breed more financial penalties. Sympathy wanes against such self-destructiveness as community stakeholders cluck ” You should’ve known better. ” The more Old School dismiss them with a hissed ” Negro please! ” One segment of Black America stares in shock at crime dramas that is life for inner city residents. A noteworthy cliche’ is we’re not a monolith. Black folks who don’t live urban thug culture are as confused by it as White peers across the railroad tracks. Practitioners of Black Dignity are frightened by this berserker mindset. The more activist become mentor and promote social programs. The rest hope and pray the ‘Hood won’t make their families headline news. As a group we’re at the unenviable juncture where urban thugs scare us just like they terrify White folks. This sad state of affairs costs us immeasurably.

Being scared of ourselves proves being a thug is simply too expensive. Economically and culturally.

NADRA ENZI AKA CAPT. BLACK promotes crime prevention and self-development. www.captblack.info and www.blogtalkradio.com/nadraenzi

Lookin’ Like A Fool Wit Yo Pants On The Ground!

Posted in Black America, Comedy with tags , on March 6, 2010 by Black Man

General Larry Platt is my newest countercultural hero. By “countercultural” I don’t mean promoting street piracy and ignorance. The counterculture his song “Pants On The Ground ” advocates is dignity not disrespect http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yl_HvEHSlxQ&feature=related.  Self-respect is in painfully short supply for such an ” enlightened ” age. General Platt is an agile activist and senior citizen providing inspirational creative community policing. He’s singlehandedly launched the most successful frontal assault on this foul fad to date.

Another countercultural crusader, Hip Hop Government, has a Stop Sagging billboard campaign http://thehypemagazine.blogspot.com/2008/01/community-organization-hip-hop.html. This welcome relief combats inner city  devolution toward new annual lows. Its crass appeal even has youth of all colors following this fad, a most unwelcome brand of integration. Reclaiming the culture reclaims communities written off as hopeless. Our music, fashion trends and other cultural capital are potential roadmaps out of dead end thug and ho conditioning. Being dignified isn’t being boring. Conscious Rap and Christian Hip Hop prove good beats can accompany equally good content. The airwaves and internet have become weapons of mass destruction against inner city communities. We can reprogram their content and summarily reprogram the inner city. Our conservatives, libertarians and other Right types need to enter pop culture’s free fire zone. Blogging and conferences are half the battle. Popular culture is the last stronghold on the horizon.

I’ve promoted model contests and assisted local recording artists who celebrated  some form of higher development. Modern Black life  isn’t endless real world episodes of bad videos instigating even worse headlines. An activist friend once suggested we work with rappers to put positive monologues on mix tape Cd’s. Those we want to reach have to be approached in their medium. The chitlin’ circuit of conferences reaches one segment of the community. Walking the streets; working events and collaborating with urban creatives reaches our most imperiled demographic. This is yet another type of community policing. It’s not likely to be born from federally funded studies or white papers. It’s a streets up solution instead of suites down. This audience is where few middle class folks of any color dare tread. The mean streets stay so until we bring the counterculture of dignity there.

General Larry Platt is a surprise standard bearer for this counterculture. Please note he wasn’t produced by think tanks far removed from America’s Hoodscape. Don’t get me wrong conventions and braintrusts play their role in saving the Hood. it’s just he took the cultural high ground and placed dignity center stage. Kids who never thought twice about this fad now have competing food for thought.

This stakeholder said what many sane Black folks privately lament after seeing too many young men ( and women !?! ) ” lookin’ like a fool wit’ yo’ pants on the ground! “

God bless you brother. I proudly share your countercultural DNA.

NADRA ENZI AKA CAPT. BLACK promotes crime prevention and self-development. www.captblack.info and www.blogtalkradio.com/nadraenzi

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