Archive for October, 2009

TSU Drops Tavis Smiley’s Name From School

Posted in Black Interests with tags , on October 25, 2009 by Gary Johnson


By Staff

Last month broadcaster Tavis Smiley ended his relationship with Wells Fargo Bank.  This month Smiley and Texas Southern University (TSU) ended their relationship last Friday when the university’s governing board agreed to strip Smiley’s name from its communication school.  This action was the final decision in a long-simmering feud.  In 2004, Smiley promised to donate $1 million dollars and to raise another $1 million for TSU.  Shortly, thereafter the school later created the Tavis Smiley School of Communication in his honor.

Smiley reportedly in return, made one $50,000 donation in mid-2005 and raised $250,000 from three corporate donors.   Smiley said Friday he had intended to fulfill his personal pledge.  “Any institution that turns away a $1 million gift in this economy, I think ought to have good reason for doing that,” he said in a telephone interview.

TSU President John Rudley said the dispute had been going on since he arrived on campus in early 2008.  Communication between both parties reportedly broke down last month after more than a year of negotiations.

“Because you did not fulfill your original commitment to our partnership, TSU plans to treat the partnership as being at an end,” Rudley wrote in a letter dated Sept. 28. “TSU will therefore remove your name from the School of Communication and the KTSU Radio facility to allow us to provide other major donors with the naming opportunity.”

Smiley promptly responded in an e-mail to Rudley. “I understand your letter to say that you don’t want that gift,” he wrote. “I … will continue with my benevolence where it’s appreciated.”

Smiley has a PBS program that is broadcast in many markets around the country.

Last summer, Smiley informed TSU he was changing the terms of the agreement.

His business manager, Kenneth Goldman, wrote that Smiley wanted to pay $50,000 by the end of 2009 and $100,000 a year for the next nine years.

He no longer would try to raise money from outside donors.

TSU’s well-publicized problems made it impossible to raise money from corporate donors, Smiley said Friday. “And obviously, not unlike most Americans, my personal income has been impacted by this recession.”

Still, he said, he intended to honor his commitment, even if it would take a decade to do so. Now, he said he will donate that money elsewhere.

Rudley, said of Smiley,”He had his reasons for what he was doing.”  Rudley futher acknowledged that the university still likes Smiley but noted that it was time to move on.

Last month Smiley publicly severed all ties to Wells Fargo Bank in the wake of criticism that the bank targeted African American borrowers for subprime mortgages by using trusted black speakers to steer victims to a series of day-long “Wealth Building” seminars in black neighborhoods.

In the seminars, Smiley praised Wells Fargo and encouraged attendees to seriously consider real estate investments. Wells Fargo was a sponsor of Smiley’s radio show on Public Radio International, and underwrote the annual C-Span-televised “State of the Black Union” conference that Smiley organizes.

Is the shine coming off of Tavis Smiley’s public persona?  Is Tavis the real deal?  A profiteering phony?  Or something in between?

What do you think?  Share your thoughts below in our “Comments” section.

Sources:  Houston Chronicle and KHOU (Channel 11)

The Morehouse Dress Code

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men with tags on October 9, 2009 by Gary Johnson


There’s been some mild controversy on some blogs about the recently published Morehouse College dress code.  My interpretation of the controversy is that it is generational.  Anyone over 40-45 years old probably applaud the dress code, while younger folks question the policy and find it too restrictive.  Morehouse has a rich tradition that goes back at least 8 decades.  The administration’s new policy which went into effect this month) is spear-headed by Morehouse’s new President, Dr. Robert Michael Franklin, Jr.

Morehouse College has a rich tradition of preparing young men to change the world.

Read the new policy for yourself and tell us what you think.  I’m over 45.  I have no problem with the dress code.

Morehouse College Appropriate Attire Policy
October 2009

Published in The Maroon Tiger

It is our expectation that students who select Morehouse do so because of the College’s outstanding legacy of producing leaders. On the campus and at College-sponsored events and activities, students at Morehouse College will be expected to dress neatly and appropriately at all times.

Students who choose not to abide by this policy will be denied admission into class and various functions and services of the College if their manner of attire is inappropriate. Examples of inappropriate attire and/or appearance include but are not limited to:

1. No caps, do-rags and/or hoods in classrooms, the cafeteria, or other indoor venues. This policy item does not apply to headgear considered as a part of religious or cultural dress.

2. Sun glasses or “shades” are not to be worn in class or at formal programs, unless medical documentation is provided to support use.

3. Decorative orthodontic appliances (e.g. “grillz”) be they permanent or removable, shall not be worn on the campus or at College-sponsored events.

4. Jeans at major programs such as, Opening Convocation, Commencement, Founder’s Day or other programs dictating professional, business casual attire, semi-formal or formal attire.

5. Clothing with derogatory, offense and/or lewd messages either in words or pictures.

6. Top and bottom coverings should be work at all times. No bare feet in public venues.

7. No sagging–the wearing of one’s pants or shorts low enough to reveal undergarments or secondary layers of clothing.

8. Pajamas, shall not be worn while in public or in common areas of the College.

9. No wearing of clothing associated with women’s garb (dresses, tops, tunics, purses, pumps, etc.) on the Morehouse campus or at College-sponsored events.

10. Additional dress regulations may be imposed upon students participating in certain extracurricular activities that are sponsored or organized by the College (e.g. athletic teams, the band, Glee Club, etc).

11. The college reserves the right to modify this policy as deemed appropriate.

*All administrative, faculty, students and support staff members are asked to assist in enforcing this policy and may report disregard or violations to the Office of Student Conduct.”

This article was posted by Gary A. Johnson.

Nobel Laureate Barack Obama

Posted in Barack Obama, Black Interests with tags , on October 9, 2009 by Gary Johnson


At just 48 years old and not even nine months in office, President Barack Obama became only the third sitting U.S. president to win the Nobel prize.

The widespread reaction in the mainstream media:  For what?

The Nobel committee members made no bones about it: Helping Obama achieve ambitious peacemaking goals was their goal in awarding the prize Friday to an as-yet mostly unaccomplished U.S. president.

Will winning the Nobel Prize help President Obama politically or hurt him?

Michael Vick To Get A Reality Show

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men with tags , , on October 7, 2009 by Gary Johnson

Michael Vick

By Gary A. Johnson

Michael Vick committed a crime and did his time.  He deserves the right to work and earn a living which he is doing by way of his employment with the Philadelphia Eagles football team.  Good for him.

Now comes the news that Vick and BET also known in some circles as (Blacks Embarrassing Themselves) have partnered on the production of an eight-part documentary style reality show to be aired on the BET network early next year.

Only on BET.

Ever the optimist, I am all for Michael Vick being able to work and earn a living, but I wonder about this move.  Is it too much too soon?

If produced the right way, the show could chronicle how Vick made a series of terrible decisions that negatively impacted his life.  The show could further illustrate how one man who seemingly had it all and was on top of the world as the highest paid player in his sport crashed to his lowest point.  He lost his money, he lost his fame, he tarnished his name and brought shame to his family.

There could be a series of sobering “teachable moments” that can help other people.  The documentary could help Vick rehabilitate his image and perhaps portray him as a caring father and son and not the cold blooded dog killer that led to him serving time in a federal prison.  It really could be all of these things and more.

My concern is less with Vick and more with BET.  Name the last project or television show on BET that you thought was a quality piece of work?  You know, a show that you could be proud of in the vein of “must see TV.”  You don’t typically hear “masterpiece” and BET in the same sentence.

The show is tentatively titled The Michael Vick Project will follow and document Vick in several areas of his life including his release from prison to the Philadelphia Eagles and will show him as he rebuilds his relationships with his fiancé and children.

The show will also reportedly show Vick returning to the federal prison where he served 18 months and the Virginia property on which he ran the dog fighting operation.  Vick’s company is reportedly co-producing the show.

Again, I wonder if this is too much too soon.  There is the potential to have something good come from chronicling Vick’s mistakes, if produced properly.

Everyone deserves a second chance and Michael Vick is trying to make the most of his.

Should Michael Vick concentrate on football?  Should he cash in on every available and reasonable opportunity that be believes is in his best interest?  How much faith do you have in BET to produce this project?

What do you think?

Tim Wise on White Privilege

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men with tags , on October 2, 2009 by Gary Johnson

Tim Wise has been a friend to Black Men In since we launched the original online magazine in 2001.  Over the years Tim has graciously allowed us to post his work.  In fact, time was probably the first white writer that we posted on the site.  In case you’re not aware of Tim, let me give you the “Reader’s Digest” version of this man.

Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S., and has been called, “One of the most brilliant, articulate and courageous critics of white privilege in the nation,” by best-selling author and professor Michael Eric Dyson, of Georgetown University.

Watch the video and tell us what you think in the comment box below.

About the Author

Tim Wise is the author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, and Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White. A collection of his essays, Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections From an Angry White Male, will be published in the Fall of 2008, and his fourth book, Between Barack and a Hard Place: Race and Whiteness in the Age of Obama, will be released in Spring, 2009. He has contributed chapters or essays to 20 books, and is one of several persons featured in White Men Challenging Racism: Thirty-Five Personal Stories, from Duke University Press. He received the 2001 British Diversity Award for best essay on race issues, and his writings have appeared in dozens of popular, professional and scholarly journals. Wise has been a guest on hundreds of radio and television programs, worldwide.

Tim has provided anti-racism training to teachers nationwide, and has trained physicians and medical industry professionals on how to combat racial inequities in health care. He has also trained corporate, government, entertainment, military and law enforcement officials on methods for dismantling racism in their institutions, and has served as a consultant for plaintiff’s attorneys in federal discrimination cases in New York and Washington State.

You can learn more about Tim by visiting his web site at

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