Archive for February, 2010

Tavis, Rev. Al and the President

Posted in Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests with tags , , , on February 25, 2010 by Gary Johnson

By Gary A. Johnson

Let me begin this commentary by asking Tavis Smiley a question:  “Is there anything that the President of the United States can do that would satisfy you?” I don’t think President Obama can do anything that would make you feel whole.

Where do I start?

I have carefully listened to the dialogue between Tavis and Rev. Al Sharpton on Sharpton’s radio show, “Keeping It Real.” Tavis you got it wrong, again!  In my view, Sharpton had every right to be irritated with you.  Tavis, here’s what Sharpton said:  “The President doesn’t need to get out there and do what we should be doing. Saying the President shouldn’t ‘ballyhoo’ a black agenda is not saying the President shouldn’t be held to a black agenda or deal with a black agenda.”

Click here to listen to the entire 20 minute back and forth between Tavis and Rev. Al, when Tavis called into Rev. Al’s radio show.

Tavis, you brought this discussion to the public, not Sharpton.  You started this mess and can’t seem to finish. Tavis you cannot win a debate against Rev. Al Sharpton. Rev. Al has evolved into an astute and sharp politician and one of the best debaters of our time.  He is an excellent listener who can synthesis large quantities of data and give you a “dead on” reply.  My problem with Tavis is his “crybaby, whining and all about me” style of politics.  I purposely used the word politics, because that’s what this is.

Tavis appears to be starting his 2012 campaign for HBPIC (Head Black Person In Charge) role early.  Tavis was not one of the black leaders recently invited to the White House to meet with President Obama. I suspect he needed more of the spotlight on himself.  One way to draw attention to yourself is to be black and publicly and consistently criticize President Obama on almost everything he does.  Hey, this is the post-Obama world that we live in.

Tavis’ lips are still chapped from kissing Hilary Clinton’s ass during the 2008 presidential campaign.  Since that time, dude has been the epitome of a sore loser.

Many black people have been upset with Tavis and his antics during the 2008 presidential campaign.  This recent public debate with Rev. Al Sharpton has not endeared Tavis to the people that he so dearly loves.  I believe that Tavis believes that he’s doing the “right thing” in criticizing President Obama. Tavis is NOT stupid.  I think he is self absorbed and terribly misguided, but he is NOT stupid.

Tavis knows that his Republican-style criticism of President Obama plays well with the those who oppose the President and I think this feeds his need to be at the top of the news cycle.  For example, on his last appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press talk show, Tavis continued his ongoing criticism of President Obama when he said:

“Throughout the campaign, the president promised change, we have change on the horizon here but, unfortunately, its small change.  I find myself kind of like John McCain agreeing with Howard Dean; here I am agreeing with my friend Joe Scarborough.”

I have no problem with Tavis or anyone else holding President Obama accountable for promises made during the campaign.  All of us should do that.  The problem that I see with Tavis is that every time he attempts to hold President Obama accountable, it appears to be personal, and any solutions appears to benefit Tavis in some way.

Now Tavis want to convene another “national conversation” in the form of a conference to discuss if there is a need for a Black agenda to address issues facing Black Americans.  WTF?  Here we go again.  Tavis recently announced that he was discontinuing the annual State of the Black Union Conferences.  So here we are, weeks later, where he appears to be just giving the conference another name.  The person or group who will benefit the most from this “national conference” is Tavis Smiley and his event production company Tavis Smiley Presents, the management event arm of the conference.

The nationally-televised forum, We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda, will be held from 8 am – noon Saturday, March 20 at Chicago State University’s Emil and Patricia A. Jones Convocation Center, 9501 South King Dr., Chicago, IL.  The big problem with such a conference is that Tavis Smiley is not objective when it comes to President Obama.  Tavis is the moderator and he selected the panelists.

Tavis is all about Tavis, and that’s not against the law.  Tavis Smiley is a conglomerate, a brand.  Tavis owns an event production company, a book publishing company, is the host of Tavis Smiley on PBS, a weeknight talk show, and the host of The Tavis Smiley Show from PRI, a weekly news and opinion program featuring provocative commentary and exclusive interviews.  He’s the author of 14 books including his bestselling memoir, What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America. He also founded the Tavis Smiley Foundation to provide leadership training skills to youth ages 13 to 18.  The brother has made good on the American dream, but that doesn’t seem to be enough.  It appears that Tavis appears to have an insatiable need to be at the top of the news cycle.  Tavis also appears to me to be more than a bit disingenuous in his criticism of President Obama and those who support him.

In some ways, Tavis reminds me of a “Me Too Kid.” “Me Too Kids,” feel shortchanged.  When they see something they want, they yell, “Me too, me too.”  They don’t care what it is the other kids are getting, they just want it too.

I agree with Tavis wanting to hold President Obama accountable to issues that matter to Black America.  It takes a certain amount of courage to do what Tavis does.  I don’t like the way he does it.  President Obama should be held accountable for a lot of things.  It is true that many black Americans are suffering disproportionately than some other groups of Americans.

I would like for Tavis to be more specific and define what this “Black Agenda” would look like.  Tavis says, “a Black Agenda is an American agenda.”  If that’s the case then why does Tavis want to call it a Black Agenda.

Thinking politically, the big question to be answered is this: “Is there anything significant to be gained in trumpeting a black agenda?” Wouldn’t health care, jobs and education be on a black agenda?  I’m just asking.

The reality is that President Obama is a politician.  In fact, he has proven to be a damn good politician.  He got elected.  Just because the President has not released an official “Black Agenda” does not mean that he is not actively and aggressively working on black issues to improve the lives of black Americans.  In fact, to question whether President Obama is working hard enough on black issues is fair game, but to imply that the president is not working hard enough on black issues is irresponsible and shortsighted.

Many of you are upset with Tavis.  Let me give you some advice.  Tavis Smiley is not worth raising your blood pressure.  Many of you may have been sipping the “Tavis Kool-Aid” for years and expected more from him, especially now that we have a black President.  The public spat with Rev. Al has shown us once and for all the real Tavis Smiley and you need to accept this in order to move on with your life.

I believe Tavis Smiley wants a better America for black people.  I also believe that he wants to get some type of credit or acknowledgment for improving the lives of black people.  His methodology of taking public swipes at President Obama and those who support him keep Tavis in the news.  At this point in his career it appears that Tavis is comfortable with the old adage that even negative publicity is better than no publicity.

This dispute between Rev. Al and Tavis is personal and bitter and will not evaporate or go away soon.  Tavis is hurt and wounded.  He consistently finds himself on the unpopular side of the issues in black America.  This is not to say the unpopular side of an issue is the wrong side of an issue.  There is no right or wrong on these issues between the two men.  The challenge is to find the best way to solve the problems that are negatively impacting the American people and black people disproportionately.

What do you think?

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.”

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The Bridge: Abolishing Black History Month—An Incomplete Argument

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Guest Columnists with tags on February 23, 2010 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

We are now at the end of another Black History Month.

We have some Black History in the making, especially with the new Black President.

However, some of us are also in the middle of silly arguments over whether or not the tradition of celebrating Black history during one month each year should continue.

On one side of the argument are people who realize that if not for the February celebration, Black History would continue on it’s ride at the back of the education bus, relegated to three or four pages in the American History books and a brief discussion, if at all.

On the other side of the argument are people with incomplete lines of thinking, who only go as far as the assertion that Black History should not be relegated to one month a year.  Their thoughts are that Black History is an integral portion of American History and that it should be taught alongside every other portion of the nation’s past.

Good argument, but incomplete.

The problem is that Black History was never celebrated alongside every other portion of this country’s history and is not now.  Instead, Black History was obfuscated and when touched on, revealed in fragmented and sometimes false context, if at all.  And, there are no immediate plans to integrate Black History into the rest of American history.

The argument for the abolition of Black History Month is incomplete because it calls for the destruction of the celebration, but pursues no real plan for creating a real method of delivery of Black History into American history.

The incomplete argument is similar to the boneheads who want to destroy Affirmative Action, but have no plan to address the lack of parity in our society.

To this day, very little Black History is taught in our schools.

Now, if in fact, American educational institutions had begun to correct this mistake, then perhaps it would make sense to no longer assign Black History to one month a year.  However, the curriculum of elementary and high schools is still sorely lacking when it comes to teaching the achievements and contributions of African Americans to this society.

The argument to abolish Black History month is incomplete and silly because it includes the inane assumption that Black History Month is the actual reason for our history not being recognized as an intrinsic portion of American History.  The reality that is ignored in pursuit of the abolition argument is that Black History Month (originally established as Negro History Week by historian Carter G. Woodson), was established because our history was being overlooked.

And there are two crucial problems with the abolition argument.

First, ignorant Negroes are at the helm of the push to abolish the celebration.  Who asked them to wake up and decide that the entire race of African Americans no longer desire or need the celebration?  That would be no one.

Second, these ignorant Negroes with dubious intentions are suggesting that Black History be taught all year, but are making absolutely no movement towards bringing such into being.

Quite frankly, I am not offended by having my history celebrated during one month each year.  I know that no matter what, that month comes around each year.  I also know that during the month, not only do more non-Black Americans pay attention to my history, but many Black Americans take the time to pay attention to it, when they may not do so otherwise.

I also know that until this nation erases more of its racism and ignorance to it’s own diversity, having one month each year really isn’t a harmful event.

Joyce King, a freelance writer who supports the empty charge against proverbial windmills, once wrote in USA Today: “There are two ways to make Black history more accessible—teach it every month and stop calling it that.  US History is who we all are, what shaped us.”

That sounds cute, but until we get to the point where Black History really is taught every month and recognized as a crucial part of U.S. History, then eradicating Black History Month is tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Let’s make the argument complete and then tie it into real action.

All of the people who think that we should abolish Black History Month should work together to establish Black History curriculum in the schools.  When that is firmly ensconced, then and only then, should we put an end to Black History Month.

So, to the Negroes who believe they are doing or saying something revolutionary by suggesting that Black History Month come to and end, my suggestion is just this: Pick up a book next month and learn something about Black History you didn’t know and then share that with someone who isn’t Black or doesn’t know.

That’s really what the month is all about.

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.

Obama to Parents: Limit Kids’ TV Time

Posted in Black America, Black Interests with tags , , on February 22, 2010 by Gary Johnson

“There’s no doubt that Michelle and I have more resources and privileges compared with a lot of parents. We understand that, but I don’t care how poor you are – you can turn off the television set during the week.”

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama, who is spending billions of dollars to overhaul the U.S. public education system, says there’s one sure thing parents can do to help their kids learn, regardless of financial means: Forbid them from watching television on school nights.

Of his own daughters, Malia, 11, and Sasha, 8, Obama told Essence magazine: “The girls don’t watch TV during the week. Period.”

The first thing they do after school is homework. If they haven’t finished by dinnertime, around 6:30 p.m., they pick up where they left off after the meal. And after that, they can read until they hit the sack. Malia’s bedtime is 9 p.m.; Sasha’s lights go out a half hour earlier, he said.

The president discussed his daughters in response to a question about what parents can do to help foster learning.

Obama, who said he hasn’t missed a parent-teacher conference since taking office, said parents can stay in touch with their children’s teachers.

“Very early on, we set expectations for Malia and Sasha in terms of them taking responsibility for their own education,” Obama said. They got alarm clocks at age 4 to begin waking themselves up, making their own beds and getting themselves ready to get to school on time.

“We monitor them. But they are expected to be prepared to learn when they go to school,” he said.

He and first lady Michelle Obama also began reading to their daughters when they were babies, and encouraged them to appreciate education.

“There’s no doubt that Michelle and I have more resources and privileges compared with a lot of parents. We understand that,” he said in the interview, appearing in the magazine’s March issue. “But I don’t care how poor you are – you can turn off the television set during the week.”

(From the Associated Press)

Those who want to educate their children rather than wait for others to educate their children should join The Black Star Project in this effort at 773.285.9600 or visit our educational programs at www.blackstarproject.org.

Black Individualism: Leading Ourselves At All Costs!

Posted in Black Interests with tags on February 21, 2010 by Gary Johnson

I’m an Individualist. Picture a big black “I” on my chest.

Not a Conservative despite sharing alot of ideological resonance. Nor always Libertarian though it closely matches many core principles. Individual sovereignty is my main premise. Would-be slave masters need not attempt beachheads between these ears. Rigid policy checklists are tossed aside in favor of

independently conceived conclusions. We need more Black individualists. Too often secular and religious hucksters seek dominance over our thoughts. The historic temptation to control Black people is still seductive in this century. I’m always on guard against those offering leadership to supplant my own self-guidance.

“Thyself: The Newsletter of Black Individualism” was the 1990s brainchild of Sylvester Frazier. I was its regular contributor and together we championed Black people leading themselves to the exclusion of big faces in high places and others hungry for followers. I was able to get none other than fellow Savannahian US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to send a congratulatory note which was printed. I don’t know where Sylvester is today but he deserves special recognition for advocating self-governance. Sadly, such advocacy is nearly unheard of in public debate. While human beings are communal creatures, the Black Individualist proposition offers the community more self-loving, self-directed folks than present. These more self-loving, self-directed folks can provide vital counter balance to customs and conduct undermining Black America daily.

Black individualism has one all important priority: leading ourselves at all costs. We know painfully well that those who don’t lead themselves are often mislead by others. As a lifestyle lived by millions Black individualism ulitmately means less crime; fewer broken homes; more productivity and more dignity.

Doesn’t sound like a bad trade off to me. All we have to do is lead ourselves at all costs!

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

He is a regular contributor to HipHopRepublican.com


Tiger Woods–“I’m Sorry”

Posted in Black Interests with tags , on February 19, 2010 by Gary Johnson

By Gary A. Johnson

In his first public appearance since admitting he cheated on his wife Tiger Woods, portrayed by the media as the once invincible athlete of golf made a public apology today in a carefully orchestrated media production.  This was not a press conference.  Woods answered no questions and had one camera feed.  Reading from a lengthy prepared statement in a room of handpicked supporters, Woods acknowledged that he cheated and steered away from his values in part due to money, fame and a sense of entitlement.  Woods further acknowledged that his behavior was selfish and that he believed that the rules that govern the rest of us did not apply to him.

“I was unfaithful, I had affairs, I cheated. What I did was not acceptable and I am the only person to blame,” said Woods.  OK, Tiger says he made a mistake.  14 mistresses?  Mistake?  Whew.  It seems that Tiger went out of his way to defend his way regarding rumors that she kicked his ass.  He also asked the media to leave him alone.  Ain’t gonna happen Hoss.  You can forget that.

In some ways, what we saw was a remarkable performance by Tiger Woods.  Personally, I could care less about Tiger’s situation.  Further, I can’t understand why the major television networks interrupted their regular programming for this staged media event. The only reason this post is on the blog is because I was convinced by my team that there was some “interest” in the story.  We’ll see.

In his statement, Woods said all the right things, but as I’ve said for years, talk is cheap–show me that you “get it” through your consistent behavior.

Enough of Tiger.  What do you think?  Do you care?

Gary 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.”

The Racist Violence Policy Center

Posted in Black Interests with tags , on February 19, 2010 by Gary Johnson

By Kenn Blanchard

Being a law abiding gun owner today is almost as tough as it was after slavery.  Not only do you have people and organizations that blame firearms for society’s ills but some groups like the Violence Policy Center (supposedly a national non-profit educational foundation) thinks that Black Men In America should be denied access to guns for their own safety.  In the article based on 2007 statistics from Pennsylvania cites data “from the FBI–and ranks the 50 states according to their black homicide victimization rates.”

The blogs that supported this Violence Policy Center study and gained my ire actually said white people would be better off if people of color didn’t have firearms. Wow, let me check the calendar. This is 2010 is it not?

In 1870, many states had laws called the Black Codes that prevented people of color from owning anything for self defense.  It is 90% of the reason our great grandmothers didn’t want us to have a gun in the house.  She didn’t want to lose us to the law.  This maternal instinct to save the black man has been passed down.  While some things have changed some things are still the same.  We didn’t have rights then and rarely stand up for them today.

Anyone without a historical background about the origins of gun control would fall for this covert attempt to persuade people to act. Violence of any kind is wrong. Violence from any group is wrong. Violence occurs from more factors than race or ethnicity. Violence festers where there is no hope, education, and substance addictions. Victims of violence come in all colors. Just like the racist that promote disarmament of free people through the tears of mothers that have lost their children to the streets.

I am so glad the number of free-thinking, freedom loving people is growing. This could be a scary thought if these jokers were in charge of anything. This group should be dismantled, and stripped for its disinformation; fear mongering and hate based political agenda wrapped so neatly in politically incorrect monologues.

Since 1991, I’ve been a trainer, and advocate for the right of self defense and self reliance.  Now I have a growing podcast called The Urban Shooter where I have a blast entertaining and sharing my knowledge of these things for free on the internet.  Check it out on www.urbanshooterpodcast.com.

You can also read more of Kenn’s articles on Black Men In America.com.

Shani Davis Makes History–Wins Again

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men, Sports News with tags , , on February 18, 2010 by Gary Johnson

Shani Davis won his second straight gold medal in the men’s 1,000-meter Olympic speedskating at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Davis is the world champion in that event and defended the title he won four years ago in Turin, when he became the first black athlete to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Games.

We first featured Shani Davis on Black Men In America.com back in 2006.  Gary Johnson interviewed those close to the Olympic Champion.  Click here to read that exclusive interview.

You can learn more about Shani Davis by visiting his official web site at www.shanidavis.org.

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