GARY A. JOHNSON

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 book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.” 

To learn more about Gary click here.

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Facts About Welfare

Welfare Dollar Sign

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com Staff

Posted March 12, 2016

I was in the check out line in the grocery store today.  Let me set the scene.  Friday evening during the 5:00 pm hour.  In my view, there were not enough Cashier’s so the the lines were long.  There was a young black mother in front of me with an infant baby and a full cart of groceries.  The check out process was slowed because she was paying with the help of some type of public assistance.  She appeared to have vouchers.  The Cashier had to stop periodically and process a voucher after scanning certain items.  There were two middle age black women behind me who were obviously insensitive and livid.  I heard the following from these two behind me:  “What the hell is the hold up?”  Damn, how long is it going to take to process this welfare queen?”  “You see that purse?  That doesn’t look like welfare to me.”  I wonder how many more kids she has at home.”

Wow!  I briefly considered turning to the women behind me and saying something to them about their level of insensitivity, but I thought that anything I said would probably be processed by them in a negative way and therefore be counterproductive.  At that moment, I knew that I was going to write a commentary about this topic.  The young woman heard the comments and appeared to be upset.  She seemed agitated that she could not get the Cashier to process the vouchers faster.  The Cashier had to scan the voucher and then the mother had to sign it.  This process was repeated six times.  At one point the young mother turned to me and said, “I’m sorry.”  I smiled and replied loudly, “Handle your business young lady, I’m not in a hurry.”   I stared at her daughter and was reminded that I have a granddaughter around the same age.  That young woman could be the mother of my granddaughter struggling to make ends meet.

At no point did I think the two women behind me were “bad people.”  I believed that they were two good women who were terribly misinformed about the facts about the proportions of people who receive welfare benefits.

Many people do feel ashamed and scrutinized largely because of the myths and stereotypes that have existed for decades about what groups of people are on welfare.  Need-based assistance in the U.S. — such as Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — is often subject to public scrutiny, causing those who receive it to feel shame.  These stereotypes are so strong that many black people have bought into them and make statements about people on welfare that are not based on facts.  Politicians and others in the public eye make similar statements and many people accept these statements as the gospel truth.

Last year Gene Alday, a Republican member of the Mississippi state legislature, apologized for telling a reporter that all the African-Americans in his hometown of Walls, Mississippi, are unemployed and on food stamps.  “I come from a town where all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call ‘welfare crazy checks,'” Alday said to a reporter for The Clarion-Ledger, a Mississippi newspaper. “They don’t work.”

Let’s look at the data and analyze the FACTS.  Nationally, most of the people who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are white.  According to 2013 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program, 40.2 percent of SNAP recipients are white, 25.7 percent are black, 10.3 percent are Hispanic, 2.1 percent are Asian and 1.2 percent are Native American.

Welfare Chart 2016

The SNAP program is one of the nation’s largest welfare programs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently reported that the program has gone from 17 million recipients in 2000 to almost 47 million last year.  Earlier this year, it was reported that one in five children in the U.S. now relies on food stamps for at least some meals each day.

About 7 months ago, more than 30 people were arrested for food stamp fraud in the North Country of Brushton, NY.  All of the people arrested were white.  Investigators reported that people used their food stamps to get food or alcohol at the Old Time Butcher Block store in Brushton.

Welfare Cheats 2016

Let me highlight what I believe are several common myths about welfare recipients and introduce some facts and data that I think will help us all gain a better understanding of the program.

Myth #1: Welfare recipients are often characterized as lazy, simply waiting for the next month’s benefits.

Fact:  73% of people receiving public benefits are members of working families.  Even though welfare recipients are in the labor force, they aren’t earning enough money to support a family and provide food for their children and pay bills, such as rent and utilities.

Myth #2: Welfare recipients are mostly people of color.

Fact: 40% of SNAP recipients are white, making white people the largest racial group on food stamps.  When it comes to TANF recipients, approximately 30% are white, 30% are Latino and 30% are black, with several other racial groups making up the remaining 10% of recipients.

Myth #3: Undocumented populations are stealing welfare benefits from citizens.

Fact: Undocumented populations are ineligible for all welfare programs, except emergency medical care.  “It’s illegal to afford public benefits of the TANF or food stamp variety to undocumented immigrants … who have not been in this country for a situated amount of time as legal residents.  For example, food stamps are only available to immigrants with legal status who have lived in the country for five years, are receiving disability-related assistance or are under 18 years old.  Some programs also allow states to make their own guidelines for immigrant populations, leading to disparities in assistance from state to state.

Myth #4:  People are getting rich off of welfare.

Fact: No one is getting rich off of welfare.  Welfare benefits are modest.  The average benefit of the SNAP program, formerly known as Food Stamps is $1.50 per meal.  Can you adequately feed yourself on that small amount of money?  Similar to SNAP, most other government assistance programs seek to provide only the barest minimum amount of help that an individual or family needs to survive.

Myth #5:  Welfare doesn’t work.

Fact: Government assistance is extremely effective at helping people get out of—and stay out of—poverty.  In 2013, food stamps helped lessen the burden of poverty for 4.8 million people. 

Welfare Pic

Many people fall on hard times and receive welfare benefits until their situation improves.  Some of those people are decorated war veterans.  Maybe it was that few months of unemployment benefits that the war veteran needed when she was laid off.   Or maybe it was childcare resources that saved the single mother during a debilitating illness.   None of us knows when life will throw us a pitch that we can’t hit and we may need help from the government.  We need to understand that many welfare recipients are hard-working and talented people who fell on hard times through no fault of their own.  Any one of us may need to rely on welfare at some point in our lives.  Realizing this is just one important step to building  empathy and understanding for those who are less fortunate than us.  The reality is that there are  millions of people who truly need these government programs to help them get back on their feet.  And you never know—someday, we might be one of them.

GAJ Head Shot

Gary A. Johnson is the Founder of Gary A. Johnson Company & Associates, LLC, a management training and consulting company. The company manages a variety of Internet and digital media enterprises including Black Men In America.com, one of the most popular web sites on the Internet, Black Men In America.com Dating and the Black Men In America.com Syndicated Blog. In addition, the company manages Homework Help Page.com, an educational resource site for children, college students and parents.

To learn more about Gary click here.

 

10 Worst Mistakes People Make After Retirement

Black Mental Health 2couple13_article-small_14652

March 5, 2016

By Gary A. Johnson, Founder & Publisher – Black Men In America.com

“I’ve worked years for my money…now it’s time for money to work for me.” – Gary Johnson

Thanks to our new contributor Mr. Free Spirit, all of us at Black Men In America.com have a heightened sense of awareness about what it takes to live a “good life” after you retire.   Money mistakes are a common learning experience from which we can all grow, but when you are already in your retirement phase, the results can be a little more catastrophic. It’s much easier to recover from mistakes when you are younger but retirees are depending on that nest egg and their ability to replenish savings is greatly diminished.

Financial Advisor Talking To Senior Couple At Home

I listed the 10 Worst Mistakes People Make After Retirement.  If you want more detail pertaining to a particular “mistake” simply click on the link to read more information:

  1. Not Changing Lifestyle After Retirement
  2. Failing to Move to More Conservative Investments
  3. Applying for Social Security Too Early
  4. Spending Too Much Money Too Soon
  5. Failure To Be Aware Of Frauds and Scams
  6. Cashing Out Pension Too Soon
  7. Not Being Effective Tax-Wise During Retirement
  8. Supporting Adult Working Children
  9. Being House-Rich but Cash-Poor
  10. Not Staying Active Socially and Physically

I also discovered a Senior Living Archives that you might find helpful.  Between this archives section and our archives of Mr. Free Spirit you have a pool of relevant articles and tips on how to prepare for your retirement, maximize the quality of your life and how to get the most out of your money.

Retirement Sign

Here are a few articles worth reading.

  1. 10 Reasons Many People Never Retire

  2. 8 Ways to Make Your Retirement Savings Last

  3. Why African Americans Should Care About Social Security

  4. How Home Ownership Keeps Blacks Poorer Than Whites

Couple counting money --- Image by © Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Image/Blend Images/Corbis

Do you have any retirement related comments, advice or stories?  If so, scroll down to the bottom of the page and share them in our “Comments” section.

Source:  The Financial World.com

Couple counting money — Image by © Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Image/Blend Images/Corbis

The N-Word: An Interactive Project Exploring a Singular Word

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By Gary A. Johnson

The Washington Post has a fascinating interactive project exploring the use of the N-word.  Written by Dave Sheinin and Krissah Thompson with contributions by Lonnae O’Neal Parker, this N-word project is described by the Washington Post as follows:

“Following several incidents involving players using the n-word, the National Football League this year instructed game officials to penalize players who used the word on the field of play. The policy, though, was widely criticized as being heavy-handed and out of touch. As the league wrestled with the issue, a team of Washington Post journalists examined the history of this singular American word, its spread through popular culture and its place in the vernacular today.”

In short, this project features 34 people, 9 questions and 1 word.

According to search data on the social media analytics website Topsy.com, the word is used 500,000 times a day on Twitter — as “nigga.”

The N word project allows you to select several topic areas that lead to a custom video.  You can also watch and listen to 34 conversations or start a conversation by posting a question about the N-word and sharing it with your network.

Here’s a sample of some of the aspects of the word explored in this project:

  • Are we giving the word too much power or is the word just that powerful?
  • Why would anyone willingly use a word that’s only meaning is one designed to make someone feel bad for being born the way they are.
  • Why do white people want to use a word that would only make situations awkward in the context of their skin color?
  • Does avoiding the word actually deconstruct racism, or does it simply hide ongoing prejudice under a veneer of political correctness?
  • Why is it okay for African-Americans to say it, but only okay for whites to say the n-word when an African-American gives them a “pass”?

Click here to get started and join the conversation.

Photos courtesy Nikki Kahn and Michael S. Williamson

GJohnson 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 book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.To learn more about Gary click here.

Are We More Accepting Of Obesity In The Black Community?

Obese Man

By Gary A. Johnson

Americans are getting fatter and fatter by the year.  There’s no other way to put it.  Health and weight statistics for black Americans is even worse.

According to the publication Health, United States, 2013, 38% of black men in America are considered to be obese compared to 50.8 percent of African-American women.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, overweight or obese is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 pounds or more.

A 2013 study from the American Psychological Association reported that about 60 percent of black women are obese compared to 32 percent white women and 41 percent Latino women.

Carrying around those extra pounds increases the likelihood of developing Type II Diabetes and High Blood Pressure – two diseases that disproportionately affect the black community.

Being overweight also increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, arthritis and certain cancers. In fact, obesity could become more dangerous for your health than smoking cigarettes.

Yet, in the black community, many folks believe or have convinced themselves that being “big boned” is more acceptable.  We need to STOP that thinking right now.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you have read about my struggle to lose weight.  If you’ve ever visited my Instagram page, most of the pictures are of food that I cooked and then ate.  I’m a damn good cook.  I suffer for my food.

I am putting myself out there.  I am obese and my condition developed as a result of making a serious of poor choices over the past 20 years.  I went from weighing 195 lbs to my current weight of 310 lbs.

At one point I was carrying 324 lbs on this 6′ 4″ frame.  Fortunately for me, my body has been good to me.  I never smoked, used alcohol or drugs and I don’t drink sodas.  My weakness is food.  I am an emotional eater and I love to cook and eat.

Gary J.

Here I am “walking the trail” on top of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge at National Harbor on the DC side.

Lately, I’ve been able to reverse some of these negative health effects.  Two years ago I gave up sugary fruit juice drinks.  I drink mostly water, green smoothies or a combination of Braggs Organic Vinegar and water.  If I drink tea, I don’t use sugar.  I will start my day with low-sodium vegetable juice in place of Orange juice.  These simple choices have made a difference in my health.  My last blood pressure reading was 116/78.  Not bad for a 300+ pound guy.  I started exercising (cycling, walking and weights) consistently and stopped eating at fast food restaurants.  I also started buying healthier and organic foods.  This costs more but I think it’s worth it.

Make no mistake.  I have a long way to go and need support.  I have lost over 30 lbs 4 times over the last 15 years.  The difference this time is that I am doing it sensibly (slow and steady).  No fad or crash diets. Is it easy?  No!  Is it worth the pain and effort?  Yes!

“Many African-American women view being obese as part of their culture,” says Thaddeus Bell, M.D., a family practitioner in South Carolina, in an online interview for icyou.com. It is understood within the African-American community that curvy, overweight women are considered more appealing to black men than normal- or under-weight women. There is almost a reverse distortion of body image – with thicker women fighting weight-loss and slender women wanting to gain weight in order to be accepted.

Obese Woman

This may account for the staggering statistic that 4 out of 5 African-American women are overweight or obese. It is even more alarming that some of these women are making a choice to live at an unhealthy weight. African-American women of all ages report less exercise than their white counterparts. “Many of them feel that it’s not feminine or they’re afraid to sweat because it will ruin their hairstyle,” adds Dr. Bell.

Other hindrances include not having child care, not having enough time to be physically active, and not feeling safe being active in their neighborhoods.

African-American men aren’t off the hook either. African-American men also exercise less than white women, and have the highest prevalence of obesity among all male ethnic groups.

However, African-American men are more active than their female counterparts, which may be the reason that only 28.8 percent are obese, compared to 50.8 percent of African-American women.

There is an interesting video called “Dealing with Obesity in the Black Community” on YouTube by Walter Lee Hampton II.  This is a no non-sense video about exercise, eating and living a healthier life.  I would also recommend reading Obesity and the Black American:  Causes, Culture, Consequences, and Costs.”
GJohnson 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 book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.To learn more about Gary click here.

 

The Ray Rice Apology:  Two Points of View

Ray Rice, Janay Rice

August 4, 2014
By Gary A. Johnson with contributions from Mildred Muhammad

In today’s 24-hour news cycle, this topic is considered to be “old news.” 4 days ago Baltimore Ravens Running Back Ray Rice, the modern day poster child for domestic violence held a press conference where he spoke for the first time since being arrested for knocking his fiancé unconscious at an Atlantic City casino in February. The NFL “punished” Rice with a two game suspension, which was widely regarded by most sports media observers as insufficient. The length of the suspension, compared with others handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell caused a firestorm of debate. The suspension was so controversial that at least one sports/media broadcaster (Keith Olberman) has called for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to resign his position immediately.

Most of you have probably seen the TMZ video of Ray Rice dragging his then unconscious girlfriend out of an elevator at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City on Valentine’s Day. Rice is seen holding up a motionless Palmer from behind — his arms hooked under her arms and shoulders — dragging her out of the elevator before plopping her down in front of the elevator doors and at one point kicking at her feet. I found that footage to be troubling and disturbing.

I watched the press conference live. I listened attentively in an effort to determine if this guy understands what he did and is truly sorry for his actions. Or was this Ray Rice’s attempt at damage control in an effort to keep his sponsors on-board and save his public image?

Here are two takes (opinions) on this topic. My take and the expert take or opinion of my friend and domestic violence expert Mildred Muhammad. I specifically asked Mildred to share any opinions or insights that she had about the Ray Rice apology. I want to educate myself and others about domestic violence and I want to learn from those who know more about this topic than I do.

Gary’s Take: I have never been a victim of domestic violence, but I have witnessed incidents with family and friends. After watching Ray Rice’s press conference I thought he came off as an individual who is on the right path. He is seeking counseling and it appears to get “it.” I base my assessment on the following observations:

  • Ray Rice had some prepared notes and folded them up and spoke extemporaneously from his heart.
  • He apologized to his wife, his daughter, his wife’s parents, the community, etc.
  • He consistently used the phrase “domestic violence.”
  • He said he took responsibility for his actions and noted that he is in therapy/counseling for what he described as the worst action of his life.
  • He said that when he gets right, that he will commit his life to helping victims of domestic violence.

And yet, there were aspects of that press conference that made me feel uncomfortable. At one point during his press conference Ray Rice said the following: “My actions that night were totally inexcusable. That’s not me. That’s something I have to live with the rest of my life.” That’s not me? 

Ray, that was you.  The video does not lie.  Hopefully, continued counseling will help you come to terms that that was you.

Mildred

Mildred’s Take: First off, Ray Rice has been going through counseling. It’s a positive step that he apologized to his wife, (which he forgot to do in their joint press conference a few weeks earlier). It’s good that Ray apologized for his actions and took responsibility for what he did.

However, he’s positioning himself as a victim as well. He’s connecting his pain with his wife’s’ pain and her pain with his pain when the two are not the same. He knocked her out; she didn’t do that to him. Whatever she did to him in that elevator did not warrant him knocking her out. There are ways you can defend yourself without brutal force. We are talking about a running back who is tackled by 300 or so pound men. He’s hit all the time. A man has to realize that the power behind his punch, shove or hit is so much more than a woman.

His pain is associated with the shame of being captured on tape and how he let everyone down (his mother, her parents, coaches, teammates, etc). Had this not been publicized, we would not be having this discussion.

Ray Rice said his pain is associated with his daughter and how he will have to explain what he did to her mother. He did not speak to or discuss his wife’s pain or what she must be feeling and how this has affected her. On the other hand perhaps he shouldn’t. She is the only one who can speak to this and I don’t believe we will hear from her. She is being counseled and protected during this time, as she should be. I know she is in a lot of pain and probably blaming herself.

He did speak for his wife when he promised that “when the time is right” he and his wife would become active in raising awareness about domestic violence. Everything he says, he includes her instead of just speaking for himself. He speaks like he was the one assaulted and he is going to go out and speak to the world about domestic violence. I don’t think Ray Rice understands that he will be speaking as an abuser.

He doesn’t want to talk about what happened in the elevator because, during his counseling, he was made aware that he was wrong. If he says in public what happened in that elevator, he will make his situation worse. Right now, it sounds like he feels he was wronged. He’s speaking to two different things in one interview.

I hope Ray Rice continues his counseling so he can come to accept what he did and will be able to separate his pain from his wife’s pain.

What do you think?

Mildred D. Muhammad is the ex-wife of John Allen Muhammad – the convicted and executed DC sniper who terrorized the Washington DC metropolitan area in late 2002. To learn more about Mildred and her work via her website Mildred Muhammad.com and through our main website at Black Men In America.com.

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 book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.” 

 

This Ross Is The Boss Too!

Rhonda Ross Pic

Rhonda Ross Logo

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com

Last night, I had the pleasure of having front row seats to see singer Rhonda Ross perform at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, located just across the Washington, DC line in Bethesda, MD.  I also met Ms. Ross after the show.  Rhonda Ross is the daughter of singing legend Diana Ross and Motown-Founder, Berry Gordy, Jr.  This Ms. Ross proved that she too can be the BOSS and in a very different kind of way. 

Rhonda Ross is a singer, songwriter, actress and writer.  One of the things I learned about Rhonda is that she is most proud of being a mother and co-parent with her husband of 15 years Rodney Kendrick.

Make no mistake, Rhonda Ross is NOT trying to be her mother.  She is carving out her own path and establishing her own musical identity.  Rhonda holds her mother in the highest regard–as a mother, but she is not trying to emulate Diana Ross the singer.  I’ve seen Diana Ross perform live and there are some similarities.  Rhonda Ross has stage presence like her mother.  When Rhonda stood center stage in that long flowing dress with her arms outstretched, she reminded me of Diana Ross.  That’s where the comparisons end.  Rhonda sings in a slightly lower register and has a stronger voice.

Rhonda Ross

I would describe Rhonda Ross’ as a Neo-Soul and jazz song stylist.  In my view, Rhonda Ross’ music is purposeful and inspiring, largely due to the fact that she writes a lot of her music.  Last night Rhonda spoke with the audience between songs.  It was clear to me that she is a spiritual and religious woman with a lot of inner strength.  When she sang the song “Nobody’s Business,” she explained that “your joy comes from the inside and that it’s nobody else’s job to make you happy.”

Ross’ live performance moved her and some in the audience to tears when she sang a song that she wrote that pays tribute to her mother.  Other songs were motivating and inspiring.  There were probably more women in the audience than men.  The Masters of Ceremony (MC) was Dr. Jeff Gardere aka “America’s Psychologist.”  Dr. Jeff reminded the men that we should take heed and listen to the lyrics too.

If you get a chance to see Rhonda Ross perform, do it!  Treat yourself to some nourishing and fulfilling entertainment.  To learn more about Rhonda Ross click here to visit her official website.

I would personally like to thank Miriam Machado-Luces of TVA Media Productions, Ltd and Elva Mason of Mason Management for the royal treatment afforded me.  Ladies you are the best!

I have one last and deserving shout out that goes to Rick Brown, the Proprietor of the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.  Rick you have done a great job.  Everything was great from start to finish including the Coat Check personnel, Wait Staff, Ushers, Bartenders and Chefs.  Your establishment is one of the best kept secrets in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.  I will be returning to your supper club soon.

Gary J. & Rhonda Ross

Gary Johnson and Rhonda Ross after the show.

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 book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.To learn more about Gary click here.

The Fall Of Detroit:  Told In Pictures and Song

detroit-carries-sign-2012.si

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com (July 27, 2013)

The city of filed for bankruptcy last week.  The Motor City is reportedly $18.5 billion dollars in debt.  This is the the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.  Looking back it was pretty clear that the city was mismanaged for decades and that led to a steady population drop over the years and a staggering loss of tax revenue.  I’m not an economist, but I don’t think you need to be one to know that there will be staggering aftershocks as a result of this filing.

Detroit is not alone.  They just got here first.  The Wall Street Journal recently cited Oakland, Philadelphia and Chicago as other big cities with the potential to follow Detroit’s lead and file bankruptcy.

How did this happen?  I don’t have enough time or space to tell you, but the keyword here is “decline.”  Here are the highlights.

  • In 1960, the richest per capita city in America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, was Detroit.
  • Sixty percent (60%) of all of Detroit’s children are living in poverty.
  • Fifty percent of the population has been reported to be functionally illiterate.
  • Thirty-three percent (33%) of Detroit’s 140 square miles is vacant or derelict.
  • Eighteen percent (18%) of the population is unemployed.
  • And 10.6% of Detroit’s 713,777 residents, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, considered themselves white.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Detroit had five decades of fiscal mismanagement, corruption and cronyism.

From all of my research I would say that the main reason for Detroit’s economic problems was the loss of jobs.  According to the U.S. 2010 Census data, Michigan lost 48% of all its manufacturing jobs from 2000-2010 with Detroit being impacted the hardest.  This led to massive “white flight” and exits by rich folks (including Blacks) and others people of means leaving the city with a shrinking tax base.  In other words, those who could afford to leave for greater opportunity elsewhere did just that leaving the city with a poorly qualified workforce and few job opportunities.

Given the economic environment around the country and the world, I hope and pray that a solution can be found to stop this economic decline and that we don’t see a spread of bankruptcies in other major U.S cities.   As I read through pages of Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and newspapers and economic journals and articles, I felt compelled to tell this story in pictures and song for people who don’t have the time to do research and get the facts.  Click on the video to view.

What’s Motivating Obama’s Black Critics

Cornel West - Tavis

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com

CNN columnist L Z Granderson has written a “thought-piece” that may help some people understand why critics like Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West are so “over the top” in their criticism of President Obama and his remarks regarding the Trayvon Martin and the outcome of the George Zimmerman trial.

Granderson comes to many of the same conclusions that I have written about over the years as to why the self-serving Smiley rants against the President.  Both of us believe this may have started during the presidential campaign back in 2008 when then candidate Obama sent his wife to speak on his behalf at Smiley’s corporately sponsored “State of the Black Union” forum in New Orleans.

The man was running for President.  Here’s an excerpt of Barack Obama’s letter to Smiley explaining his situation: 

In the final stretch, I will be on the campaign trail everyday in states like Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin talking directly with voters about the causes that are at the heart of my campaign and the State of the Black Union forum such as affordable healthcare, housing, economic opportunity, civil rights and foreign policy. I am committed to touching every voter, and working to earn their vote.

That is why with regret, I am not able to attend the forum. I understand that you have declined the campaign’s request to have Michelle Obama speak on my behalf. I ask that you reconsider. Michelle is a powerful voice for the type of real change America is hungry for. No one knows my record or my passion for leading America in a new direction more than Michelle Obama.

Tavis turned down the offer of having Michelle Obama attend.  Michelle Obama is not “chopped liver.”  She is as smart, if not smarter than her husband and she’s a damn good public speaker.  Many observers, myself included feel this was the start of the rift that got Tavis’ panties all bunched up in a wad.  From that point on, Tavis has been whining and complaining like a baby.

Granderson does a great job of providing a timeline of events that led us to this point.  I doubt that anyone will ever be able to figure out the “logic” that is driving the behavior of Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, but Granderson does a damn good job.  His article is certainly worth the read.

Click here to read the entire article.

L.Z. Granderson LZ Granderson writes a weekly column for CNN.com.  He’s also a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com.

Cornel West Says, “Obama Is A Global George Zimmerman”

Cornel West 2

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com

I’ve never seen two guys more desperate to remain relevant than Cornel West and Tavis Smiley.   In the court of public opinion, these guys are losing their credibility with nonsensical rants against the President of the United States, Barack Obama.  Smiley and West are criticizing the President so often and so outrageously that at times you think this is some prank and that these once relevant intellectuals cannot believe what they are saying.  These guys firmly believe what they are saying and they are very calculating and deliberate about how they criticize the President.

In an interview with Democracy Now, Dr. West was asked for his thoughts on the President’s reaction to the outcome in the George Zimmerman trial.  Dr. West replied as follows:

“Well, the first thing, I think we have to acknowledge that President Obama has very little moral authority at this point, because we know anybody who tries to rationalize the killing of innocent peoples, a criminal—George Zimmerman is a criminal—but President Obama is a global George Zimmerman, because he tries to rationalize the killing of innocent children, 221 so far, in the name of self-defense, so that there’s actually parallels here.”

Smiley and West are so over the top in their behavior that this web site is seriously considering not giving them any attention.  These one time media standouts and intellectuals are nothing more than self-serving con men and media whores.   Smiley and West don’t care how they are viewed in the public.  I guess on one hand, that speaks to their “commitment.”

Conservative media outlets are smitten with these guys.  I guess Smiley and West have taken the position that some publicity, even if it’s negative publicity, is better than no publicity.

While Smiley and West continue along their path, this blog will seriously consider whether or not we will give them any further attention on this site.  I love that the President does not respond to either one of these guys or what they say.  Like him or not, President Obama smoothly and seamlessly continues in his job as President of the United States.

Click here to watch a video and to read the full transcript of Dr. West’s interview.

In a related story, Dr. West referred to the MSNBC television network as a “Rent-A-Negro” network and said MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton was on the “Obama plantation.”  Click here to read the entire article.

Tavis Smiley’s Criticism of President Obama (Again)

Tavis Smiley

By Gary A. Johnson

Black Men In America.com (July 22, 2013)

Here we go again.  What did Tavis Smiley say this time?  Tavis is consistent in his criticism of President Obama.  To many people, Tavis is probably more well know for criticizing President Obama than he is for any of his other accomplishments such as the “State of the Black Union,” and some of his earlier best-selling books.  If your name is Tavis Smiley, criticizing President Barack Obama will definitely keep your name in the headlines.

During a discussion on Sunday’s “Meet The Press,” Smiley criticized President Obama’s remarks on Trayvon Martin’s death and the outcome of the George Zimmerman trial.  Smiley took to Twitter following the president’s unexpected comments and tweeted the following:  “Took POTUS almost a week to show up and express mild outrage. And still, it was as weak as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid.”

Trayvon Martin’s parents said President Obama made a “beautiful tribute to their boy” and shared that they were “honored and moved” by his words.  That wasn’t good enough for Tavis.  Many have wondered if President Obama will be able to do anything that would satisfy Mr. Smiley.

While on “Meet The Press,” Smiley also said:

I appreciate and applaud the fact that the president did finally show up. But this town has been spinning a story that’s not altogether true. He did not walk to the podium for an impromptu address to the nation; he was pushed to that podium. A week of protest outside the White House, pressure building on him inside the White House pushed him to that podium. So I’m glad he finally arrived.

But when he left the podium, he still had not answered the most important question, that Keynesian question, where do we go from here? That question this morning remains unanswered, at least from the perspective of the president. And the bottom line is this is not Libya, this is America. On this issue, you cannot lead from behind.

You know my position with regard to Tavis Smiley.  I think he is a self-serving whiner who craves the spotlight.  If you look at his total body of work, Tavis is an accomplished and hard working media personality, author and advocate worthy of the hype.  While Tavis continues to legitimately make valid points on issues such as hunger, black unemployment and other civil rights issues, the way that he raises these issues can be called into question as self-serving.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why Tavis Smiley is invited to be a guest on FOX News and the premiere Sunday talk shows.  Tavis is black and he is an articulate and consistent critic of the President.  That makes for lively conversation on television that translates into higher ratings.

Tavis historically has had a close relationship with former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary.  If Hilary Clinton runs for President, it will be interesting to gauge the support she gets from Mr. Smiley.

I don’t mind Tavis criticizing President Obama.  I do have a problem with “how” he criticizes.  Again, it appears to me that most of what Tavis does these days is overly self-serving.

Tavis has received a blistering response from many in the “Twittersphere” and social media.  People are expressing their opinions about
Tavis via our site’s e-mail box and our Facebook page.  Tavis appears to be unfazed by the comments.  Tavis accused President Obama of lacking courage by “kicking the race can down the road.”

Tavis also stated that President Obama has lost his moral compass.  Is it possible that Tavis has lost his way too?

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Am I The Only One Getting A Little Irritated by President Obama?

Obama Bites Lip

By Gary A. Johnson

I’ll try and keep this short and sweet.  I know plenty of folks who are “emotionally blinded” that we have a Black President.  So much so, they can see no wrong in anything President Obama does or says.  President Obama arguably has the most difficult job in the world.  I am not up to the task of being President of the United States of America.  He clearly is, and along with that comes scrutiny from supporters like me.  Yes, I said supporter.  I don’t have to agree with everything that the President puts forward on his agenda.  Some of the things on the President’s agenda are not in my best interest.  I can live with that reality.

Everything with me is viewed from a perspective of balance, (which I will try to be in this commentary).  When evaluating President Obama, one must first realize that he is first and foremost a politician.  In fact, he has proven to be one of the savviest politicians in recent history.  President Obama and his supporters have claimed that he is not the “President of Black America.”  I agree.  He is the President of the United States of America accountable to all of the people.

Politicians talk differently to different groups, sometimes when delivering the same message.  I get that.  What rubs me the wrong way is that President Obama appears to be talking to Black America in more of a condescending and scolding tone.  Lord knows there are problems in the black community and not enough folks are stepping up to help provide support and solutions.  There are some in the black community who need to have their ass kicked, taken to the woodshed and then go to a “Come to Jesus” meeting.  You will get no argument from me on that.  Everyone needs to be held accountable, including President Obama.

If the President feels the need to call out the black community, particularly black men in public, then he needs to be prepared to be called out and held accountable on his record and campaign promises.  One one-hand, I get the sense that the President feels the need or obligation to hold the black community to a higher standard.  I can understand that.  My growing annoyance with the President is that it appears that he is holding the black community accountable for the bad things that happen in their communities, but doesn’t hold other groups as accountable for the bad things that happen in their communities.

I could be wrong.  I could also have some “blind-spots” that prevent me from seeing the entire picture.

Earlier this week President Obama president addressed Morehouse College’s graduating class, and said:

“We’ve got no time for excuses — not because the bitter legacies of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they haven’t. Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; that’s still out there. It’s just that in today’s hyperconnected, hypercompetitive world, with a billion young people from China and India and Brazil entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven’t earned. And whatever hardships you may experience because of your race, they pale in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured — and overcame.”

The President also told the Morehouse graduates:  “You have to remember that whatever you’ve gone through pales in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured – and they overcame, and if they overcame them, you can overcome them too.”

Personally, I would like to see the President hold his top advisers and appointees more accountable.  These men and women are responsible for helping the President achieve his many campaign promises.  With the recent scandals involving the IRS seizing records and phone messages of media, the President’s administration appears to have a problem with transparency to the American people.  In my mind, transparency is closely aligned to TRUST!

Feeling The Heat

Obama Sweat

The scandals that are in the headlines have to do with the government surveillance of reporters telephone and computer records, the IRS tax scandal against Tea Party and conservative groups and to a lesser extent the Benghazi attack where our Ambassador was killed last September.  With all of the alleged misconduct in his administration, President Obama’s attempt to be above the fray and not having knowledge of anything that will connect him to any wrongdoing, reflects that his administration is out of control.  For the record, I believe this is no different than any other presidential administration.

Is the President holding his advisers accountable?  The President has also made a lot of promises to Black America.   How has he done?

According to the NAACP the Black community is in worse shape under the Obama Administration than under the Bush administration.  The Labor Department reports that the black unemployment rate was at 12.7 percent when President Obama took office. That unemployment rate is now reportedly 16.7 percent — making it the highest unemployment rate for Black since 1983 (Reagan Administration).  Black teens jobless rate was even more staggering at 39.3 percent in July 2012.

Cost of Obamacare

Obama outlined three goals for his health care legislation. Lowering the cost curve and insuring all Americans were two of the three.  It has now been determined that Obamacare will add to the deficit and 25 million Americans will remain uninsured.  This doesn’t mean that Obamacare is a failure.  Obamacare is still developing.  In my mind, it is too early to evaluate.

Cost of Obamacare

Obama promised that he would “not sign [a healthcare bill] if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period.” Yet, a new analysis determines that his bill will add quite a bit to future deficits.

Insuring All Americans

Obama outlined three goals for his health care legislation. Lowering the cost curve and insuring all Americans were two of the three. It has now been determined that Obamacare will add to the deficit and 25 million Americans will remain uninsured.

– See more at: http://www.therightsphere.com/2012/04/president-flip-flop-barack-obamas-broken-promises-policy-reversals-and-continuous-flip-flops/#sthash.hWupztn0.dpuf

Cost of Obamacare

Obama promised that he would “not sign [a healthcare bill] if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period.” Yet, a new analysis determines that his bill will add quite a bit to future deficits.

Insuring All Americans

Obama outlined three goals for his health care legislation. Lowering the cost curve and insuring all Americans were two of the three. It has now been determined that Obamacare will add to the deficit and 25 million Americans will remain uninsured.

– See more at: http://www.therightsphere.com/2012/04/president-flip-flop-barack-obamas-broken-promises-policy-reversals-and-continuous-flip-flops/#sthash.hWupztn0.dpuf

Cost of Obamacare

Obama promised that he would “not sign [a healthcare bill] if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period.” Yet, a new analysis determines that his bill will add quite a bit to future deficits.

Insuring All Americans

Obama outlined three goals for his health care legislation. Lowering the cost curve and insuring all Americans were two of the three. It has now been determined that Obamacare will add to the deficit and 25 million Americans will remain uninsured.

– See more at: http://www.therightsphere.com/2012/04/president-flip-flop-barack-obamas-broken-promises-policy-reversals-and-continuous-flip-flops/#sthash.hWupztn0.dpuf

PolitiFact.com has compiled more than 500 promises that President Obama made during the 2008 and 2012 campaigns.  The sites tracks his progress on a scorecard they call the Obameter.  I’m not certain of the political affiliation of the site or its neutrality but the site is worth checking out if you want to learn more about the President’s track record for keeping his promises.  You can also click here and scroll down to read the campaign promises that President Obama has honored.

Obama Family2

I want President Obama to succeed.  The fact that he is President reflects his success.  I think President Obama, Michelle Obama and their daughters are great role models for America, but he is NOT above being criticized.  The fact that I am irritated at him at times in my mind does not make me a “hater.”  I’m simply questioning the President and his administration’s behavior in an effort to hold them accountable as they promised, something that I believe he would not find objectionable or unfair.


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Stop The Madness:  We Don’t Need This Reality Show

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com

Shawty Lo

We debated whether or not we should even publish this post about the Oxygen TV network reality show “All My Babies Mamas.”  We finally decided that we had to get the word out and let people decide for themselves.  As the Publisher of this online enterprise, I see no redeeming value in this show.  I see it being full of ignorance and exploitation.

For those who haven’t heard, the Oxygen television network is working on a new one-hour special, “All My Babies’ Mamas.”  The series, created by Liz Gateley and Tony DiSanto, will show the complicated lives (headaches and drama) of rapper Atlanta rapper Carlos “Shawty Lo” Walker, the ten mothers of his children and their 11 kids.  Did we mention that Shawty Lo has a new girlfriend who is the same age as his oldest daughter?

Talk about a family affair.

“Oxygen will give fans an intimate look at unconventional families with larger than life personalities and real emotional stakes,” says Cori Abraham, Senior Vice President of Development, Oxygen Media. “’All My Babies’ Mamas’ will be filled with outrageous and authentic over-the-top moments that our young, diverse female audience can tweet and gossip about.”

That description alone makes me think that this show is going to be a “WTF circus.”  It’s hard to believe that anything good can come from this.  “When you know better, you do better.”  Is that old saying still true?

Oxygen is not releasing a lot of information about the show so it’s hard to be objective in our criticism of the show.  However, based on what we saw in the trailer we don’t think we’re off base describing the show as dysfunctional and ignorant.

If you want a sneak peak of the show click on the link below.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  If you watch this, you’re going to be cussin’ or at least yelling, “All hell no!”

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xw88k8_all-my-babies-mamas-final-10-1-12_people

Shawty Low

My concern is for the innocent children.  Honestly, I really am concerned for the actual welfare and emotional stability of the children being raised in this environment by parents who appear “not to know what they don’t know.”  If you really stretch your thinking, and I mean stretch your thinking, the only potential good thing from a show like this is that Shawty Lo may earn enough money to pay his child support and provide any counseling these kids may need to grow up as an emotionally stable and productive citizen.

My good friend Sabrina Lamb has organized a petition that you can sign to boycott this show and make sure it never hits the airwaves.  You can review and sign the petition by clicking here.

Will you watch the show?  Will you sign the petition?  Do you have any problems with a show like this?

Tell us what 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.” 

Tavis Smiley: Shrewd, Misguided and One of the Biggest Whiners In The Business

TavisSmileyMo' Kelly

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com

One can be very smart and yet be terribly misguided.  That appears to be the case with media commentator, frequent Obama critic, “poverty tourist,” and longtime crybaby Tavis Smiley.

I’ve been saying for years, that Tavis is one of the biggest whiners and crybabies in media.  If you look at the body of Smiley’s work over the years, he has evolved into the “King of Smoke and Mirrors.”  Tavis gives the appearance that he’s in the trenches with you for a good cause.  Tavis can identify an issue and create a grand infrastructure that he believes is the solution to the problem.  That grand infrastructure always seems to benefit Smiley financially.

Over the years, Tavis Smiley has leveraged his platform into a media empire via The Smiley Group, Inc., (radio, television, publishing, philanthropy) and has been able to extract what he needs from corporate donors in exchange for steering people back to the stores, banks and institutions that support him.  This is not to say that he has not done good things in the community.  Smiley has done some good things to help those in need.  However, he’s also made millions off of his initiatives to help the poor and downtrodden.  Is that a crime?  No.  Do I think that he would prefer that people not know about that?  Yes.

Last month Tavis was a guest on the “Mo’ Kelly in the Morning,” radio show in Los Angeles.  Mo’ whose real name is Morris W. O’Kelly, in addition to being a radio host is a noted opinion blogger.  Mo’ has been just as critical of Tavis and Dr. Cornel West’s national anti-poverty campaign, as Tavis has been of President Obama and his administration’s policies.  Mo’ used to work for as a producer years ago for Smiley’s TV show.  Kelly claims to know Smiley very well both professionally and personally.

Kelly recently received a press release from the Smiley Group, Inc., advising him and the rest of the local media which received the release, that Smiley and Dr. Cornel West have scheduled another “poverty tour,” to begin in January 2013.  The name of this tour is the “Poverty Manifesto Lecture Series.” The purpose of this series, which is slated to occur on college campuses, is to press President Obama into convening a White House conference on the eradication of poverty in America.

After receiving this press release, Kelly invited Smiley to be a guest on his radio show to discuss the tour.

In an article article by columnist Betty Pleasant in the Los Angeles Wave newspaper Kelly was quoted saying, “I took issue with his process. We all have a moral imperative to reduce poverty and I accept that. But Tavis has no plan, no program, no would-be law that he’s pushing. His premise does not validate his process and that’s what I was arguing about.  “He’s just trying to trick people into believing he has a process; but he does not and I have the right to say so.”

Boom goes the dynamite!  Score one for Mo’.

During the interview which one could describe as “blistering,” Mo’ reminded Tavis that he has called President Obama ‘a Black corporate plutocrat’ and ‘a Republican Rockefeller in black face,’ among other things he and West have said about the president.”

Apparently Tavis didn’t like the interview.  Several days following the interview Kelly received a letter from Smiley’s lawyers advising him to cease and desist, or in other words, “stop talking bad about me,” on the radio, on your blog and on social media.  (If you listen carefully, you might be able to hear some sniffling).  The letter from the law office also reminded Kelly that he signed a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement with Smiley when he left his employ in 2010, and if he did not stop, all manner of bad legal things will happen to him.

Mo’Kelly does not appear to be scared.  In fact, he says Smiley is “supersensitive.”

“He can’t stand to be criticized,” Mo’Kelly said. “He’s made some kind of stink about everything I’ve written or said about him.

Kelly’s official response to Smiley’s “lawyer letter” is: “I have a podcast available to everyone to hear and review. There was no privileged or proprietary information divulged and everything discussed on the air was factually accurate and readily available to the public.

Wow.  Smiley has made a very comfortable living criticizing and talking about people.  Now that people are “holding him accountable” and scrutinizing his work, he doesn’t seem to like it.

Game recognizes game.  This dude will be getting rich on the poverty tour.  Go figure.

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.” 

To learn more about Gary click here.


Gabby Douglas Wins 2 Gold Medals and People Are Talking About Her Hair?

 

Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com

Let me get this straight.  Gabby Douglas puts on a spectacular athletic display in front of the entire world, wins 2 gold medals and some people are publicly criticizing her hair.  WTF?

Kellogg’s Corn Flakes will feature 2012 Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas on its cereal boxes.  The 16-year-old gymnast, outside of Michael Phelps, is arguably the Olympic’s breakout star for companies who want to use her image to sell their products and services.

In an era where marketing studies reflect that female athletes don’t sell products as well as their male counterparts, I see Gabby’s Olympic success as a “golden” opportunity to cash in on fame and fortune and reward herself and her family for the sacrifices made to get her to this point.

Gabby Douglas, from my point of view has everything that advertisers need and want in a product endorser.  She is American who represented her country with poise and pride.  Her athletic accomplishments dazzled the world.  Gabby appears to be a likeable and clean cut teenager, who comes from a family that connects to the “American dream” of hard work and sacrifice.

This is from my point of view.

With the help of social media, mostly Twitter and Facebook, other people saw “a black girl with bad hair.”

One woman tweeted:  “Gabby Douglas gotta do something with this hair!  These clips and this brown gel aint it!”  Another tweet simply stated:  “Why?”

My first reaction when hearing of these tweets was to reply to the “haters” to “Shut The F#@k Up.” Then I took a deep breath and thought that I was wrong to label all of the tweeters as” haters.”

There is a phenomenon in the black community where many black folks feel that when one black person does something, they are representing the entire village or community.  For example, if you are watching the news on television and a horrific crime is being reported, many black folks cross their fingers and pray (often out loud) and say:  “Lord, I hope it wasn’t a black person.”

This thinking reflects that if a black person commits a crime or does something horrific, people of other races are likely to attribute the negative behavior by that one black person to every in the black race.  This logic is not rational, but it is real to many people in our community.

The focus on Gabby Douglas should be on her incredible accomplishments and not on her damn hair.  She’s a world class athlete.  She sweats.  I want Gabby’s focus to be on winning events.  Gabby should not be distracted worrying about what other black women will think about her hair.  This is an ignorant argument.  Some of these same “hair tweeters” would be sending negative tweets if Gabby was shown on television with a home perm kit and a hot comb in her hair.

Gabby Douglas’ performance at this years summer Olympics game will inspire young girls and young black girls for the next decade.  Gabby appears to be a great role model.  Why not celebrate the positive aspects of this young girl’s life?

I’ve learned my lessons when it comes to black women and their hair.  I keep my mouth shut.  In past years, I said some stupid and hurtful things to the black women in my life about their hair.  I said it because I didn’t know any better.  I was ignorant about the maintenance of black hair.  I just didn’t know.  Now that I have insights and new knowledge about the challenges associated with black women and the maintenance of their hair, I’m a better man by keeping my mouth shut.  A hairstyle doesn’t make the woman.  If you think it does, you’re an idiot!

As far as I’m concerned, black women can do whatever they want with their hair.  I think we should celebrate our women and not put a lot of energy on how they choose to style their hair.

 Go Gabby and the rest of the U.S. Olympic Team!

First There Was Tavis, Then There Was Tom

By Gary A. Johnson

I don’t know what to make of nationally syndicated radio show personality Tom Joyner.  I don’t consider Joyner an intellectual lightning rod, however, the morning deejay also known as “The Fly Jock,” reportedly has approximately 8 million listeners to his radio show.  If those numbers are correct, then Joyner’s radio show reaches one in four black American adults.  This commentary is about Joyner’s blog post a few months ago that has recently been getting mainstream media attention.

I have decided to separate Joyner’s philanthropic and fundraising efforts for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) from this commentary.  His work in that area is unparalleled.

Joyner’s syndicated radio show is part news and a lot more entertainment in my view.  That being said, Joyner continues to make news headlines with an old blog posting (July 2011) where he essentially told Black America to vote for President Obama simply because he is black.  Whoa!  Joyner’s position does raise some political and philosophical issues.

In 2008, the election of a black President of the United States of America changed the political landscape.  What happened to evaluating a candidate based on his or her record of performance and how the issues outlined in the campaign impact you and your family?  To his credit, Joyner stated that we are all not “like-minded,” but went on to write that we need to have a common goal in this election and that goal is to make sure that President Obama is re-elected.  Joyner understands that we have the right to vote for whomever we want; he just thinks that not voting for President Obama is not a good use of your vote.

There is something about Joyner’s stance that doesn’t sit well with me.  Joyner is not alone.  Former syndicated radio host Bev Smith, reportedly has urged listeners to vote for President Obama based on his race.

Does Joyner and company realize that President Obama did not win the 2008 election based on the black vote alone?  Blacks voted in record numbers, but a whole lot of independent voters of all races, cast their vote for him too.  Voting for President Obama just because he is black is a very dangerous and slippery slope.  Some of my colleagues are ready to throw Joyner under the bus for this position.  I have him resting comfortably in front of the rear wheels of the bus while the the motor is running.  My foot is on the brake and the transmission in 1st gear.

What would the Freedom Riders and the hundreds of other black and white civil rights leaders of the past have to say to Joyner if they had the chance?  I wonder if they would agree with his position.

The reality is President Obama was able to win the historic election in 2008, not solely because blacks turned out in huge numbers, but because many whites, Latinos and other races supported him as well. To suggest that blacks support him just because of the color of his skin is just wrong. It’s dangerous. Tom Joyner has done a lot for the black community and I won’t throw him under a bus, but I am very disappointed by his comments rallying blacks to support President Obama on the basis of his race. Blacks should support Obama because they agree with his stance on the issues and that he best personifies their needs. I would urge each voter to take the time to do some research on where all the candidates stand on the issues that affect you the most. If President Obama is the one whose views are similar to yours, then vote for him come November 2012.

If you look down the proverbial “re-election bench” you will see the Rev. Al Sharpton (who has a television show on the MSNBC network) suited up and echoing the same message.  During the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington, DC in October 2011, Joyner and Sharpton were saying that President Obama should be judged not on the content of his character and policies but rather on the color of his skin.  WTF?  When you vote for President Obama because he is black, doesn’t that fly in the face of those in the civil rights movement who marched and died for us to have choices and the right to vote?

My very unscientific poll reflects that not everyone is on the Tom Joyner bandwagon.  If you injected President Obama with truth serum I’m not sure he would say, “Vote for me just because I’m Black.”

 

In his blog Joyner writes:  “Let’s not even deal with the facts right now.  Let’s deal with just our blackness and pride – and loyalty.  We have the chance to re-elect the first African-American president, and that’s what we ought to be doing. And I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as black people, we should do it because he’s a black man. There are a great number of people who are against him because he’s a black man. That should be enough motivation for us to band together and get it done. We have the chance to re-elect the first African-American president, and that’s what we ought to be doing. And I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as black people, we should do it because he’s a black man. There are a great number of people who are against him because he’s a black man. That should be enough motivation for us to band together and get it done.”

How about assessing this President based on what he inherited coming into office and how he has performed for example in the areas of foreign policy, the economy, health care, managing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while in office?  As adults our assessments will differ but at least we have the chance to consider a number of situations.  I would suggest that all citizens ask themselves the following question:  “Am I better off now than when President Barack Obama took office?”  Some will say, “Yes” and others will say “No.”  If you answered, “No” to this question, and you believe that President Obama has underperformed, there is nothing wrong with evaluating the President’s performance and deciding that in order to improve your circumstances you might vote for someone else.

Black unemployment is 16.7 percent, the highest it’s been in almost 30 years.  You may determine that voting for President Obama is in the best interest of you and your family and cast your vote for him in 2012.  The point I’m trying to make is that all of us should take the time to think and evaluate all the factors that matter to us and cast your vote accordingly.

Click here to read Tom Joyner’s commentary.

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.” 

President Obama, the Congressional Black Caucus and Rising Unemployment Equals One Big Mess for America

Gil Scott Heron Dead at 62

By Gary A. Johnson

Gil Scott-Heron, the poet and recording artist whose unique voice and syncopated rhythmic style and views on politics, racism and other social issues died on Friday (May 27, 2011) at St. Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan.  He was 62 years old.

Scott-Heron preferred to call himself a “bluesologist,” drawing on the traditions of blues, jazz and Harlem Renaissance poetics.  He often bristled at the notion of being known as the “Godfather of Rap.”   However, one can make a solid argument that modern day rap borrowed heavily from the stylistic inflections, intonations and tones of Gil Scott-Heron.

Whether he wants it or not, the accolades awarded to Gil Scott-Heron by young rappers and musical artists are proof of his legacy.  When news of his death became public artist such as Diddy, Eminem, Usher, Snoop Dogg, QuestLove and Chuck D. immediately took to Twitter to pay their respects to the man who influenced them and their music.  That says a lot about the legacy of Gil Scott Heron.

The song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” made Gil Scott Heron a cult-like figure in 1971.

Gil Scott-Heron released more than 20 albums, and his work was included in more than 10 compilations.  He was also an accomplished author.  He published six novels, one of which — a mystery called “The Vulture” — came out when he was just 19.  He was one of the first acts that music executive Clive Davis signed after launching Arista Records.  By the mid-1980’s Scott-Heron started to fade from the public eye.  In recent years he’s had a very public battle with addiction, most notably cocaine.  Since 2001, Scott-Heron was convicted twice for cocaine possession, and he served a sentence at  Rikers Island prison in New York for parole violation.

Despite these challenges, Scott-Heron managed to get out and tour.  Still a cult figure to many, Gil Scott-Heron last year released an album of new material, his first in 16 years.  Gil Scott-Heron’s latest release, “I’ll Take Care Of You,” is available on his official web site located at http://gilscottheron.net.

For an exclusive and behind-the-scenes look at Gil Scott-Heron click here to check out Jamie Byng, publisher  of Canongate Books.  Jamie was a friend of Gil Scott-Heron for more than 20 years. During 2010 they recorded this interview in London where Scott-Heron talked about his life and work, interspersed with intimate performances of his music.  A fuller version of the film is scheduled to be released later in 2011.

Here’s another popular Gil Scott-Heron song, “The Bottle.”

Sources:  Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, Billboard.com,  Huffington Post.com.

Photo credit:  Mischa Richter

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.

By Gary A. Johnson

Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Dez Bryant is the talk of Big D and that is not a good thing.  Bryant is beginning to become more famous for his off the field activities than for his moves on the football field.  Earlier this week it was reported that Bryant was kicked out of a Dallas area mall for having his pant sag so low that you could see his underwear.  You would think that a grown man would know better, but age nor the money you make is no guarantee for common sense.  Bryant is walking proof that common sense, “ain’t that common.”

Bryant was also given a criminal trespass warning and told to leave the mall.  Reportedly Dez and his boys got a little rowdy and started to argue with the police and were issued warnings by the police.  Dez and crew decided to launch a series of profanity lace tirades in a public mall for being asked to pull their pants up.  Bryant has alleged that he was a victim of “profiling.”  Unbelievable.

What the hell is wrong with these “man-child” breed of men who just don’t get it?  Chris Brown doesn’t get it.  Dez Bryant doesn’t get it.  I could go on and make a long list of brothers who just don’t seem to get it.  And I’m not just talking about young brothers.  Lawrence Taylor doesn’t get it either.

Back to Bryant.

ESPN.com columnist Stephen A. Smith has an interesting perspective on this situation.  Never short of an opinion, Smith says Bryant is a fool.  Some blogger have criticized Stephen A. saying the columnist is being too hard on the Cowboys Wide Receiver.

Read Stephen A. Smith’s ESPN.com commentary below.

Ignorance is ignorance. It’s never bliss. Whether you’re with your honey, or driving a nice ride, living in affluence or, in the latest case, being a member of the Dallas Cowboys, it is simply never, ever a good idea to become conspicuous for being clueless. Naturally, most of us have better things to do with our time than to develop the insatiable need to tell this to Dez Bryant. But since his evident stupidity seems to be a bit contagious, perhaps it’s time to tell it like it is.

Bryant’s not an idiot. He just appears to be one. And if he continues to behave the way he reportedly behaved at the NorthPark Center mall in Dallas this past weekend, that stigma will be the kind of permanent fixture on his profile destined to cost him big-time dollars, and possibly his burgeoning career with the Cowboys.

And rightfully so.

You do not get into arguments with a police officer. Especially when it appears that police officer actually had a point and, quite honestly, you don’t. While we’re still unsure as to whether it may have been a crime for Bryant or his friends to be walking around a public mall with their pants hanging below their backsides, being asked to pull his pants up doesn’t fall under the category of “profiling.”

There would be no need to even address subjects like this, of course, had it not been for Bryant getting flagged with a criminal trespass warning by off-duty officers after exposing his underwear and buttocks to patrons at the mall over the weekend, according to police.

But now we need to address it because Bryant, essentially, asked us to by getting into yet another incident at a public mall.

“The outcome could have been avoided if the parties involved had simply complied with instructions given by the involved officers,” Dallas Police said via a statement.

The statement almost comes across as sounding sensitive toward what was not Bryant’s first incident at the mall where police said he had previously been involved in a “major disturbance” at a restaurant involving a woman, a parking violation and also cutting a line in a store. Perhaps, however, it’s time that we leave sensitivity out of the equation.

Nobody wants to see someone walking around in their drawers in a mall. Since when does education need to be provided on this issue?

Two-year-olds kick their legs up for their parents to put their pants on over their diapers. Kids learn to pull up their pants before they can speak in full sentences. Children can’t go out in public without being dressed, yet suddenly grown adults don’t know the difference?

Dez Bryant’s latest foray wasn’t a venture into lawlessness, just continued prancing toward rebelliousness and belligerence. There’s no excuse for it so there shouldn’t be any explanation for it, either. But since he tried, the rest of us might as well stop avoiding doing so ourselves.

“It really wasn’t me in the wrong,” Bryant told ESPNDallas.com, evidently, diming out his boys.

What Bryant doesn’t realize is that by saying so, he’s basically acknowledging they were wrong. Which means he knew it was the wrong thing to do. Which explains why he’s distancing himself.

So much for justifying his mouthing off to law-enforcement officials.

What there is absolutely no justification for is Bryant, his boys or anyone else wearing their pants below their backsides. Nobody needed President Barack Obama to say so over a year ago. We all knew it anyway.

This need to create fashion statements, using prison garb, tendencies, etc., to do it, is not just an act of stupidity but futility.

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.

Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Bishop Eddie Long: Is It Time To Just Go Away?

By Gary A. Johnson

September 27, 2010

Last week’s public revelation of Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s extra-marital affair with a blond nightclub hostess which reportedly occurred a couple of years ago, has caused many columnists, talk show hosts and beauty shop and barbershop patrons to ask:  Is it time for the Jacksons (Jesse, Sr. and Jesse, Jr.) and Bishop Eddie Long to just sit their asses down somewhere out of public view?

Speaking of Bishop Eddie Long, Jesse Jr., should have sent Bishop Long a nice “thank you,” note for taking over the scandal headlines.  Whew!  Did you see the photos of Bishop Long all muscled up in his Spandex tank top and shorts with a huge soaking tub in the background?  Ouch!

The scandal associated with Bishop Long is that he appears to be a first class hypocrite.  Bishop Eddie Long has been one of the most vocal public advocates against homosexuality and gay relationships.  Disgraced Pastor Ted Haggard, who fell from grace a few years ago when a gay male prostitute exposed Haggard’s visits for both illegal drugs and sex.  Haggard was on CNN defending Bishop Long.  (Not sure if this is a helpful endorsement).

At last count, four young men have filed a lawsuit against Bishop Long claiming sexual coercion and misconduct.  I don’t care what the Bishop is being accused of; there are many others who will support him regardless of the evidence.

I don’t know what it is about preachers and politicians, but it seems they get a longer leash than others who get in trouble.  It seems as if you could have video evidence of a preacher or politician “doing wrong” and there will be a group of supporters who will attribute that video to a racist conspiracy, a government plot or some digital interference by Satan himself.

Men and women who like Jesse, Jr., and Bishop Long know that they have a core group of supporters who will not hold them accountable and blindly support them in the name of the Lord.  This is why Bishop Long can address his congregation and essentially say nothing about the allegations against him.  (I don’t want to hear this crap about his lawyer advised him not to say anything or try this case in the media).  Bullshit!  That has nothing to do with proclaiming your innocence.

I watched Bishop Long address his congregation yesterday.  From what I saw Bishop Long DID NOT deny the allegations against him!  Why didn’t Bishop Long state that he was not guilty of luring young men into sexual relationships?

Instead of proclaiming his innocence, Bishop Long said the following:

“Please hear this. Please hear this: I’ve been accused.  I’m under attack.  I want you to know, as I said earlier, I am not a perfect man.  But this thing I’m gon’ fight. There have been allegations and attacks made on me. I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man. But I am not the man that’s being portrayed on the television.  That’s not me.  That is not me.”

This partial explanation leads to more questions.

I want to make a point about POWER.  The power bestowed upon some public figures is intoxicating.  Many simply cannot manage the power that comes with their positions.

If the allegations against Bishop Long prove to be true, dude looks like a sexual predator.  Thank goodness for him he lives in America.  Bishop Long will have his day in court with the best lawyers money can buy, (unless the parties settle for an undisclosed amount of money and agree to a gag order sealing all the evidence).

Allegations that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. offered to raise $6 million for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for an appointment to Barack Obama’s former Senate seat is potentially damaging to Jackson politically among his constituents.  However, Jackson’s admission of having an extra marital affair with Washington, DC hostess Giovana Huidobro who Jesse, Jr., described as a “social acquaintance” have hurt his wife and family.

Giovana Huidobro

Sandi Jackson, Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s wife who is a Chicago Alderman, was interviewed by the Chicago Sun-Times.  In her interview, she talked about her husband’s affair and said last week’s public release of the story opened up old wounds.

Sandi Jackson said that the affair is in the past and that she and Jesse, Jr., had the opportunity to receive therapy out of the public eye.  Showing a bit of humor, Ms. Jackson referred to the blond nightclub hostess as “kryptonite in the world of the African-American woman,” a reference to the one property that can weaken the superhero Superman.

Ms. Jackson appeared to be quite candid in the interview, (a trait that her husband and Bishop Long should use) when she recalled her husband’s discloser of the affair to her.  At a public gathering celebrating her birthday, with Jesse, Jr. in attendance, Ms. Jackson said:  “’I put my foot knee-deep in his ass and he has been having a very difficult time sleeping peacefully since then.” (Spoken like a true sister).

When will the public, particularly “church folk” stop being so gullible and enabling politicians, sports figures, entertainers and others who hold responsible positions.  Stop putting a microphone in front of Kanye West, Snoop Dogg and Gilbert Arenas.  Many of these folks don’t know enough about current events outside of the isolated world that they live in.  This is not to say that all rappers, entertainers and sports figures are not socially conscious, smart and literate.  I’m not saying that—some are.  Let’s not throw the public trust to someone because they can hit a ball and talk fast.  Everyone makes mistakes.  No one is perfect.  Some public figures actually learn their lessons and return to society as better people doing great things.  Case in point—Michael Vick.  Two years ago Vick was ending a two-year absence from football after serving time in jail for spearheading a dog fighting ring.  Today, the NFL Quarterback is the “toast of the town” in the NFL and Philadelphia for his play.  Michael Vick is one of the top rated Quarterback in the league and the “must see” player on the field.

Before I get off the topic of being gullible, I’ve noticed a few disgraced white pastors resurfacing on BET?  Many would argue that religion has no color, however, this writer sees almost everything through a racial prism.  Albeit, the shows featuring these disgraced pastors are broadcast late at night, I find it curious these pastors are getting their “second chance” in the black TV community.

When will we as a community come together and hold “leaders” accountable for being responsible to those that support them?  No wonder good school teachers, nurses, community organizers and volunteers are “pissed” about their salaries and the influence they have in the community.

I’m especially sick of these preachers and politicians who seem to be in the spotlight more than any other group.  I’m particularly offended by the hypocrisy of it all.  People tend to look up to preachers for spiritual guidance and advice and to politicians because they hold the key to funding sources that can affect people’s livelihood.  To abuse that power is wrong.  To abuse that power against children is immoral and criminal.

What can we do to protect our children and our senior citizens against people who have abused their power, the public trust and pretty much just lost their way?

Bishop Long is a senior pastor at church with over 25,000 members.  Jesse Jackson, Jr., is a Congressman in the United States Congress.  Inherent in their positions is the trust of others, many of whom are less fortunate.  If their supporters vote to keep these men in their positions, then I guess those supporters deserve whatever comes their way as a result of their vote.

For the record, Bishop Eddie Long and Jesse Jackson, Jr. are the latest guys making headlines.  There have been others before them.  Jesse Jackson, Sr., President Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Marion Barry, Julius Erving, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Jimmy Swaggart, O. J. Simpson, Kwame Kilpatrick have all been part of public scandal.  The sad thing is that there will be more notable people who will follow.

What do you think?  Leave a comment below.

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.

The Education Bandwagon: Are You On It?

By Gary A. Johnson

September 27, 2010

“Waiting for ‘Superman,” a new documentary about America’s education system got a huge boost from an appearance on the Oprah show last week.   Director David Guggenheim, who won an Oscar for the 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” appeared on the Oprah show with some of the featured cast including controversial DC Public School Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

“Waiting for ‘Superman’” takes a critical look at failures in the public school system and their effects on American schoolchildren and their families. The movie seems to have everybody talking.  TV and radio hosts across the country of every political persuasion are talking about this film.

Today, President Obama gave up 30-minutes of his time for an interview with the TODAY show’s Matt Lauer broadcast live from the Green Room of the White House.

President Obama said his daughters couldn’t get the same quality education at a Washington, D.C. public school that they currently get at their private school (Sidwell Friends).  The President further stated that DC public schools are “struggling,” though he said there have been some important steps made in the direction of reform.

Not everyone is singing the praises of “Waiting for ‘Superman.”  The film follows the stories of five children whose futures of getting into charter schools are set on the chances of winning a lottery.  Something is wrong with our American system of education when a child’s chances of getting a good education depends on the luck of a lottery ping-pong ball.  Why can’t we fix this as a nation?  This is beyond sad.  To tolerate this is a travesty.

“Waiting for Superman” also portrays teachers’ unions as a major blocks to the schools ability to teach our children.  This portrayal has not been received well by some teachers and educational groups.

Enter Michelle Rhee (again).  Thanks to “Waiting for Superman,” Rhee is seen by many as the face of inner-city and urban school reform.  Earlier this year, Rhee fired hundreds of teachers.  On Sunday’s, Meet The Press TV show, Rhee defended her decisions.  Rhee has consistently said that it is NOT acceptable for teachers who are ineffective to stay in the classroom.  Let me translate:  “It ain’t personal, it’s business!”

Where is our moral compass as a nation?  What’s wrong with removing ineffective teachers from the classroom?  Don’t our children deserve better?  A good education is the key that leads to a good life.  Investment in education pays every single time.  Not throwing money at the problem, but wise investment.  The United States used to be #1 in math and science around the world.  Now the U.S. ranks 21st in math and 25th in science.

Many on the side of the teachers argue that teachers are not evaluated fairly and that teachers need more time to get up to speed.  More time?  Our kids don’t have that kind of time.  I do believe that the teacher evaluation process is flawed.

I am a product of the DC Public School system.  My company has worked for DC Public School system for the past three years.  I volunteer my time working with youth in the most under-served Ward in the city.  I work with teachers.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  “If you don’t fire poor performing teachers, good ones will leave.”

Say what you want about Michelle Rhee, but the data, which in to the only measure of success, but a crucial one, reflects improvement under her watch.  According to Rhee, “The data shows if [children] have three highly effective teachers in a row versus three ineffective teachers in a row, it can literally change their life trajectory.”  That is scary.  Scary because we have too many ineffective teachers whose heart is in the right place but simply aren’t getting the job done.  The nation’s school system also has too many bad teachers—bad attitudes and bad skills.

“Waiting For Superman,” points out that union-backed teachers are tenured after just two years in the classroom and are nearly impossible to fire – even if they are proven to be horrible at their job.  Does that make sense to you?  Rhee supports a new proposal that would allow DC teachers to choose to give up their tenure in exchange for double their salary—up to $140,000.  At the time, the union refused to put it to a vote.

Does any of this make sense to you?  It’s as if the adults have forgotten about serving the best interest of the children. This is a complicated problem.  Where do we start?

How can you defend a national system of education that has a one-third drop out rate? Approximately 2000 schools in our country are “drop out” factories where over 50% of the students drop out of high school.

The teachers and administrators that I know on a personal level are extraordinary.  They give up so much of the time and resources for their children.  They have to because of the lack of parental involvement in their child’s education.

I believe that there are more good teachers than bad teachers, but the bad one’s are probably really bad.  By now you have probably concluded that I don’t have the answers to solve this crisis.  I do know that throwing money at the problem is not the answer.

The young people that I deal with need your time.  Not all of it, but just a little bit each week.  Consistency pays huge dividends with children.  We can’t make educating our children the “flavor of the month.”

Former NFL great Alan Page spent fifteen years in the NFL.  While playing football, he became a full-time law student, earning his law degree in 1978.  in 1988, Page launched the Page Education Foundation.  From its inception, the Foundation has offered money and encouragement to students of color facing incredible barriers to attaining their educational dreams.  This is just one example of how one person can make a difference.

If we get on this bandwagon, we have to stay on it until the job is done.  The future of this nation depends on it.

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.

NFL Great Jim Brown and Cleveland Browns At Odds

By Gary Johnson

September 3, 2010

In 1989, I was on a business trip in Biloxi, Mississippi.  I remember walking into a book store and seeing a hardback book on the shelf with NFL great Jim Brown on the cover.  The name of the book was “Out of Bounds,” written by Jim Brown with Steve Delsohn (Zebra Books/Kensington Publishing).  Good luck finding a copy of the book now.  I searched for the book on Amazon.com and discovered that the book was a collector’s item.  I paid $15.00 for the book.  The book is selling on Amazon.com for between $37.00 and $235.00.  Glad I still have my copy.  You may want to check the value of your books before you toss them in the trash or donate them.

I bought the book and read it during my trip.  Before I read the book, I believed that Jim Brown was one of the greatest running backs who ever played the game.  After reading the book, I was moved to believe that Jim Brown was THE greatest football player to have ever played the game.  Jim Brown quit at the top of his game.  Legend has it that Brown was also the greatest LaCrosse player who ever lived.  (Don’t take my word for it, check with people who know the sport).

If you look up “proud man in the dictionary,” you will likely see a picture of Jim Brown.  Which brings me to the reported rift this week between Brown and Cleveland Brown’s new President, Mike Holmgren.  Jayson Whitlock of FOX Sports.com wrote a great article about the rift supplying what I believe is the proper cultural and historical context for the reader who may not be familiar with Jim Brown and his body of work.

In January of this year, shortly after taking control of the Cleveland Browns, NFL long timer Mike Holmgren stripped Brown of his “Executive Advisor” title and $500,000 salary and offered him a $100,000 salary and ceremonial role with the club.  (This reminds me of the job former heavyweight champion Joe Louis held as a casino greeter in Las Vegas).  Brown declined the “job” and left the organization quietly.  Here it is, seven months later.  The team has decided to add Brown to the club’s “Ring of Honor” and Brown has released a letter he wrote to Holmgren that revealed his thoughts about the move complete with some racially charged and incendiary comments.

A portion of the letter to Holmgren reads as follows:

“After that 10-minute meeting, I went to my office with a feeling that I was just fired by the Cleveland Browns, because in my mind, there would be no way on this earth that you would expect me to go against everything that I’ve ever stood for in my whole life.”

Brown ended the letter writing:

“Mike, there’s only one thing that I control in life, and that’s being a man. So let me end with a little humor, because as you say, one monkey don’t stop the show, and as I say ‘Willie Lynch missed a few of us,’ and there will be no Buck Dancing.”

For the record, Mike Holmgren did not infer or insinuate that Jim Brown was a monkey.  For whatever reason, Brown decided to let that firecracker and throw it in the mix.

Let me tell you what I’ve learned about Jim Brown over the last 4 decades of following his life off the football field.  Jim Brown is a very proud and often stubborn man.  He and Muhammad Ali are probably two of the most principled athletes of my lifetime.  (Jim Brown chose jail time rather than pick up litter along the highway). His run-ins with the law, particularly as it pertains to domestic violence are well documented.  At 74 years of age, Jim Brown’s life’s work is not about money.  His work with gang members through his AMER-I-CAN organization is legendary.

Mike Holmgren is President of the Cleveland Brown football team.  Like any top executive he has every right to make personnel changes.  He knows about Jim Brown the NFL Hall of Famer, but apparently is not as familiar with Jim Brown the MAN!

Had he done his homework on Jim Brown the MAN, Holmgren would have learned that Jim Brown is Outspoken, Direct and Unafraid! Jim Brown is not into ceremony and pageantry.  Jim Brown is into changing and molding for the better young men’s lives, the same generation of men who play for the Cleveland Browns.  Jim Brown has his hand on the pulse of these young men and therefore ads value to the team.  Brown played for Cleveland and gave that city some of the best football in the history of the franchise.

This is Jim Brown.  Mike Holmgren and the Cleveland Browns organization have to find a way to resolve this matter.  I can see both sides of this situation.  You don’t want to start the 2010-2011 football season in Cleveland with this controversy.  Get this shit fixed.

We have a guy in this town (Washington, DC) who tells the truth and stands up for what he believes.  His name is Harold Bell.  Harold has spent over 40 years working with youth in under-served communities.  He’s used his radio and television shows to expose listeners and viewers to a world outside of the negative things going on in their neighborhood.  In the process, Harold, his wife Hattie and their organization Kids In Trouble, Inc., have change the lives of thousands of young men and women.  (Harold and Hattie will be celebrated on September 5, 2010, in District Heights, MD).  In fact, Harold and Jim Brown go way back, but I digress.

Jim Brown and Harold Bell at Hogates Restaurant in Washington, DC

Regarding the Mike Holmgreen-Jim Brown rift, mistakes were made on both sides.  The two men should acknowledge this, apologize and find a solution that is in the best interest of the team, the fans and the city.  Work it out guys.  Get in a room and work it out.

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.

We Remember Dorothy Height

By Gary A. Johnson

Civil rights pioneer Dr. Dorothy Height, died Tuesday at age 98, at Howard University Hospital.  Height, who had been Chair and President of the National Council of Negro Women, a group she led from 1957 to 1988, when she became the group’s chair and president emerita.  She also worked in the 1960’s alongside other civil rights icons including Rev. Martin Luther King, Benjamin Hooks, A. Phillip Randolph, and John Lewis.

President Obama called her the Godmother of the Civil Rights movement.  Height’s years of service span from President Roosevelt to the Obama administration.  She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 by President Clinton and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.

Beyond these tremendous accolades, if one looks deeper, millions of women can link their success to Dorothy Height.  I spent most of my life surrounded by successful women who have Dorothy Height to thank as their inspiration.  I bet the number of women mentored by Dr. Height is in the thousands.  Name a woman of any color who exemplifies the class stature and dignity of Dorothy Height?

Her passing leaves a tremendous void in the area of quiet dignity and strength.

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.”

Tiger Woods

By Gary A. Johnson

Let me start by saying that I am sick of the Tiger Woods story.  Given all that’s going on in the world, this should not be a news story, but it is.  I actually have the fortitude to ignore this story, but I have not committed myself to doing so.  It’s like when Bobby Brown had his reality show on the Bravo network.  “Being Bobby Brown” with guest appearances by his then wife Whitney Houston was a train wreck of a TV show, but I could not turn away.

So I am turning myself in.  Guilty as charged.  When I hear a news story about Tiger Woods, I admit that I stop what I’m doing and listen.  What are you shaking your head for?  You’re not much better because you reading this commentary.

Tiger Woods, golf’s “golden boy” is really caught up.  A lack of “player skills” coupled with poor advice from his management team has guaranteed Tiger will get a lump of coal in his stocking for Christmas to match the size of the reported lump on his head.  I am no choir boy by any stretch of the imagination, nor do I claim the moral high-ground on celebrity indiscretions.  I am just another “media guy” doing some “Monday morning quarterbacking” at the expense of the tainted golf legend.

The same media who elevated him to icon status appears all too happy to tear him down.  For what it’s worth, I believe Tiger’s circle of married friends are “sucking up the seat cushions” in their chairs with each passing day that this mess goes on and trust me, I think there’s a lot more to come.  “Wait!  Shhhh.  Did you hear that?  What was that?” That’s Tiger’s golfing buddies and friends crossing their fingers and hoping that their name doesn’t pop up on the Internet as being connected with this scandal.  A lot of folks are losing sleep.

The only guy who is sleeping like a log is Derek Jeter. His sleep number is at an all time high.  I bet Jeter wakes up invigorated and refreshed.  He doesn’t have to worry about the stress of having to remember multiple stories and lies that involve his wife and friends because Derek Jeter is NOT MARRIED!

Now there’s a novel idea.  If you want to sleep with multiple women around the world and you don’t want other people to know about this, don’t get married or at least learn how to play the game.  When you are a married man whose earning potential exceeds $1 billion dollars and you sleep with cocktail waitresses, bar maids and socialites the stakes are automatically high.  Experienced players tend not to play with women who don’t have as much to lose as they do.  Nothing against cocktail waitresses, bar maids and socialites.  Most of them are fine people who have to work hard for the money.

The evidence is mounting that Tiger, in his rush to get his “freak on” was clueless, careless and reckless–and that’s just what we know this week.  Who knows what the next 10 day news cycle will bring?

Tiger, enough with these carefully prepared statements released on your web site.  Dude, you are going to have to show your face.  I imagine the reason you have not shown your face is because your wife “did a number” on your ass.  You should be commended for walking (or driving) away from a domestic squabble or fight.  Then again, had you stayed and tried to defend yourself, your wife, Elin may have stretched your ass out in the foyer like Danny Green did to Roy Jones, Jr., earlier this week. Sorry Roy, but it’s time to hang up the gloves and quit.

Elin’s actions seem to have broken the stereotype that white women who date or marry men of color, especially black men are passive and tolerate just about anything.  I don’t think so.  Recent media reports and statements from the neighbors lead me to believe that Tiger’s injuries had nothing to do with the auto accident and everything to do with Elin having taken out a can of “whup ass” when she caught Tiger texting one of his “jump offs” on Thanksgiving night.  Tiger was found at approximately 2:30 am laying on the ground with a messed up face, no shoes and snoring.  Elin wasn’t taking any shit that night.

There’s a sentence in a report on the Examiner.com web site that reads as follows:

“According to a friend of one of Tiger Woods’s mistresses, the reason that Tiger Woods cheated on his beautiful Swedish model wife was a complete lack of sex at home.”

Am I the only one who thinks Tiger’s wife is just barely OK? Every report that I’ve read describes her as beautiful, gorgeous, stunning, attractive, etc. I don’t see it. Looking at Elin reminds me of an old “Seinfeld” episode where Jerry’s girlfriend looked like a stunning beauty when standing in the light a certain way.  One slight turn and the same woman looked like a hag, I mean a real wicked witch.

I will be the first one to tell you that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.  A person can be a “5” on the outside and rank as a “10+” on the inside.  If given a choice, I’ll take the “10+” on the inside every time.  Some of these so-called “dime piece” women are breathtakingly beautiful, but come with so many issues that they are not worth being with.  Many can’t construct two sentences together while others have made multiple appearances on “Maury.” All of this spells DRAMA!

The research I’ve read reflects that the motives behind someone who cheats is not always based on sex.  I believe that.  Hang with me here.  I am not saying that sex is not a factor, but I believe that sex is not the “driving force” (no pun intended) in the majority of cases.  I think cheating has more to do with an emotional intoxication and connection between two people.  One person makes the other feel special in a way that no one else can.  Think about it.  Tiger Woods has proven that he can get sex.  I bet if you injected Tiger with “truth serum” he would tell you that his “indiscretions” have less to do with sex and more to do with a lack of a connection in his relationship with his wife due their inability to communicate.

I wish I could say with certainty that this story will go away.  I can’t do it.  I actually think the story will get worse for Tiger and become more salacious as a wider circle of celebrities get dragged into this mess due to Tiger’s inability to “play the game.”  As Allen Iverson famously said, “We talkin’ bout practice!”  In this case, there’s something to be said about practice.  The lack of “experience” and “practice” will prove to be very costly for Mr. Woods on many levels when this matter comes to an end.

Good night Derek.  Sleep tight, (you lucky bastard)!

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.”


Sam Johnson

Samuel H. Johnson (1932-2009)

Tomorrow is Father’s Day 2009.  This will be my first Father’s Day without my father, who passed away earlier this year in February.  For some reason I wanted to know about the history of Father’s Day.  I grew up believing that Father’s Day was invented by the greeting card companies.  I conducted some research and learned that the first Father’s Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, WA, when Mrs. John B. Dodd first proposed the idea of a “Father’s Day” a year earlier.  At that time there were no Father’s Day cards.

Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran, was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd’s mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself.  It was after Mrs. Dodd became an adult that she reflected and appreciated how strong and giving her father was when it came to raising his children as a single parent.

At about the same time in various towns and cities across American other people were beginning to celebrate a “Father’s Day.”  In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day.  In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father’s Day.

Over the decades Father’s Day has become a day to not only honor your father, but all men who act as a father figure including stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, and adult male friends.

If you were fortunate like me to have a good relationship with your father or any man that positively influenced your life, celebrate them and their memory.  Find a way that is meaningful and personal for you.

My father, Samuel H. Johnson, lived a full life.  Despite his unbelievably tragic upbringing and not having a father in his life, he managed to be a wonderful father.  As a young adult, he had men in his life who taught him how to be respectful and trusting of others, when he lived in a world where very few people could be trusted.

Somehow my Dad managed to make his children feel safe and loved in a world that did not provide those things to him.  He had a lot of help from my mother, but my focus is on Dad today.  Toward the end of his life, I have some very powerful and treasured memories of my father.  We spent a lot of quality time together during the last year of his life.  We laughed and shared a few heart-felt moments that help me put life in perspective.

If your father is living and you have a relationship with him, don’t take it lightly.  In your own special way, try to make every day “Father’s Day.”  Respecting, loving, forgiving and appreciating you father is no easy task, but it is worth it in the end.

I miss my Dad.  A few days before he passed away, my Dad told me there would be aspects of my life that would change when he passed.  In short, he warned that I would have some difficult days in front of me.  My life was pretty good.  I didn’t understand what he was talking about then, but here I am four months after his death and I’m beginning to understand what he was trying to tell me, which makes me appreciate him more.

Watching my Dad’s health decline to a point where he depended upon others to do for him was tough.  In helping to care for him, I believe I was setting the best example for his prize possessions—his two grandsons.  My sons had a front row seat for what it takes to care for a loved one in who can’t care for themselves.  You must be patient, caring and have a heart-felt desire to give the patient the best quality of life.

My father was a good man who overcame obstacles in life that would have ruined most people.  I promised my father that I would follow in his footsteps and be a father to my sons that he was to me.

So on this day, and every day, I remember my Dad.  To all the men who have stepped up to the plate and handled their business and other people’s business when it comes to fatherhood–Happy Father’s Day!

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.”

Michael Steele

michael-steele21

By Gary A. Johnson

May 19, 2009

Comedian Michael Steele gave a much anticipated speech today at the National Harbor Complex in Oxon Hill, MD, where he tried to steady the sinking ship also known as his “leadership” of the Republican National Committee (RNC). If you’ve followed this man’s career, it is hard to take him seriously.  This is why I refer to him as comedian Michael Steele.

In his one-man show in the form of a speech today, comedian Steele promised the that “the era of apology for Republican mistakes of the past is officially over,” declared that “we’re going to take the president head-on” and boasted that the Republican comeback is already under way.

Oh really?

Steele is shaking in his boots that he doesn’t upset another entertainer—Rush Limbaugh, because that will mean Steele would have to apologize to Limbaugh (again).

Absent from the comedian’s remarks were new ideas.  He said nothing new and nothing of substance.  This dude is really obsessed with President Barack Obama.  I don’t know what the President ever said or did to him, but comedian Steele never misses an opportunity to try and “diss” President Obama.  Comedian Steele repeatedly argued that President Obama was making our lives worse by increasing federal spending.  He never mentioned any Republican plan to help families and small businesses.

I bet leaders in the Republican Party are sorry they ever elected this dude as the front man for their party.

Why do I say this?

For starters he appears to be in over his head.  He doesn’t know where he stands on an issue and some of his positions are not consistent with the party line.  I don’t care what HE says, comedian Michael Steele appears very much to be a figurehead for the organization and he knows it.  What is beginning to bother him is that WE know it!

Comedian Steele addressing reports that the RNC is seeking to reduce his funding authority told FOX News that part of his job is to “manage the money” and suggested that if committee members strip him of that authority he’ll step aside.  Think about it.  The RNC elects a black chairman to run the party and now they’re looking to implement ways to restrict his ability to manage the money.  Yeah, that’s a vote of confidence.

The Republican Party is treating comedian Michael Steele like a baby wearing “Pull Ups.” They just don’t think he’s ready for “big boy” pants.  Real power in politics comes with MONEY! If you can’t control the money, you have no power.  The Republican Party is sending the comedian Michael Steele a “warning shot” in the form of a message by threatening to mess with his money.

“They can contemplate all they want to, but the reality is if they want a figurehead chairman you can have a figurehead chairman, but it won’t be Michael Steele,” the comedian said.

If ever there was an “empty suit” it is comedian Michael Steele.  His party lost the presidency and control of Congress in the last two major national elections and national polls show more Americans are moving away from the Republican Party.

Under Steele’s leadership the big debate on the agenda today is whether to refer to the Democratic Party as “socialist.”  Is this leadership?

And you wanted to know why I refer to this guy as a comedian.  He’s funny and not to be taken seriously—that’s why.

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.

My Reaction To CNN Presents “Black in America” by Gary A. Johnson

Part II of CNN Presents Black in America focused on “The Black Man.” I hate to sound like a broken record, but this show fell short of my expectations. It was so negative that at one point I thought I was having a heart attack. If I was wearing a blood pressure cuff it would have blown off of my arm. Would it have been so bad to show one black male success story from start to finish?

Here is CNN’s official description of the show: “In Black in America: The Black Man, Soledad O’Brien evaluates the state of black men in America and explores the controversial topics of black men and fatherhood; disparities between blacks and whites in educational, career and financial achievement; and factors leading to the dramatic rates of black male incarceration. The documentary also examines the achievements of black men and the importance of the positive influences of black fathers.”

There are tens of thousands of black men who don’t have children out of wedlock. There are tens of thousands of black men who have children out of wedlock and take care of their children financially and are involved in their lives.

Some of CNN’s portrayal ofblack men included showing brothers married to white women, a marketing executive with mostly white friends and whose black friends say he’s not black enough, a lower-tiered rapper and a 32-year old high school graduate with some college finding a part-time job after months of searching.

The segment featuring the Reverend/Doctor/Professor Michael Eric Dyson started off well and ended with a negative showing his brother going back to jail cell to serve his life sentence. I know this is life for many folks in America. I can accept this. Let’s also show the other side. There are positive aspects of life for black men that were not shown. Let me repeat my earlier question:

Would it have been so bad for the show to have one segment featuring a black man without any negatives?

I’m assuming that CNN would argue that the segment featuring the brother who was an Assistant School Superintendent in Arkansas married to a Circuit Court judge was very positive. They had three sons. OK, let’s look at that segment through my lenses. They lived in a 6,000 sq. ft. home in a mostly white neighborhood. (I have no problem with that). Two of the three sons were married to white women and the third son was involved in a shooting where he escaped jail time. When asked about the incident both the son and the father refused to discuss the matter. Again, that’s their choice. (I’m sure having a mother who is a judge and a brother who is a prosecutor didn’t hurt).

My main complaint has to do with the issue of balance in the coverage of the challenges facing black men. This show did not show the full range of black men in America and their families as they claimed in their promotional pieces that preceded the show. If they did, we would have seen more “positives” than “negatives.”

Having seen both shows, I saw a clear and consistent “common thread.” Every segment that started out with what appeared to be a “positive” story ended with a “negative” outcome.

Am I wrong on this?

The only segment that I could stomach was the segment with filmmaker Spike Lee who talked about the impact of the negative images of black men in Hollywood and his challenges of making films other than comedies that perpetuate negative stereotypes.

Let me state for the record that I applaud Soledad O’Brien for this effort. I believe that her intentions starting out were honorable, however, somewhere along the way either she and/or CNN got off track. This was not an accurate and full portrayal of life in Black America. It focused way too much on the negative aspects of black life for my tastes.

CNN Presents Black in America is the perfect argument for why we need strong black owned media outlets. Perhaps if there was a black owned media outlet with the capability and “reach” of a CNN a different story would have been told. It’s not good enough to have just the outlet. You have to have strong leadership willing to exercise courage to tell the whole truth. You need a company willing to resist the temptation to lean toward the negative and portray more of a balance of life in black America.

There was a time when we had such a media outlet, it was called BET. However, I don’t think the story would have been any different under the leadership of Bob Johnson. We need black owned media outlets willing to tell our story. Some will argue that Bob Johnson formed a film company to tell “our story. Yeah right. Let’s take a closer look at this argument.

This is the same Bob Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), who sold BET to Viacom, and became this nation’s first male black billionaire. You are correct. Johnson did form a film company called “Our Stories Films,” which debuted its first film on July 27, 2007, entitled Who’s Your Caddy?” starring actor/rapper Big Boi and Sherri Shepard. WTF?

Bob Johnson and Tracey Edmonds (the former Ms. Babyface) said they want to produce films that show black people in a positive light. So they give us Who’s Your Caddy? as their first film. (I stopped using the N-word. Where’s Jesse Jackson when you need him? Bob Johnson, talking down to black people, I’d like to …) “_________ Please!” Don’t start me cussing up in this camp.

This is Bob Johnson’s way of telling “our” story. Making a film that even Stevie Wonder could see that the characters in the film depict racially offensive stereotypes and the jokes are stupid and crass.

Folks, it is time for solutions. What are we going to do for ourselves to help break these cycles of violence, poverty and apathy?

A good friend of mine helped me calm down today and put this whole thing in perspective. He said to me, “Gary, the reason you’re upset is because you expected too much from CNN. CNN is a news organization that does not have the perspective to tell our story.” Thank you Janks Morton, you of all people should know “What Black Men Think.”

Am I being too hard or critical about the CNN series? What are your thoughts?

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.”

Michelle Obama: The “Fist Bump” That Rocked The World

The date was June 3, 2008. The place was St. Paul, MN. The mainstream media are still all a buzz about the now famous Michelle Obama “fist bump” also known as a “fist pound.” Hey America, this is nothing new in the black community. C’mon in. This Is How We Do It!

When I saw Michelle give Barack some “dap” (dignity and pride) I had to take a double take. I loved it! This certainly appears to be a true loving and supporting relationship.

Barack Obama told NBC News correspondent Brian Williams that the fist pound “captured what I love about my wife — there’s an irreverence about her and sense that for all the hoopla, that I’m her husband and sometimes we’ll do silly things.”

Make no mistake, Michelle and Barack are changing some aspects of today’s popular culture. Watch and see how many other folks start “dapping” and “pounding” after watching that magic moment. TIME Magazine has a feature called “A Brief History of the Fist Bump.”

What do you think of Michelle Obama’s fist bump?

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.”

History Is Made: Barack Obama Becomes First Black Presidential Nominee

By Gary A. Johnson

In a world dominated by European power, Sen. Barack Obama, the first black candidate ever nominated by a major political party for the nation’s highest office claimed the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday night after he won a majority of delegates to the party’s convention.

Barack Obama spoke to a thunderous crowd of approximately 18,000 supporters. It was truly a historical moment. Watching Obama speak was mesmerizing. He spoke with passion and toward the end of his speech he had the cadence of a baptist preacher that further added to his oratory skills. This country has not had a national political speaker like this man in at least two decades and that includes Bill Clinton.

His opponent, Sen. Hillary Clinton says she’s “open” to being Vice President. The democratic party needs her support and Sen. Obama needs her enthusiastic support to win the presidency. I don’t think it is in Sen. Obama’s best interest to have Sen. Clinton as a Vice President.

Despite her public pronouncement of being “open” to the Vice Presidency, I don’t think she wants the job. The job has no constitutional power and authority. Sen. Clinton and her husband Bill are about power. Trust me, she doesn’t want a job where any real authority will have to come from President Obama.

Sen. Clinton was very gracious Tuesday night after her primary victory in South Dakota. She is a tough competitor and seeing Barack Obama clinch the Democratic nomination must be a bitter pill to swallow. Her victories are too little too late. She started as the front-runner and ran a campaign with a sense of entitlement and strategic blunders along the way that cost her the Democratic nomination. Although she conceded the nomination to Obama, as I watched her speak, it was clear to me that this was a difficult speech to make.

In her speech, Sen. Clinton left the door open. She invited her supporters to visit her web site and share their opinions for what she should do. Does this lack of action bring the Democratic party closer? Which brings me to my next issue–TRUST!

Hillary Clinton as Vice President will include Bill Clinton and that’s too much for one President to manage. Can Hillary Clinton be trusted? Look at her track record and determine for yourself.

Barack Obama has a huge challenge of healing the Democratic party as well as bring Hillary Clinton supporters to be “players” in an Obama presidential campaign and introducing more aspects of himself to segments of the American people to close the gap. Obama represents new hopes and dreams that we can have a different kind of society for America and set an example for the rest of the world.

Barack Obama is a shining example of what we’ve come to know as the American dream. Now he must raise his game and prepare for a tough campaign as he seeks to change his home address to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC.

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.”

Hillary Clinton: Loser? Sore Loser? Or Both?

Commentary from Gary A. Johnson

This past week has not been good for Hillary Clinton. Let’s recap. She made a statement that Obama cannot win the white vote in the general election. She had a double digit primary loss in North Carolina, a narrow victory in Indiana and more superdelegates shifted to Sen. Obama.

Barring an act of God or some catastrophe in the Obama camp, Sen. Hillary Clinton cannot win the democratic party’s nomination for president of the United States of America.

Sen. Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton and some of their supporters look like sore losers as they continue to “move the goal post” to define victory.Remember Bob Johnson’s negative remarks about Obama? How about Bill Clinton’s numerous comments that offended many black voters in South Carolina? Or Hillary’s insistence that the votes in Florida and Michigan be counted even though those primaries were held against Democratic Party rules. Rules that all of the candidates agreed to abide by last year.

Clearly a fighter and consummate campaigner, Sen. Clinton found her voice and her stride too late in the contest. The string of 11 primary loses forced her to used the now famous “kitchen sink” strategy. It was at this stage of the campaign that America saw yet another side of Hillary Clinton. No more tears. She was rough and tough. We saw Sen. Clinton drinking beer and chasing shots of hard liquor. In walks a gift-wrapped Rev. Jeremiah Wright and game on again for the Clintons. With a faint political pulse Clinton need to win North Carolina (or at least come close) and Indiana. She lost North Carolina by double-digits and barely won Indiana.

So here we are today—early May. Hillary Clinton does not have any of the 3 M’s (Math, Money and Momentum) to win the nomination. Obama’s delegate and superdelegate count is so high that all the big state victories she piled up can’t win her the nomination.

What does Hillary Clinton do now? What does Barack Obama do? Obama should do exactly what he’s doing now—focus on John McCain and allow the Clinton camp to implement an exit strategy that will allow her to close her campaign with dignity.

If Hillary Clinton wants to continue the contest, more power to her. I would advise the Clinton campaign to be aware of the consequences of such actions to her political reputation and the Democratic Party.

In my mind, her behavior over the past several days have seriously damaged her chances of being on the ticket as Vice President. I wouldn’t put her on the ticket. I don’t trust her. Yes, I said it. Hillary Clinton would not be my Vice President. I don’t believe that she is genetically capable of being Vice President Clinton to President Obama. That was a dream ticket two months ago.It is a train wreck today.

The Democratic Party needs to focus on unifying the party and get ready to battle the Republicans and John McCain.

What do you think?

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.”

When Will Hillary Bow Out?

Commentary by Gary A. Johnson

Notice I didn’t say quit. Showing no signs of surrender, Hillary Clinton says she will remain in the presidential race “until there’s a nominee.” Hillary Clinton is a fighter. However, she and her campaign have to face the reality that it is time to implement their exit strategy and work to unify the Democratic Party.

It is time for the Clinton campaign to stop moving the goal post when it comes to deciding victory. For example, the Clinton campaign continues to bring up the votes associated with the Michigan and Florida primaries. That’s just silly. Obama’s name wasn’t even on the ballot. The Democratic National Committee made it very clear what the rules were regarding those primaries.

Clearly, Sen. Clinton can stay in the race for as long as she wants, but for the good of the party I say it is time to bow out. I’m using a rather simple formula that I call “The 3 M’s” to come to this conclusion.

  • Math
  • Money
  • Momentum

Do the math. Obama has more votes, has won more primaries and has more money. As of today Sen. Clinton has loaned her campaign $11.4 million dollars ($6.4 million last month). The Clinton campaign acknowledged that Sen. Clinton may lend the campaign more money. According to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, Obama began the month of April with $42 million in the bank for the primaries to Clinton’s $9.3 million.

The Clinton campaign bus is leaking oil and dropping bolts. The Obama campaign has consistently raised more money than the Clinton campaign and after last night’s primaries in North Carolina and Indiana; the total delegate count is as follows:

  • Obama – 1844
  • Clinton – 1695.5

Once again, do the math. It is highly unlikely that Sen. Hillary Clinton can win. Obama has picked up 100 superdelegates since Super Tuesday and Clinton has picked up fewer than 15. The last two months Sen. Clinton has proven to be a tough campaigner. She’s used the “kitchen sink” strategy and taken advantage of everything that has come her way (Rev. Wright). However, it appears that this strategy was implemented too late in the game for her opponent.

Sen. Barack Obama has run an extraordinary campaign. Six months ago, I don’t think any of the political strategists and experts would have predicted Barack Obama as the front runner. It’s only a matter of time before folks start jumping off of the Clinton bandwagon.

As for momentum, Hillary Clinton has none. Barack Obama has string of decisive primary victories over Clinton and the Obama campaign has more momentum. The next few weeks should be devoted to providing Sen. Clinton with a “soft landing.” Sen. Clinton is still a key player in this race, even in defeat. She must be afforded a way to exit gracefully with her dignity intact. Obama and the Democratic Party will need Hillary Clinton’s supporters to win the White House.

What do you think?


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.”

Like Him Or Not, Rev. Wright Is Here To Stay

Commentary by Gary A. Johnson

Rev. Jeremiah Wright has decided to speak for himself and in effect defend himself. People will debate whether Rev. Wright’s “coming out” is helpful or hurtful to presidential candidate Barack Obama, however, I don’t think Rev. Wright cares.

It is clear to me that the Rev. has decided to define himself and defend what he believes is his good name. I can’t say that I blame him. Who wouldn’t want to defend their hard earned name and reputation?

While speaking today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, the Rev. was asked about his patriotism. Wright replied as follows: “I served six years in the military. How many years did Cheney serve?”

Rev. Wright has made it clear during his string of recent public appearances that he is a pastor and not a politician. He reminded the audience that Sen. Barack Obama is a politician and that he and Obama will do what they have to do in their perspective roles. This is a very important point of distinction and clarification. The role of a pastor and politician are different and Rev. Wright seems to be clear about his role.

“I’m not here for political reasons,” Wright said to a packed house last night of about 10,000 people at a NAACP gathering in Detroit. “I’m not a politician,” he told the crowd. He went on to say, “I’m not here for political reasons.” “I am not running for the Oval Office. I’ve been running for Jesus a long, long time, and I’m not tired yet.”

Perhaps the lines have become blurred for others. Wright seems to be clear, confident and at peace with his role as a pastor.

What Rev. Wright is doing is allowing the world to see him as he “really” is. Rev. Wright is not the character and YouTube phenomenon that he has been portrayed over the past several weeks. This is a very smart and worldly black leader. Wright also told the audience at the NAACP dinner that despite what his critics say, he is descriptive, not divisive, when he speaks about racial injustices.

In the view of Rev. Wright he is speaking out because of the media attacks on the black church. He stated his belief that the media attacks are about him.

Many in the mainstream media as well as Hillary Clinton and others will continue to link Rev. Wright to Barack Obama in the most negative ways. If I’m a strategist in the Obama camp, I probably would not be happy right now. Why? Watch the media coverage of Rev. Wright over the next several weeks. Rather than focus on the positive truths in his message, many in the media will actively look for negatives or attempt to twist his words to make him a negative force and deflect from the good that he’s done.

Commentators will focus on his body language, his gestures and his “attitude” instead of what he’s actually saying. That’s called distortion. The office phone lines here at Black Men In America are blowing up with calls from black folks who are mad at Rev. Wright for coming out now. One caller said, “Wright is giving Hillary and the Republicans more ammunition to deflect from the issues.” Whether you like him or not, Rev. Wright is here to stay.

Susan Rice, a spokesperson for the Obama campaign commented on MSNBC this morning after Rev. Wright’s speech at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. She described Rev. Wright as a “sideshow.” She went on to say the Rev. Wright was more concerned about redeeming his legacy. I see this as a problem. Outside forces both black and white will be calling for Obama to distance himself further from Rev. Wright and essentially pit these two black men against each other. The Clinton campaign will be in full attack mode about Obama’s judgment. This is politics folks. Obama campaigned that he has better judgment than his opponents.

Barack Obama said that he believes that Rev. Wright is a legitimate political issue. That’s the equivalent of a “green light” for Senators Clinton, McCain and others to deflect from other legitimate issues that should be discussed in this campaign.

You can watch Rev. Wright’s speech at the NAACP and his interview with Bill Moyer in our video section in the right-hand column on this blog.

What do you think?


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.”

Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Commentary by Gary A. Johnson

Rev. Jeremiah Wright has decided to speak for himself and in effect defend himself. People will debate whether Rev. Wright’s “coming out” is helpful or hurtful to presidential candidate Barack Obama, however, I don’t think Rev. Wright cares.

It is clear to me that the Rev. has decided to define himself and defend what he believes is his good name. I can’t say that I blame him. Who wouldn’t want to defend their hard earned name and reputation?

While speaking today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, the Rev. was asked about his patriotism. Wright replied as follows: “I served six years in the military. How many years did Cheney serve?”

Rev. Wright has made it clear during his string of recent public appearances that he is a pastor and not a politician. He reminded the audience that Sen. Barack Obama is a politician and that he and Obama will do what they have to do in their perspective roles. This is a very important point of distinction and clarification. The role of a pastor and politician are different and Rev. Wright seems to be clear about his role.

“I’m not here for political reasons,” Wright said to a packed house last night of about 10,000 people at a NAACP gathering in Detroit. “I’m not a politician,” he told the crowd. He went on to say, “I’m not here for political reasons.” “I am not running for the Oval Office. I’ve been running for Jesus a long, long time, and I’m not tired yet.”

Perhaps the lines have become blurred for others. Wright seems to be clear, confident and at peace with his role as a pastor.

What Rev. Wright is doing is allowing the world to see him as he “really” is. Rev. Wright is not the character and YouTube phenomenon that he has been portrayed over the past several weeks. This is a very smart and worldly black leader. Wright also told the audience at the NAACP dinner that despite what his critics say, he is descriptive, not divisive, when he speaks about racial injustices.

In the view of Rev. Wright he is speaking out because of the media attacks on the black church. He stated his belief that the media attacks are about him.

Many in the mainstream media as well as Hillary Clinton and others will continue to link Rev. Wright to Barack Obama in the most negative ways. If I’m a strategist in the Obama camp, I probably would not be happy right now. Why? Watch the media coverage of Rev. Wright over the next several weeks. Rather than focus on the positive truths in his message, many in the media will actively look for negatives or attempt to twist his words to make him a negative force and deflect from the good that he’s done.

Commentators will focus on his body language, his gestures and his “attitude” instead of what he’s actually saying. That’s called distortion. The office phone lines here at Black Men In America are blowing up with calls from black folks who are mad at Rev. Wright for coming out now. One caller said, “Wright is giving Hillary and the Republicans more ammunition to deflect from the issues.” Whether you like him or not, Rev. Wright is here to stay.

Susan Rice, a spokesperson for the Obama campaign commented on MSNBC this morning after Rev. Wright’s speech at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. She described Rev. Wright as a “sideshow.” She went on to say the Rev. Wright was more concerned about redeeming his legacy. I see this as a problem. Outside forces both black and white will be calling for Obama to distance himself further from Rev. Wright and essentially pit these two black men against each other. The Clinton campaign will be in full attack mode about Obama’s judgment. This is politics folks. Obama campaigned that he has better judgment than his opponents.

Barack Obama said that he believes that Rev. Wright is a legitimate political issue. That’s the equivalent of a “green light” for Senators Clinton, McCain and others to deflect from other legitimate issues that should be discussed in this campaign.

What do you think?


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 J. 2008 Commentary by Gary A. Johnson

April 11, 2007

Syndicated radio talk show host Tom Joyner announced that longtime contributor Tavis Smiley is no longer associated with the Tom Joyner Morning Show.

“I got a call from Tavis on yesterday,” Joyner said. “And he told me he was quitting the show. He told me the reason was that he was tired and has a lot of things going on, and he feels that now is a good time to leave the show.”

“We all know that isn’t the real reason he’s leaving the show,” Joyner continued. “The real reason is that he can’t take the hate he’s been getting regarding the Barack issue – hate from the black people that he loves so much. He needed to feel the love. We all do, whether it’s from our radio audience or from people we know personally. He wasn’t feeling any love, so he quit.”

Hmmm. With friends like Tom Joyner, who need enemies? Let me get this straight. Tavis privately tells Tom he’s tired and has other things to do. Tom tells millions of listeners on his syndicated radio show that Tavis “quit.” Later in the show, Joyner laughed and applauded one of the show’s comedians, Huggie Lowdown, as he made Smiley the “Bama of the Week” for resigning his position.

To be fair to Tavis, he said he didn’t quit. You can read Tavis’ statement below. I guess the truth is somewhere in between.

So Tavis wasn’t feeling any love? Man, you’d think a guy in his position would have thicker skin. Joyner also said about Tavis, “He loves black America and black America has been very critical of him.” Joyner went on to say, “It hurts. It hurt me to hear black Americans criticize him.” Tom and Tavis appear to be close. However, you never know. Tom does so much clowning on that show, he and J. Anthony Brown are likely to be joking about this situation on Monday.

Smiley released the following statement late this afternoon:

There is no way to put into words the love and respect that Tom Joyner and I have for each other, or the love affair that I’ve had with TJMS listeners for almost 12 years now.

Due to the overwhelming amount of phone calls and emails I have received from listeners and other media, I wanted to briefly clarify a few issues that I will address more fully in my regular TJMS commentary on Tuesday morning, April 15, at 8:20 a.m. ET.

I did not “quit” the Tom Joyner Morning Show effective immediately. In July I will celebrate my 12th anniversary with the show, and as I discussed with Tom, it is my intention to take on the issues of the day in my commentary twice every week with the same energy, passion and commitment until the end of June.

Contrary to what has been suggested, I have decided to clear some things off my plate so that I can devote my time and attention to some exciting and empowering projects that The Smiley Group, Inc. and other divisions of my company have underway this summer, this fall and beyond.

I look forward to continuing the dialogue on Tuesday and in the coming months.

To many it appears that Tavis took his “bat and ball and went home” when things didn’t go his way. If Tavis quit, as it appears he has, perhaps the cumulative effect of his activities coupled with the overwhelming number of folks “in his ass” was too much for the brother to handle. Let’s face it, for the past two months a lot of black folks on radio, TV and in the blog world (including yours truly) have flipped the script and taken the once “untouchable Tavis” to task holding him accountable and scrutinizing his views.

When this is all said and done, Tavis will have put his spin on this situation. For those of us who follow these media matters closely, it appears that Tavis was on the “other side” of the Barack Obama issue. I think Tavis was surprised and not mentally prepared for the realization that the majority of black folks were not with him when it came to criticizing Barack Obama. To his credit Tavis decided to stick to his position. Good for him if that’s what he believes.

Over the past several years I’ve noticed a change in the climate toward Tavis. My sense was that folks perceived Tavis as being more concerned about Tavis than the people that he served. This is probably NOT the case, however, we’re talking about how things appear. I don’t think Tavis saw himself this way. In fact, I would bet money that he did not see himself this way, that’s why the backlash from the black community caught him by surprise. Tavis has given so much of himself in an effort to uplift black people. I don’t doubt for one second that he loves black people. I also don’t doubt that Tavis got caught up with his fame and all of things that come with it.

Tavis has been a powerful voice in the black community for at least a decade. Perhaps his “power” “intoxicated” him to some degree. I think Tavis could have been a bit more tactful and strategic in his commentaries and public speeches about Barack Obama, but that’s just me.

For that past two months I think Tavis was behaving like a spoiled child when it came to Barack Obama. Many people felt this friction with Obama started last year when Barack Obama announced his run for the presidency on the same day of the 2007 State of the Black Union symposium, which Smiley’s company manages and secured corporate sponsors. As the story goes, Tavis felt upstaged by the timing of it all.

Fast forward to the 2008 symposium and Barack decided that it was in his best interest not to attend since he in the process of making history. Once again, Tavis issued public statements that many felt were unusually critical of Barack Obama.

Tavis claimed that he and his family received death threats. Last week on the HBO TV show hosted by Bill Maher, Tavis defended Rev. Jeremiah Wright and as only Tavis could do, he “wordsmithed” his way to criticizing Obama.

Don’t get me wrong, Barack Obama should not be considered “untouchable.” He should be held accountable. However, folks clearly did not like the way Tavis was going about his business as it pertained to talking about Barack Obama. I think what infuriated folks is that when given the feedback about his behavior toward Barack, Tavis did not let up. If anything, he kicked into high gear. This pissed a lot of folks off.

Earlier this week there were more comments by Tavis because Obama did not show up in Memphis with numerous civil rights leaders to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. It seemed that Tavis went out of his way to point out that Hillary Clinton and John McCain made a visit. Tom Joyner tried to help Tavis by asking Rev. Al Sharpton, who was in Memphis, if he (Sharpton) thought Obama should have been there. In short, Sharpton said, “No,” and pointed out that Barack Obama is running for president of the United States of America. Sharpton also noted that Obama had contacted members of the King family, spoke at Dr. King’s church and noted that the King family was comfortable with Obama’s decision not to attend the ceremony in Memphis.

Here’s the bottom line: The public slowly woke up and started holding Tavis accountable for his public statements and backhanded comments widely perceived to be critical of Barack Obama. As a result, Tavis has come under intense criticism and it appears that he could not take the heat.

Tavis stuck to his beliefs. He knew that some of his positons were unpopular with the black community and yet he continued. Was this an act of courage or stupidity? Probably a little bit of both. I commend Tavis for sticking to his beliefs. I know I would have.

Tavis will be OK. His company, The Smiley Group recently announced a major sponsorship deal with Nationwide Insurance to sponsor many of his activities. His apparent quest to be “King of All Media” is on track. Tavis knows how to hustle money from major corporations. It appears he did not know how to hustle Barack Obama and those who support him.

What’s your take or opinion on this situation? Do you even care? If so, leave a comment.

Commentary by Gary A. Johnson

LeBron James

When I saw LeBron James and supermodel Gisele Bundchen on the cover of Vogue magazine, I was uncomfortable with the visual. Perhaps I’m too sensitive. It is true that I’ve been accused of seeing almost everything through a “racial prism.” I don’t disagree with that.

When I saw the cover, I asked, “Why is LeBron being portrayed in what appears to be an over animated pose, especially compared to the pose being struck by Gisele? Why couldn’t he be dressed nicely?” After all, LeBron is the first black man to grace the cover of the magazine. I also wondered what the cover was suppose to convey.

The list of black men who have made poor decisions with regard to their image is long. This list of black men who have repeatedly made poor decisions with regard to their image may be longer. Cuba Gooding, Jr., is the first name that comes to my mind. When you look at his entire body of work (feature films, TV and commercials) this guy appears to have selected more “bufoon-like” roles than any other black male actor in recent years. He actually won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Rod Tidwell, the “jackass” wide receiver in the movie “Jerry Maguire” who clowns and yells, “Show me the money!” Are you kidding me? One could argue that winning an Oscar for that role set black men back two decades. Have you seen Cuba Gooding, Jr., in the Haines underwear commercials with Michael Jordan? Could he be portrayed any dumber? (He sniffs a pair of underwear, annouces to a crowd that he’s wearing Jordan’s underwear and hugs Jordan tightly as he gets turned on by the feel of the soft cotton). Give me a break!

Why do some black men continue to take these stereotypical roles that portray black men as “less than?” I don’t want to hear anything about money. I know money is a part of it, but money is not everything. Perhaps some of these brothers don’t know any better. They do not understand how important it is to have positive images of black men in the mass media.

ESPN.com columnist Jemele Hill has a unique view of this situation. Read a little bit of what she had to say:

“LeBron making the cover is a good thing. But the pose, not so much. LeBron’s image clearly means a lot to him, maybe even as much as pursuing a championship. And that’s why I can’t understand why he would allow Vogue to feature him with supermodel Gisele Bundchen in such a distasteful manner.”

LeBron James has a perspective. “I was just having fun with it, I was just showing a little emotion,” James said Saturday, according to Ohio’s Beacon Journal. “We had a few looks and that was the best one we had. Everything my name is on is going to be criticized, in a good way or a bad way. Who cares, honestly, at the end of the day.” “I am happy with it, absolutely,” James said.

Hill’s column rightly points out other notable black athletes being presented in photos as angry, overly aggressive, overly sexual, or just plain emasculated. She cites the 2002 Sports Illustrated cover that featured Charles Barkley chained like a slave. Ricky Williams wearing a wedding dress on an ESPN The Magazine cover in 1999. And while it didn’t appear in a magazine, the Terrell Owens-Nicolette Sheridan intimate-encounter tease for ‘Monday Night Football’ gave viewers a sexualized image of a black man.”

Helena Andrews has written a thought-provoking piece on this topic for The Root.com. In her column Ms. Andrews opines, “I’m trying to brush off the fact that the first black man ever pictured on the magazine’s cover is not gracing it, he’s debased by it. They’re trying to dismiss the recent calls of racial insensitivity as hypersensitivity. And we’re trying to explain why seeing a big black man baring his teeth whilst an alabaster damsel drapes his side still hurts us in 2008.”

Click here to read Ms. Andrews article at The Root.com.

Click here to read Jemele’s column and tell us what you think.

March 3, 2008

Over the past several months, several high-profile people who originally supported Senator Hillary Clinton have switched their support to Senator Barack Obama. The cold reality of politics explains why some politicians are jumping off the Hillary bandwagon.

If you understand the game of politics then it stands to reason that a candidate who wants to get re-elected is not likely to go against the “will of the people” when the people they serve overwhelmingly support Barack Obama. I get that. It’s a very convenient way for a politician to shift their support from one candidate to the other.

Such was the case with civil rights pioneer Rep. John Lewis, one Hillary Clinton’s longtime friends who shifted to Barack Obama. The Lewis switch to Obama led me to ask: How far should loyalty go in this election?

Before we start let’s get a common definition of loyalty. For many people loyalty is usually seen as a virtue. For me loyalty is constituted by a strong commitment, often found in friendship.

What are the limits of one’s loyalty?

Clearly “superdelegates” and other supporters are free to endorse whomever they want, to switch back and forth between candidates, or to wait until the convention to make their choices. However, there is a lot of talk about black supporters of Hillary Clinton who are being pressured to support Barack Obama.

This is not limited to politicians. Talk show host Tavis Smiley claims to have received death threats for “calling out” Barack Obama for not attending the 2008 State of the Black Union symposium. For the record Tavis Smiley has not publicly endorsed a candidate. However, it is widely perceived that he is firmly in the Clinton camp because of his public criticism of Obama in his commentaries on the radio and because of his longtime friendship with the Clinton’s going back to when Bill Clinton was president.

  • Are their limits to loyalty?
  • Isn’t real loyalty sticking with your friend until the end?
  • Is it ever acceptable to “jump ship?”

Let’s go back to the case of John Lewis and his “loyalty” to his friend Hillary Clinton. When John Lewis endorsed Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama was a relative unknown and Clinton was the nationally known frontrunner. Lewis campaigned for Clinton touting her experience to lead the nation.

“I did it because I felt in my heart that I had to support Mrs. Clinton because of our friendship,” Lewis said. “I don’t regret it,” Lewis added. Lewis said his decision to change was an anguishing one.

Hip-Hop mogul Russell Simmons, a frequent critic of Obama has announced that he is supporting him. Toni Morrison recently announced her support for Obama. Other celebrities who support Barack Obama are George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Rob Reiner, Laurence Fishburne, Warren Buffett, Ethel Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Matt Damon, NAS, Emilio Estevez, Sharon Stone, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Halle Berry, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, Sr., Ben Affleck, Wyclef Jean, and Charles Barkley.

I’m not sure how many of the above celebrities were originally for Clinton and later switched their support for Obama. Whatever the number is I’m sure that some of the folks who are leaving her camp to jump on the Obama bandwagon were a devastating blow to her campaign and to Ms. Clinton personally.

In a recent interview John Lewis put it that way: “Mr. Obama is the embodiment of the hopes, dreams and aspirations of a lot of people,” Lewis said. “He represents something different, something new. But he also represents a long line of individuals who carry the aspirations of the people.”

Are you really loyal if you support your candidate, campaign vigorously for them, criticize their opponent and then later switch your support to the opponent when it looks like your friend can’t win?

If loyalty is seen as a virtue, albeit a problematic one, what does it say about a person whose loyalty is tantamount to a windshield wiper moving across both sides of the windshield? Which side is your side?

Loyalty is a big thing with me. If I pledge my loyalty or support to you in the beginning, I will be there with you at the end. Short of some major fundamental difference in philosophy or I discover that you’re a serial killer, rapist or child abuser; I will be with you to the end.

Barack
The Founder’s Forum: Commentary by Gary A. Johnson
Commentary by Gary A. Johnson
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton
Barack
The Founder’s Forum: Commentary by Gary A. Johnson
Commentary by Gary A. Johnson
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton
Photo credit: Aaron Josefczyk / Reuters

Remember when Hillary Clinton predicted that the primary contest against Barack Obama would be over by February 5th? Well, let’s look at the facts. Hillary Clinton is 0-10 in primary wins since February 5th. Add to this the news that Barack Obama has the endorsement from the 1.4 million member Teamsters Union. This is Obama’s third endorsement from organized labor in a week. The 1.9-million member Service Employees International Union endorsed Obama earlier this month along with the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

I keep telling folks that the Clinton campaign is being managed from a sense of entitlement. They believed that this election was for them, that it is their turn to shine in the political limelight. After entering the race for president, the Clinton campaign never thought Barack Obama would be around this long. They raised all of their money early and apparently did not prepare for a long race with any opponent. In fact, if you look at the way her campaign is being managed, it appears that Senator Clinton can’t do anything right.

Contrast this with the Obama campaign which appears to be managing their campaign with the philosophy that “slow and steady wins the race.” For months Hillary Clinton has touted her judgment and ability to manage in a crisis. Well Senator, you’re in a crisis now.

Let’s see how you manage. All eyes are on you.

G.J.

Black Supporters Under Pressure As Obama Extends Winning Streak to 10-0 with Wins in Wisconsin and Hawaii

Commentary by Gary A. Johnson

AP Photo
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaks at a rally Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2008, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Hillary Clinton’s prominent black supporters are “sucking up the seat cushions” now. With Obama’s win in Wisconsin, the landscape has changed. Obama’s appeal to white men and white working class voters has increased only adding to his legend. The Clinton campaign is desperate and so are some of their supporters like Sheila Jackson Lee, Magic Johnson, Maxine Waters, Robert Johnson, Trenton, New Jersey Mayor Doug Palmer, Charlie Rangel, Denver, Colorado Mayor Wellington Webb and others.

If you take qualifications out of the picture, blacks supporting Hillary Clinton face the pressure and dilemma of standing in the way of or not supporting the man who could be the first black president of the United States.

What will they do? This is a fascinating election. If Obama wins in Hawaii, it will be 10 straight victories — a streak no one thought possible, putting him in great position for the tough races in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island, and Vermont on March 4th.

Posted Feb. 20, 2008

Note to Tavis: I can’t recall an issue where the overwhelming majority of folks have taken the same side. That side happens to be against you. I know this is a shocker to you, because by your own admission you’ve never been on the receiving end of this much negative feedback. Ouch! I think Dr. Boyce Watkins summed it up in his video, particularly when he talks about the “economic trail” associated with you and your “sponsors.” (Click here to watch Dr. Watkins discuss this issue.)Tavis, you preach accountability. How about stepping up and demonstrating some accountability on this issue? Calling out Barack Obama and then rejecting his wife to speak at the State of the Black Union (SOBU) symposium was not a good move because most people believe that if Bill Clinton had asked you to attend the SOBU on behalf of Hillary, you would have welcomed him with open arms. Whether or not that’s true, is irrelevant at this stage. The firestorm surrounding you suggests that the majority of people are not with you on this issue. To be fair, you did state that you wanted “candidates only” at the SOBU and to date you’ve been consistent.Tavis, this controversy is not likely to go away until you take some decisive action. Be consistent and step up to the plate and “say” something substantive regarding this matter. No more press releases from The Smiley Group, Inc., offices brother. Forget the print interviews (at least for now). You need to use that same “bully pulpit” that you use every Tuesday and Thursday on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and direct it toward yourself. Talk directly to the people about this issue. Folks want to “hear” from YOU! If you want to stick to your story, that’s your prerogative. If you want to reflect and publicly “check yourself” that’s strictly your decision. A move along those lines would go a long way to putting this matter behind you. That’s my take. G. J.

Feb. 16, 2008

Talk show host has denied that he has any tension with presidential candidate Barack Obama for declining Smiley’s invitation to speak at the 2008 State of the Black Union symposium. This has been a much discussed topic on the Internet and blogs for the past few days. Earlier this week on the syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show, Smiley said it would be a “critical miscalculation and a missed opportunity” for Obama or any candidate to skip the forum. During his commentary Tavis further explained that an offer from Michelle Obama to attend the Feb. 23 event on her husband’s behalf was refused. He noted that the invitations were for the candidates and not their spouses. That’s cool. I have no problem with that. Tavis claims that his office never received any correspondence from the Obama camp offering to send Michelle Obama. You can read the Obama letter to Tavis at the end of this article. Click here to listen to Michelle Obama on the “Michael Baisden Radio Show” as she explains why Barack Obama decided to decline the invitation to appear at the Black State of the Union symposium. In a statement released on February 14th, Smiley reportedly said he enjoyed a collegial relationship with Obama for many years. Senator Hillary Clinton has agreed to speak at symposium. Smiley did say Senator John McCain and Govenor Mike Huckabee have not made a decision about whether they will attend.Here’s my take on this. Tavis deserves much credit for his personal accomplishments and for much of his work in the black community. Like many of his kind, it appears that Tavis has been caught up in some of his own hype. There’s a long line of dynamic and influential folks who worked hard to develop themselves and overstepped their bounds along the path to success. Given what’s at stake and his position in this presidential race, there is no need for Barack Obama to rearrange his schedule to accommodate Tavis and the State of the Black Union symposium. One can argue that Barack has nothing to gain hanging out with Tavis and Company. Tavis makes a big deal about Hillary Clinton accepting his invitation. Big deal, her ass NEEDS to be there. She’s lost 8 straight primaries to Obama. She’s finding that the “old black magic” that the Clinton’s once held with Black America is not what it was. You can thank guys like BET Founder Bob Johnson for that. (Yeah, he really delivered the black vote). Remember his speech where he planted the seed that Obama may have done more than just use drugs in his youth? I would love to ask Hillary: “How has having Bob Johnson stump for you worked out?” Hillary talks about her great judgment. She obviously approved having Johnson onboard. Is that exercising good judgment? By the way, Bill’s been kind of quiet the past few weeks. Hmmm. Tavis Smiley is a “big boy.” He’s proven that he can run with the “big dogs” and play on the varsity team. This incident about Barack appears to have exposed Tavis in a way that caught him by surprise. My pulse check of the people indicates that Tavis misjudged his “juice” or power to influence. The people are not with him on this issue. Tavis Smiley’s image appears to be taking a negative hit and unraveling. Many bloggers and callers into radio talk shows have described Tavis as being small, petty, egotistical and all about himself. Imagine that? The bottom-line as I see it is this: Barack Obama is running for president of the United States. He does not have to prove himself or debate with Tavis & Company. This is a high-stakes poker game and Barack Obama has decided to gamble and not play that “State of the Black Union” hand. It’s just that simple. In my humble opinion, Tavis should have accepted Barack’s decision and moved on. One of the last things that Tavis said during his February 14th radio commentary on the Tom Joyner Morning Show was that he was not going to address the issue any further after his commentary that morning. We’ll see how long that lasts given all the attention that his remarks have generated. If Tavis says he’s not going to talk about the issue then I won’t either. Moving on. (For the record, the Smiley camp issued a statement the next day in an attempt to clarify Tavis’ position). Click here to read that press release. Barack Obama has defied almost all odds. He’s making history. Further, Barack Obama continues to raise money at a mind-boggling rate without political action committee donations. To date, he’s taken the Clinton campaign’s best shot. They’ve used their operatives (Bob Johnson, Bill Clinton and others) to try and distract Obama, slow his momentum and get him “off point.” This is a compelling election. I’m watching the dynamics within the black community, particularly the black folks who endorsed Hillary Clinton when she looked unbeatable. Three months ago all of the major polls showed Hillary Clinton holding a majority of the black vote against Barack Obama. Here are some notable black folks who are on record supporting Hillary Clinton: Maya Angelou, Magic Johnson, Bob Johnson, Andrew Young, Charlie Rangel and 50 Cent. How long will these folks stay on that bandwagon? Who will have the courage to switch? Rep. David Scott of Georgia, said he would not go against the will of voters in his district, who overwhelmingly supported Obama last week. Rep. John Lewis, an elder statesman from the civil rights era and one of Hillary Clinton’s most prominent black supporters, reportedly said on February 14th that he planned to cast his vote as a super delegate for Sen. Barack Obama in hopes of preventing a fight at the Democratic convention. This is a long race and it is far from being over. However, Barack Obama has traction and momentum and that means something. Let me put myself out there. I am firmly on the Barack Obama bandwagon. Three months ago I was skeptical and undecided. I was weighing the “experience” argument that was floating around about him. I used to work inside the business side of the White House also known as the West Wing. I worked there for just under 4 years. I’ve seen how things run on a day-to-day basis. I’ve worked with and observed presidential “handlers.” Believe me when I tell you, Barack Obama is ready to be president of the United States. I base this on carefully reviewing presidents over the past 25 years. (I really didn’t have to go back that far. I could have simply compared him to our current president. That comparison is a slam dunk for Obama). Barack Obama is not the perfect presidential candidate—no one is. Barack has a vision and the uncanny gift of being able to connect with all kinds of people and he’s getting better at communicating every day. There is something special about Barack Obama. He is the right guy at the right time for this country. He’s done a solid job of running his campaign and surrounding himself with the right people which speaks well of his judgment. He’ll do the same thing as president. While I’m on a roll let me give props to his wife Michelle Obama. Is this a sharp down-to-earth sister or what? Whew! This woman can represent. Let me wrap this thing up. The Clinton’s have been exposed. They are desperate. Yes, I said “they.” Hillary and Bill have been behaving as if they have a sense of entitlement to the presidency for 2008. The Hillary Clinton campaign bus is dropping bolts and leaking oil on the way to the finish line. She has a new campaign manager (a black female), a new deputy campaign manager and she’s had to use $5 million dollars of her own money to donate to her campaign. These are not good signs. However, the Clintons are professional campaigners. They don’t like to lose and will do ANYTHING not to lose this race. Do not be surprised about anything that happens in this race from this point on. If Hillary Clinton loses the next two or three primaries, staying on the Clinton bandwagon is tantamount to re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. We know how that story ended. Click here to read Barack Obama’s letter to Tavis Smiley regarding this issue.Click here to listen to Tavis’ 14 February commentary.

I attended two social functions this past weekend where I encountered a wide variety of friends, colleagues and strangers. At each function the presidential election was a topic within several “conversation circles.” During one conversation, a white female that I didn’t know entered the circle and introduced herself. She politely stood by and gained a sense of what our group was talking about. We were talking about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. This was multicultural circle of colleagues consisting of two white women, one black woman, one woman of Indian descent and one black male (yours truly).

After several minutes discussing this topic folks seemed to shift and mingle to another circle. The white female that I didn’t know politely cornered me to continue the discussion on Barack and Hillary. She turned to me and stated the following: “The only reason you’re supporting Barack Obama is because he’s black. Do you know how detrimental that will be for the country?”

Say what? I looked at her and asked: “How did you draw that conclusion?” When discussing “hot topics” such as politics, religion and other topics across cultural lines, one has to be careful not to be sucked in to having “intelligent” conversations with people who are not intelligent or people who are not willing to actually listen to and consider another point of view. This was my challenge with this woman.

The woman’s reply to my question (“How did you draw that conclusion?”) was: “All of the black people are voting for Barack Obama because he’s black.” Folks, whenever you meet someone who lumps everyone into the same basket by using words and phrases like “all” and “you people,” more than likely you’re dealing with someone with an extremely narrow set of view, or someone who operates from a sense of entitlement and privilege. When I say privilege, I don’t necessarily mean rich or affluent. There are some poor people who have been “culturally conditioned” to be believe that they are inherently better than others because of the color of their skin.

I asked the woman is she was supporting a candidate in the presidential race. She acknowledged that she was supporting John McCain. I then asked her why she was supporting him. She explained that John McCain was the best person to “maintain the integrity of the country.” She further explained that it was great that a black person could run for president, but then stated, “A vote for Barack Obama is not in the best interest of America. A vote for Obama is also the first step to running white people out of the country.”

At that point, it was clear to me that I had to hit the “eject button.” To continue a conversation with a person with this mindset is a “trap.” You cannot have an intelligent discussion with someone who believes that a black president would hire an all black government. I don’t mind having tough discussions with folks about “hot topics.” I do mind having discussions with someone who is ignorant, misguided and incapable of considering a different point of view.

There are some black folks who are supporting Barack Obama just because he’s black. That’s not why I’m supporting him. I’m a recent convert to “Obama Nation.” After carefully studying all of the candidates from all the parties, I decided to support Barack Obama because I believe he is the candidate who can best represent my interests and further my agenda and the agenda I’ve set out for my family. I also believe he has the unique ability to bring people together restore some of this nation’s credibility that we’ve lost around the world. I am not supporting Barack Obama just because he’s black and I don’t anyone of any culture who is voting for him for that reason. I have a unique perspective because I used to work inside the White House. I happen to believe that Barack Obama will surround himself with the top talent and the brightest minds available to him. Barack Obama has proven to me that he is capable of exercising good judgment as a manager and leader. Compare how Barack and Hillary have managed their campaigns. Barack Obama has revolutionized “grass roots” support. His campaign was built for the “long haul.” He continues to raise money in small increments at a mind-boggling rate. Contrast that with Hillary Clinton who raised a lot of money up front from mostly larger sponsors. She jumped out first with a stack of cash. She stated that the race would be over in her favor by February 5th. To date, the Clinton campaign has lost the past 11 contests, is strapped for cash, and has sustained two management shake-ups that raise questions about her judgment and ability to manage a budget.The Texas and Ohio primaries will likely determine who will lead the Democratic Party as the nominee in November. The Hillary campaign bus is racing to the finish line dropping bolts, leaking oil and the gas gauge warning light is brightly lit.

About 40% of the people that I met over the weekend were Hillary Clinton supporters. They acknowledge that she has an uphill battle. Of that 40% about half were black folks. One black woman shared that Obama was “all sizzle and no steak.” She explained that she would like to vote for Barack, but she’s still not convinced that he’s the best candidate for president. That’s OK. That’s her choice.

I’m glad to see so many people engaged in the political process. This is a historic period in American politics. Elementary school children and senior citizens appear to be energized by this election and that’s good for the country.

March 26, 2008

41 Responses to “GARY A. JOHNSON”

  1. Who is this really about?

    It would be very easy to make this current episode of identity, loyalty, accountability and access to the State of Black American forum to be about Tavis and Barak. That the issues raised is about Presidential candidate Barak Obama not attending the annual State of Black America forum was about being available for his people or even his people’s issues, concerns, and positions. Tavis has made his point and strongly cites his own calling as the voice of access, to ask the hard questions and to be a conduit of dialogue for issues that affect people of color. Mr. Smiley has every right to work in that gift and I know he doesn’t need my permission or endorsement to do so. Mr. Smiley has announced today that he plans to never address this issue again, that his work is to bring folk together to talk about the conditions of our people. Mr. Smiley may not raise this controversy again but that doesn’t diminish the position he as taken or the ripple effect it has or even the position he has placed Senator Obama in.

    Mr. Smiley has invited Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator McCain, and Former Governor Huckabee to the event and yet, only Senator Clinton has committed. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why. So blatant is her acceptance of this invitation at this crucial time in her campaign that it sconce deserves even delving into the motive.

    Over the past two hundred years, we have been bless as a people to have come out of the carnage of the capture, the middle passage, the enslavement and the legalized oppression of a people, the most brilliant minds the human race has ever produced. I am not talking bout the 20th century or even the 19th century, I am talking about the mid 1800’s, the late 1700’s, I am talking about people who were born into slavery, their parents were free Africans, their brothers and sister and themselves were property, told to their faces that the were property. So intimate was their knowledge of slavery that was as close as the sweat they wore in the field, as the exhaustion they breathe into their lungs, as the fatigue they carried in their muscles, as clear as the whelps their scarred backs bore every day. Yet, out of this came people who were brilliant in spite of no laws, no schools, no advocacy, no representation, no bills, no candidates, no relieve. These people were brilliant even in the times when it was a death sentence to even appear smart. Reading was punishable by disfiguration, having a independent thought was subject to brutal flogging that took weeks to heal, To even dare to have the facial expression of a thought was cause for reprimand and citation from the power who saw that outward show of intellect as a sign of resistance and disrespect. Again I say this is not the Jim Crow days, the post reconstruction days, the four or five Black men lynched a week days. This was in the toddler years of slavery and this country. If, this election means anything, it is for them. For Frederick Douglass, who openly debated the powers that be, for Harriet Tubman, who held the gun to the head of slave catchers and runaway slave, if either one would prevent her from making her appointed destination, it would be for Mary Church Terrell, Mary Mcleod Bethune, Denmark Vessey, Nat Turner, John Brown, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. These people and many of the other ancestors are watching. We owe them the forethought that nothing should stand in the way of this historic moment.

    I realize that addressing the Annual State of Black America forum be a great opportunity to address racism, poverty, education, unemployment, social justice. Some cited Mr. Smiley’s work as liberating and a strategic event, but I work in the Black Deaf community and they haven’t heard (no pun intended) of the “covenant”, these brothers and sisters still bear the brunt of systemic racism, the struggle to prove their intelligence every day, often from their own people. I moved ahead with the movement to empower, enhance and embrace my Black Deaf brothers and sisters, not benefiting from the Covenant with Black America.

    Mr. Obama absolutely should not attend the forum unless on his own terms; he absolutely should not have to justify his loyalty to the African American community by appearing in this event. We will make sure that access and attention our issues are known and Senator Obama is fully aware of his position, status, heritage, legacy, and relationship to and with Black people. No, forum, community meeting, national symposium or conference should add or detract from that.

    • CURTIS BROWN Says:

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