Saturday, July 26, 2008

We're Killing Ourselves, Nothing New

This week, the black community celebrated the airing of the CNN two part documentary, "Black In America", with constant debate taking place regarding the fairness of the content. Many theories were discussed regarding what ails the black community.

Black men were described as not responsible, uneducated and lazy in the most negative form. In the linked article from the Philadelphia Inquirer, it highlights the funeral of slain landscaper, Cory Moody, who was described as a loving father and family man. Moody was killed on July 18th, allegedly by a teen who knew him, for his wallet.

Let's see, we have another father killed, and another victim of black on black crime. A two for one deal in terms of lives ruined. Racism or the lack of a father didn't cause the teen to allegedly kill Moody, someone he apparently knew. The teens personal choice somehow sent a signal to his brain to commit an unconscionable act of violence.

Read From Source...

The "Street Lit" Book Craze

I admit that sometimes I'm slow to the game, but now I know the name of the genre of books that celebrate the degradation of the urban culture. It's called "Street Lit" according to an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The article profiles, Khalil Robinson, the self described, "Philly Man", who peddles the books in downtown Philadelphia. The books, whose covers typically display scantily clad women, veer to the core of the hip hop culture in content. The genre, also has become a very lucrative profession for black authors who choose to go the self publishing route, and become their own distributors of the books. According to Robinson, "It's become a million dollar business".

Philly native, Teri Woods, reportedly sold more than a million of her "Street Lit" themed books before signing a multi-book deal with Warner Books, and this weeks her new release "True To The Game III" debuted at number 14 on the New York Times best seller list.

The genre has come under attack recently, by none other than one of it's godfathers, Omar Tyree. Tyree laments the audiences acceptance of "denigration over progression".

I really hate to knock any author's hustle. If there is an audience for these books, which there obviously is, more power to them for having an outlet for their creativity. If record labels and hip hop artists can become rich from music that often denigrates, why can't book authors? There's no need to choose what forms of denigration are acceptable.

Read From Source...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Work It All Out This Lifetime

I was driving home last night, anxiously awaiting my arrival to watch CNN's final installment of it's Black In America" series, when Maxwell's classic song, "Lifetime" came on the radio.

Maxwell's song is a love song, but the words can easily be applied to the plight of the black male. It starts off with, "I was reborn when I was broken". The chorus goes into, "I can let my life pass me by, I can get down and try, work it all out this lifetime".

CNN's final installment absolutely "bamboozled" me. I was expecting the lead segment to focus on professor Michael Eric Dyson, and Dyson's story wasn't covered until the final 15 minutes of the show. The first 90 minutes was an absolute waste of time with host Soledad O'Brien focusing on all of the negative stereotypes that are typically associated with black males, something I didn't need see.

The final 30 minutes of the show were interesting, focusing on Spike Lee talking about the lack of expectations for black males. Michael Eric Dyson's segment for me was the best part of the documentary. Dyson, was a verbal prodigy and the age of 12, but his younger brother Everett succumbed to the pressures of the street and is serving a lifetime prison term for murder. Everett Dyson, who stated correctly that he made bad choices, appeared to accept responsibility for his actions and the resulting consequences.

Everett Dyson admitted that he made bad choices, and this really is the bottom line for black men, make better choices and better results will occur. Continue to make bad choices and the black male will continue to spiral towards genocide. Please, black men, "try to work it out this lifetime".

Obama Wooing Abroad But Laboring With Voters

Presumed Democratic Presidential Nominee, Barack Obama wooed a crowd of 200,000 people in Berlin, Germany yesterday. However, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Obama has failed to get the "bump" in the polls as a result of his trip abroad.

Obama has appeared at times presidential, and at times very presumptive while visiting and speaking to other countries. Many voters still are leery of Obama's experience, and he's alienated some in the far left wing of his party with his movement to the center on specific issues.

One thing, I can say is that it's pretty cool to see a "brother" getting off a plane with shades on and his sleeves rolled up. I'm just not sure if mainstream America is ready for the Obama swagger.

Read From Source...

"Hip Hop" Mayor Allegedly Assaults Police Officer

The "hip hop" mayor knew that he couldn't go a week without being mentioned on my blog, and I'm so happy for it. Yesterday, Detroit mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, faced additional criminal charges after allegedly assaulting a police officer who was attempting to serve a subpoena to a friend. The police officer alleges the following:

"The officer alleges that the mayor pushed him with significant force to make him bounce into the prosecutor's investigator," Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans said at an evening news conference. "We don't know at this point exactly what we have."

Kilpatrick, who is already facing charges in the text messaging scandal, needs to take the city of Detroit out of it's misery and resign. He's a continuous blight on a city that already has many issues.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

CNN's Black In America "The Black Woman & Family"

As I waited for the beginning of the first installment of CNN's Black In America series, hosted by Soledad O'Brien, I expected the worst, but hoped for the best depiction of Black America: the good, the bad and the ugly.

The documentary began with a focus on the Rand family traveling to their family reunion in Atlanta, GA. Their families roots originated from a married slave owner who had a black mistress, which is very typical of our origin in this country.

The show then moved to the topic of education. The statistics continue to be startling, beginning with the fact that only 50% of black students graduate in 4 years. Again the program shifted to the Smith family, who are part of the Rand family tree. The Smith's are business owners who enrolled their children in Magnet Schools and have found success with their children attending institutions of higher learning as diverse as Julliard. This segment also profiled Harvard Professor Roland Fryers' "pay to learn experiment" which has 5000 students participating in the program with similar programs initiated in the cities of Atlanta, Baltimore, and Dallas. Fryers spoke from experience about the intoxicating lure of the streets. This segment closed with the startling statistic that 33% of black kids live in poverty. Nothing about this segment was new, but there's an obvious correlation between being economically advantaged and having success in education.

The disparity in health care was then profiled, and focused on the stress of poverty, and the fact that black people are more likely to die from cancer, stroke, asthma and heart disease. The void of healthy food choices in the inner city was also discussed.

The Black Church was profiled next. Again, nothing earth shattering, but the honest depiction clearly showed the major void in the black community. The church that was profiled consisted mainly of single black mothers, and the fact that the church has saved many lives through it's spiritual support. A single mother from the church working 2 jobs, and trying to raise 5 children was also profiled. Showing the mother juggling bills and deciding which bill to pay in what is a monthly occurrence. Again the statistics in this segment, 70% of all black children are born to single mothers compared to 25% in the 1960s. Whoopi Goldberg briefly relived her days living on welfare as Karen Johnson, and credited the the welfare system with giving her a chance at survival.

The plight of the successful, educated black woman was then profiled. Again, the statistics, 45% of black women have never been married, and black male partners simply not being viable options because of economics, education, and incarceration. The fact that there are 1 million more black women working than black men. Many black women making the decision to date outside of their race because of the lack of options. This is a real development for young black women, and one that doesn't appear to changing anytime soon.

HIV and AIDS within the black community was then profiled. Again, "crazy" statistics, 80% of new cases in Washington, DC are black, 9 times the national average. 1 in 26 people in the city are infected with HIV or AIDS. This segment also profiled the church's lack of involvement in this issue, with Bishop T.D. Jakes admitting that the church has not done a good job in this area. He discussed the church preaching ideas and only talking about the reality in terms of abstinence vs. being sexually active, and falling short of the idea. Bottom line, AIDS is the number one killer for black woman 25 to 34.

The last segment focused on violence within our community, and on the city of Baltimore, where 93% of homicide victims are black. The segment also profiled Dr. Carnell Cooper, who started VIP (Violence Intervention Project) to help victims of violence assimilate back into mainstream society by teaching basic life skills. The results of the the program so far are that participants are more likely to be employed than heading back to their reality of violence.

I know this has been long winded, but watching show made me at times wince in disgust and smile with elation at the diverse paths that black people have to travel. Although the struggles are different, whether affluent or disadvantaged the show displayed the fact that black woman continue to hold everything together on her broad shoulders.

Tonight's show focuses on the black male and in it's preview, which was riveting, contrasting Michael Eric Dyson and his brother who appeared to be incarcerated.

Sharpton Off the Hook In Fed Probe

Federal prosecutors have dropped their charges against the Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network for tax fraud. Sharpton, who in recent weeks, is becoming more mainstream, has to be breathing a sigh of relief. The bottom line is, Sharpton's innocent of any wrong doing in the probe.

I'm not really interested in what Rev. Sharptons's income is, or derived from, but columnist, Errol Louis of the New York Daily News goes into some detail regarding Sharpton's finances. Needless to say, Sharpton is doing fine in his jobs as a radio host and commentator.

Sharpton has become the "go to" black political commentator and appears to be more conservative and less threatening in his delivery. It's nice to see someone make subtle changes for the benefit of a platform. Sharpton is showing his versatility, and it's a pleasant change.

Read From Source...

Shelby Steele's Opinion on The Obama/Jackson Flap

Black Conservative, Shelby Steele has written his opinion on the Jesse Jackson/Barack Obama controversy in the Wall Street Journal. Steele writes that Jackson "hates" Obama because Obama has taken away Jackson's "moral leverage" against the establishment, trading it for gratitude and becoming the Anti-Jackson.

He also argues that Obama's candidacy is more cultural than political, and that Obama is "politically invisible' because of his recent flip flops. Steele's take is an interesting one, and pretty accurate in my opinion. Obama will ultimately have to develop a political core to truly become an agent of change.

Read From Source...

Women Brawl In WNBA Game

I guess there's a first time for everything. Last night during the game between the Los Angeles Sparks and Detroit Schock, rookie phenomenon Candace Parker and Shock forward Plenette Pierson tangled arms, which led to a bench clearing brawl. Shock assistant coach, Rick Mahorn subsequently pushed Sparks star Lisa Leslie and was ejected along with Parker, Plenette and Sparks forward DeLisha Milton-Jones, who had slapped Mahorn in the back.

Auburn Hills was the site of the NBA brawl a few years back between the Pistons and Pacers in the NBA. Maybe there's something in the water. Definitely not a good look to see women fighting.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wendy Williams and Omarosa Spar On Wendy's TV Show

I usually try to enlighten and uplift, but I had to post this clip of Omarosa on Wendy Williams' television show. At one point, Wendy calls Omarosa an "angry black woman", and Omarosa called Wendy a "buffoon".

None of this is enlightening or uplifting, but it is pretty funny.

Iraqi Leaders back Obama Withdrawl Plan

Presumed Democratic Presidential Nominee, Barack Obama has the Republican Party up in arms, after he received backing from Iraqi leaders that his troop withdrawal timetable is indeed feasible.

The White House is accusing the Iraqi's of using politics as leverage, and John McCain's campaign is all up in arms over the support Obama is receiving abroad. Obama is indeed looking presidential while abroad and clearly at ease with other leaders, while the whole world watches. Truly interesting theatre.

Read From Source...

Camden, NJ Tenants To Own Homes For $1

Owner and builder of the Camden Townhouses, Israel Roizman, made a commitment 15 years ago to sell each of his 91 units to his tenants if the apartments were still standing. Roizman, says that next year he will honor that commitment. The City of Camden, one of the poorest in the country was expected to approve a $215 million dollar plan to dramatically upgrade the area, completely wiping out areas blighted by drugs and prostitution.

Mr. Roizman is performing an honorable deed by keeping his word to the tenants, who would probably never have a chance at home ownership under normal circumstances. The City of Camden also deserves credit for stepping to the plate in support of the initiative.

Read From Source...

Tavis Smiley Says Obama Can't Transcend Race

Radio and talk show host Tavis Smiley created a major uproar in the black community when he chastised Barack Obama for not attending his State of the Black Union Conference in February, and similarly has asked "black folk" to hold Obama accountable to the concerns of black people. Tavis, who gave his last commentary on the The Tom Joyner Morning Show on June 26th, says emphatically that Obama can't transcend race in his run to be the next President of The United States.

Tavis initially angered me with his comments about Obama, and I thought he was just hating on the brother. Over time, after reading more and more and watching Obama in action, I understand where Tavis is coming from regarding putting too much hope in Obama.

Barack Obama is not the savior who will cure all that plagues the black community, and while he will need to be held responsible for all people, black people will deserve a seat at the table if he is indeed elected.

Read From Source...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown's Take On The Election

Former San Francisco Mayor, Willie Brown, who now runs a political non-profit organization has given his take on the fall election and other topics in the San Francisco Chronicle. Interesting read, as he focuses on the 2 Obama's and John McCain's chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, who Brown says is like a son to former George Bush strategist, Karl Rove.

Some interesting opinions from Brown, who has immediate credibility because of his political experience.

Read From Source...

Philly's 10,000 Men Project a Nice Gesture, But Short On Action

Last October, the city of Philadelphia met to launch a project that intended for 10,000 black men of the city to come together and come up with a plan to take back the crime ridden streets. Nine months later, the program has 4 units with 200 men patrolling the streets.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the organization has lost momentum and become fragmented as many of the participants have decided to move into individual projects. This is a noble gesture by the men of the city, but it seems that it might be a better idea if Mayor Michael Nutter spearheaded this type of initiative. That is why he's paid the big bucks.

Read From Source...

The King Dispute Continued

The Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting that Martin King III and his sister Bernice released a statement stating that they sued their brother Dexter to preserve the King legacy, and the corporation that handles the family's financial affairs.

This dispute still comes down to money. Please work out the dispute King children and reconcile for the sake of your family's legacy.

Read From Source...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Real Obama

The New Yorker cover caused a major furor last week, depicting Barack Obama as a terrorist. The actual article is linked below.

The article, written by Ryan Lizza can be read over 15 pages or as one long article, online. The article really appears to be unbiased, but in early portions portrays Obama clearly as a politician who is very cunning and opportunistic. It also shows Obama as not necessarily loyal to those who assisted him in his ascension up the Chicago political chain.

Obama has shown a few instances of a lack of loyalty during his presidential bid, and the flip flopping has only added to the assertion, that he's a politician rather than an agent of change. Hopefully Obama won't be shown to be smoke and mirrors.

Read From Source...

Michelle Obama Changing Stereotypes About Black Women

Michelle Obama is changing the stereotypes of black women, and invigorating many black female business owners, such as the Spiral Collective, a collection of businesses owned by black women of Detroit.

Obama spoke to to a collection of women earlier this month and clearly had the crowd excited with her presence at the gathering. In this time of video vixens parading scantily clad in many music videos, Michelle Obama is a refreshing change from a visibility standpoint. In the article supplied by the Detroit Free Press, many of the attendees openly spoke about their excitement in the fact that Obama is a browned skinned black woman who is creating a new standard of beauty as opposed to superficial standards that are often set by the media.

Like her husband, Michelle Obama is a role model desperately needed in the black community.

Read From Source...

Obama Says Afghanistan Needs 7,000 More Troops

Looking young, vigorous and presidential, presumed Democatic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama called for an additional 7000 troops be deployed to Afghanistan, calling the situation "precarious and urgent".

This is the first time in my memory that I've see a presidential nominee travel abroad and propose decisive measures during war time. Barack may not have a lot of experience, but he surely does not lack for confidence, while attempting to prove to the American people that he has what it takes to lead our country.

Read From Source...

CNN's Black In America Series: Reclaiming The Dream

Last night CNN debuted a panel discussion that is part of it's "Black in America" series, sponsored in conjunction with Essence Magazine. As part of the panel, the usual suspects appeared, such as Dr. Cornel West, T.D. Jakes and Dr. Julianne Malveaux, President of Bennett College for Women.

The discussion started slow with the initial topic focused on responsibility in the community and the lack of fathers in their children's lives. This topic has gained a lot of steam in recent weeks with Barack Obama focused on the topic in his speeches to the black community. The lack of "baby daddy's" in the community is part of a vicious cycle that has engulfed the black community and worsened over time.

The next topic of discussion focused on education in the black community. It was at this point that the discussion started to gain some steam. Two young innovators, Roland Fryer, a black Harvard Economist and Jabali Sawicki, the principal of Excellence Charter School in New York gave real examples of success for black students in their respective areas of expertise. Fryer has instituted a pay for learning program and Sawicki's school is an all black male school.

The final segment focused on the ravages of HIV and AIDS in our community. Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph led this discussion and gave some very real and disturbing examples of how HIV is ravaging our community, especially women. The scariest example used was of 11 year old twins being infected with HIV by the same man.

CNN is displaying a noble gesture in developing the "Black in America" series. It's just very disturbing to watch all of our "dirty laundry" being on display for all of the world to see.