Monday, December 28, 2009

Commentatary from – 12/28/09

  • Lola Adesioye

    Lola Adesioye

    Deputy Editor

    Terror plot is bad news for Nigerians

    10:04 AM on 12/28/2009

    OPINION - Hearing that a terrorist suspect had been found attempting to detonate a device on a plane was bad news. Finding out that the suspect was Nigerian was, for me and many other Nigerians, even worse......

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  • Ronda Racha Penrice

    Ronda Racha Penrice

    Author of African American History For Dummies

    Ten stories of the decade that have changed black America

    9:36 AM on 12/28/2009

    OPINION - As we close out the decade and await the imminent arrival of 2010, here are the ten stories that have shaken us up and changed the way we see this country, the world and ourselves......

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  • Dr. Boyce Watkins

    Dr. Boyce Watkins

    Author and Finance Professor at Syracuse University

    Holder should stop patronizing black dads for political points

    9:20 AM on 12/28/2009

    OPINION - Mr. President, if you cannot also address the good things that black men do, then please do not address the negatives. Both you and Eric Holder are more intelligent than that......

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  • Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr.

    Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr.

    Religion Contributor

    Remember others at "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"

    9:16 AM on 12/25/2009

    OPINION - One of the favorite songs of this holiday season is "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." But this may not be the most wonderful time for everyone......

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  • M.K. Asante Jr

    M.K. Asante Jr

    Author, Filmmaker, Professor at Morgan State University

    Five things you didn't know about Kwanzaa (but should)

    7:23 AM on 12/25/2009

    OPINION - There's a lot of misinformation about Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is really the story of a people; where we were, where we are, and where we are going....

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  • Rani G Whitfield

    Rani G Whitfield

    The Hip Hop Doctor

    Senate health care overhaul is far from the perfect Christmas gift

    8:24 AM on 12/24/2009

    OPINION - In November, former President Bill Clinton gave Senate Democrats some no-nonsense political advice in regards to health care reform: just pass something......

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  • Michael E. Ross

    Michael E. Ross

    Culture Critic

    Baseball great Curt Flood gave us a remarkable Christmas gift

    8:18 AM on 12/24/2009

    OPINION -- It wasn't the usual kind of Christmas present you'd expect an employee to give his boss at the end of a productive year....

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  • Cheo Tyehimba

    Cheo Tyehimba

    Author & Activist

    The 10 most important black films of the decade

    10:20 AM on 12/23/2009

    OPINION - For most readers, every "best of" list has a few near misses and at least one curious "WTF?" item that suggests the reviewer......

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  • Milton Kent

    Milton Kent

    Media & women's basketball writer for

    NFL finally comes to on impact of head trauma

    9:36 AM on 12/23/2009

    OPINION - On October 28, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was slammed about a House Judiciary Committee hearing room like a quarterback facing a blitz....

    > MOR

  • Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    Black Commentators Have something to Say - 12/23/09

    The Black News Breakdown – 12/23/09

    Friday, December 18, 2009

    Black News: Is the Celebration of Kwanzaa on the Decline?

    Four years ago, Evita Broughton celebrated Kwanzaa for the first time with her family — lighting a candle each night and discussing the respective principle.

    But she hasn't celebrated the holiday since.

    "It felt like a school project that lasted seven nights," said Broughton, 27, of Marietta, Ga. "I didn't feel like I had that connection. I tried to share my experiences with others but no one else was celebrating it."

    Kwanzaa, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, may be a mainstream holiday with greeting cards, postage stamps and public celebrations, but experts say its popularity is receding.

    It will not be getting a boost from the first family. The Obamas do not personally celebrate Kwanzaa, according to White House aides, though a written message from the president is likely, in keeping with the practice of his most recent predecessors, Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

    Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Ron Karenga, a professor at California State University, Long Beach, who is also executive director of the African American Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

    Click to read.

    Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    Black Scholar News: Dr Boyce Watkins Gives Obama a Grade

    by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University 

    The other night on the Oprah Winfrey Christmas special, President Barack Obama made an unwise move. When asked what grade he deserves as president, Obama gave himself a B+. Giving himself a grade was not necessarily the best decision, since there are over 300 million Americans who then realized that they should be giving him grades as well.
    So, allow me to be the first to provide our president with a grade for his performance. I've been giving grades to college students for the last 16 years, and one thing my students will tell you is that I am fair. My other argument is that I never actually GIVE you a grade; I simply report the grade that you've earned.
    1) Handling of the Economy (B-): President Obama is better than John McCain ever could have been when it comes to managing our economic downturn. The problem is that while the president has spiraled our deficit out of control, our nation has yet to see any concrete evidence that the economy's fundamental strength has returned. He has made an enemy out of Wall Street by grandstanding around executive pay issues, but he has lost the backing of Main Street because job losses continue to mount. That's the problem with always reaching across the isle: Sometimes, you don't have firm support on either side of it. The president's inability to translate massive spending into real jobs is going to cost him big time.
    2) Management of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (B): On one hand, the president must face the stern reality that you can't just walk out of a war in the middle of it. We all know that Bush got us into these messes, and Obama must get us out. At the same time, Obama pledged to get us out of the wars faster than he is actually doing it, and it is incredibly awkward for a man to accept a Nobel Peace Prize while simultaneously escalating the troop presence in an occupied country. Sure Obama didn't give himself the Nobel Prize, but he still must be held accountable.


    Click to read.

    Monday, December 14, 2009

    Tiger Woods and Race: Are there any racial complexities here?

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is on CNN with Don Lemon wondering if Tiger Woods will be "OJ Simpsonized" by the recent events in his personal life.

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Your News: Is Obama Losing His Black Supporters?

    Obama's Black Support Eroding

    From AOL Black Voices 

    It has taken less than one full year, but it seems that President Barack Obama's massive support among black mainstream leaders is starting to show some cracks.

    Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have voiced concerns in recent weeks that Obama needs to spend less time worrying about bailouts of massive industry and more time thinking about black folks, who are his most ardent supporters and have been hit hardest by the economic downturn.

    Now the Rev. Jesse Jackson is adding his voice to those who believe Obama isn't doing enough to help the base of his support.

    Jackson, a civil rights giant who has seen his influence wane in recent years, told a crowd at a California rally this week that Obama has misplaced his priorities in spending for the bailout of banks and sending additional soldiers to Afghanistan while poor people struggle here.

    Click to read.

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    The CBC Vs. Obama – What to Make of It

    Last week members of the Congressional Black Caucus took President Obama to task for his inattention to the high rate of black unemployment - a rate much higher than the overall rate. By Friday, some progress on the unemployment front had been reported - the rate was down to 10 percent in November, from the October high of 10.2 percent. African American unemployment, though, was at the astounding level of 15.6 percent. Why don't the high levels of African American unemployment deserve special attention?

    President Obama says he is working for our entire nation, and that when unemployment rates drop, they will drop for everyone. Perhaps that is what he has to say. But even Ray Charles can see the disproportionate unemployment burden that the African American community is carrying. Targeted public policy is the only way to close the unemployment rate gap.

    Our nation has a history of targeting public policy. When it appeared that banks were especially imperiled, we bailed banks, but not other industries out. Indeed, there was much debate about why bankers should get $700 billion when others also faced challenges. The faulty logic that applied was that banks had special challenges at the beginning of the recession, and that the money spent bailing out banks would have ripple effects throughout our economy. Next, there were special provisions made for the housing industry, with bailouts and concessions made to those who had mortgages they could not pay. Again, the logic was that these citizens have special roles in our society and economy. Renters were left out of these special financial provisions. We targeted homeowners.

    Why, then, is it such an anathema to target African Americans? Believe me, if it were Wall Street brokers with an unemployment rate of 15.6 percent, one and a half times the overall rate, there would be some special program developed for those brokers! Someone would take to the floor of Congress to speak of the special plight of those brokers and to wax eloquent about why they deserve a break. The logic that when the overall rate drops, the broker rate will also drop, would be scoffed at! Can't you envision the special pleading that would go to save the brokers?

    Click to read more.

    Friday, November 27, 2009

    White Privilege and the President’s Security

    Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

    On the evening of Tuesday, November 24 a young couple from Virginia made their way into one of the most secure events in the country, President Obama’s state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Monmohan Singh and his wife at the White House. Like the other 300 plus invited guests, Tareq and Michaele Salahi went through multiple layers of Secret Service security, took photos with Chief of Staff Rom Emanuel and mingled with Vice President Biden and other invited guests. The problem is that the Salahi’s were not invited to the dinner. Their names were not listed on the official guest list or any other list that would have allowed them entrance into the White House. They crashed the party!

    All that this couple needed to gain entrance into a state dinner at the White House was a tuxedo, traditional Indian evening wear, attitude, and white skin. When they arrived at the Secret Service check point without a printed invitation and without their names on the official guest list, they were not detained or questioned. No telephone calls were made; no further inquiries were needed; just white skin, blond hair, the expectation of admittance, and a pretty smile. Had this occurred at an airport the Salahi’s would have never made it past airport security.

    Click to read.

    Dr. Boyce: Inner City Schools Should Get Better Funding

    by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University, AOL Black Voices 

    The following is an excerpt from the book, "Black American Money."
    I saw some random "expert" on a "60 Minutes" segment discussing the state of the education system. The man was attempting to argue that more resources won't make a difference in the quality of our schools. He went on to argue that many of the pathetic schools in the inner city are run by blacks, implying that not only do African-Americans not care about their own youth, they are shiftless buffoons when it comes to money management. I've heard similar arguments from members of oppressive groups around the world, as oppressor attitudes are shockingly consistent and universal. A friend of mine from India once explained to me that additional government resources being allocated to create opportunities for "the untouchables" were a waste of time, in large part due to the fact that the people were too lazy to efficiently use these opportunities.Stereotypes against historically oppressed groups are quite common, as the world has been trained to believe that when it comes to managing money, white men are gods and black people are idiots. But when it comes to poor money management, few institutions are worse than the Pentagon which has been known to spend $500 for a toilet seat. They also fail to look to the airline and automobile industries, the ultimate welfare queens of American capitalism. These industries consistently seek government bailouts in the form of tariffs and subsidies. I won't begin to discuss the Financial Crisis of 2008 – 2009, as we saw our entire global financial system artificially inflated and subsequently destroyed by individuals who are not black. Rather, people are usually quick to point to black administrators in inner city schools and historically black colleges and universities as the most wasteful individuals in American education and industry.


    Click to read.

    Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    Dr. Boyce: Barack Obama and Black Men – What has he done for us?

    by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University 

    I did a recent CNN appearance along with the actor Hill Harper and Dr. Alvin Poussaint at Harvard University. The series was a one-year anniversary segment featuring political issues within the African American community. for the entire week, the primary focus was on the impact that President Barack Obama has had onAfrican American men. Given that I've been a black man for quite a while now, I found this conversation topic particularly interesting, so getting to speak to Richelle Carey again wasn't the only perk of doing the job that day.

    It must be made clear that the president should not be expected to save the entire world in one swoop. His job is difficult, and he can't give everyone what they want all the time. But to the extent that President Obama has been positioned to trump pre-existing black leadership (remember that some say we now live in a post-racial America), one can argue that President Obama's rantings in black churches come with some degree of accountability from the Oval Office. Obama has spoken at NAACP meetings, telling black men to take responsibility for our families (as if none of us do) and to engage in more personal responsibility (as if we don't do that already). Such tough talk should be backed by meaningful policy, since structural incentives play a dominant role in the ultimate choice of the individual. For example, when companies get tax incentives to invest in new projects, they almost always do.

    Click to read.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    News: President Obama Gets Low Support Among Whites


    approval among white Americans has fallen to 39 percent since taking office in January, Gallup Daily poll results indicated.

    Overall, Obama's approval rating slipped below 50 percent for the first time in his presidency, a 16 percentage point drop since the 66 percent average he enjoyed during his first full week in office, the Princeton, N.J., polling agency said of its results released Tuesday.

    Support among blacks for Obama averaged 93 percent during his time in office, and has been at or above 90 percent since he was sworn in, accounting for the reason Obama's support among non-white respondents didn't drop as much, Gallup said.

    click to read.

    Dr. Boyce and Richelle Carey Discuss Heather on CNN

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    Why We Don’t Need Sarah Palin

    Dr. Wilmer J. Leon, Howard University 

    With the release of her new book Going Rogue: An American Life, former Alaskan Governor and Republican party VP nominee Sarah Palin is once again being given a spotlight she does not deserve. Under normal circumstances Palin would have drifted into obscurity by now; a political has-been who never was. Instead, a sub-par politician with no substantial constituency; no command of relevant issues, and no solutions to substantive problems, is being given air and face time as though she really matters. The simple reality that few are willing to articulate is, if she were not relatively attractive, of European ancestry and a woman, Sarah Palin would be day old bread.

    Former Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) did not select Palin as his running mate because she was a “rogue”, innovator, or had demonstrated intellectual heft. McCain simply pandered to the Conservative Right, tried to siphon off some of the disgruntled Senator Clinton supporters, and gave America more of the same ole’ politics. From that point until now, Sarah Palin has continually tried to reinvent herself, but continues to give Americans more of the same; “all sizzle and no steak”.

    Click to read.

    Dr. Wilmer Leon: It’s time for a New Social Agenda

    Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III, Your Black World 

    Early on the campaign trail, presidential candidate Barack Obama said, "This country is ready for a transformative politics of the sort that John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Franklin Roosevelt represented." Socially, President Obama is beginning to move in such a positive transformative direction.

    After 12 years of languishing in Congress, on Wednesday, October 28, President Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard / James Byrd Hate Crimes Bill. By signing this bill, the president expands the federal definition of hate crimes to include those motivated by gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. It also allows federal authorities to pursue hate-crimes cases when local authorities are either unable or unwilling to do so. This law was named after Matthew Shepard, a gay man murdered in Wyoming in 1998, and James Byrd, the African-American man dragged to his death behind a pickup truck in Texas that same year.

    Click to read.

    Sunday, November 22, 2009

    Health News: Another Hurdle Jumped for Healthcare Reform

    Health Care Overhaul

    WASHINGTON – A bruising debate on health care awaits the Senate after Thanksgiving now that the historic legislation has cleared a key hurdle over the opposition of Republicans eager to inflict a punishing defeat on President Barack Obama.

    The bill would extend coverage to roughly 31 million who lack it, crack down on insurance company practices that deny or dilute benefits and curtail the growth of spending on medical care nationally.

    In the final minutes of a daylong session, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., accused Republicans of trying to stifle a historic debate the nation needed.

    The Republican leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said the vote was anything but procedural — casting it as a referendum on the bill itself, which he said would raise taxes, cut Medicare and create a “massive and unsustainable debt.”

    Click to read.

    Saturday, November 21, 2009

    Heather Ellis Finally Speaks: Listen to her Side of the Story

    Here is an interview that Heather Ellis did for AOL Black Voices - it appears that her side of the story is very different from the prosecution and she may have reason to sue the police department.

    CNN Video on the Heather Ellis Plea Deal

    Here is more CNN coverage, including final statements from Heather Ellis.

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    Dr. Boyce Watkins: Jesse Jackson Vs. the CBC


    by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Black Planet 

    I love speaking with Rev. Jesse Jackson.  He walks and talks like a man who has seen and heard nearly everything.  Our civil rights leaders are social hubs through which many members of our society must travel in order to reach their destinations.   You can’t call yourself a black man and not know the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

    Rev. Jackson took things a step further by stating recently at a Congressional Black Caucus function that,”You can’t vote against health care and call yourself a black man.”

    RELATED: Jesse Jackson Says To CBC You Can’t Be Black And Be Against Health Care

    This comment was aimed at Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama, the only member of theCongressional Black Caucus who does not support health care reform.   What is most interesting about Jackson’s comment is that he is right, but not quite.  You can certainly argue that Davis’ lack of support for the plan implies  that his interests are not in line with the majority of African Americans in this country:  Most of them love Barack Obama and are willing to support anything that he supports.  The other sad truth is that health care reform is so complicated that most Americans don’t have a clue about what’s going on.   In that regard, we can argue that it is difficult for Davis to say that he represents the black community when he votes in a direction that is not correlated with the majority of African Americans in the state of Alabama.

    Click to read.

    Heather Ellis Takes the Plea, but Dr. Boyce Watkins has Questions


    by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Black Planet 

    I have been actively involved in the fight for Heather Ellis, the 24-year old school teacher now facing up to 15-years in prison for cutting line at a local Wal-Mart.  Although Heather has now reached a plea deal with prosecutors over her arrested, there are still questions that need to be answered.  No, she was not charged with cutting in line, but it was the cashier’s reaction to the alleged line cut which led to the relevant sequence of events.  Had the cashier been more professional and not refused to serve Heather, none of this would have happened (You hear that Walmart? Perhaps that’s why your attorneys are telling you to remain silent).

    I have five simple questions about the trial of Heather Ellis:

    1) If “no one was seriously injured,” why was she facing up to 15-years in prison?

    In the opening statements of the trial, the prosecutor in the case, Morley Swingle (the dandy fellow with the Confederate flag on the cover of his book) stated that “There was no serious injury, but it did hurt,” when referring to the alleged assaults committed by Ms. Ellis.  If no one was seriously injured, does that constitute a Class-C felony?  This statement was quite telling when it comes to understanding the style of justice being administered in the Southeast Missouri area (which is why we are sending our reports to the Justice Department after the trial is over).  Given that Ellis appears to have been the only person to go to the hospital after she allegedly beat down all of these great big men, it would seem to me that perhaps she might be the one who is able to file an assault charge against the officers.  Additionally, the defense attorney on the case, Scott Rosenblum, presented evidence in court of there being blood in Heather Ellis’ jacket pocket from the night of the incident.  This would be consistent with her claim to the doctor the next day that she was assaulted by the police.

    Click to read.

    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    Heather's Attorney is Ripping Witnesses Apart

    It appears that Heather's attorney, Scott Rosenblum, actually knows what he's doing - the trial is getting interesting.

    Heather Ellis Walmart Video Released on CNN

    Does anyone see a smoking gun in this video?

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    Didn't See the Rally? This Might Not be the last one

    Heather Ellis' case makes the top story on the Memphis news - the country awaits the verdict of her trial.

    More Video Footage from Our Rally in Kennett

    Watch video of our rally that was held for Heather in Kennett, MO.

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    Listen to Dr. Boyce, Roland Martin and Tom Joyner Discuss Heather Ellis

    Given that Tom Joyner's Show is sponsored by Walmart, this leads to a relatively awkward conversation!