Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gov. David Paterson Says Racism is Alive and Well in Politics

ALBANY - Gov. Paterson blamed a racist media Friday for trying to push him out of next year's election - launching into an angry rant that left even some black Democrats shaking their heads.

"The whole idea is to get me not to run in the primary," Paterson complained on a morning radio show hosted by Daily News columnist Errol Louis.

He suggested that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the country's only other African-American governor, also is under fire because of his race.

"We're not in the post-racial period," Paterson said.

"The reality is the next victim on the list - and you can see it coming - is President Barack Obama, who did nothing more than trying to reform a health care system."

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The Civil Rights Legacy of Ted Kennedy

Teddy was a lion for civil rights

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University  – MSNBC’s

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, FILE)

Many of us once joked that Bill Clinton was the "first black president" (which he wasn't). We had it wrong. If such a title were to be given to any white man, that should have to be the late Senator Ted Kennedy. He was never president of the United States, but he was certainly one of the kings of his generation.

As a member of the Senate since 1962, Senator Kennedy had a long career fighting for those forced to live in the underbelly of a capitalist society. Over the last 47 years, he has done it better than nearly any politician in American history. African-Americans were among the many beneficiaries of his passionate life's work, and for that, we will always be appreciative.

In a multitude of areas including housing, income, civil liberties, and equality, Ted Kennedy has been on the front lines. His brother John introduced the Civil Rights Act of 1964, considered to be one of the most impactful pieces of legislation ever produced by our government. After John's death, Ted and his brother Robert were instrumental in seeing that the bill was passed.

Senator Ted Kennedy then went on to help pass one law after another to support the rights of the elderly, the sick, the poor and the incarcerated. He introduced the Americans with Disabilities Act, The Civil Rights Act of 1991, The Civil Rights for Institutionalized Persons Act, among others. He also helped to amend the Fair Housing Act, and has fought relentlessly for those who've never known the comfort of attending an Ivy League University.

Senator Kennedy's political compassion, as well as his complicated coping mechanisms, may be linked to the tragedy he experienced during his life. As a young child, he watched his sister Rosemary endure a failed lobotomy, saw his brother Joseph die in World War II and then witnessed his older sister Kathleen's death in a plane crash. This tragedy was compounded by the assassinations of his two brothers, Robert and John during the 1960s. This kind of pain doesn't heal easily, and few families endure such an amazing amount of personal tragedy. It is quite possible that the weight of his psychological pain gave Senator Kennedy the ability to empathize with the struggles of others, as well as the strength to fight through hurdles presented by his adversaries.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dr. Julianne Malveaux Speaks on Healthcare Reform

By Julianne Malveaux

Congress seems to be putting the final touches on health care reform legislation, arranging to provide health care, especially, for the uninsured. Anyone who has made the summer rounds of civil rights conventions understand that African American policy makers care about this issue. Still there seems to be no passion in advocacy for heath care reform.

Our presence in this debate is much needed - we have a dog in this fight. African

Americans are more likely than others to be uninsured, so the many ways our new legislation will make insurance available is important. And even when we are insured, the way that health problems hit us are most different. According to the Centers for Disease Control, African Americans and Hispanics "bear a disproportionate burden of disease, injury, and disability." African Americans, in particular, are more likely to be killed or to die of HIV than others are.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Your Black News: Did Marion Barry Get His Wife Evicted?

This week’s Loose Lips column delves into the background behind Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s move to evict Cora Masters Barry and her Recreation Wish List Committee from the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center—a beautiful eight-year old facility in Congress Heights.

Some questions remain unanswered: For one, why did this happen in the first place? When the story initially broke, Attorney GeneralPeter Nickles explained that the city discovered that RWLC’s corporate registration had lapsed through “random checks of nonprofit organizations that do business with the city.”

LL finally connected yesterday with Nickles to ask him about the origin of the probe. He says the random check was part of a Fenty administration effort to review city arrangements with nonprofit organizations in the wake of misconduct allegations against Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry.

Click to read.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dr. Wilmer Leon: The Post-Racial Problem in America

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

In 1903 W.E.B. DuBois wrote in The Souls of Black Folk, “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line, --the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea.” In 1968 the Kerner Commission determined "Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—-separate and unequal."

In 21st Century so-called “post racial” America the problem is still race. African American’s like Derryl Jenkins are still being brutalized by the police in north Minneapolis, MN; shot in the back of the head while handcuffed like Oscar Grant in Oakland, CA; and mistaken for perpetrators and killed by fellow officers like Officer Omar Edwards in New York City.

Many questions still need to be answered about these latest tragedies. What leads these officers to perceive people of color as a threat? Why do the police feel the need to use excessive force first and ask questions later? This takes me to the continual discussion about racism (white supremacy), its perceptions, and emotional responses that people of color deal with all too often.

Click to read.

News: Al Sharpton Speaks with Boyce Watkins

Dr Boyce Watkins of Syracuse university will be appearing with Rev. Al Sharpton on “Keeping it Real with Al Sharpton” from 2 – 3 pm EST on Tuesday 8/18/09.  They will discuss Obama’s educational plans, Michael Vick and Healthcare reform.   Dr. watkins and Rev. Sharpton have appeared together on several other shows, including “Keep Hope Alive with Rev. Jesse Jackson”, “The Wendy Williams Experience”, “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch” and more.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Obama Protestors Starting to Carry Guns

About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside the convention center where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Monday — the latest incident in which protesters have openly displayed firearms near the president.

Gun-rights advocates say they're exercising their constitutional right to bear arms and protest, while those who argue for more gun control say it could be a disaster waiting to happen.

Phoenix police said the gun-toters at Monday's event, including the man carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder, didn't need permits. No crimes were committed, and no one was arrested.

The man with the rifle declined to be identified but told The Arizona Republic that he was carrying the assault weapon because he could. "In Arizona, I still have some freedoms," he said.

Phoenix police Detective J. Oliver, who monitored the man at the downtown protest, said police also wanted to make sure no one decided to harm him.


Click to read.

News: Obama Gets Push Back from Howard Dean

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about newly sworn in Secretary

Former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, a leading figure in the liberal wing of his party, said Monday he doubts there can be meaningful health care reform without a direct government role.

Dean urged the Obama administration to stand by statements made early on in the debate in which it steadfastly insisted that such a public option was indispensable to genuine change, saying that Medicare and the Veterans Administration are "two very good programs that have been around for a long time."

Dean appeared on morning news shows Monday amid increasing indications the Obama White House is retreating from the public option in the face of vocal opposition from Republicans and some vocal participants at a town-hall-style meetings around the country.

The former Vermont governor was asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" about President Barack Obama's statement over the weekend that the public option for insurance coverage was "just a sliver" of the overall proposal. Obama's health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, advanced that line, telling CNN Sunday that a direct government role in a system intended to provide virtually universal coverage was "not the essential element."


Click to read.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wilmer Leon: At What Point is Michael Vick Fully Rehabilitated?

by Dr. Wilmer Leon

On December 10, 2007 suspended Atlanta Falcon’s quarterback Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison for his role in a dog fighting ring. He was also found to have been involved in killing pit bulls that did not demonstrate sufficient fighting prowess.

Michael Vick, once one of the highest paid players in the NFL with a 10 year $130 million contract that provided him with an $11.4 million salary in 2006 and $6 million salary in 2007 made 12 cents an hour in his job at the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan. He filed for bankruptcy; claiming assets of $16 million and liabilities of $20.4 million. Vick is on the hook for judgments of $2.4 million to the Royal Bank of Canada and $1.1 million to Wachovia Bank, both because of loan defaults, and $4.5 million for a sports agent who sued him and won.

On July 20, 2009, after serving 18 months of his 23 month sentence, Michael Vick was released from Leavenworth Federal Prison. After having served his time, on August 13, 2009 signed a two year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Click to read.

Commentary from TheGrio – 8/15/09

Friday, August 14, 2009

News: Former Agent Says Obama Gets Less Secret Service Protection Than other Presidents

As a journalist, I believe the unquestioned right to freedom of speech and expression is one of our most important gifts living in America.
But every now and then, I see something said or written that is so irresponsible and potentially dangerous, it gives me second thoughts on the whole freedom of speech thing.
The latest example is a new book by author Ronald Kessler, 'In the President's Secret Service,' on the inner workings of the agency that paints a troubling picture of an overworked, underfunded agency assigned to protect our president. ...
For the record, the Secret Service denies Kessler's allegations that it is cutting corners in guarding the president. But the stakes are so high, its hard to dismiss this issue without further investigation.


Click to read.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Black News: Glenn Beck on Fox Pays a Price for Insulting Obama

Glenn Beck
has excused murderous rampages as an understandable result of 'political correctness' and joked about poisoning a United States senator.
And to top it all off, Beck diagnosed bi-racial President Obama as being infected with a psychological bias against white people: "This president has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seated hatred for white people ... this guy is, I believe, a racist."
Many of us complained to Fox and nothing changed. Until now. ...

Click to read.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

President Gives Out Freedom Medals

Obama presents 16 with Medal of Freedom

A pioneer, a preacher, an activist and an athlete were among 16 people who President Obama honored Wednesday with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. "These extraordinary men and women, these agents of change, remind us that excellence is not beyond our abilities," Obama said at a White House ceremony. full story

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Black News: Man with Gun Gets into Obama Event

Armed Obama Protester

Earlier today MSNBC aired a segment showing a man with a loaded gun waiting for President Barack Obama to arrive at a town hall on health care reform at a high school in Portsmouth, N.H., and reportedly the local chief of police had no problem with it.

The man is carrying a sign that says, "It Is Time to Water the Tree of Liberty." That's a reference to a Thomas Jefferson quote: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants." It was a favorite slogan of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who was wearing a T-shirt when he was arrested with a picture of Lincoln on the front and a tree dripping with blood on the back.

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Black News: 13 Year old Girl Kept in Jail for 2 weeks

A 13-year-old girl arrested for shoplifting was held in the Dallas County Jail for nearly two weeks before it was determined that she is underage, a police sergeant said Thursday.
An internal affairs investigation has been launched to review the matter, police Sgt. Warren Mitchell told The Associated Press on Thursday night.
The girl, who had run away from home, was arrested July 10 at a Target department store for shoplifting. She held no identification and gave a false name and age, Mitchell said.
The sergeant said the arresting officer attempted to contact the police youth division to confirm the information but found no record of her. The arresting officer assumed she was 17 and took her to jail.


Click to read.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Black News: 2 Years in prison for Making a Song about Killing Cops?

BS Top - Allen Rapper

A Florida rapper is sentenced to two years in prison for a song called 'Kill Me a Cop' that he produced as a teenager.

Authorities say 20-year-old Antavio Johnson raps about killing two Lakeland, Fla., police officers in the tune, which cops found on MySpace while surfing for gang-related activity.

Johnson pleaded no contest to two counts ofcorruption by threat of a public servant and was sentenced to two years in prison last month. He was already in jail on a cocaine charge at the time. ...

Singing about killing a cop was not Johnson's first mistake. Pleading guilty and not hiring a lawyer were. Just ask Ice Cube and N.W.A., who sang '%#@* tha Police' as a form of police protest more than 20 years ago.

Back in 1988, N.W.A had everyone from the FBI to the Secret Service breathing down its neck and lawsuits galore. If someone could have figured out a way to charge the group with a crime, lock 'em up and throw away the key, I'm sure it would've happened.


Click to read.

News: Black Joblessness Not Getting Much Better

Unskilled labor jobs in the retail sector have been particularly hard hit. (Courtesy Photo/

(August 9, 2009) - President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan to save or create thousands of jobs appeared to be working this summer when the country’s unemployment rate began to stabilize. Unemployment fell in July for the first time in more than a year, according to the latest national job data – an indication the weakened economy might be on the rebound. But because more data is needed to determine the economy’s path, how soon the recession ends remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, "We won’t rest until every American that is looking for work can find a job," President Obama said Friday in comments at the White House.
He added that, "The worst may be behind us," and that "we're pointed in the right direction."
Overall, the labor market has shed 6.5 million jobs since the start of the recession nearly two years ago.
The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also reported the jobless rate plunged to 9.4 percent from 9.5 As a result, the economy lost 247,000 jobs in July rather than the 325,000 that had been expected. However, the jobless rate among African Americans stands at 14.5 percent compared to 8.6 percent for Whites and 12.3 percent for Hispanics.
In March, unemployment among Blacks was 13.4 percent.
Although some reports list college-educated African Americans as having been the hardest hit, David R. Jones, president of the Community Service Society in New York City – where Blacks have tended to suffer the heaviest unemployment – said he did not think the recession has played out equally.

Click to read.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Black Scholars: Changing Our Drug Policy: Why it must be done

by Dr. Byron Price, Texas Southern University

On his website, President Obama offers us a “seat at the table,” which is the equivalent of citizens offering policy prescriptions to his administration. This unprecedented effort to increase citizen participation in the policy making process has the added benefit of simultaneously empowering citizens in a way that our government has not done and has to be what the campaign meant by “change we can believe in.” The criticism of whom he has appointed misses the mark concerning what I believe his change mantra signifies. Since the president appears to be open to unsolicited advice, I offer the following criminal justice recommendations and justification for these suggestions.
President Obama and the 111th Congress should consider ending drug prohibition.
“Consider the consequences of drug prohibition today: 500,000 people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails for nonviolent drug-law violations; 1.8 million drug arrests last year; tens of billions of taxpayer dollars expended annually to fund a drug war that 76% of Americans say has failed; millions now marked for life as former drug felons; many thousands dying each year from drug overdoses that have more to do with prohibitionist policies than the drugs themselves, and tens of thousands more needlessly infected with AIDS and Hepatitis C because those same policies undermine and block responsible public-health policies.”

As the preceding paragraph illustrates, “The War on Drugs” has been a dismal failure and has gifted nonviolent African Americans offenders, especially males a permanent handicap—a lifetime of limited opportunities. The collateral consequences of a drug conviction which limit African Americans opportunities are:
The denial of financial aid and work study .
Felony Disenfranchisement.
Lifetime ban on cash benefits and food stamps.
Lifetime ban on public housing.
Termination of parental rights and ban from becoming adoptive or foster parents.
Remove the felony conviction question on applications of employment.

Click to read.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Your Black Scholar News - On with Leon: What to Make of this “Teachable Moment”?

On this episode of “On with Leon,” Dr Wilmer Leon talks with listeners who have strong opinions on Henry Louis Gates, Barack Obama and the “Teachable Moment.”  Click here to listen

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sotomayor Confirmed

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who rose from the housing projects of the Bronx to the top of the legal profession, made history Thursday when the Senate confirmed her to become the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.

Sonia Sotomayor, 55, will be the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court.

Sonia Sotomayor, 55, will be the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court.

Sotomayor was easily confirmed in a 68-31 vote. Nine Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic caucus in supporting her nomination.

Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, supported Sotomayor but was not present for the vote because of illness.

Sotomayor, a 55-year-old federal appeals court judge, will be the 111th person to sit on the high court and the third female justice.

She will be sworn in at the Supreme Court by Chief Justice John Roberts on Saturday.

President Obama, who selected Sotomayor on May 26, said he was "deeply gratified" by the Senate vote.

"This is a wonderful day for Judge Sotomayor and her family, but I also think it's a wonderful day for America," Obama said at the White House. Video Watch Obama's remarks »

Click to read.

News: Black Congressman Convicted

Former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana was convicted Wednesday on 11 of the 16 corruption charges against him in a case that included the discovery of $90,000 in his freezer.

Former Rep. William Jefferson arrives at U.S. District Court with his wife, Andrea, on June 9.

Former Rep. William Jefferson arrives at U.S. District Court with his wife, Andrea, on June 9.

A federal court jury convicted Jefferson on four bribery counts, three counts of money laundering, three counts of wire fraud and one count of racketeering. He was acquitted on five other counts including wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

Jefferson, a 62-year-old Democrat, was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 4, 2007, about two years after federal agents said they found the cash in his freezer. Authorities said the cash was part of a payment in marked bills from an FBI informant in a transaction captured on video.

Jefferson had pleaded not guilty. He faces a maximum possible sentence of 150 years in prison, with sentencing tentatively set for October 30.

After the verdict on the fifth day of jury deliberations, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis turned down a prosecution request for Jefferson to be taken into custody, ruling that he posed no flight risk.

The verdict showed that "no person, not even a congressman, is above the law," said U.S. Attorney Dana Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia. Asked what might have turned the case in the prosecution's favor, Boente said: "We always thought that a powerful piece of evidence in this case was $90,000 in a freezer."

Click to read.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dr. Boyce Watkins: Analyzing the “Jungle Monkey” Lawsuit

Dr Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

I did some commentary on CNN last week about Justin Barrett, the cop who referred to Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates as a "Banana eating jungle monkey" in an email. You can imagine my surprise when I found out that the officer is suing the city of Boston, claiming that they violated his civil rights.

As part of my assignment for media work I was doing on the topic, I read through the email by officer Barrett very carefully. The email was not written by a disciple of David Duke, a man with gallons of racism flowing through his veins. Rather, it was written by a man who seemed to hold a great deal of anger and resentment toward almost everyone. In one sentence, he was critiquing the grammar of the journalist who wrote the original Gates article. In the other, he was degrading Professor Gates in ways that a police officer should never degrade the citizens he/she is sworn to protect.

I am not angry with Barrett, I feel sorry for him. In fact, when it comes to Barrett, I offer the following thoughts:

1) There is the broader constitutional issue of whether or not Officer Barrett has a right to say what he said. We do have the First Amendment, and no one seems to clearly understand the great social price we must pay to uphold these rights. Personally, I feel that Barrett has the right to say whatever he wants, but revealing such bias while serving as a police officer becomes a completely different issue. At the same time, should it be ruled by a court that Barrett has the right to say what he says, then I would stand behind his rights as well. I guess if someone calls you a "banana eating jungle monkey," you should just say, "ya mama."

Click to read.