Monday, May 31, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
by Dr. Boyce Watkins, The Institute for Black Public Policy
Nearly three years ago, two black college students and a friend were murdered in a schoolyard in Newark, NJ. Monday, a jury returned guilty verdicts for three of the murders and one attempted murder after deliberating for less than a day.
Rodolfo Godinez, a 26-year old gang member and native of Nicaragua, was convicted of all charges against him, including multiple counts of robbery, weapons possession and conspiracy. He can get up to 30 years to life for each murder count, and the sentences can be given out consecutively.
"This man will never see the light of day," said Robert D. Laurino, the acting Essex County prosecutor.
Sentencing for Godinez is set for July 8. His lawyer, Roy Greenman, said,"Obviously, there will be an appeal on a number of grounds," but he declined to state the grounds on which he'd be filing.
The prosecution did not assert that Godinez was the one who hacked at the victims with a machete or shot each of them execution-style, in the back of the head. He was argued, however, to be the one who summoned the other gang members to the schoolyard on the night when the murders took place. The murders were particularly chilling because all four of the victims were "good kids" with no criminal history and educational plans for the future.
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Financial Reform-The Devil's In The Details
By Julianne Malveaux
Late last week, the United States Senate passed a financial reform bill by a vote of 59-39. Two Democrats crossed party lines, as did four Republicans to come up with the result. Now, the House, which has already passed financial reform legislation, and the Senate, will have to reconcile their versions of the bill. Now is the time for consumer advocates and others to counter the aggressive lobbying that will be done by banks and the auto industry to minimize the effects of legislation. This may also be an opportunity for the Congressional Black Caucus to raise its voice on the side of the many consumers who have been damaged by this financial crisis. While legislation is not meant to look backwards, but instead forward to prevent future crises, the CBC are among those who advocate for the least and the left out. Their perspective on financial regulation is badly needed.
The House would create a consumer protection agency that is freestanding; the Senate would house the agency inside the Federal Reserve Bank. In some ways having the Fed run consumer protection is like having the fox patrol the chicken coop. Isn't this the same Fed that was part and parcel of the 2008 financial meltdown, the same Fed (then led by Alan Greenspan) that turned a blind eye to predatory and sub-prime lending and the market distortions that emerged from the packaging of substandard loan paper? The Federal Reserve theoretically already deals with regulation around credit cards and mortgages and to date they've not done a good job. What will change when they now have a consumer protection agency? Hearings, anyone?
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
I was among the many who were disappointed that President Barack Obama did not nominate an African American woman to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. After all, there are six white men, two women, one Latina and one white, and a nominal African American man on the Court. Why not an African American woman?
The Black Women's Roundtable, led by Melanie Campbell, was so disappointed that they shared their concerns with the President in a letter that spoke both to the contributions African American women have made and the qualifications of a few good women that President Obama should have considered before nominating Ms. Kagan to the nation's highest court.
I won't even speak on what I perceive as some of the shortcomings of the Kagan nomination. The Solicitor General has earned the support of some colleagues that I fully respect, such as Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree. At the same time, we have to pause at the fact that her definition of diversity is ideological diversity, not racial and ethnic diversity, and that she seemed to make Harvard a more welcome place for conservatives, if not for African American faculty.
by Dr. Boyce Watkins
The United State Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the federal government has the right and power to keep sex offenders incarcerated after they've served their sentences. To keep him/her, the government must prove that the the offender may be "sexually dangerous" in the future.
"The federal government, as custodian of its prisoners, has the constitutional power to act in order to protect nearby (and other) communities from the danger such prisoners may pose," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the opinion for the majority.The primary plantiff in the case, Graydon Comstock, was certified to be dangerous six days before his prison term was set to end. Comstock had been arrested for processing child pornography and was filing suit with other inmates at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina.
Some longtime Board members are also longtime friends and colleagues.
I attended the NAACP’s Civil Rights School at Harvard Law School in 2007.
Still, I have been called a hater for pointing out that Wells Fargo is a lead sponsor of the NAACP’s 101st annual convention.
Whatever. It’s not what they call you, it’s what you answer to. And as sports agent Scott Boras famously observed:
If you are really effective at what you do, 95 percent of the things said about you will be negative.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Obama’s second Supreme Court nominee clerked for one of history’s greatest racial justice champions. You wouldn’t know it by looking at her career since.
Despite all the hubbub Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination will generate, the truth of the matter is Kagan won’t make much difference to a judicial balance of power that leans rightward. She’ll maintain the status quo: four reliably liberal justices, four reliably conservative justices and one center-right swing voter in Justice Anthony Kennedy. Importantly, that means she will also do little to alter the court’s rightward trajectory on racial justice.
Both Kagan and the White House have made much of her time as a clerk for her self-described mentor, Thurgood Marshall. The hapless Republican National Committee has responded with a bizarre effort to tar her association with one of history’s most celebrated justices. But both sides overstate the connection. Kagan hasn't exactly spent her career as a champion of the racial justice principles Marshall articulated. We need to be asking why that’s the case.
As a Democratic president’s nominee, to be confirmed by a Democratic Senate, we can expect a would-be Justice Kagan to align herself consistently with the liberal voting bloc. After all, today’s Supreme Court appointments rarely let down the presidents who nominate them. Sure, David Souter—whom a wise Latina replaced last summer—was the bane of George H.W. Bush’s existence because of his pro-choice opinions. And retiring Justice John Paul Stevens certainly grew, during his three and a half decades on the court, to become a disappointment for President Gerald Ford’s legacy. I just don’t see that happening to our current constitutional-law-professor president.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
AP photo/Jose Luis Magana
Reports suggest that Solicitor General Elena Kagan may be President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court vacancy.
Like everyone in the legal academy over the last decade, we have watched with admiration the amazing changes that Elena Kagan brought to Harvard Law School. A fractured faculty, divided among ideological lines, seemed finally content, if not united. A boisterous student body was finally pacified. The logjam that had stopped faculty hiring had burst. Indeed, she hired so many new faculty the Harvard Law School’s newspaper’s 2008 April Fool’s issue declared, "Dean Kagan Hires Every Law Professor in the Country."
The first woman Dean of Harvard Law School had presided over an unprecedented expansion of the faculty -- growing it by almost a half. She had hired 32 tenured and tenure-track academic faculty members (non-clinical, non-practice). But when we sat down to review the actual record, we were frankly shocked. Not only were there shockingly few people of color, there were very few women. Where were the people of color? Where were the women? Of these 32 tenured and tenure-track academic hires, only one was a minority. Of these 32, only seven were women. All this in the 21st Century.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Read more about Kagan Hired No Black Professors While Dean Of Harvard Law
Sunday, May 9, 2010
by Dr. Boyce Watkins - The Institute for Black Public Policy
Persistently high black unemployment remains a problem here in the United States, as the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that African Americans have an unemployment rate of 16.5 percent, compared to 9 percent for white Americans. This rate remains the same as last month, even though the economy created 290,000 jobs during the month of April.
White unemployment rose slightly from last month's rate of 8.8 percent, but black unemployment is still over 80 percent higher than that of White Americans.
Black women saw their unemployment number rise to 13.7 percent from 12.4 percent last month. This number is 85 percent higher than the unemployment rate for white women, which is at 7.4 percent. Black males are at the bottom of the barrel, with an unemployment rate of 18 percent, which is 95 percent higher than that for white men.
Black teen unemployment also continues to be a problem. African American teenagers saw their unemployment rate drop from 41.1 percent to 37.3 percent. But this number is 58 percent higher than a white teen unemployment rate of 23.5 percent.
Some argue that President Obama and Congress must do something to help with the black unemployment situation. The Congressional Black Caucus is urging the passage of a $1.5 billion dollar jobs bill to reduce black teen unemployment in order to curb youth violence. Violence among teens tends to increase during the summer months, when kids are out of school.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Long Island Newspaper Smithtown Messenger Compares Obamas To Sanford Son
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University
Phillip Sciarello, a publisher and part owner of the Smithtown Messenger in Long Island, is defending his newspaper after a picture appeared that some believe to be a racist stereotype of the first family. The picture depicts Barack and Michelle Obama as characters from "Sanford and Son." The public backlash has led the paper to announce that it will issue a retraction in its next edition.
The picture is part of a "before and after" sequence of the last six presidents, showing how much they age once they get into the White House. The "after" photo of the Obamas show Barack Obama as Fred Sanford (Redd Foxx) and Michelle Obama as Aunt Esther (LaWanda Page). The characters are standing ready to fight, as was typical on the 1970s television show.The pictures led the Brookhaven town board to remove one of the company's sister publications, the Brookhaven Review, as an official newspaper. This means that the paper will no longer publish town government notices.
"The reference to racial stereotypes is where the line was crossed," Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko said to Newsday.
Hazel N. Dukes, president of the state NAACP conference, stated that the county should pull advertising from any publication that runs the photo.
Monday, May 3, 2010
The NCAA men's basketball tournament is expanding, starting next season, but not on the large scale once expected.
The sport's signature event will grow to 68 teams from 65 in conjunction with a new 14-year, nearly $11 billion television agreement with CBS and Turner Sports announced Thursday. That gives the NCAA a 41% hike in annual media and marketing rights connected to the tournament — and "financial stability through the first quarter of this century," interim President Jim Isch said — without the controversy of a more dramatic move to a 96-team bracket.
Negotiations with CBS/Turner, ESPN and Fox Sports initially had targeted a 96-team field, drawing concern and criticism from traditionalists and others over the impact on the tournament's aesthetics, effect on college basketball's regular season and conference tournaments and potential for further intrusion on players' time and studies.