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Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

From Pinchback to McTeer-Hudson???

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2009 at 6:00 am

P.B.S. Pinchback paved the way for many others to consider holding office as a non-white. P.B.S. Pinchback, governor of Louisiana, became the first African American governor of any state. Though Pinchback’s term only lasted some 35 days (he completed Henry Warmoth’s term while he underwent impeachment proceedings), he opened a door to infinite possibilities. But those infinite possibilites have been limited, have been bound. Since Pinchback, there have only been 3 other African American governors–the first elected African American governor, Douglas Wilder, the second elected African American governor Deval Patrick, and David Patterson. Can we add Mississippi to the list? Mississippi’s 8th largest city, Greenville has been the site of much excitement–in large part due to Mayor Heather McTeer-Hudson. McTeer-Hudson confirmed that she has been approached and is cotemplating seeking Mississippi’s highest office. With Governor Barbour entering the last two years in office, Mississippi’s governor’s race should prove to be wide open and very exciting.

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Discussing Race over Beer at the White House

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2009 at 8:42 am

After the fallout of Professor Gates’ arrest and subsequent dismissal of charges (and after President Obama chimed in with his opinions of his friend’s arrest), the arresting white officer (Jim Crowley), Gates, and Obama are now to sit down to discuss issues concerning race. For the latter part of last week, our first African American President found himself addressing race relations in a time where many viewed him to be the one to reconcile these issues. President Obama, instead of defending his health care bill, found himself defending and then apologizing for using “stupidly” to describe the officer’s actions in the arrest. Perhaps when the trio sits down to have a casual conversation regarding race, then maybe the trio will be able to view the world from the other’s perspective—this can go a very long way in healing some very open wounds in America, albeit, one person at a time.

The State of America

In Uncategorized on July 23, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Last night CNN aired the first of its two episodes of Black in America 2 (I’m anxiously anticipating CNN’s Latino in America in October). The state of Black and Latino America is crucial to America’s present success and future prosperity. Early in America’s history, this great nation struggled with living up to the principles it espoused. But, those principles and tenets were structured so that–through movements, struggles, coalitions, marches–all could gain full and unlimited access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet as was evident by Black in America 2, there are still structural inequalities–now the focus is not on equal opportunity, as my mother’s generation, by on equal access: this is my generation and beyond. Moving forward, we must address the issue of class, not simply race (even though vestiges (racism and discrimination) still remain), as we continue to improve upon what made America beautiful in the first place: We are the Land of Opportunity, but we are too the land where dreams, all dreams come true.

At best, it’s frustrating…

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2009 at 5:36 pm

On the heels of renowned Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s arrest, yet again the tenuous relationship between the African American community and the police have been revisited. To read more on the Gates’ case, click here. There is a great distrust of the police within the African American community. In Constructing Distrust: The Aftermath of African American Encounters with Police, Haider-Markel et al.(2009) conclude that overall African Americans harbor distrust of the police force for four reasons: 1) more likely to be stopped by police, 2) more likely to have be stopped on more than one occasion, 3) African Americans are more likely to view a police officer’s behavior as poor, and 4) African Americans are more likely to view the stop as improper. This is beyond frustrating, it is a sad day when citizens do not have faith in those who protect and serve the community.

Starting Over: Michael Vick Style

In Uncategorized on July 20, 2009 at 9:18 am

Today, Michael Vick has been released from federal custody his attorney said. Now, Vick begins the rest of his life perhaps a changed man. The details of Vick’s involvement with a dogfighting ring have been well documented, and where Vick goes from here is yet to be determined. But what has yet to be completed is the book documenting the rest of his life. There are times we all want to reset the dial to zero, and when we start over we hopefully keep the wisdom of knowing how certain decisions can impact us and others for the rest of our lives. Vick, as the football player, his future is cloudy, but Vick, the man, has an opportunity that many perhaps take for granted. Perhaps as humans two of the most difficult things to say are “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you.” As NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell explained “Michael did an egregious thing. He has paid a very significant price for that.” But as explained in an ESPN article, Vick too must show that he is indeed remorseful for those actions. Starting over as Michael Vick won’t be easy-but starting over allows him to continue writing a legacy that is still yet forming.

Hmmm, the “Black Olympics”

In The Black Man on July 17, 2009 at 10:30 am

Marty B (a.k.a. Martellus Bennett, Tight End for the Dallas Cowboys) and his younger brother Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks (both African Americans) demonstrated their athletic prowess in the Black Olympics, as presented by YouTube. Both Bennetts played upon traditional stereotypes associated with African Americans (the fried chicken, the Kool-Aid, and let us not forget, the watermelon). The two held “three” separate events in each category to determine a “winner.” While on ESPN2’s First Take, Stephen Bardo, African American sportscaster and former star of the Illinois basketball team of the 1980s, made a very poignant and thought provoking assessment not only of the Bennetts but of young African American males in the Bennetts’ generation. “I was incensed, I was infuriated when I saw this video…this is a generation just behind me…and so I think my generation has done a poor job of relaying our history to these young men. Because when you think that you can have a Black Olympics depicting this type of behavior, it takes me back to the Birth of a Nation…”

Have we (the all inclusive we, not just African Americans) discounted the past, the not so distant past, to the point that we think it’s not a problem to play upon such stereotypes? These images do nothing but harm the strides we’ve made as a collective community–as long as such images remain in the American psyche and the Net, racial tension will always be just below the surface in America. I can’t imagine what the response would have been if these athletes were not Black. The video is deplorable. I am reminded of a previous post of mine, Are Athletes obligated to lead Social Change???–We do look to our stars, whether sports stars or entertainment stars to be leaders, heroes, and role models. But before we automatically assume that these celebrities are the best examples, we may want to first look inward for our mentors and leaders; the everyday people who somehow manage to change the community and environment for the better.

As for African Americans, we constantly struggle with racism and stereotypes, but when we invoke these same misbegotten behaviors, can we really expect there to be a racist, discriminatory free society? Someday, Marty B and his brother Michael may look back to see how offensive and demoralizing such behavior is. And there are those who may say that it’s just funny, get over it–today is not like it was some 50 years ago. Yet again, we have had tremendous progress since my grandmother’s and mother’s generations, but this progress is almost happening incrementally. In order to have the transformative progress we are capable of, we all must refrain from the use of the N word and other stereotypes that for they act as plagues–these are not comical images–we demean not only the past, but the future that is still yet forming.

A new Leader with a new View

In Uncategorized on July 17, 2009 at 9:20 am

Benjamin Todd Jealous’ task is not simple. As the youngest leader of the NAACP, Jealous is trying to make the organization more relevant. Many look to the organization no longer as a leader, but one that has perhaps grown too complacent in some regards and lacking a clear message as we move further into the 21st century. A new leader with a new view, Jealous, along with President Barack Obama attempted to crystallize the organization’s agenda in a post-Jim Crow society. Click here to read more on the annual convention and to view President Obama’s speech.

Eliminating Black-White Achievement Gap

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2009 at 2:45 am

Measuring progress can be a tricky task, but some improvement is always better than none. Yesterday, the US Department of Education released a report stating that the South has made strides toward eliminating the black-white achievement gap on standardized tests. But not all southern states performed as well as hoped. We are having a generation of students growing up poorer and less educated than their parents. Thus, this is why some progress is better than none. In order to move our country out of recession and to continue to advance in the 21st century, it will take ingenuity, creativity, and a much needed skilled and educated workforce to do so.

The Battle of the Color Line in 21st Century

In Uncategorized on July 13, 2009 at 10:30 am

W.E.B. DuBois believed the battle of the 20th century concentrated along racial lines. Here it is 2009 that race and how we deal with all things racial continues to be a dividing and controversial topic in America. Yes, we have progress in America, and it was not that long ago where we needed several historic movements to change the landscape of race in America. In November 2008, the American landscape was altered yet again with the election of the first African American President, Barack Obama. But the good America, the just America sometimes is lost in the shuffle. Just recently, a minority youth group visited a private swimming pool in Philadelphia, yet purportedly, they were asked to leave because they may “change the complexion…and atmosphere” of the privately operated swim club. In the year where the NAACP is celebrating 100 years of activism, challenging and confronting racial injustices, we see that America has yet many more obstacles to hurdle before the 20th century battle is no longer a hindrance to truly having a united America.

Clarence Thomas and the Voting Rights Act

In Voting Rights Act on July 8, 2009 at 11:53 pm

With the election of President Obama, there are many, of different races, who agree with Justice Clarence Thomas–that indeed, we have moved to a point in our history where we may no longer need a voting rights law in place. Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom say that with the election of President Obama “the myth of racist white voters was destroyed.”

In late June, the Supreme Court upheld the Voting Rights Act, particularly Section 5, and in a not so surprising move to Roland Martin of CNN, Clarence Thomas proved to be “Mr. Reliable.” Said Martin, “Whenever there is a case coming before the Supreme Court that deals with race, I can always count on Mr. Reliable, Justice Clarence Thomas, voted against it.” There are many within the Black community who agree with Martin and criticize Thomas for basically closing doors to affirmative action programs that were once opened to him.