Monday, March 22, 2010

Is Michael Steele Going to Ever Confront the Racist Tea Baggers?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

The Tea Party Protesters might need a little bit of brand management to overcome the growing perception that they represent a racist, homophobic, extremist fringe of disgruntled voters. The most recent incident of very bad PR came this week, as a small group of Tea Party protesters gathered on Capitol Hill and yelled "n*gger" and "f*ggot" at members of Congress as they walked past the crowd. The group has taken heat for the actions of those who don't know how to be cordial in their discourse, and it's not good for the Republican Party.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was put in yet another awkward position, trying to defend that which is not defensible. A man who appears to be disrespected at every turn by his own party, Steel dismissed those using the n-word within the Tea Party group as "idiots out there saying stupid things." Of course, Steele was not in a position to dismiss the Tea Partiers themselves, likely because they would have put him in a pile with the other black people they hate the most.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dr. Boyce Breaks Down the Tavis Smiley Forum

Tavis Smiley can't win with anti-Obama talk

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

Tavis Smiley has a problem. The problem is one that is rooted in egregious miscalculation, poor target selection and mild delusions of self-righteous grandeur. As Tavis plans his symposium this week to define the black agenda in America, most of us are wondering if it's Smiley's agenda that will be highest on the priority list. While Smiley presents himself as a consistent political figure who has held all politicians equally accountable, many view his gathering this weekend in Chicago as a Barack Obama bashing festival.


Let's be clear: It's not easy to objectively criticize President Obama when his approval ratings in the black community remain above 90 percent. At least half of my articles about Obama have been critical, and I always have to make sure that I am not haunted by the ghostly spirit of Obama-mania, which is just as bad as Obama-haterology. Dr. Julianne Malveaux and Rev. Jesse Jackson have done a very good job of holding Obama accountable in a way that does not appear to be driven by personal motivations or latent hostility. Tavis Smiley, however, can't shake the perception that he has a personal vendetta against the president, for it is quite rare to see a prominent public figure so obsessed with the career of another person.


The Your Black World Coalition monitors the political mood of our supporters when it comes to issues that matter to African-Americans. With 60,000 African-American members nation-wide, we have the ability to put our fingers on the collective pulse of black America through various forms of statistical sampling. In our analysis, a few things remain abundantly clear: Most of our followers love Barack Obama (probably more than they should), and a large percentage of them, to be quite frank, can't stand Tavis Smiley. What makes matters worse for Smiley is that many of those who refuse to buy his books were once loyal fans - meaning that he has engineered the double loss of turning many of his friends into enemies. This is enough to make any publishing house or corporate sponsor run in the other direction, undermining the power of the Tavis Smiley brand. With such a terrible approval rating, Smiley wouldn't even be invited to sell predatory loans for Wells Fargo.


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Friday, March 19, 2010

African American Social Commentary from TheGrio - 3/19/10

  • Dr. Boyce Watkins

    Dr. Boyce Watkins

    Author and Finance Professor at Syracuse University

    11-year-old caught in the middle of health reform mudslinging

    3:00 PM on 03/19/2010

    OPINION - Marcelas Owens' story can bring realism and relevance to a debate that has been about posturing, bickering and mid-term elections...

    > MORE

  • Rani G Whitfield

    Rani G Whitfield

    The Hip Hop Doctor

    Colorectal cancer doesn't discriminate

    8:14 AM on 03/19/2010

    OPINION - African-Americans are less likely to receive CRC screenings, especially if they are uninsured...

    > MORE

  • Suzanne Rust

    Suzanne Rust

    Book critic

    An 'Immortal Life': How one woman's cells helped cure a generation

    11:31 AM on 03/18/2010

    REVIEW - The cells of a poor black woman from Clover, Virginia, a descendant of free slaves, led to major breakthroughs in everything from polio to Parkinson's...

    > MORE

  • Dr. Boyce Watkins

    Dr. Boyce Watkins

    Author and Finance Professor at Syracuse University

    Presidential disrespect goes prime-time in Obama's Fox interview

    11:22 AM on 03/18/2010

    OPINION - Republicans should realize that when they disrespect the presidency, they are disrespecting themselves...

    > MORE

  • Marcus Vanderberg

    Marcus Vanderberg

    Sports and social commentator

    Baller-in-chief: Obama's 'March Madness' bracket scores well

    8:16 AM on 03/18/2010

    OPINION - As much as I would have loved to see the president go out on a limb and pick the Baylor Bears to win it all, it's hard to argue against the Jayhawks...

    > MORE

  • Karen Finney

    Karen Finney

    Political analyst

    Conservatives use abortion issue to court African-Americans

    8:09 AM on 03/18/2010

    OPINION - Conservative shock and awe tactics from anti-choice groups are a desperate attempt to win over voters and obscure the harsh realities that black women face...

    > MORE

  • Rashod D. Ollison

    Rashod D. Ollison

    Cultural Critic

    Will Michael Jackson's new music be a thriller for fans?

    9:00 AM on 03/17/2010

    OPINION - Would he have done something different? Did he mean for that note to be there? Would he have approved this final mix?...

    > MORE

  • Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Black Political News: President Obama Attacked on Fox News

    Presidential disrespect goes prime-time in Obama's Fox interview

    by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University


    The Democrats must pass health care reform. If they pass the legislation, they are still going to get hammered in the mid-term elections. If they don't pass the bill, the hammering will only multiply in its intensity. Right now, our Congress finds itself in a terribly complex situation, with terms like "reconciliation" and "deem and pass" being thrown around like profanity against a growing backlash from a portion of the American public. If we could go back in time, President Obama would never have taken on this issue.

    I watched President Obama's interview with Brett Baier on Fox News with intrigue. I wondered why Obama would want to appear on a network that has spent hundreds of millions of dollars undermining the White House. I then realized that Obama's appearance is likely in line with the White House strategy of taking on the Republicans face-to-face. Rather than appearing to be an elitist leader who hides from his adversaries (as George Bush might have done), Obama is walking into one lion's den after another, making his presidency even more interesting than it was when he arrived. Also unlike President Bush, Obama is savvy and intelligent enough to debate 100 Republicans in a single bound, the way Tiger Woods can dominate a golf course with scores of non-black competitors. Barack Obama is his own greatest asset.


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    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Dr. Boyce Watkins: Crack Disparity Law Should Have Been Changed More Effectively

    Democrats' crack-cocaine compromise is still 'racist'

    Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University


    When I was a teenager, a police officer explained to me how the "War on Drugs" took place in his hometown. The officer candidly described how every policeman in the city knew what boats contained drugs and when those boats would arrive in the city's major port. But he also knew that officers were not expected to show up on these boats to make arrests, and that they were not to deter the progress of the product when it hit the port. Instead, they were instructed to allow the drugs to get to the inner city, where they were given authorization to make as many arrests as necessary. In other words, his job was to arrest the small fish, not the big ones.

    The misleading, ill-conceived and terribly racist set of drug policies which defined the Reagan era has been absolutely devastating for the African-American community. The existence of gang warfare in South Central Los Angeles has left hundreds of thousands of youth with post-traumatic stress disorder, as the CIA was oblivious to the fact that drugs and guns were being openly delivered to a community that no one cares about. The Anti Drug Abuse Act of 1986 was the product of America's broad-stroke reaction to increased drug use of the 1980s. The law gave a sentence 100 times greater for possession of crack cocaine (more likely to be possessed by blacks) than the one given for powder cocaine (possessed in greater proportion by whites), creating a black incarceration rate of holocaust proportions.

    After sitting on the books for decades, the law was finally modified this year. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and Republican Jeff Sessions did black people the "favor" of agreeing to reduce the sentencing disparity from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1. So, instead of getting a prison sentence that is 100 times longer for the same crime, we only get one that is 18 times longer. Gee thanks. I'm supposed to be happy about that one, huh? So, we're not good enough to demand true equality, and are instead forced to accept dysfunctional compromises with Republicans from Alabama? While some might call this political pragmatism, others might describe this outcome as the modern-day version of the Three-Fifths Compromise.


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    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    KC, MO to close half of its schools

    Cash strapped Kansas City to close nearly half of its schools

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Facing potential bankruptcy, the board that governs the once flush-with-cash Kansas City school district is taking the unusual and contentious step of shuttering almost half its schools.

    Administrators say the closures are necessary to keep the district from plowing through what little is left of the $2 billion it received as part of a groundbreaking desegregation case. The Kansas City school board narrowly approved the plan to close 29 out of 61 schools Wednesday night at a meeting packed with angry parents. The schools will close at the end of the school year.

    Although other districts nationwide are considering closures as the recession ravages their budgets, Kansas City's plan is striking. In rapidly shrinking Detroit, 29 schools closed before classes began this fall, but that still left the district with 172 schools. Most other districts are closing just one or two schools.

    Emotional board member Duane Kelly told the crowd of more than 200 people Wednesday night, "This is the most painful vote I have ever cast" in 10 years on the board. Some chanted for the removal of the superintendent, while one woman asked the crowd, "Is anyone else ready to homeschool their children?"


    Click to read

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    Dr. Boyce Watkins Talks about Urban Prep Academy: All of its students go to college

    by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

    There is one public, all-male, all-African American high school in the city of Chicago. That school is called The Urban Prep Academy for Young men, located in Englewood. The school recently got the attention of Mayor Richard Daley and Chicago Public Schools Chief Ron Huberman when they were able to get all of their 107 seniors accepted into 72 different colleges across the country.
    Huberman had this to say:
    "All of you in the senior class have shown that what matters is perseverance, what matters is focus, what matters is having a dream and following that dream."

    Click to read more

    Sunday, March 7, 2010

    African American News: Myron Rolle Told He's Too Smart for the NFL

    by Dr. Boyce Watkins


    You would think that Myron Rolle, the NFL super-stud who also happens to be a Rhodes Scholar, would be the kind of man who makes us proud. You would expect that his status as being the man who represents the future of the black athlete in America would make the NFL happy to have him on the roster of one of their teams. Not only is Rolle brilliant, but he is also tough as nails and fast as lightning. The man has the whole package.
    But at least according to some NFL coaches, Rolle may not be committed enough to be a part of their league.
    "We'll have to find out how committed he is," an NFC assistant coach said, repeating the sentiment of five other NFL officials who said the same thing.

    Click to read

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    African American News from TheGrio – 3/4/10