Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pres. Barack Obama and the State of the Black Union

By Dr. Boyce Watkins

I’ll start by saying that I love Tavis Smiley and have a tremendous amount of respect for him.  Ok, I’ve said it, and I meant it.  I hope you believe me as I write.

Tavis Smiley’s work in the Black community is critically important. I encourage Tavis, in the midst of such work, to remember that there is a difference between being an intelligent guide to enlightenment and being downright self-righteous. Tavis has a way of putting political leaders “on blast” for not showing up at his forums. When he held a debate for the Republicans in the 2008 Presidential Primaries, there were several Republican presidential candidates who chose not to attend. I understand being upset about this, because the Republican Party has paid dearly for its racism and ignorance of the needs of the Black community. Smiley responded to the Republican snub by putting the name of the candidate on the podium even if they were not there. This was a clear reminder to those in the audience that the leader “doesn’t care about issues in the Black community.”

When holding the State of the Black Union of 2008 (some confuse it with the State of Black America, issued each year by the Urban League), Smiley again invited as many political leaders as he could find, with Hillary Clinton being his star for the day. Then Senator Barack Obama, in the middle of a heated battle for Democratic delegates in Texas and Ohio, said that he could not attend the forum. Instead, he offered his wife Michelle to attend in his place. That’s when the drama got heated.

Tavis, appearing to be offended by Obama’s slight toward his conference, proceeded to nibble away at Obama’s heels every morning on The Tom Joyner Morning Show. The segments started with “he-say, she-say”, in which Tavis claimed that no one from the Obama camp offered Michelle up for attendance. But even if they had, Tavis claimed that no spouse of a presidential candidate would be acceptable for the conference, even Bill Clinton.

I must admit that I felt Tavis was doing a “Karl Rove” on the truth. Smiley’s snub of Michelle Obama was also a slap in the face of Black women everywhere who have tremendous respect for Michelle. Finally, Smiley’s words and actions bordered on petty and angered the millions of African-Americans who’d come to believe that Barack Obama could walk on water. While I’ve never felt that Obama could walk on water, I certainly did not understand Smiley’s confused obsession with Obama’s behavior. Smiley’s comments toward the Black presidential candidate reminded me of the same double standard I can sometimes get as a Black professor. You may have Black students who feel a certain degree of comfort with you, and thus empowered enough to attack you more than they would a White professor with whom they have no prior social affiliation. These situations can be nightmares, as they reflect problems with the collective self-esteem of the Black community, which leads us to feel that attacking and hurting one another is easier, and thus more satisfying than working together to fight Black oppression. In other words, Smiley was reflecting the same sentiment held by Black men who shoot one another on the street, but stand in fear of the racism in White America. Aaron McGruder, creator of the popular cartoon, “The Boondocks”, would refer to this as “a nigger moment.”

Phones were ringing off the hook, as I had friends from California to New York calling and asking “What’s wrong with Tavis?” I had no idea, since I don’t know Tavis personally. However, because we run in the same circles, I know plenty of people who know plenty of people who know Tavis. One of my great and respected friends, Kyle Bowser, is one of Tavis’ best friends, and Kyle rang my phone the day after I made my comments. Going through the blogs of other Black scholars, I had a chance to see their reactions. Melissa Harris-Lacewell at Princeton University, an intelligent (though somewhat elitist) scholar, happened to be incredibly poignant in her critique of Tavis Smiley’s behavior.

Melissa angered Tavis by writing a column that asked ”Who died and made Tavis King?”.  I wasn’t as direct in my critique of Tavis, but I did have some strong words for him. I did not want to deliver any commentary on the Tavis via the major networks, since I honestly feel that there are some conversations Black folks need to have behind closed doors. But given that we get nearly 100,000 Black readers per week on our website YourBlackWorld, I felt this to be a fitting venue to let the world know how I feel.

I issued a statement agreeing with my friend Roland Martin at CNN, who felt that Tavis was out of line by making such a strong demand on Obama at such a critical time. Yes, Hillary Clinton showed up in spite of being on the same campaign trail, but the fact was that Hillary was well positioned to win in the upcoming battlegrounds states, Texas and Ohio. Also, Hillary Clinton needed to regain the ground in the Black community that was lost when her husband Bill shot himself in the foot. The words out of Bill Clinton’s mouth were so vile, that his own “ghetto pass” was revoked immediately. Clinton had compared Barack Obama to Jesse Jackson, implying that he was simply a Black presidential candidate with no chance to win White voters. While Jesse ran a great campaign, the notion that Obama’s fate would be similar to his own was disappointing for many Black people to hear. Clinton was no longer one of us, and he certainly was not the “first Black president” anymore.

I also felt that Tavis should have been more careful about being too critical of Obama in light of the fact that he was accusing Barack of doing some things that he himself had been doing. For example, Tavis claimed that he was not going to give Obama a “ghetto pass” just because he was Black. Rather, he would challenge him and question him like he would anyone else. First, Tavis’ words presumed (self-righteously) that he knows what is best for Black folks and we cannot make this determination ourselves.  No one gives the “ghetto pass” to Ward Connerly (the guy in California fighting against Affirmative Action) or Condoleeza Rice, so the idea that Black candidates get votes only because they are Black is simply ridiculous. A “ghetto pass”, should such a pass exist, must be earned, and Obama had earned the love, trust and support of the Black community. To presume that people were supporting him just because he is Black is an insult to the collective intelligence of the Black community.

Secondly, Tavis himself had been long receiving the very same “ghetto passes” that he felt Black America was unfairly bestowing upon Obama. As powerful and revolutionary as Tavis may have sounded on The Tom Joyner Morning show, the fact that you hear “This was brought to you by Walmart” at the end of each segment reminds you that the message has been diluted by corporate sponsorship. No great Black revolutionary in American history has ever been brought to you by McDonald’s, Walmart, Wells Fargo, or any of the other corporations that sponsor Tavis’ forums.

Additionally, there is a clear reality in the life of Tavis Smiley, one that he cannot ignore: the Covenant with Black America, The State of the Black Union Conference, The “Pass The Mic” Tour, and everything else Tavis has done was created with the express objective of obtaining revenue and profitability for his corporate sponsors. Tavis has sold himself (and I do not use the word “sold” in a negative sense) to White American corporations as the broker of Black leadership. He is the man that many corporate executives believe they can go to in order to reach the African-American masses. We are the drugs, and he is the pusher: White corporate America represents the group of addicts getting high on the profitability of Black consumption.

As a Finance Professor, I must say that I see nothing wrong with the Tavis Smiley business model. I am not here to say that Tavis has “sold out”, for I don’t believe he has. We all sell something in order to make a living, and even the concept of “selling out” presumes that one has managed the thin line between making a profitable trade, versus giving up something of tremendous value. The problems with the Tavis Smiley business model arise when such a business model is pursued carelessly or selfishly. I do not accuse Tavis Smiley of being careless or selfish. However, his attacks on Senator Barack Obama, none of which were thrust on Senator Hillary Clinton, smelled of self-interest from a man who appeared to feel slighted that Obama jumped his place in the line of great Black leadership.

I felt sorry for Tavis after seeing the reactions of our readers on YourBlackWorld. Hundreds of emails and comments were coming in every day, with many readers claiming that they were once Tavis Smiley fans, but not anymore. Overnight, Tavis went from being incredibly popular, to becoming the Milly Vanilly of social commentary. I can’t help but wonder what happened behind closed doors, as I am sure his publisher became concerned that he could no longer sell books. His corporate sponsors were surely aware of the fact that he was not in control of the Black audience they were buying from him. I am willing to bet that his life was a mess, at least for a while.

I hope this year’s State of the Black Union Conference is a bit more balanced.  Tavis is a good brother who deserves our respect.  But it is my greatest hope that he learns the difference between balanced critiques and flat out “haterology”.  I do a lot of critiquing, but when it comes to Obama, I want him to succeed.  I sincerely hope that Tavis wants the same.

This is an excerpt from the book “Black American Money” by Dr. Boyce Watkins, to be released in April 2009.  For more information, please visit


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Eric Holder’s Bold Move – Making Black History

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

Attorney General Eric Holder took heat this week for doing something that most Black elected officials are simply not willing to do: He told the truth about race. During a Black History Month speech, the Attorney General lost some major political points by stating that when it comes to discussing race in America, we have become “a nation of cowards”. I couldn’t have been prouder, for you have to be pretty damn brave to admit that we are as cowardly as we are.

I watched the words roll out of Holder’s mouth like steamy breath pouring out on a cold winter day. I simply couldn’t believe it. Eric Holder wasn’t just speaking about Black History, he was MAKING Black History. While everyone looks to the first Black President to deliver something other than Ebony magazine covers, I am also looking to see if the first Black Attorney General can deliver some real progress on a justice system that has mutilated Black families across the nation.

Sure, being the first Black Attorney General is a nice accomplishment, almost cute. I don’t use the word “cute” to demean the significance of Holder’s achievements, but far too many African Americans are focused on obtaining such accolades in America as long as they remember to never really use their prominence to make a difference. You are given the keys to the vault as long as you firmly agree to keep the keys out of the reach of the Black masses. You are not to mention race in any meaningful way, and if you do, you’ll get body slammed, even by the most liberal among us. Racism in America is deep, and the disease has the greatest impact on those who think they’ve been cured.

Don’t believe me? Just answer this question (I say this as someone who likes Barack Obama and voted for him): When was the last time you heard President Barack Obama even say the words “black man”, “black men”, or “black male” in any forum other than a Black event? Instead, you only hear him speaking for the middle class and gleefully indulging us with borderline ridiculous and hyper-redundant comparisons to Abraham Lincoln (who is given far too much credit for the ending of slavery). Were he to compare himself to Martin Luther King or even acknowledge the existence of Malcolm X, he would be crucified for it. President Obama is allowed to humiliate and chastise Black men in speeches about personal responsibility, but he would be severely punished if he were to give those same speeches to the masses of Americans who have squandered their wealth and helped to destroy our financial system (especially those on Wall Street). He speaks on Black men needing to take accountability in spite of urban Black male unemployment rates as high as 40%, while he uses policy support and massive spending to coddle a nation dealing with 7.4% unemployment. I say all this as a fan of Barack Obama, but I also say this as a man who believes that the hard work on racial equality must be done by those in power if we are to ever have a chance of fulfilling Dr. King’s dream. This does not imply that Barack Obama does not believe in racial equality. It is to say that he is likely being told that discussing the truth on race in America will get him into serious trouble. Even if you are not a coward yourself, you are forced into taking cowardly positions on honest racial dialogue when you realize that the punishment for such engagement is incredibly steep.

I know what Eric Holder was talking about in that speech. I know that the price for speaking honestly on race is high, for I pay it every day on my own campus (I will probably pay it for writing this article). Every day, I witness conversations being had around the dinner table that most Black people know they cannot have in public. Eric Holder, by virtue of his willingness to bring the dinner table conversations into the public eye, has now joined me in the group that has been labeled to be “bad angry Black men”.

Being labeled as the “Angry Black Man” can be sad and hurtful. It doesn’t matter how nice you are. I can be as friendly and personable as I want, but the truth of the matter is that if you speak openly about the mass incarceration of Black males, the horrific conditions of inner city schools or the massive unemployment rates of Black males across America, you are going to be attacked and discredited for it. I saw Lou Dobbs (CNN’s version of Bill O’Reilly) mention that he doesn’t feel that Holder is “passing the test” to be qualified as Attorney General, all because Holder made one strong statement about racial equality, one that Martin Luther King would agree with wholeheartedly. What is saddest about our nation is that we have a long history of crucifying those who’ve pushed hardest for our country to advance its racial dialogue. The response to such conversation is as predictable as a dog in front of a bowl of Puppy Chow.

I once recall mentioning the idea of having a prominent Black scholar come to my campus to speak on the social implications and questionable capitalist incentives of mass incarceration and stock ownership in the prison industry. This was a Finance topic, and I am a Finance professor. The idea was shot down immediately by another Black man who felt it would scare the people on campus. When I do CNN interviews on matters related to race, higher administrators on my campus celebrate interviews by other faculty while pretending that my interview never happened. Black scholarship is considered to be “ghetto scholarship”, because those evaluating the quality of such work are typically those who understand or appreciate it the least. The issue of race is demeaned to being a footnote of worthless banter by those who need to learn to keep their mouths shut.

Where Eric Holder and I differ is that he is far more courageous than me. He has decided that he can both be the Attorney General of the United States and speak honestly on behalf of African Americans. I gave up on being a campus Dean, President or high ranking government official a long time ago, since I enjoy the freedom of speech that comes with academic marginalization. I run my own business so that no one can control me financially and pull the suffocating purse strings that cause the rest of us to keep the truth in our pockets. The funniest part of it all is that every piece of historical evidence says that we are simply engaging in the same denial as the previous generation. When I was approached about joining the Obama Administration, I immediately said no – I love Barack to death, but I am not interested in being controlled by lies and pandering. I am not sure what Eric Holder was trying to do with his statement, but I am incredibly proud of him and I hope his statement is a signal regarding how he will conduct business as The United States Attorney General. Our country should be absolutely ashamed of the way it has dismissed Black men in the prison system, giving them longer sentences for the same crimes, disenfranchising them from the rest of the world and using the criminal justice system as a path to modern day slavery. If only we could get liberal groups to be as passionate over this injustice as they are about saving the environment. Perhaps then, meaningful and mutually respectful multi-racial coalitions can exist.

Eric Holder, you have my respect. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to feel that way. Yes, you are right, we are a nation of cowards, and until we gain the courage to have honest conversations, we are always going to be plagued by race. Dreams (like that of Dr. King) are created while we are sleeping. But these dreams are fulfilled when our eyes are wide open and we are wide awake. Wake up America…’s time to be honest.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of “What if George Bush were a Black Man?” He makes regular appearances in national media, including CNN, ESPN, BET and CBS. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Holder Refers to US as a “Nation of Cowards” during Black History Month

Eric Holder, the nation's first black attorney general, said Wednesday the United States was "a nation of cowards" on matters of race, with most Americans avoiding candid discussions of racial issues. In a speech to Justice Department employees marking Black History Month, Holder said the workplace is largely integrated but Americans still self-segregate on the weekends and in their private lives.

"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards," Holder said.

Race issues continue to be a topic of political discussion, but "we, as average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race."

Holder's speech echoed President Barack Obama's landmark address last year on race relations during the hotly contested Democratic primaries, when the then-candidate urged the nation to break "a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years" and bemoaned the "chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races." Obama delivered the speech to try to distance himself from the angry rhetoric of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.


Click to read.

Kevin Powell: Violence Against Women Must Stop

Writer’s note:

Given all the hype and controversy around Chris Brown’s alleged beating of Rihanna, I feel compelled to post this essay I originally wrote in late 2007, so that some of us can have an honest jump off point to discuss male violence against females, to discuss the need for ownership of past pains and traumas, to discuss the critical importance of therapy and healing. Let us pray for Rihanna, first and foremost, because no one deserves to be beaten, or beaten up. No one. And let us also pray that Chris Brown gets the help he needs by way of long-term counseling and alternative definitions of manhood rooted in nonviolence, real love, and, alas, real peace. And let us not forget that Rihanna and Chris Brown happen to be major pop stars, hence all the media coverage, blogs, etc. Violence against women and girls happen every single day on this planet without any notice from most of us. Until we begin to address that hard fact, until we all, males and females alike, make a commitment to ending the conditions that create that destructive behavior in the first place, it will not end any time soon. There will be more Rihannas and more Chris Browns.

In my recent travels and political and community work and speeches around the country, it became so very obvious that many American males are unaware of the monumental problems of domestic violence and sexual assault, against women and girls, in our nation. This seems as good a time as any to address this urgent and overlooked issue. Why is it that so few of us actually think about violence against women and girls, or think that it’s our problem? Why do we go on believing it’s all good, even as our sisters, our mothers, and our daughters suffer and a growing number of us participate in the brutality of berating, beating, or killing our female counterparts?

Click to read more.



Monday, February 16, 2009

President Obama Gets Critiqued on Civil Liberties Abuses

Despite President Obama's vow to open government more than ever, the Justice Department is defending Bush administration decisions to keep secret many documents about domestic wiretapping, data collection on travelers and U.S. citizens, and interrogation of suspected terrorists.

In half a dozen lawsuits, Justice lawyers have opposed formal motions or spurned out-of-court offers to delay court action until the new administration rewrites Freedom of Information Act guidelines and decides whether the new rules might allow the public to see more.

In only one case has the Justice Department agreed to suspend a FOIA lawsuit until the disputed documents can be re-evaluated under the yet-to-be-written guidelines. That case involves negotiations on an anti-counterfeiting treaty, not the more controversial, secret anti-terrorism tactics that spawned the other lawsuits as well as Obama's promises of greater openness.

"The signs in the last few days are not entirely encouraging," said Jameel Jaffer, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed several lawsuits seeking the Bush administration's legal rationales for warrantless domestic wiretapping and for its treatment of terrorism detainees.

Click to read.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Your Black News: President Barack Obama Celebrates Stimulus

US President Barack Obama early Saturday hailed a 787-billion-dollar economic stimulus plan passed by Congress, calling it "a major milestone on our road to recovery."

"This is a major milestone on our road to recovery, and I want to thank the members of Congress who came together in common purpose to make it happen," Obama said in his weekly radio address.

He promised to sign the package into law "shortly."

The comments came after the US Congress late Friday approved a 787-billion-dollar package of tax cuts and fresh spending to salvage the broken US economy, handing the president his biggest yet political victory.

The Senate voted 60-38 to pass the measure hours after it cleared the House of Representatives by a lopsided 246-183 margin, setting the stage for Obama to sign the measure into law before his self-imposed February 16 deadline.


Click to read.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Financial Politics: Credit Card Companies are Changing the Game On You

By Dr. Boyce Watkins

In case you weren’t sure, credit card companies are not out to help you. If you are financially illiterate and uninformed, they are going to exploit you. If you are worried about the financial crisis, they are going to prey on your fear to get money out of you. They are also doing exactly what the rest of us are doing: trying to remain protected in a fragile economy.

The stimulus is stymied. The bailout is a failout. The stock market has consistently given a “thumbs down” to every piece of legislation passed in response to this crisis. Our economy is like the sick man who won’t respond to antibiotics. While the results of the latest package are yet to be seen, the truth is that no one is sure what will work. Every company is out to protect their assets and hold on to their cash, which means they no longer have much interest in loaning money to you.

Yes, this is true even if you have a good credit score, which is the ironic part.

Customers are opening their monthly statements to find that credit card companies have started to either ration credit (give less of it) or raise the interest rate being paid on outstanding debt. This doesn’t even count all the dirty tactics used, like using your payments to pay off low interest debt first, quietly getting rid of the grace period or charging interest on your balance from the prior two months vs. the current one. Even when you’ve been making payments on time for years, banks keep raising the bar to maximize shareholder wealth. When liquidity is scarce, those giving out water demand a higher cost per bottle. Additionally, higher default rates have justified the increase in interest rates, but higher interest rates increase the likelihood of default. It’s a nasty cycle, really.

Lawmakers are trying to intervene. Congressional hearings have taken place. Banks are being scolded by senators who keep telling them that this form of business practice is unethical and that they are gouging the American consumer. All this might be true, but what is also true is that you can’t force banks to loan you money. Also, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to legislate a strong economy.

If you have a less than stellar financial history, there is an even greater opportunity for your credit card company to raise your interest rates. If you have defaulted on other loans or are a slow payer in other areas, then they have no problem telling you to pay up or ship out. The days of easy money are long behind us, and companies are dramatically shifting their business practices.

The bottom line is that THEY’VE GOT YOU. They know that you’ve become addicted to the debt they so readily offered in the past, and this debt has become the lifeblood for the lifestyle to which you’ve chosen to become accustomed. They know that they can charge you a higher interest rate because you can’t do anything about it. Like a drug addict who is angry about paying more for his product, you really don’t have any other choice.

Well, maybe you do.

Here is one solution: tighten your economic belt. That means putting together a financial fitness plan today that consists of getting rid of as much debt as possible. I’ve mentioned in prior articles and on our website that paying off debt can be one of the best investments you make with your money. This is especially true if you have a stable job and are paying a high rate of interest to your credit card company.

So, the Dr. Boyce Challenge for this month is simple: Create a budget which includes the steady elimination of credit card debt. That means you should list every single expense you have for the entire month on one piece of paper or a spreadsheet. Don’t leave anything out. Count the money you want to use for getting your hair done, your nails, paying your mortgage, car note, whatever. Count everything. That will be your first step toward obtaining financial fitness.

As you create the budget, allocate at least 10% of your monthly after tax income toward reducing credit card debt. So, if you earn $3,000 per month after taxes,$300 per month should be allocated toward removing credit card debt, not including interest. So, if you owe $5,000 in credit card debt, you can remove this debt in roughly a year and a half. While $300 may seem like a lot of money to find in your budget, it’s there if you look hard enough. In fact, if you spend $10 per day on lunch and/or coffee, you can find the bulk of the money by taking your lunch to work. Make this one of the first bills you pay, not the last. The last bill is the one that only gets paid half the time. It’s easier to negotiate with creditors if you don’t need them so much. Take small steps toward finding your financial freedom.

Next month, we will move to step 2 of the Dr. Boyce Financial Challenge. While I confess that this change won’t be easy, I can promise that it will be worth it in the end. Be strong and remain focused, this is your opportunity to shine.

Dr Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of “Financial Lipo 101: From financial fat to fitness”, to be released in April, 2009. For more information, please visit

Barack Obama Stimulus Plan Finally Passes Senate

The U.S. Senate gave final approval Friday to a $787 billion recovery package that President Obama hopes will help boost an economy in freefall with a combination of government spending and tax cuts and credits.

Sen. Sherrod Brown speaks to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at right on the Senate floor Friday.

Sen. Sherrod Brown speaks to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at right on the Senate floor Friday.

Approved earlier by the House, the plan -- which went through multiple permutations as it bounced back and forth on Capitol Hill over the past week -- now goes to Obama's desk, where he plans to sign it into law by Presidents Day.

Spending in the package includes about $120 billion for infrastructure -- new projects repairing bridges, roads, government buildings and the like -- more than $100 billion for education and $30 billion on energy-related projects that Obama says will create "green jobs."

More than $212 billion goes to tax breaks for individuals and businesses, and another $267 billion is in direct spending like food stamps and unemployment benefits.

The Congressional Budget Office has predicted that the plan will create between 1 million and 3 million jobs.

Most individuals will get a $400 tax credit, and couples will get $800.

The vote by the Senate took several hours longer than a simple roll call of its 100 members generally would. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, attended a wake for his mother until about 8 p.m. Friday.

Voting began about 5:30 p.m. Then, the Senate chamber sat nearly empty until Brown arrived to vote about five hours later.

He was flown from Ohio to Washington on a plane provided by the White House, which said no commercial flights were available that would have allowed Brown to cast a vote and return to Ohio in time for his mother's funeral Saturday.

Click to read


Thursday, February 12, 2009

18-year old Black Male Perspective on Mainstream Media

Most would agree that FOX News, Rupert Murdoch’s crumbling empire, has not been exactly fair to Black people over the years. In fact, it has, whenever possible, vehemently attacked whoever it perceived to be an important factor in Black America. At any given opportunity, its multi-millionaire hosts have encouraged, entertained and enlisted the support of pundits who openly detest Black people, and feel undaunted in speaking out publicly about it. Occasionally, when the fruits seem too ripe to withstand, the hosts themselves, caught in the hysteria of race-intoxication, spill out their guts about their disdain for Black humanity.

An example of this occurred in September 2007, when FOX News’ top-rated host, Bill O’Reilly, narrated a recent encounter he had at a Black Harlem Restaurant - Sylvia’s. As O’Reilly claims, this experience was life-changing, because “there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship.” O’Reilly later continued: “There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, ‘M-Fer, I want more iced tea’.” The host, undisciplined by the network, would thereafter suggest that not only were his words misconstrued, but he deserves an apology from his detractors, because their nitpicking plays a part in stalling ongoing racial progress.


Click to read.

Barack Obama News: Stimulus May Affect Obama’s Agenda

It is a quick, sweet victory for the new president, and potentially a historic one. The question now is whether the $789 billion economic stimulus plan agreed to by Congressional leaders on Wednesday is the opening act for a more ambitious domestic agenda from President Obama or a harbinger of reduced expectations.


Deal Reached in Congress on $789 Billion Stimulus Plan(February 12, 2009)

President Obama and Gov. Tim Kaine on Wednesday at a parkway project in Springfield, Va., that could get stimulus money.Both the substance of his first big legislative accomplishment and the way he achieved it underscored the scale of the challenges facing the nation and how different a political climate this is from the early stages of recent administrations.

While it hammered home the reality of bigger, more activist government, the economic package was not the culmination of a hard-fought ideological drive, like Lyndon B. Johnson’s civil rights and Great Society programs, orRonald Reagan’s tax cuts, but rather a necessary and hastily patched-together response to an immediate and increasingly dire situation. On the domestic issues Mr. Obama ran and won on — health care, education, climate change, rebalancing the distribution of wealth — the legislation does little more than promise there will be more to come.

In cobbling together a plan that could get through both the House and the Senate, Mr. Obama prevailed, but not in the way he had hoped. His inability to win over more than a handful of Republicans amounted to a loss of innocence, a reminder that his high-minded calls for change in the practice of governance had been ground up in a matter of weeks by entrenched forces of partisanship and deep, principled differences between left and right.

In the end, Congress did not come together to address what Mr. Obama has regularly suggested is a crisis that could rival the Great Depression. What consensus has been forged so far is likely to be tested in the months to come as he faces scrutiny over the effectiveness of the stimulus package and the likelihood that he will have to ask Congress for substantially more money to heal the fractures in the financial system.

So this was hardly a moment for cigars.

If this is the 21st-century version of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 100 Days, Mr. Obama seems to be pursuing it more as an urgent but imposed necessity than as a self-selected mission.

While he has deployed his political capital freely to win approval of the package and to begin pushing his version of a financial-system rescue, he has left little doubt that he is eager to move on to the rest of his domestic agenda. At his news conference on Monday night, Mr. Obama said with a hint of exasperation that a costly economic rescue package “wasn’t how I envisioned my presidency beginning.” Regardless of the government’s budgetary straits, Mr. Obama has signaled that he sees his other signature initiatives not just as salvageable but as more urgent than ever.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

PETA Dresses as Klansmen to Try to Make their Point – Over the Line?

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals knows how to grab attention. And show off its laundry.

The animal rights group, which every year stages a protest at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, had two of its members dress in Ku Klux Klan garb outside Madison Square Garden on Monday.

Their goal, according to a post on the PETA website, was to draw a parallel between the KKK and the American Kennel Club. "Obviously it's an uncomfortable comparison," PETA spokesman Michael McGraw told the Associated Press.

But the AKC is trying to create a "master race" when it comes to pure-bred dogs, he added. "It's a very apt comparison."

The group passed out brochures implying the Klan and AKC have the goal of "pure bloodlines" in common.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Madison Square Garden | Ethical Treatment of Animals | Ku Klux Klan | Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show | Michael McGraw

"I can't speak for everyone, but the vast majority of the people exhibiting and handling and showing at Westminster are more interested in the health of dogs than anything else," Westminster spokesman David Frei told the AP.

"We want to produce the next generation of healthy and happy dogs," he said, "not just for the show ring but for the couches at home."

Bystander Fatima Walden told the AP the KKK imagery was inappropriate no matter what the message.

"They could have used something else as an example," she said. "You should be considerate to everybody."

Other than a shouting match during the hour-long protest, police said the scene remained calm.


Click to read.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Black Surgeon Ben Carson Gets a Movie

Dr. Carson

TNT's "Gifted Hands" is one of those longform projects that has Emmy written all over it.

It boasts near-flawless direction from Thomas Carter, a vivid teleplay adaptation by John Pielmeier and uniformly magnificent performances, particularly from star Cuba Gooding Jr., who puts himself back onto the Hollywood map here in a way he hasn't since his Oscar-winning turn in 1996's "Jerry Maguire."

Gooding portrays the real-life world-renowned brain surgeon Benjamin Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children's Center and author of a best-selling 1990 autobiography.

It's taken nearly two decades to get Carson's inspiring story to the screen, but Gooding does him more than proud with a portrayal at once sensitively wrought and quietly moving.

In lesser hands (if you'll pardon the pun), this biopic could easily have drifted off into maudlin sap, but Gooding keeps the character of Carson centered and human and the film honoring him wise and surprisingly graphic. (The surgical procedures are showcased in all of their bloody glory, but not so much as to cross the line to gratuitousness.)

Click to read.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Legal Implications of Living on the DownLow

By Syreeta L. McNeal, CPA, JD

Recently, New York Knick’s basketball player, Eddy Curry, a married father of several kids, received notice of a sexual-harassment lawsuit by his former limo driver, Kuchinsky. Kuchinsky is alleging that Curry tried to solicit gay sexual activity from him while working as a 24/7 chauffer for the NBA hoop star and his family.[1] With the national press coverage of this story, I am reminded of the movie,Cover, which explored the current situation that appears to be facing many black families. Cover is a film about a devoted, churchgoing wife, and mother whose faith is shattered when she discovers that her husband is living a secret double life.[2] Also, there is a 30-minute internet movie, Results, which tackles the same type of betrayal and shows how the couple tackles it in the span of one night.[3] So, as it relates to married men who happen to cheat on their spouse on thedown low, I ask, what’s love got to do with it? I understand the question is paying tribute to the hit single by Tina Turner. However, I think people should explore the reasons why married men choose to cheat on the down low and should a wife, who takes a vow of fidelity with her husband, continue in the relationship after discovering the betrayal.

People might ask why a lawyer would write an article on a social topic such as married men who cheat on the down low. Well, a lawyer is considered an attorney and counselor at law. When a wife chooses to get a divorce due to infidelity from their husbands cheating on the down low, it is important for lawyers to understand the origin of the relationship and what caused the heartache to their client so that they can effectively provide legal advice and counseling for their client. In a majority of states, infidelity is just one factor in how marital property is divided between former married couples. Even though a wife might want her husband, who cheated on the down low, to get nothing and pay dearly for the betrayal, the courts in a majority of states will not find fault (e.g. infidelity) a determining factor in the division of marital property. Therefore, it behooves the lawyer to try other methods of counseling to explain the law to jilted married clients.

This article will analyze the meaning of love, the reasons why people get married, and what actions people should take to minimize the potential of being married to men who cheat on the down low.

Meaning of Love

Love has many meanings. Webster dictionary defines Love as a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties (e.g. maternal love for a child).[4] Also, love is an attraction based on sexual desires (e.g. affection and tenderness felt by lovers).[5] Love is also an affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests (e.g. love for old schoolmates).[6] Also, love is a warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion (e.g. love of the sea).[7] Love can also be used as a term of endearment.[8] Love is also the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.[9] Love is a sexual embrace.[10] In all, love embraces a form that is erotic, romantic, familial, platonic, and religious.

Similar to Webster dictionary, Christianity embraces four forms of love: Agapē, Philia, Eros, and Storge.[11] Agapē means charitable, selfless, altruistic, and unconditional.[12] It is parental love seen as creating goodness in the world.[13] It is the way God is seen to love humanity and it is seen as the kind of love that Christians aspire to have for others.[14] Philia is defined as the human response to something that is found to be delightful.[15] Also, it is known as "brotherly love".[16] Eros is defined as sexual love.[17] Storge is defined as the needy child-to-parent love.[18]

One thing that is fascinating is the explanation of what Eros is. Eros is a very passionate love, with sensual desire and longing.[19] In the classical world, the phenomenon of love was generally understood as a kind of madness or, as the Greeks put it, theia mania ("madness from the gods").[20] This love passion is best illustrated by a scheme involving “love arrows” or “love darts.”[21] The source of the arrows is said to be the image of the beautiful love object itself.[22] If the arrows arrive at the lover’s eyes, they would then travel to and ‘pierce’ and ‘wound’ his or her heart and overwhelm him/her with desire and longing.[23] This creates an image of an “arrow’s wound” where an oxymoron of pleasure and pain is created.[24]

As illustrated above, love has different meanings. Saying “I love you” to a person can mean a variety of things. The issue for married couples who are dealing with husbands who cheat on the down low isnot whether they love their wives. The issue is what type of love does husbands who cheat on the down low have for their wives. In my opinion, this is the heart of the conflict that exists between married couples who have husbands who cheat on the down low. Next, it is important to understand why people marry.

Why People Marry

Marriage is a social, religious, spiritual or legal union of individuals.[25] People marry for many reasons, but usually they marry for one or more of the following reasons:[26]
· legal, social, and economic stability;
· the formation of a family unit;
· procreation and the education and nurturing of children;
· legitimizing sexual relations;
· public declaration of love; or
· to obtain citizenship

In almost all Protestant forms of Christianity, they hold marriage to be ordained by God for the union between a man and a woman.[27]They see the primary purpose of this union to be to glorify God by demonstrating his love to the world.[28] Other secondary purposes of marriage include intimate companionship, rearing children and mutual support for both husband and wife to fulfill their life callings.[29]

Like love, people marry for a variety of reasons. What is extremely interesting is that when protestant Christians marry their primary purpose is for the union to glorify God. One example of the betrayal for protestant Christians is when married men cheat on the down low. This action is not one that glorifies God especially when the bible states that men (or women) who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God.[30] So, the conflict exists and men and women need to be aware of who their partners are before entering into marriage.

The Reality of the Conflict of Down Low Activity with Marriage

Some married men who cheat on the down low believe that down low activity is similar when men cheat with other women. I beg to differ. As these movies illustrate, a woman cannot compete with a man sexually. Women and men are not equal in physical form. Men and women have different sexual features and different purposes of use for these features. I equate the differences between men and women similar to placing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. Do like parts unite or do opposite pieces fit together?

If a married man cheats on the down low, they have a sexual attraction for another man. Sorry ladies. Physically, there is nothing you can do, except do a sex change, to sexually fulfill a man who wants to sleep with other men. A married man might love his wife, but the sexual love a wife is craving from her husband does not exist the way she wants or believes it should exist especially if this type of infidelity occurs after the coupled exchanged wedding vows to be married. There are always signs of men who have a sexual attraction for another man. However, you have to open your eyes and find out who your spouse truly is before you enter into marriage.

Attributes of Counseling Before Marriage

One way to discover whether your significant partner is ready to be married is to participate in marriage counseling. In essence, you are treating your marriage as a long term investment and gathering as much information about your spouse before you enter into marriage. As illustrated above, love has many meanings and people marry for different reasons. Just because someone says “I love you” is not all you need to know to venture into marriage. What a man and woman need to find out from each other is what type of love exists and is it reciprocally felt. If your potential spouse only feels an admiration for you and you feel romantic love for that person, then you need to find this out before you venture into marriage and not get married to the person. Also, what are the reasons why the man and woman are getting married and is it reciprocal. If your potential spouse wants to get married to obtain citizenship and you want to get married public declaration of love, then you need to find this out before you venture into marriage and not get married to this person.

Ideally, married couples expect their spouses to solely want them only. They believe their spouse will be the complement human being to help fulfill their needs mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. No one is perfect, but the union of a man and woman is expected to be one that works to perfection as seen in God’s light. When married men cheat on the down low, there is an erotic and sexual attraction for people of the same sex that their wife can’t fulfill. A potential spouse needs to know this before hand and not marry the individual especially if they seek their spouse to solely want them only.

Effective marriage counseling will be able to discover the compatibility of the couple. Marriage counseling should emphasize substance over form. The counseling should explore the type of love that exists and if it is reciprocally felt. Also, marriage counseling should explore the reasons why each person wants to marry and whether it is reciprocal. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with doing an extensive background check on people before getting married. When you choose to marry someone, you are making a societal and private contract that this individual is someone you will honor and cherish, to have and to hold, until death do you part. With any type of long term investment, you need to know what you are getting into. This is not to say that marriages will not have problems, but if you choose someone to be married to you, you are making a long term investment in that individual expecting that the good will outweigh the bad. Know what you are getting into so you canminimize suffering betrayals like having married men cheat on the down low.

Legal Disclaimer: This site provides information about the law designed to keep readers informed of pertinent legal matters affecting the African-American community. But legal information is not the same as legal advice -- the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer in your specific location if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.

[5] Id.
[6] Id.
[7] Id.
[8] Id.
[9] Id.
[10] Id.
[12] Id.
[13] Id.
[14] Id.
[15] Id.
[16] Id.
[17] Id.
[18] Id.
[20] Id.
[21] Id.
[22] Id.
[23] Id.
[24] Id.
[26] Id.
[28] Id.
[29] Id.
[30] 1 Corinthians 6:9