Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Your Black Money: A Financial Plan for MJ’s Kids

by Dr Boyce Watkins

"Stuntin like my daddy" was the first song on the album, "Like Father, Like Son," issued by Lil Wayne and Birdman in 2006. "Stuntin" is a hip hop term synonymous with "flossing," blinging," and "balling." It means that you've engaged in excessive spending to ensure that you have the finest of everything and are even willing to live at the edge of your means in order to present appropriate status symbols to the world. Anyone who follows hip hop knows that you should never take financial advice from a rapper. In light of the recent passing of their father, I sincerely hope that the children of Michael Jackson didn't hear the Lil Wayne song, since their daddy's financial "stuntin" before his death has left the children with a conflicted economic legacy.

On one hand, we shouldn't feel sorry for Michael Jackson's kids, at least not financially. Their father's amazing talent gives them a brand that is literally worth well over a billion dollars in future royalties and licensing fees. Michael Jackson may have died physically. But financially, he is still a viable and overwhelmingly powerful corporate entity.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Your Black News: The Firefighters Win their Suit

Firefighter Frank Ricci

In a 5-to-4 decision, made along ideological lines, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the white firefighters in their racial discrimination case. This is a direct reversal of Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor's previous decision and is sure to be an extended topic of discussion during her upcoming confirmation hearings.

I've always been wary of the way the city of New Haven handled the results of its now infamous firefighter promotion test. It never made sense to me. When test results came back, and no black firefighters had scores high enough for immediate promotion, New Haven decided to throw out the results of the test on the grounds that the test itself may have been discriminatory and that the black firefighters might sue the city for discrimination. New Haven was not being altruistic in its concerns about "racial fairness."

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WNBA Having Financial Problems: We Don’t Support the Women

by Dr Boyce Watkins

My beautiful daughter Carmen just helped her school win its first state championship. She is the shortest person on team, the quickest and the scrappiest - both a lady and a monster when she has to be. As I sat in the stands cheering like a lunatic, I noticed that there weren't enough parents cheering along with me. The stadium was half empty, and most of the people cheering in the stands were women and children. I wondered how these young women felt, knowing that while their stands were only partially full, the boy's game (which they lost) had been sold out.

I couldn't quite figure out why we don't support women's sport the way we should: The fundamentals of the WNBA are better than the men, and the women are incredibly talented and competitive. But after some long reflection on the disparity of support, I gave myself the answer to my own question.

When planning our trip to New York City. I said to Carmen, "How would you like to see a Knicks game?" Her eyes brightened like Times Square and she shook her head up and down so hard I thought she was going to break her neck in the process. I then realized my mistake: While it was quite natural for me to think about inviting my daughter to a Knicks game, I didn't think for one second to invite her to see the New York Liberty, the women's team in the city.

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Your Black Financial News: Bernie Madoff Gets 150 years in Prison

I guess crime doesn’t pay.  Bernard Madoff, the billionaire who bilked investors out of billions of dollars the largest Ponzi Scheme in American history was just sentenced to 150 years in prison.


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Your Black Global News: Many Nigerians Dislike Foreign Oil Companies

LONDON (Reuters) -- Oil rose to $70 a barrel on Monday after Nigeria's main militant group said it attacked a Royal Dutch Shell oil platform, outweighing a fairly bearish report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said its fighters struck the Shell Forcados platform in the Delta state.

There was no immediate independent confirmation but Shell said it shut in some oil production at its western operations in the Delta while it investigated reports of attacks.

U.S. crude for August delivery rose to a high of $70.06 per barrel, up 90 cents, before slipping back slightly to $69.75.

"The Nigerian supply disruptions brought in some buying," said Christopher Bellew, broker at Bache Commodities in London.


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Your Black Money: Lessons to be Learned from Michael Jackson’s Debt

Michael's $500m debt: lessons we can all learn

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

Doctor talks to police about Jackson's final moments
Let's remember what Michael did for us

Michael Jackson is not dead. No, he's not on a deserted island chilling with Tupac and Elvis (who some believe faked their deaths), but he is certainly alive in corporate and social spirit, impacting millions of people.

Michael will make 1000 times more money in death than most people make when they are alive. But similar to when he was alive, massive amounts of cash will have to be generated in order to counter the enormous debt that Michael created while he was doing his thing.

Reports have stated Michael Jackson's debt to be as high as half a billion dollars, enough to make some major corporations blush. What's worse is that this debt was not created via a series of sound financial investments: it was conceived by building personal amusement parks, buying rare monkey statues, and rocking his way from one expensive store to the other.

Michael's spending became his addiction. Financial needs could have been what led to him agreeing to do 50 concerts in London this year (a tour he was preparing for just before his death), when he may have not been able to handle one. It was starting to get sad watching Michael perform, similar to watching Muhammad Ali after he'd spent 10 years dealing with Don King. While the 50-year old Michael Jackson may have given a great performance, it would probably be something less than what we've come to expect.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Your Black News: Pastor Wishes Death on Obama

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From the Baltimore Afro-American:

A well-known minister of a denomination that once supported slavery and is firmly against a woman’s right to an abortion said recently that he is praying for President Obama to die.

The Rev. Wiley Drake, a former second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told Fox News Radio earlier this month that he was practicing “imprecatory prayer” or seeking a divine curse that would cause the president to die.

“If he does not turn to God and does not turn his life around, I am asking God to enforce imprecatory prayers that are throughout the Scripture that would cause him death,” Drake said in an interview with Fox’s Alan Colmes, according to the Associated Press.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Meeting Jeremiah Wright

Rather than letting Fox News sound bites define Jeremiah Wright for you, take a look at his bio.

Life, Love and Legacy

Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.

The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. is a man of faith, a homiletic genius, a theological scholar and a pastor’s pastor. He is a family man who enjoys spending quality time with his wife, children, grandchildren, extended family and friends.

Steeped in Family Tradition and Educational Achievements

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dr. Wright is a son of the parsonage and hails from a family steeped in educational achievements. A third generation family member to matriculate at Virginia Union University, Dr. Wright followed in the footsteps of his maternal grandfather, Dr. Hamilton Martin Henderson who graduated from Virginia Union with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the late 1800s and finished seminary at Virginia Union in 1902. His father, Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Sr., also graduated from Virginia Union with two undergraduate degrees and from the seminary with a Master of Divinity degree in 1938. The senior Wright also received a Master of Sacred Theology degree (S.T.M.) from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

Dr. Wright’s mother, Dr. Mary Henderson Wright, also graduated from Virginia Union and earned her first master’s degree before age 19 from the University of Chicago. She also earned a second master’s degree and her doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania.

Foundational Strengths

With four earned degrees, a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Howard University, a Master of Divinity from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from the United Theological Seminary, Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. grew up in a home where reading books was a daily way of life. Wright read a wide range of sources from the Greek philosophers and Shakespeare to African American authors such as Carter G. Woodson (the Father of African American History) to Sterling Brown (one of the Harlem Renaissance artists), as well as one of Dr. Wright’s college professors.

A student of Black Sacred Music, ethnomusicology and African Diasporan studies, Dr. Wright is trained as an historian of religions. He came from a family where diverse ideas were discussed and lessons were learned. In that context, his faith was formed and his commitment to the continent of Africa and social justice were born. These foundational strengths shaped Dr. Wright’s vision for prophetic ministry.

Pastoral Ministry

As senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, IL, where he served 36 years, Dr. Wright combined his studies of African Traditional Religions, African music, African American music and the African American Religious Tradition with his studies of Judeo-Christian thought to create ministries which addressed the needs of the community and enriched the lives and faith of his congregants by moving ministry, as stated in his own words, “from theory to praxis.”

Dr. Wright said in a published article: “I have tried to bring those two different worlds together [the academy and the pew] in the context of pastoral ministry in an effort to move an ignored people from hurt to healing and from hate to hope. My mission at Trinity has been to bring those worlds together by using the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the life of Christ as a model for what is possible, of what might be, and of what our faith really is—‘the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.’”

Dr. Wright’s efforts made Trinity - long considered, in theological circles, a model for the Black church - one of the most politically active and socially conscious churches in the nation. When he retired the church had over 50 active ministries with social justice advocacy at the core of its theological perspective.

From HIV/AIDS outreach programs and two senior housing complexes, to a federally funded childcare program for low-income families and the church’s newly formed Kwame Nkrumah Academy to serve students on Chicago’s South Side, the congregation has put into practice the Gospel that was preached every week.

Commitment to Education

As a result of Rev. Wright’s commitment to higher education, Trinity has provided scholarships for graduating high school seniors since 1977. Over 1000 students have been recipients of these scholarship awards and have finished both college and graduate schools. Over the past several years, the amount of scholarships awarded each year has been over $100,000 a year.

In addition to the scholarship awards, the congregation has ordained 40 seminary graduates under Pastor Wright’s leadership and currently has over 30 members of the church who are students in fully ACT-accredited seminaries, working on their Master of Divinity degrees as they prepare for full-time service to the church of Jesus Christ. The congregation gives in excess of $250,000 a year in theological education reimbursements to augment the seminarians’ efforts to acquire those degrees. The M.Div. is required for ordination for ministry in the United Church of Christ.

The Connection

In an effort to help his congregation make the connection between their faith, history and heritage, Dr. Wright led study tours each year for 15 years while was pastor. Those tours took African Americans to Africa, the Caribbean and Brazil to learn more about their past, the Bible and the role of Africans in the history of Christianity and the history of the development of the cultures in the Colonial Diaspora. He still leads tours as Pastor Emeritus.

He also led the congregation of Trinity United Church of Christ to support mission work around the world. In addition to the church sponsored special mission projects in Ghana, Ethiopia, South Africa and Bahia, each year the congregation gives more than $200,000 to the denomination’s Mission work.

Dr. Wright also led the congregation to be strongly committed to ministry and mission work in the Continental United States above and beyond its ongoing denominational commitments. In the aftermath of hurricanes Rita and Katrina, for example, the church gave $100,000 to the United Church of Christ’s denominational effort to help with the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast region and they also gave an additional $100,000 to help with the restoration of Dillard University, an HBCU started by the denomination immediately following the Civil War.


Following in the path of his mentor, Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor, the legendary preacher of Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York, Dr. Wright has taught hundreds of young seminarians the art of preaching and how to examine the Gospel and make it relevant to the listener.

Dr. Wright has authored numerous articles for academic journals and has published four books widely used in seminaries: What Makes You So Strong?, Good News: Sermons of Hope For Today’s Families, Africans Who Shaped our Faith and When Black Men Stand Up For God.

A Model to Emulate

Each Sunday, churches from around the country and from various denominations visit Trinity. When Dr. Wright was serving as pastor, they came to hear him preach and to experience a worship service that feeds both the intellect and the soul, and both the “head and the heart,” to use the words of Howard Thurman.

Describing Dr. Wright’s preaching style, Rev. Otis Moss III, the pastor of Trinity and Dr. Wright’s successor, says, “The weight of the holy is upon his words.”

For all of Wright’s work and contributions to Trinity and the global church community, he has received numerous awards, commendations and appointments, including nine honorary doctorates. The most recent honorary degrees were from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and The Starr-King (Unitarian) Seminary at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkely, California.

He has served on a variety of boards, including the Amistad Commission of the State of Illinois, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Commission of the State of Illinois (appointed to both Commissions by the Governor of Illinois), and he continues to serve on the Board of Trustees of Virginia Union University, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Pastor’s Conference and the Kwame Nkrumah Academy.

The Continuation

At the end of May 2008, Dr. Wright retired as senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ. He will became pastor emeritus and now spends his time preaching, teaching, leading study tours to Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean.

Dr. Wright is married to the Rev. Ramah Wright and has five children, Janet, Jeri, Nathan, Nikol and Jamila; and three grandchildren, Jeremiah, Jazmin and Steven.

Your Black News: President Obama Says Nothing about Jackson’s Death

Al Sharpton said it best: "Michael Jackson made culture accept a person of color. Way before Tiger Woods, way before Oprah Winfrey, way before Barack Obama, Michael did with music what they later did in sports, in politics and in television."

If there is such a thing as 'post-racial', Jackson was probably the first and most visible international post-racial figure that this country has ever produced. He made history uniting not only Americans, but the world through his music, much in the same way Obama has done with his campaign.

It's surprising therefore, that a day after the news of Michael Jackson's death and with the nation deep in mourning, President Obama has not personally acknowledged a man who helped paved the way for his election.

Although the president released a brief statement through his press secretary Robert Gibbs on Friday afternoon, much was left unsaid. He was characteristically cautious, aiming to strike a political balance when he called Michael Jackson a "spectacular performer" whose life was "sad and tragic."

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Your Black News: ACLU To Deal with Michigan’s Expulsion of Black Children

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Schools are not using enough discretion under Michigan's zero-tolerance expulsion law and are disproportionately kicking out black students who ultimately end up behind bars, according to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The study by the ACLU of Michigan was released Wednesday. It identifies a school-to-prison pipeline it says has been created by suspension policies, cultural stereotypes, referrals to law enforcement for school fights and factors such as not requiring expelled students to get an alternative education.

Michigan's 1995 zero-tolerance law requires an expulsion for possessing any "dangerous weapon," and the ACLU says it is broader than required by federal law. The ACLU wants state law to be eased so only firearms possession is subject to mandatory expulsion.

The ACLU's report says students were disciplined for bringing a toy gun, novelty lighter and eyebrow archer to school.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dr Boyce Watkins on The Transformers Film: Racism was Evident

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

I came to the latest release of "The Transformers" looking for what I saw in the first film: Jaw-dropping special effects and a story just interesting enough to hold you over until the next explosion. I didn't go to the film looking for racism or embarrassing minstrel shows. My "racial bias glasses" are designed to weed out harmless, inadvertent racism, which comes with living in a society that spent 400 years thinking that black people were less than human. But when racism is thrown in my face repeatedly in the form of ridiculous and disgusting stereotypes, that's when I start to get mad.
Michael Bay is one of my favorite directors, next to the Hughes Brothers (where are they by the way?). He's damn good at what he does. But on this occasion, Bay simply missed his creative target and I'm not the only one who's noticing.

Meet Skids and Mudflap, two Transformers who may as well have been called Lil Wayne and Random Black Male idiot. One of them actually has a gold grill, and neither of them can read. They are bungling buffoons and cowards with barely an ounce of intelligence. One of them rides around as an Ice cream truck with the words "suck my popsicle" on the side, yelling "get your ice cream bitches" to those who might want to buy from his dirty little truck. They also remind you in every other sentence that you are a "punk ass bitch" and that they want to "bust a cap in your ass."

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Racist Aliens? Transformers Movie Uses Racial Stereotypes

Skids and Mudflap of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
That clunking engine noise you're hearing may be the sound of 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen' rolling along on broken-down racial and ethnic stereotypes.
Movie critics and columnists from the Associated Pressto the New York Times are raising concerns about two newly added Autobots, described as "jive talking,""minstrelsy," illiterate and action avoiding. And of these bickering twins, Skids (Tom Kenny) and Mudflap (Reno Wilson), one even reportedly sports a gold grill, I mean tooth. Oh, you get the picture.

The only robots with any discernible personality traits, aside from bravery or antagonism, are the Autobot twins, Mudflap and Skids. These are shockingly crass and unfortunate black stereotypes, jive-talking fools who can't read and bumble their way from one mishap to the next. They are Jar Jar Binks in car form.
: 'Transformers' Shape-Shifts Into Noise, Nonsense, AP

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The Boyce Watkins Tenure Case Reflects the Challenges of Black Scholarship

Dr. Christopher J. Metzler

Institutions of higher education are supposed to be the place where the free market place of ideas takes hold. In fact, the basis for tenure has always been that academics should not be punished for speaking out. The theory is that such speaking out is protected even when university administration does not agree with the content of that speech. However, these same institutions are also political fiefdoms where tenure has been used and will continue to be used to punish those with whom the members of the promotion and tenure committee do not agree. In other words, academic freedom is only free when one agrees with those in power. All junior faculty understand very quickly that the definition of “scholarship” is a moving target and that if they wish tenure, they better move with the target. The hypocrisy of the promotion and tenure process (and I use the word process lightly) is that too many faculty are more about politics and less about scholarship. So, they play the game to get tenure and then when some of them get it, they punish the ideas of others they find unpopular by denying them tenure.

Progressive Black scholars find ourselves in a particular pickle. On the one hand, we want to advance ideas that look critically at the academy and simply not accept the status quo. On the other, if we are too progressive, then we will be Boyced. That is, we will be fired from predominately white institutions that will reduce our entire scholarly career to a warm bucket of spit. Of course I am not suggesting that all predominately white institutions will Boyce progressive Black scholars. I am suggesting that too many can and do.

First, regardless of whether one agrees with Dr. Watkins’ views or not, one cannot in good faith question his credential or his scholarship. One can disagree with it, one can dislike it, one can criticize but one cannot question its rigor, funny, I thought that this is what academic freedom is about. In fact, Syracuse University believed him to be of sufficient scholastic heft to hire him on tenure track in the first place. So, did he suddenly become a less than mediocre scholar after he joined the faculty? Of course not, in fact, an objective reading of his work suggests that he is a scholar who pushes his knowledge to a public that is very much outside “the ivory tower.” Perhaps the problem is that those judging scholarship should realize that scholarship as well as its consumption is evolving and that progressive black scholars such as Dr. Watkins must, if we are to be true to our mission, bring the scholarship to many who may never step foot on our campuses.

Second, it is not an understatement to say that Black male scholars do not dominate the ranks of predominately white institutions. It is also not an understatement to say that progressive Black scholars are in the numerical and scholastic minority at these same institutions. Thus, perhaps promotion and tenure committees should stop trying to pretend that they value our contributions and admit that far too many of them are more interested in visual representation (diversity for diversity sake) than diversity of thought, diversity of scholarship, diversity of methodology and diversity of thought. A reading of that which is considered “scholarly” by many of these committees reveals a common theme: protection of the status quo of ideas by a limited number of elite intellectuals. To be sure, one can argue that there is nothing wrong with this approach. I would argue that in the interest of transparency that promotion and tenure committees should not shrink from stating this since many of them believe it to be true. This way, progressive Black scholars will simply need not apply.

Third, for Black scholars, the reality of being Boyced stifles academic freedom and suffocates scholarship. Many of us will be loathe to publish anti-establishment scholarship for fear that ultra-right wing bloggers and T.V. entertainers can influence whether we are promoted or fired. We will also question whether the entertainers of whom I write are adjunct members of the committee with whom we should vet our scholarship before we publish it. Of course, some of them do not have the educational or scholarship credentials to judge our work in the first instance. But, I digress.

The losers here will be students who will not be exposed to a panoply of ideas and approach to teaching and learning but to educational malnutrition in the form of anti-intellectual mediocrity. It will also be academic freedom which in too many of these institutions is simply not free.

How can institutions of higher learning justify living in a state of educational humdrum? Just ask the institutions that Boyce black progressive Black scholars.





Can Black Folks Trust the Cops?

By Elliot Millner, J.D.

In the past several weeks, there have been numerous incidents involving the police and Black people, that have resulted in serious injury and death on both sides. This includes several recent incidents in Oakland, California; in Seattle, a 15-year old girl brutally beaten for being mouthy and kicking a shoe; an off-duty Black New York police officer being gunned down by a white officer; and other incidents in places around the country.

These are some of the most recent and extreme examples of a problem that, in one form or another, spans the length of U.S. history. The reality is that police forces, in varying forms, have been traditionally used as a tool to preserve and promote white supremacy, and to keep Blacks (particularly those in impoverished communities) "in their place". The idea of "protecting and serving" as it relates to policing, had as its root and initial goal the same objective as most other laws and statutes enacted in this country: To protect the interests of property-owning white males. There are few areas in the United States(if any) where the police in some form or fashion have not actively participated in violating the rights of Black people, utilizing any methods deemed necessary, including murder. Although some things have changed, it is naive (to say the least) to think that the legacy upon which the idea of policing was built in this country(white supremacy and Black oppression) has been erased from its method of operation.

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The Presidents Passes Gay Rights Legislation

President Obama signaled to gay rights activists Wednesday that he is listening to their desire for greater equality in "a more perfect union." But he did not give them even close to everything they want, bringing anger that has been growing against the president to the surface.

The president's critics saw the incremental move to expand gay rights as little more than pandering to a reliably Democratic voting bloc, with the primary aim not of making policy fairer but of cutting short a fundraising boycott.

DISAPPOINTMENT: Jubilation muted on gay marriage anniversary

"We all have to acknowledge this is only one step," Obama said in his Oval Office, where he signed a memorandum extending some benefits, such as visitation or dependent care rights, to the same-sex partners of federal employees.

"When a president tells you he's going to be different, you believe him," said John Aravosis, a Washington-based gay activist. "It's not that he didn't follow through on his promises, he stabbed us in the back."

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Monday, June 22, 2009

A Fourth of All South African Men admit to Rape

South Africans received a horrifying measure of just how bad their country's rape crisis is with the release this week of a study in which more than a quarter of men admitted to having raped, and 46% of those said that they had raped more than once.

The study, conducted by South Africa's Medical Research Council, reveals a deeply rooted culture of violence against women, in which men rape in order to feel powerful, and do so with impunity, believing that their superiority entitles them to vent their frustrations on women and children. The men most likely to rape, the researchers found, were not the poorest, but those who had attained some level of education and income.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fighting for Troy Davis: Why it’s Necessary to do so

by Elliot Milner, JD.

" I have faced execution and the torment of saying goodbye to my family three times in the last two years and I may experience that trauma yet again; I would not wish this on my worst enemy and to know I am innocent only compounds the injustice I am facing."- Troy Davis, from Georgia's death row, on facing a fourth possible execution date.

For those who are unaware, Troy Davis has been on Georgia's death row for about 18 years, after being convicted of murdering police officer Mark McPhail(Mr. Davis has maintained his innocence from the very beginning).

It would take pages to give all of the details of Troy Davis' case, however I will say that there was no physical evidence found(including a murder weapon) connecting Troy Davis to the killing of Officer McPhail; he was convicted largely on the basis of inconsistent and often contradictory eyewitness testimony. The vast majority of those prosecution eyewitnesses have since recanted or changed their testimony implicating Mr. Davis, and one of those who hasn't is Sylvester Coles, the main alternative suspect presented by the defense during Troy Davis' trial. In addition, there have been multiple allegations of police coercion and the usage of unethical interrogation techniques.

(For additional information on Troy Davis' case, or to get information on how to act, check out www.amnestyusa.org/death-penalty/troy-davis and http://www.troyanthonydavis.org/.).


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Friday, June 19, 2009

What are the Legal Issues in the Great Salon Beat Down posted on You Tube?

by Dr Boyce Watkins

OK, don't lie. You know that when you heard about the woman being beaten in the beauty salon in Oakland, you clicked on the link faster than Eminem's neck snapped when he had Bruno's behind in his face. You were curious, yet disturbed by the incident, as was nearly everyone else in America.

But one thing that black attorneys such as Christopher Metzler noticed during this incident were the legal implications of attacking someone in public, in broad daylight, videotaping the incident and then bragging about it on the radio. Now that the Oakland Police Department has taken notice, the women responsible for the attack are going to have some serious problems.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dr Boyce: Michael Eric Dyson and Barack Obama are Not on Opposite Sides of the Political Fence

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

When I heard the controversial and heated comments about President Obama that were made by my respected colleague Michael Eric Dyson, I felt like a 2nd grader running outside to see the fight between two middle school kids. Both Barack and Michael are men I've grown to appreciate, and I love them for their strengths as well as their imperfections. Michael was the reason I became a public scholar during graduate school, as I would watch the words flow out of him like an MC in the booth dropping his hottest album. The man is good, damn good.

Barack Obama needs to listen to the words of Michael Eric Dyson. In fact, he should give Dyson as much, or more respect than he gives me or any other black public intellectual in America. Dr. Dyson, no matter how you perceive his critique of President Obama, represents a form of insight that you are not going to find in politics, the pulpit or anywhere else. At the same time, I will confess that his words may also come from an impure place that lies within the darkest part of our souls. In other words, Dyson, Tavis, Barack, Jesse and every other ambitious man in America is always going to be tempted by the "Demon of Playerhaterology". Men are naturally competitive, and no man likes to be disrespected. Obama, as a condition for his employment, is often asked to disrespect other leaders across America who represent the essence of meaningful black thought. That's going to create a long list of enemies.

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Dr. Leonard Moore on Barack Obama's First 100 Days

Obama's first one-hundred days in office has been what I expected when

he entered the White House in January. Many of us got caught up in the

euphoria of his election without really analyzing the dynamics that

got him elected. We were just excited to see a "black face in a high

place" and we didn't take the time to see if he had an agenda for

Black America. Although me and my wife supported his campaign

financially I really learned alot about who he was when he threw his

pastor, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, under the bus. As a pastor and a

professor, it hurt to see Obama disrespect the man who brought him to

Christ, helped him grow spiritually, married him and Michelle, and

baptized his daughters, all in the name of winning white support for

his presidential bid. Further, throughout his campaign he said

virtually nothing about how his presidency would address black

concerns and issues. Like I told the young sisters at my church, if I

dated you for 16 months and said nothing about my child, would you

think that I loved my child? Probably not.

However, with that critique let's also consider some of the realities

he's facing as the first black president of the United States. First,

he has no one to go to for advice. There is not a single person who

has been in his shoes, so his advisors can only do that, advise.

Second, he inherited an economically-depressed country. It would be

hard enough to govern as a black man with an open checkbook, but when

white middle-class citizens are struggling to make ends meet then one

understands the depths of the economic collapse. Third, he's also

facing unrealistic expectations from black, brown, and white voters. I

would've liked to see him become mayor of Chicago instead of

president. Why? Because as mayor of the 3rd largest city in the

country, and the second largest black population, he would've been

able to make immediate improvements in the lives of people. As

President he needs the cooperation of people across the aisle, and of

people in his own party to pass meaningful legislation. Last, the most

obvious, he's a black man. Enough said.

Your Black Money: Retirement is Changing for Baby Boomers

From our Black Money Blog.  For more black wealth advice, please click here.

They grew up during a time of cultural change, and now are being forced to redefine retirement at midlife.

The 77 million Americans in the Baby Boom generation face an economic storm: The Wall Street meltdown trampled their retirement nest eggs more than any other group. After losing jobs during what they thought would be some of their peak earning years, many are struggling to get back into the workforce. Health care costs are rising, and declining home values mean they might not be able to count on home equity to guarantee an easier retirement.

SAVE EARLY: Tips for building a solid retirement plan

"This generation will be sobered by their experience," says John Coyne, president of Brinker Capital, an investment management firm. "They may not have as extravagant a vision of retirement as they did last July."

The confluence of events has an even bigger impact on a subset of the Baby Boomers known to analysts as the Sandwich Generation. Those Boomers are putting money toward their children's college education and their aging parents' long-term care, as well as their own retirement savings.


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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Black News: Can you handcuff a woman while giving birth?

Former Chicago inmates Simone Jackson and Danielle Bryant are seeking to file a class action lawsuit against the Cook County Sheriff's Department. Both claim they were forced to give birth while shackled and handcuffed to the hospital bed.

Jackson said, "It's dehumanizing. It's degrading. It's immoral." Jackson and three other former Cook County inmates described how they felt when they gave birth while imprisoned.

"I couldn't have family there," Bryant said. "Nobody to support me, help me. The nurses were in and out. All I had was the police officer."

Jackson and Bryant were being held on theft charges when they went into labor and were transferred to Chicago's Stroger Hospital to give birth.

Bryant's restraints were removed right before the actual birth. But Jackson says her restraints never came off.

"It is not even feasible to run when you are actually going to have a baby," Jackson said. "There is no way to do that."

Click to read.

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Black News: Al Sharpton Gets Sued


Rev. Al Sharpton's non-profit civil rights group National Action Network is being sued by the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.

Southern hospitality only goes so far.

A grand Memphis hotel slapped theRev. Al Sharpton's group with an $88,000 suit charging the nonprofit didn't pay bills from its national convention.

The famed Peabody Hotel is suing the National Action Network for $70,300 and $17,000 in attorney's costs and other fees, stemming from the April 2008 conference.

A complaint filed by the hotel in Shelby County Circuit Court did not clarify whether the charges relate to an unpaid final tab or other charges, according to the Memphis Daily News. The contract between Peabody and the National Action Network included a clause that the group would be charged for space it booked but didn't use, the newspaper reported.

Click to read.

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The racial hypocrisy of college and professional athletics

Read below about Bryce Harper,  the 16 year old who is going to college next year only so he can be eligible for the 2010 MLB draft.  If he were a basketball or football player, he would not be able to do this.  So, not only does this story make a mockery of our educational system, it also points out the hypocrisy which exists in the way basketball and football operate relative to sports dominated by non-black athletes.

When big Bryce Harper made the cover of Sports Illustrated two weeks ago, I knew we'd soon again be hearing from the 16-year-old 'chosen one.'

But not quite this soon.

On Sunday, the sophomore from Las Vegas found his way into national headlines again when his father announced that Bryce will forgo his final two years of high school and use a GED to enroll in a community college this August. Though it more or less makes a mockery of our education system, the Harpers' plan would make Bryce eligible for the 2010 draft, where he could conceivably be the Nationals' No. 1 pick and eventually join forces with Stephen Strasburg to save Washington baseball from itself.


Click to read.


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Rebuilding the Brand of Kobe

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

Syracuse University

Kobe Bryant started his career with the LA Lakers as a tremendous athlete with a valuable brand. His stock rose like an elevator, as Madison Avenue loved him as much as Laker fans. Then life took a strange twist. First, there was the nasty departure of Shaquille O'neal, which instantly reduced Kobe and the Lakers to "also-rans" in the NBA playoffs. A man who was used to winning championships was reduced to simply playing for pay.

Off the court, things got even worse. In 2003, Kobe was accused of a horrifically embarrassing sexual assault, a case that was later dropped. But even though the charges were dropped, the case still had a lasting impact on Bryant's reputation: Sponsors ran the other way and everyone wondered if Kobe might turn into another "coulda, woulda, shoulda" black athlete.

But he persisted. The Lakers got a little bit better every year, with that improvement culminating in what some believe to be Kobe's first "real championship" this year; a title without the boost of a dominant big man. For the first time, the Lakers are champions under Kobe's watch. He has proven that he is more than a replica of Anfernee Hardaway.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Dr Deborah Stroman on Obama

When considering the scorecard for Pres. Obama and race in his first 100 days, I am immediately reminded of the adage "Think Globally. Act Locally." Our first Black president took over the steering wheel of a car with four flat tires that was not approaching a cliff, but was already in the air having begun its whirlwind descent to massive destruction. No, wait! It's time for divine intervention -- insert Superbrotha Man for rescue! Get real folks!

Although the list can be expanded and deconstructed, I have identified the two major issues to assist the Black community in this perilous time: Economics and Education. At this time, Pres. Obama does not need to specifically address race in terms of his immediate goals or policies because the entire nation is suffering. When people are drowning it doesn't matter who is in 25 feet versus 50 feet of water. Just throw the life line! Remember, we are spiraling downward very fast; he has had to respond to Iraq and Afghanistan policies (e.g., exit timeline changed to 19 months and 30,000 troops redirected) and the financial markets implosion (e.g., $787B stimulus package and the rescue of major automakers). Yes, many Blacks are still in dire straits such as our likelihood of losing homes to foreclosure, twice as likely to be unemployed, and three times as likely to live in poverty. However, the emotional kick we all received with his election should not cloud our thinking to the extent that we could ever believe that with the touch of a magic wand all conditions would improve. And I would argue that the trending situation could not even be changed within a year.

The election of Pres. Obama provided the platform for us to believe in ourselves and our community again. We can look with optimism at our potential and ability to achieve anything. Let's use that collective energy to effect change in our own communities. To become engaged in our local schools to offer solutions, volunteer, and "inspect what we expect." If we all read more books and turned off the television, our young people just might be exposed to people and places that would motivate them to achieve and dream again. We can also become more service-minded and help those less fortunate who can't read their financial reports or their electric bill. It's time for more proactive economic workshops at our churches and community centers. Once again, it's time for us to stop looking over yonder but rather celebrate and position our own power. Onward!

Dr Chris Richardson on Obama: The first 100 Days

It seems somewhat odd to think about President Obama's first 100 days with regard to race because he and his administration spent that time (prior to his Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sotomayor) being decidedly nonracial. The first priority was to save the US—and by extension the world—economy from utter destruction, a task he appears to have succeeded in with Will Smith-like coolness and efficiency. Let's face it: high-minded discourses on racial matters don't play very well to folks in the dead of winter when they're unemployed, their 401k's (if they're fortunate enough to have one) are up in smoke, and they can't pay their mortgage on time. And President Obama, being the savvy, tactful politician he is, has not explicitly addressed the racial and ethnic inequities inherent in the ballooning of the ranks of the unemployed. Nor has he pointed to the racial disparities in health insurance coverage as an argument for universal health care. He is everyone's president, including you, me, and the unemployed militant malcontent down the street with no health insurance. His policies reflect the needs of the entire country without regard to race (though with apparent regard to whether or not one attended an Ivy-League school).

Can a non-racial policy strategy work for minorities? Perhaps for issues like health care, where the government can wield a great deal of top-down influence on providers. But for issues like unemployment and wealth inequalities, more precision may be needed to ensure that the people who need help are actually helped, while those that don't need help don't drain taxpayers. (Think of how many real jobs could have been created with the AIG bailout money.) It appears that the President's nomination of the first Hispanic American to the Supreme Court is a nod toward the need for more surgical precision with respect to some issues that may have a racial component. But for the time being he is letting other folks work the knife.

Dr Carlton Robinson on Obama

In regard to the the first 100 days and racial policy I believe that we are a bit premature in assessing action/inaction. I feel strongly that we as a nation, and the president as our leader, are ill-equipped with an infrastructure capable of addressing racial policy as we understand it through a conflicted lens. My reasoning is that our country and specifically the African American community has too many social and cultural variations to address as a general community. From my perspective we need to change our approach from broad generalizations to focused levels of social and cultural accountability. I would like to see his policies move toward a measure of accountability rather than speeches and talks on race.

Dr Carlous Caple on Obamas First 100 Days

Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot! Not since the days of the Kennedy administration has America seen such presence, power, and promise. In his first 100 days, President Barack Obama has put any lingering doubts to rest regarding intelligence, ability, and character. From the viewpoint of the Black community, this is a reward for patience, and a return to legacy. From the viewpoint of the global community this is a paradigm shift of significant proportion.

The impact of Obama’s first 100 days has not only changed the scope of American politics and foreign relations, but it has also impacted greatly the sociological viewpoint on the Black community. President Barack and First Lady Michelle, both from humble backgrounds have demonstrated that the legacy of the Black community has never disappeared, but now is restored to its rightful place.

The context of change as a paradigm now means a return to a legacy not only founded in athletics and entertainments, but in education, law, medicine, religion, and entrepreneurship. Further, this paradigm restores the concept of the extended family as a unit, parenting, morals, values, standards, and character. Obama’s first 100 days has impacted a renewed Black pride and a consensus of no excuses.

Dr. Carlous Caple

President & CEO

Caple Global Associates LLC

Dr Carlos Thomas: Obama's First 100 Days

At this artificial media created milestone of the President’s first 100 days I believe it important to understand that the emphasis should be placed on the President’s actions during the first 1,461 days in office as it relates to race. Bold statements from Attorney General Eric Holder’s office are important and necessary in setting the tone for this administration’s ethos and actions regarding race and related issues. However, such statements must be dovetailed with tangible actions and policies.

Without give a full fledged lecture on the process of policy making, let me state that laws and change in America at the federal level happens incrementally and any messianic expectations of Obama in the black community here and abroad should be tempered. While we should continue to hold Obama accountable for his actions we must acknowledge that immediate policy change occurs more rapidly on the state and local level. What does this mean? It means that black people should become politically active on the municipal and state level and hold their respective representatives to the same level of accountability as they do Obama.

Dr Byron Price Evaluates Obama, Dyson Critique

President Obama is the president of the United States and not Black America as so many others have stated. I find it amusing that critics of the president such as Mr. Tavis Smiley and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson never challenged the so-called first black president, Bill Clinton in eight years regarding what he would do for Black America. President Clinton stated that blacks never asked for anything although they supported him overwhelmingly. President Clinton's policies while in office wreaked havoc on the African American community and family. If my memory serves me correctly, black people loved President Clinton, especially the self designated black leaders. Yet, they never attacked him the way they are the current president. They definitely did not write a book demanding accountability.

President Obama has been in office four months and is being challenged on coming up with a racial policy when the last two presidents spent sixteen years in office and none of the so-called black leaders placed the same kind of demands on them as they are placing on President Obama. Dr. Dyson and Mr. Smiley exhibit crabs in the bucket mentalities with their criticism of the president. The president is not above critique, but deserves more time to enact policies which benefit all Americans. Black America does not need a racial policy but need men "noted for enterprise, industry, economy and success" as Frederick Douglas stated. Once we exhibit these attributes, Frederick Douglas believed that "we shall no longer have any trouble in the matter of civil and political rights." These "civil rights industrial complex" agents should embrace Dr. Carter G. Woodson's admonition: "History shows that it does not matter who is in power or what revolutionary forces take over the government, those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they had in the beginning." It is time for us to take control of our future by following the example of excellence the president has given us. "Excellence is the highest form of rebellion" Cornel West stated. I am proud of the job the president is doing and will give him the same kind of time the other presidents had to implement policies which benefit Americans. Can we wait for him to do the right thing? "Yes We Can."

Dr. Billy Hawkins on Obamas First 100 Days

Because the presidency is an institution and not an individual, it is still heavily influenced and entrenched by white men. Given the inertia of the political machine and how it has been pre-programmed by the ideals of white supremacy, I did not anticipate President Barack Obama to make any significant impact regarding racial policy in his first 100 days. Furthermore, I do not imagine much progress in racial policy in this nation during his first or possible second terms in office.

Besides the symbolic racial empowerment he has provided with his presence as the first Black President, where Blacks are able to feel good about themselves and the future of race relations in this nation, I do not expect him to alter the course of race relations in the U.S. I hope he proves me wrong by instituting policies that are seismic enough to improve race relations and move us into a post-racial and post-racist society. However, to truly improve race relations in this country is beyond his power, even as President of the U.S., because the power resides with the people and the institutions we empower to sustain racial ideologies.

Is America Headed for a Retirement Crisis?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Finance Professor at Syracuse University


I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But then again, it must not bother me very much, since I am going to give you a big pile of bad news right now. Given that I earned a Masters Degree in the "morbid science" of statistics, I figured I would start the day by fulfilling my occupational expectation.

The first piece of bad news is that you are going to die. One day, your heart will stop beating and the 2.5 billion breaths you'll take during your lifetime will come to an end. Hopefully, it won't be painful, but I can't guarantee that. The truth is, however, that death might not be the worst part of it all.

The toughest news is that before you die, you are likely going to experience a long, slow period of physical and psychological decline called "old age". In conjunction with this decline, you are going to see your financial resources dwindle as quickly as the muscles in your body. Not only will the scale of your resources decline, but your expenses will likely mount as you go to one doctor's visit after another, all with the hope of delaying the inevitable. That period of life is called "retirement", and most Americans are not financially prepared for it.

Now that you are sufficiently depressed (there's no point in lying to you, I'm not very good at that), I will give you some facts to chew on. I also hope that in light of these realities, you will engage in something that the rest of America is not doing: preparing for retirement. While retirement planning has always been important in the past, it has never been more important than it is for you right now. The Perfect Economic Storm is coming, one in which all the scary clouds merge together into one big ball of fiscal devastation that can only be created by God himself. When your financial meteorologist (me) gives you that information, it's your decision to get your family prepared. Let's break down the components of the storm, shall we?


Click to read more.

Your Black News: Can we fix health care?

Despite spending more money than any other country on health care, the United States does not lead the world in life expectancy, a long-known fact that some experts say could raise more questions in the health-care reform debate.

A study found that better-educated doctors increase the growth rate of life expectancy.

The United States ranks 50th out of 224 nations in life expectancy, with an average life span of 78.1 years, according to 2009 estimates from the CIA World Factbook.

Some argue part of the problem stems from the privatized nature of the U.S. health care system, whose reform is being vigorously debated on Capitol Hill.

"What we are able to find in the industrialized world is that life expectancy will be influenced in a beneficial manner to the extent that health care expenditure is publicly financed," said Harvey Brenner, professor of public health at the University of North Texas Health Science Center and Johns Hopkins University. "The higher the government expenditure on health care, the lower will be the mortality rate."

In countries where individuals pay for their own care, people often don't get treatment until their symptoms have become serious, Brenner said. There is also less emphasis on preventative care in those countries, he said.

Click to read more on Your Black Health

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Empathy vs. Ideology: Dr. Wilmer Leon

Wilmer Leon, Ph.D.

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

Howard University

On Tuesday May 26th, President Obama nominated federal judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter. Before the President announced his selection he stated he was not just looking for someone with just “ivory tower learning”; he wanted “intellectual firepower” as well as a “common touch” and a “practical sense of how the world works”. He also used the word “empathy” several times. It did not take long for the critics to weigh in and challenge the nomination.

What is troubling about the criticism is that most of it is intentionally not directed at judge Sotomayor’s record as a jurist and opinions that she has rendered. Most of the criticism is deliberately based upon select statements made in speeches or lectures, as was the case with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. They have been contextualized in the most inflammatory way possible in order to scare white people.

Click to read more on our Black Scholars Blog.


Black America: Do Not Let Capitalism Enslave You

Dr Boyce Watkins – Syracuse University: Black Scholars Coalition

I recall giving a speech at a university in Upstate New York. We were talking about wealth building for the Black community and how Black folks can remove themselves from the underbelly of American capitalism. I'd heard this school had a reputation for strong liberalism and I was looking forward to addressing the audience. A young white female in the back of the room raised her hand to ask me a question. She said "How can you support a system that enslaves people?"

The woman was clearly offended by my mere presence as a financial expert and apparent supporter of capitalism. I could immediately tell, that no matter what my answer was, she was going to hate me and wish death upon my children. She didn't realize that I am not just a Finance Professor, but also a closet socialist in many contexts. While I am not one who wants to live in a socialist society, I do understand that capitalism and socialism must balance one another in any society that alleges to embrace human compassion. 

Click to read.

Friday, June 12, 2009

When White Campuses Stand by Black Professors

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

I got a call from an academic colleague who was caught in the middle of a public controversy. He stated an unpopular opinion on race and the right wing got upset with his words. Public figures have been calling for him to be fired, stating that his position as a defender of black people makes him a “reverse racist.” How typical.

He told me that this morning, he received a call from the President of his university, letting him know that the campus stands by his academic freedom and freedom of speech. The president also admitted that this is “what right wing nut jobs do when they are confronted with race.”

I was admittedly jealous of my friend’s relationship with the president of his university. In the 5 years I’ve known the president of Syracuse University, Nancy Cantor, not once has she had a single conversation with me over the phone or in person.

Click here to read the rest of the article on the Black Scholar’s Blog.

Georgetown Professor Dr. Chris Metzler Breaks down Sotomayor

Dr. Christopher Metzler

President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to be a Justice on the United States Supreme Court has brought to the surface the lingering resentment that so many White men in America have harbored since the end of slavery. Moreover, it has denuded the souls of white folks who have now become part of a race. It has also revived White men as victims and given voice to the intellectually dishonest rhetoric of "reverse" racism while also race-baiting the White House, albeit one headed by a Black man.

Of course, we understand that race is a social construction. That is, there is no biological basis for race. Rather, in the context of the United States, race has been formulated and given meaning by society and the courts who wished to connote difference and the privileges and insults thereto appertaining. That formulation for so much of our history defined Whites as superior and numerical racial minorities as inferior thus justifying different treatment.

First, it is not an understatement to say that many White men in America have opted out of the conversation on race. In fact, in most conversations about race, racial minorities are the ones who are presumed to be affected by racism because of America's toxic relationship with race. White men in particular enjoy the visible and invisible privilege of being both White and male and thus, until now, have seen no reason to be considered part of a "race." 

The White men of whom I write have decided that they will pick the carbuncle of race in an attempt to protect their white privilege at all costs. Hoisting the White man's burden are Rush, Tancredo, Hannity, Dobbs and Gingrich; the "unelected" leaders of the party. The elected leaders (especially those with significant Latino voters) and the languid "head of the party" (Michael Steele) will collude with them by saying nothing.

Click to read more on the Dr Boyce Black Scholar’s Blog.

Dr. Christopher J. Metzler is associate dean at Georgetown University and the author of The Construction and Rearticulation of Race in a Post-Racial America.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Jeremiah Wright Has interesting words for President Obama

Jeremiah Wright says that the Jews won’t let him talk to Obama.  Click the image to watch.

Your Black News: Detroit Becoming a Hot Bed for Real Estate Purchases

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- As Detroit home prices in Detroit crash, sales are heating up. But with all of the plant closings and layoffs, who's buying? Investors -- some of whom are snapping up five and 10 houses at a time.

"I have investors from all over the country and the world," said Jeremy Burgess, co-founder of Urban Detroit Wholesalers, which buys undervalued homes to rehab and rent or to sell to other investors. "One Lithuanian woman just bought a second house."

"Most of the local investors are out of money," added Mike Shannon, who specializes in Detroit foreclosures and has clients from New Zealand, Australia, England and other places.

Recently a Californian purchased 178 properties, mostly one at a time, and most for under $10,000. Another has purchased six Detroit properties since September and hopes to begin buying five a month.

Click to read more on the African American Money Blog.


Dr. Boyce Watkins: Wells Fargo Racism Accusations: Why they are disturbing

by Dr. Boyce Watkins


Tavis Smiley needs to have a conversation with one of his primary sponsors, Wells Fargo. This week, it was announced that Wells Fargo is being sued by the city of Baltimore for egregiously racist predatory lending practices in the black community. The company has been accused by some former loan officers of targeting subprime, low quality loans to black neighborhoods, leading to a dramatic economic collapse for the black community of Baltimore.

The statistical evidence is daunting. Half of all the properties foreclosed by Wells Fargo are vacant and 71% of those properties are in black neighborhoods. Wells Fargo's African American borrowers with incomes greater than $68,000 per year were 8 times more likely to hold subprime loans than white borrowers with the same income.

Click to read.