Friday, July 31, 2009

The Think Tank for African American Progress Call for Solutions



The Think Tank for African American Progress – to be held in Memphis from October 14 to October 16, 2009 – seeks solutions to challenges confronting Black boys and young men. We are inviting scholars, activists, and advocates to join us for the 2009 Think Tank with the theme “What is the Future of Black Boys?”. Practitioners, community activists, and researchers whose efforts are related to the following thematic areas are especially invited to submit a solutions’ proposal in relevant to one of the 4 areas: (1) Health; (2) Education/Youth Development; (3) Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics; and (4) Community/Economic Development.

The Think Tank will feature opportunities for practitioners, researchers, policy makers, and, Black youth themselves to dialogue about solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, think about strategies to resolve these challenges, and design methods in which to implement solutions to challenges.

Those who wish to participate in the Think Tank should submit a 750 – 1000 word abstract detailing a specific challenge facing black boys and young men, along with an outline of suggested solutions. The abstract should outline a specific solution for an issue in one of the previously mentioned areas; include a rationale for the solution, and strategy that the target audience (i.e., practitioners, parents, educators, policy makers, etc.) could implement. In addition, applicants should identify their role in the implementation of the proposed solutions. First authors of accepted proposals will receive free registration to the Think Tank to present their paper in a poster presentation. Furthermore, there will be publication and collaboration opportunities from the Think Tank.

Potential Topics

Solutions for Health includes but are not limited to:

• Resolutions to the social determinants of black boys/young men’s health. Under this rubric, we welcome a wide array of proposals, including models of interventions programs within a variety of settings (e.g., schools, churches, community based organizations, juvenile justice, etc)

• Assessments of black boys/young men’s access to health care. We will entertain proposals on innovative responses to under-utilization of health services, as well as ways to redefine proper utilization of services.

• Explorations of under examined areas. We are keenly interested in areas such as oral health, risky sexual behavior, and dangerous driving among young black men)...

  • Social determinants of health and well-being
  • Psychological and mental health
  • Health-promoting interventions
  • Community and interpersonal violence
  • Access to health care services
  • Improving health consciousness and health behaviors
  • Interpersonal and family health
  • Health literacy
  • Public health policy
  • Oral health
  • Sex and sexuality
  • Personal safety and risk-taking behavior

Solutions for Education and Youth Development includes but is not limited to:

• Solutions addressing the social contexts that inspire and influence black boys’ educational achievement. Under this theme, we are interested in work addressing the core, contested areas of black boys/young men’s development (e.g. the role of schools, parents, and administrators).

• Investigations of the interaction between educational achievement and other indicators of well being. We are especially interested in solutions that speak to the impact of individual health and parental health on black boys’ achievement.

We are interested in solutions that explore state policies regarding charter and public school partnerships and other innovations to improve educational outcomes.

• Considerations of multi-level effects. We welcome strategic action plans regarding issues of environment such as crime and safety.

Solutions for Technology

· Solutions that address the challenges for Black boys to participate in ‘Green jobs and careers’.

· Explorations in creative methods to encourage African American boys to pursue education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (S.T.E.M).

· Evaluation of educational and public policy that impact Black boys participation in and use of advanced technologies.

Solutions for Community and Economic Development includes but is not limited to:

  • Solutions that go beyond brick and mortar answers to economic development obstacles. We welcome a wide range of approaches in this section, and are especially interested in solutions that integrate Black boys/young men’s existing cultural assets into the discussion of economic development.
  • Solutions to address the such challenges as prisoner re-entry policy and interventions, community gardening, and other aspects of building healthy communities.
  • Explorations of viable ways to ensure continued community thriving. In this area, we are interested in studies of successful communities and/or community organizations that can serve as models for other groups.
  • Evaluations of public policy initiatives intended to stimulate community and economic development. We will consider formal, applied program evaluations as well as papers that integrate a theoretical perspective to better inform concrete, governmental practices.

Proposals are due August 15 and those accepted for the Think Tank will be

Notified by August 21st. For more information contact Dr. Leon D. Caldwell at 901-843-3247 or visit

Thursday, July 30, 2009

In the President’s “Teachable Moment” What Should We Learn?



Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

This afternoon, President Obama, Sgt. James Crowley, and Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. will sit down at the White House to “clear the air.” The President’s objective is to bring the parties together and through their personal interaction move the national dialogue on race forward. In the President’s “Teachable Moment” what should we learn? We should learn how one’s perceptions can color their reality. We should also learn the danger of trying to contort a non-race based issue into a dialog or valuable lesson on race.

In all of the accounts of Dr. Gates’ arrest there has never been any indication that Sgt. Crowley used racial slurs, epithets, gestures or any other means to inject “race” into the arrest. Even Dr. Gates’ attorney, Charles Ogletree, when asked about racial profiling during a CNN interview said, “I’ve never said anything about racial profiling; you’ve never heard those words from me, it’s a case of bad judgment…we won’t know about the race element until all of the facts are in.”

Read More

Your News: Black Thinkers Speak on Obama and More

Black News: Dr Boyce Watkins and Roland Martin going at it on CNN

Dr Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University speaks with Roland Martin and Rick Sanchez of CNN.  The conversation gets quite heated.  Click here to watch the video!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Post-Race Scholar Yells Racism

henry gates


Now that Henry Louis Gates’ Jr. has gotten a tiny taste of what “the underclass” undergo each day, do you think that he will go easier on them? Lighten up on the tough love lectures? Even during his encounter with the police, he was given some slack. If a black man in an inner city neighborhood had hesitated to identify himself, or given the police some lip, the police would have called SWAT. When Oscar Grant, an apprentice butcher, talked back to a BART policeman in Oakland , he was shot!

Given the position that Gates has pronounced since the late eighties, if I had been the arresting officer and post-race spokesperson Gates accused me of racism, I would have given him a sample of his own medicine. I would have replied that “race is a social construct”--the line that he and his friends have been pushing over the last couple of decades.

After this experience, will Gates stop attributing the problems of those inner city dwellers to the behavior of “thirty five-year-old grandmothers living in the projects?” (Gates says that when he became a tough lover he was following the example of his mentor Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka as though his and Soyinka’s situations were the same. As a result of Soyinka’s criticisms of a Nigerian dictator, he was jailed and his life constantly threatened.)

Prior to the late eighties, Gates’ tough love exhortations were aimed at racism in the halls of academe, but then he signed on to downtown feminist reasoning that racism was a black male problem. Karen Durbin, who hired him to write for The Village Voice, takes credit for inventing him as a “public intellectual.” He was then assigned by Rebecca Penny Sinkler, former editor of The New York Times Book Review, to do a snuff job on black male writers. In an extraordinary review, he seemed to conclude that black women writers were good, not because of their merit, but because black male writers were bad. This was a response to an article by Mel Watkins, a former book review editor, who on his way out warned of a growing trend that was exciting the publisher’s cash registers. Books that I would describe as high Harlequin romances, melodramas in which saintly women were besieged by cruel black male oppressors, the kind of image of the brothers promoted by confederate novelists Thomas Nelson Page and Thomas Dixon.

Gates dismissed a number of black writers as misogynists, including me, whom he smeared throughout the United States and Europe , but when Bill Clinton was caught exploiting a young woman, sexually, he told the Times that he would “go to the wall for this president.” Feminists like Gloria Steinem defended the president as well, even though for years they’d been writing about women as victims of male chauvinists with power, the kind of guys who used to bankroll Ms. magazine.

Not to say that portraits of black men should be uniformly positive--I’ve certainly introduced some creeps in my own work--but most of the white screenwriters, directors and producers who film this material--and the professors and critics who promote it-- are silent about the abuses against women belonging to their own ethnic groups. Moreover, Alice Walker, Tina Turner and bell hooks have complained that in the hands of white script writers, directors and producers, the black males become more sinister straw men than they appear in the original texts.

There are big bucks to be made in promoting this culture. Two studios are currently fighting over the rights to a movie called “Push” about a black father who impregnates his illiterate Harlem daughter. A representative of one, according to the Times, said that the movie would provide both with “a gold mine of opportunity.”

As an example of the double standard by which blacks and whites are treated in American society, at about the same time that the Gate’s article on black misogyny was printed, there appeared a piece about Jewish American writers. Very few women were mentioned.

Gates was also under pressure for making himself the head black feminist in the words of feminist Michele Wallace as a result of his profiting from black feminist studies sales because, as she put it in the Voice, he had unresolved issues with his late mother, who was, according to Gates, a black nationalist. The black feminists wanted in. As a result, Gates invited them to join his Norton anthology project. The result was the Norton Anthology of African American Literature. One of the editors was the late feminist scholar Dr. Barbara Christian. She complained to me almost to the day that she died that she and the late Nellie Y. McKay, another editor, did all of the work while Gates took the credit. This seems to be Gates’ pattern. Getting others to do his work. Mother Jones magazine accused him of exploiting those writers who helped to assemble his Encarta Africana, of running an academic sweat shop and even avoiding affirmative action goals by not hiring blacks. Julian Brookes of Mother Jones wrote:

“Henry Louis Gates Jr. has never been shy about speaking up for affirmative action. Indeed, the prominent Harvard professor insists that he wouldn't be where he is today without it. Odd, then, that when it came to assembling a staff to compile an encyclopedia of black history, Gates hired a group that was almost exclusively white. Of the up to 40 full-time writers and editors who worked to produce Encarta Africana only three were black. What's more, Gates and co-editor K. Anthony Appiah rejected several requests from white staffers to hire more black writers. Mother Jones turned to Gates for an explanation of this apparent inconsistency.

“Did the staff members who expressed concern that the Africana team was too white have a point?”

Gates responded:

“It's a disgusting notion that white people can't write on black history--some of the best scholars of Africa are white. People should feel free to criticize the quality of the encyclopedia, but I will not yield one millimeter[to people who criticize the makeup of the staff]. It's wrongheaded. Would I have liked there to be more African Americans in the pool? Sure. But we did the best we could given the time limits and budget.”

While his alliance with feminists gave Gates’ career a powerful boost, it was his Op ed for the Times blaming continued anti-Semitism on African Americans that brought the public intellectual uptown. It was then that Gates was ordained as the pre-eminent African American scholar when, if one polled African-American scholars throughout the nation, Gates would not have ranked among the top twenty five. It would have to be done by secret ballot given the power that Gates’ sponsors have given him to make or break academic careers. As Quincy Troupe, editor of Black Renaissance Noire would say, Gates is among those leaders who were “given to us,” not only by the white mainstream but also by white progressives. Amy Goodman carries on about Gates and Cornel West like the old Bobby Soxers used to swoon over Sinatra. Last week Rachel Maddow called Gates “the nation’s leading black intellectual.” Who pray tell is the nation’s leading white intellectual, Rachel? How come we can only have one? Some would argue that Gates hasn’t written a first rate scholarly work since 1989.

CNN gave Gates’ accusation against blacks as anti-Semites a worldwide audience and so when I traveled to Israel for the first time in the year, 2000, Israeli intellectuals asked me why American blacks hated Jews so. In print, I challenged Gate’s libeling of blacks as a group in my book, Another Day at the Front, because at the time of his Op-ed, the Anti-Defamation League issued a report that showed the decline of anti-Semitism among black Americans. I cited this report to Gates. He said that the Times promised that there would be a follow up Op-ed about racism among American Jews. It never appeared. Barry Glassner was correct when he wrote in his “The Culture of Fear” that the whole Gates-generated black Jewish feud was hyped.

Under Tina Brown’s editorship at The New Yorker, Gates was hired to do hatchet jobs on Minister Louis Farrakhan and the late playwright August Wilson.

The piece on Wilson appeared after a debate between Robert Brustein and Wilson about Wilson ’s proposal for a black nationalist theater. Gates took Brustein’s side of the argument. Shortly afterward, Brustein and Gates were awarded a million dollar grant from the Ford Foundation for the purpose of holding theatrical Talented Tenth dinner parties at Harvard at a time when regional black theater was heading toward extinction. Tina Brown, a one-time Gates sponsor, is a post-racer like Gates. Like Andrew Sullivan, a Charles Murray supporter, she gets away with the most fatuous comments as a result of Americans being enthralled by a London accent. On the Bill Maher show, she said that issues of race were passé because the country has elected a black president. This woman lives in a city from which blacks and Latinos have been ethnically cleansed as a result the policies of Mayor Giuliani, a man who gets his talking points from The Manhattan Institute. Thousands of black and Hispanic New Yorkers have been stopped and frisked without a peep from Gates and his Harvard circle of post-racers such as Orlando Patterson.

Even the Bush administration admitted to the existence of racial profiling, yet Gates says that only after his arrest did he understand the extent of racial profiling, a problem for over two hundred years. Why wasn’t “the nation’s leading black intellectual” aware of the problem? His exact words following his arrest were “What it made me realize was how vulnerable all black men are, how vulnerable are all poor people to capricious forces like a rogue policemen.” Amazing! Shouldn’t “the nation’s leading black intellectual” be aware of writer Charles Chesnutt who wrote about racial profiling in 1905!

The Village Voice recently exposed the brutality meted out to black and Hispanic prisoners at New York ’s Riker’s Island and medical experiments that have damaged black children living in the city. Yet Maureen Dowd agrees with Tina Brown, her fellow New Yorker, that because the president and his attorney general are black--in terms of racism--it’s mission accomplished. Makes you understand how the German citizens of Munich could go about their business while people were being gassed a few miles away. You can almost forgive Marie Antoinette. She was a young woman in her thirties with not a single face lift operation.

What is it with this post-race Harvard elite? I got to see Dick Gregory and Mort Sahl perform in San Francisco the other night, the last of the great sixties comedians. During his routine, Gregory said that he’s sending his grand kids to black historical colleges because even though he lives near Harvard and can afford to send them there, he wouldn’t “send his dog to Harvard.” Maybe he is on to something.

When Queer Power became the vogue, Gates latched on to that movement, too. In an introduction to an anthology of Gay writings, Gates argued that Gays face more discrimination than blacks, which is disputed even by Charles Blow, Times statistician, who like Harvard’s Patterson and Gates, makes tough love to blacks exclusively. Recently, he reported that the typical target of a hate crime is black, but failed to identify the typical perpetrator of a hate crime as a young white male.

Moreover, what’s the percentage of Gays on death row? The percentage of blacks? Which group is more likely to be redlined by banks, a practice that has cost blacks billions of dollars in equity? Would Cambridge police have given two white Gays the problems that they gave Gates? Why no discussion of charges of Gay racism made by Marlon Riggs, Barbara Smith and Audre Lorde? How many unarmed white Gays have been murdered by the police? How many blacks? Undoubtedly, there are pockets of homophobia among blacks but not as much as that among other ethnic communities that I could cite. The best thing for blacks would be for Gays to get married and blacks should help in this effort, otherwise all of the oxygen on the left will continue to be soaked up by this issue.

For white Gays and Lesbians to compare their struggle to that of the Civil Rights movement is like Gates comparing his situation with that of Wole Soyinka’s. Moreover, Barbara Smith says that when she tried to join the Gay Millennial March on Washington , the leaders told her to get lost. They said they were intent upon convincing white Heterosexual America that “We’re just like you.”

Will the pre-late-80s Gates be resurrected as a result of what MSNBC and CNN commentator Touré calls Gates’ wake up call? (This is the same Toure, a brilliant fiction writer, who just about wrote a post-race manifesto for The New York Times Book Review, during which he dismissed an older generation of black activists as a bunch of “Jesses”.)

Will Gates let up on what Kofi Natambu the young editor of the Panopticon Review calls his “opportunism.” Will he re-think remarks like the one he made after the election of his friend, the tough love president Barack Obama? Gates said that he doubted that the election would end black substance abuse and unmarried motherhood?

Is it possible that things are more complicated than tough love sound bites which are designed to solicit more patronage? Will he reconsider the post-race neocon line of his blog,, bankrolled by The Washington Post? Will he invite writers Carl Dix and Askia Toure, who represent other African American constituencies, as much as he prints the views of far right Manhattan Institute spokesperson and racial profiling denier, John McWhorter.

Will he continue to advertise shoddy blame-the-victim and black pathology sideshows like CNN’s “Black In America,” and “The Wire?” (Predictably CNN’s Anderson Cooper turned Gates’ controversy into a carnival act. The story was followed by one about Michael Jackson’s doctors. CNN is making so much money and raising its ratings so rapidly from black pathology stories that it’s beginning to give Black Entertainment Network a run for its money, so to speak.)

Predictably, the segregated media--the spare all white jury dominating the conversation about race as usual--gave the Cambridge cop the benefit of the doubt and the police unions backed him up. The police unions always back up their fellow officers even when they shoot unarmed black suspects in the back or, in the case of Papa Charlie James, an elderly San Francisco black man, while he was laying in bed. They back each other up and “testilie” all of the time.

Will Gates listen to his critics from whom he has been protected by powerful moneyed forces, which have given him the ability to make or break academic careers, preside over the decision-making of patronage and grant-awarding institutions. Houston A. Baker Jr.’s Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned The Ideals Of The Civil Rights Era offers mild criticisms of Gates, West and other black public intellectuals, who, according to him, are “embraced by virtue of their race transcendent ideology.” His book went from the warehouse to the remainder shelves. The Village Voice promised two installments of courageous muckraking pieces about Gates written by novelist, playwright and poet Thulani Davis; part two never appeared. Letters challenging Gates by one of Gates’ main critics at Harvard, Dr. Martin Kilson, have been censored. Kilson refers to Gates as “the master of the intellectual dodge.” And even when Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell at The Nation’s blog defied the 24-hour news cycle that has depicted Gates, a black nationalist critic, as an overnight black nationalist-- she calls him “apolitical”--she had to pull her punches. As an intellectual, she has more depth than all of the white mainstream and white progressive media’s selected “leaders of black intellection,” among whom are post-modernist preachers who can spew rhetoric faster than the speed of light.

It remains to be seen whether Gates, who calls himself an intellectual entrepreneur, will now use his “wake up call” to lead a movement that will challenge racial disparities in the criminal justice system. A system that is rotten to the core, where whites commit the overwhelming majority of the crimes, while blacks and Hispanics do the time. A prison system where torture and rape are regular occurrences and where in some states the conditions are worse than at Gitmo. California prisons hospitals are so bad that they have been declared unconstitutional and a form of torture, over the objections of Attorney General Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who leased his face to the rich and was on television the other day talking about how rough they have it. A man who is channeling his hero the late Kurt Waldheim’s attitudes toward the poor and disabled.

Gates can help lead the fight so that there will be mutual respect between law enforcement and minorities instead of their calling us niggers all the time and being Marvin Gaye’s “trigger happy” policemen. Not all of them but quite a few. Or Gates can coast along. Continue to maintain that black personal behavior, like not turning off the TV at night, is at the root of the barriers facing millions of black Americans. Will return to the intellectual rigor espoused by his hero W.E.B Dubois or will he continue to act as a sort of black intellectual Charles Van Doren? An entertainer. (An insider at PBS told me that the network is demanding that Gates back up his claims about the ancestry of celebrities with more solid proofs.)

Gates has discussed doing a documentary about racial profiling. I invite him to cover a meeting residents of my Oakland ghetto neighborhood have with the police each month. (Most of our problems incidentally are caused by the off-springs of two family households. Suburban gun dealers who arm gang leaders. The gang leader on our block isn’t black! An absentee landlord who owns a house where crack operations take place.) He can bring Bill Cosby with him. He’ll find that the problems of inner citizens are more complex than “thirty five year-old grandmothers living in the projects” and rappers not pulling up their pants and that racism remains in the words of the great novelist John A. Williams, “an inexorable force.”

Finally, in his 2002 Jefferson lecture, delivered at the Library of Congress, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., during remarks about the 18th-Century poet Phillis Wheatley in which he excoriated the attitudes of her critics in the Black Arts movement, one more time, ended his lecture with: “We can finally say: Welcome home, Phillis; welcome home.”

If Gate’s ceases his role as just another tough lover and an “intellectual entrepreneur,” and takes a role in ending racial traffic and retail profiling, and police home invasions, issues that have lingered since even more Chesnutt’s time, we can say, “Welcome home, Skip; welcome home.”

Ishmael Reed is the publisher of Konch. His new book, "Mixing It Up, Taking On The Media Bullies" was published by De Capo.

Your Black News – 7/30/09

News: Dr. Michael Fauntroy and Boyce Watkins on CNN – 7/29/09


Click here to watch Dr Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University on CNN American Morning with Dr. Michael Fauntroy

Dr Boyce Watkins meets with Jackson, Sharpton, Ogletree


Click here to listen to Rev. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Dr. Boyce Watkins (Syracuse University) talk with Harvard Law Professor, Charles Ogletree

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Black News from

  • Deaf man tasered
    Deaf man tasered

    By theGrio

    7:45 PM on 07/28/2009

    Officers who used pepper spray and a Taser to remove a man from a store bathroom found out only later he was deaf and mentally disabled and didn't understand they wanted him to open the door, police said Tuesday...

    > MORE

  • Houston fire captain apologizes for noose in locker
    Houston fire captain apologizes for noose in locker

    By theGrio

    6:20 PM on 07/28/2009

    A senior Houston firefighter apologized Monday for keeping a rope that looked like hangman's noose in his locker, saying it was a memento from early in his career and not meant as a racist symbol...

    > MORE

  • MLK statue defaced
    MLK statue defaced

    By theGrio

    4:14 PM on 07/28/2009

    The statue of America's foremost civil rights leader -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -- has been defaced, painted white. Now Hollywood police are trying to determine whether this case is a hate crime or just vandalism. A homeless man...

    > MORE

CNN: Rick Sanchez and Boyce Watkins – 7/25/09


Syracuse University Professor Dr Boyce Watkins speaks with CNN’s Rick Sanchez about Obama’s Mistake.

Click here to watch the video.

Higher Education: A Right or Privilege for Intercollegiate Student-Athletes?


by Dr. Deborah Stroman

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Get Real! That’s my kind response to the critics of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) recent academic reform policy that eliminates the minimum SAT and ACT scores for admission. This well-thought out and crafted course of action finally gives colleges the academic freedom and independence to do what they do best – make decisions as to which students they want on their particular campus. Not the NCAA, the athletic leagues, or any other sport-related governing body has the right to tell an academic institution who is most deserving of the opportunity to sit in their classrooms and learn. Although our country promotes a spirit of education for all, the reality is that higher education is for the privileged. And those with the financial resources receive more access and resources. With a wink and a nod though, the student-athlete can oftentimes bypass this necessity if one possesses the talent to throw a tight spiral or shoot a silky-smooth jumper.

Historically, most universities have had the proud mission of educating citizens so that one could gain additional skills for the workforce to improve society. Unfortunately, an ivory tower mentality soon emerged across many campuses, which fostered an attitude of “you are not worthy.” This “education for the elite” thinking seemingly created a haven of knowledge mongers. Naaa-Na-Na-Na-Na! I have something you want and I am going to make it hard as heck for you to get it! Helping those less fortunate – no money, no access -- became someone else’s issue. This separatism has now come to the forefront as these elite state and private institutions, which purport to focus on research and teaching young minds, are now confronted with freeing up space (at someone else’s expense) to educate a poorly prepared student-athlete. Now everyone wants to win the big games, get media exposure, and improve fundraising to build the next library and add technological advances on campus. They need superb student-athletes to make that happen. The production from the gifted pianist, sculptor, and newspaper editor just won’t pay the bills. With highly competitive admission standards, many of these institutions have now had to construct various exception policies to provide admission to those whose standardized test scores would mean an almost automatic denial. With the removal of test scores as a major factor for admission, the universities now have the mandate to admit whomever they want to join their academic fellowship. I have no problem with their attempt to create and advance diversity on campus. In fact, I applaud these institutions for giving the student-athlete a chance. Welcome to the real world.

However, I do take issue with these same institutions and academics sneering their noses at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) or other centers of higher education that have mandates or specific missions to serve those less-fortunate and less-prepared for higher education. This altruistic concern can be misconstrued and ridiculed by the Academic Progress Rate (APR) bean counters and ivory tower hecklers though. The APR was instituted by the NCAA to monitor how effectively athletic departments are focusing on the scholastic development of its student-athletes by monitoring eligibility. Those who sit on high forget the objective of these schools to admit those academically challenged students and often judge and compare these colleges to their own peer group. If you can look down on others, then you can make yourself feel real good. Commonly, these student-athletes who attend HBCUs come from low-income homes, one-parent families and marginal high schools. The odds are stacked against them, but they choose to seek the benefits that higher education can afford them.

Now all universities should not be allowed to get off the hook with academic clustering though. Requiring or directing student-athletes to majors that fit best with sport practices and competition versus their own interest and competency is immoral. (It should be of no surprise that student-athletes would want to study sport-related subjects if they spend at least 20 hours a week and most of their life focusing on their body and its performance. Hello!) Gerald Gurney, president-elect of the more than 1,000-member National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics and senior associate athletics director at the University of Oklahoma, has stated that the rule change will only create an environment for colleges to further enroll ill-equipped student-athletes. If the marginal student-athlete is admitted for whatever reason, it is important that the university have a proper support structure in place that best provides a winning-platform to achieve on and off the playing field. This support should include consistent communication between the family, coaches, administrators, and faculty. Some would argue that the big-time schools fail in this regard because the coaches have too much power and influence. Hogwash! I believe that “applied knowledge is power” so the coaches need not back up or off, but rather the families, administrators, and faculty need to step up. They should familiarize themselves with the real keys to the game of life and become a part of the solution. Having the courage to confront seems to be missing on many of these campuses with miserable graduation rates and academic scandals. Falling through the cracks should not be an option for a student-athlete under the university’s care. The emphasis on student-athlete leadership training is super, but it is imperative to add student-athlete transition counseling to help them adjust to life after their career. The attraction of intercollegiate athletics is not going away. The marketing and administration of intercollegiate sport is a multimillion-dollar industry that requires new blood each and every year.

It is no wonder that most student-athletes seek higher education. The chance of a significant professional financial contract is highly unlikely, most still want to grow up with their peers who are moving on to college, they enjoy working out and developing their skills against better competition, and they want to learn more to prepare them for their life after competition. Their ability to perform and showcase their gift should not be held against them. Student-athletes offer college campuses a unique perspective and exciting entertainment, which enhances the diversity of the community, and quite possibly its financial coffers as well. Their overall graduation rate is higher than the general student body, which speaks to the student-athlete’s discipline and ability to focus when the pressure is on. Yes, higher education is a privilege. However, open admission or enrollment is a step in the right direction to take the pressure off of using standardized tests that only predict first-year performance and not graduation. The institutions that cheat are still going to cheat. Giving universities more control over their admissions is not going to increase or decrease that fact. The change is only a positive and long-overdue admission rule to respect reality and assist institutions in their most-noble purpose of serving all in our society through research, service and teaching.

Dr. Debby Stroman is a faculty member of the Sport Administration specialization of the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Watch Anderson Cooper and Boyce Watkins, Roland Martin – 7/25/09

Dr Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University and Anderson Cooper discuss the case of Harvard Professor, Henry Louis GatesClick here to watch the video!

America’s Post-Racial Hangover

With the Gates fiasco, the rosy glow has faded

Our National Postracial Hangover 1

AP Photo, Cambridge Police Department

by Dr. Peniel E. Joseph

My first reaction to watching the unfolding Saga of Skip Gates's Cambridge Arrest was that America's postracial bubble, like its recent economic troubles, was about to pop. The fact that some observers had never bought into the story of a race-free America purged of its past sins by a watershed presidential election had done little to diminish either that narrative's moral resonance or political weight.

Since America's racial disparities remain as deep-rooted after Barack Obama's election as they were before, it was only a matter of time until the myth of postracism exploded in our collective national face. That they would rear their ugly head in the form of an intellectual and racial cause célèbre is fitting, since black scholars and activists have been engaged in a robust debate over the meaning of race in the Age of Obama.

Suddenly Obama's recent declaration before the NAACP—that American blacks have come farther than at any other time in our country's history—seems suspect, our national progress undone by the fact that Gates's predicament has become a metaphor for the nation's legacy of racial discrimination.

Click to read more.

Henry Louis Gates 911 Tapes

Just out.  Listen to the audio from the 911 call on Henry Louis Gates’ Arrest by clicking here.

Your Black News: Radio/TV Host Montel Williams Speaks with Dr Boyce Watkins

Dr Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University, NBC and AOL Black Voices spoke with TV and radio show host Montel Williams on Monday.  The conversation focused on race and racial profiling.  They are going to also speak on financial advice in the future.

News: Roland Martin, Boyce Watkins, Anderson Cooper Talk Henry Louis Gates

Anderson COOPER: Professor Watkins, do you believe this is an issue about race, or do you think this is an issue of two people with -- with big egos or clashing egos?

WATKINS: I think that the answer is that we don't know.

And that is the problem, that we were making bandwagon assumptions based on things we didn't know. Look, either Sergeant Crowley violated procedure or he didn't. If he did violate procedure, he either violated it because Skip Gates was black or for some other reason.

But the truth is that we can't read this man's mind. And, so, the truth -- the reality is that this could have happened to someone of another ethnicity, potentially, particularly when you look throughout Sergeant Crowley's record.

And I assume that he wouldn't be teaching classes on racial sensitivity if he had a record of arresting black men for no reason. Now, I'm not trying to say that this did not happen in this case. I'm not anybody is a liar.

But what I'm saying is that we can't use this case as a -- some sort of poster child for racial-profiling issues across America, because there is real racial profiling that goes on, on places other than Harvard University, because I guarantee you this much.

MARTIN: Anderson...

WATKINS: Skip Gates is a guy who knows he is Skip Gates.

And being a black professor at Harvard, with all the money that Skip has, I guarantee you he has probably got more privilege than most white Americans have anyway.


MARTIN: Anderson, race -- race is involved, because you all -- look, when you step back and say, here, you have an African-American professor in his home. The cop comes there.

The black officer said, I think it may have been -- differently if it was an African-American cop with this actual black male here. What we have to learn here is, what is going through a black man's mind when this kind of thing is happening?

Again, people say, well, it needs to be overt. Well, people all self-perceive things differently. What is implied? What is inferred? And, so, here, he is standing here saying, this is how I am interpreting this.

We cannot dismiss that and say, well, that is not relevant. It is relevant, because it happens every day. People make assumptions. Women make assumptions based upon, well, is this happening to me because I am a woman? Is this happening to me because I am Hispanic? COOPER: But some assumptions are correct and some assumptions are not.

MARTIN: Absolutely. But that's why we can't...

WATKINS: Right. Absolutely.

Click to read more on the Dr Boyce Blog.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Black News: HIV Killing Black Women in Droves

Tony Wafford has taught his three daughters that when they go on a date, they need to be prepared: They carry a credit card, cash for a cab, a cell phone and a condom.

Young black women, he tells them, make up a strikingly disproportionate amount of HIV and AIDS cases in the United States. HIV infection is the leading cause of death for black women ages 25 to 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those aren't statistics you ignore.

Click to read.

Your Black News: Parents Blame 8-Year Old Daughter for Rape

Crime SceneJust when you think you've heard all there is to hear about the horrors of child abuse and neglect in this country, there's this horrifying report: An eight-year-old girl is allegedly gang-raped by four boys -- one of them her cousin -- and then rejected by her parents for shaming them.
You heard me.

The victim hails from a Liberian enclave in Arizona, and all of the children involved are refugees. Her 23-year-old sister, who was supposedly babysitting when four boys attacked the youngster in a storage shed (pictured), told KTVK in Arizona, "She always bring trouble...I came to her and said it's not good for you to be following guys because you are still little." If the girl, who is now in foster care, were to come home, her sister says she would be scolded. "She's just bringing confusions among us," she said.

Click to read.

Black Republicans Upset about the Party’s Direction


    • Watch black Republicans discuss the party's future

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Sarah Palin's resignation from her role as governor of Alaska has prompted new questions about the GOP's leadership and future. While Michael Steele made history by becoming the first black chairman of the Republican National Committee, where do African Americans stand in helping to redefine the party?

TheGrio sat down with a group of black Republicans to discuss their feeling on their political party and its future.

"What does it mean to be a black man that agrees with the Republican party's agenda, the Republican party's message?" said's Brandon Brice. "That is, reducing the size of government, giving people real opportunities to excel from any circumstance or situation."

According to a report released in May by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, Africans Americans make up two percent of the nation's Republican party, compared to 22 percent of the democratic party. The study also found that during the 2008 election, 95 percent of blacks voted for Barack Obama, while just four percent voted for Republican candidate John McCain.

Click to read.

Dr Boyce Watkins: Players Sue the NCAA Over Illegal Use of Images

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

Syracuse University

I've written extensively about the NCAA and what I perceive to be their consistent efforts to exploit the black community. They spend millions on public service announcements to protect their deception, but eventually the athletes and the public are going to wise up to what they are doing. The truth is that college athletes should be paid for the same reasons that any actor in a Hollywood blockbuster film would expect to receive compensation. The problem is that the families of athletes don't quite know how to organize and fight for their power. So, when I read about the recentlawsuit against the NCAA for allegedly misusing the images of athletes for videogames, I was a very happy man.

Let me break it down for you:

Based on my 16-years of experience as a college professor (I currently teach atSyracuse University, a school that earns millions off black families every year), collegiate athletics is not, in my opinion, about amateurism and it's not about education. It's about making money. Period. Many athletes are admitted to college every year and they would not be granted admission were it not for their ability to play sports and make money for the campus. Making money is not a problem, but the problem comes with the fact that universities do not share this revenue with the families of the players.

Click to read more.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dr Henry Louis Gates Provides Us with a “Teachable Moment”

Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested last week on a charge of disorderly conduct.

Boyce Watkins
Professor, Syracuse University

I’d hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you are infected with a disease. The disease that has infected you is called racism. The disease is a silent killer, not of our bodies, but of our society. It also deteriorates the brain and makes us delusional, as we sometimes see things that are not really there or refuse to see things that are actually right in front of us. What’s worse is that we know the disease is in the fabric of our institutions, but it is difficult to pinpoint the exact location. This leads to sloppy missteps, embarrassments and damaging accusations.

Henry Louis Gates, the Prominent Harvard University Professor who was arrested this week at his home by Cambridge Police Officer James Crawley, may have been a victim of the disease of racism. Even he has gotten to the point of stating that this story is no longer about race and his buddy, President Obama, has been back-peddling faster than a free safety in the NFL. In the midst of letting go of his allegations of racism against Sgt. Crawley (which I thought was a very good idea) Professor Gates has stated that we should use this situation as a “teaching moment.” It is also my hope that Dr. Gates understands that the first step toward being a good professor is to learn how to be a good student. As a professor myself, I am hopeful that he will allow me to teach the first class.


Click to read.

Friday, July 24, 2009

When Is Racial Profiling Not Racial Profiling?

Wilmer Leon

By Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

When is racial profiling not racial profiling? When the facts or circumstances fail to fit the accepted definition.

In 1999, the Oxford American Dictionary (OAD) provided a definition of racial profiling for the first time. “Racial profiling: an alleged police policy of stopping and searching vehicles driven by people from particular racial groups.” In 2005 the ACLU provided the broader definition as follows, "Racial Profiling" refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual's race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. Criminal profiling, generally, as practiced by police, is the reliance on a group of characteristics they believe to be associated with crime… Racial profiling does not refer to the act of a law enforcement agent pursuing a suspect in which the specific description of the suspect includes race or ethnicity in combination with other identifying factors.” Intent is a key element in evaluating this circumstance. It does not appear by any of the facts as stated that Sgt. Crowley focused on, targeted or arrested Dr. Gates based upon his race (human), ethnicity, religion, or national origin.

One unfortunate outcome of the Dr. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr. arrest in Cambridge, MA has been a rush to judgment by many who should know better. To immediately place Dr. Gates’ unfortunate arrest into the category of “racial profiling” does a great disservice to the volumes of cases that fit the accepted definition.

Sgt. Crowley was not passing by Dr. Gates’ home and upon seeing a Black man in a White neighborhood decided to investigate this seemingly strange occurrence. Sgt. Crowley was responding to a reported breaking and entering at Dr. Gate’s residence. Most police officers will tell you, safety first; better to be tried by twelve than carried by six. Sgt. Crowley’s primary concern was to ensure that there were no perpetrators on the scene and that the gentleman that he encountered (Dr. Gates) had every right to be there. It is also important to have some understanding of police procedure in these types of situations before passing judgment on what transpired.

At one point Dr. Gates is alleged to have said to Sgt. Crowley that he (Crowley) had no idea who he was messing with. Is it possible that this question may provide some insight into how this circumstance escalated to the point that it did? It is incumbent upon all citizens, no matter what their status or station in life to obey the legitimate commands of the police. One must never underestimate the blindness that attends arrogance.

Many are appalled that our beloved Skip Gates could be arrested in his own home and charged with disorderly conduct. According to Dr. Gates, "It never would have happened - imagine a white professor, a distinguished white professor at Harvard, walking around with a cane, going into his own house, being harassed or stopped by the police. It would never happen." That’s probably true, but is race really the reason why?

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the producer/host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program "On With Leon" and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, DC. Go to or email

© 2009 InfoWave Communications LLC.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Obama’s Prime Time Pitch: The Good, the Bad, and the Ivy

By Dr. Boyce Watkins

Syracuse University

10:00 PM on 07/22/2009

Obama champions the middle class and his Harvard pal

Obama responds to questions during a news conference Wednesday, July 22, 2009.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

I found myself enjoying President Obama's Healthcare pitch to the nation on prime time television, as he explained (as most politicians do) why the world will come to an end if we don't adopt his policies. His arguments were strong and valid, and he made it clear that he was out to help the middle class by letting rich folks pay the bill. I'm all for that.

I noticed how the president used the words "middle class" about 20 times through the night, and allowed nine different reporters to ask questions, none of them African American. But then again, it might have been tough for President Obama to find black people in the room, since there sure as heck didn't seem to be very many around.

Less predictable was the racial bombshell that President Obama saved for last on Wednesday night. After being asked about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, a prominent Harvard University professor, Obama spent just a few minutes reminding the world that he was not only a black man, but that that he was also an alumnus of Harvard University.

The man who some feel embodies the essence of a post-racial America was suddenly willing to candidly discuss race on behalf of his wealthy Harvard associate. What is incredibly ironic is that these were probably the most post-racial comments Obama has ever made, since they further opened the door to class warfare in America.

Click to read.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sometimes You’re Wrong Even When You’re Right

By Wilmer Leon


On Thursday July 16, 2009 after returning from a trip to China, Harvard University scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. had difficulty opening the front door of the home he leases from Harvard.  After he and his driver struggled with the front door Dr. Gates gained entry through the back door of the home, shut off the alarm, opened the front door, and the driver left.

According to Cambridge Police Department Incident Report #9005127, a neighbor called the police and reported a possible breaking and entering at the residence. The woman “…observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch...”  Her suspicions were aroused when, “…she observed one of the men wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry.”  The uniformed police officer went to the front door, saw Dr. Gates standing in the foyer and asked him to step out onto the porch.  Dr. Gates refused.

According to the Incident Report, after identifying himself as Sgt. Crowly and explaining that he was “investigating a report of a break-in in progress” at the residence, Dr. Gates opened the front door and stated, “why, because I’m a black man in America?”  After supplying the officer with Harvard University identification, the officer radioed for Harvard University Police.

Read More

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

“Black Man – 101” Don’t Argue With the Police

By Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III


On Thursday July 16, 2009 after returning from a trip to China, Harvard University scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.  had difficulty opening the front door of the home he leases from Harvard. After he and his driver struggled with the front door Dr. Gates gained entry through the back door of the home, shut off the alarm, opened the front door, and the driver left.

According to Cambridge Police Department Incident Report #9005127, a neighbor called the police and reported a possible breaking and entering at the residence. The woman “…observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch...” Her suspicions were aroused when, “…she observed one of the men wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry.” The uniformed police officer went to the front door, saw Dr. Gates standing in the foyer and asked him to step out onto the porch. Dr. Gates refused.

Read More

Consider this before crying "racial profiling"

by Boyce Watkins

Consider this before crying

I am not Al Sharpton. In fact, I never could be and I don't want to try. I am also not Henry Louis Gates, a man with an undeniable contribution to the legacy of Black Scholarship in America. I am simply Boyce Watkins, the son of a 17-year old mother and a father who happened to be a high-ranking police official for the past 28 years. I've argued with my father for decades, as his Bill Cosby-like views of the world have often made my face twist with confusion. But I listen to my father, because there is value in seeing other points of view.

When I hear about a Black man being mistreated by police, I take a moment of pause. I think about the horrific statistics on Black males in the criminal justice system, in which we are more likely to be arrested for the same crimes, more likely to be convicted, more likely to be incarcerated and expected to get more prison time than our White counterparts.

I think about my uncle, an older brother figure who was pressured into pleading guilty to a case that he wanted to fight, and who is psychologically damaged to this day from the trauma of going to prison as a 17-year old kid. I also think about my own graduate school experience in Kentucky, when I was rudely questioned by an officer after falling asleep in my office the night before a final exam.

Read More

No More No Homo Says Dr. Marc Lamont Hill

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill

Fox News political contributor Dr. Marc Lamont Hill wants to put an end to the pop culture catchphrase "no homo."

"No homo" was originated by rap star Cam'ron, who had an affinity for wearing anything pink but didn't want it to be perceived as "gay."

Since being made popular by Cam'ron and his Dipset hip-hop crew, the expression has evolved into a ubiquitous slang term used to chase any phrase, action or idea that could be perceived as linguistically gay.

Read More

Monday, July 20, 2009

Black Harvard Prof Henry Louis Gates Arrested

Harvard University’s Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African & African American Studies, was arrested July 16 on a charge of disorderly conduct.

Gates, 58, a resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Harvard’s main campus is located, was arrested after “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior,” according to a report on the Cambridge Police Department’s Web site. Cambridge police officials declined to comment and said the case was under investigation by Office of the Middlesex District Attorney. A call to the DA’s office wasn’t immediately returned.


Click to read.

President Obama Losing His Cool?

Obama urges Congress to pass health care reform AFP – US President Barack Obama has called on Congress to pass his health care reform, arguing that the stability …

Finally, we’re starting to see him sweat.

President Barack Obama made his personal icy cool the trademark of his campaign, the tenor of his White House and the hallmark of an early run of successes at home and abroad. But as the glamour wears off and a long, frustrating summer wears on, he is being forced to improvise — stooping to respond to political foes and adjusting his tactics and demeanor for the trench warfare of a legislative agenda.

The root of the change is one that faces every president: Economic and international realities that resist political charm. Iran and North Korea have shown no interest in the president’s outstretched hand. The economy has delivered a double-whammy, with rising unemployment stirring voters’ concerns while sluggish growth deprives the government of tax revenues Obama would like to spend on new programs.
Health care reform, which once appeared flush with momentum from earlier congressional victories, is now on a slog through no less than five committees, which include Democrats who either aren’t sold on Obama’s expansive vision or can’t figure out how to convince voters to pay for it.

Click to read more.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

President Obama’s New Pick for Surgeon General: Dr. Regina Benjamin

President Barack Obama nominated an Alabama country doctor who has three times resurrected her clinic in a fishing village after disasters to be U.S. Surgeon General on Monday and help him advocate for healthcare reform.

Dr. Regina Benjamin promised to advocate for Obama’s healthcare agenda as “America’s doctor” if she gets the job as chief public spokesperson on health issues, saying her own family and patients have been victims of the failing U.S. system.

“Through floods and fire and severe want, Regina Benjamin has refused to give up. Her patients have refused to give up,” Obama said in a White House Rose Garden announcement.

U.S. surgeons general in the past have issued influential reports on topics including smoking, AIDS and mental health. Benjamin said she not only wanted to serve in the traditional role of surgeon general, encouraging healthy habits, but press to make medical care more easily available.


Click to read.

Dr Boyce Watkins on AOL – 7/16/09

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Dr Boyce: Lil Wayne Is Willing to Murder Newborn Babies?


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Nicole Spence Moves Beyond her Wendy Williams Experience


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Dr Boyce Money: Would You Date Someone Who Has Been Laid Off?


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Dr Boyce: Bill Cosby's Book Made Money, But Did He Forget Something?


Friday, July 17, 2009

So Much Progress and Yet So Far to Go

Wilmer Leon

On February 12, 2009, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) marked its 100th anniversary. The NAACP is America’s oldest,
largest and most widely recognized grassroots–based civil rights organization.

The NAACP is an organization with a unique vision and mission. As stated on their website, its vision is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights and there is no racial hatred or racial discrimination. Its mission is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.

With the election of an African American President there are those who are asking if the NAACP is still relevant. In a “New America” a so-called “post racial” America, is the NAACP still needed? Since the founding of the NAACP on February 12, 1909, so much progress has been made and yet, there is so far to go.

Their literature states that in 1905, the NAACP's stated goal was to secure for all people the rights guaranteed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution, which promised an end to slavery, the equal protection of the law, and universal adult male suffrage, respectively.

Yes, slavery has ended in America, people of color can secure equal protection of the law, and vote, but there are miles to go before we sleep. The main barrier for African Americans politically and otherwise has always been and continues to be race and the manner in which race is used to define and diffuse issues. Yes, class is a factor as well but race is still the dominant variable in the equation.

The most recent evidence of this played itself out on June 29, at The Valley Swim Club, a private swim club in Huntington Valley, PA. Creative Steps Day Camp, a Northeast Philadelphia children’s day camp that services primarily the African American and Latino communities signed a contract with and paid The Valley Swim Club more than $1900 for one day of swimming a week for the summer session.

When the children arrived for their first day of swimming they were not well received. According to news reports, camper Dymire Baylor stated, "I heard one lady saying 'Why's there so many black kids here' cause she said she was afraid that we might do something to her child." NBC reported, "When the minority children got in the pool all of the Caucasian children immediately exited the pool," Horace Gibson, parent of a day camp child, wrote in an email. "The pool attendants came and told the black children that they did not allow minorities in the club and needed the children to leave immediately."

Another camper, Jabriel Brown said the he felt the tension all afternoon. He began to feel better when he recognized a familiar face – a teacher from his middle school. His sense of security was quickly dashed when he tried to say hello and the teacher just ignored him. Brown said, “It made me feel bad…she used to be my math teacher.”

After the first day, Creative Steps money was quickly refunded and the campers were told not to return. Several campers said they heard pool members making racial remarks during their time inside the club.

In response to these events Club president John Duesler told a Philadelphia television station that several club members complained because the children fundamentally changed the “complexion” and “atmosphere" at the pool but that the complaints didn't involve race. If not race than what? Duesler later claimed that the campers were removed for safety reasons. It is also important to note that the representatives of the swim club have not disputed the facts as stated, merely the reasons for the actions.

The NAACP has requested the Human Relations Commission to investigate. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission will immediately open an investigation into the actions of The Valley Swim Club, chairman Stephen A. Glassman has said, "The rule of law in Pennsylvania is equal opportunity for all, regardless of race."

W.E.B. DuBois, founder and general secretary of the Niagara movement and was among the founders of the NAACP wrote in 1952, "The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the colour line." He was right then and is correct today. Who would have thought that in 2009, a swim club in the City of Brotherly Love would revert to the Jim Crow practices of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s simply because some White parents are misguided and afraid of what some Black and Latino swimmers might do to their children?

Do we need the NAACP? Is the NAACP still relevant?

As long as African American men are incarcerated at a rate of more than six times the rate of White men and the incarceration of Black women continues to grow at record numbers the answer is yes! As long as unemployment among African American’s is more than twice the rate of White Americans (four times in NY) and as long as studies show that a Black family's income is a little more than half that of a similar White family's income, the answer is yes! As long as African Americans continue to deal with Driving While Black, excessive high school dropout rates, and imbalances in health care, the answer is yes!

Have we made racial progress in America? Yes, we have; but even with so much progress we have yet so far to go. We still have miles to go before we sleep. Dr. Dubois, the problem of the twenty-first century is the problem of the color line.

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “On With Leon” and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Go to or email:

© 2009 InfoWave Communications, LLC

Sunday, July 12, 2009

In God We Trust – And that’s about it!


Dr. Deborah Stroman

Sheeessh! By the news events of the past few weeks, one would have thought that it was time to grab our belongings and head to hills. Can anyone be trusted in this information age of hustle, fast-talk, get-rich deals, and quickie-relationships? Here’s a bit of timeless advice for those desperately seeking peace-of-mind and still holding on in hope for a brighter tomorrow –

1. Don’t seriously date someone that doesn’t have as much as you to lose financially in a relationship (especially if you’re already married). Yes, this tip may appear narrow-minded, elitist, and tough to swallow but the facts reflect reality. Mr. McNair more than likely lost his life not because the alleged killer was not cute enough or highly cultured, but rather she got a taste of the good life that she had never previously experienced. The young lover was not an observable regular in the high-income bracket circle. Her self-defined love and feelings for this once-in-a-lifetime fling would not permit her to let go. She probably rested on the “if I can’t have him, no one else will” sentiment to end their lives tragically. It is highly doubtful that a businesswoman with millions (who was rejected by a rich lover that would periodically spend his mint on her to woo her) would take her own life and risk the chance to meet another stud athlete with bank and street cred.

2. Drink more water and eat something green everyday. Pretty simple and logical, huh? Well, apparently most Americans don’t understand the levels of toxicity in the world that are directly attacking our vital organs. Our government just reported that 1 in 4 people get sick every year due to food-borne illnesses. If you haven’t looked around lately (or don’t trust the folks in D.C.) while visiting the mall, supermarket or movies, you might not have noticed the increasing tires around the waists of many men and rolls on women. Our nation is inhaling poison and eating too much sugar. In addition, there are over 12 million obese children. Data from NHANES surveys (1976–1980 and 2003–2006) show that the prevalence of obesity has increased from 5.0% to 17.6% for those aged 12–19 years. Yikes! We must cleanse daily. There is a simple law of physics that we all learned in grade school: all matter is in a state of entropy. Everything is changing by moving either forward or backwards. Nothing stays the same. To that end, you are either aging gracefully or perched high and hanging on by your fingernails as you look down at a bed of nails. Please don’t think your digestive track (and in particular, your liver) can do the necessary cleansing to offset the junk in the air and your self-selected food and water supply. And don’t wait on the FDA to adequately address salmonella and E.coli contamination. Incredibly, the Food Safety Contamination Act of 2009 has just gone to Congress…so what kind of protection have we had up to this point in time? Scary. Very scary. Thank heavens for our First Lady and her emphasis on vegetables and growing your own garden.

3. Be loyal to yourself and not your job. Huh? Yes, the days of working for an employer for 30 years to receive the gold watch and phat pension are over. Kaput! Sayonara! Instead, focus on how you can serve your clients – your boss, your peers, and your customers. If you take care of others, the universe will take care of you. Period. I’m not debating her decision to disregard her commitment to Alaskans, but even Gov. Palin realized that it is best to walk away and control her own life destiny. Others may consider her resignation to be shortsighted but she saw that jewel as false gold. Trusting the company line may get you in trouble when you need them most. Get rid of that pride and keep your resume updated. Tell those who sincerely care about your well being about your career interests early and often. Why? Shift happens. They can serve as ambassadors to inform you of job opportunities and career contacts when you aren’t around to receive the news or referral firsthand. The U.S. unemployment rate has risen to a 26-year high of nearly 10%, which is not only affecting the low-income strata but also the wealthy as they must become more efficient and strategic in business management. It is of no surprise that the NBA recently announced a lower salary cap ($57.7 million) for the upcoming season. Who wants to dig into their retirement and “fun-stuff” kitty to pay extra millions to employees (i.e., highly-skilled basketball players)? Hey ballers! Keep practicing those jump shots and crossover moves but don’t be shy about buying a condo in the many cities your career will take you, instead of throwing money down the drain in the purchase of opulent mansions to show off to your posse. Oh, and don’t forget that everyone is replaceable so watch your ego too.

4. Secure your financial foundation. Fundamentals in economic concepts include learning the difference between needs and wants. Pump your brakes on those expenditures that are not helping you stay healthy or providing shelter. Look at the alternatives and what is foregone (the opportunity cost) when considering a four-hour and $120 hair appointment. Educate yourself on insurance basics to protect yourself and loved ones in case of an unexpected loss. Using discounted dollars to replace property or loss of life is the most prudent decision unless you are independently wealthy. Life, health, disability and P&C (home, auto, etc.) should never be an afterthought. And don’t believe for a hot minute that crooks like Madoff operate on their own. Be suspicious of those in St. John knit, Kiton and Armani suits that you can never contact outside of business hours. The corporate web of lies and criminal activity have sent many portfolios south and far too few white collar cheats to jail. The best protection is education and the courage to ask questions of financial professionals. Take advantage of opportunities but don’t shop blindly. For example, the new $8000 (or 10% of the home’s value, whichever is less) credit for first-time homebuyers may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing so do your due diligence. Does it make sense to promote nearly 100% financing (with 3.5% minimum down payment) of homes to those with zero homeowner experience and limited money? Isn’t that what partially got America in the hot mess we are in now? Not that I would ever expect innovation from our political leaders…More than ever, save what you can to prepare for what appears to be a long climb out of this recession.

This advice may seem harsh and direct, but truth doesn’t always come in the form you like and expect. There are always exceptions to these suggestions, but don’t bet on you being that outlier. Trust your God and your instincts. Remember the ol’ country saying, “People are like onions.” You never really know someone 100% because there are layers and layers of new truth and experiences. And oftentimes that truth hurts without really trying. Choose your friends wisely and give them permission to tell you when you are out-of-line and that you need to check yourself. As the Bible tells us, guard your heart and act on those signals when someone shows you who they really are…including your new boo, financial advisor or manager. Read and become empowered in your own life journey. When you find a job that makes you smile each and every day AND you get paid for it – that is joy. And isn’t that what life is all about? Now go finish that glass of water.

Dr. Debby Stroman is a faculty member of the Sport Administration specialization of the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. For more information, please visit

Your Black Health: Black Male HIV Problems Confuse the Scientists

A small survey of young black men from the South who tested positive for H.I.V. in their teens and early 20s found that most had engaged in risky sexual behaviors but thought it unlikely they would be infected, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

HIV Rates Among Black Men


More than half of the 29 gay or bisexual men surveyed said they had engaged in unprotected anal sex in the year before they were infected and had had sex with slightly older men, the survey found. Both are risky behaviors, yet the vast majority of the young men said they had not thought that they would ever be infected.

Young black gay and bisexual men are becoming infected with H.I.V. at alarming rates, particularly in the South, and health officials are trying to analyze their risk factors in order to refine education and intervention strategies.

“We need to make sure that H.I.V. infection does not become a rite of passage for young black men who have sex with men,” said Dr. Alexandra Oster, one of the authors of the survey published last week in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

After the Mississippi State Department of Health notified the C.D.C. in late 2007 that the number of new H.I.V. diagnoses had spiked at a sexually transmitted disease clinic serving Jackson, Miss., , the agencies teamed up to do the survey. The number of newly diagnosed H.I.V. cases among all black men in the Jackson area had increased 20 percent between 2004-2005 and 2006-2007, but infections among those ages 17 to 25 had jumped 45 percent.

Click to Read.