by Angela Winters

As part of his supplemental budget proposal, Maryland governor Ehrlich wants $1.1 million to support the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, which opens in Baltimore later this summer. Many people remember Mr. Lewis, the Harvard educated, outspoken multi-millionaire and owner of Beatrice Foods, among other things. His biography, Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun? How Reginald Lewis Created a Billion Dollar Business Empire, was a bestseller. A native of Baltimore, he died of cancer at 50.
Biz Journals: Ehrlich budgets $1 million more for African American museum - 2005-03-18

Conservative Republicans have decided to pass on that whole inclusive party thing and are ready to fight the next battle to take over the world; within their own party. Despite rumors that moderate Republicans are planning a mutiny, conservatives aren't hearing it. In states like Ohio, they are looking to push out the moderates they believe are holding them back. Their candidate is the famous, or infamous depending on who you talk to, Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell. Blackwell is very conservative and Republicans hope to make him Governor in 2006 with the values voters and the black vote.
Lexington Herald-Leader: Ohio conservatives want control of party

Despite making some headway in race relations, New York's Mayor Bloomberg is in hot water with the Korean community over his office's decision to abandon the College Point Wholesale Development Initiative project, aimed at created jobs in the community just eight months ago. Mixed record on race
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by Angela Winters

An article at reaches into the past in 2003 and brings up questions about contributions to Presidential candidate Al Sharpton's campaign by a group of wealthy investment bankers. It was all part of a scheme involving government pension funds, city contracts, and a plan to take over scores of fast-food franchises.
It's all part of a 150-page indictment that surfaced this past summer in Philly. After a quick Google News search, you can see what other news sources have to say about it. Feds Allege Scheme of Pension Funds, Chicken Joints, Al Sharpton
New York Post Online Edition: Feds Tap Rev Al and Comptroller Government alleges scheme of pension funds, fast-food franchises, Al Sharpton

Another article at talks about famous white journalist, John Howard Griffin, who wrote Black Like Me based on his experiences in the South passing for black. Griffin's back, but as opposed to white liberal guilt, he wants whites to acknowledge they have been harmed by racism as well. It's generally a topic that makes most people listening feel uncomfortable. You'll find a few black people out there that get all warm inside when they hear a white person exclaim how much his race owes our race, but those are few.

In his article Author Challenges Whites to Acknowledge Their Privilege in Society and Help Dismantle It Griffin challenges whites to acknowledge their privilege in society and help dismantle it. Okay, so are there white people out there that don't know being white has been an advantage in American society? I think if pushed, all but the idiots would admit that. Now as far as dismantling, most whites will become suddenly hard of hearing when you start that conversation; and I'm not talking about racist. It is against human nature to actively work against your advantage, even if it is the right thing to do.
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by Angela Winters

More black men are in prison than in college. More black men have served time in prison than served in the military. These aren't good statistics and the National Urban League wants to do something about it. Michael Cottman of Black America Web writes about The Plight of Jailed Black Men and the NUL's study titled Lockdown: The Race to Incarcerate African-Americans. This is part of the civil rights new National Commission on the Black Male, created to explore racial disparities and social trends that adversely impact black men. It's a topic that is likely to come up on Wednesday April 6th, when the NUL presents its Annual State of Black America 2005 Report.

How the public receives this might offer interesting insight on where we are as a country. I'll bet that most people will say they're sick of feeling sorry for the black man. It's time they step up, take responsibility for themselves and change their state in life. Very few of those people will be black men. We have to turn the tide of our young boys idealizing the "prison" culture and seeing life in jail as a badge of honor or an inevitability. I only hope this doesn't become a study that blames everyone other than black men for their situation. I don't think it will; I have too much respect for the NUL to presume it will at least.

When you think about who the NUL is trying to protect, they really have their work cut out for them. Not only does there seem to be a deeply hidden hostility towards black men in general by some, but these are convicted criminals. No one cares about how they are being treated and no one cares about their rights. They're where they are because they cheated, mugged, attacked, raped and murdered, so America isn't looking to save those who prey on them. That is, they won't be until they're back out in society and then it's too late.

CSSNY: For Many Black Men: Prison Yes - Jobs No
Essay Depot: Black Incarcerated Males -Report Calls For Alternatives To Prison For Black Men
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by Angela Winters

Michael Cottman at Black America Web writes about DNC Chair Howard Dean's message to blacks; Republicans Have Nothing to Offer. He says Republicans try to get in our good graces every four years and the recent Social Security campaign is the most recent example of how they try to push an "awful" agenda on us.

Where is the silver lining? Dean says the Republican's efforts will force Democrats to work harder. Harder at what? It is true that the Republicans are making some inroads, especially through black churches, but Dean doesn't say what the Democrats response will be besides telling us Republicans are being disingenuous.

"It's a matter of keeping our word and being respectful to black Americans," Dean added. "We want to show up and not take them for granted."

What does that mean? It sounds so textbook politician that it's almost an insult. I think using Social Security as the issue to connect with the black community is the wrong choice, but just pointing that out doesn't say anything good about the Blue.

I read about this story from a great black blog, Booker Rising, and it seems to have gotten picked up at a few places. A group of black ministers, lobbyists and activists are getting their hands into the conservative movement pie with a document titled, The 21st Century Mayflower Compact, and hope it will be a catalyst to getting their voices heard on moral and social values issues. Mayflower Compact Website

I think a lot of people, myself included, are a little jarred by the connection to the pilgrims and can't seem to get past it for the message. It seems like an odd choice, but not too odd that I can't be down with the message. My first inclination is to say that I hope it goes beyond the repeated mantra of "we have to focus on personal responsibility," but the more I see, the more I learn that we still haven't fully grasped that concept. The Washington Times: Black coalition 'codifies' values.

So will a document return us to the values and morals that helped us survive slavery, prejudice and racism that is 1,000 times worse than anything we face today? Will a document return us to the strong traditional family units that provided the foundation of faith and support which began to erode 40 years ago? Will a document bring us back to the survival mindset that allowed us to build business, communities, even universities with much less capital and legal protection than we have now? No. A document is just a piece of paper with words on it, but it is part of a turning tide within the community of people who see our strength lies within us and want to fight for our families and our values, so I'm willing to listen more.

Noticias: RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman Attends The Unveiling Of The 21st Century Mayflower Compact
Los Angeles Times Conservatives come calling, and blacks may be listening this time (3/21/05)
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By Angela Winters

The Amsterdam News, a black newspaper has an article about the lack of African Americans in top G-man roles. Blacks Lag Behind Whites in Top - Level City Government Jobs. To keep it real, writer Clover Hope focused on cities with a high level of minority citizens. As a former Corporate Diversity Professional, I've learned that the number of minority employees a company has means basically nothing, because leadership, and the track to it, is what counts.

Equity is different from city to city because representation shouldn't be based on population; it should be based on available talent pool. There really isn't any excuse for a company or a government agency in a city like New York, Washington D.C. or Chicago to have sorry numbers, because the available pool of experienced, educated blacks in the workforce is pretty large. I would expect government, in particular, to have better numbers than this because the numbers of blacks that have had time to rise in the ranks are larger than in most corporate industries like investment banking, etc.

Deborah Mathis of Black America Web has a question. If Congress Can Have Hearings on Steroids, Where are the Hearings on Gangs?. Look, we all know that these hearings are nothing more than grandstanding; an opportunity for members of Congress to beat their chest and make it appear as if they are actually trying to change the world instead of taking two hour lunches with lobbyists three days a week. They never really result in anything and no one really expects them to. All the more reason, I would think, for them to want to hold a hearing on gangs. They can point fingers and get on their soap boxes with no intention of actually coming up with a solution or making a change.

But who would they call to The Hill to point their fingers at? The gang culture thrives because of so much that is wrong in society and they are the "society makers" or so they seem to claim they are. Well, so much for that.

Hadji Williams, author of Knock The Hustle, writes an article for Pop & Politics explaining How Blackness Became Universal, about the marketing of blackness by whites. Whites buy the parts of the culture they like, ignoring anything they don't and bypassing all the blood, sweat and tears. He touches on Hip Hop as a prime example of how whites have taken the culture and are selling back to us and profiting.

Hadji didn't mention anything about this, but it made me think of the role these moguls play in affecting communities. They don't think about it, because they go home to their white kids and don't see the big deal. They don't understand that Hip Hop effects black kids in different ways than their own. But is that really their responsibility?

Because not only do black kids not have enough in their life to contradict the message in the music, much of what they have actually reinforces it. I drove by a car in Dallas last week and it was bumping a DMX song, uncensored and completely graphic. In the car was a black man looking about 30 and a little black boy about 10; both bopping their heads. My father didn't let us play that music in the house, in the car, or anywhere else he might possibly hear it. He knew he couldn't control what we listened to outside of the house, but it was clear from him, as our moral guide, that this was going down, and that made a difference.

Likewise, most white kids live in a daily culture that contradicts what is in the music and that is how it remains nothing more than music/entertainment for them. Music is music, but good parenting trumps everything.

I write for P&P too. They have some great articles. GO ILLINI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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by Angela Winters

The NY Times has 20 Questions for Jeff Gannon/Guckert as he explains a little, but not too much about his rise to irrelevancy. The questions are at times harsh, but Guckert seems to be an acceptable target to most. I think it's that car crash theory. Why are people so fascinated with the destruction of another man's life.

I'm surprised he's offering interviews considering the media has decided to make him their punching bag. Maybe he thought time had weakened the flames and they would go easy on him. Personally, I don't think he's newsworthy. Jeff Gannon: Blogged Down

Stephen Dubner's NY Times article, Toward a Unified Theory of Black America, has received a good amount of press play. It's about Roland Fryer, a 27-year old super achiever and black Harvard professor. He's currently in a fellowship and his paper is an analysis of the African-American experience which will "bring economics into the mainstream area of inquiry within the broader field of African-American studies." Henry Louis Gates, also a Harvard professor, says Fryer is destined for greatness; an opinion shared by many.

Fryer is taking the analytical economic approach to finding the answers to black underachievement that go beyond the same old political arguments that the left and right spout on a daily basis. He even considers the possibility of genetics as the answer to some of these "lagging behind" issues and that is bound to cause a stir or two. It's not like the school has completely recovered from its President suggesting that genetics plays a role in women lagging behind men in the sciences.

Everyone seems to be very excited about what Fryer's genetic theorizing will bring us, but I'll wait until I see the finished product and can tell it's in English. After all, what's the point of all this stuff if you have to get a degree from Harvard in order to understand it.

Just when we thought it was safe to go into the water, there is some speculation that Alan Keyes could be a possible Senate candidate for Sarbane's seat in Maryland. Baltimore Sun: Will Alan Keyes pack his carpetbag for Md.? At least he would be running in his own state.

What is interesting to watch will be the reaction of the MD State GOP. Let's face it, not that they are specifically looking for a black candidate, but if they go that route, they're putting their weight behind Maryland LG Michael Steele and aren't even thinking about Keyes. Steele could have an edge. Might they think he has a better chance in MD than he did in IL? Of course. None of the Republican or Democrat candidates have the Obama appeal, but Maryland's political history just doesn't give me the impression it's a Keyes kind of state.
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by Angela Winters

I'm off to Dallas to get in as much trouble as I can for the next week. Here are a few interesting articleS to hold you until I get back.

This isn't really an article, it's a tape of an interview with Harvard Law Professor, Charles Olgetree, who is leading a group seeking reparations for survivors of a race riot in Oklahoma in 1921. Here and Now : Suit Seeks Reparations I've been clear about my opinion on reparations for multiple generation descendants, but for survivors it's another thing. It has been a long time and I think that will work against Olgetree, but when a clear distinction of immediate victims is made, the argument is worth listening to.

This commentary in the L.A. Times is titled, "Different Battle, Same Struggle" on the ongoing argument comparing gay rights today to the black civil rights movement in the 60s. People are up in arms over this and now that a judge has ruled in favor of recognizing gay marriage by quoting Brown vs. Board of Education, the debate continues.

An issue dear to my heart as a former Illini, there is a new case in court over the use of Chief Illinwek as the school mascot/symbol/whatever PC word we use now. Native American lawyers sue U OF I over mascot. This battle has been going on for ages and I still remain on the side of keeping Chief Illiniwek. It wouldn't hurt me if he was removed and I don't care for the dance, but I personally felt a sense of pride while I was at the school and it made me want to learn more about the Illini Tribe. I wouldn't expect a Native American to tell me how I should feel about black images, so I won't do the same to them, but I'll just say I like the Chief.

Sandy Banks of the L.A. Times is talking race in her article, He's Comfortable in His Skin -- Now It's Our Turn, about Senator Obama. One of the questions ask if he feels there will be a problem for people reconciling the warm and fuzzy National Convention image with the sometimes racially charged views in his book, Dreams from My Father : A Story of Race and Inheritance, which he wrote ten years ago.

I read the book, and although Obama clearly went through his angry, young black man phase, he even more clearly came through it and channeled his frustration into a positive, mature attitude that spurred his activism and political career. He was angry and confused as a young black boy in America without a father to guide him into manhood and no one can fault him for that. They can blame him for how he deals with understanding his place in the world, deciding to play a role in changing it and taking control of his own destiny. I thought the book was honest, although the literary tone was a little forced at times, and I can't imagine anyone having a hard time seeing how that young man in the book become the man he is today.

If I need bail money in "The D" I'll let you know. See you next week. Until then, try and fall in love with somebody!

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by Angela Winters

So now they're starting to get it. Last year, I wrote an article, The Abortion Debate, wondering why the pro-life and pro-choice groups spend so much time, money and effort on either turning over or preserving a law when all of that time, money and effort could be put to better use focusing on ending the need. It is a common centrist opinion that usually gets dissed by the left or right because they both want someone to blame and point the finger at so as to say, "You're Wrong!"

More politicians are trying to create a bridge between these two groups. It isn't easy because both Democrats and Republicans are so closed to those within their ranks that take an opinion opposite the majority.

NARAL, a pro-choice organization is proposing a partnership with the pro-life movement to focus on the one thing they both agree on; ending the need for abortion and unwanted pregnancies. This is easier said than done because both sides disagree on basic issues of sex education, healthcare, etc., but worth working through them. If we work to focus more on the need, the law won't really matter. Honestly, when women find a way to work together towards a goal, we won't be denied.
San Francisco Chronicle: Pro-choice leader makes public appeal to conservatives / NARAL chief urges opponents to seek common ground

Before Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, BOND Founder and President, wrote Scam: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America, I hadn't heard too much about him. I read the book and thought it made some good points, but it was too accusatory and homophobic for my taste. I did find his encounter with Reverend Jesse Jackson and his son, JJ Junior in 2001 at an L.A. economic development conference. I only read Peterson's viewpoint, so it seemed like he was really singled out and bullied.

I took it all with a grain of salt, because this guy hates Jesse Jackson more than Bill O'Reilly does. It's interesting now that Peterson has decided to file a lawsuit again Jackson I & II for the event. Why now? Pastor Sues Jackson
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by Angela Winters

I know you aren't the least bit interested in my personal business, but I'm really backed up this week, so we'll have a week of traditional piggyback blogging:

The L.A. Times has an article about the efforts of the GOP to bring more black folks in by created a committee made up of leaders. I put the word in italics because it's used so subjectively and I worry that we/they still feel we need them on either side. Of course former Congressman Watts from the O.K. will be on the committee. It also includes some recognizable names; Bishop Keith Butler, pastor of the World of Faith International Christian Center in Detroit and a likely U.S. Senate candidate; Alphonso Jackson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development; National Black Chamber of Commerce President Harry Alford; and Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele.
L.A. Times: GOP Forms Panel to Draw More Blacks Into Tent

Former NAACP Prez, Kwesi Mfume, who seems like a nice enough guy, has formally announced his 2006 Senate bid for the state of Maryland. He plans to succeed Sarbanes, who has decided to retire. Republicans are already considering Lt. Gov Michael Steele as a possible opponent for Mfume to set up a 2006 version of Obama/Keyes in Illinois 2004. Well, not really considering this time around, both of the candidates actually have a chance of winning. Washington Post: Mfume Announces 2006 Senate Bid
Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Former NAACP Leader To Run For Senate
Patrick Ruffini :: Mfume v. Steele? Ex-NAACP head to seek Senate seat - Mar 14, 2005

Nothing about politics, but the first African-oriented honor society has been created, The Order of Kush, and is devoted exclusively to African scholarship. I'm a real ancient geek, so I love anything about Ancient Egypt, Nubia, Greece, Rome, etc. The more I can learn about Ancient Africa, the better. The complexity of these cultures is extremely interesting; especially when it isn't sugar coated and shows the failures as well as accomplishments.

The Order of Kush says it was created to change the impression that African's have no history. I don't know if people think that, but they may think we have no history worth noting. It's a rich history of success, discovery, innovation, mystery and failures...just like every other ancient culture, but it's our own. Museum info, art...all that great stuff.

INB: First of Its Kind African Fraternity Makes Debut
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by Angela Winters

For a change of pace, let's do a little local race & politics roundup:

The Texas Legislative Black Caucus is opposing a proposed education reform bill because the expected program cuts in after-school initiatives, safe schools programs, and library and technology funding are all initiatives most needed by high minority population school districts. If this is true, where does responsible fiscal behavior and social responsibility draw a line? Will the cost saved by cuts in these programs be made up for by dealing with the results of kids who are out on the streets instead of after-school activities? How do kids whose parents can't afford a computer at home compete with those whose parents can if they can't get the computers at school?

Cuts in these programs are probably necessary and there is a lot of money wasted in unsuccessful educational programs, but in certain areas, these programs are the only things kids have to keep them motivated and out of trouble until. It's a hard choice.

There are a lot of fireworks in the race for mayor of Los Angeles, which my mother refers to as "the off ramp to the Apocalypse." Race has played a big role, but probably not as big as the media plays it up to be. We've got a white guy, Hahn, a Latino, Villaraigosa and a black ex-police chief, Parks. Ugly things said, desperate last minute measures; nothing new or innovative here. LA mayoral race down to wire
Pacific News Service: Dilemma for Black Voters in Los Angeles Mayor's Race

A little storm is brewing in Motown's mayoral race. The current mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, has been embroiled in a lot of small and not so small controversies since taking office. He is definitely vulnerable. City councilwoman, Sharon McPhail, who is hoping to take Kilpatrick's job, put her foot in her mouth by using a racial slur at the Sambo awards. Okay, so we're supposed to be surprised that something offensive might come from an event called the Sambo Awards while giving out the "Sambo Sell-Out of the Year Award?"

So race has been injected into a city mayoral campaign; how rare. McPhail is in trouble and probably deserves to be, but says it was just a roast. Freep: McPhail awards mayor with slur
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by Angela Winters

A funny short in The Washington Post by Richard Leiby, about the Center For American Progress sponsoring a "name Ann Coulter's new book" contest. The winner was:

"Roosevelt: Wheelchair-Riding, America-Hating Terrorist"

I know she's really popular with the right, but I can't stand her. I despise people who profit from nastiness. Even in this acidic political environment, she stands out as one of the most bitter, hateful people on T.V. The way she laughs while she spouts pornographic and mean-spirited accusations and name calling makes her look worse than whoever it is she's trying to disparage. Then to try and defend men like McCarthy as American heroes...enough said.

Maybe I'm missing out on something by being a centrist, but I've never bought into this concept that Coulter and other venomous critic on the Left and Right, that demands you demonize everyone who disagrees with you. We've gone from saying that a person who disagrees with us is wrong, to saying a person who disagrees with us is truly bad, hates America, is racist and should be demonized and destroyed.

Franken does the same, but at least he's kind of funny sometimes.

Black blogger, Cobb, writes a short piece on what he would do if he Fixed America. Some of his ideas are funny, some are harsh and others indecipherable. Cobb is a mostly entertaining blogger who describes himself as "Unconventional, Unreconstructed, Unalloyed, Unscented & Black & Republican & Civil Libertarian & Righteous & Uppity & Global Capitalist & Pro-Commons & Family Oriented & Provocative & Sometimes Worth Reading."

I've always aspired to be some of those things; at least some of those I understand.

Have a great weekend! Try and fall in love with somebody.
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by Angela Winters

Makreba Anderson writes an article for Black America News with the question, Why Don't Black Men Achieve As Well Academically? The article examines the troubling truth about the lack of black men on college campuses worldwide and analyzes the danger that poses for the future. So what do black boys do when they've reached 18 and there is has not been a father around to carve even an idea of what path to take? As much as mothers do, boys need to see the path of a man to create one of their own. Where they see black men going is into the streets. The article cites the lure of the streets as more appealing to black boys than girls. Also, the lack of black male teachers at the high school level building a trust with black boys and providing an example that says college is for them plays a part as well.

College isn't for everyone, but education is the key to success for most. We always get this list of black men who have made it big without a college degree, but no one seems to understand the point; the fact that they can list that number just proves how rare it is.

Gaining a better understanding of their world, even if that understanding isn't what they want to hear, can only help black men deal with their uniquely challenged place in it. There also seems to be a sense in the black community about getting $$$$ and getting it now. College is a poor life for most people, black or white. It's about waiting and that can be hard to compete with getting the cash now, despite the obvious long-term detriments. It still isn't an excuse, because there is no excuse for making a wrong choice.

A harder life doesn't go away just because it should. You have to make it and a college education is a step in that direction. The community has to pay more attention to this disturbing trend and work to do something about turning it around.

Peter Beinart writes an interesting article, A Democratic Call to Arms in the Washington Post where he compares the Democratic Party's relationship with the military community to the Republican's relationship with African Americans. He adds that the Republicans have done a better job at making advances than the Democrats have. The DNC just created its Office of Military & Veteran's Outreach and Beinart says this will be the first test for Dean as he tries to revive the party. It will be interesting to see what effect Kerry, a veteran himself, had on the party's appeal to the community. Some say it hurt more than it helped because he was successfully smeared by the Swift Boat Vet ads.

Something along the line of thought where 15% of blacks believe that HIV was created by the government to kill black people, here is another gross misunderstanding of the facts with serious consequences. The Daily Black News shares this short piece on methods of minority wealth building. The article titled, Minorities Express Higher Confidence In Building Wealth Via Lottery Above Saving and Retirement Planning, is based on a survey conducted by Minority Wealth Magazine and the Coalition of Financial Educators of America and is very disheartening.

"Nearly twice as many minorities surveyed admit that they have a higher confidence in building wealth through playing the state lottery, rather than contributing to a retirement fund. (Minorities surveyed consisted of 48% African Americans, 41% Hispanic Americans, 5% Asian Americans, and 6% other minority.)"

Ignorance is expensive.
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by Angela Winters

And you know who you are, 50 Cent & The Game. Arrggggh! As an adult over the age of 30 (just barely), I can't believe I'm calling other adults 50 Cent & The Game. I think once someone turns 25, they have to use the first name their Mama gave 'em.

For me to agree with Al Sharpton on any issue is clearly one of the signs of the apocalypse, but I was beginning to think we are at the End of Days when I heard that Sharpton was taking a stand against violence in the rap industry. Still, full of doubt, I did my own investigation and found that he isn't playing around and a few major urban radio networks say they are willing to listen.

Chronic Magazine: Al Sharpton Goes After Violent Artists
MSNBC: Al Sharpton proposes ban on rappers
Rap News Network: Sharpton Talks Violence Ban To Radio Execs
Black America Web: The Rev. Al Sharpton Calls for 90-Day TV, Radio Ban on Violent Music
Philadelphia Daily News: Sharpton's rap vs. rappers

Sharpton recently called for the radio and television industry to ban records by any artist connected with violent acts for 90 days. Does that necessarily mean rap music? Come on, people. If we're going to have an honest conversation about this, let's admit that it does. When was the last time you heard about a leading country, R&B or pop artist getting in a gun fight? It happens occasionally, and I'm sure Sharton would say the same should apply, but we're talking about hip-hop.

I guess I was naive to believe that most of these guys are just criminals, as they claim very proudly to be, and violence is part of their lifestyle, which they claim to be proud of as well. I didn't, however, think they would use it as a promotional tool to sell records. I mean, a controversy is one thing...getting someone in your posse shot to boost sales is quite another.

At this point, I wouldn't put anything past rappers. The industry is so void of standards. The heads of the record labels are ex-cons and their leading artists celebrate their images as pimps, hustlers, gangbangers and drug dealers. To expect them to have principles when it comes to promotion would make me the idiot.

I think it's fair to be suspect of any stand that Sharpton takes, because his history is very sketchy and he has proven himself more than once to be out only for number one. However, I would say that it appears that the tide is turning in rap music because it has gone too far. Those who defend the industry are only concerned about making money. They feel no responsiblity for their influence and the public apparently doesn't care to make them.

But this is about money; the almighty dollar. 90 days is really the shelf life of a song these days. The better ones last longer, but airplay is all about the buzz; especially in those communities where most people get their music from the radio because they can't afford CDs. It may seem lame to incentivize people to obey the law, but it's come down to that. The only way rappers, managers and billionaire music moguls will care about this is if it hurts their pocketbooks.

Federal investigators have also jumped into the game and it's said they are investigating crimes such as extortion to robbery and even the street crime that can't seem to separate itself from the industry. I'm not going to dog this investigation because it's possible they may identify and prosecute some people making the industry nothing more than an incorporated street gang, but it isn't likely they'll go to the top. They'll probably nip off the talent, which will just be replaced by more of the same.

MSNBC:Hip-Hop Probe
EurWeb: Shootings pep up federal hip hop probe

What's right is right and what is wrong is wrong and that applies no matter how much money it is making for someone. We need to stop worrying about the sensitivities of people who are profiting from the music. We need to stop caring about being labeled racist or against our own people by those who think any criticism of something black people do is unacceptable.

We need to stop worrying about the nasty responses from those who defend the indefensible just because they like to bop their head to it. We need to stand up for our kids because they deserve our support more than the rappers and billionaire music moguls do.

We need to stand up for the under-represented rap music that has remained true to the old school concept and doesn't deserve to be vilified under a generalized brush of the industry.

I think the way we as a community respond to this will show a lot about our values and our priorities. I hope we do the right thing.
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by Angela Winters

USA TODAY's Jill Lawrence talks about the response of black folks to new Republican party chairman, Ken Melhman pushing Bush's agenda as part of a four-year drive to build African American GOP support. They seem to believe this is a going to really appeal to black people. I'm not so sure of that. I think most black people will want to know what Bush intends to do about the fact that blacks earn less than whites or die younger than whites besides offering personal retirement accounts.
Chicago Tribune: Blacks hearing a new gospel from GOP
The Wilmington Journal: GOP Runs Social Security Strategy On African Americans

The Black Commentator wants to know What is Bob Johnson Up To? With an illustration that tells you exactly what angle the article is taking, the author doesn't like the media billionaire's affinity for Republican politics. Taking the conspiratorial approach, the author uses words like "secret meeting" and "obtained a copy" and phrases such as "None of the invitees were told the identity of the others and the press was scrupulously kept in the dark," to explain the meeting that Johnson had with prominent African Americans in what is called a "transparent bid to boost Republican fortunes among Blacks."

The invitation, secretly obtained by The Black Commentator is very sketchy, but it looks like Johnson is definitely asking some questions about our loyalty to Democrats as well as others. I don't see this as a bad thing. I just think that those blacks who aren't billionaires or close to it should be invited. We need to connect those in power positions with those in community leadership positions who don't have money, but have the ears of the people in their neighborhood.

The news that Lynn Swann was a Republican wasn't new, but he recently announced an interest in running for Governor of Pennsylvania. I'm curious to see if the former football star and current newscaster has what it takes to face a media that's going to ask him about more than how great he is/was. He might. My Daddy is a big football fan and I asked him what he thought. In his very politically incorrect way, he said, "As long as he don't show up with a white woman at his side, I'll back him." Yes, that's what he said. Good thing Daddy isn't eligible to vote in Pennsylvania. If Swann has what it takes, then good luck to him; white woman or not.
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by Angela Winters is a great diversity website and was a crucial resource for me when I was a Diversity Consultant in the corporate world. They cover issues from all arenas; business, politics, non-profit, academia, etc. This article, White House Cuts Off AIDS Programs is a criticism of President Bush's plan to tie foreign aid to a conservative agenda. U.S. Health organizations will not receive federal grants unless they sign a pledge to publicly oppose prostitution, which some believe will prevent prostitutes in Africa from coming forward and getting care.

This could be a very dangerous policy because although it doesn't say that these organizations won't help prostitutes, we all know that shame plays a major role in reaching out for information and help. I respect taking a stand against prostitution and it would be wrong for any organization dealing with HIV/AIDS not to point out its vulnerability to certain lifestyles, but we can't let our desire for other countries to have our values prevent us from helping those most in need. There is a compromise here and I'm confident placing the lives of human beings first and foremost will help us find what that is.

The National Conference on AIDS in Philadelphia this past Tuesday has revealed more disturbing statistics on HIV/AIDS in the black community, as did the recent conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston. Mainly, the HIV among African Americans has doubled in the last decade as compared to whites, which has remained steady. This is just piled on top of nothing but disheartening new facts about how this epidemic continues to destroy.

Countless articles and follow ups have been written about both recent conferences. Here are few of the more interesting ones.
Philadelphia Inquirer: African Americans urged to confront AIDS head-on Drug Use Tied to Rising HIV Rate Among Black Americans
Daily News: HIV infection rate doubles among African-Americans
Central Florida Future: AIDS a growing threat to blacks
Advocate: African-American conference speakers debunk the "down low" phenomenon

National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS
Black AIDS Institute

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by Angela Winters

Racial disparity in professional staff is what they have in common.

Anyone who has been on The Hill would be lead to believe that it is a very diverse workplace and it is. There are people of all colors working at the Capitol and strolling the halls of the Senate and House office buildings. The same can be said for the average Ivy League campus.

One problem; most of those people of color are not in leadership, or even "professional" positions. So what else is new? After a decade in Corporate America I've come to understand the difference between companies reporting number of minority employees as opposed to number of minority employees at management level and above. Most of the time, the numbers are drastically different. This is why diversity measurements, such as Fortune Mag's Top 50 companies for minorities focuses on board membership, senior executives, highest pay, supplier diversity, etc. when deciding who places on the list. This standard needs to be applied to Ivy League universities and The Hill.

It's important, because the academic environment always puts itself forth as this bastion of open-mindedness. It's predominantly liberal backbone, including within the Ivy League world, generally speaks out against discrimination and criticizes other "industries" for their institutionalized racism.

The Hill is the power center of the world and although minorities make up a somewhat proportionate number of blacks in the House (let's not even talk about the Senate), that is not reflected in professional staff positions. These are post-college/college intern positions, not secretaries and administrative assistants; although even these positions are not very diverse. With a record 44 members in the 109th Congress, we should expect the numbers of black staffers to go up as well. It's not just the responsibility of black members of Congress. There are many white members of Congress who have significant black representation in their districts.

Let's not argue qualifications and lack of candidates. They are out there and they ARE qualified; let them in. This will require decision makers to go beyond the old strategy of hiring kids of parents they know or their highest campaign contributors or only assistant professors from other Ivy League colleges, but being the cream of the crop, they should be smart enough to figure out how to make that work.

I'm not saying that racism is at the core of why there are disproportionate numbers of blacks at Ivy League colleges and on The Hill or even discrimination. Also, many of the positions below those being discussed are providing a good pipeline for higher level roles on The Hill and the Ivy League system. I think the problem here is more about the mentoring practices and lack of measured strategies to open new doors. This is not about Affirmative Action; it's about building relationships that will attract the best and the brightest and creating an environment that makes them want to stay.

Too many decision makers in these fields believe that being "colorblind" is the best way to give minority candidates a chance. Wrong. One day we will be in a situation where all it takes is an open door, but that isn't right now. Right now, we have to make a conscious and concerted effort to reach out and put forth that extra effort to find those highly qualified assistant professors and legislative aides of color.

The New York Times: Little Advance Is Seen in Ivies' Hiring of Minorities and Women
Black Press USA: Staff Closely Mirrors Color of U.S. Senate—Mostly White
Enquirer: Congress reps here have few black aides
Newark Advocate: Blackwell takes plea to GOP

Congressional Black Associates
Congressional Asian Pacific American Staff Association
Congressional Hispanic Staff Association
Lesbian and Gay Congressional Staff Association
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by Angela Winters

Armstrong Williams, conservative commentator, has made it clear he is coming back stronger than ever. After it was revealed in early January that Williams accepted payment from the Bush Administration to promote No Child Left Behind, a controversy ensued, his credibility was damaged and the media world was in an uproar.

Personally, I never got it. Yes, it was disturbing to know that he had been paid and didn't disclose it, but Williams is not a journalist, so what was the uproar about? Williams has been hip to hip with the Bush administration since day one. He is not just conservative, but completely partisan, so this idea that listeners heard something other than the truth is ridiculous. The only shocking thing about this was why they felt they needed to pay him a quarter of a mill when they could have gotten the same with probably just a phone call from the Prez.

With the world of bloggers, commentators, biased television and radio news programs, lines have been somewhat blurred so I can see how some would be worried that people were assuming Armstrong was a newsperson. With the nonsense that has followed exposing the bias of others who are actually considered real journalists, we really do have something to be worried about so they weren't wrong to be concerned.

As for Williams, I've never been a big fan. Like too many partisans on the Left and Right, he's more of an attack dog than someone interested in a real discussion. The raised voice, pushy style and name calling is all too polarizing. WE NEED MORE MODERATE COMMENTATORS!

In his favor, Williams has been humble and appears willing to take his lumps. This will help his comeback. However, there will be no escaping it because when people make a career of passing judgment, their mistakes stick a lot longer than most.

Armstrong Williams: My apology
The New York Times: Commentator Caught Up in Controversy Tries to Move On
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by Angela Winters

Black history month always goes by so fast. Oh yeah, I forget...It's the shortest month of the whole year. So we've all seen the touching commercials with a candle in the background as we hear about a woman named Harriet Tubman or a man named Booker T. Washington. Do they even bother to come up with new profiles? Of course there were the poignant consumer ads comparing gastrointestinal problems to slavery and the unifying conversations about reparations. My favorite, the Think Tank sponsored discussions where black conservatives and black liberals talk about how much they hate each other.

My own personal experience was the response I wrote to an article titled, It's February? Let's Talk Reparations! at Pop & Politics. Got a little praise and a little criticism, but one email said it was clear from my stand on reparations that I'm gay. Still trying to figure that one out so I know how to explain it to my boyfriend when I break the news that I'm a big lez.

Enough with the sarcasm. There are a lot of important messages that were able to take advantage of the month to get a little extra play such as HIV/AIDS awareness and we all are better for it. However, Black History Month, like any other celebration or holiday has become more a tool for consumerism (not sure if that is a real word).

The month is also used as a political tool by Democrats who want to remind black folks how much Republicans hate us despite their own party not having done much more than shove black representation in our faces at the end of political campaigns. Republicans, not to be left behind, use February to point out how they are the party of Lincoln and why can't us stupid black people remember that?

And what would a holiday be without a backlash? Lest they not be taken advantage of, some blacks (okay just one guy being covered in about a million stories) are refusing to participate in Black History month events because they feel they are being pimped out for cosmetic purposes and then ignored the other 11 months of the year.

So, it's March 1st. Are we all closer now?
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