Annette Stark writes about federal legislation that will increase death penalty crimes for gang violence for Los Angeles CityBeat. Stark isn't a fan of the Gang Deterrence and Community Protection Act recently passed by the House. The bill federalizes street gang crime and expands the scope of the death penalty in gang crimes. Is this the answer to gang crime? I think people who are living in neighborhoods being terrorized by gangs would say it's worth a try considering nothing being done up until now has done any good. I mean, aren't these gangs basically neighborhood terrorists?

Stark makes a good point when she raises her concern about the younger gang members. There needs to be some room for second chances with some of these juveniles. They harden quickly and may seem beyond saving, but we can't give up on some of these kids who have barely reached puberty. This bill is going to make it harder to make those exceptions and I think anyone who is concerned about the plight of black boys should question it.

Here's what others are saying about it:
Potomac News Online: Gangbuster' bill has a doubter
Professor Shepherd Offers Congressional Testimony on "Gangbuster's Bill"
BET: Gangbuster Law Targets Juveniles
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Congressman Ford's aspirations for Frist's senate seat has been common knowledge for how many years? So it's finally official. He filed the necessary documents to run. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the media coverage considering he's a such a media darling. I'm sure they'll drool just as much when he holds the press conference.

This year, Ford hasn't had it easy and I say that in the loosest sense of the word, because his family situation has really dominated local news and it's been all bad. No logical person would hold that against him, but since when has anyone been logical? I think his charm and political savvy will help him rise above it.

I'm not a TN voter, but I support Ford because I believe that we need more centrists who are not afraid to be centrists on the Senate side. It goes without saying we need more blacks. Ford's ambition is a bit of a turn-off and the careful way in which he does or says absolutely everything takes away from the possibility of anything genuine.

It would be nice to have Obama welcome Ford from Tennessee and Steele from Maryland into the Senate halls when the session begins January 2007.

Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. For Senate
BET: Ford to Run for Senate Seat
Outside The Beltway : Harold Ford Officially Enters '06 Senate Race
Political State Report: straight from the trenches
LA Times: Ford Joins Crowded Race for Frist's Seat
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I'm on my way to Indianapolis and I'll be moving next week, so I won't be around for a while. I'll try to stop by when I can and link to whatever interesting articles I can find. Here are some.

Nothing brings people together like their animosity for someone else. This is what an article in the Houston Chronicle is suggesting. Blacks came out to vote in Dallas earlier this month in some record numbers because of their disdain for Mayor Laura Miller. It wasn't for an election, but to beat down a proposal she was pushing which would give her what they thought was an unreasonable amount of power.

Nick Anderson writes about Prince George's County school busing in The Washington Post and the controversy it is causing. PG County isn't the only one out there scaling back or ending busing, and the issue of disparity always comes up. The focus on neighborhood boundaries has some concerned for kids in the poorer neighborhoods as well as the overall cause/benefits of integration. I don't think integration is the main issue. Yes, I think it is better for kids to be integrated, but what's more important is that they are going to schools that have the money to buy adequate books, supplies and pay teachers enough so those kids can compete with kids in wealthier districts. What does this redraw do to address that?

Discrimination in housing still exists, but effective laws and rights advocates have been able to protect minorities and make housing available for almost anyone who can afford it. This article by Christina Nichols, titled Racism, in deed focuses on restrictive covenants on older homes in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area and how one family, who purchased a home in Prentiss Park in the 60s had been told the realtor promised the neighbors not to sell to a black person. What they didn't know was that it had actually been put on paper until the house was paid off and the deed arrived in the mail.
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Whenever I post an article from The City Journal, I get at least one email complaining about how long the article is. I guess it's the USA Today affect. Get over it. I can only promise that if I recommend a CJ article, it's because it's a good one.

In What's Holding Black Kids Back?, Kay Hymowitz agrees with Bill Cosby; it's the parents. Now Cosby has his own "personal issues" that have limited his public appearances, but ever since he's become the face-man for telling black folks what our problem is, he's more popular than ever. Every speaking engagement is packed.

Kay backs up Cosby's words with some facts and general common sense. I'm a little uncomfortable with the focus on "poor black folks" because I think it goes beyond that, but I understand this is the group that is most vulnerable to the poverty and victim pimps who convince them that everything in their life is a result of racism and they are entitled to have someone else come in and fix their problems.

So Kay goes a little further into social programs and the school system and the roles they play in the development of our children; but the answer is always the same; parenting. Life is not easy for black kids out there, but none of the trials they face in the world can beat PARENTING.

If I might make a suggestion, let's move past the name calling and polarizing and move towards some solutions that don't include the government or some other form of charity. How do we help people be better parents and how do we hold bad parents more accountable? WE are the only solution.
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Some of these are a little old because I've been traveling so much, but I still wanted to get them out there.

Patricia Goldsmith, writes about what she sees as The New Jim Crow in The Dissident Voice, a self-described radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice. In other words, a WAY liberal newsletter. What is she referring to? You guessed it; gay marriage.

Max Blumenthal of The Nation writes about The Minister of Minstrelsy, hitting hard at Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, BOND founder and author of SCAM, a book exposing black liberal leaders. Max doesn't pull any punches, which I don't have a problem with because neither does Rev. Peterson. As his stature among black conservatives grows, he is going to get more and more it.

I think Peterson needs to smooth his edges a bit. He has some worthy opinions, especially on the black family, but the way he expresses himself makes it seem like he hates black people. I know he doesn't, but when I hear him speak all he can do is criticize, ridicule, degrade and name call. That doesn't inspire me to do anything positive for myself or others.

A double dip from my favorite liberal site, The Black Commentator. Tim Wise explains How the Right Rationalizes Racial Inequality in America. In Part I, he talks about the excuses made for the wage gap between blacks and whites and debunks them. In Part II, Wise focuses on Criminal Justice and argues that black crime rates do not explain away the over representation in prison.

UCLA Law Professor Richard Sander has managed to stay in the news after his report was released last year suggesting that not only does Affirmative Action not help minorities in law school, it actually harms them because they can't follow through on the opportunity, end up dropping out and never go into law; which of course they would have if they had gone to a law school more fitting their intellectual level. Of course the Right loves Sander and the Left can't stand him. I think he angered a lot of people because he made some sense.

Emily Bazelon of Slate Magazine decides to Sander to task in her article, Sanding Down Sander - The debunker of affirmative action gets debunked.
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Kiril Dickinson, Managing Editor of The Vanguard, a paper of the University of South Alabama, wants to know Why do our congressmen hate us so? Kiril says all seven representatives of Alabama in the House betrayed the state with the recent Bankruptcy bill they all voted in favor of.

There are some aspects of this bill that seem very unfair to me, but the issue barely made the radar. I'm worried about people who go through bitter divorces or have health emergencies that offer them no choice but bankruptcy. Everyone always thinks of those selfish, greedy, irresponsible people who build up debt to have everything that can fit within their line of sight then want to wash their hands of the responsibility.

Then there is the issue of this affecting minorities more than whites. That's an obvious, but the truth still remains that making bad credit choices is not society's fault. Whether or not it is fair that you are poor, you still have to live within your means until you can change those means the honest way.

Members of the conservative think tank, Project 21, are criticizing the NAACP for their position on the civil rights orgnaization's support of the Democrats attempts to filibuster in order to block Bush's judicial nominees. Project 21 accuses the NAACPSupporting Senate Tactic That Hobbled Civil Rights Legislation

Okay, so if there is anyone here who is not using this issue to promote their own political means, please show yourself. I didn't think so. The fact is, the history of filibustering was used by Dems to keep civil rights legislation from moving forward, but that doesn't demonize the act itself. There are a ton of analogies that could be used here, but they aren't necessary.

The argument against supporting the filibuster is valid because what the Dems are doing is wrong, but to try to say there is something inherently racist in the act of a filibuster isn't an intelligent argument at all.
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Washington Post: Women Returning to Democratic Party, Poll Finds
Brian Faler writes about a Democratic poll that says a good number of women who voted for W in 2004 are returning to the Democratic party. We all know the Dems have held the majority of the female vote, especially the single female vote, for a long time, but what is bringing this change on?

Obviously, if you've read anything I written, I don't know what I'm talking about, but I have a feeling it's about choice. 1992 was the first year I was eligible to vote and I remember a recurring theme among Republican-minded women in their 20s; protect the right to choose. The Democrats made a strong argument about future openings on the Supreme court and the building strength of the religious right.

There are plenty of reasons why some female Bush voters would move to the Dems, including the fact that we like fairness and the dominance of Republicans in politics seems unfair, but I do believe ABORTION, which has become THE ISSUE of the religious right, and is clearly more vulnerable now than ever, has something to do with it.

That being said, after 2004, I'm not putting a lot of faith in surveys and polls. We'll see what women have to say in 2006.

Okay, I know this is late, but here are some articles on the NAACP and it's treatment of women. So we've heard some bad things about how the NAACP manages its own house for some time. Rumors of former head, Kwesi Mfume's preferential treatment to women he's had relationships with, haven't helped any.

USA Today: The NAACP's Treatment of Women.
BAW: Mfume Awarded Women He Had Close Relationships With Mfume upbeat on Senate bid

If this stuff was going on while Mfume was in charge, than he can and should be held accountable for it. That is one of the burdens of being in charge; it all comes down to you. Not to mention his own ALLEGED behavior, which would create an uncomfortable work environment for others. Add to this, Mfume's past of five children with different baby mama's, that will unfairly surface considering he has done a great deal to turn his life around and do good for others, the Republicans will have something to harm Mfume's appeal to women voters for whoever they choose to run against him which will probably be Steele.
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Back from Hotlanta. Had a great time, stayed at The W and shopped at Dillards. You know, the usual. I've been there several times, so I've done all the cultural and tourism stuff. Back to business.

Found a new website for black centrist. The group, whose website is titled, LOW COUNTRY MOVEMENT, is a black independent forum/think tank based in Hartford, CT.

"The Low Country & Chesapeake Society is a union of dissidents openly challenging the African-American aristocracy's political dominion over Black America. We have abandoned the the two-party system and the civil rights establishment to excite the energy and passion required to create a new independent black movement."

Low Country Policy Conference Statements Include:
Rebuilding Black Communities
The 21st Century Black Church

We need more black independent thought out there to further the conversation. The back and forth between the Left and Right has gotten so stale and tired. Each side has their talking points they spit back and forth at each other with their main objective being to oppose the other instead of getting anything done. Check them out.

Exodus News: Tavis, We Challenge You: Produce the Covenant For Black America, Let's Debate It!
Business Journal: An Interview with Webster Brooks, Founder of the Low-Country and Chesapeake Society
If you're a conservative, you might also want to check out HiMPACT, a grassroots, nonprofit organization with the purpose of urging black church leaders to help refocus the black community and return it to the morals that have gotten us through our hardest times.

These are the people behind The Black Contract with America we've all been hearing about. Founder, Bishop Harry R. Jackson, says black spiritual leaders, "must lead the way to protect America's moral compass and heal our nation."

I wonder how many will take him up on the offer? I think a lot of church leaders are afraid parishioners will stop coming if they "really" preach to them. If they stop saying, "no matter what you do, God loves you and you'll get into heaven" and start saying, "God will judge you on your acts, not how much you say his name in church on Sunday," people will get uncomfortable. If they start preaching, not just that God wants children to be born in wedlock, but also that it is selfish, damaging and harmful to bring children, who already have strikes against them from day one, into this world out-of-wedlock, how many will come back the next Sunday.

Jackson is Senior Pastor of Hope Christian Church here in Chocolate City. He's a business written several books, graduated from Williams College and has a Harvard MBA. I'm not sure how crazy I am about religious figures telling people who to vote for,Black America Today / BISHOP HARRY R. JACKSON Jr.: Blacks should vote for George W. Bush, but I am in favor of churches taking a bigger role in helping us find our way back to our families.

People want to live their lives as they please without guilt or fear of consequences when they make wrong choices. We have proven that by the way we currently live our lives. I hope Jackson and his organization can convince black preachers around America to step it up. Church is about more than singing and praying. It's about teaching, guiding and helping.

Tavis Smiley: Interview with Bishop Jackson

P.S. - Although I agree with a lot that this group is doing, I don't believe that our community should be concerning ourselves with the gay marriage issue. We have too much work to do on our own marriage problem. Preventing gays from getting married isn't going to do anything to make black heterosexual men and women get back to marrying each other.
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I'm leaving for Atlanta, so I have to stick and move with today's post.

Greg Mathis, with The Chicago Defender, writes about the pressures black political leaders face on their way up the ladder and while in their position. He uses Time Magazine's recent list of the Top 5 Best and Worst Big City Mayors as a springboard for his point. Although one black mayor (Atlanta) made the Best list, two prominent black mayors (Philly & Detroit) made the worst list.
Chicago Defender: Black leaders face biased scrutiny

Mathis believes both Philadelphia's Street and Detroit's Fitzpatrick are being judged on their mistakes while their accomplishments are being ignored because black leaders have to be perfect to be considered any good at all.

Marian Wright Edelman writes in Black Press USA about the responsibility of members of Congress when it comes to protecting our children. She is referring to the ranking of Senators and Representatives by the Children's Defense Fund Action Council. The report, released annually, scores members of Congress based on their votes during the previous year. Edelman says some are doing well, but some are failing miserably. With many initiatives this may be how the chips fall, but with children, we can't let it be.
Black Press USA: Edelman: Hold Members of Congress Accountable

Edelman is right. This is the most dangerous time for children in America for so many reasons. We really have to re-evaluate what we are doing in society to protect them. Whether it's music, movies, television, gangs, national debt, sex and violence, we can't excuse the poor job we're doing now. Members of Congress, and all of us, need to be called to task on protecting our little bits better.

I have meetings all week, so I'll see you in a few days.
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Bank of America is have a hard time convincing Chicago city council woman, and slave reparations activist, Dorothy Tillman it can't find slave profits in its past. She wants her money.

Tillman claims her research shows that Providence Bank made loans to people purchasing ships that transported slaves. Providence Bank, started in 1791, became Fleet Boston, which was recently purchased by Bank of America. So now, in addition to everything else, you have to make sure the companies you merge with or takeover didn't help the slave trade, or you'll be punished whether you had anything to do with it or not. Now, does that sound fair to Bank of America?

Reparations advocates smell blood in the water. Tillman's own words, "We Won't Stop," shows that these folks are looking to get paid any and everywhere they can. Hopefully, Bank of America won't give in, but race-relations be damned. No matter what the damage it will do to the country, these folks will badger and push until they can be assured more suffering happens.


Tom Minnery, writer for the very conservative FrontPage Magazine, writes about black liberal's fear of Ohio's Secretary of State (and candidate for Governor) Ken Blackwell's popularity.
Black Racists Single Out Conservative.

He points out how black leaders on the left are the one's who have gone beyond his record and brought his race into the issue in a demeaning way.

Ken Blackwell is too conservative for my taste and I get the feeling he's another one "drinking the koolaid" from Bush's bowl, so he wouldn't be my guy if I was in Ohio. I haven't heard much of the race card played with Blackwell beyond the "I'm ashamed he's black" which no one should be saying AT ALL, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening.

It's unfortunate how it seems to be perfectly legit to bring in race with black conservatives; as if they have somehow forfeited the right to racial respect by joining the GOP. Either someone is right or wrong, but if you're intelligent and not prejudiced, their race shouldn't play a part.
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Women in rap videos used to play the image of girlfriend or romantic character. Things have changed. Now, rap videos are pretty much soft porn. Even the videos without lyrics referring to us as tricks, hos, bitches, chickens and worse, there we are offering ourselves on a silver platter. Is this what we're worth?

Seeing those women, and I use the word 'women' lightly, allow themselves to be objectified for money and promises to fulfill their gold digging dreams encourages further disrespect of black women, pity or anger.

When I look at those videos and think of good, black men (or any other race of man for that matter), I have to believe they're thinking, "Why in the hell would I want to marry that?" It's harsh, but reality. No one will respect us more than we respect ourselves and when so many of us respect ourselves only enough to accept money to be sexualized, there is no way you can be seen as something other than garbage. So yes, those women collect their checks after the video shoot is over, but it's the rest of us who keep on paying for it.

Famous daughter and fighter, Laila Ali, has something to say about it in Adeeba Folami. Speaking at a conference for young, black high school girls called EspeciallyMe, she spoke of the dangers these videos have on self-esteem.

As black women, we have to start demanding more of ourselves and each other before we demand it from anyone else. Enough blaming black men and other forces for the reasons we aren't getting the respect we deserve. We deserve better much better than we are offering ourselves and each other.

Here's what others are saying:
Ban the Video Ho
Big Booty Hoes (and other whack Rap video images) Hip-hop portrayal of women protested
Exploitation of Women in Hip-Hop Culture
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I don't want any more comments about my HEADLINES. It's not my strongpoint and I'm not going to sit here for an hour trying to come up with a catchy, intelligent and perfectly suitable title. I say what I mean and I mean what I say.

Adrienne Washington writes about the 10 Year Anniversary celebration of the Million Man March in The Washington Times and it's decision to include women. Washington went along with the men in 1995, when sisters weren't invited. She believes it isn't possible for black men to handle their issues without their better halves involved.

I believe that both black men and women have our stuff we need to discuss just among ourselves, but ultimately none of it works if we don't sit down with each other and create an understanding and compromise; key word being compromise. What generally happens when we go off on our own is black men blame black women for their problem and then we turn around and do the same with them.

So maybe this joint march together can be the start of something good. I hope they invite men and women to speak, as well as conservatives and moderates and some business leaders to balance the church leaders. Maybe Clinton will show up! :-)

BAW: 10 Years After Million Man March, Conveners Announce the Millions More Movement
Chicago Tribune: Million Man' reprise includes gays, women
Chicago Defender Editorial: ROLAND S. MARTIN: Anniversary march bigger than Farrakhan

Since we're all up on the black male thing, I'll continue with that theme and link you to National Organization of Concerned Black Men's website. Their first annual convention is coming up later this month in Philly.

Some interesting speaker topics will be discussed:
Solutions to Youth Violence and Violence Against Youth - We Can make a Difference!

Can Abstinence Before Marriage Programs Really Work With Youth?


Hip Hop, Rap and Media Images of Black Women: Isn't It Time We Deal With This?


Babies Making Babies: Keeping Black Boys from Becoming Teen Fathers



Sounds like good stuff. Spread the word.


THANKS GUYS - Web Logs of The Week
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I promise I won't write about the runaway bride, because if you're anything like me, you'll stab yourself with a spoon if you're forced to read, watch or hear another second of that story. It's amazing to watch the media just completely lose control of itself over a particular story.

More and more, African-American iconoclasts are rejecting victimology and embracing American possibility, according to Heather Mac Donald's article in the City Journal's Spring 2005 issue on a brighter black future. She lifts off of Cosby's speech and the support his words have had in the community. It's nothing new; many blacks have rejected the idea that we are victims, at the mercy of racism and sources beyond our control. Many of us know that our moral choices play the largest role in our lot in life and, all in all, we haven't been making the right ones. The difference is, more and more blacks are saying it out loud and not backing down when other so-called black leaders who benefit from the "I'm a victim, I accuse you" idealology try to demonize them for saying so.

The article also questions the strategy of Republicans who assume that the minister is the most influential person in the community when making political decisions. I agree with the doubters of this strategy.

So is the entitlement mentality dying out? I doubt that will happen anytime soon. There are too many lazy people out there who honestly believe that someone else has to give up what they've worked for and hand it to them. Their skin color says they are owed and it's too appealing an idea to die away anytime soon. But things are changing.

Check the article out when you have two to three days to read, because it's kind of long. You know the City Journal loves to write.

Herman Cain is a well-known black millionaire Republican who recently ran for office in Atlanta. He occasionally writes conservative pieces for websites and editorials for newspapers.

Here, he writes Separate Water Fountains, for; his take on Bush's social security plans. Surprise, surprise; he's a big fan. He also writes a piece for The Daily Herald in Provo, UT promoting Bush's Ownership society as a good deal for blacks.

I wrote on this topic for SavvyInsider and took a more centrist view. For some reason the word "ownership" scares the heck out of people; usually those who don't believe they, or their race, has the ability to control their own destiny. For others, it means empowerment, opportunity and freedom. What does it mean to us as a people? That's a more difficult question than many would think.
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For all you wonks, be warned. Nothing political today. Just sappy family stuff.

Defining the beautiful black family is a series from -Bahiyah Woman Magazine: A Revolution Is Taking Place . The magazine says it is the voice of power in a world that is so demeaning and degrading to black women.

"The editorial mix of unpretentious spiritual commentary balanced with lifestyle, business and entertainment news packs a powerful punch for BWM readership."

Bahiyah means beautiful in Swahili Yes, it's that motherland, Ilyana Vanzant stuff that I just don't have the sensibility for. I'm sure it's reassuring for others, but I don't feel it.

So it's said that Bahiyah, in its fourth year, is much like Essence was in its beginning, and it doesn't just market to women, but to anyone interested in the black family, so that's worth looking at. Despite not connecting with the whole motherland thing, I'll support anything that pushes the positives and celebrates the black family. Check out the site.

Next, we have Princess Briana, a fairytale princess that is changing the image of what a princess looks like for young black girls.

The book, named after the title character, was the bestselling in its category at Karibu in 2004 and is a favorite of book clubs for young girls. A book club for young black girls; what a nice thought. Reading the release about the tea party for the girls to discuss the book and the self-esteem they gained warms my heart. Yes, I can be a little sappy at times, but when it comes to black children, they need so much more from us (everyone) than we give them. Stories like these may seem cheesy, but are real and make a difference.

Princess Briana Fairytale
Move Over Snow White and Cinderella - Princess Briana Has Arrived
Princess Briana (A Black Princess) Hits Bookstores Nationwide After Taking the #1 Slot
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