- Created on 05 December 2012
"Any time you throw your weight behind a political party that can't keep promises it made you during election time and you're dumb enough to continue to identify with that political party, you're not only a chump but traitor to your race." – Malcolm X
What's your personal political ideology and most important value? Do you agree that certain political parties and issues are more important to Blacks than Whites? A political party typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating candidates with aligned political views and trying to seat them in political office. In your political alignments, are you getting what you need and deserve in return, and not chump change?
It was a Republican president who signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The Republicans Party was the party of most Blacks prior to the 1960s, including Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Booker T. Washington, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. Some of the founding fathers of the NAACP were Republicans as was the party that desegregated the South's schools and implemented America's affirmative action programs. Republicans believe in the free enterprise system. The Office of Minority Business Enterprise, a federal agency dedicated to minority business, was established by Republican President Richard Nixon in March of 1969.
African-American history is most often presented through liberal political lens that skew contributions and examples of African Americans outside the liberal mainstream. Black Americans have been taught that Republicans are racist and care nothing about Black empowerment. Black Republicans are often labeled "insufficiently Black."
In truth, the history of the Republican Party's relationship with Blacks is one of a bright start followed by steady decline. Unfortunately, a reliance on family and faith has become a casualty of the modern welfare state, contributed to the destruction of family cohesion and supplanted faith in God with faith in government. Black conservatism is a political and social movement rooted in communities of African descent that aligns largely with the American conservative movement.
Allen West is an example of an elected Black Republican. Atlanta-born West, who was defeated for re-election this year, is known for comments alleging that Democratic "handouts" to the poor have resulted in a "modern form of slavery" and rejects Black History Month honors the achievements of African-Americans throughout history and that is a good thing.Unfortunately, a reliance on family and faith, which allowed many African-Americans to survive the horrors of Reconstruction, racial injustice and violent acts of discrimination, has become a casualty of the modern welfare state, which has contributed to the destruction of family cohesion, supplanted faith in God with faith in government and fashioned many African-Americans into a Democratic voting bloc that has not improved the lot of the impoverished among them.
While African-American history is important, the way it is most often presented through a liberal political lens skews the contributions and examples of African-Americans who do not toe the liberal line.One especially sees this in the civil rights establishment's response to Justice Clarence Thomas and more recently to Rep. Allen West, R-Fl "the idea of the safety net becoming a hammock." West's point is that Democrats who claim to care so for African Americans, in reality, have done them a grave disservice by perpetuating myths of Republican racism and addicting them to a government check instead of liberation through education and strong families. Heritage Foundation data supports West saying: "The public's dependence on the federal government shot up 23 percent under President Obama."
Since the 1930s, the Democratic Party has put forth and promoted social liberal and progressive platforms; and for more than 40 years Blacks have increasingly aligned themselves with Democrats rarely questioning social policies rooted in low expectations and government dependency; economic and tax policies that stifle economic growth, job creation, personal savings and investment; and education policies that refuse to subject public schools to the competition of "school choice."
Blacks are naïve if they continue in their status and low regard among either of the dominant parties. The Democrats, led by President Obama, plainly ignore Blacks, while the Republican establishment disrespects and disregards us. But, apparently Blacks cannot envision leveraging our voting bloc into party platforms, policies and programs that reflect Black Americans' needs and wants.
- Created on 04 December 2012
(CNN) -- Readers reacted strongly to a Monday op-ed on CNN.com about Jovan Belcher, the Kansas City Chiefs football player who murdered his girlfriend and then committed suicide. The piece was written by Kevin Powell, an activist, public speaker, and writer, and discussed how the tragedy related to depression and what Powell called "very warped definitions of manhood." It stirred a lot of conversation, including over 1,500 comments and numerous tweets.
On Tuesday, Powell will host a live Twitter chat on @CNNOpinion from 12:30 to1 p.m. ET to discuss issues such as domestic violence, depression, gun violence, and the definition of manhood. Please ask questions in advance and join him for the chat by using the hashtag #JovanBelcher and mentioning @CNNOpinion.
Here, Powell addresses some of the readers' reactions that he has already received.
As men, we must begin to think about manhood in a very different kind of way. I've gotten two distinct responses to my article so far. The first batch is from men who agree that we've got to go in a different direction -- it's unhealthy to squash our true feelings about issues and to never talk. Some men actually admitted to me in very personal and private e-mails that they are hurting right this very minute.
Then there were the angry messages from very angry men, accusing me of being anti-men, of male-bashing, of being on the side of women, of not being willing to let a man be a man. Well, my personal definition of manhood is that it should be rooted in self-love and respect for all people, including women. We should view women and girls as the equals of men and boys. And the foundation of manhood needs to be about peace and nonviolence and communication, not anger, hatred, violence and ugliness.
chippy1 comments: If he was just a blue collar worker with access to a gun, killed his girlfriend then himself, this story would be back with the comics. Since he was a "great" football player the whole planet goes into a tailspin, just making his victim a footnote. This demonstrates the American attitude towards its "idols," and the American persona, the more violent and bloody and scandal prone, the better.
Kasandra Perkins is the victim's name. Let us always say the names of women who are the victims of violence. I would also add it does not matter whether the man is famous, a professional athlete, or someone nobody has ever heard of. Violence against women is unacceptable. However, when it involves a high-profile individual like Belcher, perhaps the tragedy can be a teachable moment so that more people will pay attention to domestic violence. Otherwise Kasandra Perkins' death will truly be in vain.
Mattias Von Bismark comments: I thank you for this comment. It's a hard thing to say. It subjects you to this slander that you are, somehow, supporting the murder of that poor woman. It takes true courage and strength of character to stand up and say, "Yes, what this man did was awful, but there was something at the root of this tragedy which was unaddressed. If this man had received help, his life and the life of the poor woman would have been saved." Those who have never dealt with mental illness need to keep silent on this subject. As we have seen above, they have nothing helpful to add, and denigrate the serious discussion we should all be having.
Mattias, I agree with you. Sadly, many of us do not want to deal with contexts for behaviors or situations. We are quick to name-call and judge and write someone off. The fact is that violence is normal in our country. One-fourth of American women have experienced some form of violence at the hands of men.
I always challenge men to talk with their mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunties, female cousins, or their wives or girlfriends, and they would be surprised to find out how many women have been assaulted in some way at some point in their lives. Just read your local papers, the crime reports, and note the number of attacks on women. Dissing Jovan Belcher may make you feel good in the short term. But it does nothing to stop this kind of violence.
Dana, I understand completely your feelings. Do I condemn violence? Absolutely. But am I in position to determine who is going to heaven or hell? No. I am Christian. I just think we've got to be careful of passing judgment on anyone at any given time.
Kyle Jarvis Chan Wu comments: I get the idea that you are actually sticking up for someone who murdered his wife. He shot her. That is a fact. I don't need to stand in the shoes of someone who would act violently against a woman. There is a difference between someone who takes their own life to depression and someone who goes on a killing spree ending with their own life. One person needs help, the other person doesn't deserve a marker on their grave.
Kyle, that is absolutely untrue. I do not condone violence, and I hope for peace and love toward all. But as someone who has overcome personal challenges in grappling with violence and anger, I know that there are some serious issues around manhood and mental illness that we are not fully addressing as a nation. We need to start talking about how to help those in need.
Desiree, that is why we must not forget Kasandra Perkins, Jovan Belcher's girlfriend. I'm not a woman but I can certainly empathize with what women and girls deal with every single day of their lives. I can only imagine. Sexism is alive and well, and the fact that Ms. Parker's name is barely mentioned in most media outlets means that there's a lot of work we need to do to change this situation.
AB comments: the entire story is horribly sad, BUT why was there a moment of silence for him? he murdered his child's mother, and then, killed himself, leaving a baby with no mother or father. ... He murdered someone and you are giving him a moment of silence? If that was my daughter, it would make me more than angry if you gave her murderer this.. everyone is saying he was a great guy, well this great guy, did a horrendous crime.
That is incorrect. There was actually a moment of silence by the Kansas City Chiefs for victims of domestic violence, as it should have been. My hope is that the National Football League, as well as other sports leagues, will take the same kind of very visible stance on domestic violence as it has on breast cancer.
- Created on 29 November 2012
Let's be real about the hoops that Susan Rice finds herself now navigating in order to save her potential nomination for the position of Secretary of State.
They are hoops structured, designed, and maintained by the persistence of white male privilege in America. They serve as reminders that though a new and rising diverse electoral coalition is undoubtedly in play, the overall paradigm of power and privilege in this nation remains firmly within the grasp of white men.
Let's remind ourselves of how this whole thing began.
Days after a crushing victory gave rise to a second term for the Obama administration, the president's first electoral foe stepped before the bright media spotlight with what appeared to be a chip on his shoulder. In classic McCain brooding and overbearing style, the senator proceeded with an attempt to undo the president's anticipated pick for the nation's next top diplomat even before the newly re-elected president had the opportunity to put a name firmly in play. It was in this moment that Senator McCain went on the attack.
In an appearance on Fox and Friends, McCain leveled serious and downright insulting charges against Ambassador Rice, stating boldly that she was possibly "unqualified," suggesting that perhaps she didn't "understand" the evidence surrounding the Benghazi incident, and then accusing her of outright lying to the American people by making statements which he believed were "patently false and defied common sense."
And then the kicker: "I will do everything in my power to block her from being the United States Secretary of State."
Now, let's deconstruct this a bit.
John McCain questioned the "qualifications" and "ability to understand" of someone who is both a Truman Scholar and a Rhodes Scholar. Someone who holds not one, but two graduate degrees, including a Ph.D. from Oxford University, and someone who, by the way, earned that Ph.D. after winning an award for penning the best doctoral dissertation in the United Kingdom in the field of International Relations.
He assailed someone who has had, by any reasonable interpretation, a stellar public service career. Someone who served not only one, but two presidents of the United States. Someone who in her current role was successful in securing the most stringent UN sanctions to date against Iran and North Korea in order to scuttle nuclear weapons development. And someone who was instrumental in designing the resolution to the protracted Libyan clashes during that nation's tumultuous period within the Arab Spring.
There is no doubt, Ambassador Rice is someone of extraordinary intellect, ability, and qualifications and to suggest otherwise in such a crass and disrespectful way is not only an indicator of partisanship run amuck, it quite clearly reeks of not only racism, not only sexism, but in fact smacks of both.
Of course McCain wasn't alone in his rants. He was joined in his attacks by other Republican colleagues, most notably Senator Lindsey Graham and no fewer than 97 House Republicans who, despite having absolutely zero say in the selection or confirmation process, nonetheless had the brass, as Bill Clinton would say, to actually pen a letter to President Obama warning him against nominating Ambassador Rice to the Secretary of State position.
Even after meeting privately with her most vocal public critics, the attacks against Rice continue. Now at an even more fevered pitch, the accusations and innuendos surrounding Rice's appearance on the Sunday morning news circuit a mere five days after the deadly attack and at a time when the full-scale investigation into the incident was in its infancy, quite simply don't live up to the charge of intentional distortions, particularly given the facts that were available at the time and presented to the Ambassador.
When Ambassador Rice embarked upon her Sunday morning media appearances, she did so armed with declassified information provided to her by the intelligence community. To now, with the benefit of hindsight expect her to know then all we know today and make the conscious decision to divulge classified information to anyone, much less millions of people around the world, is patently ridiculous.
Understanding the fluid nature of the investigation, Ambassador Rice was careful to state repeatedly that an investigation was ongoing, that the investigation must be completed before drawing "any definitive conclusions." And when asked about al-Qaeda involvement specifically, she notes, "We'll have to find that out... whether they were al-Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al-Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we'll have to determine."
Clearly, these are the statements of a responsible and measured individual, carefully characterizing an on-going investigation with potentially volatile international repercussions, all while respecting the boundaries of classified vs. declassified intelligence information.
In short, she did her job.
As the drumbeat against the ambassador continues, it is time to say, quite simply— enough.
We will not stand idly by and watch another black woman publicly assailed, devalued and disrespected in the same vein as Prof. Lani Guinier and Former Surgeon General, Dr. Joceyln Elders. Bold sisters, led by Melanie Campbell of the Black Women's Roundtable, and supported by a wide range of women's organizations and other organizations, celebrities, and everyday individuals who deeply care about justice have crafted and signed a petition to be shared with Congress displaying reams of support for Ambassador Rice.
You can sign the petition too.
Let this be the day we all say,
Not on our watch!
- Created on 30 November 2012
Let's face it... Black America has too much experience living on the edge of the cliff, fiscal or otherwise, and Black business owners occupy the most precarious position in America's market place. Fortunately, President Obama's second term agenda is designed to create much-needed jobs and restore middle class security by investing in small business, manufacturing, education, and clean energy. I can assure you, he looks forward to getting down to business and working with Congress -- in a bipartisan way -- to help the middle class.
You've heard by now that unless Congress acts to extend middle class tax cuts by the end of the year, most families will see their federal income tax bill rise by a little more than $2,000. At the same time, taxes will stay low on every business owner's first $250,000 of income. But if Congress fails to act, a small business owner making $120,000, for example, could see up to a $4,600 tax increase.
It should be clear that we've got a little more work to do, even after the election. We've got to contact our U.S. Representatives and Senators and let them know we want them to work closely with the administration to hold the line on tax increases. And, we want them to focus sharply on ways to cut unnecessary spending from the federal budget. The President has long supported the need for both new revenue and spending cuts to reduce the deficit in a balanced way. Fortunately for us (not everybody is as experienced as us at living on the edge!) there are encouraging signs that Republicans and Democrats in Washington are open to a bipartisan solution. That's significant.
The President's plan targets small businesses. Small businesses create two out of every three net new private sector jobs. You've heard us say that if all the nearly 1.8 million of America's sole-proprietor Black businesses could hire just one new employee, we'd just about wipe out unemployment in our communities. President Obama's work to protect these business owners' earnings from tax increases is helping spur economic development in communities across our country and giving millions of families and individuals the opportunity to achieve the American dream. If Congress agrees – and acts – it will keep taxes low for 97% of small businesses and it will create j-o-b-s!
From the mom-and-pop storefront shops to the high-tech startups that keep America on the cutting edge, small businesses are the backbone of our economy. In his second term, the President plans to build on the 18 small business tax breaks he already signed into law, but first we need to find common ground and compromise to keep taxes from going up on 97% of small businesses on January 1, 2013.
It's a no-brainer for us... Since the President's approach to the "fiscal cliff" reduces the deficit in a balanced way by $4 trillion by asking the wealthy to pay their fair share and preserves the investments we need to grow the economy, what's the problem? The $1 trillion in spending cuts President Obama has already signed should signal to both Democrats and Republicans how committed he is to a balanced approach to further reduce our deficit.
Here's your assignment: Call, write, email, tweet using #My2K, post on facebook or send up smoke signals! Let Congress hear the voice of Black Business on the President's tax plan.
In the Spirit of Success,
Ron Busby, Sr.
U.S. Black Chamber, Inc.
- Created on 28 November 2012
Outside the Museum of Contemporary Art downtown stands a 48-foot tall, 20-foot wide art installation that spells out the word "MOTHERS" in neon lights. Made of steel, it even rotates. The London-based artist who created it said he wanted to show that mothers are larger than life and "the most important people in the world."
The piece reminded me of the enormity of the challenges facing some public schoolchildren in Chicago, and why parental engagement – be it mothers, fathers, or the primary guardians – is so critical to helping black and brown children overcome obstacles and achieve academically.
Next week, an independent commission appointed by Chicago school officials will begin convening community meetings seeking parents' input on possible school closings. It's a touchy subject, but the fact is some of our schools are half empty and underutilized schools are very often underperforming schools that are failing to adequately educate our children.
Sadly, too many of us have come to accept poor schools and poor academic results. Too many parents have become complacent and disengaged from their children's education. I moderated a panel on education reform recently. On it was a principal from one of Chicago's turnaround schools. She said that parents initially were angrier about the turnaround than the poor quality of the education their children had been receiving. They had come to accept the school as bad as it was.
Complacency and satisfaction with the status quo are not our history. Battles have been fought to ensure that every child has access to a quality education. Yet today expectations among so many people in the African American community are still very low. It's time to change. It's time to raise the bar on our expectations of and our aspirations for our children.
In 1957, nine African American children risked physical harm to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. One of them, Elizabeth Eckford, had to face an angry white mob alone her first day of school. Her parents didn't have a phone, so she was unaware the other eight were meeting that morning to enter the school together.
I met a young man earlier this year named Dyrell Ashley, a 16-year-old high school junior at Julian High School. He told me that in the 3rd grade, he was given an assignment: Choose a career and a college and write a paper about it. Dyrell wrote that he wanted to be a doctor and attend Harvard. He picked Harvard because he found out it was the best school in the country.
His teacher told him that Harvard doesn't accept Black boys from the South Side of Chicago. She tried to close the door of opportunity for Dyrell by setting that low bar, by telling him that he could not expect to succeed. But Dyrell knew better. His grandmother had taught him how to read before he entered preschool and she encouraged his career aspirations.
Dyrell is now in a program for students aspiring to medical careers. He has a 4.9 GPA on a scale of 4, and he is the No. 1 ranked junior at his school. Both Eckford and Dyrell shouldn't have had to fight to get a good education. But they were empowered to overcome barriers put up by the people who were supposed to help them but didn't, because they had support at home.
Pushing for access to a quality education is the next step up that our kids need and are entitled to. As mothers, fathers, and caregivers, it's also your obligation.
Andrea L. Zopp is President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League.