Black Bloggers at the White House Summit

Black Bloggers Blast Obama For Gossip-Oriented Black Bloggers Summit

Mr. President, you forgot about us!

President Barack Obama and the generally Internet savvy Obama White House made a major misstep in the execution of what’s called “The Black Bloggers Summit” held October 11th at The White House.

The trouble is – and yes, for this blogger it’s whining, so let’s get that out of the way – a number of prominent political bloggers who happen to be African American, or black if you prefer, were left off the list, including this blogger.

Instead, representatives from, City Limits, Black Entertainment Television (BET), Essence, Jack & Jill Politics, Concrete Loop, AOL Black Voices, Black America Web and MediaTakeOut, to name some of the bloggers, were invited. 

And guess what? crashed today under the weight of its new Internet traffic levels. Great way to get President Obama’s message out there.  Geez.

As explained as  

That really is the question. A number of black bloggers are taking the White House to task for asking black gossip bloggers to come, and those representing obviously “black” blogs, rather than inviting bloggers who have larger reach with major news sites who happen to be black.

While some looked at the effort with tongue in cheek criticism, others, like Oliver Willis, a powerful political blogger who happens to be black, completely ignored it, and the UK (England!) DailyMail  used it to essentially lie about what happened – that one blog, Jack and Jill Politics, said it “refused to be pimped.”

That was taken out of context by the DailyMail for political purposes. What Jack and Jill Politics blogger “The Christian Progressive Liberal” was explaining was that she was happy President Obama walked into the room, but blogged “if you want me at the dance, I better get something in RETURN. One can always be pimped – it is a whole different ballgame when you’re treated like you have the influence to change the course of events.

The problem is by not having a big black blogger tent, or a big blogger tent, President Obama created an Internet climate of criticism from those left out of the summit, and praise only from those allowed in to it. Moreover, the President allowed in group of bloggers who don’t seem to know what “off the record” means. Opps.

After all, a blogger who calls herself “HappyAboutThis” wasn’t happy at all about the Obama Black Bloggers Summit:

“Tell anyone who reads that the site was invited to the White House for a policy briefing and discussion as part of its effort to “broaden online engagement with the black community and it will be at least 5 minutes before you can continue the conversation due to the laughter that will ensue….Media Take Out and Young Black and Fabulous are known to print highly speculative and, in many cases, clearly false information about people in the public eye. Much of the content on Media Take Out web site is graphic and certainly not safe for viewing on your work computer. What could they possibly add to a conversation about Obama’s healthcare, education, and civil rights policies?”

What can we expect? They’re gossip bloggers, right?Stay tuned.

Read more: 

“Not a one of the bloggers represents a major news site or has connections to one, and people like the legendary Oliver Willis, or John Ridley, or for that matter, Zennie Abraham, er, me, weren’t there. Hell, this blogger didn’t even get an invitation. Yes, gossip is done here, but so is politics, and in large measure.

And for all of the effective blogging Zennie62 did when it was “Zennie’s Zeitgeist” and one of 128 blogs credentialed for the Democratic National Convention? With all of the CNN iReport work this video blogger did at the DNC 2008? With all of the Obama Rapid Response work done to put Barack in the White House? For being on the websites of Mediaite, the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, and Seattle Post-Intelligencer?

Just what brand of weed the White House is smoking is the question of the day.”

Feedback: Black Suicide: Breaking the Silence, Facing the New Realities 10-09-10

10/10/2010 2:11 PM
Bj…thank you for producing this wonderful show that deals with such an important topic in our community. I admire your fearlessness…going where few dare to tread…and know that you are on the road to helping us heal our deep-seated wounds. You know I fully agree with your statement, “we fail to love each other in a way that is honest, direct and open,” and that we keep too many “goddamned secrets.” Yes, in these ways we participate in killing each other…those closes
8/15/2010 10:31 AM
Really important, incredible and informative show, this one MUST be heard!

8/15/2010 12:37 AM
Amazing Show !

Black Boys: Single Mother Parents OCG 10-02-10

October 02, 2010

OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham Black Boys: Single Mother Parents


Photobucket Raising Black Boys in Single Mother Homes:Challenges and Dilemmas

Guests: Dr. Raymond A. Winbush,Director, the Urban Institute at Morgan State University (BALT, MD) author, scholar and leading reseacher on the issue of Manhood training of Black boys in urban environments.

Ms. Goldie Taylor, Director of Goldie Taylor Advertising and Public Relations, author of a The Goldie Taylor Project blog, which includes a recently popular commentary on the Long allegations and complaint entitled, “A (not so) Super Hero: The Rise and Fall of Eddie Long”,. She is the author of “A Woman’s Worth”, an essay featured on that gained national attention during the 2008 presidential election cycle; bestselling author, In My Father’s House ; The January Girl. She is currently working on her third novel, The Lives of Others, and The Devil and Missouri Daniel, a family memoir.

Both of our guests are well experienced single parents.

More times than we want to admit, the anger, violence, attention deficit, school failure and a-social behavior among young Black males and Black adult are individuals working through trauma from being victimized by abuse, sexual coercion, molestation and rape. They can’t tell us because of the barrier of shame created by the image of macho and other values we buy into; our unwillingness to face the probability of sexual predatory behavior and our fear and ignorance all around that somehow it is about “homosexuality”.

We point the finger in the face of real evidence and testimony.

Saturday, October 2, 2010
10 pm ET

STEALING BLACK CULTURE: The Black Church Robber Barons 09-25-10


Saturday, September 25, 2010 ~ 10 pm – Midnight ET

Sexuality,Homosexuality and Molestation

STEALING BLACK CULTURE: The Black Church Robber Barons

Why the Allegations against Mega-Church Leader Eddie Long Matters

Homophobia, Exploitation and Oppression in the Black church

Bishop Eddie Long, megachurch pastor and prosperity purveyor, has now been named in three separate lawsuits alleging sexual coercion of two young men in Atlanta, Georgia. Bishop Long, in the words of the Southern Poverty Law Center, “is one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement.”

In his book “Taking Over, ” Long described the event in more detail. He wrote that after seven years at New Birth, he was frustrated by its deacon board because it was “gripping the purse strings” of the church and “telling the man of God when to jump and how high.” He said he received a revelation from God, who encouraged him to get rid of the “ungodly governmental structure” at New Birth.

Prosperity vs Liberation Theology
“That was the day I became pastor, ” Long wrote. “Up until that time, I was the hired preacher . . . . ”

“The absolute fealty to leadership and the “man” of god, enforced with scriptures like “don’t touch God’s anointed” have left so many victims in their wake that it’s a wonder people bother to even go to church anymore. When you factor in the money people have put into ministries that pimp them out and put them down, that’s an abusive relationship predicated on loving God and paying to be close to “God’s representative.” If the Catholic church can’t get a pass on its sexual and pedophilia scandals, why should mega-church pastors?

The core issue however is “respectability.” The obsession with mainline and black prosperity churches to show well groomed African Americans as prosperous, good, heterosexual Christians has gutted the social justice message of urban black churches. President Obama has even bought into the message of “talking down to the folks” with messages about delinquent fathers and feeding kids Popeye’s for breakfast. Meanwhile, the activities of black church leaders in sexual scandals, including Jeremiah Wright, websites that track sexual abuse, and blogs concerning “policing” black church sexuality suggest that the don’t ask don’t tell policy about sexuality in any form in the black church is alive and well.”

Time for more honest discussion about sexuality,homosexuality and molestation in the Black Church.

OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham

“Speaking Truth to Power and Ourselves”

OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham  Black Suicide: Breaking the Silence 10-09-10

OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham  Black Suicide: Breaking the Silence, Facing the Realities

October 9, 2010

Black Suicide: Breaking the Silence, Facing the Realities

 Tonight’s Guest: Amy Alexander


Author, Writer, Commentator “Lay My Burdens Down”; The Nation; WP Amy Lynn Alexander writes and produces news, analysis, and commentary. Her work has appeared in print and broadcast outlets nationwide, including The Washington Post, National Public Radio,, and The Nation. 

She is author of three nonfiction books, including the bestseller, Fifty Black Women Who Changed America; and Lay My Burden Down: Unraveling Suicide and the Mental Health Crisis Among African-Americans, co-authored with Alvin. F. Poussaint, M.D. 

 Black suicide, which was once considered an oxymoron, has become an unfortunate reality. No longer so, and we mostly don’t want to talk about it; we hide it inside the pages of our Bibles and Qurans; and walk away hoping that he/she really doesn’t mean that.

 On Friday October 8, 2010, as the clock tower struck 10:00 p.m. and the bell rang, the flagpole became the site of prayer and remembrance Thursday night at Howard University. Students gathered to mourn the loss of Aiyisha Hassan, who committed suicide on Tuesday. They also remembered an  18-year-old Rutgers University student who committed suicide after video of him engaging in sexual activity surfaced on the Internet; a 13-year-old Hope Witsell hung herself from her canopy bed after being bullied by classmates and a young African- American teacher who had taken her life.  A 24 yr old Ohio State teacher went to a gun range in New Albany last week and shot and killed herself. 

Before 1965, the suicide rate among blacks was one quarter that of whites. After 1970, suicide rates among blacks had escalated to half that of whites. In the 38 years since 1965, the suicide rate for black Americans has peaked twice, once in the late 1960?s and again in the late 1980?s. At the same time, suicide rates for African-American women have consistently hovered at a rate of two per 100,000 population (Griffith & Bell, 1989). From 1980 to 1995, the suicide rate for black youths between the ages of 10 and 19 increased 114 percent, from 2.1 to 4.5 percent per 100,000 population. The suicide rate increased the most for black males between the ages of 10 and 14 years of age. It was 233 percent for blacks and 120 percent for whites. For blacks aged 15 to 19, the rate increased 128 percent. It went up only 19 percent for whites (MMWR, 1998). By 1998, however, the number of suicides in the black male population, aged 15 to 24, had dropped and the number of black men who took their own lives returned to what it had been in the early 1980?s. In 1994, the suicide level for black youths aged 15 to 24 was 21 per 100,000 population (IOM, 2002).   

Paradoxes of Black Suicide   There are paradoxes that exist in the consideration of suicide in the Black community that requires explanation:  BLACK WOMEN reject Suicide even when they attempt it. Black women are often at a the greatest disadvantage in our society (e.g. discrimination, poverty and exposure to violence). They currently have the lowest suicide rates in the United States. Because of their disadvantaged status,African-American women’s infrequent use of suicide as a solution to their problems puzzles many social scientists. African-American women are just as likely to attempt suicide as European- American women but less likely to complete it.  What protective factors safeguard Black women, and how can we transpose them ?   The  Black Male Suicide Epidemic Turn Around in 1998 The second issue has to do with the increase in suicides between 1993 and 1994 in the black male population between the ages of 15 and 24. The increase prompted the United States to declare suicide an epidemic among young black males. By 1998 the young black male suicide epidemic had vanished. The reason for the 25 percent decrease in the youthful African-American male suicide rate has never been explained.  Low rate of suicide among Black males in prison Suicide rates for incarcerated men are approximately nine to fifteen times higher than for men on the outside and prison suicide rates are approximately one and a half times higher than in the general population. Similarly, youths in detention and correctional facilities are four times more likely to commit suicide than youths in the general population. There are many more black men in correctional facilities than white. Nevertheless, white males are the most likely to end their lives in such places.  Confinement in these institutions clearly promotes higher rates of suicide. The dynamic, however, does not appear to affect black males as much as it does white.

From Paradoxes of Black Suicide  Author: Donna Holland Barnes, Ph.D. and Carl C. Bell, MD

♦  Suggested Reading on Suicide and Depression in the Black Community ♦




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What’s Missing in the Talk About Education Reform

It’s About Class Not Classrooms

What’s Missing in the Talk About Education Reform


Unanswered in all the noise about “education reform” is why, over the past decade, America’s establishment has become so obsessed with controlling public education, a complete reversal of two centuries of American faith in locally controlled schools.

There are answers that the op-eds will give you, such as the need to compete in the global marketplace, but this is pretty weak stuff and not the raw material for major presidential policy under two administrations.

There are answers that can be found in the general shift in government towards data as a worthy substitute, or delaying tactic, for action. As long as you’re assessing something you don’t actually have to do anything about it.

Then there’s the milking of the cash cow of testing. For example, the Washington Post now gets the bulk of its profits from the Kaplan education division, profits bolstered by the paper’s constant editorial boosting of the test tyrants. And Neil Bush started a company designed to help students pass the tests of his brother’s No Child Left Behind policy.

Certainly there is precedent for this, such as the efforts to privatize Social Security and subsidize health insurance companies, all part of a three decades rip-off of public programs by private industry.

But how, for example, does one explain that this effort has been carried out with such an extraordinary absence of knowledgeable educators or skilled teachers? What has happened is as if we had tried to reach the moon with space vehicles designed by economists, lawyers and corporate buddies of the president.

It has, in the end, a hopeless mush of sleaze, stupidity and statistical static, all having remarkably little to do with real education.

There is, however, an even more disreputable matter lurking in the background that has not been exposed, debated or confronted – namely growing evidence that the assault on public education is part of an urban socio-economic cleansing that has long been underway as the upper classes attempt retrieve the cities they surrendered to the poor many decades ago.

For several decades, I followed this phenomenon as a journalist in my hometown of Washington, DC. It was a topic seldom mentioned in the corporate media and not polite to mention at all in the better parts of town.

In 2006 I wrote,

“Part of the socio-economic cleansing of the capital city – still underway – included draconian measures to discourage the minority poor from staying in DC. Some of these were fiscal — such as a tax break for predominately white first-time homeowners but no breaks for the lower income blacks pushed out by them. But they also included a variety of punitive measures including new restrictions on jury trials, increased lock-ups such as for trivial traffic offenses, stiffer sentencing, soaring marijuana arrests, a halving of the number of court-appointed defense attorneys, increased penalties for pot possession, and the shipping of inmates to distant prisons.”

And in 2007:

“This is a 60% black city undergoing socio-economic cleansing. One suburban county has so many black former DC residents that it is known here as Ward 9. But it’s no joke. Here are just a few of things that have happened: Huge budget cuts of which 60% of the burden fell on the poor; closing of four of the city’s ten health clinics; slashing the number of public health workers; cutting the budget for libraries, city funded day care centers, welfare benefits, and homeless shelters; creation of a tax-subsidized private “charter” school system; dismantling the city’s public university including a massive cut in faculty, destruction of the athletic program and elimination of normal university services; selling the city’s public radio station to C-SPAN; transferring prisoners to private gulags hundreds of miles away; a dramatic increase in the number of lock-ups including for traffic stops; and the subjugating of the elected school board to an appointed board of trustee.”

There were other signs: the destruction of public housing units, the removal of a homeless shelter from the center city, and even a blockade of a crime- hit black neighborhood – with entry permitted only for approved cause – not unlike apartheid South Africa or the Israelis in the West Bank – about which the liberal gentry class said nothing.

In other words, it was absolutely clear and absolutely unmentionable that the upper classes – both white and black, incidentally – wanted the city back again and were using a plethora of tactics to achieve this goal, especially after our energy consciousness increased and it became apparent that the suburbs were no longer the favored haven, but the ghettos of the future.

Furthermore, it was clear that satisfying this goal was behind most of the major new city programs, ranging from the subway to the baseball stadium – only please always call it economic development rather than getting rid of the poor.

Public education “reform” fit the plan in some ways. For example, although it was widely claimed that charter schools did not discriminate in their selection of students it was obvious that parents – a central factor in any child’s ability to learn – differed drastically between those with enough ambition to apply for a charter school seat and those either indifferent or with too much else on their mind. The charter schools were in this way a subtle part of socio-economic cleansing as they helped to reduce the old public facilities to what were once called “pauper schools.”

Then there was the carefully crafted schemes for closing “failing” public schools. But there is far more to schools than aggregate test scores. They help define a community, anchor its loose pieces to common ground, and provide a place for children to meet and play in a decent and clean environment.

Describing DC’s plans to close eleven schools (mostly in order to build condos), DC Statehood Party activist Chris Otten argued a few years ago, “There are lots of ways we can use our publicly owned properties — homeless services and shelters, child care, before- and after-school care, services for children with special needs, transitional housing and permanent affordable housing, health care, literacy programs, training for jobs and workforce readiness, senior services, gardening and green spaces, recreation. It’s outrageous that Mayor Fenty would rather transfer them to his friends and other well-connected and powerful real estate and development interests.”

But Fenty and other mayors were not only willing to get rid of such schools, they were wiling to damage community in the process and force young residents to travel far away from their community and its values. It was not only bad educationally cruel it was mean to the communities as a whole.

But these schools were located on suddenly valuable ground and so the government stole from the children and their parents and gave to the developers.

But there was something more at work.

It took the recent DC mayoral election to make me realize that I had been putting too much emphasis on educational considerations in examining what was happening. What I had missed was that the war on schools was not designed to bring the upper classes into the education system but primarily as a a marketing tool to bring the upper classes and corporations back to the cities. The message was, as with crime sweeps, baseball stadiums and the subway. It was now safe, folks, to live here.

In DC, the battle peaked between incumbent mayor Adrian Fenty, who with his school chancellor Michelle Rhee was strongly committed to the Bush-Obama school model, and his opponent and strong critic, Vincent Gray.

Eddie Elfanbeen did a precinct by precinct analysis of the contest. Some 31 precincts gave Fenty 75% or more of the vote while 53 gave him 25% or less. All of the top Fenty precincts were heavily white while all the top Gray precincts were heavily black. But more significant perhaps was that the former were all upscale precincts while the latter were at the lower end of the income scale. .

This year Fenty got 80% of upscale white Ward 3 and 16% of far poorer and black Ward 8.

Rhee and the school system was obviously a factor. As Natalie Henerson pointed out in the Atlantic, “Among white Democrats, 68 percent said Rhee is a reason to support Fenty. Fifty-four percent of black Democrats cite her as a reason to vote against the mayor, according to a Washington Post poll. In an earlier August poll by Clarus Research, Rhee got her most unfavorable ratings from black women, only 15 percent of whom viewed her favorably.”

Now, here’s the hooker. Only five percent of the public school system consists of white students. So why did it matter so much? For example, why did heavily gay precincts – with a constituency least likely to ever use the school system – give over 70% of their vote to Fenty?

It seems that it mattered because school test scores represent a symbol that the city is getting the poor under control or out of the way. It was not about educating the city’s young but about marketing to the city’s newcomers. Another poll, for example, found that Fenty won overwhelmingly the vote of those who had lived in DC less than ten years and Gray those who had lived there longer.

Thus, it was not unlike the crime war phenomena. Back in the nineties I noted that “Between 1985 and 1988, in the wake of the revived drug war, murders in Washington, DC soared from 145 a year to 369. During this period, the city’s office of criminal justice planning did an unusually detailed analysis of homicides. The report illustrates [that] it was virtually impossible to be killed in Washington if you were a young white girl living in upscale Georgetown on an early Thursday morning in July. If, on the other hand, you were a young black 20-year-old male living in low-income Anacostia, dealing drugs on a Saturday night in June, your chances of being killed were far greater than the overall statistics would suggest. And if you were not buying or selling drugs at all, your chances of being killed in DC were about the same as in Copenhagen.”

But being safe and feeling safe are two different things. And, as with crime, it was important for effective marketing to be seen as keeping the problem population under control.

To be sure, whatever appeal school “reform” had, it was not matched by the facts. For example, here are DC’s scores according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress broken down by income class (based on food stamp eligibility). Since 2002 4th Grade reading scores have improved a modest 4 percent for low income groups and 8 percent for others. But the gap between poor and others actually increased by 32 percent. Scores for 8th graders showed even less improvement with low income scores edging up a mere 1 percent and other income groups improving by only 2 percent. The gap between them increased by 19 percent.

Several things to note here. The overall improvement was minimal – but half as much for the poor as the better off. Furthermore, the gap between the scores of the better off and the poor actually widened by far more than the overall improvement percentage. So, as 8th grade reading improved 2% for the better off between 2002 and 2009, the gap between these two groups increase by 19%. Obviously, we are not talking about better education here.

And DC was far from alone. Just recently it was reported that in Massachusetts, 57 percent of public schools had fallen short of the yearly progress standard.

Diane Ravitch has noted other flaws in the school reform con:

“A study released days ago by Sean Corcoran of New York University showed that a teacher who was ranked at the 43rd percentile, using student test scores, might actually be at the 15th percentile or the 71st percentile because the margin of error in this methodology is so large.”

“Privately managed charter schools do not get better results on average than regular public schools. Some are excellent, some are awful, but most are no better than their public counterparts. Even the Superman movie admitted that only one in five (actually, only 17%) of charters get great test scores. Twice as many charters (37%) are even worse than the neighborhood public school.”

“One group of teachers in Nashville was offered bonuses up to $15,000 if they raised students’ math scores; another, the control group, was offered nothing. The average teacher pay is about $50,000, so this was a significant incentive to get higher scores. Over the three years of the study, both groups produced the same results.”

Of DC, Leigh Dingerson wrote recently:

“There’s nothing remarkably visionary going on in Washington. The model of school reform that’s being implemented here is popping up around the country, heavily promoted by the same network of conservative think tanks and philanthropists like Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and the Walton Family Foundation that has been driving the school reform debate for the past decade. It is reform based on the corporate practices of Wall Street, not on education research or theory. Indications so far are that, on top of the upheaval and distress Rhee leaves in her wake, the persistent racial gaps that plague D.C. student outcomes are only increasing. . .

“Despite glowing reports from the adoring media, D.C.’s education miracle is a chimera at best. . . “

But that, it turns out, was probably the point: to create a political illusion that would support the city’s myth, sell real estate, and attract new residents and businesses. Just as it didn’t matter that Washington’s Metro was designed in a way that actually increased rather than reduced street traffic, it didn’t matter that school reform didn’t improve things. It only had to seem to change things.

Meanwhile the real city remained.

In 2008, one in five DC residents was poor, a higher rate than in any year since 1997-98. Since the late 1990s, some 27,000 more DC residents fell into poverty. Thirty-two percent of the District of Columbia’s children live in poverty, nearly twice the national average. And in 2008 there were over 52,000 families on the waiting list for affordable housing.

But perhaps most important for the educational system, and discussion about it, is something hardly ever discussed: in the first decade of this century, employment among residents with a high school diploma fell to the lowest level in nearly 30 years. Just 51 percent of DC residents at this education level were working.

Every one in the system – parents, teachers, students – knew this reality and reacted accordingly. This, more than any other factor, defined public education in DC. But few wanted to face it.

After all, the poor don’t balance your budget. Cutting their services and shoving them out into new suburban ghettos can. And they certainly don’t attract tax-paying residents and businesses. So you talk the talk of education reform but walk the walk of socio-economic cleansing.

Sam Smith publishes the Progressive Review.

from CounterPunch Magazine