Phoenix Forum Hosts Panel Discussion on Post-Blackness

Phoenix Forum Hosts Panel Discussion on Post-Blackness

English: Photograph of the African American Fl...

English: Photograph of the African American Flag by David Hammons as flown at The Studio Museum in Harlem on 125th Street in Harlem, New York I took the picture June 1, 2007 Use Rationale Example of notable artist’s work. Notable example shows some of the artist’s major themes. Notable example shows artist’s relationship with city and neighborhood in question. Example of notable derivativedesign for U.S. flag. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is the last day of Black History Month 2013, and it ended with a plethora of events in Harlem. One of them was the panel discussion on the concept of “post-Blackness” held. This panel was the second event of the year for thePhoenix Forum, and it went extremely well. It was a pleasure to serve as moderator for the event. Our featured panelists were Nicholle LaVann, an award winning filmmaker, Ali McBride, an activist and motivational speaker, and scholar Guesnerth Perea.

This was a lively discussion, and many things came up. From definitions of African American, to media images, to the cultural appropriation that we often witness. I want to say thank you to our panelists for bringing the content, and our audience for coming out to show support. For those of you who missed our panel, a recording was made. As to when it will be available, we will keep you informed. This was a great send off for Black History Month, and everyone who participated brought some serious food for thought to the table. Peace and good night!

Marc W. Polite

 

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Did Cornel West Go Too Far — Again? l Zerlina Maxwell

Did Cornel West Go Too Far — Again?

After his “blackface” quip, maybe he’ll learn to make his critiques more constructive and less offensive.

By: Zerlina Maxwell | Posted: November 14, 2012 

Cornel West (Karen Bleier/AFP)

(The Root) — Professor Cornel West has struck again. The always outspoken Obama critic recently said in an interview with Democracy Now: “I think that it’s morally obscene and spiritually profane to spend $6 billion on an election, $2 billion on a presidential election, and not have any serious discussion — poverty; trade unions being pushed against the wall, dealing with stagnating and declining wages when profits are still up and the 1 percent are doing very well; no talk about drones dropping bombs on innocent people … I mean, I’m glad there was not a right-wing takeover, but we end up with a Republican, a Rockefeller Republican in blackface, with Barack Obama, so that our struggle with regard to poverty intensifies.”

Putting aside the substance in West’s comments, since there are certainly valid and substantive policy critiques to be made of the Obama administration, it is completely unnecessary for him to attack the president in such a racialized and offensive manner. Any good points he made are lost.

This isn’t the first time that the Princeton and Union Theological Seminary professor has attacked the president as a person instead of sticking to policy. West has previously called the president a “black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.” West and his partner Tavis Smiley (they have a public-radio show together, Smiley & West), also an outspoken Obama critic, have failed, time and again, to keep their critiques focused on policy when commenting on the shortcomings of the Obama administration.

High-profile black intellectuals who dared to support the president in public are not immune from the wrath of West and Smiley, either. The Rev. Al Sharpton, Melissa Harris-Perry and Michael Eric Dyson are “for sale” for access to Obama, according to West. This an interesting choice of words, considering Smiley’s history with corporate sponsors including Wells Fargo and Exxon Mobil.

Perhaps, with a second Obama win, West and Smiley feel their influence diminishing within the black community, which supported the re-election of President Obama with even higher turnout than in 2008 in key states, despite criticism. President Obama has been elected and re-elected, and the old guard of black political thought is becoming more and more marginalized as a result. No longer does a black politician need to be ordained by Smiley orgrace the stage of his (now-canceled) State of the Black Union speech-a-thon to be considered a contender for high office.

There are legitimate critiques of the president and serious issues to tackle during his second term. The challenge for Obama critics is to point out areas that absolutely need to be addressed — high black unemployment and, yes, poverty — without attacking the president as a man. With pride continuing to cloud their critiques of President Obama, West and Smiley have failed to do this time and again. It seems that they are facing a future in the black-intellectual wilderness over the next four years.

Let’s hope that during Obama’s next term, we can all work together to push the president and his administration to make big changes (or at least use his bully pulpit to talk about big changes, since the balance of power in Congress is unchanged) that will benefit the lives of the millions who voted for him. Offering constructive criticism and applying public pressure that is intended to assist the president rather than undermine him is a much more effective strategy going forward. Maybe more high-profile black thinkers will take note.

Zerlina Maxwell is a political analyst and contributing writer for Ebony.com, theGrio.com and Feministing.com. She writes about national politics, candidates and specific policy and culture issues, including domestic violence, sexual assault, victim blaming and gender inequality. Follow her on Twitter.

 

What Happens If The Voting Rights Act Loses In The Supreme Court

What Happens If The Voting Rights Act Loses In The Supreme Court

By Ian Millhiser

Feb 26, 2013

We do not have to guess what the states currently subject to a key provision of the Voting Rights Act will do if the Supreme Court grants their wish to have that provision declared unconstitutional — top Republicans in those states have already told us. In a brief filed last August, Republican attorneys general from six of the states covered, at least in part, by Section 5 of the Voting Right Act complained that this landmark legislation is all that stands between them and implementing a common method of disenfranchising minority voters. Two of those states, South Carolina and Texas, admit that the Voting Rights Act stopped them from implementing a voter suppression law their governors already signed.

Of course, the voter suppression law at issue here are so-called “voter ID” provisions that require voters to present photo ID at the polls. Their supporters clam publicly that these laws are needed to prevent voter fraud at the polls, but this claim is absurd. Voters are more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit in-person voter fraud. A study of Wisconsin voters found that just 0.00023 percent of votes are the product of such fraud.

What these laws do accomplish is disenfranchisement; even conservative estimates suggest that they prevent 2 to 3 percent of registered voters from casting a ballot. This voter disenfranchisement is particularly pronounced among low-income voters, students and — a fact that is particularly salient for any discussion of the Voting Rights Act — racial minorities.

The Voting Rights Act, of course, protects against laws that expose minority voters to greater burdens than other voters. Section 5, the provision that the Supreme Court will consider tomorrow, requires parts of the country that have historically engaged in voter suppression to “pre-clear” any new voting laws with the Justice Department or a federal court in DC to make sure they do not impose racial burdens. Thus, voter suppression laws such as voter ID can be blocked before an election is held, preventing officials from being elected to office by an electorate that has been unlawfully culled of minority voters.

Lest there be any doubt, voter ID laws are just one of many tactics Republican lawmakers have turned to in order to reshape the electorate into something more likely to elect their favored candidates. Cuts to early voting days did not simply lead to long lines in states like Florida, they were also a direct attack on minority voters. As one Republican consultant admitted after last November’s election, “I know that the cutting out of the Sunday before Election Day was one of [the Florida GOP’s] targets only because that’s a big day when the black churches organize themselves.” Voter purges targeted Latino voters. Republican laws restricting voter registration also cut into the minority vote, as “Hispanic and African-American voters are approximatelytwice as likely to register to vote through a voter registration drive as white voters.”

As President Lyndon Johnson warned when he originally proposed the Voting Rights Act to Congress, vote suppressors will bring “every device of which human ingenuity is capable” to deny the right to vote. This is why it is so important that Section 5 exist. Advocates of disenfranchisement are smart, nimble and capable of subtlety. The law must have a mechanism to block their efforts from taking effect before an election is held using illegal, vote suppressing procedures.

Indeed, it is deeply distressing that the Supreme Court would consider weakening the Voting Rights Act at the exact moment that Republican lawmakers are engaged in what President Bill Clinton called the most “determined effort to limit the franchise” since Jim Crow. What America needs today is not weaker voting rights. At the very least, we need to keep the protections we already have and expand Section 5′s coverage to include many Republican-controlled states that are not currently subject to its rule — an expansion the Voting Rights Act explicitly contemplates under what is known as the “bail-in” provision of the law. The lawmakers who reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006 could not have anticipated that Republican lawmakers in many states would begin a voter suppression campaign a few years later, but the drafters of the act were wise to include a provision that enables it to adapt to these circumstances.

Above all, it is hard not to escape the fact that, at the exact same time that the Republican Party is leading the charge to enact state-level voter suppression laws, the five justices most likely to strike down much of America’s most important voting rights law are the Court’s only Republicans. It will be difficult for the Roberts Court to maintain the perception that it places politics before the law if hands such a gift to Republican lawmakers bent on disenfranchisement.

 

THINK PROGRESS

More Black Men in Jail Than in College? Wrong l Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D

More Black Men in Jail Than in College? Wrong

Show Me the Numbers: A 13-year-old report using questionable data gave rise to an enduring myth.

Students at a Morehouse College commencement (Getty); prisoners at the Avon Park Correctional Facility (Getty)

(The Root) — What does the line “There are more black men in jail than in college” have in common with the Jheri curl? Answer: They were invented by white men (Jheri Redding and Vincent Schiraldi, respectively) and adopted enthusiastically by black people, and they left a nasty stain on the shoulders of millions of black men.

It’s been more than 20 years since the Jheri curl faded away into infamy, and I’m proud to say that even in the 1980s, I never sported a curl. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the line “There are more black men in jail than in college.”

About six years ago I wrote, “In 2000, the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) found evidence that more black men are in prison than in college,” in my first “Breaking Barriers” (pdf) report. At the time, I did not question the veracity of this statement. The statement fit well among other stats that I used to establish the need for more solution-focused research on black male achievement.

I was in good company. The same year, at a 2007 NAACP forum, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama said, “We have more work to do when more young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America.”

However, just as a Jheri curl would be wrong no matter how you dressed it up today, the line “There are more black men in jail than in college” is wrong no matter how you contextualize, qualify or articulate it.

Today there are approximately 600,000 more black men in college than in jail, and the best research evidence suggests that the line was never true to begin with. In this two-part entry in Show Me the Numbers, the Journal of Negro Education’s monthly series for The Root, I examine the dubious origins, widespread use and harmful effects of what is arguably the most frequently quoted statistic about black men in the United States.

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Victims Of Violent Military Rapes l National Review Rebuttal to NYT Coverage

National Review: Victims Of Violent Military Rapes Struggle In Life Because Of ‘Their Own Bad Decision-Making’

By Adam Peck on Feb 28, 2013 at 6:15 pm

A victim of M.S.T. profiled by the New York Times.

In Thursday’s paper, the New York Times ran theharrowing story of Tiffany Jackson, a female veteran grappling with the effects of military sexual trauma. Jackson had been violently raped while deployed overseas at the Suwon Air Base in South Korea, and upon her return to the states had difficulty finding and keeping a job, struggled with drugs and alcohol and fought uphill battles to keep her anger at bay. All of which, according to a growing consensus of researchers and psychologists, are common manifestations of post-traumatic stress disorder brought about by M.S.T.

But expert opinion is not enough to convince the scribes at National Review Online, which issued its own rebuttal to the Times piece and proclaimed — without a shred of evidence — that the hardships befallen upon Jackson and as many as 1 in 5 of all female servicemembers are attributable to their upbringing in underprivileged communities and not to their sexual assaults. And they engage in an especially pernicious form of victim-blaming in the process:

Now here is a tentative alternative hypothesis: Some of these women come from environments that made their descent into street life overdetermined, whether or not they experienced alleged sexual assault in the military. To blame alleged sexual assault for their fate rather than their own bad decision-making is ideologically satisfying, but mystifying. Having children out of wedlock, as a huge proportion of them do, also does not help in avoiding poverty and homelessness…

But let’s say that for these homeless female vets, it really was their sexual experiences in the military that caused their downward spiral into, as the Times puts it, “alcohol and substance abuse, depression and domestic violence.” Why then have those same feminists who are now lamenting the life-destroying effects of “MST” insisted on putting women into combat units?

Writer Heather MacDonald fails to acknowledge once in her almost 1000-word post that there is a problem at all, preferring instead to leverage the horrific rate of sexual assault and violent rape against women in the military as a means to attack gender equality in the armed forces. Nastier still, she attacks the “feminists” who are fighting for greater accountability and protections for the thousands of women who enlist.

Of course, the National Review Online has a strong lineage of sexist, misogynistic and racistremarks. In January, the conservative publication blamed the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting on the fact that women ran the school, and for years kept author John Derbyshire in their employ despite vocally questioning whether or not women should have the right to vote.

 

10 Things Everyone Should Know by Now About Black Women l Clutch Magazine

10 Things Every Non-Black Person Should Know (By Now) About Black Women

10 Things Nerver SayWe’re more than a decade into the 21st century. I’d hoped– in vain– that some basic understandings of how non-Black people should interact with Black people could be something I could take for granted. But no. Somehow there are “those people” who remain entirely clueless, so much so that they will call a 9-year old the c-word, or paint a white model bronze-Black, or not even, as so-called, journalists, bother to learn the pronunciation of an Oscar nominee’s name. This is unacceptable.

Recently, I read the comments section of a post on Clutch where a male reader was baffled as how to initiate a conversation with Black women and asked for some rules. Several helpful women obliged. In the same spirit of combating ignorance, I offer rules for non-Black people to  engage Black women without causing offense. If you can manage NOT to do the following, you can probably come across as a decent human being.

Humbly, I submit a basic list, my Rules of Engagement, and ask you NOT to do the following (and encourage Black women to add to the list in the comments):

1. Talk Bad About (Black) Kids
It seems ridiculous that this has to be said, much less lead the list. I’d assumed everyone knew better, but apparently not. (And you know what “they say” about assuming.) Look here, dissing kids – all kids, of all races, creeds, and color is UNACCEPTABLE. You want to talk greasy about your own kids? Eh… still unacceptable. Kids are off-limits. Period.

2. Touch Our Hair
I know our hair– braided, permed, natural, whatever– is pretty great. We treat it like art because we can and well, it is.  However, it is never, ever, EVER okay to touch the hair of a random Black woman you’ve just encountered or even the familiar Black woman who you share the cubicle with. The world is not your personal petting zoo. Black people are, well, people. DO NOT TOUCH US (without permission).

3. Mispronounce Our Names/ Rename Us
Look, all Black folk don’t have multi-hypenate names. We have Janes, Marys and Beths too. And somehow our single syllabic sisters learn how to pronounce names like La’Taquisha, Marquaysa, Taiwanas, etc. You know what our secret is? Lean closer.

WE ASK.

I’m a four syllable girl with an uncommon name (in the States.) I know it’s a challenge to pronounce and I am never offended by anyone asking, “how do I pronounce your name?” However, I am offended when you, a stranger, butchers it without care or tries to nickname me like we’re friends. Take the time to learn my name and maybe, I’ll offer my nickname to help you out.

4. Paint Yourselves  Black/ Bronze
I know it’s Halloween or for my Jewish folk, Purim. I get you’re dressing up, but Black skin is not a costume. If you want to try out “ghetto” for Halloween, go right ahead. There are plenty of so-called “ghetto” white people. Wanna be a rapper? Great! Bubba Sparxxx’s, wherever he is, wants you to remember him.  A basketball player? How creative of you! Just be a white one, or if you just have to go Black, get a jersey with the Black guy’s name and number so everyone knows who you are. (This means you NY Assemblyman Dov Hikind.) There’s no need to go all bronze or Blackface for that. Oh, and while we’re at it, leave off the afro/dread wigs. (I know, I know, some  Black people wear other people’s hair so that seems hypocritical, but just trust me, no, the wigs just come across offensive— unless of course it’s a Jew ‘fro, which we totally give a pass to.)

5. Paint Others Black/Bronze
Do you know how hard it is for a working Black model? Of course not, because you would have to hire one to interact with her and learn what it’s like. Let me fill you in: it’s hard. And you, editor, are not making it any easier on Black models or your make-up artists by hiring white women and spraying them bronze/brown/Black. Leave the white person white or just hire a Black model already, and make it easier on everyone.

6. Try to Hook Up A SBW With the One Other Black Person You Know
Hook ups are always tricky, and I know your heart is in the right place here, but um, stop it. Just like, just how you wouldn’t introduce White Rebecca to a guy just because he too is also White, you shouldn’t try to hook up Black Regina with a guy just because he’s Black. If Regina is single and looking, introduce her to someone who she shares an interest with and you have a reasonable expectation she might click with. If he’s Black, great. If he’s not, that’s still great.

7. Drop the N-Word
Celebrities keep doing this sh** like it’s okay. Because “they”– that means you, Lisa Lampanelli – think it’s okay, you need to know that there’s no trickle down theory on this one. It doesn’t matter if it ends in “-er” or “a”, or you hear your Black friends or even your favorite rapper say it. It’s just not for you. When the lyrics in a song get to the n-word, go silent. When you’re retelling a story where someone dropped an n-bomb, just say “n-bomb” to be safe. Understand that by actually using the n-word, you not only are likely to offend every Black person in hearing distance, you will also be perceived as a racist and you may get confronted and/or physically harmed. The N-word is a fighting word. And while I, like many Black people, don’t condone violence, this is an instance where I understand.

8. Diss Michelle Obama
You got Jackie O and Princess Diana. We get the First Lady (and Oprah). You don’t like her? Think her arms are too bare? Her bum too large? She shouldn’t be dancing on Jimmy Fallon or presenting at the Oscars? Great. You’re entitled to your opinion… but tell someone else.

9. Change to the Local Hip-Hop Station When A Black Person Gets in the Car
My white friends never did this, which is how I ended up with the Oasis, Green Day, Jewel, Alanis Morissette obsession. This one is really for my cab drivers who are usually not white. I actually don’t mind AM news, and I like oldies, and rock, and jazz, and even some country.  What I actually don’t like is most commercial hip-hop. I’ll take talk radio, lyric-less music or a plucked guitar over shout outs to “hos” at Spelman, wanting “hos” as birthday presents, or a “man” lamenting his inability to avoid “ratchet p****”.

10. Auto-Assume the Other Black Woman Shopping Must Work There
Every woman is not a salesgirl. Every Black woman is not a salesgirl. Say it with me: EVERY BLACK WOMAN IS NOT A SALESGIRL. More often than not, salesgirls or salespersons or whatever PC term is  used now, are not wearing purses and coats on the sales floor. Salesgirls often have a name tag  or a uniform and often they come right up and ask “Can I help you?” Those are salesgirls. The Black girl/woman with the coat and big-ass purse, who’s holding up the dress in front of herself in the mirror or searching the rack for her size? She’s a shopper just like you and is in no way is obligated to tell you where the [whatever you’re looking for] department is. If you ask her and you get a curt, “I don’t work here” as a response? Yes, she’s being rude because you’ve been ignorant.

Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life”. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk.

Clutch Magazine

 

 

“Witnesses On the Bridge – Lessons Learned” March, 201

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham ☥ Coming Up

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

"Witnesses On the Bridge – Lessons Learned"
OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham 

OUR COMMON GROUND kicks off "Witnesses On the Bridge – Lessons Learned" March, 2013 Series with
Florence L. Tate, " FBI’s Most Wanted Press Secretary"
March 2, 2013 10pm ET LIVE

LEARN MORE  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151226433091653&set=a.110244561652.106770.95053031652&type=1&theater

March 9, 2013  Activist and Community Developer Ruby Sales

Founder and Executive Director, The Spirit House

See on “Witnesses On the Bridge ” l OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham l March, 2013