The Morehouse Speech l Black Bloggersphere Responds

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The First Lady and the President of the United States have officially told all the Negroes that they are not here for your lazy, hoop-dreaming, rapper-fantasizing, video-game-addicted, blame-it-on-the-white-man, media-whorish asses. They are over your excuses and they don’t want to hear it and they say no one else wants to hear it either. You ain’t getting reparations and they gives zero fucks about whatever legacy left you in the condition you’re in. Fuck institutionalized racism and stop-and-frisk and stand your ground and the prison industrial complex and inherent wealth disparity and inherent resource disparity and government persecution and government antipathy. Fuck yo’ couch, nigga. Fuck yo couch! Fuck all your excuses. If Oprah and Tyler can do it, any Negro can do it: Pull yourself up by your bootstraps—whether you have boots or straps or just bare feet. Otherwise, ain’t nobody got time for your sob story. Peace out!

Love, the most powerful black couple on the planet.

“Today, more than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, more than 50 years after the end of ‘separate but equal,’ when it comes to getting an education, too many of our young people just can’t be bothered. Today, instead of walking miles every day to school, they’re sitting on couches for hours, playing video games, watching TV. Instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader, they’re fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper. Right now, one in three African American students are dropping out of high school, only one in five African Americans between the ages of 25 and 29 has gotten a college degree.” – First Lady Michelle Obama, New York Daily News
“I understand there’s a common fraternity creed here at Morehouse: ‘Excuses are tools of the incompetent used to build bridges to nowhere and monuments of nothingness.’ Well, we’ve got no time for excuses. Not because the bitter legacy of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they have not. Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; we know those are still out there. It’s just that in today’s hyperconnected, hypercompetitive world, with millions of young people from China and India and Brazil — many of whom started with a whole lot less than all of you did — all of them entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything that you have not earned.

Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was. Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination. And moreover, you have to remember that whatever you’ve gone through, it pales in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured — and they overcame them. And if they overcame them, you can overcome them, too.”– President Barack Obama, Wall Street Journal

You mad?

If you are, then you understand the problematics. If you’re not, then you don’t.

But we should all know one thing for sure:

“When people show you who they are, believe them.” – Maya Angelou

 

How the Obama Administration Talks to Black America

“Convenient race-talk” from a president who ought to know better

          The Atlantic  MAY 20 2013

The first lady went to Bowie State and addressed the graduating class. Her speech was a mix of black history and a salute to the graduates. There was also this:

But today, more than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, more than 50 years after the end of “separate but equal,” when it comes to getting an education, too many of our young people just can’t be bothered. Today, instead of walking miles every day to school, they’re sitting on couches for hours playing video games, watching TV. Instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader, they’re fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper.

And then this:

If the school in your neighborhood isn’t any good, don’t just accept it. Get in there, fix it. Talk to the parents. Talk to the teachers. Get business and community leaders involved as well, because we all have a stake in building schools worthy of our children’s promise. …

And as my husband has said often, please stand up and reject the slander that says a black child with a book is trying to act white. Reject that.

There’s a lot wrong here.

At the most basic level, there’s nothing any more wrong with aspiring to be a rapper than there is with aspiring to be a painter, or an actor, or a sculptor. Hip-hop has produced some of the most penetrating art of our time, and inspired much more. My path to this space began with me aspiring to be rapper. Hip-hop taught me to love literature. I am not alone. Perhaps you should not aspire to be a rapper because it generally does not provide a stable income. By that standard you should not aspire to be a writer, either.

At a higher level, there is the time-honored pattern of looking at the rather normal behaviors of black children and pathologizing them. My son wants to play for Bayern Munich. Failing that, he has assured me he will be Kendrick Lamar. When I was kid I wanted to be Tony Dorsett — or Rakim, whichever came first. Perhaps there is some corner of the world where white kids desire to be Timothy Geithner instead of Tom Brady. But I doubt it. What is specific to black kids is that their dreams often don’t extend past entertainment and athletics  That is a direct result of the kind of limited cultural exposure you find in impoverished, segregated neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods are the direst result of American policy.

Enacting and enforcing policy is the job of the Obama White House. When asked about policy for African Americans, the president has said, “I’m not the president of black America. I’m the president of all America.” An examination of the Obama administration’s policy record toward black people clearly bears this out. An examination of the Obama administration’s rhetoric, as directed at black people, tells us something different.

Yesterday, the president addressed Morehouse College’s graduating class, andsaid this:

We know that too many young men in our community continue to make bad choices. Growing up, I made a few myself. And I have to confess, sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. But one of the things you’ve learned over the last four years is that there’s no longer any room for excuses. I understand that there’s a common fraternity creed here at Morehouse: “excuses are tools of the incompetent, used to build bridges to nowhere and monuments of nothingness.”

We’ve got no time for excuses — not because the bitter legacies of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they haven’t. Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; that’s still out there. It’s just that in today’s hyper-connected, hyper-competitive world, with a billion young people from China and India and Brazil entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven’t earned. And whatever hardships you may experience because of your race, they pale in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured — and overcame.

This clearly is a message that only a particular president can offer. Perhaps not the “president of black America,” but certainly a president who sees holding African Americans to a standard of individual responsibility as part of his job. This is not a role Barack Obama undertakes with other communities.

Taking the full measure of the Obama presidency thus far, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that this White House has one way of addressing the social ills that afflict black people — and particularly black youth — and another way of addressing everyone else. I would have a hard time imagining the president telling the women of Barnard that “there’s no longer room for any excuses” — as though they were in the business of making them. Barack Obama is, indeed, the president of “all America,” but he also is singularly the scold of “black America.”

It’s worth revisiting the president’s comments over the past year in reference to gun violence. Visting his grieving adopted hometown of Chicago, in the wake of the murder of Hadiya Pendleton, the president said this:

For a lot of young boys and young men in particular, they don’t see an example of fathers or grandfathers, uncles, who are in a position to support families and be held up in respect. And so that means that this is not just a gun issue; it’s also an issue of the kinds of communities that we’re building. When a child opens fire on another child, there is a hole in that child’s heart that government can’t fill. Only community and parents and teachers and clergy can fill that hole.

Two months earlier Obama visited Newtown. The killer, Adam Lanza, was estranged from his father and reportedly devastated by his parents divorce. But Obama did not speak to Newtown about the kind of community they were building, or speculate on the hole in Adam Lanza’s heart.

When Barack Obama says that he is “the president of all America,” he is exactly right. When he visits black communities, he visits as the American president, bearing with him all our history, all our good works, and all our sins. Among recent sins, the creation of the ghettos of Chicago — accomplished by 20th-century American social policy — rank relatively high. Leaving aside the vague connection between fatherhood and the murder of Hadiya Pendleton. Certainly the South Side could use more responsible fathers. Why aren’t there more? Do those communities simply lack men of ambition or will? Are the men there genetically inferior?

No president has ever been better read on the intersection of racism and American history than our current one. I strongly suspect that he would point to policy. As the president of “all America,” Barack Obama inherited that policy. I would not suggest that it is in his power to singlehandedly repair history. But I would say that, in his role as American president, it is wrong for him to handwave at history, to speak as though the government he represents is somehow only partly to blame. Moreover, I would say that to tout your ties to your community when it is convenient, and downplay them when it isn’t, runs counter to any notion of individual responsibility.

I think the stature of the Obama family — the most visible black family in American history — is a great blow in the war against racism. I am filled with pride whenever I see them: there is simply no other way to say that. I think Barack Obama, specifically, is a remarkable human being — wise, self-aware, genuinely curious and patient. It takes a man of particular vision to know, as Obama did, that the country really was ready to send an African American to the White House.

But I also think that some day historians will pore over his many speeches to black audiences. They will see a president who sought to hold black people accountable for their communities, but was disdainful of those who looked at him and sought the same. They will match his rhetoric of individual responsibility, with the aggression the administration showed to bail out the banks, and the timidity they showed  in addressing a foreclosure crisis which devastated black America (again.)They wil weigh the rhetoric against an administration whose efforts against housing segregation have beenrun of the mill. And they will match the talk of the importance of black fathers with the paradox of a president who smoked marijuana in his youth but continued a drug-war which daily wrecks the lives of black men and their families. In all of this, those historians will see a discomfiting pattern of convenient race-talk.

I think the president owes black people more than this. In the 2012 election, the black community voted at a higher rate than any other ethnic community in the country. Their vote went almost entirely to Barack Obama. They did this despite a concerted effort to keep them from voting, and they deserve more than a sermon. Perhaps they cannot  practically receive targeted policy. But surely they have earned something more than targeted scorn.

TA-NEHISI COATES is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle

The Obamas Double Teamed That Ass

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

The First Lady and the President of the United States have officially told all the Negroes that they are not here for your lazy, hoop-dreaming, rapper-fantasizing, video-game-addicted,…

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

"If Oprah and Tyler can do it, any Negro can do it: Pull yourself up by your bootstraps—whether you have boots or straps or just bare feet. Otherwise, ain’t nobody got time for your sob story. Peace out! "

See on sonofbaldwin.tumblr.com

Michael Baisden and the Assault on Black Radio: A Question of Leadership l Bob Law, former Vice President of Programming at New York’s WWRL radio

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

Michael Baisden and the Assault on Black Radio: A Question of Leadership   By Bob Law May 17, 2013   We are witnessing the very serious decline of Black radio in general and Black owned radio in pa…

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

"The mega media corporations in their rampage to consolidate and dominate all media markets have been able to strip the FCC of all rules and guidelines, making it impossible for members of the general public and independent station owners to have legal standing when appealing to the FCC to protect the air waves from mega corporate take overs."

See on ourcommongroundtalk.wordpress.com

Michael Baisden and the Assault on Black Radio: A Question of Leadership l Bob Law, former Vice President of Programming at New York’s WWRL radio

Michael Baisden and the Assault on Black Radio: A Question of Leadership

  By Bob Law
May 17, 2013
 
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We are witnessing the very serious decline of Black radio in general and Black owned radio in particular.  This is happening at a time when Blacks can ill afford to be without voice in the marketplace of ideas.

It is important to take into account the factors that have made Black radio so vulnerable. Two Major contributing factors to the demise of Black owned radio are the 1990 Bill Clinton telecommunications ACT, and the bias inherent in the radio ratings system, a system whose incorrect information has consistently deprived Black radio of a fair share of advertising revenue, leading to the financial demise of a number of Black owned radio stations throughout the nation.With the hateful indifference to Blacks that dominates so much of what is considered mainstream media, Blacks must have access to social, political, esthetic and cultural expressions that are born of the Black experience in the world.

It is the Federal Communications Commission, however, where these destructive factors find their greatest support. One of the reasons that these and other unfair business practices persist is that the mega corporations, when taking advantage of Black stations that find themselves forced into irreversible decline, are assured that the FCC will grant them the stations broadcast license, in spite of what often appears to be unethical and perhaps even illegal behavior.

The mega media corporations in their rampage to consolidate and dominate all media markets have been able to strip the FCC of all rules and guidelines, making it impossible for members of the general public and independent station owners to have legal standing when appealing to the FCC to protect the air waves from mega corporate take overs.

Recently, Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn standing on her own, blocked the commission from literally sneaking through additional rules changes that would have allowed further media ownership by Rupert Murdoch without giving the public ample time to review and comment. We applaud commissioner Clyburn’s integrity.

It is Congress however, that has oversight over the FCC, and it is Congress that must restructure the Commission, and since it is the Black community that has so much at stake, on Dec. 6, 2012 in our capacity as representatives of a putative class of African American citizens, Bob Law, Betty Dobson, Michael North and New York City Councilman Charles Barron appealed to the Congressional Black Caucus to place the FCC on the congressional agenda for 2013. We went directly to the then chair of the caucus, Emanuel Cleaver, with an open letter to the CBC office in Washington D.C. and as instructed by his Chief of staff, an email of the same letter to his district office in Kansas City.

Our efforts to engage the CBC were freely dismissed. We also emailed the letter to the New York congressional delegation, Charles Rangel, Yvette Clark, and Gregory Meeks, all of whom ignored us. The letter was hand delivered to Congresswoman Barbra Jackson Lee, of Houston Texas. To date the CBC has ignored this request coming from respected members of the Black community.

On the occasion of Martin Luther King’s birthday, Marcia L. Fudge, the new chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, announced that in the spirit of Dr. King, the CBC must commit itself to the fight for the rights of all people. This interpretation of Martin King comes at a very strange time.

When you consider that Blacks have the highest unemployment rate of all ethnic groups, the highest debt, the lowest median family income, the most dysfunctional schools, the highest incarceration rate, a street violence that is of epidemic proportions prompting a growing number of African Americans to even urge the president to address the needs of Blacks head on.

At this time, when their own constituents need them the most, the CBC ignores a direct appeal from Blacks, and according to chairwoman Fudge chooses instead to chase the broad ambiguous notion of securing everyone’s “version” of the American dream. As though the needs and concerns of Blacks do not qualify as a legitimate version of the American dream.

Were it not for the courage and commitment of Maxine Waters, the CBC would have no relevance at all. Nonetheless, the CBC overall raises significant questions for African Americans. At this point, can we really afford leadership, both elected and appointed, that is so befret of the skills and vision needed to move Black people forward?

It was Frantz Fanon, in his classic study “The Wretched Of The Earth” who pointed out that a deserving people, a people conscious of its dignity, is a people that understands and insist that the government and the political parties are to serve the interest of the people. Fanon says that ultimately, a government or a party gets the people it deserves, and sooner or later, a people gets the government leadership they deserve.

The overall condition of Black Americans remains bleak as long as we tolerate totally inadequate leadership. It is time to replace those leaders and elected officials who offer no vision or strategy to actually move Blacks forward. As long as we leave these politicians in place, we may be getting what we deserve!

Bob Law served as the Vice President of programming at New York’s WWRL radio for 3 years. Prior to that, he was the host of NIGHT TALK, the nation’s first nationally broadcast daily Black call-in show on the National Black Network for two decades. He is currently chairman of the board of the Black Spectrum Theatre in Queens, New York, and has begun a new career in filmmaking. His first film Saying it Loud, a documentary about the power and significance of Black radio, is being well received by audiences around the country.

 

Promoting the Dignity of the Invisible and Marginalized | Open Society Foundations

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND News Board •● ☥●• The Third Eye Parenthesis

The 2013 Soros Justice Fellows work on behalf of constituencies often given little voice or visibility.

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

Congrats to all of the Soros Justice Fellows who have an opportunity to make vital contributions to the field of criminal justice reform.

See on www.opensocietyfoundations.org

Private Prison Profits Skyrocket, As Executives Assure Investors Of ‘Growing Offender Population’

See on Scoop.itOUR COMMON GROUND Informed Truth and Resistance

A major U.S. private prison operator known for inmate abuse, violations, and disregard for the truth reported a 56-percent spike in profit in the first quarter of 2013, due in part to its new strategy for drastically reducing its taxes, the…

OUR COMMON GROUND Omnibus‘s insight:

GEO Senior Vice President John Hurley assured investors during the call:

We have a longstanding partnership with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the United States Marshal Service and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE. … We continue to see meaningful opportunities for us to partner with all three of these federal agencies, notwithstanding the various issues with the federal budget, which we believe will have no material negative impact on our business. The federal bureau of prisons continues to face capacity constraints coupled with a growing offender population.

See on thinkprogress.org

The Reactionary Nature of Black Politics l Pascal Robert

The Reactionary Nature of Black Politics

Posted: 05/11/HUFFPO
Pascal Robert

Lawyer, Co-Founder of The Haitian Bloggers’ Caucus

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2013-05-11-BlackPolitics.JPGThe image above is the cover jacket from Professor Frederick C. Harris’ excellent book, “The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and the Rise and Decline of Black Politics”In 1619, the first 19 Africans brought to the shores of the United States landed in Jamestown, Virginia starting the tortured history of what would be the centuries long relationship between Black people and the United States. The nature of the relationship was innately economic and political from the start. Sadly, the organizing mechanisms of the Black American social enterprise since that time have been poorly grounded in sound application of either economics or politics, barring rare exceptions.

What has caused Black people, after almost 400 years in North America, and after 150 years of emancipation from slavery, to be mired in a social condition that is becoming more debilitating by the day? One need not sound off the various statistics available illustrating the evisceration of whatever illusory semblance of progress Blacks have made, particularly since the post movement era after the 1960s.

Contrary to the inclinations of racists and many self-hating Blacks to deem this failure as some innate shortcoming in the Black American psyche, the social and political condition of Black America is a direct consequence of the level of political sophistication and sheer brutality of the tactics that have been used to deny them clarity of vision and planning as a means of rectifying this pervasive cavern they have found themselves in for generations.

The main vehicle allowing this constant social and political demobilization of the Black community stems from the problematic reality that Black politics has traditionally been grounded in a purely reactionary response to the phenomenon of racism — particularly without a clear understanding of the purpose of racism in its application to Blacks.

This stems from a failure to understand basic key aspects of the relationship of Blacks to America and racism, mostly because the sheer terror used under the guise of racism to maintain the prevailing order has been so atrocious that the political focus by Blacks has been to concentrate on that terror and attempts to neutralize it without truly addressing its root cause.

From the beginning, Europeans did not bring Africans to the Americas because they were racist. They brought Africans to the Americas to expropriate labor from them as workers in an economic system that denied compensation for that labor to maximize return on investment for the presence of those Africans. The function of Black people in America was an innately economic one from the start rooted in a politics that was based on protecting the sanctity of that economic relationship. All the terror and brutality used to maintain that system was purely ancillary to the goal of protecting that economic system of exploiting free Black labor. Yet many Blacks, even educated ones, will say that Europeans brought Africans to the Americas because of racism and White Supremacy. Racism is merely the rationale and tactic used to justify that exploitative economic relationship, and White Supremacy is the subsequent accrued benefit of the successful maintenance of that relationship — in varying degrees — over time.

A perfect example of how these realities are confused can easily be shown by attempting to ascertain from most people what the actual purpose and function of Jim Crow Segregation, which started with the consummation of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, and lasted to the end of the Civil Rights Era in 1968, actually was. Many would say things like: keeping Blacks subjugated, or denying blacks the ability to compete with Whites, or racism/White Supremacy, or fear of Black male sexual potency via White women. In reality, Jim Crow was a purely intentional reaction by White Southern agricultural interests meshed with Northern industrialists to combat the rising political and economic militancy and mutual co-operation of Blacks and poor Whites during the progressive era of the 1890s with the combined efforts of the Farmer’s Alliance and the Colored Farmers Alliance in order to maintain economic hegemony and cheap exploited labor for capitalist interests in the South, primarily Agricultural but also industrial, with the slow but new development of Southern industrialization. Jim Crow was rooted in economic control, not simply racism and brutality. Those were the tools used to keep the system intact.

Moreover, few people will admit that the main reason for the collapse of Jim Crow starting in the 1930s, and expanding rapidly into the post World War II era, had more to do with three key factors as opposed to the romanticized notions of how the valiant fight of the ancestors during the Civil Rights Movement brought us freedom: First, the new methods of mechanized agricultural farming technology started to make the need for Black farm labor in the South obsolete. Hence, the need for the disenfranchisement and related oppression became more about form rather than substance; second, the rise of Hitler and Nazism made the notion of race-based exclusion in the United Stated unpalatable, particularly in the face of Hitler’s anti-semitism; thirdly, the Cold War era and the fear of American racism being an obstacle to the competitive advantage over the Soviet Union in winning the hearts and minds of the newly independent Black, Brown, and Yellow third world would rapidly assure desegregation and ending Jim Crow being an American primary domestic agenda.

As African American political science professor Adolph Reed, Jr. states in his essay “The Color Line Then and Now,” found in the anthology, Renewing Black Intellectual History, when discussing some of the egalitarian social science and legal strategies to end Jim Crow:

This intellectual enterprise was no more responsible for defeating early-twentieth-century race theory than Charles Hamilton Houston’s and Thurgood Marshall’s legal arguments were for defeating codified racial segregation, probably much less so. Factors like the leftward shift in the domestic political climate in the 1930s and 1940s, the embarrassment that Nazi extremism presented for racialist ideology, and cold war concerns with the United States’ international image were undoubtedly more important.

An excellent treatise that explains the relationship between the Cold War and the Civil Rights victories we often wrongly think were a result of these romanticized protest activities is Cold Civil Rights: Race and the Imagery of American Democracy, by professor of law and political science, Mary L. Dudziak, in which she states about Brown v. Board of Education: “According to the Justice Department, the interest of the United States in school segregation was that race discrimination harmed American foreign relations.”

This is not to diminish the efforts of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who waged moral protest to the brutal and racist treatment of our nations Black citizens. To diminish in such a fashion could have the effect of discouraging the belief in the human capacity to make social or political change. The point is to show that our desires to romanticize certain periods of history, especially dealing with African Americans, lead to a limited and pedestrian understanding of the factors that truly shape events.

In the face of the reactionary nature of Black politics, we can better understand the post Civil Rights dilemma that has plagued the Black political scene. If the illusion of racial equality is touted as one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century American democratic experiment via these Civil Rights victories, how do you create a Black politics in a post Civil Rights era when the political traditions of this group has been rooted in combating or reacting to the racism that society now forces them to accept as no more, when in fact that is not the case?

Now we understand the root of the past 45 years of increasing Black political demobilization — meaning Black politics being unable to actually achieve lasting policy that succeeds at remedying the true root of Black suffering: economic inequality.

The ultimate sign of that demobilization is the over 97 percent support of Black America for a president whose agenda is to introduce neoliberal privatization of government resources at rates never seen before that might ultimately demolish those same communities that supported him — i.e. Barack Obama.

This is why Black America is in a crisis, because Black politics is in a crisis. That crisis is a product of the place from which Black politics was born and grew. We now need a new politics, if we shall even call it Black politics, that is not rooted in reactionary response to racism, but seeks to foster cross-racial coalitions with those similarly situated to crush the barriers to economic equality while allowing Blacks to maintain social autonomy and ideological integrity in recognition of the need for nuance in neutralizing the tool of racism that has been used to distract them from the ultimate problem of economic injustice. This is the work that must be done, but the question is: Who is up to the task?

 Follow Pascal Robert on Twitter: www.twitter.com/probert06