Tuesday, July 29, 2008

YourBlackWorld: Boyce Watkins Dislikes Black in America

Dr. Boyce Watkins


When I received the email about CNN’s recent series “Black in America”, I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t sad: I was indifferent. I saw it for what it was: an attempt to use viral marketing to achieve a ratings hit against Fox News. But after seeing the same damn email forwarded to me over and over and over again, I knew one thing: many black people were excited….really excited, as if CNN were the Union Army and this were a modern-day Juneteenth. The email was forwarded as a “must see”, save-the-date, tell ya mama, grandmamma, baby’s mama event that was going to change the world. Finally, the predominantly white media was going to give us a fair shake and truly tell our story. They were going to help White America understand what we go through and why we are not the animals some think we are. They were going to present hurdles and solutions that will help us come together as a nation. Call me a skeptic, but if the media has never told our story accurately in the past, what in the hell made us think they were going to do it right this time?

Given that some label me a “haterologist” for daring to question the religious figure known as Barack Obama (I am cautiously, yet strongly supportive and protective of Barack, but I insist that anyone who gets my vote communicates an effective urban agenda) I chose to let the liquor keep flowing at the “We Shall Overcome via CNN” Happy Hour in Black America. In other words, I remained silent, since it’s not fun to bring bad news (academics are trained to be skeptical, even if we think something is good). All of us were ready to pull out the popcorn and kool-aid, to stare down the TV set like we were watching Beyonce give birth in outer space. The CNN event was truly the Black middle class version of the BET Video Music Awards, without all the gold teeth and stuff.

I watched the show the same way I normally watch CNN: between flights in random airports. I don’t even watch CNN when I appear on the network, since I stay pretty busy. I won’t say how I felt after the special; I’ll just let you read my facial expression through these words. Imagine a modest-looking, youngish-oldish, blackish/brownish bald man with a twisted frown-like scowl, a twitching, squinted left eye, a curled up bottom lip and gritted teeth, viewing a TV screen between his two middle fingers. Sort of like the face you make when watching an Olympic gymnast fall crotch-first onto the balance beam right before breaking his leg.

“Black in America” was the socio-political lovefest between CNN and Black people that just wasn’t going to materialize. It was the day when we in middle class Black America truly thought we were going to be vindicated, and the world would finally learn to love us. Black America became Jeremiah Wright at The National Press Club, thinking that the same media that destroyed his image was going to be the source of image repair. But like Jeremiah Wright (whom I respect tremendously), we marched away angrily, kicking the cracks in the sidewalk, shocked that we’d all been bamboozled. We were finally invited into the game, but only so they could use our ball and make us the mascot.

I don’t hate CNN, I’ve done a lot of work with them. I do, however, hate Fox News….well, just Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity (great job this week Nas – even though you should stop marketing yourself as a replacement for Jesse Jackson). I don’t question the motives of the producers, including Soledad O’Brien, a woman I truly believe to care about black people. I also felt that Paula Zahn (a former host) really wanted to dig to the root of racial inequality in an honest way. I did not, however, feel that CNN could pull off an honest conversation on race, and I don’t believe they wanted to. They were, to me, like American Generals thinking they could muscle their way to peace in Iraq. They felt that if they spent enough money, engaged in enough viral marketing and got enough black people excited, they could create a ratings monster.

CNN achieved its goal. What made me feel bad for black people is that many of us actually thought that their goals were the same as our own. Here are more quick thoughts:

1) Black people were not the target audience of this series. CNN was not talking TO black people, they were talking ABOUT black people. Understand, there is a difference between telling white America how horrible black people can be vs. telling White people things they may not want to hear. Sure, CNN was glad to have Black viewers, but they are designed to cater to the other 87% of the population, not the 13% who serve as stars of the show. Black people have always made good entertainment for the corporate news monster, which feeds itself from the number of eyeballs it gets on the screen.

2) Most of the content for a TV news show, guest selection, and everything else, comes from the mind of the producer(s). Most producers of cable news shows, and all of the hosts, are non-black. Their viewpoints, structured in a racist society, are going to manifest themselves in the content of the show. Our media school here at Syracuse is one of the top 3 in the world and we have a lot of students who go on to become producers at CNN, FOX, NBC, etc. During a highly racist show created on our campus news network a couple of years ago (it led to the studio being shut down and students being harshly and unfairly disciplined), I noted that it was not the fault of the students that they see the world the way they do. It’s the fault of their parents and educators who refuse to teach them what they need to understand about race. America must face the truth about racism in order to properly educate news producers to provide a more enlightened perspective. As I began working with international news organizations this year, the contrast became quite clear: I enjoy appearing on international networks like Al Jazeera much more than CNN, Fox and MSNBC. The difference is like comparing a gourmet meal of knowledge to crackers from a sound bite vending machine. That’s why I only watch cable news in airports.

3) The Black in America series was done for one reason: to take away Fox News’ Black viewers (Black people hate Fox, and I am glad they do) and to defeat O’Reilly at the ratings game. While Black in America did very well in the ratings, it was still second to The O’Reilly Factor. The idea that there are 2.5 million people in America who watch O’Reilly every night says something about where we stand in America as it pertains to race. If CNN is trying to steal these viewers, then an honest reflection on racism is not going to achieve that goal.

4) The way this show was done underscores the need to finance and secure more black-owned media (I shared this with Rev. Jackson this week, since I was disappointed that his mishap with the microphone occurred on Fox – whether you like Jesse or not, our most respected and cherished leaders should not have to lean toward racist venues like Fox News to get a message to their people). No one else will ever tell our story the way we would tell it. This underscores the importance of supporting black media outlets and even going to the Internet to get your news if necessary. This does not imply that CNN can’t be a valid source of news, but I encourage their network to get more black hosts and producers so they can tell the story right next time.

5) Personally, I was a bit offended by the “Black in America” series, primarily because it gave me exactly what I expected: a series of shallow statistics and vignettes, featuring the most dramatically negative aspects of our existence, all provided without context to an audience that sits back and says “What’s wrong with those people?” I can’t help but wonder if a show called “White in America” would be produced, showing many negative realities of the White community. What is most ironic is that such a series would never be acceptable.

Only Black people feel the pressure to answer for every little thing that happens in all corners of our community. We will even say that we are “embarrassed” by something we saw on TV. I’ve never seen a White man get embarrassed by the behavior of someone in a trailer park, so I don’t get embarrassed by Flavor Flav. It is the lack of image diversity in mainstream media that makes us angry at Flavor Flav for simply being who he is. The truth is that we should wonder why it is ONLY Flavor Flav on the network, and not another Black image to balance him out.

Self-reflection is necessary. But I don’t believe in self-hatred. To LIFT yourself, you must learn to LOVE yourself. CNN’s “Black in America” didn’t give us much to love. But looking for love externally doesn’t usually work anyway, so why were we trying so hard? The next time CNN offers us a media Juneteenth, this slave will already have left the plantation, I’ll be educating my God kids instead.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of “What if George Bush were a Black Man?” For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.net.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Black in America: Exploitation of Black Male Athletes

Dr Boyce Watkins


Quick FYI: I will be on the Jesse Jackson Show tomorrow morning from 8 - 10 am. A list of cities is here.

Some of you know that I have been in an on-going campaign to challenge the NCAA on the fact that they do not compensate the families of college athletes for what they bring to campus. Below is an article I contributed to in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Sunday, there should be a syndicated column I wrote opposite NCAA President Myles Brand on the topic. You know that I am pretty candid in my thoughts (love it or hate it), so here are some reasons I feel that we should be outraged over this issue. I speak on this issue based on my 15 years teaching on college campuses with big time athletics programs, as a Finance Professor who understands how money works, and also as a black male who has seen the devastation of this system up close. Also, as a faculty affiliate with the College Sports Research Institute at The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, I made it clear to the director that I intend to pursue the racial element of NCAA compensation inequity. I am not a fan of preferential treatment for athletes. I only want fairness for the athletes and their mothers. I am sick of seeing an athlete generate millions for his coach, while simultaneously watching his family struggle to pay the rent every month:

1) The NCAA extracts somewhere near $1 Billion dollars per year from the black community. The revenues earned by collegiate athletics are on the magnitude of the NBA, NFL and NHL. However, unlike these other leagues, the players are only compensated with a scholarship. Scholarships are valuable, but only a drop in the bucket relative to the money players bring to campus.

2) The NCAA contract with CBS sports for the TV rights to March Madness was worth over $6 billion dollars. This does not include hundreds of millions earned each year in concessions, endorsement deals and other extraneous benefits. This money goes into someone’s pockets, so the question is “Who takes this cash home? Those who earn it, or those on the sidelines?”

3) NCAA coaches in revenue generating sports earn as much as $4 million dollars per year, with a large percentage of that revenue coming from endorsement deals based on the clothing that players wear and appearances that players make on national television.

4) In contrast to the luxury experienced by NCAA coaches and their families, nearly half of all black college basketball and football players come from dire poverty.

5) The NCAA spends millions every year in a massive propaganda campaign. Their goal is to convince the world that paying college athletes or their families would be unethical and impractical. At the same time, many of the arguments they make about player families do not apply to their own families. For example, in the CBS Sports special I was on last year, nearly every single person on the special (Coach K from Duke, Billy Packer, Clark Kellogg, NCAA President Myles Brand, etc.) was earning hundreds of thousands, even millions from athletes, while simultaneously explaining why athlete families should not be paid. That’s worse than Dick Cheney and George Bush sending young people to die in a war that they or their families refuse to fight.

6) The mission of collegiate athletics, unfortunately, is more commercial than educational. Players are admitted to college every year with full knowledge that the player is only going to be there for a little while. Also, athletes are not allowed to miss big games or practice sessions to prepare for exams. Finally, coaches with high graduation rates who do not win games are fired, while winning coaches with low graduation rates are promoted and given raises. This creates poor institutional incentives and leads to a mountain of academic hypocrisy.

7) As an African American, I find it ironic that many HBCUs can’t pay the light bill, yet the NCAA is earning over a billion dollars every year from black athletes and their families. This amounts to a massive wealth extraction from the black community, where some of our most valuable financial assets are being depleted, no different from mining being done in Africa.

8) While one might wonder why the players don’t simply take another option, the problem is that the NCAA is allowed to operate as a business cartel, effectively allowing them to implement nearly any and every rule they wish in order to keep athletes from having other options. This form of operation is due to a political blank check being written by Congress that allows the NCAA to do things that would be illegal in nearly any other industry. The very idea that they’ve warped our minds to the point that we think it should be illegal or immoral to fairly compensate a young man or his family for their labor is simply unbelievable. Players don’t even have the same rights to negotiation that are given to coaches, administrators, or sports commentators, all of whom earn millions from the activities of players on the court.

Personally, I think this is wrong. The article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution is below, and I believe the op-ed is going to be in the Sunday edition (also in the LA Times, Chicago Tribune and some other places around the country). Finally, I am working on a CNN special to deal with this topic. I’ll keep you posted.

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution

Like some of his Boston College teammates, Ron Brace has played the new “NCAA Football 09″ video game. Many of the animated players look and play a lot like the players they’re patterned after.

Brace has one thing in common with every player depicted: he’s not getting a nickel from the NCAA or game maker EA Sports.

EA Sports


Images from the EA Sports ‘NCAA Football 09′ game are derived from actual players, none of whom receive revenue from EA Sports.

· Letters of support: Pro | Con

· What do you think?

He has a problem with that.

Brace, and others, take issue with the fact that college athletes are not paid beyond scholarships and aid even as their efforts earn millions of dollars for the NCAA, schools and coaches at the Division I level. Since the players are the reasons for the revenue, they say they should get a cut.

“It’s like a job. We get up early, work out, meetings, class and practice,” Brace said. “We’re giving up a big chunk of our life. I see no reason we shouldn’t be paid.”

Others say that the value and experience of a college education is the equivalent of getting paid. They point out that many athletics departments don’t make a profit. Paying athletes would make those bottom lines worse.

“Few players truly move the needle in terms of attendance, TV ratings, or merchandising, but it would be like the free agency system in baseball; you’d get a few guys making a lot of money, and others fighting their way onto campus,” Tech basketball coach Paul Hewitt said. “I think in the long run, the majority of student athletes would lose in that type of market.

“The idea is to provide educational opportunities for a lot of kids who could not afford one. I would hate to treat the few and leave out the many.”

Paying athletes is a topic that won’t go away because there is seemingly so much money to be had. Consider:

• At least 68 of 119 Division I football coaches have contracts for at least $1 million, according to coacheshotseat.com. Seven coaches in the SEC, including Georgia’s Mark Richt, make at least $2 million. Seven in the ACC, including Tech’s Paul Johnson, make at least $1.5 million. To compare, only five coaches in the nation earned as much as $1 million in 1999, according to USA Today.

• CBS is paying the NCAA $6 billion over 11 years to televise its three-week postseason basketball tournament.

• The Big Ten and Mountain West conferences have launched their own TV networks, which are projected to generate millions of dollars. The SEC is considering doing the same.

• Nike and Reebok, among others, negotiate million-dollar deals with colleges for the players to wear their apparel. Georgia receives $1.3 million a year from Nike, as part of a 10-year deal signed in 1999. Tech has deals with various companies, depending upon the sport. In 2006, those deals were worth about $325,000. Tech will announce a new deal with Russell in August that will cover most of its teams, according to assistant athletics director Dean Buchan.

NCAA president Myles Brand defends the system.

“You have to ask yourself why do universities engage in sports?” Brand said. “The answer is because it adds education value to the student experience. It [helps a student-athlete grow] as a person and acquire attitudes and skills that will carry through life.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Jesse Jackson Deserves Black Support: Boyce Watkins

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

Today, I got a call on my cell phone. I wasn't going to answer the call, since I don't normally take calls from numbers I don't recognize. But this time, I made an exception. It was Jesse Jackson.

I like Rev. Jackson, and I find him to be an interesting figure in American history. I am also concerned about the recent spat with Senator Barack Obama, and how that is playing itself out in the eyes of the public. Honestly, I have a couple of perspectives on it, and I can see both sides of the issue:

1) For the longest time, Rev. Jackson and Rev. Sharpton have been accused (rightfully) of not doing all they can to open the door for new black leadership. That is part of what fueled the jealousy accusations thrust at Obama. The problem is that a black leader is not the same as an American leader. Given America's incentives to continue habits of oppression of Black America, a Black leader must be willing to sometimes put himself at odds with the power structure in order to achieve progress. A president would not be willing to do that, which is why Martin Luther King would never run for political office.

2) I was concerned that Rev. Jackson, one of our most influential African American figures, still has to rely on Fox News to get his message to the world. You don't go into your enemy's house to get food you need to survive. This shines a light on the need for more black-owned media outlets.

3) I am not a fan of the notion that everyone assumes that anyone who holds Obama accountable to the black community must be jealous of him. That's just stupid. Wasn't he just trying to hold black men accountable last week? Does that make him jealous of us?

4) When Senator Obama spoke to Latino families, he spoke of a path to citizenship. When he spoke to Jews, he spoke of Israeli security. When he spoke to women, he spoke of abortion rights. When he spoke to the National Labor Relations Board, he spoke of government policies to create more jobs. When he spoke to black people, he didn't offer one single policy solution to the massive unemployment and health problems in the black community. He simply said "You people need to be more responsible." That was an incredibly irresponsible way to talk about personal responsibility.

My question is: Why does the speech change when he appears in front of African Americans? Don't give me that stuff about him being a black man and feeling the need to lecture us over everyone else. That is a flawed assessment because a) Obama is also 50% white but has not given one lecture to White America, b) he is everyone's president, not some kind of boss of Black America, and c) If you can't address racism fairly, including white accountability as part of the conversation, then you should probably not address it at all. That's like talking about the War in Iraq and not mentioning George Bush.

The final question is: Why are black people so quick to accept negative public statements about their own people? Why don't we demand the same pride and respect that other groups demand? Are we the only ethnic group in America with individuals who are less than perfect? If not, then why are we the only ones being lectured for poor behavior? Why can a conversation with African Americans not focus on policy solutions from OUR GOVERNMENT that allow us to overcome 400 years of negative policy toward our communities? Don't we need the same policies that white women, Jews, and Latinos need or are we the only group being asked to ignore the use of our taxpayer dollars to help solve our problems?

I have always been a full advocate of personal responsibility and tough love. But the key part of the term "tough love" is the word "LOVE". Tough love that is shared in order to appease and get votes from enemies of black people doesn't quite qualify.

No wonder Bill O'Reilly loved Obama's speech.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of "What if George Bush were a Black Man?" For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.net.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Barack Obama: Off to Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan - U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama met Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul on Sunday, Reuters reported, the second day of a visit to Afghanistan that is meant to bolster the senator’s foreign policy credentials.

Obama has previously criticized Karzai, who has led Afghanistan since U.S.-led and Afghan forces toppled the hardline Islamist Taliban in 2001, but said the purpose of this trip was to listen rather than deliver strong messages.

Obama, part of a congressional delegation, was at the heavily guarded Afghan presidential palace in the capital Kabul and was having lunch with Karzai, a palace official said.

The Illinois senator will also visit Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and Britain on a foreign tour he hopes will help answer Republican criticism that he does not have the experience to be commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Crticized Obama
Obama last week criticized Karzai in an interview with CNN.

“I think the Karzai government has not gotten out of the bunker and helped to organize Afghanistan, and the government, the judiciary, police forces, in ways that would give people confidence. So there are a lot of problems there,” he said.

Once the darling of the West, Karzai has come under increasing criticism at home and abroad for failing to take tough action to clamp down on rampant corruption, tackle former warlords and stamp out record-breaking drug production — all factors that feed the growing Taliban insurgency.

Click to Read More.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Black Men in America: Jesse Jackson, Boyce Watkins Speak Sunday

I'm set to appear on the Jesse Jackson Show tomorrow morning at 8 am, along with one of my esteemed colleagues, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. I am sure I don't have to tell you the topic of the discussion, since we all know that Rev. Jackson's unfortunate slip on Barack Obama has kept the world churning as of late.

I should make these quick points on the issue, so you can understand my perspective. This point of view came from personal reflections, extensive conversations with individuals in media, politics, and leadership and even a good conversation with my mama. I love my mama. What is most interesting is that she complains about Jesse Jackson more than she compliments him (the same for my father, a high ranking police official). But she made a good point that it's easy for us to attack people for what they are not doing when the truth is that most of us aren't doing anything. Remember that Jesse was #3 on the list of world leaders most likely to be assassinated (behind the President and the Pope). He has sacrificed for our community, and although I have critiqued him myself in the past, I consider him to be an elder worthy of respect. It was his landmark run for the White House that cleared the path for Senator Obama to do what he is doing today. I will never forget that.

Here are my thoughts:

1) I am not sure if we should be so quick to believe that a Black president can replace every Black leader in America. As I've asked before, who is going to show up for the next Hurricane Katrina or Sean Bell shooting? I will give you a hint, it may not be Barack Obama (his response to the Sean Bell shooting was quite weak, to be honest). This doesn't mean that Obama shouldn't get our vote, but you can't throw out your mama just because you have a new daddy. The fight for Black people should be multi-dimensional in nature.

2) Let's not forget that there is a difference between the hatred Rev. Jackson is receiving in the blogosphere and so-called mainstream media (almost none of which is owned by Black people) vs. what is happening in the street. When I put my ear to the street, there is a concern that Senator Obama is not prepared to truly represent the interests of rank and file, working Black folks. Not the hoity-toity of us who went to college and make enough money to (uncomfortably) afford the high price of gas. But rather, those who don't worry about the price of gas because they can't afford to buy a car. This reflects a clear division between the haves and have-nots, implying that we are as diverse as any other group of people. What is most challenging for me is that while I supported many of Senator Obama's positions on the BET shoot we did last weekend, I am concerned that other interest groups may move him toward anti-Black agendas in the White House. Jesse may have wanted to cut his n*tts off, but it appears that others may have his n*tts in a vice grip already (excuse my French, but I have to tell it like it is).

3) Senator Obama (again, whom I support) is, in many ways, like most other politicians. The reason he felt comfortable stereotyping black men (whether you agree that his comments were off base or not) and no other ethnic group is because he knew there would be little negative political consequence for doing so, but tremendous benefit from those who already think Black males are immoral (note that Bill O'Reilly congratulated him on his speech). He would not, however, take the same tone with AIPAC (the pro-Israel lobby) no matter how questionable their policies (they could have a 100% fatherless rate and he wouldn't say a word). Why is that? Because they are mobilized, organized and well-funded. African Americans must become engaged and educated in the political process in order to become equally funded and equally mobilized to ensure that our interests are protected. Asking Barack Obama to help black folks is like borrowing money from a loving relative: charity will get you so far, but ultimately, you have to make it worth their while to keep supporting you. It would be selfish and silly to expect otherwise.

4) If you want to be nit-picky about Senator Obama's position on Black fathers, we cannot presume that he "can relate to the issue" because he was abandoned by an African American man. Obama's father was KENYAN. So, as a black man, it's hard enough to defend the silly stuff that happens here without being forced to account for what someone did across the sea. That is like holding white males accountable for what a man did in the Ukraine.

5) I would not presume that Rev. Jackson's challenge to Obama implies that he doesn't advocate for personal responsibility. Anyone who has heard Rev. Jackson speak knows that he is very conservative in his value systems. Actually, the only things that make him liberal are that he speaks for black people, stands up for the poor, and believes in stronger gun control. I don't defend his remarks against Obama, but my belief is that, again, we should think carefully before trading in 40 years of sacrifice for a few speeches on hope and change. I will vote for Obama, but I want to wait and see if he does the right thing for us, or allows other groups (some of whom dislike African Americans) to control his actions. What you believe is not as important as what you do.
Finally, let's love ourselves. I am not a fan of the idea of denouncing strong blackness just because the words make others uncomfortable (that doesn't include Rev. Jackson's comments this week, but rather, the words of Jeremiah Wright and others who speak out on racial inequality). Getting into the big white house on the hill is a good thing, but we must remember that the ultimate goal is to get off the plantation.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Black Men in America: Will Smith Dominates the Box Office

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Will Smith, the closest thing to a sure bet in Hollywood these days, flew to the top of the worldwide box office with his critically mauled superhero saga "Hancock," distributor Columbia Pictures said on Sunday.


The comedy-drama, in which Smith plays a drunken crime-fighter with an image problem, sold an estimated $185 million worth of tickets, the Sony Corp-owned studio said.


Moviegoers in the United States and Canada contributed $107.3 million in the six days since the film opened on Tuesday evening, and the film racked up an additional $78 million in 50 territories. Columbia said the film opened at No. 1 in 47 of those 50 markets, including Britain, Germany, Australia, Brazil and South Korea.


The North American tally includes sales of $66 million for the U.S. Independence Day holiday weekend, beginning Friday. "Hancock" ranks as Smith's eighth-consecutive chart-topper, and his 12th overall, Columbia said.


"Audiences love Will Smith and the characters he plays," said Rory Bruer, Columbia's president of domestic theatrical distribution. "People want to share in the things he's doing."


Smith, 39, a one-time rapper famed for his gung-ho performances, ventures into darker territory with "Hancock." His slovenly character's messy crime-busting efforts cause more problems than they solve, and he enlists a public relations man, played by Jason Bateman, to help restore his reputation among the displeased citizenry of Los Angeles.


Critics were intrigued by the basic premise, but were vexed by a dramatic sub-plot involving Charlize Theron, who plays Bateman's wife. Peter Berg ("The Kingdom") directed the $150 million film, which was notably brief at just over 90 minutes.


Smith has ruled the July 4 holiday weekend five times, beginning with 1996's "Independence Day," the biggest movie of his career. Adjusted for ticket-price inflation, the "Hancock" opening ranks at No. 3 among those offerings, according to tracking firm Box Office Mojo.


Click to Read More.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Black Men CAN Swim: Cullen Jones Sets American Record


Jones sets American record in 50 free at US trials - USATODAY.com

OMAHA (AP) — Cullen Jones rocketed to an American record in the 50-meter freestyle preliminaries at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials on the Fourth of July.

Jones touched in 21.59 seconds, lowering the old mark of 21.76 set by Gary Hall Jr. at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Jones gulped one breath halfway through Friday's chaotic race.


"I'll take an American record," he said, smiling. "I definitely put my head down when I was going into the wall, but I think there's a lot more in the tank."


He, Ben Wildman-Tobriner and Hall were the only men under 22 seconds in the morning heats. World champion Wildman-Tobriner qualified second in 21.68; Hall, the 33-year-old, two-time defending Olympic champion, was third in 21.89.


"Everybody anticipated that record was going down," Hall said. "There's just been too much fast swimming in the world. Records don't last, especially these days."


Jones was the silver medalist at last year's world meet, where Wildman-Tobriner was the surprising winner. But he has struggled to regain the form that he first showed in 2006, when Jones became the first black swimmer to break a world record on the victorious 400 free relay at the Pan Pacific Championships.


"There's a lot of things that go into the 50 freestyle," he said. "One of the things is you have to be perfect for the most part or at least try to. There's never the perfect race, you always mess up something. That's what I love about the sport. You never swim that perfect race, but you keep trying."


click to read more.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Race Traitors or Visionaries? Black Republicans Attack Obama



From the black conservatives who brought you radio ads two years ago claiming that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican come the new summer blockbusters: ads calling Sen. Barack Obama a racist and an elitist.


King, of course, was an independent, not a Republican -- but that didn't stop the National Black Republican Association (NBRA) from airing their claim on urban radio. Now spots entitled "Arrogant Obama" and "Bitter Obama" are coming to radio stations serving black America, where more than 90 percent of voters supported Obama in Democratic primaries. The NBRA ads will begin airing July 7 in battleground states, according to the group's chair.


The mudslinging injects the issue of race into the presidential campaign with a ferocity unseen thus far. In voiceovers, a narrator claims that much of the Democratic Party is comprised of white racists who will never vote for Obama. The ads ignore the party's 40-year transformation from being a haven for southern Dixiecrats who blocked black progress to a haven for black voters who've helped put the vast majority of black elected officials into office, including, potentially, the first black president.


Click to Read More.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Black Men Together: Lebron Thinks of Joining Jiggaman

By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports


LeBron James showed up in New York on Monday, part of a USA Basketball media function, and continued to bat his eyes at the city in the run up to his potential free agency in 2010.

When asked to name his favorite city he said: “New York.”

Favorite borough?

“Brooklyn,” James said. “Brooklyn is definitely a great place here in New York City, and some of my best friends are from Brooklyn, so I stick up for them.”

Brooklyn is where the New Jersey Nets are expected to move to in 2010 (at least if community groups don’t blow it). The franchise is owned, in part, by James’ friend Jay-Z, and should be stock full of young, complementary talent and a King’s ransom in salary cap room.

James knows all of this. His answers weren’t by accident or without meaning, no more than was wearing a New York baseball cap from an Indians-Yankees playoff game last fall just an expression of pinstriped-fandom.

This was just the latest, albeit most obvious, shot across the Cavaliers’ bow. James didn’t list Cleveland as one of his five favorite cities, although hometown Akron came in fifth behind Washington, Dallas and Los Angeles.

To say there is concern along the Cuyahoga River is to understate things. To say there is pressure on Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry and owner Dan Gilbert doesn’t begin to describe it.

Five years into James’ career and the franchise has yet to instill confidence in the 23-year-old that it knows what it’s doing. Forget his polite talk about the front office. It’s not James’ job to assemble the roster or publicly second guess new teammates (he’s a relentless cheerleader).

If James truly believed the Cavs were on the brink of winning a bunch of titles, he wouldn’t have a wandering eye.

LeBron doesn’t need New York to cash in as a media superstar or a marketing sensation – he’s making hundreds of millions in endorsements in Northeast Ohio. This is a different era and as big and bold as New York is, it isn’t the only place anymore. The guy signed a $105 million Nike deal out of an Akron high school, after all.

James does need New York, or the fear of New York, to motivate Gilbert and Ferry to surround him with a supporting cast capable of winning a championship.

If they can’t do that in the next two years, then he may need New York to fulfill his dream of a title.

Thus far the Cavs have looked like the same old bumbling franchise that had the enormous fortune of winning the 2003 lottery when an otherworldly talent from just down the road happened to be available.

Gilbert is from Michigan and was a huge fan and corporate partner of the Detroit Pistons. Since purchasing the Cavs in 2005, he’s brought all of the Pistons’ pregame pyrotechnics and goofy game presentations only with none of the franchise’s savvy personnel decisions.


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Black Dads Irresponsible? Russell Simmons Sets the Record Straight on Child Support

In a letter addressed to critics, hip-hop music mogul Russell Simmons, 50, defended a child support ruling that was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court involving the hip-hop mogul and his ex-wife Kimora Lee Simmons, 33, and their two daughters Ming Lee, 8, and Aoki Lee, 5. Simmons set the record straight regarding the amount of child support he pays and why he's glad to pay it.

In the statement, Simmons stated the following:

Friends of mine have forwarded me gossip online about my custody agreement details with Kimora. The fact is, we’ve had a pretty good partnership at sharing the girls in the past.

There have been a few bumps in the road, and those bumps have led us to negotiate a minimum amount of time I’m guaranteed to see my kids. That deal is as follows: I have the girls one full week out of every eight, half of the summer, half of all the holidays, a full week at Christmas, and half of Spring Break.

Like in all good partnerships, contracts are meant to protect the partners but are usually not the only way the partners work together. If I show up in L.A., where she now lives, unannounced, I can call up Kimora and she will most likely send them right over. The same goes for when she comes to New York.

We have always had a school in New York and a school with the same curriculum in L.A., so when the girls are with me in New York, we can spend quality time together. I can get up with them, take them to school and just be together. Kimora consults with me about doctors or schools for the girls, but she’s always had final say in those areas. If we had an argument about a school, guess who’s going to win?

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