Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dr Boyce Watkins: Financial Incentives of the State of the Black Union

By Dr. Boyce Watkins

www.BoyceWatkins.com

I’ll start by saying that I love Tavis Smiley and have a tremendous amount of respect for him.  Ok, I’ve said it, and I meant it.  I hope you believe me as I write.

Tavis Smiley’s work in the Black community is critically important. But there is a difference between being an intelligent guide to enlightenment and being downright self-righteous. Tavis has a way of putting political leaders “on blast” for not showing up at his forums. When he held a debate for the Republicans in the 2008 Presidential Primaries, there were several Republican presidential candidates who chose not to attend. I understand being upset about this, because the Republican Party has paid dearly for its racism and ignorance of the needs of the Black community. Smiley responded to the Republican snub by putting the name of the candidate on the podium even if they were not there. This was a clear reminder to those in the audience that the leader “doesn’t care about issues in the Black community.”

When holding the State of the Black Union of 2008 (some confuse it with the State of Black America, issued each year by the Urban League), Smiley again invited as many political leaders as he could find, with Hillary Clinton being his star for the day. Then Senator Barack Obama, in the middle of a heated battle for Democratic delegates in Texas and Ohio, said that he could not attend the forum. Instead, he offered his wife Michelle to attend in his place. That’s when the drama got heated.

Tavis, appearing to be offended by Obama’s slight toward his conference, proceeded to nibble away at Obama’s heels every morning on The Tom Joyner Morning Show. The segments started with “he-say, she-say”, in which Tavis claimed that no one from the Obama camp offered Michelle up for attendance. But even if they had, Tavis claimed that no spouse of a presidential candidate would be acceptable for the conference, even Bill Clinton.

I must admit that I felt Tavis was doing a “Karl Rove” on the truth. It was also a slap in the face of Black women everywhere who have tremendous respect for Michelle Obama. Finally, Smiley’s words and actions bordered on petty and angered the millions of African-Americans who’d come to believe that Barack Obama could walk on water. While I’ve never felt that Obama could walk on water, I certainly did not understand Smiley’s confused obsession with Obama’s behavior. Smiley’s comments toward the Black presidential candidate reminded me of the same double standard I can sometimes get as a Black professor. You may have Black students who feel a certain degree of comfort with you, and thus empowered enough to attack you more than they would a White professor with whom they have no prior social affiliation. These situations can be nightmares, as they reflect problems with the collective self-esteem of the Black community, which leads us to feel that attacking and hurting one another is easier, and thus more satisfying than working together to fight Black oppression. In other words, Smiley was reflecting the same sentiment held by Black men who shoot one another on the street, but stand in fear of the racism in White America. Aaron McGruder, creator of the popular cartoon, “The Boondocks”, would refer to this as “a nigger moment.”

Phones were ringing off the hook, as I had friends from California to New York calling and asking “What’s wrong with Tavis?” I had no idea, since I don’t know Tavis personally. However, because we run in the same circles, I know plenty of people who know plenty of people who know Tavis. One of my great and respected friends, Kyle Bowser, is one of Tavis’ best friends, and Kyle rang my phone the day after I made my comments. Going through the blogs of other Black scholars, I had a chance to see their reactions. Melissa Harris-Lacewell at Princeton University, an intelligent (though somewhat elitist) scholar, happened to be incredibly poignant in her critique of Tavis Smiley’s behavior.

Melissa angered Tavis by writing a column that asked ”Who died and made Tavis King?”.  I wasn’t as direct in my critique of Tavis, but I did have some strong words for him. I did not want to deliver any commentary on the Tavis via the major networks, since I honestly feel that there are some conversations Black folks need to have behind closed doors. But given that we get nearly 100,000 Black readers per week on our website YourBlackWorld, I felt this to be a fitting venue to let the world know how I feel.

I issued a statement agreeing with my friend Roland Martin at CNN, who felt that Tavis was out of line by making such a strong demand on Obama at such a critical time. Yes, Hillary Clinton showed up in spite of being on the same campaign trail, but the fact was that Hillary was well positioned to win in the upcoming battlegrounds states, Texas and Ohio. Also, Hillary Clinton needed to regain the ground in the Black community that was lost when her husband Bill shot himself in the foot. The words out of Bill Clinton’s mouth were so vile, that his own “ghetto pass” was revoked immediately. Clinton had compared Barack Obama to Jesse Jackson, implying that he was simply a Black presidential candidate with no chance to win White voters. While Jesse ran a great campaign, the notion that Obama’s fate would be similar to his own was disappointing for many Black people to hear. Clinton was no longer one of us, and he certainly was not the “first Black president” anymore.

I also felt that Tavis should have been more careful about being too critical of Obama in light of the fact that he was accusing Barack of doing some things that he himself had been doing. For example, Tavis claimed that he was not going to give Obama a “ghetto pass” just because he was Black. Rather, he would challenge him and question him like he would anyone else. First, Tavis’ words presumed (self-righteously) that he knows what is best for Black folks and we cannot make this determination ourselves.  No one gives the “ghetto pass” to Ward Connerly (the guy in California fighting against Affirmative Action) or Condoleeza Rice, so the idea that Black candidates get votes only because they are Black is simply ridiculous. A “ghetto pass”, should such a pass exist, must be earned, and Obama had earned the love, trust and support of the Black community. To presume that people were supporting him just because he is Black is an insult to the collective intelligence of the Black community.

Secondly, Tavis himself had been long receiving the very same “ghetto passes” that he felt Black America was unfairly bestowing upon Obama. As powerful and revolutionary as Tavis may have sounded on The Tom Joyner Morning show, the fact that you hear “This was brought to you by Walmart” at the end of each segment reminds you that the message has been diluted by corporate sponsorship. No great Black revolutionary in American history has ever been brought to you by McDonald’s, Walmart, Wells Fargo, or any of the other corporations that sponsor Tavis’ forums.

Additionally, there is a clear reality in the life of Tavis Smiley, one that he cannot ignore: the Covenant with Black America, The State of the Black Union Conference, The “Pass The Mic” Tour, and everything else Tavis has done was created with the express objective of obtaining revenue and profitability for his corporate sponsors. Tavis has sold himself (and I do not use the word “sold” in a negative sense) to White American corporations as the broker of Black leadership. He is the man that many corporate executives believe they can go to in order to reach the African-American masses. We are the drugs, and he is the pusher: White corporate America represents the group of addicts getting high on the profitability of Black consumption.

As a Finance Professor, I must say that I see nothing wrong with the Tavis Smiley business model. I am not here to say that Tavis has “sold out”, for I don’t believe he has. We all sell something in order to make a living, and even the concept of “selling out” presumes that one has managed the thin line between making a profitable trade, versus giving up something of tremendous value. The problems with the Tavis Smiley business model arise when such a business model is pursued carelessly or selfishly. I do not accuse Tavis Smiley of being careless or selfish. However, his attacks on Senator Barack Obama, none of which were thrust on Senator Hillary Clinton, smelled of self-interest from a man who appeared to feel slighted that Obama jumped his place in the line of great Black leadership.

I felt sorry for Tavis after seeing the reactions of our readers on YourBlackWorld. Hundreds of emails and comments were coming in every day, with many readers claiming that they were once Tavis Smiley fans, but not anymore. Overnight, Tavis went from being incredibly popular, to becoming the Milly Vanilly of social commentary. I can’t help but wonder what happened behind closed doors, as I am sure his publisher became concerned that he could no longer sell books. His corporate sponsors were surely aware of the fact that he was not in control of the Black audience they were buying from him. I am willing to bet that his life was a mess, at least for a while.

I hope this year’s State of the Black Union Conference is a bit more balanced.  Tavis is a good brother who deserves our respect.  But it is my greatest hope that he learns the difference between balanced critiques and flat out “haterology”.  I do a lot of critiquing, but when it comes to Obama, I want him to succeed.  I sincerely hope that Tavis wants the same.

This is an excerpt from the book “Black American Money” by Dr. Boyce Watkins, to be released in April 2009.  For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.com.

 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tiger Woods is Finally Back

A deafening roar returns Wednesday to the tranquil world of professional golf — and for the sport, it arrives not a moment too soon.

Tiger Woods, the world's No. 1 golfer and a megawatt global star whose participation in a tournament can mean millions more TV viewersand incalculable buzz for the sport, returns to competitive golf for the first time since his epic victory in the U.S. Open last June. (Match vs. Brendan Jones starts at 2:02 p.m. ET, Golf Channel)

When he tees off in the Accenture Match Play Championship here, just north of Tucson, Woods will end an eight-month break that followed reconstructive surgery on his left knee — the longest interruption in his 13-year career.

Woods' layoff felt even longer for the PGA Tour, the organization that operates the main professional tournaments in the USA.

Television ratings, ticket sales, media coverage and general interest in golf have declined significantly since Woods was forced to miss the second half of last season and the first 20% of 2009. The Tour remains on solid financial footing, but the worldwide recession is raising doubts about crucial sponsorship agreements for about 20 tournaments whose deals are set to expire in 2010 — including 10 from the battered automobile and financial services industries.

Click to read.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Black Politics: Obama Prepares for Big Speech

President Barack Obama takes center stage on Tuesday to try to sell the American people on his broader agenda for jolting the United States out of deep recession and confronting long-term economic challenges.

Riding high in opinion polls, Obama will deliver a State of the Union-style address at 9 p.m. EST in his first appearance before a joint session of Congress since he took office five weeks ago.

The primetime speech, the opening act on Capitol Hill for any new president, comes in a pivotal week for Obama. He will roll out his firstbudget proposal on Thursday against a backdrop of growing public anxiety over the worst economic crisis in decades.

In a stark reminder of how grim the situation has become, Wall Street slumped to a 12-year low on Monday as investors worried about the government nationalizing ailing major banks, a prospect the White House tried to play down.

 

Click to read.

African American CEOs: Lawrence Watkins Gives Advice

Click the image to listen!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How we can end violence against women and girls

Writer’s note:

Given all the hype and controversy around Chris Brown’s alleged beating of Rihanna, I feel compelled to post this essay I originally wrote in late 2007, so that some of us can have an honest jump off point to discuss male violence against females, to discuss the need for ownership of past pains and traumas, to discuss the critical importance of therapy and healing. Let us pray for Rihanna, first and foremost, because no one deserves to be beaten, or beaten up. No one. And let us also pray that Chris Brown gets the help he needs by way of long-term counseling and alternative definitions of manhood rooted in nonviolence, real love, and, alas, real peace. And let us not forget that Rihanna and Chris Brown happen to be major pop stars, hence all the media coverage, blogs, etc. Violence against women and girls happen every single day on this planet without any notice from most of us. Until we begin to address that hard fact, until we all, males and females alike, make a commitment to ending the conditions that create that destructive behavior in the first place, it will not end any time soon. There will be more Rihannas and more Chris Browns.

In my recent travels and political and community work and speeches around the country, it became so very obvious that many American males are unaware of the monumental problems of domestic violence and sexual assault, against women and girls, in our nation. This seems as good a time as any to address this urgent and overlooked issue. Why is it that so few of us actually think about violence against women and girls, or think that it’s our problem? Why do we go on believing it’s all good, even as our sisters, our mothers, and our daughters suffer and a growing number of us participate in the brutality of berating, beating, or killing our female counterparts?

All you have to do is scan the local newspapers or ask the right questions of your circle of friends, neighbors, or co-workers on a regular basis, and you’ll see and hear similar stories coming up again and again. There’s the horribly tragic case of Megan Williams, a 20-year-old West Virginia woman, who was kidnapped for several days. The woman's captors forced her to eat rat droppings, choked her with a cable cord and stabbed her in the leg while calling her, a Black female, a racial slur, according to criminal complaints. They also poured hot water over her, made her drink from a toilet, and beat and sexually assaulted her during a span of about a week, the documents say. There’s the woman I knew, in Atlanta, Georgia, whose enraged husband pummeled her at home, stalked her at work and, finally, in a fit of fury, stabbed her to death as her six-year-old son watched in horror. There’s the woman from Minnesota, who showed up at a national male conference I organized a few months back with her two sons. She had heard about the conference through the media, and was essentially using the conference as a safe space away from her husband of fifteen years who, she said, savagely assaulted her throughout the entire marriage. The beatings were so bad, she said, both in front of her two boys and when she was alone with her husband that she had come to believe it was just a matter of time before her husband would end her life. She came to the conference out of desperation, because she felt all her pleas for help had fallen on deaf ears. There’s my friend from Brooklyn, New York who knew, even as a little boy, that his father was hurting his mother, but the grim reality of the situation did not hit home for him until, while playing in a courtyard beneath his housing development, he saw his mother thrown from their apartment window by his father. There’s my other friend from Indiana who grew up watching his father viciously kick his mother with his work boots, time and again, all the while angrily proclaiming that he was the man of the house, and that she needed to obey his orders.

Perhaps the most traumatic tale for me these past few years was the vile murder of Shani Baraka and her partner Rayshon Holmes in the summer of 2003. Shani, the daughter of eminent Newark, New Jersey poets and activists Amiri and Amina Baraka, had been living with her oldest sister, Wanda, part-time. Wanda was married to a man who was mad abusive—he was foul, vicious, dangerous. And it should be added that this man was “a community organizer.” Wanda tried, on a number of occasions, to get away from this man. She called the police several times, sought protection and a restraining order. But even after Wanda’s estranged husband had finally moved out, and after a restraining order was in place, he came back to terrorize his wife—twice. One time he threatened to kill her. Another time he tried to demolish the pool in the backyard, and Wanda’s car. The Baraka parents were understandably worried. Their oldest daughter was living as a victim of perpetual domestic violence, and their youngest daughter, a teacher, a girls’ basketball coach, and a role model for scores of inner city youth, was living under the same roof. Shani was warned, several times, to pack up her belongings and get away from that situation. Finally, Shani and Rayshon went, one sweltering August day, to retrieve the remainder of Shani’s possessions. Shani’s oldest sister was out of town, and it remains unclear, even now, if the estranged husband had already been there at his former home, forcibly, or if he had arrived after Shani and Rayshon. No matter. This much is true: he hated his wife Wanda and he hated Shani for being Wanda’s sister, and he hated Shani and Rayshon for being two women in love, for being lesbians. His revolver blew Shani away immediately. Dead. Next, there was an apparent struggle between Rayshon and this man. She was battered and bruised, then blown away as well. Gone. Just like that. Because I have known the Baraka family for years, this double murder was especially difficult to handle. It was the saddest funeral I have ever attended in my life. Two tiny women in two tiny caskets. I howled so hard and long that I doubled over in pain in the church pew and nearly fell to the floor beneath the pew in front of me.

Violence against women and girls knows no race, no color, no class background, no religion. It may be the husband or the fianc√©, the grandfather or the father, the boyfriend or the lover, the son or the nephew, the neighbor or the co-worker. I cannot begin to tell you how many women—from preteens to senior citizens and multiple ages in between—have told me of their battering at the hands of a male, usually someone they knew very well, or what is commonly referred to as an intimate partner. Why have these women and girls shared these experiences with me, a man? I feel it is because, through the years, I have been brutally honest, in my writings and speeches and workshops, in admitting that the sort of abusive male they are describing, the type of man they are fleeing, the kind of man they’ve been getting those restraining orders against—was once me. Between the years 1987 and 1991 I was a very different kind of person, a very different kind of male. During that time frame I assaulted and or threatened four different young women. I was one of those typical American males: hyper-masculine, overly competitive, and drenched in the belief system that I could talk to women any way I felt, treat women any way I felt, with no repercussions whatsoever. As I sought therapy during and especially after that period, I came to realize that I and other males in this country treated women and girls in this dehumanizing way because somewhere along our journey we were told we could. It may have been in our households; it may have been on our block or in our neighborhoods; it may have been the numerous times these actions were reinforced for us in our favorite music, our favorite television programs, or our favorite films.

All these years later I feel, very strongly, that violence against women and girls is not going to end until we men and boys become active participants in the fight against such behavior. I recall those early years of feeling clueless when confronted—by both women and men—about my actions. This past life was brought back to me very recently when I met with a political associate who reminded me that he was, then and now, close friends with the last woman I assaulted. We, this political associate and I, had a very long and emotionally charged conversation about my past, about what I had done to his friend. We both had watery eyes by the time we were finished talking. It hurt me that this woman remains wounded by what I did in 1991, in spite of the fact that she accepted an apology from me around the year 2000. I left that meeting with pangs of guilt, and a deep sadness about the woman with whom I had lived for about a year.

Later that day, a few very close female friends reminded me of the work that some of us men had done, to begin to reconfigure how we define manhood, how some of us have been helping in the fight to end violence against women and girls. And those conversations led me to put on paper The Seven Steps For Ending Violence Against Women and Girls. These are the rules that I have followed for myself, and that I have shared with men and boys throughout America since the early 1990s:

  1. Own the fact that you have made a very serious mistake, that you’ve committed an offense, whatever it is, against a woman or a girl. Denial, passing blame, and not taking full responsibility, is simply not acceptable.
  2. Get help as quickly as you can in the form of counseling or therapy for your violent behavior. YOU must be willing to take this very necessary step. If you don’t know where to turn for help, I advise visiting the website www.menstoppingviolence.org, an important organization, based in Atlanta, that can give you a starting point and some suggestions. Also visit www.usdoj.gov/ovw/pledge.htm where you can find helpful information on what men and boys can do to get help for themselves. Get your hands on and watch Aishah Shahidah Simmons’ critically important documentary film NO! as soon as you are able. You can order it at www.notherapedocumentary.org. NO! is, specifically, about the history of rape and sexual assault in Black America, but that film has made its way around the globe and from that very specific narrative comes some very hard and real truths about male violence against females that is universal, that applies to us all, regardless of our race or culture. Also get a copy of Byron Hurt’s Beyond Beats and Rhymes, perhaps the most important documentary film ever made about the relationship between American popular culture and American manhood. Don’t just watch these films, watch them with other men, and watch them with an eye toward critical thinking, healing, and growth, even if they make you angry or very comfortable. And although it may be difficult and painful, you must be willing to dig into your past, into the family and environment you’ve come from, to begin to understand the root causes of your violent behavior. For me that meant acknowledging the fact that, beginning in the home with my young single mother, and continuing through what I encountered on the streets or navigated in the parks and the schoolyards, was the attitude that violence was how every single conflict should be dealt with. More often than not, this violence was tied to a false sense of power, of being in control. Of course the opposite is the reality: violence towards women has everything to do with powerlessness and being completely out of control. Also, we need to be clear that some men simply hate or have a very low regard for women and girls. Some of us, like me, were the victims of physical, emotional, and verbal abuse at the hands of mothers who had been completely dissed by our fathers, so we caught the brunt of our mothers’ hurt and anger. Some of us were abandoned by our mothers. Some of us were sexually assaulted by our mothers or other women in our lives as boys. Some of us watched our fathers or other men terrorize our mothers, batter our mothers, abuse our mothers, and we simply grew up thinking that that male-female dynamic was the norm. Whatever the case may be, part of that “getting help” must involve the word forgiveness. Forgiveness of ourselves for our inhuman behavioral patterns and attitudes, and forgiveness of any female who we feel has wronged us at some point in our lives. Yes, my mother did hurt me as a child but as an adult I had to realize I was acting out that hurt with the women I was encountering. I had to forgive my mother, over a period of time, with the help of counseling and a heavy dose of soul-searching to understand who she was, as well as the world that created her. And I had to acknowledge that one woman’s actions should not justify a lifetime of backward and destructive reactions to women and girls. And, most importantly, we must have the courage to apologize to any female we have wronged. Ask for her forgiveness, and accept the fact that she may not be open to your apology. That is her right.
  3. Learn to listen to the voices of women and girls. And once we learn how to listen, we must truly hear their concerns, their hopes and their fears. Given that America was founded on sexism—on the belief system of male dominance and privilege—as much as it was founded on the belief systems of racism and classism, all of us are raised and socialized to believe that women and girls are unequal to men and boys, that they are nothing more than mothers, lovers, or sexual objects, that it is okay to call them names, to touch them without their permission, to be violent toward them physically, emotionally, spiritually—or all of the above. This mindset, unfortunately, is reinforced in much of our educational curriculum, from preschool right through college, through the popular culture we digest every single day through music, sports, books, films, and the internet, and through our male peers who often do not know any better either—because they had not learned to listen to women’s voices either. For me that meant owning the fact that throughout my years of college, for example, I never read more than a book or two by women writers. Or that I never really paid attention to the stories of the women in my family, in my community, to female friends, colleagues, and lovers who, unbeknownst to me, had been the victims of violence at some point in their lives. So when I began to listen to and absorb the voices, the stories, and the ideas of women like Pearl Cleage, Gloria Steinem, bell hooks, Alice Walker, of the housekeeper, of the hair stylist, of the receptionist, of the school crossing guard, of the nurse’s aid, and many others, it was nothing short of liberating, to me. Terribly difficult for me as a man, yes, because it was forcing me to rethink everything I once believed. But I really had no other choice but to listen if I was serious about healing. And if I was serious about my own personal growth. It all begins with a very simple question we males should ask each and every woman in our lives: Have you ever been physically abused or battered by a man?
  4. To paraphrase Gandhi, make a conscious decision to be the change we need to see. Question where and how you’ve received your definitions of manhood to this point. This is not easy as a man in a male-dominated society because it means you have to question every single privilege men have vis-√†-vis women. It means that you might have to give up something or some things that have historically benefited you because of your gender. And people who are privileged, who are in positions of power, are seldom willing to give up that privilege or power. But we must, because the alternative is to continue to hear stories of women and girls being beaten, raped, or murdered by some male in their environment, be it the college campus, the inner city, the church, or corporate America. And we men and boys need to come to a realization that sexism—the belief that women and girls are inferior to men and boys, that this really is a man’s world, and the female is just here to serve our needs regardless of how we treat them—is as destructive to ourselves as it is to women and girls. As I’ve said in many speeches through the years, even if you are not the kind of man who would ever yell at a woman, curse at a woman, touch a woman in a public or private space without her permission, hit or beat a woman, much less kill a woman—you are just as guilty if you see other men and boys doing these things and you say or do nothing to stop them.
  5. Become a consistent and reliable male ally to women and girls. More of us men and boys need to take public stands in opposition to violence against women and girls. That means we cannot be afraid to be the only male speaking out against such an injustice. It also means that no matter what kind of male you are, working-class or middle-class or super-wealthy, no matter what race, no matter what educational background, and so on, that you can begin to use language that supports and affirms the lives and humanity of women and girls. You can actually be friends with females, and not merely view them as sexual partners to be conquered. Stop saying “boys will be boys” when you see male children fighting or being aggressive or acting up. Do not sexually harass women you work with then try to brush it off if a woman challenges you on the harassment. If you can't get over a breakup, get counseling. As a male ally, help women friends leave bad or abusive relationships. Do not criticize economically independent women because this independence helps free them in many cases from staying in abusive situations. Donate money, food, or clothing to battered women's shelters or other women's causes. Do not ever respond to a female friend with “Oh you're just an angry woman.” This diminishes the real criticisms women may have about their male partners. American male voices I greatly admire, who also put forth suggestions for what we men and boys can do to be allies to women and girls, include Michael Kimmel, Jackson Katz, Charles Knight, Mark Anthony Neal, Jelani Cobb, Charlie Braxton, and Byron Hurt. Of course standing up for anything carries risks. You may—as I have—find things that you say and do taken out of context, misunderstood or misinterpreted, maligned and attacked, dismissed, or just outright ignored. But you have to do it anyway because you never know how the essay or book you’ve written, the speech or workshop you’ve led, or just the one-on-one conversations you’ve had, might impact on the life of someone who’s struggling for help. I will give two examples: A few years back, after giving a lecture at an elite East Coast college, I noticed a young woman milling about as I was signing books and shaking hands. I could see that she wanted to talk with me, but I had no idea the gravity of her situation. Once the room had virtually cleared out, this 17-year-old first-year student proceeded to tell me that her pastor had been having sex with her since the time she was four, and had been physically and emotionally violent toward her on a number of occasions. Suffice to say, I was floored. This young woman was badly in need of help. I quickly alerted school administrators who pledged to assist her, and I followed up to make sure that they did. But what if I had not made a conscious decision to talk about sexism and violence against women and girls, in every single speech I gave—regardless of the topic? This young woman might not have felt comfortable enough to open up to me about such a deeply personal pain. My other example involves a young male to whom I have been a mentor for the past few years. He is incredibly brilliant and talented, but, like me, comes from a dysfunctional home, has had serious anger issues, and, also like me, has had to work through painful feelings of abandonment as a result of his absent father. This, unfortunately, is a perfect recipe for disaster in a relationship with a woman. True to form, this young man was going through turbulent times with a woman he both loved and resented. His relationship with the young woman may have been the first time in his 20-something life he’d ever felt deep affection for another being. But he felt resentment because he could not stomach—despite his declarations otherwise—the fact that this woman had the audacity to challenge him about his anger, his attitude, and his behavior toward her. So she left him, cut him off, and he confessed to me that he wanted to hit her. In his mind, she was dissin’ him. I was honestly stunned because I thought I knew this young man fairly well, but here he was, feeling completely powerless while thoughts of committing violence against this woman bombarded his mind and spirit. We had a long conversation, over the course of a few days, and, thank God, he eventually accepted the fact that his relationship with this woman was over. He also began to seek help for his anger, his feelings of abandonment, and all the long-repressed childhood hurts that had nothing to do with this woman, but everything to do with how he had treated her. But what if he did not have somebody to turn to when he needed help? What if he’d become yet another man lurking at his ex’s job or place of residence, who saw in his ability to terrorize that woman some twisted form of power?
  6. Challenge other males about their physical, emotional, and spiritual violence towards women and girls. Again, this is not a popular thing to do, especially when so many men and boys do not even believe that there is a gender violence problem in America. But challenge we must when we hear about abusive or destructive behavior being committed by our friends or peers. I have to say I really respect the aforementioned political associate who looked me straight in the eyes, 16 long years after I pushed his close female friend and my ex-girlfriend into a bathroom door, and asked me why I did what I did, and, essentially, why he should work with me all these years later? American males don’t often have these kinds of difficult but necessary conversations with each other. But his point was that he needed to understand what had happened, what work I had done to prevent that kind of behavior from happening again, and why I had committed such an act in the first place. Just for the record: No, it has not happened since, and no, it never will again. But I respect the fact that, in spite of my being very honest about past behavior, that women and men and girls and boys of diverse backgrounds have felt compelled to ask hard questions, to challenge me after hearing me speak, after reading one of my essays about sexism and redefining American manhood. We must ask and answer some hard questions. This also means that we need to challenge those men—as I was forced to do twice in the past week—who bring up the fact that some males are the victims of domestic violence at the hands of females. While this may be true in a few cases (and I do know some men who have been attacked or beaten by women), there is not even a remote comparison between the number of women who are battered and murdered on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis in America and the number of men who suffer the same fate at the hands of women. Second, we men need to understand that we cannot just use our maleness to switch the dialogue away from the very real concerns of women to what men are suffering, or what we perceive men to be suffering. That’s what step number three in the seven steps to ending violence against women and girls is all about. So many of us American males have such a distorted definition of manhood that we don’t even have the basic respect to listen to women’s voices when they talk about violence and abuse, without becoming uncomfortable, without becoming defensive, without feeling the need to bring the conversation, the dialogue, to us and our needs and our concerns, as if the needs and concerns of women and girls do not matter.
  7. Create a new kind of man, a new kind of boy. Violence against women and girls will never end if we males continue to live according to definitions of self that are rooted in violence, domination, and sexism. I have been saying for the past few years that more American males have got to make a conscious decision to redefine who we are, to look ourselves in the mirror and ask where we got these definitions of manhood and masculinity, to which we cling so tightly. Who do these definitions benefit and whom do they hurt? Who said manhood has to be connected to violence, competition, ego, and the inability to express ourselves? And while we’re asking questions, we need to thoroughly question the heroes we worship, too. How can we continue to salute Bill Clinton as a great president yet never ask why he has never taken full ownership for the numerous sexual indiscretions he has committed during his long marriage to Senator Hillary Clinton? How can we in the hip-hop nation continue to blindly idolize Tupac Shakur (whom I interviewed numerous times while working at Vibe, and whom I loved like a brother) but never question how he could celebrate women in songs like “Keep Ya Head Up?” and “Dear Mama,” on the one hand, but completely denigrate women in songs like “Wonda Y They Call U Bitch”? What I am saying is that as we examine and struggle to redefine ourselves as men, we also have to make a commitment to questioning the manifestations of sexism all around us. If we fail to do so, if we do not begin to ask males, on a regular basis, why we refer to women and girls with despicable words, why we talk about women and girls as if they are nothing more than playthings, why we think its cool to “slap a woman around,” why we don’t think the rape, torture, and kidnap of Megan Williams in West Virginia should matter to us as much as the Jena 6 case in Louisiana, then the beginning of the end of violence against women and girls will be a long time coming.

Kevin Powell is a writer, activist, and author or editor of 9 books. A native of Jersey City, NJ, Kevin is a long-time resident of Brooklyn, NY, where he ran for Congress in 2008. He can be reached at kevin@kevinpowell.net.

The Fans Speak on Chris and Rihanna Abuse

Thousands of readers have been responding strongly to the article written by Dr. Boyce Watkins about the Chris and Rihanna situation.  The comments range from enlightening to flat out stupid.  Read the comments below and make one of your own!

 

Anonymous Anonymous said...

now if a man came to us and told us they had herpes w vwould try to fight them to but just because chris brown is a celeb everybody is making a big deal about it.Yes,if my man came tome and said he had herpes probably would have done the same thing.

February 15, 2009 12:00 PM
Anonymous La'Trina Jones said...

any nigga be hittin me get merked real qwick!!!

February 15, 2009 12:29 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel that Rihanna was very wrong for giving her lover Chris Brown STD .People also need understand that is herpes Chris brown will have to live with that for the rest of his life. Rihanna should be a shame of her self.And yes i feel chris brown should have handle this matter in another way but u have to really think about how chris was feeling at that time. Now Chris have to live his life everyday Knowing he have herpes.I feel that Rihanna should be charge knowing the fact she had herpes. a was willing to give her nasty herper to a yong gentel man chris brown.I work as a nurse and my heart goes out to Mr Brown.All Chris Brown can do is give it to god and let god work it out for him.

February 15, 2009 2:02 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel no man have rights to hit a woman . But Rihanna is very wrong and she should be charge too.Knowing the fact she been had that mess.That is herpesso that mean Chris Brown will have that mess for the rest of his life, who to say what else Rihanna might be hiding i think Chris need to check make sure he dos'nt have anything else .I feel there should be a law for people that walk around here in this world and knowing that they have herpes our what ever the case my be. if they can have the ball to give you there nasty STD they should be put away for the rest of there life.Because all they are going to do is go somewhere else and give it to somebody else.There is alot of sick people in this world.All you can do is just give it to god he can do all things.

February 15, 2009 2:38 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. You'll don't know if that's the reason why they had the altercation.
2. Rhianna had an outbreak some weeks ago and during that time Chris was all over her. Go look for the pics. So, I don't believe that there is any way that he didn't know that she had herpes.
3. Even if he eventually found out she had herpes and transmitted it to him, who is to say that she always knew she had it. Herpes is a disease that if you don't have an outbreak and haven't gotten tested you wouldn't know you have it. There are lots of people walking around with herpes passing it to others and don't even know. You can use a condom and still possibly pass it to your lover.
Know the facts about the disease before you start making comments.
4. Who is to say Chris isn't the one to give her herpes. Everyone doesn't have the outbreaks so their is no way to know who gave it to whom.
That being said he still had no right hitting her like she is his damn child.
He better get it together quick before Jay or Tay Tay roll up on his behind and wear him out.

February 15, 2009 4:28 PM
Anonymous Strong Black Woman said...

Dayum yall some week-assed niggas in here! What "credible" source do you have stating that Rhianna gave Chris herpes. SHAME ON YOU DR. BOYCE! Glad to see sum of us thinks its okay hittin a woman.

February 15, 2009 4:29 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strong black woman, notice that he said "allegedly" gave him herpes. He didn't say he knew it. He is not saying that he knows for sure. Plus, the story is being reported in all kinds of news outlets, so I believe it.

February 15, 2009 4:38 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so you the type of nigga who listen to gossip huh? punk-ass trick!

February 15, 2009 5:19 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The herpes thing was on The Tom Joyner Morning Show....punk ass trick.

February 15, 2009 5:25 PM
Anonymous Crabb Mendoza said...

who da fuc is tom joynner??? just another whiny azz neegro! cause that slob say so make it tru??? what "proof" do he got??

February 15, 2009 5:28 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leave it to Boyce to get some stupid shit going. Im telling you the brother works for Willie Lynch!

February 15, 2009 8:10 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article is right on point Dr. Boyce. It's sad that there are black men on this listserv who think that women should be hit. You guys are pretty fucked up.
Thank you for speaking up for black women everywhere, well the ones that are not crazy.

February 15, 2009 8:16 PM
Anonymous Willie Horton said...

"Thank you for speaking up for black women everywhere, well the ones that are not crazy."
ROTFLMBAO!!!

February 15, 2009 9:33 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wise words professor. Thank you Dr. Boyce

February 15, 2009 10:55 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you!
OMG! Even celebrity can get STDs.
No wonder why more and more people join the STD dating site STDslove.com

February 16, 2009 1:51 AM
Anonymous paris bars said...

Chris Brown is so cute !

February 16, 2009 5:53 AM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanna say who cares if you think it's scary people are on Chris Browns side. That's what fans do lol. I'm almost thirty and have never bought either of their cd's. We already have Beyonce and Nelly Furtado any thing in between is not needed. Rihanna will have tO stand up for herself before she can stand up for other women!! I hope she takes everyones advice and leaves him for good...for HIS SAKE!!!p.s Rihanna is loved...but not All around the world...sorry.

February 16, 2009 11:21 AM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah it was wrong for chris brown to hit rihanna but if its true that rihanna gave chris herpes, thats wrong. no man should put his hands on a woman period. i've been in a abusive relationship that i got out of after 11 monthes. I like chris brown and rihanna but they need to work things out and whatever started the argument needs to stop and chris should of walked away or something then hitting rihanna. chris brown is cute and doesnt deserve to have a STD from anyone he's too young for that.I say that chris brown needs help with his anger so things can work out between him and rihanna. i think that chris and rihanna is a great couple but not if chris continues to beat on rihanna for whatever it is. i also think that men who beat on women are pussys and do it cuz they are insecure with themselves and cant control nobody else but women. I like you chris brown but you need to quit your abuse on rihanna and try to work things out with rihanna then hitting on her and taking your anger out on her, try to talk things over about your feelings with rihanna it might work out between you two. i hope things work out between you and rihanna.

February 16, 2009 11:30 AM

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Singer Chris Brown to Seek Counseling

A week after allegedly beating and bruising his pop-star girlfriend Rihanna, Chris Brown finally released an apologetic statement Sunday via a representative that also discounted media reports claiming he'd commented about the incident on Facebook.

'Saddened' Chris Brown Seeking Counseling

Chris Brown leaves his hotel on January 31, 2009 in Dublin, Ireland. A week after reportedly beating and bruising his pop star girlfriend, Rihanna, Chris Brown finally released a statement via his spokesperson.

"Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired. I am seeking the counseling of my pastor, my mother and other loved ones and I am committed, with God's help, to emerging a better person," Brown said in the statement released Sunday evening.

"Much of what has been speculated or reported on blogs and/or reported in the media is wrong," the statement said. "While I would like to be able to talk about this more, until the legal issues are resolved, this is all I can say except that I have not written any messages or made any posts to Facebook, on blogs or any place else. Those posts or writings under my name are frauds."

While Rihanna has yet to speak out about the alleged fight, her father, Ronald Fenty, said that Brown hit her in an interview with People magazine Saturday. Describing Rihanna's current condition after seeing her Thursday, Fenty said, "There is some bruising. She will be all right. I think so." "At some point, she will speak out. I hope she will stand up for women all over the world," he said.

Click to read more.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Black Sports: Michael Vick in Hot NFL Demand

Let the Michael Vick sweepstakes begin.

In a report on ESPN.com today, Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff stated that the team wants to trade away the rights of former quarterback Michael Vick. The team has taken small steps to rid themselves of the troubled player since his subsequent jail sentence in 2007.

The Falcons drafted Matt Ryan third overall in last spring’s NFL draft, and that pick has worked out well for the team so far. They made an impromptu playoff run last season and have not looked back.

Since the Falcons have been able to get past the Vick distraction, they are now ready to move on completely without him. But you may think, “What team in its right mind wants to trade for a former player that has been sitting in prison for the last two years?”

Try a team that is in desperate need of a quarterback or a difference maker on offense.

Let’s not forget that Michael took the Falcons to the NFC Championship game some years back, and they either led the league or were near the top of the league in rushing when he was under center. Your favorite team’s wide receivers may not like him, but your running backs will.

With Vick in the backfield, he opens up so many opportunities for your offense. He may not warrant being the starter for your team, but he can run a version of the wildcat offense and play a little receiver. Vick may be able to return punts and kickoffs if he gains a little more muscle when he comes back into the league.

But what teams would actually think about trading for him?

 

Click to read.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Black President: 18-year old Tolu Olorunda Breaks Down Fox News and “Mainstream” Media

Most would agree that FOX News, Rupert Murdoch’s crumbling empire, has not been exactly fair to Black people over the years. In fact, it has, whenever possible, vehemently attacked whoever it perceived to be an important factor in Black America. At any given opportunity, its multi-millionaire hosts have encouraged, entertained and enlisted the support of pundits who openly detest Black people, and feel undaunted in speaking out publicly about it. Occasionally, when the fruits seem too ripe to withstand, the hosts themselves, caught in the hysteria of race-intoxication, spill out their guts about their disdain for Black humanity.

An example of this occurred in September 2007, when FOX News’ top-rated host, Bill O’Reilly, narrated a recent encounter he had at a Black Harlem Restaurant - Sylvia’s. As O’Reilly claims, this experience was life-changing, because “there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship.” O’Reilly later continued: “There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, ‘M-Fer, I want more iced tea’.” The host, undisciplined by the network, would thereafter suggest that not only were his words misconstrued, but he deserves an apology from his detractors, because their nitpicking plays a part in stalling ongoing racial progress.

 

Click to read.

Stimulus Battle May Threaten Obama’s Agenda

It is a quick, sweet victory for the new president, and potentially a historic one. The question now is whether the $789 billion economic stimulus plan agreed to by Congressional leaders on Wednesday is the opening act for a more ambitious domestic agenda from President Obama or a harbinger of reduced expectations.

Related

Deal Reached in Congress on $789 Billion Stimulus Plan(February 12, 2009)

President Obama and Gov. Tim Kaine on Wednesday at a parkway project in Springfield, Va., that could get stimulus money.Both the substance of his first big legislative accomplishment and the way he achieved it underscored the scale of the challenges facing the nation and how different a political climate this is from the early stages of recent administrations.

While it hammered home the reality of bigger, more activist government, the economic package was not the culmination of a hard-fought ideological drive, like Lyndon B. Johnson’s civil rights and Great Society programs, orRonald Reagan’s tax cuts, but rather a necessary and hastily patched-together response to an immediate and increasingly dire situation. On the domestic issues Mr. Obama ran and won on — health care, education, climate change, rebalancing the distribution of wealth — the legislation does little more than promise there will be more to come.

In cobbling together a plan that could get through both the House and the Senate, Mr. Obama prevailed, but not in the way he had hoped. His inability to win over more than a handful of Republicans amounted to a loss of innocence, a reminder that his high-minded calls for change in the practice of governance had been ground up in a matter of weeks by entrenched forces of partisanship and deep, principled differences between left and right.

In the end, Congress did not come together to address what Mr. Obama has regularly suggested is a crisis that could rival the Great Depression. What consensus has been forged so far is likely to be tested in the months to come as he faces scrutiny over the effectiveness of the stimulus package and the likelihood that he will have to ask Congress for substantially more money to heal the fractures in the financial system.

So this was hardly a moment for cigars.

If this is the 21st-century version of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 100 Days, Mr. Obama seems to be pursuing it more as an urgent but imposed necessity than as a self-selected mission.

While he has deployed his political capital freely to win approval of the package and to begin pushing his version of a financial-system rescue, he has left little doubt that he is eager to move on to the rest of his domestic agenda. At his news conference on Monday night, Mr. Obama said with a hint of exasperation that a costly economic rescue package “wasn’t how I envisioned my presidency beginning.” Regardless of the government’s budgetary straits, Mr. Obama has signaled that he sees his other signature initiatives not just as salvageable but as more urgent than ever.

Click to read more.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Black Politics: Barack Obama Needs Support for Stimulus

President Barack Obama faces a barrage of questions on his plans to reinvigorate the economy with a massive stimulus bill and additional billions in bailout money for the financial markets.

Trips Monday and Tuesday to cities hurting under the economic meltdown and a prime-time news conference Monday night show that Obama and his advisers are worried about a looming Senate vote on the stimulus bill, which failed to gather meaningful Republican support during rare weekend debate. The question-and-answer sessions with citizens and later with news reporters will allow Obama to appeal directly for grass-roots backing of his plans.

Both trips were added to Obama's schedule as difficulties with the legislation on Capitol Hill increased. Originally, aides had insisted his time would be better spent in Washington to shepherd the bill rather than traveling the more traditional presidential route around the country, pressuring lawmakers from his bully pulpit.

The $827 billion Senate version of the plan was expected to pass the Senate on Tuesday. However, it must be reconciled with the House version, which totaled $820 billion in spending and tax cuts. With Senate and House negotiators preparing to deal, Obama is likely to push for a bill on his desk for his signature by mid-month.

 

Click to read.

Your Black News: Tiger Woods Has a New Baby

On the day Tiger Woods usually hoists a trophy at Torrey Pines, the world’s No. 1 golfer was busy with the birth of his first son.

Woods announced on his Web site early Monday that his wife, Elin, had given birth to a boy, Charlie Axel Woods. It is the couple’s second child following the birth of daughter Sam Alexis in June 2007 on the day after the U.S. Open.

“Elin and I are thrilled to announce the birth of our son, Charlie Axel Woods, who was born on Sunday February 8, 2009,” Woods wrote in the statement. “Both Charlie and Elin are doing great and we want to thank everyone for their sincere best wishes and kind thoughts. Sam is very excited to be a big sister and we feel truly blessed to have such a wonderful family.

“I also want to thank our doctors, nurses and the hospital staff for their personal and professional care. We look forward to introducing Charlie to you at the appropriate time, and again thanks from all of us for your kindness and support.”

 

Click to read.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Your Black Sports: A-Rod Loved Barry Bonds – Some Now Know Why

Outside of Curt Schilling and Cory Lidle, very few Major League Baseball players ever dared criticize Barry Bonds, at least on the record. Either they were afraid of Bonds, afraid of the Players Association, or afraid of the possibility that their own lives would become subject to the same scrutiny as his. It was a kind of tradition when teams swung through San Francisco to play the Giants that opposing players would form a small receiving line before batting practice to greet Bonds and lavish him with praise.

But no player was more vociferous in his support thanAlex Rodriguez. Because Rodriguez has spent his entire career in the American League, and Bonds his entire career in the National League, they did not share the field often. But on June 2007, with Bonds less than two months from the all-time home-run record, the Yankees rolled into San Francisco for a three-game interleague series that Rodriguez turned into a love fest.

Before the first game, Rodriguez called Bonds "arguably the best player to put on a uniform," a standard line. But Rodriguez went farther: "I'm a big fan of his work. He's one of a kind. Studying him is like studyingPicasso." When it was suggested that alleged steroid use had changed the perception of Bonds, Rodriguez looked startled. "That's too bad," he said, "because Barry's such a great and unique talent. He should be celebrated."

 

Click to read.

A Black Athlete Dies from Suspicious “Suicide” in Mississippi

Billey Joe Johnson Sr. opens the driver’s-side door of his dead son’s Silverado and begins to examine some of the leftover splatter. It clings to the dashboard, leeches out of air conditioning vents. Some of it even found a resting place on the truck’s exterior.

“There goes a hunk of meat right there,” the father said, pointing to a nickel-sized fragment of his son’s brain. “How’d it get over here?”

In the back seat, a geometry book rests next to camouflage clothing and empty boxes of buckshot. Billey Joe Johnson Jr. often woke up at 4 a.m. to hunt before heading to George County High School, where everyone knew him as the football star who would escape crushing rural poverty by running from it.

Piles of recruiting letters litter the back seat, the remnants of life as one of the most sought-after running backs in the Class of 2010. Alabama wanted Billey Joe. So did Notre Dame. And dozens of other schools. He was ready to commit to Auburn. By many accounts Billey Joe was a popular, big-dreaming, clean-living kid. So it’s no wonder his father stands in the yard next to a single-wide trailer, trying to play forensic expert. Searching – like many in this rural community – for answers about who shot his son.

PhotoSheriff’s incident reports and radio reports.

Local authorities stopped Billey Joe for a traffic violation on the morning of Dec. 8, and they say the truck is simply the site of a terrible tragedy. But to the elder Johnson, it’s a crime scene.

Nearly two months later, only one fact is certain: Instead of running out of George County as a football hero, Billey Joe was buried beneath it at the age of 17.

Click to read.

Barack Obama News: What was cut from the Stimulus Package?

A coalition of Democrats and some Republicans reached a compromise that trimmed billions in spending from an earlier version of the Senate economic stimulus bill.

Senators worked late into the night to trim billions from the original stimulus bill.

Senators worked late into the night to trim billions from the original stimulus bill.

CNN obtained, from a Democratic leadership aide, a list of some programs that have been cut, either entirely or partially:

Partially cut:

• $3.5 billion for energy-efficient federal buildings (original bill $7 billion)

• $75 million from Smithsonian (original bill $150 million)

• $200 million from Environmental Protection Agency Superfund (original bill $800 million)

• $100 million from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (original bill $427 million)

• $100 million from law enforcement wireless (original bill $200 million)

• $300 million from federal fleet of hybrid vehicles (original bill $600 million)

• $100 million from FBI construction (original bill $400 million)

Fully eliminated

• $55 million for historic preservation

• $122 million for Coast Guard polar icebreaker/cutters

• $100 million for Farm Service Agency modernization

 

Click to read.

Prof Boyce Watkins, Madeline Create a New Show

African American Scholar Boyce Watkins and Madeline Talk Black Politics

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Dr. Ben Carson Gets Featured in a Film

Dr. Carson

TNT's "Gifted Hands" is one of those longform projects that has Emmy written all over it.

It boasts near-flawless direction from Thomas Carter, a vivid teleplay adaptation by John Pielmeier and uniformly magnificent performances, particularly from star Cuba Gooding Jr., who puts himself back onto the Hollywood map here in a way he hasn't since his Oscar-winning turn in 1996's "Jerry Maguire."

Gooding portrays the real-life world-renowned brain surgeon Benjamin Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children's Center and author of a best-selling 1990 autobiography.

It's taken nearly two decades to get Carson's inspiring story to the screen, but Gooding does him more than proud with a portrayal at once sensitively wrought and quietly moving.

In lesser hands (if you'll pardon the pun), this biopic could easily have drifted off into maudlin sap, but Gooding keeps the character of Carson centered and human and the film honoring him wise and surprisingly graphic. (The surgical procedures are showcased in all of their bloody glory, but not so much as to cross the line to gratuitousness.)

Click to read.

The Obama Artist Arrested for Outstanding Warrants

A street artist famous for his red, white and blue "Hope" posters of President Obama has been arrested on warrants accusing him of tagging property with graffiti, police said Saturday.

Shepard Fairey was arrested Friday night on his way to the Institute of Contemporary Art for a kickoff event for his first solo exhibition, called Supply and Demand.

Two warrants were issued for Fairey on Jan. 24 after police determined he'd tagged property in two locations with graffiti based on the Andre the Giant street art campaign from his early career, Officer James Kenneally said. One of the locations was the railroad trestle by the landmark Boston University bridge over the Charles River, police said.

Fairey, 38, of Los Angeles, is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Brighton District Court, said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk District Attorney. Wark said Fairey would also be arraigned on a default warrant related to a separate graffiti case in the Roxbury section of Boston.

Fairey has spent the last two weeks in the Boston area installing the ICA exhibit and creating outdoor art, including a 20-by-50 foot banner on the side of City Hall, according to a statement issued Saturday by the museum.

 

Click to read.

 

Friday, February 6, 2009

Your Black President: Barack Obama Gets His Bill Passed

With job losses soaring nationwide, Senate Democrats reached agreement with key Republicans Friday night on an economic stimulus measure at the heart of President Barack Obama's plan for combatting the worst recession in decades. "The American people want us to work together. They don't want to see us dividing along partisan lines on the most serious crisis confronting our country," said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of two GOP senators who signaled support for the bill.

Officials put the cost of the measure at $780 billion in tax cuts and new spending combined. No details were immediately available, and there appeared to be some confusion even among senators about the price tag as floor debate continued late into the night.

The agreement capped a tense day of backroom negotiations in whichSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid, joined by White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, sought to attract the support of enough Republicans to give the measure the needed 60-vote majority.

In addition to Collins, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he would vote for the bill. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, remained uncommitted.

 

Click to read.

Hip Hop: Pharrell on the Cover of Nylon Magazine


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Your Black News: Judge may toss some evidence in Barry Bonds case

A federal judge says she might toss some of the strongest evidence against Barry Bonds, a blow to prosecutors trying to prove the home run king lied when he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said her "preliminary thoughts" were to exclude from trial three 2000-2001 positive drug tests that prosecutors say belong to Bonds unless there is a direct link that the urine samples came from the former San Francisco Giants slugger.

"If there's no testimony to establish that, I don't think any of them work," Illston said.

The only person who can do that seems to be Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, who spent more than a year behind bars for refusing to speak to a federal grand jury investigating Bonds. And Anderson's attorney, Mark Geragos, has said his client will not testify against Bonds at the trial, scheduled to start March 2.

If her preliminary thoughts stand, the government's case against Bonds will suffer a significant blow — but not a fatal one, legal analysts said.

"It hurts, but the government still has quite a bit of other evidence," Golden Gate University law professor Peter Keane said.

That includes a recorded conversation between Anderson and Bonds' former personal assistant Steve Hoskins in which they discuss injecting steroids; a conversation Illston said she's inclined to allow at trial.

Illston will issue a formal decision on the evidence discussed Thursday at a later date. She also will hold a separate hearing on whether to allow testimony from expert doctors the government hopes would persuade a jury that changes in Bonds' body were due to steroid use.

 

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Barack Obama Says He Screwed Up

"I don't think Washington wins," President Obama tells NBC's Brian Williams in the interview that the TV network will broadcast this evening -- one of five sit-downs the president did with national news anchors this afternoon.

"The fact of the matter is Tom Daschle pulled out today," Obama continues. "And I'm here on television saying I screwed up and that's part of the era of responsibility; is not never making mistakes; it's owning up to them and trying to make sure you never repeat them and that's what we intend to do."

The networks are sending out excerpts. Highlights from the others we've gotten so far:

• Obama tells ABC's Charles Gibson this was an embarrassing day for his administration, with the collapse of Daschle's nomination as Health and Human Services secretary and Nancy Killefer as chief performance officer.

"We're going to have some glitches," Obama adds, "and I understand that that's what people are going to focus on. And I'm focused on it because I don't want glitches. We can't afford glitches because, right now, what I should be spending time talking to you about is how we're going to put three to four million people back to work. And so this is a self-induced injury that I'm angry about, and we're going to make sure we get it fixed."

 

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Eric Holder Gets Confirmed as First Black AG

Eric Holder won Senate confirmation Monday as the nation's first African-American attorney general, after supporters from both parties touted his dream resume and easily overcame Republican concerns over his commitment to fight terrorism and his unwillingness to back the right to keep and bear arms.

The vote was 75-21, with all the opposition coming from Republicans.

Holder's chief supporter, Sen. Patrick Leahy, said the confirmation was a fulfillment of civil rights leader Martin Luther King's dream that everyone would be judged by the content of their character.

"Come on the right side of history," said Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Holder becomes the only black in the Obama administration in what has traditionally been known as the president's Cabinet. Three other African-Americans have been chosen for top administration positions that hold the same rank.

Holder was a federal prosecutor, judge and the No. 2 Justice Department official in the Clinton administration. Even his critics agreed that Holder was well-qualified, but they questioned his positions and independence.

The debate turned partisan in its first moments, when Leahy, expressed anger that a few Republicans demanded a pledge from Holder that he wouldn't prosecute intelligence agents who participated in harsh interrogations.

 

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