As Black History Month comes and goes, television shows that foster black pride also come and go. I understand that many black men attached their self worth and their manhood to the character Bill Cosby made famous. In retrospect, I do not believe we need to look at television to give us our self worth.
The White House group's agenda was deep--with racial concerns about criminal justice, agriculture, education, health care and economic development when African American leaders met with President Barack Obama last week.
Students (young and older) respond to instruction in the way that is expected of them. If taught as if they are slow, students will conform to that perception. Imagine what would happen if we treated all students, from the earliest years through their post-secondary studies, as if there were geniuses inside, simply waiting for recognition.
The ugly truth is white on white crime does exist. It is a growing pandemic in the white community, and if we don't call attention to this problem soon, there will be no more white people left to run the world.
Fitz is an extremely aggressive individual, and I often get scared watching his interactions with both Mellie and Olivia, but somehow the show still paints him as the victim, the "good guy," and I really don't think it is okay.
Fifty years after the bloody Selma march shocked Johnson and the nation into taking fast track action to right a glaring historic wrong, namely the denial of the right to vote to millions in America, that right is still under intense assault. This is why we still need a Selma today.
Ol Parker is back as the screenwriter, and John Madden returns as the director. Both try to give this sequel the same feel as the first, but they've run out of ideas. Buying a new hotel seems like a giddy capitalistic exploit.
The people and police officers of Ferguson can ill afford to allow the difficult but necessary reform process that's now underway to be subsumed by petty politics. To plunge headlong into a dialogue defined by the same narrow, reductive, zero-sum talking points that frame so much of our national debate would be an inexcusable mistake.
Few leaders were more important to and decisive in mobilizing public opinion in support of the march than leaders from the American Jewish community. Ironically, it was this historic coalition that came to mind when I listened to and read the 24/7 media commentary around Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent speech to Congress.
More often than I would like, I have used this space to decry our shortcomings because we retain and still use capital punishment. This past Sunday, however, marked the 10th anniversary of a high point in our shared history.
Black inequality--inaugurated under slavery and maintained by protean forms of white supremacy--has been central to American society, through to the present day. But where does AIDS fit into this story?
We cannot stay complacent or silent in the face of restrictive voting laws. The best way for us to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Selma is to recreate the energy that forced Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act in the first place.
In this documentary, Owino and Washington had 14 people brave enough to sit in the room with each other and talk candidly about their cultural and internal racial differences. "That is a great start... but we need more," Owino admits.
Advocacy alone has limited value. Institutions must be led by competent executives and they must produce graduates with a credential that has value in the market place. HBCUs do not deserve support just because of their existence; they deserve the support of their alumni because of what they have done, are doing and are capable of doing.
The president doesn't "love" America? Would that it were true. Would that the president felt a responsibility to the global future and, at the same time, could summon our real past, grieve for its victims and vow with every fiber of his being to atone for our history of slavery and conquest: the "white terrorism" of manifest destiny. Would that the president didn't "love" our myths.
Hip-hop artist Common's invite to participate in the White House poetry series created quite a stir yesterday. Some conservative media outlets questioned how appropriate it was for the First Lady to invite a rap artist who curses and talks trash about the political establishment in his music. Shocking.
Lost in the madness, however, were the names of the other participating poets. Rita Dove, the second African American to win a Pulitzer for poetry will be there. Elizabeth Alexander who recited her original poem 'Praise Song For The Day' at President Obama's inauguration, has been invited for the series as well. Jill Scott, the renowned R&B singer, is also attending. Scott began her career as a spoken-word artist in Philadelphia and published a compilation of her poems in 2005 called 'The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours.'
But surprisingly, of all the participants invited, Common drummed up the most controversy. Fox News called attention to his lyrical content on their website yesterday with this headline: 'Michelle Obama Hosting Vile Rapper At White House.'
The news outlet posted a video of Common's appearance on HBO's 'Def Poetry Jam' performing a poem titled 'A Letter To The Law,' and noted that his work is "quite controversial, in part because his poetry includes threats to shoot police."
The lines in question include: "Tell the law, my uzi weighs a ton/ I walk like a warrior from them I won't run..." And later he adds, "I got the black strap to make the cops run/ they watching me, I'm watching them..."
Though Common takes a black militant stance in the poem, it's just not accurate to characterize him as a dangerous, gangsta rapper. The guy has appeared in various rom-coms like 'Just Wright' and TV shows such as 'Girlfriends,' and typically raps about black empowerment, community, family, love and his share of good-natured sex. In fact, as the Nation points out, if the neo-cons really wanted to get picky, a closer examination of Common's lyrics reveals that he could just as easily be a poster boy for pro-lifers. On his song 'Retrospect for Life' with Lauryn Hill, Common questions abortion. He raps: "Knowing you the best part of life, do I have the right to take yours?"
White House press secretary Jay Carney added some much needed clarity to the debate when he told ABC News that critics would be better served to look at the rapper's entire body of work and how he's generally regarded in his public life.
"While the president doesn't support the kind of lyrics that have been raised here," Carney said, "some of these reports distort what Mr. Lynn stands for more broadly," referring to Common by his given name, Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. "Within that genre of hip hop and rap he is known as...a conscious rapper."
Carney cited a 2010 FoxNews.com interview with Common in which the reporter told the hip hop performer, "your music is very positive and you are known as the conscious rapper – how important is that to you and how important do you think that is to our kids?"
But while the president opposes those lyrics, Carney said, "he does not think that that is the sum total of this particular artist's work which has been recognized by a lot of mainstream organizations and 'fair and balanced' organizations like Fox News, which described his music as positive.
The White House has not rescinded their invitation to Common, and the rapper made no statements on the matter. We just have to wonder what all the fuss is about.
Elizabeth Alexander Performs 'Praise Song For The Day' At the 2008 Presidential Inauguration'
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