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Does Black Media Work for Black People or the White House?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins Glen Ford from BlackAgendaReport.com wrote  an insightful review of the recent appearance of Obama Administration Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett  at the National Association of Black Journalists convention.  Ford makes the point that the attendees at the convention were more concerned with being a part of the presidential fan club than doing the hard, objective work that comes with clear journalistic analysis. Ford a 40-year veteran of the journalist profession, says this: “ This is what often passes for journalism in Black America: an infantile obsession with the inner world of the Obamas that is wholly disconnected from the real world of economic policy, and of war and peace.   Such reporters become indistinguishable from the antics of Steve Harvey, the professional media ignoramus, and the schoolyard politics of syndicated disc jockey Tom Joyner.” Ford goes on to make the accurate point that the job of a journalist is not to befriend members of the political establishment, at least not a way that undermines their ability to be objective.  He mentions that no one in the room challenged Jarrett’s remarks in the way that an adviser might be challenged when white journalists are in the room.  Ford also says that the overwhelming determinant in the docile nature of African American journalists is that many of them are simply fearful of not getting a job in mainstream media. Ford is correct in his assessment of what’s happened to black media in the age of Obama.  When one considers nearly all of the major black online news media outlets, I can’t recall any of them publishing anything other than content that was favorable to the Obama Administration.  In fact, I dare to say that some of them are affiliated with the White House in a way that says that they would lose either access to valuable contacts or financial support if they were to confront the administration.  But while Ford’s point is entirely accurate, one thing that I might add is that it appears that the true, objective journalist might be dead.  Instead, media has become a Crib-Blood gang war, where you either choose a side or get caught in the crossfire. The decision of most black journalists to lie down on the job is not much different from what’s been happening on MSNBC and Fox News.  Only CNN has tried to go after that unrealistic thing called “the truth,” and it’s led to them having their worst ratings in 21 years. So, perhaps everything has become political, which means that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find networks that encourage viewers to form their own opinions instead of playing for a political football team. My argument is that any African American who wants what’s best for his/her family and community should seek truth and think for themselves.  It makes little sense to become anti-Obama just because a Right Winger tells you to. But it makes just as little sense for you to vote for him because Steve Harvey said so.  If our experience in Africa and during slavery taught us anything, it’s that someone isn’t necessarily your ally just because they are black. I give Roland Martin credit for using his platform to speak some truth to power.  His recent tweets about holding the Obama Administration accountable should be applauded, for he is moving against the grain.  He also chose to speak out against the appointment of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court after her racially-discriminatory hiring record was revealed.  So, some journalists are taking their professions seriously and not simply seeking to join the Obama fan club. For two years, our nation was high on the “Barack Obama Crunk Juice,” and the party seemed to be jumping.  Then, as time wore on, reality started to set in and our community has begun to sober up.  It will be after the party when the police show up that we are held accountable for our actions. When Obama is no longer president history will remember who buckled to the fad and remained true to the purpose. Glen Ford is one of those people.  Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To receive Dr. Boyce commentary in your email, please click here. Read More »

Dr. Boyce: What Rappers and Drug Dealers Tend to Have in Common

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, KultureKritic.com I was speaking this morning to the family of Maria Lloyd, the woman who wrote an open letter about her experience of having a father who was given 15 life sentences for drug distribution during the 1980s.   During our conversation, Maria mentioned that one of the comments she saw in response to her open letter consisted of a woman who lashed out at her because her mother was hooked on drugs. Maria said that she felt the woman’s pain because she herself has lost relatives to drug addiction.  She also stated that in the drug war, the primary culprits were not just the actual dealers, who were primarily young people seeking a way to make money in a bad economy with poor educational opportunities.  An even bigger culprit was the federal government, which made deals with international groups that allowed them to sell their drugs in America, as long as they sold them in the black community. A narrator made an accurate point when discussing the reigns of drug kingpins Frank Lucas and Nicki Barnes.  He said, “The powers that be would rather see you getting high on heroine than to see you getting high on the teachings of Malcolm X.” So, the broader point here is that an attack on a community is every bit as psychological as it is physical.  If your oppressor controls your thinking and gets you to destroy yourself, then you are going to do the hard work for them.  Even worse, those in power are more likely to use operatives within your community to get the job done, positioning them as the ultimate scapegoats for negative consequences of devious behavior. Rappers, to some extent, have become modern day drug dealers.  Grabbing young, hungry kids out of the ghetto who are willing to sign damn near anything to pay the bills, multi-billion dollar corporations provide them with financial incentives to expose a very toxic, insidious message to the African American community.  The message presented on the radio for black men is very simple:  Stay high and drunk as much as possible, you should sleep with everything that moves, going to prison is something to be proud of, kill other black men if necessary, waste all of your money without saving or investing it, and remain ignorant. Of the messages that black youth receive from hip hop music, almost none of them position that young person to live an empowered and fulfilled existence.  Rather, they are messages that teach a young person to kill themselves before they even begin to realize an ounce of their potential. As a result, many of the worst hip hop artists have positioned themselves as the delivery boys of psychological poison, destroying millions of black minds in the process.  Like the old men who were sent to kill Jesus as a newborn baby, they drop into the black community like assassins seeking to murder the potential of any young black male who might grow up to become the next Malcolm X. This is not to say that we should reject hip hop or even reject the men who deliver it.  But it is absolutely essential that we all be educated about the impact of these artistic platforms and remain encouraged to seek a higher standard.  The power of hip hop was designed to build, not meant to encourage self-destruction, even most true rappers know that.   Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To receive Dr. Boyce commentary in your email, please click here. Read More »

Meet the 6-Year Old Author and Anti-Bullying Advocate

In this video, Dr. Towanna Freemnan speaks with LaNiyah Bailey, the 6-year old author and anti-bullying advocate. LaNiyah’s mother empowered her daughter to write a book about bullying to deal with the challenges she’d experienced because of her weight. Rather than allowing the world to take her daughter down, LaNiyah’s mother used it as an opportunity to boost her up. ... Read More »

Jesse Jackson Jr. on Medical Leave, Blames ‘Exhaustion’

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr is on medical leave and it is not clear when he will be back.  According to a short news release from Jackson’s office, he has been on medical leave since June 10 and is seeking treatment for exhaustion. In the release,  47 year old Jackson has requested that the public respect his family’s privacy. It was reportedly noticeable among his congressional colleagues that he was missing from the House floor and he missed votes. Earlier this year, Jackson had to put more effort into his campaign  because he had a strong opponent in U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson. He won even though he is the target of a House ethics investigation. He has also been busy with campaigning for a third airport in the Chicago area as well as opposing a proposed federal detention center for illegal immigrants. Jackson has been in office since 1995 and represents Illinois’ 2nd District. According to Newsone.com, The House Ethics Committee probe involves allegations that Jackson was involved in discussions about raising money for then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s campaign in exchange for Blagojevich appointing him to President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat. Jackson has not been charged and maintains that he is innocent. Read More »

Dream Team: Mitt Romney & Condoleezza Rice?

Condoleezza Rice is insisting that she will not run as Mitt Romney’s vice president on this year’s Republican presidential ticket. The former Secretary of State stopped by “CBS This Morning” and many were waiting to hear what her intentions were if tapped by presumptive  Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. I’m saying there is no way that I will do this, because it’s really not me. I know my strengths, and governor Romney needs to find someone who wants to run with him.” Rice emphasized that she loved policy but not politics. She even joked that even as a student, she did not run for student council president. She confirmed that if Romney asked her to run, she would turn him down because she felt that he needs to find someone who actually wants to run with him and would do it well. Rice also voiced that she supported the ticket. When asked about her thoughts on President Obama’s foreign policy she voiced her understanding of the challenges of being in the White House but when on to say that she felt that the Obama administration has been lacking because they seem to “lead from behind”. Read More »

Dumar Paden Says that Rappers Are Just Scapegoats for Societal Problems

By Dumar Paden I don’t have to list all the issues hurting our community, especially with regards to our youth. With the countless amounts of books, interviews, cable news specials, and panels surrounding the topic I think by now everyone is pretty much aware, thus creating a very similar narrative around the country. Ask some (not all) black people about what’s wrong with our youth and you will typically get the following responses: They need to pull those pants up! They are lazy! These kids are rude and out of control! Blame the rappers; they are the reason why our community is suffering! Quite frankly I am getting tired of people, who do nothing to try to create solutions, complaining about these issues.  The easy thing to do throughout the years have been to sit back and blame others for various social, academic, and economic issues black youth face in urban communities across the country. The  most popular focus of blame right now are rappers due to their harmful lyrics, emphasis on material items, disrespectful attitudes towards women and violent imagery, etc. Listen, I’m not here to defend rappers or hip hop as many of the criticisms against the culture are definitely on point.  Hip Hop has great power and in some cases can influence youth in a negative capacity. With that said, the honest truth is that most of the problems  the community faces have been here long before rappers have been around. Some people act as if black on black crime, the emphasis on material items, disrespect against women, and usage of the N-Word suddenly appeared once Tupac and Biggie dropped their first albums. I guess rappers are also fully responsible for black unemployment, absentee fathers, domestic violence, and the educational achievement gap as well. You definitely have your right to criticize rappers, but when you do, make sure you are doing something to help our youth and improve our community. Do you have solutions? Do you mentor youth? Are you an active community participant? Do you hold youth accountable? Are you deeply involved in your own child’s life? These are valid questions I pose to all those that always complain but are never on the front lines to solve problems. It is always easy to complain and make arguments about the same issues over and over again but it is extremely difficult for some to roll up their sleeves and fight to save our children. We need solution based strategies and we cannot do this alone. Everyone who  is socially aware and has knowledge of self is responsible for ensuring the next generation is empowered and ready to reach their full potential. Personally, I don’t care if you do not enjoy this commentary because the truth must be told. If you are not currently helping or have positive solutions to assist in solving this crisis, please have a seat and be quiet. What are you going to do?     Read More »

Can The Southern Baptists Change Their Entire Legacy with One Election?

On Tuesday June 19th the Southern Baptist Convention made history when 7,700 ministers unanimously supported the vote for Rev. Fred Luter, Jr. to become the first Black president of the predominately White denomination. The Southern Baptist Convention is the world’s largest protestant denomination and some would say the whitest. The vote is extremely historic in light of church history, because the Southern Baptist denomination became a separate denomination in 1845 after a regional split with northern Baptist over the issues of slavery. After the Civil War a second split occurred when most Black Baptists in the South separated from white churches and set up their own congregations.  To further distance itself from the history of slavery the denomination changed its name to Great Commission Baptists ; this name change was endorsed by a 53% vote. These changes are extremely important and a good start but in order to move past it’s history of racism the Southern Baptist will have to do more than change its leadership and name, but it will have to create an environment where church leaders can truly repent of racism and prophetically preach that their congregants do the same. It should be noted that these large scale changes began with a 1995 apology the denomination made to African-Americans for its history of racism and supporting segregation. It remains to be seen if these high level changes will trickle down to individual congregations where 11:00am Sunday morning is still the most segregated time of the week. These recent changes by the Southern Baptist Convention highlight the fact that globally the Christian Church will have to make serious adjustments as a result of the exponential growth of people of color in the pews. Many cathedrals in Europe are empty while in South America and Africa church membership is exploding, for example the two largest churches in the world are located in South Korea NOT the Bible Belt. In order to survive the Christian church will have to deal with racism and accept leadership from people of color, with these inevitable changes it remains to be seen whether White Christians will make the needed adjustments or leave the church unable to let go of the idolatry of racism. Though the Southern Baptist have made two huge steps this week, now the real work of healing the racial divide in its church begins. As we know from the historic election of President Barack Obama, just because “our president is Black” does not mean that racism has come to an end and in fact it may rear its head in more insidious ways. Read More »

NYPD in the Spotlight Again: Officer Accused of Having Sex with a Teenage Boy

Things are not looking good for Rosandre Burgher who was arrested in upstate New York for allegedly having a sex with a teenage boy. Burgher, who is a NYPD officer with the 46th precinct in the Bronx was arrested on Tuesday. According to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, although the relationship between 26 year old Burgher and the 16 year old boy was reportedly consensual, the boy called directly into the Internal Affairs Bureau and made allegations in relation to the sexual relationship. Internal Affairs Bureau reportedly met with Wallkill police department and worked with them and to make an arrest. Burgher was suspended from Police duties and charged with criminal sexual act, unlawfully dealing with a child and endangering the welfare of a child. He was released on $35,000 bond on Wednesday and is will be back in court on June 26. Read More »

Cleveland Mayor Congratulates LeBron, Even Though the City Is Still Full of Haters

When LeBron James left Cleveland, some of the fans took the streets and burned his jersey because they felt insulted.  But James stuck to his guns and left for Miami, where he would not have to win the championship all by himself.  It worked, and now LeBron has the title that he could never win while he played for Cleveland. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson told TMZ that ”LeBron James is one of the most talented players in the world,” giving James the props that he deserved.  But then there are some who would say that the man who just won the NBA MVP, the Finals MVP and the Championship series while recording a triple double could be defined as THE best player in the world.  But haters are gonna hate, and that’s the way it’s going to be. “Congratulations to him and I wish him well in the future,” Jackson continued, further ending the feud between LeBron and the city to which he gave the best years of his life. But people are rarely satisfied, so there are always going to be Cleveland fans who are bitter.  James probably doesn’t really care. Read More »