Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What Does Immigration Reform Mean for Black People?

Good morning family. Yesterday, President Obama urged Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. As reported in the Washington Post,
President Obama on Tuesday put the weight of his administration behind efforts to pass legislation allowing many of the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants to earn citizenship, seeking to build on a rapidly shifting political consensus around the issue.

Obama dedicated the first trip of his second term to calling for an overhaul of immigration laws, making clear that it is one of his top domestic priorities. The president — who has said that not passing an overhaul in his first term was his biggest failure — also suggested he has little patience for Congress and would demand that lawmakers vote on his more permissive plan if they do not swiftly pass their own.
I have a few questions for you. Will these immigration reforms impact the African American community, a community struggling with chronic high unemployment?  How?  Should we support immigration reform? Why? Why not?  The President has prioritized the concerns of Latinos, women and LGBTs.  When will he prioritize the black community's concerns?  Please share your thoughts.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Is Hillary Clinton Going to Run for President in 2016?

Good morning family. Last night, 60 Minutes aired a joint interview of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. What did you think about the interview? Do you think that Hillary Clinton is going to run for President in 2016?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Y'all Should Apologize to Spike Lee!

Shout out to Adrian Barrett

Good morning family.

Spike Lee said this...

and tweeted this...

“American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them."
and all hell broke loose. Everybody and their mama threw the brother under the bus. At the same time, those ingrates elevated and honored their white lord and savior, Quentin Tarantino.   For weeks, I have been defending Spike Lee online. I thought I was done talking about Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino and Django Unchained.

Then, something happened. Early this morning, I was on Facebook and I saw a powerful Huffington Post article written by Morris W. O'Kelly entitled We Owe Spike Lee a Huge Apology. In his piece, Mr. O'Kelley writes:

Spike Lee doesn't need my help to defend him, but he does deserve our gratitude and respect.

I remember watching Pulp Fiction for the first time. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, if not loved it. It is fair to characterize it as a classic piece of American cinema. But that doesn't in any way mitigate the impact or excuse the "Dead N***** Storage" joke(s) in the film. They were unnecessary and wholly arbitrary in nature. They weren't for expository effect or "authenticity."

They were to generate laughs. He got none from me.

Then came Jackie Brown. This time, it was more of the same but for a lesser quality movie. Samuel L. Jackson was once again (like Pulp Fiction) used as the loudspeaker for the supposed humor. In fact, it was used 38 times. Again, not for expository effect or "authenticity" sake, (although Tarantino has argued publicly that the movie was an homage to the Blackxploitation genre in which the word was often used.)

But again... used to generate laughs... and I didn't.

My familiarity with Tarantino's work was neither linear nor chronological in nature. It wasn't until after Jackie Brown that I went back and discovered Reservoir Dogs... and there it is found too. Say it again with me... not for expository effect or "authenticity" sake.

This time it wasn't necessarily for laughs per se, but was used by "Mr. Pink" to specifically degrade and deride as an insult.

This is largely the history of Quentin Tarantino leading up to Django Unchained, a movie whose script was widely circulated in the year prior to its release. Spike Lee read it, I've read and virtually everyone else involved in entertainment had read it long before the movie premiered.

Lee, made it clear that he did not plan to support the movie, finding the whole premise of spaghetti western slave drama to be "disrespectful" to his (and my) ancestors. In response, Lee was criticized and castigated for not having viewed the movie first and for being a "hater," as the reductionist, simple-minded argument would go.

Lee's critique is not, was not and will never be dependent on the "quality" of the movie. It never was about the movie, it's about the very premise. I don't need to actually view "Slavery -- The Broadway Musical" starring Jennifer Hudson to forward the idea that slavery as a musical is wholly disrespectful in its very conception. I don't need to sit through "Slavery - The Daytime Soap Opera" starring Shemar Moore or "Superman The Man of Steel Frees the Negroes" co-starring Flava Flav either to come to this reasonable conclusion....

Lee was called (among other things) a "thug" and "punk" by comedian Dick Gregory and a "conniving and scheming Uncle Tom" by former 2LiveCrew leader Luther Campbell. I respect the former and laugh at the latter. Dick Gregory has a long, undeniable civil rights history, but such a classless rebuke for a film he wasn't in and criticism not directed at him is curious at best. And you also mean to tell me, the man BEST known for debasement of countless women of color and a career of misogyny, Luther Campbell was calling the director of Four Little Girls, When the Levees Broke, Malcolm X, Do the Right Thing and Miracle at St. Anna (producer) an "Uncle Tom?"

That would be laugh-out-loud funny if it weren't so sadly ignorant. Campbell knows about as much about Harriet Beecher Stowe as I do quantum physics.

...As in nothing...
Please read the entire article on Huffington Post. Y'all really should apologize to Spike Lee. Wake up!!!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

President Barack Obama's 2013 Inauguration Speech

Good afternoon family. We are blessed to have Barack Obama as our President for another four years.

Obama is Not A King

150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, the nation will witness the inauguration of President Barack Obama and celebrate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We elected Barack Obama in 2008 and re-elected him in 2012. His election is not an anomaly. It is a sign of tremendous progress. Obama is the embodiment of our hopes and aspirations. We have advanced from enslavement to empowerment.

In Dr. King's I Have A Dream Speech, he stated:

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
In many ways, Dr. King's dream has been fulfilled. Jim Crow no longer exists. We no longer see for "Whites Only" signs. We can gain lodging in any hotel or motel that we can afford. Many of us are able to attend elite colleges and universities. Now, African Americans have the right to vote. In 2008 and 2012, historic numbers of African Americans voted for and helped elect the nation's first African American president, Barack Obama.

In many ways, Obama's election is the tangible manifestation of the dreams of Dr. King. Barack Obama stands on the shoulders of Dr. King, Medger Evers and all of the many, known and unknown martyrs who died for the right to vote. In that sense, linking Dr. King and President Obama is appropriate.  In light of such history, it is suitable for Myrlie Evers to give the inaugural invocation.

However, in another sense, it is inappropriate to link Obama and King. Dr. King was a civil rights activist. He spoke truth to power without fear. He was not concerned about political imagery and calculations. He was not concerned about offending the powers that be. He used his eloquence and organizing skills to lead a movement for social justice. He lobbied the federal government. Dr. King was deeply committed to peace and ending poverty. He boldly condemned the three evils of "racism, economic exploitation and militarism."

Barack Obama is a brilliant politician. Obama is the government, "the powers that be". As such, most of his actions are well planned, political calculations, even his use of Dr. King's Bible for the inauguration. Unlike King, Obama avoids discussing race and poverty. Like most politicians, the President focuses primarily on the middle class. As Frederick H. Harris states in his New York Times article titled The Price of a Black President,

But as president, Mr. Obama has had little to say on concerns specific to blacks. His State of the Union address in 2011 was the first by any president since 1948 to not mention poverty or the poor. The political scientist Daniel Q. Gillion found that Mr. Obama, in his first two years in office, talked about race less than any Democratic president had since 1961. From racial profiling to mass incarceration to affirmative action, his comments have been sparse and halting.
Nonetheless, Obama has enacted policies that benefit African Americans and the poor. That is why I voted for him in 2008 and 2012. However, the numbers prove that he has not done enough. According to several news reports, poverty is on track to reach the highest levels since 1965. The black unemployment rate is over 14 percent, nearly twice the white unemployment rate.

Although poverty and racial disparities are not the President's fault, he has a duty to address those problems, especially since an overwhelming majority of African Americans voted for him. Without the black vote, Obama probably would not have been re-elected. Hopefully, Obama will address black poverty and black unemployment during his second term. Furthermore, we cannot allow the President to negotiate away entitlements like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

Moreover, in contrast to Dr. King, Obama is not a man of peace. He is a war president. The Obama Administration has launched more drone attacks than the Bush Administration. As reported on CNN,

Covert drone strikes are one of President Obama's key national security policies. He has already authorized 283 strikes in Pakistan, six times more than the number during President George W. Bush's eight years in office.

As a result, the number of estimated deaths from the Obama administration's drone strikes is more than four times what it was during the Bush administration -- somewhere between 1,494 and 2,618.
Too often, innocent women and children are killed as a result of those drone attacks. Additionally, he continues to preside over the Afghanistan war. He was responsible for military intervention in Libya and the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. The Obama Administration is helping France launch military operations in Mali.

In sum, Obama is not a King. In fact, no president will ever be like Dr. King. For those reasons, I am troubled by the constant comparisons drawn between Dr. King and President Obama. Such comparisons are unfair to both men. 

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

We Must Join the Fight for Reasonable Gun Control Laws!

"This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe." President Barack Obama

Today, the President signed executive orders and set forth his plan for gun control. His proposal has the following components: universal background checks for anyone seeking to purchase firearms, ban on military style assault weapons, ban on high capacity gun magazines, more police officers and harsher sentences for people who sell guns to criminals.

During the press conference, the President declared that "the only way we can change is if the American people demand it." We must demand that change. We must demand that our members of Congress support the President's reasonable gun control proposal. We must stand up to the NRA and their puppets in Congress. They have gone after the President and his children. So the gloves are off and the fight is on!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Justice Sotomayor Tells Her Story

Good morning family. Listen as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor tells her story to 60 Minutes. Check out the contrast between her and Justice Clarence Thomas on the issue of affirmative action. Do you support affirmative action?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Quvenzhane Wallis Makes History

A couple of days ago, the Oscar nominations were announced. Quvenzhane Wallis became the youngest person nominated for Best Actress. That is a tremendous accomplishment that we all should celebrate.

Yesterday, my daughter and I watched her movie, Beasts of the Southern Wild. It is about the bond between a father and his daughter during times of adversity. I encourage everyone to watch this beautiful, artsy, poetic film. It is available on Redbox for less than $2.00.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Time to End Kwanzaa?!?!

The Huffington Post and Shorewood Patch report that:
Calling it a holiday that "almost no black people today care about," state Sen. Glenn Grothman is characterizing Kwanzaa as a false holiday conjured up by a racist college professor and perpetuated by hard-core liberals.
"Why must we still hear about Kwanzaa?" the Republican lawmaker from West Bend asked in a press release. "Why are hard-core left wingers still trying to talk about Kwanzaa — the supposed African-American holiday celebration between Christmas and New Year’s?"
His remarks drew immediate criticism from a Democratic party leader, who called Grothman's comments "absolutely jaw-dropping." ...
"Of course, almost no black people today care about Kwanzaa — just white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people's throats in an effort to divide Americans," Grothman said. "Irresponsible public school districts such as Green Bay and Madison ... try to tell a new generation that blacks have a separate holiday than Christians."
Grothman adds Karenga "didn't like the idea that Christ died for all of our sins, so he felt blacks should have their own holiday — hence, Kwanzaa."
Grothman also advises be on the lookout for K-12 and college teachers trying to pass it off as a real holiday. "With tens of millions of honorable black Americans in our country's past, we should not let a violent nut like Karenga speak for them," he said.
The second principle of Kwanzaa is Kujichagulia (Self Determination). That principle states that we will define ourselves, name ourselves and speak for ourselves. Slavery ended approximately 150 years ago. No one has the right to dictate which holidays African Americans can celebrate. Kwanzaa is not about uplifting Karenga. It is about culturally uplifting a people.